Getting the album together in Wales part 1 | Sunny with Occasional Rain
It was fashionable during the rock boom of the 70s for bands to isolate themselves in remote places to concentrate on writing, rehearsing and generally getting things together (musically and personally.) Julian Kirsch had split up, I was living in London and trying to figure out how to restart my short lived career. The idea of a new band, a stone cottage, some compatible musicians and an ocean of enthusiasm mixed in with a few dollops of good luck was what was needed to resurrect my already deflated spirit at the young age of 21. There were three obvious problems. No band, no money, no remote, magic stone cottage. But there were a couple of assets that would help. The small flat where I was living and which belonged to my parents might provide a minimal rental income and my unassailable belief that I would make this work provided a strong and equally important second ingredient.
My connections in London were minimal despite having played so many gigs there. I had however got to know quite well one musician living in my neighborhood who was a good percussionist, and I had already established that the band line up would include him (John Ashford) along with me on hammond organ, as I had by now hung up my guitar strings, together with a drummer and bass player. I theorized (wrongly in retrospect) that we could create something more interesting without guitar in the line up. I had come under the spell of Brian Auger Trinity and Keith Emerson of the Nice and was inspired by their guitar-less, crafted music. I felt a natural affinity with the Hammond organ, an instrument that seemed to suit my small hands and percussive technique that sparred and jabbed with drums and congas.
I knew that I wanted the ex Julian Kirsch drummer, Paul Pinder, as part of the new band but how I was going to persuade him to leave his now well paying residency with the meagre funds at my disposal was another question. Finding the bass player, Rob Wilson, came from advertising and auditioning a multitude of applicants, a process which I have repeated many times in my career and which is a whole experience in its own right. Finding the musician that ‘fits’, can actually play, has the right personality, gets on with everyone, has the same musical and career aspirations etc etc is an exhausting process that can leave you creatively frazzled. But Rob was eventually the right choice. He was a good bass player and singer who also wrote lyrics, which would be important. I overlooked his sometimes caustic personality and learned to live with the inevitable disagreements that would come from this.
So the band was formed, at least in my mind. I still had to solve the actual problem of the drummer, Paul. I figured I could get around 5 pounds a week for the flat, we would need to eat, buy a van and petrol, provide a small supply of cigarettes and drinks, pay some rent and a couple of bills. It never ceases to amaze me how we never questioned the do-ability of things in those young, carefree days. We just got on with it, fueled by the joy, the excitement, the belief and the sheer black and white determination we had to make it happen.
My friend, John, the percussionist, had access to his mother’s car. We had for reasons that I can no longer remember, set our sights on north Wales, the rugged and isolated hills of Snowdonia. Probably
we had been told we could pick up a cheap rental there. In any event, John and I set off on our mission to find the perfect stone cottage, persuade the owner that a young bunch of aspiring, long haired kids would be responsible enough to take brief ownership and to pay the rent, all the while not destroying the property or the environment.
We were heading into a young, carefree dream. Nothing seemed to matter except that we were doing what we were doing, living our lives in music and the spirit of freedom.
Sunny with Occasional Rain
Sunny with Occasional Rain is a blog series written by BKP Media Group CEO, Barry Kirsch, highlighting moments from his intriguing career.