the MP's





Toy Town Living / Death Makes Money / Betray / Hotline (To Your Heart)

Catalogue Number -

Label - Acid Nose Product

Year Of Release - 1979

Quantity Pressed - 500


Mark Read - Vocals Tim Read - Guitar
Wallace - Bass* Rob Anderson - Rhythm Guitar
Ian Tully - Drums**
*Replaced by John Evans
** Replaced by Tommy Watson


The MPs were one of the de facto first wave Newcastle punk bands, formed at the end of 1976. Mark Read: “I lived in Newcastle city centre, and my brother and most of the others lived in Washington new town”. They were vaguely aware of Penetration, but although they became fast friends with Speed, they were unaware of any other punk bands in the area. Their inspirations were the usual suspects, “the Pistols, Velvets, Gil Scott Heron, the Dolls, Wire, Augustus Pablo, Bunny Wailer, Clash, Buzzcocks etc”. The rest of the band, however was significantly younger than Mark Read. “I was 21, they were much younger, 16 and 17. My brother heard Hendrix, picked up a guitar, and a couple of years later came out of his bedroom playing blues, As soon as he heard punk, he was into that, which isn’t that massive a leap from the basics. I’d grown up with the Tamla, Bowie thing. The rest of the band grew up in the punk thing. I was five years older. I was writing lyrics just for the hell of it. Then my brother put a band together that was playing at school in Washington. Then they suggested I sing the lyrics I’d written. That’s how it is in my memory. Others were reading from their own scripts and may have been watching a completely different movie.”

 The band rehearsed at Mark Read’s hairdressing salon. “I was running a salon in Newcastle at the time called Capo. Quite a few bands would come down and rehearse on a Sunday morning. Penetration came down once or twice, and Murder The Disturbed, the Proles, Speed, the Angelic Upstarts; several bands. It became like a public rehearsal spot, For the first few months, it was just us down there, then gradually it built up. Towards the end, some Sunday lunchtimes, there would be maybe 20 or 30 people there, most of whom were musicians. Eventually, we got a tag, because a lot of young, spikey haired people came in, we got the image of being a punk hairdresser’s. Which we weren’t, particularly.”

 As for their early songs: “One of the first ones was ‘Left, Right, Black, White’, which was just a bit of a chant. I remember words like ‘exploitation’ and ‘humiliation’ rhyming easily! I was probably a little more political. I was into what was going on in South Africa and the political and racism things going on at the time. We were involved with people like the Anti-Nazi League. But partly because we got the gigs – it was gig first, politics second - but I definitely moved the lyric that way.”

 Mark Read remembers gigs at the Bridge Hotel, Gatsby’s on the Whitley Bay coast, Gosforth pub the Bridge, where the bands played upstairs, etc. The MPs supported Sham 69 at Sunderland Poly (“Jimmy Pursey was a bit of a grumpy twat, the Sham Army were good, though”), and backing the Lurkers at Middlesbrough Rock Garden. “Really good blokes,” he remembers, “and they encouraged us.” The latter gig provides Mark Read’s favourite memory of his time with the MPs. “We always used to think, if we cause a fuss, it doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. We caused a bit of chaos at the Lurkers gig. Afterwards, I got up on a table so I could see the Lurkers play. I was watching the Lurkers, and people were still throwing bottles and glasses at me. I was going, ‘Howay! I’m finished now, lads! I’m part of the audience now!”

 However, he’d departed by the advent of the MPs sole EP, ‘Toytown Living’. “The lyrics to ‘Toytown Living’ were written by my brother. It was based on Washington, a new town, and the monotony.” Other songs included the quasi-romantic ‘Hot Line to Your Heart’. “There was also a song we did about [execution victim and would be medical donor] Gary Gilmore’s eyes, but we thought it was a bit too obvious and tabloidy, a bit too obvious. We were amazed when the Adverts had a hit single with that! We were always quite right on about the ‘principle’ of punk, we didn’t want to get involved with the corporate side of things. We wanted to keep it rough and ready, we wanted it to be a revolution, a glimmer of hope and anarchy against the dull backdrop that was the depression of the impending years of Tory clampdown. You could see and feel it coming. Of course, we also wanted it to be fun and not a job.”

 The EP came out in 1978. “By that time I’d left and Brian Nylon (Roberts), a fan of the band who wrote a fanzine, had come in as singer. A local character called Professor Fate helped them get the record out. He was famous for writing a couple of the NME letters of the year. At the start of 1977 he wrote them a letter saying just “You’ll all be sorry.” Then at the end of the year he wrote another letter, saying “I told you so.”

 Mark Read had, meantime, departed for London. “We’d done as much as I was interested in. It was only ever for fun for me. I never had any big plans. I had my own business. I moved down to London. In Newcastle I was running around with a lot of daft characters, not living a very healthy lifestyle, and I disappeared down to London, rehabbed on a council estate in Bethnal Green, and chilled out down there.” The band continued until the end of 1978, before the members moved on to other projects. Ian Tully became a props buyer for the BBC, working on the League Of Gentlemen, etc.

 Mark Read now manages hot Newcastle hip hop crew Dialect. Sadly, Rob Anderson died in London. “He always had a struggle with illegal substances," and even if he wasn’t dead, I would say he was a great bloke with a natural joy for music which made me smile. He has two kids (now adults) Jude and Rachel. She is now bringing up his grandchildren.”


 Mark Read


The above snippet appeared in the North East Punk fanzine "Gabba Gabba Hey" #4 from 1977



Thanks to Alex Ogg for the above text which appeared in the excellent "No More Heroes" book




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