Wednesday, 6 April 2011

'cause when I need a friend it's still you

I used to live in Nottingham – arriving there to become a teacher – to train – to aspire for something else other than the sad Scunthorpe existence that i had been carving out – one of intense self pity and futility descending into drunken shambles and idiotic behaviour. To be honest – i’ve always been an idiot – but those latter days back up north were ones that i needed to leave [them ] all behind. I had been to Nottingham several times – journeys in cars on motorways as we floored it and hit those top top speeds.

I first heard Dinosaur on John Peel – most people hear most things on John Peel. Well they used to. Now i think you have to download some DJ on iplayer to hear the new finds or switch to DAB and roll into the 6mix excesses. You knew were you where with four stations – pop music, different pop music, classical, talking. It was as simple as that. Now you find me listening to the four and the three – the middle class angst and cosying in and the beauty of Bach and Beethoven – all horrorshow indeed.

But generally as a teenager you would start with Janice Long, possible the Kid and then go round Peelie’s – see what he was playing. You know- the big kid in the know – the one in the gang who was working and had more stuff than you did – be it beers, crisps, clothes, fags or records. Things panned out like that. John Peel would discover them and then you would – and over radio waves allegiances were formed – friends rallied and music taped [my home taping as yet has not killed music]. There was something beautiful about a song on Peel that you fell in love with. You had a few opportunities to catch it – because after a week or so it was gone. Far too much to play you see – ephemeral pop music – pop pop pop.

That simple fuzz of overdriven guitars.

It does it every time. I bought myself an i-rig for the i-phone [oh yeah – I’m one of the nerd guys – shopping at Autism R Us] just to recreate that Marshall sound – this one goes up to 11.]  Dinosaur could do that – that Seattle throttle – that Jaguar jolt as we all joined in their freak scene. There was a moment when we suddenly became swept up with this lethargy – contradictory I know that we worked ourselves up to sit down. But the Seattle thing seemed like a PuNK thing back then. It was discordant drones for abnormal youth – the teenage riot of America offering kids the alienation they needed from the last throes of Thatcher’s Britain. If you play your guitar loud – perhaps it doesn’t matter that there aren’t any jobs, opportunities or even [teenage] dreams.

And guitars were played LOUD in the 1990s.

J Mascis was this freakbeat guitarist – laconic and laid back as the strings of his Fender Jaguar contrived to ring out our teenage frustrations whilst Lou Barlow provided the beast of the bass to hang our troubled times. And Murph hit the skins and we headbanged our frustration away. Suddenly this rock was not rawk – it felt authentic and heavy – moving me away from the anoraks and simple chimes – getting older see – getting that little bit angrier.

It was time for a change.

Graham from Pale Saints sent me [okay – me and Paul] the first dinosaur album – and we would listen to Mountain Man on repeat – feeling its anger but laughing at the redneck nature of it all. But those guitars still rocked man. And then Bug came along – all pop and racket and suddenly there’s a scene – a whole scene man – it had to be a scene – the NME said. There wasn’t a scene when I first ventured to Nottingham Polytechnic – only the Freak scene [gedditt?] And we waited an eternity for the dinosaur onslaught – Mascis mucking with the mix of the pedals – those endless pedals – phase this distort that and chorus nothing. But we waited – anticipated and all of that. To be honest Paul and I were recovering from the sheer rock attack of the Lunachicks – this was Russ Meyer with guitars – pure unadulterated heaviness. I would later fly from the Marquee stage wearing an elephant cord anorak as the ‘chicks pounded and throbbed through Sugar Love – but as i said elsewhere – that is another story.

And then it happened – guitar, bass and drum driving down to simplicity. This was my Seattle scene – my SUB[mersion] in POP. I remember when Nirvana came along I thought they were interlopers – and James asking if I wanted to go to the Astoria to see them – and I couldn’t be bothered – feeling I had my fill of electric guitars – oh – well some you miss – but I was glad to see Dinosaur at this point. Before it imploded.
I jumped, I shouted – I may even have played air guitar. Utterly thrilled. I even managed to interview J for the fanzine – fifteen words in fifteen minutes – still on some micro tape wedged in a draw in a Scunthorpe house no doubt.

So here’s to loud guitars and not much else.

It seems there are mighty wrangles over who owns the copyright to this track and you can't find the original video. So here is a live version from 1988.