Day Twenty Five

18th October 2007 – Sheffield Corporation


Or

“Mum, how do you catch genital herpes? ******* slept with a lesbian last night so **HE OR
 SHE** is worried **HE OR SHE** might have it.”


“Hang on, I’ll ask Nan.”

 

The day started with a massive kick in the balls. Well, it started with a shower and a cup of tea, 
which was nice, but then we left Cay’s flat. Grant, Sam and I totally failed to get to the van in time, earning us a parking ticket. For fuck’s sake. We had gotten up early especially. OK, Cay had to go 
to work so we had to ship out sharpish anyway, but the last thing we needed was seventy fucking 
quid’s worth of fucking parking ticket. Remember: we were being paid £50 a show. Our van costs
 us £39 a day without fuel. If no fucker watches our show – and no fucker DID watch our show
 last night – we don’t sell CDs so we lose money. Repeat this over 6 shows a week for 6 weeks and
 you’re basically losing a fuck-ton of money. Add on a £70 parking ticket and you’re basically not just
 shooting yourself in the foot, but all of your bandmates too. Some of whom are unemployed. Ho hum.

We moved the van to the local NCP car park and went off in search of breakfast. We found a
 greasy spoon offering a full English plus tea for a bargain £3.99, so settled into a corner with the
 newspapers and waited for Deborah and Simon to emerge from whatever post-party pit they had 
found themselves in. We tried to call them, but they weren’t answering, so we downed our tea and
 made our way to the Museum of Science & Industry for the Doctor Who Up Close Exhibition. I’ve written about it on this blog before and anyone who knows me will second this, but for the 
benefit of strangers I shall say it again: I am a massive, massive Doctor Who geek. I had been to the
exhibition before, when it was in Brighton, but it had grown since then. Oh, how it had grown. We
 met the Face of Boe! And K9! And the Empress of the Racnoss! We all got to pose for photographs
 with Cybermen and Slitheen and Clockwork Men and we pulled Doctorish shapes beside the
 TARDIS. We even had the chance to slip inside a Dalek – complete with voice changer – once some
 bloody kids got out of the way. Where were these bloody kids in 1988, eh? It was amazing.

Simon and Deborah finally emerged around mid-day. We drove to the Night & Day to pick up our 
equipment from the venue and made the now obligatory trip to Morrison’s, this time to buy some 
food for a picnic. We were heading through the Peak District today on our way to Sheffield, so we 
thought we’d stop and have some fun. As we meandered through the shopping aisles, it became 
apparent that one of our party had the fear. **HE OR SHE** was terrified that **HE OR SHE**
had caught genital herpes despite not actually touching the genitals of the girl **HE OR SHE** had
shared a bed and some funtimes with. We tried to assure **HIM OR HER** that it would be OK, but it was impossible. None of 586 knew for sure how one contracted herpes. There was only one
thing for it.

I phoned Mama Horry.

“Mum, how do you catch genital herpes? ******* slept with a lesbian last night so **HE OR 
SHE** is worried **HE OR SHE** might have it.”

My possibly-infected band mates jaw dropped further than I’d ever seen a jaw drop. **HE OR
 SHE** looked horrified. **HIS OR HER** hand leapt up to cover **HIS OR HER** mouth in 
horror as I pulled the phone from my ear to reassure **HIM OR HER** that Mama Horry didn’t
know so she was just asking my grandmother. On the plus side, Grandmama was able to tell us and
**HE OR SHE** got the all-clear. Or enough of one to stop **HIM OR HER** panicking further.

We hit the road and drove into the Peak District, keeping an eye out for a suitable picnic stop. Along the way we talked about this diary. I was debating turning it into a comic book. “We should
 all have superhero names!” declared Deborah. She became Johnny Gash, with Simon and I deciding that her super power was the ability to emit Johnny Cash songs from her vagina. Simon wanted to
be drawn as a Nu-Rave Ryu (from Streefighter), so that became his name. Grant was/is a glass-half-
empty kind of guy, so he became Mr Brightside, and I became Bryan Merry. Simon and I would
 spend the next couple of days opening our legs and singing Johnny Cash riffs ‘hilariously’ to taunt
 Deborah.

Eventually we found a car park and some wooden tables near the start of a walk through some hills 
near a reservoir. It was amazing. Peaceful, beautiful and serene and basking in glorious sunshine, the only sound for miles around being the occasional bird and us. Unfortunately we sounded like 
this:

We walked for miles, taking in the amazing views. Some members of the band picked some 
mushrooms, hoping for hallucinogenics for later. Eventually the time came and we made our way 
to Sheffield. I like Sheffield. We’d never played a bad gig there and I had been a couple of times
 with friends and always had a good time. And how can you hate a city responsible for Heaven 17, Human League, ABC and Pulp, amongst others? That’s four of my favourite bands ever. We were 
already in a good mood, but things only improved when, not only did we get a soundcheck, but we
 got a loooooong soundcheck. A luxurious soundcheck. A proper, enjoyable soundcheck where we got to test everything. The 
venue staff were all awesome, lovely chaps, and the stage was raised high into the air. I felt a fluttering in my belly. If people actually turned up, this could be a good one.

We went to the dressing room and had some lager and crisps. Our lawyer phoned. Would this
 deflate the mood? There some legal wranglings around the contract for the current single going on 
in the background that had been stressing us out somewhat. I debated whether or not to answer the 
phone. It rang and it rang until I decided to man up and answer the bloody thing. There was a pause 
while my bandmates strained to hear our lawyer’s voice as he spoke to me.

 

 

 

IT WAS ALL OK! We cheered. No more legal nonsense. For now. Hurrah. We got straight back on the beer 
and sent video of ourselves cheering and whooping in thanks to our lawyer and manager.

Showtime came and the gig was great. We played to a packed room for the first time in, ooh, ages 
and went down an absolute storm. People knew the songs! Well, the singles and the ones we’d put
 on MySpace. It was magnificent. We built up a good rapport with the audience. “I like your shoes!”
shouted a very pretty young girl at the front of the stage as I put my foot on the monitor, preparing 
to play some probably quite simple guitar solo. “I like you!” I responded, grinning like an idiot. Deborah
 outed me as a Who fan onstage and in a high-pitched, excited squeal I told the audience I’d met the
 Face of Boe. As a consequence, once we finished playing and took our place by the merchandise 
stall lots of men – and they were all men – came up to the merch stall to talk Doctor Who. It was
 brilliant. One chap had the single greatest anecdote ever. It went a little something like this:

Back in the day, when this stuff wasn’t cool, he used to run the Sheffield University Doctor Who
Society. The society was not huge, but they were dedicated. One of their members did a spot of
 research and discovered that a personal appearance from sixth Doctor Colin Baker would cost them
 something like a tenner each. They got excited and someone contacted Colin’s agent. A date was agreed, but now, the problem: what would they do with him? Where would they take him? Sheffield
 University’s Doctor Who Society had a large gay membership, and after a vote it was agreed to 
take him to a local gay bar and get him ratted. Colin was, by all accounts, a lovely, charming, very
 friendly man with many good stories that he was very happy to tell as the Sheffield University Doctor Who Society kept him fed with alcohol. Amazing.

