Playing Catch-Up

We’ve been so busy since our couple of weeks off that we’ve been neglecting this blog a bit recently. To catch us up, here’s a quick round up of our last three gigs:

26th November, Royal British Legion, Hythe

This was our first gig after a couple of weeks off so we were all a bit unsure how it would go. The soundcheck soon revealed that the other acts were more on the “heavy” side, adding further to the nerves. However, to the magnificent backdrop of a portrait of the Queen (we think – it wasn’t a very good likeness!) we pulled it off, and hopefully even won over a few of the locals. Waz (complete with holiday-beard) also played with his other band, “Telford Mining Disaster” who were headlining.

2nd December, The Buffalo Bar, Highbury & Islington

This was a particularly nerve-wracking night as my girlfriend and several friends were in the audience for the first time since our very first gig. We were first on stage but played to the biggest crowd of the night, with debut song “Suits” going down particularly well. Later on Thom and Sharon “rocked da house” with their DJ sets.

11th December, The Lion, Stoke Newington

In what will now be our final gig of 2005, we got all festive with possibly one of our best performances of what has been a monumental year for the Flyers. A triumphant set was followed by an impromptu version of “Home for the Holidays” to match the Santa Hats and tinsel that adorned the stage.

So that’s us pretty much up to date… you’ll probably have noticed from the news page that the Swindon gig on Thursday 15th Dec has been cancelled. This is because both Wintergreen and ourselves would’ve been playing without full line-ups and we felt that wouldn’t be fair on the good people of Swindon. We’re hoping to reschedule for early next year. You may also have seen somewhere on here that this Saturday The Gresham Flyers are heading for the studio! As you can imagine we’re pretty excited about this and presuming everything goes well, we’ll be releasing our debut single early next year.

Happy Christmas to everyone and have a great New Year…. thanks for all your support. See you in 2006!



And relax...

I'm not sure if anyone's around at the moment- we're having a bit of 'downtime' (God I hate office speak) as various Flyers are taking holidays; Waz has just come back from Montego Bay, and is off to Sorrento tonight (or something equally jealousy-inducing), Martin's in Sydney for three weeks and I'm off to Berlin for a long weekend on Thursday. So, we're at a loose end. Thankfully for you, I'm not going to indulge in any rants about domesticity or somesuch (other than to let you know that I'm falling in love with Joni Mitchell- Miles Of Aisles is a beacon of what live albums can achieve), but just to let you know that we're looking forward to our next stint of gigs and other activities. It's a challenge to have the first one only a few days after our first rehearsal in nearly a month, but it's good to be on our toes.

The only downer is we're pretty sure that the 28th January is going to be Dan's last gig with us; I'm hoping we can get another one in December and a couple in January and early February before we lose him to his world travels in February/ March, so if you know of any or want to play with us, get in touch. And before any of you start to worry, we've got a stand-in lined up, though it'll be hard to part with one of our songwriters and close mates. Expect some St. Hubbins - Tufnel gags to be aired at some point.

But, before that there's plenty to look forward to. Principally, we're recording a single. Yes we are. On lovely delightful vinyl, of an undetermined colour. We've pretty much unanimously decided on the A-side (care to make a guess?) and we're mulling over the options for either B-sides or double A-side tracks, how many, who can help us etc. Any suggestions or recommendations for anything are, as always, very welcome.

So, onward and upward. Waz and I both have four new songs each; three are complete or nearly complete, I play drums on another and another has overtones of classic Blur. Not complaining at that! We'll try and get a few of them in at the new shows, so pay attention!



This is the modern world

Well you can't say that The Gresham Flyers are behind with the times. Not only do we launch ourselves into (my)space, but our ritual bonding sessions are usually over work emails. Ok, so they're usually a bit too dull to tell you about, but we thought you might like to see our exchanges when discussing the influences to put on our myspace profile.

