DIY: It all started with Spiral Scratch

A piece of Jon Langford art!

The EP Spiral Scratch by the Buzzcocks changed my life. It made me and my friends start the band Eton Crop, it made us start a club, it made us start a studio, it made us start a label, it made us start a magazine. It’s 40 years since its release today, but back then, listening to the tracks on Spiral Scratch on The John Peel Show was a life changing experience for a teenager in his small bedroom in the countryside of the Netherlands.

Because of the power of the music. Because of the teen angst poppy punktunes. But more so because of the spirit it represented. Spiral Scratch is being seen as the first Do It Yourself punk single. The Buzzcocks released it themselves because the world of major labels wasn’t interested in their great songs. John Peel picked it up, the weekly music magazines loved it and in the end it sold 16.000 copies and even made it into the Top 40. The Buzzcocks proved it could be done: take initiative, take control, be independent, Do It Yourself!

Since this day in 1977, Do It Yourself has been the motto in my life. Not as a dogma, but as a starting point. Don’t wait, take action, don’t rely on others, take initiative. Do yourself what you can with your band, with your friends, with your community. Does the music around you bore you? Start a band. Is your life not represented in media? Start a magazine. Is there nowhere to go for you and your friends? Start a club. Take control, be independent.

That to me is the spirit of 1977. I loved the music of the punk and post punk era, but the attitude was even more important to me. DIY kickstarted a small revolution that still has impact today. The DIY-attitude wasn’t exclusive to punk of course. I felt the same adrenalin rush in the early days of house, the early days of hiphop, the early days of the internet. New tools and technologies have made it easier than ever to do it yourself in the world of music and media. And massive amounts of artists are nowadays operating with that same spirit.

This is the first of Do It Yourself | The Spirit Of 77, a series of blogposts brought to you by Eton Crop that looks back but doesn’t indulge in nostalgia. Music veterans like Jon Langford (Mekons), Karl Hyde (Underworld), Terrie Hessels (The Ex), John Robb (Membranes) and Ajay Saggar (King Champion Sounds) will talk about the spirit of 1977 and how that affected them. But through them the series will zoom in on contemporary artists that have that same spirit as well. Do It Yourself | The Spirit Of 77 will be about the old as well as the new. It will be the story of my band Eton Crop as well as the story of the music world we’ve been a part of.

Of course Bill Drummond of KLF should be a part of this interview series as well. But he doesn’t do interviews. He delivers great quotes though. In the video Punk’s Not Dead he underlines the importance of Spiral Scratch.

“The punk of The Sex Pistols is dead. But there was another punk. Our punk. Our punk was about not needing permission. Our punk was about doing it now. Even if we didn’t know how or what it was about. Our punk rose with the release of Spiral Scratch by the Buzzcocks. Our punk has never stopped. Even if you don’t recognize it. It is going on now. Our punk will never die.”

The series Do It Yourself | The Spirit of 77 is brought to you by Dutch combo Eton Crop. It changed our lifes. To celebrate that, we released the album Eton Crop — The John Peel Sessions. Have a listen to It’s My Dog, Maestro! And know that we’re working towards the festival The spirit of 77 being held in Amsterdam on November 18th!

PS Do you have a story to contribute about Do It Yourself? How it influenced you and how it still plays a role? Drop a line! erwblo @ gmail . com is the adress!