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Preston band Ginnel celebrate debut album release with two gigs in one day

Posted on - 25th August, 2023 - 8:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, City Centre, Music, Preston City Centre, Things to Do in and around Preston, Uncategorized, University campus, What's On in Preston
Swab Scalpel Sponge is being released on limited edition vinyl with cover artwork by Paul Simpson. Pic Ginnel
Ginnel’s debut album Swab Scalpel Sponge is being released on limited edition vinyl with cover artwork by Paul Simpson. Pic Ginnel

“We’re old enough to know better and young enough not to care,” says Mark Wareing, singer and lyricist of Preston’s exciting post-punk psych outfit Ginnel. The band is preparing for the release of their debut album, Swab Scalpel Sponge, on Saturday 26 August. To celebrate they’re playing a free in-store gig at Action Records, followed by a further gig at The Ferret’s Glastonferret festival just two hours later.

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“There’s a really good scene in Preston at the moment,” says Mark. “You’ve got Evil Blizzard, Uhr, Ginnel, and Whinge, all completely different but all having the same sort of audience, it’s the best scene Preston’s ever had. Hauspoints are making waves, as is Filthy Dirty who is part of the Evil Blizzard empire.

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“You know what they say, one band got signed in Seattle and another 100 got signed off the back of them. If something got picked up here, people would come to have a look at what’s going on.”

Mark is sat in a rehearsal room in The Mill with Pete Brown, the band’s bass player, reminiscing about watching bands on Friday nights at Clouds in the mid-80s. Soon after Roland ‘Scrub’ Jones, Ginnel’s drummer, and Paul Lakin, the band’s guitarist, join them.

The band has a rich musical history, Mark, once affectionately known as Fat Mark, was featured on a John Peel session in 80s indie band Dandelion Adventure and was pivotal in the formation and signing of the chart-topping band Cornershop.

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“Everyone wants to be in a rock n roll band to have a good time!” he says. “Being in Dandelion Adventure was a good way to get into gigs for free and a good way of meeting people. At the time all of us were into following bands so if a band went on tour we’d go and see them.”

They supported My Bloody Valentine and bagged a John Peel session. In fact, it was fellow Dandelion Adventure band member Ajay Saggar who talked Mark back into joining a band again after many years away from music. Wooing him at a Fall gig, together they formed The Common Cold, with Dave Chambers, formerly of Cornershop and now playing with Uhr, and Scrub. They recorded an album, and played some gigs and that was where the seeds of Ginnel were sown.

Drummer Roland ‘Scrub’ Jones played in Big Red Bus, a band that was much revered in indie and student circles in the early 90s. Big Red Bus signed to Action Records and supported The Stone Roses at the infamous early 90s Guild Hall Foyer gig. Around the same time, the other big local band on the circuit was Dreamland, with whom Pete Brown played bass. Pete now plays with Preston’s weird and wonderful Evil Blizzard as well as Ginnel. Paul has played alongside jazz guitarist John Bailey and singer-songwriter Seamus McLoughlin, as well as playing in notnowkato with Chris Jopson.

Ginnel are releasing their debut album Swab Scalpel Sponge on Action Records' record label. Pic Lisa Brown
Ginnel are releasing their debut album Swab Scalpel Sponge on Action Records’ record label. Pic Lisa Brown

“In February 1979, I went to see The Jacksons at The Guild Hall,” says Mark. “I was 14, it wasn’t the music that moved me, it was the stage show and the way The Jacksons moved across the stage. That was it! After that, I went to see everything from The Jam to The Clash, any band that played in Preston or Blackburn.”

Mark’s neighbour’s dad reviewed live music for the local paper, so if they got tickets he’d go. Mark soaked it up, as well as watching mainstream music he and a friend used to venture out to The Warehouse.

“We were 15, my dad would drop us off in town and my friend’s dad used to pick us up outside the ABC cinema. I went to see The Nightingales at The Warehouse, they didn’t turn up but the Icicle Works played instead. I was really into The Membranes and I went to The Warehouse on me tod in early 1982.”

Mark developed a lifelong love for the band, following The Membranes around the country when they toured. 

