Tuesday Ten: 354: Leave Them All Behind

As I near the end of the twelfth year of this series, I’m still not short of subjects to write about. Indeed, my notes suggest that I have twenty potential subjects at least for future posts, besides the usual monthly wrap-up of new music. This week, then, I’m digging back into those I’d started thinking about a while ago.

Tuesday Ten: 354
Leave Them All Behind

Tuesday Ten: Reader Takeovers

192: Perfect Albums
216: Unsung
242: Front 242
301: Oh My Goth!
324: Independent Women

Well, kinda. Actually I’m handing over to a number of my readers this week, for a sixth instalment of the reader takeover. It is different, though, to the subjects I’ve written about before, as all of the contributors here used to be involved in making music.

This week, then, is about the musical careers, that in one way or another, didn’t work out. People who took up music at school and never got beyond school bands or orchestras, people who when younger were in bands but life got in the way, and indeed people who had a modicum of success in their chosen musical style. But the bit that links all of these are that what I was interested in, was why they gave it up – and for someone like me, who barely even got started on playing music, and wrote about music from the first opportunity they got, what it was like to be a performing artist. Anyway – thanks to everyone that took the time to submit answers to my questions. Any photos supplied are courtesy of the individuals involved.

A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.

Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).


amodelofcontrol.com on Facebook


Coreline

Memory of a Festival: 005

Chris Coreline

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
The Studio itself is a musical instrument, come fight me.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
The Infest gig was the highlight.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
It doesn’t bring me much happiness looking back at it. I can watch the videos and get lost in the nostalgia but overall, I feel empty and distant from all that, it was another life really.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
I never stopped playing music, I think the key was deciding to stop making music for other people. That came a few months after Infest when despite leaving a considerable impact on Infest (standing on the shoulders of the 5F_X and The Gothsicles as I was), I was still struggling to land gigs in bars for 10 people and said impact was clearly not going to steer a new course for anyone. A whole forest of other issues were also adding to my mounting disenfranchisement with ‘industrial’ and indeed ‘alt-electronic’ music. I had always meant to write these up but never got round to it and now it doesn’t matter. People like ad.ver.sary and even Storming the Base did a better job after me of calling out the mounting hypocrisies, more recently the resurgence of fascism has put me on-guard any time anyone white and male mentions ‘alt’ anything.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
Plenty, the infest show was videoed in glorious 480p and is on YouTube.


The .invalid

But Listen: 134

Seamus Bradd

So rewind a few years, I was writing, producing and performing music as The .invalid, and was playing synths for Cease2Xist, both of which stopped being the case in 2014, at least in any meaningful sense. See, the problem with being involved with music is that it can very easily start eating into other areas of your life, and in 2014 I was a massive asshole, and I was doing a very bad job of taking care of myself. This culminated in me having an absolutely gigantic meltdown that summer, which (absolutely deservedly) got me kicked out of Cease2Xist.

Shortly afterwards, I decided that the best thing I could do would be to put music on ice and try to concentrate on getting myself straightened out. The hows and whys of which are honestly really boring, but suffice to say that neglecting my mental health for a number of years was a pretty complex thing to unpick. Nowadays, I more or less just spend my spare time around my partner and my cats, and while there’s a part of me that I think will always miss it, I just haven’t really felt any compelling need to write anything since.

Still, I got to play some incredible shows and put out a record I’m still damn proud of. I got to meet plenty of my heroes for better or worse. For all that The .invalid was not exactly a household name by any standards, getting to jump about in front of a crowd of a thousand and belt my heart out (and nobody walked out!) was a privilege not many people get to experience, and that’s never going to leave me.

I guess that burning out on everything so quickly was a mixed blessing. At the very least I’ve avoided putting out any disappointing follow-up records, and I’m never going to be stuck attempting to recreate any past glories. I couldn’t think of anything worse, honestly!


What band(s) were you in, and when?
The two most notable were RED20 and an unnamed metal band which ended up being Hundred Man Horde after I left.

