Rocking from Solihull to Spain

Diehard punk rocker, Martin Hope, in action on  the Costa del Sol last year.
Diehard punk rocker, Martin Hope, in action on the Costa del Sol last year. / SUR
  • Making his mark on the UK punk rock scene in the 1970s, Martin Hope has been rebuffed by Prince Andrew, received at 10 Downing Street and featured in a three-hour documentary about his cult band, The Accused

Diehard rocker Martin Hope has spent almost his entire life playing the guitar. He was active on the exciting punk scene that took over the UK in 1970s and went on to appear alongside numerous iconic bands of the era. Today, he is content to entertain audiences along the Costa del Sol with his nostalgic punk band, The Reinfected, and also with his tribute to Bowie, an artist who, along with Marc Bolan, influenced Martin during his musical awakening.

Born in Solihull in 1962, Martin grew up listening to Motown and was later intrigued by the colourful glam rock era that dominated the UK music scene during the early 1970s. Martin's biggest inspiration at the time was Marc Bolan, the bohemian frontman of glam rock pioneers, T Rex.

The 56-year-old rocker comes from a family more associated with bagpipe music and as a youngster he spent several years drumming in a pipe band. However, a new, exciting scene was about to change the face of modern music and this became far more appealing to the youngster. Martin was 14 when punk rock exploded onto the scene and, like many bored teenagers of that time, he knew instantly that this was the music revolution he had been waiting for. As the new wave spread through the UK, Martin saw the opportunity to take part and quickly joined the dyed-hair and safety-pin movement by forming his own band, The Zits. This band would later become The Accused, a group that received relative success on the British punk scene.

"I knew it was for me straight away. The freshness of the music, the message, the image, the whole thing was exciting. To this day there are very few bands that can offer the excitement of that early punk era," Martin explains to SUR in English.

The Accused were formed in 1978 and began gigging around the Midlands with other up-and-coming bands, which included The Cockney Rejects, The UK Subs and The Prefects. In 1979, the band set up their own independent record label, No Rip-Off Records, and quickly produced their first EP record called Mell Square Musick. The record - voted number 14 best punk outsider record in the world by Record Collector magazine - included three tracks by Martin's band, along with tracks by three other local punk bands from Solihull. The record received considerable attention, mainly instigated by the celebrated radio presenter, John Peel, who featured the track on his late night show on BBC radio.

Royal rebuff

Martin and the band came up with a unique publicity stunt in order to promote the record. They decided to send a copy to Buckingham Palace for the attention of Prince Andrew, which he promptly returned. Martin still has the letter that he received from the prince's aid, which declares that "His Royal Highness is returning it because he is aware how much these things cost to produce and is sure that you would like to use this copy for further promotions".

"It's true, we did send a copy of the record to Prince Andrew, but he sent it back with a very polite no comment. We couldn't really play, but that's what punk was about," Martin admits with a smile.

Some years later, the band was invited to 10 Downing Street to deliver a record to Margaret Thatcher. This stint brought the band considerable media attention and Martin was interviewed on several prime time television shows and appeared in articles in national newspapers, including the Sunday Times Supplement.

The story of The Accused has since been made into a full length documentary film and a book. Martin continued playing with the band until he decided to move to Spain in 2008.

"I was playing with The Accused until I came to Spain 11 years ago. Although I'd always hoped to live here at some point, when circumstances changed within a business I was involved in, I sold my share, and took an early exit," he says.

Martin's love of the punk rock scene followed him to the Costa del Sol and he soon met up with some like-minded musicians and formed the popular punk band, The Reinfected. He also plays guitar in the David Bowie tribute act, The Spiders from Marbs.

"The Reinfected are content to keep the spirit of the early punk scene alive doing covers of early punk hits. The Spiders developed naturally, as originally we had included some Bowie into our Reinfected set. However it became clear there was room for two separate identities and styles. So now I have double the fun," Martin concludes.