“Seeing Southern Death Cult at The Warehouse was scary, that was really busy, everyone standing around and waiting for the music to come on. There was the sound of Gregorian Monks chanting and getting louder, then their travelling fans from Leeds started pushing down the front and everyone was getting pushed out of the way. That was exciting.”

Scrub has known Mark for 40 years. In 1979, Scrub went to see The Who play at Wembley and The Stranglers were supporting them.

“I thought wow they’re amazing,” says Scrub. “Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures came out the same year and that changed everything, how I looked, what I was into. Joy Division rocked up at The Warehouse and I had long hair and was wearing a Who t-shirt. It was the best thing I had ever seen. It was 1980, they were touring their second album, and they were supposed to be playing their keyboard stuff, the PA blew up and the guitar amp blew up.

“I asked their drummer Stephen Morris about it and he said one of them was wearing daft boots, tripped over a lead and pulled the plug. Hooky said to Bernard, ‘Plug your guitar into the bass amp’ and he said to the crowd ‘What do you want to hear?’ and they were shouting out tracks from Unknown Pleasures; it was chaos, it was unbelievable. I was 18 when all that was kicking off.

“The scene in Preston at the time was very scary, very rough, we used to go to The Warehouse on a Thursday night to see bands and we used to listen outside before we went in and if you heard glasses smashing and tables being thrown about you didn’t go in. Punks would come from all over, Blackpool, Wigan. We were young Penwortham lads, not into fighting.”

Unknown Pleasures inspired Scrub and his mates, Tash and Steve Walsh, to form a band.

“We went in Steve’s dad’s garage to learn our instruments and six months later we were a half-decent band and started doing some gigs. We had a rehearsal room at Penwortham Leisure Centre and that would turn into a gig, 50/60 people turning up. They were great days, growing up,” says Scrub. “From there followed being in a band called House with Geoff Philips and then Big Red Bus with Mick Shepherd and Dave Spence. You just give it a go and see what happens.”

Like Mark and Scrub, bass player Pete started seeing bands in his teens. He said: “The first live band I saw in Preston was Madness in The Guild Hall in 1981. Me and my friend Lou Smith ended up playing football with Madness in The Guild Hall itself. I don’t recall buying a ticket, I think we might have just stayed in the venue. I was 16.

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“Then a couple of years later I started going to Clouds on a Friday. We used to pay £1 to get in and you didn’t know what band was going to be on. Ronnie Brown was promoting the night and putting bands on. I saw Skeletal Family, Leitmotiv, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Play Dead amongst many others. The Stone Roses played there in 1985, they were a goth band back then, it was a bit of a riot from what I can recall, not like The Stone Roses that you knew in the 90s.

The Stone Roses played at Clouds in the mid '80s when they were a goth band. Voucher pic - Pete Brown
The Stone Roses played at Clouds in the mid-80s when they were a goth band Pic: Pete Brown

“You’d see a band on a Friday night in Clouds, then they’d appear on Channel 4’s alternative music show The Tube the week after. I remember seeing New Model Army, it was a belting gig with Billy Bragg supporting. Stuart Morrow from New Model Army was so influential, and such a great bass player. The sound was something different.

“I saw The Cult at Clouds, with Balaam and the Angel supporting, that was around the time that The Cult had just started slowing their songs down and going more rock. Jesus and Mary Chain played a 15-minute gig at Clouds, a young rockabilly lad threw a chair and it all kicked off.”

When Jesus and Mary Chain played at Clouds in the '80s a riot broke out. Ticket stub pic - Pete Brown
When Jesus and Mary Chain played at Clouds in the ’80s a riot broke out Pic: Pete Brown

Like Scrub and Mark, Pete started playing in bands in his teens, forming a band called Dead Nations, then going on to play in Dreamland, Pronoise, The Seamus McLoughlin Band, Treehouse Three and now he plays in both Evil Blizzard and Ginnel. 

“We have been lucky in Preston, we’ve had lots of places to see live music over the years; The Guild Hall, The Warehouse, The Poly, Clouds, The Mill, Paradise Club, Jalgos, The Continental, 53 Degrees, The Caribbean Club, The RAOB Club, upstairs at The Adelphi – Dave Chambers and Mark were putting loads of bands on up there in the mid 90s as was Fraser Boon, who initially got The Ferret going.

