Attila the Stockbroker

Attila the Stockbroker bigraphy, stories - punk poet, folk punk musician and songwriter

Attila the Stockbroker : biography

21 October 1957 –

Attila the Stockbroker (born John Baine, 21 October 1957, Southwick, Sussex, England)Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 208 is a punk poet, and a folk punk musician and songwriter. He performs solo and as the leader of the band Barnstormer. He describes himself as a "sharp tongued, high energy social surrealist poet and songwriter." He has performed over 2,700 concerts, published six books of poems, and released 30+ recordings (CDs, LPs and singles).


John Baine took the performing name Attila the Stockbroker during a short stint as a City stockbroker’s clerk between 1980 and 1981 (A colleague accused him of having the eating habits of Attila the Hun). Having started performing in the late 1970s after being inspired by the spirit and ‘do it yourself’ ethos of the punk subculture, particularly The Clash’s overtly socialist stance, he was briefly a member of punk bands English Disease and Brighton Riot Squad, and Belgian band Contingent before going solo. He did his first gig at Bush Fair Playbarn, Harlow, Essex, on 8 September 1980. At first he performed poems and songs in between bands at punk rock concerts, accompanying himself on the phased electric mandolin. After this was smashed over his head by fascists during a fight at a performance in North London in May 1982, he got a mandola (a fifth lower) and has played this ever since. He has performed in 24 countries, playing venues ranging from the Oxford Union in England to squatted punk clubs in Germany, and performs between 80 and 100 shows every year. He toured East Germany four times before the Berlin Wall came down, and once did an illegal performance in a hotel basement in Stalinist Albania. He was signed by Cherry Red in 1982 after recording a session for John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show. He recorded a second session for Peel in 1983."", Keeping It Peel, BBC, retrieved 2010-10-16

In the 1980s, he was often the support act for punk bands, including The Jam, The Alarm, Newtown Neurotics, New Model Army and performed extensively with fellow punk-inspired ranting poets Swift Nick (Nick Swift), Kool Knotes (Richard Edwards), Porky the Poet (Phill Jupitus) and Steven Wells (Seething Wells). Manic Street Preachers supported him at a performance at Swansea University. In the 1990s, he toured with John Otway as Headbutts and Halibuts, and together they wrote a surreal rock opera called Cheryl, a tale of Satanism, trainspotting, drug abuse and unrequited love. He has performed at every Glastonbury Festival since 1983, and continues to write topical, satirical material on all kinds of subjects. He puts on an annual beer and music festival ‘Glastonwick’, currently held at Coombes Farm, near Shoreham though originally in Southwick, his home town nearby. June 2012 will see the 17th Glastonwick.

Notable works from his 1980s heyday include the poem "Contributory Negligence"; various Russian-themed poems, satirizing the alleged Cold War Russian threat in the context of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain (such as "Russians in the DHSS" and "Russians in McDonald’s"). Other political poems include the surreal Nigel series, such as "Nigel wants to go to C&A", with the lines "…but I don’t understand why / ‘cos they don’t sell nerve gas in C&A / not even to SDP members in cashmere sweaters", "Asylum Seeking Daleks", which satirises the right wing press’s attitudes to immigration, and "Hey Celebrity", which rejects the need for the concept of celebrity.

Attila the Stockbroker formed the band Barnstormer in 1994, combining punk rock and medieval music. The band released its debut album The Siege of Shoreham in 1996 and performs regularly across Europe. So far the band has released four albums: Just One Life, the second, came out in 2000, Zero Tolerance in 2004 and the latest, Bankers and Looters, was released in January 2012. Barnstormer features Attila the Stockbroker on vocals, violin, crumhorn and recorders; Dan Woods on guitar; M. M. McGhee on drums; and Dave Beaken on bass – the latter three are also members of The Fish Brothers.