The Castrators are one of those punkgirl groups whose significance is huge but which barely even existed. In 1977, when the tabloid press were hot on the trail of shocking stories about the new punk rock threat, the News Of The World paper printed an article about women in punk. We’ve not been able to source the article yet, but we can imagine the content. The Castrators consisted of Angela Risner, Tessa Pollit on guitar and Budgie, who apparently was not the Budgie of The Slits.
“I had the rough beginning of a punk band together: we had a band called The Castrators, but even before we’d played any gigs, we had the News of The World knocking on our door! It was ridiculous, they were so keen to get the inside story on this all-girl punk group! We had barely played together!” Tessa Pollitt
The significance of The Castrators comes not from any gigs or photographs, but from the fact that Tessa Pollit was brought into The Slits as a result of that News Of The World article.
Tessa describes what happened in this loudandquiet interview
“Originally The Slits had another bass player called Suzie Gutsy. I met The Slits through this News of the World article that was written about women in punk right at the beginning. Ari came round to my flat and she really liked all this poetry I had written on the wall. Suzie Gutsy got kicked out and I joined, that was it really. I was playing guitar before and so I had to learn bass in 2 weeks for our first gig and that was at The Roxy in Harlesden.” Tessa Politt
Tessa goes on to describe this gig, supporting The Clash:
“I had only picked up the bass two weeks before. I wasn’t a musician. I was terrified, but you know I was just 17, and at that age you have so much energy and excitement in you, it carries you. I remember at one point onstage, me and Palmolive (The Slits’ drummer, now a member of a reclusive Christian sect) looked at each other in amazement as if to say “What the fuck are you doing?” We were all playing a different song from each other! But we got away with so much, and the audience didn’t care. The energy was what mattered. We were playing from our heart. Literally. With spirit. Our spirit was there.” Tessa Pollitt
Here’s an excellent extensive interview with Tessa Pollitt mainly about The Slits, but it does mention The Castrators: http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/slitstessapolittinterview.htm
And here’s an obscure interview and performance that includes Tessa with the rest of The Slits. We think you are great!
1 thought on “Tessa Pollitt -The Castrators”
Tessa is one of the foremost of Punk/ New Wave bassists, Up there with Tina Weymouth. A real dedication to her music and creative af. Love her compositions – Animal Space and Revenge Of The Killer Slits. A pioneer.
I nearly joined as their drummer after Palm Olive had left but bottled running off to London to rehearse with them.
I met Ari at the Pistols gig @TheLesserFreeTradeHall in Manchester in 76 and she invited me up on stage to improvise what became Anarchy, Pretty Vacant & God Save The Queen in front of my hometown crowd.