The GAGS (March 1979 / August 1981)
THE GAGS formed in Milan in December 1978 after T.V.Vampire’s demise. For a few weeks the group was named ‘The Girls’, switching to the new monicker by early 1979. The line-up is very much the same of the previous incarnation: Anx Army (Glezos) on vocals, Lamb on guitar, Bite on bass and Gear on drums. By spring 1979 the group puts together quite a number of sharp, heavily schematic original songs, influenced somewhat by the likes of Adam & the Ants and Siouxsie and the Banshees. All songs are written by Glezos, who shapes up a full repertoire in a very short time, complete with striking imagery based on pre-war Germany references, fetish-S/M and european post-war movies. After a series of tough and very disciplined rehearsals, in March 1979 the Gags book a small studio in north Milan to record a self-produced e.p., but the results let down the group so much they decide to cancel the release (no records were pressed at the time, in spite of some very inaccurate rumours). The E.P. will see the light of day in 1996 (‘The S/M E.P.’, 7” Reverendo Moon-Passerotto, 200 numbered copies, red vinyl), and today is considered a milestone of early italian punk.
From spring 1979 to early 1980 Glezos and the group concentrate on songwriting and rehearsals. Fanzines and people in the punk milieu start raving about them, from Jordan and Michael Collins of Seditionaries (the famous McLaren/Westwood/Pistols boutique) to Adam Ant himself. In late 1979 Paolo M. (Borstal Dampers, Mittageisen, 198X) joins on drums. On February 11, 1980 the band performs at an unique event christened 'The Sex People Rendez-Vous' at Teatro Dei Chiostri in Milan with Mitzio & the Sirens as support act. The gig is reviewed by Corriere d' Informazione (the biggest evening paper of the time in Milan) under the title 'Sexy, ipnotico ma soprattutto rompitimpani' ('Sexy, hypnotic but mainly ear-crushing'). Talks about the release of a self-produced debut album begin to spread, along with (false) rumours regarding the existence of a handful of surviving copies of the group's withdrawn E.P..
In the meantime Bite leaves and Stuart joins on bass, and the Gags keep on recording demo after demo. CBS-Sony approach the group, asking them to record some tracks in a professional environment, and in July 1980 three songs are recorded at Ricordi Studios in Milan for a possible single release. Things fall through, as CBS Italy isn't allowed to release records by italian bands singing in english -a strict rule. The company offers a deal and presses heavily on Glezos to smooth down the sexual innuendo and to sing in italian, but the group turns down the offer and keeps on writing and demo-ing new songs. In 1981 Lamb leaves for army dues, and Glezos takes up guitar duties. The Gags keep on rehearsing as a trio, and in late summer the group changes briefly its name in 'The Huns'. Shortly after Lamb's return from the army the Gags break up, leaving behind a long and fascinating catalogue of demos, the release of which -from 1996 onwards- propelled the Gags well past the time of their demise as their songs, imagery and humour sound even more fresh and challenging now as they did way back. Some achievement.