Wales – The Final Part
Sunny with Occasional Rain
John had bought a smaller van than we anticipated but it would do with a squeeze and in any case that was what the budget could afford. It would need to carry one Hammond organ, a multitude of speakers, amps, percussion instruments, guitars and about 8 people. Later it would need to add a drum kit and one drummer possibly accompanied by one girl. We had somehow managed to enlarge our entourage with a couple of ex school friends who wanted to come along for the fun of it, help out with carrying equipment, cooking and generally being part of the whole experience. There were also a couple of regular girl friends so we had become a genuine rock circus, setting off to our future home, overloaded but ready to roll. The London flat had been rented, we had cash and were prepared, or as much as could be.
Driving in that van was gambling with our lives. Three in the front and five huddled at the back among the equipment, all smoking and cramped. But we made it to the cottage just as the sun was going down. That first night was extraordinary. I remember it so clearly, the cold had already started to chisel its way into the walls, lighting the fire was a major undertaking but everything seemed unimportant when you stepped outside into the solitude with an exquisite night sky, dancing and sparkling like a million diamonds just within reach with half closed eyes. Truly magical. Our own world, our own space to create, to try, to be doing what we were doing.
And so the story starts. The friends ( road managers or roadies/general assistants etc) and the girls should organize a tightly budgeted eating, drinking and smoking routine and we three musicians had a blank canvas to color. This is always the moment of reckoning -when the creative process actually has to start, when the imagination has to be at its most fertile and stretched.
Some ideas were slowly taking shape but we were badly in need of a drummer. I would give Paul another week before calling him. Meanwhile the support crew were doing well. They had discovered Welsh faggots, a kind of meatball which was cheap and filling when accompanied with loads of potatoes. Not the healthiest way to live but we hadn’t been exposed to Vegan at that time, so faggots it was – one of my enduring memories of those crazy days which of course had their highs and lows but stayed on track inexorably driven by that strange bond that connects musicians the minute the first bar is struck together.
Three days later, Paul phoned. He was in. He had one non negotiable condition. He wanted an allowance to go daily to the local pub in the evenings to have a few beers. He certainly wasn’t an alcoholic, just a drummer, probably expending more energy than all of us put together in a solid day’s writing and rehearsing. I accepted immediately. The fact we didnt have the money was irrelevant. Paul was ready to join and If we had to rob a bank, so be it. I was the only one there who had first hand knowledge of what he would bring to our band. That was all that mattered.
And so began the real work of those 6 months. We were pretty disciplined considering the situation. We took a few days out here and there to relax, explore the surrounding area. One day we stumbled into Portmeirion an extraordinary man made film set/ town where a famous cult English TV series ‘Danger Man’ was filmed. Utterly surreal. We also discovered that about 10 miles down the road from us a similar rural experiment was taking place with another group of musicians. They were also getting a new album together. That band would change rock history. It would be a far cry from our humble achievements, but it is amusing to consider that we had landed within an echo of each other. Their name – Led Zeppelin, yes the one and only. Our neighbors in the wild Welsh countryside.
There was a pub in the area that had live music evenings. We approached them for a chance to play. After the first gig they were delighted to have us as on a regular weekly basis. It was a win win situation. The bit of cash we earned from those gigs provided the fund for us to have our own local outings, the pub could boast a real London band and we could try out our music on an audience of sorts. We built quite a loyal following during those few months. Big in North Wales as the music guys would say.
We did make the album, with the help of my old mentor Jeff de Boeck. We travelled to Belgium and recorded it over a four day period. It eventually got released in Belgium and Germany with spectacular lack of success. I listened to it by chance just recently. The music is best forgotten, but not the days in Wales, the memories, the friendships, the special moments when you feel you are on a raft of life, all around are endless possibilities and ways to travel, the wind is calm and the storms that must eventually break are not yet visible.
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.