Man Porn

Haha! Three thousand extra hits already, thanks to my clever title, and I’ve only just started typing this blog post. The power of search engines and that four letter word!

So, we all know what porn is. Don’t we? (If not there are a number of good, and not so good, sites on the Internet that will help explain it to you). But what about Man Porn? Well, depending on his (or her – Man Porn is gender neutral despite the title) particular interests it could be a car, lorry, train, plane, yacht, oven or vacuum cleaner (I knew someone for whom a particular vacuum cleaner was an object of slightly more than desire). And most importantly, I am not here to judge. It matters not what your particular ‘thing’ is. We are all adult and the world is free so unless you are causing harm or suffering (in which case, shame on you), be happy with, and celebrate, your particular item of Man Porn.

This post started because I’ve started working on my bathroom again and noticed that I had three power tools and lots of accessories for them, and all of it was strewn around the floor. It struck me that power tools were probably a form of Man Porn for some. I actually don’t like them but I appreciate them for the labour saving devices they are. I have the same approach to computers. I don’t really understand them but they do what I want them to do (for the most part) and they have an off switch.

I shall bare my soul to you now and reveal my objects of desire. Those who have read previous posts may be able to guess at some of them.

Cameras. Well, technically, any nice bit of photographic equipment really. A camera just does what you tell it to do and records what it sees in front of it. Nothing more. So how can it be an object of desire? I guess it’s a combination of look, how it feels in the hands (let’s be clear – size does not matter, okay?) and the satisfying clunk of the shutter. Interestingly, although the quality of the final image is important for photography, it doesn’t count on the Man Porn scale. I have several cameras and they are tools. I have one or two that are more than tools. They look nice, feel comfortable in the hand and they inspire me to take a particular kind of photograph. In the case of the DSLR, it’s the combination of lens and camera that works for me.

Musical Instruments. Guitars, actually, although I can well understand how someone would feel about an antique violin or piano. I find it hard to think of a modern keyboard as an object of desire and I’m not sure why. My first thought was that it was to do with the organic feel of a guitar made of wood, but that’s not it – the cameras I hold in high esteem are all metal, glass and electronics. So it must be look and feel – sensory stuff. My all time favourite guitar has been and remains the Gibson Les Paul. I love the shape and curves and the weighty feel. It had a fabulous smell of glue and wood. I owned one for several years and it made me learn to play better. I like the bass guitar I play in the band at the moment, an inexpensive Ibanez I got second hand. It’s rapidly becoming an object of desire, so it’s not monetary value, either.

Cars don’t do it for me, although I can appreciate a good looking vehicle. Neither do planes, bikes or boats, although the yachts racing for the America’s Cup this week are pretty cool. I don’t want one, though. It wouldn’t fit on the pond in the back garden.

So, what is your Man Porn?

Prepare for some Man Porn in the photos below.

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That and this

Rufus allowed me a lie-in on Saturday morning. Of course, he checked on me several times between 5.30 and 6.30, just to make sure everything was okay but he didn’t insist I got up until just before 7am. After all, there was sunshine to take advantage of and he had to make sure the garden was still there.

After we’d patrolled the grounds and breakfasted, we set off for Broadpool. It was a bit windy for the dragonflies and damselflies I was hoping to take photos of but it’a a nice spot and there’s plenty for Rufus to explore too. Conscious of the last time we visited here, when Rufus managed to find and roll in something too horrible for words, I kept him away from the second pond and we contented ourselves with a stroll around Broadpool itself. In the distance, two riders took their horses across the road and up towards the ridge of Cefn Bryn.

After our circumnavigation of the pool, we crossed over to the other side of the road and I threw sticks for Rufus to chase. He tends to keep them for himself and the only way to retrieve them is to find another one because, as we all know, the best stick is the one just about to be thrown. So we progressed along, stick by stick. I managed to satisfy Rufus’ exacting standards as measured by the lack of barking. Only once was I reminded that stick throwing must be carried out quickly and efficiently.

