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Simon Brand’s life and death is arguably one of the most tragic stories of Psychobilly. He was not only a very sublime guitarist, singer and (co)-founder of two of the genre’s most successful and most unique outfits but also one of the most gifted and creative song-writers of the genre. But he also was always dogged by self-doubts, mental unbalance and his fatal relationship with his wife Wendy and so he decided to take his own life before his 30th birthday.

Simon Brand was born in Bristol  on the 2nd January 1965. His original family on his father´s side came from Ireland and the surname was Brando, but the family decided to change it to Brand, to sound more English. His parents were and still are very religious and belong to the denomination of the Christadelphians, which was formed in the United Kingdom and Northern America in the 19th century. That’s how Simon was raised.   The Brands lived in a huge house in Kingswood, about ten miles away from Bristol city . 

The teenager was very interested in what is now best known as the British Rockabilly revival,
but also liked the Punk Rock

After the Sharks split, Steve Whitehouse (b, d, v) booked a local record studio and he and Simon Brand (g, v ) recorded two demo tracks under the name Hellfire. The songs were a cover version of Glen Glenn’s Everybody’s Movin´ and a Simon Brand song entitled Cry Or Die. Merv Pepler –who was also with Steve Whitehouse in the Shakin´Quiffs-joined the duo on drums and the three chose the new band name Frenzy. The trio started to rehearse and recorded another demo track, so-called Robot Riot. Their first live performance was at The Juke Joint in Eindhoven, Holland,  in December 1983, where the band also was offered a record deal by Klaas Westerbeek. The 7´´ vinyl EP, released by Westerbeek´s new Cat Machine Records included three tracks (Robot Riot, Sweet Money and Frustration). Roy Williams of Nervous Records get hold of the platter and told Steve it was “ the best rockin´ track he had ever heard”. He also signed the trio for their debut album Hall Of Mirrors and for a four track 12´´ EP (Robot Riot, All Alone, Cry Or Die, Torment) in 1984. But it turned out that Simon Brand and Steve Whitehouse were having differences of opinion during the year and Simon was asked- after several discussions-  to leave the band., even though the album wasn’t finished. Kevin Saunders replaced him for the remaining songs of the album .

After some months of musical inactivity Simon Brand met Kevin Haynes at a gig of Kevin’s band The Joint Jumpers in 1985 and the two fellows made a plan about new rockin´ band. They asked Sean Holder- who was also with the Joint Jumpers- to fill in for the vacant spot at the doghouse bass. The only thing left to find was a band name, which was finally found on the flip side of the classic 12´´ EP release of Robot Riot , a recording from Simon Brand’s days with Frenzy: TORMENT. The trio started to rehearse in Sean Holder’s garage. They also hired a manager in Nutty Dave, who finally organised two gigs for the band in Brighton
 on the 23rd December and another gig in Bristol on Christmas eve. 

Simon Crowfoot, an old mate from Simon Brand, took  over the double bass in early 1986.  Torment made its record debut with a two track appearance (My Dream / The Source) on the compilation album Zorch Factor- One, released by Nervous Records in spring of the same year and the band started to thrive. Their debut album Psyclops Carnival and the 12´´ EP Mystery Men were also released in 1986 and the band also appeared on the Stomping At The Klub Foot compilation album series. The band was booked for touring on European mainland in early 1987 and Torment also recorded their second full length album Three’s a Crowd by end of the year. The album, which was produced by Frenzy co-founder Steve Whitehouse,  hit the UK Independent Chart in December. The band was in great demand and appeared at several big festivals on the continent and frequently gigged at London's famous mecca of Psychobilly the Klub Foot. Some more tracks for compilation albums followed and their third album Round The World was released in 1989. HypnosisTorment’s fourth and final album- hit the record shops in 1990 and was produced by Pete Gage. Simon Brand decided to do some solo work and recorded a track about his break-up relationship with his wife Wendy. The song Broken Home was released on Zorch Factor 3 and he experimented drum computer on this track. Torment appeared on that album too with their version of the Big Band classic Route 66. After a gig in Amsterdam Simon Crowfoot decided to stay in the Netherlands. With the rest of the band located in the UK, Simon Brand and Kevin Haynes finally made the decision to replace him with Vince Mildren and the new formed trio started to gig again, including another tour on the continent in 1992.

Simon Brand left the United Kingdom in 1993 and went to Amsterdam (NL), where he find a home for a while. He was hoping to forget about the breakdown of his marriage with Wendy and he also left his two children in England. Then he moved to Vermont, USA looking for work and tackle his mental problems. The following year he made the decision to relocate back to Britain and tried to rekindle his relationship with his ex-wife Wendy, but it didn’t work out. He was totally down and his parents admitted him to a hospital  whilst suffering another depression. He never left this place again and was found hanging from a tree in the grounds of the hospital.

This is a self-therapeutic statue carved by Simon taken from TruerWords


For more details on Simon Brand check out Truer Words.
For Torment MP3 downloads  check out Nervous Records.