Rest In Peace SCUZZ, the Best Rock TV Channel Ever
You (and the fact that you played "Sorry You're Not a Winner" by Enter Shikari in 2018) will be greatly missed.
Image via SCUZZ on Twitter
After 15 special years spent introducing a generation of young Brits to music that'd go on to explain their (fine, our) ongoing sexual proclivity for studded belts, rock music TV channel Scuzz announced last week that it will be airing its final video this Thursday 15 November. Synonymous for many of us with going on MySpace and MSN Messenger at the family desktop, shag bands, Converse with biro on, and getting served with public order warnings by PCSOs in parks, Scuzz represents a specific moment in adolescence for a lot of British millennials. We will miss it fondly.
To commemorate it, we gathered some old favourite Scuzz cuts alongside some #Scuzzhead writers to tell us their best memories of watching the only network which doubled as the gateway drug for drinking white cider on a wet bench.
"It mirrored one part of UK youth culture back at itself"
I must confess: I hated Scuzz when it first launched. Having lost my beloved but short-lived P-Rock that same year, I saw Scuzz as a direct attack on the Drive-Thru Records-inspired ‘corduroy jeans and journaling’ identity I’d been carefully curating up to that point. Before even watching it, I decided that Scuzz was merely a televised extension of all the crust punk and metal kids who hung around the same underage drinking spots as me calling anyone in a cardigan “gay”. What could I possibly get from Scuzz that I couldn’t get from Kerrang! or MTV2 at the time?
Loads, turns out.
In the beginning at least, Scuzz was one of the few – perhaps only? – music channels to have a direct hand in breaking British bands. In addition to having every single Atreyu song and “Here to Stay” by Korn on rotation regardless of what year it was, it was the sole purveyor of regional metalcore in the early 00s. Whatever was going on in the shonky pubs and bars that provided the social nucleus for ‘alt’ teens before the smoking ban came in: that was Scuzz. It was the only outlet besides Channel U and MySpace to mirror UK youth culture back at itself as it actually was, rather than only showing the major label outcome of what it aspired to be. And – for better or worse – it looked like this.
— Emma Garland, VICE UK Associate Editor / @emmaggarland
"I'll know no bigger victory than when our text – 'Pls play 'Killing in the Name'' showed up on screen :')"
If I think back to how I spent the first half of my teen years, most of the scenarios are the same. At one of three friend’s houses (whichever one’s parents were out), we drank whatever crap alcohol there was as Scuzz blared gently in the corner, playing Evanescence’s “Bring Me to Life,” “Times Like These” by Foo Fighters, and every Paramore song released in the early 00s, sometimes punctuated by the MSN noise.
As a result, Scuzz is intimately linked with milestones like the first time I got properly drunk (I vomited ham sandwich and Strongbow in my best pal’s shed x), the first time I ever kissed a boy (he had a swoopy fringe and braces, be still my Beating Heart Baby!), and the first time I let one of my mates shove a stretcher through my earlobe (I still bear the scars). It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve never known accomplishment like when our text – ’Pls play “Killing in the Name” - RATM’ – finally showed up on the screen. RIP.
— Lauren O’Neill, VICE UK and Noisey UK Staff Writer / @hiyalauren
"A memory involving Scuzz, QOTSA and my friend's mum's decorative cat plate still keeps me awake! Today!"
The thing used to be that we would go to our Sky-having friend Adam’s house to watch Scuzz (everyone has a Sky-having friend: they are near-vital in the teenage friendship hierarchy, just like getting someone to pass their driving test less than six months after turning 17 is). And we would all bring over a Spar bag full of full-fat fizzy pop, Cadbury’s Crunchie Rocks and/or a freshly sweating £3.50 double-hamburger from the grimy takeaway three streets over, and then we would watch Scuzz until the room stank. (If you remember what six teenage boys in a three-by-four metre space smells like, you will recoil at this sentence. If you have suppressed the memory of that smell: you ever flown economy in jeans? That warm bit where the jeans have been touching the seat for four hours. That plus Hula Hoop beef dust and Lynx. That’s the smell.)
I was once showing off there by doing a ‘fun dance’ to Queen of the Stone Age’s “Go With The Flow”, a video I was obsessed with at the time, and knocked one of Adam’s mum’s wall-mounted decorative cat plates onto the floor, shattering it, and the vivid memory of the aftermath of that – everyone going silent, Adam’s mum picking up the three pieces and quietly saying “that was my favourite” – is still one of the more glowering memories of my entire life. Sometimes it keeps me awake! Sometimes, when I am minding my own business and trying to have fun, the memory inserts itself to me over again, and I get all pink and hot with the recollection of it! Teens these days don’t have this! They have YouTube and Snapchat! Their friends have haircuts! They don’t need Scuzz! I envy them very, very deeply!
— Joel Golby, VICE UK Staff Writer / @joelgolby
"It gave me an excuse to practice big jumps in the lounge"
Scuzz was the channel that launched a thousand tiny, £3 entry gigs, in mid-Wales hotels built for city-folk on spa getaways, now thrusting shonky PA systems and DIY bands schooled on Bullet For My Valentine, Funeral For A Friend, The Automatic, and no other Welsh bands into their basements.
One of those bands were called Last Chance For Day. Their lead singer, James, now fronts Crows and will be opening for Idles on their UK tour next year. Scuzz did that! Scuzz and basement nights at the Monty! Fair play Scuzz, thanks for giving me an excuse to practice big jumps in the lounge.
