Steve Marsden

Steve Marsden

Interviewed on 28.11.2009

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CAYN WHITE:

I’m Cayn White and I’m here with Steve Marsden who’s a local musician, apparently not bitter in the least. Steve, you were born in Heptonstall and then you moved up to Canada for ten years, intermittently coming back over here.

STEVE MARSDEN:

That’s right, yeah.

Before settling down here on a more full-time basis. What were it like growing up in two places cos it must have been a bit of a contrast?

Yeah, it’s pretty strange. It is odd because the life over there is completely different. Fifties and sixties things were plentiful, absolutely plentiful over there. My parents had just come away from rationing here and my dad goes over there to buy as many cigarettes as he blooming well pleased and a lovely home, good food, warmth, cars that had heaters in them as opposed to over here where…nobody wanted to live up Heptonstall in those days, it was too steep and the worried about me pram going flying down, so yeah, quite a change, but I did see a psychedelic band during the sixties set up in the local shopping centre over there. They were called ‘The Warped Minds’ and gosh know where the hell they are now, or whatever happened to them, and I just got sort of really hooked on hearing – I just loved it, I thought ‘I’ve never heard this kind of thing – I love it, where do you get it’ while everybody else is into…the big hit that was out at the time when I left there was a record called ‘Simon Says’ by ‘The Nineteen Ten Fruit Gum Company’ [singing] really teeny-bopper sort of thing, but when I came here, I just seemed to hear new pop music all the time. Everybody had loads of records, I went through my cousin’s collection. It was just a complete…totally different. Slightly harder life, not as luxurious, but culturally, a hell of a lot of things going on.

With the two different cultures you’re obviously gonna get two different types of music scene, so you’d probably be into both; the music scene what were happening over here and the music scene happening over in Canada at the time. When you did finally come back to here what were it like trying to get your hands on the music made in Canada?

It was hard….not so easy because….you seem to get all the American music, but groups like – there was a group called ‘Guess Who’ from Winnipeg in Canada, and they were like Canada’s – the big group in Canada from the late sixties early seventies, sorry, mid sixties to the early seventies. They had a hit over here and they were on ‘Top of the Pops’ once with a single called ‘American Woman’ and that’s about it. Or Terry Jacks with ‘Seasons in the Sun’ that was another one, but not much of it, not a lot.

Do you think people missed out over here by not hearing bands from over there and vice versa really; people over there missing out by not hearing bands from over here?

Well the funny thing is over there they didn’t get English music. Some of it – some stuff never travelled to – some stuff was too English to travel to North America, but…there was some good stuff over there, a certain amount of it, which it’s a shame we didn’t get more of the quality stuff here, but….a lot of these, like this group ‘Guess Who’ that I mentioned and there was Neil Young of course, they based a lot of their stuff on English bands you know, on people like ‘The Shadows’ and ‘The Beatles’ and that. It’s not been a totally equal swap over, in fact a lot of kids at school over here in Mytholmroyd had never heard of the country of Canada, they only knew about America; this is a really odd thing, very bizarre.

In 1969 as a fourteen year old you ended up joining the Hebden Bridge Brass Band. How did you come about joining that? Was it the just thing to do at the time, or was it just a genuine interest in music?

I had a school friend who’d just started it, who played cornet and his dad was in the Hebden Bridge Junior Band, I mean Hebden Bridge Brass Band and they used to have – at Central Street School – not Central…Riverside School, on a Saturday afternoon they used to have a music centre which was like…little orchestras for youngsters to learn to play in. You ought to have heard the sound of it [makes sound of wailing instruments] – you know it was fun, but you could tell it was a little on the amateurish side, but there was a brass section and so I started going in that.

You were in the brass band round about a year.

That’s right.

What brought about the departure from the band? What caused you to leave?

Well in those days I thought I wanted to be an instrument – to have an instrument you could also play in a pop group, and at that time I wasn’t thinking that far ahead. I thought ‘what does it matter? You could use any instrument?’ I thought ‘no no, I’ll learn a little bit and I’ll go and buy myself a bass guitar cos it’s only got four strings, therefore it’s easier to play’. More fool me!

Coming on to the bass guitar, you bought your first bass as a fifteen year old. Once you’d bought it did you think ‘that’s it, I’ve got an instrument and I want a band, or was trying to getting a band together a more gradual thing?

