Kirk Brandon: cult punk singer of Theatre of Hate on fame, Trump and his Barlick gig

Kirk Brandon was once the cult singer of a punk group he claimed to be "the best rock band in the world".

Tuesday, 23rd October 2018, 5:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th October 2018, 2:53 pm
Punk rocker Kirk Brandon (right) has enlisted the help of cello player Sam Sansbury for a more moving twist on his classic tracks. (s)
Punk rocker Kirk Brandon (right) has enlisted the help of cello player Sam Sansbury for a more moving twist on his classic tracks. (s)

He stormed onto the 80s music scene with loud, angry punk songs, with bands Theatre of Hate, Spear of Destiny and Dead Men Walking.

He has released more than 15 studio albums and countless singles during a career spanning at least three decades and he regularly tops punk-rock polls as the front man and songwriter of The Pack.

But in his latest tour, which he's bringing to Barnoldswick on Hallowe'en night, he's teamed up with cello player Sam Sansbury to reinterpret his hit tracks.

Kirk said: "The cello is a very moving instrument that resonates deep inside people, and Sam's interpretations of my songs are fantastic."

There were two musical bombs which diverted Kirk's life path. First, was the discovery of music itself at age 12, when his mum bought him a knocked-down guitar for £18.

"I was young and brainless, without any sense but I'd found a method of expression," he said.

Then came punk music in his early 20s, an explosive kaleidoscope of emotion, offering unrivalled freedom. It was a rallying call against convention.

"It was a revolution in time. Gone were the days when musicians had to have big teams. Instead, you could just turn up at a pub and play," he said.

"Punk was relatable and angry - and at the time, I felt angry."

Kirk shot to fame in the early 80s with Gothic new wave band Theatre of Hate, releasing tracks like Rebel Without a Brain and Do You Believe in the Westworld.

"We were selling thousands of records, but we weren't looking for fame," he said.

"Today, fame is something everyone desires, without knowing what it actually is and what it can do to you.

"These days, many people don't actually do anything for it.

"You can get a hair cut and wear nice clothes TV and become famous. But if you're going to be something, it should be for a reason. Otherwise, it's madness."

For Kirk, his career was never about fame.

"I just wanted to write songs and speak about what I felt and saw. Music helped me to understand myself.

"It's a different world nowadays. I look around at my contemporaries and, well, it's just a nuthouse.

"Lots of people seem to want 'crazy-house'. It's easier to turn on your TV and devices and believe what some guy is shouting about than work it out for yourself.

"In a really strange way, someone like Trump is a provocation. He's a multi-billionaire and could retire to one of his golf courses. So why doesn't he? Why does he want to be president?

"Figures like him either provoke you to think or you just accept them. I think at some point, as people get older, they turn off from the world. But if you look around, you'll see we're destroying this place. People talk about what they want for their children and grandchildren but there's not going to be anything left. They won't be able to see real animals in the flesh - they'll only be able to see it on the TV.

"The world belongs to young people - it's not mine anymore. I've had my power. The people in suits should get back in their cars. They don't care about the planet."

Kirk's voice, presented through his music, is now softer, thanks to his collaboration with Sam. But it retains all of its emotional power.

He said: "Sam's made me think differently about music. The guitar and the cello make a brilliant marriage. A lot of people don't get it at first. At first, it might seem strange but everyone who hears it falls in love."

Kirk Brandon with Sam Sansbury, Wednesday, October 31st, 7-30 - 10-30pm, Barnoldswick Music & Arts Centre.

Tickets: or 01282 813374.