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The mid nineties. My former band Joyryde had a high-profile, well-paid, socialist festival gig coming up – supporting Tom Robinson and various other worthy acts on Clapham Common in London (being fronted by women, Joyryde occasionally netted politically correct shows by default)
We’d recently taken on a singer, recruited via Melody Maker classified ads. Can’t say I was happy about that, but it did relieve me of vocal duties and let me focus 100% on my guitar while she did her leaping-about front-woman thing, shaking her dodgy perm as she went. However Madam not only chose to quit two days before our big show, but also had her muso boyfriend ring up the organisers saying he’d “heard we had no singer – could his band step in?” NO WAY!
I had 48 hours to relearn playing-and-singing-at-the-same-time on 15 songs. We hadn’t rehearsed for over a month and my head was totally in the wrong place. I HATED that woman so-o-o-o much. I tugged my black box of effects pedals and cables out from under the stairs, and opened it, releasing the beer, tobacco, and who-knows-what-else odours of the last show. Then came another, less-expected stink… a momentary but massive whiff of all the painful experiences, all the rejection letters, all the unreturned calls, all the humping-someone-else’s-gear-upstairs at five am, all that shitty underside of “being in a band”
My box, my box, my precious box – tell me what I did – Why my hands are soaked in blood each time I lift the lid
A defining moment in my love-hate relationship with rock’n’roll, and if nothing else came out of it, I got the germ of “Black Box” which I eventually recorded with Kathy X Anyway I didn’t close the stinky old box. We went on to do a killer show and I was on a high for days.
You’re everything I wanted, everything I know – Wish I’d never seen you but I’ll never let you go
2014 The “black box” – though now containing substantially fewer pedals – has somehow outlasted all the people who tried to come between us