Thursday, 8 October 2015

THE 2007 DEMO

Well I mentioned it just now, so I thought I'd do this entry while it's fresh in my mind. We'd spent 2006 gigging and getting those 2005 demos out there with good feedback (airplay, reviews, better gigs, fanbase building, all the usual for a fledgling band that had previously alluded us) I'm not sure we actually sent many off to labels etc, but as we were gigging so much it was easy to get rid of our stock (especially when we regularly lost entire bags full and had to run off more) After a busy but uncertain year with rotating bassists, by the end of 2006 we had lost our proper bassist after a triumphant KOKO gig (the last of 4 that year, and the last until 2011) as David just couldn't commit to the increasingly hectic and busy life as a Silvery. This all scuppered plans to record more stuff that year so we made do with the increasingly out-of-date 2005 sessions. Again, the fates aligned and we quickly found Joe through Simon the keyboard player. Joe was a different bassist to David and anchored the songs with the sobriety they required and we all hit it off straight away. After a few rehearsals once again we were ready to play live and started 2007 with a live review from The Metro in NME, a decent management team and even some legal oomph. We were getting offers and interest from all sorts of new places and we needed to record some fresh demos. Again, we had gone into the new line up and new year with a fresh outlook.

We were rehearsing at Fortress on Old Street (scene of the previous 2005 demo session) and by chance found on one of the upper floors was a little private recording studio called Pinna run by a chap called Kev. During a break in practice one Sunday we tootled up the stairs and asked him if we could book some time. He came down to watch us and like that we obvious had our shit together and were doing something very different to the usual Shoreditch thing at that time. Although it's fair to say initially he had alarm bells ringing due to our tight jeans and Russian naval tops. We all agreed on a weekend to do it that March. Avoiding the problems of last time, we decided to do just 3 songs and get them all finished and mixed by the end of the two day session. 'Horrors' had been a favourite in the set for about 6 months and was crying out to be recorded as it had 'single' all over it. Rather than doing a couple more new ones ('Warship Class' was less than ideal for the new serious and commercially minded band!) or ones that had previously fallen through the cracks (How we hadn't recorded 'Star Of The Sea' yet is beyond me) we chose to redo previous favourite 'That Which Is', and live staple 'Orders' which by this point had developed into an entirely different song to the original 2005 demo.

Recording was easy. Drums and bass were done live, rough live guitar and keys were either replaced or added to straight away barely before we had a chance to change the settings. Singing (that most hated part of my personal studio time) we effortless too this time (thanks to all the gigging we'd done) That is, once I'd actually finalised the lyrics to the still fresh 'Horrors'. We videoed most of the weekend and watching it back today is a joy. We had so much fun at those sessions.

So those three tracks became the new demo, splashed all over the internet and put on CDs for the fans with half an eye on getting them out as a single. We had met Paul from Blow Up after that January Metro gig and I got the recordings to him, along with the other older studio sessions. The next thing I know, less than 2 months after finishing these new demos, we were signed up to do an album. Again, great days to be alive. Of course, we tweaked the recordings for official release once we started our album sessions that summer (mainly adding handclaps) and 'Horrors' and 'Orders' became the double A-side vinyl debut. And, I hope you will agree, what a debut coupling that was. Straight onto the radio and even on telly a couple of time. Luckily, given the considerable gap between finishing the 'demo' version and the official release (some 10 months) it allowed time to get the BRILLIANT video made. For once in our pitiful struggling existence, everything came together.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

THE 2005 DEMOS

As part of the ongoing Silvery Archival Project here's a few words about the 2 demo sessions we did in 2005 that resulted in our first 'serious' demo CDs. Those that got us gigs and that we used as free downloads on our fledgling website and that Myspace thing. You've still got them, right? These sessions were touched on a while back when our old bassist David wrote his Silvery story but as I've just found the recordings again, here's my bit. Not quite in time for the 10th anniversary, but near enough in Silvery time.

At the end of 2004, Silvery was whittled down to just three of us - Myself, keyboard player Simon and bassist David. We'd been a noisy shambles of a 5 piece up to that point showing quite a bit of promise but things reached a head and we had a rethink. We quickly found a friend of a friend to drum for us, Alex, and one of the key points for the new, dynamic, band (probably very well aware this was ANOTHER final roll of the dice) was to actually record ourselves properly. We'd dabbled before of course long ago in different line ups with various degrees of success, but the volume of new songs we had in the current set that had not been represented on disc demanded. And once we'd nailed the live set in the first weeks of 2005 with the new line up we had a first go at recording.

