basically....Dylan and I met through Loot Music ads in February 1997. We both
wanted to spend weekends (we both worked full time) jamming with other
musicians. We put a further ad in, and Ray rang me. He and Gerard were
interested in a keyboard player joining the band. At this point I felt some
loyalty for Dylan, who had proven that he'd attended all his guitar lessons! -
it was both of us or none. So during a lengthy phone conversation I persuaded
Ray that he REALLY needed another guitarist, too.
I only had my piano then, so had to scrape money
together and quickly look round for a keyboard: Ray had said that he and Gerard
had a tape and really wanted to get into the rehearsal studios straightaway.
Meanwhile they met Dylan. We all finally met up in Gerard's front room in Wigan.
The search was on for a drummer, and Ray found Jim, a
local college student and excellent drummer/bongo player/burgeoning didgeridoo
master. Jim also had a guitar playing friend, a bass player, who joined the band
too when we heard how good he was. So we'd got Gerard on vocals, Ray on lead
guitar, Dylan on rhythm guitar, Jim's mate(whose name escapes me) on bass and me
on keyboards. This was
line up that played at the Roadhouse and the Night and Day.
the time we recorded the demo in the summer many rehearsals later (this had all
taken place from February) the bass player had left for college, and Dylan
played bass in his stead. On a personal note, we recorded the demo on my ex's
borrowed recording equipment. This in turn got me and the ex back together and
we're now still into music in one way and another, married with a small son -
I transgress. In addition to going camping in Nefyn
(Wales) rehearsing 3, 4, 5 times a week and generally having a laugh, we were
knocking about with Nick McCabe. Although The Verve were very busy at the time.
Nick still came back to Wigan on a regular basis, and sat in on some of our
rehearsals, met us down the pub, etc.. He proved to be a great contact in terms
of finding a manager, getting the tape to NME, and so on. (Nick had mixed the
original, solely guitar based, tape which Ray and Gerard had done themselves,
before trying to find other band members. Incidentally, when Dylan and I
listened to this when deciding what to do, we both agreed that it was perfect
just as it was why did they need a band anyway?
You could hear the potential, certainly of Gerard's singing, even though
the recording was shite.)
The story as far as I'm concerned, wraps up for me in
the September/October of that year. It had become pretty obvious that me as the
only female, younger than Dylan but still knocking on, with a full time job and
mortgage besides, plus Jim as the youngest, considering packing in his
education, were prime suspects to leave the band. ‘And so it was’. They
roped in their friend, Paul, to play guitar for a while, but I think they were
getting pressure at the time to become a 4 piece, and get more of an `image'
together. They signed contracts with a branch of Island - just Gerard, Ray and
As kind of an overview... Gerard and Ray have known
one another for years, and are a bit of a double act. Gerard undoubtedly has a
fantastic voice, and with his soul/6Os influences writes very heartfelt stuff.
Ray has a streak of genius in him, a very good ear for sound, and a lot of
ambition. He's more rock/grunge/indie influenced than Gerard. I'd say, which I
think his previous band ‘Easter’ (not the current one which is around)
showed. Dylan, as I say, obviously
never missed a guitar lesson in his life, and when I met him, we were both into
alt.country and world music. So there were a lot of influences really, all
searching for how to meld together to bring out Gerard's songs.
I used to quietly say things like, I can imagine a
flute would Sound good on this track, or percussion like a glockenspiel or
something. Famous last words
I've spoken to Ray a few times on the phone over the
past few years, but Once they signed contracts down in London, my involvement
was pretty much over I wish them all the best!
The only frustration for me, is that I never really had the chance to do
what keyboards are Supposed to do, which is to help the atmosphere along (if
they're not taking place of guitars and underpinning the harmony of a song.)
There are just little touches you can add on keyboard and it's usually not
possible to do this until a song is almost complete and everyone else in the
band knows what they're playing. So in retrospect, I feel like I just played
along filling out the harmonies with the band, for several months, without
adding anything very special.
I don't know how I managed to live that lifestyle, the
one which all bands have, while working full time etc etc.. it took a bit of a
toll, which Gerard noticed and very kindly suggested I could stay with him and
Karen for a while but Dylan never
passed this message on. Still, that's what Gerard is like - he wants success and
everything, but he was also, and probably still is, very expressive,
and really funny, and really seemed to care about what was going on around him.
That last paragraph might come under ‘too much
I've just started reminiscing now.