January – March
The demo my band Poise had recorded for Mother Records at the end of 1993, didn’t get us a deal and there wasn’t much creative energy left. The four of us would still get together to rehearse on Monday evenings. Danny and I had often been burning the candle at both ends at the weekend, usually with Rudy. We then had to work during the week. We would watch ‘Desmond’s’, eking out the last few minutes, wishing we were staying in, now running late and drag ourselves up and out, load the car, and slowly make our way across London. To Survival Studios in Acton. I’m not really sure why we were traveling from our basement flat in Highbury to rehearse there, none of us actually lived nearby. I think it was an historical thing from when a previous drummer was from over that way. Anyway, we’d unload the gear we had only just put in the car, carry it in, set up, small talk and go through the motions. Half ideas for new songs and a feeling of boredom starting to creep in to the old ones. We’d wait until we had stayed long enough and could go home. Break everything down, carry it back out to the car, load it up and need a pee. The toilets were across the way, in a large warehouse building. Dark, echoey and a little scary. Relived, I would run back through the emptiness to join Danny in our recently purchased (second hand) Mazda 323 and head for home. In a happier mood. Tea and toast when we got in, the reward for braving the bang and clatter of guitar cases and amps hitting neighbours’ doors and getting everything put back away in our flat.
It seems Survival closed down in 2018, having been there for 37 years. Nothing changed much from 1994 to when it closed by the look of this video, frozen in time and full of memories.
We were putting energy in to going out at the weekends though.
The first Billion Dollar Babes night we went to was on 8 January. These dos were similar in style to Pushca and Sign of the Times nights, but were weekly and remained at the same location. We dressed up in new clothes, worn with trashy second hand coats from Camden Market.
Billion Dollar Babes was held in Raw, which was underground. A large queue formed outside on the pavement. The flamboyant picker on the door, walking up and down checking everyone out, shrieks and laughter, tapping you to let you know you could go in. Only just self contained hysteria while we waited to join the chosen ones inside. Then, down a wide and seemingly never ending stair case, down, down (even longer on the way up afterwards and wobbly). The club was underneath a car park on Great Russell Street.
It was a very glamourous crowd.
I heard this for the first time.
Atlantic Ocean ‘Waterfall’
Our friend Martin‘s band Float had called it a day, as had Jess‘s friends from Portsmouth, S.K.A.W.. Early in 1994 members from each band got together and started jamming. Andy Frank (singer), Bo Ellery (bass), Harry Harrison (drums) and Meredith ‘Yank’ Reid (harmonica) from S.K.A.W. hooked up with Martin Hoyland (guitar) and Tony Antoniou (guitar) from Float. They hired a room at Backstreet Studios on the Holloway Road invited girlfriends along, and jammed and worked on long, groovy rock songs, with a North London, Laurel Canyon party vibe.
20th January – Sir Matt Busby, the legendary former Manchester United manager, dies aged 84.
This great track was released in January, on One Little Indian Records. The debut single by Irish punk band, Compulsion ‘Mall Monarchy’. There was a short lived scene called, by the ‘N.M.E.’, the ‘New Wave of New Wave‘. Compulsion were part of that scene. (Other NWONW bands, including Elastica and Shed Seven were later linked with the more commercially successful Britpop).
Martin‘s new band had a name. They called themselves, Pusherman. Singer, Andy had a management deal already in place with Marcus Russell and Alec Mckinlay at Ignition. Marcus and Alec, managed Johnny Marr, The The and Electronic. Recently they had started to look after a band from Manchester, called Oasis. Andy told us Oasis had a gig at Water Rats in Kings Cross in a couple of days time. Martin and Jess had seen them a few months previously at The Powerhaus in Islington and said they were brilliant. So, we all went along on Thursday 27 January to see Oasis.
The Water Rats was not the sort of gig you would buy tickets in advance for. It was always a very much just turn up on the night sort of place. When we got there on this particular night, the venue was jam packed, full like I had never seen it before. A group of us stayed outside chatting on the pavement, going inside every now and again, only just through the door.
Standing on my toes, I could see through the rammed bar to the small venue at the back. I saw the singer. He didn’t play guitar. He looked good. Every now and then, I saw a couple of the others. The music was loud and Manchester cool. Even outside in the cold, you could feel the exciting atmosphere and I was jealous of the people properly inside it.
