It’s all in the name

1983

Naming a band is one challenge all musicians face. Every member has his/her own idea, every name will conjure up an image, concept, genre or feeling. There was no doubt that My Pierrot Dolls was a classic band name, well conceived, of its time and filled with possibilities for marketing and the overall band image. We thought long and hard about naming our new band. Initially, Pete had suggested Naked Art, which we liked but back in the early 80s, in Barnsley/Sheffield, it just didn’t sit right. We wrote lists of potential band names and discussed them at length, often agreeing to disagree. There was no rush as up to that point we had not really started writing tracks and we were still finding our sound and style. Perhaps we over-thought it?

In the 80s there was no mass online media, few mobile phones and the only way to market your band was through gigging, demo-tapes, newspaper coverage and radio play. A name that was memorable was key. As our musical style developed, Pete, Linda and I wanted to push the boundaries for a local band and perform the music, in other words, through our performance, we wanted to suggest the story behind the lyrics and ‘act out’ a video on stage. As Linda and I would be the two performers less tied to instruments, it came down to us to interpret the music using props and interaction. One name that kept rearing its head was Scaramouche, a character of the Italian commedia dell’arte. After much deliberation we decided Scaramouche it was.

Scaramouche005

The name served us well and despite it’s links with the Queen track Bohemian Rhapsody, and the occasional question “Can you do the fandango?”, it provided us with sufficient scope for marketing and image development.

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Rehearsals took place in the lounge of the nurses’ home in Barnsley District General Hospital where I was working at the time and then in the lounge of a large Victorian house owned by the hospital where I moved with several other colleagues. As far as I can recall we seldom had complaints from the other residents and it was an opportunity to jam together and see what inspired us as a trio. I took on the role of lead vocals and synthesiser player, Pete played bass and drum machine and Linda, vocals and synthesiser. At the time we had a good friend Graham Walker who was the entertainment reporter for our local Newspaper, The Barnsley Chronicle. Graham was really supportive of our efforts and when possible, came to rehearsals, gave us good feedback and even had a go at writing lyrics.

Through contacts of Pete and Linda we were offered our first gig at Chaucer School in Sheffield…..Eeek! This was the first time I had sung as a front man and as far as I recall it was the first time for Linda. We were looking forward to the gig in front of a couple of hundred hormonal teenagers but obviously anxious that what we had created was acceptable. The details of the gig are somewhat of a haze now but if our memories serve us well, we had a good set, and encore… I remember wearing dark glasses, a hat and a rather baggy linen suit made by my friend Terry’s step-mum, all a convenient disguise in case we had to make a hasty exit….

Scaramouche (2)

 

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After several months of developing our sound, writing new tracks and refining our image, we were more than ready to perform but something was missing. The post punk era of purely synth-based music and new romanticism was fading and we all felt a more funk-based sound complimented by synthesisers was the way to go. We took the plunge and advertised for a lead guitarist. Three became four.

 

 

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