The Brigade is Back: The Ten O Sevens Return

The Ten O Sevens are a band everyone in the Heatwave editorial team has a lot of memories with.

I’ll always remember the first time I saw them in Spring 2009, opening up for the Fast Cars at the Boston Arms. I was thrilled to see a new generation of kids capturing the energy and gung-ho attitude of early punk. Needless to say, they stole the show that night.

During their initial run they released two 45’s on No Front Teeth Records, both of which I snapped up quickly. But in all honesty, those records never got played a whole lot, cause why listen to a record when I could just see them live? They played a lot of gigs, which a lot of us in London took for granted at the time. 

More than just their own output, the Ten O Sevens breathed fresh life into London’s punk rock n’ roll scene. They were quickly adopted as family by all the bands around at the time; forming friendships and new bands. Then before you knew it, the Ten O Sevens were a memory.

That was seemingly the last of the band, until late 2015. Out of the blue, there was a little glimmer of hope when their album surfaced on bandcamp. But then, there was nothing else until early 2020, when Marco from No Front Teeth Records told me he was going to be pressing their album soon. Next, Spike from Garageland said they would be headlining his famous club night. It all seemed to come out of nowhere, but I was thrilled to hear it. 

For obvious reasons, the gig has been rescheduled twice. When it finally seemed like it was definitely happening, I met up with Ten O Sevens singer-songwriter, Charlie, and drummer, Jimmy, at the Salisbury in Green Lanes. I was also lucky to have Ricky C and Fisher turn up, two friends I met around the time I first saw the band, and part of the greater family formed around the scene.

Heatwave: So, the first time I saw you guys was the Boston Arms with the Fast Cars. Was that your first gig?

Charlie: Yeah, the Boston Arms.

Heatwave: That’s where I met Fisher, with the Fast Cars.

Charlie: There was loads of French students there. It was the most packed gig I think we ever played in London, I think till much later on.

Ricky C: Ryan’s Bar Gig! We went to Oihane’s place after that gig.

Jimmy: And that was like a three-day party, I remember some naked dude.

Ricky C: I don’t remember any naked dude, everyone mentions this, but I can’t remember it?

Charlie: Like some GG Allin type guy was there, man had like an elephant’s trunk.

Fisher: Anyway, ain’t the interview starting?

Heatwave: When did you guys form? I remember around Christmas time 2008, I got a friend request on Myspace from the band and saw Rory in the photo.

Charlie: I was 17, Jimmy was 15…

I wanted to start a group and then Sam Hall had a band called the Ten O Sevens, with Bell End and everyone like that, and this Skinhead guy, Ian Pick. And we started the group; I had some songs, so me and Sam started playing together.

This guy, Harry Warwick, was like, “you wanna get a drummer for your band?”

Jimmy: Harry had been to mine the night before, we went out together after skateboarding. When he was round mine I played him ‘Crosstown Traffic’ on my drumset at home, then the day after we’re at the skatepark and Charlie’s like, “we’re looking for a drummer.” Then Harry says, “Jimmy can play ‘Crosstown Traffic’ on the drums,” and that was it. Here we are now.

Charlie: That was the summer of 2008. I was about 17, he was 15, I was like, “we’re gonna start fucking playing together.” We were just smoking joints and everything like that. Then my parents went away for holiday, so we set up at the bottom of my parents house in Cheshunt, in the living room we set up his drum-set. We just started playing and smoking joints and getting stoned, Jimmy ended up going fucking white, then had to go home.

Jimmy: I ended up playing two Clash covers, then whitey’d.

Charlie: But that was before Rory was in the band. Rory got in the band after he was in a group called the Seminals.

It was me, Jim, Bellend, Sam and Karl Sims.

Heatwave: How did the rest of you guys come together then?

Charlie: With Rory, I used to go to this place called the Square in Harlow, which was a lottery funded youth centre that used to do gigs. It was run by Richard Holgarth, who was the original guitarist of Eddie and the Hot Rods, so I’d be there all the time for gigs. One time when I was there Rory came up to me and was like, “do you need a guitar player for your band?” And I said, “yeah I do,” not really thinking about it.

Jimmy: I think Rory heard we’d started a group and it was a teenage punk project. He was just in the Seminals playing bass and knew he wanted to play guitar. So, when he asked Charlie we said yeah. At that time we were all hanging out at the Square, so it just happened like that.

Charlie: We got him in the band, and we used to play with three guitar players. We did one gig at the Youth Centre with Karl, then the next rehearsal we ended up kicking Karl out.