Well there was two or three of us that were trying to get one together. The guy with the basic drum kit was trying hard to learn to play it; the guy with the trumpet reckoned he’d got a guitar that he’d stuck a speaker on as a pick up and covered it in house paint it folded in half just like that, it just rotted, and we used to practice at a youth club that used to be up Fairfield, but the thing was, after that, when I got the guitar, I thought ‘right I need an amplifier’ and me dad who couldn’t quite grasp what a bass guitar was, cos he used to say ‘get yourself an acoustic one, get an ordinary one and then learn to play an electric one’ I’d say ‘but dad, bass is different. There aren’t acoustic basses, bass is electric and you need an amplifier’ so he said ‘get yourself an old radio’. Old valve radios have an input for a gramophone cos people used to do that – they’d buy a turntable and plug it into the radio, so I got one of those, damn big thing, and it was loud enough for practice but you couldn’t….you couldn’t play with anybody with it, so it was a matter of saving up enough money and buying a second-hand amp from somewhere because you know, they were expensive.

So way back then, instruments and amplifiers and stuff, they would have been, as you’ve just said, they would have been expensive. How did other people come about you know, acquiring them instruments? Did they have to save up or did they just make do with what they had, like drum kits I would imagine would have been extremely expensive. How did people get stuff like that?

That’s a bloody good question is that Cayn. I’ll tell you…I felt sorry for drummers because they had the hardest job. They couldn’t start on something small and portable, not like now; you can get one that you can carry, a load of flats that you can carry in a suitcase, but then they had to scrat around buying stuff, bits second-hand, but if they were lucky, as one guy was, he got an ex-working men’s club kit for twenty-five quid; he was very lucky with that, and another lad, the poor late, bless his soul, Kenny Hoyle], he got his on HP and he spend many years paying that off, so it was either that or go around second-hand shops where there was always one or two hanging up, and then you could pay, like I did. It was in a shop that’s still there, it’s still full of stuff but it’s been closed for about thirty years, twenty-five, thirty years. There was a Harmony semi-acoustic bass in the window for twelve guineas, and you know what a guinea is?

No, don’t know.

A guinea is one pound and one shilling in the old money. It was twelve guineas and I went in and I said ‘can I put a deposit on that?’ and my friend said ‘hang on, he’s got another behind the counter that he hasn’t put in the window’, a Hagstrum – Swedish make – a Hagstrum Futurama. And I said ‘how much is that?’ and he said ‘eight pound’ and it could have been a wreck because I didn’t know sod all, I just picked it up and looked at it, nice and red. I said ‘yeah, I’ll have it’ and as luck would have it, it was a perfectly decent instrument. Eight pound…eight bloody quid! [laughing]

Is that an instrument you’ve got to this day, or have you parted company with it?

Oh no, I still have it. A friend had it for about two years and then I bought it back and had it made into a fretless. Meanwhile he’d blow-lamped the red paint off it and now it looks like the floor of an old mill, still plays though! But I’ve acquired – I’ve a Rickenbacker now, it took me till I was forty-five to be able to afford it, but….I got it! But it wasn’t an easy thing. Kids were always envious of seeing groups at the Trades Club that had Hofner guitars and Selmer amplifiers, but they were lads who’d been working a year or two and could afford it. A Fender would have cost you…a Fender Stratocaster would have cost you about a hundred and fifty quid then, yeah….a lot of money, a hell of a lot of money.

Growing up then, in the valley, what was the local music scene like? Was it just one scene or different types of music?

Until new folk started coming into the area, there were just a few – two or three groups around. There’d been a Mytholmroyd group that apparently had gone as far as getting their photo on the cover of the NME apparently back in the early sixties, it would be some group called….they’re actually in a book on English bands - called ‘The Quear Fellows’ and they had a photograph – and that was the beginning and the end of their fame, but it was just…and a couple…there were an odd one or two in Hebden, groups like ‘The Radiation’ and ‘The Blues Express’ oh there was ‘The Burning Soul’ from Todmorden that had a saxophone player but no keyboard player. I used to look to see if a group had an organist cos I used to love the sound of an organ, and hardly anybody had them cos again…expensive. You were lucky to be able to afford a Vox or a Farfesa. There were just a few of us at school; there were more folk players around and about really, and that would be it really, that’s your lot. It was a struggle finding like-minded people that could play anything at all.

You started playing in a trad jazz band. How did that come about and what were it like getting gigs? Were venues willing to put on new bands or were they testy about it?

