It’s funny how memory works, we each retain our own details and feelings about specific events, places and people. The accounts I have written are my memories, outlined in short blog posts. When I started this blog I asked Linda if she would contribute, this is her account and memories.
CAN YOU DO THE FANDANGO?
by Linda Noble
It was a common mistake … and one which we all hated. We named our band Scaramouche – a stock clown character of the Italian commedia dell’arte like so ….
But what you actually got was people saying “Oh like the Queen song” and then breaking into a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. Tiresome. We probably tried to be too cool, and being compared with Queen just didn’t suit our image.
I’m not sure how the three of us became Scaramouche. As Ian’s already said in his blog, it’s 30+ years ago and it’s all a little hazy. I wonder now if the Italian clown name was a homage to Ian and Pete leaving the Dolls; did they feel guilty – you’d have to ask them? Pete would remember; he has a good memory.
But form Scaramouche we did. I recall we had the support of my old school friend and journalist on the Chronicle at the time, Graham Walker. Graham actually wrote the lyrics to our first song – ‘Search for Love’.
I’ll apologise now for the early days being a bit of a blur. I recall Ian wrote most of the lyrics, and then Pete and he must have worked on the music. I know we worked on the songs in Ian’s little room at the Hospital (Nurse’s Quarters) before he moved into lovely old Victorian shared accommodation in the Town Centre where we had a little more room. Here’s the three of us trying to look cool on a photo shoot – taken by Graham I believe – against the wall of that Nurse’s accommodation block.
My hair was short there, and I recall not gigging until my hair was much longer and in the obligatory curly perm of the 80’s. We found a place to rehearse … the Gardeners Rest on Neepsend Lane in Sheffield. In searching for this picture, it seems to still be open and has had a bit of a face-lift. We should have a band reunion there perhaps?? As I recall we rehearsed one evening during the week and a Sunday morning. Sunday mornings were a little trying, particularly if we’d been out to Nottingham Rock City the night before. None of us were big drinkers as I recall … one Babycham and I was plastered! I do remember on one occasion that we had to go and fetch Ian from his bed after a night of over indulgence. I don’t remember how we advertised for a guitarist, but we did … and we probably tried out a couple before settling on Kevin Bullas.
I tried to find Kevin when we all got back in touch a few years ago, but managed to inadvertently connect with his son – also called Kevin. He looks remarkably like his Dad and also plays in a band. They’re much better than we were (sorry guys).
We did a gig at Pete’s old school as a threesome – with our trusty drum machine. Chaucer School on a hot Summer’s day. Ian and I sweating like the proverbial piggies but trying to remain cool . I remember being really nervous … kids can be quite cruel, but they were a receptive crowd and probably thought we were going to be famous so were a little in awe.
It must have been around that time that we decided trusty old drum machine should be replaced by a drummer, and along came Graham Travis, a moustachioed butcher from Sheffield. He did concede to shaving off that moustache for our Battle of the Bands entry (more on that later). We continued to rehearse at the Gardeners. We played various gigs … The Shambles in Barnsley, Rebeccas – a nightclub in Barnsley – and we were always given a great reception. The Speedwell Inn in Derbyshire wasn’t such a success. It was a little like a working mens’ club where patrons carry on drinking and talking, playing bingo and the bandit throughout your set, whilst you try to avoid the whites of their eyes from a few feet away. Oh how brave are we in our youth?
We had lots of material, we even did a cover of ‘Hey Big Spender’ and changed it up a little. My favourite was the Nightcage with our choreoographed dance moves. It was the 80’s after all. We maintained our cool Spandau-like image with props for the stage. Sadly, none of these tunes remain – unless Graham Walker has a video / recording of them somewhere.
We entered two Battle of the Bands competitions – they were all the rage at the time, and were held at the Top Rank in Sheffield. We felt like real stars on that large stage, looking down on the audience. The first of those competitions was in 1983. We came third .. out of three.
But, being young and enthusiastic we carried out undeterred and entered again in 1984. By that time we had on board a keyboard player – Ray Davies. (Photo of all of us in your garden). Ray was a dry, witty lad from Barnsley … worked at the tennis ball factory. He’d turn up to rehearsals prepared – flask of tea and his corned beef butties. Not one for sharing as I recall, and he’ll kill me for saying that.
We rehearsed fiercely for that night. There was competition – a band called the Anthill Mob won followed by Blush, then Veldt and fourth … us. Why did we come last yet again? Well, what’s the saying “He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail”. Mr Bullas … oh Mr Bullas. Why didn’t you bring a spare guitar string? Halfway through a song … it went. No guitar. It was one of those moments, and thinking about it now 30 years on , I can still feel that knot in the pit of my stomach, looking out at the staring eyes, some of whom contained supportive family and friends, and wondering what the hell we were going to do. I turned to Ray – as did Ian – and as I recall Ian filled in briefly with My Funny Valentine but we then soldiered on with Ray covering the guitar bit. If that’s a totally inaccurate recollection I’ll apologise to the band now. My mind wiped it completely from sheer embarrassment.
I recall us recording our first cassette tape. Yes, no DVDs, CDs, internet in those days. Goodness me, how things have changed. In those days you had to package up your tape, write a letter and send it in a jiffy bag, with a real stamp, to record companies. It was then a case of making appointments, travelling to London and seeing the A&R people. Things are so instant now, and I wonder if that’s progress. Does it make bands lazy I wonder?
We recorded it at Roger Boden’s studio in Macclesfield, and it still appears to be going strong today – now known as the Cottage Recording Group. Roger was, we discovered, married to Ian Curtis’ widow (Ian Curtis of Joy Division), and his daughter – Natalie – was only a toddler at the time. She wandered in one day and we were all struck by how she had her late Father’s bright blue eyes and dimpled chin. Roger did a really good job, we had our covers for the cassette case printed and we were ready to hit those record companies. We didn’t secure a record deal …
Scaramouche’s piece de resistance without a doubt was making a video in The Ridings Shopping Centre. The Centre was closed down for the morning whilst we filmed the video to accompany our song ‘Total Seduction’. Eager faces pressed against the window outside in the belief we were some famous rock / pop band. We felt like stars – well I know I did. We had make-up artists, we had outfits, we played out the story as imagined and written by Ian. Ian has the only video link and I’m sure he’ll share it – please Ian … my copy is bust. Shared here: Video
Steve Rhodes Video Productions from Darfield filmed it … from weddings and christenings to filming a band. He did a really good job although some of the editing with the fading in and out of shots perhaps wouldn’t have been our choice.
We had a ball … Music is my saviour and I miss singing, although I doubt I’d have the bravery and confidence I had in my 20’s. I really don’t know why we split up … perhaps one of the band can shed some light on that. Perhaps Ian moved away to Spain, perhaps people started to drift off … I don’t recall why it ended and when.
I know Pete went on to be in other bands and even became lead singer. Who’s not surprised that the uber confident Peter Antcliff went on to be a front man? J
We never did the fandango – nor did we want to. We wanted to be different, stylish and cool and I definitely think we achieved all of those. We might not have been the most note perfect, we might not have had the greatest songs, but we were out there showcasing original material, working hard. No shortcuts or X Factor for us, and that’s something I’d never change.
Happy memories of times spent with good friends and talented musicians. No regrets for me.
We did have a reunion (of sorts) In 2010 – not all of us. Just me, Pete, Ian and our old mate and supporter , Graham Walker. Would have loved it to have been all of us … but we’re scattered far and wide now. Ray’s in Devon or Cornwall – or somewhere they have clotted cream. Kevin and Graham (the drummer) … who knows? Graham (Walker) is now Digital Editor for The Star Newspaper.