Crow People

CROW PEOPLE came from some pit village near Doncaster but they seemed to play an awful lot of gigs in the ‘industrial garden town’ of Scunthorpe.

I first remember coming across them at one such packed, sweaty gig in the mid-Eighties, although when I ran into Mark (who now has a teenage daughter and a career as a teacher) at the Flux gig at the 1in12 in Bradford last year, he told me that we’d actually met a good few years before when I was wandering around the Arndale in Doncaster, trying to sell records I didn’t want to unsuspecting punk rockers. It’s news to me.

Although they only released a couple of records throughout their career, they never got any press attention (apart from the stuff I wrote myself) and were barely known outside our little patch of South Yorkshire / North Lincolnshire, Crow People were a tremendous live band.

I used to get absolutely blasted, sit on the floor cross-legged and spin-out to their chugging, swirling, psychedelic space-rock. Way fucking cool.

I even ended up putting them on in Leeds, at this mad Leeds Abortion Fund benefit at Leeds Poly with the Wedding Present offshoot the Ukrainians and LS6 indie-sirens Sharon. Coming through a decent PA, Crow People just sounded extraordinarily powerful and intense  – though the evening was marred when, at a crazy post-gig party at the Sharon girls’ house, one of their knobhead mates from Donny had an argument with his missus and trashed Paddy’s bedroom.

Their lack of recognition always baffled me.

They released a couple of records on Armstrong’s Meantime label but I have no mp3s for you, I’m afraid. I lost my copy of Cloud Songs years ago. Anyone has a spare, or even photographs of the band, well, you know where I am ..

In the meantime, here’s an interview I did with Mark for GRUNT magazine in 1988.

* * *

CAN you remember that bloke in the Wurzel Gummidge stories called the Crow Man? He used to breath life into the raggy-arsed scarecrows and, when the occasion demanded it, he used to give them a bit of a kick up the arse too.

Well – here comes the tortuous analogy – there’s a band from Doncaster who I think do more or less the same for the raggy-arsed remnants of what we used to call anarcho punk – though the band themselves would be the first to deny such a high and mighty claim.

Like the best of their contemporaries in what remains of the scene (Culture Shock, Chumbawamba, Jackdaw With Crowbar) the way that Crow People get their ideas across is every bit as important as the actual ideas. The emphasis is back on communication – and about time too.

“We definitely did come out of that scene,” says singer and bassist Mark Crow Person (pictured). “But we found that it had become repetitive, in that once people grasp onto something, they tend to reiterate it over and over again, and it gradually moves into stagnation.

“People have seen these lyrics about animal torture or nuclear warfare so many times that they take them as a statutory reality instead of thinking about it a bit further.”

Crow People’s lyrics have been described as ‘obscure’. What do you make of that?

“That would suggest that they’re abstract, that they’re alienating the people hearing them, and I don’t think that’s true,” says Mark. “Basically, on Cloud Songs [the band’s first 12-inch on Darlington’s Meantime Records] we were trying to portray a feeling of alienation. They don’t fit into the format that’s acceptable.

“I’m not trying to say that we’re particularly original, I just think that it’s important that if bands are going to write lyrics, they may as well be as important as the music, they ought to try to do something different whether it’s successful or not.”

Since they started working together four years ago, Crow People have moved a long way from their punk rock beginnings. Their music is a bit more subtle these days. A bit more measured.

“That’s true. I’d put that down to naivety, as well as ability – or lack of it. It’s not true in all cases, but when you first form a band, as long as you can play a powerchord you can construct a few songs and they’ll sound alright.”

Seeing Crow People live, you experience a bewildering but wonderfully enjoyable mixture of some of the most powerful rock songs you could ever imagine coming out of Doncaster and some of the fragile and delicate. One minute they’re sending you reeling with the sheer mindblowing intensity of songs like Crying and then the next they’re caressing you with the almost sedate Nightmares. The one constant is an emphasis on melody and honest-to-goodness tunes.

And despite the rather miserable titles, Crow People inspire pure, simple, unadulterated joy – in this writer at least.

If you ever get to see Crow People live, chances are, it’ll be at a benefit gig. They don’t seem to play at any other kind of gig.