Well with being still at school it was a bit if a difficult thing. We did an odd – played at an odd school assembly where a teacher was doing a reading about – she was doing Martin Luther King’s speech ‘I Have A Dream’ and at the end of it the drummer had to hit his snare drum really loud like a gun shot and the guy that was reading out dropped and threw himself fell flat on his back, you know, that was when Martin Luther King got shot, it was right dramatic, he literally threw himself flat on his back – bang! And then we broke into ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ and then we did a talent contest up at Old Town Bowling Club, but that was the sum total of it because one of the guys in the band was a bit cocky and clever. He wasn’t really that into music – he liked it but he was more of a – bit sporty, and sporty and me don’t got together, and we eventually, two of us, me and the clarinet player, left a practice after a lot of bullying and shouting and threats and stuff, ‘get it’ ’do this’ ‘don’t do that’ so he said ‘I’ve got a couple of mates who want to play so let’s get out of this’ so gig wise, very sporadic, and at the Bowling Club we didn’t have that much of a chance because we weren’t really old enough to play there, being a licensed premises. We took part in the audition but it was a Roy Orbison imitator that won because they could book him; he was more professional, he had a fancy Gibson guitar and we were going…you know, we were only about sixteen, fifteen and sixteen then, so again, not much gigs and the group after that, ‘The Jug Band’, we rehearsed for nearly a whole year before we….one school assembly. We got a gig at that place just down the road here – the Methodists, Salem Methodist Church. We got a gig playing for the local Multiple Sclerosis Society for a fee of a pound and a packet of crisps each, no a bag of chips each, after a half at ‘The Neptune’ pub which is no longer there anymore, on the canal side, and an odd couple of gigs in a Catholic club in Halifax – Halifax Catholic Memorial Club which was alright but..we had to watch it with one of our songs because it had a line:

 

I’m going down to your house girl

Gonna get you in your bed

Gonna give it to you all night long

Do you hear just what I said

 

And we thought ‘God, there’s a priest sat in the front row and he’ll be thinking ‘those boys will all go to hell’. Things like that – just eight quid a time.

You stated earlier that with instruments, you had to buy the cheapest you could afford basically, and you had other bands which could afford instruments – as you mentioned the Roy Orbison tribute had the Gibson – from that point of view do you reckon there were a bit of jealousy between bands who could afford and those who couldn’t?

Some people were a bit envious rather than jealous, cos jealousy’s a bit…oh come on, unless somebody is really unlikeable about it and cocky and clever….one Christmas we went to Bradley’s in Halifax, you know the record shop, but in those days, the upstairs sold instruments and amplifiers – tiny room, much smaller than this, but it was crammed with instruments and we went in, and our lead guitarist had a go on an electric that was there, a really nice Antoria semi-acoustic and we really got to hear him playing a decent instrument, and he sat playing this blues on it and this middle-aged woman came in with a little lad of about four and he looked like she’s buying this first instrument, and the guy’s showing him a little acoustic guitar, and he suddenly points at me mate and he says ‘I want that one’ and expected the lady to go ‘ha ha don’t be silly darling, wait till you’re bigger’ and she suddenly opened her purse, got a big was of tenners out and said ‘oh have that one’ and we felt green because that kid doesn’t realise that when he gets home it ain’t gonna sound like that and it’s gonna end up in a corner covered in dust. We were squirming for the rest of the day, we wanted to grab that kid and hit him over the head with something, and his aunty or grandma or whatever she was. We’d never seen so much money in one person’s hand.

You also mentioned earlier after you were in dross band, you ended forming a jug band. For folks unfamiliar with the term, what is a jug band?