SEASNAKE DEMO: As Simon worked in a little Soho studio primarily used for voice recording we decided to record drums and bass on my handy 4-track tape machine in the rehearsal room (Backstreet on Holloway Road) and then take the 'finished' rhythm' track mixdown to his place and stick on guitar, keys and vocals. It made sense at the time, and we were, with a few minor quibbles, very happy with the results. Pretty sure they were all done and dusted over about 3 Sunday afternoons during January / Early February. The recordings captured the sheer berserkness of the band in 2005 far better than the numerous live audience bootleg recordings we had as we were still in truth finding our feet live. And fingers. I certainly had my work cut out for me as the sole guitarist for the first time. No hiding! An even more thunderous 'That Which Is' than previous attempts. A confident stomp through '1994' taken slightly faster than the released version and missing the middle 8 verse. 'Orders' retaining the original 4-track demo intro (as also heard on the finished 2008 version). A short version of the brand new 'Will Self' and a truncated 'Foreign Exchange' only featuring part of 'The Drilling Machine' outro. I'm sure there was more but I can't find any evidence at all. That must've been it. I do have hazy memories of recording a couple of acoustic demos in the same studio with Simon's boss after band drinks a couple of years later (still pre-debut album). 'The Crompton' I think, plus 'Charge Of The Light Brigade'. Oh boy to hear them again! So, various selections of the recorded material (the 'asset') formed the 3 or 4 track CDs we started to distribute at gigs all dressed in a beautiful Victorian woodcut sleeve (see above, hence the nickname the sessions got). Usually headed up by 'That Which Is' or 'The Squadron Leader'. It was one of these that got us our first taste of radio play as Lamacq spun 'That Which Is / That Which Is Not' on Radio 1 and our first reviews in The Organ and NME. After the second session (see below) I think we retained a couple of the songs from this set on various things but they were in effect rendered redundant after the next batch. We'd moved on already!

Tracks recorded: 1994, Sparks & Fire, Foreign Exchange, The Squadron Leader, Will Self, Orders, plus a home recording of The Ship's Cat which got grafted onto the end of The Squadron Leader.

LONDON METEORITE: Swiftly moving on to May 2005, only a few months after the last session we met a chap called Nick Abbott who was keen to help us do some more tracks. We jumped at the chance primarily as we were all on the same page about how they should sound and he could get a good rate at Fortress off Old Street, which was actually a REAL LIFE proper studio. Focussing on tracks we'd not done at the previous session for whatever reason (time, or basically because we had so many more songs by May), we turned up in our stage gear this time and treated it VERY professionally. Only minimal laughter this time. Until that is we invented The Murder Hole dance. That's a different story. The same thing happened on these recordings where the post production and mixing carried on for a few weeks as we finished off bits and pieces whenever and wherever we could over the essentially live takes done in the main one day session. A fluked AMAZING guitar solo on 'Murder Holes', a frantic and glammy 'Penny Dreadful'. A PULVERISING 'Martian Invasion'. The definitive 'Revolving'. A slightly scatty 'The Nod' as befits the slightly scatty song. If anything, having a new set of recordings upped the ante of distributing the CDs to replace the already elderly sounding January recordings. These served as our demos for the next 18 months until the next time found time to record. And those recordings would eventually become our first album, so that's very much part of the next chapter! Look out for 'The 2007 Demos' on here! This Fortress session would be notable for having the song that would become our first video ('Devil In The Detail' in 2006) and a minor remix as a prospective first single (we bodged a fresh remix of 'Action Force' and 'Devil' at Strokes producer Gordon Raphael's Limehouse studio and they remained unused). Again, notices were good and continued on the bumpy road to becoming a proper band. The cover suited the music contained within and for the second time in 6 months Silvery were delivering a product that screamed 'PAY ATTENTION!' Some lucky people were given CDs of both combined sessions as a 14 track demo album which we were very proud of. Our first proper album! Yes it sounded LIKE demos, but it was inspiring to have our songs there on a CDR. And more importantly, there on our MP3 players so we could all listen and improve them. All In all, both these session were good grounding for the main album session later as we tried to perfect the (sometimes very complex) new backing vocals overdubs live. And those of you in bands will recognise this, we didn't suffer from demoitis - despite the demos sometime breathless electric ridiculousness, the album takes of the respective tracks were better. Probably less energetic and not as raw of course, but better. Apart from 'Sparks & Fire'. And 'The Nod'. And 'Murder Holes'... all of which, curiously, ended up on album 2 in 2010. A real shame these all now only exist only as quite low quality MP3s. I'm sure they'll turn up on a minidisc or something at some point. Hopefully in time for the 10th anniversary reissue of 'Thunderer & Excelsior' in 2018. The original session discs are around somewhere. I have one, I'm sure Simon has the other. Would be great to go back at give them nice new mixes for 2018. If they even still make the software we used anymore. In keeping with those great Silvery fuck ups of the past, I doubt they do.

Tracks recorded: A Penny Dreadful, The Nod, Martian Invasion, Revolving Sleepy Signs, Murder Holes, Devil In The Detail, Action Force

THEME

Foreword: I've been putting this entry off for YEARS. At least since the archival entries that made up most of 2009 / 2010 on here and certainly since the last couple of years marked the 20th anniversary of this chunk of the story. But my blogging OCD demands it... primarily so one day, Silvery Archeologists will be able to reconstruct all these entries into a nice chronological tale. Blame my ongoing fascination with Time Travel fiction reaching a peak with the (unlikely to ever be released 4th Silvery album) John Titor nonsense last year and works by Jack Finney and the latest Stephen King. This certainly isn't the first chapter, but a good place to start for now. It's really 2 articles fused together - the brief outline of my first amateur band, and one about a long lost demo tape I made as a kid in 1994. Reading it back, it serves neither really. It adds very little to the main Silvery story, but while I half remember most of it, somehow it feels right to commit some of it to the internet. It's just a purge of memories for myself really. And who knows, at the very least, my son might one day read all these as he makes sense of the dozens of cassettes and minidiscs that daddy left in a box in the spare room. If he does, he need to keep in mind that daddy was just learning back then. It should all be taken as it was intended - experiments by a clueless kid into how this music thing works. Anyway.

