It began, as most blags do once you hit 40, as a sober suggestion delivered over cold coffee in crap surroundings. Flushed by the success - or otherwise - of our DAMNED DAMNED DAMNED interface @ The 100 Club - Suburban Kid & I duly dillied & dallied as we planned our next heist. Umming & arring – the wheels of my skunk addled brain turning with all the velocity of a water mill on a Constable canvas – I deftly threw my cards on the Bunker coffee table:
“I want to do Metal Urbain, I really do.”
“I’ve warned you about them Frenchies,” ill-advised Sub Kid, nonchalantly chewing a biro, ”how many punters are likely to leave the comfortable environs of their toast-warm-hearths to venture along Dickensian streets in search of Gallic bonhomie on a cold Thursday evening in September?”
“I take your point, you cuddly McLaren-esque provocateur,” I heartily conceded, “we need a trio of bums-on-seats performers guaranteed to propel punters pavement-ward in order to fully realise the parameters of our proclivity.”
“I have just the very billing fiendishly concealed here about my person, my little Punk Rocking Partner In Crime! Here – may the cats be amongst the pigeons – fuck bringing ‘sexy’ back – we’re bringing Eater back – supported by TV Smith – with Don Letts & Kris Needs on the decks!! Two more Lamb Buhnas over here, Mr Parker! You beauty – try gentleman’s excusing your way out of that one!”
“Eater, TV Smith, Don Letts – AND – Kris Needs? All under one big top? With an in-house exhibition comprising the visages of 100 authentic Punks? Courtesy of the supremely talented Johnny Deluxe? That’s got to be the funkiest little boatrace fronted circus game in town! Count me in. Whaddya want from me?”
“I’m running this one, baby. You just do what you do best & leave the rest to me.”
Like a finely honed military operation, project Meet Eater rapidly began to take shape. Within a matter of nano-seconds, all three participant’s services had been secured: fees, dosh-related derailers & booking aggregates had all been taken into consideration. I was to interview Dee Generate & Andy Blade in support of – nee with regard to – Meet Eater – @ The World’s Famous 100 Club (that London!) for tMx 26!
What happened next was quite remarkable – suddenly everyone wanted a piece of the action! Sub Kid can hustle for Hustler when he needs too! He’s damned good at waking people up & stopping them from falling back into a coma until they’ve done what we need them to do to make things happen. This time was no exception. Within days we had MTV, BBC & Lee Black Childers in the mix. Meet Eater was going to be a gas, gas, gas.
As the weeks - & eventually days – counted themselves down – we blitzed our media connections like Baghdad on a bad night. There was a definite ground swell of interest - & tickets were shifting too. The imponderables were all that was left to hinder us now.
Let the phone calls commence:
Andy phoned – could we help with the backline? No one had had the time to break from the intensity of the rehearsal programme to organize any onstage amplification for the night itself! I feebly suggested tapping Diesel from Backbeat. Sub Kid’s impressions of Jim’ll Fix It were beginning to wane – ever so slightly.
Alan Parker phoned to tell us he’d be down with his film crews at 4pm. I don’t know how we’d have organised all this without him. The man is a legend in his own foreword!
Kris phoned – would the 100 Club be providing decks for the occasion? Kris phoned again - & again - & again. I finally remembered to ask the question - & replied in the affirmative in the general direction of Aylesbury.
Andy phoned – shouldn’t we be asking MTV for some money? I sought advice. We didn’t want to put anyone off before we’d got them into the building. A consensus was duly reached: ask the question – but don’t make it a prerequisite. The answer was ‘no’ anyway!
Don Letts phoned – had we got any reggae records? A tale of water damage, ingression & flooding on a biblical scale ensued – those damn basements – you can’t insure against these things by policy alone, you know? We did, obviously. Luckily, the 100 Club had a rack of CD decks - as well as the Neolithic vinyl types. No problem was big enough to derail this train.
Brian James phoned – was anyone going to arrange a taxi to collect him from Brighton for his photo-session with Lee Black Childers? Lee Black Childers phoned – could we add The Horrors to the guest list? Alan Parker phoned again. Apparently Diggo & Shello were most definitely going to be in the area come the night in question.
The 28th finally arrived & I was woken from my slumbers by a dejected Sub Kid just after 8am: “Are you ready for the first fuck up of the day? Needsy’s got Man Flu!”