A jug band is a sort of – they’re also called string bands. They date from the twenties and thirties of the deep south when people…you couldn’t afford a bass so you either used a tea chest with a broom handle and a bit of string on it, or you got a big cider jug and you blew across the top [made blowing sound] and Mungo Jerry, that group I mentioned earlier, the banjo player had a cider jug mounted on like a snare drum stand and he used to blow into that, so we got that, and jug bands – yeah, they tended to play a kind of a lightweight, happy, jolly kind of blues – good-time music, usually with a banjo, acoustic guitar, fiddle of they were lucky, a washboard, that’s right, cos we got a guy – cos there were two guitarists, one with a six string and another with a twelve string and a cheap electric, I had me bass, the clarinet player bought himself a banjo and learnt to play that, and then we had a mate come along who started blowing into a jug and got a washboard which – I have a photograph of this and I’ve been having a look for it but I can’t find it which is a drag, but there you go, and that’s what jug band music is – it’s a sort of a good time, stompy – we had an electric stomp board – we’d no drummer then, which is simply a couple of planks raised at one end and lowered at another, a bit like a springboard that they use in gymnasiums – we copied it from that – nailed an old telephone receiver to the bottom of it and plugged it into the PA so you’d just go ‘duff duff duff’ like that until his foot went through it! You know, really sophisticated high tech stuff! [laughing]. So yeah, it is a sort of happy music and it’s simple to play – three chords and…a lot of fun.

You later moved to Oxfordshire and then you obviously ended up coming back up to here because, well here you are talking to us. What prompted the move down to Oxford, and also what prompted you to move back up to here?

Well me dad’s firm which is based in Rochdale moved to Banbury in Oxfordshire to an industrial estate there, and so we went there. Me being just seventeen thought…to heck with it, it’s another adventure, I’ll go down, started going to the tec there, hunted down a few people that were playing and jammed about with some folks but nothing really came of it. There were people that to jam at college and that, but the only owner of a decent drum kit couldn’t play it to save his life, you know, he just sort of about flailed about with it. He looked the part – dead long hair, had a mini, had a fantastic drum kit. He was bloody terrible, you know, but he just kept not getting anywhere. Nothing took off really, nothing really gelled so I packed up and came up here, left home for the first time in life and I thought ‘this is alright, you know, rented a place up Cragg Vale and then….bumped into an old friend of me brother’s that was a drummer and his family had got a pub up the other side of Huddersfield and he was forming a little group there; there’s got an organ there – an instrument called a Lowrey Holiday with one of those right cheap old-fashioned drum machines on it that goes ‘bup bup bup bup’ – like that. There’s one on that record ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’ by Ann Peebles [sang intro] that kind of thing, so he played drums, this young lady played organ, and I swapped on to regular guitar – sort of bow tie stuff, playing dance tunes and terrible things like ‘Viva Espana’ – that had just come out and everybody wanted to hear it, so….money for old rope.

The music scene obviously changes as time goes on and obviously people wanna to hear different stuff. Have you ever felt the urge to…pretty much, just instead of playing what you enjoy playing, play what people wanna hear, or have you stayed true to your own musical beliefs?

If you really love something, you’ve got to be honest about it. If you’re happy playing - being what we call a human juke box, then I’d say go ahead and do it. There’s more money in it. There would always be work for you doing that, particularly in the working men’s clubs, but….this is difficult this one, because if you say you don’t wanna play that kind of thing, you get people coming out with a really cheap shot; you’ll have probably heard the term ‘musical snob’ and sometimes, somebody that people call a musical snob is just somebody who knows what they like and sticks to it, cos I used to go home after these gigs – well I’d actually go into this flat I was renting; I was actually living in the pub, and after playing a night of ‘Viva Espana’ and ‘Please Release Me Let Me Go’ and backing up these club singers with the same repertoire, I’d sit down and put some stuff of me own on like ‘Pink Floyd’ or ‘The Mothers of Invention’ – Frank Zappa’s and listen to that and think ‘oh God, why can’t…’ to get me back again. I mean, the thing I do now, one of the groups I play in that plays country music, but it’s a kind that I like and as long as they don’t do anything really tacky I’m happy, but I’m also in a group that’s what I love doing. I never wanted..if I have to be in one group it has to be something I dig, cos it’s frustrating playing stuff that’s just to please the people. A lot of it’s ‘oh you’ve got to please the people’ and I think ‘well, you’re best outlook is: this is what we do. If you like it come and listen to us. If you don’t like it, then don’t…force that, don’t come, but don’t try and get us to play what you want, don’t bend us to it you know, there’s loads of people playing that - go and see them’ so I feel you’ve got to be true to yourself as much you can. If you need to do what we call the shit from anything, keep that as a bit of a sideline and change your name, you know, use a pseudonym or something when you’re doing that kind of thing, but never sell out – don’t sell out, that was always the thing. Never sell out because once you do, you get known for doing that terrible thing, like some people that weren’t getting anywhere with their own stuff, they do something really cheap and accessible, it becomes a big hit – that’s it, they’re finished. People will always remember them for that big terrible hit and it sticks with them like…glue you know, so you’ve got to be true to yourself and you probably think a certain amount of that yourself maybe you know. You wouldn’t sing ‘The Boy Stood On The Burning Deck’ just because somebody demanded you to do it; you’ve got to be true to your own heart.