“Apart from the entertainment value – you go along, you get pissed, have a good time and try to decipher what the bands are saying – I think you may as well use gigs for something beneficial. You kill two birds with one stone,” explains Mark.

Three-quarters of the band (new drummer Dallas, occasional singer Gav and Mark himself) now live in Leeds, leaving guitarist Bill the guitarist on his todd in South Yorkshire. Why the move?

“Cos I don’t like it there very much,” answers Mark with a laugh. “Nothing’s going on, no gigs, a total lack of spirit, especially for the size of the place. Here, there seems to be a cohesive spirit, a lot of people who are interested in doing something. In Doncaster, it all seems based around a drug culture that passes for an ‘alternative scene’. Not everyone is like that, but a lot of them are.”

Let’s talk about the important stuff now, Mark. Tell me about heavy metal.

“I don’t want to comment too critically on people into that kind of thing. Obviously, it’s up to them and if they can get something from it, that’s fair enough. I can’t see it offers that much.”

Don’t hold back Mark.

“Metal’s loathsome. I’ve always believed that.”

[Originally published in GRUNT magazine, sometime in 1988. Photo courtesy of Dallas]

See also interviews with Flux, the Mob and D&V

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54 Comments

Filed under expletive undeleted, interviews

54 responses to “Crow People

  1. I’m losing my touch on music. Lately, I’ve been listening to Johnny Cash.

    The one guy that has his own category on my blog just got banned from your country.
    http://mindofjr.wordpress.com/2009/05/05/journal-15-michael-savage-banned-from-the-uk/

  2. And I know I’m usually off the subject, but what are your top 10 Manchester bands of all time?

    I think being off the subject is what makes me insane/add?

    I recently wrote a 10 page paper and got an “F” on it because it went completely off topic.

    I talked to the professor and rewrote it and got a brilliant comment.

    Its usually complete insanity with me or I’m on to something.

    I think you have a great form to your blog with you consistently follow; I struggle with consistency.

    Best of luck to you undeleted, your semi-new house?, and your impressive record collection.

  3. undeleted

    Michael Savage is a prick JR. Why do you waste your time listening to his poisonous crap? You’re better than that, my friend.

    I think Jacqui Smith handled the situation badly – I’d never heard of the guy until she stuck her oar in – but I can’t get too upset about him being banned from the country.

    Fuck him and his vile, repulsive opinions. And hey, at least he’s got something to whinge about now, eh?

  4. undeleted

    Slightly off the subject, yes.

    Do I really have to? I’m not keen on lists at the best of times.

    Go on then, just because it’s you. Fave MCR artists, in no particular order:

    The Fall, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, Crazy Penis (probably not really a Manchester band), Badly Drawn Boy, the Ting Tings, 808 State, New Order, doves, the Buzzcocks, the Smiths, Mr Scruff, 10 cc, Oasis, Stone Roses, M People.

    You might also check out Homelife, ACR, Ebere, 2 For Joy, A Guy Called Gerald, Slaughter and the Dogs, the Paris Angels, the Inca Babies, Big Flame and the Necrophiliacs.

    There are probably loads more but they’re the ones that come to mind immediately.

    You wrote a paper on the best bands to come out of Manchester? What the hell are you studying? Glad to hear your grade improved – but what would Michael Savage think about it?

  5. Seth Moreno

    I have Cloud Songs EP on mp3. E-mail me if you’d like the tracks sent to you.

  6. undeleted

    Nice one Seth. Mail incoming ..

  7. Waka

    Crow People were a fantastic band, and being originally from a small town between Scunthorpe and Doncaster got to watch them a good number of times. As for the Cloud Songs ep, I sampled the guitar riff at the start of the song for my very first tune. Still listen to them now.

  8. undeleted

    Don’t tell everyone about it! Let’s keep them as our little secret, eh?

  9. johnn

    i’d forgot where crow people came from,i seem to remember them playing gigs here in manchester,sure they would have been in old Hulme.
    i might have also seen them at a small free festival called ‘two trees’ over in Doncaster but its all a bit of a blur….you know how it is after 20 odd years.
    interesting blog here,thanks.

  10. undeleted

    I can definitely imagine Crow People playing in old Hulme but it was a bit before my time over here.

