The Place We Call Home: Fast Blood’s North East Favourites

Fast Blood

When you think of Newcastle, you probably think of that Geordie accent, the city’s football team (and its Toon Army), Ant & Dec, the Tyne Bridge, or its eponymous brown ale. It has been home to a fair share of music greats such as Sting, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, and Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler, as well as The Wildhearts and yourcodenameis:milo. Nevertheless, beyond its infamous nightlife, Newcastle (and the North East overall) has a strong DIY scene. One band that have emerged from it are indie punks Fast Blood. Earlier this month, the quartet released their second album – ‘Sunny Blunts’.

Consisting of nine relentless slices of punk, the four-piece demonstrates an energetic, hook-laden sound that comfortably embraces parts of garage punk, hardcore, and 90’s indie/midwestern emo. Led by vocalist Abi Barlow, tracks such as the celebratory feminist anthem ‘Sexual Healing’, and the politically furious ‘Gone For Good’ explode with an abundance of energy and passion.

Completed by guitarist Dave Hillier, bassist Kris Brunsden, and drummer Dave Allen, Fast Blood have also developed a reputation as a live outfit. They’ve shared stages with Mannequin Pussy and fellow North East outfit Martha, along with a host of names including Good Grief. Yet the quartet’s core ethos lies in the DIY spirit of independent music.

Having collectively been part of the North East scene for the best part of five years, Fast Blood have developed bonds with several bands and DIY venues and spaces throughout the area. As a site that likes to spread the word about independent bands, we thought it’d be good for Fast Blood to tip us off about four need-to-know bands from the North East, as well as give us the lowdown on one of their favourite spaces.


Abi (Barlow – vocals): We have been super lucky enough to share a stage with Teesside garage rockers, Onlooker on a couple of occasions and every time they bring their all. Any band that has a song from a dog’s perspective is worth listening to in my opinion! Onlooker have a high energy and urgent sound that makes it physically impossible to stand still when you watch them live, and when they play, they play insanely tight.

Their new-ish vocalist, Will had big boots to fill when he joined, Kev’s vocals worked perfectly with their sound, but Will brings a Boro radge energy that just makes sense. This allowed Kev to concentrate on his insane bass shredding, and shred he does. Onlooker have that unhinged North East spirit that speaks to me and makes me embrace my own North East rage.

Weekend Faithful

Dave (Hillier – guitar): My pick is Newcastle’s finest dad-rock beat combo, Weekend Faithful. I love them so much, and not only because we share a drummer! Weekend Faithful are amazing, and a collection of some of the most talented musicians in the North East. They wear their influences on their collective sleeve – those being three “bar-rock” heavy hitters: Bruce Springsteen, the Hold Steady and Thin Lizzy. Don’t get the wrong idea though, it isn’t JUST that full hard rock sound I’m talking about here – they know how to write a great pop song. And EVERY song is a great pop song. Just hooks all over the place!

They have three guitarists and have this amazing chemistry between them. The interplay literally gives me the chills at times. When watching them live, you can’t help but anticipate those glorious, harmonised guitar parts approaching. It’s not just the guitars though, every member of that band is an absolute-class musician. The keyboard player, Benny (Thornley), takes the piss though… Speaking of The Hold Steady, he’s easily as good as Franz Nicolay. Probably even better! Singer, Jimmy (Parkins) is true to his roots and his Geordie heritage in terms of delivery in his authentic accent, and his heartfelt lyrics based on local themes. All is underpinned by super strong bass and drums providing the solid backbone of the band.

Wild Spelks

Kris (Brunsden – bass): Wild Spelks have been a staple of the Newcastle alt scene for years now, and much like [insert some shite wine reference here], they just keep getting better as time goes by. Wild Spelks is, principally, a beautiful guy called Jonny (Sabiston) who writes and records all of it, and over the years he has honed a brand of music that is undeniably warm but raw, driving but gentle, and 100% from the heart.

There’s some very clear pop-punk influence lying beneath the surface, evident from his sickeningly good choruses and verses dripping with hooks, but that almost feels like a disservice to him and the band as the overall package is a far more mature, earnest and beautiful thing. Lyrically, he cuts you deep, sharing his inner-most struggles with admirable honesty and poetic flair – “you are full of blood, and I’m just a thirsty leech” gets me every single time.

Whilst Johnny is the songwriter, it’s his band that bring it all together live. He has assembled a brilliant group around him (one which I’m quite jealous not to be a part of – shout out to Chris Old on Bass), and this last year has seen Wild Spelks really stamp out a place for themselves in the toon gig circuit.


Dave (Allen – drums): Irked are my current favourite band in Newcastle. They must be good because when I first heard them, I was really pissed off that I’m not their drummer. The nerve of it! That’s fine though, ’cause Zach is class.

Irked are pissed off and caustic as fuck, playing that scratchy garage punk you know you love, but with a smidge of post-punk thrown in for good measure. Helen, the vocalist, is a bona fide badass who demands your attention – acerbic and hilarious in equal measure and can yell, scream and holler with the absolute best of them. Irked were the best band at the recent Manchester Punk Festival, flattening both competition and audience with their sharp as fuck riffs and crowd-baiting shenanigans.

They have an EP coming out very soon on Wrong Speed Records, which everyone should look out for, coz it’s gonna be tight.

The Lubber Fiend

The Lubber Fiend has very recently celebrated its second birthday, which is incredible for them, and for Newcastle, as it’s a genuinely awesome venue. It’s a brilliant space for DIY events of any description, from the expected hardcore/punk/metal/indie type gigs – to DIY Ceilidhs, and everything else in between. The workers there are all cool as fuck, always welcoming. They have a great stage setup, great sound and great beer. Honestly, what’s not to like?

Lubber is a safe, inclusive space for all, which occupies the same spirit as legendary venues such as Bradford’s 1in12 Club, Sheffield’s The Lughole, or DIY Space for London RIP. We are genuinely lucky as fuck to have this venue in our city, and I would urge everybody to show their support however they are able, be it by organising their events there, or as a simple paying customer. Long live the Lubber Fiend!

Learn more about The Lubber Fiend here.

‘Sunny Blunts’ by Fast Blood is out now.

Find Fast Blood on: FacebookInstagram | Bandcamp | Spotify | Apple Music |


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