Up until the present, not a lot of people knew if Phyne Thanquz was a real band or just an elaborate hoax. There was one ridiculously rare 7" single entitled “Into The Sun” (with “Curse Of The Gods” on the B-Side). It came out on a label called ERC in 1981. Just recently a copy of the single was sold for well over 600 Euros. It really is an extremely precious artifact of the glorious New Wave Of British Heavy Metal period.
Apart from the participation of a certain Dr. Death, there was not a lot of information to be found on the record as to who actually played on the single. Dr. Death is no other than Stewart Menelaws who helped to supply us with all the details regarding this last big secret of the immortal N.W.O.B.H.M. era.
“Phyne Thanquz was not a joke at all”, Stewart Menelaws starts to unfold the band's history. “We played at many night clubs, rock venues and rock festivals over a seven year period. The stage act comprised a fairly large lighting and special effects show.”
Phyne Thanquz is indeed quite a strange name which probably added to the mystique surrounding the band. Originally, it only stood for “fine thanks” but soon (surely in part due to the single's cover artwork) followers started to attach different interpretations to the moniker. Stewart Menelaws explains: “Due to the band’s growing occult overtones, stage act and branding, the name took on a sinister feel making many people think there was a deeper secret behind it. The name was thought up by one of the early roadies/band photographer and while I personally hated the name, it stuck. Although some of the band members (who changed a lot) got into the whole 'occult' stage act thing, dressed up as zombies/walking dead etc – there was no deep spiritual or supernatural interest. I myself on the other hand was a different story. After facing death twice on a hospital bed at 16 years of age and suffering from ill health for a further 15 years my fascination with death and the supernatural was the motivation behind the songs written.”
This enduring period of ill health also led to Stewart's pseudonym Dr. Death: “I got the nickname from a biker fan. After major surgery as a teenager I lost a great deal of weight and my face was gaunt with sunken eye sockets and high cheek bones. The graphic artist who designed the skull image on the single cover based it on myself. As I went deeper into occult interest I slept in a coffin (also used for the stage act) and we began using heavy make-up effects such as death masks – so the name fitted.”
As already mentioned earlier, Phyne Thanquz's sole single was released in 1981 via ERC. ERC actually stood for Edinburgh Recording Company with the band originally coming from the capital city of Scotland. Stewart Menelaws takes over the story: “ERC was a local Edinburgh based studio – I don’t know that much about them. Phyne Thanquz was banned from various venues for many reasons. At times places were smashed to pieces in violent frenzies; the police would be called on occasions. Managers were threatened, agents were abused and the band’s occult overtones saw them being exorcized from one venue (they actually got a priest in to do this). Simply, the band had a reputation as being dark and strange and best not mention them – bit like a bad omen.”
Marshall Bain is listed as the producer of the single. Stewart explains: “Marshall Bain owned ERC studios and he put that onto the single without our knowledge. We were not bothered either way. Marshall always seemed a little bit nervous when we were in his studio. ERC is no longer. In the late 1980s I collected all the demo reels and marketing materials, photographs and burned everything in a bid to erase the memory.“
Apart from Dr. Death (aka Stu Menelaws) on guitar/vocals, the following musicians played on the single: Amanda Hodge (keyboard), Bod (aka Bryan Dodds) on drums and Mark Patrizio (former Exploited member) on bass.
In the past, it was rumored that Phyne Thanquz was somehow associated with John Mortimer's Holocaust. However, this was probably due to the fact that both bands come from Edinburgh. Stewart makes it clear: “We were not influenced by Holocaust in any shape or form. As far as I am aware, we were around long before they appeared; in fact I only got to hear of them near the time Phyne Thanquz began to break apart. Personally my only influence was Jimi Hendrix, Bach and also The Pink Fairies.”
During the late 1970's and early 1980's Phyne Thanquz had a healthy biker following when they appeared live. There's one gig Stewart Menelaws remembers vividly: “At a certain gig a West Coast Angel told me that one of the Hells Angels from the London area wanted to see me … thankfully it was just to slap me on the back to say we were 'shit hot, man'! We had one West Coast Angel roadie bury a crowbar into a punter’s head which resulted in a huge gathering of town's folk wanting to hang us all from the roof beams … that was a pretty tense moment. One of the local Hells Angels chapters were fans and roadies for Dog but there were growing tensions with other bike groups which made things troublesome at times. The last gig we were to play at 'The Glenburn' was packed with various bike clubs and there was a tense atmosphere which resulted in the place being smashed up while we played a song to accompany the riot as the police arrived in force. Most of our roadies were bikers, both patch bearers and not. Venues we played were 'The Glenburn', 'The Nite Club', 'The Glen Pavilion', 'The Odeon', 'The Calton Studios', 'Niki Tams', 'The Kinema', 'Twisted Wheel', 'Craigmiller Rock Festival', 'The Palace', 'The Laughing Duck', 'The Green Tree', 'The Astoria', ‘Sneaky Pete’s’, ‘Clowns’ plus various town halls and other venues. We were one of the few bands in Scotland at that time with a full 1.5K PA rig (that was big in those days) and lighting rigs. Occasionally we would hire these out to other bands.”
Following Phyne Thanquz, Stewart Menelaws put together a band simply called Dog: “Yes, Dog was put together by myself (now named General Beetashoon,) Bod (now named Harry Harlot) and bass player Ross Mason (aka Bandit) after Phyne Thanquz broke up. It was the band that Phyne Thanquz should have been from day one but with so many changes in line-up (drums/ bass/vocals) it kept messing up the band's original roots. Dog also dropped the stage act and make-up and simply looked like three filthy bikers with a wall of Marshall stacks behind them.”
