Strangely tonight I found myself out at 9.15PM. Strange because I realised in that moment that I can’t remember the last time I was out at that time. Sure, super late for a mad early morning walk to the sea (3AM) – early evening, afternoon, morning (rarely) but to be out when people are actually out at night, it’s been a long time. I’m only ever out at this time when we’re touring, occasionally at a restaurant but in this present climate, never. The reason I was out was because I was going down to the station (another place I haven’t been for 6 months) to meet Olivia who was on the train from Truro (another town in Cornwall) where she had been enjoying her Christmas present, yes, her Christmas present. It was a float tank and a massage in an obscure village in the middle of the Cornish countryside. It took her the afternoon and the night to travel there and back as she had to do it by public transport and we don’t have a car. Seems like she loved it, must try it myself one day.
So you’d think on the quest for such a lovely and relaxing afternoon that all would go smoothly beforehand as well because a drama on such a day would be unlucky.
We were at the studio before she left and I popped out to the shops for 20 minutes, leaving the keys with Olivia. I came back but she couldn’t get open the door to let me in. Really? So I had to go around to the window where she passed me the keys. I let myself in through the main door into the building. It was the studio door that wouldn’t open but it wasn’t the lock (which we’ve recently replaced) it was the handle, that part that retracts when you push the handle down was stuck fast in the door frame. So I had to go out again to the window whilst she passed me a screwdriver to unscrew the handle, she did the same on her side. But that did nothing, all we had was a hole where the handle was, it was the inner barrel that was broken. No stress, it wasn’t like she was trying to get to an appointment in the middle of nowhere that she’d been waiting for for 10 months or anything. And it’s not like a calm disposition enhances the experience of a float tank and a massage. And there couldn’t possibly be another domestic building drama. I won’t drag it out, I managed to get it to partly retract with a screwdriver and opened the door. I pulled the barrel out and it was broken and really, really old. So now there’s no handle on the door, great. The day before yesterday I replaced the awkward fluorescent lightbulb in the hallway that also looked like it had been there since the fifties and by the way, today my electric toothbrush broke. Stay away from me if you own anything mechanical or own a house.
At the shops, I picked up a Best Of Massive Attack CD for a pound and a Super Furry Animals CD for 50p. I talked to Richard and Pete at Smith’s the newsagents (friendly staffers) and bought some writing paper and envelopes. I went into Boots and bought a new toothbrush and noticed the woman at the till was looking at my T-shirt. I realised I was wearing my First Aid Kit T-shirt, the name must have seemed quite strange to a woman working in a chemist. I told her how great they are and that she should check them out. We joked about her probably not forgetting the name of the band.
I’ve been busy, I had another two sessions today (Carl in Charleston and Noelle in Montreal) but I had another 11-hour sleep last night, what’s going on? Ok, I’m busy, sure, but it must be the swimming. When I went to sleep last night it was like a living corpse falling onto the bed. Tomorrow I have another swim and another full day in the studio but Liverpool are playing newly promoted Leeds for the first game of the season, so I don’t want to miss that. I call it ‘leisure in the middle of pleasure’, you have to be English to make it rhyme. My old roommate in New York (Brooklyn) is Jonny Cragg, the drummer from Spacehog, Leeds supporter and although most people here probably don’t follow any football, it’s been 16 years since Leeds have been in the top division, so he’s happy. In the seventies they were one of the top teams and most people at my school were more likely to tell you the names of the whole Leeds team than they were the members of T.Rex (apart from Bolan) and that’s as fans of T.Rex and not Leeds supporters. But that’s Liverpool, music and football.
Music today had me craving some guitars so I went for the first four Wishbone Ash albums. Self-titled (1970), Pilgrimage (1971), Argus (1972), Wishbone 4 (1973). They weren’t aggressive enough or beautiful enough or original enough to break out of their fan base but as a fan who saw them twice in the seventies in Liverpool at the Empire, I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed their music, melodic, long sweet guitar solos, real songs. The two times I saw them they had different lineups. The first time was the original lineup with Martin Turner, Ted Turner, Andy Powell and Steve Upton, the second time Laurie Wisefield (from Home) had replaced Ted Turner.
In recent years I’ve also seen them twice but it’s all a bit silly because there’s Andy Powell’s Wishbone Ash and Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash. Powell was one of the guitarists and Turner the bass player and lead singer. So when you see them, you get great guitar from Andy Powell with a band I don’t know, who didn’t play on any of the classic records and then you get Martin Turner, the singer, and a band that also didn’t play on any of the classic records. So in Martin Turner’s version, the guitars aren’t quite right and in Andy Powell’s version, the vocals aren’t quite right. There was a legal battle because Powell had kept Wishbone Ash going for years and one day Martin Turner decided that he wanted to do the same but of course, they couldn’t work together. In the end, Turner who formed the band and thought of the name had to be called Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, where Andy Powell could be just Wishbone Ash – but it was him that kept it going. I took some pics at the Martin Turner show.
It’s the same with Yes, the band with an original member (Jon Anderson) can’t just use the name Yes but Steve Howe’s can just be called Yes, I guess he must have been the last man standing but he’s not an original member – Jon Anderson is. Howe and Alan White in ‘Yes’ played on the classic albums Fragile and Close To The Edge. In the ‘Yes’ with Jon Anderson, it’s Anderson with Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin – Anderson and Wakeman were also on those two classic albums, but they also have Trevor Rabin from the Owner Of A Lonely Heart lineup, confusing, silly. I hung out with Chris Squire a couple of times before he died, once at the Rickenbacker 75th anniversary show, where we were both on the same bill and another time at the infamous Rainbow in LA. He was sitting at a table with original keyboard player Tony Kaye. At the time Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford and Howe had just released an album. I asked him how come they weren’t calling themselves Yes? – “Because I own the name,” he said in a rather brusque manner. Sadly the name often seems to matter more than music.