I have just recalled a small and mostly insignificant moment from my past. As you may or may not know, in the Nineties (younger readers can Google that one for a history lesson), I was in a band. We wanted to "make it", as all young bands want to do, even though "making it" really meant spending two years sleeping in the back of a transit van, driven by an overweight ex-Iron Maiden roadie (you just had to be there, maaan) who has a penchant for Motorway Service Station Pasties (and we know what Rhod Gilbert has to say about those) and anything that could be eaten, drunk, smoked or otherwise ingested with one hand.
Anyway, one time we got ourselves a gig at the Camden Falcon, which may mean nothing to you, but at the time it was THE PLACE to be seen as a young band. I seem to recall something like that was where Suede were found, and maybe Morrissey was in the audience. There again, too much Pepsi Max may just have damaged that memory beyond repair.
Anyway, digressing again (note to self, must do more digressing), back to our gig. The routine for such an even goes something like this:
- Nameless/faceless/useless support band (played by us in this scene) arrive at venue
- there is one only person on duty when you arrive
- the said person has no idea who you are, where you need to go, or who will be doing the sound check
- you buy a pint, wander round, sit down, stand up, wait a bit longer, smoke a fag, and then realise the dingy door at the back leads to the "venue"
- you enter said venue, which is always painted a uniform black, except for the punch holes and sick stains
- within the room are the undead. They are creatures that prefer to avoid both sunlight and water. They are the sound crew and the engineer and anything else that needs doing, all in one human form
- you wait another couple of hours, you let the main band set up their gear and sound check
- you then setup your gear in front of the main band's gear. The stage was small to start with, and with two band's gear on it, the space for humans is severely limited. Being in a band trying to "make it" means you put up with pretty much any and all sh!t, and are very adept at playing your instrument in a space the size of a small wardrobe
- if there is time, you do a sound check, which consists of the engineer making sure every mike is plugged in and turned on. The average sound check goes like this: "kick drum", thump, thump, thump. "OK, snare". Thwack, thwack. "High hat", tic, tic, tic. "Whole kit". Boom de boom. "Lead guitar", twang. "Rhythm guitar", strum. "Vocals", la la la. And for the support band, if it happens at all, that is how long you get for a sound check.
- Then you just wait around until 9pm, play for 45 minutes to a crowd smaller than the band, before waiting until half midnight when the main band finishes, at which point you remove your gear and yourself back to whatever sorry hole you dragged yourself from to get to the venue.
Anyway, at the Camden Falcon, the engineer, let's call him Swampy, was an undead of the long haired variety. Now, don't get me wrong, I like long hair as much as the next Rapunzel, so no problems there, it is just the damage it seems to do to their ability to speak. Anyway, this one did speak, and actually very eloquently (so that is one in the eye for your prejudice then. Ed). And as we were setting up, he was to utter what was to me words that will not and indeed have not ever left me, to this day. These words, which will be underwhelming with all the build up, were simply "There has been nothing new in music since Bowie in '79".
That has always seemed profound to me. And actually, take a listen, coz his presence is very much with us still.