The Teesside Bloc of Stockton, Middlesbrough, Billingham and Redcar have given up plenty of stories from Emma ‘Velvet Tones of Teesside’ Wilson, Mark Berry from power metallers Millennium, and songwriter & producer Steve ‘Godfather of North East NWOBHM’ Thompson.
Last month we heard from Hartlepool vocalist & guitarist Paul McCarte (link below), this post features another interview from one of the Hartlepool contingent.
I asked Procession drummer Mark Lloyd, did you think you were going to have a career and lifetime in music of going on tours, playing festivals and recording albums ?
That was the dream, and we gave it a good shot, even going self-employed as a band on a government scheme. Bad luck with vans scuppered our ability to gig, and we lost our long term rehearsal space which only enhanced the scupper. The pressure got too intense, and we imploded.
Looking back, we did achieve a lifetime in music because we are all still playing. It wasn’t what we all hoped for as idealistic twenty-somethings, but it was great fun.
GIMME THE GIG
I have no musical background or family musical connection – so I chose drums. I could hardly play and also started my apprenticeship as a goldsmith living in bedsit land. I helped out sound-checking the drums for Procession at a gig and got to know them all.
Paul McCarte (vocals/guitar) came to visit me and invited me to audition. I think I was the worst audition, but the best fit, so I was in. Happy days.
LONDON & THE HORN
In 1992 Procession went into Sarm West studios in London and recorded a session for Trevor Horn’s label ZTT – but didn’t travel up the M1 with a record deal.
The A&R man came up North to our rehearsal space and it felt like a step up the ladder was about to appear, he loved us and invited us down to London for three days recording at ZTT. For my part, I had never played to a click, and any drummer who hasn’t will find it difficult, especially under the pressure of a chance like that in a huge studio environment.
Back then, drum machines had just become commercially available, and it was the first thing I bought and taught myself how to use and play in the aftermath. I guess it’s like most things in life things do not always turn out how you would like, and in hindsight, he could have prepared us better for the experience.
THE BIG H
We didn’t get past the three-day interview because the recordings didn’t capture us doing our thing like we could live. Maybe if they had recorded the band live as we had in every other experience of being in a studio, the result might have been different, and we may have met the main man.
It’s not that we were opposed to being worked with – it was more like we didn’t want to be pulled apart and reworked without any foreplay.
END OF THE PROCESSION
We had no van, no rehearsal space, no money. It was like a slow-motion collapse. We tried to get funds by running a successful club night in a hotel that gave us rehearsal space. It was good but not enough to pay all our wages.
The pressure to return to jobs and get lives back on track was ultimately too great. We did manage to stay friends even though it was a painful time and continued to make music together in various guises over the years.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO GLASTO
Moving on from Procession we formed NEEB, the members were Andrew Wain from Procession on keys as the mad scientist, Peter Casson on crazy guitar, Tony Waite ‘basslord’ a fantastic bass player and studio wizard who has played in many bands since the ’70s. Completing the line-up the one and only Mark Hand on Rhodes, Moog and other vintage keyboards.
NEEB enjoyed a successful gigging period and released tunes on our record label Experiment Collective Intelligence, alongside Hartlepool band Hidden Agenda signed to Goldie’s label Metalheadz.
We played many festivals such as Glastonbury and Solfest, Scotland, we were in the Dogs in Space tent, an amazingly visual tent and a fantastic funky full-house gig. We played with our female vocalist, Vicky Jackson, and a guest singer Paul McCarte, enjoying a very colourful evening.
We also signed with a Japanese record company that sold lots of our music as downloads for phone ringtones – we like to think we were big in Japan!
LIVE, LOUD & NAKED
Touring around the country in a small van, squished like sardines, the gigs all melt into one, and the gigs you remember are mainly the ones that had a good crowd who got behind you. Definitely, the most memorable gigs are the ones that hit that spot with the audience. The feeling it gives you on stage is far better than the gig location.
With Procession we had some fantastic responses in the Newcastle Riverside and The Arena in Middlesbrough. Later on the dream was to play Glastonbury. I achieved that with NEEB playing on a sunny Sunday afternoon in 2000 on the Avalon Stage. A naked streaking singer being one of the highlights – yes, he was our singer, the infamous Ian ‘Ish’ Monaghan.
I have just moved my successful goldsmithery business into new premises, and building a new rehearsal/studio space in the vast loft space.
My music playing now involves nights of jamming with most bandmates mentioned earlier, not necessarily under a band name. The latest NEEB incarnation, called Subliminal Vineyards, is me, Tony and Wainy with guitar from Mark Folland, a former member of Hartlepool band Brethren.
My plan with the new space is to create a music hub for us all to enjoy. It will be somewhere to jam, record the music and film live video streaming on a blue screen background – just enjoy the simple pleasure of playing music with my friends, not for money, fame or ego, purely for fun, ad infinitum.
Interview by Gary Alikivi March 2021.
Links to interviews with Procession vocalist/guitarist Paul McCarte: