In 1976 I was 12, and consequently too young for Punk. However, at 14 I was just the right age for the so-called New Wave which, to me, was the more experimental elements including Throbbing Gristle, Killing Joke, Theatre of Hate, The Human League, Crass, Bauhaus ad Cabaret Voltaire.
Living in a dormitory village in South Yorkshire, my youth was hardly urban and my only exposure to anything remotely “alternative” was the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1. In those days the Peel show was broadcast Monday to Thursday 10pm to midnight, and I used to listen to every minute. I was living no more than 15 miles away from Sheffield, although it might as well been Mars as I had no prospect of getting involved. However, that didn’t stop me from making music and art and stuff.
Also, whilst I was by no means radicalised by the anarchist politics of Crass, listening to their records and reading their sleeve notes at least introduced me to ideas that were absent from The Mike Yarwood Show. The most valuable thing that I gained from that period is the DIY ethic, and the awareness that the world, even then, had developed technologies that could be pressed into creative uses not necessarily imagined by their inventors. Photocopiers and cassette tape recorders were the weapons of choice in those days for duplication and distribution, although it was still a slow and painful process.
It seems we have come to an interesting time, when technology exceeds our expectations. Production, distribution and communication technologies are widely available.
However, one song remains the same. If you want to make anything happen, you still have to do-it-yourself.