01 Feb 2012
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.
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.
04 Feb 2012
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.
17 Feb 2012
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
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
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 ?
20 Feb 2012
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
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
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 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.