After several thousand emails of adding a band name to the list, it started getting a bit silly:

From: Dan
To: The Gresham Flyers
Subject: RE: Influences


New Order
Super Furry Animals
Roxy Music
Dexys Midnight Runners
Belle & Sebastian
The Wedding Present
Inspiral Carpets
Glen Medeiros

From: Thom
To: The Gresham Flyers
Subject: RE: Influences


Glen Medeiros
Billy Ocean

From: Martin
To: The Gresham Flyers
Subject: RE: Influences

I can see it now: "The Gresham Flyers are Dubstar, fronted by Glen Madeiros, with the rhythm section of Kasabian, featuring Billy Ocean on backing-vocals"

From: Andrew
To: The Gresham Flyers
Subject: RE: Influences

It's "Madeiros". I had my first ever slow dance to is song. Suzanne, her name was... I can still remember it. Ouch.

From: John
To: The Gresham Flyers
Subject: RE: Influences


It's Immaterial
Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Fiction Factory
The Adventures
Gaye Bikers on Acid
The Blow Monkeys
Lonnie Gordon
Dan Hartman
Rosie Gaines

From: Thom
To: The Gresham Flyers
Subject: RE: Influences

You forgot Corona. I model all my basslines on Rhythm Of The Night.

From: Sharon
To: The Gresham Flyers
Subject: RE: Influences

I used to own records by one act on that list. I'll let you work it out. Oh, and you forgot Kym Symms.

From: John
To: Sharon
Subject: RE: Influences

"Lemme tell you sump'n...
No maaaan in de WORL'..."

Bet you owned records by either Yello (whom Thom MUST like) or Fiction Factory

From: Thom
To: The Gresham Flyers
Subject: RE: Influences

I've seen your dog-eared picture sleeve of Love Missile F1-11 lying about the house. I know the truth. You can't hide it in between your Nick Heyward and David Essex singles, you know.

I forgot to add 10cc and ELO to the list. Yes, I'm being serious.

Et cetera. A rare but thrilling insight into the psyche of The Gresham Flyers: "Dubstar, fronted by Glen Madeiros, with the rhythm section of Kasabian, featuring Billy Ocean on backing-vocals"



Scottish Tour Photos

And here's a few photos from the weekend. Gotta love the lighting in Teviot Underground. :)


Tour Diary: Day Two (Saturday)

Yawn. I can see why musicians of a certain disposition (Graham Coxon is the first to spring to mind) are quite averse to touring. There's a lot of sitting around and waiting during the day, and unless you construct your day rigidly, the chances are that boredom will set in. So that's why two-thirds of the band (Dan and John were busy doing something constructive no doubt) ended up whiling away the day sat the traffic jam trying to get in to Glasgow, then Mono.

Fortunately Mono is one of my favourite places to do nothing and since a few months have passed since my last visit, I feel that me and my favourite couch have a lot of catching up to do.

Mono, for the unitiated, is a café. Not only that, but it's a vegan café, and as an avowed carnivore, I can honestly say it makes a life of non-meat eating very attractive. On top of that, it also has Monorail attached to it. Monorail is a record store. A good indie record store that's run by Stephen Pastel. They also put gigs on, with some great names lined up. In short, for someone whose favourite activities include record shopping and eating, you can't go far wrong. See for yourself here

I eat a vegan burger and my beloved spicy chips. Sharon buys a Jens Lekman album and a folk compilation. I eat a vegan chocolate cheesecake and buy a Wilco album on the cheap. I feel sorry for Martin, as it's his first visit to Scotland and we've locked him in a smelly café (though to be fair, the rain outside isn't the most attractive prospect). We brave the rain and take a trip to Fopp (I can't remember where Avalanche is), then go back. The afternoon drifts by as John and Dan show up, along with a few mates we haven't seen for a bit. I almost forget we have a gig, but we do.

The Winchester Club is, like Mono, a good reason to move to Glasgow. They always play great music and the bands are usually excellent (though I have to admit seeing the worst performance of any band in my life there, naming no names), and I'm thrilled to be here. The Woodside Social Club where it's held is a bit of a Phoenix Nights gaff, but all the more charming for it, especially with the mirrorball and comfy seats.