That's a picture of Theme down there. L-R Adam, Matt, Ilias and me, WANKERED inside a photobooth somewhere in Hatfield, sometime in early 1996. Probably the only picture of us all in one frame. And the only one to suitably hide my stupid Marc Bolan hair that cursed those University years. So where to start on Theme? This is a difficult one, but has been promised for a long time. I guess the point of this piece to two pronged - much of the Silvery material is actually from a musical written with hindsight about the whole Theme episode both celebrating and reimagining it as something more than it actually was, and the fact that a few Theme songs made it onto Silvery releases (I've tackled those on here before). 'Star Of The Sea' was originally titled 'The Selling Of Theme To The Majors', for example. Theme was my first 'proper' band and the (with a few bumps in between) immediate forerunners of Silvery. It had a lifespan roughly coinciding with the Britpop Wars of the 1990s and I'd like to think partly responsible for the whole Cool Britannia thing. At least in our stomping ground of Hatfield, which was within easy striking distance of the bright lights and major label moneybags of the capital. But we never got further than the Student Unions and the occasional shopping trip down to London to look at Tower Records and HMV. Happy days.

I'd been calling my imaginary band ~Theme~ for a good year before they actual existed and have fond memories of Summer '94 spent demoing (see below) both in preparation for the new academic year away at university and exorcizing previous musical attempts that achieved nothing other than to ram home just how hard this music lark was going to be. That Summer, my last in the family home in Hampshire, I was about 6 months on from having learnt my first guitar chord (Dm, swiftly followed by Am) and had begun writing what were starting to be actual 'songs'. Very much a bedroom dreamer. I'd progressed on to needing more sophisticated demos and dabbled using the age old process of two tape players connected up and overdubbing during playback with very little control of levels or sound quality. Amateurish, but an excellent way to learn the craft. WHY OH WHY did no one think to buy me a 4-track machine back then? Probably because no one knew I was trying to make songs. A trip to Tandys for the correct leads was a revelation. This was going to HAPPEN. Once I got on a roll, I would tape over anything I could find. This was the days of free tapes coming with music magazines and I got through so many. I wish I'd kept them all at least so I'd have some hint as to what they sounded like now. I'd start doing the drums on whatever I could find (Tupperware, shoeboxes, thighs) then add guitar, singing and usually if the original guitar was too quiet another few layers of guitar of gradually unwinding tuning. It was great, with each layer diminishing the audio quality by quite a bit. It's almost poetic I'm writing this all at the very same desk I did it all on 21 years ago, sat next to the same Hitachi tape player that was responsible for most of the audio flaws.

Sadly, the resulting 'master' cassette was ceremonially burnt on the eve of our first proper studio session about 3 years later for some reason (Hoxton '97 - read about it below). Like it would bring us luck. Even then it seemed like an ancient unnecessary reminder of when I didn't have a clue. The truth was, I still didn't, but it seemed like an genuine but empty gesture that would appear more meaningful than it was. All it did was to immediately make me wish I hadn't done it and right now I would LOVE to have those recordings back. I've asked around, but of course no one would've kept terrible recordings of terrible songs from 20 years ago. So I have a massive hole in the Silvery archive. All the songs still exist in various forms of course as I have SO MANY cassettes of other recordings and rerecordings of the same material (earlier acoustic demos, later full band rehearsal jams, even some live and unsophisticated 4-Track demos) but none displaying that sheer raw na├»ve mad energy of the 'solo' versions I did that Summer. I'm not sure I would have the patience to do that now. Or the time. Especially the drumming-on-shoeboxes drums. Although I must add, the drumming sounded AMAZING. Just how I wanted it - booming and glammy. Like everything was played on floor toms. 'Texture' was accidently added by loud nasal breathing while doing it and the occasional 'hmmm' or 'haaaa' as I remembered to change beat. What a mess. Oh well. So from memory, that Summer 1994 tape included: 

She's A Butterfly
For some reason in the Summer of '94 this was going to be the BIG single. I just can't see it now and recall I was sick of it by the time that Winter rolled around. Featuring the one drum intro that Suede hadn't used up until that point (the 'boom tsh bombom tsh' one) it recounted the events of a night out in Eastleigh. In 2015 that would probably be the most exciting 'real' thing to sing about, Sillyford Mod style. Not so 20 years ago. Its fate was all but confirmed once it was presented to the full band a few months later and played over and over again and somehow morphed into the theme tune from '80 Days Around The World With Willy Fog'. Blame the bassline. Of course, 10 years later, I'd have killed for that. Slated as the first single, opening track on the tape and at later live performances early the following year. But the less said about those the better.

Oh The Swine
More a showcase for my newly learnt F#m to A change. Like that was a new thing for guitarists to do. I really liked this one but I'm not sure it was ever played with the band. Recounting another night out, this time in WInchester. So, fittingly, sounding a bit more classy.

Emptiness
Build around the same 4 chords repeating throughout (possibly the only 4 chords I knew at that point) and thematically pinched off an Auteurs b-side ('Vacant Lot' I think?) 'Emptiness' recounts my last visit to see my Grampa a few years before. For some reason I think it was all hinged on the memory of some of his awful glass ornaments. The chord sequence was lifted much later (and, to be honest, wasted) on 'Christmas Is Easy', the still-born attempt at a Silvery Christmas song in 2012 that only served to prove I'd never attempt the 'band' thing again.

