Bristol is the 10th largest city in the UK. As an ancient port, the influx of people from all over the world (including the historically shameful slave trade) has helped Bristol build a reputation for being creative, cosmopolitan and often at the vanguard of new food, philosophies, architecture and especially music. Like in 1977 London, the Bristol punks took up musicianship, formed bands, swapped around and created a huge magnetic scene.
Lia was there at the start, working with arguably, the best known local band at the time The Cortinas. She told punkgirldiaries:
The Cortinas are all mates that I grew up with – we were 15, 16 year olds and they literally broke the whole punk thing in Bristol. They were schoolboys signing a major record deal and the Police (the band) supported them! They were innovative alternative and ground breakers – they could all play really well too. The Cortinas were one of the first signed punk bands. I saw the major punk bands of the day – The Damned, The Jam, Blondie, The Clash, Chelsea, Generation X and the Pretenders. I distinctly remember watching Chrissie Hynde and thinking, ‘I can do that, I can sing’ – and I did!
Known as Jools, she was then singer in Affairs of the Heart before joining Vice Squad as singer Lia after the departure of Beki Bondage in 1982. Lia recorded the album ‘Shot Away’ with the band and did a session for BBC’s David Jensen as well as touring until this particular line-up of Vice Squad split up in 1985.
“Vice Squad was one of the best experiences of my life and of course,we still sell records and we may well tour again. I knew the boys in the band through my local Studio SAM Studios, where I sang backing for local bands. I was asked to audition so I did and beat over 200 hopefuls for the job! Beki had left the band suddenly so we had an album to record and new gigs and touring to rehearse for asap. I learned 60 songs in weeks and did my debut at our Bristol venue the Granary in 1984.”
One of the aims of punkgirldiaries.com is to find out the impact that being involved with punk has had on girls and women. Like so many others, Lia says that punk has defined her:
“Punk was the foundation stone of my youth. It was a movement that continues today – it is a mindset and a way of looking at the world. It is not judging a book by its cover and always challenging authority so that fairness prevails. It is more left than right and it is anti racist anti sexist and acceptance of how you want to present yourself to the world is key. I am so glad I lived through first and second wave punk as it has defined me more than anything else. I am delighted to have been a major player in this movement and a contributor to the change it made to this country and the rest of the world.”
Many thanks to Lia for agreeing to be interviewed by punkgirldiaries.
If you want to find out more about the busy and diverse Bristol scene, then this website is well worth a look; there’s loads of great photos and detailed accounts of local Bristol bands, DJs, clubs and best of all, the pictures of punks on the beach in ‘The Alternative Weston-Super-Mare Scene 1979-84’.