Vice Squad is a punk band formed in 1978 in Bristol, England. The band was formed from two other local punk bands, The Contingent and TV Brakes. The songwriter and vocalist Beki Bondage (born Rebecca Louise Bond) was a founding member and is currently with the band, although there was a period of time when the band had a different vocalist. She is often cited as being the first punk pin-up featured on the front cover of a number of influential music tabloids such as Melody Maker, NME and Smash Hits.
Vice Squad was formed in 1978 with an initial line-up of Beki Bondage (vocals), Dave Bateman (guitar), Mark Hambly (bass guitar) and Shane Baldwin (drums), and played its first gig at Bristol University's Anson Rooms on 12 April 1979. Bateman and Baldwin had previously been members of the TV Brakes. The first release by TV Brakes was the track "Nothing", which was included on the 1979 compilation Avon Calling. Members of the band were involved in setting up the Riot City label with Simon Edwards, the label becoming one of the major punk labels of the era. Vice Squad took some time to make further impact, only playing six gigs in 1980. Its first single, "Last Rockers" in 1981, was well-received, selling over 20,000 copies and spending almost forty weeks in the UK Indie Chart, reaching number 7. The follow-up, "Resurrection", reached number 4, and the band undertook a tour supporting UK Subs. The singles received airplay and support from BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, and the band went on to record two sessions for his show, in 1981 and 1982.
In 1981, the band signed with the major label EMI (on their Zonophone subsidiary), prompting criticism from many within the DIY punk scene. Their first album, No Cause For Concern, was released in late 1981, reaching number 32 in the UK Album Chart. A second album followed in 1982, and the band embarked on a tour of the United States and Canada. On returning from the US, Bondage announced that she was leaving the band. She went on to front Ligotage and later Beki and the Bombshells, and, without her, Vice Squad were dropped by EMI. The band carried on, however, replacing Bondage with a new singer called Lia (who was previously known as Jools and had been the singer for local band Affairs of the Heart). The new line-up, also including the band's manager Mark "Sooty" Byrne on second guitar, signed with Anagram Records, and recorded a session for David Jensen's BBC radio show. Indie hits continued with singles such as "Black Sheep" and "You'll Never Know", but sales dwindled, and the band split up in 1985. Dave Bateman died in 2007.
Bondage formed a new version of Vice Squad in 1997, along with former members of The Bombshells, after being persuaded to perform the old material at the Holidays in the Sun festival. The line-up was initially Bondage on vocals, Paul Rooney (guitar), 'Stilton' (bass guitar) and 'Pumpy' (drums). The rhythm section was replaced by Michael Giaquinto (bass guitar) and Tony Piper (drums) in late 1999/early 2000. This new line-up recorded several albums and toured Europe and the United States. In 2006, they released the album Defiant, produced by Rooney.
Back to "old school punk":
2008 was spent recording the album, Fairground for the Demented which was shelved as the band decided the finished collection of songs did not represent the 'Old School' punk sound that the band wanted to achieve. This collection of songs is currently released in digital form with retailers such as iTunes and Napster. The gritty punk style was eventually realised in 2009 when Vice Squad released the London Underground album which was co-produced by Bond and Rooney. Released on their own Last Rockers Label, London Underground has received rave reviews on the Studs And Punks website and songs such as "Punx United", "Old Skool" and "Sniffing Glue" form a major part of the band's live show.
Vice Squad returned to America in 2009 on an 18 date tour of the western states promoting London Underground with the American drummer Nick Manning and support from The Lower Class Brats. The album Punk Rock Radio was released in 2011 and in 2012 Vice Squad recruited female drummer Violet Cannibal to take over drum duties.