Interview, Music

‘Punch’, a new split single from Patrik Fitzgerald and Motorpsycho feat. Jello Biafra

Photo: Patrik Fitzgerald by John Bolloten

Some releases have such a rich history behind them that they truly deserve a solid book. I will make a modest attempt to talk about one of these in an article. And here I’m talking about ‘Punch’, a new split single from Patrik Fitzgerald and Motorpsycho feat. Jello Biafra, released via Crispin Glover Records, Trondheim and Alternative Tentacles Records, San Francisco. The single got its official digital and physical (LTD and STD 7”) release on March 15th. 

Side A features a new acoustic version of the song ‘Punch’ by Patrik Fitzgerald, an English singer-songwriter, the inventor of folk punk. A “punk poet”, who debuted in 1977 and whose works are relevant today no less than when they were first written.

Side B features a cover version of ‘Punch’ by the Norwegian rock band Motopsycho and the legendary Jello Biafra (former lead singer for the San Francisco punk rock band Dead Kennedys; spoken word artist and political activist). This version was recorded in 2009

All this sounds really exciting. But the question is how all this came together…

I’m saying a huge thanks to Patrik Fitzgerald and Torgeir Lund of CGR, who answered my questions. And now you have an unique opportunity to hear the whole story from its true heroes.

Here is the beginning. ‘Punch’ was originally written in 1980, shortly after Margaret Thatcher had been elected Prime Minister of Great Britain.

“At the time that the song was written, it seemed like the worst type of person to be in charge of a country would be a right wing monster like Margaret Thatcher or a dangerous ex-actor / reactionary like Ronald Reagan, a bit of a joke figure, but also a gun-toting and gun promoting right wing monster”, Patrik Fitzgerald

The version of ‘Punch’, included in the new single, was recorded in 2021. So how did the idea to record an acoustic version come about? And what a story behind Motorpsycho feat. Jello Biafra version of ‘Punch’ recorded in 2009?

“’Punch’ started off as an acoustic song, the same as most of my songs”, Patrik Fitzgerald tells. “Then it became a song with my three piece group (two electric guitars, saxophone and drumbox). Then I recorded my own version, a sort of electronic meets group home recorded version, which was on the album ‘Gifts and Telegrams’ and is still on Youtube and three compilation albums.

Torgeir at Crispin Glover Records in Trondheim got a whole lot of people to record a Patrik Fitzgerald tribute album, and one of the tracks recorded was a version of ‘Punch’ by the Norwegian band Motorpsycho and the legendary American punk singer Jello Biafra. Torgeir decided to make a single with this version of the song and decided it would be nice to double it up with an acoustic version by me. So I recorded a new version at home on my 8 track digital Tascam studio.

“I think the first time I really took notice of the song lyrics was when he played it live on acoustic guitar at Credo Restaurant in Trondheim around 2006”, Torgeir Lund remembers. “When we a few years later were putting the ‘All Sewn Up’ tribute album together I thought that one of the few people who could sing those lyrics with the right kind of “aggression” or conviction would be Jello Biafra… I somehow managed to get hold of him and he kindly declined but his reply did not lack interest so I suggested next: what if he only recorded the vocals and Motorpsycho would do the “backing track”. Then Jello said yes… I hadn’t quite planned ahead so then I asked Motorpsycho what they thought of the idea. Luckily they also said yes”

“The version by Motorpsycho and Jello Biafra was set up by Torgeir as part of the ‘All Sewn Up’ album and I think that he felt it would be quite a relevant song to release at this point in time”, Patrik Fitzgerald says. “In Britain we had Boris Johnson in charge and his so called ‘politics’ seemed to have nothing to do with the idea of somebody running a country. He had no skills other than the ability to convince people that he was their best friend and that whatever he decided to do, in any situation, usually without much consideration or attention, it was for their best interest, as opposed to his best interest.

This throwaway version of the prime minister’s job seemed very similar to Trump, another ‘personality politician’ and in England at least, it spawned a large number of empty headed self interested and self promoting MPs, a large enough number to effectively kill the political system and to kill most people’s trust, belief and interest in the UK political system.

Trump, I think, is a similarly destructive and divisive figure and, although Johnson is currently very much an outsider of British politics, his legacy is currently still hanging out the country by way of acceptance and tolerance of corruption being an essential part of an MPs personality. The result, effect and conclusion of Trump’s career is still to come.”

“It’s a bit baffling … or should I say bat shit crazy that today in March 2024, the man commonly known by the name Fuckface von Clownstick yet again is a presidential candidate”, Torgeir Lund says

The single cover art features the illustration ‘Baby Trump’ by Christian Bloom. And here is one more interesting part of the big story.

“Torgeir saw the picture and thought it would be the perfect complement to the two versions of the song”, Patrik Fitzgerald tells. “There was an idea that we might also get a Boris Johnson version of the picture, but ultimately it would have distracted from the power of Christian Bloom’s image. Plus, of course, Johnson blew himself out of the water, politically speaking”.