On the way home, we stopped at the wood on Fairwood common for another little stroll. This one was amongst long grass and ferns and Rufus managed to get the equivalent of a shower just by walking through them. There were hundreds of blackberries and I regretted not bringing a container to put them in.

With Rufus safely home for a rest, I got ready to play in the band in the evening. This was a christening booked by people who had seen us play in a pub. From previous experience, not the best recipe as how we play in a pub is rarely appropriate for parties unless the audience is a pub crowd. We can turn our hand to most things, but we don’t really want to as it’s not what we do best or what we enjoy the most. Nevertheless, the night went well and it was a welcome earlyish finish.

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Elvis has left the building

Many years ago, I started working with a guy who had the same mischievous sense of humour as me. That’s all I really ask for in a work colleague. We made work fun (which was necessary in those days), we made our colleagues laugh and we became friends. Andy was introduced to me as Elvis, as he had recently won a competition by impersonating Elvis and singing some of his hits. I saw him perform shortly afterwards at another work night out. He was very good. Being in a band, I found we had a common interest. Andy decided to make the most of his talents and started gigging. I was at his first evening and he was brilliant. From there on there was no looking back and he worked with other talented musicians in acts that encompassed Elvis, The Beatles and Roy Orbison (to name but a few). In a few years, they were one of the most popular (and certainly the busiest) acts in the area.

Andy was always up for a charity gig and I was fortunate to share the stage with him on several occasions. I remember lending him my smoke machine and to the thundering strains of ‘Phantom of the Opera’, the stage curtains opened and Andy stepped out in a thick fog of smoke. It worked though, and that was another good gig. I was part of his act twice, again both charity nights. As ‘The Bootles’, four of us played Beatles covers at the Pontlliw Village Hall. My lasting memory of that night was Andy suddenly appearing with a full wig and beard and very good Liverpool accent to be John Lennon for the finale, which was ‘All You Need Is Love’ as I recall.

On another night, and once again demonstrating his generous nature (it was a weekend and he could have been earning good money) Andy and I performed as a duo for a fund raising night for a colleague. As we worked through the set, Andy kept handing me hats and wigs and other props and it was all I could do to keep up. He was totally professional, of course, and knew exactly what he was doing. He guested at one of my band’s gigs, where he sang a few Elvis numbers in a packed pub in Ammanford.

Off stage, we often ended up at the same works nights out even though by now we were no longer working together. I remember towards the end of one such evening, when both of us had consumed a shandy or two, performing that ‘Madness’ dance, (you know the one) to ‘Baggy Trousers’. I sang a duet with him at his 30th birthday. In the silly days when I smoked, he would sometimes bum a cigarette off me. And I from him on occasion.

Our paths crossed again in work and he started to tell me about his guitar collection. It took days as he had so many (and I thought I had a few!) It took so long that he was adding news ones before he’d finished telling me about the existing ones.

I was devastated when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and then relieved when it was operated on. When Andy returned to work it was great to see him fighting back and not letting a trivial thing like brain surgery get in the way. He was even planning on getting back on stage and I believe he had already sung with some of his duo colleagues. I last spoke to him a couple of weeks ago, just before I went on leave. He wanted to know when my band was playing so he could come along and watch.

So to hear today that he passed away yesterday was a complete shock. I’m still not really taking it all in. Sometimes, as friends and colleagues struggle to find something to say, the words can sound false or twee. I’m struggling to find words so I’ve let the memories tell the story, as they will for all his friends and family. Andy was a person that no one had a bad word to say about.

Andy, I can’t believe you’ve gone before you finished telling me the history of your guitar collection.

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Saturday

Normally, my Saturdays are quite busy. Rufus often stays over and we’re out of the door by 8am and on some windswept hill by 9. But last night I played a gig with the band and it ended up as a late finish. Rufus didn’t stay over as it wouldn’t have been fair to leave him on his own. I wasn’t in bed until 1.30am and I didn’t wake properly until 8. So this morning was a lazy, slow starter that still hasn’t quite got going. After typing this, I’m off to sit in the garden for half an hour with coffee and a sandwich.

