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Not Enough Monkeys

The Story continues. . .

CONTENTS


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24 SEPT- LEADMILL, SHEFFIELD

The story is beginning to take on a familiar tone in that we arrived on time but the Sound guy was nowhere to be seen. Like lost lemmings, the five bands waited around for their sound checks. Eventually, he arrived and began to put this jigsaw together. Later, I was told that we only had time to try onesong as a soundcheck. Still we were quite optimistic that it would be sorted out. We had been placed third on the bill, which I thought was a good spot and it would help us with our timing for the day. The turnout was very poor and there seemed to be more musicians than punters present. Hopefully, I could relax and enjoy the event.

Set List - The Leadmill
However, there are never any laurels to rest on, and to keep me on my toes, the band surprised me by becoming a three-piece today. I knew that Greg had been talking about leaving the band for sometime, as he'd wanted to go to college. However, it still took me by surprise. It's all quite amicable but I'm sure they will miss his solid rhythm work. I don't really know if they intend to carry on as a 3 piece or replace him? It's all in the air for now, so I'll just go with the flow. It's not a problem for me but we will need some new photos.

The gig began OK and they sounded fine out front. Throughout the gig, Martin constantly wanted more volume from the monitors but the sound guy said that he had got the lot. This did not impress Martin. Without a decent sound onstage from the monitors, they could only hear themselves playing, and Mick's over powering drums. At least this didn't affect their timing, which was very sharp. After a few songs, Greg rejoined them for one final number (guest appearance already!). They played a favourite of his, 'Values'. Overall, as a three- piece, they didn't seem to miss him that much, so maybe, it will work out afterall. The band enjoyed themselves and you can't ask for more, well actually I could and will, as they really must become livelier onstage. Pity there was no Star journalist here today to erase their last horrendous memory of us. Hopefully a few people might remember us today.

For our troubles we got paid 30, so we had broke even on our expenses so far today. We all packed up the van as soon as they came off. I thanked the promoter, must keep in touch . . . etc. and then we were off to the next gig.

CENTENARY ROOMS, BARNSLEY

As we were unloading the gear, it certainly didn't feel like we had already played a gig today, I guess we must have got our second wind. Our financial successes in Sheffield would now take a nose dive, and neither would it be a cheap one. Hiring the hall and a PA had cost a small fortune and I needed it to be jam-packed tonight, but it wasn't to be.

We began with the usual problem, that of the PA arriving late and then taking an aeon to set up. So the event was already running late. The next problem wasn't far away, that of the support group, whom I had arranged, they were acting like prima donnas and refused to go onstage until there was more of a crowd out front. Maybe I should have told them to piss off there and then, but I didn't. Why is it that when you try to help another band, you get all this kind of crap that goes with it, 'Arseholes full of egos'. They eventually did their bit, stayed too long and went off to be 'would-be' rock stars. Party Day came onstage very late and we were going to have a problem with the venue's scheduled closing time, even though the band had cropped their set list. Martin was downright bloody annoyed and understandably so. I know I should've been more decisive on that excremental excuse for a support band. It won't happen again.

The band managed to put these problems behind them and still played a reasonable but short gig in front of a slowly dwindling crowd. Tonight was one very expensive lesson for me. Afterwards Martin disappeared for the night with his girlfriend, leaving everyone else to load the van.

4 OCT

Rehearsal night. Their spirits were quite low after the Centenary Room gig, but soon perked up once I told them that I'd just booked them into a studio for a day's recording next month. So it's now time for everyone to haggle over which songs they wanted to record. The songs that truly represented them as of now. Everybody has their faves and naturally we made no final decisions tonight, but it was a good start.

8 OCT

Got another Sheffield date confirmed today. It's a room above a pub that has a decent reputation as a venue. During tonight's rehearsal I tried to convert them over to my way of presenting, that of putting more 'life' (more of themselves really) into their stage persona. People can see wallpaper anytime at home, they don't need to see it onstage as well. One convert at a gig is still much better than none. But I don't think I've convinced them yet. Afterwards, Martin and I continued the drinks session at his place. Later we ended in the nearby fields, Martin with his acoustic guitar along to our drunken bleating. One of us sounded like Bob Dylan and the other one could sing! An enjoyable night was had by all.

20 OCT

I've been trying to get both Radios' Hallam and Sheffield interested in seeing us at our next date, at The George, but it's not happening yet. I get the feeling that some people will only become interested if someone else sticks their neck out first. No-one seems to have the confidence in their own judgement. What do you have to do before they acknowledge you? Become a carbon copy of the latest hit or what!