Jimmy: To be honest, at the time Karl was a bit less interested in the band than Rory, who came in and had some of his own songs and seemed more interested than him. So, we were a bit brutal and kicked him out, but that’s just how it is when you’re kids. You don’t give a shit.

Heatwave: So, what was the song you guys first wrote?

Charlie: Well the first song I ever wrote was ‘Satan’s Creation,’ but the first song we ever did was ‘Unforgivable.’

Heatwave: Who did most of the writing back then?

Jimmy: Charlie.

Charlie: Before Rory joined, I wrote everything. But I would write almost all the lyrics.

Jimmy: Charlie wrote all the lyrics, then when Rory joined the band he brought in a lot of riffs. So, Charlie would work on them with his riffs as well.

Heatwave: That’s quite a good partnership to have. I always felt like Rory doesn’t say too much, but lets his guitar do the talking.

Charlie: I’d spend a lot of time writing silly little poems in my little book. So, when Rory would write a riff, I’d see what poem fit around the songs or sometimes just would come up with stuff on the spot around his riffs.

Jimmy: We’d do a lot of jamming after parties at each other’s houses.

Heatwave: I guess being that young there’s not a whole lot else to do?

Jimmy: Yeah, we used to rehearse seven days a week at the Youth Centre. None of us had jobs, so what else are we gonna do? Songs would be written in Charlie or Rory’s head and we’d all get together. It was a good dynamic.

The Ten O Sevens – Bishops Stortford – We Are the Brigade

Heatwave: How did you get from Harlow and Theobalds Grove to playing your first gig in London?

Charlie: Rory used to play in a band called the Seminals, he used to play with Brandon (Brandy Row of the Gaggers). He’s someone we knew from skateboarding.

Jimmy: Brandon got us that gig. He got us into the London scene and through Oihane, hats off to both of them because they would introduce us to bands like the Hateful and Johnny Throttle. Bands that were doing punk rock in London in that late 00’s era.

Charlie: There were awesome bands going around that didn’t necessarily pre-date us, but happened around the same time. But they were far more experienced, older and better musicians. They took us in like family.

Heatwave: A bit like playing with your oldest cousins?

Jimmy: Or more like your bad uncles… Haha. 

Charlie: Yeah, the ones who’ll sneak you some beer… and the rest is just like… ‘Stukes Uber Shoreditch,’ y’know what I mean? Haha.

Heatwave: How did it feel playing that first London gig? I remember it being packed that night.

Charlie: Yeah it was packed with French students, cause I think Sam or Jimmy was in college. So all these kids were there and I don’t even know how they knew?

Jimmy: It was a little bit daunting, we were all very young. We did one gig at the Youth Centre, maybe one at the Square, but that was like our first proper gig.

I mean it was quite normal, actually. It felt quite natural. When we were really young we were a bit of a gang.

Charlie: We had our group of mates who would always come to our gigs and we’d always feel comfortable, cause we would always have our people in the front hyping us up.

Even if no one came we’d always have our group of mates who would turn up.

Jimmy: We would share everything, clothes, beds, girlfriends, back then. It was a good time.

Heatwave: Speaking of clothes… I remember you guys had quite a lot of your own clothes and would take a page out of the Clash, spray painting TV13 on everything.

Jimmy: Karl used to make a lot of clothes. He had a sewing machine, so we’d ask him to make up clothes. Even Rory and Emily would make a lot of clothes.

Charlie: TV13, that’s a bit of a story. Sam used to have a black and while television, which was a solid state TV12. I wrote a song about being unemployed and being chased out of Russia. Sam had that TV which said “STATE SOLID TV 12,” and I ended up saying “State Solid TV 13.” It had nothing to do with the song lyrics, but it just came together.

Heatwave: Back then, how did you all keep track of your songs? Nowadays it’s a lot easier for bands, with recording.

Charlie: I had this small book I’d always keep on me and would just write about everything all the time.

Heatwave: So, a lot of writing and memorising everything, no 4-tracks or anything.

Jimmy: Nah, but we would play together everyday. If we could scrape together a fiver for a few beers that would be us sorted back then.

Charlie: Back then at Ryan’s Bar, U.T. came over and saw me, Sam, Jimmy and Rory. We had one pint between the four of us, cause we couldn’t afford anything else. They were gonna pay us a tenner to play, so we didn’t have cash for anything else. There was one pint for us four kids. 

Jimmy: Then we met Spike and he bought us a drink each!

Heatwave: Speaking of Spike, it felt like for a bit you guys seemed like the Garageland house band.

Charlie: 12 Bar as well, before garageland we’d play there a lot.