The weather is gorgeous as I type. I’ve had my hair cut, I’ve done a load of washing (which is pretty much dry in the sunshine) and I’ve done the first cut of the back garden. I’d call it a lawn, but it isn’t really a lawn. It’s a collection of different grasses and other small green stuff that happens to be growing in close proximity. I fully expected to find small animals in the longer bits. It was hard going (I always leave it too long before the first cut) and I had to use the strimmer rather than the mower. There’s something more ‘hands on’ about the strimmer. But it’s also back aching. Most of it is done now (I ran out of cutting line about three feet from the edge of the garden).

(Yes, I am fully aware of the irony of cutting my hair and cutting the grass – they were both left to grow far to long, as was pointed out by my hairdresser.)

This evening, we have another gig at the Prince of Wales in Kenfig. So my afternoon will be spent sorting out a few things and maybe even changing the strings on my bass guitar.

I have some time off next week, so I’m hoping to do stuff and in so doing, generate more blogs. You lucky, lucky people!

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Sunday

Just another Sunday.

Wake up at about 6am but I don’t have to go to work, so turn over and wake up again at 7.30am. My ears are still ringing a little after last night’s gig despite earplugs. That’s down to where we had to set up in the pub. The walls reflected the sound back at us.

Up at about 8am. That’s late for me but it was a late night last night and a busy day yesterday. I walked into Swansea and back along the seafront, 12km in total, before the gig.

You may have read about my data loss so before I started breakfast, the PC was on and I set up the first of many CDs to rip on to the hard drive. Throughout the morning, I was changing discs and I’ve managed to go through four shelves by this evening – around 65 discs. I’m getting there, slowly.

I also had to update the band website, adding some new photos from last night and a new logo on the banner. I write the blog for the band too, and I try to put a note up about the latest gig just so there is something new for people to read.

Then it was time to pick Rufus up and allow him to take me for a walk. Today, we went up to the river for a short walk as I was feeling tired. I wanted to get out; the easiest thing to do today would have been to stay at home and slump on the sofa. But I have to get my act together, so off we went, across the river and up the side of the hill until we came to a small, hidden waterfall. Rufus chased stones and sticks, I took a few photos but really I just enjoyed the fresh air and Rufus’ company. We had a bit of a play fight on the side of the hill going back down; Rufus tries to push me over and I try to push him over.

Back across the river, I stayed high up on the back. It’s about 30 feet above the water. Rufus has to stay close to the river for as long as possible but eventually, he knew he had to climb the bank. He charged up at full speed but it was very steep and by the time he got to the top, he was barely jogging. I think he was glad to get in to the car. I hadn’t even started the engine when he was flat out on the back seat. I popped in to the shop to get some lunch, and when I got back Rufus was still flat out. He’s usually sat upright, more often than not in the drivers seat, keeping an eye out. One tired dog.

Then home for a snack, more CD ripping and I watched a bit of the rugby, willing Italy to beat England, of course. After a nice hot shower and tea, I watched Top Gear (back on form again with their Africa Special). I posted a photo on my Flickr site as part of my 1 photo a day project and then with tired eyes, typed this entry. The echo of the PC being switched off won’t have stopped before I’ll be in bed. Work in the morning.

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Here in my car…

In my 26 years of driving, I’ve owned 10 cars. Some were friends, one was my sworn enemy. Some died, some just passed on and faded from view. Many of them leaked rainwater in. Some leaked other fluids out. I think it’s accurate to say I had at least one adventure in each car.

My first car was a British Leyland beige (that horrible light orange colour) Morris Marina 1800TC saloon with a brown vinyl roof. Next door’s cat used the vinyl roof as a scratching post so eventually, I stripped it all off and painted the roof black with blackboard paint. Until I looked at the photos again, I’d forgotten I’d left the vinyl on the sides. With hindsight, it looked awful. It leaked like a sieve and every autumn I’d remove the carpets, to replace them after the rainy season. The footwells would fill up over night and I drilled holes in them to drain the water away. I remember driving off one day and the entire contents of the passenger footwell sloshed backward into the rear of the car. The boot would also fill up and I drilled the floor of that, too, missing the petrol tank my inches. Later, the petrol tank started to leak as it had rusted a bit, and my uncle and I replaced it after syphoning off the petrol that was in it into buckets in the garage! I know it died because the keyboard player in my first band killed it after I’d sold it to him. I did like the car, though, I suppose you always fondly remember your first.