Among The Idols
A fan favourite in that first year at Uni. He really liked it. Along with the Butterfly song above given the indignity of being played live at those early gigs and for that I don't think it's ever really forgiven me. In our top 5 best songs for most of the Uni years. And the pre-chorus bridge has been recycled so many times in other songs, but I'm not sure on anything actually released. Might be worth a revisit.

Why Should Tonight Be Different
A suitably Smithsy title and, not for the last time, a chorus I couldn't actually sing. A tricky A to C#m under the song title = nope. I'd introduced the tricky 'B' chord into songs by this point and I had some trouble making the shape when demoing this and started to feel genuinely worried about having to record properly in front of people. Scary business this worrying-about-things-that-will-never-happen thing. Like much of these recordings, the trebly and hissy sound really sounded magical. Not least on this recording.

Singer AKA 'Sally Spoke'
'The Drowners' in all but name. And, naturally, not as good. Even most of the lyrics. Actually that's unfair, as at the time I thought this was good. In its only other recording with the drummer it got given the same intro as 'I Want To Break Free' for LOLZ. And not for the last time, a comedy addition made the song even better and was retained as a key feature.

The Pilot Scheme
A little sad acoustic ditty about watching trains in South Wales with Pa. Except for some reason set in 1958. The forerunner of 'Warship Class' on the first album.

Blousy AKA 'Does She Know?'
Punk verses and a funk chorus. Really good intro riff that was recycled (at least, the open strings and bar chords idea) for 'Horrors'. Really should go back to that riff as originally intended. Also, oh to have a song called 'Blousy' now.

Edward Bear
That point where you realise another summer is over. Strange to think that even at 15 or 16 I was nostalgic for earlier Summers. A lazybones song told from the viewpoint of my old Pooh Bear for some reason. Looking back, just an exercise in learning about playing a chord and raising the shape up the neck instead of going to the trouble of changing finger position. So, essentially, the reason I'm such a miserably bad guitarist now.

Space Cadet
A Baggy shuffle, for some reason. A mistake in the timing of my original cornflakes box drumming became part of all subsequent recordings, but, naturally, it's that first demo that I am most fond of. Like a sped up Motion Picture version of 'Moonage Daydream' and that's saying something. A later version had first notable use of a bass guitar on ANY recording I had made. And boy did it make a difference. I suddenly 'got' what a bass is about. It adds 'bass' to the sound.

Where Angels Go To Die
The forerunner of all the long slow songs that blighted me over the years. And that title! A shorter, better, version of 'Life & Non Life' off Etiquette. Essentially the same song. *shakes fist at Suede's 'Pantomime Horse'*

Globe
See above, but with more chords and a better chorus. Unfortunately, 'more chords' meant it didn't hang around that long, despite me constantly revising it over the years. The best of which was a 7 minute version recorded as soon as I'd met a drummer. Did end up part of our first ever proper studio session in 1997 (see below) but due to time constraints was never mixed and still to this day languishes somewhere in the 3 VHS mastertapes I've got from that session. Would LOVE to find a machine so I can have a listen. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure there is no machine capable of doing that these days. Silvery's own John Titor adventure could revolve around that.

So anyway. I took this tape to uni that September almost as a companion - all I'd learnt from the last year contained in a cassette. Of course, predictably, I was too embarrassed to play it to anyone. In my new student halls I shared a room with Matt so he became the drummer. Ilias heard us making a racket (usually a Wednesday afternoon) so joined on bass. They were both brilliant players and I found by this point, I could fake it pretty well in a 'live' setting. Especially as we were playing 'my' songs, so I was never found out when we did a cover version because we never did. On paper, it was all there. In practise (or more accurately 'lack' of practise) it was going to take a looooooong time. Especially the singing as we didn't own a microphone. Or stand. That first year we played 2 gigs (May and June I think), both in The Font, the student union bar on campus. They weren't very good or long gigs. I'd never heard a bass guitar through a PA before, or sung into a microphone on stage. And the songs were, that tell tale sign of a young band, really really too fast. The next time we were to take to that stage was the following February with the addition of Adam on guitar. He came from my hometown (and indeed, went to the same college as me) and we had a few sessions together in my living room as very green wannabe guitarists that same summer before I went away. I can't remember why he came up to uni late but we hit the gigging circuit running when he finally did. I say running. The gigs continued to be shit, but at least it felt like a band. More songs followed:

Samba
These next ones were done a bit later than this original 'lost' 1994 tape at Christmas. But looking back 21 years later, it's all one body of work really. No discernible improvement in writing or playing. Suede said one of the b-sides of 'So Young' would be called 'Samba', but no song of that name ever came out so, naturally, I nicked it. I had an idea this would be the one we played live on The Word (possibly with Bernard Butler on guitar). Close to Suede's 'Dolly' but with more glam / flamenco feel. I occasionally think about retrying this one. Strangely still a unique song in the extended catalogue and those early versions a testament to the power of Matt's drumming.

Daisy Fields, Waterloo
A waltz. And nicked off a song played by our resident 6th Form older-boys-60s-type-band called Flare. They were amazing and wore fur coats and played Stones songs. Still don't know if the song this ripped off was a cover or original but, hey, thanks guys.

