"Enslavement is a callous crime!
Grassboxes head the evil uprising of your demented society!
Ban the barbaric imprisonment, and join the Mower Liberation Front!
- Opening lyrics to their song "M. L. F."
One of the saddest losses to British metal ever, in my humble opinion, Lawnmower Deth
from Mansfield in northern England were a crossover thrash band best known for silliness,
frantic live shows with hefty audience participation, and, as their name suggests, songs about
lawnmowers. Unfortunately, in 1993 they split up, mainly due to lack of support from their record
label, Earache, and a general dearth of interest in thrash from the British music industry in
general. Which is a pity, as theirs was a timeless blend of instrumental virtuosity, well, they
could play, I mean, and drunken buffoonery, often with grindcore-style microsongs of but a few
seconds or single lines chanted over and over again in between "proper" length songs. Live, they
were also known for bringing this buffoonery into the audience, but more on that later.
Grandma, Grandma, Watch Out! Here Comes A Lawnmower! - How It All Began
Lawnmower Deth was started in about 1985 when, in their own words, "The mighty Tsaclauq
appeared before us and told us it was in our destiny to free enslaved lawnmowers, to let them free
to thrash, maim and kill... and that we should form a band to enlighten people to their
What really happened, though, was that, in a nutshell, Concord FaceRipper (guitar)
met Qualcast Mutilator
(vocals) and together were introduced by Skit of the band Sabbat
local band in Mansfield called Scrawm
. Thus was born Lawnmower Deth. Garden sheds would never be
Their early days were, to say the least, inauspicious for any vaguely serious thrash or
hardcore band; when they played their first show in a local club they only had three songs in
their repertoire. Rather than just play that triplet than vanish, they instead spread them out
with large periods of arsing about on stage and, as would become a hallmark of their live shows
in later years - audience participation. One prime example of this was to play Fleetwood Mac's
song "The Chain" which was the theme music for Formula 1 racing on BBC at the time, except
speeded up and while pushing lawnmowers round on stage. They thus rebranded this "Lawnmower Grand
Prix" and, mainly due to the use of alcohol or other such intoxicants, it went down rather well
actually. Another common live antic was to get the crowd to do a "fish dance" - that is, to get
on their bellies on the floor and pretend to be fish. The audience participation even stretched so
far as to a full-scale stage invasion in Milton Keynes, if Kerrang! is to be believed. (Note
that these were the days when Kerrang! wasn't shit, so I can believe it.)
It was around this time that, having somehow been signed to Earache, mainly through Concord
FaceRipper and his badgering of the label boss. Soon afterwards, in 1988, their first studio
release appeared, a split CD with fellow comedy crossover thrashsters Metal Duck (yes, there
was a band about at the time called Metal Duck, but that's a whole other node.) This, or "Mower
Liberation Front/Quack Em All" as it was entitled, apparently sold rather well despite neither
band really having any proper songs on said split; other than "M. L. F." and
"Seventh Church of the Apocalyptic Lawnmower" the Mansfield quintet's contribution consists mainly
of silliness like "Drink to be Sick" which segues into vomit noises after about forty-five
seconds, "Fuck Off" which consists merely of the song title barked over a pair of chords, and "I
Got The Clap And My Knob Fell Off" which should not be as funny as it is. The lyrics to this
"I got the clap an' me knob fell off,
I got the clap an' me knob fell off,
I got the clap an' me knob fell off,
I got the clap an' me knob fell off,
Oh bloody hell!"
During one concert which was recorded for bonus tracks on the re-issue of the split CD in
1989, Qualcast (real name Pete Lee) dedicated this particular track to a "chappie from
Kerrang Magazine" that was in the audience.
Can I Cultivate Your Groinal Garden?
The success of the Metal Duck split, although reviews were mixed, often with critics heavily
preferring one band or another, was enough that Qualcast, Flymo, Concord, and pals were able
to record a full length album in 1990, called "Ooh Crikey! It's Lawnmower Deth!" In all honesty,
this was simply an extension, sound-wise, of the band as they were on their earlier split; that
being said, they had more songs not about lawnmowers but that didn't detract from their
genius-level stupidity one bit. It's quite plain to see that even if people panned them for this,
as happened when they received a particularly cold reception at a gig supporting Bolt Thrower
(certain elements of the audience thought they were making fun of metal), they were certainly
enjoying themselves intensely. In one song from "Ooh Crikey!" named "Satan's Trampoline" the band,
towards the end, cede suddently into an electric guitar rendition of "English Country Garden" to
the lyrics, "How many times can you bounce up and down on Satan's big old trampoline? / I do
not know but I'll let you have a go on Satan's big old trampoline." The madness continued
apace elsewhere as well; one song, "Duck Off," being sung on a duck call and ended abruptly by
machine gun fire, another track was a ska remix of their earlier "classic", Seventh Church of
the Apocalyptic Lawnmower.
