Psychobilly acts return for Bedlam Breakout weekender in Northampton

Japanese act Cracks
Japanese act Cracks

Bedlam Breakout is back in town next week for three days the best psychobilly acts from across the world.

When American rockabilly collided with British punk in the early 1980s, a rousing new genre was created.

Taking its name from the song One Piece at a Time and using imagery from horror films with a dash of humour, psychobilly was always an underground movement.

Nevertheless, it has grown to a size where it can command its own festival in the heart of Northampton.

Peter Dennis spoke to festival organiser Tobe Wright ahead of Bedlam’s about the origins of Bedlam and its return to town.

“We had been putting on psychobilly gigs at The Racehorse pub in the mid to late 90s,” explains Wright.

“Interest was in decline in the UK at this point and we wanted to try to keep it all going.

“We eventually thought an all-dayer might generate more interest in the scene.”

From a modest start, Bedlam Breakout has become the UK's premier psychobilly festival with Wright explaining the Roadmender was an ideal venue for the event.

“The original Bedlam crew are all from Northampton,” he explains.

“It's perfect really as we are central in the country, we have all major travel links for those coming to the festival and the venue is perfect.

“The Roadmender is ideal, great guys run it, superb staff with a very good sound to top it off. Its Perfect.”

Boasting an impressive 24 bands over three days, Bedlam Breakout also aims to give Northampton an international flavour by attracting bands from across the globe.

“We have two bands from Canada at this festival - The Raygun Cowboys and an old school psychobilly band called The Lab Ratz,” explains Wright.

“The Cracks from Japan are a heavy duty punky band with all the crazy horror make up to boot.

“The Milwaukee Wildmen are from Holland and put on a great high powered show and The Tumblin' Go Go's are also from Holland and play superb rockabilly with a kick.

“We also have The Trillionairs from Germany, Shaky from Sweden, Sleepwalkerz from France and The Phantom Rockers, an old psychobilly band now based in the USA.”

Aside from the bands, Bedlam Breakout also acts fans from all over the world to Northampton.

“We’ve had people from Australia, Japan, New Zealand, all over Scandinavia, mainland Europe, USA, Brazil, Chile. Let's just say they are fanatical about this genre.”

There are also plenty of British bands at this year’s festival.

Saturday's headliners King Kurt hail from London. Formed in 1981 they soon gained notoriety for their rowdy concerts which would often involve good natured food fights (although Bedlam promises to be 'mess free'!) and the band often appeared in the national single and album charts. On Sunday festival closers Demented Are Go hail from Cardiff and, as part of the first wave of bands, were highly influential in the psychobilly scene.

They released their eight studio album in 2012.

“All the UK bands range vastly in styles from the teddy boy rockabilly of Furious Rock N' Roll on Friday to the hillbilly sounds of Thee Scarecrows aka on Saturday to the amazing vocals of Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros playing neo rockabilly on Sunday,” explains Wright.

“It's a fine mix and showcases what the scene has to offer these days.

“The UK scene is smaller than, say, the German of Californian scene but it's a healthy underground scene with a fanatical following.”

With such a diverse global scene, organisers aim to bring bands with the right attitude to the festival.

“We like to promote new UK bands so they have a crowd to play to,” explains Wright.

“We bring over small foreign bands for the UK to see and bring over the 'big guns' which in turn raises the awareness of Bedlam to people around the world.

“We do try to make sure these bands are good as it's people's hard earned cash they are spending and we don't want to put on below par bands.”

All three days are followed by after parties at The Bear pub with bands usually around until the early hours.

With a team of ten helping to bring Bedlam Breakout together, Tobe said: “The crowds keep coming and when we see the enjoyment that the crowds have, the bands have.

“That is the main reason we do it. It's a labour of love.”

Friday doors open at 7pm. Tickets £10 on the door.

Saturday and Sunday Doors open at 12:30pm. Tickets £30 on the door.

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