County Durham’s punk crew Penetration are back, 36 years on
The bridge between Patti Smith and the Pistols, County Durham’s punk crew have a new resolve, 36 years on.
Following an implausibly extensive hiatus of 36 years, Penetration – one of the punk era’s most original, accomplished, broadly visioned yet inexplicably overlooked bands – are finally primed to release their third album, Resolution.
Lead vocalist Pauline Murray, still possessed of a voice so powerful in its bell-like clarity as to harbour the potential to shatter distant spectacles, ponders such career highs as school assembly acoustic folk, discovering Patti Smith and being bullied back into the recording studio by a remorseless Pledge campaign.
Had you harboured hopes of a singing career prior to the arrival of punk?
At school three of us girls did a folk thing where we played acoustic guitars and sang, but that’s the only time I’d ever sung in public, so I didn’t have thoughts of making a career out of singing. I had been going to see loads of bands, always right at the front, one step away from the stage, but it was the punk thing that made people get up and have a go. I didn’t even know whether I could sing or not, it was more about just getting up and doing it.
How did Penetration find one another?
We were eighteen when we started. I met Gary Chaplin, our original guitarist, on the coach to a Roxy Music gig and he asked me if I would sing for his band. When the original rhythm section disappeared we got Gary Smallman [drums] and Robert Blamire [bass]. We’re all from the same village and there was a general chemistry between us that just worked. We were into The Doors, Bowie and the glam rock thing, so that kind of musical sophistication started to come through in our songwriting.