Ace Face
The cheekiest of these early songs, and built around the 'John I'm Only Dancing' guitar intro. Seemed to be about a looming Menswear radio gig at Bristol Sound City (Easter '95) and I was nervous they wouldn't be as good as the live picture in that months Select magazine suggested. That Easter break, they were perfect. Lots was happening - Gene, Supergrass. It felt nice to be the Hatfield branch of Britpop. The song got a revamp about 4 years later when I was sending out acoustic demos when I finally bought a 4 track tape machine. That will make another blog entry I hope. Still occasionally enjoy playing it when no one's listening. Not that they were back then, of course.

Everyone's Turning To Stone
'My Insatiable One' but already recycling that good bit from 'Among The Idols' as mentioned earlier. Another that I figured might be worth digging out at some point. A classic case in point that what I now consider our better songs were never actually played live.

Band life revolved more around shopping at the Galleria and visiting the Hilltop chippie than learning our craft in the port-a-cabins that the Band Society borrowed most evening. Oh, and Viva Pizza in Hatfield, near Asda who we got our Sunday dinner from weekly. They actually called us once concerned when we hadn't ordered from them one Sunday. Drinks in the Font were plentiful. It was a good productive time, with studies leaking into songwriting (Philosophy and Physics still form a big chunk of the Silvery words) and Britpop exploding just down the railway line was inspiring. Remember the Hatfield rail crash? That was in our back garden. I was always writing and demoing material, more often than not either with a confused Ilias or Adam. I've still got HOURS of this material on cassette. Some ideas were good enough to develop, some were just to see what would happen if we did 'this' or 'that'. Off the top of my head, some other tunes that we did as a band after that first body of work from Summer 1995 through the next 18 months:

Peter Ruff
Bowie's take on 'Waiting For The Man' riff sped up and turned into the theme tune of an imaginary BBC kids show, like Mr Benn. Celebrating the weekend adventures of my pals from home. Each gets a line using codenames to avoid embarrassment.

Bardot
We're well into Theme's imperial phase now. The songs weren't getting better, but we had developed more in jokes. Build around Thurman's 'Famous' which I saw them do on The Beat that summer, which I still enjoy immensely. The title is unrelated to the lyrics, but every teenage songwriter surely has a song called 'Bardot'? Technical note: By this point I'd dispensed with the Tupperware box drums and did acoustic demos, usually with a layer of electric over the top to illustrate that it was an 'electric' song. Getting the correct fuzz finally killed the hifi amp. RIP.

Cover Version
Essentially the same song as above in the solid 1995 Britpop style. But somehow much better than our previous attempts and songs that go 'cha cha-cha plink'. Or at least, less embarrassing to play. Should be redone at some point as it has quite pleasing words and a solid 'La La La' outro. Occasionally still dragged out when I have Pro Tools running and am low on ideas.

Ramally Bridge
Although spelt wrong, this one was another homage to a local landmark. And by this time it was deemed necessary to have lots of chords in songs. Lesson 1: Lots of chords doth not maketh a good song. Although I'm still fond of the chorus in this one and it cleared the way for some of the later 'lots of chord' songs. Again, would've been worth presenting to Silvery circa 2005 just to see where it would've gone. Assume Echobelly wouldn't have sued for the hefty theft from 'Car Fiction'.

Downer
Yep, 'Downer'. Another slowie that was recycled into better songs over the years and the song that is still brought up regularly (along with 'Globe') when we joke about just how shit we were. Played live usually because I could actually sing the 'soaring' chorus relatively well. File in the 'FFS' folder.

Skyliner
The 'I Feel Fine' riff played wrong and lots of bad words about mountains. A good half speed chorus. Enjoyable to play live to get the 6 people in the audience going. The guitar line on this got reused as the bridge in 'The Ronald Opus' on Etiquette. A fair lift.

See Through People
I loved the Big White Stairs' 'Non-Star' so pinched the idea. A nice play on See Through as in sussing out a deceptive person, and See Through as in ghost. Would've probably helped though if anyone knew what the songs were called or could hear the buried-deep-in-the-mix vocals. Some of it ended up in '1994' from the first album. This one also made it to our first studio session. Naturally, that recording wasn't as good at those early rehearsal room ones. £600 in 1997 money down the pan. From this same era came 'Revolving' and 'Foreign Exchange' and a couple of others which you might know from the first two Silvery albums. I think the clues are there if you'd like to imagine what these other ones sounded like.

You can tell we meant business by now because Matt's mum made us up some t-shirts with song titles on. I had a blue See Through People one. It was brilliant. Wish I'd kept more. The khaki Skyliner one was excellent. By now we'd played our biggest gigs. Early on in the big Hutton Hall upstairs (where we'd seen Rolf Harris and Baby D play that term and any number of AMAZING tribute bands) and because that was actually 'OK' we were allowed to play a headline show the following month. I have these two gigs on tape still. They certainly were not 'OK' but it felt nice to be making progress. By now we'd be wearing policeman uniforms and judo gear on stage. And jumping on top of each other or throwing guitars around. All the other uni bands could play exceptionally well and just stuck to crowd pleasing covers. So generally, we were a bit of a joke. But you could tell there was some respect from our musical siblings that we were actually trying to do a proper band thing. Why didn't we try to get a couple of gigs in London? It wasn't really on our radar. That was for PROPER bands. It was one hell of an eye opener a few years later when I found out it REALLY REALLY WASN'T. It's fair to say those early gigs put me right off playing live. I was embarrassed and it seemed like a necessary evil a band had to do. It took me YEARS to get over it. Singing live, rounding up an audience. The internet really really helped later on. I dunno how we got away with it all back then.

