U.K. punk veterans 999 are back with their first full-length in 13 years, the blazing and multi-faceted Bish! Bash! Bosh!, which was released April 24 on Cleopatra Records. It’s certainly exciting to have their first all-new material in over a decade, but it all comes during the era of COVID-19, a strange and challenging time for bands (and of course for every single person on the planet, it must be stated).
In their 44-year history, since they came out with their first two roaring singles, “I’m Alive” and “Nasty Nasty,” the prolific band have never experienced anything of this magnitude. Previously, the only major hiccup they ever had with a record was when they were going to record a live album and they flew their producer Vic Maile from England to the U.S.
“[We] booked a mobile recording studio, but had the wrong tapes, so it couldn’t go ahead but we got [around] it in the end and recorded somewhere else,” explains guitarist Guy Days. “So, [that was] easier to deal with than the current crazy situation.”
The frustration of putting out a record now is palpable.
“Imagine working hard and writing the songs for years, and recording and rehearsing the album, setting up tours to promote it, and having to cancel all live stuff the week the album came out under full lockdown in the U.K.,” Days relates. He looks on the positive side, though, mentioning, “Still, we are happy we did the new album Bish! Bash! Bosh!, cooking up a storm with our music. […] Let’s hope things get back to normal soon. The band is raring to play some shows and play the songs from the new album live.”
The four-piece, which also includes vocalist and guitarist Nick Cash, bassist Arturo Bassick, and drummer Stoo Meadows, had been working on these songs for years, according to Days, “right up to the time of going into the studio,” where they recorded for 19 days.
“We were well prepared before we went into the studio and had just finished rehearsing, and everything there was a good vibe,” he notes. “It’s great when we push the songs into shape and they come alive. That’s 999.”
And the long-running band’s writing style hasn’t changed much over the years, with the guitarist explaining, “All the songs are written as their own entity. We like to be diverse.” And diversity they have on this album. There is definitely a multitude of different sounds and feelings presented here, from the dark and atmospheric “I Hate It All,” to the tough and awesome tunes “Crazy Tuesday World,” “Lifeline,” and “Statue;” the somber “Timebomb” to straight-up rollicking tracks like “Shoot” and “The Pit and the Pentagon,” just to mention a few examples.
In the end, Days ties it all up very poignantly, saying: “We have all missed playing together and can’t wait to play live again. Let’s hope we all can enjoy some shared live music soon. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Long live the music.”