The title says it all.
I was thinking about different bits and pieces to write for my website and remembered a few interesting tales from my past. I really think my life is / was a bit mad. Definitely some of the odd things I have experienced have been instigated by me but some have been put upon me.
And this is no different.
OK, so let’s give you some background. I used to play in a band called DropOut. We were terrible. Absolutely awful. I sang and I was awful. Absolutely awful. Our unique selling point was most certainly our stage presence. We picked up a semi-decent following because our stage show was a lot of fun. Our live show was a mix of Blink 182 jokes and Busted jumps. Except at a much lower quality, obviously. I went on to play in a far more popular band later in life. I may write something about that later, as I have some decent tales about that.
We made it into the Irish charts top 20 which is still a bizarre thing to say aloud.
That was my later band, Emily, not DropOut. DropOut had a song called “Pen15”. Y’see, that spells out Penis. A new generation of poets, we were not. God, my lyrical content in my youth was horrendous. I found an old song book while cleaning out my room recently.
I wrote a song in my first band, Almost Useful, called “1 Less Personality”. It was about a girl who I thought was boring. The opening lines were -
You’re so sad
You’re so bad
You’re so sad
You’re so bad
Thankfully enough time has passed to laugh about it. God, playing in a band when you were young was literally the most exciting thing in the world. I think it is way more fun when you are shite and no one likes you. You are desperate for any attention, gigs or momentum. I was in the band with my best mates Pete and Jojo. Myself and Pete were absolutely desperate to become a popular band. Not world famous or anything. We just wanted our friends to not think that we were dreadful.
There was a local gig company called “Blast”. After Pete & I attended our first Blast gig, we were obsessed with it and were desperate to play one. I am sure the bands getting attention from girls had something to do it, but in all honesty, I think we loved the idea of playing with a load of bands that we liked. It feels weird to say now but we definitely idolised these bands. Essentially, these were shitty bands playing shitty venues. But we loved it.
Anyway, I am yammering away off point. Eventually, DropOut managed to play Blast and the owner of Blast took a shining to DropOut. He was fully aware that we were useless but knew that there could be something done with our stage presence. I remember staying up until the early morning, chatting to Pete about how excited we were that the Blast owner liked us. Gas stuff. Oh, we both had girlfriends at this period. But instead, we just wanted to chat about plans to each other.
We played a junior cert celebration gig which is always a pretty big occasion in the Blast calendar.
Haha, I feel almost embarrassed writing about Blast now as an almost 30 year old. It was the time, man.
So, after the gig. Mr. Blast suggested to me that he had an idea. He was going to create a super group of the best local bands and enter the super group in the Eurovision song contest.
I was obviously honoured but extremely perplexed. What a random idea. I was torn between my hardcore punk ethics (or trying to be torn anyway) and wanting to play a big stage in front of loads of people. I heard who the other members of the band were and jumped in immediately. It was a composition of members from other bands I admired. I think I just wanted an opportunity to be friends with them.
I don’t think that I am painting myself in the best light here. But I was a bit of a loser when I was young. With horrendous hair.
So, we had our first supergroup band meeting. I have no idea where the Eurovision was being held but I remember it was exotic. Everyone was very confused in the meeting. It was just a random idea and I think everyone took themselves very seriously and did not fancy it. I obviously would have loved the idea of it, but naturally pretended that I was not that eager and needed convincing. The supergroup were going to be a mix of pop punk and trad music. There were some people there from a trad band and then the rest of us were members of a variety of pop punk bands. Christine was supposed to be the singer. Christine went on to front my later and more successful band, Emily. Another chap from a different band, we will call him “Jim” was a bit annoyed that he would not be the singer. There was tension in our stupid fake imaginary Eurovision band already. The manager of the supergroup had key contacts and he was almost certain that we would easily get selected. To be fair, the competition for the Irish Eurovision is bloody useless. I can imagine we would have been a sure thing.