She's Got To Know
Ooooh yeah into 1997 now and the final body of Theme songs. This was the first song to have clown keyboards on it when done at that first studio session mentioned above. February 1997 in Hoxton. A fair old drive down from Hatfield, and an even long drive back with our TERRIBLE new recording. I lost the vote with the keyboard overdub and they ended up very low in the mix. Have since been told I was right which pleased me. Again, some of this one was chopped up into other later songs. I wish the singing wasn't so bad on that whole session because some of these tunes were half decent. Special nod to Adam and Ilias' stop-start gypsy scale outro.

Odeon
'Dear Prudence' played by Cardiacs. That was the idea. Essentially one chord throughout ('C') which made it easy for our bassist to remember. Which strangely he never did. Toyed with digging this out for Silvery as I REALLY like the main riff. A later 'reunion' jam with Matt and Adam at some point in 2002 or 3 saw the song reborn as a kind of 'Just' by Radiohead. The same session tape included a version of Ilias' instrumental called '43 Golds' (AKA 'Welfare Whores') which, unbelievably ended up called 'Hype Jam' on some Bowie bootlegs thanks to me being a wanker.

Never Ever
The forerunner of all the later Silvery Glammy-Pop tunes but not quite as good. The lead track on that Hoxton '97 demo tape. Good pop fade out though. Fluffed intro, which was nicked off 'Among The Idols'. I learned early on that recycling the good bits of rubbish songs was a workable idea. I think that's thanks to owning dozens of Bowie bootlegs. Again, when I recently rediscovered a rehearsal demo of it I was like FFS that's how it should've sounded. Indeed, hindsight tells me that the 3 songs we did shouldn't have been the ones we recorded at great expense. Maybe history would've been more kind if we'd recorded, say, 'Skyliner', 'Ace Face' and, I dunno, 'Samba'? But back then you see, we had decent home demos of them so it was seen as a waste of money. I say 'decent'...

It kind of fizzed out after that. Exams loomed. Drinking loomed. Theme (minus Adam but with the addition of a musically forgetful organ player) played one London gig well after uni, a diabolically terrible set at The Rock Garden in early 1998. As well rehearsed as we got (instrumentally) by the end, we had forgotten it all by that one. And what rehearsal we did do still didn't include the singing. I was too shy, even in front of the band. What a wuss. I'd really have to sort that out. But it felt good relocating to Islington and rehearsing a band actually in a PROPER studio. Adam and myself ended up living in Islington once he'd finished uni and we had a year or so of the kind of scrapes you read about Carl and Pete having around the same time (1998) in the same postcode. We became 'Scissors' and toyed with getting a drummer and bassist and gigging but never did. Jamming usually consisted of making up joke songs ('Jazz Mags' stands out) and dabbling with building an acoustic two-man live set. But to be honest, we just didn't have the bottle to do it, or the money to rehearse properly. They were fun days though and BOY do I regret not just DOING IT. Scissors and our respective girlfriends would go to see gigs and drink loads. I look back fondly. Later on Adam and Matt would dabble with the early incarnations of Silvery. I have a tape of Matt drumming on versions of 'Two Halves Of The Same Boy' and '1994' from about 2003, and of course Adam switched to bass and was there for some of the key 2001 - 2002 first troublesome gigs which he wrote about on here a couple of years ago. So that ties that up nicely.

Once Theme was done for that first Summer living in London It felt like the passing of something. The end of this first difficult fact finding phase. And now as I write this as my London years are behind me, I feel so terribly nostalgic for that time. Probably more so than for what was to come later on. I'm sorry to say the next few years were spend in hibernation in a big Islington townhouse making demos and half heartedly scouring the Musicians Wanted ads. I eventually joined a band as the bassist because at 23, I felt too old. That story is picked up on another post on here a while back. If anything, it made me determined to work hard on this music malarkey and I vowed the next time I was on stage it would be GOOD. And 3 years, a lot of false starts and ups and downs later, it was. More or less.                 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Tanked Up

Haven't done one of this type of entry for a while, like those first Quaire Fellow posts that were simple musings.
So Steve from the pub regaled this tale. I was dubious but thought I'd pass it on while I've got the new post window on this thing opened.

He had a pal who was involved in the army around the time of a first Gulf conflict (1991 or so) as a tank mechanic. Or something like that.

Anyway. The whole company was going out there and told to respect the local no booze rule. All fine, of course but this chap sensed a harebrained money making scheme.

He knew that one particular tank's hydraulic brake system held about 300 litres of fluid (I raised an eyebrow at this detail) and proceeded over the course of a few late nights to clean it out and fill the air tight tubes with gin.
 
Yep.

The army shipped the tank over (along with loads of others - the perfect camouflage) under his supervision into some base position quite out of harms way, but with a good number of potential customers.

Apparently he was being watched and was approached a number of times by several military police type figures inspecting his unusual nocturnal activities before the trip over. They found nothing amiss - amazing considering the stink of that volume of gin sealed away right under their noses. I suggested this might have come to light had the tank driver lit up a fag and the whole lot had gone up. But no, the tank wasn't used and wasn't expected to be until the booze had gone.

