A SEXY ARTHUR SCARGILL
In November 2001*, after having toured the country with my band, Meiosis (by which I mean that we had played in Newcastle AND Durham), I felt I was able to rest on my laurels a little bit. I was helping some friends out who were putting a gig on at Head of Steam in Newcastle. I carried amps and drums down those horrible, awkward stairs – which are typical of a music venue anywhere. Rarely have I played a small venue where you don’t have to carry loads of stuff either up something or down something. Anyway, I was carrying heavy stuff down the stairs and putting it in roughly the correct place on the stage.
Later, in the summer of 2002, I had travelled to Wakefield on the pretension that I was travelling to Leeds to record a demo with my band Meiosis. We were using the recording studios in Bretton Hall University Campus, over a couple of evenings, whilst they weren’t being populated by self-indulgent music students hoping to gain some kind of qualification for their talents. I am more shrewd than those idiots as I was doing all of this hard work whilst gaining no qualifications whatsoever, making me jaded by life and its inability to provide choices for a career path from a younger age and racking up debt from using credit cards to fund endless pints of rubbish lager. We were sleeping on my guitarist’s dormitory floor and one of those mornings, whilst staying there, I was having an argument with a man in the communal kitchen.
Now, I have no idea what we were arguing about but, knowing me, it would have been about something general rather than personal. I don’t tend to argue about personal stuff as if someone picks a fault with me, I am likely to have already thought about said fault long and hard and am usually able to agree and put forward a complementary alternative angle to their opinion. No - it would have been something about racism, sexism, disablism, homophobia or far right political views. Because, you know, I inwardly see myself as a sexy Arthur Scargill… or a fat, balding Bob Crow.
OK… fair enough, the argument was probably about music. The point is, I was right and the man I was having the argument with was wrong and was being an utter prick about being wrong.
Then just the other day, I was watching the regional TV news programme, Look North and a report came on about Paul Smith, the lead singer/songwriter with the hit North East England band, Maximo Park. One of the things I really admire about Paul Smith, the lead singer/songwriter from the hit North East England band, Maximo Park is that, although he has had success with his music, he hasn’t moved away to that London like what PJ and Duncan did and that Sting from the past. No – he lives in Newcastle with the rest of us. He makes regular outings to local record shops, Greggs the Bakers and leads a humble life - a bit like a 21st Century Tim Healy. He can often be seen, chatting and laughing, at the counter of local independent record stores with the guy who runs the shop. He’ll spend ages pointing at records and spending his well-deserved earnings on tens of records by obscure bands, whilst you stand patiently behind him, awaiting your turn to purchase your copy of the latest Jimmy Nail single.
The essence of the Look North item was that he had travelled the long, treacherous and unforgiving 35 minute journey, all the way back to his hometown of Billingham, near Newcastle in the North East of England. He was really getting back to his roots there and was giving an autobiographical account of how and why the beautiful landscapes and scenery of the town set the path that led him to become one of the UK’s top of the lower half recording artists that he is today.
I was thinking about this Look North report as I was carrying my gear into the Head of Steam in Newcastle for a gig I was playing as Meiosis last Saturday. I was thinking of contacting Look North and asking them if they’d like to follow me most weekends when I visit my mother for Sunday lunch? …I mean I have only moved about 7 miles away from the village I grew up in and it could be just, if not more, interesting a report as Paul Smith, the lead singer/songwriter from Maximo Park, and the cameraman and producer would not have to travel quite so far to gain such thrilling inside information. Then I was thinking to myself, as I whacked my shin off a bass drum pedal, whilst negotiating the stupid stairs into the dark, damp, unheated venue, that I had done all of this work, unpaid, in this very same room 13 years ago - for the popular North East hit band Maximo Park** back in 2001. I even sat on the door for them and took everybody’s £2 entry fee, counted it and handed it to the band after the gig. It’s not as if it was easy either… in those days the £2 coin was scarcely in circulation and counting denominations of 2 pounds could take up to twice as long as it does today.