Jim was still not a happy bunny but agreed to organise a practice session. I was obviously playing it cool but I was super excited to go on the Eurovision and become super famous. Maybe secure a modelling contract? Become the spokesperson for a dishwasher company? The possibilities would be endless.
After the meeting, the cool kids were having cigarettes. The cool kids being the pop punk ones. The trad people were obviously far more talented but they didn’t wear their cap sideways, so we had no interest. Jim suggested that myself and the drummer meet him for a drink afterwards as he had a proposition. Another proposition?
We pop over to a bar across the road. Jim explains how the supergroup is bullshit and the Eurovision would be a stupid thing to do.
The drummer agrees.
I, obviously disappointed, pretend to agree also. Jim has another idea. He was offered a solo record deal and wanted to turn it into a band.
A record deal?! I nearly wet myself. A record deal was the biggest thing in the world to me back then. Not just any record deal. A major label. We were going to work with Avril Lavigne’s song writers in Sweden on an album.
I was very confused, but so in. We set up another meeting with Jim’s manager to explain in a little more detail. This deal was insane. We were going to write songs with The Matrix. Apparently they are a super famous song writing group for the stars. We were going to move to Sweden for 3 months to write and record it. Afterwards, we were going to do a tour around Europe.
Urine everywhere. I couldn’t believe my luck. It was insane. I sat there trying to not lose my sh*t. There were contracts in front of us. The manager we were chatting with, at the time, represented some of the biggest Irish acts, so he was legit.
“What about my songs? I got the record deal. Surely they want to use some of my songs?” asks Jim. Who seemed a bit annoyed at this ridiculously amazing opportunity.
“Sorry Jim. They will write the songs. You will play them. Just like any pop deal”
“Thats bullshit, my songs are better”
Jim stands up and is fairly furious. He walks out for a cigarette. I am extremely confused. Let’s play their songs to begin with and start filtering our own in. I explained this to Jim but he wasn’t hearing it. His ego was flaming at this stage. We received the CD of the songs we needed to learn for our upcoming trip to Sweden. We organised a band practice to rehearse.
Jim shows up late and appears to be not in a good mood. We start playing the songs we were given. To be fair, there were a few absolute bangers. Some horrendous ones with some awful lyrics. I was the bassist also, so I didn’t need to sing these awful lyrics. Easy for me to say it is easy to sing cringeworthy lyrics when I don’t need to do this. Also, Jim was no James Joyce himself.
“Fuck this. Let’s play something I wrote last night”
We start playing a song Jim wrote. It sounds great but the nerd in me is panicking. I don’t want to get in trouble.
The manager pops down to say hello. Jim flat out ignores him. The manager, understandably, is perplexed. He asks to speak to Jim. Jim asks like a child and storms out to him. We hear them shouting in the corridor. Jim comes back in, picks up his guitar and storms out. The drummer, myself and the manager are left standing in the practice room. We make stunningly awkward conversation in an attempt to ignore the obvious problem that we are having. The manager leaves and obviously talks Jim into coming back in. We play a few of the songs, and they are sound great. The manager is delighted. He announces that he will book the flights to Sweden in the next few days. I am extremely excited.
We were due to practice again the next day. I text Jim to confirm.
This was to be the last that I ever heard from Jim.
I continue to text and call him in a desperate attempt to reach him. Days pass and I do not hear anything. Myself and the drummer are perplexed. And feeling heartbroken. I call the manager and he doesn’t answer. He used to ALWAYS answer his phone. This awful feeling started creeping in.
I eventually get a text from the Manager just saying
“Sorry mate. It is not going to happen. Best of luck”
Shock and horror ripped through me. The whole thing seemed so surreal. I was on the verge of moving to Sweden to record an album with renowned hit makers and then return to tour the world. Or was I? I still wonder, how close was all this to happening? Was any of it ever going to happen?
Why the fuck didn’t Jim just play the songs? Even for a free holiday to Sweden!
You win some, you lose some. I went on to form a band with some of my best friends which made it to the charts and did loads of touring. That was way more fun.
Eurovision would have been a great story to break out on a date though.