— Harry Harris, writer and musician / @CmonHarris
"Scuzz was prestige-TV, constant background noise"
I've now reduced "prestige TV" to quarter-screen semi-irrelevance, a white noise to distract from persistent anxiety, the soundtrack to a hundred ill-advised eBay excursions. I feel guilty about it, and in some part of my mind I've convinced myself that I used to be better – I used to actually watch TV, used to get bored and fill my off time with something more worthwhile.
The death of Scuzz reminds me that this is bullshit. In the afterschool hours when MTV2 would dive deep into landfill indie and Kerrang! TV would inexplicably repeat Blink-182's "The Rock Show" every hour, Scuzz was my background noise. It was the only channel that I could count on to play the video for the now baffling "Staring at the Rude Bois" by Gallows and Lethal Bizzle. It was a channel that quietly persisted with the misguided notion that Enter Shikari were revolutionaries, not iPod fodder for White Ace-chugging emo kids in the bandstands of provincial parks. I must have watched the video for At The Gates' "Take This Life" a hundred times. I don't know any other At The Gates songs.
I just took a look at Scuzz's current playlist, which I assume will be their last. It's the same combination of bands I've never heard (The Faim? What is a "faim"?), bands with Vs where there should be As in their names (LANDMVRKS, PVRIS), and glorious holdovers from my adolescence. "MakeDamnSure," "Sugar, We're Going Down," and, strictly for old time's sake, "Sorry You're Not a Winner" are still there, as immune to rust as the fluorescent pink studded belt I found nestled among copies of Rock Sound magazine in storage a few months ago. Those songs are as old now as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was when I was a Scuzz-watching 15-year-old. I'm glad that Scuzz persisted for long enough to disturb me so profoundly.
— Alex Robert Ross, Noisey US Contributing Editor / @alexrobertross
"I blame it for the fact that I didn't cut my fringe til I was 17"
As a teen with a music taste so un-diverse I would turn off anything without a breakdown or a reference to a 'broken heart', Scuzz and Kerrang! ruled my angst-filled weekends. You could reliably tune in to Kerrang! to hear Taking Back Sunday or Fall Out Boy and then flick over to Scuzz during the break for something harder, Scuzz forever being the rough vocals to Kerrang!'s clean, the Pete to its Patrick. I remember being genuinely excited that I'd found a music channel that played Slayer before watershed.
Scuzz was my entry point to metal via bands like Alexisonfire and Underoath that I still love to this day. I blame it almost entirely for the fact that I didn't cut my fringe until I was 17.
— Jack Cummings, VICE UK Platform Editor / @JackCummings92
"Thanks for ensuring I'll only ever date people with at least a six-year 'rock phase'"
It’d be disingenuous to say I cherish a specific Scuzz moment. It did, though, play a key role in my rock education, along with Kerrang! TV, LimeWire and my first best mate whose music taste was inherited from a spotty Slayer-loving brother who threatened us with knives and spit and whatever bile 15-year-old boys have for tween sisters and their mates.
What I do remember is Scuzz never sleeping: 24 hours of pure rock ‘n’ roll, baby. You could effortlessly leaving the TV on, with the videos – Duality, The Fight Song, Freak On A Leash, B.Y.O.B, Emergency – rolling as background noise for whatever you were doing. Scuzz just let programmers and other grotty kids around the country play DJ. It was a unique passive discovery that held your attention; my closest point of comparison now is Spotify automatically queuing similar songs, but that hardly feels like an event. Anyway, goodbye, Scuzz. Thanks for showing me some sweet, sweet breakdowns and ensuring I only date people who’ve had a minimal six-year ‘rock phase’ for the rest of my life.
— Hannah Ewens, VICE UK Features Editor / @hannahrosewens
"Scuzz and Kerrang! were the only two channels 13-year-old Welsh goths cared about"
Scuzz was always an alternative to Kerrang!, not because they were different but because they were the only two music channels a 13-year-old Welsh goth cared about. If Kerrang! was playing “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” then I could switch to Scuzz and catch “The Bad Touch.” So much of my adolescence revolves around eating crisps on my mam's sofa and switching between channels to see who's series of ‘The Top 100 Ultimate Emo Anthems’ would feature the most My Chemical Romance. So long and goodnight to one of the best music channels of the 2000s.
— Gina Tonic, writer / @GINATONIC
"IT LEFT YOU THINKING YOU KNEW ABOUT MUSIC NO ONE ELSE AT SCHOOL DID"
I’M NOW AT THE POINT WHERE I WITNESS THE BIRTH, LIFE, AND DEATH OF INSTITUTIONS, LIKE SOME OLD CUNT. I EVEN VAGUELY REMEMBER A STRANGE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THE OPENING OF THE CHANNEL WHICH INVOLVED A MAN EATING STICKS OF LIQUORICE WITH HIS MOUTH AND CHIN SLIMED FROM THE CONFECTIONERY. THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF THIS EVER EXISTED ACCORDING TO GOOGLE, SO THIS MAY BE A REPRESSED MEMORY OF SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT OR SINISTER. SCUZZ WAS GREAT BECAUSE IT OFTEN LEFT YOU THINKING THAT YOU WERE LISTENING TO SOMETHING COMPLETELY ALIEN AND DIFFERENT TO THE REST OF YOUR SCHOOL, AND THAT WAS LIBERATING.
— NEO / @WELCOME_ZIDANE
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.