I then cast my mind back to earlier that afternoon when I noticed a little buzz on The Twitters around my Newcastle followees that Paul Smith, the lead singer/songwriter from Maximo Park was to be playing at The Bridge Hotel, another tiny pub venue with awkward stairs that I frequently play – just up the road. ‘Damn you!’ I subtly thought to myself. ‘Damn you, and all of your kind, Paul Smith, the singer/songwriter from Look North & Maximo Park. For the past 13 years you have been playing to audiences around the world, you have been in the nether regions of the hit parade, you can sell out arenas and, after the passage of all of this time, I am still here, at the Head of Steam, carrying all of my shit around and you are there… at The Bridge Hotel, competing with me and my stupid little gig.’ Whilst Paul Smith, the lead singer/songwriter from Look North and Twitter and Maximo Park, over the last 13 years, has built up a following of thousands, played the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and has sold huge amounts of records - I have progressed from gigs where people would think ‘Oh this is a bit shite’ and built that up, bit by bit, day by day, year by year, to what I now feel to be a general consensus of apathy in the same venue in which I started out… AND, Blog readers, I am proud of that apathy. In the summer of 2002, when we were recording that demo in the middle of the night, in one take, because the security man would tell us off if were weren’t out of the building by 9pm --- YES THAT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT IF YOU’RE NOT SLACK LIKE SNOOP DOGGY BANG BANG or… DAVID BOWIE… in that summer of 2002, when I was having that argument about Alanis Morrisette , was that YOU? WAS THAT YOU, Paul Smith, the lead singer/songwriter from the popular North East UK social networking website, Twitter? WAS THAT YOU, Paul Smith from the popular North East UK hit TV regional news programme, Look North? WAS THAT YOU, PAUL so called ‘SMITH’ the singer…stroke…songwriter from the semi -popular North East UK hit band, Maximo Park? WAS THAT YOU, I WAS ARGUING WITH about not having a sense of irony about the fact that we were arguing about something that does not really matter in the first place? WELL… WAS IT YOU???!!!
- No, it was Ricky Wilson from The Kaiser Chiefs... but you’re all the fucking same.
So, as I thought about all of this and I set up my musical equipment in silence, the lights dimmed and I played at a lovely gig for a brilliant charity for no money at all – my woes and grievances slipped away into the night and it became apparent to me that nothing really matters other than the essence of life and living and just being alive.
Then… the following afternoon, I was queuing for a steak bake in Greggs, because I am Northern, and who should be standing at the counter ahead of me? – pointing at the cakes and pastries, taking his time, chatting and laughing? Yes, it was Paul Smith, the singer/songwriter from Billingham buying loads of pies like the fat bastard that he is. And I thought about the possibility of me tapping him on the shoulder and explaining to him all of my woes and thoughts from the past day or so… but y’know – sometimes these things come out a bit wrong; as if I was bitter about it or something.
Besides… I am not 100% certain how I should be pronouncing ‘Maximo Park.’
*Made up date – could have been any time between 1999 & 2002
**This was not the popular hit North East UK band, Maximo Park, but in fact the popular North East UK hit band, The Futureheads, but who’s checking? Oh… you are – well, ok.
***I’m only aware of this being a man who went on to perform as a member of The Kaiser Chiefs and may not be Ricky Wilson but one of the other little tossers within the makeup of that band.
The Meiosis demo Martin mentions recording in this blog is now available to play or download on iTunes, Spotify and Bandcamp – here is a link: www.meiosis.bandcamp.com/album/sticking-together-e-p-leeds-demo
If you are Paul Smith, the lead singer/songwriter from the popular North East pop music band, Maximo Park then please do not take offence… it is a fictional and ironic representation of the thoughts that run through my mind and is written entirely to amuse anyone who reads it.
Abuse Martin on Twitter: @MusicByMeiosis
Or look at his other stuff – http://www.musicbymeiosis.com