To anyone outside of London the North East must seem like a tiny little corner of an unwelcoming world, where in-breds and flat cap wearing weirdos speak like Brian Johnson and dress like Ginger on a bad day.
But we don’t really care about that. Because we’re bloody good at what we do and, most importantly, shouting about it from the rooftops. Johnno, Spike and Paul from the Quireboys and even Teesside crooners David Coverdale and Paul Rodgers never miss an opportunity to namecheck Newcastle, Blyth, Saltburn, Middlesbrough or wherever.
You see there are many towns and cities within that nondescript geographical area commonly referred to as the North East. And those of us who hail from one or another like to boast about the fact – even when we hail from Blyth.
Which brings me on to the rather disturbing case of upcoming metallers The Casino Brawl. Now I have to admit to having never heard of this noisy little gang of musos until earlier this week when a PR pal of mine pinged a press release my way. I checked out their MySpace page and liked what I heard. Very much indeed.
It seems their debut album shades;directions is released next month and it’s gratifying to know that a band this good can still emerge from an area famed for producing great rock heroes with attitude.
But – and there’s inevitable a but after such sweeping praise – their biog refers to them as hailing from the North East. Are they from every part of the North East? Are they too embarrassed to admit exactly where in the North East they call home? Or are they not really from the North East at all and fear any further clarification will let the cat out of the bag?
It’s ok for a band to say they’re from London. It’s a big place but it’s a city with its own identity and an underground system. It’s ok for a band to say they’re from near to Manchester, around the corner from Glasgow or on Birmingham’s doorstep if their hometown is too titchy to count. It’s even ok to say your band’s roots are in the North East – as long as you qualify that with some greater geographical detail.
But a thorough investigation has unearthed the odd mention of Middlesbrough and very little else. Nothing concrete, nothing on the record and nothing which comes near to a loud and proud declaration of where you’d find The Casino Brawl on a Friday night (apart from scrapping outside some casino somewhere I suppose.)
Whatever the reason for hiding their true identities, the overriding impression is of a band making a measured decision to describe themselves as from the North East in some vain attempt to appeal to the masses of a massive region and, perhaps, avoid ridicule from their gig buddies and record label bosses down south.
I’m still waiting for confirmation of their true home from my aforementioned PR contact but it’s surely time for The Casino Brawl to come clean. Even if you’re from Sunderland, Stockton or Seaton Sluice…