On June 22nd 1977, The Stranglers played a show at the City Halls in Candleriggs, Glasgow which erupted in to violence when bassist and singer of the band, JJ Burnel told the councillors present to “fuck off” if they didn’t like what they saw.
This prompted scores of fans to raid the stage and end up in a violent mix up with the stewards of the gig. After this, punk was effectively banned in Glasgow with venue and pub owners feeling that they couldn’t put on punk bands without suffering a threat to their license.
This left hundreds of young punks with nowhere to go to express themselves and see their favourite bands play, that’s where The Bungalow in Paisley came in. As it was not within the confines of the city, it became host to the majority of the punk and new-wave bands of the late 70s and early 80s.
The venue, which opened in 1962, became the home of the Scottish punk and new-wave scene with bands such as The Buzzcocks, Orange Juice and The Fall as well as local bands like Defiant Pose playing there.
Just over forty years after the “punk ban” in Glasgow and The Bungalow is still going strong but in different premises on Shuttle Street, Paisley and is managed by Alan Corrigan, a man with a serious passion for music.
Alan says that one of his goals for the venue is not only to give young musicians a place to hone their skills but also to bring back all of the old bands that once graced the stage of the original Bungalow. He says, “We’re just trying to maintain something that’s got a lot of nostalgia attached to it. It gives us a reason to chase these people. While we do that though, we are also always making sure to give slots to up and coming acts like Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5.”
When you first walk down Brown’s Lane to get to the venue, you wouldn’t expect to walk in and feel like you’ve just been slapped in the face with a bunch of Scotland’s musical heritage in one small venue but that’s exactly what it feels like. With memorabilia such as T-shirts and old gig posters covering the walls and a mural on the back wall of the logo of the anarchist punk band, Crass, for punk fans like me, this place is heaven.
Alan took over the venue from his brother Steve because his brother’s ears were perforated from all the noise of the venue. Alan felt he could run the venue because of his connections to the music industry through Colin Rodger who runs DF Concerts. Over the years he’d gone to T in the Park with him and been introduced to the finest members of the music industry, including parking his caravan beside Joe Strummer’s year on year until Strummer died in 2002.
Corrigan said: “Over the last 25/30 years myself and Colin have become quite close through music and after 23 years of going to T in the Park and all sorts of other festivals, I thought, ‘Right, I’ve gotta know enough bands that I can attract to my wee house.’ Now I can go and approach people like Ocean Colour Scene and get a broken down set.”
And ever since taking over, he’s made it his mission to bring bands such as Band Of Skulls to the venue after they opened the Superbowl to 180,000 people. And he’s also bringing back bands like The Zips, Theatre of Hate and still to come are The Primitives and The Bluebells. He said: “The reason we’re trying to do what we’re doing here is because all of these old punk bands are still out there.”
But as mentioned before, it isn’t all about the old, it’s also about the new for The Bungalow. The venue holds host to up and coming bands from all over Scotland but one of their favourites is The Vegan Leather.
Alan also however feels that the work ethic is lacking in young musicians these days as he explains to me having young acts come in to do a support slot and leaving as soon as their set is finished. He thinks it’s an absolute disgrace that they wouldn’t stay to support their counterparts, “For me it’s all about gigs and showing young bands how bigger bands interact with the crowd so they can learn from that.”
Alan isn’t the only person in the music industry to feel this way, Andy from Northern Irish band The Bonnevilles feels the same. He feels that there is a serious lack of motivation from young musicians these days and an unwillingness to work to get their music heard, “We never saw our career going down a path to stardom, all we ever wanted was to own a record label and to be able to gig and make a living. And that means getting in a van, loading up the gear and going to everybody that wants to hear you all over the world and you can make a living and do that, you’ll never become rich but you’ll always make a living and you’ll always get to play your music.”
With venues like The Bungalow closing down left, right and centre, it’s heart warming to see not only that it’s still open but also that the person that runs it is so passionate about the music and what he’s created.
The Bungalow gives so much to not only Paisley’s culture but also to the youth of the town, particularly the weirdo musicheads. So, next time you’re walking by on a Friday night, pop in for a pint to be immersed in a little nugget of Scotland’s musical history.