Monday, April 15, 2019

If you play in a band the world shrinks

This short article was originally published in 'Lights Go Out' zine in January 2016

When I was fifteen or sixteen I played in a band with my best mates in the village I grew up in (Wickham Market). Somehow, despite not knowing any other bands, we got a gig supporting a band called The Red Dress at Leiston leisure centre. 

We had a brilliant time. I remember drinking Merrydown cider and all of us running around like loons in the dressing room next to the stage. In our own minds we had 'made it'. This amused The Red Dress greatly, in the nicest possible way. They were like bemused but tolerant older brothers. 

We were massively out of our depth with this gig.  I had put on a bunch of gigs in village halls but had never played at someone else's gig. We had never played through anything other than a small vocal PA, this gig had a full PA. Just playing with a band who had instruments made by brands I'd heard of was incredibly exciting. I seem to remember the bassist playing a Gibson Grabber (or Ripper). Years later I would own a succession of Gibson basses; when I saw Red Dress play I thought the Gibson bass was the coolest thing I had seen in my entire life. 

For reasons that escape me, and memory fails to recollect, the rest of my band left me behind in Leiston after the gig.  There's a chance I was told that there was simply no space for me. Cheers best mates. Naturally I was freaked out by this, I was just a kid and this was a long time before mobile phones. I had no idea where the nearest pay phone was. The only way I'd be getting home would be walking for around four hours to get home. Through the dark Suffolk countryside, and let me tell you, that is proper darkness. 

The guys in The Red Dress were really nice to me, even although I was just some dumb kid. I'm the end they gave me a lift home, for which I was incredibly grateful. I bought their tape at the gig and listened to it a LOT. In my mind they were a proper grown up band, something I found incredibly aspirational. 

I have stayed on friendly nodding terms the singer of The Red Dress, one Phil Redmon ever since, but I never figured out who the super friendly bassist and drummer were. 

A few months ago I decided the skateboard I'd been falling off for the last twenty years was long overdue to be replaced. Friends recommended I visit Hardcore Hobbies in Bury St. Edmunds. So I did. I got chatting to the fella who was serving me and it turned out he was Jay from The Volunteers. The Volunteers have been a big part of the Suffolk punk rock scene for many years and as are respected as they are loved. As we chatted it turned out we had many mutual friends, which is normal when two people in bands get chatting with each other. 

This morning I was idly browsing the Hardcore Hobbies website, pondering whether I should protect what's left of my brains with a helmet, when I landed on the staff profiles page. Reading through Jay's profile I wasn't hugely surprised to find he'd been in a ton of bands over the years. Hey, haven't we all. What I didn't know was that Jay was in The Red Dress. 

So cheers for the lift, sorry it's taken me about twenty five years to say thank you!