Heatwave: and Neat Neat Neat as well, Fonzie’s night.

Jimmy: Ah yeah, at Old El Paso. RIP.

Heatwave: I think that was the second time I saw you. Maybe a year after that first gig, and I was pretty wasted. But it was clear how much better you all had gotten.

Jimmy: We had just played constantly. Every week some shitty gigs, some great ones, sometimes two gigs in one weekend. Maybe too much, but that’s how you get tight.

Heatwave: Nothing beats playing live for that.

Jimmy: You have these spontaneous moments, where you come up with things that you wouldn’t have normally. Like the middle bit of ‘Satan’s Creation,’ one time at Ryans Bar, halfway through the song I was leaning backwards on the fire exit door and it cut the power off. I kept playing drums, then all of a sudden the power came on and they all started doing a little breakdown bit. That’s how that all came together and became a permanent part of the song.

Heatwave: When was your first recording? I remember getting that split with the Hateful, The Search Party EP and a CD Rory gave me.

Jimmy: The first official recording was in St Albans. A guy who ran the Youth Centre we used to rehearse at, he had a contact. We were all under 19, at this point, apart from Rory.

He put us in touch with the guy at that Youth Centre in St Albans and we recorded ‘Search Party’ and ‘Gash.’ Then Walshy from the Electric Cocks recorded our tracks for the Split.

Heatwave: After that, you guys were gigging relentlessly. I think the last time I saw you play was in 2012, opening for the Modern Pets at the Hackney Trashbar. Was that around the time you recorded the album?

Jimmy: The Trashbar gig was after we’d done two years of just pissing about touring. A lot of mini Belgian tours and small Spanish tours.

Charlie: They wanted to record the album for ages and I was just being a lazy cunt. I just wanted to play shows.

Jimmy: The album basically happened at the wrong time. It was a weird moment. We were all at each other’s throats

Charlie: Especially me and him.

Heatwave: I missed a little period. When did you all move down to London from living up there? I remember the famous Haringey Road house.

Charlie: I stayed with Brandon for a bit, then got a place just up the road from there with my girlfriend at the time. Then Jimmy moved in.

Jimmy: To be honest, when we had all officially moved out of our parents, the band was dying already. The bad things were happening when we were going on tour or just going for weekends staying with Oihane, doing a gig then going back home to my mum’s house high on speed.

When we had moved down, we had all moved out, things started shifting a bit. We had all started other bands.

Heatwave: I remember you had joined the Ricky C Quartet in 2011, everyone had other things going on apart from the Ten O Sevens.

Jimmy: We were in the Troubadours with Brandy Row and the Ricky C Quartet became my main band.

Charlie: We were just a bunch of kids, we started getting asked to play with them. I had been asked to do some session musician stuff. Jimmy is a great drummer, so getting someone who wants to do that and sit in the back is hard to find, so it’s quite sought after.

Heatwave: And for some time you went on to play guitar in the Dying Shames.

Jimmy: And that was a good thing. It led me onto playing all the other instruments with people having come in on drums.

Heatwave: How long did the album actually take to record?

Charlie: The album took about two weekends. Well, we weren’t actually talking very much.

Jimmy: This whole period for me, I don’t really remember much. I had kind of given up at that point.

Charlie: They all went in and recorded everything together and then I went in after.

Jimmy: I never even went to the studio after the first time, it was that awkward. It was quite horrible and we were even living together.

Heatwave: I guess living together at that age is a bit hard.

Charlie: Living together and some relationships at the time clashing.

Jimmy: There was a bit of manipulation going on.

Heateave: How’s Sam doing? Haven’t seen him since the last Ricky C gig.

Jimmy: He’s doing well, he went to Costa Del Sol for a bit, now he’s back. He stopped playing for a while, sold his bass, ended up doing up his van, then bought it back in time for this. He’s the glue of this band.

Charlie: He’s the one who named the band with a bunch of other members, then asked me to play. He’s the original Ten O Seven.

Heatwave: How many years was the first run of the band?

Charlie: 2008 – 2012.

Jimmy: Those four years of us just touring and being around each other all the time, being teenage punks. As soon as we moved to London late 2011, 2012 onwards was a bit of a blur.

Heatwave: Most of the songs were written in your late teens. How does it feel now being 30 singing songs from back then?

Charlie: Lyrically I feel like I was ahead of my time a bit.

Jimmy: I hear bands who have had great careers, who haven’t written lyrics anywhere near as good as Charlie’s stuff in his pre-pubescent years. For me he’s one of my top three lyricists of all time.

