Sunday, March 20, 2011

Obituary - Phil Vane

As you may already be aware of at the time of writing, on 17th February 2011, Phil Vane - vocalist in EXTREME NOISE TERROR - passed away in his sleep at the age of just 46. No official cause has yet been stated.
I’ve abstained from writing anything prior to this because, unlike Ari Up or Jim Carroll who are also written about here, I came from the same town as Phil (Ipswich, England) and since my first involvement in the Ipswich Punk scene, Phil was usually present at many of the early events that I attended. I can’t claim to actually have known Phil; he probably knew me by sight (at least, prior to my move to NZ that was), but via many nights seeing ENT play face-meltingly intense sets at the Ipswich Caribbean Club (and a hazily remembered gig at Murrayside Youth Club before that among others), I certainly felt that I knew him.
I also wanted to wait until after Phil’s funeral... It just seemed to be more respectful to me than penning something hastily thrown together in the immediate wake of the tragic news.
As a frontman he had an imposing presence, especially in those early ENT days where, dreadlocked and animated, he shared the front of the stage with fellow vocalist Dean Jones as the band beat out what is still some of the most intense sounds ever heard. But Phil was no novice to the Punk Rock stage...
Before the formation of ENT in December 1984, Phil had already been in both FREESTATE and VICTIMS OF WAR along with ENT guitarist Pete Hurley. ENT (line-up completed by Dean Jones - vocals, Jerry Clay - bass and Dazz ‘Pigkiller’ Olley - drums) debuted as a band at Murrayside in October 1985 supporting CHAOS UK. The band also made its recording debut with CHAOS UK on the 1986 split, Manic Ears released, ‘Earslaughter’.
1987 saw the band record the first of four John Peel sessions before the visceral debut album, ‘A Holocaust In Your Head’ was released the following year. Through various line-up changes, ENT continued releasing more records and touring Europe and Japan.
In 1991, Phil - along with Roki (ex-SCREAMING HOLOCAUST) - formed OPTIMUM WOUND PROFILE, a band that mixed hi-tech sampling and programming technology with Punk and Metal influences to create an intense Industrial sound. The band recorded two albums with Phil, before he left in 1994 prior to the release of the band’s final album.
1991 also saw ENT collaborate with THE KLF, re-recording the latter's ‘3am Eternal’. The bands appeared on the Brit Awards in 1992 (not aided by sabotaged sound), causing controversy by firing blanks into the audience!
Phil left ENT for a brief spell in NAPALM DEATH before returning in 1997, only to leave again in 1999. After a spell in Switzerland, Phil re-joined ENT once again in 2006 in which he remained until his passing.
A funeral was held for Phil in Norwich on March 15th 2011 with a wake at the nearby York Tavern. A message on ENT’s website requested, “Please all Punks come in full force.”
It’s heartening to read writings from those who did know Phil personally, be it a number of associates’ Facebook postings or Andi Morris’s memories of the man on the Maximum Rocknroll blog, all of which say Phil was a charming and friendly fella. They make a fitting tribute for a genuinely inspirational man.
Phil is survived by his son, Sam, and partner, Jennie.