Vice Squad are a female fronted UK Punk Rock band that delivers short sharp songs with incisive lyrics spat out over a thunderous rhythm and machine gun Rock ’n’ Roll guitars.
Renowned for their high energy live shows the band deliver their set with passion and humour and have been touring and releasing successful albums since the1980s.
Their latest album ‘Cardboard Country’ was released on their own Last Rockers label last year. The album is launched on the back of a very successful Pledge campaign raising funds for the Shelter homeless charity in line with the album title.
Vice Squad is fronted by raucous voiced singer/guitarist Beki Bondage who was featured on the front cover of a number of influential music tabloids such as Melody Maker, NME, Sounds, Record Mirror and Smash Hits. The band is 100% DIY and has no record company or management backing. Since reforming Vice Squad in 1997 the band has released several albums with powerful punk songs that are very well received by fans and press. In keeping with the DIY ethic the albums were recorded in the front room of Beki’s South London flat.
2017 – This year saw the release of 3 new songs ‘London Fog’ ‘Beautiful Toy’ and ‘Prozac Nation’ on a limited edition Vice Squad/Droogettes split EP on US label Rebel Sound/Violated Records on CD and in red or purple vinyl. Vice squad played several festivals including Scotland Calling, Melrock (Belgium), Thinking Pink Festival, Rebellion in Blackpool and Rebellion in Dublin and TNT Festival in Belgium.
Songwriting began for the next album and the band ended the year with their annual Christmas EP featuring their roadie Cliff Van Halen’s dad Vern covering the George Michael classic ‘Last Christmas’ and Paul Rooney’s inimitable take on UK comedian John Shuttleworth’s ‘Austin Ambassador Y Reg’.
2016 – The band started the year with some UK gigs then ventured across the channel for shows in Den Haag and Antwerp, where they shared a stage with the Toy Dolls and Funeral Dress at the prestigious Trix music venue. More UK dates followed including an appearance at the Southampton Punk Festival and a sold out show at the legendary Hope&Anchor in London. Vice Squad donated a song called ‘Little Red Gloves’ to the S.O.P.H.I.E charity along with Cradle of Filth and Arch Enemy. The band played to a packed venue at Northwest Calling Festival in Manchester on 4th June and on 5th August they played the Tower Street Arena as part of the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool.
2015 – Highlights of this year included headlining the Nice ’N’ Sleazy Festival in Morecambe and Bologna City Rockers Festival, playing the Exit Festival in Serbia, playing at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool, 3 Chords festival in Penzance and Rat City Riot Festival in Belgium as well as plenty of club dates in the UK. We ended the year with our traditional Yuletide EP which this time featured a somewhat obscene version of ‘When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney’.
2014 –The band’s new album ‘Cardboard Country’ is completed and is released on the band’s own Last Rockers Records label on 1st December with funding from fans via the bands first ever Pledge Music Campaign. The album is available in a 3 panel Digipack with artwork by American artist Landon Armstrong who supplied the art for ‘Punk Rock Radio’ and ‘London Underground’, the latter is now a rather impressive tattoo across a fan’s chest and back. The band played Paris for the first time ever at the Unpleasant Meeting Festival at Le Soft. In August they appeared before a packed house in the Empress Ballroom at the Rebellion Festival, Blackpool UK, and also played as their acoustic side project The Dirty Folkers. Other festival appearances included Rise Up, Inkfest, The Great British Alternative Music Festival and Pod Parou in the Czech Republic.
2013 – VICE SQUAD continue to play all over the UK including festivals Strummercamp,, Nice N Sleazy, The Wickerman, Rebellion, 3 Chords Festival and The London Punk Festival. They appear as special guests to The Adicts at Islington O2 Academy, Birmingham O2 Academy and Nottingham O2 Academy. They end the year with shows in Czech Republic, Belgium and Holland. Beki sings with Ginger Wildheart, Sam Jaffa and Rat Scabies at the Annual Ginger Wildheart Birthday Bash at KoKo in London. A Christmas CD EP entitled ‘A Dog Is For Life’ is released featuring the title track ‘Christmas Has Been Cancelled’ and ‘Band’ with artwork from Landon Armstrong and a ‘Christmas Has Been Cancelled’ pin badge.
