Over the years, my friends and I have been involved in a number of bands, with each incarnation differing in members, style and seriousness! Here is an account of the bands that I’ve been a part of in my life so far.
Band: My Dog Is A Hero
Members: Me, Mike Lonsdale, Jemima Miles, Jack Foster, Jake Lawton, Gary Lonsdale
When we were about 15/16, a handful of us used to always hang out in our friend Jemima’s basement. There was a drum kit, a bass guitar, a keyboard and at least one acoustic guitar down there and, as me and Mike had recently been bought our first ever guitars and started learning to play, we would often just have a little play around with the instruments, usually just for fun. Mike had started learning a couple of Metallica songs and I think that was how the band began – with Mike playing a Metallica riff and then someone ringing the lyrics over it and someone else would join in on the drums, and before we knew it, the band My Dog Is A Hero was born. None of us even had dogs, so I have no idea where that name came from.
This little band mainly just consisted of us all singing cover songs whilst one of us played an acoustic guitar, which was great fun! One day we took the guitar and some beers to a park with us and wrote a song called ‘Asda’. Here are the lyrics to that song:
I bought a mobile phone from Asda.
I couldn’t find it so I asked her.
She pointed down aisle 10.
I picked it up and then,
I used the phone.
I started typing in my numbers,
As I was picking out cucumbers.
Put the phone in my pocket.
Set it off like a rocket,
And I flew home.
That phone served me well,
It always had good signal.
That phone can go to hell,
It made me burn my bagel.
This band was obviously just for fun, and I’m glad that it happened, because it allowed us to be creative in a fun and social way in our mid-teens, which no doubt opened the doors for us to continue being creative later on in life!
Band: 5 Degrees North
Members: Me, Matt Sharpe, Tom Ballard, Jaun Sarrado, Ben Ward-Charrier
I went to Durham University for a year in September 2007 and I took my guitars with me. One evening, I received a group-email asking if anyone was interested in starting a band to play some songs at the upcoming Battle Of The Bands tournament. I went down and, as it turned out, there was a perfect number of each of us to start a band – one singer, two guitarists, one bassist and a drummer! So we started a little band playing cover songs and called ourselves ‘5 Degrees North’ (There were five of us, studying for degrees, in the north of England – it was an inspired name). The songs I can remember us playing are ‘Put Your Hands On’ by Reef, ‘How You Remind Me’ by Nickelback, ‘California’ (The OC theme song) by Phantom Planet, ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’ by JET and, our big closer, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ by Guns N’ Roses – made possible by the awesome guitarist Matt Sharpe, who would absolutely nail that solo, and in fact any solo that was handed to him. Probably the best guitarist I’ve known.
We played the Battle Of The Bands tournament, which was fun, but we didn’t win. I don’t remember much of it other than that we were playing to a pretty empty room! We then went on to play at a festival called ‘Grey Day’, which was the biggest event that our college held and mainly consisted of all the students drinking in the dun all day long. It was fantastic, but I was incredibly nervous. I downed three pints before I went on stage and messed up my solo in ‘California’! To be fair, it was partly due to the alcohol and nerves, and also partly due to the fact that the other guitarist Matt was making faces at me, trying to put me off! He succeeded in that. It was embarrassing with that many people watching us, but we powered through and just had a good time. I remember not wanting it to end by the last song. I wanted to carry on playing music on that stage forever!
Band: Any Victory
Members: Me, Gary Lonsdale, Jack Foster, Dean Barrett, Chris Ashworth
When I came back from Durham, I started working in an office and was in need of a creative, musical outlet. I’d heard that my friends Jack (who is a drummer) and Gary (who is a singer) had met a couple of guys online and had started a new band called ‘Any Victory’. They already had two guitarists, a singer and a drummer and were looking for a bassist. I’m not a bassist by any stretch of the imagination, but I just really wanted to be in a band again, so I transferred my guitar skills to bass as best I could and joined Any Victory. We played songs that the two guitarists had written. I don’t want to say anything bad about the quality of the songs, so let’s just say that they really weren’t to my taste, or to Jack or Gary’s taste either. There was one song ‘Childs Play’ that we really didn’t like. But there was also one called ‘Kings Of The Summer‘ that was actually alright. We liked being in a band though, so we played all of the songs, each week in a recording studio in Stockport.
