Intro: Although the band was known as Intensified Chaos rather than Breakout for most of its existence, the appearance of their sole vinyl contribution (the track "Waste Away" on Rot Records' Wet Dreams compilation in 1984) under the Breakout name means that more people have come across them as Breakout, and these days the joint-monicker is usually applied to distinguish the band from others.
So here is an interview with Rat, Mike and Ed of Intensified Chaos / Breakout, conducted April 2019. (Below pic shows them playing live somewhere in the early 1980s)
Q. HOW AND WHEN DID THE BAND GET TOGETHER - AND DID YOU ALREADY KNOW EACH OTHER AS MATES, OR WAS SOME RECRUITING NECESSARY FOR PARTICULAR ROLES IN THE BAND?
Rat: The three of us plus Nick, we were the original line-up. Nick and me were close neighbours. We first met around 1979, aged 13 or 14, found we shared a passion for punk and decided to start a band.
Mike: I knew Nick from school. When he said he was looking for a drummer I said ‘Yes’ even though I’d never drummed before.
Ed: Through school. Although I was the year above there were a group of punks that hung out together. The four of us rehearsed, and I reckon the first gig was probably 1980?
Mike: Yeah, that sounds about right.
Rat: The Review?
Ed: Yes the Review, and then we DIY’d a gig in the local church hall. Booked ourselves in as a “folk band”.
Q. WHAT WAS THE LOCAL PUNK SCENE LIKE IN LANGPORT? WAS IT A CASE OF THERE BEING ONLY ONE PUNK BAND (I.E. YOURSELVES) AT THE TIME, OR WERE THERE MORE BANDS AROUND? IF SO, WHAT WERE THE NAMES OF SOME OF THE OTHER BANDS, AND DID ALL THE BANDS GET ON OKAY WITH EACH OTHER AND SHARE GIGS?
Rat: There were two bands really - us and Stryknene. We got on well.
Mike: Very well. Glyn played bass for Stryknene, and in our final line-up he became our bassist. And Alun, his brother, became our second drummer. Quite incestuous really!
Ed: We all knew each other from school.
Rat: Way back at the very beginning, Nick and I got together with Ben the guitarist in Stryknene, for a session. Only the once, though. Ben formed Stryknene and we started Intensified Chaos.
Mike: We played two or three gigs with Stryknene.
Ed: The infamous Rainbow gig in Yeovil, where I got a broken nose, that’s one I’ll never forget!
Mike: There were other bands we played with who were local, as in West Country, but not Langport. Bikini Mutants from Yeovil and Lunatic Fringe from Bristol, for example. Scum and Rebel Dance from Bath. The Cult Maniax from Devon, and Vice Squad from Bristol.
Ed: Debbie from the Bikini Mutants became went on to play with My Bloody Valentine and Primal Scream. Hit the big time.
Mike: Ed’s our punk Wikipedia.
Q. FROM THE PHOTOS, THE BAND SEEMED TO BE A MIXED PUNK / SKINHEAD BAND IN TERMS OF APPEARANCE AND INFLUENCES?
Ed: We liked all sorts really. It kind of evolved over time.
Rat: Nick certainly had a broad taste. Crass featured, at least early on. But then there’s a photo of him somewhere from 1980 or earlier wearing a Cockney Rejects shirt. I’ll have to dig that one out.
Mike: And he liked the Special Duties - who weren’t exactly Crass fans.
Rat: Didn’t the Business cover “Do They Owe Us A Living”?
Ed: They did.
Rat: So that’s an Oi! Band covering a Crass number?
Ed: Yeah! We didn’t really go for that Punk vs Punk thing. We couldn’t see much daylight between what Bushell called Oi! and what we thought was punk.
Mike: That was one of our key messages. No differences between skins and punks, or black and white people.
Rat: “Unite & Fight”?
Ed: One of my set-list favourites.
Rat: I’ve always been a Sham fan and love a catchy, shouty chorus.
Mike: You can see various changes in the photos. Nick had a Mohican. You did too, Ed?
Ed: Yes. But not at the same time. I went skinhead, as did Nick. Bleached jeans, etc. Then back to a bigger Mohican. We all tended to mix it up. Colin was always a skinhead though.
