We’re living in an open prison! We’re Out of Order!

Bei der Entstehung von Punk in Ostwestfalen spielten gerade zu Beginn Ende der 70er/Anfang der 80er Jahre die dort stationierten oder gestrandeten britischen (ex-) Soldaten eine nicht unwesentliche Rolle. Bestes Beispiel dafür waren Out of Order.
Der folgende Text wurde in Zusammenarbeit mit den ehemaligen Mitgliedern von Out of Order für ein Re-Release ihrer LP 2008 erstellt und erzählt die Bandgeschichte von Anfang bis Ende. Text: Marcel/Überfall Records

Out of Order were formed in September 1980.
Geoff – “Isaac approached me asking ‘Would you like to help form a punk band?’ We went to the Scala in Herford and met Kollibri, and I think then or later Volker joined in”. So it was Geoff and Isaac on guitars, Kollibri on drums and Volker on bass.

After rehearsing about a dozen times for a month, Out of Order supported the U.K. Subs in the Scala Herford on October 14th.
Geoff – “After seemingly good sessions, we all suffered from a little bit of stage fright and were a little disappointed with our performance. Although we did feel at the time, the lack of sound via the stage monitors had something to do with it.”
Two or three more gigs followed with that line-up. Unfortunately they didn’t manage to play the Punk gegen den Papst festival in Osnabrück, in front of about 1000 people.
Kollibri – “The gig was cancelled halfway, due to twats starting
a fire in the cellar and then a riot breaking out in the city centre.”
Geoff – “Whilst KFC played, a fire started in the cellar, and the police and fire brigade steamed into the place, seizing Isaac‘s car in the process. He was unimpressed with that and punk, and left the band.”
Shortly after that, Eric ShunN and Schnell John joined the band.

Schnell John – “My early memories start in January 1980, when, as a young soldier, I arrived in Herford, finished work, got changed into my tartan bondage trousers and proceeded down the hill to the town centre, looking for a bar where squaddies weren‘t barred from. I ended up in the Scala, which I quickly made my second home and where I could be found most nights completely pissed with Andy Stillion [who was the singer of the Aheads].There were some great gigs there in 1980: The Cure, Dead Kennedys, Stiff Little Fingers, Charge, Dexy‘s Midnight Runners and of course U.K. Subs with Out of Order [previous line-up] as the support band – a gig I missed due to being on manoeuvres with the army. Anyway, I met a chap called Eric ShunN and after a few beers decided, that we would try and start a band. So we started to try and write some songs, over a few 6-packs of Herforder Pils, in my bedroom at the army barracks. Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and Eric says he‘s met Kollibri and Geoff, and ‘Do we want to join their band Out of Order?’ The rest is history!
The early days seemed to revolve around always trying to find a place to rehearse.Sometimes we used to just use the sound checks at gigs to practice. Then we located ourselves in the army barracks, upstairs in the attic, then there was a church hall [in a barrack in Bielefeld], and also in the ‘cottage’, a farmhouse near the autobahn in Herford, used by the Aheads. But we managed to practice enough to record our debut EP in a small studio in Herford. Also because of the army connection, we were interviewed on BFBS radio.”

Shortly after recording the EP they had to change the bass player. Volker went and Frank entered.
John – “Volker left the band because he got called up for service in the German army.”
Kollibri – “Frank used to play with a band from Bad Salzuflen, who sounded very much like The Jam. I actually did a couple of rehearsals with them before Out of Order.” The name of that band was Vatikan. Their guitarist was Bernd Begemann.
Frank – “I Kollibri for the first time on a Rotators gig in the youth club “Die Neun” in Herford, where he showed up with some English punks, who spat on the furniture and on each other and were draped with chains like christmas-trees – unbelievable for me at the time. My old band Vatikan got too limp for me, and Kollibri gave me a call and asked if I wanted to play with Out of Order.”

