It was November 2002, I was in London visiting a good mucker and to see ZZ Top at the Hammersmith Odeon (or Hammersmith Butterkist Alhambra or whatever the fuck it’s called now). It was a great gig and the next night we headed to The 12 Bar Club on that street that’s full of overpriced guitar shops (Denmark Street?) for a local punk night. We clocked it as one of those gigs where the bands were probably too young to be in the venue when we saw a couple of these hard rocking mofos, guitars in hand, being dropped off by their mum.
The 12 Bar was a cool wee place. Normal bar to one side and bizarre little venue space to the other, complete with a balcony which, if you stood under it, was so low it obscured your view of the bands from the waist up. We nipped back and forth to the bar as the youngsters played for their pals and then, mid-bill, were knocked out by an unexpectedly grown up crew (in their 20s, mind) who sounded like a mix of The Slits and Fugazi. They played a cracking set and then came through to the bar where we got talking. Bought their EP, got them to sign it, rest of the night’s a pleasant blur.
At one point we got to talking about Fugazi. I mentioned that I’d had a ticket to see them the previous week but couldn’t go (sometimes the world was just a bit too much and even a Fugazi gig couldn’t pull me into it); they had a spare ticket to the London gig, did I want to go? Of course I was on the bus home the next day so missed out on that one as well but that’s the way of these things.
Over the next while I followed Artichoke on what I suspect was probably MySpace. They changed their name to something I’ve forgotten, put some tunes up online and then faded away. Or maybe it was me who faded away. A shame either way, I’d have liked to have seen them again.
Sadly, if I kept copies of that online material I’ve no idea what I’ve done with it. That leaves me with the EP, Full On. Five songs, 16 minutes of post-punk excellence on a nicely presented CDR. The band is billed here as: Suzy Cargill on drums/vocals, Joe Scannell on bass/vocals, Nadya Ostroff on vocals/guitar and Christian Kramer on guitar/vocals.
Opener Down and Out barrels along on a beefy bass riff and angular chord work, showing that strong Fugazi influence. My recollection from the gig is that the lead male vocalist was guitarist Christian so that would be him singing this one. Although Fugazi remains the most obvious influence throughout including on the next track, Now We Know, Nadya’s lead vocal offsets that with a clear nod to the other primary influence here, The Slits, sounding at times uncannily like Ari Up. Johnny and The One carry on in kind with finisher Like You, a co-lead vocal, having a touch more of the straight ahead early 2000s alt-rocker.
I’d imagine this would be a tricky one to track down but grab a copy if you get the chance. I’ve no idea what the various band members are up to now, though I think I spotted Nadya playing guitar in a later lineup of The Slits, fittingly enough.
Anyway, yeah. Artichoke. Good stuff.