Flat Back Four are a punk band from St Helens in northwest England. They play fast, aggressive songs that combine punk and metal influences, with plenty of melody and sing-along hooks. Life, death, hope and fear are staple themes, with football, drinking and international friendship never far from the surface.
Formed in late 2004 Tom Cunningham, Kev Hawke and Ste Lingard had been playing together in another band for a while before that. Flat Back Four are now Ste Lingard (guitar and vocals), Ste Sharrock (drums and vocals) and Will Atkinson (bass and vocals) and the band have played more than 350 gigs in ten countries. They like playing live more than anything else – even more than drinking. They have released three albums, five EPs and one split album; their new album ‘Live in St. Helens’ (recorded at their tenth anniversary gig) was released in May 2015. They are currently recording their sixth E.P., to be released in November.
It took a long time to establish a settled line up. They had a couple of bassists before they unearthed Ste Sharrock, back in April 2005. Originally, they had a singer. When he left they spent a few months looking for a new one, and got absolutely nowhere. Kev Hawke and Ste Lingard took over as a temporary measure and they’re still doing it.
Drummers were a real problem. Tom left in early 2005, following which they had four others in eighteen months. Tom returned in October 2007.
They released two EPs and one album:
‘Handguns and Hiding Places’ (released February 2005) had the original line up, including ‘the proper singer’.
‘Pork Pies and Snapped Strings: The Cider Session Tapes’ (recorded and released in April 2005) was a bit of a party piece. They got a few mates down to the rehearsal room, got drunk and played, throwing in a couple of covers for fun. They had Ste Sharrock by then.
A cover of the Bad Religion Classic, recorded live in 2005 for the ‘Pork Pies and Snapped Strings’ EP.
Snuff Movie Princess, from the 2005 live EP ‘Pork Pies and Snapped Strings’. This is the only recording of the song, which was only played live on a handful of occasions.
‘Who Dares Penguins!’ was recorded in March 2006 and released in October 2006.
Within 2 years of forming they had already played with some top underground bands, including Captain Everything, Five Knuckle, Uncle Brian, Los Retardos, Milloy, Useless ID, 3dbs Down and Hondo Mclean.
They only play in St Helens twice each year: at the annual Rondezvous bash in September, and with a ‘stripped down’ set at The George in February.
Who Dares Penguins
Flat Back Four’s debut album, recorded at Bunker 7 in Manchester in March 2006, with Tim G, and released in October that year. This is the first time it has been available as a download.
Released 26 October 2006
The line up on this recording was: Ste Lingard, Kev Hawke, Ste Sharrock and Alan Easton.
Getting into the spirit of Christmas, 2006.
From the 2007 split album ‘From the Streets’, which also featured The Kirkz and The Straitjackets. The label folded before the release, resulting in only about twenty copies ever emerging.
From the 2007 split album ‘From the Streets’
Once More Unto the Breach
Flat Back Four’s third studio E.P., recording in February 2008 with Fish at Madhouse studio, Crewe.
Released 4 February 2008
Track one from the 2010 special six-track release ‘FIRM FRIENDS’, in honour of our many and valued friends in Bielefeld, Nordrhein-Westfalen. (The track is a re-working of The Thatto Heath Song, with new lyrics, including a German section written by Mike Schiesser).
Flat Back Four’s fourth studio E.P. The drums and rhythm guitars were recorded by Andy Dazzler at Mono in Blackburn in 2011, and the lead guitars, bass and vocals by Joe Fossard, also in Blackburn, in Spring 2012.
Protect Yourself is the new EP from Manchester punks Flat Back Four, their seventh release since they formed in 2004. It is an energetic delight, skilfully combining punk and metal influences to great effect. With accomplished arrangements, thoughtful lyrics and big hooks, this band knows its business inside out. Better Days (Part II) opens the disk at a prodigious pace, followed by the powerful Reach for the Sky, showing a flair for blending power with harmony. The Return of the Native laces pace with literary passion, before Put the Kettle On, Baldrick, pays energetic tribute to a worthy hero. Hearts and Minds closes the show in epic fashion, showcasing Flat Back Four at their best.
Released 1 June 2012
Ste Lingard: guitars and vocals,
Tom Cunningham: drums,
Will Atkinson: bass and vocals,
Joe Watson: guitars and vocals
You Can’t Have Everything
Flat Back Four’s second full length album, recorded by Joe Fossard in Backburn (with some live sessions in a suitably dingy room downstairs in a pub in Birkenhead) in Summer 2013. Released on Antipop Records.
Released 7 October 2013
Flat Back Four’s contribution to the Crocodile God 20 year anniversary tribute album. Croc God were a great band and FB4 were proud to be asked to contribute.
Time flies when you’re having fun they say, and time has certainly flown a lot quicker than we expected it to. 20 years to be precise. Yes it was somewhere in the depths of 1993 that Crocodile God were formed. The memories of North West England in the 90’s are flooding back to us as we speak.
To mark this now momentous occasion, a few of the finest punk bands of today very kindly agreed to record their own versions of Croc songs and this is the end result. We just want to say a huge thank you to all of the bands that have contributed to this, and we hope that you enjoy them as much as we have.
Full Tacklisting for GOING NUTS FOR 20 YEARS! – A tribute to Crocodile God released September 8, 2013
Live in St Helens
This recording was made at our beer-soaked 10th anniversary concert, at the Rendezvous Bar in St. Helens, on Saturday 20th September 2014.
The whole night was great fun and we are fortunate to have been able to capture some of it for posterity. Thanks to everyone who was part of the night, and especially Kev Hawke, Tom Penn, Will Atkinson, The Hunx, Manifest, Hoof, The Blowouts, John & Sid (who recorded it), Sarah & the Rondy crew, Jon Lingwood (who took the pics), Tony Vermin & Alec Anti-pop, Richie, the ‘choir’ and all who donated to the St. Helens foodbank.
Released 9 May 2015
The song ‘Tonight’, recorded live at The Dog House, Nottingham, on 18 September 2015. Recording by Baz.
Ste’s Mum Calling
Released 31 October 2016
Produced by Fish & the Stes at the Madhouse, near Crewe, England. Cover photo by Jon Lingwood.
There are lots of live videos on YouTube but, to be honest, I couldn’t find any where the quality was good enough to add here. Check the YouTube link below if you are interested.
Original recordings, videos, artworks etc. are copyright of their respective songwriters/performers/publishers/artists or whatever is applicable to that particular work with All rights reserved.
All links accessed and working on 2 November 2017.
This article was created, compiled and produced by Barry Grady.