Punk rockers Bladdered are about to celebrate their 18th birthday with a right musical rammy at Behind the Wall on Saturday night.
The Melville Street venue will bounce along to the band which pogos where no band has pogone before when Bladdered end their “Tour de Farce” string of gigs with a belter at BTW.
“We’re still serious about not been serious,” said Doogie Mackie – perhaps the only man in Central Scotland who plays a “reverse bass” with the thick bullwhip-like strings at the bottom and the lighter gauge twangers at the top.
His tongue-in-cheek statement could be the band’s motto – they have certainly lived up to it for the last two decades, dressing up and messing about while delivering pure punk rock the way their heroes did in the late 70s and early 80s.
The crazy costume wearing combo are held in the same high regard as that other long-serving Falkirk institution Lieutenant Stardust and, like Stardust, whenever people go to see Bladdered they know exactly what they are in for.
Doogie said: “We never started out thinking this was going to last so long. We just wanted to have a laugh and here we are 18 years later.”
“Some bands don’t even last 18 months now,” added guitarist Scott Steel.
First plugging in together in the mid 1990s, the band, Doogie, Scott, Ali Bell (vocals), Guy “Gabe” Gibson (guitar) and Liam Wilson (drums), played a couple of parties – including Scott’s 30th – before landing a dream slot at the Martell supporting The Damned singer Dave Vanian.
After that word got around that there were a bunch of guys who had a laugh riot on stage while playing pure punk classics and Bladdered ended up playing gigs supporting their influences – including Captain Sensible, Eddie and the Hot Rods and The UK Subs.
Sadly Gabe died in 2001, but Bladdered found another punk soulmate in Gordon Rae, got back into costume and played on.
“Gabe would have wanted us to keep the band going,” said Scott. “When you look back now it worked out okay.”
Doogie said: “Gordon was a good fit – he has the love for the music and the attitude we all have when it comes to having fun and enjoying a carry on.”
Drummer Liam also left and Dave Paterson claimed the vacant stool without missing a beat.
As Bladdered aficionados know the band has a sixth member, ventriloquist dummy Gerry Mahoney, who has enjoyed a successful solo career away from the band. Touch wood, he won’t let it all go to his head.
“Gerry is the only member of the band to play Falkirk Town Hall,” revealed Scott. “He’s just been moonlighting in ‘Annie’ with the Children’s Theatre.”
Maybe the lads will land a gig at FTH for their 20th anniversary. They certainly have the chops to play it and the fans to fill it.
So what’s the secret of their staying power?
“We don’t play too often,” laughed Scott. “That stops us from falling out.”
And the crazy costumes?
“We take the mickey out of ourselves before anyone else does – attack is the best form of defence.”
If the band is serious about one thing it is the music.
“We love this kind of music,” said Doogie. “You’ve got to do it right. We’ve had good responses from audiences and bands we’ve supported over the years. Whenever I see Dave Vanian he always asks how we are doing.”
Performing their own material alongside classic punk covers, the band provided the soundtrack to Falkirk FC’s Scottish Cup final appearance with their anthem ‘Going For Glory’. Unfortunately, the song did better than the Bairns.
The band is now working on new songs – to “keep things interesting for ourselves” – and preparing for Bladdered’s Big BTW Birthday Bash on Saturday at 9 p.m.
“It’s going to be something a bit special,” said Scott. “We won’t say why – we want folk to come and see for themselves.”