    And I know exactly how it is after 20-odd years – it’s all disappearing fast. We had the whole rave period in between too. Still, I’m sure we’ll vaguely remember we had a good time, even if we don’t actually remember what it was. Probably.

    Cheers Johnn.

  11. Did you ever get the Crow people mp3s? be great to hear them again, i used to have the ‘cloud songs’ record, might still have it but if so its in my attic and I have no record player these days…

    Another great band fro hulme, manchester were Those Who Celebrate, who did freeform jazz stuff and once supported Derek bailey and people like that in London, i had their album too but another one that is lost in the rafters… Does anbody have this???

  12. undeleted

    No I didn’t. Mailed the guy but he never got back to me. Mark from the band promised me a copy last year but he never got around to sending it over .. bloody old punx, useless eh?

    I have an ancient demo tape which has loads of tracks and is actually much better than Cloud Songs. Will try to find that in the meantime.

    Can’t help you with Those Who Celebrate I’m afraid. Sounds like Johnn might be your best bet for that one – but I will ask any oldskool Hulme-ites I run into ..

    Thanks for stopping by Graham.

  13. johnn

    sorry graham,not heard of ‘Those Who Celebrate’ before.if you have a myspace account maybe ask around on the Hulme Crescents page run by graffitti artist kelzo http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=55432167

  14. johnn

    sorry that might have been the wrong link,try asking on both maybe?
    ex-hulme-http://www.myspace.com/exhulme

  15. Eddie

    oi graham, it’s rooner from the uk punk and vegan groups. i used to know mark and bill from grove park before they were famous, i’ve got cloud songs, a demo tape with no cover, and a live tape by them somewhere if i haven’t taped over it.

    sprakes the anarchist a teacher now? blimey.

  16. undeleted

    Hello Eddie, you’d probably be better off clicking on Graham’s name, going through to the Spiral Seed website and leaving a comment there if you want to get in touch with him. He doesn’t come around here too often.

    Mark is just the same as he ever was. Proper diamond geezer.

  17. In case you still haven’t got it, it’s here:
    http://rapidshare.com/files/284988535/crow.tar.html

    Two trees festival: lying in a tent listening to someone blasting out the Sugarcubes album over and over and over again

    cheers

  18. undeleted

    Thanks, very kind of you lean. Not heard that for years. Sounding great – though I seem to have one track twice. No worries.

    How do you feel about that Sugarcubes album these days?

  19. yan tree

    Hi, yeah the band i was in played with Crow People a few times & Dallas used to be our drummer – can’t remember him joining CP – must’ve been when i left the Leeds squatting scene. Our band was Tree of Life. We played at that 2 Trees fest also. I have a few live/demo tapes of CP & the Cloud songs 12″. Gav got married to Jo (I think) from York…I have a photo of them somewhere, but none of the group together.
    Anyone remember the band the ‘Hulmeanoids’ I got their demo & was friends with the singer…I’m terrible at names.
    thanks for posting this i/view & thanks for the website/blog gonna check more stuff out!
    peace

  20. undeleted

    Glad to be of service Yan. If you have a look through the punk and/or Leeds-related stuff you’ll probably spot a fair few names you’ll recognise. And also the raving stuff too, come to think of it.

    Never caught the Hulmeanoids, unfortunately, although I am absolutely in awe of their name.

  21. johnn

    dave was the singer guitarist with the hulmemanoids,forgot they played at 2 trees as well.never knew they had done any demos,i’ll ask around,one of the other singers still lives around here but dunno if she has any old demos?
    2 trees ,wet,cold and the brew crew in yer face,happy daze.

  22. undeleted

    Hey Johnn and Yan, courtesy of a mate on Twitter:

    http://www.myspace.com/hulmanoids

    We had the wrong spelling. Have fun

  23. Comment rescued from old site

    johnn // 30 December, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Reply

    best band that came outta Hulme were ‘Joint Plan’!
    will be playin at Blackpool ‘Rebbellion’ festival next year,you have been warned.

