“Out of Control”  the story...
Out of Control  is the band (duo) that I formed over 30 years ago (1979-80) with my friend Phil Clogg. We were an unique electronic rock duo and I’m pretty sure the very first UK band to use an interactive microprocessor  (micro computer) to control synthesisers generating sequenced bass, electronic percussion and other backing material for the whole set. Today of course computers are used for this and just about everything else.
I don’t have any photos of us playing at the time so these recent pictures of us will have to do.

 I recently discovered some tapes of the band which gave me quite a shock when I was faced with the simple fact that it was a whole 31 years ago when we were together! I found it hard to take in that 31 years had passed so quickly from this most enjoyable time. Listening to the tapes  took me right back. They sounded so young and  fresh and energetic. I really enjoyed listening to this little bit of musical history so I sensed it was probably was an omen to do something. The tapes were of a demo and rough rehearsal material adding up to about 40 minutes of music. As it was a small slice of musical history, I thought it was a good idea to put them on the web site as a free downloadable mini album.  Phil and I are still in touch although Phil lives mainly in the south of France now. I contacted him and he said OK; so here it is in the CD shop section with my own albums. Because a lot of it is unpolished rehearsal or rather compositions in progress there are absolutely no plans to do a CD of it.

How it started....  Phil and I had played together with other bands and we were a three piece rock band when the drummer had to leave due to his new job. Phil sang and played guitar and I was on bass at the time. With just the two of us left we decided to go on. As Phil is a song writer as well as a guitarist and I wanted to feature synthesisers as the core, I put this crazy idea to him. It was  to build an electronic duo around his songs and a computerised sequencing and electronic percussion machine I was developing using one of the first microprocessor boards to come on the market (Synnertec Sym1). He smiled a lot and looked puzzled but once he realised I was serious, he thought a bit and said OK why not? I disappeared into my workroom for some time but it all went well and  we were soon gigging as “Out of Control”. The equipment I made is described more fully in the section “Synthesiser Adventures”

This was a huge turning point for me as it shaped everything I have done since. Phil sang, played guitar and somehow managed to play a bass synthesiser using a pedal board. I played my big modular synthesiser, controlled the computer driven units did a lot of knob twiddling and mixing. I was well into fast punchy electronic sequencer rhythms at the time and most of Phil songs were high energy, so it was a really good match. We focused on a set of mainly high energy aggressive rock numbers. Although we were pretty radical I figured it also stood a better chance of being accepted on the local pub scene which was mainly R&B dominated at the time. To me, the relentlessness of the mechanical rhythms really drove the music on like riding a great motorbike. I loved it. We gigged a fair bit and were a live band rather than a studio one. I’m also proud that historically we were, I’m sure, the first electronic band in the UK to be built entirely around the use of a fully computerised sequencer and electronic percussion for all the rhythmical backing. We could load the whole set’s playlist into it (re-loading at the interval), press different keys for each number and away it went issuing pitch and trigger commands, leaving me to play the modular, set the many knobs to get the sound for a particular track and shape the sound as we went along. We also had some live control over the progress so we could extend solos for as long as we felt in the groove plus total manual control over all the percussion unit’s and synthesiser’s control knobs. The downside was many hours typing in data in the form of hexadecimal numbers to get it to play what was in my head. This got a bit tedious to say the least! However because it was just numbers that I punched in (read off a pitch to number and drum to number chart I’d worked out) I could get it to play absolutely anything, any scale at any speed even linear or weird runs. I still have the  micro processor board and it still works, all but in the later version that plays polyphonic control data with the percussion unit. The data input task was eased a lot later on writing further code making use of the both synthesiser’s piano keyboard and the micro’s keypad.
We never made it big but we did have a small loyal local following. The only claim to fame I can brag about us is that for several months we had a pub residency swopping each week with another unknown band called “Prefab Sprout”. They did slightly better than we did! I don’t hold it against them and we are still friends today.


Although we were not widely known, “Out of Control” was in there right at the very beginning, innovating with musical applications using the first wave of  mass market computer chips. So I think we can rightfully claim a little corner of music history.   
Phil Clogg
Ron Berry
The first computer electronic rock band.