Rat: He was. I guess musically, we were putting out a lot of chanty choruses around the time we did the first two demos in Bristol. I think there was something about influences in the question, wasn’t there?
Ed: There was. I loved The Exploited, GBH and Blitz. Still do.
Rat: We all started from the same place: Pistols, Clash, Damned. I was a late adopter for a lot of the ‘second wave’ stuff. We often performed covers of songs I’d never heard! But I caught up, and loved all the Oi! stuff and the Punk ‘n’ Disorderly bands: UK Decay, Disrupters, Demob, Abrasive Wheels, One Way System and so on.
Mike: Big Anti-Pasti fan and Subs too.
Ed: We all loved the Subs. Met Charlie when we played The 100 Club. Great bloke.
Rat: Wasn’t he. I chatted to him last summer at a Subs gig in Reading. Went with Mike actually. Still really approachable.
Mike: Nick liked Blitz, Red Alert, Partisans, Dead Kennedys, Rejects, Outcasts, Chron Gen. Actually he liked pretty much everything!
Ed: I think we were all influenced by all of these bands to a lesser or greater extent
Mike: True - and Vice Squad too.
Q. COULD YOU GO THROUGH WHAT LINE-UP CHANGES THE BAND HAD OVER ITS TIME TOGETHER - ALSO I BELIEVE YOU HAD TWO DRUMMERS AT ONE STAGE – IF SO, WHAT WAS THE REASONING BEHIND THIS AND WAS IT A SUCCESSFUL VENTURE?!
Rat: Well it started let’s say 1980 with Nick on bass, me on guitar, Mike on drums and Ed on vocals... when did you leave, Ed?
Ed: Late ’82, and my brother Colin stepped in.
Mike: So then it was Nick, Rat, me and Colin for say, six months or so.
Ed: Then Colin and me swapped back, around mid-‘83, I guess.
Rat: When did Alun join?
Ed: Later in ‘83. We thought a second drummer would add an extra dimension and could really punch it out.
Mike: It certainly did, live!
Rat: Nick left in the summer of ’83 - the year we recorded “Waste Away”.
Mike: Rob Trott came in on bass.
Rat: Then I left in December ‘83.
Mike: That’s when Dave joined. Then Rob had a motorbike accident and left. That’s when Glyn joined, in ‘84.
Ed: Glyn left in ‘84 as well. That’s when we stopped.
Q. WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR THE NAME CHANGE TO BREAKOUT, AND WAS IT DONE MAINLY TO COINCIDE WITH A NEW-LINE UP OF THE BAND, OR FOR SOME OTHER REASON?
Mike: We’d done a few demos but not cracked a label signing. There were quite a few bands with “Chaos” in their name. We thought a name change would help us stand out better
Ed: It coincided with bringing in Alun as a second drummer too.
Rat: I know we all agreed it at the time. But I always thought of us as Intensified Chaos
Ed: Yeah, I did too.
Mike: The only track that was properly released back then was “Waste Away” under the Breakout name. And the “Wet Dreams” compilation album it was on was well distributed. But locally we probably remained Intensified Chaos. That’s the name people always say to me.
Rat: It’s made it quite confusing with the new album and Facebook page. We have to use both names.
Q. COULD YOU EXPAND ON WHAT GIGS YOU DID (BOTH AS HEADLINERS AND SUPPORT GIGS), AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THEM 30+ YEARS ON? HOW MANY GIGS DID YOU DO IN LONDON, AND DID YOU EVER PLAY ANYWHERE ELSE OUTSIDE THE SOUTH-WEST AREA?
Rat: We can’t remember them all. We can account for about 20 at the moment. People keep reminding us of new ones.
Ed: We reckon there must have been at least double that.
Rat: The early ones were DIY. We hired a hall, a PA and hooked up with other bands. Did our own flyers. The only way we could get gigs. We would have been headlining those, for sure.
Mike: We had to get our own bouncers too.
Ed: That’s true. Learned that the hard way!
Mike: Mostly South-West. A few in Bristol at the Stonehouse and Granary. One in Bournemouth, Upstairs at Eric's. Crispin Hall, Street with a skinhead band called “Garbage”. They were great by the way.
Rat: The hall was a Quaker meeting place. It got trashed.
