Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Metal Years

Phil, Neville and I rehearsed sporadically throughout the years 1985 - 1988 - maybe 20 or so times. We used to rehearse either at my house or Neville's, subject to our parents being out of the house, the availability of transport (none of us drove at that stage), the availability of time (Phil and I had started University), and my amp being in working order - which was a rare occurrence!

We rehearsed a set of thrash metal standards by bands such as Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Exciter, Diamond head, Blitzkrieg, S.O.D. and the awesome Mercyful Fate! We were pretty ordinary in the beginning, but eventually grew competent enough to believe we were almost ready to unleash ourselves on the great unwashed masses. So we put out ads to recruit a vocalist and lead guitarist. We eventually found a lead guitarist, Dave, but he left after a few months. And then the band just fizzled out. It wasn't a conscious decision to end it - we just didn't get around to rehearsing any more! But when Phil formed a band Genital Skin Disorders (or GSD) with some Uni friends, it was officially over.

This period turned out to be a turning point in my life. My band had ended, I had some bad relationships, I was involved with a crowd of people I was rapidly growing apart from, and I was in the last year of an undergraduate degree that I was rapidly losing enthusiasm for. But worst of all, my guitar playing was going backwards. To console myself I bought a Marshall amp! Then Dave suggested I start tuition with his guitar teacher, Phil Bann, which turned out to be a good move. Not only did Phil sort out my technique, he got me playing stuff other than metal. Which was just as well as I was starting to get bored with metal. The Big four thrash metal bands (Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth) had all recorded their best work and had already started their inexorable decline. 

The first "non-metal" band I got into around this time was the Sex Pistols - which wasn't really a quantum leap. This was followed by the Beastie Boys, and specifically their Licensed to Ill album. But the album that totally blew my mind was Jane's Addition's Nothings Shocking. The playing, the diversity, the vision - it had everything. And on a night when I had nothing to do, I went to see U2's Rattle and Hum movie - and was hooked! I then quickly consumed the catalogs of U2, REM and The Cure, before discovering the wave of new bands emerging from Seattle (specifically Mudhoney and Soundgarden), as well as Sonic Youth.

I was feeling inspired. Time to find another band, and to do it properly this time......

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