Do you ever find it infuriating when people are requesting what they want to hear and yet you’re on stage wanting to do what you enjoy doing, or do you find it infuriating that people aren’t more open-minded about it?

Yeah, that’s a difficult one that one. It’s infuriating if it’s a group that’s playing the kind of stuff we all like and people come on and they start wanting commercial stuff as we call it, for want of a better term isn’t it I think? We’re not about this – go somewhere else but we’re not gonna bend for you because otherwise we’re selling ourselves out. If you keep chasing the crowd around saying ‘will this do? Will this do? Will this do?’ all you’re doing is you’re prostituting yourself, you’re not being you, you’re just being what other people want you to be and that’s backing a loser in my opinion. Some people have to sell out a wee bit in order to pay the rent, and I can’t despise them for that because sometimes…if music is their career and they have no other skills, sometimes they have to do that you know, but some of the fans that say ‘hey man you’re selling out’ – well they ain’t paying your rent, you’ve got to look after that side but fortunately I’ve not been in that situation. I’ve always worked in textile mills – I’ve had a day job so that I wouldn’t have to do that, but those that can do it, I salute them because you’re brave, cos when you go out to make a living out of something like music or poetry or film-making, you’re out on a limb there. You sink or swim by your own efforts and sometimes you’ve got to bend a little you know, heck - wear a mask! [laughing]

Obviously venues come, go, change, you know, one minute your band will have loads of places to play, and then a few years later they’ll be very limited for places to play. What do you reckon the state of venues and places to play’s like now? I mean obviously you’ve got places like the Trades Club which is still open, still running, still offering people places to play, but then again you’ve got other places which have either just been turned into an apartment or a shop or summat, and obviously you can’t play there any more.

Yeah that’s hellish is that, yeah. It’s better than it has been because it looks like certain…like there’s more pubs you know, like ‘The Hole In The Wall’, they’re putting bands on an hey presto, they’re paying you! And I think that’s good, there’s the ‘Puzzle Hall’ – the Trades Club is a bit of a difficult one for me that one, because I remember that place as just a place – it’s where people used to hire for dances and to put gigs on. I’m a bit annoyed about them – no I’m a lot annoyed about them because a lot of local bands did a lot of freebies for that place to get on its feet and when it’s got on its feet and they’ve started getting a lot of well-known famous gigs in, it’s suddenly got – it’s harder for local bands to get gigs there and get paid. You’ve really got to put your foot down for them, and a lot of the time they’re getting people to play for nothing – for a benefit – to get money to pay the famous people and I think, well that’s, you know, that’s not strictly fair, so I’m a little….

Do you think they should just work harder to promote the newer coming local bands?

They should keep that as a very important thing. I mean I know it’s a business and you’ve got to make money to keep yourself going, but it shouldn’t be the local outfits that get the short shrift of ‘oh we haven’t made much on the door so I’m afraid you can only have this or you can only have that’ and the sound quality there can be – I don’t know whether I’m….sorry, is it on, me criticising this place at all on tape at all, because….yeah, it’s just my opinion. I’ve been round here a long time and I think there’s only me and two or three others that are actually from this area that have been going this long. There’s a guy, John Trewartha who used to be in a Tod band in the early sixties. I think he is about – there’s him and a couple of others that are actually from here that are still going. A lot of people did it for a short while, sold the gear, got married, never touched an instrument again, but I feel annoyed sometimes that it’s an attitude – ‘right, we’ve had your backing, we’ve had your help, we don’t need your lot any more – piss off’ – I’ve felt a bit of that about the Trades and…I’m not the only one, I’m not the only one, I don’t see it as a particularly important venue to miss off. There are nicer places that look after you, they’re friendly towards you, they’ll buy you a couple of drinks and they’ll pay you a certain amount – might not be a great deal but hey, I won’t complain because they’re nice, they’re friendly and…particularly ‘The Puzzle Inn’ in Sowerby Bridge. It’s the only time when I’d been in a band, we did a couple of covers and somebody said ‘play more of your own stuff, we wanna hear that’ and I thought ‘this is one of the things that we’ve been working towards’ – that’s a compliment, and we didn’t do the covers too badly – a ‘Doors’ one and ‘A Beatles’ one but they wanted to hear our own stuff and that’s what you strive for.