The attendance tonight is blighted by some rather heavy competing events; Belle & Sebastian are playing a festival in Castlemilk, The Go! Team are playing nearby too, and Lucky Luke are owning Sleazys. Sarah and Dan go flyering in Sleazys just in case our 10.00pm stage time can attract any post-Luke stragglers. By the time we go on though, there's a decent enough amout of people. I know from experience that unless you're the headline band or really good, folk tend to sit around the outskirts rather than stand in front of the stage, so I’m happy to explain away the mass of open area in front of us. The sound is apparently better than last night, and though I think we play a bit sluggishly, it seems I'm the only one with that opinion. We play Dreams Never End for Gav, who's putting us up for the night and provided a bass amp and spare guitar amp, and it gets well received. Plastic Bag, however, seems to be the runaway favourite of both nights, and rightly so.

Watching State Of Samuel and Speedmarket Avenue is inspring and gives us a taste of how damn good they are; everything from their tunes to the harmonies to the community-minded onstage intermingling of band membrs over their sets is infectious and a good indicator of how to get the best out of a large band setup. Definitely worth watching. On top of that, they're all lovely guys and gals too.

Post-club, a lot of umm-ing and ahhh-ing ends up with us going back to Nal's place for a party. The fact that Nal lives in a rather expansive castle owned by an eminent legal professor is only a good thing; the other bands turn up, and a splendid time is had by all. I stay on the couch while Andrew argues politics. Good times all round. So much so, in fact, that we don't get back to Gav's til 6am. With the prospect of having to drive back home at midday, surely sleep would be the most sensible option? I take the hint and go to bed. Martin decides that staying up 'til half seven drinking whiskey with our gracious host is the way forward. Lucky him- he doesn't have to drive! As it happens, his rock n roll antics end up with his face pressed into the toilet bowl, puking his guts out; don't expect any sympathy (or a smooth ride) from me, fella...



Tour Diary; Day One (Friday)

Although we've had these dates booked for some months, it's always struck me, especially in the final moments before Andrew picks us up; how do 'proper' bands start tours? Do they wake up, have a shower, make some toast and sit around waiting for the tourbus to pick them up from their house? Or do they spend the previous night bonding in some mass black magic ritual before swaggering to the magic tourbus depot, choose their transport and speed off?

Either way, no such ritual for us, only a rather ramshackle rehearsal in Balham the night before. We've got a nice blue van, which is hastily loaded up with instruments, then unpacked again to fit the drum kit in, repacked, seats assigned (Sharon refuses to move from the back right seat, I get lumped with the job of co-pilot), and off we go.

I won't bore you with details of our journey to Edinburgh, other than to say it was smooth and hassle free. Dan, Andrew and I alternated the driving, and we mercifully avoided any traffic jams or major wrong turns. It's interesting that it's the first time that the six of us have been in prolonged company of only each other, though. I mean, I've been on holiday with Sharon and Dan before, and Sharon's been on holiday with Waz, or shared a chalet with Andrew at ATP, but with just the six of us, I suppose your true personality takes hold and you find out if you really like your bandmates. And, fingers crossed, so far so good. No-one's exposed themselves (nor in that sense) as a mid-morning drinker or smack addict, and aside from Martin's concern at Andrew's mid-morning consumption of a curry at the services, everything is just dandy.

The smoothness continues at Edinburgh. We park up, set up and go to the pub. Amy the organiser is super super nice and props must go to her for booking us without hearing us and for pairing us with the mighty Lucky Luke whose album Patrick The Survivor is one of my albums of the year. A load of friends are there, which is equally encouraging and nerve wracking; some have seen us before (especially Paul who's come up from London and now holds the record for the most amount of Gresham Flyers shows attended by a non-immediate member of the Flyer family), but some have only heard the talk and are thus expecting something good. I hope we don't disappoint.

As it turns out, we go down pretty well. The set is upbeat, we play well (people are dancing!) and apparently it sounds good out the front. At the last minute we drop our cover of Enola Gay and put in Dreams Never End by New Order instead. Sharon's assertion that we're wrong playing our signature introduction tune (Theme From) The Gresham Flyers as a mid-set intermission proves to be correct. However, the real only mishap for me is during Student Nurse, I tread on the guitar lead and thus my solo is never heard (an particular pain as we'd spent the majority of soundcheck making sure it sounded good!). Waz's only mishap appears to be his hat, but the crowd notice this and heckle accordingly.