He got away with it for a few days, until, astoundingly, his massive order from the catering corp turned up: A lorry of lemons, limes and gallons of tonic water. He got bollocked. Almost too fantastic not to be true.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

THE RETURNING (Working Title)

So I found myself with a lot of time on my hands over last summer and started doing some demos for the sake of making a racket on the argumentative Silvery laptop rather than doing Episode 4 of the Silvery saga. I went down into the woods in Hampshire, in my flat, in my pals flat. Just as and when, you know? I had a lot on my mind. As with these things it quickly became apparent that from the 20 or so songs I had roughly recorded I could quite easily make a decent album with a bit a spit and polish on the recordings. Instead of another 14 tracker, I'm really trying hard to stick to doing a classic 10 track album but as usual it's impossible with even the worst songs forming an integral part of the internal album dialogue. Jobs left to do: changing the drum loops I pinched off songs by The Rubettes, The Supremes and The Glitter Band to actual drums, and getting some lady vocals on it. But would it be a Silvery album or a solo album? I don't know yet, but the plan is to do it properly again after the last album. It was a kind gesture giving 'Etiquette' away free with little warning, but get the sense not many people heard it. And I'd like to show my son an actual CD when he gets to ask 'What did you do after killing off the Hoxton Scene daddy?'.

Of the tracks there is the usual mix of old lost titles from years ago, and some brand new things. I even had to bump 'Homobot' off it. That will eventually go on the great Silvery Odds & Sods compilation at somepoint. Still hoping to be called 'A Hatfield Of Hollow'.

Do you remember the concepts behind the previous 3 albums? Well, this one is a story too. With the cries of 'KEEP IT COMMERCIAL' still ringing in my ears, it's ended up being about John Titor. He goes and does his thing looking for the IBM 5100 but ends up in 2006 down Nambucca to stop something awful happening. And I'm John Titor. Or something like that. You'll have to wait! As such, a couple of the songs pastiche the sounds of 1975, 1985 and 2006 so don't be alarmed when you eventually hear a couple of very lazy riffs and American drawl. For the first time the album seems to be bookended by 2 parts of the same song as if to shout out 'CONCEPT ALBUM!' Songs reference each other and characters we met in previous songs. Oh and there's another in the on going Silvery Train Songs. This time about the Voith North British Type 2s, although again, might be bumped off the tracklist. The POP element is strong in this record. And I'm sorry to announce less clown keyboards and falsetto. I've been smoking too much I guess, and don't have a keyboard player.

That said, I think you'll like it bearing in mind 4 albums in it's only natural for the sound to develop. Or regress, depending on how you feel. So far it might be called 'The Returning' (not of the band, but of the time traveller) or 'The Fighting Diamondback Shotgun Infantry Unit' which I don't think will go down well in K-Mart.

Anyway, thought I'd write a little to tell you how it's going so far. And we know what happened when I tried some updates for 'Etiquette'. A 2 year delay and endless hair pulling. So far we've run the gauntlet of the usual silliness including illness, emotional turmoil and a broken laptop. Not helped, to be honest, with it finally hitting a couple of walls when I lost my temper with it. These are the tracks, although not in this order, I'm sure.
 

OMG Guys (A wordy space age skank. And yes, I wrote a song called OMG Guys.)
The Fighting Diamondbacks (Spiders From Mars as a US high school marching band)
The Forward Gun (Spiders From Mars as themselves)
Laurie (Walker Brothers doing The Drowners)
The Sound Underground (Glittery acousticness)
Theme From Silvery (You might have heard an early version of this one already)
Maria Is Responsible (A song from a good 1980s TOTP 2)
Voith North British (Neu! doing Silvery)
You Would If You Wanted To (Coming Up era Suede go US College Radio)
271 (Probably The Strokes, weirdly. Or Television)
I Know (Lovely this one, reprising Life & Non Life, featuring a genuinely famous guest!)
The Returning (Carl Segan's Cosmos played by QOTSA? More importantly, a super outro reprising the into of OMG Guys.)
 
And the out takes (for the future Silvery collector to ponder over): C204 (The Glitter Band doing TVC15), Peter (advice for a friend), Space Opera (Working title - Jeff Wayne doing Moonage Daydream via Parson Nathaniel), Homobot (The HIT single), A Soldier's Winter (this is some poetry that John Titor claimed to remember from the future, so I finished it off), Building A Garden For A Blindman's Child (this has never made it onto an album - maybe next time), Docks / D2994 (Michael Portillo and his Bradshaw remember the Class 07 shunters)
 
I hope that up there will be the artwork too. Super Silvery New Vs. Old, Classic Vs Sci-Fi, Stranger In A Strange Land theme, but more importantly, will look amazing as a poster, LP sleeve, t-shirt and mouse mat. Hopefully see you soon - and hopefully this will be out for the traditional August release!
 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Buffalo Bar, N1

You will have heard that the Buffalo Bar on Highbury Corner N1 is closing right? We loved it, and I thought it timely to take a brief look back in our standard more-excitement-than-skill journalistic scribble at the Silvery BB story. A story intertwined with the ups and downs of the good ship Silvery and ROCK HISTORY ITSELF. I count us having played 7 times over the years. I'm sure that's not a record but that puts the venue 2nd on our most gigged list after The Bull & Gate in Kentish Town (also RIP). As an Islington lad myself (well, since 1997) it's somehow always been there and Indeed I can't remember a time when it wasn't, so tightly it goes with North London life. Sure, there are better places to play, but I'd be hard pushed to think of a better place to see a band. And it certainly is up there with those places you'd be guaranteed to be on at least nodding terms with most of the people in there. And that's a positively a plus point when you can hardly walk at the end of a heavy night.
 