Mike: The Bristol Granary was our first gig, supporting Vice Squad. Around December ‘81. I broke a snare skin at the sound-check. Then I broke my back-up snare skin. That never happens. Luckily Shane from Vice Squad lent me a 3rd and that one survived. Thanks, mate.
Ed: Upstairs at Eric’s was the infamous 52 seater bus gig hired to carry all our fans. I think we had about 15 people on the bus. Our last gig, a huge financial loss, but what a way to go!
Rat: We played in London twice: First at Skunx in February 1982, supporting Blitz.
Ed: We opened with a cover of "Fuck A Mod" by The Exploited.
Rat: The landlord refused to pay us. Mackie the Blitz Bass player gave us a fiver towards petrol. Another top bloke.
Mike: There was a review in Sounds. Wasn’t a good one though!
Rat: We supported Vice Squad, Soldiers of Destruction and, I think, Drongos for Europe at The 100 Club in July 1982.
Ed: There’s a few Skunx ads from Sounds which suggest we played there more than once. But we didn’t.
Mike: Right. Like not paying us the first time was a bit of a clue!
Rat: If I remember rightly, the landlord said he’d pay us if we returned a second time. Muppet!
Mike: We also supported Peter And The Test Tube Babies at Bridgwater Arts Centre in 1982.
Rat: The gig that no one remembers. But there’s a photo of Colin in front of the poster with our name on it and a review. So we know we did.
Mike: There was a helluva punch up back-stage.
Ed: Happened all the time.
Rat: “Maniac” was written after that gig.
Mike: Yeovil Rainbow was a monster: three chords in - complete riot. Pre-planned by trouble-makers, and we had heard word before, but it "exceeded expectations". My kit saved me from the “flying” Ed, whose nose was broken.
Rat: Stryknene were the support if I remember rightly.
Mike: Yes they were. And then there was Hinton St. George Village Hall. Rival skins met to destroy the gig and most of the hall. Our mate, Jimmy Gilbert, used my weighted boom stand and wrapped it nicely around the back of some knobhead! I remember being arrested and spending some time in Crewkerne nick.
Q. WHAT WAS BREAKOUT’S EXPERIENCE AT THE BRISTOL TRINITY HALL GIG YOU WERE BOOKED AT WITH THE OPPRESSED, ETC, IN JULY 1984. IF WHAT I’VE READ ELSEWHERE IS CORRECT, I GATHER THAT YOU DIDN’T GET TO PLAY AS IT WAS ABANDONED DUE TO VIOLENCE BEFORE YOURSELVES AND THE OPPRESSED PLAYED?
Ed: We were invited to play after the release of “Waste Away” on ‘Wet Dreams’. The Oppressed, us and three other bands were due to play. All were full-on skinhead bands, except us.The atmosphere was highly charged from the very start with Bristol and Welsh skins taunting each other. At some point there were chants of “kill the punks” directed at us. The third band finished and we were due to go on when the audience split down the middle, Welsh one side, Bristol the other, and then they just went for each other. We thought this was a good time to escape, so we collected our gear and left all in one piece, this time!
Mike: They obviously didn’t buy into the whole “Unite & Fight” idea.
Ed: Just the fight bit.
Rat: Hard of hearing, maybe?
Ed: Just “hard” I reckon.
Mike: I remember thinking we were toast and also that our ancient CA Bedford minibus, Annabelle, was not the perfect getaway vehicle.
Ed: Particularly given she had broken down on the way to the gig!
Rat: I’m glad I wasn’t around for that one.
Q. HOW MANY TIMES DID THE BAND GO INTO THE STUDIO, AND COULD YOU GIVE A BIT OF BACKGROUND INFO AS TO WHAT YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THESE? (E.G. HOW BASIC OR OTHERWISE WERE THE PLACES YOU USED, HOW QUICK THE RECORDINGS WERE DONE, AND WHO DID YOU GET TO PRODUCE OR HELP WITH THE SESSIONS?)
Rat: The first demo was done in spring 1982, in a basic 2-track studio, I think. With lots of egg boxes on the walls for sound-proofing. One day, pretty much one take for each song. Backing vocals on one track, everything else on the other.
Ed: Rat’s amp broke.
Rat: It did. I used the studio’s. Hammered it a bit. The producer was none too happy.
Mike: We recorded: “Racial Hatred”, “Drug Addict”, “1982” and “Police Brutality”.