There was controversy though. On "Ooh Crikey!" was a song called "Got No Legs? Don't Come
Crawling To Me!" which seemed fairly innocuous, being merely 24 seconds long and consisting merely
of the title repeated a few times. Needless to say, some people objected to this, claiming it was
making fun of paraplegics. Thankfully, though, the complainers were rightfully given little to
no leeway; Concord Faceripper maintains that he never intended to mock the disabled, it was simply
a pun on a well-known response meaning something approximating "I told you so."
Commercial success also started to rear its ugly head at this point as well. In 1991, the band
attempted to cover Kim Wilde's song "Kids in America" which included a no-budget homemade
camcorder video. This was released as a single but made no impression on the charts, and rightly
so. Personally I do not think that Lawnmower Deth would have been able to keep up their amusing
but non-cringeworthy level of silliness had they become a commercial band; I cannot see EMI or
other major labels putting up with it too much regardless of how well it sold and in addition, a
major may have had a few things to say about "Got No Legs" and other borderline-tasteless song
titles they may have come out with.
Somebody, Somebody Call Me a Taxi! - Their Decline And Fall
1992 saw the release of their second full-length album, "The Return of the Fabulous Metal Bozo
Clowns" which saw them tone down the silliness slightly in favour of some slightly more honest
thrashing. Of course, that's not to say that such aspects were not there; songs like
"Feetcleaner" and "Drunk in Charge of an Ugly Face" made this more than clear. Also the
grindcore-style microsongs were gone, pretty much; only "Be Scene Not Heard" which poked fun at
the alleged "hardcore" scene about by consisting of the screamed "SCENE? WHAT SCENE" over a
power chord, and "Egg Sandwich" which was the briefly shouted recipe for same held that tradition.
Qualcast Mutilator, the singer, also attempted in some parts to ape James Hetfield's voice to
greater or lesser success. In short, they were attempting to become a serious thrash band and
"Return" succeeds to some extent in this but at the same time it's also got enough inanity to be
considered "good for an alcohol fuelled fun time" as one reviewer on the
Encyclopaedia Metallum puts it.
Unfortunately they didn't keep it up. 1993 saw the release of their to-date last album,
"Billy." This was a complete U-turn from "Return" and definitely so from "Ooh Crikey!" in that it
was not only almost completely non-serious but had started to adopt a pop punk sound. Yes,
that sort of pop punk. The Offspring and Green Day style pop punk. Needless to say, it
didn't sell. By the end of the year, with disappointing live shows which had its fair share of
half-empty halls and losing money hand over fist, the band parted ways and that was it. Some
critics decry this as an error, thinking they could have become similarly big as the
aforementioned pop punk aberrations by the end of the 1990s had they stuck with it. But I for
one disagree. Lawnmower Deth were best known at the time for silliness and live shows involving
lawnmowers and the singer telling people from the music press to fuck off, not three-chord masterpieces. Speaking of which, if they had gone down that road they
could have become emo, and -
(Excuse me, I feel a bit sick.)
Where Are They Now?
Well... one of them reportedly works as a roadie for the band Lostprophets, but the others
are all out of the music biz entirely. One of them is allegedly a "marketing
executive" according to an interview posted on the Internet with Concord Faceripper, the
others are all probably in similarly normal jobs. Numerous offers/threats of a reunion abound but
Concord himself has admitted that for that they'd need large amounts of cold, hard, cash. Which
they don't have, so, unfortunately, we will never again hear the strains of a
drunken Northerner telling his grandmother to escape or bemoaning his STDs except by the wonders
of rampant piracy or hunting about in second-hand record places/Ebay. For educational
purposes only, here follows a discography. The BPI also reminds you that every time you file-share, God kills a kitten so be careful.
Mower Liberation Front / Quack Em All, split with Metal Duck, 1988
Ooh Crikey! It's Lawnmower Deth!, full-length, 1990
Kids In America, single, 1991
The Return of the Fabulous Metal Bozo Clowns, full-length, 1992
Billy, full-length, 1993