Geoff – “In the Bielefeld area we more often than not played with Notdurft – once or twice at the AJZ – and ZZZ Hacker.”
On a number of occasions Out of Order shared stage with pre-Toten-Hosen-band ZK.
John – “I remember loads of gigs with ZK. We seemed to play with them almost every week.”
Geoff – “We always arranged a pre-gig friendly football match with Campino on the car parks. This turned out to be England vs. Germany, and regardless whether 10 vs. 10 or over 50 playing in the Herford Scala with a tennis ball, the result was always Germany winning by the odd goal.”
Out of Order were planned to support ZK on their farewell gig in the Okie-Dokie in Neuss on November 21st, 1981, but end-ed up repairing their van in pissing rain near Dortmund.
On a gig with Daily Terror in Braunschweig (Brunswick) “Geoff got punched, because Daily Terror thought we broke their speaker system”, says Kollibri.
In Köln (Cologne) they played with Gang of Four.
John – “And we nearly had a fight with them, as they wouldn‘t let us have a sound-check. But I think, we still played our bollocks off, in front of maybe the biggest crowd we played to.”
Numerous gigs followed with the likes of Hass, the U.K. Subs once again (in the Hellepark in Herford), Upright Citizens, Slime and Aheads.

Geoff – “We played the UJZ Kornstraße in Hannover one time around, enjoying tea and cakes beforehand. A little later I just seem to remember being totally incapable of even being able to strum the guitar and being very off put, that we only had 30 mins or so before the real gig would start. Somehow we managed. I was not the only one to suffer, as John (with a little help of a bottle of wine) crashed for the night under a table.”
In the Schlachthof in Bremen Schnell John got injured – “I still have the scar on my forehead from that night, as I tried to throw my guitar in the air, à la Pete Townshend, and whacked myself in the head, just missing my eye, and played the rest of the gig with blood running down my face! I also remember we were also gonna play with the Exploited. But the gig was cancelled by the police, fearing mass riots from skinheads. All in all, if it could happen, then it always happened at an Out of Order gig!”

Frank – “We existed only on beer and chips. I was really envious when, before a gig together in Köln, Campino said to his ZK-lads ‘Let‘s go eat a pizza.‘ Our money just sufficed
for two servings of chips – for us all together! But beer we always had so much, that e.g. on the way to a gig in Detmold we already had to stop in Lage (20 km from Bielefeld) at a traffic light in front of a police station to have all of us pissing against the tires of Kollibri’s van bus, on broad daylight right in the middle of the traffic.“

A while after the EP, Out of Order recorded the “Open Prison”-album.
John – “The LP came about after we were
approached by a guy called Jens, who owned H‘art Records in Bochum. He became our manager type, also he signed up Hass and Upright Citizens. He paid for the LP to be made. 2 days recording, 2 days mixing. Can‘t remember the name of the studio, but re-member the engineer very well, he kept on shouting out ‘OK’ in a high voice.”
Kollibri – “The album came about, because the band Hass liked our single, and they played with us in the Scala, and Jens of their label
H‘art Recs was also there … I think. The album was recorded in Bochum and probably took less than 24 hours to record and mix IN TOTAL, which was unusual even in those days.”
Frank – “During the three days of recording the LP we stayed in the flat of some friends of the H‘art-manager for the nights. While the others slept on the floor, me and John conveniently slept in the bed. Unfortunately a
week later we realised, we were not alone in
the bed – pubic lice!“

A very special night Out of Order had around a gig in the JZ Oerlinghausen on Geoff‘s birthday.
Geoff – “We were a little pissed off by the fact that the promoters, or whoever, didn‘t want to pay us. So to pay them, we kindly went about
and removed their iron door (main entrance to the club) and chucked it over a wall about
30 metres down the road. Well pleased with ourselves, we then went on to jump in the van bus to go to a party in Bad Salzuflen. Unfortunately we never got that far, as our driver
(who probably had more to drink than we did)
decided to take a short across someone‘s garden – smashing a tree. [The owner of that garden] came out in his pyjamas to see what the noise was – Later we found out, it was the
police president of Bielefeld. Well, all nine of us or so decided to get the hell out of there. At this stage I realised, that my leg had an extension similar in size to half a rugby ball, because stage monitor had landed on it in the van, and reluctantly had to go to hospital, missing my own birthday party.Later I crashed down in a room with 3 other people –
and, still worse for the ware of drink, just couldn‘t stop giggling,
thinking about the JZ people looking for their door. After the operation I got one of those now dreaded hospital bugs, keeping me in there for three weeks. I reluctantly came to the conclusion to leave the band, although it wasn‘t the best timing with the LP just released.”

