Started off playing Country music in the early days
Moving on from country music, I joined up with a bunch of lads from the Crossgar. I wanted to be a ‘rock star’ and Magnum Force was the portal; I’ll never have to work again….. We practiced hard, everyday in fact; started off in local halls; then we started playing the Social clubs in West Belfast. Now let me point out at this stage that the members band came from different religious backgrounds, which of course didn’t bother us because we were ‘rock stars’ and bigotry is for the unitiated; so off we go to clubs full of the unitiated. However, once again music worked its ‘crossing all divides’ magic and our new promoter Hatchet Kerr (I shit you not), provided us with lots of venues; until he died suddenly and that was that.
However, we continued playing a lot, from the social clubs of West Belfast to the Rugby clubs of County Down, all great experience. Then we got a bit of a break. We were invited to Dublin by Louis Welsh, who was having fun with Johnny Logan at the time, to play a view gigs, which went well; and Louis asked us to tour with Shakin Stevens, which of course we did. Signed up with Cecil Thompson (CT Promotions, still going strong I beleive).
Onwards and upwards; photo sessions, posters, newspaper write ups, radio presentations. We won Battle of the Bands; we were awarded ‘Best up and coming Rock Band’, we even went to London to make a record. Showcases were arranged by EMI, gigged with Peter Powell, popular BBC Radio 1 DJ at the time; what he wasn’t going to do for us; all our debt’ was paid off. What could go wrong?
We broke up….. Well it happens!
After the ‘rock star’ era with Magnum Force; I stayed under Cecil Thompson’s management and played with a few bands. This was the 80s and I found myself playing keyboards a lot. Just wasn’t the same. Resigned to the fact that I had to get a ‘real job’…. I took myself of to London.
Eventually, I ended up at St Helier Hospital in Carshalton.
I met Jason Moore. Working in A2 theatres I was introduced to him; a local lad, he said we’d met before during interviews were I turned him down for jobs…… not sure that’s true…… sorry bud!! Anyway, I’d love to say that he has forgiven me and that’s all water under the bridge…… but oh no, he just won’t let it go; he’s got Irish blood you see; that’s where he gets the ginger hair from…… Putting the ‘not getting the Job’ debate and his gingerness aside, he is one of the most natural guitar players I’ve seen (I wouldn’t tell him that).
Thne Jason came up with the idea of A2…………tbc
Q: When you started; bands you played in etc..
A: At around the age of 14 in high school I started to get interested in music, during music lessons I would always get as many drums as possible and make a drum kit of sorts. My form tutor, Mr. Godleman was a drummer and he encouraged me a lot to play drums, and the music teacher would always let me use the school drum kit after school for an hour or so. During this time I met a guy called Mathew who also used to play guitar after school in the same room, we got talking and we started to teach each other our instruments. Some years later we played in a school band together, with me on guitar, and him on drums! My parents were pleased that I changed from drums to guitar, I think it would have been impossible to be able to use a drum kit in our small house! Over the past 3 years I have started to play drums more and more, they have always remained a strong interest to me! And I teach my son Josh to play them too!
I had played with one or two school bands, in school concerts but nothing to serious. Either on Guitar or Drums!
At around the same time I was starting to play the guitar, 2 close friends of mine, Simon and Richard were both learning too, although after a while Richard decided to change to the Bass! This was quite a serious band, the only band where we wrote our own music! This was when I started getting interested in recording and multi-track machines. At the end of 1995, Mr. Godleman gave me an old Fostex X-15 4 track (which I still have). I used it on all the demos that I made with Richard and Simon.
The band did their first gig at the Gun Tavern in 1997, I was the day of the funeral of Princess Diana. We used the name Dogdaze! After some time we changed our name to Innocent Breed, and gigged a lot in Sutton and various places in Croydon. But because of constant problems with Drummers we called it a day.
Then whilst working I hooked up with Martin and a few other colleges and put a band together, we did a hospital charity gig under the name Billys Boots Blues Band! It was an epic set list I think we played for 3 hours! But it was evident that there was a lot of stress and tentsion in that band. We did do some more gigs but eventually is fizzeled out!
Q: when you met me and when we started working together (A2 theatre ref please)
A: I started working in St.Helier Hospital the summer of 1997, I worked as a cleaner and porter until 1999. In the August 1999 I got a job in the Operating Theatre, (this wasn’t my first attempt to work in theatres, I did have an interview for theatres at Sutton Hospital the year before, but I was unsuccessful!!!!!).
I remember the day that I was introduced to Martin, of course I had seen him about but I never really spoke to him! I was standing in the corridor of A2 theatre talking with another college called Ben, Martin walked passed and was talking to someone about getting a guitarist, then Ben said to Martin that I was a guitarist! I think it was two days later we met up with a bass player David and went to his studio in Sutton and we all jammed for a little while. Nothing really came from that jam session, but we did start a band a couple of years later!
After that night, it suddenly dawned on my that I had, in fact met Martin before! He had interviewed me in Sutton in 1998!!!!!!!!!!
Q: Your idea that sparked off this project etc
A: I had been living in Holland for a few years, and hadn’t really done anything musically for some time. Somewhere along the line, Martin suggested that we should do something together and plan a gig for his Birthday party! Why not I thought!
He came over to Holland to my studio and we set about coming up with tracks that we could use, and started to wade through this massive amount of backing tracks that Martin had on Minidiscs. After some time we both felt that these backing tracks were good! But there was something missing! They lacked dymention and sounded a little flat compared to our live guitars and vocals!
I said that it needs to sound like there is a band behind us! Full of power and engery! So we decided that it would be better for us to record our own backing tracks. Somewhere along the line I said to martin that perhaps as a gimmick, we should film ourselves recording the backing tracks! Then when we go out to play have the videos playing behind us, hopfully giving the audiance the idea that they’re watching a full band playing! It kind of just took off from there! Of course Martin took that idea and just run with it, in fact I think he’s still running! My fear with this idea is that people with think it’s just pretentionious! I want people to see it and think about how much time went into it, and that we are giving them something more and good quality! It’s not about showing off, and trying to get people to tell us how good we are! We already know we’re good!!!! J.
Q: Your vision for the future?
A: I want to make good music with Martin, I want to get a good repretation as a band. Its important that you push yourselves and challenge each other, otherwise it gets boring. I want people to enjoy what we do!
Of course I would love to be able to make a living from this, perhaps even sell our concept to other, by suppling backing tracks for others or being able to offer the resourses for people to make their own backing tracks.