The Axidents 1978-80
The Axidents 2002-11
Almost 40 years ago a London-based phenomenon described as 'punk rock' was terrifying middle-aged Daily Mail readers but inspiring youngsters throughout these Isles to beg, borrow or chore instruments and start rock n' roll bands. For a gang of teenage pupils at Edinburgh's Tynecastle High School - Ross Galloway (bass), Grum Troup (vocals), Billy McNair (guitar) & Shug McKay (drums) - this meant customising their clothes with badges, safety pins and spraypaint while speeding through chaotic takes on everything from The Damned to Devo, as well as self-penned ditties. The band's name: The Accidents.
Blair Street and Capital Chaos
Eventually rehearsing in the legendary Blair Street practice rooms below Edinburgh's South Bridge and subtly reinvented as the Axidents, they joined forces with likeminded bands sharing those damp and dingy rooms - Twisted Nerve, Sceptix and Burning Flags - and gigged under the banner Capital Chaos.
As was par for the course in those days each band's line-up fluctuated a lot, but the Axidents reached a level of stability, not to mention musicianship, when a guitarist named Derek Reid auditioned. His mastery of the Gibson Les Paul was more reminiscent of the swagger of Steve Jones, Mick Jones or Johnny Thunders than what often constituted 'punk' by 1980 (furious buzzsaw riffs that made an impression on the eardrums but lacked any originality.)
The Forfar Riot
Recording a brilliant demo and championed by John Peel on his weekly BBC Radio show, the Axidents seemed destined for greater things, like their peers Scars, Visitors and The Freeze. But their meteoric rise was to crash and burn in the cruellest of circumstances. The Capital Chaos tour bus headed up to Forfar's Reid Hall, with the Axidents due to headline. After sets by Twisted Nerve and Burning Flags, Sceptix took to the stage. Unfortunately squads of boozed-up locals decided to gatecrash the event and after gaining entry began attacking any punks they came across. In scenes reminiscent of the final Pistols show in Texas, with guitars being swung at frothing rednecks, the gig degenerated into a riot. After the Tayside Constabulary had restored order the bus was escorted out of Forfar; the return journey down the M90 was a miserable experience since all its windows had been smashed.
In the aftermath Derek decided to jump ship, swapping his fretwork dexterity for keyboards and joining The Associates. The Axidents went through a few more changes, including welcoming 'Big John' Duncan into the fold on guitar prior to him finding fame with The Exploited. Not long afterwards the band formed at school in Gorgie two years before called it a day.
Two decades after the Axidents split, Desperation A.M. members Ross, Shug and Mark got back in touch, through the website 'Friends Reunited.' Convening in Ross's conservatory, they started jamming covers from the punk era, including The Jam's 'Down in the Tube Station' and Adam and the Ants' 'Deutcher Girls.' Original Axidents vocalist Grum tagged along for a while and they expanded their repertoire to include Ultravox, Wire, Magazine, Buzzcocks, The Adverts, PiL, The Stranglers, The Clash, Dead Boys, Sex Pistols, 999, The Ruts, The Damned and many more.
Grum left to be replaced by Deek, lead vocalist with Sad Society, while Shug's departure saw drummer Baz completing the revamped Axidents lineup. The band ditched most of the covers and started writing original songs.
Over the next few years they gigged regularly in Edinburgh, Linlithgow and Fife, gaining a sizeable following. They also supported 999, Eddie and The Hot Rods, UK Subs and Tenpole Tudor, and released a couple of well-received singles.
Listen to the Axidents here.
The fact that half the band played with Sad Society, who had been established for much longer, created an imbalance, especially when gigs were being allocated to both bands. Axidents split for the last time in 2011, with Ross and Mark going on to reform Desperation A.M.