Apart from possessing a name you couldn’t ignore, The Human Cabbages were a Coventry band of the 80’s that included a superb female lead vocalist and the creative mind of Steve Teers. I recently got in contact with Steve and asked him about the hidden gem that was The Human Cabbages.
How and when did the Cabbages form?
“In the Coventry climate of the time, forming a band seemed inevitable and virtually compulsory. I remember stumbling around in a field just outside Kenilworth with my mate Stan. It was early morning after an all night party sometime in the summer of ’79 and the previous week I had been to see the Clash at the Lanch. My ears were still ringing. I suggested to Stan we form a band. Stan hadn’t got a clue about music but was into dub reggae and Jimi Hendrix and was up for it if I taught him to play bass. My brother Nigel re-invented himself as Johnny Fagznbooze and took on lead guitar. Steve Whiff became the drummer. The first time we played live was at a friend’s 18th at the Polish Club. We burst onto the stage with a wall-of sound version of the Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. My brother was playing through what became his trademark converted old radio whilst I sang lead vocals hiding behind a large cigar, black lipstick & an old dressing gown, described by someone as a kind of satanic Noel Coward. We made it known during the gig that we were looking for a girl singer and sure enough, after the gig a vampish Yugoslavian called Gordana offered her services. She became the first of three girl singers to front the Cabbages – and in true rock tradition, my first girlfriend. After rehearsing in a garage in Earlsdon for a while, our first public gig in town was at the Climax near the old birdcage in the arcade. We were amazed when Jerry Dammers turned up – along with a crowd of about 50”.
The Human Cabbages were off and running, and playing in the Coventry muso watering holes of choice, including Hope & Anchor, The Zodiac, General Wolfe and The Dog & Trumpet. They were regularly seen in the local fanzine Alternative Sounds. A year in it was all change and vocalist Gordana was replaced by Corinne Gabel and apparently Tom was replace by a mannequin with a long raincoat. Like many of the bands around at the time, the next natural step was to release something, anything. Costs were often inhibiting so The Boys and Girls Come out To Play EP, included a number of bands sharing the cost.
So just how did the EP come about?
“It was about this time that we were approached by Guy Surtees from a band called Profile about putting together a Compilation EP. He also put an ad in Alternative Sounds and after a meeting, the idea for ‘Boys and Girls Come Out To Play’ was formed. The pink side was fronted by female singers, the blue by males. No big financial music mogul’s around though – each band had to fork out about a hundred quid to make it happen. Whilst others booked the recording time at Woodbine, Leamington, I took on board the printing of the vinyl & the covers. The bands came up with there own artwork which made up with a sixth of the sleeve wrap & it took a few calls to Sounds music paper to dig up the numbers of mastering & duplication factories. MySpace was a long way off then”.
The Human Cabbages track on the EP was The Windows Broken, a well executed and well sung piece of music. By this time vocalist Corinne had decided it was all too much so we brought in singer no. 3, Rosa Roberts sister of ‘King’ keyboard maestro Mick. The band went on to record their own single The Witch (recently featured on the compilation CD Messthetics #103).
So how did the single do?
“By this time I was also playing in one of Coventry’s finest bands – Urge. Their publicist, someone called Versa Manos, who also represented The Fall, took a pile of copies of the EP & a few photos. A month later we were reviewed in Smash Hits & a couple of days after that I remember arriving home in the car around 10pm & the John Peel show had just started. The theme was trailing off as Peel announced the evening’s line-up.. “a session from The Fall, new singles from The Clash & The Damned and to start the show, from Coventry – The Human Cabbages…” This is the Cabbages one claim to fame and something that suddenly made the world feel that little bit smaller and everything seem possible. Cheers John.
When did you split?
The only thing is – college time was coming perilously closer. I had already delayed it a year by taking a music A-level after leaving school. We continued gigging, supporting The Mix at the General Wolfe and Channel A at the Belgrade Venue So just when things were really kicking off, everything fell apart. Whiff went to Newcastle, Stan to Southampton & me to London. We never actually formally split – we just haven’t rehearsed for a while or played a gig. Until last year that is, when I realised that a full quota of Cabbages would be guests at my wedding. So after a chaotic rehearsal at the stag night, Johnny, Stan, Steve Whiff, Corinne and myself belted out a couple of old tunes to the great bemusement of the guests at Hill Top Farm Cafe near Hunningham.
Human Cabbages Trivia
- The Boys and Girls Come Out To Play EP, now commands high prices from collectors. It came with a pink side for girls and a blue for boys and a natty fold out poster sleeve. Glad to say I own one!
- Steve is now part of Diva Pictures, an independent film, video and digital media production company based at Ealing Studios. www.divapix.co.uk/
- Some of the cover version the Cabbages played included, Pere Ubu’s Modern Dance, George Gershwins Summertime, Iggy Pop’s I Wanna Be Your Dog and Mack The Knife.
Pete’s new book “Godiva Rocked To A Backbeat”
A pictorial journey through Coventry & Warwickshire music
1960’s to the 1980’s. Is now available for £5.99 from Waterstones, Borders, Covered in Print in Coventry Market, Urban Village, W H Smith, Central Library, Coventry Transport Museum and Hunts Bookshop in Rugby