Set over, we apparently manage to won over a few new converts with our tour CDs (two tracks- Falling Down and Shiftwork, recorded last weekend on a 16 track and sounding very good), though since I’m only the bass player, no-one talks to me about these things. Lucky Luke play a far more impressive set- note to band; buy an autoharp- and are enthusiastic about our set too.

We don't hang around too long; Waz and Helen go to their hotel, Dan and Sarah get a ride in the Lucky Luke bus back to Glasgow (and apparently get to eat biscuits and listen to banjo music, the devils), while the rest of us decamp to Kristin and Jonny's lovely new flat for a good night's kip. So good, in fact that we don't wake up until half eleven the next morning. That's rock n roll, baby.



Well THAT was fun!

Welcome to another brief (eh?) installment from me; I know I'm breaking my own rule and posting more than once in a month, but someone's got to do it...

Thak you everyone who came down to West Kensington last weekend (especially the two girls who aren't on Bowlie and only knew us cos of our gig with Saturday Looks Good To Me; you are our first offical fans, I think!), your support was very much appreciated. Certainly the most bizarre gig I've ever played and I hope you liked it. For those of you that weren't there, allow me to elucidate...

There I was, at home on Thursday evening, watching The Simpsons when the phone rings. It's the promoter for West One Four with bad news- the venue's double booked on Saturday! We're going to have to move to Sunday night. Thankfully we had a rehearsal scheduled for Sunday night, so I knew it wouldn't be a problem. I called the rest of the band to tell them, and they were all agreeable (though the issue of 35 heads through the door became a moot point due to the change). So I phone the promoter back. Then he tells me it's still going to be on Saturday, but in the bar downstairs. Fine, I say, and phone everyone again. We're not pleased, but a gig's a gig.

Come Saturday, we trundle to West Kensington, eye up the area around the venue, along with the 'interested' looks from the local gangs and unload the gear as quick as possible. The barman tells us to close the stage door as people are prone to wandering in, picking up anything valuable-looking and wandering out again. Point taken before any gear does, the door gets closed.

We set up on stage for sound check. It's at this point we realise that a) the pub resembles a Wetherspoons in all aspects; comfy sofas, faux-wood decor, sports on the big telly, b) The 'stage' is in fact a raised non-smoking area with bannisters round it. and c) Dan, the enthusiastic soundman is hampered by the fact that he's had to cobble together the PA from a stray mixing desk and spare bits from the venue proper. And he's never worked here before. To his utter credit, he did a fantastic job, and I reckon with the right tools he's a magic bloke to have behind the desk. However, by this point, Sharon looks beyond the state of despair.

The other bands soon arrive, and it's obvious that due to the venue change, two of them (Black Cabs and Dialog in this case) have decided that they don't want to play. Hooray, we think, we're headlining. While we're soundchecking, the guitarist from Dead Monroe comes over and questions the situation, asking what we think about the poor choice of venue and the attendant deficiencies that a pub PA will bring. They don't seem happy, and after watching/ hearing us soundcheck, promptly walk out, claiming the PA can't handle their sound. A shame, cos I'd have liked to have seen em.

Then there were two. The only trouble is, this is a pub, and the Flaming Monkeys are all aged about 14. The bar manager tells them in no uncertain terms that she can't let them play in a pub. Ah. They (and their undoubtedly pushy father/ manager types) retreat to their people carrier (comlpete with tinted windows!) and sulk before driving off, no doubt muttering under their breath.

"Would you like to do two sets?" the promoter asks us. By this point, the mood in the Gresham Flyers camp is somewhere between confusion and hostility. We've hired amps, driven miles and set up. We don't have another gig for a fortnight, plus we've told people we're playing. We can't leave now. Okay, I say, we'll do two sets. Dan negotiates the entry fee down to four quid, but even that's a bit steep. I'd rather play to fifty non-paying punters than charge for a substandard night, and the way this has gone, it is indeed sub-standard.

Come 9pm, we get up on stage, and play a set. The assembled punters number somewhere around eight. It's nice to cut loose and have some fun, so the set is relaxed, but not so that we're taking the piss. We include our two top-secret cover versions, but drop a couple of songs just so we don't overdo it. The melodica gets its' stage debut on a couple of songs. A few more people come in, though the promoter turns away probably twice as many people cos they don't want to pay four quid. All told, a good but sloppy set.

