Floating Mill

Lack Of Knowledge - The Uninvited CS

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In the early part of 1980, Lack Of Knowledge were a three-piece without a drummer. But, in the summer of 1980, Chiefy had been spotted walking to school in a pair of bondage trousers (as part of his school uniform). He looked a suitable candidate to ask if he,“by any chance, played drums?”
“Would you be interested in learning and being the drummer in our band?”
“Yeah, alright.”

So we set about finding a drum kit in the back of the local paper. Acquiring a rickety one for 50 quid and calling a minicab to bring it back to our rehearsal room in the local Youth Club. For practical reasons, we then rehearsed four times a week for three months as a vocal-less three-piece. It still doesn’t seem possible that we asked a stranger to become the drummer and that three months later he could play songs from start to finish, with no mistakes. In November 1980, we regrouped as a proper four-piece with loads of enthusiasm and a lot of ideas. A set of around 20 songs were written by the new year, and at some time in January, with a line-up that had been together three months and not yet played a gig, we decided to record a single.

After scouring the small ads at the back of the Melody Maker, we settled on what appeared to be the cheapest and ‘most tracks’ for recording. Four-track recorders were the norm for a band like us, but eight-track machines were becoming more affordable to small ‘front room’ type studio. GoldDust Studios in Sidcup, Kent looked like a great deal. 55 pounds, to be exact. Two more songs were to be recorded just for posterity and to get some studio experience. We decided on ‘The Uninvited’ as the a-side with ‘The Men’ as the reverse.

The band met up at Tony’s parent’s flat at the crack of Saturday morning and loaded the gear into Tony’s dad’s minibus for the drive to the wilds of Kent (well it was to us!). None of us could drive. Two of the band were still at school. A journey like that in the 21st century would be about two hours. In March of 1981, we were there in around 40 minutes. The four songs were recorded and mixed in around 10 hours, then we were off home. It was such an easy drive back then that Tony’s dad returned again at 9pm to pick us and the gear up. With zero protesting.

After a couple of days of listening to the tracks, we decided we didn’t like them enough to release and agreed we should re-record them. We’d heard rumours of a studio in Edmonton, London called Octave Electronics. We gave them a call, went round to check it out, and booked it. The first session, over three days, produced the same two tracks for the single, which were mixed a couple of days later.

Saving up the money to press our own single took longer than we planned and in the meantime, in what was to become typical LOK behaviour, we’d changed our minds about the b-side, especially as we now had another group of new songs. ‘Ritual’ was selected as the new b-side. We enjoyed working at Octave, and it was less than a mile from where we all lived. One more session was booked during a weekday evening. ‘Ritual’ was recorded and mixed in four hours.

The ‘Letraset-and-picture-cut-out-of-a-magazine’ 8.5” by 11.75” sleeves were then printed at the local printers. Plastic bags were purchased from Dark They Were and Forbidden Planet, two comic shops in central London. The master tape was taken to SRT in Finchley and the 7”s pressed. In April 1982 we went and collected the 500 singles and brought them home. By bus. They weighed a ton and were clunky as there were 20 boxes of 25 singles in plastic carrier bags. All that was left was to sit on the floor of Tony's parent’s front room and insert a single and two tight-fitting sheets of paper into a plastic bag, 500 times. It sounds easy. It took a couple days.

Distribution of the single took the form of going to Small Wonder, Bonaparte, Rough Trade, etc. and saying, “Would you like to buy some of our singles?” They would then play it and say “We’ll take 5/10/25/50 copies.” It was that simple.

‘DIY-UK’ was in full bloom. We were particularly pleased that Pete Stennett bought some for Small Wonder as it had been our second home from 1977 onwards, and seeing our single on the wall of the shop where we had bought the records that had inspired us was a big deal.

During mid-1978, Pete was regularly playing the first Crass demo tape on the hi-fi in the shop. Paul and Tony had fallen in love with it, and when the ‘Feeding Of The 5000’ records came in from the pressing plant that December, they had got the first copies from the very first box. They met Penny and Gee one day just before Christmas ‘78, as they were delivering some items to the shop for Pete to display in the window. Penny and Gee generously gave Paul and Tony some flyers, lyrics, a banner well as the date of their next gig.

Later, in May of 1982, Paul and Tony took a copy of ‘The Uninvited’ to Dial House, home of Crass, just to show the results of their labour. With the single, Penny disappeared through a door. He returned four minutes later.

“Would you like to do a single on Crass Records?”

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