Top Yorkshire Covers Band - REAL PUB ENTERTAINMENT!!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

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Apologies for spelling, missing persons or events, offence etc.

Born : 4th August 1959 in Worksop

Exodus 1973 to 1976
Arc Rouge 1976 to 1979
Last Orders 1980
The Resistance 1980 to 1981
Proposition 31 1981 to 1984
3 Millions 1982 to 1986
Eclipse 1985
4 Millions 1986 to 1995
Happy Salad (can’t remember dates – see Phils biog!!)
US 4 1995 to 1997
The Object (of ridicule) 2002 to 2003
The Erics 2004 to the present

Favourite Drummers: Keith Moon, Topper Headon, Terry Chimes, Dolphin Taylor (TRB), Mighty Max Wienberg.

Favourite artists: Springsteen, The Who, The Clash, Deacon Blue, Martyn Joseph, Tom Robinson (and TRB), Be Bop Deluxe.

Favourite Rock moments: Saw Keith Moon play at the top of his game at a gig in 1976. Springsteen at Roundhay Park and Bramall lane (this second gig I saw with Sam (more on this later). The Clash at Rock against Racism gig in London (later featured in Rude Boy film). Meeting my Hero Terry Chimes (Tory Crimes) of The Clash, lending him some sticks, using his kit and chatting with him after supporting Generation X in Sheffield.

Best gig: Supporting Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts at the Duchess. In a glimpse of things to come, the bikers loved us (The 4 Millions) and we blew Dumpy from the stage!! (no mean feat as he is/was a fat bastard!!). This is closely followed by a recent gig at The New Roscoe where The Erics played one of the best sets I have ever been involved with, pure rock, tight as fuck and a great band vibe – priceless!

Worst gig: At a wedding in a golf club somewhere in Lancashire. I swore at the audience, fell out with my brother, fell out with the band and sulked for hours after making a grovelling apology to all. What a prat!

Brief History:
When I sat down in a physics lab at Morley Grammar School on a wet break time in 1973, I had little idea what was about to happen. Paul Bakes, who was a bass player (because his dad bought him one!) asked us if we would be in the band he was forming. Pointing at each of us in turn he announced that Jeff Long was to be guitarist, Dave Nassur the singer and I was to be the drummer. Exodus was formed, no gear (apart from the bass), no talent, and no gigs. However three months later, after my Dad bought me a drum kit for £25 and we had converted all spare cash into cheap amps and guitars etc. I think I remember Jeff having a cab with two oval ex-radiogram speakers mounted in an old drawer turned sideways. The PA was any amp and speakers not being used for something else. The mics were little plastics ones which came free with the cassette recorders of the time. We hit the stage for the first time at the school 2nd Year Disco. My rock career had started. In truth it was a disastrous gig. I couldn’t even lay down a 4/4 beat back then, but we had all caught the bug.

650+ gigs later it still feels as great it did then (and I’ve just about mastered the 4/4).

Jeff Long left to join the army so Exodus was no more. As we all left school Dave, Paul and myself joined forces with the then Morley rock legend that was John Mills. John became the driving force behind the Be Bop Deluxe influenced Arc Rouge. Shortly after this Dave bell was added on guitar. Writing and playing our own stuff, recording a demo (called Aeropilots I think?) and generally playing more gigs than we deserved, I quickly got my act together on the drums when John threatened me with the sack after a crap rehearsal. At the time I remember a great rivalry between us and another local band called Mandarin Rat. Russ Sowden, who later became a close mate and colleague, was a prime mover in that outfit. The rivalry was so intense that John came round to my house and chinned me, because he had found out that Russ and I had been drinking and chatting in the local pub the night before…. I was a traitor…..Lovely lad John……shame we lost touch. NOT. Dave Nassur, the singer, eventually moved to New Zealand. Amazingly I have recently had contact with him through email, it was great to make contact agin after 25 years!!

It’s strange really John Mills had been a huge influences on me from 14 to 20, but in the end he turned out to be just the kind of person you should avoid been in a band with! That’s not to say that he was not a mate though, just a crap band member.

To be honest Arc Rouge was my musical apprenticeship and I am grateful that I learned how important unity of purpose and hard work are in keeping any band together long term.

