Rudimentary Peni - Biography
The distinctive style of the London punk trio Rudimentary Peni set the band apart from the English anarcho-punk milieu from which it emerged. The music, lyrics, and artwork of Rudimentary Peni’s records took their audience into an imaginative world far stranger than anything suggested by the social realism of the band’s punk contemporaries. Rudimentary Peni’s slower work also reflects echoes of classic heavy metal.
Singer and guitarist Nick Blinko had played in The Magits, a punk band formed in late 1977 that soon became an experimental electronic duo. The original line-up included Jon Greville, who later joined Blinko for Rudimentary Peni on drums. The Magits self-released a 7” EP, Fully Coherent (1979 Outer Himalayan Records), in 1979 and a second 7” was planned for 1980 but was never released. Blinko, Greville, and Grant Brand (on bass) formed Rudimentary Peni in 1980. The band released a 7” EP, Rudimentary Peni (1981 Outer Himalayan Records), at their first show in 1981 where they played with Flux of Pink Indians, fellow anarcho-punks from Crass’s circle. Rudimentary Peni’s second 7”, Farce (1982 Crass), followed the next year. The lyrics for most of the songs on the first two EPs, collected in 1987 on The EPs of RP (1987 Corpus Christi), are written by Brand. Blinko drew the obsessively detailed artwork, which came to identify all Rudimentary Peni releases, and wrote the lyrics to the first EPs “Media Person” and “Hearse.” Blinko told interviewer Carlos “Cake” Nuñez that the band had played about 26 gigs by the time of the release of their first LP in 1983.
Death Church (1983 Corpus Christi), Peni’s first full-length album, was beautifully recorded by John Loder at Southern Studios and released by the Crass-affiliated label Corpus Christi. Though many of the album’s lyrics address the same forces of social control as their punk contemporaries, Rudimentary Peni introduces the perspective of cosmic terror to punk’s social concerns. “When You Are a Martian Church” expresses the hope that someday the ideological enemy addressed in the song will be reincarnated as a church on Mars: “maybe as a Martian church / maybe then you’ll see / that your reality / was squashed into banality.”
After Death Church, Rudimentary Peni was inactive for several years. Brand was diagnosed with cancer in 1984 and Blinko was reportedly hospitalized for mental illness issues. The band finally recorded its second album in 1987 with John Loder at Southern Studios. Cacophony (1988 Outer Himalayan Records), released on the band’s own Outer Himalayan Records, presents 30 songs in an astonishing variety of voices and musical styles, written and sung by Blinko. All of Cacophony’s songs refer to the life and work of H.P. Lovecraft, the great author of cosmic terror. There were a few Rudimentary Peni shows around the time of Cacophony’s release, but these petered out quickly. Brand’s cancer went into remission but Blinko’s delusions did not. The third Rudimentary Peni album, Pope Adrian 37th Psychristiatric (1995 Outer Himalayan Records), was recorded in 1992 but not released until 1995. The album explores Blinko’s obsessive belief, during a delusive period, that he would be the next Pope of the Catholic Church.
Blinko published a book of autobiographical fiction in 1995 called The Primal Screamer, which is currently out of print. In the years since, Rudimentary Peni has issued four EPs of new material on Outer Himalayan: Echoes of Anguish (1998 Outer Himalayan Records), The Underclass (2000 Outer Himalayan Records), Archaic (2004 Outer Himalayan Records) and No More Pain (2008 Outer Himalayan Records). While promoting Archaic, Southern Records claimed that Rudimentary Peni was “still defying the medical world.” The band still lives in or around London and Blinko’s artwork continues to be shown in galleries.