Sunday, 23 November 2008

I got rhythm

There is, critics tell us, a higher order of musical artists. The Mount Olympus of rock music. A roll-call of such luminaries as Hendrix, Townsend, Presley, Lennon and McCartney.

And Billy Ray Cyrus. We mustn't forget the Cyrus.

Whenever observers of the late-eighties music scene are gathered together, they speak in hushed tones of the acts that made a difference. One band - The Flood- tends not to get much of a look-in. The fact that I played drums for them might be a reason.

From an early age I would irritate the bejesus out of anyone within earshot by tapping or banging away on any available surface. So when schoolfriends started talking about forming bands, they had a ready-made drummer in me. A complete inability in reading music, allied to borderline tone-deafness, meant I was ahead of the game. The fact that I'd never actually sat behind a drumkit was not considered a handicap. Initially I thought it might be. Then I heard the quality of musicians around me and relaxed.

And so was formed The Flood.

We named ourselves after a Peter Gabriel song, 'Here Comes the Flood'. We never played the song itself, however, the chord count being a little too high for us. Undaunted, I bought a second-hand Remo drumkit for £99 and we set to rehearsals. We embarked on an extensive tour of bedrooms and garages over the summer of 1987. By the end of it we'd moved from atonally painful to plain average. We could hold a tune, although Kevin the guitarist (the one with the hair from two posts ago) did try to insert the solo from 'Stairway to Heaven' in every song.

Which made ballads interesting.

We only had one proper gig, at our school. It was us against another band, whose guitarist started off with a note-perfect facsimile of the Hendrix version of 'Star Spangled Banner'. Quite frankly, our heavy-metal 'Twist and Shout' didn't cut the mustard. Even though Richard - our keyboardist - played Bach's Toccata and Fugue as we entered. You had to be there.

Looking back on those days, it's obvious to me that we were just doing what millions of teenagers had done before. This was before 'X Factor' and the like - we were simply kids having a lark with musical instruments and had no ambitions of fame. Which was just as well, all things considered. Quite frankly, we were to music what King Herod was to careful parenting.

We went our separate ways after school; no Beatles-style last gig on a rooftop for us. Some went to University, some went off to work. All that time hours spent enthusiastically murdering the classics went by the wayside.

I bumped into Kevin just once after we had a blazing row about something stupid. He now lives in France. Alan the bassist is somewhere in the suburban hinterland. And a few years ago, thanks to Friends Reunited, I learned that Richard had passed away after a long and lonely struggle with leukaemia.

Katie and I went to see Peter Gabriel playing live the other year. He started with 'Here Comes the Flood'. The tears welled up, bitter and unexpected. To this day I don't know exactly what I was grieving for most.

But if I ever have the money and the space, I'm getting a drumkit again.

7 comments:

Le laquet said...

You're getting a drumkit again?? Has your wife agreed? Will it be one of those digital ones that plug into a PC and that you play and only you in the headphones hears? Because I'd guess that would be the safest option for Katie!!

City Girl said...

You could always get practice pads to preserve the domestic peace.

the wife said...

Katie has not agreed, but could be persuaded by a new LV handbag!

Three Legged Cat said...

The thing with getting a drumkit is you really need a band to go with it. Not much fun drumming away on your own all evening.

Will you have to buy extra handbags to be allowed the band as well?

Elsa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike said...

Nice story that mate. Well done.
But you did not mention your come back... 38 Special?!?!?

fatboyfat said...

Ah. The untold story of 'the 38'. The complete drug-addled rock n'roll experience.

Now that's a story for another time....

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