|Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers - Vocals||Paul Simmonds - Guitar|
|Rich Maidment - Guitar||Alan Thornlow - Bass|
|Steve Bowers - Drums|
As the Nipple Erectors were to the Pogues, so Catch 22 were to The Men They Couldn’t Hang. Only Swill never made it to the cover of the NME or had his ear ‘bitten off’ at a Clash gig. However, they did support the Clash, and Swill did sport some very amusing Billy Idol-esque peroxide hair.
The band’s origins can be traced back to Itchin sixth form college in Southampton in 1976. Swill was a ‘first mover’ punk, with a paint-splattered leather jacket, and asked Simmonds to form a band with him, under the original name Coathangers. “So he suggested we have a rehearsal in a fortnight in his house in Netley,” Simmonds later told Wake Up. “So I went straight out and paid £15 for a guitar from a second-hand shop, took it home and asked my brother Neil to teach me a few chords. That band with Swill became Catch 22. Our first gig was in the local village hall. I remember we were bombarded with used tea bags and paper planes but it didn't detract from the brilliant feeling of playing live. You never forget your first gig."
Practices were conducted in a caravan parked in a friend’s garden, which led to frequent shows around Southampton, the music a marriage of their Clash/Generation X influences. The line-up changed intermittently with Swill and Simmonds remaining the central participants, and at least six cassettes of material were recorded (including ‘Hush Little Baby’, an early though unrecorded TMTCH staple). While Simmonds was working in Bird’s Eye Frozen Foods warehouse and promoting local gigs by the likes of Menace, Swill phoned to tell him that Paul Simonon had given them two support slots on the Clash’s 16 Tons tour – Portsmouth Guildhall and Poole Arts Centre. “For a little band from the outskirts of Southampton these were enormous, terrifying gigs,” Simmonds told Wake Up. “It was really quite the most nerve-wracking experience of my life. That was the high point of Catch 22 and we felt we were going places. Within the year we had all moved to London and Catch 22 continued there. At that time I was playing bass, Rich [Maidment] was playing guitar, Swill's brother Jon [Odgers] was playing drums. That line-up was really Catch 22 Mark II. We played around London for about a year but it was very hard work, playing £5 a night gigs. Again, we had some good songs, we sold a few tapes, but that punk-pop thing had just about had its day. We just sort of faded away as a working band."
For a further illustration of the impact the birth of punk had on Simmonds, one of this nation’s most under-acknowledged songwriters, see ‘I Loved The Summer Of Hate’ on the 2003 TMTCH album The Cherry Red Jukebox. It’s also worth pointing out that Thornlow was immortalised on ‘Australia’, from TMTCH’s The Domino Club album.
The above text is by Alex Ogg and came from his excellent 'No More Heroes' book
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