The valiant Tim Silver of Fifteen Minutes comes to rescue and fills the slack space with a few choice tunes of his own, including one great song that I remember playing with him when we were in a band about three years ago. Up we go again. Sharon's had a bit to drink, but we pull out all the stops again and play the whole ten-song set. This time, we're on fire. I don't know how it sounded out front, but to me, that was the best we'd ever played the songs. We dedicated Cat Hits Car to Tim as it's his favourite and he did us a great favour.

The set ends as usual on an epic version of Pretty But Not Beautiful with an ending that seems to go on for ages- I've certainly run out of octaves by the time the end comes round. Nonetheless, we seem to have gone down well, and despite the sparse attendance, the reception is very enthusiastic. Thank you everyone!

But there's still one thing; it's 10.45pm. The licence for live music still has 75 minutes left! So, in a move of either great bravery or great stupidity, we decide to play some more. The fact that we've run out of songs is neither here nor there, as Waz the human jukebox simply shows us a few chords and we fall in behind him. Before you know it- BAM!- we're playing Sit Down by James. That ends and after a brief pause for Andrew to remember the guitar part, we're doing Echo Beach, which we haven't played for months- in fact, I think it was the first thing we ever played together. Needless to say, we forget bits of it. Our former sax player and original seventh member Jess is in the audience, but sadly neglected to bring her instrument along and I have to sing the sax solo. Badly.

Non-paying punters from the back room come in and sing along/ dance. One even requests something by The Jam (if only...).

Dan strolls off, claiming to have had enough. Andrew gets behind the kit and we plough on. Common People by Pulp and Transmission by Joy Division follow (despite not being familiar with either song, Andrew's drumming was still magnificent). Dan comes back to play keyboards on Transmission. Girls are dancing!! And not just ones we know!!

The soundman, having endured quite enough of this malarkey, tells us to make the next one the last one so he can get the last tube home. I struggle to remember how the bassline to Pump It Up goes (another early rehearsal room chestnut) so instead we somehow end up playing Another Brick In the Wall Pt 2 by Pink Floyd. Out of this comes a drum solo from Dan, a bass solo and band introductions, hotel house-band style. One last flourish and we're off.

And breathe out. We get off stage, collect our gear, and absorb the situation. The mood is generally positive- even Dan, the band's biggest in-house critic is happy with the spontaneous ending. A drunk lady tells us in a roundabout way that we'd be good enough to play Salsa music- a high compliment to these ears. Thinking that we've done well, we beam all the way to the car as we load the stuff in.

One particularly inebriated bloke stops Waz and points him out to a girl he's vailantly chatting up/ holding onto for support.

"See 'im? 'E's in the band!"
"Yes, I am." says Waz
"You were fucking shit, mate."

You can't please everyone.



Mission Accomplished

Ooh, a review of The Gresham Flyers' first gig!

"Jarvis once asked “Do you remember the first time?” and he could recall that “it was the worst time”. First gigs can be tragic and can scar musicians for life, making them opt for living room or selected audience performances to justify the presence of family members only.

Fortunately, this fate did not cross The Gresham Flyers’ path on Sunday at the Pleasure Unit, where they performed their first gig ever! The enthusiasm, the nerves and the thrill of a first gig were there and so was a big audience – well, yeah, it was their first gig, remember? – and the band did not disappoint.

Despite some initial sound problems, their set was very good and rather bold for a band who is just starting up. Surely many hours must have been spent rehearsing this sunshine pop bonanza set which was not limited to a classic combination of rhythm sections and guitars. “Shiftwork” was captivating and bouncy with a dominant keyboard feel, “Pretty but not Beautiful” had a joyous, graceful stream of xylophone which faded into the end of the song accompanied by jangle guitars, while “Student Nurse” flirted with some catchy funk overtones.

There is room for improvement, especially on the vocals side, but overall it was a good performance.

An audience of music lovers – not just relatives - can be devoted but also very critical. Seeing all those people cheering and tapping along, I can only say one thing: “mission accomplished, serge”."


Just filling time in the collective mind...