After Frank became unreliable, Dead Caruso replaced him on bass.
John – “We dropped Frank after he didn‘t turn up for some gigs, and my ex-girlfriend Ute started living with Dead Caruso, formerly of Artless. He used to come to our gigs anyway, so he was invited to join.”
On a gig in Herne “Dead Caruso had to play, even though he had never played [with Out of Order] before. Frank cancelled last minute and never played for us again”, tells Kollibri.
Frank – “I was preparing myself for the abitur, the Holland-tour was to come and Kollibri wanted to do the whole thing more professional. Shortly before a test at school I got scared and cancelled a gig in the Ruhr area last minute. The others
understandably took offence by that. When I visited John afterwards, he had the task to boot me out, which he was very in-convenient with. I really felt sorry for him, and we drank some beers then.”

After the departure of Geoff and Frank, Out of Order went on a two-weekends-tour to the Netherlands.
Kollibri – “The Dutch tour got off to a bad start. Me and Eric tried to hitch it to Marl, but never got there until late. We stood at Herford Ost for hours like twats and missed our first gig in
Gröningen. 40 punx from Bremen came specially to see us. On the 2nd gig in Zutphen, together with a Dutch band with a female singer, a bicycle mysteriously appeared on stage. The 3rd gig was near Amsterdam with the Upright Citizens [who filled in for the cancelled Hass], and there was a mad shaving foam fight on stage with the audience. That was the BEST GIG
ever!!! On the 4th gig in Zwolle, with the Upright Citizens again, we were badly hung-over but we probably played our tightest set ever that night. However, all the people who came to watch us from the Amsterdam gig were not impressed with our musical skills. They wanted more chaos and bedlam.”

John – “I think that, when Geoff left the band, things were just never gonna be the same. We carried on for a while as a four piece, actually playing very good and tight. We had started to write new material, which my one regret was, that we never got into a studio for a day to record the new songs, they would have made a superb EP. Anyway, we have done a short tour of Holland with the Upright Citizens, I was by now booted out of the army and living in the famous squat in Marl. Eric was in Herford. Dead Caruso was in Essen, I think. Kollibri, I think, was in Minden. So we were all over the place and weren‘t even rehearsing. So things just fizzled out.”
Kollibri – “The last gig was in Essen, I think. We were skint and I had my cymbals stolen, so it just fizzled out.”
John – “What I think was our last gig, which I think was in the AJZ in Bielefeld, with the Upright Citizens and Notdurft. I seem to remember us playing “Anarchy in the UK” as an encore, but I might be wrong.”
By 1982 the band had ground to a halt.

The Scala in Herford has been demolished on January 11th, 1982, after having seen not only the legends of punk rock, but also the Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Cream, Small Faces and Bill Haley among many others.

Kollibri – “To be honest, we never took ourselves seriously. We never tried to be session musicians. I NOW know, most bands practised VERY seriously, which would never have been admitted at the time. We were usually chaos! Most punk bands were very political and angry in 1981/82, but we just wanted a laugh, and only a few bands like ZK shared our view in Germany at that time. HAPPY DAYS indeed … We know we could play a lot better – In rehearsals and the odd gig we were actually very good indeed. It was just, that one or more of us was too pissed to play properly, usually. Or we did not spend that much time on details. That is why the album could and should have been a LOT better. We were far too flippant.“
John – “The one song, that really summed us all up, was the last track on the LP, the Out of Order piss-about song. That‘s what we were all about! Great days!”
Besides Out of Order, Schnell John and Kollibri had a side project with Andy and Meyer from the Aheads, called Out of Our Heads. They recorded the three-track “Riot EP” with Stefan from Hass on backing vocals.
John – “Shame, we never played live!”