24 OCT- THE GEORGE, SHEFFIELD

Icarus (size= 30KB)
The Truth about Party Day and Greek Mythology

It had to happen at some point and tonight was the night. Not one bloody person turned up to our gig. I know it was the middle of the week but where was the thriving Sheffield scene, the curiosity... not even the fool hardy. Mind you, we were competing against an England international match on TV. Even though the gear was set up and primed, they didn't play. Instead, we played several cassette tapes over and over to the point of obsession. The evening resembled more of a long break during rehearsals than an actual potential gig. I felt really sorry for the band, their enthusiasm was truly blunted tonight, maybe tomorrow we'll all see the funny side of it.

In addition, last weekend was a total waste of time for everyone, as we'd bill posted in town for this damn gig. And let's not forget the small PA system that I'd hired for this non-gig. Maybe I should've brought along the portable TV instead, at least we could've watched the match. I wondered if Greg was having any doubts about his 'rash' decision, somehow I think not.

2 NOV

Although The George was a total disaster of Titanic proportions, at least it wasn't a public embarrassment. I'm still determined that we'll make our mark in Sheffield. So after yet another 'phoning around session, I've secured a new date with a different venue. My fingers are crossed that it won't be 'deja vu' for us, even though it is another venue upstairs at a pub. Any audience response 'good or bad' - would be appreciated right now.

11 NOV- THE HALLAMSHIRE HOTEL, SHEFFIELD

The room turned out to be not only too small for our equipment, but there were not enough wall sockets either for us. So we halved the PA system, left out the drum machine and rearranged the Set list. To my great relief, the room was quite full of people, but most of them disappeared once the support band, Final Hour, had finished. I was hoping that we might win over a few people tonight but the law of averages was against us. Hope took a further dive in this rapidly emptying venue as it left Party Day bruised and more fed up. They went on to perform a lumbering set that would've out morosed Morrisey. I've got to get rid of this 'going through the motions' routine of theirs, as it doesn't do us any favours at all. Tonight even the full-blown guitar death rattle of 'Dingo Massacre' was a muted dirge. Although their pop songs like 'Bleed Me' and 'Glasshouse' still managed to shine through.

For the finale, Martin began playing 'Washing Line', a brand new stunner of a song. It sounded very Fall'ish and had that feeling that you were sitting on a washing machine during its spin cycle. It had a truly cacophonic sound.... and there was hardly anyone there to appreciate it. The promoters though were very enthusiastic and promised us a return gig early next year. So it wasn't all bad. Should I be so critical of the band?

Also we are getting more proficient at packing up the gear, even with our variety of dodgy vans. Maybe if they turned it into an Olympic event, we would stand a good chance as a main contestant or at the very least, have a new career. This van had a sliding door that was reminiscent of a smooth actioned guillotine. Even the engine didn't sound too healthy. On the way back home, we're all winding down, so I've started using Martin's walkman as I'm driving along. It helps to keep me alert as I listen to; Bowie, Talking Heads etc. So If this van disappears off the road, it won't be because I've fallen asleep.

22 NOV- WOODLANDS STUDIO, NORMANTON

Woodlands is a misnomer, as it consists of a converted cellar and a living room within a terraced house with not a wood in sight, but it is quite cosy. We're hoping to re-shape our future today. After much discussion and many wasted hours during the last few weeks, the chosen songs were all finally decided upon last night. They had opted to record and mix 3 songs in the allotted 8 hours. There will come a time when we're not so restricted, but for now it'll have to do. Last time here they had recorded 4 songs, maybe it'll be '2 in a day' next time.

Into the woods (size=40 KB)
In a different wood

I didn't want this recording to be as sterile as their earlier attempts. It is just too easy to get carried away playing 'God', in order to get that perfect sound. The constant buffing away at the rough edges until all its vitality has been lost. As for me, I feel truly at home behind the mixing desk, it's definitely the best fun that you can have with your clothes on. Also something else that I like here, is that it's more of a team effort. I can chip in my twopenny's worth straight into the mixing pot and it will be considered, unlike at the rehearsals where they can and often do ignore my musical suggestions. Here they are prepared to try anything out and from all the angles, so as not to miss a thing. So am I the fifth Beatle/Ruttle, or do I mean George Martin? . . . anyway. Obviously Neil the engineer points us in the right direction. Anyway, after the first two hours, we're still sorting out the drum sound, as Mick is a perfectionist- to the point of annoying.

