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EXTERNAL MENACE formed from the same youthful energy that gave birth to many of the "second wave" of British punk bands. Put together by vocalist Wullie Hammill and John Sneddon in the summer of 1979, the band were typical of the 1979/1980 punk bands--faster and rougher than the class of 77, but not an all out UK82-style attack--yet.
The band played out as often as they could, evolving fully into the UK82 mold, and released two singles on the Beat the System record label (home of One Way System, Anti-Social, and Uproar, among others) in 1982 and 83, and also putting in an appearance on the Total Anarchy compilation (also in 1983). Their sound was typical of the era, kinda speedy punk with gruff vocals and anarcho-inspired lyrics abour war, the evil governments and nonconformism.
That was the side of External Menace that most people knew best, but towards the middle of the 80's they branched out in a more melodic (but still hardcore) direction, playing reggae inspired tunes like "Rude Awakening" and "Killing me Asylum". While the band recorded two or three more demos, putting some of their new tracks down, they didn't manage to get any more vinyl out, and finally broke up in 1985.
Fast forward to 1994--Ian Welsh of Swine Flu harassed John Sneddon to get External Menace back together, and start kicking some more punk rock ass. Sneddy agreed--but only if Welshy (what is it with Scots and diminutive names ending in Y?) joined the band as vocalist, since Wullie Hamill had died in 1987. Swine Flu disappeared shortly after their first single was released, and re-emerged with a new name and a new guitarist. External Menace was back.
Their first new release was Pure Punk Rock on Captain Oi! in 1995, which featured all the band's Beat the System recordings, plus a handful of early demos, and re-recorded versions of some old songs...the release didn't attract the interest of anyone except the UK82 completists...
The band were invited to play the first Holidays in the Sun festival in August of 1996, and accepted. The entire festival was recorded (very poorly) and released on video by Barn End, and selections were released on two CDs by Anagram records. The band were invited back for HITS 1997, and (again) accepted.
Around the same time the first of the HITS compilations appeared (early to mid 1997), External Menace finally released their first new single, the Process of Elimination EP. The five track single was a completely unexpected--it featured some serious punk rock/reggae fusion, in the shape of "Rude Awakening", and was a drastic step AWAY from their UK82 roots.
Later that year they also released a split 7" with Rectify, and their first album, the Process of Elimination. The songs were a mix of old and new Ex Menace songs, with a few hold-overs from Swine Flu. It was a refreshing blend of UK82 hardcore and more straightforward midtempo punk, with a healthy dose of reggae thrown in for good measure. The album really made people sit up and pay attention--these guys weren't just another 80's punk band back for a few quick bucks, they were talented musicians with something interesting to offer the punk community. Unfortunately they only managed to release on more 7" (a split w/Recharge) before breaking up again in 1999.
External Menace was:
Swine Flu was:
the reformed External Menace was:
[OBIK: As far as I know the biography I wrote is reasonably complete and accurate, but it's more than possible that there are mistakes and/or omissions. If you know of any, point them out!]
2002/04/07: Added bio, discog, and two handbills. More stuff to come for the discog.
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