“In the 80s, when Clouds shut down, Ronnie Brown started promoting at The Paradise Club, in the very early days A Certain Ratio played, The Pogues played, and it drew a lot of bands. There’d been some bloke on The Tube the week before The Pogues played singing a song and hitting his head with a tray. Someone brought a tray to The Pogues gig and Spider Stacy was hitting his head with it, and that tray came into the audience, I remember getting my head banged with it and getting up on the stage for the stage invasion. It was a riot, absolute chaos and a lot of fun, everyone jumping around, the place was packed.”

Paul Lakin, the band’s guitarist and youngest member of the band, says he stumbled into Ginnel. “I didn’t even know what post-punk was!”

As a teen, like the others, he would go out to watch local bands play at the Fylde Tavern and The Lamb. After college, he went away to university and travelling, before returning and joining notnowkato with Fi-Lo Radio’s Chris Jopson, Stuart Gornall and Chris. Following this, he had extended stints playing alongside jazz guitarist John Bailey on a classical guitar project and playing with Seamus McLoughlin.

“I think that’s why we’ve got a unique sound, distorted guitars with a post-punk edge over the top, it makes us sound different – people coming at it from different angles and it works together.”

The video for Ginnel's Is Real, directed by John Edward Turner, features a girl's journey across Preston to The Ferret.
The video for Ginnel’s Is Real, directed by John Edward Turner, features a girl’s journey across Preston to The Ferret

Ginnel have built up a devoted following in Preston. Is Real, their last single, clocked up over 3,000 views on YouTube within weeks of its release. The video, filmed entirely on location in Preston, charts a girl’s journey across the city to The Ferret.

“Venues like The Ferret are so important to up-and-coming bands,” says Paul. The band agree that having the space and places to perform within the city are vital to keep the music scene alive.

“Hopefully over the course of the next few years The Ferret will expand and become an arts hub,” says Mark. “Gordon Gibson from Action Record is putting on some great album launch gigs at Blitz with Pete Alexander. Big bands like Bastille and Fontaines DC have played recently.”

“I started going into Action Records in 1980/81,” says Mark. “The first time I went in there I’d just left school; I was going for a job at Barkers on Manchester Road. I used to go in there with my dinner money to buy records. All the second-hand 7” singles were 50p, most of my records have got a little A inside the front cover with 50p. If it was busy people used to peel the price off the records but Gordon always used to know how much it was as it was written on the inside of the sleeve. I like that and it’s something we’ve continued with the band, all the Ginnel stuff is numbered on the inside of the sleeve.

“You’d go into Action and Allan would say, ‘You’ve bought everything by that band, how about checking this band out?’ You’d go to a gig and the next day there’d be a tape on the counter. When I moved house, I counted about 1,000 cassettes, all from different gigs.”

Pete, former DJ at Lord Byron’s and record collector, started going into Action in the early 80s. “My mate Lou said we went in on the day it opened. I can’t remember but what I do know is 99 per cent of my record collection is from there and Gordon has always been supportive of local bands and the music scene in Preston.”

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So, it is no surprise that the band is releasing Swab, Scalpel, Sponge on Gordon’s Action Records record label. Delayed due to COVID, the band are excited about the limited-edition release. Only 400 copies are being released on vinyl, all signed and numbered and featuring an eye-catching collage created by Paul Simpson, from Teardrop Explodes.  

“People who come to see us in Preston will know everything on the album and they like it,” says Mark. “But it’s new to people from outside of the city.”

Ginnel have recently played at Sunbird Records in Darwen supporting Battery Farm and at Clitheroe supporting Yaang. They’re looking forward to playing at The Hope and Anchor in London next month as well as working on new music.

“It would be nice to be playing more dates further afield. Every gig we play people come up at the end and say we’ve never seen you play live before, that was great. If any promoters outside of Preston are reading this, we’re a cheap date!”

Ginnel play an in-store gig at Action Records at 4pm on Saturday 26 August and at 6pm on the same day at Glastonferret.

Glastonferret takes place at The Ferret from Thursday 24 August to Sunday 27 August.

Ginnel’s Swab, Scalpel, Sponge is released on Saturday 26 August on Action Records and is available to buy in-store and online.

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