My first Capri was a dog and hated me as much as I hated it – it was sold to me by a dealer who knew all the problems with it and gave it a false MOT. I believed his stories to explain away the faults and I learned my lesson with that one. The back axle was loose, the carb spat fuel out now and again and there were a few other problem. The bumper fell off when I did a three point turn outside my house and hit a lamp post. I didn’t realise it had fallen off until I saw it lying in the road. I did the walk of shame to retrieve it under the gaze of everyone who had heard the bump. It died several times but I managed to resurrect it each time – once hammering the starter motor with a hammer at a roundabout when it wouldn’t start. It got sold, in a zombie-like state, to someone who failed to register it and who end up being wanted by the police. Of course, they came to me as the last registered keeper but luckily I had a receipt. The photo below was a reject publicity shot for the first band I was in – I think we were called Jovian Winter at this point.

I owned a lovely Capri 2.8 Special. That was a beauty and probably the first car I wanted to keep. But it got too expensive to run and maintain, so I moved on to my first Audi, a 90. That was the car I first started travelling around the country in. That was followed by a Rover 220 coupe – another lovely car and, had it not been broken into 2 days after I got it, I would have kept it for a few years. Unfortunately, it looked good and the local car stealers liked it too. I swapped it for my first diesel – and Audi 80 – after 11 months of hiding Rover in someone else’s drive.

The 80 took me all over the country and cemented my love of German cars. I eventually part-exchanged it for a Passat Sport – an ex demo model fully loaded with all the extras and obtained as a bargain as I’d been advised on how to play the car buying game by a colleague who used to be a car salesman himself. This was followed by my first and only new car, a Volkswagen Bora 150 Sport. The salesman tried to sell me a lesser model and I later found out, thanks to my car salesman mate, that they always try and off load the worst selling model. I had also been introduced to the psychology of sales through work and I found I could learn from the salesman, and play his game. I drove it to the Outer Hebrides 3 days after I got it and managed to put a tiny scratch in the door by banging it against a wall in Oban. Until then, I was nervous driving it but suddenly it wasn’t new any more and I could relax.

The Bora finally had to go after 5 years, and I swapped it for a Passat. It had the biggest boot in the world though, and even Em failed to completely fill it when we went away on holidays. But I couldn’t get on with the electronic parking brake which never seemed to work reliably enough for me. It would either stick on, making me stall, or fail to catch.  So the Passat went and I bought my current car, an Audi A4 S-line. A gorgeous car, another bargain thanks to the lessons I’d learnt previously, and probably the first car I would be reluctant to get rid of.

I had some work done on the silver Passat and the courtesy car I was given was the little yellow Beetle in the final photograph. I have to say it was tiny but big on the inside, but not a car for me. I think I was given it as a joke. I removed the flower immediately, of course!

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A difficult gig

We played in a holiday village pub on the coast as a four piece last night.  Great venue, lost of people there. But it was a difficut one for all of us because a great friend and long time member of the band, Neil, wasn’t with us.

Neil passed away on Wednesday.

When I played regularly in The Insiders, Neil and I would almost always travel to gigs together. His car swallowed all our gear with room to spare but if he wanted more than the odd pint at the gig, I’d take my car and the squeeze to get all the kit in was more of a challenge. We’d have lively conversations about new songs to play or the latest guitar he’d bought or his experiences while he was in the RAF.

At the gig, we’d alternate between playing bass and guitar for a half. Neil was an excellent guitarist and he had a really clean sound on his Telecaster which would cut through the combined noise of Stuey and me. He’d played in bands for a large part of his life and this experience showed in his attitude and playing skill.  He showed me a much quicker and more accurate way of tuning the guitar and he set up a couple of my guitars for me – a job that not only needs skill but patience too.

