How Wonky Unit and Pizza Tramp owned High Wycombe’s Phoenix Bar
It was one of those nights were you’d been planning to go to a gig for a few months and all your friends bail on you on the day 😦 I was in two minds as to whether to go but I thought, sod it – its Friday night and I’m bound to see a couple of familiar faces, once the band come on it doesn’t matter who you’re with anyway. Also I wanted to meet Alex Wonk finally because I’d interviewed him a couple of times via email and phone but never properly been introduced. ALSO they were selling their rare split release with Slaves 45 vinyl at the merch stand and I HAD TO HAVE IT! So off I went to The Phoenix Bar in High Wycombe to see Wonk Unit and Pizza Tramp in the penultimate night of their tour as they were ending it in Basingstoke the following day. I walked through the door and paid £5 (The drummer from Wonk Unit took my money which was proper down to earth) and right away I saw Alex at the merch stand who was lovely and gave me a hug. I bought their album on white vinyl and bought 2 copies of their split release single with Slaves. Alex promised he’d get the band to sign it all and I left it with him till the end of the night so I was chuffed with that. In an extremely rare twist of fate three of my friends had pulled out at the last minute so after buying a pint I went and stood on my own in front of the stage, feeling confident that I would bump into someone I knew, as I always did at punk gigs. Not this time! I could see quite a few other people there who appeared to be on their own but no one spoke to each other. Soon enough the first band came on and by the end of the first song I had Alex Wonk stood on one side of me and Jimbo singer of Pizza Tramp stood on the other side of me so I felt pretty privileged! Pizza Tramp played and I’d been told by Eugene, the editor at Vive Le Rock, that they were a great live band. He was right (obviously) and they were wicked. They were also really funny and ripped into Bono and made loads of jokes aside their thrash punk sound and screeching vocals. Introducing one song Jimbo said; “This song is called I hope you fucking die but in light of the fact everyone has fucking died this year I am renaming it I hope you don’t fucking die.” Then hashed through the song for 2 minutes before proclaiming ‘This song is called I Hope You Fucking Die, it’s a different song’ and played it again. They also shouted at the audience to “Buy some merch you tight English bastards” – don’t know how successful that hard sell went down but it was funny. I made sure I spoke to the band after they played and they were awesome guys who gave me a copy of their EP ‘Two Quid Ten Minutes’ and said they were driving all the way aback to Wales that night to sleep before travelling back to play Basingstoke the next night!
Next up Wonk Unit took the stage and started with one of my favourite songs of theirs ‘Horses’. The whole set was excellent, their playing was tight and Alex was funny as ever telling stories between songs. Every Wonk Unit track is a punk nursery rhyme with a sting in its tail, honest, brutal, witty and bizarre. It’s incredible that they have made such a unique collection of songs under the banner of punk rock remaining authentic as a new band playing to an audience wore by 40 years of punk music that came before.
Mid way through the show Alex dedicated Je M’appelle Alex to a few people in the audience including the door girl and then pointed at me and said: “and this goes out to you too radio girl!” which was out of the blue. As they launched into the next song Alex started licking his fingers and stairing at Jimbo from Pizza tramp who was directly behind me – before launching into the next song Alex addressed me again saying sorry but that sexual finger licking was for Jimbo not for you but this is for you and then attempted to put his fist in his mouth. It was beautiful. I was singing along to loads of the songs and the whole thing was great, the mosh pit got seriously rowdy at times with some huge blokes going apeshit. Funny moments were when Pwasiongot tangled up in his own bass guitar lead and we had to wait for him to untangle himself and when Alex told the story behind the new single ‘We Are The England’. On the record, Laurie from Slaves was playing guitar and Alex said; “My favourite Slaves song is ‘Beauty Quest’ so just play that over this song.” – their guitarist Benny then started the riff and messed up and had to start again so some people were laughing and saying “He’s no Laurie!” haha. Towards the end of the set Alex said he was tired and only wanted to do a few more songs and would take requests. People were shouting out ‘Elbows’ and I shouted “Told You So”, Alex pointed at me and said yes I think we’ll do that one and the band went into their latest release at my request! All in all, the night was epic and I said goodbye to Alex as I left and he gave me my records fully signed by the band. Wonk Unit and Pizza Tramp are both epic so check them out if you haven’t already!