2012 – New album PUNK ROCK RADIO is released to great enthusiasm by fans and media. VICE SQUAD are booked to play Vive Le Rock Festival, Punk & Disorderly Festival, Punk By The Sea Festival and Rebellion Festival. The band headline the Altavoz festival in Medellin, Colombia, playing to 30,000 people and appear on Columbian national TV.
2011 – VICE SQUAD play two very successful shows at the prestigious REBELLION FESTIVAL. Taking second headline on Friday’s Acoustic stage the band donned spectacles and flat caps and tore through acoustic versions of new and classic tunes under the moniker THE DIRTY FOLKERS.
Closing the set with the ever popular ‘Last Rockers’ and an unlikely cover of Motorhead’s ‘Ace Of Spades’ this Thrash, Rockabilly, Skiffle tinged acoustic set encouraged many people to refer to Vice Squads tongue-in-cheek approach as the highlight of their weekend !
The following day VICE SQUAD packed the Olympia Stage and played a storming electric set to over 1500 people. A week later Beki and the band were ‘special guests’ at the Endorse It festival, where the band played alongside New Model Army. In November they played the Ratrock Festival in Belgium with legendary band the MISFITS and went down a storm in spite of the rain.
Finally…after much hard work and inspiration Vice Squad finished the album PUNK ROCK RADIO which includes songs, ‘Punk Is The Blues’ ‘Stuck In Reverse’, title track ‘Punk Rock Radio’ and the hilarious ‘Him Indoors’ ( first showcased as The Dirty Folkers at Blackpool Rebellion). Many more UK club dates and the new release sees the band achieve another relentless and encouraging year in Punk Rock.
2010 – VICE SQUAD begin work on the follow up to ‘London Underground’ and gig continuously on the UK club circuit throughout the year. They embark on a tour of Italy and play festival shows at The Endorse It Festival, The Willowman Festival, packed out shows at Rebellion and Durham Punk Festival plus Pod Parou in Czech Republic and the headline slot at the Viva La Pola Summer Revolution Rock Festival in Pula. At the end of the year they record a Christmas CD EP entitled ‘ Christmas Rockin’ ‘ which includes an irreverent cover of ‘ Rocking Around The Christmas Tree ‘ and some previously unreleased Vice Squad tracks ‘ Little Red Gloves ‘ ‘ How We Laughed ‘ and ‘ Burden Of The State. ‘
2009 – In spite of the grinding disappointment of shelving ‘Fairground’, being permanently skint and trying to keep the band on the road Beki and Paul rally from the setbacks and write a brand new set of songs that later become ‘LONDON UNDERGROUND’. The album sees a welcome return to UK Brit Punk style that was missing on previous albums of the 90’s. This album is a fitting follow up to the much acclaimed ‘Defiant’, and boasts a brilliant sleeve drawn by US artist Landon Armstrong depicting London Punk night life and a fold out poster of fan photographs. Beki and Paul have started their own ‘Last Rockers’ label and ‘London Underground’ is it’s first release. ‘We thought that as we’d created this album at a time when most people would have quit and had scraped together the money to master it we may as well stick our necks out even further and release it ourselves. This way it’s entirely DIY from start to finish, except for the amazing sleeve which was down to the talent and generosity of Landon and designer Barry Kade. This album was the easiest to write and record so far, the ideas were bursting out of us and as usual it was cathartic to get my feelings out in the lyrics. We were on such a creative roll that we wrote and recorded half of the next album. ‘ In June Vice Squad embark on a highly successful tour of the West Coast and Texas with US band The Lower Class Brats. The tour ends on a very high note with a sold out show at the Key Club in Hollywood which necessitates a police road block on Sunset Boulevard to allow for the crowds coming to the venue. On their return to the UK in July they play Shepherds Bush Empire with US punk legends Bad Brains and UK punk festival ‘Rebellion’ in August.