I proceeded to phone chez Needs to instil a little of that old ‘Wags Gang Show’ spirit - but my chorus of ‘the show must go on’ type utterings failed to make it past the protective & matronly Nurse Michelle. Kris Needs was deffinately not allowed out to play. Cometh the hour - Cometh the man: DJ Encoule in the house. Talk amongst your selves – this one’s at the wrong speed!
Jeanetta & I hit the road for that big London around 10am – determined to check into our luxurious hotel & relax for a while before the shenanigans commenced.
The phone calls continued:
Sub Kid phoned to tell us that Dee had arrived at his house with the question, “Got anything I can wear tonight?”
Carlton Sandercock phoned – was I going to ensure Lee Black Childers photographed Brian James without a hitch?
Sub Kid phoned a further half a dozen times with detailed reports on how his journey was progressing, analysis of the ‘following a car capabilities’ of Dee Generate & a 101 further problems that may or may not yet arrise. Jeanetta & I relaxed, drank shitty hotel tea & scoffed cookies.
We finally clambered aboard Sub Kid’s motor some time after 3pm & headed for the Columbia – rock & roll hotel of choice for those rock & rollers still living anywhere near the edge in 2006. On arrival there was no sign of either Lee Black Childers or Brain James. The concierge couldn’t help, the receptionist hadn’t seen them – the doorman thought he saw them about 15-minutes ago - but couldn’t be certain. Carlton Sandercock was on the phone again – he’d got to go into a meeting with his daughter’s school play, or something – could I hang around & make sure Lee’s camera worked? I felt almost certain that Lee could still press a button OK - & had often seen Brian stand against walls unaided – so we left them to it - confident Lee would keep his 4pm with the BBC - & headed off through flooded apocalyptic streets in the direction of the 100 Club.
Dee phoned – he was lost. His people carrier had become an equipment carrier for the evening - & although he’d been following Sub Kid since Northampton – he was currently off the radar – the wrong side of the Tottenham Court Road. He’d become tragicly estranged from the Sub Kid mother vehicle during a particularly tasty manouvre in the Shepherds Bush locale. We drove round in circles for a while as Dee phoned in his ‘where the fuck am I now?’ reports – the floods were affecting everyone, it seemed. Finally, we hit the back street entrance to the 100 Club & sauntered down the famous back steps once again.
MTV were in the house – Paul King, sadly bereft of DM boots painted like a narrow boat – was no longer calling for simple love & pride – he had angles to check, light to assess - & interview areas to opportune. He looked nonplussed as I reminded him of our shared pasts: “Oh yeah, The Ramrods? Mmmm. Vaguley!” Aaah, the eternal brotherhood of the shared local scene never sleeps – it just rusts.
The BBC were in the house - & so – amazingly – was Lee Black Childers. They moved their cameras away from the harsh glare of the millions of trakMARX flyers emblazoned across anything nailed down - & proceeded to film Lee on the aforementioned back stairs (the relevance of this will be achingly apparent to anyone who’s ever met Lee Black Childers!).
By this stage the excitement was beginning to rise like the mist from a New York street grille during the first few frames of a Coppola movie. Johnny Deluxe was gaffa taping his Punks to the walls. He even got away with covering the listed 100 Club sign at the rear of the stage. I followed on – with me old cock linnet – applying trakMARX flyers with more gaffa. Jeanetta set up a gaffa station – tearing off strips to enable me to plaster at some considerable rate. We even did the ladies & gents bogs too – you know how punters like to ponder while they piss.
The 100 Club was already filling up – punters wandered the 100 Punks Installation photographing furiously as they went. Many were genuinely thrilled to see their erstwhile images glaring back at them from the walls of one of the holiest bastions of Punk Rock this piss-stained nation possesses.
I took hasty DJ lessons from Ray, the affable 100 Club sound chap. What a decent geezer he was. He laboriously demonstrated the art of record spinning, cross-fader manipulation & volume control for – oooh – a matter of minutes - before I’d mastered the art & taken tentative steps to redemption with the Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer”. Needsy may have fallen by the wayside, but DJ Encoule was in the house. Good job Sub Kid had taken the precaution to bring a few rekkids along!!
