Today’s effort was inspired by a comment left yesterday by The Robster when he reminisced about seeing Silverfish supporting My Bloody Valentine.
This posting was originally part of a 2009 series in which I invited readers to take over the blog for the months of May, partly as I was going on holiday and partly as I needed a bit of a break from blogging. I got a brilliant response and the series ended up running into a fair bit of June as well. One such response came from Chris P Mowforth on the understanding that it was published on his 45th birthday on 29 May 2009:-
“On the day this blog is posted I’ll be as old as the speed a 7” record plays at. In 1989, when the band I played bass with, called Silverfish, first started playing gigs, I suspect I would have regarded this age as ancient. I still play in a band (called Giant Paw), I never got around to trading in my bass for a set of golf clubs.
I’ve agreed to reinvestigate the early gigging days of Silverfish, for The Vinyl Villain, with the help of a fanzine article I wrote, dug out from under the stairs, entitled, Life On the Road As Support to My Bloody Valentine.
Initially I thought about paraphrasing the whole article but the specifics of sound checks and whether bean burgers are served in ozone destroying CFC blown plastic containers is probably more detail than anybody need really know.
Re-reading the article certainly reminded me of the sights, sounds and smells of being a struggling band on the road though. From dodgy van drivers, to greasy caffs. From getting pissed and falling asleep in the back of transit vans, to stopping the van every twenty miles for someone to have a piss. From the glamour of loading equipment in and out of a venue every night, to the salubriousness of sleeping on someone’s floor. The initial method of travelling around, to entertain others, playing as a band is not altogether as enchanting as may be perceived from the outside. The hours are long, tedium can set in from the journey and the lack of sleep can only be caught up with after the whole thing is over.
Of course there are great laughs, late night banter, all sorts of people to meet and the ego massage of getting to show off onstage. I’ve always found it easiest to think of my persona onstage as someone different from who I am the rest of the time. In this way I get to be over the top when playing and a whole lot more quiet and unassuming, when I’m not. Injuries wind up being not uncommon too. I’ve cut my forehead from headbutting my bass. I’ve had metal staples put in my head after jumping off the drum riser, into a metal beam, In Edinburgh. I’ve made my knees bleed from diving onto them (in the style of James Brown) one too many times. I’ve stage dived, with my bass still on, into a modest audience number, with the vague hope of someone breaking my fall. And this is without dwelling upon any problems our feisty Scottish female vocalist, Birthday Party obsessed guitarist and rocking drummer may have had.
In the days before the Internet, touring was the way of getting your music directly to like-minded people, in a particular town or city. With the advent of Myspace and the accessibility of music online intense touring schedules no longer seem to be appropriate. Indeed it was probably a three-month tour of the USA that killed Silverfish off. There’s almost a danger of gigs becoming solely virtual events, to be logged on to. However the face-to-face interaction of a band with an audience is definitely something special. If you enjoy music, at whatever age, it is still your duty to get out there and support bands by going to see them however occasionally, or performing in one yourself.
All the best.”
Chris was kind enough to supply two live tracks recorded from a gig on 2 February 1990 – One Silver Dollar and Driller – explaining that the former was a cover of a Marilyn Monroe song from the film River of No Return and that the lyrics for the latter were put together by two band members from random headlines in a Sunday newspaper. Sadly, these particular mp3 files were lost in a computer crash not too long ago…..so instead here’s the best I can do:-
mp3 : Silverfish – One Silver Dollar
mp3 : Silverfish – Big Bad Baby Pig Squeal
mp3 : Silverfish – Crazy
mp3 : Silverfish – Damn Fine Woman