  24. living in the 80s

    hi, i have 9 tracks of them “studio and live cassette”
    but i dont know the year of this. here the tracklist:
    demo – 01 Ambition
    demo – 02 Strolling
    demo – 03 Clouds
    demo – 04 Wall to wall people
    demo – 05 Nothing at all
    practise session 1987 – Instrumental
    practise session 1987 – Jewel in the crown
    practise session 1988 – Untitled
    practise session 1987 – Cheated

    i can upload this to mediafire if anyone wants it!
    cheers

  25. Yeah, please do that. I’d like to have a listen to that stuff

  26. Mark

    Comment rescued from old site:

    I saw this band at Bletchley near Milton keynes. Around 1987-8
    I was completely off my head on acid. Then these 3 guys got on stage, they looked and smelled like haystacks.
    Then they proceded to blow my mind.
    I had a wire on the tape deck ( the sound guy at the club was a friend of mine) so I listned to it again when i was straight. I still couldnt believe what i was listning too.
    I’ve tried finding some of their stuff on record since but never had any luck. I had a scratchy copy of cloud songs but my whole music collection got nicked, sadly the tape of that amazing night went at the same time.
    I am shocked at their lack of recognition too.
    I can see that this was posted long ago, if you have had any luck getting any sounds could you let me know? thanks

  27. Sounds very much like your typical Crow People gig Mark. Maybe we should start some kind of stupid Facebook group to get them to reform? Maybe not.

  28. kez 13th

    Hiya mate i would love a copy of this,still have cloud songs but ambition was my fave track and never got it on tape.All the best kez.

  29. Pete Morgan

    Hi, just discovered this site. I’m Pete Morgan, the original drummer on cloud songs and all the gigs you went to etc
    Has anyone got in contact with the rest of the band?
    Cheers for still listening to us!

  30. Hello Pete, good to hear from you. I was just listening to Cloud Songs the other day actually – it helps me through my commute home after work! I’ve seen Mark once in about 20 years and he’s not great at replying to emails, so I can’t say when I’ll hear from him again .. I’ll point him in your direction as and when, obviously

  31. Pete Morgan

    Thanks for that, would be good to get back together for a one off gig in Donny!

  32. Bill

    Hi, somebody told me that Pete had posted a message on this site. I have been trying to get in touch with him for ages. I would appreciate it if you could forward my contact details to him.

    Many thanks,

    Bill

  33. Will do Bill. Stay tuned ..

  34. DonnyPunk

    Crow People were from Doncaster apart from Pete (drummer) from Rossington. I saw them loads of times at gigs in Donny and further afield, Lancaster, Lake District, Milton Keynes, Leeds, Bradford etc. Always got a great reception and only accepted expenses costs which thanks to Glynn and his van were usually not much. Cloud Songs ep. was never off turntable for a long time and heard it said it helped one lag get through time banged up singing it in his head!
    After Crow People split, Mark and Bill got together with Miggy (bass) and Rich (drums) and formed Metereaders, who had a bit more punky sound, not so dreamy as Crow People but still incredible sound. Check them out on REVERBNATION now! Gutted when they stopped gigging and jacked it in, they just got better and better.

  35. Commo

    Remember (just about) a benefit gig at Donny Womens Centre around 1989ish, Crow People, Shrapnel (Welsh I think) and Osric Tentacles. Never get gigs like that any more, havn’t been to Donny for over 20yrs, mainly cos it was an inward looking shit hole but now and again there were bands and gigs that kicked you up the arse.

  36. Mark

    Saw them Menwith Hill Festival (from descriptions,think mustbe same Crow People ) -just brilliant-I have memories of hearing haunting guitar riffs drifting over the festival site one evening. Would be great to get a recording of some of their stuff . Happy memories-seems a lifetime ago. Sat next to themfollowing year when they were waiting to go on stage but some other band wouldnt get off stage ( a real pain) – and Crow People cleared off-didnt blame them ! I would have done the same thing, but it was a shame – we really wanted to see them play. Found this on the ‘net just looking for Crow People in an idle moment -excellent -thought they had ‘sunk without trace’ – somewhere I have an old recording of part of their set that someone did (dogs howling / folk making noise !!) anyone got a decent recording of some of their work that could be accessed, would be appreciated . Peace. Mark.

