Friday, June 17, 2011

In the beginning - 1990

And so we finally get to the diaries!

This post includes band specific entries from my personal diary. I subsequently started a band specific diary, which will be featured in subsequent posts.

The diary entries will be posted verbatim, except for grammatical corrections. Additional bracketed notes in italics have been added for clarification.

1st June 1990

Made up my mind to actually write out some ads (advertisements) to try and find people with similar musical tastes. I put these in Verandah and Andromeda (local record stores).

(The note said something along the lines of

Guitarist looking to form atmospheric alternative rock band. Influences include Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, REM and The Cure.

I remember George, the proprietor of Verandah music, commenting that I wouldn't receive any replies because the mix of influences was to diverse and eclectic! I could see his point, but he was wrong......)

12th June 1990

I am now in a band! The notes I put up received two replies. The first reply was from a band looking for a guitarist. Coincidentally, the chap who saw the add was about to put up an ad seeking a guitarist for an atmospheric band, and saw my ad for a guitarist wanting to form an atmospheric band! The second reply was from a guitarist wanting to do the same sorta stuff as I do. I'll follow it up, but I don't fancy playing in a two guitarist band (not sure what I was thinking here, given that I later spent the next 18 months trying to convince my bandmates to get a second guitarist?!)

I rehearsed with the band and it went alright. We did "Walk to the water" (U2) three or four times, and "Rejoice" (U2) up to the second chorus before saying fuck it! We then did one of their originals, and played around with a riff of mine. I am currently learning a Gene Loves Jezebel track, and "I wanna be adored" by The Stone Roses, which I quite like (I hadn't heard the Stone Roses before this, and they influenced alot of my playing and songwriting for the next year or so - especially rhythmically). The next practice is not for another two or three weeks.

(It was told later that the band had reservations about me in the beginning. I turned up to the first rehearsal wearing a grunge-approved checked shirt (remembering this was a few years before Nirvana broke big and popularised that look), marble wash denim jacket and jeans, and had a Marshall amp and a Kramer guitar, as favoured by the heavy metal fraternity (including Eddie Van Halen!). But they thought my guitar playing was interesting (as in "unusual", rather than "good") enough to justify continuing with me.

At this stage the band was Andrew (vocals), Hamish (bass) and Andrew (drums)).

Undated entry

(My diary entries trailed off towards the end of the year - I was actually starting to get a life - so less time for a diary! But I wrote a summary of the last few months of the year, containing the following entry:)

The band went OK for a few weeks but then I started to lose interest (it was a bit more "pop" than I wanted - I was more into grunge). So I rang up the guitarist (Tony) who called in response to my ad and said "I've got a band for you" (at least part of my reasoning here was that if Tony joined the band, there'd be less likelihood that I'd want rejoin, since they already had a guitarist. Weird, huh?) Tony lasted a few weeks but didn't work out (though he would re-enter the story later).

I then returned to the band, and after a few weeks of indecisiveness just thought "fuck it, let's give this band a go and see what happens". And as soon as I committed the drummer left! Since then we've had four drummers rehearsing with us. The first was a guy, Rob, who said he was in a thrash band and was looking for something different. First thing that went wrong was that the clowns who ran the rehearsal room turned up 90 minutes late. Then when the room opened and Rob brought his drums cases in, I spied GSD (my friend Phil's band) stickers on them. Bummer! I didn't fancy stealing my friend's drummer. Then we started playing...but he just didn't have what we needed. We didn't need to tell him so - he knew and so did we!

We then did half of a rehearsal with Maro (the guy who ran the rehearsal room) on drums, even though we knew he wouldn't be able to play with us permanently. He gave us a good kick up the arse, but again didn't have what we were looking for. But I realised was the importance of having a happening drum kit. Maro hit the skins and they sounded loud and powerful.

Drummer number three was Kim. He responded to an ad I put up in a music store. I went around to his place and we jammed for half an hour and both enjoyed it. So I invited him to a rehearsal. When he got to the rehearsal Hamish and Andrew saw his kit and gave me a spray (i.e. criticism). And the kit didn't sound too flash either! That day we did "Through my eyes" (our first original), "Fire" (U2), "Spanish Eyes" (U2) "Drive Blind" (Ride), and "Always" (our second original, a hippyish song that ripped off Primal Scream's "Loaded"). It was a good rehearsal. We rehearsed three more times with Kim. A friend of the guy who ran the rehearsal room, Craig, asked (indirectly) whether he could join the band. So we must haver sounded alright! Craig said he liked it too - "tasty, guys, tasty" (which became our mantra - we'd finish rehearsing a songs and someone would pipe up "tasty, guys!").

Then Kim smashed up his car! Although we were reasonably happy with his drumming, we weren't happy with his ideas (i.e. to be a cover band!). We had a regular booking for the rehearsal room that we couldn't cancel without a cancellation fee, so I suggested we take the opportunity to try out another drummer while Kim's car was off the road. We arranged a rehearsal with a guy Andrew found. I rang to told Kim that we wouldn't be rehearsing, but since he wasn't home I left a message with his dad. The only problem was that his dad is obviously an absolute fuckwit, because he didn't tell Kim! So we had two drummers turn up to our next rehearsal! Roy turned up first, and unloaded his nice new black Pearl Export kit. Then Kim walked in! We were mortified!! But to our surprise, Kim broke out into a grin and said "you hired me a kit?" After a few umms and ahhs, Kim realised what was happening, spat the dummy and left, never to be seen again. So our rehearsal with Roy got off to a bad start, and promptly got worse. We played "Solitary Child" (another original - a song I really liked but which for some reason we stopped playing soon after), and "Lift me up" (more hippy shit!), which Hamish, Andrew and I had come up with only three days earlier. But Roy wasn't up to it. Totally inadequate.

And that was the last time we rehearsed with a drummer for a loooooong while. We had some nibbles - drummers how said they'd call back but never did. Since then we've written "Mystic Child" (Manchester influenced nonsense) and "Away" (I can't remember this one now?!). We have two or three other embryonic songs, plus a few ideas I haven't played to the guys yet. So we should have 10 or so original songs by February, which is enough to start gigging - if we can find a drummer!

At least there's been some useful byproducts from this band biz, in respect to the bands I'm now listening too - Ride, Stone Roses, Magazine, Pixies, Charlatans, The Smiths etc, all bands my band-mates turned me on to.


  1. Bloody Drummers. I got so frustrated with them, I just gave up and learned to play myself! I may not be great, but at least I'm punctual!

  2. Ahhh, the good tales begin! So glad you kept a diary, Ralph. You also gotta love drummers who take an intended two or three second pause in a song and jam a ten second fill in its spot. Oh, never, ever at practice - just when you start to draw a crowd (meaning more than the friends you've hounded to see you play live just to fill the pub). Then, you can count on it happening.

    Keep the stories coming. Love them!