Neil and I would usually stand to the right of the drums and he would stand to my right. In small venues, we’d share a microphone. If I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be playing, I’d look over and get a good idea from Neil. We’d both moan at Stuey to turn down, with little prospect of any results. Instead, we’d share a joke and have a laugh, sing the (somewhat risque) wrong lyrics to ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and try and out do each other on guitar riffs to ‘Summertime Blues’.

I have many happy memories of Neil, which is how we should remember our friends and loved ones. Some are hard to share because they depend on the moment, others raise a smile when I tell them. I can picture the moment we started playing in a social club and I turned to my right to see Neil facing away from the audience. He’d spotted an old age pensioner dressed in an outrageously tight pink plastic dress dancing with an short old bloke in a terrible wig. Neil was laughing so much he couldn’t really play properly and had to look away. In the end, we all had to avert our gaze and we chuckled for most of the night. Another time, he turned up for a gig in front of the Mayor of Swansea slightly worse for drink after having spent the day watching Wales beat England at rugby. He grinned all night, but he was still the best musician on stage. When I think of Neil now, I think of that grin and that he was always smiling on stage.

Before the first half of last night’s gig, we didn’t really say much. I certainly felt subdued and I think Stuey and the others did too. We played the songs and when it came to ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, I deliberately looked over to my right where Neil should have been. There was a big gap that we couldn’t fill but I sang his words and they made me smile again.

During the break, Stuey and I talked about playing a song for Neil. In the second half, Stuey introduced ‘Hey Jude’ as a song for a friend who couldn’t be with us. It’s a great song but this added something to it and the lump in my throat came very soon after we started playing. The tears came during the chorus part at the end (as they are again now, as I type this). It was a good version, worthy of his memory and, as Neil would have pointed out, we played it loud enough for him to hear wherever he is now.

We went down well at the pub. We had a guest singer who did a great version of ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’. Surpassing the usual situation where Stuey tells me that we’re playing a song I’ve never played before, last night we played a song and I still don’t know what it was. I couldn’t hear Stuey from my place on the other side of the drums and before I knew it, I was busking along to the song, trying to make out what chords Stuey was playing whilst being blinded by the flashing stage lights. It wouldn’t be the same without the adventures and challenges Stuey sets.

When I started loading the car up at the end of the night, I found that some joker (not the original word I used) had prised the mirror out of the housing on the driver’s side of my car. It went back but I haven’t been able to check it properly yet.

It was a lonely drive home

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Gurgle

This time, the phone call came on a Friday. I was in the gym, working up a sweat (it was hot in there) but I managed to answer the phone. It was Stuey.

“Mumble mumble mumble gig mumble mumble Sunday.”

Maroon5 were blasting away in the background. They were moving like Jagger. I was moving like Jagger’s granddad on some machinery of torture.

“What?”

“Mumble mumble move like Jagger.”

“Stuey, are you okay?”

“Can you play on Sunday?”

“Yes. Where, when, what… Stuey, are you there?”

He rang again on Saturday. I missed the call but managed to get a message to say it wasn’t that Sunday but the following one – yesterday. I had another call to say it was at the Gelli Aur club in Grovesend. I dug out the kit and got myself ready. I didn’t bother to try and find out what songs we’d be playing. There’s no point. It won’t be the same list on the night.

Another phone call told me we would be a three piece. The same line up as The Insiders (note the s, not z) first gig at the Fleur de Lys club in 1997. The classic line up. I was looking forward to it.

On the day, I headed out for the club only to find it had changed it’s name. In the confusion, I sailed past and it took a little while to find a place to turn around. By the time I got there, the others had set up. I quickly got the gear in and started to tune up. I looked around.

“Stuey, what time are we starting?”

His reply of “Heroes in E, one… two… three… four…” was not the one I was hoping for. Luckily, I know Heroes well and was able to start on cue. Luckily the bass was in tune. Luckily, the amp and speakers were working properly. I noted a microphone in front of me, too. I hadn’t sung with the band for several years. Some would say I had never sung with the band and only made odd, vaguely musical sounds.