As a side note, when I got married this year and it came to discussing initial thoughts for the stag 
do with my best man, I told him the Colin Baker story. “We totally need to book Colin Baker.”
I declared. Despite us finding Colin’s agents contact details, the agent never returned David’s
 messages. I kind of hate emoticons, but there really is no other way of expressing my feelings about
 this than a simple 😦

After the show was over Deb was feeling ill so went back to the hotel with the SohoDolls. Well, Matt. For the 
second night on the trot, we had somewhere to stay, thanks to Mark Heffernan’s very sweet younger 
sister Sophie, who was studying at Sheffield University. Everyone was up for a club first though, so the
 whole of 586 bar Deborah, plus Sophie Heffernan and her friends, made our way to a club called The 
Plug to down Cheeky Vimtos to a soundtrack of massive pop hits and a spot of minimal. I fucking 
love Cheeky Vimtos, but they are fucking lethal. For the uninitiated, a Cheeky Vimto is a bottle
 of blue WKD – the alcopop of champions – mixed with port. I was introduced to them at a friend’s
 wedding in deepest, darkest Kent. I don’t remember a lot, but I am assured I disgraced myself on the
 coach home and may have called more than one taxi driver a number of incredibly rude words. I’m normally a happy drunk, but on that night I was a dick. Thankfully in Sheffield I was on reasonably
good behaviour, and we all retired merrily to Sophie’s for tea, toast and contented sleep. Today had been
 absolutely fantastic.

 

Tomorrow, however, we would play in Doncaster, where I would succeed in getting 586
 banned from only our second venue…

 

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Gaggle

It is sometime in the middle of 2008. I am walking down Stoke
Newington High Street, having left the train station AGES ago. I am trying to find Bardens Boudoir, a venue I have never heard of
that is apparently in Stoke Newington. Bardens is actually a mile
away, in Dalston. 0.2 miles from Dalston Kingsland station, in fact. It is raining.

Fucks sake.

Deborah has a gig. Her first since 586 split up. Three out of five
members of the now defunct 586 are backing her – Simon on guitar and Grant on drums. Matt from SohoDolls is playing double
bass. I go along ‘cos I’m curious to see what she’s been up to, and
because the 586 break-up wasn’t handled too well and I’m still feeling
a bit guilty. And – back then – feeling mildly competitive. They play four songs: First up is 586’s Dancing On Graves, then a new song called Walter’s Daughter or something. It’s a bit of a silly Gypsy stomp, fun but slight. Then they play a song called Crows. It is fucking amazing, a kind of Gorillaz-style lurching ska-hop
skank. I am instantly jealous.

And then she goes and ruins it by covering the theme tune to Around The Twist!

*************

2009ish, and I hear rumblings that she’s been pulling together a
22-girl choir, recruited from and rehearsing in The George. “Christ,” I think to myself. “And I thought it was bad when just Deborah
and Sam’s periods synced.”

And then I ponder the logistics of organising 22 girls.

**************

Suddenly, there is a Myspace page, complete with an a cappella demo of Crows. Woah. Having loved the version I saw at Bardens, I’m initially a bit disappointed.

Sounds interesting though.

**************

Gaggle start playing live. Early shows are slightly hampered by dodgy
sound – the perils of playing venues that are used to three-to-five-piece bore-rock bands – but people start to really dig what
they’re doing. They look amazing, all in matching dayglo cloaks. Its a
uniform, but each member has personalised patterns and accessories. Initially, stuff like I Like Cigarettes and I’m A Drunk sound a bit like We Got Bored-style throwaway nonsense-pop (this is a good thing), but then, in the haze of a drunken hour, I see them play the Latitude festival in July 2009 and I notice a lyric I hadn’t quite caught before. In the verse of I’m A Drunk, they repeatedly chant the words “I smell
roses but I hear flies.”

“Ooh,” I think. “That’s a bit good.”

***************

Gaggles come, Gaggles go. I’m A Drunk is renamed I Hear Flies and is
released as a single. At the launch party, in a church in central London, they debut a song called The Cave. Deborah and Simon had played me a demo version in their studio that was good, but the
live version is even better. They perform it whilst marching down the aisle in funeral-procession stylee, a dark, hymnal monster.
As gig openers go, it is terribly dramatic. Liar still sounds like the
theme from Inspector Gadget, though.

Things build. Every now and then I pop in to a show. One night in
2010, Deborah and I meet for poncey Martinis at the Polish Bar in Shoreditch. The night degenerates into a massive bender. We
go to a club, get increasingly hammered, meet some girls and go back to Deborah’s to carry on drinking. She tells me all about a feminist opera that she is reworking called The Brilliant & The Dark, and in the small hours of a rainy Wednesday, she plays me the first piece they’ve recorded.

“Fuck me,” I think. “This is amazing.”

*****************

The Brilliant & The Dark is performed, recorded and released as a
limited edition vinyl record. They even perform it at the Elgar Rooms at the Royal Albert Hall. I go to that show and it’s like This Is Your Life, but a different life, an older one, full of people I haven’t seen in years. Ex-586 members’ parents, friends, old drivers…it’s a bit brilliant. The show is a massive racket, augmented by a further 20 Gaggles.

I ponder the logistics again. 42 personalities. Jesus wept.

*****************

More Gaggles come and more Gaggles go. I meet Deborah for a coffee in Waterloo Station one evening to clarify some points for this blog. She plays me a song being considered for the upcoming album. It is called Hello Spider and is basically everything she has been talking up – everything she has been threatening to write – since I met her. It’s brilliant.

*****************

2012 has been a big year for ex-members of 586. Two months ago Grant’s girlfriend Meike gave birth to a beautiful baby girl they named Idahlia. Last month Sam Christie finally married Mark
Heffernan out of Remodel. Earlier this month I married the really hot regular from my club night, Nuisance. Yesterday, Deborah and Simon and the rest of the Gaggles released their debut album, From The Mouth Of The Cave. Last week it was streaming on The Guardian’s website, this week you can buy it. Everywhere. It’s cracking. Hello Spider closes it. The Cave opens it. Somewhere in between them is a song called The Power Of Money that will make a cracking single later this year.

I believe some congratulations are in order.

Listen to From The Mouth Of The Cave here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/jun/18/gaggle-mouth-cave-stream

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Day Twenty Four

17th October 2007      Manchester Night & Day Café

Or “The north. And the south. And never the twain shall meet.” – Luke Haines

Manchester: amazing city, amazing musical heritage. Or so I’d heard. Mancunians tend to be a bit bashful about it. The musical heritage thing can’t be argued with – it’s a pretty long list. The Smiths! Joy Division/New Order! The Stone Roses! Happy Mondays! Buzzcocks! Magazine! The Fall! Simply Red! The amazing city bit? Hmmm. By the time the 17th of October 2007 rolled around, we had performed for the people of Manchester enough times to feel wary when breaching its borders.

The first time round we were proper, capital letters EXCITED, up for the good times and – with our NME runner-up single of the week underground smash hit single all over MTV2 and the Internet and our New Order referencing band name – surely destined to be welcomed with open arms, right?

Well.

