About Restricted Code

Restricted Code’s story began in the post-punk era, started by school friends Tom Cannavan and Frank Quadrelli. The band re-formed in 2018 with all of the original members. In their live sets, new material is merged with the best of their back catalogue. Spring 2020 the band recorded the self-funded E.P. I Got Lost, which was greeted with critical acclaim.

Where does the band’s name come from? Read all about it.

The line-up:

Tom Cannavan, vocal/guitar
Frank Quadrelli, guitar/vocal
Kenny Blythe, bass/vocal
Robert McCormick, keyboards
Les Gaff, drums

The whole story

1978 – 1981

Tom Cannavan, vocal/guitar
Frank Quadrelli, guitar/vocal
Kenny Blythe, bass/vocal
Robert McCormick, drums
replaced by Steve Lironi, drums

Best Gig of 1981Friends Tom and Frank grew up in Easterhouse, Glasgow, where they wrote songs and played together in various school bands before discovering punk and going on to create Restricted Code in 1978. Influences were pretty eclectic from punk to New Wave to funk and soul.

In 1979 the band got together with fellow Glaswegian bands Positive Noise and The Alleged to release an EP called Second City Statik, arguably the first glimpse of ‘The Sound of Young Scotland’. Even as Second City Statik climbed the indie charts, the band recorded further demos in search of a deal. In 1980 they got a call from Bob Last, manager of The Human League and the man whose Fast Product label released seminal records by The Gang of Four and The Mekons. Last loved the demos and, after a showcase gig, he signed them to his new record label, Pop:aural.

Restricted Code released two further records on Pop:aural and toured extensively, including supporting The Human League in the UK and Europe and a nationwide tour with the Fire Engines, label-mates at Pop:aural. They recorded sessions for John Peel and Richard Skinner at the BBC (available under ‘Music’ above).

Aged just 17 at the time, the increasing touring committments led to Robert’s decision to quit the band. Steve Lironi was recruited on drums.

NMERestricted Code enjoyed fantastic critical success and something of a ‘cult’ following. Paul Morley in NME picked them as “band most likely to,” while Sounds music paper claimed they delivered the “best gig of 1981”. There were rave reviews and features in magazines including The Face and Melody Maker. As one of the hottest up-and-coming bands around, one memorable gig at London’s Embassy Club saw a who’s who of musical faces in the audience including John Peel, Debbie Harry, Frank Zappa, Julian Cope and members of the Sex Pistols. There were also, as one magazine reported at the time, “dozens of record company A&R people.”

Despite the critical acclaim and universal praise for their live gigs, the band didn’t sell the volume of records that they, or their record company, expected. The single First Night On topped the NME indy charts – but that didn’t mean huge sales in 1980 – and while Love to Meet You sold well, it didn’t break though into top 40 success.

Old Codes discography:

Second City Statik EP, 1980
First Night On/From the Top, 1980
Love to Meet You/Monkey Monkey Monkey 1981
Then There Was You (Messthetics #105 compilation), 2007
Love to Meet You (Big Gold Dreams compilation), 2019

BBC Radio:

John Peel session, 1981
Richard Skinner session, 1981

The band split up late in 1981, perhaps down to the pressures of not acheiving real breakthrough success despite such critical acclaim. Each of the members formed or joined other bands in and around Glasgow and Edinburgh, with some success. But life moved on, with the members developing careers in everything from teaching to aircraft engineering. Restricted Code featured extensively in a book celebrating Scottish independent music of the post-punk period, Hungry Beat, published in 2022.

2018 – present

It took more than three decades until Restricted Code got together again. Having rekindled their friendship via social media, one day the crazy idea came to Tom and Frank of getting together to play again. There was no plan, no great ambition, just a desire to get the guitars out and see where it took them. They were already in touch with Kenny via social media, and with Robert, but knowing he no longer played drums, they approached Les, a friend from the old days to join them.

Soon, the four piece band was together again, re-learning the old songs and enjoying making music. One day, quite by chance, they bumped into Robert outside a Glasgow rehearsal studio. They arranged a jam for the following week which went so well that Restricted Code became a five piece, with keyboards. Photo: the chance meeting outside Berkeley Street Studios.

New songs soon began to emerge, Tom and Frank hitting a rich seam of renewed creativity, and the band continued to rehearse the old and new material. A support gig appeared on the horizon, then another, then another, and suddenly they were headlining their own gigs.

Recording new material became the focus in 2019, slightly delayed by Kenny breaking a finger, Les busting his toe and Frank ending up in hospital with an ankle injury. Were the gods against them? Well, eventually they did get into the studio, recording the four tracks for their self-funded E.P. that was released in early 2020. As fate would have it, the coronavirus lockdown struck just as CDs were manufactured and their official launch gig scheduled. It is available on all major download and streaming services.

Since lockdown was lifted, the band is writing and playing regularly, with more live gigs. There’s been a revival of interest in the band with the release of the Big Gold Dream album and Hungry Beat book, in which they feature. They played to a sell-out crowd at Glasgow’s CCA as part of the Hungry Beat night, 2023. In autumn 2023 they returned to the studio to record a further four tracks that will be released soon.

The story goes on, and the band says, “The truth? It’s like we have never been apart.”

New Codes discography:

I Got Lost EP, 2020
I Got Lost (Lockdown Version), 2021
All Better Now, 2021