22 Oct 2012
Glen was keen on having a place featured in the band name, like a park, zoo or train station and I guess we must have wanted the name to sound American. I think we were talking about different things that might work in front of 'Park', and later on we were talking about The Monkees, and the bass line to Last Train to Clarkesville, and for a moment we were just going to be called 'Clarkesville' until we remembered the 'Park' thing, put two and two together and became Clarkesville Park .
Now if you're reading these rememberings as some kind of informal informative guide about how to form an indie pop band, well then don't! - you are wasting your time, but if you are you will notice that so far we have broken the first rule of band forming established much much earlier in these rememberings ie.
1) Get a drummer, there is no drummer.
and of course the second rule:
2) 'getting some songs together' has been slightly circumvented here by 'covers'.
We figured we could fill out our set with obscure covers, those who recognised the songs would appreciate the nod to the original artists; those who didn't well would probably assume we'd written them and we'd appear better than we actually were.
So in addition to 'Decomposing Trees' by Galaxie 500 we also worked out the following:
I'd like to apologise to any Galaxie 500 fans who happen upon the above track, it was a bit of a watershed moment for me, when I realised no matter how many times I rewind a song, I do not have the musical ear to understand which notes are being played; or it seems words being sung...
It is much easier these days what with the internet.
03 Oct 2012
In the Spring of 93, I wasn't the only person putting my poetry to music. Glen (ex Headbirths, ex Octoberine) sent me a tape of a whole album of songs of my poems that he had recorded to music, (He'd named the band on the tape as'The Panda Keepers' and the album 'Catchy Debut' - the track above is taken from this 'Lips Undressing Smiles')
I was pretty much living part-time in Nottingham now, I had a girlfriend there, and only really came back to sign on in Manchester and go to the 'Band on the Wall' new material comedy night with Dave on a Sunday evening.
John and Will had moved down to London, leaving Glen sharing Alfreton Road with Will's ex-girlfriend Caroline (who had her own band 'Halo' with Dave from The Headbirths, you're following all this right ?) , and they were looking for someone else to move in.
I figured Glen had been in a band with just about every combination of musicians amongst our mutual aquaintances, but was still a little taken aback to be asked if I'd like to play bass on some new songs he was working on.
This kind of suited me because I was pretty much at a loose end during the daytime whilst my girlfriend was at college and as we've probably already established slighly in awe of Glen's creativity and liked hanging around 220 Alfreton road. so we whiled away afternoons recording onto a 2-track Karaoke machine, drinking tea and endlessly mixing down two tracks into one to overlay another track, hence all the hiss on these recordings.
NB: Here is Glen's version of Darling Harbour Planetarium
16 Sep 2012
So about this time I put together my second collection of poems
under the name 'The Panda Keeper', I know it's difficult to keep up
with demand sometimes.
I liked making the pamphlets, probably more than writing or
reading the poems, I liked typesetting, selection and arrangement
of the poems, designing the covers and then badly photocopying the
result in a Loughborough Prontaprint (I had to go home to
Leicestershire in those days to use a computer); consequently the
poetry contained within was patchy, as I often edited them to fit
the pages nicely.
This was my best pamphlet though.
And it was about this time that I did my best poetry gig ever
(not saying much really), it was in Huddersfield Polytechnic for
their 'One World Week' previously I'd mainly performed with like
eight or ten other poets on a bill and usually held my own but been
largely un-memorable, unless I'd painted a t-shirt for the
occasion, afterwards, people always wanted to talk about the
t-shirts but not the poems.
Anyway it was with my friend, another poet Stuart Nolan (now
magician amongst other things see: Hex Induction) who had
organised it with a friend of his who may have been a Huddersfield
Ents Officer? We were supporting the quite amazing but scary Pram
who had just released their 'Gash' mini LP (The Dead Piano on
We got dead drunk, on the train from Manchester starting at
lunchtime, and in the bars of Huddersfield beforehand. I seemed
fine though on stage, and got laughs for the Australian Soap Opera
poem, cheers and general applause (general applause is better than
polite applause which would be the usual response to my poetry)
Stuart though after me, didn't fair so well with the crowd and it
all went a bit wrong when his friend, also drunk, rolled about on
stage in a Mushroom costume, trying to bowl him over as he did his
seminal Firework poem.
