My show How (Not) To Make It In Britpop opens in Edinburgh on Friday and I'm publishing an accompanying e-book later in the year, about my time spent in the 90s gigging around North London with my band Wilby. You can get a sneaky preview in the first of a series of excerpts from it right here...
The Verve's Sonnet pounded through our ceiling for the fifth time that day. Our new neighbour Chris seemed friendly enough though. He'd already offered us drugs and we'd only lived underneath him a few hours. Anyway, we could hardly complain about noise as we dragged my vintage amp, several guitars, keyboards and 500 alphabetically filed CDs down the stairs along with, bizarrely, a lifesize cardboard cutout of Sharleen Spiteri. We threw her out in the recycling a while later which must've had some prophetic significance as it heralded a humongous Texas comeback. Donna was enjoying moving all our stuff in a big landrover and was wearing combat pants with her converse baseball boots. I can't really understand where her parents got the idea that little femme me was the real gay one who had corrupted their daughter. Our friend Ben once said that I was actually a 'femme-y butch'. Ha, she could talk. She was called Ben.
We limbered up for the flat warming with a few vodkas and the Puressence track 'This Feeling' - one of the best songs of the decade. I'd invited a lot of my journo contacts, having decided that writing about music would go well with actually creating and performing it. Fortunately few of them came, as the party turned out to be a blur - and I'm sure we played some actual Blur too.
At one point I retired into the bathroom and completely undressed, only to emerge adopting a louche pose in the doorway saying I felt more comfortable that way. I'm pretty certain the NME's Ian Fortnam was still there at this point. Nowadays he works for dusty old Classic Rock so may need to draw on such memories for kicks.
What a relief that my reviews editor Sue from the Hampstead and Highgate Express didn't make it. I'd convinced her to take me on as their rock and pop critic as they only covered classical music and, for a paper that supposedly included Camden, I thought it rather remiss that they were missing out Britpop and indie altogether. She called me up and said that yes they were thinking they ought to include "that music they're playing a lot on the wireless." She was, however, rock and roll enough to let me open my review of The Fall with the words "come on out, you miserable sod."
Fortunately Laura Lee Davies, Time Out's music editor, was another no show. I'd sent her clippings of my Making Music magazine reviews, impressing her enough to get an informal interview with her and Garry Mulholland at a dingy pub on Tottenham Court Road (the same one where Garry sacked me years later for copying my band flyers on the office photocopier and other assorted crimes). I took this interview relatively seriously (my virtual pet died during it as I thought I'd have looked an idiot if I took time out to feed it) and got the job. Although I never fancied LLD, she did have very large breasts which had a hypnotic effect on me and the men in the music section. She could thus get away with asking us to write about Kula Shaker and Menswear.
Donna and my Costa Rican guitarist Debbie spent much of the flatwarming evening chasing me around with towels to try and protect my modesty. Debbie's presence meant that erstwhile drummer Lisa was absent. An all female line up had disintegrated as rapidly as New Labour's feel good factor after Debbie had fallen madly in love with the mysterious Lisa and they had ended up throwing footwear at one another. Doc Martens I assume, as the result had been Lisa sustaining a broken nose.
It wasn't long before Debbie announced she was returning to Costa Rica - "away from this lonely and grey town", I wrote in one of my many unfinished songs. One of her last evenings in London was the night that Princess Diana died. She went clubbing to The Fridge in Brixton (Debbie, not Diana - she was in Paris) with Donna and emerged to a horde of drugged up gay men sobbing and chest beating in the street on hearing the news. I spent that weekend visiting my parents and was doubly annoyed. Not only was I marooned in the cultural wasteland of Ormskirk. Now there was absolutely NOTHING on telly.
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