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
Guitar, but I also did some lead and backing vocals and some bass in Red20.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
The whole period of ‘The Red Album’. We were on fire around that time. It all clicked.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
Yes and no. It was a turbulent time in the lives of the members and thus there are good and bad memories, but overall it was an experience I’m very grateful for.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
Yes. After Red20 and the metal band I recorded an Industrial EP under the name Hybrid Icon that I never released. It wasn’t fun any more. I felt jaded by friendships becoming difficult and realised the scene wasn’t for me any more. soon afterwards I became a writer, which I’ve done for over a decade now.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
RED20 – Inferno


Jude the Obscure / Electric Penguins

Jacqui C

I was in a couple of bands in Halifax for a couple of years. Jude the Obscure with my brother, friends Jo and Ben. Then Electric Penguins with my brother and Ben. My brother took over singing and the music went from a tingly goth to more guitary. Both bands broke up due to college/university attendance. I sold my bass and amp and haven’t played since I was about 18. My brother was front man of Liquid Head (with Martin Aylward on my fl – drummer Martin), still plays and has his own collaboration of web only music. Ben has moved to Brighton and is still involved in the music business via interviews. Jo is wife and mother, still in Halifax.


Split Infinity / The Deities

Doug McGuffog

What band(s) were you in, and when?
Split Infinity (Thrash/Metal/Goth band – early 90s)
The Deities (Electronic/Noise solo stuff – mid 90s to late 00s)

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
Split Infinity – Drums, lyricist, backing vocals.
The Deities – used to create using PS1 + PS2 music applications, then migrated to Garageband.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
Split Infinity – organised some minor festivals, supported Rosetta Stone, played Rock World (Manchester), and did a couple of gigs where the lead singer was carried onstage in a coffin while we played a rock version of the death march.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
Absolutely. Loved gigging, practising, recording. Being in a band is great fun. We (Split Infinity) were fairly active in organising events in York’s music scene for a while, and toured a fair bit.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
Not really. I left Split Infinity when I went to University – they planned to carry on with a new drummer, but it didn’t really go anywhere. As for my solo stuff, that’s something I keep hoping to have time to get back into – probably not as The Deities, I have plans for other stuff.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
Not much as it was mostly pre social media. There’s stuff I could probably dig out and digitise though.


China Eye

Graeme McKinnon

What band(s) were you in, and when?
I was in a short-lived band called China Eye, and we were active around (I think) 2004-2005. The band ended up parting ways because our drummer moved to London, the singer/songwriter/guitarist moved to Japan, and then I moved out of Edinburgh as well…

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
Bass guitar and very occasional backing vocals.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
My personal high point was playing a gig at Bannermans in Edinburgh; the other contender would be getting our sampler E.P. recorded.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
I would say so – it was fun (if nerve-wracking before going on-stage), we came up with some decent songs (although I can’t really take any of the credit for writing them, other than the odd little tweak to the basslines here & there), we got to play some gigs, and the feedback we got was generally pretty positive.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
I don’t think there was ever really a definite “that’s it” moment, more just that since then I haven’t ever really been in a situation that was conducive to doing anything musical; I certainly haven’t written off the idea of getting back into playing in a band, but lack of time (and talent on my part) have generally precluded it.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
There are a couple of photos floating about on Facebook, but other than that, none that I know of. There were a couple on the band website, but I’m pretty sure that it no longer exists, other than perhaps in the archives of the Wayback Machine.


Staffordshire bands

Aileen Elsbury

I was in a small band throughout 1998 when I was 15. We played local Rugeley venues but some as far away as Wolverhampton, and even The Cavern in Liverpool. We supported bands such as Angelica, [spunge] and Midget, but we weren’t really anyone/anywhere. I played bass – I wasn’t amazingly musically talented and certainly didn’t understand theory, but I REALLY wanted to be there. The others were really close, brothers and best mates so I was always a bit of an add-on anyway.

My favourite moment was when I pulled some bloke just because i was ‘in the band’ and I ended up snogging him on a dancefloor (Well, I was only 15). Considering I’d been the geekiest person in school, it was super-cool to me that I was ‘someone’. Most of my memories are my poor parents schlepping my bass amp to and from stuff, because the other fellas lived away from me, and their car was full with their own gear.

I left because they took part in a photoshoot for a local paper without me. I told them I wasn’t available for the photo in their town and they went ahead anyway. I realised they pretty much couldn’t care less whether I was with them or not. They replaced me with a keyboardist and carried on for a while, but when Uni happened etc. I think it all fell apart. I don’t wish them any ill will, it was a cool thing to have done, even at a low level.