It was fun, but the best part of every week was driving to or from the studio in Gary’s car, listening to new music every week and really just getting stuck in to how songs are written and how bands are formed. The album ‘Take Off Your Colours’ by You Me At Six was pretty much the soundtrack to that part of mine and Gary’s lives. After each session, we’d go to a Wetherspoons pub in Cheadle Hulme just before closing time and get one bottle of beer each and talk about how badly everything went! We loved to complain.
Band: Not About Rex
Members: Me, Gary Lonsdale, Jack Foster, Steven Yates, Tom Wilks (briefly)
Any Victory disbanded due to “musical differences” after not too long. We still had a passion for making music in a band though, so we started a new band, more focussed on the type of rock/pop-punk music that we enjoyed. We had a couple of sessions that weren’t very productive so, the night before our third meet-up, I quickly jotted down a song called ‘Fly’ for us to play the next day. This song became our favourite one to play and sounded exactly s we as a band wanted to sound! Unfortunately, we weren’t very good at continuing this quality of song writing. We had a couple of other songs, namely one called ‘The Good Ship Relation’ (which was a decent rock song, full of relationship/boat metaphors) and a punk cover of the song ‘What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?’ by Jimmy Ruffin.
We spent hours coming up with a band name. We had a whole whiteboard brainstorming session about it, which was both a hilarious and incredibly frustrating process. One of the names we came up with was ‘Nova King Way’, which looked cool written down, but when we said it out loud we realised that it just sounded like you were saying “No fucking way”. We decided on ‘Not About Rex’ because me and Gary had sat down to have a serious think about band names and we had decided that we didn’t want the band name to be about my girl-problem (a girl called Rosie) and we also didn’t want it to be about Gary’s girl-problem (a girl called Lex). Not about Rosie, not about Lex. Not About Rex. Ironically, it ended up being about both of them!
Band: The Colour Coded
Members: Just me!
Whenever I write a song or want to record a cover for no reason other than to please myself, I do it under the pseudonym ‘The Colour Coded’. I don’t know why I picked that name. Probably just because I thought it was cool. I’ve written and recorded a few songs that I’m proud of under this moniker. There’s one called ”A’ For Effort’ that I particularly like (which is about a girl) and a coupled of others called ‘Amsterdamned’ and ‘She Walks Into Mine’ that I like too (which are both also about girls – I’m nothing if not consistent!). You can listen to a few of those songs here if you like!
Band: Hidden Claws
Members: Me, Jack Foster
In 2009, I was busy being a typical adolescent and having emotional issues with girls! So I did what I could do to deal with the situation – I wrote songs. Lots and lots of songs, most of them pretty terrible. I was having one particular ’emotional problem’ with a girl called Rosie. She was moving to Holland and I still liked her, so I wrote this song called ‘Utrecht’, to “remind her of the good times we had together as a couple” …or, you know, something like that. Anyway I was really proud of this song, so I got together with my friend Jack (who plays drums) and we recorded it. The sound-quality on the recording was pretty bad as we were recording a full drum kit through two tiny microphones, but it worked well enough. You could tell it was a song, at least! And we were both really happy with it. So, when it was Jack’s turn to have emotional girl issues, we wrote a song together about that. And then we wrote another one, and another, and another. We called ourselves ‘Hidden Claws‘ because we wanted something ‘clever’ and original, with a dual-meaning. I was working at an Insurance Brokers at the time, dealing with contracts, and I thought “hidden clause” was therefore a really clever name. We even made a secret handshake for it. Seriously.
We wrote a lot of songs together, and with other people too. We wrote a terrifying song about an abusive horse called Thomas The Horse, which is our take on a metal song, and a beautiful song about badgers called Badgers, which has probably the most amazing bridge to a song that we have ever written, and it’s in a song about badgers. What a waste.
So any time me and Jack have something to write a song about, we get together and record it. ‘Musical Ventilation’ was the term that we coined for it – The process of writing songs to get something off your mind. The most recent instance of which was a song called ‘Someone New’, which you can listen to here if you like!
I’m sure there will be plenty more incarnations of bands in the future. And when they happen, I’ll document them here so that they can be immortalised with these brilliant failures!