I’m in a nostalgic mood at the moment, which you’ll be aware of if you read my “Ode to the Indie Disco” and recently on my Facebook one of those memories things popped up with a post of mine from about 4 years ago promoting a series of club Lazy Genius gigs at Bumper. Incredibly to look back now the list included PEACE headlining one of those shows with an entrance fee of £2. From what I remember no fucker came.
But it got me thinking back to my promoter days and some of my favourite bands, chances are most of which you will never have heard of…
Probably the first unsigned band I really got into and definitely the reason I got into music promotion. I can’t remember now how I first came across them but the chances are it was through Dave at Mellowtone and some of the first acoustic nights I helped put on at 3345 in Liverpool. Led by the beguiling and at times enigmatic Paul Donnolly the line up changed slightly over time but the originals of Rishi, Stu, Brad and Chris were not only wonderful musicians but lovely lads as well. Heavily influence by Radiohead it was no surprise that they were a band I’d fall in love with. But there was a lot more to them than simply a Thom Yorke tribute with Paul’s incredibly unique and at times haunting vocals channelling Tom Waits, The Smiths and even some Talking Heads with beautiful and emotive lyrics.
For a period they really were at the higher eschelons of the Liverpool Indie scene and began edging into London and I suppose like a lot of bands it really felt like they were going on to big things at one point. But as we know the music industry is a cruel and fragile beast and it never quite happened. Paul plays on however, now as a successful solo artist “Paul Strawhouses” – much more than just a nod to his first love.
We Walk In Straight Lines
WWISL’s fairly short lived and somewhat chaotic stint on the Liverpool music scene felt like the perfect summary of them as a band. Prickly post – punk that never felt very at home amongst the run of the mill jangly guitars that has dominated Liverpool for so long they always felt a bit like outsiders and I absolutely adored them. Inspired by the likes of Husker Du, The Walkmen and The National they were comprised of the thoughtful and somewhat reluctant front man Johnny, a mad Polish drummer Serge, who I’m not convinced ever really knew what was going on and cool languid bassist Mark who looked like he was straight out of New York and now happens to live there!
Naturally attracted to the lack of pretence that post punk and slacker brings I loved their sometimes melancholic angular angst, intelligent and obscure observations and lack of sycophantic nostalgia for their surroundings. Something that comes through in the brilliant “My Hometown.”
Their irreverent sense of humour was extremely endearing and Claude; a track named after a cat and what went on to title our short lived “club night” together remains genuinely one of my favourite ever songs. The begrudging acceptance of what I read as an increasingly tiresome relationship in the lyric “It’s not even midnight, and you’re already drunk as… I don’t know” rang true with me.
Get Back Colquitt
I first came across “GBC” when I put them on at one of my club LAZY GENIUS nights in MOJO and I immediately thought they had something about them. Only young they had that wonderful thing where all they cared about was being in a band. But there was a depth and intelligence there too – the girls loved them. I will always remember Mike Deane of Liverpool Music Week saying to me as they performed “decent little frontman him isn’t it?” And he was right about Sean who was not only an extremely talented singer (a rarity in many bands believe it or not) but had a presence and charisma that can so often be lacking.
Maccabee like indie which was as intriguing as it was catchy you really felt like they wouldn’t have been out of place gracing the front of NME. Alas it wasn’t meant to be and the real world of University and careers bit. Working with them was just great fun and those MOJO says were some I will never forget.
A mate of mine and someone very much in the know on the Liverpool music scene recommended Super Cannes to me when I was looking for “pysch” bands for a night I was putting on at the old LEAF in the CUC. They rocked up buzzing about the gig despite having been up all night which the affable Welsh drummer Jams told me very matter of fact. It wasn’t a worry though as they were made up of some serious musicians; all seasoned on the Liverpool scene. Jams who I mentioned is an extremely talented drummer and was mates with the Super Furries, Richie singer and guitarist was of “The Bandits” fame and Davy the guitarist was a veteran of a few bands and a hugely talented guitarist with more pedals than I have seen. His footwork was better than George Best’s. We went on to become great friends and I worked with them closely, helping to promote and release their debut EP “Idee Fixe” which remains one of my favourite ever records. Named after the J. G. Ballard book they weren’t your average band. Very well read, intelligent and artistically curious their music and lyrics had a real depth. “People die in small rooms” from Idee Fixe is one of the most haunting and beautiful records I know, written by Davy about his time working in a homeless shelter where in his words “sometimes you’d knock on a door and know one would answer. They’d be dead” it is a tragic and important track.
Eventually artistic differences and life committments got in their way and the band slowly petered out. Davy and Jams continue to play together, forming “Bandito Rey” for a while and working on their own projects, Davy as “Bear” and Jams in Seawitches. I’d still rate them as the best guitarist and drummer duo in Liverpool.
Police Squad were a band from the same stable as WWISL, if you could call it a stable. It was probably more akin to a group of wild horses on Dartmoor who were all mates, liked drinking in the same bars and had the same affection for the slightly off beat indie as each other.
They were a band who never particularly enjoyed talking about themselves and struggled with people’s ineccesent need to compare them with other bands, Pavement was always quite a lazy one that was thrown around. Reluctant heroes who preferred to let their music do the talking I always found them effortlessly brilliant. Melodic, interesting and beautifully understated their debut EP Gestalt and then follow up Synesthesia in C Minor still feature prominently in my most listened to tracks on Spotify. Oh and they can also be credited with introducing me to Tears for Fears.
Fonetiks were another band who could loosely have been included in what I will now refer to as the “Dartmoor” crew but their sound differed quite significantly from mates WWISL, Police Squad and Super Cannes with their music having a real electronic almost ravey base but equally influenced by heavy thundering guitar. Hugely energetic they really appealed to the side of me that loved an electronic edge to my music and I would go as far to say that I would credit them with getting me into bands such as Suuns, LCD Soundsystem and who knows, maybe even Techno?