In our Spring 2020 Issue we launched a new music feature, Emerging. If you’ve been wondering what to listen to lately or perused Spotify and social media searching for the next emerging band that would restore your faith in The State of Music, this feature is for you. We checked in with a few of the bands we think have a unique voice in the musical landscape to inspire a new generation of concert-goers and record-buyers alike. Our first lineup includes Totenwald, The Wraith, OVER, and Rotten UK. In this Auxiliary Online Content you’ll find more background and photos on each band, this time we are focusing on Rotten UK.
James Von Sinn : Vocals
Matt Sexx : Guitar
Anarchy Jake : Bass
Frän Damäge : Drums
From the depths of the punk scene in Rochester, NY in the US, Rotten UK has been making noise and self-releasing EP’s since 2011 with their blend of goth, punk, and metal combined with the self-described “doomsday vocal preacher” frontman James Von Sinn, the apocalyptic shaman of Rochester’s alternative scene for decades. Formerly associated with bands Blüdwülf and The End, Von Sinn has been making music and challenging the norms of punk with a visual presentation that is the mutant offspring of Glenn Danzig, Nik Fiend, and Dave Vanian along with a penchant for Andrew Eldritch-worthy crooning about the coming doomsday and lost hope in love. Let’s just say that Von Sinn’s heart is in the Batcave and he brings this sensibility to the dark 80s hardcore punk sounds of Rotten UK.
Rotten UK shared with us a bit on the start and original intention of the band saying, “we started in 2011 with a vision to revive classic underground 80s UK sounds. We were noticing the punk scene had become stagnant revolving mostly around crust punk or American h/c along with a worship of the band Discharge. We wanted to rebel against that with a mindset of, ‘there’s way more British punk bands worth ripping off,’ instead of just the same redundant sound. Along with that we wanted an actual political anarchist message that was true to the times while reflecting the past by drawing influence from anarcho punk, postpunk, oi, and more.”
They also shared some insight into their name and how it communicates the sound or vibe of the band explaining, “it started with being just Rotten and the idea came from a worship of Johnny Rotten and a mockery of the name Rancid. There also was an embrace of how the world views punks coupled with our view of the music scene. The UK tag started as a joke making fun of bands who put “DIS” in front of their bands. Then there was the hoax that we were pretending to be from Rochester, England which then just evolved into representing a tribute to the influences of our sound, aesthetic, message… all coming from Britain. We would say, ‘if rock and rollers from England in the 60s can rip off American blues artists, why can’t a bunch of weirdos rip off British punk from the 80s?!’ We figured the full name just had a good ring to it like Chaos UK, UK Subs, The Mission UK, and so on. There also actually was already a Sex Pistols cover band in England called Rotten. We always thought we would drop it but it stuck. It comes down to just how it looks on a flyer or cover art if we are going to have the ‘UK’ added on kind of like GBH is sometimes known as Charged GBH. Now it’s just a fun thing to cause confusion! We’ve had people attempt to fight us over our band name! One guy in Montreal was in a rage and just couldn’t grasp it, saying we are a good band, but the name is, ‘sooo stupid why would we do such a thing?’ We just responded, ‘we do it just to piss you off.'”
Asked how they would describe their music to someone who has not yet checked them out they said, “Lovecraftian anarchist spooky h/c punk… I try to come up with deep descriptions but they all fall short. It’s complicated because we appease punks, goths, and metalheads, a lot like Misfits I guess yet we are nothing like them.”
In 2016 Rotten UK released their first full-length album That is Not Dead… on Hell’s Headbangers. Take a listen with their “Slipping Into Darkness” video from 2016’s That is Not Dead Which Can Eternal Lie.
For a nostalgia trip back to the late 1990s, here’s a rare video of The End performing.
You can listen to Rotten UK ‘s music on Bandcamp and Spotify and follow them on Facebook. For more information on the other projects the band members are involved in: Jake and Fran have a more noisy h/c band project Unorder with a demo tape coming soon and Matt is in an oi band called Möribund (you can also follow them on Instagram).
Check out our interview with Rotten UK in the Spring 2020 Issue. To read more about bands we cover for this feature, check out all of our Emerging interviews.