Legendarily obnoxious Irish punks, The Outcasts: ‘The band you love to hate!’
11:09 am
Legendarily obnoxious Irish punks, The Outcasts: ‘The band you love to hate!’

Belfast, Ireland-based punks The Outcasts have a fair amount of mythology attached to their riotous time together.  The group formed in 1977 and after getting rejected by five different Belfast clubs their name took on a more personal meaning for the band and it stuck.

When they finally were able to land an actual live gig, fellow Irish punks Jake Burns, the vocalist for Stiff Little Fingers and guitarist Henry Cluney bore witness to the first few shows played by The Outcasts, which according to Greg Cowen as noted in the book Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980–1984 were “disasters.” Cowan attributes the early lackluster impressions of the band to the fact that nobody in the Outcasts could actually play their instruments. There was also the issue that by time The Outcasts were getting ready to stumble through the third or so song in their set (which at the time consisted of covers of the Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash along with a few originals), also seemed to be some sort of signal for drummer Colin Cowan to trash his kit. It wouldn’t take long before The Outcasts would be routinely referred to as “The Band You Love to Hate” by local music journalists.

Despite their seeming inability to successfully play a gig that lasted more than a few minutes (which sounds pretty punk rock to me by the way), the band scored a coveted invitation to open for The Radiators From Space—a band championed by one of Ireland’s greatest musical exports—Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy—and Johnny Thunders. Held at Jordanstown Polytechnic on October 21, 1977 The Outcasts stayed true to their disastrous live track record. Here’s more from Greg Cowan on how that went:

We got the gig because I had written a letter that was published in NME magazine berating English punk band for not playing Northern Ireland. Colin (Cowan) had filled plastic bags with fake blood, which he threw at students in the audience. And Martin (Colin’s brother and guitarist for the band) assaulted The Radiators because he caught members of the band changing their flared jeans into drainpipes (old-school code for “skinny jeans”) before going on stage.

Though I don’t usually advocate the use of violence, I’m pretty sure that if you show up to a punk show wearing flared trousers you’re probably at the wrong fucking gig. Later on the band would start crashing shows by notable groups and musicians like Elvis Costello when he played Ulster Hall in the boys’ hometown in 1978. The band allegedly stormed the stage, grabbed Elvis’ microphone and spit out the self-promotional phrase “We’re The Outcasts, buy our single!” Apparently there were a fair number of punk/football fans in attendance who enthusiastically supported the antics The Outcasts pulled on poor Declan and a short time later they were playing to thousands of fans in Dublin. This affinity for commandeering other band’s shows was continued by drummer Colin Cowan when he disrupted sets by both Graham Parker and the Rumor and The Boomtown Rats. But let’s be honest here—there is a line in the sand when it comes to this pre-Jackass guerrilla music marketing. Sure I give them a pass for making Bob Geldof even grumpier than usual, but you simply do not fuck with THE CLASH. Sadly The Outcasts’ must have missed school the day they taught “Joe Strummer 101” and they set out to crash the stage where the Clash—who they had just supported in Belfast—were playing another show. When they showed up, a group of pissed-off bouncers were waiting for them, and according to Cowen who were ready to beat their “fuck in.”

‘We are The Outcasts, buy our single!’
Despite all this the band would sign with It Records and Good Vibrations and release a slew of snotty sounding singles such as “You’re a Disease,” “I Don’t Want to be No Adult,” and the New York Dolls-y sounding “The Cops are Coming.” In 1979 they released their first full length album Self Conscious Over You as well as recording a session with John Peel in May of 1981. Sadly drummer Colin Cowan would die in a car crash on May 13th, 1982 and after his untimely death Greg Cowan said “nothing was ever the same.” The surviving members would continue on adding drummer Raymond Falls to their lineup, releasing more music and touring before disbanding sometime in 1985. The Outcasts have been the subject of a 2016 documentary film Outcast By Choice and the current lineup of the band is still touring and just confirmed they they will be a part of the 2017 Rebellion Punk Music Festival along with Bad Religion, Sham 69, The Vapors and a shit-ton of other bands this coming August in Blackpool.

If you can’t already tell, I love The Outcasts and if you’ve never heard of them or it’s been awhile since you;ve listened, I think you will really dig the jams I’ve included in this post. Below for your punk rock pleasure I have live footage of The Outcasts performing at the same place they pranked Elvis Costello, Ulster Hall from 1980; their single “The Cops are Coming”; the band’s totally balls-out video promo for the 1982 single “Winter”; as well as footage of them performing what would become their swan song of sorts, a cover of “1969” by The Stooges.

A shot of an early live gig by The Outcasts.

The Outcasts, ‘The Cops are Coming,’ 1979.

The fantastic promo video for the 1982 single ‘Winter.’

The Outcasts covering The Stooges single ‘1969’ and their 1978 single ‘Psychotic Shakedown.’

The Outcasts performing for a blistering 30+ minutes live at Ulster Hall, April 24th, 1980.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Strassenjungs: The ‘fake’ German punk rockers who toured with The Clash
Meet ‘The Fred Banana Combo’ Germany’s first new wave punks
Never mind the Sex Pistols, Here’s ‘The Kids’: Pissed-off pioneering punks from Belgium

Posted by Cherrybomb
11:09 am



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