We left London early, in convoy. According to the AA Journey Planner, Manchester was six hours away. Apart from token Northerner Sam Christie, none of us had ever been to Manchester before, and we wanted time to explore before the show, what with Manchester being cool and all that. In one vehicle, the one trailing further and further behind, were my bandmates. They were being driven by Disco Stu and very slowly coming to the realisation that they wanted to kill each other. In the other car, leading the way and striking further and further ahead as the journey progressed, was a hired Ford Fiesta containing me, all our instruments and equipment, and Head of Tigertrap Records Mr Tom Edwards. This was one of the handful of occasions he – very kindly – agreed to drive our particular Muppet Show out into the provinces. Over the course of this journey, I was to play him some recent demo recordings we had made while rehearsing. Enthused by the success of We Got Bored, we all agreed that we should release a second single with Tigertrap. They were particularly keen on Money Is The Drug, which, bar He’s Got My Measure, was probably our most brazen Tom Tom Club rip-off. Deborah and I were less convinced. We wanted to get Rags & Tags out into the world, so this was a last-ditch attempt to demonstrate to Tom that Rags & Tags would be a better single and to play him some potential b-sides. I was also keen on a very new song called Sirens that was all stabby verse chords and a Gary-Numan-gone-spaz-punk chorus. I was particularly proud of the lyrics, which addressed a time when I had gone a bit mental during a We Got Bored club night and stormed off down Dean Street growling and howling, and my reputation – given to me by Deborah – for being a bit (“very”) uptight. Deborah had contrasted this with some lyrics about her reputation for alcohol abuse to quite marvellous effect. I thought it could even be a single.

Tom didn’t sound convinced. In retrospect, to even consider this song as a single reinforces that bands – well, maybe just 586, but let’s generalise for now – should never, EVER choose their own singles. Further evidence? Well, we almost never recorded We Got Bored, and it certainly wasn’t going to be the lead-off track for our first demo. That’s We Got Bored, the song that – despite being downloaded for free by tens of thousands of people on MySpace – still managed to sell out all 500 copies of its limited 7″ release within 48 hours. Tigertrap would eventually get their way and Money Is The Drug would be our second single. It wasn’t quite such an epic, high profile success, but it still did pretty well. All 750 copies sold out, the reviews were pretty great, we got to do an XFM session. We finally got our own way and chose Rags & Tags for the third single, self-released with funding from our management. Something like £10,000 was spent on PR and marketing and something like 1100 copies still sit in my spare bedroom. I don’t have the heart to throw them away. If Deborah’s upcoming Gaggle album (released tomorrow!) goes massive, I am SO totally going to try and flog some off the back of that…

The supposedly six hour journey started with – oh yes – a massive kerfuffle. There had been an accident on the North Circular, so it took us just over three hours to get from our studio in Shadwell to the start of the M1. A distance of, ooh, 14.3 miles. Grrr. We were going to be not only late, but – a good year and a bit before we got used to bluffing it with a line check on the SohoDolls tour – we were totally going to miss soundcheck. Even better, the hire car air conditioning was faulty so was blasting hot air straight down on to my shins. Not a problem in winter, but this was a beautiful, clear-skied sunny June day.

Once Tom and I finally left London, the journey up was fairly standard. Even down to the point – basically as you enter Yorkshire – where, no matter how sunny it may be when you leave London, it’s always fucking raining. Literally every time we traveled to the north to do our thing, at the Yorkshire border it would start raining. If it was raining when we left London, it would stop for a couple of miles before the border. Then, as we approached Yorkshire, the skies would darken again until – seriously, every time, without fail – we crossed into the county and the rain would resume. We had left a London that was basking in blue skies and glorious sunshine. I was wearing shorts. Actual, real-life shorts. I never wore shorts. I looked like a dork in shorts. There is an argument that one looks like a dork wearing jeans and sweating in the heat, but shushWith the heat blaring through the window and – thanks to the faulty air conditioning – straight down on my legs, the traffic jam part of the journey in particular had been hellish. I had resigned myself to the fact I was going to spend a good five or six hours on top of the three hours of traffic jam hell sweating like the proverbial. I hoped for a dressing room with a shower, but knew deep down that there was no way we were going to get either. So when the great big nuclear power chimney things that signify the proximity of Yorkshire appeared on the horizon I was actually quite relieved. The clear blue became weak grey, the heavens opened and every god in the whole of creation pissed down on our sceptered isle. My feet were still fucking sweating though.

Tom and I arrived in Manchester first, an hour before stage time. It was still raining. It isn’t a cliche: it genuinely does always rain. We went straight to the venue as we were already late for soundcheck. Time was not on our side. I phoned the rest of the band. They were miles away, and bickering. Tom and I paced the venue, pausing only to placate the promoter’s assistant. The promoter himself wasn’t even there: he had gone on holiday. The rest of the band arrived less than ten minutes before stage time and two minutes before the deadline the assistant had set as the point where he would cancel our show. My bandmates endeared themselves immediately by enquiring after the rider rather than getting straight on stage. To be fair, they had spent eleven hours travelling up from London, but still: the assistant wasn’t impressed. We sniped at each other as we set up and assumed our positions.

We had been preceded by a band that sounded like Arcade Fire and we were followed by a band that sounded like The Stone Roses. We stood out like a particularly unpopular sore thumb, one that – thanks to only having had a couple of minutes of perfunctory line check – not only looked hot, sweaty, harassed and bothered (can a thumb look bothered? Let’s go with it), but also sounded like complete shit too. Not that anyone was listening. We played a short set of badly-mixed shouty disco-pop joy to, basically, no-one. Once it was all over, we packed our equipment away, took it straight out to the car, had an argument about our fee and fucked straight off out of there with our tails between our legs. Manchester – 1, 586 – 0. Nil. Fail. The promoter’s assistant claimed to know nothing of our payment arrangements. This annoyed me. He was very short, very young, very boyish. I utilised all my 6 feet and 3 inches of height and pulled my best intimidating face. I didn’t care that we were late, hadn’t exactly pulled or wowed the punters and that we had played like shit. All I cared about was the fact that we had £39’s worth of hire car and two cars worth of fuel to pay for. He scurried off to a back room to call the promoter again.

Empires rose and fell while the assistant repeatedly tried the promoter’s mobile. Probably. We waited for what felt like an age. He didn’t think the promoter would be happy. I swapped the intimidating face for a “sorry, do I look like I care?” face. Finally, he managed to get through and we got paid. Hoo-fucking-rah. We left immediately. I was embarrassed. Really embarrassed. Cay McDermott, a friend of mine from the Trash days (more of whom in a tick) had come to see us and the fact we’d played such a duffer in front of an old friend was just humiliating. A mutual friend of us both was running a club night across the road, so Cay took us there for a couple of drinks to lick our wounds before we made the long trek down the motorway home to London. The journey home was quicker, and – seeing as I was now roaringly drunk – much more bearable. Possibly not so bearable for Tom, who was obviously stone-cold sober behind the steering wheel. Manchester had not been impressed by us, but we had not been impressed by Manchester. So nerr.

*************

Interlude.

You may by this point be wondering to yourself why 586 took two cars with two separate drivers to Manchester. Or indeed anywhere.

Well.

1. 586 could not drive:

Actually, that’s a lie. There were three driving license holders in 586, but none of them owned a car. Or a van. Each had their reasons for not wanting to drive. Let’s call them Driver 1, Driver 2 and Driver 3.

Driver 1 suffered from panic attacks. Driving a vehicle of that size caused them terrible anxiety. So much so that when Driver 1 took the wheel for a stint on a French motorway for a couple of hours between Paris and Grenoble, Prozac and a shoulder masseuse were required. Driver 1 was – on occasion – happy to drive to the gigs, but driving back was a no-no. Like the rest of 586, Driver 1 liked a drink, and certainly needed a couple of drinks to loosen up before going onstage. And then to wind down. And then to keep the night moving nicely.

Driver 2 was happy to drive to venues, but wanted to drink before, during and after the show as well, so wasn’t up for driving us home. Driver 2 had to drive us home from Portsmouth once. Everyone promised to stay sober. Not one of us kept the promise. Driver 1 and I spent a lot of the journey home screeching a capella Spice Girls covers in the direction of the driver’s seat and stage whispering at high volume about how much we’d pissed off Driver 2. Driver 2 vowed to never drive  us home again, breaking this vow only when we started the SohoDolls tour.

