By 1983, we’d been through several personnel changes and had firmed up as a three-piece.
In two years of hanging around, occasionally rehearsing, all the while dreaming, we had dispensed with two bass players, one vocalist and a keyboard player.
The original drummer had moved on to guitarist’s brother’s kit, and I had been moved onto bass. Perhaps relegated.
We also need to set targets. We worked with the BHAG and the STAG.
The BHAG was easy. We wanted to be big.
But we needed to break the larger goals down into more obvious, smaller, more achievable ones.
We were determined we were going to break out of garage band life – though in fact rehearsals were in the front room at my mum’s after Sunday lunch – and into the world of gigging.
So, we needed a set. We reckoned we needed 10 songs. Not for us the apprenticeship of smoky rooms in Hamburg, playing 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, we were creative and we were going to do all originals.
So, we need a set of ten original songs, and we set about writing.
What He Said was deemed too juvenile, too punk, and we went through a process of writing and refining.
Somebody had an idea, usually the guitarist, and we would work on this. Looking back, the songs often came more or less fully formed, and the guitarist would tell us what to do. He was taking over the leadership of the band, and though not truly comfortable singing, he led us.
We added our parts to his instructions, and things started to come together.
We wondered if we were ready to gig. There was doubt, but nonetheless we just had to get on and do it.
We wrote and rehearsed regularly on Sundays for over a year until we debuted at the Queens Head in Cullercoats on July 13th, 1984.
From memory, we played a 10-song set, including one cover.
By this time we’d built up a small following – our friends.
We set up in the back room in the pub and did a sound check. Nobody was around.
We were going on in 20 minutes, and contemplating playing our first gig to an empty room when we look towards the station and saw what appeared to us to be a huge crowd walking down the street towards the venue.
We had an audience!
Part terrified, mainly exhilarated, we took to the stage, one end of a very small back room, and ripped through our set at breakneck speed.
People were jumping up and down, dancing, waving their hands in the air and we got an encore. I only remember making one mistake – and it was a huge one, coming in on D instead of A. But we were not bad, we had our first gig under our belts, and we were a band.
We were on our way.
Next time we’ll look at the useful skills we learned and then took forward.
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