I've decided to limit myself to one blog a month- we're still waiting for Waz to make his debut entry, but since there's been nothing since Dan's salutary effort, and it appears that some people enjoy looking at this site (fancy that!), I've got nothing better to do than put some words down for your entertainment. If your boss catches you reading them at work (as I will undoubtedly get caught writing them), they should be worth it.

We've been getting generally good feedback from the two songs we put on the website, which is quite heartening, (even more so for John, who wrote them, I guess). It's not been the sort of shrug-of-the-shoulders 'yeah, it's all right', nor the overly hyperactive 'Oh! Well done! You're brilliant!' sycophancy that is often just said to make the recipient feel better because the end result is garbage, but a nicely balanced view. Some people like Shiftwork, others prefer Pretty But Not Beautiful. We've had responses from people whose opinions we value; one who we thought would hate us really loved the songs. Another called it 'indie-by-numbers'. Fair enough, I've always said that it's impossible to please everyone and you shouldn't try. There's nothing worse than someone desperate to impress their audience rather than accept criticism and move on. I just think of the Alan Partridge 'I love wine' scene where he's squirming to get his job back.

Just as an aside, and for a bit of trivia, the lineup for both songs is essentially the same - John on guitar and lead vocals
Sharon on keyboards
Martin on rhythm guitar,
me on bass
Andrew on drums
Dan doing synth on Shiftwork and glockenspiel on Pretty But Not Beautiful

It's interesting that these two were put up, as these are Andrew's drumming songs; apart from one new one that I've got in the works, Dan plays the drums. It'd be nice to get some more songs done with Andrew on drums as their styles are very different (the difference reminds me of Levon Helm versus Richard Manuel in The Band) and it adds a lot of variety to our sound. It takes up a lot of time when we play live, swapping stuff round, but we're working on that... anyone know any jokes?

Thinking about it, our versatility is probably one of our strongest facets; musically we're pretty good, not technically perfect (I'd say Dan is the 'best' musician by dint of his drumming skills), but none of us have any aspirations to be Dave Gilmour or Rick Wakeman, apart from the capes. Even so, between us as a sextet, we have two drummers (plus two 'trainee' drummers), four contributing songwriters (though I'd prefer to have six!) five guitar players, five keyboard players, five potential singers, six percussionists and (now that Sharon has decided to give it a go on one song) six bassists. It's enough to make your head spin.

We had a potential festival gig in Cornwall this weekend supporting Hawkwind(!), but Andrew's on holiday and I'm not quite sure how well we'd go down without a naked lady onstage (no, Sharon won't do it). If you are in Cornwall go and see Syrus play. That's my brother's band. They're very good, but I don't think they've got a website. They're on just before the 'Wind.

Our next gig isn't until the 10th September in London. I have mixed feelings about this one, simply as it's going to be on a bill of four other bands who seem to have little in common with us. The promoters have a policy of booking audiences rather than bands, which is good as it makes for a large audience, and exposes you to other bands who might pique your interest, but makes for interesting running orders; we're on in the cushy middle slot, but the 'headliners' who are on at 11.30 are a group of 13 year old skate punks called The Flaming Monkeys. On the plus side, having seen Syrus play there, the stage is nice and large, the sound engineer is very very attentive and knows what he's doing. Plus the soundboard recording of the gig is excellent; a nice source for new sounds to tie us over until we record properly later this year.
If you fancy coming along, let us know. I'll try and get the flyer scanned and put up this week. Likewise if you want to send me birthday presents for tomorrow, let me know. ;)


Brring brring!! – a few personal thoughts for those who care to read them.

5pm, 10th August, Afroba, Reading.

Dan here – it’s high time for my two penn’orth I believe. Here are my present musings on the band:

I’m very pleased to have two relatively solid gigs under our belt now. We’ve done pretty well to get this together since January, and it’s always alarming to how quickly something like this can take over your social life – before you know it you are spending more time with other members of your group than anyone else! My personal recollection of the gigs so far is the usual mix of enjoyment/self-loathing/aspiration created by ourselves and the other bands on the bill. Frankly, I would have thought I’d have grown out of this by now, but it never seems to diminish. I have no doubt that Waz and Sharon will establish themselves as charismatic front ‘persons’, once they relax a bit and let their personalities come through. Here’s what we’ve achieved so far:

- Two gigs with four more dates already booked and some in Caledonia!