Driver 3 was 1) short and 2) nervous. The idea of driving a great big transit van was, for Driver 3, terrifying. Driver 3 found the whole thing very stressful. Again, to be fair, Driver 3 drove us home through the night on a number of occasions, despite ending each of these nights a nervous wreck.

All three DID drive home in times of dire need, but it was a stressful thing. None of them wanted to drive or felt they should have to drive. Playing gigs outside of London became a logistical pain in the backside, but I couldn’t – and still can’t – drive.

I should remind you at this point that when I said to 586 manager Malcolm “This is a pain in the arse. I’m going to learn to fucking drive and I’m going to buy a fucking van”, his advice to me was simple.

“Steve,” he said, “by the time you learn to drive, you won’t need to be able to drive.”

2. Finances:

 

It was actually kind of cheaper to take two cars. With none of 586 driving, if we played outside of London we had two options:

  • Hire a van and get a mate to drive us. 586 were, at this point, able to command a guaranteed fee. The guaranteed fee is the holy grail for the minor league indie band. Our guarantee started at £50 per show in the internet buzz-band days and crept up to £100 – 150 after We Got Bored became a ginormous indie smash hit single. We would sometimes earn as much as £250-300, but these were pretty rare occasions. Van hire would cost £40-£50 per day, then add fuel. Sorted. It was very rare for one of our friends to drive us twice, however, so…
  • Hire a van + driver. The cheapest we ever found was a chap who charged us £100 + fuel. It totally ate our fee, but we got from A to B and back again. Sadly, we began to run out of our own money to spend so this became a bit too expensive…
  • Ask Disco Stu nicely. When Deborah and Stu were still an item, we could use her to persuade him to drive us in his little Toyota Yaris. On the one hand, great. On the other, we couldn’t get any instruments in there as well as the people. So we would need a second car. Hiring a car just cost £30-£40 per day, so again, add the fuel cost on top of that, then add in fuel for Disco Stu and you might – might – might break even.

Interlude ends.

**********************************

When we returned to Manchester as part of the tour with SohoDolls, expectations were low. Really low. This being the first day of the week’s touring, we began our journey in London, leaving The George after a day off feeling refreshed and sparky for the long haul to Manchester. It had become pretty much business as usual now for various members of 586 to kill time on the journey by either reading, drinking, sleeping, getting stoned, writing lyrics, writing stories, playing games or watching movies on laptops. Or indeed any combination of the above. I would obsessively suck on humbugs or Everton mints, trying to offset the effects of travel sickness while I lounged in the back of the van on the dirty old mattress, trying to avoid flying musical equipment when we turned corners. With Prince or Johnny Cash tapes blaring from the stereo upfront, sometimes the supposedly boring times travelling between venues were my favourite bits of the tour. Especially compared to the alternative – ie: being at work. Being a non-driver, this was basically free time. I loved it.

Tonight, we had somewhere pre-planned to stay: the aforementioned Miss McDermott would be our host for the night. As I mentioned before, I knew Cay from Trash. Cay was one of the housemates of a girl named Cat who I ended up ‘seeing’ for a short period after I split up with Helen. Cat was studying at the London College of Printing and lived in student digs in a knackered old council estate in Stockwell. She had two housemates – Cay and a Brett Anderson lookylikey named Patrick Barrett. I recognised Patrick from AfterSkool, Trash and various Suede gigs. He really did look a lot like Brett Anderson. Patrick had the best music taste in the world: obsessed with New Order, Suede, disco and electroclash, his vinyl collection was a thing to behold. When I went to their flat to visit Cat, I would end up hanging out with Patrick and Cay and being introduced to loads of amazing electronic pop. If we all came back from a club late, we would end up watching Patrick’s collection of bootleg live video footage of Suede from the period when Bernard Butler was still playing guitar for them. I saw Suede every time they played live in London from 1996 onwards. Unfortunately, before then I was too young to attend the gigs, so never saw the original line-up. This was in the days before YouTube, so Patrick’s footage was hard-to-find stuff, back in the day. This was pretty amazing stuff. We would stay up till sunlight, drinking, singing along and punching the air.

I found out much later that this used to really piss off Cat.

We arrived at the Night & Day Café fairly early. Suffice to say, as we crossed the Yorkshire border it started raining and continued to do so for the rest of the evening. Manchester: you fucking cliché. The Night & Day was a pretty cool venue. It was/is an actual café, but with a good-sized stage and – most importantly – a bar. We had an enormous backstage area to share with SohoDolls, complete with a fruit basket, beer, crisps and – to mine and Deborah’s delight – red wine. Huzzah! They even kindly supplied us with white wine for Sam. We liked it here. We readied ourselves for stage time. Deborah and Matt flirted, Deborah, Simon and I got to play his double bass, and then stage time arrived. Once again, the Mancunian audience could not give a monkey’s fuck about the noises coming from the stage. Some people complain about London audiences – we have a tendency to watch bands with our arms folded, looking bored. I have played in front of many London audiences and maybe seven or eight Mancunian audiences. The Mancunians were far, far worse for the ‘impress me’ poses. No offence, Manchester, but from the perspective of a singer in a slightly stage-y disco punk band, you suck. To be fair, it’s very possible that we sucked, but – this being my story – I’m not going to entertain that possibility.

I was a bit disheartened after another failed attempt to crack Manchester so wasn’t really up for any partying. Neither was Cay, and she was host, so when she announced she was up for heading home, I was more than happy to join her, as were Sam and Grant. Deborah and Simon were up for some party party and had met some locals who were also up for some party party, so they declined the actual proper bed in favour of some party party.

The van was parked on the street outside, at the mercy of restrictions between 9.30 and 6.30. We agreed that Sam, Grant and I would get up and move it to a car park and we would all meet up in the morning to head on over to Sheffield. I was happy with this: a Doctor Who exhibition had opened at the Museum of Science and Industry and I fully intended to visit this while we were up here. More importantly, Sam – who would have to drive the van – was also happy with this, so we set off in a cab with Cay while Simon and Deborah stayed and drank.

And drank.

And drank.

I was quite excited to discover that Cay’s house was on the same street in Chorlton as the Cosgrove Hall studios. I still had a Dangermouse poster on my wall well into my mid-20s. We piled into the Iiving room, drank tea, bitched about the gig, bitched about Manchester and bitched about the tour. And then we fell asleep.

BONUS!


Sirens.

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I Got Bored Of Rock In 1988 (Part Three)

2003-2004

Or I got bored of rock in 1988

Part three: in which some actual songs are actually performed in front of actual people, and sexual networks are utilised to find band members.

“To the exes: to Helen, Anna, Gemma and Mark. If you hadn’t fucked us, none of us would know each other.”

– early 586 band biography.

The Funky Munky, Camberwell. Thursday. It is our first night DJing here and it appears to be going well. It is going well. A bunch of our friends have joined us, and with We Got Bored Of Rock In 1988 ‘ruling’ East London on a Monday, we are convinced that domination of both sides of the river is imminent. The first night was fucking great. Unlimited bar tab? Yes please. Dancing punters? Yes please? Request for I’ve Had The Time Of My Life? Fuck off. The night flew by, and by the time it was all over we were hammered and up for a party. Mark Milan only lived round the corner, so co-promoter Dave White, my co-songwriter Deborah, Mark’s future wife Sarah, 586 muse Suzie and I – along with a couple of locals Mark knew – all stumbled round to his flat, picking up booze on the way. We piled into Mark’s living room, put some old dub records on and danced around his living room. It was tremendous fun, all of us talking absolute bollocks to anyone and everyone who would listen. Deborah and I very quickly did what we always did when we were drunk: we started talking up how amazing our band – the band with no members and only a handful of finished songs – was going to be. Someone – I can’t remember who – called our bluff. “Play us some songs!” he asked, pointing at the acoustic guitar in the corner.