Back to…you know, you started been really involved in music from about fourteen when you were in the brass band to now where you’re in a country band is it?

I’m in a country three piece that the drummer of the other group, the main group is called ‘The Dreadful Gait’ – guitar, bass drums and saxophones, and it’s a kind of music along the psychedelic, powered-up jazzy kind of thing and that’s our thing. The drummer of that group also plays acoustic guitar in a….well it was a duo doing Johnny Cash stuff and he said ‘do you fancy playing bass for this?’ So it’s either playing bass – in one band it’s playing bass going [dum dum dum – singing steady beat] and another band going [da da da – much faster] – that kind of thing you know, so it’s kind of fun. The country one, we get, a little bit of, you know, a little bit of cash in hand, odd bits, small amounts.

Throughout the years then you must have some interesting stories – gig stories and stuff. Is there any you’re willing to share?

Yeah…[laughing]…there’s a couple. The group when I was seventeen taught me about drinking and playing an instrument. I’d hardly touched any alcohol until then but cos everybody else was drinking, the lead guitarist drank quite a bit; he’d started when he was fourteen and he went to work for Webster’s brewery, bless his soul, he’s no longer with us, and I had a couple of halves before we went on and I had to open up a song with a bass line and it had to go – dead simple [sang bass line] and I went [wrong notes] – ‘sorry!’… ‘come on, come on!’ [wrong notes again]… ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’… ‘just get on with it!’ and that was what happened and I felt my face go burning red and I thought ‘never drink before a gig ever’ and I stuck to that for years, and then a number of years later, about ten years later, I got with a group, a Hebden Bridge-based theatre group that was two bands and a comedian with some of the people from Manchester and they got a tour of Holland; somebody said ‘do you fancy a tour of Holland’ and I’d never toured anywhere before and I said ‘yeah – when?’ and they said ‘it’s in September; we need a bass player cos our bass player, he can’t leave his teaching job for any length of time’ so I gotten a gig in Holland and we played…all over the place really. The strange thing was that the comedian we had, he was funny, but he was a bit physical. He was treading on things and when he was over there, there was an oboe player and she had an amplified oboe – a little lead coming from the mouthpiece there, and he was doing some kind of a trick where he was…he had a top hat on and he was throwing a big lump of rubber that looked like a big black penis – it was an off-cut from a cable factory that somebody had seen it and thought ‘I know who’s…this is up his street’ – it was a melted off-cut. They gave it to him and he was throwing it round and he tripped, and he caught his foot on this lead, and this thousand pound oboe went flying up in the air, spun round and landed right on the end and right there and then she had to pack it all up and get on the nearest boat back to England to get this instrument repaired, and then the silly buggar went and trod on a five hundred pound viola bow, silver-chased, and it was leaned at at an angle [cracking sound] – like that – oh it was just….and the poet – we had a poet called Gordon Hoyles that lived up Cragg Vale, he was quite well known around here, and he used to look like Fagin from ‘Oliver Twist’ – long grey hair, big hooked nose and a big beard, and he’d never left – he hadn’t been out their front area – they lived on the moors, they lived like medieval peasants, gathering wood from the forest and very basically, but, and this was the first time he’d been on a tour with a group, and he hardly ever touched alcohol, so when we played a club in Manchester, he started to like it again and somebody had a mask – we used to call it an old man mask that looked like this guy – long white hair, and he had this idea, he said ‘Gordon, put this mask on – hide away, don’t let anybody in the audience see you until it’s time for you to go on, but when you go on, put this mask on’ so he put this mask on and started chanting away, his odd poetry - you’ll have to look up some of it - and some guy at the front’s saying ‘hey man, why are you wearing a mask like, you know? Let’s see your face – come on you, know, what are you hiding behind that for?’ and he just said ‘well, do you want to take it off?’ so he pulled the mask off to see the same face beneath it and this guy…God, if he’d been on any kind of drugs at the time he’d have run out of there crying, near enough, but he just stood and froze and I thought ‘yes!’ but it was.. it was strange and it was very heavy, and the changing room area with the toilets that also shared with the bad disco at the back. You see, you’d go in there changing and suddenly the toilet door opens and there’s some big redneck there – ‘what are you doing?’ [deep threatening voice] ‘I’m getting changed for the band’…’I need a piss’ [deep threatening voice]… ‘oh sorry I’ll be out in a second….. ‘never mind I’ll use the fucking sink then’ [deep threatening voice] and I thought ‘oh Jesus God, I’m gonna die’ and one of the guitarists said ‘oh God I’ve had a terrible experience in them toilets’ I said ‘you too – what happened?’ This was poor Steve Andrews; he said ‘I was in there changing and I heard these voices going ‘I fancy a fight tonight, I think I’ll have a go at the first bloke I see’’ and he said ‘and I just sat in this cubicle thinking ‘I’m gonna go on in a minute but I don’t know what to do’’ and I think they eventually buggered off somewhere, but. ..hairy stuff, hairy stuff.

