I have found this plastic bag...

I have found this bag of audio cassette tapes containing recordings and stuff made twenty years ago or so, I am going through them and remembering...

You can start from the beginning if it makes it easier to read.

As the days draw out...

01 Feb 2012
Me as a student in back bedroom at 42 Greville street

As the days draw out and the sun is bright and he wonders who is girlfriend will be tonight,
will she be a brunette
and tell him little white lies...
...when summer comes around.

So I went to college in Manchester and I met this guy called Matt, and I think I remember or at least this is how I choose to remember it, that we had a common like of certain records and we went to see a 'Sarah Records' night at the Hop and Grape, and I was impressed because Anne-Marie from The Field Mice was on his course, and the support band were the Foaming Beauties, which Matt used to be in when they were called 'the Summertime', but they split up, and the Foaming Beauties sang a song about Matt leaving the band, which had the lyric:

The summertime's over before it's begun,
do you think that you're the only one ?

I think this made Matt want to be in a band again and when we went back to Matt's house on Great Western Street, and talked til late with his flatmate Greg and played guitars Greg kind of said that we could be in a band, and because I couldn't play guitar very well, I could be the bass player.

Longsite Market

03 Feb 2012

And so nothing happened, Greg and Matt finished their third year, and in the summer of 1991, Greg moved out of Manchester, and Matt moved into 42, Greville Street, Longsight where I lived with our mutual friend Dave. In that quite hot summer we decided we would do the band thing.

Matt borrowed a bass guitar from a friend in Nottingham for me, and we started to work out some of Matt's songs, and also write new songs together, in the front 'slug' room at Greville Street.  

To help me learn the bass parts (and the bass generally) we recorded these 'sessions' (sessions seems too strong a term musically), we slung a shure microphone over the light flex and it hung in the middle of the room, later we referred to this first session as the 'Longsite Market' session and the recordings you have heard so far are taken from this tape.

You may have noticed we didn't have a drummer.

Sunny day's in England take me back...

04 Feb 2012
The house at 42 Greville Street

I remember it was achingly hot that summer, and the sunlight streamed into the downstairs front room where we'd practice, which made me wonder why it was always so damp (slugs would leave trails across the floor overnight)

This song about Sunny Days in England kind of reminds me of the heat in that room, I think Matt even took his top off a la Paul Weller. He was quite intense. I couldn't really play the bass guitar could I ? 

So dear listener you may have reached this point and begun to wonder why I am doing this ?

It should hopefully become clear by now that, this is not some obscure genesis of a highly successful band and that this series of musings is not going anywhere, and the recording quality is not going to improve. I think also the more astute amongst you might also realise that this is Matt's band isn't it ? and I'm just sort of playing a bass I don't even own badly along to his songs, because Greg, who isn't there said we should all be in band, and I could play bass, and I'm loving every minute of it.

The thing is I really just like the songs, this was the tail end of Madchester before blur and britpop, and they really have that englishness kinks kind of quality, and the lyrics are great, I'm not saying we invented Britpop or anything, that is for others to say, but it's fairly clear we did.

The Sound of illinois

17 Feb 2012
Lyrics to the song Sundays (Another Night)

So far all the songs you've heard have been written by Matt, sung by Matt, even my bass lines written by Matt; it is as we've established kind of Matt's band; and yet maybe in the background, over some slightly misplaced bass notes you can hear my backing vocals drifting in, usually towards the end of the song, when it seemed ok for me to do so.

People often said that I was a better singer than Matt, but I always thought he had a more interesting vocal that suited the style of the songs. The sound of illinois.

It is about this time that we settled on the name illinois, I seem to remember we'd been watching US election coverage on TV, and both commented on how great sounding American state names were. We imagined that in the new sounds section of the NME the headline would be "Come on, feel the illi-noise" but as housemate Dave pointed out "illinois - will annoy !" was just as likely.

"Sundays" the song is different, always introduced mid-set as 'Marc's song' and broke things up a bit sound-wise, it was actually a joint songwriting effort between the two of us, and as we were following the rules of The Beatles and I wrote most of the words, I therefore had to sing it.

It is different and not as good as the other songs and unfortunately on this recording it doesn't back up any claims about me being a better singer as I sound terrible, if you thought I couldn't play the bass, well I certainly can't sing and play the bass.

Several times on stage I sang this with a strong mid-american accent, a man once asked me after a gig if I was actually from Illinois.

To complicate the drumming issue, Matt returned from a trip to see Paul Weller to announce that we'd optimistically got a gig in Nottingham, upstairs at The Yorker pub supporting his friends band 'The Headbirths' on 23rd of August, but hey that was a month away, that would surely be plenty enough time to learn to play the bass and find a drummer ?

I hear drums, all the time...

20 Feb 2012
Sugar Rays plus illinois at the Hearty Goodfellow Poster

I can reveal that Matt's friend Will was the drummer with The Headbirths, they had gone to see Paul Weller together, and after the gig penned the song 'Way to feel' . In addition to this I can also reveal the gig on the 23rd turned out to be the last ever for The Headbirths. Will was a really cool guy; just one of those happy-go lucky souls that you can't help liking, always late, but always smiling. So forwarned with these small pieces of information dear reader, you may well be able to piece together what happened next.

Well what happened next is we doubled our efforts to recruit a drummer, we put an ad in Piccadilly records in Manchester, and as we were wandering around Longsight and the surrounding area if we heard drums being played in a house, we'd knock on the door, and when eventually the drumming occupant heard us knocking and came to the door, we'd ask them if they wanted to be in a band or something.

One time this led to me rushing out of the house still holding a cup of tea  (rock and roll) because Matt had heard a drummer somewhere along the daisy bank shortcut (the shortcut between Greville street and Daisy Bank Road), and we followed the sound and knocked on the door, only for it to be answered by a 'mum' who wasn't going to let her twelve year old boy join our band.

So as July stumbled towards August, and Matt visited Nottingham once more; illinois drummerless; the inevitable I have been putting off telling you happened: yes Will's housemate John offered to stand in at the last minute[1] and drum with the band (John owned a mandolin liked Billy Bragg and was at this stage to drumming what I was to bass playing, ahh a kindred spirit) oh and Matt had organised a 'warm up' gig on the 6th august supporting another Nottingham band called 'Sugar Rays'; so we'd be absolutely ready for when we supported 'the Headbirths'. Crikey.

This led to us recording another tape for the Nottingham based John to learn the drums to the songs, and this session became known as 'the daisy bank shortcut' session from which this version of 'Way To Feel' is taken.


Having since spoken to John: his side of the story is he was press ganged into the drumming role; and only agreed to do it because it turned out that he, Matt and I were all at the same Wedding Present Gig at Trent Polytechnic in 1988, albeit independently, and therefore he felt that it was fated we should be in a band.

Beginning 1   2    3    4    5    Next »