Adam Walton Blogcast 07/05/2007 (Blog)
Reproduced from archived copy of Adam Waltons blog
I was rubbing the sleep out of my eyes feeling like flat lager when a post pointing me to this blog turned up in my inbox:
10th Anniversary of Attack of the Grey Lantern
10 years. 10 years?
How, exactly, did that happen?
10 years ago I was the insufferable singer and guitarist in a band called 'the Immediate' -- did I fail to mention that I wrote all of the songs? That was my conversational tic at the time, especially in conversation with the other two members of the band.
Anyway. We used to do a residency at Telfords Warehouse in Chester every Sunday night. Other bands would come and borrow [and break] our backline. We would get drunk and be boring. I mean, I tried to play the role: cheap speed, machine gun mouth firing bollocks in all directions, brightly-coloured corduroy kecks, outre shirts from the second-hand shop... but I was as convincing as a bearded transvestive.
Dunk [drums] and Rich [bass] would sit in the corner reading the Sunday papers and - maybe - have a pint and a half. We were about as dangerous and subversive as an Ocean Colour Scene tribute band.
One night we're bashing through our set which, by this stage, was a bit more progressive than the average Oasis-wannabee's. We had this long instrumental we would open with that was inspired by the idea of Rich Parfitt [from 60ft Dolls, not the other one] having a bash at Holst's Mars from the Planets Suite. It was okay. Well, it was an instrumental, it already had certain advantages going for it.
We ploughed through our four songs with more aplomb and passion than we usually managed. I bullied the crowd into giving us an encore, during which we carefully trashed our gear.
A couple of members of Mansun had crept into the dark corners of the venue... certainly Andie Rathbone was there... and feeling suitably charitable or high on proper pop star drugs, they offered us the support on the tour to support their forthcoming debut album.
I don't think any of us really liked Mansun that much, at the time, in the way that members of an insular and rather shit band regard everyone as competition as if that will elevate them somehow.
And Mansun came from the uncool, other side of the city. Stove and Chad worked at the Fat Cat, where all the solicitor ponces drank after they'd finished shafting Legal Aid out of people. There was a rumour that Paul Draper went to the Dicky Gwyn [Roman Catholic secondary school in Flint, sworn enemies of Mold Alun, when we weren't being chased around by monstrous rugby players from Maes Garmon]. And Rathbone had drummed for a number of very [to our prejudiced and ill-informed ears] shit local bands, including DNA Cowboys, a band that had at least two members who tucked their shirts into their pants.
Still, we all knew what was happening with Mansun. Those of you in Newport or Cardiff might find it hard to believe the magnitude of envy that is released when a band from a city that has hitherto only been famous for Romans and Russ Abbot gets a major label deal with Parlophone Records. So, yes, we all knew about Mansun's success. There were various unsavoury rumours as to how they had earned that success. It's truly amazing what an envious human imagination is capable of formulating to explain away its own shortcomings and the success of someone else. If we had put that much energy and bile into our songs, we would have been 1000% more interesting.
Which is akin to saying a gob stopper is more interesting than a brussel sprout.
So, demonstrating all of the fickleness of an 8 year old football fan, we suddenly loved Mansun with a passion. Never again did we sit in a conspiratorial huddle in our decrepit rehearsal room aghast that a band with a 'DRUM MACHINE' had been signed to a MAJOR RECORD LABEL. What next? Music made by computers in the charts?
Mansun's management we loved a lot less, I think it's fair to say.
They were [and probably still are] Rock n Roll management in Liverpool. Moon-faced oiks who have been made vague promises by bands they represent weren't high on Rock n Roll management's priorities. I have never been told to fuck off so many times in a Scouse accent. Except by bluenoses when I tell them about my visit to Istanbul.
I think that Emma, our long suffering manager, managed to sort things out. I shudder to think what that might have cost her.
It transpired that we were only getting three dates on the tour... the launch party for the album at a swanky casino on the Isle of Man, Manchester University and Northampton Roadmenders. We were disappointed - we reverted back to scratching copies of Stripper Vicar in the local record shops - but this was much better than any opportunity we had been offered before. We might, even, have swaggered for a week.
Rich and Dunk were on the dole at the time. I was skint, having only just had the BBC rug - temporarily - pulled from under my feet. The x's to get to the Isle of Man were going to be a worry. We were less worried when Andie Rathbone promised us that we could use their backline and that our flights and accommodation would be sorted too.
"Fucking hell!" I remember thinking, "I'm a rock star."
