In 2007 John and Colin met and discussed an AOS3 reboot, and agreed they were both interested. Andy Brown was contacted and said the same- Longest suffering Drummer Erl was not available, being now in Canada.
Kev and Sam both were pressed into service on Drums and Rhythm Guitar respectively. They brought with them their own skills, Kev made the drum work denser and more complex- and Sam brought rhythm guitar, and a skilled approach to song writing and recording from his many years of experience.
Rehearsals began at the Spike Social centre in Peckham, and in April 2007 the first gig in 13 years took place at the Bear Tavern in Birmingham, people travelled from far and wide to be there.
The next gig was supporting Hawkwind at Hawkfest, and there was again a great response. It was decided to keep the reboot going, and aim at some new material.
Since then, we have been doing the same thing, gigging in the UK and Europe and writing new songs to reflect the world the band exists in now- one awful side effect of the early songs is that they have only got truer and more relevant as the decades have passed- Scary Times, indeed, are never dull.
We began playing more and more of the UK’s small scale festival scene, the closest thing remaining now to the original free festival scene, and making new and rediscovering old friends from the 90’s survivors-
The ‘Alchemy’ festival was particularly important, because there we met Crispian J Baker, stage manager and gentleman. He was hugely important in recreating at Alchemy a scene that had splintered and collapsed years earlier- and he was particularly important and supportive to AOS3. We grew to be real close friends, and it was a no-brainer to ask him to fill in on guitar when Colin’s availability to make gigs began to be challenged by childcare and other issues.
He joined up in 2013, and played many venues and festivals with us, as well as contributing to the writing then going on for the ‘mythical’ third AOS3 LP.
Crispian played brilliant gigs with us across 2014, and we were all set for 2015, when in February, he suddenly died- and left us, and many, many others shell shocked.
Oska, John’s Son, had played guest guitar with Crispian just before his departure, and now rose to the occasion to fill the gap- as a true ‘baby of the band’ this was a wheel going full circle. Colin resurfaced and played the occasional gig when childcare allowed. Also joining the band in this period was Penny Layden, adding intense vocals and playing groovy saxophone. This has added a whole new dynamic to the sound. Penny and John are married, so it’s all in the family, The Von Trapp protest family.
We persevered with the LP- it was Crispian’s memorial now too, and after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, the new LP, ‘Far and Few’ was completed and released on our own ‘Skatedog records’ label in November 2015, launched at a 25 year celebration of the band in London. Sam was vital to the new LP, acting as engineer and Producer, and putting in hundreds of hours to get it right.
Sister band Tarantism’s 20th anniversary was also celebrated the same night.
The new LP has been hailed as a great and worthy follow up by most parties, and even as evidence of ‘maturing song writing’ by some.
It is certainly the most ‘complete’ of the 3 records, there is a tale to the whole LP, not uninfluenced by Crispian- but also particularly by the waves of migrants floating or sinking as they crossed the seas to Greece, and the story of Reggie Perrin- an average man in an insane world, who finds the only sensible response is also an insane one.
AOS3 were always a Reggie band- in the North East, people often made the same joke about Reggae that:
“He’s alreet, that Reggie bloke, and he’s written tonnes of music…”
We were and are that little Reggie band, the band that never should have worked, never made it out of our home town, let alone to Poland and far flung fields of Europe- yet somehow it did.
Somehow we are still here, years after the free festivals have become memories.
Still on the blag.
We are still colliding genres and styles together and checking out the results, we were never interested in being ‘pure’ or ‘authentic’ to a particular genre, always more interested in trying to find things that had not been heard before.
Recent audiences have remarked that we play with the energy of 20 year olds.
Well, Music is a great preservative.
Like the Preserved Moose.