I was in my element. I hadn’t done this sort of thing since youth club. As I selected, queue-ed & spun – dreams of becoming John Peel’s natural successor filled my head. Surely I’d be better at it than Rob Da Fuckin Bank. I span on: the Dolls, the Heartbreakers, Wire, Rudi, The Vibrators (there was only a small box of rekkids), The Stranglers, MC5, the Sex Pistols, the Damned, Buzzcocks. Someone even asked for a record by The Killjoys! I was only knocked off my pedestal by the arrival of Don Letts! DON LETTS IS IN THE MOTHERFUCKIN’ HOUSE! To be honest, my one reservation about the night as a whole was whether the Don would show. Now he was here. With me already behind the decks at the controls. We shared what I like to think was a fellow DJ’s kind of respect laden handshake - & I guided the Don towards his double CD mashing station. TV Smith had taken the stage. My work here was complete. The Don was on from TV to Eater. The thinking could stop here.
The club was now rammed. MTV crews wandered - pigeon-holing anyone vaguely legendary as they went. Jeanetta & I manned the merch stall for TV & Andy Blade - & fought off over-friendly advances from ex-members of former communist states.
“Oooh, look, there goes Lee Black Childers, again. There’s Andy Czezowski. There’s Kermitt. Isn’t that Spizz? Here’s Gaye Advert. And Tom Phobic. And Dave Strap. And the bloke who wrote that big coffee table book on punk that was full of mistakes.”
TV Smith rocked the partisan crowd: “As a committed vegetarian it’s a little disconcerting to be appearing at a function entitled Meet Eater”, quipped Tim. “Tee-hee”, responded the pliable punters, some, by now, more pliable that others. Tim opened with “Punk Rock Poem” - & when he got to the bit about others telling him that The Adverts changed their lives – there was more than a glint of pride in his eyes. Needless to say, the ‘hits’ drew adequate vocal support from the audience. Everyone sang along to “Gary Gilmour’s Eyes”, “Bored Teenagers”, “Safety In Numbers” & “Great British Mistake”. Give him a trusty acoustic guitar & a yard of grass & Tim Smith never fails to deliver.
The Don took to the decks as TV departed, sleng-tenging conscious vibes & righteous sounds in every direction. The atmosphere was cooking. The DDD show had been edgy & ever so slightly sinister – but tonight there was a lot of love in the house – some of it was spilling all over the floor. A quick wander around the venue confirmed no Horrors in the house. The only Buzzcock in view was Tony Barber. Thank fuck The Vivians had decided to show.
Andy Blade pulled me to one side, “At the end of the set I’ll chuck my guitar down as I leave the stage. When the others have finished – can you retrieve the guitars & get them safely back to the dressing up cupboard?” I agreed, adding that I would leave the guitars feeding back for a ‘rock and roll’ amount of time before doing my stuff. “Perfect”, said Andy, “a ‘rock and roll’ amount of time!”
The Don wound his set up with The Clash - before Gary Glitter’s “I Didn’t Know I Loved You Until I Saw You Rock and Roll” announced Eater’s arrival on stage: Andy resplendent in Guantanamo Bay orange, Dee in Sub Kid provided ‘Jailhouse Rock’ b&w stripey tee – trakMARX flyers akimbo.
“Thinking Of The USA”, “Get Raped”, “You” – all were launched successfully - & to devastating effect. The crowd were boisterous – the press went mad! Fucking punk rockers. Andy’s between song banter got tetchy at one point: “if you could all just shut up a minute so I can hear myself think” – but not a lot got in the way of a good time - & before long Andy had slung down his axe was heading for the dressing up cupboard. Dee & the bassman continued to smash the fuck out of the last remnants of a concise set – before they too were gone in a hail of cymbals & wolf whistles. This was my big moment. I looked at Jeanetta’s watch, gauging the passage of time like a seasoned veteran. A suitably ‘rock and roll’ moment of time later, I was straddling the stage, pulling out leads, turning off amps & generally collecting electric guitars.
As the excited crowds melted onto Oxford Street & the few sparse joints on parade turned to cardboard, the love in the house turned to pride in the heart. Jeanetta & I embraced Johnny Deluxe, & we span around the 100 Club dance floor one more time. We’d done it – we’d pulled off the scam - & people had even had fun - & said it was the best night out they’d had in ages - & shit. Andy Blade said it was the best gig he’d done in his entire life. Bassman wanted Sub Kid & I to adopt his children & take over the management of his lawn mower business in Acton! Dee said it was back down to earth with a bang from here on in.
Once again we stood in an empty 100 Club. Funny how there’s always only 3 of you left when it’s time to load the gear back into the van (oh, all right, people carrier!).
Jean Encoule – tMx 27 – 10/06
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