I should have been thinking,
"Fucking hell! I'm a gullible wanker."
We were excited, though. Very very excited. More excited than the front row at a McFly concert.
We flew from Liverpool one dismal February morning in 1997. It was grey, cold and wet. We could have done with a bloody lantern.
No one paid for our flights. Well, no one other than the Great British taxpayer. We got to our accommodation [old fashioned b&b, five of us squeezed into one room] to find that no one had paid for that, either.
Then, we managed to find the Stakis casino. It was massive. We traipsed in dragging our instruments behind us and caught a bit of Mansun's soundcheck. Actually, we caught an awful fucking lot of Mansun's soundcheck. This wasn't difficult. They were soundchecking for an hour and a half before Paul deigned to join them and float a few vocals over the top. I understand why they would have spent so long soundchecking now: massive album launch, and all that; hundreds of Europe's most influential DJ"s and music journalists being flown in. I didn't consider any of that at the time. I thought they were wankers. My resentment was starting to get the better of me.
They eventually finished their soundcheck [sounding shit-your-pants phenomenal] and we clambered onto the stage to get our shit together. I walked over to Paul's Marshall amp...
"Don't fucking touch that, mate," said some gorilla tech from the side of the stage,
"But... but... they said we could use the backline..."
"No one fucking told me."
"We've flown all the way here to play this."
"Do I look like I give a shit?"
Things were going swimmingly.
The tech eventually relented and said I could use Paul's amp but that I wouldn't be allowed to change ANY of the sounds, eq, overdrive, anything. That was a bastard piece of bad news. I wanted to go home, but worse was to follow.
I think I heard weeping behind me. I turned around and Duncan was, well, he was red in the face and there was moisture on his cheeks... we'll leave it at that.
"What's wrong?" I probably bawled... didn't he realise that I, the singer and writer of ALL THE SONGS, was having technical difficulties that could jeopardise my imminent jettisoning into the higher echelons of the post Britpop musical aristocracy... kindly allowing him to follow on my billowing coat-tails.
"It's a welded kit." Dunk whimpered.
"That's nice!" I said.
"I can't move anything. It's all welded together."
I didn't quite understand what he meant. If memory serves me, Andie Rathbone is left-handed. His drum kit was welded in such a way that it was only suitable for left-handers to play. How come no one had thought to mention this?
I'm horrified to say that I then had the biggest prima donna strop in the history of piss ant prima donnas who have no foundation upon which to base strops of prima donna proportions.
Despite the fact that one of my best friends, who I had known since I was 11, was crying in the imminent face of his dreams crumbling around him; despite the fact that his girlfriend, who was relatively new on the scene, and clearly didn't understand that I was the most important member of the band, on account of my WRITING ALL THE SONGS, was crying and trying to argue Duncan's corner, despite all of these things, I insisted that Duncan put up or shut up. This was our big opportunity. I am ashamed to say that the following little ticker tape message was passing through my brain during this fiasco, 'HE'S ONLY THE DRUMMER... HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO HIT SOMETHING OVER THERE RATHER THAN OVER HERE?..."
Imagine if Hendrix had been sent out at Woodstock with a left-handed guitar?
This was the cultural apocalypse we were now facing.
The gig itself was shit.
We couldn't do any of our melodramatic, expansive stuff.
None of the journalists or record company people were there. They were all being schmoozed by Parlophone. Even Simon Price, who was our music news correspondent on the show at the time, didn't bother turning up to see us. That would have been like seeing a rabbi at a pig roast.
We played to an enthusiastic audience of locals which, perhaps and in retrospect, is how it should have been.
We got off the stage, sweaty, disappointed and hating each other... well, they were understandably hating me, and a fresh-faced young girl came over and said,
"That was really good! Thanks for coming! Why didn't you play 'Wide Open Spaces'?"
I remember watching Mansun and being riven with jealousy over their talent. They sounded amazing that night. I have loved the ambition and complexity of their music ever since.
In the back stage area after the gigs, I spilt a can of lager [that we had to pay for, thanks Rathbone!] on my chair. I casually replaced it for one of the other ones in the room without thinking any more about it.
The next minute, just after I'd sat down, Mansun's tour manager stumbled in with a round of drinks,
"Who's nicked my fucking chair?"
I didn't stand up and say it was me. I was too exhausted to be honest, too drained to admit anything to myself let alone anyone else.
There was a massive brawl on account of that. Chairs got smashed. Glasses, faces and tables too.
We sat back reading the Sunday papers and wishing we were back at home. ©Adam Walton 2012