Ed: “Racial Hatred” was later re-worked as “Unite & Fight”, and “Drug Addict” as “Drug Abuse”.
Rat: “1982” started out as “1981”. It became a solid part of the set from then on, though we stopped updating it.
Mike: “Police Brutality”. That never went away, either.
Rat: The second demo was about two, maybe three months later. Same place. One day again.
Ed: “1982”, “Skins & Punks”, “Police Brutality”, “Don’t Wanna Die” and “Tell Us The Truth” - a Sham 69 cover.
Rat: The third demo has gone AWOL. It was a better studio, in Milborne Port. 8-track, I think. Could have been more, but it was more than enough. Colin on vocals, I reckon.
Mike: I can remember we recorded “Youth”. There’s a live version of that on YouTube. Can’t remember anything else. But all done in a day, again.
Rat: There weren’t too many copies of this session - maximum two, I think - because we didn’t pay the studio in full. We were supposed to go back, cough up and pick up extra copies. We didn’t.
Mike: Sometime much later in ‘82 we went to St. Paul’s in Bristol to record the next demo at SAM studios, with Steve Street, Vice Squad’s producer. Shane Baldwin, their drummer, and Dave Bateman their guitarist also co-produced.
Rat: It’s a much bigger set-up. Either 16 or 32 tracks. Again more than we needed.
Mike: Three songs in a day, but much more complex. We run through each, and from that the bass and drum tracks are selected. Then Rat lays down two separate (but more or less identical) guitar tracks. Then we add vocals. Finally backing vocals.
Rat: “Maniac”, “Unite & Fight”, “No Rights”. Colin on vocals for this one.
Mike: We take copies home, then return a week later to finalise the mix
Rat: Back to SAM studios again with Ed this time. Mid-1983.
Ed: Same process as before, I think?
Rat: Yes, but I did add some lead overdubs on this one.
Ed: And the barmy army helped out with backing vocals. Neil Gardner for one.
Mike: Shane co-produced again, and Alun was with us.
Ed: “Waste Away”, “Terror On The Streets”, “Drug Abuse”.
Mike: In 1984 we went back again, with Dave on guitar and Glyn on bass this time. Same process.
Ed: “Breakout (instrumental)”, intended for the latest Gary Bushell Oi! album, but doesn’t get selected, “Freedom” and “Rebels of War”.
Rat: Mike wrote “Rebels of War”, I think?
Mike: That’s right.
Q. THE FIRST STUFF BY THE BAND WHICH WAS MADE AVAILABLE, WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN ON A COUPLE OF LOCAL CASSETTE COMPILATIONS?
Ed: No one can remember exactly. We think so. There was definitely at least one, as Craig Ireland was in contact recently, and he had done a write-up for “Never Surrender” fanzine in 1984.
Mike: It was called “Alternative South-West”. 19 tracks, one of which was “No Rights”. Here Comes The New Punk name-check it in their book.
Q. HOW DID THE BAND’S APPEARANCE ON ROT’S ‘WET DREAMS’ COMPILATION COME ABOUT?
Ed: No one can remember this exactly, either. Maybe there was an ad in Sounds. Or maybe just word on the grapevine. We think it was almost certainly through Nick, who always had his finger on the pulse.
Rat: A bargain at £2.99. And well distributed too. Belgium and Australia, for example. We never received a penny. One of the other bands was in touch recently. Same for them.
Mike: “Band ripped off by record company scandal…” Shock horror!
11. WAS THE RECORDING OF “WASTE AWAY” DONE SPECIFICALLY FOR THE LP, OR DID THEY JUST USE AN EXISTING RECORDING YOU HAD ALREADY DONE? ALSO WHY WAS THIS TRACK PICKED?
Ed: It was one from the latest demo, and we thought it was the strongest.
12. WAS IT (“WASTE AWAY”) WRITTEN FROM SOMEONE’S PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, OR MORE A WIDER/OBSERVATIONAL SONG, AS AROUND THE SAME TIME THERE WERE A FEW THINGS IN THE MEDIA LIKE ‘MADE IN BRITAIN’ AND ‘OI FOR ENGLAND’ (WHICH LOOKED AT SKINHEADS IN A NOT ALTOGETHER ACCURATE WAY!).
