Some people think musicians are weird. Many would think The Chaos Brothers are extremely weird. Like Mike who reminds himself not to be too vain by placing a mirror so high above his apartment floor he can't see himself. And Dave who has managed to learn twenty-three instruments and hates working in a pub because "people bug me and I can't think!". Or Steve who's held thirty-seven jobs in six years and collects mothballs. Then there's Simon, who doesn't smoke, drink or eat crisps and likes blowing into paper bags. And let's not forget token Yank, Tim, sadly no longer with us (then he never really was, quite - oh and no, he's not dead) who almost became a charted accountant until he began freaking out in the music field. He hasn't added a column of figures since.
The Chaos Brothers are not normal.
They're probably not even sane.
Discovering The Chaos Brothers was like finding a ten pond note down the back of your sofa. Their music is rich with the primal power of the Marden delta: Music of a quality that a world that is witness to too much pain needs quite a bit of - in fact a lot . . . of
But first - let's start at the beginning.
It was the summer of '85 and Live Aid when The Ungrateful Dead launched themselves upon an unsuspecting world (or at least an unsuspecting Compton Bassett) and they haven't looked back. Mostly because it was their only gig and they split up. Seconds before they were due to play they were joined by their drummer, Tim Goodwin. He'd come all the way from the USA to play with the boys - at least that's what he said - they'd never heard of him. Most didn't know what to make of the lads on stage but the critics loved it:
"Mike Humphreys gave such an authoritive rendition of 'Surfin Bird' that I was almost taken by his claim that he had actually written it.!" Said one, starry-eyed critic.
"After such a ferocious rendition of 'Holidays In Cambodia' from Vance Provins, anything else had to be an anti-climax." Said another.
Steve and Mike changed the band name to Bastard Squad and Darren 'Bod' Lugg joined on bass passing Vance on the way out who left to form his own band. This line up gatecrashed a local band's party and said they were the support band. This was Chaos. No songs were played to the end and Vance, who threatened the band with physical violence if they dared to play 'Holidays In Cambodia' without him, ended up naked. Critics said of it:
"Bastard Squad are a Godsend, as wild and crazed as Calne has seen in years!"
They'd done it again. Playing totally unrehearsed songs in a state of extreme intoxication. And the crowd loved it. Now matter how bad they were the punters craved more and the critics filled pages trying to analyse what it was that made these boys so great.
However not everybody dug Bastard Squad so for their next gig they changed their name yet again, this time to The Mystery Girls in a cunning plan to make everybody think they were a trio of nubile young ladies. They crashed through their set of garage classics and twanged the three immortal chords into the capitalist void. It was at this point in his career that Steve Chaos revealed his life long devotion to the works of Abba Paphnutius the Hesychast, an early 6th Century Syrian Holy Man. The band were heading for the big time fast!
Then, in a decision that was to make no difference at all to the history of rock 'n' roll, the band changed their name once again and lo, The Chaos Brothers were born. Dave Chaos was drafted in on bass because he was a half decent guitarist and had no idea how to play bass at all. All members of the band legally changed their name to Chaos and with this as their manifesto they proceeded to take classic garage and punk songs and turn them into chaotic walls of noise. The critical acclaim was instant and widespread - honest! One reviewer wrote:
"They did a wicked translation of 'No Fun' with a guitar solo that is the closest I've heard to the one on 'I Heard Her Call My Name'. Brilliant hybrid stuff!"
Playing such music was bound to take its toll. Steve broke a nail, Mike burst his pants and Tim fled back to the colonies to spin tales of his days in The Chaos Brothers to any Ohio farmboy who cared to,listen - all lies of course! His contribution to the band cannot be overestimated. His refusal to listen to any of the songs the band played before rehearsals added immeasurably to their overall sound. Even Dave didn't not rehearse as much as this!
His replacement was Simon Chaos, ubiquitous Calne drummer, who is still with the boys today. Simon actually listened to the songs the band planned to rehearse but that was okay because Dave didn't. And he forgot them anyway - so that was alright:
"At one gig I heard Mike say 'The next song is Blitzkrieg Bop' and I thought 'I've just played that'!" - Dave Chaos
By this time the boys had gathered a loyal, if slightly deranged following. There were several folk (Darren Morgan for one) who were overjoyed if Mike beat them about the head with a tin tray during the Chaos encore of The Wild Rover. Mike was so enthusiastic with his tin tray ministrations that one audience member turned up wearing a crash helmet. Sensible chap as Mike would often lay people out with the tray.
With their Chaos Crew in tow the boys began to venture further afield and even travelled as far as Trowbridge for a series of gigs at The Crown. These were chaotic events of the first order – here’s an example:
The boys had a gig at The Crown one Saturday evening and were to be found at 7PM in the King George Pub Calne sat around a table in the hope that somebody they knew who owned a large car would walk in. Fortunately somebody did and was persuaded to take them to The Crown. Upon arrival they found there was no real PA and the band they were supporting - The Hippy Slags - didn’t have a drummer so they recruited Simon Chaos for the night. The PA was fixed and the boys went down a storm.
Then it all became too much. The pressure, the constant touring (they weren't) and the girls (the lack of them) finally got to the boys and a gig in Compton Bassett ended in drug, alcohol and guitar abuse and recriminations. All decided it would be their last gig and that they'd never play together again.
Was this it for the boys? Chaos Mania was sweeping the country and the band was no more.
The lack of pressure on the band to reconsider their decision and reform was such that almost immediately they changed their mind and five years later returned to the stage, now billed as The Almost Legendary Chaos Brothers. Dave's inability to learn any songs on the bass, and Steve's constant feedback on guitar prompted an instrument change and Steve moved to bass while Dave turned his hand to guitar playing. Although somewhat more proficient on guitar, Dave still forgot the songs with a refreshing regularity and Steve had a hell of a job getting feedback out of the bass. All were happy. The fans didn't even notice.
In November 2008 Simon Chaos moved to Australia meaning that their gig at The Victoria pub in Swindon on 9th December 2005 was their last.
Many hoped that, with the departure of Simon to climes antipodean, that the Chaos Brothers were no more, but, just when you thought it was safe . . .
The Legendary Chaos Brothers returned! (sort of). In August 2009 (disguised under the name MC/DC/SC) they played an acoustic set at The Victoria. Then,aA year later, they did return witha new drummer Terry Chaos and played at the John Peel night at The Victoria, Swindon on November 4th, 2010. This went so well that they immediately addda new member in the shape of Rich Chaos (know as Richard Park to fans of Nobody's Heroes) and played an acoustic set of Clash songs with Rich Chaos on double bass. This was again at The Victora in Swindon on August 19th 2011.And then they were gone, or were they . . . .
Of course not!
The Chaos Brothers redefined the word rock 'n' roll and as all Neil Young fans know, rock 'n' roll will never die. It can however get older. Back they came, mighter of girth and sparser of hair. Rich Chaos remained in the lineup but the drummer's chair was again filled by Simon Chaos as Terry Chaos was killed in a freak stamp collecting accident. They played their first gig as a five piece on August 2nd at the Vic in Swindon supporting 999 and disappointed one hardcore fan, who hadn't seen them since Steve was guitarist, by actually being quite good. This misguided soul had actually formed his own band inspired by the boys. Apparently he's still on the run after escaping from the asylum.
And so, the boys are back, unleashing their brand of Chaos upon an unsuspecting and largly uncaring world. Don't say you weren't warned . . .