Kollibri – “After Out of Order I tried my hand at singing in a psychobilly band with Volker, Ritchie the drummer from many Hannover punk bands and Tom from Bremen on guitar. We recorded 7 trax on demo only – never performed. The band was called Dungeon Crazies. Then I played drums in a Skeletal Family type band [called Zero Vision]. We made a demo and a 4-track 12“ EP. We played approx 25 gigs and did especially well in Berlin.” The members of that band all came from the Herford area.
Kollibri lives in Singapore today.

Post Out of Order and the Dungeon Crazies, Volker had at least one more band. Werner (ex-drummer of the Aheads) – “Weizenfeld [ex-guitarist of the Aheads] and I had a band with Volker and his then girlfriend U-She for quite a while. Musically we intended to go into the Sonic Youth direction. We called ourselves Partyservice, because Volker always knew a party somewhere, and most of them were a bit of all right. We had one performance. The band was history when Volker and U-She separated. Since that time U-She lives together with Holger Czukay [of kraut-rockers Can fame].”
Volker died on October 2nd, 2005 at the age of 44.

Eric – “After Out of Order I joined a band in Hannover with Wixer (ex-Blitzkrieg and Boskops). Unfortunately the drummer left and the hassle of driving to Hannover to rehearse was too much, so nothing came of the band. I jammed with a few people in Bielefeld, but nothing came of those bands either. In the 90s a band called Petra was formed to play a one-off at a 24 hour band marathon in the Bunker Ulmenwall in Bielefeld.” The band with Eric ShunN on vocals and ex-Notdurft Jones on bass played covers of British punk-classics. Eric – “Although formed with the sole intent of doing that one gig, Petra were booked for the AJZ in Bielefeld before they had played the gig in the Bunker Ulmenwall. A year later Petra also played a gig at a party in the K27 [living community in Bielefeld].” After that, without Eric, the others continued performing their own more sophisticated songs under the name Animales Con Ruido. Eric lives in Bielefeld today.
Geoff – “I played in a number of line ups after Out of Order. One was a project incl. an ex-bass-player from Alphaville, which also had Andy Stillion on a backing track. Never released any more records, and after a brief spell in band management, I ended up at ZYX Music, doing public relations and A+R.” Since the 90s Geoff is an active force within the electro music scene, has been an event organiser and visual performer and still VJs at clubs and events. He lives in Bielefeld today and is involved in music shows on Kanal 21, the open TV channel in Bielefeld.

Frank joined the Time Twisters on bass in 1984. They were part of the scene around Bad Salzuflen, that emerged into the so called Hamburger Schule movement.
Frank – “That time we were the pop-band on the Fast Weltweit label from Bad Salzuflen. There‘s an exhibition, made up by the Kulturkomission Münster, coming soon to a museum, about the influence of that label on German music-culture like Hamburger Schule. I had to quit, because I moved away. Now I‘m back to Salzuflen and play lo-fi-garage-cellar-trash-pop‘n‘roll with the Time Twisters.”

Dead Caruso moved to Australia, and no one seems to know, where exactly he could be found today.
Kollibri – “The last I heard of Dead Caruso was, that he was married for the 4th time and living in Perth, Australia. When I saw him in 1989, he was playing in a rock classics band.Last time I saw him in 1995ish, he was a long-haired bearded biker type.”

Schnell John – “I moved up to Ostfriesland, then lived in Amsterdam for a while, then returned to London round about 1984/85. I drifted into the pub and hotel industry as a chef, which I still do to this day. Also have had a small business on the side for the last 20 years, dealing with second-hand records. It was only when I finally got round to getting a laptop computer last year, that I decided to see if there was anything out there about Out of Order. And I couldn‘t find any record of us anywhere, so I decided to set up the Open Prison Myspace page. Also met up with Kollibri briefly, for a couple of beers. So still looking forward to meeting up with everyone one day, when we‘re inducted into the Rock‘n‘Roll Hall of Fame!!!”