HomeMusicMark Stewart, Fiery British Rocker, Is Useless at 62

Mark Stewart, Fiery British Rocker, Is Useless at 62


Mark Stewart, the incendiary frontman of the British post-punk band the Pop Group, whose explosive mixture of funk, noise rock, free jazz experimentalism and anti-authoritarian rage made a mockery of the group’s sunny identify, died on April 21. He was 62.

His loss of life was introduced in a statement by his London-based recoding label, Mute. It offered no different particulars.

The Pop Group emerged in Bristol, England, in 1977, as punk rock was shaking the foundations of the British music scene. Mr. Stewart discovered inspiration in punk’s iconoclastic fury. “There is the vanity of energy,” he as soon as mentioned, “and what we received from punk was the ability of vanity.”

Onstage, the band created a cyclone pressure that put many punk bands to disgrace. Gyrating manically and barking rebellious lyrics by means of his pouty, Jagger-esque lips, Mr. Stewart whipped audiences right into a frenzy with songs like “We Are All Prostitutes,” the band’s finest recognized single, from 1979, which reached No. 8 on the British indie charts. The lyrics embody these strains:

We are all prostitutes
Everyone has their worth
And you too should be taught to reside the lie

Live performances by the Pop Group hit with “such indomitable pressure and such sudden visceral rage that I may barely breathe,” the musician and author Nick Cave wrote in a tribute on his web site, The Red Hand Files, after Mr. Stewart’s loss of life.

Righteous fury was as intrinsic to Mr. Stewart’s persona because it was to his music. “Mark taught me many issues about life,” Mr. Cave added, together with the concept that “sleeping was a bourgeois indulgence, and that the world was one large company conspiracy, and that one technique to win an argument was to simply by no means, ever cease shouting.”

The band scarcely made a dent commercially, however that made sense, given its contempt for all issues capitalist. As Mr. Stewart put it in a 2015 interview with The Arts Desk, a tradition website, “The Pop Group had been actually that Situationist concept of an explosion at the heart of the commodity.”

Mark Stewart was born in Bristol, in South West England, on Aug. 10, 1960, one among two sons of an engineer father and a mom who labored with kids with studying disabilities.

Bristol within the Seventies was a tough city, Mr. Stewart as soon as mentioned, and his towering stature — he was already 6 ft 6 inches tall as a preteen — made him a tempting potential recruit for native boot-boy gangs. But the thug’s life was not for him; music was his ardour — although he and his pals thought of themselves musical misfits, scouring junk outlets for obscure jazz and funk information, sporting mohair sweaters impressed by the Sex Pistols and staging punk exhibits at a neighborhood youth middle.

“The native gangs actually, actually had it in for me,” he mentioned within the Arts Desk interview. “They needed me to affix their gangs however didn’t notice I used to be solely 12. They thought I used to be about 20. So they’d smash all of the youth membership home windows. I needed to climb out of bathroom home windows.”

Music was a manner out. “If there’s not an excessive amount of occurring within the city you’re in, you dream,” he mentioned in 2014 interview with Vice.

Mr. Stewart fashioned the Pop Group in 1976 together with the band’s authentic members: John Waddington (guitar), Simon Underwood (bass), Gareth Sager (guitar and saxophone) and Bruce Smith (drums).

The band’s identify got here from Mr. Stewart’s mom. “I feel she mentioned, ‘Oh, Mark’s forming a pop group,’” he informed Vice. And on the outset, he mentioned, “we thought we had been.”

The band’s first album, “Y,” which was launched in 1979 and produced by the British dub grasp Dennis Bovell, made little industrial influence.

“These heavyweight journalists thought we had been being intentionally obtuse,” Mr. Stewart informed Vice, though NME, the taste-making British music publication, referred to as the debut “a brave failure. Exciting however exasperating.”

The Pop Group did something however mellow on its second album, “For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?,” launched the subsequent yr; it crackled with indignant denunciations of Thatcher-era England. Though some dismissed it as “self-righteous soapbox agitprop,” the critic Simon Reynolds wrote in “U.Ok. Post-Punk,” a 2012 assortment of his essays, the album, like “Y,” got here to be a thought of a traditional by many.

In a glance again on the album upon its rerelease in 2016, the location Punknews.org noticed: “This is the noise of a collapsing society caught on tape, operating by means of the gamut of paranoia and loss of life. Dig it.”

The band broke up not lengthy after the second album’s launch, however Mr. Stewart remained prolific, collaborating with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Tricky and Massive Attack, and releasing a string of eclectic solo albums through the years that, characteristically, had been as delicate as a bazooka.

The first, “Learning to Cope With Cowardice,” from 1983, was rereleased in 2006. It impressed the music website Pitchfork to notice the single-minded depth of this “attainable madman and authority-critiquing refusenik that was marginalized in his personal time, solely to later be considered as a seer.”

Little is publicly recognized about Mr. Stewart’s private life, and details about his survivors was not accessible.

In 2010, he reunited with the Pop Group and launched two extra albums, “Citizen Zombie” (2015) and “Honeymoon on Mars” (2016). Both its albums and reside performances confirmed that the band, and Mr. Stewart, had not misplaced a flicker of their hearth.

“It was good to be reminded of how singular and beautifully abrasive the Pop Group may very well be,” Ben Beaumont-Thomas of The Guardian wrote in a overview of a 2010 London efficiency, “and the way dreadfully conservative most rock music since sounds as compared.”

Content Source: www.nytimes.com


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