Charlie: I never wrote about anything I didn’t know anything about. They’re all honest. The songs are not all about the same thing, they’re all little unconnected stories put together in one song. Some people might take them as being connected.

Heatwave: So, you recorded 14 songs in that album session. What made you pick those 11 songs for the album?

Charlie: The songs that we didn’t pick, we were sick of, like ‘Unforgivable.’ It’s a good song, but we’ve recorded it four times.

Jimmy: We chose a set we would play live at the time it was recorded. One thing I regret is never recording ‘Cool Yourself.’ It was at that period where we started to have our own identity as our band’s sound. But it was too late, we had already recorded the album, we were already at each other’s throats. But that’s just how it works, that’s life.

Charlie: Everyone else was willing to get along, but me and Jimmy couldn’t stand the sight of each other. We’d be standing at the top of the stairs shouting at each other. The most teenage conversations. But now I can’t remember why…

Heatwave: I think when you’re too close friends you know how to push each other’s buttons.

Jimmy: You end up too involved in their life and their personal life and love life.

Charlie: Then their life affects your life. You end up treading on each other’s feet, you’re gonna clash. It’s too close to be.

Heatwave: Did you guys feel that the album was a bit cursed? It never really had its chance to happen at the time.

Jimmy: From day one, we were never a recording band. We were always a live band from day one. One of our first gigs was a Battle of the Bands at the Square. We made it to the final and had a chance of winning the Battle of the Bands, getting a recording deal and doing an album, but we chose to go on tour in Belgium. We could have done an album then, but it would have probably been shitter than what we did, because we didn’t even know it.

We chose to move and hang out with people like you and Fisher and had good times, so I’m happy we never went that route.

Heatwave: You had the album back in 2014 and released it on bandcamp in 2015?

Charlie: I decided to just put it up on bandcamp in december 2015, just before my daughter was born.

Heatwave: I remember speaking to Marco back then, saying he was going to release the album. Why didn’t it come out till now?

Jimmy: Everyone was doing their own thing at the time and it just wasn’t a priority at the time. From then till now, well me and Charlie have only been in touch the last two years. 

We all lost contact for about five or six years. No one really spoke to each other. Charlie was living in Plymouth and we got in contact and Charlie was supposed to move back last year to do this.

Charlie: We just sort of started talking again and Jimmy came down to Plymouth to meet up and we became good mates again.

Jimmy: We actually get along a lot better now than we did when we were younger, and we started to reminisce about the band and once we were up for it everyone else was up for it. There was never any issues with anyone apart from me and Charlie.

Heatwave: Today was your first rehearsal, how did it go? Did anyone fuck up? Be honest!

Jimmy: Nah, it was like muscle memory. I didn’t even listen to the songs beforehand. We got the starts and ending down perfect. The middle wasn’t the tightest, Rory as always knew every single note and every solo.

Heatwave: Do you think this will be the only gig you guys do?

Charlie/Jimmy: Yeah, as far as we’re concerned this is the last gig. We aren’t shutting down the possibility of maybe recording one more song, but we’ll see how it fits in with our lives.

Heatwave: Why should people come to this gig? What would they be missing, apart from the last ever Ten O Sevens gig?

Charlie: There’s an energy you can’t get from the album. We always rehearsed to play live shows. We never were a recording band, so if you come to the show you’ll see us as raw as you possibly can.

Jimmy: I would just say, to see Sam play bass with Nunchuks. Well to see someone who traded his bass for a set of nunchuks, then got his bass back.

Heatwave: Is the album release date on track?

Charlie: It should be here in early July.

Heatwave: Obviously the gig was supposed to happen last summer, but then the pandemic hit. Did this make you all feel more determined or did it discourage you?

Charlie: I was a bit nervous, but personally for me this was it for me. I am shitting myself a bit, I didn’t think this gig would happen.

Heatwave: When did you guys start seriously preparing for the gig?

Jimmy: Today was our first rehearsal. We got three more booked, one the day before the gig and another two between.

Heatwave: Well thanks guys that’s it, see you at the gig!

Since doing this interview in June, the reopening date was moved to July 19th, so the gig was rescheduled to the 14th of August. 

If you don’t come to this gig you will seriously be missing out, in our entire editorial team’s opinion. We’ll be sure to be in the front row yelling out “We Are The Brigade!”

Advance tickets are available on Dice and there will be some available at the door, but don’t sleep on them, as it will surely sell out.

If you’re not fortunate enough to make it to the gig, you can buy a copy of the album. Out now on No Front Teeth Records.

-Adrian Alfonso