2008 – Vice Squad complete new album ‘FAIRGROUND FOR THE DEMENTED’ and continue to play UK dates and festival slots in Europe including Hooifesten in Belgium and Mighty Sounds in the Czech Republic. After months of hard work the album is shelved due to the recession and it’s effect on the already struggling music industry.
2007 – The band continued playing gigs in the UK and were pleased to see the scene starting to thrive again. In June the band started work on a new album at Granary Studios in Kent, which is the first time they have recorded in a commercial studio for years. (All previous recordings have been made in Beki’s front room).
In August the band played to a jam packed Arena at the Rebellion festival in Blackpool. People were queuing to get in but the organisers had to turn people back for fear of over-crowding. Beki says ” This is by far the best band I’ve ever played in, being on stage with these guys is like sitting on top of a speeding train. It’s completely exhilarating and extremely loud, which is how it should be.”
In December 2007 original guitarist Dave Bateman died after sustaining a head injury in Spain. As well as writing the early classic VS songs such as ‘Last Rockers’ and ‘Out of Reach with Beki, Dave was responsible for getting the band their first gigs and without his input it’s unlikely that Vice Squad would have existed.
2006 – The band start recording new studio album entitled DEFIANT. Vice Squad are asked to play at the prestigious BRIT INVASION show at the Orange County Pavillion, California. They fly all the way to LA and are raring to go on stage when all hell breaks loose as the Riot Police wade into the crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets. The band offered to play in the car park rather than disappoint thousands of fans but the police are having none of it. Next day US newspapers are full of reports of the event, blaming the bands and fans, when in fact the whole thing appeared to have been staged by the LAPD.
In October ‘Defiant’ is released on US label SOS and the band tour the West Coast. Defiant attracts excellent reviews, the title track and ‘Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down’ along with ‘Voice Of The People’ and ‘Fast Forward’ are huge hits with the live audience.
2005 – Vice Squad played short tours of Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Greece. The band was again moved up the bill at the Wasted Festival to second headline and again the venue was sold out. The band began writing and pre-production for a new album.
2004 – The band again embarked upon shows up and down the UK. These were augmented with a higher billing at the now renamed WASTED festival, again a sold out crowd of 3000 people saw another energetic performance. The band also played prestigious second headline appearances in Norway at Stavanger Rock and Spain at Tintorock, both festivals pulling huge crowds.
2003 – This year saw the release of RICH AND FAMOUS on EMI. The album received rave reviews . The year was spent playing gigs in the UK. A spot on Granada TV’s Men and Motors managed to showcase the bands raw energy live to a TV audience. The band was again asked to play the Holidays In The Sun UK festival and were now playing in a higher spot. Vice Squad played to a sell out audience of 3000 people at The Market Arena and spent the next 2 days signing autographs for excited fans.
2002 – Most of 2002 was spent writing and recording tracks for a new album due to be released on EMI in 2003 and playing UK gigs.
2001 – This year saw the release on EMI of BANG TO RIGHTS after the album was mastered at the famous ABBEY ROAD STUDIOS. The band again played the USA travelling over 22,000 miles, this time over an eight week tour. At this point, the band were attracting larger crowds than label mate Robbie Williams in the
USA. Several European shows were also played this year and the band was again invited back to play the Holidays In The Sun festival in the UK.
2000 – This year saw the release of Lo Fi Life on Sudden Death/Muck for the Canadian and USA markets. Also released was the Lavender Hill Mob EP. on French label ‘Combat Rock’. The band contributed tracks for tribute albums to both Nirvana and Metallica on Cleopatra Records. They then returned to play both the USA and Canada following the success of the Social Chaos tour, this time round the band covered over 11,000 miles in six weeks. Sell out shows included the legendary WHISKEY A GO GO and CBGBs as fans packed venues.
