Emerging from Edinburgh, Scotland, during the first wave of punk rock in the mid-1970s, the Rezillos captured the raw intensity and rebellious spirit of the early movement and propelled themselves to cult status on the strength of the melodies and joyous spirit that they added to the musical mix.
Although the Rezillos were initially only around for two short years, from 1976 to 1978, they performed all over the United Kingdom, recorded what many consider to be a classic album in the punk pantheon, Can’t Stand the Rezillos, and released several popular singles, including “Can’t Stand My Baby,” “Flying Saucer Attack” and “Top of the Pops.”
After core members Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife reformed the group 10 years ago, they played just a few U.S. dates, but the band’s current tour, which comes to the Blank Club (with the Phenomenauts and Jonny Manek & the Depressives) on Friday, includes many more stops than on previous trips through the United States. “We’ve got people who knew us the first time around, the second time around and now the third time around—we see a nice cross-section of people,” says Reynolds over the phone from New Jersey.
When the Rezillos first came to the United States in the 1970s, they had just signed with American label Sire Records and were planning to record their debut album here—the only U.K.-based punk band of the era to do so. “We came over as young, fresh-faced and walked into New York City, which was pretty much what we pictured the United States to be in our fantasies,” Reynolds says. “We spent about six weeks recording the album, because we recorded it in down time. Bigger acts were using the studio during the day. We’d have to come in the small hours of the morning and spend two hours here, three hours there, and piece the album together like that.”
Many of the songs that are now fan favorites were included on the album. Reynolds says the band was fortunate enough to work with producers and engineers who were veterans of the music industry to help create the tracks.
“That was Tony Bongiovi. He worked with Shadow Morton on the Shangri-Las’ sessions, which was of course great for Fay, because she just loved all those ’60s girl bands from the States,” Reynolds says. “We used the exact same technique and microphones from the ’60s; we felt very honored.”
Since reforming, the Rezillos have released a couple of new singles in recent years, available as downloads and also on CD and classic 45rpm records, something that Reynolds says was important to the band.
“I think tangibility is a very important factor in music,” Reynolds explains. “The nice thing about vinyl and CD is that it exists as music captured on that medium, and it’s a physical piece, it’s a physical process, rather than just pulling up the latest thing on your iPhone or whatever your electronic device is. It’s still a platter for expressing the character of the performer or the band, whereas when it just comes as an MP3, it tends to make music very ‘throw away,’ and less important.”
Reynolds says that the Rezillos hope to gain more of a foothold in the United States on this tour, and that they are aiming to have a new full album finished by the middle of next year, with a return trip to follow.
In the meantime, he is looking forward to connecting with fans new and old on the road, and reflecting on the fact that the Rezillos were recently given the “Legend” award at the Tartan Clef Awards in their native Scotland.
“Of course, in a way, that’s sort of ‘anti-punk,’ isn’t it?” laughs Reynolds. “But that’s so often the case; things come along and shake up the establishment, and then somehow it becomes OK, and you’re part of the culture, whether they like it or not.”
The Rezillos, the Phenomenauts, Jonny Manak & the Depressives Friday, Nov. 16; 9pm; $13-$15 The Blank Club, San Jose