Grebo (music)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Grebo (or grebo rock)[1] was a short-lived subgenre of alternative rock[2] that incorporated influences from punk rock, electronic dance music, hip hop and psychedelia. The scene occupied the period in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the United Kingdom before the popularisation of Britpop and grunge.[3] The genre and its attributes were largely absorbed into industrial rock, which would emerge after the sub-genre's demise in the late 1980s, which then led to the development of industrial metal in the 1990s.

History and etymology[edit]

The word grebo was originally used as a slang term for bikers and rock music fans with long hair.[4][5] The word was re-fashioned by the group Pop Will Eat Itself that represented a brand of United Kingdom subculture of the late 1980s and early 1990s, largely based in the English Midlands.[6][7][5] The scene particularly was centred on Birmingham.[8]

Influential bands in the scene were Pop Will Eat Itself (who had songs titled, "Oh Grebo I Think I Love You"[6][9] and "Grebo Guru"), the Wonder Stuff, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, along with London band Carter USM and Leicester bands Crazyhead, the Bomb Party, the Hunters Club, Scum Pups and Gaye Bykers on Acid.[10][11] The term has also been used to describe Jesus Jones, who enjoyed success in both the United Kingdom and the United States.[1][12]

Although short-lived, the movement was a success and influenced several later bands. To a certain extent it was a music press invention, much like positive punk, a scene and style named by British indie magazines NME and the Melody Maker.[10] The music genre has declined rapidly since its popularity in the '90s, so the genre is only found in the underground scene.


Grebo bands drew influences from a diverse array of genres, including dance-rock, psychedelia,[13] pop, hip hop,[7] punk rock and electronica.[14] Pop Will Eat Itself adopted an industrial alternative rock style[15] that combined "heavy metal and hard rock guitar riffs, electro-dance rhythms, samples and rap vocals."[16] While Gaye Bykers on Acid's use of hip-hop and dance beats was considered as "a major innovation in mid-'80s alternative rock,"[17] Ned's Atomic Dustbin focused on "the hyper punk aspect" of the movement, relying on "catchy hooks and a dual-bass sound."[18]

Grebo artists and fans sported long hair, dreadlocks and baggy shorts.[8][13]


  1. ^ a b Kim, Jae-Ha (12 January 1992). "'Grebo rock,' as synthesized by Ned's Atomic Dustbin". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  2. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (2012). Knickers in a Twist: A Dictionary of British Slang. Canongate. ISBN 978-0857869456.
  3. ^ Roach, Martin; Snowball, Ian; McKenna, Peter (2015). Tribe - A Personal History of British Subculture. John Blake. ISBN 978-1784188979.
  4. ^ Warbrook, Colette (15 May 2015). "The Way We Were: Bikers met at the Windy Ridge Cafe in the 60s". The Sentinel.
  5. ^ a b Robb, John (2010). The Charlatans We Are Rock. Random House. ISBN 978-1409034391.
  6. ^ a b Rogers, Jude (25 February 2010). "From mod to emo: why pop tribes are still making a scene". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  7. ^ a b Vladimir Bogdanov (editor), All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide To Electronic Music, page 404 (Backbeat Books, 2001). ISBN 0-87930-628-9. Quote: "Honing a fusion of rock, pop, and rap which they dubbed 'grebo', the Poppies kickstarted a small revolution."
  8. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis (3 May 2002). "The way we listen now". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  9. ^ Wuelfing, Howard Jr. (February 1988). "Pop Will Eat Itself - Now For a Feast!". Spin. 3 (9): 33.
  10. ^ a b Strong, Martin C. (1999). The Great Alternative & Indie Discography. Canongate. pp. 169, 711. ISBN 0-86241-913-1. Lumped in with the media created "Grebo" scene along with Pop Will Eat Itself, Gaye Bykers on Acid and the early Wonder Stuff, Crazyhead.../[Wonder Stuff] initially lumped in with contemporaries like Pop Will Eat Itself and Crazyhead under the music-press created 'grebo' banner/etc..
  11. ^ Larkin, Colin (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Indie and New Wave Music. Guinness Publishing. pp. 73–74. ISBN 0-85112-579-4. In common with Gaye Bikers on Acid (sic), Bomb Party, and Pop Will Eat Itself, [Crazyhead] were linked with the media-fuelled 'biker' or 'grebo' rock genre.
  12. ^ Greene, Jo-Ann. "Jesus Jones - Live at the Marquee". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  13. ^ a b Modell, Josh (13 October 2014). "Dudes on 'ludes: 15 bands named after drugs that aren't weed". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  14. ^ Abebe, Nitsuh. "Ned's Atomic Dustbin - God Fodder". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  15. ^ McCormick, Neil (3 June 2011). "Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past by Simon Reynolds: review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  16. ^ Popson, Tom (29 September 1989). "Pwei: From Grebo Pop To Raucous Rock". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  17. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Gaye Bykers on Acid". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  18. ^ Abebe, Nitsuh. "Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Are You Normal?". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 April 2017.

Further reading[edit]