This band thing is catching. Around the same time as Mairi was forming her not-so-merry* band (which I have yet to talk about – blog post pending, along with photos), I was at a gig at the new Marquee club in London, watching Pocket, and I was very much taken with their support, which was a guy with a suit and saxophone, accompanied by a dude with a laptop. The sax-man would recite some imagery, then strike a dramatic gesture and bare his teeth, at which point the laptop dude would let loose with a screech of some cacophonic noise. Then the sax-man would play a frantic rambling jumble of notes on the sax. Repeat to fade. Fantastic. (The sax-man was someone I know’s Dad – Robin, who was it again?) UPDATE: It was Blurt, AKA Ted Milton, Maud’s Dad.
At which point Gren turned to Robin and I and said, â€œSo shall we form a band then?â€. Robin and I barely made eye contact before shrugging and saying yes, why not.
So after the gig we sat and talked about what we would do. Gren and Robin are at least vaguely musicians: Gren has and plays a guitar; Robin has a guitar and an old synth that he covered badly with wood-effect sticky-backed plastic. Iâ€™m not really musical apart from being able to sing, and an affinity for electronic stuff. So what could we do?
We agreed we would each choose a couple of cover versions that we wanted to do, and then the rest of the band would come together to realise the vision of the person who chose the song. Fair enough. This would require some compromise as far as complex instrumentality was concerned. I like compromise.
But what could I play? I didnâ€™t have a laptop, and if I was going to buy one, it would have to be pretty powerful to act as a sound machine, which would put it out of my desired price range. So I shopped around, and bought a Korg Electribe EM-1, which is a â€œgrooveboxâ€ with 2 synth parts, 8 drum parts, and many built-in samples which can be heavily filtered by the also-built-in filter bank. It sounds amazing, at least according to the demo loops which are programmed into it. Dauntingly so, in fact. Itâ€™s definitely designed for dance music, as the demos also prove. Everything from Techno to House to UK Kackstep to Ambient Gabba. You need the brilliantÂ Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music just to figure the demos out.
We dithered around for a few weeks, during which time Mairi had recruited two guitarists, a bass player, a drummer, found rehearsal space, and put together a 10-song set. Something wrong there, I think.
No progress has been made since then, really. I still have the Electribe, which now lives in a wicked aluminium flight briefcase from Maplin. I also now have a laptop â€“ my little toy childrenâ€™s baby laptop for women (according to some silly American girls), the Asus EeePC. Iâ€™ve been figuring out how to use it as a sequencer to drive the Korg (using Seq24), with some success. But Iâ€™ve found that I just donâ€™t have the time, what with all that is going on, and with what might go on soon. Iâ€™ll keep hold of it though, along with the cool aluminium flight case which holds the Korg, the laptop, aÂ power strip and all the cables and manuals.
But what to stencil on the side of said case? We only just came up with a name. After great deliberation, and after various name-generating mechanisms were tried including the Butthole Surfersâ€™ method of random selection, only set in an Islington Mexican restuarant, we decided on, and drank a glass of Henneganâ€™s Red Label to -Â THE CONAN ANALOGUE.
Long may they reign. May they even perform or record something just the once as well. That would be nice.
* by which I mean they do stuff that is on the dark side, rather than implying they’re not happy jolly people.