- A more than decent website (cheers Andrew!)

- Photo shoots and artistic collaborations with friends

- A full set of our own material

- Starting to carve out a sense of identity

- Our own pub (sort of…)

Realistically, we’ve reached a point where you could expect a small band to get, given a bit of time, but no further. Without wanting to bite off more than we can chew, I think it’s time to raise the bar… at least a foot! As I’ve discussed with Thom today, to what extent I’ll be able to contribute to the band before I leave the country next March is unsure. I hope that I can add as much as possible between now and then.

When you think of being a musician, being in a band or doing something creative in any sense I believe you are aiming to emote in the same way that you may have felt when you listen to a favourite record, experience an amazing art work or witness a thrilling sports game, in other words elated, joyous, moved etc. The distance between fulfilling this yearning and what impact you actually have on yourselves and others when you start out is, not to put too fine a point on it, vast.

It’s easy to convince yourself that this lofty ambition is unrealistic or beyond the pale. When I was younger and first started playing an instrument, I was probably more ambitious in respect to music (as I think is the case with many people) than I am now. Whether this was youthful naivety, cynicism that comes with maturity (!) or some sort of natural dulling (god forbid), I can only guess. I think I look at this band in an ostensibly less pretentious way, than I might have done if I was 18. I think now you don’t necessarily need to reach even a smallish audience in order to effect people. I’m happy to write music for myself and friends, rather than to play at winning a fan base or attracting artist and repertoire bods to gigs. If the band picks up pace maybe that sort of drive will return naturally, but I don’t think so. It occurs to me that I have far more intense personal moments listening to recorded music by myself than I do at live gigs; that’s what I aspire to.

That brings me neatly onto our intention to start recording some tracks for ‘public consumption’. Whilst the others in the band are eager to have a tangible product in their hands, I would rather wait and make sure we have something we are delighted with and will want to play at home because we genuinely love it. If we’re going to get it done this side of Christmas, I’ll probably have to compromise a fair bit on this, however. Thom will post something when we are planning to record something if anyone is interested.

One of the things which will take us away from being an easily ‘pigeon-hole-able’ indie pop act, which is what I see us as at the moment, is if we can make that most of the musical diversity within the group. There is an undoubted scope of taste within the group, so we can start mining that. I would get bored very easily if we remain too musically conservative. Please see the request for a tabla player below. Another useful feature of the group is the mixture of levels of experience (of being in bands/playing live), for some of the band the Pleasure Unit gig was their first experience of playing to an audience. I anticipate that this should keep the ideas fresh and enthusiasm levels up. A number of friends have suggested with could do with a bit more light and shade in the music they’ve heard, so we are planning to work on that.

The band currently has three song writers: Waz, Thom and I. Ideally we would like everyone to compose and collaborate, because that’s when you truly have a band. We certainly have a great level of dialogue: for most of the week there is an all-day email conversation concerning mainly logistical plans. It would be great if we could discuss the substance of the music through that medium more often. It makes the whole thing a living, breathing entity. At the moment the different songwriters mean that the lyrics are somewhat disparate. They might need a little more coherence overall, but anything that adds variety is good. I’d like to incorporate a little more political essence into them, but I don’t want to hi-jack the band. Personally I am enjoying the step up and out from behind the drum kit immensely – being ‘just a drummer’ is a bit frustrating. I’m enjoying playing the drums more as a consequence, anyway.

It may continue to be a challenge to swap instruments as we do in a live setting, but I love the idea of it. Sharing and learning from each other should be a major theme of the band. If I had my way I’d get the audience to join in the gig, but I suspect this might be a bit hippy-ish for the rest of the band’s taste…

Finally, from securing our gigs to the formation of the band in the first instance, we owe debt of thanks to the Bowlie website (www.bowlie.com). We’ve enjoyed a decent crowd for both the gigs we’ve played, and had valued support from other bands/people we know and like. Hats off to skipper, David Kitchen, and all who sail aboard her!


