25 June 2019

Testcard F

Formed in 1981, Testcard F were at the leading edge of Techno Pop, building their own electronic percussion and happily ignoring all musical conventions. From a modest start with a demo on Radio Norfolk (yes it used to feature local bands) the band amassed a small and enthusiastic following.

Live performances were enjoyably organic (or shambolic) and involved hitting litter bins, coat racks and other items salvaged from UEA to give a human feel to the proceedings. The drum machine was primitive, took hours to program and could hold one song only, hence they used backing tapes. These were a box of cassetes (from BB Adams) with one backing track per song, often containing just the drums. The idea was that the order of the set could be varied easily, but occasionally the wrong tape went in, with interesting results.

Usually the audience enjoyed the gigs, occasionally they didn't. There are some places you're stared at with malice from the moment you enter the room and this happened once or thrice to the band, usually with mutterings of "not a proper band - no guitars" etc. One gig at The Big Apple in Great Yarmouth was notable for the compere pulling the plug half way through and quipping "Thank you that was Testcard F - you won't be hearing them again". Shortly afterwards someone threw a bar stool across the bar, shattered the mirror and the police stormed the building. The band beat a hasty retreat as the venue descended into chaos. Interestingly the go-go dancers in the cages (classy) didn't seem at all surprised.

Testcard F supported OMD and SPK amongst others, but winning the Norwich heat of Battle of the Bands and a Peel session in 1984 were probably their finest hours. A couple of singles promised great things which sadly didn't come to pass.

Discography

Peel Session - Bandwagon Tango, Unfamiliar Room, Blanket Expression, If only if it wasn't
Single on Backs Records - Bandwagon Tango, Unfamilar Room
Single on Backs Records - Third Stroke, If only if it wasn't

Personnel

  • John Hartwell
  • Sue Hope, Angie and then Rebecca Slater
  • Pete Casio (or Roberts as he is now)
  • Vince Rogers - went on to Gee Mr Tracy

Where are they now?

Some of them are now in London, in 2019 Pete and Vince teamed up with singer Sam Duffy to work on new material.

More...

Pete releases music under the name alpha seven



A-Z of Norwich bands - back to the big list


Last updated: Wed, May 29th, 2019