Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Cay - Archive # 3: Live @ The LA2, Early 2000

This was the last ever Cay performance with Anet, Nick, Tom and me recorded in the LA2 in London. sometime in early 2000, not sure of the exact date. The sound's not great - a bit boomy for my liking.

There are 4 new songs here: 'Trailer Park Blues' and 'Don't Let The Girl Go' were recorded as album 2 demos and then later in the year by Cay (with Chris and Ed replacing me and Tom) with different names. Prototype is a track Tom wrote (mostly) that didn't ever get the studio recording it deserved. The last track is an instrumental I can't remember much about at all. It was a surprise to hear it when I was transferring the tape. I don't even know what it's called.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Cay Archive # 2: Student Radio Broadcast Session, September 1998

A scrappy session we did for a small radio network. Lots of mistakes; dropped sticks, missed chords, out of time guitars. I love this!

Cay Archive # 1: The Red Eye, Feb 1998

A couple of months ago I bought a small digital recorder for recording practices. I realised it had a line in function that enabled me to finally get round to doing what I'd been meaning to do for years - transfer a whole bunch of old practice and live tapes onto computer.

Probably fitting that I start with the earliest live recording I have of my old band Cay from 1998. Tape recorder quality and lots of mistakes, but a young(ish) band dipping their toes into playing live and still excited about it all. Some of my favourite Cay moments here.


Mary Epworth & The Jubilee Band

I certainly can't say I knew her well, but I remember Mary Epworth from around the turn of the century. She was going out with Jon Meade, a member of both Rothko and Geiger Counter - two very different but equally brilliant bands. Nick and Anet of Cay were good friends with Rothko, so apart from doing a handful of few gigs together we all often went to each others' shows or to see bands we had a mutual appreciation of.

Jon and Mary I knew least of all though. They were somewhat of an enigma to me. I remember they had a strong hint of rockabilly about them, but were far, far cooler than just being run of the mill rockabillys. They were music nerds for sure - they got excited at the prospect of me having an early vinyl edition of 'Surf's Up' (I don't know if it really was; it looked old).

They were kind of a sickening couple to be honest: cool, good looking; liberated (they argued about who was sexier between Rocket From The Crypt and The John Spencer Blues Explosion); Jon was extremely talented; and worst of all, both genuinely lovely people.

I knew back then that Mary was a musician but I didn't know much about what she did. So I was intrigued to learn that she leads a band, a Jubilee band, The Jubilee Band no less.

Far from the rockabilly stylings of The Elephant's Head Friday night crowd that I half expected, the two singles I've been able to get from iTunes sound like a cross between Fairport Convention and The Olivia Tremor Control. I won't waste too many words describing the music when I can just put a link to the videos here, but I'll say this: There is nothing wrong with this music. Nothing. The songs are dark and melodic; Mary's singing is beautiful without ever sounding as sickly as Sandy Denny or as shrill as Joanna Newsome; the instrumentation hints at a retro past with a tasteful vestige of that vintage fuzz , especially on 'Black Doe'.

And check out the pre-chorus drum fill on that same song - folk with drum fills Dale Crover would be envious of.

It's not often you hear someone you know performing music where you don't have to smile politely and lie about how good it is. It's even more rare to realise that you know (however distantly) someone who is genuinely talented and making music to get excited about.

I haven't seen Mary in about 10 years but I'm star struck in retrospect.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Anet Mook: 19?? - 2011

Anet and I argued constantly. After a particularly vicious fight Paul, our then manager, phoned me to check that I was ok. He told me the famous story of Charlie Watts being summoned by Mick Jagger who demanded 'his drummer' come to him. Watts punched him in the face and said "don't ever call me your drummer again. You're my fucking singer."

I'm still not sure what point he was trying to make. Maybe he was encouraging me to punch Anet in the face when she made me angry. Probably though it was just a funny story to try and cheer me up in the midst of what were obviously the final days of Cay.

The last time I saw Anet was around 2002. It was at a bus stop on Tottenham Court Road in the middle of evening rush hour with people scurrying around us and the din of central London making conversation difficult.

We'd not spoken since I'd left Cay 2 years earlier. It had all come to a head with Tom and I having to withdraw the remaining 7 thousand pounds of the band's funds via several full books of small £200 cheques. A few days earlier I'd looked at the money spent in the previous month (a month of no tours, no studio time, no rehearsals even) and saw that Nick and Anet had withdrawn £17,000. When challenged they gave me short shrift, so to this day I can only guess what they spent it on, but I think it would be a fairly educated guess. 

Tom and I had realised then that we were going to have to do something drastic to stop what little was left going the same way. We took the remaining money and used it to pay a few outstanding debts; roadies who'd been patient enough to wait; our soundman on the last tour; the people who really needed it. What little remained would have to last us until we found work.

