How It All Went Wrong
I started the Wilson project fondly imagining that it would be
a solo thing.
I figured that I could use my computer to make backing tracks
for me to play along with, and thus get around the stunted expectations
and inexorable tedium which normally attend the appearance of
a man in his forties sitting on a stool with a guitar in his
Largely taking the Great Wolfgang Tschegg my example, I thought
that I might be able to present my songs in an interesting fashion,
one which might afford me the opportunity to sit back and really
play, rather than just holding down the basic tune with endless
rhythm guitar strumming. I committed myself to doing a gig (in
order to have a deadline) and set to cooking up some groovy backing
A month or so later I had the bones of a set. I had built nice
easy tunes, which would afford me a bit of space to stretch out
and do something, and I had begun to figure out a few nice ideas
Somewhere around this point, my pal Russ, who played percussion
for Sumosonic and on Rotten Soul, decided that he would help out at the gig. I agonized for a
while before I decided that in that case we might as well get
a bassist too. One night I was in a bar, looking for Aggi, who
played the bass for Sumosonic. He seemed like a pretty obvious
choice. I never did find Aggi, but I did run into Russ, who was
with our friend Kathy Schaer a.k.a. Special K, one time Sumo
vocalist. Rather to my astonishment it was announced to me that
Kath was to be our bass player.
I had seen Kath hold her own on bass alongside Jonny Mattock
and Mark Refoy, so I knew that she was good enough for the job.
The three of us decided to style ourselves a "low power trio",
and it was as such that we rehearsed and performed our first
show at The Soundhaus in Northampton on
1st March 2001. Along
the way we tried to work up a sort of ascetic dub sound, with
grungey loops, phat bass and sparse, loud guitar, largely tuned
to a single chord for maximum drone simplicity.
There were definite advantages in being in band where all the
members lived within five minutes
walk of each others
front doors. Everyone had an income and two of the three of
us had cars. Logistically it was already the best group I had
ever been in. After the Soundhaus gig we played at
in Northampton and then went on the road to play
in Leeds for
Team Borscht. Each time we played we enjoyed ourselves more and
people were responding well.
As we entered May 2001 events came to pass which caused me to
suspect that perhaps people were responding a little too well.
My good friend Ian Botterill, the singer from Sumo and Fat Controller,
came asking to join the band, bringing with him another guitarist,
Steve Gordon, from the gargantuan Northampton funk collective
P-Hex. Bearing in mind that I had just found out how much fun
it can be to be the only guitarist in a band, I was a touch uncertain
as to how all this would work out. Matters were further complicated
within the week. Sitting in my back yard one day, Curtis
"Can anyone be in your band? Can I be in your band?"
"Of course you can be in my band, Curt,"
"Just as long as you play the Theremin!"
I figured that this was just the sort of reply the facetious
old bastard was expecting.
It certainly was not what I was expecting when Curtis turned
up a few days later with something that, while not technically
a Theremin, was nonetheless quite clearly a Theremin! The
is a device made for DJs. By moving one's hand over a series of invisible
beams emanating from the Air-FX
one can manipulate a whole rake of mad synthesised sounds, and
even start to affect the final mix, dropping filters and all
manner of other tricks. In our pal's music shop they are advertised thus:
"QUICK! BUY ONE OF THESE! THEY'RE MENTAL!"
I had to admit it. In the course of one week our band had doubled
Our first date as a sextet came at the end of May. We found ourselves
headlining a four band bill
at The Racehorse. Immediately before
us came Capdown (short for "Capitalist Downfall", fact fans!),
a profoundly talented and effective ska/punk band
with a new album and a slot at Reading Festival. It looked as
though it would be a fairly pointless exercise trying to follow
something like that, but we went ahead with it and it all went
off very well. Capdown certainly seemed to enjoy it. So one after-show
party later there we were, a fully functioning six-piece. And
I had to admit that Steve's guitar really did bring something to the sound. As readers
of this will probably know, I've been lucky enough to have worked with
some really fine guitarists
over the years, so I'm not being idle when I say that Steve is one of the most intuitive
and sensitive players I have worked with. He is not flash or
fancy, but he always seems to know exactly what will work in
Wilson was quiet over the Summer while I travelled with the JBC,
but we picked up again in September. We played another
show in Leeds,
picking up a nice bit of press in the northern edition
of The Big Issue. We did a
series of shows at
The Racehorse in
Northampton, drawing larger audiences each time we played out.
Given that almost everyone in the band has another band, it took
quite a while for people to realise exactly what was going on.
By the time that we played our
Christmas Eve show it seemed that
we had established ourselves an identity locally.
The autumn also saw Ian, Curtis and me getting seriously into
the business of writing and assembling our music in our own studio.
Over a few months we developed a massive library of sounds and
samples and worked it into some half a dozen new tunes. In January
Ian moved his computer equipment into the studio, which now operates
like a small factory, with three men working six hours a day
most every day. I can honestly say that I have not worked in
a more exciting and creative environment.
In January (2002) Wilson played
with Garbriel Turner's band, Tobermory, in Cambridge.
Up until this night I was very happy with the band's music, but I was concerned
that maybe we were a bit disorganised
and unimpressive vocally. This was the night that the singing
and shouting caught up with the playing. Curtis, Ian and I travelled
the 50-odd miles to the gig in a car together, screaming our
heads off and singing like lunatics the whole way. There is no
doubt in my mind that this had something to do with our performance
that evening. Wilson entered 2002... more confident and intimidating than ever before.
- Cypress Hill
- Triumph 2000
- New Order
- Lee Perry
- The Clash
- 40,000 enraged Korean shopkeepers from South Central marching on the Mondrian Hotel
A book would be appropriate at this point.
- Andrew in Sunny Seattle
20Nov2007 2:54 AM
(10 years 125 days ago)
Seriously. Write a book, Pat. I am sure that not just myself would rush out to Amazon to purchase it, but there has to be another dozen or so people that would look forward to such an effort.
I have not had such a good time reading a bio since, well....in a while.