Obviously now there’s a load of new bands popping up – in fact sometimes it seems like there’s more bands than fans and for people that are in bands and aspiring musicians, is there any advice for you to give them?

Yeah….don’t take what seems like the easy way out and join a boy band or a girl band. If you’ve got talent and you really love music, do what you wanna do. Do what you want to do, because if you don’t, you’ll hate yourself, you know, a lot of these poor souls that join up with some outfit – the can’t play a note, they can’t sing, they rely almost entirely on technology, they allow themselves to be bullied into what kind of hair cuts they have, what kind of clothes; stick to your guns. If you love it – if you love music and you want to play, do it. Don’t just do it because you think ‘oh I’ve never thought much about music but it looks like a neat way to get attention and a bit of money’ – don’t do it for that, go and work in a bloody factory or something, be a bloody footballer you know, something like that, but don’t do it unless you really wanna do it and be true to yourself because whatever happens, it won’t be easy. It’s never easy being true to yourself because you won’t always make any money, but you’ll like yourself better, you’ll like yourself better and…there’s some good fun and strange adventures to do, but be true to yourself, always. Never sell out, never sell yourself out. If you must play crap for money, do it and think of it as that; do your best for it because you’re getting paid for it, but do what you wanna do as a main thing and the hell with what anybody else says. If you like a particular band and all your pals say ‘oh it’s crap, I don’t like it’ well, stick to it, don’t just change your attitude to say you like what they do, just to be in with them – it’s a hiding to nothing is that and..yeah, just be true to yourself and learn to play. There’s no easier way or else you want to get one of those computer games where you plug a plastic guitar in and pretend you’re ‘The Beatles’ – that’s such a sad set-up is that, or an inflatable air guitar, but if you want to play – learn, you know - put the time in. I thought bass guitar would be easy because it’s only four strings. Well, it’s easier on your fingers, you know, you don’t get blisters as quickly but it’s still a challenging instrument and you might find you prefer, like I did, I like playing bass better than lead guitar, it’s….yeah, stick to your guns, you like what you like, and find like-minded people and quite often they’re people you don’t already know, you know, you meet some interesting people in it all. It might be somebody at the other end of the country, you might have to go to London to play what you wanna play, that’s life. This was a little backwater at one time, now it’s quite a…as you appreciate, it’s quite a busy musical hub, more than it’s been for years and years and years, and good on it.

Well from a fourteen year old player in a brass band to now playing in a country band, can you sum up that forty years playing music in one word?

 That’s a good question, but I have to point out the psychedelic band’s the main one; the country band is the sideline, but from all that then to this – sum up the whole experience…journey, a journey, and people who started long since I ever did, people who started five years ago, are famous and touring the world and making a lot of money – it’s unpredictable, but that’s a good thing; there’s too much predictably about now. So in one word….fun and bloody glad I did it, and if I had the time over again I’d…all I’d ask for is more confidence than I used to have, but that’s it really, it’s…I wouldn’t really change it – too much fun.

That’s all the questions I’ve got so I’d just like to say thanks for your time and insight.

Thank you for wanting to do this; I hope I’ve not waffled on too much about summat and nowt and that, and that it’s useful for you. Yeah, thank you. As John Lennon said at the end of one of his last interviews – ‘well, fancy that!’ [laughing]

View photos and materials supplied by Steve.

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Wild Rose Heritage and Arts is a community group which takes it's name from the area in which we are located - the valley ("den") of the wild rose ("Heb") -  Hebden Bridge which is in Calderdale, West Yorkshire.

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Pennine Heritage Ltd.
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HX7 8DG

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