The latest manifestation of avant-garde purveyors Experimental Circle Club.


Photography by Thomas Kavanagh


Between 2002 and 2006, Southend-on-Sea was a slightly less sanitised satellite town to grow up in. It was thanks to Rhys Webb (now of The Horrors) and a couple of friends with daft DJ alter egos who created Junk – a monthly psych’n’garage happening in a hotel basement, where CDs didn’t exist and The Seeds and The Sonics were played instead of RnB. Junk’s death would have been made all the more sad had it not made way for Experimental Circle Club – a joint music and art project from Ciaran Oshea and Thomas Silverman, who met in hospital and continue to prove just how subversive the underground can really be, via sporadic parties of video art and music (the first one was in a Westcliff brothel, someone got attacked with a travel kettle), a couple of photographic books, the most far-out stage at Offset Festival, and, now, a film project called ECC Archives.

“Seventies heroin addicts with a video camera” is what inspired ECC Archives – a wholesomely DIY affair influenced in no small part by New York’s No Wave movement that spilled into the 1980s. Ciaran and Thomas film their favourite experimental noise bands (so far Clout!, Blue On Blue [pictured], Eels On Heals and, most recently, Electricity In Our Homes) in a whitewashed, disused office block. They play three songs to one static camera. It’s extremely rudimentary, like a purposefully no-fi Later With…. “I’ve always stuck closely to what my father taught me about film making,” says Ciaran. “‘Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance’. Everything I’ve loved has been born out of experimentation, whether that is not knowing what you are doing, not knowing your instruments, not having the right equipment, being limited. In this day and age you can have anything you want at your fingertips, but I think that can sometimes make people complacent.”

ECC revels in its struggle, probably because it was born in a town unforgiving of the leftfield. “Starting in Southend was great,” says Ciaran. “Racists love dancing. It was a challenge, but I think anywhere you face adversity and aggression you’ll find an underground resistance. We are the resistance.”

It’s unsurprising to hear that Archives – like ECC’s initial ‘happenings’ – is a product of disenchantment. They put on nights because they were sick of going to other peoples’, but what about when you then get sick of going to your own?

“We got disillusioned promoting straight up club nights,” says Thomas, “and always disliked crowded places, but we still wanted to watch the bands, so what’s better than a private audience with all those other weird and wonderful bands we love in the comfort of an empty room?”

Perhaps a select few friends get to see these stark performances first hand, too, while the rest of us can see the rigidly amateur films the Archives already have to offer at Before the notion of ‘punk’ got so shiny, it looked something like this.

By Stuart Stubbs

Originally published in issue 36 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2012

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