8th October 2007 – Southend Chinnery’s
8th October 2007: I’m sure you’re all aware of the significance of this date. At the time this was the Official Third Most Exciting Day Of My Life: it was the day that the historic third 586 single, Rags & Tags, was released into the world. You may be wondering how I spent this earth-shatteringly important day, but before I come to that, let’s step back a bit and talk about the day our debut single, We Got Bored, was released…
Monday 22nd May 2006. Oh, it was a cracker. The weekend before had been spent preparing for, and tidying up after, our single launch party. On the morning of Monday 22nd May I woke up, had a leisurely breakfast and then got a train into central London as, while I knew it was out, I had to see it for myself in the shops. I had taken the day off work: I was basking in the glory of having written a runner-up NME single of the week and having played that song to 300 people squeezed into the back room of my favourite pub at our single launch party. There was no fucking WAY I was going to spend the day my debut single was released sat in front of a computer working. Fuck that. I started with Rough Trade in Neal’s Yard. Always one of my favourite record shops, half my vinyl collection was probably acquired from there. I walked down the spiral staircase that led to the shop and saw it instantly. The bright yellow sleeve stood out a mile. Deborah and I had designed it ourselves and I swelled with pride seeing it there on the wall, amongst all the other new releases. I wanted a picture. I HAD to get a picture. The shop assistant was doing business behind the counter. I couldn’t do it in front of him. I’d look like a right twat. It’s a small shop and I didn’t want to draw attention. He went into the back room for some reason so I seized my opportunity. I whipped my phone out, took a picture, and slipped the phone back into my pocket before he returned. I needed more, though. I had a copy of my own courtesy of Tigertrap, our label, but I wanted one with the Rough Trade price tag on. Don’t ask why. There was something a little bit special about owning a copy of the single with the Rough Trade price tag on it. So I bought a copy. As I approached the counter, The Fear kicked in. What if the shop assistant recognised me? I’d been in the NME. The video was being played on MTV2. In the small hours of the morning, and we were heavily animated so you couldn’t really make out our features, but still, it had been played. Should I be ashamed? I put the single on the counter quickly. The shop assistant took his time. I was sweating. I felt awful. Finally, he gave me my change and my receipt and I turned and got the Hell out of there, flustered and embarrassed.
Next up: Selectadisc on Berwick Street. Where the other half of my record collection came from. And there it was. Amazing. Didn’t need to buy a copy there though so I just beamed at it and left with my dignity intact. Next up, the big one: HMV Oxford Street. Not that i’m a fan of the shop, but it is physically a big one. It’s huge. And it was the place where normal people bought their records. I wandered to the back of the store and once more, there it was, in the racks. I was so proud. The cover was again all bright and yellow and ‘look at me!’ It was the most magical feeling. HMV was bigger and easier to lose oneself in, so I was less ashamed of sneaking a picture before going home. It was one of the happiest, proudest days of my life. Everything I had been working for was finally sat there in actual real-life record shops.
On the day Rags & Tags was released, I woke at approximately 7.30, had a shave and jumped into the shower. I had some breakfast and caught up with some email on Myspace before leaving the house at approximately 8.30am. I walked through the Naval College to Cutty Sark DLR station and caught a train, disembarking at Canary Wharf. I left the station, entered number one Canada Square and took an elevator up to the 8th floor. I then took my place at my desk in the north east corner of the building, got myself a cup of tea and worked solidly on data entry from 9.30am through to 5.30pm. After work I took the Jubilee Line to Stratford to catch a train to Southend, where I rejoined the rest of 586 and the tour. It was just a normal day. I hadn’t been in the NME, our latest video hadn’t been on MTV2 and physical copies of the single was only available in a handful of record shops.
The journey home from Swansea had been uneventful. We were hungover so reasonably muted. We separated for the rest of the weekend, and I spent the bulk of mine thawing out back home in Greenwich. It was nice to a) not drink and b) not travel. In the August before the tour was due to begin I had started a new job. I was now an administrator at a management consultancy. They had been surprisingly tolerant about the idea of me heading out on tour for 6 weeks despite having only started a month or so previously, and I had agreed to use up all of my holiday allowance and the rest of the time would be taken as unpaid leave. “It’s a bit of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” I had told them, blissfully unaware that this really WAS the only time I would go on a tour of this scale with this much support. I mean, yes, we were earning fuck-all, and yes, we were well on the slide at this point, but the tour had been reasonably well advertised and our management had put £10,000 into our promotion. £10,000 they would never get back. I had also agreed that the gigs that were close enough from home for me to commute to I would work during the day then travel to after. Southend was one such show, as were Guildford and Brighton over the next two days.
The journey to Southend took roughly an hour. I found the others on the seafront, bored and waiting to soundcheck. We wasted some money on slot machines in an arcade and I grabbed a sandwich while we waited for the call back to the venue. Alas, we did not get the call, as SohoDolls used up the soundcheck time. We would have to line check. Ho hum. We introduced ourselves to the soundman, a chap named Mike who looked just like Billy Idol, and settled down to watch the local support act.
After all the terrible Libertines/Babyshambles wannabes of the last couple of weeks, this lot interested me. There were no guitars and no drums, just synths. Lots and lots of synths. And drum machines. Simon and I were practically salivating over their equipment. They were called Weird Gear and when they took to the stage they basically blew us away. Four men behind racks of equipment, playing electronic pop music totally live. They were easily the best band we had played with for ages.
We took to the stage and took a little while to warm up, but apparently we were quite good. According to alternativevision.co.uk:
When the band opened up, the sound was terrible and everything sounding all over the place like a band who had turned up too late to sound check and had a work experience sound guy, but luckily a couple of songs in the sound got sorted out and 586 became a really enjoyable band and the highlight was the bands new song ‘Dancing On Graves’ which sounded like it would fit in perfectly on the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride animation movie. 586 finished with ‘I’m Not A Monkey’, which is a punky sounding “shout a long” song that could easily get the most boring people jumping and shouting along. I am really looking forward to hearing more of 586 as they have such a random yet happy party sound and Steve Horry and Deborah Coughlin’s double act on vocals really needs to be experienced as it really keeps the bands sound fresh and fun.
Well, we’d been on time for soundcheck, we just hadn’t got one. At some point Deborah read my phone number out to the audience. I can’t remember why. Once we were done, I watched a bit of SohoDolls’ set, but Grant and I had to get our train back to London so left before the night was done. We had another full day of work to look forward to. The others were staying at Disco Stu’s parents house, as they lived in a little town just outside of Southend. Grant and I bitched for the whole of our journey. The train was fucking freezing and took forever to get back to London. When I got home it was ridiculously late, so I went straight to bed, conscious I would have to do this all over again tomorrow…
HEAR WEIRDGEAR: Weirdgear have just released an album. It’s really good. Really REALLY good. You can nab a copy and find them at http://www.facebook.com/groups/5040869930/