Phyne Thanquz as well as Dog laid down some mighty fine tunes in the studio, Stewart Menelaws comments on some of the only surviving material:
“Bury Me Well” (Phyne Thanquz - just before it broke up) - Live & Studio (circa 1982)
After years of occult influence and near death experience I wrote this song at a low time in life. I was in a lot of pain and in and out of hospital. The band broke up not long after this recording.
“Grove Track” (Phyne Thanquz - just before it broke up) (circa 1982)
This track came about through an LSD/Acid trip jamming session.
“Seedlings Of Something” (Phyne Thanquz - just before it broke up) (circa 1982)
The words come from the Luke Reinhart book “The Diceman”, but were also a play on the first chapter of the Biblical Book of Genesis, which began to intrigue me.
“Into The Sun” (Phyne Thanquz - middle period) - Single A-Side (circa 1981)
The track was all do to with LSD, a favorite drug of various band members.
“Curse Of The Gods” (Phyne Thanquz - middle period) - Single B-Side (circa 1981)
I always had an interest in Jesus Christ, influenced by the 1960's Robert Powell film “Jesus Of Nazareth”, yet had a hatred for middle class religion.
”Down” (Phyne Thanquz - just before it broke up) (circa 1982)
This track was one of the new style of tracks influenced by a new agent and production engineer, it was going away from the band’s original roots. Sounded much better live.
“The Dead Walk Alone” (Phyne Thanquz reformed as Dog) EP Cassette (circa 1984)
While under the new name of Dog this track represented a shift back to early Phyne Thanquz pre-keyboards. I had been influenced by spiritualism and various strange experiences and I saw death as a great mystery. The woman in the track is a lost soul.
“Read All About It” (Phyne Thanquz reformed as Dog) EP Cassette (circa 1984)
“Read All About It” was to do with reading the palm of the dead person’s hand and the story that it revealed. Once again influenced by spiritualism and the mystery of death.
“The Prisoner” (Phyne Thanquz reformed as Dog) Studio (circa 1983)
My interest with the occult would finally leave me with feelings of loss and I became a prisoner to those dark forces whether real or imagined.
“Set Me Free” (Phyne Thanquz reformed as Dog) Studio (circa 1983)
This track was influenced (real or imagined) by a strange experience with the spirit world and a female entity that wished me dead so we could be together, hence the title “Set Me Free”.
“Preacher Man” (Phyne Thanquz reformed as Dog) Studio (circa 1978)
I had no understanding theologically of the Judeo/Christian Gospel but I was drawn to the character and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. “Preacher Man” with its clear Hendrix overtones was once again an attempt to find a purpose and meaning in life. This was an early Phyne Thanquz track.
Stewart Menelaws laid down the guitar at the age of 23 and became involved in the world of film and photography, a whole new medium for creative outlet. Today he is a director of photography and produces films and documentaries as well as corporate films and television commercials.
“By the age of 23, I had crushed my soul with drugs, drink, a dark and violent lifestyle; life held no meaning or purpose”, is what he says. “A person can look strong from the outside, have many friends or acquaintances, but inside be lost, alone and empty. Understandably, I found myself asking questions about the universe. My life was such a mess – there surely had to be more? I entered the world of film and photography and at the age of 26, as a result of being commissioned as part of a documentary team, produced a 90 minute feature about biblical topics. I found myself being challenged by one of the interviewed bible scholars. He told me I would find the answers to the mysteries that haunted me, within the 66 ancient books and letters of the Judeo/Christian bible. In 1993 I took two years out of my busy work schedule to study Theology, Biblical Eschatology (the study of the last days and apocalypse) and many other belief systems. It was a journey that would take me around the world interviewing scholars, archaeologists, scientists, mathematicians, lawyers, historians and even military analysts. Indiana Jones eat your heart out!
It was the most incredible experience of my life, particularly working in the Middle East. Suddenly, it looked like there were actually real answers to this mad and painful world. Make no mistake, there are many smoke screens and man-made religious barriers to wade through, but what became quite clear, there was purpose, there was indeed meaning to life. It seemed reasonable to me that we are not here by chance as the blind humanistic evolutionist would have us believe. And so began my love of investigative documentaries and my love for a God I had misunderstood through ignorance and religious middle class hypocrisy I saw as a child.
I have now studied biblical subject matter for over 18 years and it has without doubt turned my life upside down; the transition from darkness to light was a tough journey full of challenges.
I am intolerant of man-made religion and secularist propaganda so I felt compelled to investigate the claims of the ancient biblical texts even more thoroughly - in particular the prophetic end-time scenarios. Although I make all sorts of commercial films, our latest international investigative documentary, called “The Daniel Project”, is making an impact on individuals around the world and is being shown by many broadcasters such as Fox, History, Sky and NatGeo channels, however, some are afraid to show this controversial subject. You can order a special edition double DVD set (lot of bonus materials) from the official website at www.thedanielproject.tv where there is also more information about this intriguing subject.
As I began to investigate many topics my research directed me to ask the question, “Why do we believe what we believe … even if we claim to believe in nothing? Why?” Really think about that for a moment. Many people believe all manner of things due to upbringing, influences, culture and education. They may be sincere in the beliefs they hold close yet have no rational explanation for them. I encourage people to watch “The Daniel Project” if they are brave enough. Five years research, two years in the making; possibly the most compelling film you will ever watch. To quote one film review:
“If you want to know what’s happening to the world and why it appears to be going mad, watch this and you will understand”
If the claims made in the film are false … you have nothing to worry about. If they are true … the consequences will be inescapable … the decision is yours.”
Stewart Menelaws (Director).