  37. Great band to see live – hope they are all doing well.

  38. Hello Mark, how on earth did you end up here? Nice Terminus page, btw

  39. Strangely, while adding bits to the Terminus web site you mention – I was looking up Crow People, as I had been looking up the Fuck City Shitters a few weeks earlier. Memories, eh!? Some great gigs and some great people.

  40. Indeed. Really sorry to hear about Gary Levy – that was Gary with the beard, right? There’s quite a list on that page. It’s very sad.

    The gig posters on there are great though. I even remember a few of those gigs, vaguely. More or less. I think.

  41. Yep, the list get’s longer each year. And yes, Cornish Gary. The gig posters are great social history – not to mention good for provoking memory!

  42. That’s a damn shame.

  43. Yes – memories… lol. The thing with the Furness was that it was ‘our’ shithole! Jensons was just shit, as far as I was concerned, and when it chucked out on a Saturday an hour after the Furness, our lot used to go off to the Kinsley Labour Club and drink till the Furness reopened. All day drinking on a Saturday if you knew where to go.
    The ‘ziggurat’ has now been demolished btw. Saw Adam recently and he seemed ok. And both Pete and Chris L. Can’t remember getting any drinks off anyone called Waka though! lol

  44. and he never saw me in a shirt and tie dancing to disco music at the Crosby either! lol The drugs obviously do work after all!

  45. Gutted about the library. I liked it a lot.

    Wack was one of the lads from Crowle. Blonde hair, glasses?

  46. Yeah dude, whatever. Busted.

  47. Can’t remember the name at all… might remember the face… but a lot of drink been drunk since those days. It is still rubbish though.
    As to the ziggurat, yes, shame about the Pyramid at the front – the library is still there, or was last time I looked, but Scunny Council seem to have a pathological hatred for any building with any age. In-fact, a hatred for Scunthorpe it would seem sometimes. The Crosby is soon to be demolished and has been derelict for some time now.

  48. Scunny council hating Scunthorpe? There you are, not all bad then ..

    Last time I went it was just awful, a ghastly Anytown UK. Not that it was much cop to start with but you know what I mean. Anyway, I’m due one of my 10-yearly visits – where is good to have a drink these days?

  49. The country is full of ‘Anytown UK’s’ really: buildings of any character are the first things to be stripped out or knocked down… Very few places left in Scunthorpe that are worth a shit, as nearly everywhere I used to drink has been shut! So, I can’t really recommend anywhere, except Charlie’s bar (Wicked Bar). However, some people go to Witherspoon’s (which I try and avoid), Lord Bobs, maybe Honest Lawyer. Go to wherever the people you are visiting go – best I can say really.

  50. crusty chris

    Crow People – what a class act just missed out getting ‘cloud songs’ on e-bay. Best times ever, the late 80’s before i had to settle down. :(. I did some research – Bone from Radio Mongolia died (alcahol) – Crowey Mark is teaching (?!) Used to see these bands all the time – anyone remember scatwailin’? I’ve been looking for Dave from Hulmanoids for ages – found this -http://hulmanoids.com/ sent email, haven’t had a reply yet (can’t be two of them !)My mate Barbara said she saw Dave Hulmanoid play at a squat gig with loads of pedals (solo) – and there were naked dancers! (about 7 years ago ?) – if anyone remembers the old anarcho bands and northern squat scene – feel free to get in touch. Modern life is so boring in comparison!
    crustychris@outlook.com
    p.s. heard a rumour dave was doing stuff with the guy from bongwater?!?

  51. FuseRed

    remember seeing Crow People somewhere & thinking they were ace. Found links to their 12″, demo and other stuff here: http://bromags.blogspot.com.au/2010/04/crow-people-cloud-songs.html Plus someone mentioned Radio Mongolia – they were great live too.

    About the Hulmanoids – not sure about Dave (the driving force) nowadays but pete & ste also in the hulmanoids went onto much more ferocious hardcore band Kitchener http://www.sbklchr.org & many other bands between them Barcode Biopsy / Grover / Propagumbhies/ Radio Alice & People! And Quita – one of the singers now does oddball stand up comedy under the name CheekyKita http://www.womenincomedy.co.uk/2014/Cheekykita.html

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