What’s post-punk? Like any other musical term that gains currency, it’s been so used and misused that it can mean whatever the people saying it want it to mean. But if you understand it to mean, “I hear you, punk rock, and you’ve got a point, but there’s a lot more to be brought to the table—let me show you,” then This Heat was the original post-punk band.
Charles Bullen, Charles Hayward and Gareth Williams formed This Heat in London in 1976. Hayward (drums) and Bullen (guitar, clarinet) were accomplished musicians who had separately and together logged time in prog and improv settings; Williams (keyboards, bass) worked at the HMV record store in Leicester Square, and while he had never played an instrument, he had an encyclopedic knowledge of music. While they shared punk’s immediacy and aggression, they had no time for its stylistic austerity. This Heat’s music encompassed tape manipulation, angular song construction, found sound, creative recycling of sonic material and constructive clashes between styles and recording fidelities. The band’s lyrics addressed cold-war terror and skepticism about commercial/media forces in terms that didn’t tell you what you had to think about them, but left you in no doubt about how they felt. They shared labels, spaces and associations with Flying Lizards, Laura Logic and the Raincoats, but no one else sounded like them.
In 1981 Williams left This Heat to study Katakali dance, and Bullen and Hayward split the next year. While Williams died of cancer in 2001, the other two men kept in sporadic touch over the years and did their best to keep the This Heat catalog in print. But no one got to hear the music live again until 2016, when Bullen and Hayward convened a larger band called This Is Not This Heat to play This Heat’s material at London’s Café Oto. People came to those shows from around the world, so Bullen and Hayward decided to take the show to them. But the tension inherent in creative musicians playing music they conceived 40 years ago meant that TINTH had an expiration date, and it is nigh. The group—which also includes Daniel O’Sullivan, Alex Ward, James Sedwards and Frank Byng—will finish out with a tour of the U.S.
July 23 – Chicago @ Thalia Hall
July 25 – Los Angeles @ The Regent
July 27 – San Francisco @ The Chapel
July 29 – Atlanta @ The Earl
July 31 – Brooklyn @ Elsewhere