Afterwards people spoke to me, and I slurred back and they
bought copies of the pamphlet, and a girl Lucy sent me a postcard
later in the week to say:
"I don't know about anyone else but I loved your poems, I would
tell you why but I'd feel silly"
Hmmm I was probably in there, if I hadn't been so twee and
sloshed. Stuarts mushroom ents friend who had sorted us places to
stay, got us lost, and we spent most of the night wandering
aimlessly around the streets of Huddersfield in the rain.
The song above: 'Darling Harbour Planetarium' is a poem from the
pamphlet that is kind of set to music, Glen (Octoberine/The
Headbirths) had sent me a tape of the ambient/avant-garde composer
Harold Budd (Aztec Hotel on
YouTube) and we were both enamoured with the effect, both wrote
poetry and liked to listen to sad ambient american music drifting
and ebbing through the small hours.
So this was a brave attempt to try and convey the feelings of
the poem ambiently to music Harold Budd wise, it samples The
Beatles and The KLF too; and I've saved this til last of my solo
stuff because it's probably my favourite track that I recorded on
my own, and the next tapes all concern music recorded with Glen
after he'd stopped doing Octoberine that then followed on from
12 Aug 2012
I had this haircut, I didn't think a photo of it existed, it was
kind of like a hacked bob cut, where just the pointy bits remained
and so I sort of looked a bit like a Hasidic Jew. I used to get my
hair cut at Oliver San in Oldham street; and the next time I went
in after the cut, my stylist said he'd had someone in saying they'd
seen this guy round Manchester with this sort of weird twee-jewish
haircut and they wanted theirs cut the same. It was a girl
When I had this haircut, I was sometimes half-recognised in the
city centre and people would stop and talk to me before realising I
just worked in the pub they drank in.
The mog jumper was hand knitted for me, and was difficult to
wash because it stretched bigger with every attempt, so Mog's tummy
wasn't always this clean.
The song is a return to the clumsy twee janglings typical of the
palatine road era; I remember thinking this was a bit rubbish at
the time, a bit too twee, but I quite like it now.
17 Jun 2012
I'm not sure when Blur's Modern Life Is Rubbish was released,
but I'm guessing it must have been about three weeks before I
recorded this, if I remember rightly the chords to the songs were
included on the back of the sleeve, and these chord progressions
are reflected in this song along with the terrible mockney
I'm aware that there isn't much rememberings around the songs
going on at the moment; I'd ended up managing The Bank pub on
Moseley street in Manchester which was fun and probably was the
most well off I've ever been, not having to pay for food or alcohol
and not having any free time except outside of pub hours; my only
outgoings were bus rides into town; (Housing Benefit took care of
the rent (you could claim that then) - The head of Manchester
Housing Benefit use to drink every lunchtime in the Square Albert,
and we used to do the Manchester Evening News Crossword and he
insisted I pulled his pints of Tetley - because apparently only I
did it properly; effectively I gave good head.
In the end though I left to sign on the dole (you could do that
then) as being in a pub was taking up all my time; I'd been helping
Henry and Dave with a play they'd written called 'Road to
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch' for the
Green Room in Manchester, and I was backstage assisting during
scene changes, and I contributed two actual jokes. Henry had a date
organised for the show in Nottingham, but I couldn't do it because
of pub work, so I kind of just thought what's the point.
Dave was being a comedian on the Enterprise Allowance scheme
(you could do that then) and we spent much of our days, mulling
round the flat, eating tuna and pasta, playing scrabble, drinking
tea, drinking tea, watching rubbish telly, throwing a ping pong
ball across the room with the aim of landing it in the other
persons mug of tea and stealing things from the property companies
skip on the drive outside that they kept permanently stacked with
intriguing junk garnered from whenever they cleared out one of