This week, I’ve started reading Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’, which is his autobiography. I’m about 100 pages in and it’s everything I wanted it to be and more. I’ve just finished learning about his upbringing and his first dip into the music industry. This coincided with a drink (or 8) I had with a friend last week, of who I used to be in a band with. This all got me thinking about the ‘good ole days’. So for this weeks blog, I’m going to talk about my younger life in music, t’was a simpler time. There’s so much to talk about, I’m going to split it up.
Before I even started playing guitar, one of the coolest things that I seen was a friend of mine (Nige, who would become a band mate 7 years later) playing Wonderwall on his driveway. My brother and I used to play football with him and one day he got his guitar out and started playing Wonderwall and I remember thinking ‘THAT SOUNDS JUST LIKE OASIS!! THAT’S AMAZING!!’. Obviously, I lived a very sheltered musical life up until that point. Now, every guy with an acoustic learns Wonderwall like it was loaded into their brain as they were born. I think that’s where the fascination started with guitar….I could play songs myself that sounded just like they do on my tape player at home (or at least it did in my head). At 12, I picked up the guitar because my brother did and I wanted to be better than him. My poor Mum had to listen to us practise for hours. I was obsessed with this Nylon string acoustic that I had. A year later, I would be playing ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton with my brother at a school concert. I had a guitar teacher called Phil Watson, he was in a local band called Nemonix. He was great. He used to spend 20 minutes of the lesson playing Mars Volta riffs, then shout at my brother and his friend Ryan for being childish. Then would proceed to teach me Beatles riffs.
Carl and I, playing my Mum's 40th (I think?) circa 2003
In December 2013, I played my first ever gig outside of school. It was supporting a band called ‘Katch 22’ who were basically my idols. Nige was in the band, along with Jay (singer, still one of the best singers I’ve worked with), Mike (Bass), Ned (Guitar) and Jono (Drums). Jono was like animal behind the kit. They sounded like a cross between Stereophonics, Oasis and The Calling and they were from Wrexham. They were our mentors. I can still remember the feeling before I went on stage. I remember crying because I snapped my Capo while practising backstage. I believe we made a make shift one from an Elastic Band and a pencil. We played In my Place (Coldplay), followed by With A Little Help From My Friends (The Beatles), Wherever You Will Go (The Calling) and I can't remember the other two. I remember the buzz I had when we came out and people were cheering. I was so nervous that I think I looked down at my guitar the whole time but what a feeling. What a gig. Katch 22 went on after us and tore Llay Welfare a new one.
My band was called ‘Endevour’ (It was spelled wrong but we were unaware for a good two years). It was me on Rhythm Guitar, my brother Jimi on Lead guitar, Carl on singing duties while Elliot and James Radhi provided the rhythm section. Radhi eventually left the band due to rumours going around the school that my brother and Carl were sniffing his mum’s knickers….I still don’t know whether that was true or not. My mum saved up to buy both my brother and I electric guitars, and that was it…I was a musician from there on in. In school, I learned songs to try and impress the girls, and got friend-zoned a lot. Around 2005, when McFly were coming out, they were my way to a girls heart. I also started writing songs at this point. As far as I know, my band at the time (Ruby Blue) were the first band to ever play an original song in a school concert. It was called ‘Changes’….I have a demo of it somewhere. It wasn’t half bad. I was still in Endevour, and we were playing the local Pub/Talent Competition circuit to great success. We won a few things and were getting paid for gigs in the end. We were on about £15 each for a good solid 6 hours of work.
On our first tour...The Vine, Leeds., 2006
Endevour started playing more regularly and we were getting good. We were writing songs all the time and there was a progression. Nick had joined us on drums after Radhi left and that was a massive influence on us. He was great and had a shiny drum kit (that was all I knew and care about at the time). We practised in a community hall some weeks, and when Elliot’s parents were away, we’d use his living room. Neighbours didn’t like it. They also didn’t like it when we rehearsed in Carl or Nick’s garage either. The police were called a few times, which would lead me to hiding behind a shed for fear of being ‘sent away’. We never entertained the idea of practising in my house because my neighbours were coppers, so we would effectively be cutting the middle man out. My brother also left the band and was replaced by Pierce. This was during our transition of being a ‘pop rock’ band to becoming an out and out rock band. It was sad to see my brother leaving the band, but it did mean that I was promoted to lead guitar…which would surely get me the girls right? No. Endevour were great, I did my first tour with them in 2006 and it finished a day before I got my GCSE results. The band went onto become JKLMNO and we did a whole lot more touring and playing before I left in 2015. Endevour/JKLMNO was where I learned my ‘chops’, and probably wouldn’t be in this position now if it wasn’t for them. If any of the Endevour/JKLMNO lads read this, please write a comment below of any embarrassing stories you may of us from 2003-2006...I'm sure they are plenty.
When Endevour became JKLMNO and played the Cavern, Liverpool