30 April 2018



Interviewer: 'Where did you guys get your name?'
The Parkinsons: 'From the disease. We shake too much...!'

'Nudity, fainting, flagellation, what more could you ask for? And if you didn't like that, then you're no fun basically. It's as simple as that.'

'Some people have so much charisma that you don't really need to hear them sing. And he (Afonso) was wild, full of anger.'

'A lot of their material only really lent itself to the excitement of those live shows.'

'See 'em before they get locked up.'

'The music world is a cruel world.'

Hmmm. If this band were as big as this documentary is making them out to be, how come I'd never heard of them until I watched this film? I was convinced for most of the movie that I was watching a spoof documentary about a made-up band. Like Spinal Tap, lol.

But no, The Parkinsons have a Wikipedia entry so I guess they do exist. I'm still surprised I never heard of them though. They came along after Britpop, which I was hugely into, so how come I missed 'em? Mind you, I never used to read those hardcore music magazines like NME and stuff, and I live in Ireland so my involvement with the London club scene has, of necessity, been kept to a minimum.

Anyway, the band originate from Portugal, a country about which I know precisely two things. It adjoins Spain and handsome ridey footballer Ronaldo comes from there. The band The Parkinsons was formed there in 2000, so I guess that now I know three things about Portugal.

The original band members are guitarist Victor Silveira (aka Victor Torpedo), bass guitarist Pedro Chau and Afonso Pinto, whose nickname is Al Zheimer. Charming. Let's hope the band, who named themselves after the disease because 'we shake too much,' remain young and healthy forever and never know the pain and suffering of the illnesses whose appellations they so freely make use of. Humph.

Anyway, they left Portugal in the late 'Nineties because there wasn't much of a rock 'n' roll culture in their home town of Coimbra, not surprisingly, or much in the way of live gigs either, come to that. They decided to come to London to peddle their unique brand of music and Portuguese punk rock chaos, roughly twenty years after the first wave of punk's popularity had ended.

The band that apparently 'left a trail of blood and snot and puke and urine' in its wake wherever it went seems to have been quite successful for the first few years of the new millenium. They had their own particular stage style, opting to strip off completely at their gigs and urging audience members to do the same.

Al would sing his gritty lyrics about 'Bad Girls' with his booze-softened todger hanging out for all to see. If you gobbed at them as if you were at, say, a SEX PISTOLS or STRANGLERS concert from a couple of decades before, they would punch you in the face because they didn't like that type of thing. But getting nekkid, now that was their thing!

The documentary shows Al simulating oral sex with a microphone and writhing with a microphone stand between his legs while stark bollock-naked. He also pulled down his strides at Glastonbury and treated 60,000 people to the sight of his unclothed, scrawny and pimply rear end. Lovely.

There's this hilarious anecdote about a fan referred to simply as 'Naked Man' who really got into the whole stripping-off-for-Parkinsons-gigs thing and he routinely got in trouble with bouncers for bouncing around in the altogether.

Then there was this one time that he knocked himself unconscious at a gig of The Parkinsons' in Notting Hill and was carried off starkers by the security staff. The word 'pillock' comes immediately to mind, doesn't it?

At a time when 'rock music was going through one of its worst slumps,' The Parkinsons were a 'crazy, old-school dangerous punk rock band.' The danger was very real if you were a regular at their gigs. You stood every chance of getting physically hurt as the band threw themselves around without regard for their own safety or that of the fans.

There's footage of Afonso clambering along the lighting equipment pipes as if they were monkey bars and bringing the whole lot down on his head because, um, well, they're not monkey bars after all. No wonder the band was banned from numerous venues. The band and the fans would have a ball but the venue would be totally trashed. What club-owner would want that? It's more trouble than it's worth, innit?

Anyway, they recorded their first album when they'd been together about eighteen months. It was knocked together pretty quickly and the band thought it was shit, but Q magazine said that it was one of the best one hundred punk albums ever released. How many punk albums were ever released again...? Lol. I'm being mean, I know, but punk isn't really my genre.

The band who love their mums and who've opened in the past for Nickelback and Sum 41 went and played the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan in the early 'Noughties and the Japanese adored them. They lapped it all up. 'Even though they were these mad punks, they were also really sweet guys.' And, in fairness, they really did seem to be getting on well with the Japanese, who love a nice bit of Western craziness.

Ask the band, if you ever meet them, about the Queen's Jubilee in 2002 and why the Queen and her mother personally objected to a poster with Al Zheimer on it. It's kind of a funny story. I can't say I blame the Royal family in this instance. That was a baaaaad poster...

They've been through several drummers (why is it always the drummer who leaves?), nine at the last count, and Afonso himself walked out on the band in the middle of a gig and went to work in a warehouse because the pay was better.

They all seem in agreement about how poor the financial rewards were and how much trouble they had paying the rent on their Camden Town flat. They're thinking now that maybe they should have said yes to some of the record deals they were offered along the way. Well, maybe they should have.

In the film, you'll meet Victor, Pedro, Afonso, various drummers and friends of The Parkinsons and a chap whose name I forget who used to manage them. You can tell how seriously he's taking it all by the way he's laughing his head off all the way through his interviews. Here's what the promotional material says about the film:

'Compiled from hundreds of hours of incredible and intimate fly-on-the-wall footage along with interviews with the band and other key players, this is a unique, hilarious, moving and deeply human story of maximum rock 'n' roll, the likes of which we are unlikely to see again.'

The film THE PARKINSONS: A LONG WAY TO NOWHERE is out now from BLUEBELL FILMS. If the one-hundred minutes of Afonso pulling down his trousers for the crowd isn't long enough for you, there's over an hour of extra features for you to get your laughing gear around. Never mind the bollocks? It's hard to do that when they won't put them away...

'We're just a bunch of friends playing music and having fun. That's always what it was meant to be. There was no agenda, and there'll never be an agenda. Now that we're back together, it's
always gonna be a long way to nowhere. There's no destination...'


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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