Restricted Code is a Glaswegian post-punk band that existed from 1978 to 1981, and reformed in 2018. Tom Cannavan and Frank Quadrelli, school friends from Easterhouse in Glasgow, had written songs together and played in various school bands before discovering punk music and going on to create Restricted Code. The band released three records, recorded John Peel and other BBC Radio sessions, and toured extensively.

After a 36-year hiatus, all of the original members are together, including songwriting partnership Tom and Frank, bass player Kenny Blythe and drummer Robert McCormick. Robert now plays keyboards, so the band brought in old friend Les Gaff, formerly of fellow Glaswegian band, Positive Noise, on drums. The Codes became a five-piece for the first time.

Restricted Code bandThe new line-up:

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

The band is writing loads of new material to merge with their back catalogue of songs, and is gigging around Scotland. They will be recording a four-track EP in autumn 2019.

The whole story

Restricted Code 1978 line-upThe original line-up:

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

Best Gig of 1981School friends Tom and Frank had played together in bands since they were 16 or so. Influences were pretty eclectic from punk in the mid- late-70s (big Sex Pistols and Clash fans) to “new wave” (Talking Heads, Magazine, etc.) to funk and soul (Chic, Otis Reading, etc.). Tom and Frank wrote the songs together, the band arranged them.

The band gigged extensively, mostly around Scotland, and in 1979 got together with fellow Glaswegian bands Positive Noise and The Alleged to release a self-funded EP called Second City Statik which enjoyed considerable critical acclaim. Even as Second City Statik was climbing the indie charts, the band recorded further demos in search of a record 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, The Mekons and Joy Division among others. Last loved the demos, and after a showcase gig arranged by Last to see the band live, he became their manager and 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 British tour with the Fire Engines, label-mates at Pop:aural, with the bands taking it in turn to headline each night. They recorded sessions for John Peel and for Richard Skinner at BBC Radio (both available to listen to under ‘Music’ above).

Aged only 16 at the time, the increasing gig and touring committments led to Robert’s decision to quit the band. Steve Lironi was recruited to replace Robert 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…” in 1981, Sounds music paper claimed they delivered the “best gig of 1981”, and there were numerous rave reviews and extensive features in magazines including The Face and Melody Maker. As one of the hottest up-and-coming bands around, one memorable gig at The Embassy Club in London 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 and dozens of other bands. There were also, as one music magazine reported at the time, “dozens of record company A&R people.”

Despite the critical acclaim, an extremely loyal fan-base 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.

Discography:

Second City Statik EP, 1980
First Night On/From the Top, 1980
Love to Meet You/Monkey Monkey Monkey 1981

BBC Radio:

John Peel session, 1981
BBC 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.

Post Script:

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. It took a further three decades before Restricted Code got together again. They say: “The truth? It’s like we have never been apart.”