95-07-14 Manfat – [Kito] – [Baby Harp Seal]

Posted: October 1, 2013 in VV 1995
Tags: , , , , ,

95-07-14 Manfat

Anthony Palmer (editor of the zines Dingo Baby, Duhhh,…) wrote me in June ’95: “The ‘Manfat’ Euro tour fell through. ‘Kito’ wanna tour with ‘Baby Harp Seal’ instead.” But they played at the V.V. anyway… Michael J. Gilliam explains below…

Steve Buxton (Ripping Thrash zine) did a ‘Decadence Within’ / ‘Manfat’ split-tape (benefit for hunt-sabs in 1995. It contained the 5 tracks of their Live Like A Dog demo and 2 of their 7”. The line-up of ‘Manfat’ (from Middlesbrough) here was: Bri(an) Puplett (vocals; ex ‘Catharsis’, ‘Embittered’ and later ‘John Holmes’), Dale Tomlinson (guitar; ex ‘Catharsis’, later ‘John Holmes’), Michael Gillham (drums; played in a wide range of bands) and ‘Dr Bennett’ (bass). On the self-titled 7” (sometimes referred to as Endless Daze) on A-Wat recs (1994) there was a drum-machine and Matt(hew) Burke played the bass. They had also recorded for another demo (Pigfood) in the spring of this year. Their music was described as “pissed-off, dark, malevolent and very thick sounding hardcore”.

Matt Woodward (drummer of ‘Kito’) has photos of the ‘Kito’ (with Stu Smith) & ‘Baby Harp Seal’ (with Andrew Raine) & ‘Manfat’ tour in 1995. Here’s one from Vienna…

95-07 Manfat (Trav, Michael Gillham, Dale Tomlinson & Ian Roberts) ViennaTrav – Michael Gillham – Dale Tomlinson – Ian ‘Bennett’ Roberts

You can read about the reason why only ‘Manfat’ made it to the V.V. below…


‘Manfat’ toured Europe twice, once with ‘Kito’ & ‘Baby Harp Seal’ and another time (maybe 1996) with ‘Hard To Swallow’ [26 oct ’96 (‘La Zone, Liège’): Virtual Reality (UK), Drop Dead (USA), Manfat (UK)]. I wasn’t in ‘Manfat’ however and wasn’t on those tours.

Anthony Palmer, ‘Embittered’ vocalist

‘Manfat’ toured one time with a band called ‘Rated R’, and one time with ‘Hard To Swallow’… By then I was in Berlin, so don’t know if ‘Baby Harp Seal’ actually played; one tour I only joined them when they got to Germany…

Tom Chapman, ex ‘Baby Harp Seal’ guitarist

I only played in the second version of ‘Baby Harp Seal’, replacing Tom when he moved to Berlin so I played on that tour in ’95. I think they played the V.V. before I joined [94-07-10] but I’m certain we didn’t play at the Vort’n Vis. The tour was us, ‘Kito’ and ‘Manfat’ though… Puzzling… I know I’ve never been to the V.V. because it was considered THE place to play at the time and I was always a bit gutted that I never made it there…

Andrew Raine, ‘B.H.S.’

I’ve been in ‘Manfat’ but only played the Vort’n Vis with ‘Kito’ [94-07-10], I think…

Matt Burke

I don’t really care for ‘Voorhees’ anymore. I care for ‘Manfat’ more than ever. The reason why you never heard about a ‘Manfat’ gig at the V.V. before is because we just turned up and played. The guy at the bar (Peter [Vanthuyne]) was very helpful, actually he was fucking amazing…

Michael John Gillham, ‘Manfat’ drummer; personal communication January ‘96

The gig with ‘Manfat’ was unannounced. We needed somewhere to go for a day and just turned up and played and stopped there one night also. Which was great! ‘Kito’ and ‘Baby Harp Seal’ had already been in Europe for about a week and we met them in Münster, Germany. I’m not sure they played the Vort’n Vis that year themselves, in fact I don’t think they did.

The line-up of ‘Manfat’ at the time was indeed: Bri (vocals), Dale (guitar), Ian a.k.a. ‘Bennett’ (bass; ‘Bennett’ was a sort of joke nick-name because of a funny misunderstanding about something, his real surname is Roberts!) and Michael (drums).

The previous year ‘Kito’ and ‘Baby Harp Seal’ had toured Europe for the first time together and they planned on doing the same again that year (1995), so a tour was arranged for 3 weeks; but for some reason ‘Baby Harp Seal’ could only do the first half, so ‘Kito’ asked us, ‘Manfat’, to do the second half. There were 3 dates (Münster, Mannheim, Homburg) where it over-lapped and there was all 3 bands.

