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The band formed in early 1977, with an initial line up of Blair Hamilton (vocals), Greg Cowan (bass), Colin "Getty" Getwood (lead guitar), and Greg's brothers Colin Cowan (drums), and Martin Cowan (ryhthm guitar). According to Greg Cowan, their name derived from the fact that they were banned from five clubs in one week. Hamilton left the band within a month of its formation, with Greg Cowan taking over vocals.
The band played their first gig in May 1977, playing a mixture of their own songs and cover versions of songs by The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and The Ramones. After building a strong local following, they were picked up by the local It record label, who released the band's debut single, "Frustration", in May 1978. They were then signed to Terri Hooley's Good Vibrations label, who released "Justa Nother Teenage Rebel" in November 1978, which saw the band receiving airplay on national radio from John Peel. A further single and the band's debut album, Self Conscious Over You followed in 1979. Shortly before the album was released, Greg Cowan was involved in a serious car crash that left him in traction for fourteen weeks and unable to play bass, so Gordy Blair (of another Belfast band, Rudi) joined, with Raymond Falls also joining on drums, because, according to Cowan, "Colin was such a bad drummer". Trouble followed the band around, and this led to them being sacked from Good Vibrations, so their next release was on their own GBH label in 1981, the "Magnum Force" single. This was followed by the band's first Peel Session for BBC Radio 1. GBH became Outcasts Only, and their next releases was the Programme Love EP in 1981. In 1982 they released a cover of The Glitter Band's "Angel Face", which spent over two months in the UK Indie Chart, peaking at number 21. The band were struck a massive blow when Colin Cowan was killed in a car crash. Colin was described by his brother Greg as "the core of the band. He started The Outcasts, he even gave the band its name". The large attendance at Colin's funeral prompted the band to play a thankyou gig at the Harp Bar, and the positive reaction convinced the band that they should carry on. They recorded a second Peel session and released the Blood and Thunder album on Abstract Records, which reached number 20 in the indie album chart. A few more singles and the Seven Deadly Sins mini-album followed, but the band split up in early 1985. Greg Cowan, Martin and Getty started a new band, Time To Pray, but this only lasted until 1986. Ray Falls joined the army.
Greg Cowan returned in 2003 with an "Irish punk supergroup" along with members of Rudi and Stalag 17, performing at the book launch of It Makes You Want to Spit!, which is still going as Shame Academy.