I only sold my guitar and amp within the last decade because I was REALLY broke. I kinda wish I hadn’t, but now I don’t think I could play even bass because of my nails. Thankfully, there are no records of us on youtube, or anywhere else I can find. If I find videos my parents took I will burn them rather than watch. I do still have a few unsold tickets somewhere…


NekroDrako

John Thompson

What band(s) were you in, and when?
I was in NekroDrako. I was also in 3ulogy and ProtoType, but sadly I’m struggling to find online traces of those projects.

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
I was the vocalist and live keyboardist, though occasionally I would dabble in guitars if there was a problem or a member had to duck out of a show for some reason.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
A toss up between playing the what was then “Metalcamp” festival, it was a lovely place and a good festival, and supporting Anaal Nathrakh, which was a blinding show all in all.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
I have very fond memories. More good than bad, so overall the experience was a positive one I think. I met some lovely people and played in some crazy places, and it really brought me out of my shell as an individual too.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
I will always be involved with music in some way or another I think, just not so much playing live in a band. Despite the fact that I will always probably put out music in one form or another, there was a moment when the magic at least partially went out from performing with ND, and it’s hard to put my finger on one thing. A combination of line up problems and just wanting to do something else for a bit mainly did it for me. It’s hard being that angry all the time as you get older and yes, what you saw on stage was not an act. It was therapy, and it was taking increasingly lob amounts of time to recover from it.


Viagra Falls / Silverstone

Tony Garwood-Lloyd

What band(s) were you in, and when?
Viagra Falls (Essex/London) 1999-2001 (approx.)
Silverstone (Sheffield) 2005-2006
Sundry other bands briefly. Some solo stuff between and since.

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
Voice and guitar, although I only did guitar live on stage with Silverstone, was just singing with VF live, writing/recording was a bit of everything but mostly singing.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
Playing The Garage with VF in 2001. Also, recording in some rural middle of nowhere place near Peterborough was great. It was during a random heatwave and felt like we were in Spain or something, although the resulting CD was a bit shit. Playing the Boardwalk in Sheffield was brilliant, and one of those nights where everything came together just right. I also really enjoyed playing at a micro-festival on my own in Somerset in 2007 (I think) where I hadn’t really prepared anything, did 4 songs, 3 of which I’d written in a tent that morning, got a weirdly good reception in between “proper” bands.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
Oh, definitely a positive experience. If I could go back I’d do almost everything differently, but I’m very glad I did it. Out of bloody tons, there was only really one gig that was abjectly awful, that was supporting a big signed band in Doncaster when I had a lung infection and could barely speak, but we couldn’t not turn up for it – it was absolutely massive for us. Turned out they assumed we’d be bringing the fans as we were local (we weren’t that local, no one would trek across to Donny from Sheffield on a school night for us anyway when we’d already played in Sheff that week), and we’d assumed they’d bring the fans cos they were a signed band people had heard of and were supporting Tom Jones at Wembley the following week. So we both played a set to my ex’s sister and mum who happened to be in town, their promoter and the bar staff. Also, some very bad stuff happened involving one of Viagra Falls in recent years which has soured a lot of that stuff, which I’m really pissed off about.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
I’m not sure I’ve entirely decided that really. I keep thinking I will, but the end result is that I haven’t been arsed, for *some* years. If I did, I think I’d be much more focused on doing stuff at home and not the live stuff. I enjoyed it immensely, but I’m timid and lazy at heart and it’s all a massive faff for a fleeting occasional good bit. I really enjoyed writing/making the music, the performing was 75% hassle, 25% amazing. Viagra Falls broke up because I moved away to Sheffield when we were probably at the peak of our powers, Silverstone I just didn’t have the time with my job and young daughter and it had all got a bit stagnant. I did try out and moonlight with a couple of bands afterwards, but I worked shifts for years and it made regular rehearsals and booking gigs basically impossible and it was all just too much hassle really.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
Upsettingly not a great many (one of the things I’d do differently!). The websites are long gone, but here’s the Viagra Falls 2nd or 3rd gig on YouTube, so pretty appalling but I don’t have any of the later ones when I knew what I was doing.