“Yeah!” followed up another wag. “Play us some songs!”

At this point I have never sung in front of anyone before. Well, apart from Deborah, but that doesn’t count. I am shitting a brick, but on the plus side, I’m roaringly drunk. What could possibly go wrong? It feels like everyone is waiting. Not quite on tenterhooks, but certainly after all our bluster there is an expectation. I decide that actually, I don’t want to do this. Deborah has other ideas. Oh fuck. I pick up the guitar and we tear into Oh Suzie. Suzie is sat on a sofa directly in front of us and is highly amused. Or at least she seems to be. I can’t really look her in the eye. Or indeed her general direction. I picked a spot on the ceiling and refused to take my eyes from it. When we finish, everyone applauds. Blimey. Someone – no, not Suziestarts dissecting the lyrics. They like that the song tells a story. Hurrah! We are asked to play more, so we play Like Good Liars, Eloping With The Devil and then cover Pulp’s Something Changed as a duet. It feels GOOD. We still don’t have a bassist or a drummer but boosted by this, we have something else we needed: confidence. Previously we could talk a good fight (assuming an appropriate level of alcohol was consumed, but that was all it was, just talk. We get back to the serious business of talking bullshit whilst drinking heavily and eventually everyone either goes home or finds a corner to pass out in.

Fired up by finally performing, the search for bandmates now starts in earnest. I started going out with a blonde girl named Vicky who lived in a little village in deepest, darkest Cambridgeshire. Her often hammered best friend Gemma had started seeing a chap who was – apparently – “beautiful”, could play guitar and program samplers, had a home studio and lived in a train station. He sounded cool so a meeting was arranged; we hooked up in a pub in Waterloo station. Simon Dempsey was even hairier than me. He had an amazing mop of proto-Harry-from-One-Direction-styled hair and played me some demos that featured house-influenced dance tracks, some guitar-y stuff and some hip-hop. The hip-hop stuff in particular sounded awesome, though the guy rapping over the top was called Kevin. Simon had potential, so we arranged a recording session at his home. The usual false starts put paid to the first session or two, but eventually we sorted a date and stuck to it. His house was part of Ewell West train station in Surrey. It was dingy, reeked of marijuana and looked like it was going to fall apart. It really was part of a train station. He lived there with a bunch of other guys who were all from Dymchurch and all unemployed. My main memory of the room is smokey darkness, the coldness of the house and the FHM pin-ups on the wall. Deborah’s is of the knife marks on the wall made by one of Simon’s angry exes.

I had come armed with a couple of bottles of rosé wine and a CDR with all the separate parts for I’m Terribly Sorry But I Can’t Actually Remember Your Name. Simon loaded them into his sequencer, the three of us had a listen to the song and a chat about the lyrics and the mood of it, and then we commenced work. We re-recorded most of the guitars first, then went mental on the percussion and whistles. I had forgotten that one of the guitar takes I had recorded at home ended with feedback being cut off by my mother comings into the room and screaming at me to stop making such awful noise. We used an EQ to turn her up, found some harp samples to make the middle 8 more exciting, and tapped a Pringles pot with a biro and put the resulting loop through a filter. Deb noticed that Simon had a cello and decided that the song NEEDED some cello. Simon was quite self-deprecating. He assured us he couldn’t really play it, and anyway, the strings were old so it would sound like crap. Deborah was insistent, so into the booth he went. With one improvised take he nailed it. Deb and I were bouncing up and down on his bed with excitement. Now only one thing was left: the vocals. Deb went first. I was putting things off as long as possible. She sounded great. The fucker. How was I supposed to follow that? I downed some wine and reluctantly went into the recording booth. Half an hour later, it was all done. Could have been worse, could have been better. When the night was finally over, we mixed it down and listened to the finished product. He had taken my rough recording of I’m Terribly Sorry and turned it into something that felt astonishing. We couldn’t stop playing it. He was in. We didn’t know what he was going to play onstage – the fucker could play everything – but he was in. We immediately set up more recording sessions. We were going to demo EVERYTHING.

Oh Suzie was next, then “…wires”, and then Like Good Liars. They were sounding really great. Deborah had a weird dream about marrying Simon in Vegas and came up with chords and lyrics for a song called Eloping With The Devil. By this time I was obsessed with Timbaland’s productions for Aaliyah and Missy Elliott, and I could hear this song as a loping, fuzzy Specials-do-hip-hop thing. I spent some time in my studio (bedroom) at my parents’ house creating a sleazy, Timbaland-inspired instrumental that was slow and dirty, with a sample from Blur’s Death Of A Party. Deb and I did some more work on it and then we transferred it to Simon’s studio, recorded vocals and fuzzed-up synth and it was done. It was our best demo yet.

Eventually Dave and Mark stopped doing the Vibe Bar. They realised before Deborah and I that it just wasn’t going anywhere: we would never get a shot at that sought-after later-in-the-week slot. We carried on, convinced that we were DJing somewhere cool and it would kick off eventually. We invited Mark and Leigh from Remodel to DJ with us for a bit and a loose entourage began to form. As Deborah and I started finishing demos, we triumphantly played them to our friends and ambivalent Monday evening drinkers, waiting for the day some random would come up and ask us what the amazing song we were playing was. There wasn’t exactly a queue, but our friends seemed encouraging.

Then, finally, Remodel had good news. They had been offered their first gig. It was to be at The Pleasure Unit in Bethnal Green supporting a Libertines offshoot called Yeti, led by bassist and obligatory boring one John Hassall. There was another slot on the bill, and if Deborah and I could get something together, it could be our first gig. We had Simon, Deborah had a friend based in Worthing who was provisionally interested in playing drums, and we had 4 weeks to get a set together. I was utterly desperate to play, but we didn’t have a bassist. I had really wanted Mark Milan to play as he was a friend and an amazing bassist, but he was too busy. In all honesty I’m fairly sure he just wasn’t into it but was too polite to say. Deborah and I umm-ed and ahh-ed over what to do.

Monday came round and once more I found myself playing demos in the Vibe Bar. At some point in the night, Mark Heff introduced me to his girlfriend, Samantha. She owned two bass guitars, as two separate friends of hers had bought her a bass guitar for her 21st birthday thinking she should be a bassist. She had never learnt to play either of them. Her favourite bands were Bis, My Life Story and Blur. Deborah and I were hammered, loved a good story and time was running out.

We had totally found our woman.

BONUS!
The first 586 demo, as recorded in mine and Simon’s bedrooms and then used to entice band members to join us.

;

;

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Day Twenty Two and Day Twenty Three

12th October 2007 Winchester Railway

Or I dont understand it. I understand words.

Or

“Free the chilli”

We woke in the glamorous environs of the Plymouth Travelodge without massive hangovers. This was a good start to the day. Even better was the discovery of a Wetherspoon’s right next to the Plymouth Travelodge. A Wetherspoon’s with giant posters in the window advertising their super-cheap full English breakfast. After all the fry-ups we had been promised but hadn’t received, it was a bit annoying that our first fry-up of the tour was paid from our own pocket, but it mattered not: we had a fry-up. This was all that mattered.

