Attila the Stockbroker on his poetry and music


This 27 October 2014 music video from England is called Attila the Stockbroker – Farageland. The song is about Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP party in Britain. The title is also a wordplay on, and the music is from, the song Garageland by punk rock band The Clash.

The lyrics of Farageland are here.

And this is a music video of Garageland by The Clash. Lyrics are here.

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

I’m not counting the years, just the beers

Thursday 18th December 2014

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

WONDERFUL night at the iconic and atmospheric Borderline club in Soho last Wednesday, celebrating 20 years of my band Barnstormer.

I started off as a punk bass player in 1977 and always thought I’d be in a band. But the bands I was in kept splitting up — partly because rather than standing meekly at the back as bass players were supposed to do, I wanted to write songs and play lead lines on the bass.

Some people, especially fellow punk musicians, didn’t understand this.

So in 1980 I started getting up on stage on my own in the breaks between bands at gigs, shouting the lyrics I’d written for the bands I was in that had split up. Add a stage name inspired by being told “you’ve got the manners of Attila the Hun” during a predictably horrible 11-month temporary stint as a clerk in a stockbroker’s office — the last “proper” job I’ve ever had — and that’s how Attila the Stockbroker, performance poet, came into the world.

For 10 years or so I was happy going solo, but in the ’90s I had a dream of forming a band to combine punk with my own take on medieval music, in much the same way that the Pogues combined punk with Irish music. I found a very sound bunch of local musicians, The Fish Brothers, called as such because of their drinking habits, and my band Barnstormer was born.

To be honest, we didn’t actually start as Barnstormer. For our first two gigs, our debut being at the legendary old Jericho Tavern in Oxford in November 1994, we were called Flounder and our bass player was Captain Sensible, incidentally.

Now, for me, as a coastal dwelling sea angler “flounder” only means one thing — a rather tasty flatfish.

But it was soon pointed out to me that the word had a rather different interpretation, to be completely useless. Since our band were actually quite good, I christened them Barnstormer and so we have been ever since. That’s apart from our first tour of Germany, where we were called Die Erbrechenden Rotkehlchen, which translates as The Vomiting Robins. Yes, I know.

We’ve done over 500 gigs, mainly in Germany. I’ve been a poet over here and in other English speaking countries and a band over there. It’s worked out very well.

Bands get treated much better in mainland Europe, where there’s free food, unlimited beer and accommodation comes as a basic rule of thumb which, any aspirant musician will tell you, is definitely not the case in Britain.

Above all, we’ve stuck together, so thank you to Dan Woods (guitar) and McGhee (drums) and bassists “Baby” David Beaken, Jason Pegg and Tommy Muir for being lovely, creative and talented and, crucially, for being able to retain those abilities on stage after vast quantities of free German beer.

And so to our celebration at the Borderline. I roped in my old mate John Otway to recite his Xmas hit — yes, he’s in the process of having one as we speak, thanks to a dedicated fanbase and the wonders of the internet — and Thee Faction, TV Smith and Blyth Power contributed hugely to a wonderful evening.

Another 100 gigs or so this year. Not quite as many in 2015 as I take some time out to finish my autobiography, timed for my 35th anniversary as Attila.

Hoppy Christmas and a Beery New Year to you all, comrades!

Poem about World War I, by Attila the Stockbroker


This video is called Attila the Stockbroker – A Centenary War Poem For My Father Bill Baine, 1899 – 1968.

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

Cheers for proud Hull, punking about in Brussels and a poem

Saturday 13th September 2014

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

LAST weekend I was on at the Freedom Festival in Hull, and what a wonderfully organised and vibrant event it was.

Set in the old streets of the historic port area and featuring loads of diverse bands, poets, dancers — you name it — all washed down with a fine selection of local beers and food from all over the world.

Hull is Britain’s City of Culture for 2017 and has had a vibrant scene for years. It also hosts my favourite venue the Adelphi, basically a hollowed-out terraced house next to a bomb site. It’s been presided over for 30 years by the indefatigable and inspirational Paul “Jacko” Jackson and spawned loads of household names in the independent music scene from the Housemartins to Pulp to Death by Milkfloat, to name but a few.

What d’you mean, you haven’t heard of Death by Milkfloat? Legends, comrades, legends.

Best T shirt of that weekend: “Welcome to Hull, European City of Culture 2017. We’re not shit any more.” You never were, Hull, you’re great.

This music video from Belgium is the song Nuit blanche, by the band Contingent.

I’ve just been playing bass in Brussels with Contingent, the punk band I joined there in 1979. They still gig occasionally — and incendiarally — and we’re supporting Sham 69 at a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Magasin 4, the alternative venue set up by our late, great guitarist Eric Lemaitre. Belgian beer awaits in vats – and then I’m off with my wife for a week’s holiday in Marseille.

I wanted to use this poem in my column at the actual anniversary of the start of world War I, but so much was going on gig-wise then that I decided to hold it back for the relatively relaxed few weeks between the end of the festival season and the start of my autumn touring, where it could have pride of place.