Ed: Most of our material was kicked off by a combination of Nick and Rat, one way or another. And then everyone chipped in as we worked them up. Nick was definitely the main driver behind this one, though.
Mike: It was semi-autobiographical: dead-end job, judged by appearances. Built from there. So part personal and part observational.
Q. DID THE BAND GET ANY OFFERS OF OTHER RECORD RELEASES - EITHER FROM ROT OR OTHER LABELS? AND DID YOU EVER THINK OF SELF-RELEASING YOUR OWN SINGLE OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT?
Rat: No offers. Or at least nothing that came to anything
Mike: I think self-releasing would have been a logical next step. But there were multiple line-up changes to manage.
Ed: It didn’t look an easy thing to do, and would have required some money up-front and we were always brassic. But in hindsight, I could see how that could have happened.
Q. WHEN AND WHY DID THE BAND BREAK UP?
Mike: Just fizzled out after Glyn left, really.
Ed: I think we felt we’d done our bit. Done well, but also done as much as we ever would by then.
15. HAVE THE EX-MEMBERS KEPT PLAYING AFTER BREAKOUT IN ANY OTHER BANDS?
Mike: Yes. I’ve played in a number of bands over the years. And Rat and me played together for about 14 years in one band. I’m still in a covers band. But none of us in anything like Intensified Chaos.
Q. IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, THE BAND HAS RESURFACED WITH CLIPS ON YOUTUBE AND NOW AN LP RELEASED OF OLD MATERIAL. WHAT PROMPTED THIS, AND COULD YOU GIVE US A RUN DOWN OF HOW THE RETROSPECTIVE LP CAME ABOUT, AND THE RENEWED INTEREST IN THE BAND?
Mike: We kept the original demo cassettes to-hand over the years. By chance a bloke called Peter, from Belgium, got in touch with Ed and Rat via a copy of “Waste Away” that was on iTunes (I think it was).
Ed: That’s right, and Peter had actually written to us back in the day after hearing us on “Wet Dreams. He’d gone on to run Pure Impact Records in Belgium.
Rat: He wanted to release the demos as an album. We only had them on cassettes. But as a result we digitised them.
Ed: It didn’t progress with Pete, so we decided to match the recordings up with some photos and put them on YouTube, to see what happened.
Mike: It turned out a few people remembered us and wanted to know more.
Rat: One of them was a guy known as “Warboots” from the US. He put us in touch with Vomitopunk Records, and Viktor of VPR took it from there.
Ed: By the way, Warboots also flagged up the review in “Here Comes The New Punk”. It was how he’d tracked us down. Because the article mentioned “Intensified Chaos” and he’d been looking for a band called Breakout that had recorded “Waste Away” back in the day.
Rat: So then I bought the book and got in touch with you, at HCTNP!
Ed: And that’s also how we came to realise that we should never have changed our name, and now everything has to have both names on it to be discoverable online!
Q. HAVE YOU HAD ANY GIG OFFERS YET, AND WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF YOU PLAYING LIVE AGAIN? (ARE ALL THE EX-MEMBERS STILL IN TOUCH?)
Mike: Nick died in an air crash in Kosovo back in 1999. But the three of us are in regular contact now. We’re in touch with Glyn, who lives in New Zealand, too. Dave and Rob have gone AWOL, and Alun and Colin are almost impossible to contact for one reason or another.
Ed: We’ve had one firm gig proposal, though. Not said yes. Not said no.
Rat: We’re still discussing it. We’d need a new bassist and a fair bit of rehearsal after 35 years. But I don’t think any of us see it as impossible.
Ed: The reaction on Facebook has been good. I think if we believed we could fill a small hall with enough genuinely interested people, then that might galvanise us and get us to the tipping point.
Mike: I’d really like to support someone like the Subs. There’s loads of 80s punk gigs advertised now. Not just Rebellion, which is the big one, but other ones across the UK.
Ed: There’s one at Butlins, Minehead. That might be interesting.
Rat: It’s localish. At least for you two.
Ed: We’ll pay your petrol!
Rat: That’s an offer that’s hard to refuse
Mike: Sounds like we’re close, then - but no cigar yet.
18. IS THERE OWT ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
The retrospective / compilation LP pictured above is available direct from the label Vomitopunk, or from selcted local distributors.
Added: 8 May 2019;