 

We jumped in the van and started to make our way to the former capital of England, Winchester. The journey was uneventful, and we arrived early with loads of time to kill before soundcheck. Not that we expected to get a soundcheck, but, y’know. We were early. We loaded our equipment in to the venue and wandered off to explore the locality. I needed to buy some guitar strings so got directions to the local music shop from the venue staff and off we went. Despite the presence of the usual high street shops, Winchester had a distinctive character and was quite beautiful. As we came up to the guitar shop however, all this retreated into the background as I caught sight of a Thing. A Thing I might have actually loved.

 

586 were disco and funk-influenced, but we were still an indie punk outfit frequently compared to Bis. We did not employ many solos, guitar or otherwise, and my few guitar solos were generally simple and rhythmic. Simon and I were big fans of off-beat stabs and interesting rhythms, so many of our guitar patterns were designed to be complementary to each other.

 

Led Zeppelin were a blues-rock band who formed in the late ‘60s. Their guitarist, Jimmy Page (did I really need to name him?), is a flamboyant virtuoso. While their riffs are memorable and in some cases sound fairly simple, if you’re the former singing guitarist in a disco punk band who was a fan of rhythmic playing a la Johnny Marr out of The Smiths or Bernard Butler out of Suede, when you finally find yourself getting into The Zep circa 2011 due to the persistence of your Zep-lovin’ fiancée, and learning how to play their songs to impress said Zep-lovin’ fiancée, you may find yourself sitting there thinking that you’re convinced the flash bastard stuck that part in there just to piss you off.

 

ANYWAYS.

 

Jimmy Page famously played a double-necked Gibson SG. It is quite a distinctive look, very much a prog/blues rock kind of a guitar. It looked like this:

 

 

You don’t exactly see many singing guitarists of disco-punk bands that get compared to Bis playing one. The Thing was a cherry-red copy of Jimmy Page’s guitar, and it was beautiful. And only £350. As I looked at it hanging there in the guitar shop window, I felt a need deep within my belly. I had to have it. I could see it in my head. Rocking up to poncey Shoreditch venues, double-necked guitar in hand, tearing into I Am Not A Monkey. It would be amazing. Ridiculous, but amazing. Probably. I could picture it:

I could kind of afford it if I didn’t eat for a little while. Determined not to impulse purchase, we carried on our wanders round the former capital. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted it. I was getting kind of obsessed. Sadly, by the time we were making our way back to the venue, the guitar shop was shut. A double-necked Gibson SG copy would not be mine today. I didn’t really need it, but still. I was a little choked.

 

We soundchecked, drank the beer, ate the crisps and played the gig. The venue was pretty ace, but the gig itself was utterly unmemorable. I’m sure it was amazing – obviously – but I wrote nothing about it at the time and I remember little now. Other than the fact we were playing a club called The Living Room and the venue was decorated like – wait for it – a living room.

 

Once show time was over and SohoDolls had taken over the merch stall, we got in the van and drove to nearby Horndean. My girlfriend of the time’s parents lived there and had very kindly offered to put us up for the night. When we arrived, due to the need to be quiet – my ex’s mother had work in the morning – the band went against type and all went straight to sleep. Her father had other plans, however. He was a good bloke, was Keith. He introduced me to the joys of cheese, port, and the ‘90s TV adaptations of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe. I joined him out in the kitchen and he and I stayed up till 4am drinking port and cracking dirty jokes. I suspected I may pay for this in the morning…

 

 

13th October 2007 Southampton Lennons

Or

“Nothing to see here”

…yet I needn’t have worried. It was all cool. I didn’t have a hangover and if I’m honest I felt quite refreshed. Result.

 

We made our way to Southampton where we – surprise – unloaded our equipment at the venue and wandered round the shops before getting bored and going to the pub with Matt and Paul from SohoDolls. Nothing of note happened, really. I drew a picture of Wolverine while we sat in the beer garden and that’s pretty much it. We didn’t get to soundcheck, we went for a curry, we played an OK show and then – this being the end of the week’s touring – we got back in the van and went home to London. We didn’t even have a quote of the day.

 

 

 

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I Got Bored Of Rock In 1988 (Part Two)

2003-2004

Or “I got bored of rock in 1988.”

Part two: in which toes are dipped into the world of club promotion.

It is a Saturday sometime back in 2000. I – along with my friends Ricky Miller and David White – am in Camden Market, perusing the dodgy bootleg CDs on a market stall. I’m on the hunt for bootleg recordings from the Beach Boys’ legendarily unreleased (at the time) Smile album, and any unreleased Radiohead material. Before the October 2000 release of their Kid A album, there is a lot of this floating around. A young mod kid perusing the racks spends a couple of minutes trying to get the attention of the chap behind the counter, who is playing some old funk records and enthusing about them to a colleague. Finally, the young mod seizes his window.

“Have you got any Oasis?” he asks.

There is a deeply uncomfortable pause. The stallholder takes a big theatrical breath, then launches into an extraordinarily patronising tirade slagging off guitar music in general and Oasis specifically that goes on for ages, building from humble foundations to a mighty tower of rudeness, punctuated with another dramatic pause before culminating in a bold and incredibly specific statement:

“I got bored of rock,” he said, “in 1988.”

Dave, Rick and I smirk to ourselves and take note. All three of us think we should use this phrase at some point.

************

Deborah and I were writing songs and searching for band members, but I had decided we needed our own club night. Inspired by all the books I was reading about Joy Division, New Order and Factory Records, as well as all the nights out I was having, I had come to the conclusion that I wanted my OWN club night. Our as-yet-untitled band with no members and maybe one finished song tops could maybe even play it, if we were ready. It’d be amazing.

Sometime circa 2001, my younger brother had sold me a pair of record decks, a simple mixer, an amplifier and some speakers. Before Deborah came back on the scene Andy Smith and I had been mixing up our writing and demoing sessions with DJ practice. Andy was more about funky house beats and ‘proper’ beat-matching. I was more interested in blending textures and bizarre, anything-goes juxtapositions. At least that’s what I told myself. Erol Alkan’s Trash was my favourite club in the whole world at this time. Trash was an indie club that had become ‘cool’, which meant that you had to dress up or you weren’t coming in. It was proper poncey, and then when you did get in everyone was a preening, posing tosser. I loved it. We all slagged it off – we went to indie nights so we didn’t HAVE to dress a certain way – but secretly we were kind of buzzing on the fact we looked cool enough to get in. And early doors you’d often get a set of amazing über-miserable classics that you just wouldn’t hear anywhere else outside of your bedroom. Proper, impossible-to-dance-to gloom like Suede’s The 2 Of Us, The Beach Boys’ ‘Till I Die, Leonard Cohen and so on. As the night wore on, they would mix the indie stuff with hip hop and amazing dance records all back-to-back. It was an exciting time: electroclash was seemingly on the up – Fischerspooner’s Emerge was obviously going to ram raid the charts, sell millions of copies and transform pop – and, while their actual records weren’t much cop, Soulwax DJ mixes were hip, so obviously I was desperately keen to rip all of this off.