This was when I realised, with much anger and a lot of sadness, that Cay was finished. We'd been dropped by our label and no one else would touch us. Our managers had dropped us by this stage too. Relations in the band had sunk to an all time low.

I can't actually remember if I called Anet and told her directly I'd had enough or if I passed the message on through a third party. Maybe I posted a letter through their door, I just can't remember. Tom left shortly after I did.

I must admit in my foolish arrogance I was surprised to hear they intended to continue with a new drummer and bass player. In fact for a brief time it looked like things were going well for them. They played at Glastonbury that summer and released a single (Ressurrexit) which got a fair amount of airplay. My new job was in the stock room of a department store so hearing them played daily on Radio 1 while I sat stickering products I couldn't afford to buy myself make me feel sick with jealousy. For a while I thought they'd got it together and would make something of the band after all.

But that was it. After summer 2000 I heard nothing more of either Cay or Nick and Anet for a long time. Like many others I got wind of the occasional sighting of them but nothing that was really confirmed. Were they still together? Still using drugs? Still alive? I had no idea until I saw Anet at that bus stop.

I wasn't sure how this sudden unexpected meeting would go. Anet looked good, healthy. She smiled. We passed pleasantries and talked about mutual acquaintances. There were awkward silences. It was a difficult conversation. I think both of us were silently willing our buses to hurry up. 
I should be honest here: I'm not sure I can say that I even liked Anet. I did in the early days but that excited, enthusiastic girl gradually disappeared to be replaced with someone a lot less pleasant. It's been said elsewhere that Anet was absolutely passionate about her music. It's true that she was driven, to a fault in fact. But there's something about a passionate determined nature that doesn't sit well with the drugs she took. There were certain times that Anet would be intolerably aggressive and abusive.

As time went on we made foolish decisions, problems came up that we dealt with badly and things started falling apart. All the while Anet became worse and worse. She was happy to vent her frustrations at a variety of people but I was a favourite target. It was not uncommon for her to scream at me for 20 minutes or more because of some perceived slight on my part. I could recount endless stories of her angry and violent temperament and the abuse she meted out, but I haven't felt any bitterness in a long time.

I wish I could say that our music reflected our tempestuous relationships but we really messed it up. The early days were wonderful - small clubs, crap equipment, a real passion to be heard. The recordings of early gigs far outshine the big money album we did. The album is competent but sterile. Live we fucked up lots, but there was a real love of playing and an energy that is lacking on the album. Those days of Org singles, Student Radio sessions and possibilities were infinitely better than the reality that followed: a bad album; infighting; management disputes and of course drugs now that they could be afforded.

Towards the end I learned just to shut the fuck up when Anet gave me shit, but for the longest time I insisted on fighting my corner. I never let her get away with the insults she threw at me. We were both very neurotic and highly strung. Both passionate. I'm not trying to suggest we were similar or to make out that there was some profound connection on any level between us. On the contrary, it's probably fair to say that by April 2000 when I left we both quite genuinely hated each other.

Then, at that bus stop she apologised: for "you know, everything, all that shit" (it's been so long I can't remember her exact words, but it was something like that). I got embarrassed and said it was fine, don't worry about it. I think I conceded that I was probably a bit of a dick as well and we both lit cigarettes and willed our buses to hurry the fuck up.

I'm not sure whose bus came first, but one did and we parted company for the last time.

After 8 years of hearing very little I managed to learn some of what she and Nick had been doing since. Drugs remained a problem it seems. Anet had gone back to Holland to try and clean up. From what I understand she hadn't been entirely successful.

Now I hear that she died last week back in in Holland. Her funeral was today, Thursday 16th June. *

I probably have no right to say anything about Anet to be honest. I doubt she'd thank me for it. The brief time we were in a band together was a fraction of her life. But it was an intense time, that's for certain.  Cay ended up in bitter acrimony but there were great times before that. I remember well the gigs we played in tiny venues around the country. I loved being on stage with Anet, especially straight after an argument. We were an angry band and it didn't hurt to sit behind the drums full of frustration with those suppressed feelings of violence finally finding an outlet. Those were some of the best gigs I've ever played, and afterwards for an hour or two we were all unified by a sense of achievement and excitement. 

It breaks my heart that Anet is dead. Not because I'll miss her personally or because she and I were ever best friends, but because with her death goes a great deal of passion and possibility. Things really didn't turn out for her the way she'd hoped. It reminds me too that we're all getting older and those dreams we all shared will never come to pass. For a brief moment the world was ours and we were partners in all the exciting possibilities.

I may not have particularly liked her, but I had a lot of respect for Anet. She was my fucking singer, and I'm sorry that I'll never get to hear her voice again.

Anet with Dermot,our friend and roadie, and Nick in the back of the 
tour van we lived in for a year and a half.

* Edit on 20/06/2011: There are a few causes of death being presented as fact online so I'd like to clear this up. Anet was struck by a train. I'm reliably told that she was sober and of sound mind at the time.