# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Flatmates - Part 16

  by Martin Whitehead

published: 13 / 1 / 2002

Flatmates - Part 16


Chapter 30: The fallout from ULU I think after the ULU incident we all wanted to go and hide under a rock until everybody forgot about us, but we still had gigs to play in Tunbridge Wells and Brigh

Chapter 30: The fallout from ULU I think after the ULU incident we all wanted to go and hide under a rock until everybody forgot about us, but we still had gigs to play in Tunbridge Wells and Brighton. The Rumble Club in Tunbridge Wells was something of a comedown after a sold out ULU, with reporters and business bigwigs. The Rumble Club really was a scout hut. With our morale already rockbottom we had to explain a dozen times why Tim wasn’t with us. Deb had been very badly affected by the previous nights events. On stage in front of about 100-150 people she was suffering from an anxiety attack and was having trouble breathing. Despite her many mood changes I’d never known Deb to be nervous in front of an audience yet she was visibly in some discomfort. The following night we played in Brighton at the Escape Club and again had to explain what had happened at ULU. In the afternoon we all went on the pier and played on the games. Wrong Way Robb turned out to be a wizard on the air hockey table. We went in the hall of mirrors where Ric looked tall and skinny, Paul looked small and Darren looked massive, which is what they looked like anyway. Ric Menck had heard that Brighton was the home of Bobby Gillespie and was keeping a look out for him everywhere we went. Choo Choo Train stayed in the country for another 10 days or so after The Flatmates tour finished and did a series of gigs by themselves. One of the gigs they played was back in Brighton which Bobby Gillespie turned up to and spoke to Ric, which made his whole trip worthwhile. After the gig we visited a chipshop before the long night-time trek back to Bristol. Whilst in the chippie, Darren, commenting that he hadn’t seen many dill pickles in England, came up with the unforgettable line "Geez, dill pickles are rare". By the time we got back to Bristol everybody had heard about the fight onstage, but wanted to hear the first hand account chapter and verse. A few days later the papers came out with accounts of the fight in them. As much as we wanted to forget about it we kept on being reminded of the incident. London were okay about the demos we’d recorded with Sooty and surprisingly after ULU wanted us to record some more. They didn’t exactly catch the next train to Bristol but they were still seriously interested. This time they were going to push the boat out and give us a first team trial to see if we could cut it. They hired a couple of days at the 24 track Loco studio in South Wales. They hired in veteran producer Nick Tauber who had started out working as a tape op for the Rolling Stones and had a load of stories about the time he worked with Toyah. Since we recorded the first set of demos for London Records I’d come up with one other song, the big pop single - ‘Trust Me’. This had a faux Motown opening drum beat, a great chorus and beautifully fluid and simple guitar refrain. It was as poppy as ‘I Could Be In Heaven’, but thanks to Nick’s production sounded as big as anything in the pop charts. Nick Tauber was convinced that it was as commercial a single as he’d ever worked on. However, Deb’s lack of interest had surfaced again. We spent 2 days recording ‘Trust Me’, and whilst Loco was a residential studio it was also only about an hour’s drive from Bristol and London Records weren’t feeling generous enough to pay for the overnight stay. Deb didn’t want to record a guide vocal then hang around the studio all day so she said she was only going to come to the studio on the second day and record her main vocal. When we recorded the backing track I mouthed the words to Joel and Jackie. Deb came to the studio on the second day and the first job was to record her vocals. Once that was done she became bored with the hanging around. We carried on mixing the track which sounded great. We were pleased with it, and everyone involved agreed it could have been released as a single by London just as it was. After the fight at ULU and around the time we were recording the demo of ‘Trust Me’, we got summonsed up to London’s offices. The Head of A&R wanted to see us. We polished our shoes and put on our best bootlace ties. Joel, Deb and myself caught the train up from Bristol and met up with Jackie before going along to the meeting. We sat around in reception for ages before being told to go in. It’s probably just as well for him and me that I don’t remember his name now, but the meeting went something like this:- Mr A&R - "Hello, nice to see you. You are er…?" Shuffles papers, and looks at us. Us - "The Flatmates" Mr A&R - "Yes… Well how are you?" Us - "We’re well thanks" Mr A&R - "…Good, er…good. Well thanks for coming to see me. It’s been nice to meet you." Unnecessary umms and aahs have been edited out, but this was essentially the gist of our 5 hour round trip and much hanging about. We were in and out of there in less than 5 minutes and nothing was spoken about that was specific to The Flatmates. It was just an elongated and awkward exchange of pleasantries. We didn’t hear any more from London. Perhaps they wanted to see for themselves which one had left the band. Perhaps they’d mistaken us for The Primitives and were disappointed that Deb wasn’t small and blonde. Now I wouldn’t actually say that the guy we met was coked up to his eyeballs at midday, but let me just put it this way. I believe he was doing a very good impersonation of someone coked up to their eyeballs at midday. We’d become used to having an extra guitarist and wanted to fill the gap left by Tim’s departure. We had another gig coming up at Dingwalls in London on 21st November, only 3 weeks after the tour had ended. We didn’t want to blow it out, not least because we’d been offered £1,000 for the show, which was more than twice anything we’d been paid before. We recruited Rodney Allen to fill Tim’s shoes on a temporary basis. We’d played gigs with Rodney before and he’d made guest appearances during encores a few times. He already knew a handful of our songs and it didn’t take long to train him up on the other songs. Despite frequent offers coming in for gigs Deb kept saying that she wasn’t ready to play anymore. Eventually, not having played a gig since 21st November 1988 I accepted offers for a couple of gigs on the 9th and 10th February 1989. Deb protested that she still wasn’t ready to play anymore gigs. On 9th February 1989 we played our first gig in over 2½ months at the opening of the new Town & Country Club 2 (now The Garage) on Highbury Corner in north London. We stayed overnight at Jackie’s in London and the next day headed out to Ipswich to play at the Council Chambers as part of the Venue for Ipswich Campaign. The gig was The 150th and final gig that the Flatmates were to play. The support band that night was The Charlottes, whose demo and first single for Molesworth Records I had already heard and liked a lot. On the strength of that gig I asked them to record the ‘Lovehappy’ mini album for Subway. We returned back to Bristol to look for a new guitarist. There was only one that we auditioned. Gary Peppard had been a member of early 80’s Bristol heavy metal band Jaguar, but had since become a fan of more constructive "indie" style songwriting. The final Flatmates line up of Deb, Jackie, Joel, Gary and myself, although a million miles away from the first line up, promised to be quite a beast. I’m sure it would have been very "together" and musically a lot tighter than any previous line up. I’d have loved to have heard what Gary would have brought to the band but sadly we never got that far. At our first full band practice with the new line up, sometime in March 1989, Gary turned up and was introduced to Deb, who in response managed to tell us that she was quitting the band before leaving the room in tears. The rest of us sat round wondering what to do. The last 6 months had been a difficult time. I felt that so much of what the Flatmates represented was tied up in Deb and her personality. I also felt that the band had effectively been in suspension the last 6 months and much of the goodwill we’d generated had largely dissipated in that time. To get a different vocalist and come back later in 1989 seemed bogus to me, so I decided in that rehearsal room that The Flatmates had finished.

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