Punk’s not dead. Janus Stark head out on UK tour with new lineup.

Punk’s not dead. Janus Stark head out on UK tour with new lineup.

Sex, drugs & rock n roll - some cliche. But has it had its day? After tonight I’d say that’s far from the truth. Janus Stark get it. They just do. And I don't mean the stereotype, I mean their unwavering commitment to upholding the long-standing grassroots punk movement through skilled songwriting and passionately executed live performance.

Headed back out on tour this year, the experimental punk rock get-up are playing, in full, their highly acclaimed debut 1997 album ‘Great Adventure Cigar’. This record gained them a loyal fan base and a top 40 billboard chart hit in America to boot. With that in mind, I couldn't miss the opportunity to see for myself just why their fans have stayed put. Joining them at the Six Six Bar, Cambridge, with support from Desperate Measures, I got a taste of why Janus Stark have achieved the longevity most can only hope to celebrate.

Featuring a new lineup, including fresh on-the-scene Scott Bickers (drums) and the welcome return of Shop - original bassist from their early 90s formation, along with Gizz Butt (lead & rhythm guitar/vocals) and David Pistolas (rhythm guitar/vocals), as a live band they are as tight as ever. The connection between them is strong, effortless almost. Gizz’s innate ability to inject passion into his audience is evident through both his lyrical mastery and incredible fusion punk/heavy metal guitar skillset, and the remaining band members feed off this electricity to take the set to the next level. Pistolas’ thunderous rhythm guitar compliments the lead with ferocity and he’s not a bad mover either. The epitome of punk rock without a doubt.

The standout track of the set for me was Panic Attack. Awakening something in the audience, the guitar solo from Gizz shows just what he can do and sets the mood for the remainder of the performance. He’s your quintessential punk front-man with his heart still in it and it shows. Supported by an outstanding performance from the rest of the band on the night, the set only got better as it went on.

Manager Chris York insists they’re “pretty much as close to the original band as you could get” which is no surprise really, considering new drummer Bickers’ experience is vast and his ability to adapt evident. Speaking with Scott in the green room after the show, which also happened to be his first live gig for the band, I got a sense of what it means to him to have the opportunity to play with these guys. “I remember hearing the album during its release in the 90s and thinking how much I wanted to play that sound, it definitely inspired me. I listened to it on repeat for weeks. When the band contacted me last year and asked if I was interested in drumming for them of course I couldn't say no!” Following a brief hiatus due to a broken wrist and a fairly anxious couple of weeks hoping he’d be recovered in time to play, Bickers pulled it out of the bag and took his rightful place in the lineup with a band he couldn't suit better.

It's safe to say I had a memorable night this week watching a truly passionate band do what they do best and I’d urge anyone to take time out to see them while the tour rolls on if you can. You’ll need to be quick if you’re hoping to catch a date though as they have a limited run over the next couple of months. Dates include Nottingham, Norwich & London. Tickets can be purchased for all venues through the band's website.

Photo Credit: Gerald Underwood