Punk Andy’s going

Andy Higgins

Andy Higgins

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To call Andy Higgins determined and single-minded would be putting it mildly.

For the last two decades, the Blackpool lad has been on a mission to bring the music he loves – underground punk – to a wider audience.

It’s not been easy, not least because for many it’s an 
acquired taste and, unlike the USA, where various punk bands have made big breakthroughs (Green Day, The Offspring), the genre has struggled by comparison in this country.

But that hasn’t stopped Higgins.

It is something he feels strongly about and, as well as playing in various bands, he has been running his 
underground record label (Just Say No To Government Music records) since the early 90s, when he and his friends staged punk shows galore around Lancashire.

Speaking of that, Higgins has an interesting tale to tell.

“At the start of the 1990s we were offered this band, Green Day,” he said. “At that point they were these unknown Americans.

“I couldn’t decide whether to put them on in Blackpool or Manchester but, in the end, went for the latter because we knew we’d get a few more people watching them in 
Manchester.

“We put them on at a venue called The Milestone. They were a nice bunch of blokes, just travelling in a van and sleeping on people’s floors at that point.

“It was a really good gig, their next album broke them into the mainstream, and the rest is history. My only regret is that I didn’t put them on in Blackpool – it would have been a lovely story to say I gave them a gig here.”

Higgins has been doing this kind of thing ever since and has also made a point of trying to help local bands, releasing records on his label over the years by the likes of Yellowfields, K, Shrink and Erase Today. Many songs were played on radio, some made the NME charts.

“But it isn’t easy. When I first started, punk was at an all-time low in the UK and it still struggles today, especially compared to how it is in America,” he said.

“I mean, I’ve got bands on my label now who would be 
absolutely massive if they were on American labels.

“The best hope for us is that we can get these bands a distribution deal in the US because I swear they would take off.

“In Blackpool, we’re lucky we’ve got Rebellion Festival, which is great, but on the whole, unfortunately, there just isn’t the same scene over on this side of the Atlantic.”

Despite the lack of mainstream success, Higgins’ record label has remained busy, collaborating with like-minded labels to produce recent releases of bands such as The Great St Louis, Stay Clean Jolene and Holiday. He is also working with the young Blackpool outfit Scouts.

Higgins – who makes a living as a politics teacher and selling franking machines – says he loves punk for its 
authenticity and the fact that “it’s a friendly community, a way of life which is full of helpful, co-operative people who are not only really into the music but also into nourishing creative energy and ideas.”

And he still keeps his hand in himself, as he’ll prove this weekend when he plays a rare solo gig at the Old Town Hall in Poulton.

“I’m pretty nervous about it so I probably should have chosen a different date to Friday the 13th!” he added.

“I know I’ll be playing to a more mainstream audience, so I’m going to incorporate a number of more well-known songs that will hopefully go down well.”

There will be some free CDs available on the door and everyone who goes will be given a Blackpool FC/England sticker.