This video from the night is on the Oasis Media Archive YouTube channel. This is what they say about it:
‘Dubbed with Supersonic from The Borderline Club after the Cigarettes And Alcohol video shoot.’
The next night it was back to work. Senser played a blinder at the Mega Dog at the Rocket on the Holloway Road.
The Grid headlined and were awesome. Another great night.
Here is some footage of The Grid performing live at Megadog on 28 January 1994.
Shot on Sony Hi8 by Jim Wilson.
On Saturday 29th, we were once again at the club under the car park, Billion Dollar Babes. It was to be their last night for a few months and the crowd was even more glamorous than before. Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell were both there. (Danny was at MIDEM, the music industry conference in Nice and missed this night. Although being in the South of France for a few days wasn’t bad I suppose).
We danced to this…
4 February – British Coal confirms the closure of four more pits, a move which will claim some 3,000 jobs.
Ultimate Records had signed another new band. Led by an American in London, Chris Conklin and produced by Terry Bickers from The House of Love / Levitation. Their debut single, the brilliant, ‘I Will’ (topp 20) was released at the end of January.
8 Storey Window had already released two eps on Mad Minute Records, the label started by Jim Chancellor (later to sign Snow Patrol) and Ben Durling (later to sign The Killers). They were managed by Jim and brilliant live.
As usual we had scheduled a few single releases to coincide with each other, to get a flurry of activity in the press. Submarine had their ‘Lips and Fingers’ single ready for release on 21st February and so had a few gigs lined up to organise a live review or two with. They played The Garage on February 5th and The Powerhaus on the 18th.
This is from my press release –
Here’s the video, directed by Spencer Ferszt.:
Sidi Bou Said released ‘Thing‘ (topp23)
Senser also had a new single, once again getting lots of interest, ‘Switch‘ (topp22) , which got to number 1 in the ‘N.M.E.’ and ‘Melody Maker’ Indie Charts.
The press were loving Senser, their shows were crazy and things were going very well. For this campaign, I got the ‘Melody Maker’ front cover for them. Heitham didn’t like the idea of this photo, he begrudgingly went along with it, which I think can be seen on his face. As I recall that’s Haggis and Andy (DJ Awe) dressed as the police.
19 March – Europe’s first inverted roller coaster, Nemesis, opens at Alton Towers.
A couple of records that I had, not work related…. I read a review of Empirion, ‘Narcotic Influence‘, saying it was the best techno track ever. I was able to blag myself a copy on 12″ and the review might actually be right.
Does everything it should do at exactly the right moment.
This one is very different, I had it on 7″, which I had bought in the Rough Trade Shop in Neal Street, Covent Garden. You had to go through Slam City Skates and down the stairs to get there, always a little nerve wracking. Also always the smell of feet, new skate trainers getting tried on all day.
I got a brilliant pair of Airwalks there.
So, the fantastic Archers of Loaf from North Carolina ‘Web In Front’.
Submarine‘s debut album was due out on 21st March, I was working hard on that too. I got them another Peel session which was exciting.
Bang Bang Machine released ‘Give You Anything’, (topp24) their debut Ultimate release.
Oasis were back in London and played the 100 Club on 24th March. I can’t remember how, but I got a plus one on the guest list, and so saw them for the second time in a couple of months. Everyone was mad for it by now. Sanding there, watching them, was the first time I felt older than the fans. I had been there for the rise of The Stone Roses, was even involved – we had put them on at the Buzz Club, and seen them loads of times. The Stone Roses had disappeared though and here was the next brigade. Normally, I would have got their agent’s number and offered them a gig, but we had stopped the Buzz Club in December 1993, so I felt slightly adrift as I watched this band, on fire and about to take over the world.
Here’s a live recording of that gig.
- Bring It On Down 2. Digsy’s Dinner 3. Live Forever 4. I Will Believe 5. Cigarettes & Alcohol 6. Supersonic
On 31 March we went to a wonderful gig at The Garage in North London. Dodgy were playing and had invited Ralph McTell to support them.
We all sang along to ‘Streets of London‘ at full volume and Ralph looked a little confused, by this slightly unusual gig. While Dodgy played, Math‘s brother Chris had a ladder on stage, and painted on a huge canvas to the music.