It is a true and unusual story — and a poem from the heart.

A Centenary War Poem

For my father, Bill Baine

“What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.”
And so some lines to spike centenary prattle:
These words a sole survivor soldier’s son’s.

My father Bill, born in Victorian England:
The sixth of January, 1899.
His stock, loyal London. Proletarian doff-cap.
Aged seventeen, he went to join the line.

Not in a war to end all wars forever
Just in a ghastly slaughter at the Somme
A pointless feud, a royal family squabble
Fought by their proxy poor with gun and bomb.

My father saved. Pyrexia, unknown origin.
Front line battalion: he lay sick in bed.
His comrades formed their line, then came the whistle
And then the news that every one was dead.

In later life a polished comic poet
No words to us expressed that awful fear
Although we knew such things were not forgotten.
He dreamed Sassoon: he wrote Belloc and Lear.

When I was ten he died, but I remember,
Although just once, he’d hinted at the truth.
He put down Henry King and Jabberwocky
And read me Owen’s “Anthem For Doomed Youth”.

“What passing-bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.”
And so some lines to spike Gove’s mindless prattle:

These words a sole survivor soldier’s son’s.

British poet Attila the Stockbroker on punk rock


This video from Amsterdam in the Netherlands says about itself:

Attila the Stockbroker & Barnstormer – Live @ Soundgarden 02.11.2012 – Pt 1:

1. LEVELLERS / DIGGERS 2. BAGHDAD SKA 3. COMANDANTE JOE 4. TYLER SMILES 5. THE BLANDFORD FORUM.

Attila the Stockbroker on vocals, violin, crumhorn and recorders; Dan Woods on guitar; Baby Beaken on bass; Mass Murder McGee (some of them are also members of The Fish Brothers.)

Attila the Stockbroker (born John Baine, 21 October 1957, Southwick, Sussex, England) is a punk poet, and a folk punk musician and songwriter. He performs solo and as the leader of the band Barnstormer. He describes himself as a “sharp tongued, high energy social surrealist poet and songwriter.” He has performed over 2,700 concerts, published six books of poems, and released 30+ recordings (CDs, LPs and singles).

By poet Attila the Stockbroker from Britain:

The Europeans’ knack for culturally nourishing rebellion

Thursday 14th August 2014

On the road with Attila the Stockbroker

Amsterdam is always a pleasure to visit, and the Paradiso club — once a squatted church — is a legendary presence in the scene.

Did a gig there, solo poetry and with my band Barnstormer, as part of a vibrant and wide-ranging evening of spoken word and music and then headed to Peine, near Hannover in Germany, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their autonomous centre, the AJZ.

When it comes to independent music, politics and culture generally, much of mainland Europe is a completely different world compared to Britain.

Autonomously run venues emerged from the squatter movement years ago and are now legal and run independently by local left-wing activists — there are literally hundreds of them, dotted across many different countries, which guarantees performers like myself a network of ready-made places to play, run by like-minded people.

For someone whose British network consists of fairly mainstream arts centres and rock venues and sympathetic pubs that let people put on gigs in an an upstairs room, it’s always a sheer pleasure to see how things can be organised differently.

Highlight in Peine was a blistering performance by Canadian punk legend and activist Joey “Shithead” Keighley and his band DOA, whom I was to meet again a few days later at last weekend’s annual Rebellion punk festival in Blackpool.

For many years now, thousands of punks, young and not so young (!) have taken over the Winter Gardens there for a four-day celebration of the music we love.

As usual, this year’s event was a blast and I had a wonderful gig on the Almost Acoustic Stage on the Friday. As for whom I saw on stage, well, here goes…

My mate TV “Adverts” Smith and his band the Bored Teenagers were fantastic. So were The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Peter & The Test Tube Babies, John Otway, Ruts DC, The Cravats, Roy Ellis aka Mr Symarip (doing “Skinhead Moonstomp” and reminding us that real skinheads have hated racism since 1969) and The Outcasts and The Defects from Belfast. To name but a few.

But it’s absolutely wrong to think that Rebellion is just about the old guard, and among the new breed I must single out acoustic singer/songwriter Louise Distras, who is the sharp, angry voice of her generation of punk rockers and a real breath of fresh air in the scene. Her set was a masterpiece.

We have to beware the impostors though. Inside the Winter Gardens there was a real sense of unity, but outside I came across a group of fascists, some with tickets, some not, intent as always in spreading hate and causing trouble.

I had a verbal altercation — I’m 56 and was on my own, I’m glad it stayed verbal — and soon realised that many of them were from eastern Europe. Cue the ironic rant!

“Brain dead morons from mainland Europe, coming over here, singing crap English songs, crap English fascists wrote in stupid accents… We’re full up, mate.

“We’ve got our full quota of racist cretins with IQs smaller than their boot size. Piss off back to where you come from!”

It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

Next stop Guernsey, and a rather different festival. Happy holidays to one and all.