The Resistance and Proposition 31 (Russ, Tony Gill, Sam, Dave Nassur for part of it) turned out to be our response to Punk and New wave. Undoubtedly influenced by The Clash, The Tom Robinson Band and The ‘angular’ bands that Sam loved so much, we were very serious about the writing and recording that we did. Tony is/was a highly skilled bass player; he and I gelled well and over the years became a more than useful rhythm unit. Russ was awesome as usual and Sam made excellent contributions to the song writing, but did have a reputation for putting in annoying ‘widdely’ bits over and over again. He has overcome this habit now; instead he practices them at high volume before the start of any gig!! However because of Sam’s previous work in a top semi-pro club band, he did introduce us to a more professional approach to live work, showing us how to structure a set and the importance of relating to an audience properly. Sam and I still disagree about these things now at Erics gigs, but that is just a reflection of how important these issues are for us. Take note young pretenders.

During this period we supported some ‘well known’ acts including Billy Idol (Generation X), Splogness Abounds (2 pints of lager and a packet of crisps please) who featured Captain Sensible on bass, and we took part in the legendary Sheep dog trials (new band nights) at the F Club in what is now the club underneath Break for the Border in Leeds. We wanted to make it big on the back of the New Wave, which launched so many new bands at the time, but in retrospect I think that none of us would really have had the guts to go to London and take the big risks required.

However it was always the live buzz that really set us apart. I think we were searching for a way of performing our stuff that combined entertainment and delivery of a ‘message’. This from that time on, became the single most important aim of my musical career. Sam has summed up this period so well in his biog that really all I need to say is that when I feel a bit guilty about playing covers now, I know that back then we worked so very hard to give it go with our own stuff. Crazy Days.

Should say at this point that I first met Dave and Phil when I was working as a Science technician at West Leeds (boys) High School. Dave was part of a group of lads who used to walk around in RAF great coats. It looked like a scene from The Great Escape or Colditz when they met at break. We got talking at the parties we used to have after School productions and became good mates when he shared a house with my sister Helen and her boyfriend. Not a ménage et trois I hasten to add. At least I don’t think it was………..!?! Phil also got involved in school productions, he was a tall twat even back then. He went off to music college and I didn’t really get to know him as a musician until after I saw him and Dave playing in Monogy/stuff or somesuchlike.

Any way on with the bands, I cant leave out Eclipse. Eclipse……….Jesus!! Well, Eclipse was basically The Three Millions with Girls!! I still don’t know what the fuck we thought we were doing. I will spare many blushes by simply saying that there was a lot more interest shown (by the Three Millions) in the three female members of the ‘band’ than there was in the music. Hence a set list including Careless Whisper, Against All Odds and some song by Hazel O’Connor. The girls were Jill Minter, Belinda Burrow and a girl who played the piano (I think Sam might remember her name. Tee hee!!).

The Three/Four Millions was born out of some long chats Sam and I used to have on evenings when I was baby sitting my kids. We covered every conceivable issue, not always agreeing, but a fairly left wing line emerged which in time became the founding principles of the band. Music, Politics and Insanity was the motto. This was proudly emblazoned in red on our yellow t-shirts.

As Three became Four, John Hiley joined on guitar (later to be replaced by Russ Sowden) and Dave became the sound engineer. The band was very popular, the message and the performance seemed to appeal to a wide range of people and the gigs just kept coming in.

During this time, Sam, Steve (my brother who played bass in the Millions) and I went to see Bruce Springsteen and the E street band at Bramall Lane in Sheffield. This gig changed everything, at least that’s the way I see it . On the day it was pissing it down with rain, Bruce played a blistering first set to the assembled 35000. It was good but something was missing. As he left the stage, between the two sets he traditionally plays, Bruce said “we’ll be back in 20 to lay some serious rock n roll on ya!”. He was as good as his word. Nearly 2 hours of it, virtually no gaps between the songs, everyone in the stadium dancing (even the police!). He mixed his own crowd pleasers with rock classics. This was the way to do it. Rock music as celebration, entertainment, value for money and something to remember. I don’t remember the brilliance of the singing or the solos or the technicality of the drumming, it was just the best gig I had ever been to! We lapped it up. This was the way to do business with an audience and its how WE have tried to do it ever since.

Trying to describe The Four Millions thing is difficult, all I can say is that we still bump in to people for the first time now, who fondly remember the band. Crusher was recognised at a rugby match in Wigan as “t’singer int’ t’four millions” and I was recognised (twice) at Glastonbury by people from Oswaldtwistle (See! Sam said we were legends there!)
When Russ started work at the Halifax bank a few years back, on first meeting his boss the guy began bowing saying “we’re not worthy, its one of the bloody Four Millions”.

