‘During the 80’s I saw Sex Gang Children, Southern Death Cult, Play Dead….wore pan stick, took drugs, sniffed glue, learned to cut hair, got drunk, saw bands, had girlfriends, got on with it. Randomly met Ariel Bender aka Luther Grosvenor (I cut his hair as I had become a hairdresser by then). Became mates. He lent me a guitar and showed me some chords – I took a lot of acid around this time and, sadly, one night, painted the neck board of the guitar in a series of patterns that I thought would help me play better! Fell out with Ariel Bender. Didn’t play much better. By 1990 became friends again with Ariel. Played better. Wrote early songs’.
Any stories from your early gigs ? ‘In ’92 I formed Gorgeous Space Virus. Played The Marquee in London several times. Supported GWAR & Thin White Rope & Smashing Pumpkins’ first UK tour. All kinda blurry. Always on the verge of getting that elusive deal….never happened. One night we drove to Bridlington from London to play a gig. We used to use a lot of smoke machines and this set of the smoke alarms before the end of the first song. The fire brigade and police were called and we were banned from the venue. Drove home. Got chucked out of GSV. Late 90’s formed cassettes and supported The Fall in 2007 over a five night residency at Croydon Cartoon club. That was weird. And ACE!’
How did cassettes come about ? ’I found myself in 2004 falling out the arse end of another love story, dossing in a mate’s garden shed. I wrote and recorded on a trusty Tascam 4 track what became cassettes’ (small c, no definitive) first album, Old Vinyl & UFO Kids. It was initially a way to pass time and exorcise some ghosts. I was living in Croydon at the time and started playing acoustic gigs with a drum machine and mini disc backing. They were quite drunken affairs. Sat on the floor, surrounded by fairy lights and a kinda grail of old photos. Plus a three foot, brown plastic rendition of the 3 wise monkeys that I had bought as a joke in Norfolk some years before. The monkeys stood upon each other’s head and were a bizarre toilet roll holder – a truly hideous thing! It’s funny the things one saves from broken relationships. I pressed up 100 copies of Old Vinyl & UFO Kids onto cd, art worked myself and numbered the lot and gave them away at gigs. Over the summer I was offered the chance to play some gigs with noise oiks Ten Foot Nun and lo-fi troubadour Superman Revenge Squad in London so I got an early full version of cassettes together and formed a band around a nucleus of mates’.
When did you first get interested in music ? ’We lived in Dorset during the 70’s and my folks had a radiogram that sat in the front room. One day I peered inside and a whole new world opened up. My early influences were Sgt.Pepper, Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Faces, Getz & Gilberto and Dionne Warwick. When I was 12 I found a transistor radio on the way home from school and listened to Stuart Henry on Radio Luxemburg under the bed sheets. This would be 76/77. Ramones, Rezillos, Clash, The Flys, Dr.Feelgood, Tyla Gang, Graham Parker, Sex Pistols….This was the defining moment for me. The moment I saw a (no) future. Hitch hiked to Exeter to see 999. Discovered John Peel…taped furiously! In 1979 the band Martian Schoolgirls’, formed by ex-roadie of The Clash, released a single ‘Life in the 1980s’. This, and mail-order music company (COBB Records) sealed the deal for me. This was what I was going to do – if I could’.
‘We moved to Croydon in 1979 after our house burned down. It was as if I’d landed in the future. We had come from a West Country village. Saw early Killing Joke, Theatre of Hate (met Boy George, lover of Kirk Brandon before he was famous). My folks hung around (somehow…well, they were local) with Status Quo and at 16 I baby sat the Quo kids…and so was allowed to listen to Francis Rossi’s and Bob Young’s record collection (taped furiously!) – discovered Ry Cooder. Joined some school bands none of which ever got off the ground, although a tape has turned up recently of a dreadful song’.
Who were (are) your influences ? ‘Ray Davies, Patti Smith, Dylan, Bowie, Lowfeye, Ry Cooder, George Orwell, Vladimir Nabokov, PIL, Ian Dury, Picasso, Lou Reed, Killing Joke, Graham Greene and, yknaa, all the good folk’.
What you been up to in the last couple of years ? ‘In 2014 moved to South Shields. Recorded a complete version of Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks in the broom cupboard. Then 2017 moved over the river Tyne to Whitley Bay. Got involved in local Busker scene. Lost my job. Met local legends Mike Waller, Alan McCulloch, Phil Mitchell, Your Casket Or Mine. Recorded Somme Girls at home. Met John E Thornton, Hannah Brown & Brad McVay and formed Clown Electrics. We’re ganna kick it all around the Bay Area all summer 2018. Play some gigs, record an album and split up so Hannah can go back to university in the autumn, or the Fall as our American cousins would have it.
Over the years cassettes recorded albums – some as solo ventures, some as a band or whoever was around at the time. Some were recorded at home, some studio ventures if money allowed’.
Old Vinyl & UFO Kids (2004.) – Planet of The Tapes 001 – four track recording 100 copies.
Rain Later, Good (2007) – Planet of The Tapes 002 – 16 track studio recording 100 copies.
Bell Hill (2009) – planet of the tapes 003 – 8 track cassette recording 100 copies.
Wizard of Was (2010) planet of the tapes 004 – studio EP. 100 copies.
God’s Trousers (2012)- planet of the tapes 005 – home recorded EP 50 copies.
When Bowie Had English Teeth (2012) – planet of the tapes 006 – studio 200 copies.
West Country (2013) – split 10” vinyl single with Magic Brother – Onomatopoeia records.
Blood On The Tracks (2015) – reworking of Dylan’s album – 100 copies.
Somme Girls (2018) – planet of the tapes 007 – 50 handmade CDs/digital download.
And that’s the story so far…..
Interview by Gary Alikivi July 2018.
Mond Cowie, Angels of the North, March 12th 2017.
Neil Newton, All the Young Punks, June 4th 2017.
Wavis O’Shave, Felt Nowt, 6th June 2017.
Lowfeye, POW (album review) December 15th 2017.