In 1877, British society was rocked by The Smug Pistols. The world’s first orchestral punk band, it shocked working class society with lyrics involving a sense of social superiority and gloating over the splendours of riches.
The band’s debut album, Do Not Concern Oneself With the Balderdash; Behold The Smug Pistols, is now considered a classic in sanctimonious vandalism towards lazy poor people.
Despite being a sensation with the upper classes, The Smug Pistols had a short-lived spot in the limelight due to unfortunate protesting and rioting from the inferior sect of society; proletariats.
The Making of The Smug Pistols
The Smug Pistols formed in 1876 by rich kids at Oxford University. All recently handed an impressive inheritance, they were ready to gloat and vaunt their riches to society.
And they formed a band, spending £13,000 on patriotic bunting to market themselves across London. The group consisted of four members:
- Lord Algemon Atticus Augustus III: The singer, songwriter, and connoisseur of fine wines.
- Sir Bartholomew Balthazar Barnaby II: The bassist, songwriter, and owner of 150 acres of land.
- Twisleton-Wykeham-Nathaniel Tarquin IV (OBE): The guitarist, songwriter, and proprietor of an upmarket London restaurant.
- The Esteemed Hugo William Henry Charles Rupertson Alodia II: The drummer and factory owner with a workforce of 1,300 on unliveable wages.
Lord Algemon Atticus Augustus III was interviewed by The Times in September of 1877, whereupon he told the journalist this.
“The Smug Pistols is an affirmation of an elision pertaining to precociousness and a sense of entitlement. We expect attention. We will get attention. And if we don’t, we shall merely use our parents’, respective, fortunes to buy it. Hoh. Hoh, hoh, hoh, hoh!”
The other band members all chortled merrily at this witticism.
Do Not Concern Oneself With the Balderdash; Behold The Smug Pistols was written in early 1877 and contained such classic belters as:
- Tally, Bally Ho!
- If They Are Poor They Should Work Harder
- Poverty is a Personality Defect
- One Owns a Business, One Does
- One Also Owns 150 Acres of Land
Contemporary music critics received the music well, with The Times noting in its review the following.
“It is an album with several belters, with nods to the superiority of the upper classes and feckless laziness of the working class scumbags that blight this land.
Your reviewer is particularly fond of If They Are Poor They Should Work Harder, which should become an anthem for those with a strong work ethic to sanctimoniously exhort at every given opportunity. Perhaps only then will it encourage the indolent lower classes to engage in activities to alleviate their personality defects.”
As the technology didn’t exist to record albums in 1877, if aristocrat society wished to hear the album, they had to go and see the band perform it live.
The Smug Pistols’ Notorious Live Act
Champagne, caviar, and other delicacies were provided to guests arriving at venues across expensive districts of London.
The Smug Pistols would then take to the stage, with the crowd of tipsy posh people descending quickly into a headbanging mosh pit to thrash about wildly on the spot in their vast crinolines and expensive dinner jackets.
From surviving newspaper records, it’s clear many of these gigs ended in polite riots. The Times reported from an April 13th, 1877 gig the following.
“The belligerent mob of upper class revellers became outraged when the establishment’s butlers no longer had caviar to bequeath; this resulted in much indignation and, soon enough, one dignitary upended a table of champagne and chastised a butler for his lack of due diligence on the matter.
The gig promptly descended into anarchy as attendees bickered and argued over who maintained the most acres of land. The din was so voluble The Smug Pistols had to abandon their set, in part to indulge in the debate about their standing with land ownership.
At the time of reporting, four butlers had glasses of champagne tipped over their heads and one received a slap as he informed a female guest he, ‘Did not know when there would be any further caviar at the event, madam.’ This individual, Dame Elizabeth Saxophone Margaret Rupertson, is recovering in hospital after a fit of hysterics over the matter.”
The Smug Pistols revelled in this notoriety, the media outrage gathering around the band helping them pack out venues and add partially to their existing fortunes.
Drummer the Esteemed Hugo William Henry Charles Rupertson Alodia II then had a masterstroke—to deliberately withhold caviar from attendees.
This decision resulted in a further score of polite riots, many more column inches, and numerous more slapped butlers.
Caviar sales for Twisleton-Wykeham-Nathaniel Tarquin IV’s father’s business also received a welcome boost, ensuring the family could purchase its fifth mansion.
The End of the Smug Pistols
Sadly, due to no one wanting to work anymore, The Smug Pistols’ rise to stardom was curtailed by lazy lower classes.
A middle class newspaper (that shall go unnamed here) ran a mocking feature article titled 10 Hit Singles Ruined By Making Them Upper Class. It shocked upper class society to its very core, but was enormously popular with everyone missing a crucial personality trait—a pompous sense of elitism.
With much of British society not superior enough to have such a strong work ethic, The Smug Pistols members were accosted on the street with jibes, jeering, and joshing.
Sir Bartholomew Balthazar Barnaby II noted in The Times in early 1878.
“It has become so beastly; so ghastly; so abhorrent in its direct critique we can see no other alternative but to disband and return to our acres of land. Our adoring fans may lament this news, but there is no other alternative. Why, just last week a member of the lower middle class approached myself and informed me I am a, ‘Silly fuddy-duddy!’
I was aghast at such disgraceful behaviour! When, oh when, will the lower classes understand their place in society?!
So greatly concerned am I and, indeed, the other members of The Smug Pistols about a peasant uprising, we consider it pertinent to return, and helm, our respective businesses to ensure these vagabonds know their place! Only the finest unliveable wages will do for these ruffians; a pay cut is in order!”
And, thus, The Smug Pistols was no more.
One landmark album. Several banging hits. A multitude of overprivileged posh British accents defining a nation.
There has never been a band since quite like it. But with a cost of living crisis on the horizon… perhaps now is the time for the toffs of the world to unite, form a band, and start belting out those Smug Pistols hits once more!