Part 5: 1997 (like 1977 but 20 years older and tireder)
Double barrelling on, The Six Inch Killaz story's gathered pace, rattling along like some vodka-fuelled express, forever threatening to jump the rails. We're over half way through now: the band's been together over two years; I've been with them a year and a half. It's 1997.
Cast your mind back if you can. The country's taking a turn for the bizarre. Britpop, that collection of eclectic bands without a unifying musical cause has somehow got itself into bed with Brand Britain, ready to propel Blair's New Labour cabal into power and usher in an unheralded and unwanted era of Cool Britannia. Insultingly, a bunch of hapless Wannabes has even managed to nick our five drag queens on the verge of a breakdown idea and launched themselves to the top of the charts and minds of the country as The Spice Girls.
What's going on?
Well, for us, 1996 had ended with a bit of a flourish and we were expecting things to continue as much on the up and up as five trannies and a drum machine on the verge of rocknroll chaos could possibly expect.
And really, 1997 was more of the same to start with.
Our first engagement wasn't till March, and we were invited back, appropriately enough, to Alcohol at Charlie Wright's in Hoxton. As Minou said in his comment on the last instalment, these truly were wonderfully seamy nights, with great audiences who appreciated the Killaz for what we were, without fear, scorn or ridicule, as something that had the capacity to transcend the limits of banal normality.
I remember having a conversation about irony with Minou at one of these nights and I hate to bang on but really the Killaz were for real, despite the artifice involved. We were like the black hole of irony - we'd suck it up, crush it into an infinitesmially small pinpoint, and then annihilate it. Oh, people hated that.
But the punters at Charlie Wright's got it. We played there loads and it was there we met wonderful people like Wendy and Rob, and the rest of Cheetahs, and the Chopper Girls and Danny Dogfood and Irish Annie, who I think was the promoter, who would form a big part of what kept the Killaz going through 1997 and beyond.
At Alcohol, and later at Kitsch Bitch, was where we felt at home, welcomed, wanted, even. It ws a rare feeling. Belonging. We'd been an outlaw Gang of Five for so long, I'm sure we didn't know what to do with it at the time, but It feels good now.
Meanwhile, the fates were conspiring to try and rip me from the Killaz' midst. They say "last in first out", and at times during the spring of '97, I felt that I wouldn't be in the band much longer.
Work and personal life issues were making it really difficult for me to commit any time to the band and I started missing gigs - Mona being quite capable of holding the guitar end of things down by herself (after all, that was how it had started).
In fact, between March and June, I think I only played once and that was at a disastrous gig at The Laurel Tree in Camden with Luis' other band, Candy Darling, where only one paying punter actually turned up, and that was a friend from work.
In fact, I was probably (albeit subconsciously) thinking of calling it a day back then, and that's why I missed the show at The Garage supporting John Wayne Army on 28 May 1997 which changed things for us.
Because that was the gig where one Wayne Morris, Rock Manager, walked into our life.
I also remember the Laurel Tree gig, and though only one paying person showed up, I still remember it as one of tha KIllaz *AND* Candy Darling's finest shows (notice the irony?).
Miss K says:
That's true, the Laurel Tree gig was really good, musically for both bands - but I guess it's easier to play where there's no sea of hostile faces glaring up at you.
I do remember talking as a group afterwards and we all commented on how well we'd played. Now that is ironic you're right.
Wayne had had a bit of success in the 80s with indie bands like The Primitives and (briefly, before they sacked him) My Bloody Valentine and then had, for some unspecified reason taken a decade long break from the music business and was now raring to break back into it with us.
Or so he told Mona after the Garage gig, which, in my absence had apparently gone really well.
Thing was, the band did lack direction, and help on the business and marketing side from someone was exactly what we needed at that time, so Wayne's appearance seemed providential. I remember talking to Mona on the phone a couple of days after the gig and feeling a funny excited feeling in the pit of my stomach as she explained about Wayne, who'd suggested a meeting soon after.
It felt like someting was happening at last!
We met Wayne the following Saturday at Central Station, that scary, old-fashioned, shutter-darkened gay pub behind Kings Cross station and he talked us through what he thought:
That we were raw, needed a lot of help but that we had potential and personality and attitude. He had ideas for how to mould and launch us, but he just wasn't sure whether we were too risky a proposition for him to take on.
Really, he made it sound like he would be doing us a favour by taking on the huge risk of managing us. We just smiled and nodded, pleased with the attention from someone who appeared to have proven form in the industry.
We were headlining at The Hope & Anchor later that month, and Wayne told us this: he'd think it over some more, come and see us at the gig and make his decision after that.
We put in a lot of rehearsal time that month. I also remember that a friend of Mona, the photographer Ruth Bayer, had taken some brilliant pictures at the Garage gig and invited her to the gig to show them to Wayne, convinced that they would sway Wayne's opinion to sign us up.
Of course it was inevitable that we totally self destructed at the gig.
In a way, we probably brought it on ourselves because we were so keen to please Wayne. We must have got over-excited.
What happened is still a bit of a blur, but I know we got pretty drunk before going on, and as we started playing we just couldn't hear a fucking thing onstage. The amps were too loud, and there were no detectable vocals or drum machine in the monitors. And when you play live with a drum machine you have to get it in the monitors or you can't play.
We got half way through the first song then threw our instruments down and stormed offstage. (Not that there was anywhere to storm, the H&A being one of London's tiniest venues)
There was a minute or so of deafening, squalling feedback until the sound man turned everything off, then a moment of stunned silence before the Dj started playing a song.
A friend from work came up to me and told me succinctly, "well mate, that were shite".
I could only nod in agreement.