Brixton Gig

On Monday night we performed our 2nd gig… it was another excellent night and thanks to everyone for turning up, cheering when we came on, applauding every song and saying nice things to us afterwards. Generally I think it went really well, I personally played a lot better than at the first gig which was great. I was also a lot less nervous this time and made an effort not to spend the whole night staring at my feet & guitar!

Despite the success of our performance, however, the highlight of the night for me was seeing Saturday Looks Good To Me who were quite simply awesome. I hadn’t heard much of them before Monday night but they were truly brilliant. This made me realise that being in a band is also a great way to see some fantastic bands for free, which can’t be bad.

There are some great photo’s of the night on the HDIF website for your perusal:

And here are some secret bonus photo’s of The Gresham Flyers!!!




That was a great first gig. I've not played live with a band before, and it was nerve-wracking at first, but I really enjoyed it. It has been pointed out to me that the one way to ensure a big turnout is to get a 6-piece band to play their debut gig and bring all their friends, and perhaps we'll never have quite that atmosphere again, but let's not be negative. It was a fantastic night.

I'm extremely proud that Mark Hibbett from M.J.Hibbett and the Validators and Mark from the Lucksmiths liked us. People called Mark seem to like us, actually. Anyway, to have people I've bought albums by, which I've played endlessly in my bedroom, telling me they were impressed by my band has truly made my week. I can only hope next Monday's gig gets the same reaction.

So thanks to everyone who turned up, cheered, ensured that we got paid etc. By our reckoning it was a generally good performance with a few minor fuck-ups, and hopefully we've got more in the tanks. We have more tunes on the way, too. See some of you again at one of the next few gigs, hopefully.


Ta muchly!

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who made their way out on Sunday. It looks like we might've had around 100 people there in the end!

It was a tense afternoon - with the soundcheck running late. But once I heard people applaud after our soundcheck, I knew we must be doing something right.

I had a great night, and I can't wait to do it all again. Thankfully that will be in less than a week's time (8th August, The Windmill, Brixton).

Thanks also to Wintergreen for arranging the gig, and our friend Ben who became a superstar DJ at short notice.



T minus 72 hours

So, here we are. It's roughly three days until our first gig.

Am I nervous? I dunno.

Are you? Are you coming?

I'd be interested to see what the three members of the band who have never played a gig before are feeling. It may be the same as the 'seasoned veterans' (hah!).

I remember my first gig I played; in 1998 my younger brother hired me and Nathan A as a rhythm section to fill in for his band. We did one gig with them, and from what I recall it sounded passable. I got to play wah bass (yup, bass through a wah pedal) on one song. I've yet to try that since. The singer was a girl called Emily who was later in ITV's The Worst Witch. There was this lad Liam as the co-frontman, and for a 17 year old he was a pretty confident songwriter. I still hum songs like 'Young Blood' or 'Before What' that he wrote. Sometimes I even crib some of his hooks.

Anyway, I digress. Expect that from me. I'm sure for Waz this is pretty much par for the course. A gig's a gig; he's in three bands so it's not like it's unknown territory for him. Barring my brief unscheduled appearance with The Milburns at the O2 Festival last month (on drums of all things) I haven't played live for nearly three years. I think that was Dan's last gig as well. We played Maidenhead Leisure Centre in a local battle of the bands. We came last.

We had our final rehearsal last night, and it sounded pretty good. I kept missing change back into a verse on one song. I'm worried about fluffing my guitar solo on Student Nurse. Don't laugh if I do.

Andrew mis-timing a drum part on Shiftwork is now a running gag. If we introduce Shiftwork, please shout 'SOLO!' at him after the second verse so he knows what to play.

From past experience, a good gig usually hinges on a bad rehearsal beforehand, to keep everyone on their toes. But with one exception (when half the band got stuck in traffic and missed most of the session) we haven't really had a bad practice. For me, this is pretty good news- it's certainly the most industrious band I've been in. Eight complete songs in six months is pretty good going.

It amazes me how fast things have moved. Dan and I were in a band off and on for nearly three years, but nothing came of it. We haven't even played our first gig and already we have plans for nearly up to Christmas. I got some more band-related good news today which I'll save for later, but it's a step in the right direction.

See you on the other side of Sunday...