1999 – Vice Squad embarked on a gruelling tour of Europe quickly followed by the highly successful Social Chaos tour of the USA along with DRI, Sloppy Seconds, TSOL, The Business, LA Stitches, The Vibrators and Chelsea to name a few of the fourteen band line up. Food and sleep were in very short supply on the tour, as was money. Vice Squad was the only band to feature a female and easily drew the most girls to the front of the stage each show.
The original Vice Squad line up was Beki Bondage (vocals), Dave Bateman (guitar), Mark Hambly (bass), and Shane Baldwin (drums).
After 3 rehearsals in Mark’s mum’s garage they played their first gig at Bristol University’s Anson Room on 12 April 1979. A handful of gigs followed but due to the violence which often accompanied Vice Squad shows they were banned from playing most venues in the Bristol area. The band borrowed money for a recording session and set up the Riot City label (named by Beki to commemorate the Bristol riots) with Simon Edwards, of Heartbeat music, a publishing subsidiary of Complete Music. The label became quite successful. 1981’s debut single “Last Rockers” was very well-received, selling over 20,000 copies and spending almost forty weeks in the UK Indie Chart, reaching number 7. The follow-up, “Resurrection”, reached number 4, and the band toured the UK. The singles received airplay and support from BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, and they would go on to record two sessions for his show, in 1981 and 1982.
In 1981 the band signed with major label EMI on the proviso that they retained complete artistic control.Their debut album, No Cause For Concern, was released in late 1981, reaching number 32 in the UK Album Chart.
Their first single release on EMI ‘Out of Reach’ entered the charts but when offered the chance to appear on Top of the Pops Beki refused to do it. A second album, ‘Stand Strong Stand Proud’ followed in 1982, and the band embarked on a tour of the United States and Canada. The ‘Stand Strong’ EP was single of the week in ‘Sounds’. The band began preparing for a 3rd album, but Beki, who by this time had moved to London, was unhappy with the musical direction and management and decided to leave the band. The rest of the band carried on under the Vice Squad name, recruiting a new singer Julia, who was previously known as Jools and had been the singer for Bristol band Affairs of the Heart. The new line-up also included the band’s manager Mark “Sooty” Byrne on lead guitar. They were dropped by EMI and released ‘Shot Away’ on Anagram Records but
split up in 1985.
Beki was offered a solo deal by EMI but insisted on having a band and formed Ligotage with Momo Sex on guitar, Linc from Chelsea on bass and Steve Roberts from the UK Subs on drums. Ligotage released one EP, ‘Crime and Passion’ on EMI but were dropped by the label. After losing her deal, her band, her manager and most of her ‘friends’ Beki was left with Ligotage’s debts and spent several months fending off creditors. Ligotage’s ‘Forgive and Forget’ live album was done in order to pay the VAT man. Flat broke, ill and living in a Bayswater basement declared unfit for human habitation Beki was faced with the choice of carrying on in music or throwing in the towel and settling for a day job and normality. She chose music, and formed The Bombshells with Paul Rooney, Scott Free, Marc Russell and Commander Benzo.
The Bombshells continued to play live right up to 1999, and Beki and Paul wrote, recorded and gigged continuously. In spite of being called ‘the hardest working band in Britain’ by Garry Bushell in ‘The Sun’ The Bombshells never signed a record deal, mainly due to Beki’s previous experience with unfair contracts and a desire to retain ownership and control of their songs. The Bombshells released a single ‘Lonely Secrets/Fighting for our lives’ on their own ‘Raunch Rock’ label.
After years of being asked to perform her old material Beki formed a new version of Vice Squad with former Bombshells Paul Rooney (lead guitar), Stilton (bass) and Pumpy (drums) to play the Holidays in the Sun’ festival. Initially they planned to do a few gigs to generate enough money to pay for their knackered transit van to be fixed. Without then van The Bombshells couldn’t gig and without gigs Beki didn’t eat. However, after an amazing reception at a festival in Lublijana they accepted more gig offers and the ‘Get A Life’ album was released on Rhythm Vicar/PHD in 1998.