The memories of those gigs are indelible. My 3 best mates and I had played at the kind of venues that were a pipe dream 6 months earlier.
Time to get real. We were a support band who Damon Minchella took a punt on, nothing more. You would think that these gigs were a platform to propel us to a record deal without us having to do anything. Sadly, this is not the case.
For a band to ‘make it’ takes 100% commitment. It’s easier now than it was 10 years ago. Music is far more accessible than it ever was. I remember, in the days of Nevertheless, Sending a tape recording of our songs in a jiffy bag, recorded delivery to myself. This was a meagre (and cheap) attempt at DIY copyrighting. If any band wrote a song that sounded like one of ours, that sealed bag would be taken to court and presented to the judge (who would have a tape player on his bench) for him to open and prove that we wrote it first. Clever. Now bands stick everything straight onto MySpace without a care in the world. It’s great.
We got back to the showcase gigs, with the pubs and clubs of Manchester the target for our assault. There’s no doubt that we had a reputation preceding us now, we had a lot to live up to in relation to other unsigned bands. We were capable, though. We knew we were good enough.
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The Shores would not cross that line… ever.
We did actually learn a couple again. Craig and I worked for a loan company in Macclesfield and they wanted us to play at their Summer Family Fun Day. This, rather than a sell out, was our first corporate booking…
Anyway, we played it and the big head honcho boss guy loved us. He asked what the next step for us would be if money was no object. “Record. Properly.” we told him. “How much?” he quizzed. “Don’t know, we’ll get back to you.”
He didn’t actually say “Nae bother”. He’s from Macclesfield. He probably tipped his flat cap at us, said “reet -oh”, patted his whippet and walked off.
Before this happened we had met a guy called Carl Jackson. He would become a good friend of ours and an advocate of The Shores’ work. His best mate is a guy called Phil Cunningham. Phil was the guitarist with the ill-fated Marion, a band who were hotly tipped as the “next Smiths” by Morrissey. This is known as ‘The Curse of Morrissey.”
Phil had joined New Order after Marion split and was an established member by this time.
Phil Cunningham is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. A humble, grounded, generous and kind person. Phil became a friend and fan of The Shores, he would become pivotal in the future direction of the band.
We decided that we would take this 7 Grand, kindly donated by our boss, and record at Rockfield Studios, Wales, with Phil and Carl producing and Bruno Ellingham engineering. This would take place over 5 days at the residential studios where Oasis recorded ‘What’s the Story’, Queen recorded ‘Bohemian Rhapsody, and Kasabian were in the week before us…
It was a massive piss-up.
The 4 or 5 songs we recorded there have never been mixed. Phil and Carl both played on one of the songs, I was finished after day 2 and drunk for the rest of the time we spent there.
It was a great experience, though. Another taste of what it could be like to be in a band full-time. It is clear to me now that had we been in a band full-time, I would have had some kind of liver malfunction by the age of 29.
It was while we were there that Phil mentioned New Order were touring later in the year…
Hello, Carling Academy, Glasgow… It’s been a few years…