Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Learning disability rock bands to tour UK

Constant FluxTwo rock bands composed of people with learning disabilities are to tour the UK this October.

Finnish punks Pertti Kurikan Nimipaivat (PKN) and Zombie Crash, a heavy metal band from Brighton, will play a 4-date ‘integrated’ tour alongside bands from the UK’s DIY (do it yourself) scene.

This tour is being made possible by a grant from Arts Council England to Constant Flux, which provides opportunities to musicians with learning disabilities.

PKN was born out of the same boredom and hatred as any other punk band. The group, comprising Pertti Kurikka, Kari Aalto, Sami Helle and Toni Välitalo, use music as an outlet to vent their frustration with everyday things, such as living in a group home, not being served coffee because of their disability and their hated of pedicurists.

The band was formed in 2009 during workshops by Lyhty, a non-profit organisation for people with learning disabilities in Helsinki. Since then they have released 4 EPs and one album, all which have sold out. They have toured and played gigs worldwide. PKN are also the subjects of the multi award-winning documentary, The Punk Syndrome, which provides an honest, funny and moving insight into their lives.

Zombie Crash are billed as a loud, noisy, chaotic heavy metal band of 6 friends writing songs about whatever they please, including vampires, zombies, girls and rocking out in a band.

Ryan O’Donovan, Luc Eisenbarth, Darrel Farley, James Barnett, Alex Pentalow and David Briggs, who are all in their 20s, formed Zombie Crash in 2009 from a music course for people with learning disabilities run by the charity, Carousel. They released their debut album, No Mercy, in 2011 and have built up a formidable live reputation.

The tour is being put on by Constant Flux, which was set up earlier this year by Richard Phoenix, a member of London punk band Sauna Youth, as a way to combine his work and interests in two separate areas of music: the learning disabled music scene and the DIY music community. Having worked with learning disability arts organisations and individual artists for more than 7 years as a music facilitator and project co-ordinator and playing and touring in punk bands and organising not-for-profit DIY gigs for the past 15 years, creating the same opportunities he has had was a natural progression of his work.

“I have been lucky enough to tour all over the world and have incredible experiences and to meet new people,” said Phoenix. “To now be able to offer these same opportunities to musicians I respect and have been inspired by but due to their circumstances haven’t been able to do this independently is very exciting. The response so far from the DIY community has been overwhelming and I hope this will be the beginning of many more integrated gigs happening throughout the UK. Also from the cast of characters involved I’m sure every show will be very eventful indeed!”

The tour dates are:

• October 1 – London at The Macbeth with Sauna Youth, Shopping and Family Outing
• October 2 – Leeds at Wharf Chambers with Perspex Flesh and more TBC
• October 3 – Sheffield at Heeley Sport and Social Club with Skiplickers and Amarous Dialogues
• October 4 – Brighton at The Green Door Store with Good Throb and The Soft Walls.

All are integrated shows and the venues have flat access and accessible toilets. All shows £3 carers free/donation.

Constant Flux will also be releasing a compilation cassette of PKN’s discography to date, Coffee not tea, exclusively on September 7, which is Cassette Store Day 2013 www.cassettestoreday.com

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