After the first couple of songs, it felt natural, as if we’d always been playing together. Chris is a loud drummer, but he has a great sound from the kit and his harmonies are spot on. It was reassuring to have that familiar sound behind me. For the songs I hadn’t played before, I could see Stuey’s fingers on the fretboard and I could figure out what he was playing. We had dancers up from pretty much the start and that always helps. I found I was enjoying myself.

The second half was better, apart from when Stuey went in to ‘I Predict a Riot’. I know and like the song but I haven’t played it for five years or more. I fumbled through the crib book of chords but couldn’t find it. By the time I’d located the page, we had segued into another song (I think it may have been ‘Hound Dog’). I may have played three notes of ‘Riot’. One of them may have been the right one.

It was an early finish (school in the morning) and we spent some time talking about future plans. As we always do post gig. “It’s gonna be great,” etc etc. Then we packed up again and after a 38 point turn in the car park to get my car facing the right direction, it was off home to a cup of tea and bed. Ahh, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle!

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Tonight’s Gig

I shouldn’t be writing this now. I should be concentrating on playing bass. But quite frankly, the guys are getting on with it and I can play the riff with one hand on open strings, so I’ve got the iPhone out and I’m blogging with the other hand. It’s slow but I can do it and it will give a unique ‘live’ feel to the blog. I’m in the corner with Mike drumming to my right. In front, Stuey is on guitar and vocals. No one can see me properly.

I may be interupted now and again if the key changes or we do a different bit in the song. I’ll let you know when.

There. Just did an improvised middle eight, walking the bass up to the octave. Cool, even if I say so myself.

So we turned up at the pub and the other band sharing the bill were starting their second set, late. The pub was pretty much empty. The weather, which turned nasty this evening… oh, wait, a tricky… stretch my fingers to get this run… there… where was I? The weather probably put a lot of people off. By the time we were ready to go on, the pub was actually empty.

Oh wait, end of song. Better look up at the rapturous applause. Yeah, thanks. Cool. I have to listen to what Stuart is saying to try and guess which song we’re playing next. I know I have a set list, but that only hints at what we might be doing… what? What did he say? In what key? ‘J’? My bass doesn’t go up to J. Excuse me, reader, I have to fake a song in the key of J. Only Stuey…

… well, that worked, just.

We could have cancelled the gig. I remember one fabulous weekend a few years ago when Stuey and I, as a duo, were booked to play a three gigs over the weekend. We were going through a busy period and this was the norm. We turned up at the first gig on the Friday night, in a pub in a holiday resort, to find used nappies under the table a drug deal going on in the corner and no one else in the pub. Wait…

… That was close. They decided to end that song early and if I hadn’t been paying attention, I’d be playing a solo now.

Anyway, the landlady told us that we wouldn’t be starting to play until about 10.30 as that was when all the resort staff would finish for the night, and they would be the audience. We decided the money wasn’t worth it and we didn’t like the dodgy surroundings, so we walked out. The following night we were due to play in a pub in Carmarthen. When we got there, there was a disco in full flow and the manager said we’d have to use the disco PA and none of our gear. There was no room to set up and no sign of the disco stopping, and it would have been rubbish to use that gear, which wasn’t up to it. So we walked out. We ended up in Llansteffan, eating chips on the sea front. The rock star lifestyle…

… here’s one I haven’t played before. Turn the volume down, smile, move my fingers around a bit. Nod my head in time with the bass drum…

On the Sunday, the gig was cancelled before we left the house. It was a welcome break in a period when we were playing a lot of gigs.We were dobled booked a few times when the Agent, who got a percentage of our take, failed to do his job properly. The rule for a doble booking was the first band to set up played, so we would race to a gig if we got a hint that there might be a problem.. tricky bit coming up… bom bom bommm… there… but double bookings were always frustrating.

