July 26th saw a flurry of emails regarding pics from the Chopper Club gig and general website maintenance. I was quite surprised when I saw the pics…
“Just looked through the pics,” I wrote. “Can I propose that we ban anyone in the band wearing shorts, please! Not a good, bluesy, rocky look, I must say. Let’s face it, we’re not going to win any Sex-God competitions, but let’s not draw attention to the fact! Ouch!”
This was primarily aimed at George, who really did look like granddad out for a spot of sun. All that was missing was the knotted handkerchief. Nige was a bit put out, however. I know he always makes jokes about being the ginger one, but deep down, I think he thinks he’s a bit of a catch… Well, with arms the size of tree trunks, he does make the ladies’ eyes flutter, so we’ll give him that one.
This day also began to separate the men from the boys. One of the ‘to-be-auditioning’ drummers – an American in Shepherds Bush – was kicking up with Nige about the auditions being during the day. Kept on about something to do with having a job and a wife and kids.
“My initial reaction was to tell him to go and fuck himself,” wrote Nige. “If he can't commit to an audition how can he commit to all of the gigs we are going to have. I require your diplomatic guidance old chap! Or, should I just tell him to fuck off?”
I added a diplomatic alternative to the ‘go forth and multiply’ option.
So, the auditions were down to two. A bloke called Barry and the ‘up for it’ Ant.
In between times, we (Nige, George and I) were batting around ideas for recordings. There is a place near Milton Keynes called Rockhopper Studios that does a package of four live recordings, plus a video shoot for one of the songs: £250 all in. It sounded like a good deal… But when?
The day of the auditions came, Barry was in first. He was ok, he could keep time, but there wasn’t much in the way of flair. I certainly didn’t rate him over Angus.
Then Ant arrived and set up. He gave a quick couple of hits on the snare and then a run around on the toms. I whispered to Nige: “We’re going to have to turn up, mate. This is the real deal.”
And so he was. He knew the vast majority of our material and hooked in to the endings without a murmur. The odd one caught him by surprise, but once he had heard it, he knew it. His power was unbelievable, his runs expert and appropriate, and he led us in the big endings with a great deal of aplomb. I was worried we wouldn’t be good enough for him.
Afterwards, we were nattering outside as he and Nige had a cigarette. His name was Ant. Ant what? Where did that come from? Where did he live? How did he live? All questions were met with (at best) evasive answers. The most we could extract was that he lived near Reading and lived off royalties from a successful gig back in the 80s and 90s.
Again, I thought he was being like this because he didn’t want to play with us, but he said he did – and he seemed to mean it… But he wasn’t going to get drawn on anything personal…