A friend of mine wrote online sometime last year that buying magazines when you’re interested in something as a child is an early sign of an obsessive personality. Um, yeah. Not only did/do I buy magazines, but I hoard them too. I’ve always been a bit like this. Hell, the band-in-progress was a testament to this. Whatever I became obsessed with – and my mother can give you a list stretching all the way back to my discovery of Transformers when I was 4 – I wanted to know everything about and, where possible, get involved. When I was 8 years old I became obsessed with Doctor Who, so immediately I decided I wanted to be an actor so I could take over from Sylvester McCoy. Aged 12 I got heavily into comics and changed my mind: I would become a comics artist. Then at 15, my schoolfriend Trevor Baker – the only indie kid at my school – introduced me to Britpop. Within six months I owned a guitar and the life-changing guitar tablature book Play Guitar With Pulp and was writing chord sequences and terrible lyrics. My first was was inspired by the video to Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl, and was utterly, utterly awful. “I flash my pecs/make the girlies scream” it went. “11 year-olds love me/I’m a pre-pubescent dream.” FAIL/cringe/etc.

Helen and I had taken to drinking in a pub in Kingston called the Fighting Cocks. She was living nearby, it had a great jukebox and it was almost always deserted. I was drinking there one rainy night with my friend Mark Milan when suddenly it hit us. The Fighting Cocks had a back room that would often host club or band nights. They were almost always empty. Emboldened by booze, we honed our pitch and threw it at the manager. He seemed up for it, so we booked a provisional date and – not feeling that we could do this alone – asked Andy and my friend Dave White if they wanted to get involved. I quickly designed a flyer that arrogantly featured caricatures of myself, Andy, Dave and Mark with no indication of the type of music we would be playing other than the strap line “A night of aural pleasure” and distributed them all around Kingston. We were convinced it would be spectacular.

David White (long-time friend and We Got Bored Of Rock In 1988 co-promoter)

I’m pretty sure Steve came up with the idea of us becoming massively successful club promoters, based on the premise that we spent quite a lot of time in other people’s clubs, and that we could make as good if not an even better job of it ourselves.

We even had a fiendish twist up our sleeves. Instead of an evening consisting of one indie standard after another, which Steve, me and Mark would be responsible for, for one bone-jarringly, crow-barred-in quarter of the night Andy would play what I believe was known as ‘dance’ music. Brilliant. Why weren’t more people doing it? Pure gold.

I’m pretty sure (again) that Steve came up with the venue – The Fighting Cocks in Kingston, Surrey. An untapped hot bed of modern culture, waiting with near crushing indifference for a club night lasting until midnight in the back of a predominantly rock and metal pub. I say again. Couldn’t. Go. Wrong.

Being in a rock and metal pub, we obviously called the night ‘I Got Bored of Rock in 1988’. Catchy. There was a story behind that name, involving a boorish bootleg stallholder in Camden, but it was a story only me and Steve knew and everyone else didn’t really get. We stuck with it though, adamant that it was a winner. I seem to remember thinking it was ‘quirky’, possibly even ‘fun’. Hmm.

All of us apparently being of the opinion that we’d rather be four hours early than one minute late, for the launch night we met at Steve’s then-girlfriend’s house about four hours early. I’d been out somewhere the night before, and had a disproportionately large hangover. I was also genuinely nervous, so volunteered to go on first. Get it out of the way, and then drink heavily for the rest of the evening. A flawless plan.

Steve:

We were all paranoid about being late and looking like dicks in front of the hordes of strangers bound to come, so we picked up the decks and met at Helen’s early as it was down the road and we could make sure everything worked and, more importantly, that we knew how to work it. Deborah joined us as, although she wouldn’t be DJ’ing, she wanted to get involved in some way. Getting involved at this point basically meant greeting everyone as they arrived and charming the chap who ran the venue. It was pretty quiet at first, but some of our mates started to turn up. Eventually.

David:

I don’t think I was expecting Deborah to be there four hours early, or to come to the Cocks to help us set up, but she was very positive about everything, and was therefore a more than welcome distraction to my headache, hot flushes and nerves.

Needless to say, we took it extremely seriously. Well, I think we did. For our opening extravaganza we had something like 40 minutes each to thrill the masses with an intricate blend of the entire musical tapestry the world had woven to that point. So I played Primal Scream, David Bowie, and Belle and Sebastian. I’d worked out my set almost to the second. There would be no deviation from the setlist. When the landlord of the pub asked for some New York Dolls, I breathed a sigh of relief – it wasn’t on the list, so I couldn’t play it. If it had been on the list, I might have had to change the order, and that would have been chaos. I ignored anyone else who came near me – well, any of the four or so people who wandered into the near empty venue and back out into the pub – earnestly concentrating on one of the many dials on the hired cd mixer that I was terrified to touch. I finished, handed over to Mark, and started drinking, heavily.

The rest of the evening is a bit of a haze, but I remember people came, it was reasonably busy (it wasn’t a big place), and the overall feeling was a sense of a job well done – so well done in fact, that we should do it again.

Steve:

I was well chuffed. I’d never seen The Fighting Cocks look so busy. Though to be fair, I’d never seen the number of punters in The Fighting Cocks hit double figures. Andy’s funky house half hour had kind of cleared the room for a little bit, but we recovered after. I went on last because, well, this whole club night thing had been my idea. It went quite well, I think. Well, we all danced. The set was all over the place, but that was the point. The only genuine fail was the discovery that however much Dave and I loved The Rolling Stones’ She’s A Rainbow, it has the amazing ability to empty even the busiest dancefloor. A second night was quickly put in the diary.

David:

For the second one, I wasn’t as nervous, so I went on a bit later. My sense of confidence took a knock though, when a man with a beard bared his anus at me, possibly whilst I was playing some Duran Duran. Not as many people came. It probably wasn’t as much fun the second time. Deb was still very positive though.

Steve:

Deborah was ALWAYS positive.

The man with the anus was the boss at the hairdressers I used to go to. Lovely bloke, but the one time he cut my hair he ballsed it right up.

We were frustrated by the management of The Fighting Cocks. Despite us bringing in the punters twice – TWICE! – they just weren’t up for any of our promotional ideas. Well, promotional idea: free shots for the first 20 people!

David:

It was clear (clear) that we’d outgrown Kingston, but where to go next? All of the places we frequented were proper night spots with established nights on most days of the week, and wanted paying for the use of the venue. Far too rich for our blood.

Then, one afternoon I got a call from Steve. Deb had been pulling strings, and had got us a night at the Vibe Bar, in London’s Trendy East London. This was a game changer. We hadn’t hit the big time, the big time had hit us. Deb had got us a Monday night and if we did a good job, we’d get a monthly Monday and maybe more. That ‘maybe more’ was clearly world domination, riches, and popularity beyond our wildest dreams, and it was now within our grasp. This was easy.

Steve:

As we were making the big step up to Monday night in London’s trendy Fashionable East London, we – well, Deborah – decided it was time to rebrand slightly. So I Got Bored Of Rock In 1988 became the more “inclusive” We Got Bored Of Rock In 1988.

David:

By now, Mark had got us a couple of second hand separate cd decks, the type you’d get in a stereo set-up, as we didn’t want to spend all our money hiring decks all the time. For some reason, I looked after them. I used to carry them around in a big sports bag that bulged alarmingly at the seams when they were in it. They were large, heavy and rectangular, and whenever I transported them I’d collect a nice array of bruises up and down the outsides of my legs. On the first trip to the Vibe Bar, I nearly crippled myself and several people on the tube.

We got as many people as we could muster to come to the first one, and it was a relative success. It wasn’t exactly rammed – not many people want to dance to 99 Red Balloons at 7.30pm on a Monday night, even in London’s Trendy East London – but it went down well with those who were there, and we were all enthused.

