Friday, 6 February 2009


Adaddinsane tagged me with this: If you could go back to live in any one year from your lifetime, which one would you choose?

Jesus H Christmas, that’s a bitch of a tag, isn’t it? I was tempted to go all wibbly and post-modern and select a variety of incidents from a variety of different years. Then I went and read Michelle Lipton’s post on the same subject (after which I got something in my eye), and came to the conclusion that doing things that way would be a massive cheat.

So, let’s see: oooh, 1988 looks like a good one to me (screen goes wavy as we enter flashback mode):

I played in a band named after a Russ Meyer film – our collective sound was described (by a friend, no less) as ‘five people all playing in different time zones’. One of the stupidest/best things we ever did was to get drunk prior to a BBC Radio Sussex interview, during which we talked about our (fictitious) love for progressive rock (I seem to remember making a fatuous comment about Iron Butterfly). We then all went to a sweaty Taxi Pata Pata gig, during which the band divided into two warring factions – after some Machiavellian manoeuvring by our guitarist (the phenomenally talented Mister Rose), the singer (and his stolen percussion) got thrown out. Trouble was, after that we couldn’t find anyone else even half as good. So that was that.

Of course hindsight is wonderful, but the way we played and wrote music was quite unlike anything I’ve experienced since. Within the band, there were some fiercely talented players (and me, struggling to keep up mostly, especially when the drummer dipped out of 4/4 time, the gifted swine), but nobody came to rehearsals with even half an idea of where things were going to go or even what we were going to do. Chaos reigned, but in a good way: songs were painstakingly built from the ground up via endless jamming and improvisation – if something sounded good, it went into the mix. And when it all got too tiring (rehearsals until four in the morning were pretty commonplace), we’d launch into our only death metal song just to shake things out.

Once the band split, I auditioned for a local band looking for a bass player. Jesus, were they boring: they wrote songs like this, where the autocratic guitarist would hand out sheet music to his hapless band members and then expect everyone to fall in line. Of course, I didn’t – which is why I lasted for exactly one rehearsal.

If I had to relive 1988 again, I’d slap my collective band mates round the back of their legs and tell them to pull themselves together; we obviously didn’t know a good thing when we were in it, and by the time the in-fighting had broken out, it was too late. The fact that I’ve never found a band since that I wanted to play with speaks volumes, which is perhaps something to do with the way we worked: chaotic, improvised, haphazard, and at times downright experimental. I’m not saying that we sounded great, and listening to demos today it of course sounds a little dated. But we had one helluva lot of fun.

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