Tony Cummings gives the nod to the Edinburgh-based punk rock iconoclasts 100 PHILISTINE FORESKINS
Since their formation in February 2009 the Edinburgh three-piece punk band 100 Philistine Foreskins have clocked up thousands of miles on the road where their furiously madcap live show have made them a firm favourite on the UK underground. They also caused an immense stir at 2009's Greenbelt Festival when, in only their second ever gig, they broke the attendance record at The Underground venue. The band's vocalist and guitarist Dougle 'Doogie' Ross began by explaining their attention-grabbing moniker. "The book of Samuel tells of David who killed this bloke called Goliath and he wanted to marry the king Saul's daughter and Saul wasn't very happy about it because he was very jealous of David's popularity, so he asked David for a dowry payment. David said that he had no money, so Saul wondered how he could make it really hard for him, so he asked him to collect 100 foreskins from the members of the tribe of Philistia in lieu of payment. About a month later, David came back with the 100 Philistine foreskins."
Dougle is particularly outspoken on his views of unnecessary Christian "niceness". He said, "I'm tired of Christians being so desperately polite with each other. Honesty isn't always comfortable - and it's certainly not an excuse for being nasty - but if we can't manage basic honesty then there's no point. Not in the band, not in my faith, not in anything."
Almost from the off 100 Philistine Foreskins holed up in an Edinburgh studio with producer and bass player Robin Young recording four songs which were released by Handmade Overkill Records/Whirlwind Records on a split EP together with six tracks by German band Preacher. The songs on their recording debut demanded attention from a powerful demand for sexual purity "Keep Yer Pants On" to a withering denouncement of our secular culture "We Lament The Death Of God In The Heart Of Man".
The 100PFs consist of singer, guitarist and one-time member of The Voice Of The Mysterons Dougle, bass player Hef and drummer Ian Purdie. Before God broke into his life Ian was in the original lineup of the notorious mainstream punk band The Exploited back in 1991/'92. He said, "The Exploited were quite hardcore in a rough environment. We came from tour in Holland and my wife, who was a Christian, invited me to church. I didn't go but the pastor came and visited me. I liked the guy. He challenged me and said, 'If you ask God to reveal himself to you and he doesn't, I'll never preach to you again.' Bearing in mind that this guy had been preaching to me for about six months, I did it. And God did reveal himself to me and I was utterly gobsmacked. I packed in The Exploited that day. I was supposed to go away on tour with the band again, but by the grace of God, I got out of that. It wasn't just the music that I gave up, it was a lifestyle change. It was quite hard, but basically I thought if I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it 100 per cent. God took me out of the drumming world for about 14 years and allowed me to be smashed to pieces. He allowed things to happen to me and broke me into many bits, and then he put me back together again."
Ian briefly touched on some of the painful experiences he passed through. "A guy who was a big player in the music industry ran away with my wife. And then he took my kids and he beat them. So I've had to forgive people who have done really bad stuff. But that's what Scripture says, 'Forgive and you'll be forgiven,' you know?"
Today Ian has seen God restore the years the locust had eaten. "It's unbelievably awesome, like the song 'Indescribable'. I've got a new wife and a two year old daughter. My wife is like a middle-class head school teacher, so it's like 'two worlds collide'! One of her friends got The Wire and said, 'You've married the drummer of The Exploited!' That's the kind of reaction we got. But she is an amazing woman in God, incredible. My life is brilliant. I've now got a good relationship with my two sons. They're in a metal band and supported us two weeks ago. My younger son's a drummer following his daddy, but my older son is an amazing guitarist. He said to me one day, 'Dad, how do we get famous?' And I told him to practise six hours a day to try to put him off. Six months later he comes along and he's playing! I couldn't believe it! They're doing great. God's raising me up again, 'coz they were like 'Dad's a loser', but now I see them warming to me again."
Ian continued, "When I played the gig at Greenbelt I was gobsmacked because it was like my heart's desire for me, it was always there, I always wanted to do it for God and I was given that opportunity. I'm a session drummer so I've done big gigs, but to do something like that was special. I love playing punk and to actually have an impact on people, that's why I mentioned a bit about my testimony at Greenbelt, because I want God to get the glory. I'd played a bit with Ross in the band Dragged Out. But from the start 100 Philistine Foreskins has been different. It's been one thing after another, people phoning us up, radio stations contacting us, lots of gigs. When he told me the name of the band I said, 'Ross, I don't think so!' Kids are going to see these posters! But after prayer God actually spoke to me and said 'I want you to go with it'."
A new recording from 100PFs is clearly overdue. In the meantime an enthusiastic and growing following will attend each of their gigs where, as they say themselves, their songs "rarely breach the two minute mark and deal with a variety of subjects that affect us - faith and life, God and monsters, thoughts and ignorance. You know, the usual."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.