I remember drunkenly laughing afterwards at the same friend irately trying to get a refund on his door money, and Jasmine almost got knocked out when she tried to proposition the boyfriend of another friend of mine (actually she was my boss as well).
It was another great Six Inch Killaz evening.
Well, the gig was dedicated to the 30-year anniversary of the death of Jayne Mansfield... It was about right that it was a car wreck.
I don't know if any of us actually talked to Wayne afterwards. All i remember is seeing him leaving up the stairs. We'd blown it.
Miss K says:
We were supported at the Hope and Anchor again by Luis' other band Candy Darling. Luis fronted, and the band also featured our friend, performnce artist Ben the Wendy on bass, better known to some as "Sister Bendy" from the TV show *Eurotrash*.
Yeah, the Hope and Anchor gig was a fuck-up - I remember while Candy Darling were on, I got so pissed off by the shitty sound that I TOTALLY flipped, bust a bottle over my head; then, as blood began to pour down my shoulders, I began shouting (well, screaming) at the audience... you know all those times you're trying to express your deepest feelings and emotions, and all you can see are silly, amused , patronising faces, and you KNOW the minds behind them aren't really listening and are just waiting for you to finish so they can cut you down with some snippy little comment? Well, on this occasion, all I saw were frightened, nervous, DEEPLY disturbed faces staring right at me, a couple of hundred of 'em and not one of them so much as blinking. No sneers, no put-downs, no NOTHING; they just SHUT THE FUCK UP AND LISTENED. And what did I tell them? That I was sick, sick to death of wankers all around me and shit everywhere I turned, and that they were scum, they were scum, they were ALL SCUM who were all so fucking stupid that they could actually live in hell and yet mistake it for planet Earth... (whew!).
Miss K says:
Actually, a "couple of hundred" would be a tight fit in the Hope and Anchor, which is tiny...
To be honest, I was so drunk by the end of the Hope & Anchor that I hardly remember anything. But there was the potential of ugly violence and I'm glad you supplied it.
Ben the Wendy says:
Errr-Candy Darling were always going to be a better band than the hedonistic-crappy Six Inch Killaz; we got an offer from S-A-W...the notoriously unreliable man known as "Luis Hatred Drayton" had a disarming talent for generally-fucking-EVERYTHING-up...NOW: we survive..in fact, look up AMBASSADORS OF PLUSH on GOOGLE - frockfact...jajajaja.
Miss K says:
Ah my dear, but sometimes survival is not the point...
Look Wendy, no offence intended, but it's a bit rich being described as unreliable (I was the singer in Candy Darling throughout it's short existence) when the bass player himself had the unendearing habit of turning up late for most (if not all) gigs, rehearsals and even recording sessions, and pissed as a fart to boot. Amber Strome(guitar)'s fear of playing live didn't help either. But you know, I'm sure I did as much as anyone to ensure that the group's days were numbered, so sorry if I come across as picky on the subject. Hope your group is doing well. XXX
A few days later though, Mona rang me with the bizarre news that Wayne wanted to meet again to discuss the way forward.
Well, he must have seen something he liked...
I don't think I was able to go to that second meeting, but soon afterwards, Wayne Morris was indeed our manager and he came to our next practise in York Way Court to have a listen to some songs, advise us on branding, and talk us through some ideas he had.
Wayne gave up trying to get us to change our name pretty quickly. He felt "Six Inch Killaz" was too obscure sounding and asked us to think about some dire name like Cathouse or Pinklady or something like that. Yes, exactly. Fuck that shit.
Having got past that, we got to the meat of Wayne's plan, which was to launch us simultaneously on radio and TV. Yep.
He was going to produce a pilot of a programme called Trashola, starring us, which was to be a Monkees-style mixture of japes and music set around the York Way Court flat. He assured us that even as we spoke, high up people at Channel 4 were enthusing about our crappy lo-fi sound and scary charisma and were ready to sign the cheque to put us on the screen, right now!
On the back of the TV show, we'd release a double-A of Trashola and P.I.G. and hey presto, fame and fortune would be ours. It sounded so easy!
Ah Wayne. He promised us the best of times and he almost led the band to oblivion...
They say there's two types of manager, the type that's your mate, who's like another member of the band and wants you to suceed because he loves you and your music. Then there's the other type who's in it for the percentage and runs the band like a financial portfolio.
There's a third type though, the chancer who's always thinking up crazy schemes and stunts that never come off. A sort of Del-boy of the music biz, never quite making it for himself or his bands; talking a good game but never transferring the big words into actions. Wayne was that type of manager.
But at the time, it all sounded good to us.
And things began moving pretty fast. We had a couple of self-booked gigs left to play and Wayne told us we should honour those but to not take any more bookings as he would do all that as part of the "launch strategy" from now. Many high profile gigs and appearances were promised.
We were introduced to a couple of Wayne's associates, Dave Edmunds, a Brummie bloke who had something to do with Ritual magazine and the fetish scene, who would be "helping" Wayne (doing what we didn't know), and a weird little curly haired bloke with glasses who'd be directing the pilot of Trashola. Filming was scheduled for the end of July.
And we still had time to record a studio demo before the shoot as well.
Fuck, we must have been exhausted. Never had so much happened in so short a space of time to this lazy a bunch of trannies, ever. In history, ever.
Wayne actually wanted to rename the group - get this - Salacious. Yes, Salacious. I was always under the impression though, that the Dave Edmunds who managed the group with Wayne was THE Dave Edmunds ( sixties' B-list rock 'n' roller); am I right, or am I simply dreaming?
Miss K says:
What, this one? I don't think so. Though that would have been pleasantly bizarre.
NEXT TIME: Wayne's Word 2...
comments powered by Disqus