The songs chosen for today were: 'Glasshouse' this could be an ideal choice for our first single. It's full of harmonious guitars, soothing vocals and broken love. Martin's finally finding the notes in his voice. Next is 'Opium Gathering', which is a bass driven song, that would march you to the grave and back. Finally 'Tin Sky', this is a jazzy free fall song. Here Carl's low bass rhythms are on speed in an effort to nail Martin's steely sounds to the flag pole. These songs are a very diverse selection, maybe a little too much. At least you can't pigeon hole them so easily, I hope.

Eight hours later, and the day's euphoria has managed to keep total exhaustion at bay. On our way back home, we played the finished tape repetitively, and no one seemed to tire of it. A jolly good day was had by all.

24 NOV

Martin gave me the artwork for the demo tape today. He has been in a 'Cure' vein creatively lately, so it was all masks and smudged makeup. It's not at all what I wanted, as this is still a bit doomy (What was that I had said about 'pigeon holes'?) Nevertheless, he wouldn't budge from it. I hope it doesn't become a hindrance to the tape. The tape still sounds excellent, so I now know that it wasn't because of the repetitive brainwashing on the day. Now it's up to me to spread the news and maybe to begin approaching a few record labels. With luck we might even have our first single released next year.

For the time being, I gave it the catalogue number of 'FX101', I see it as part of a grand scheme of mine; FX Ones will be for demo tapes, FX Three's for "singles etc., I haven't worked it all out yet, but it all sounds very Factory Records and corporate. The FX refers to the group's former name of a few years ago, namely: 'Further Experiments'. I thought it was a nice gesture, mind you, the full name was 'Further Experiments in a Crowded Laboratory'. Christ knows what they'd been on at the time when they had thought of that one.

15 DEC- THE SHIP, WOMBWELL

Set List - The Ship
Again Martin had sorted out an impromptu gig here. So they're back into the cramped corner. I thought I would try something new at this one, and borrowed a slide projector. I hoped to counteract the band's dull performances and use it as some sort of a backdrop. I thought that this might help to cover up their overall stage shyness. All the ingredients for excitement are there, it's just that at the moment they're only cooking on regulo 5.

Although Martin was completely drunk, he was very entertaining tonight and acted the part of a grand old rock'n'roller. At worst, he sang incoherently, and at best, not at all. Also he managed to completely ignore most of the Set list, much to the annoyance of Carl and Mick. They did their best to 'follow' his guitar meanderings. The grand finale was a 'name that riff' rock'n'roll medley that seemed to have no end in sight. It has to be said that Carl and Mick had no problems with the constant changes that Martin had imposed on them. Technically the gig was a complete shambles, but more importantly a very enjoyable and memorable one too (even if later, Martin didn't remember any of it!). All we need to do in the future is to get Martin fired up and sober, at the same time. I realise that this might be tall order, but we've got to give it a go. Maybe the slide show has brought it home to him about performing.

31 DEC

Ale to be had (size= 121KB)
Relaxin' at The Ship
Another year endeth. I hope it will be our last one in obscurity. There is nothing like a new year, a new leaf, a new diary to fill, to spur us on. The gigs so far may have been very limited in success . . . OK, they were flops, no audience - no gain. Still, you can't deny the force of Party Day's determination. They want to succeed and I won't let them down.

We're all out in Barnsley tonight, along with the other hopeful bands in town. To describe it as a 'Scene' would be a gross deception. On the surface everyone's trying not to bruise each other, so talk was cheap. This year's model, Danse Society, are the main hipsters tonight. They're the big fish so to speak, after charting with 'We're So Happy' earlier in the year. Of course Saxon is persona non-grata in this neck of the woods.

Carl has become a definite hit with the ladies but his innocence holds him back right now. Mick and Martin have excelled themselves on the alcohol front and both were casualties early on. Martin's girlfriend does have a lot to put up with, but she doesn't seem to mind. For my part, I'm pissed in a corner and the clock's striking midnight. I'm only vaguely aware of 'Auld Lang Syne' being sung. My mind was already elsewhere - one half dreaming, the other liquiefied. Maybe next year this pond will be too small for us. I have a good feeling about this band. Just can't wait for the year to start.

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Hope you enjoyed this excerpt of the story of a very fine band.

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