Stubborn Stains

Liz Dobson

I played bass from about 14 until early 20s in various bands. Played a few gigs around my hometown. Best was with my band the Stubborn Stains which I had to quit when I went to uni. Moved to Tokyo after uni and my downstairs neighbour was in a band looking for a bassist so I offered to fill in until they found someone better. That was really fun – the music department of a local department store had practice rooms you could hire for really cheap, and you could hire instruments and kit as well. We played a couple of gigs locally and recorded an EP. I really loved it and regret not keeping it up when I moved back to the UK – it sounds a bit lame now but I didn’t think I was very good and didn’t have the confidence to put myself forward; I felt that being a girl I had to be really good in order to be taken seriously. Unfortunately I don’t think I have any pics of me playing as this was all in olden times pre-social media, but I do have a couple of pics of my bandmates.

Think I’ve still got a CD kicking about somewhere but can’t bring myself to listen to it!


A Major European Group

Graham Best

What band(s) were you in, and when?
A band called A Major European Group, 1980-1982.

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
Alto Saxophone.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
The Last gig we played was at The Hallamshire Hotel. We were supporting Pulp. We were so bad all Pulp’s audience left, then once we had finished Jarvis had to go and round them up for their set.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
It was always fun.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
Pretty much after that Hallamshire gig. Also I started working which got in the way. We weren’t going anywhere. Others continued to perform as different acts but there wasn’t any place for me but I wasn’t bothered.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
There are some somewhere…


Mourning For Autumn

Jack Howard

What band(s) were you in, and when?
Mourning For Autumn

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
Drums (electronic kit but playing it live)

Was there a high-point in what you did?
Probably the first live gig, with Cauda Pavonis and Rhombus, at the 1-in-12 club for Howard at Carpe Noctum.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
My involvement with the band only lasted for three gigs from the debut, but after that I formed another project with two other musicians based round building tracks in Cubase plus guitars and vocals.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
It was fun and we created a few tracks but didn’t really have the drive to push it to a full band project or playing gigs. Eventually I came to realise that in creative terms I had a choice between doing music or running my fetish websites, and that in fact my real passion then and now is for the fetish work. I might return to electronic music at some point in the future.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
No links / photos that I know of, it was quite a few years ago now.


System:FX

Dave Hummus

So, I was in a band called System:FX from (roughly) early 2007 to 2009. Alas, I was far too impatient and unskilled to have an instrument or choice, let along be a multi-instrumentalist (ha!). My own MO was to have a couple of drinks and then shout into a microphone. With varying degrees of success.

In terms of high points we supported some pretty big names during my short tenure with the band (DAF in Islington spring to mind) but my personal highlight was a provincial gig at Esquires in Luton. Everything just went right, the band were great and I was relaxed and enjoying myself and the crowd were genuinely happy to have us there. We were supported by an excellent band called S.W.A.N.K too who I fear have now been lost to the world. Over all it was a very positive experience. I got to fulfil a childhood ambition and be in a band with friends of mine. It’s one of those things that I would no doubt rue not doing in later years if I hadn’t when I had the chance.

I don’t think that there was any one moment that helped me decide to walk away from it. It would have been a culmination of a few factors. One was that there was always a nagging doubt that the lyrics I was writing were far too derivative, and in the context of things we were a shouty techno-punk band, so perhaps not too much was ever expected but I couldn’t help the feeling that someone else could be doing it better than myself.

Secondly, I used to put myself under a huge amount of pressure before getting on stage. Nerves were sometimes an issue (especially at home London shows, I always enjoyed the away days so much more), though they normally dissipated by the end of the first song but the pre gig build up could always be a bit anxious. Thirdly, it was a busy time. I had a lot going on in my personal life and I just couldn’t deal with the work. Honestly, being in a small, scene band is a lot more work than I was willing to put in at the time. Ultimately I felt as if I was short changing friends who wanted more from the band that I did.

These videos are from our first ever gig: here and here.


I Am No one

Dane Absinthe

What band(s) were you in, and when?
I Am No one (now called Cryogenica) i was only with them for a few rehearsals before I left London for Canada. This was back in 2007.

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
I played synth.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
No high point, though I did get to see them play!

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
Even though I didn’t contribute anything, I think of it positively.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
There wasn’t that moment! I’m in school for audio engineering.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
On their old site,there was a picture of a rehearsal that showed the band and in the corner of one pic, you can just see the back of my head arm and foot!