Although we were getting lots of gigs, sometimes playing three times a week, we eventually stopped rehearsing and as Sam has said things went a bit stale. The Four Millions slowly fizzled out and US4 was formed. It was wonderful to start a rhythm section with Dave we seemed to ‘click’ very quickly. Dave has a real enthusiasm for being in a band and this rubs of on me. In the years I was out of touch with the band I really missed his friendship. Anyway,the band was good and again we played some great gigs, but it was always a compromise for Sam musically, as he didn’t have the support on guitar that he needed (especially after playing with the likes of Russ!). However it is important to say that the root cause of Sam and I falling out was not musical or about the band. We are both very strong personalities and things were said and done which left no way back and bridges burned. In the end perhaps we needed some time apart?

But not the years it turned out to be!

Whilst all the above was happening Dave and I had also joined a band called Happy Salad. Phil was the main songwriter although we all contributed in terms of the arrangements and I even wrote some lyrics! This was where Dave and I cemented our musical understanding, we seemed to have a feel for the right stabs and syncopation to keep the rhythm solid but interesting. Neither of us are great muso’s but together we are a force to be reckoned with. Also Happy Salad increased my respect for Phil as a musician and performer, he was a bit quieter and thoughtful than I was used to, but he certainly knows how to rock and despite the bands weaknesses, we all learned a lot and had some good gigs.

During the time I was semi-retired from the Leeds covers band music scene, I played in a fly by the seat of your pants, under rehearsed unit called Object of Ridicule. Well we were! The band had me, Alex Kershaw from US4 and Neil Corbet (amazingly a relative of the Sooty Show Corbets!!) on bass. We played some gigs and I sank lower and lower behind my kit. I suppose at least it kept me vaguely in touch with live music but the only one with any real enthusiasm was Neil. He’s a great bloke and is now playing in a real band, good luck to him!

So as I have said, I had no contact with The Erics over a number of years (5+ I think?). During this time I had been wrestling with a number of personal issues which needed to be dealt with. Then out of the blue, in November 2003, Ruth and I received an Invitation to Dave and Linda’s 10th wedding anniversary bash. We talked about going for hours and decided that we probably wouldn’t. Then we got a follow up email, it seemed like an honest attempt to start to put things right between us all, so we decided to go.

I had heard, through friends who knew the band, that Nick was leaving for New Zealand, but I had no idea when or what the band had arranged for when he went. As it turned out Dave and Linda welcomed us at the ‘do’ and immediately put us at our ease, Dave gave me a hug which nearly killed me. I realised than how much I had missed the big get! Then Sam came over and we chatted for a minute or so about what had been happening, then Sam said “Nick is leaving” I said “yeah I’ve heard”, he said “Know any good drummers” and of course, I said “ well there’s ME”. That was it we both smiled and knew right away that things would be ok.

Phil arrived later and seemed to be beaming as he welcomed me back to the fold. Nick was also pleased that his place was been taken by someone he knew and who would enable the band to carry on pretty much as it had been.

The rehearsals went well very well and most readers of this will know the rest. Loads of gigs, a noisier drummer, a rockier edge to the material etc etc. The issues which had led to me and Sam and Dave falling out were dealt with over a couple of pints in the New Inn, as Sam has said it all seems petty now, but I think our relationships are all the stronger for having been through what we have together.

The Erics is a great band to be in, spending time with your best mates doing something as enjoyable as live music is about as good as it gets. Playing again has given me a great boost and I am really grateful to the people who come out gig after gig to support us. In the end the bands future is down to you, We’ll keep playing as long as you keep turning up!

And Finally:

Music has been a huge influence on my life. I feel duty bound to pass on some of the wise words which I have heard through songs and at gigs over the years. So here goes.

Now the hardness of this life slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin’ a fools joke out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white turned to so many shades of grey
We lose ourselves in work to do and bills to pay
And its ride, ride, ride a and there ain’t much cover
Without you by my side, my blood brother.
(Bruce Springsteen)
(There’s no compromise too great to make to keep people you care about close)

Answer a stangers cry for help, love your brother as you love yourself
You only have to seek and you will find,
Forgive your enemy and drop that grudge’
Don’t judge others and you wont be judged,
Only knock and the door will open wide.
(Martyn Joseph)

I could do without this gig tonight, I’ve been working all f*****g day and I’m knackered!

“Three pints of stella and lime please, any one else want a beer?”

I don’t like to leave a gig with less than £40 in my pocket.

1-2-3-4 come on, keep up you bastards, this isn’t too fast!

That’s it,



Anonymous Sam said...

Absolute beauty, Paul. I was filling up!


6:08 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting comments from the wise one! now get selling BREAKDOWN... HA HA.... jay...

11:56 am


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