(c’88-’89) Dylan Owen (vocals), Luke Randall (guitar), Matthew ? (bass) and Mark Ward (rhythm guitar).

Originally using the Ramones’ inspired Teenage Labotomy moniker, the Napalm Groove Squad boys played a number of reimagined covers and self-penned tracks that included ‘Long Lost Friend’, “Flesh”, “Brand New Mini” and “Wildcat”. Rumored to have split in June ’88, they were looking for a bassist in July, having ousted Matthew – apparently he was too sensible – but eventually moved Ward to the 4-string. They were a regular feature at The Cricketers, Westfield and in September ’88 they played ABC Music’s Showcase ’88, at Woking Centre Halls. This event was originally pitched as Woking Live Aid and Naplam Groove Squad were the first confirmed act by gig organizer Kim Joseph. The band returned to the Centre Halls later that year, supporting Van Gogh and the Earlobes at the Brooklands College Ball.

Backstage Pass for The Devil’s Dance Party, 23 March 1989, that included Napalm Groove Squad. Picture courtesy of Daniel Hiscocks

The band had just recorded the three-track demo EP entitled “Live and Raw”, which opened with the instrumental “Brand New Mini” leading straight into “Daddy Loves Mummy,” and wrapped up with the 7 minute 1 second long “Long Lost Friend”. Reports revealed that at least one big name label requested a copy of “Live and Raw,” and others seemed set to follow. The demo, no doubt, also helped with their desire to secure more gigs on the London alternative circuit, with one band member openly admitting to not wanting to be labelled a Woking band. “Brand New Mini” went on to win PG Tips’ “Best Track of ’88”. More split rumors emerged in early ’89, but the band appeared at The Devils Dance Party at the Civic Hall, Guildford in March and were up at the Rock Garden, Covent Garden on 22 July for a noon gig.