I'm pretty sure the first time we played there was supporting David Devant & His Spirit Wife in 2005 just after the 7/7 attacks - as a relatively new 4 piece in stupid bandsman's uniforms and wonky eyeballs-on-stalks fast songs. As mentioned elsewhere here, it felt good being one of 2 bands so heavily intertwined thematically with London's history getting out there and reclaiming a sense of normality a couple of days after the bombs. It was all surreal still, but we toasted London Town and it felt good. And then played a very fast 'Seven Seas Of Rhye' to round the set off until we could stand up no more. I think that was the night we lost a bag of demo CDs and later saw some kids throwing them at cars going around the roundabout outside. We joined in, naturally. They're worth about a quid now I think. And the night of that amusing drinks incident with Julian Barrett. 
 
2 more gigs quickly followed in late 2005 - one propping up the bill with The Pipettes / Kitty Daisy & Lewis, and another for that relatively short lived monthly celebration of all things glittery 'Glam-O-Rama' (I think our misleading name got us that booking). We were getting better (just) and these were the happy days of walking down to the Buffalo Bar from rehearsing at Backstreet Studios up Holloway Road (also RIP) to do a gig and then walk back. I remember doing it but don't remember why. Supporting The Pipettes also led to one of the great unreleased Silvery tunes - 'The Buffalo Munch' being written and demoed on the spot as they sound checked and we watched. It's really good. I'd suggest releasing it as a fundraiser for the faithful BB staff but it's lyrics are a bit blue. Always good for singing during a technical hitch. Which reminds me of all the recordings of our gigs at the Buffalo Bar, the early ones on Minidisc and the later ones on amazing futuristic MP3. I'm listening to them right now. They reveal amusing intros by the always affable Paul Guided Missile (whose nights we often played and went to socially), an awkward 'interview' on stage by the comedian before us at one gig (the night after George Best died if I remember rightly), and most importantly, an always wonderful in-yer-face reaction from the audience. Notably from gig to gig as that audience swelled from just our friends in the early days to actual punters who had heard us on the radio. Also measurable by how close to the toilets the bassist had to stand to make room for the crowd. I should cobble together a live album from the various recordings. Perhaps I'll leave that for a VU-style boxset during the big Silvery archival push in 2034.
 
I can't remember us being there during 2006 with London gigs balanced firmly between Nambucca and Koko that year (4 times each) but the next bootleg in the archive is from February 2007 - fresh from a live review in NME and settling in our new bassist as the newly signed 'slick and professional' Silvery took shape. It was a fun return to the venue and The Duloks joined us for the usual encore of 'You Give A Little Love'. The next stop seems to be 2008 and one of the typical hangover gigs of the era around the time of either our 2nd or 3rd single release. I remember racing back from a gig in Brighton that afternoon (the gig with the pint glasses and mid song fight on the stairs) to get to the beer garden of the Famous Cock for the pre sound check drinks. I grimace at the thought now, but a coating of Fosters and flavoured shots made 'The Nod' easier to play. I think we played that one wearing our Russian police hats that we'd brought back from Moscow.
 
Regardless of us playing, the BB was visited quite a bit. I loved Glam Racket there (I remember once they played one too many Catapult songs and I honestly thought I was going to die walking back home down New North Road) and would often go to see whatever band was playing. Mush's newly reinvigorated Ten Benson was great, as was more recently Sheffield's Faerground Accidents featuring my pal Muzz. Usually hiding around the back by the pinball machine viewing the stage like a sniper through the arches, pillars and bar staff. Actually, one of my happiest moments was doing the Mud roadie dance to 'There's A Raver Coming Home' played one Glam Racket. Sad to say the final Silvery gig there was a messy 5 song affair with a thrown together line up for our pals at Indieoke. Even the live band karaoke couldn't halt the diminishing returns for the band as we rolled towards the end of 2010 (as is the way, early 2011 was our biggest commercial peak so far with a return to Koko and 2 months on the 6Music playlist). Good pictures though that night thanks to the seasonal fairy lights forming a boxing ring around the stage. And essentially, isn't that what it's all about? Thanks for the memories BB.

Postscript: It was only after this was posted I remember the times we'd be across the road at The Garage and after we'd played realise that 'the gang' had got confused and gone to The Buffalo Bar thinking we were there instead. One of the many ways 'Silvery Luck' will reveal itself. Stupid Silvery Luck. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Christmas Spectre Of Death

Where has this year gone? A quick note to tell you that album 4 is nearly done and this time we're pleased to say will receive a full release, and indeed Etiquette may well be reissued on the super CD format. In the meantime, here's a demo for the new James Bond theme tune which will double as our 2014 Christmas single. It won't be up for long! Spectre of Death / Christmas Spectre confusion ahoy. Thanks to Blow Up Records for digging the backing track out of the vaults. https://soundcloud.com/silvery/christmas-spectre-of-death-bond-theme-demo

See you in 2015!