Cheggers Plays Pop experience (and others)

Guy Berresford

What band(s) were you in, and when? “The first band I was in was the Cheggers Plays Pop experience. We were formed for battle of the bands and were probably really awful though its hard to remember. The second band was Bark! which was also formed for a battle of the bands and continued afterwards for a few years renamed as Natural Victims. Whilst playing with Natural Victims I was also asked to join a rock band called Sanction. These bands were all university bands, 1988-1991.

I was also in a band called Lupine in 1998 for about a week before I was kicked out after the first rehearsal for daring to suggest that we’d get more done without the drinking and arsing about. TCPPE disbanded after the battle of bands. I was asked to leave Sanction because being in two bands at the same time showed ‘lack of commitment’ and I was forced to decided between them, and Natural Victims split up and reformed 5 minutes later without me in it due to musical differences. We were playing energetic noisy music which I liked but they wanted to tone it down and make it more acoustic to improve their chances of ‘making it’.

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
I was the bassist, or more accurately I was the moody bassist.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
Definitely. The high point was at a Sanction gig where I climbed up on the speaker stack, punched the air and got my name chanted back at me. Nothing is ever going to top that one.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
Hell yeah. Djing and improvising are great, but there no kick better than playing live music to an audience, not one that I know of anyway.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
No defining moment, as more time passed after university the likelihood of doing music again became increasingly unlikely. I had a go at creating electronic music with FL studio but eventually ditched it to focus on photography.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
The only online photos of me playing are dotted around Facebook.


session musicians

lpg

What band(s) were you in, and when?
I was mainly a session musician, so ‘in’ bands is perhaps a misnomer. I’ve worked within (or ended up on the tracks of) an awful lot of people – many of them I just didn’t notice enough to care, because i was a kid!) over the years I was ‘active’ (85/6 to 94 ish)… including a reasonable amount of stuff where the person you hear on the record isn’t the one who has their face on the cover – or bits of their voice wasn’t them. (there are NDA’s for these so not naming. these I do know about!). I was a regular out of a few west country studios (yes, inc. that one), and for Factory records (between 87-91, although i continued an association there until 1995, and beyond but not ‘work’). (realising that I’m not naming people/groups here… mainly because I’m not sure its sensible for too much to end up in print!)

I was also in regional and national choirs (youth and choral) and had a ‘classical’ career through that as well – inc. the proms, tours in europe, and a lot of competitions and cathedral work. (My main choirs were Bridgwater Young People’s choir, and the Somerset youth chorus, both then under the direction of Andrew Maddocks (?sic))

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
Mainly a singer, although I also played recorder on a couple of things, trained in guitar and piano, drums/percussion (I have a grade 6 Timps!), picked up some brass, very bad with strings, never got to grips with reeded things. Whilst exposure to music and musicians gave me a chance to try most things (recording studios are boring at 9pm and 2am so you play with what’s around you, and people rarely told the ‘girlie’ no.) I didn’t do exams until FE college where I talked my way into A level Music (and then ended up tutored by someone I’d worked with, and met jazz ). I was a programmer and good with a soldering iron, so I also ended up working with a lot of synths, and similar; and I learnt to engineer, edit etc too from the beginning of things (stories about aged MCPs abound). I first met electronic (art) music at this time as well – gained a fascination for constructed music (tape loops etc.) and the avant garde to the point of wanting to end up at the radiophonic workshop (thwarted by them disbanding just at the point i could apply!)

Was there a high-point in what you did?
Getting to go to gigs with people I worked with/for, as guest list when I wasn’t playing/performing. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of the icons of music play, by dint of being a hanger on with skills! (inc. The Cure, SoM, and others in the mid 80’s, and Tin Machine when I was an occasional backing singer with one of the support bands on that gig). Most memorable gig I did was with a west-country based metal(ish) outfit called ‘Release/releave’, in a dungeon club in east berlin. The alongside performers were interesting! and it was after this gig that I first met absinthe…

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
Very much so. It was also a good launch point for doing other things – music journalism and radio both grew out of associations from music. I was very much looked after though (and able to be, as my adults weren’t ever in thrall to the celeb factor) – other people around when I was had less stellar experiences, inc. being on the receiving end of predators. I was happy performing, but was also quite glad to be too young to have to go and do the ‘live’ things or TV as often the backroom/invisibility suited me just fine!