Cover: ‘Baby Trump’ by Christian Bloom
First published December 3rd 2016 in VG Helg
Design by Håvard Winther Gjelset

“In 2016 when VG first published the fantastic ‘Baby Trump’ by Christian Bloom, I thought it would be the perfect illustration for ‘Punch’, if you read the lyrics it might be easier to understand why it’s the perfect illustration”, Torgeir Lund says. “I’ve been using Bloom’s illustration as a digital cover on soundcloud since 2016, we got hold of him and got his blessing in May 2021 and he even made a new version to fit the fold out 7″ format.

I do not think we would have put together this release if it wasn’t for Bloom’s illustration. You might say that this release is one example of why the vinyl format is still prevailing, we, of course, have a nice digital cover (that also would work on the CD format) but in this case nothing beats the physical 7″ single.

As soon as we got permission from Bloom, Håvard Gjelseth started doing digital and physical dummies of the cover, one of the early ones had a punchthrough hole on the back so you could see the “Union Jack label”, it looked great but in the end we went for the fold out cover with a complete untouched illustration having all the artist info and barcodes etc on stickers directly on the pvc sleeve.

In Norway, unglued 7″ covers like this one were quite common in the 60’s and they were referred to at the time as “diaper covers”…. no pun intended.

The unglued foldout cover also allowed us to print the extensive liner notes on the inside of the cover instead of using a text insert. Towards the end of the design process JB came up with some great ideas that complimented the artwork nicely. One was to include parts of a design created by Winston Smith for a legendays Alternative Tentacles release from back in 1981, see if you can spot what it is.

Last but not least, I’ve always wanted to try and use a wax like substance as a finish on a cover and ‘Baby Trump’ was perfect for it.

I really love both the versions of Punch so much, Jello Biafra and Motorpsycho sound amazing together and what Patrik can do with just an acoustic guitar and a home recording …. He should be revered as a national treasure in his homeland. I will never tire of listening to those tracks and will forever be in debt to Christian Bloom and Håvard Gjelseth for their work on this.”

But ‘Punch’ is not the last release from Patrik Fitzgerald in 2024. After this single Crispin Glover Records will release Fitzgerald’ new double album – 27 tracks not including ‘Punch’. What songs will be on this record? And when can we expect to listen to it?

“As far as i know we’re talking april onwards, hopefully sooner rather than later”, Patrik Fitzgerald answers. “The album does have a title but we want to spring the title as a surprise. It originally was to have been a single album with a bonus album for the first 500 or so but we eventually decided it was good enough to be a double album. It is made up of 27 tracks, 19 of which are songs of mine (including two re-recordings of old tracks). The extra eight songs are my versions of songs by Morrissey, David Bowie, Rare Bird, Randy Newman, Ray Charles/Leo Fuld, Jacques Brel, Tom Lehrer and The Kinks. One of my songs is a reggae song which we have two different versions of, as Torgeir liked the straight acoustic version and I preferred the slightly produced one with other instruments.

The engineer Finni added some guitar and ambient sounds via the production as well as completely re-working one track (What can I do). 

My songs are all based on acoustic versions of my songs and are a mixture of fast and slow, short and longer songs. They are a mixture of social comment, comment on “punk life” and political songs, bittersweet and funnysad. My songs are regarded as folkpunk and anti-folk in essence, in fact I’m credited with inventing those genres.

All the tracks were played and recorded by me. The instruments used were a cheap keyboard with lots of different instrument sounds, a small synthesizer, a drumbox, acoustic and electric guitar. It was recorded onto a Tascam 8 track digital and remixed in the studio by Finni.”

Order ‘Punch’ via Crispin Glover Records:
Patrik Fitzgerald / Jello Biafra & Motorpsycho – “Punch” (Classic Black Vinyl)

Listen to ‘Punch’ on Spotify

‘Punch’ lyrics:

He’s a joke figure, taking himself serious,
a gravedigger, pretending he’s mysterious,
a harmless little creep
who keeps on telling you he’s great;
some madman masquerading as a head of state,
punch, (joke figure)

He’s been sitting there for years;
I wonder who gave him his throne?
perhaps the king of england,
perhaps the king of rome,
perhaps his friends or relatives,
who won it in some war,
perhaps his mother, to shut him up –
she bought it in a store;
punch, (joke figures)

In a small, but perfect, playpen,
they practise, badly, being grown-ups,
no-one makes the right decisions,
throwing childish tantrums;
their mummies never gave them a dummy,
too busy in the perfect kitchen,
daddy gave them building bricks
and they build useless houses;
grown up as people in power now,
parents disappeared or died,
they just poke tongues out, from inside bars
at people who’d really much prefer to pass them by.


I’ll make a mockery of you,
i’d love to take your bones apart,
i’d love to inspect your insides,
and see if there’s blood in your heart,
i’ll fuck you up, the way you fuck up
everybody, every day, who look at you,
and think they have some guiding star,
to shine their way,
but politics is a stupid game,
it hasn’t any rules,
and ‘politics’ is just a word,
like ‘power’, like ‘tools’ –
politics is worthless,
a complete waste of time,
which never will quite qualify
for the category of crime,
punch..joke figures,
punch..joke figures,
punch..joke figures,
punch joke figures.
(repeat 1st verse)