(It’s worth noting that Andy had dropped out after the second and final Cocks. The dance section of the evening wasn’t working – who’d have thunk that? – and it wasn’t really what he wanted to do, so Deb stepped in as his replacement. Which with the whole Vibe Bar thing made complete sense anyway.).

Steve:

The Vibe Bar became our Monday night hangout for a while. It was GREAT. We were given Monday nights with the promise that if we were successful enough on a Monday, we would be promoted to another night later in the week. Maybe even a Wednesday. Sadly, this never happened: we didn’t even get a Tuesday. What we did get was somewhere to get smashed on free beer and play some records before fucking off to Trash. By the time I started a temp job at City University I had settled into a routine of We Got Bored Of Rock In 1988 at the Vibe Bar, then on to Trash, followed by Bar Italia on Frith Street for post-club coffee. I’d then find somewhere to sleep, get up still drunk and go to work powered by the almost amphetamine qualities of a Burger King Chicken Royale for breakfast. I would always crash around mid-day, but all I had do to fire myself up again was pop out and get another Chicken Royale and BANG: I was ready to take on the day again.

David:

We carried on doing monthly Mondays, occasionally getting a mention in listings (another clear sign that we were smashing this club promoting game). I bought some smaller CD separates that wouldn’t endanger my mobility into my later years, and we geared up for the inevitable success that would no doubt follow.
Except it didn’t, really.

We were making a decent go of it, we were getting paid (at least I think we were, I never really saw any of the money), but Mondays were limited and we wanted a crack at a night later in the week, even (in whispered tones) a Friday or Saturday. But that never came. I can’t remember exactly how long we did it for – could easily have been a year, but at some point it was decided it wasn’t really worth doing any more, so we jacked it in. In fact, I think I pulled out before the end, and Steve and Deb and possibly Mark did a few more without me. Yep, that sounds right.

Somewhere before that, though, Mark sorted us out a trial night in a bar called the Funky Munky in Camberwell, near where he lived, and ideally positioned to take advantage of the local art student population. It was different to the Vibe Bar – London’s South London not being as Trendy as London’s East London. It was smaller, and it was also prone to the odd lunatic/s coming in – but I thought it was worth carrying on with. Steve and Deb didn’t feel the same way – 586 were starting to get going, and I don’t think they wanted to put their time into something they weren’t into – so me and Mark carried on with it on our own. Which come to think of it, might have had something to do with me stopping doing the Vibe Bar early. I don’t remember anyone falling out, though, so it must have been all quite amicable.

Steve:

I remember exactly when I decided I would never DJ in the Funky Munky again. It was getting towards the end of the night and Dave or Mark had put on (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. The Munky was rammed, and everyone was dancing and singing along, arms in the air and thoroughly enjoying themselves. They were wankers, all of them. I hated each and every person on that dancefloor and I hated this fucking lowest common denominator shitty tossrag of a song. Angsty, wannabe-artsy, 20-something me had not gotten into DJ’ing to play I’ve Had The Time Of My FUCKING Life to these wankers.

I did do a couple of them though. The first one was quite good, but more of that in the next entry.

David:

We (Mark and I) ended up doing weekly Thursdays in the Funky Munky for something like eighteen months. It was reasonably successful, some weeks a lot busier than others, but the main attraction was we got paid, and we had an unlimited bar tab which we used to take full advantage of. Our slot was 9pm to 2am, and we used to concentrate as much on drinking as we did playing records. How I managed to keep my job through that time, I’ll never know – I used to turn up on Friday mornings having had about four hours sleep, obviously the worse for wear, and do nothing until I could go home. It’s possible they thought I had a genuine drinking problem, and in age-old fashion thought best to ignore it until it went away.

Then, after eighteen months of doing it, the management changed and the place started going downhill. People stopped coming, which must have been down to the management and not us – we were still playing Maximo Park, what more did they want – and all that would have been tolerable, but then they capped out bar tab as well. That was the final insult. We were done.

Bonus! We Got Bored Of Rock In 1988 Mixtape

My DJ skillz circa 2001 in mp3 form.

Download here:

I Got Bored Of Rock In 1988

Tracklisting:
1. Super Furry Animals – Furryvision ™
2. David Holmes feat. Primal Scream – Sick City
3. Radiohead – Idioteque
4. Pink Floyd – See Emily Play
5. The Rolling Stones – She’s A Rainbow
6. The Strokes – New York City Cops
7. Fischerspooner – Turn On
8. Aphex Twin – Come To Daddy
9. David Bowie – Golden Years
10. Saint Etienne – You’re In A Bad Way
11. The Supremes – Nathan Jones
12. Ladytron – Playgirl
13. Le Tigre – Deceptacon
14. The Von Bondies – Lack Of Communication
15. MC5 – Kick Out The Jams
16. New Order – Blue Monday
17. The Isley Brothers – This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)
18. Schneider TM Vs KPT.michi.gan – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

 

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Contents

This ol’ beast has been going a little while now, so I thought it would be useful to create a contents page with handy links to all the entries so far. Thoughtful, eh?

Introduction
Day One – Taunton. Or “Don’t worry Simon, I only want to put your cock in my mouth.”
Day Two – Crewe. Or “Are you homeless?”
Day Three – Milton Keynes. Or “Grant, get the fish.”
Interlude – When Steven Met Deborah. Or “You compromised my credibility.”
Day Four – Newcastle. Or “Just close your eyes and imagine a tampon salad.”
Day Five – Glasgow. Or “Some people are just nice.”
Day Six – Aberdeen. Or “Who let a dead clown in?”
Day Seven – G******* R**. Or “Don’t blink.”
Day Eight – Carlisle. Or “Get your cock out then, love.”
Day Nine – London. Or “It’s the bread that makes you feel shit.”
Day off. Or “Fuck off.”
Day Ten – Leeds. Or “Illness.”
Interlude 2: Auditions. Or “How I got bored of auditions.”
Day Eleven – York. Or “But I really like you.”
Day Twelve – Hull. Or “Emo kids don’t like winklepickers.”
2003-2004 Or “I Got Bored of Rock In 1988” Part One
Day Thirteen – Derby. Or “It smells of chips.”
Day Fourteen – Leicester. Or “Tunnel to Devon.”
Day Fifteen – Bristol. Or “I got a right to be hostile. My people been persecuted.”
Day Sixteen – Cardiff. Or “I hope you don’t like cock, ‘cos I like you.”
Day Seventeen – Swansea. Or “I fuck hard and I cry hard.”
Day Eighteen – Southend. Or “Data Entry”
Day Nineteen – Guildford. Or “Meh”
Days Twenty & Twenty One – Brighton. Or “There’s nothing you can’t do with Bonjela, but don’t put Savlon in your mouth”
Live at 93 Feet East
Days Twenty Two and Three. Or “I don’t understand it. I understand words.”
2003-4. Or “I Got Bored of Rock In 1988” Part Three
Day Twenty Four – Manchester Night & Day Cafe. Or Or “The north. And the south. And never the twain shall meet.” – Luke Haines
Gaggle. Or “Getting a bit sentimental.”
Day Twenty Five – Sheffield Corporation. Or “Mum, how do you catch genital herpes? ******* slept with a lesbian last night so **HE OR SHE** is worried **HE OR SHE** might have it.” “Hang on, I’ll ask Nan.” ”
Day Twenty Six – Doncaster Priory. Or “The man is an idiot.”
Day Twenty Seven – Wolverhampton Little Civic. Or “The morning after.”a>
2004 Or “I Got Bored of Rock In 1988” Part Four
Day Twenty Eight or “In the shitty”
Day Twenty Nine or “The End”

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