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
I didn’t go to salford college for band musicianship, on the advice of those i worked with at Factory, and then turned down a development and publishing deal in favour of studying broadcasting/anthropology because I didn’t want to move to London and forgo university (it made sense at not quite 18, although with hindsight i could probably have argued to do uni and the deal, save that that didn’t occur to me at the time). I carried on doing bits of music at uni, and actually played in some pub bands ‘proper’ at that time, but also I DJ’d and did a lot on on-air (radio) work with both local bbc and commercial stations; and moved into doing voice overs too (a long and nsfw story!), over that time (91-94). I fairly abruptly stopped working (not exactly voluntary this time) in the field in 95 when the songwriting/copyright cooperative I was part of closed its doors and I had my eldest child and… well, yes, I thought I had to. I carried on doing festival radio stations and bits of broadcasting (I was a founder member of the Festival Radio Association, for whom the RSL was ‘invented’ and passed into law, and stayed associated with them, including presenting and producing shows at various music and other festivals, and yes, occasionally singing back up just for fun, until 2003), and went on to perform in a couple of small repertory companies (light opera, mainly) and wedding bands until 2006. My own music work because resolutely solo from about 1998, and I’ve never stopped composing and producing. I’ll be honest and say that I’d actually love to move back into ‘the band life’ as it probably suited me best for work, of anything I’ve done. But I find the idea of ‘being in a band’ quite horrifying from a whole ‘having to be a grown up’ thing… That and I’ve never had management, and lack the funds to *be* management (certainly in the way that I’d be comfortable doing it, where everyone actually gets paid!).

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
Not that I can share! and as a session worker not usually something I ended up in the photos for anyway. In truth I didn’t save much and most of it predates digital tech (and especially the www!). More recently I’ve produced and composed (mainly electronic and generative), selling the odd motif or sample for film scores or games; and still sell songs (or work with other writers to that end) occasionally, alongside that. I might have entered a certain song contest a few times this century, but never made it beyond the long list!


Sugarvalve

RJ Barker

What band(s) were you in, and when?
From the early nineties to the mid noughties I was in quite a lot of bands but all were uniformly terrible or never got past a few rehearsals. Only the final band I was in was any good and that was called Sugarvalve, we gigged quite a lot but never really got anywhere which was a pity as our singer guitarist was hugely talented. I however, was not.

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
I played bass and my entire thinking was less strings so it must be easier.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
I liked being on stage, to a degree. Though it was always slightly uncomfortable too as I was constantly aware that I really wasn’t very good.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
Yes. Really positive. I enjoyed being around people who were creative and met loads of new people through it and I was always absolutely desperate to do something related to the arts. I never really questioned that it was what I would end up doing even though music turned out to be the wrong path for me.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
Yes, and I’m going to go off piste a bit here because it’s something I’ve been thinking about in relation to what I do now. I quit because I realised I was never going to be good enough to keep up with the people around me and, if anything, I was holding them back because their sense of loyalty meant they were never going to ask me to leave. I also quit because I didn’t enjoy it any more; I was passable at best and that was if I practiced a lot.

But I did an interview recently where they asked me if I had wanted to be an author since I was very young, and I did. I’ve always loved books and music and I’ve always had more of a talent for words. So I was wondering why I didn’t pursue that earlier considering it’s where my natural aptitude was. Partly, let’s be honest, it’s because bands were far cooler than authors. But I think, consciously or unconsciously, it’s because for a working class kid from the suburbs who went to a middling-at-best secondary school, becoming an author seemed impossible, while playing in a band seemed far more reachable. I mean, I knew people in bands, but I didn’t know any authors. I don’t regret it though, not for a second.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
I doubt it.


man(i)kin

Martin Fay

What band(s) were you in, and when?
Within “our thing”:
man(i)kin – late 90s
monosect – early 00s
Modulate – played some early shows for Geoff mid 00s

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
Synths, analogue ones. Roland SH-101 and JX-3P initially, later dropping to just 101, then switching to Korg MS-20. And Kraaklebox, I’m sure Geoff will remember that.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
The man(i)kin show supporting Gary Numan at Manchester Academy, a step up in scale on anything else we did.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
I couldn’t possibly knock getting to see many many bands for free and meet/ignore them depending on the prevailing musical snobbery! And of course collecting a typical selection of horror stories.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
No. Stopping playing was a consequence of not writing, thus no reason to play out. There’s no particular reason I wouldn’t play shows again, though I’d want to push the amount played to keep it interesting.