Oh no. I missed what Stuey said. I don’t know what we’re playing. Again. I’ll jut see if I can work out what Stuey is playing. Nope. Oh dear. It sounds like ‘Teenage Kicks’. I’ll play that one. No one will notice. ‘Teenage kicks right through the night, alright. Da da da da dadadadaaaa!’ Yeah, Thanks,  awesome.

That’s the first set over with. It went quite well.

(This post was brought to you by the imagination of Franticsmurf. His conscience would like it to be known that tonight’s gig was cancelled due to lack of interest. Town was empty.)

No photos – below this are adverts that I don’t personally recommend.

That difficult third post

Bands always quote ‘the difficult third album’. The first album is the breakthrough product; it is a distillate of the songs the band has been writing and honing since it started. (I’m talking about proper bands here, not manufactured acts). They’ve had the filter of time and usually a number of live performances to weed out the weak stuff. The first album is quirky, it’s new and it defines the band. You buy/download/blag the album, listen to the tracks and decide whether you like it.

The second album tends to be the leftovers. The first album was a hit so the label wants more product, quickly, to ride the crest of the publicity wave. Maybe the band did Glastonbury or one of the other festivals. The second album can appear a bit weak or, if material has been written specially for it, disjointed.

If the band lasts until the third album, most people agree that it’s the hardest one to do. And that’s not a bad thing. Putting effort into the songs can create tension and tension can lead to some fantastic creativity. It can also destroy the band.

I’ve played in bands since the late 80’s. We started off thinking we were going to ‘make it’ and I’m not ashamed of that. After all, why start off thinking anything else? We had our own unique sound. For months it was a dissonant cacophony but it slowly came together until one venue owner described it as ‘post punk’. That was a little disappointing as we were all heavily influenced (so we thought) by 70’s rock. It was edgy (their word), complex (our word), loud (several venue owners comments) and progressive (we told the press). We played any gigs we could and some we shouldn’t have. We did back garden parties, charity gigs, last minute replacement gigs (we were the fourth emergency service for one Swansea venue), festivals and ‘battle of the bands’ competitions.   We even released an album and, more surprisingly, sold some copies.

Fame, fortune and stardom  wasn’t to be, though. We had personnel issues (we found it hard to keep bass players for some reason), some people were less enthusiastic than others and eventually, the band faded away.  It briefly resurfaced, in different forms, over a few years but it was never as popular and we were never as enthusiastic. Eventually, after the band was dead and buried, I started playing in a duo which quickly expanded to a trio and manifested itself in various guises (including a short lived 6 piece with female lead singer) over the years.

I enjoyed the 12 years or so I was with them. The only instrument I didn’t play was the drums. We had some fantastic laughs. I remember the whole band being in hysterics just before going on stage in one club for no real reason. We had wound ourselves up and someone suggested, for shock value, going on stage naked. We didn’t but the first three numbers were played with tears in our eyes and very shaky vocals.

We played a club in the Welsh valleys where the entertainment secretary complained that the previous weeks act, ‘Abbamania’ only played Abba songs. He was genuinely surprised at this. We played a holiday camp and went on immediately after the furry mascot (played by a very hung-over student) and our screaming audience consisted of 50 or so 5 year olds.

We endured the inevitable bingo, support acts that were better or worse than us, dodgy venues that we really didn’t want to be in and some fantastic venues that we wanted to be in more often. We played a last minute gig in a pub to a largely silent and well dressed crowd.

Suits and ties were the norm but there was no reaction from them after the songs despite lots of alcohol flowing. To end the first half, we tried to re-energise them by playing a full-on, heads down rocking version of ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’.  Still no reaction. Which was understandable when the landlord told us we were playing at a wake.

I stopped when my mum was ill and I had to spend time looking after her. It was the right time to take a break because the late nights were taking their toll. I found I didn’t miss it as I expected I would. Other things took over and while I miss the camaraderie and the adventures, I don’t miss playing the same songs every night three or four times a week. I still play occasionally – special guest appearances (which sounds great but the reality – fumbling to remember a chord sequence I haven’t played for several years while trying to look cool – isn’t so good).

We never got as far as the difficult third album. I beat you, bands. I got the third post!

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