I don’t know where the tour had took ‘Kito’ and ‘B.H.S.’ before we joined them but I think it had mainly been dates in Belgium and Germany. the dates ‘Manfat’ did that I can remember are as follows. A couple of gigs got cancelled too and so we had to stop more than one night at a couple of places (Mannheim and, I think, Bratislava)… Ieper (‘Manfat’ only), Münster (the 3 bands [were planned but didn’t all play]), Mannheim (the 3 bands), Homburg (the 3 bands plus UK garage-punk band ‘Spectreman’ feat. members of ‘Headbutt’), Vienna (‘Manfat’ & ‘Kito’), Bratislava (‘Manfat’ & ‘Kito’) & Prague (‘Manfat’ & ‘Kito’). The picture was taken by Matt outside the bar we played of a massive outdoor arena venue; in fact the venue was called Arena. I certainly do remember the killer drive back from Prague: everyone started loosing their minds! Haha. No-one hardly had any money left so no-one was eating; all we had was lots of rolling tobacco!

In the months before we were due to go, Bri decided instead of going on tour with us, he’d rather go America to travel around on tour with ‘Dystopia’, which of course was up to him, but we were quite disappointed and it left us in the bad position of “Do we still do the tour, and if so, how?”. Of course we still wanted to do the tour so we had the following options – do it as an instrumental 3 piece or find a replacement for Bri, but we couldn’t find anyone suitable and it didn’t seem like a good idea to do it instrumentally. But as we knew another drummer (Trav) who could do it, we decided that he would take my place and I would sing; so that’s what we did. We rehearsed intensively in the weeks before but the change affected the overall sound/performance because I’m not a very good front-man and the drummer wasn’t a punk drummer, but we did our best with it, and had a great time on tour, so…

Michael, the driver, is Michael Baines (from local Middlesbrough band ‘Spit The Pips’). At the time he also worked at Studio 64 recording-studio and recorded some records on Flat Earth (‘One By One’, ‘Sedition’, etc) and Meantime (‘Sofa Head’, etc). Trav who stood-in on drums was the drummer in Michael’s band, as Michael was driving us on the tour, that’s how we got Trav to drum for us. [Guestbook: ‘Tomato Crab’ drum stand-in, ‘Bennett’ (bass), Michael (full time drummer, part-time singer), Dale T. (guitar), Michael (driver)]

We went to the Vort’n Vis because we had a spare day as a gig had been cancelled or something, so when we got off the ferry in Belgium everyone was saying “Well where shall we go?!” and I said the best option (and probably our only option really) was to go to the V.V. and ask to stay there and if possible play there, so we did!

Michael John Gillham, ‘Manfat’ drummer

Peter Vanthuyne at the V.V. was great. Even though we just turned up, he kept apologizing saying he couldn’t pay us and giving us a beer whenever we ran out. I seem to remember we all went to the outdoor swimming-baths as well.

All three bands did not play in Münster. We met there but there was a clash with (I think) a ‘Madball’ gig and so not enough cash to pay everyone. Of course they bumped us (who had travelled miles out of our way and missed a Eugene Chadbourne gig to get there) and I think ‘B.H.S.’ from the bill and let the local bands play instead. Less than impressed. I remember Rob (‘B.H.S.’) told the promoter in Mannheim he was looking forward to his holiday. The guy took it literally and thought we didn’t want paying and so spent all our money on a PA instead.

I don’t remember my feet stinking that badly…

Ian Roberts, ‘Manfat’ bassist

excerpt from the V.V. guestbook:

VV 95-07-14 - (book B) Manfat

additions wellcome!…

  1. Russ Snell says:

    ‘Manfat’ were dead good – we [‘Stalingrad’] used to play with them a lot. I have an original copy of their demo-tape if anyone wants to buy it? They also did an EP which I also have – which is pretty rare…

  2. Michael Gillham says:

    Haha! it’s really funny to see the page from the Vort’n Vis guestbook! As you can see, we all drew our own characters. Honestly, that’s really funny to see!
    “Wow that was fun, Belgium rules” was by a guy called ‘Manship’ who was Michael the driver’s friend who came on tour with us.
    The ‘Manfat’/’Hard To Swallow’ Euro tour was in June 1996; both bands travelled over especially for the the 2 day fest @ La Zone in October playing no other gigs. ‘Manfat’ never toured Europe with ‘Rated R’. ‘Kito’ did though but I’m unsure of the year…‘97 perhaps?
    Lastly: the gig in Münster…’Manfat’ did not play! I don’t think ‘Baby Harp Seal’ did either. The gig either got stopped for some reason (I think there may have been a power out-age during ‘Kito’s set) or it had ran too late. There were some German bands that played but I don’t remember any of the names…

  3. Ian 'Bennett' says:

    Manship who’s name is on the bottom of the guestbook-page is actually Jeff ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ Beck’s cousin. He came along to keep the driver company.

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