Watershed?

Richard Game

What band(s) were you in, and when?
I was in a band called Watershed? (yes the question mark is supposed to be there). We formed in 1995 (I was 15). Back then everyone was forming bands or it certainly felt that way.

What was your instrument of choice – or did you play multiple instruments?
No instrument. I was the singer. No one else was volunteering so in a rare moment of bravery I said I’d do it. I was always penning teenage poetry so I came with a lyrical bonus too. Looking back some of it still stands up. Some not so much.

Was there a high-point in what you did?
A high point? We played quite a few shows some of which were great but for me I think it was recording our EP. It’s a bit rough around the edges by today’s standards but we did it in a professional studio with a grant from the Princes Trust. That whole process was endlessly fascinating and looking back I wish I’d seized the chance to learn more. I love how albums are made and with hindsight I could have happily made a career out of production and sound engineering.

Looking back, was it a positive experience?
Yes and no. From 12 to 13 I was bullied mercilessly so when at 15 I volunteered to front a band I had to develop some self esteem and confidence. Which I think I did.

Was there a moment where you decided that you were no longer going to be involved in playing music?
The band ended because I wasn’t the best singer (I could hold my own) and the band wanted to go further, with some proper lessons I could have been better but things ended because there was no confidence in me. Which shattered any self confidence I’d built up. Shame really. So I left the band thing there. A couple of years later I started DJing and I’ve been doing that for 20 years next year.

Are there any links/photos online to you in that band?
Yes. I have an image of the band as a whole (pre-drummer drama, that’s another story) at a festival we played that pops up on Facebook now and then. We look so young. I still have some cassettes around of our EP too. One of which is in my car because my kids wanted to hear it and that’s the only place we have a cassette player. It’s rough but had promise. I’m still proud of the minor achievement even if it was a million years ago. There is a magic to song creation. There is something that passes between people in that process that I’ve never found anywhere else.


Beyond bands, there are a number of my readers, it turns out, who only got as far as playing in classical ensembles, mainly at school or at school-age. Here’s a couple of them.

School Orchestras

Alex B

I played the Trombone. It was a lot of fun however my brother was…just better at music. He now has a masters degree in the subject. Had a talent for picking up instruments and playing them. I did have a High Point when playing – which was realizing that there was the camaraderie and our bass section. We were kinda awesome, whether or not we are actually any good didn’t much matter. It was team work. It was the fact that we were the much under rated part of our band. Also remember once accidentally coughing into the mouthpiece of my trombone when it was quiet – and the trumpet were showing off and rather making my self known. It was very positive. I rather couldn’t afford a trombone when I went to uni and the one I had had been let to me by my school. So, yeah, that’s when I stoped.


North Skelton Brass Bands

Adam Kilvington

Started playing brass via school and mates from school. I hung aound with people 2-4 years older. I played cornet. Was never spectacular but was a competent and loyal player. I watched as others came and surpassed me in the ranks. I was a 2nd cornet player but never progressed to the front bench or principal players like my friends did. I was happy with this as i never wanted the spotlight.

I started playing with a local junior band called North Skelton Junior band which was a feeder band for the main North Skelton band. Eventually the band became good enough to play in its own right so we renamed the band Langbaurgh Brass. We would practice twice a week and play concerts at weekends / midweek to raise funds. I played and contested with them right up until I was 22 and left the region with work. I had managed to keep playing whilst at Uni but unfortunately a move with work to Newcastle then Leeds (with my now ex-wife) put paid to being able to attend practices.

The highlight for me was being part of the band that won the 2nd section in the regional championships in the North of England areas and came 4th in the national championships in 2003 (more detail). It was an extremely positive experience and grew me both as a person and a player. It taught me many of the skills I use in day to day life from an early age. I still play odd times (carolling at Christmas for band funds), but am happier to just watch and assist my mates who largely still play with local bands now. It was also a very social experience with all band members decanting to the pub after a practice.

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