‘Hey hey we’re the ACORNS … We just rat-rattle around … We’re too busy careering … To put any rentiers down’
By Ex ACORN band member
After a string of minor hits since launching in 2014, skin and hair has been flying recently for tweenybopper band the ACORNS as they split messily with former frontman Tom ‘Plasticine Man’ Renhard.
The uncharismatic frontman had been moving in the well-worn ‘sellout’ direction ‘pursuing a solo career’ ever since he signed a contract with the Housing Delivery label at Rev. Rees’ Business Confidence for Christians Inc. (BCC), a wannabe global media empire last year.
Outside of the band’s credulous fan base, that involves total immersion in a ‘cult-like’ rapture where members all wear red shirts and scream band lyrics at gigs in unison, more sceptical observers have noted that the rupture between Plasticine Man and band leader/founder Nick ‘Action Man’ Ballard had been brewing for some time.
The British ACORNS arrived on the scene from Bristol as harmless no-hopers and immediately landed a series of minor hits. A partnership quickly developed between band leader Ballard and then-unknown aspiring frontman Renhard. The duo formed a close bond and together wrote their first hit full of 1960s innocence, ‘I’m A Believer’ to commemorate the occasion.
As the red-shirted ACORNS fan base grew, the pair followed this up with ‘IWW Funds Heist/Theme From The US ACORNS’ (featuring Wade Rathke) and ’Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Bad Ass Landlord Picket’.
The lyrical focus of these early pop-protest songs was on the rent difficulties of poor people. Yet by the time of their difficult second album, songs like ‘Last Bus To Eastville’ were not only an acknowledgement of a concentration of fans in East Bristol but also of the fact that the duo’s self-penned songs were expanding into other concerns. Such as the lack of reliable or affordable bus services, encouraging people ‘to go out and vote’, and erm, volunteering to collect rubbish.
The high point in this partnership, as their prophetic ‘Daydream Believer’ hit Number 1, was marked when Renhard was asked by the Rev. Rees of BCC Inc. to sing in City Hall to a rapt audience of more wealthy and respectable types than the ACORNS’ usual red-shirted riff-raff fan base.
Band members and fans had been assured by Ballard that the ACORNS would be playing regularly for the Reverend in person and would get career-launching gigs in spaces controlled by the Rev’s friends in ‘the business’ such as the Dipshit and Dudd Recordings and the Merchants (of Death) venture capital label.
However, it became increasingly apparent that the ACORNS were being actively excluded from the Reverend’s charmed circle and were failing to reach the nationwide acclaim they craved.
Not so Tom ‘Plasticine Man’ Renhard whose naked ambition to climb the greasy pole can be traced to his inexplicable membership of the Avon Pension Fund from 2015. A mainstream career move missed by ‘Action Man’ Ballard in the euphoria of the band’s 2014-19 smash hit run and the apparent Bono and The Edge-like success of their partnership.
The Rev. Rees appointing Renhard to the Homes Board as early as 2017 was also given the seal of approval by an indulgent Ballard leadership. The final straw for the ACORNS, however did not come until they were excluded this summer from the Renhard/BCC collaboration project ‘The Living (Dead) Rent Commission’ – an ongoing 3-4 month PsychoSilly festival of middle class hand-wringing at City Hall about ‘the regrettable suffering of proletarians’.
The ACORNS did not take this latest insult lying down or, more accurately, Nick Ballard, self-appointed band leader could not take anther slap in the face to his ego. He immediately denounced Renhard in the local press and as in many other press outlets as he and his minions could find willing to vent the ACORNS’ rage.
Their red-shirted fans even managed to shut down the first gig from Renhard/BCC’s ‘Loving Your Rent (Living Rent, surely? Ed) Commission’ earlier this month. Plasticine Man was then summarily expelled from the ACORNS. A course of action which he has objected to on the grounds of it being done ‘without due process’.
Feeling the pressure from a failed law suit in Sheffield against a ‘defamed’ landlord that had cost the band (or the fan base) £100K, Ballard further responded by penning the last to-date ACORNS hit song as a response to events. The bitter and angry ’Not Your Stepping Stone’.
The irony of this Punch and Judy shit-show is that Renhard could actually be correct about the lack of due process regarding his expulsion. Except that the ACORNS, oddly for a ‘unionised/community band led by the fans’, are still very vague about whether they even have a written constitution.
They are, in fact, registered at Companies House as not one, but two limited companies: ACORN the Union Ltd, and ACORN Community Organising Ltd. The latter run by Ballard and the former by fellow 1960s throwback crooner Louie ‘Louie’ Herbert.
Very much like a Trump, Putin or even a Marvin Rees show, whatever the Great Leader says goes and there is no comeback.
An overdue kick in the ass for the Reverend’s ineffective, unqualified and slimy ‘Chief Housing Warbler’ is not to be regretted for sure but as an example of internal democracy from an alleged ‘fan base-led’ community organisation/housing union? Hmm.