WTF001 - Poland.
01 - Needleteeth.
There was a time that we opened with this. I bellowed the introductory sample myself before we took to the stage - a triumphant entrance was only marred by the fact that, apart from the bar staff, the venue was empty. This was the Plas Coch (remember that? I said there'd be a test, keep up) Student Union Bar, named Baldrics. Wild and crazy times, whoah yeah.
Having said that, we did have the soundcheck recorded by a film student as part of a cult film he was making.
02 - Love Song.
Even though we were listening almost exclusively to PiL with a garnish of Specials , I convinced myself that this track sounded like Cubanate . You're welcome.
03 - Nailsea.
As hinted at in the notes for WTF000 , I used to live down the road from Portishead the town, and I'd had a fun encounter with Portishead the band, so here's ‘Nailsea' – named after the town on the brink that isn't Portishead or the one I lived in. Also, it's an anagram of ‘Analise', which is a lovely name.
04 - Bubbles.
What smells prog?
05 - Crazy Face.
Accidentally named after a Clive Barker play. I was aiming to envoke an air of Prince , but I'm not sure that I was successful.
I should probably say that we were called Element at this point. I'd just discovered the internet and started logging onto newsgroups and spamming about how great my band were – you'll notice this doesn't happen anymore – when someone replied…
At around the same sort of time we got ‘Needleteeth' played by a radio station in Canada , so I used to hint that there was a link to these two stories, even though there wasn't. Anyhow, this chap on the newsgroup had typed me a fuming arse-monster of rage, mostly in capitals. His band, oddly enough also called Element , were prepared to lay claim to the name, physically if need be, on account of them having it first. And a CD out.
Fair enough, no bother.
The French and I chatted about it, decided not having a name would be pretty funny and so chose Nameless as our not-a-name. I announced that ‘ Element are now Nameless ' on the newsgroup and promptly got delivered a fresh fuming arse-monster (mostly in capitals) to the face. This chap who was prepared to lay claim to the name, physically if need be, on account of him having it first (and a CD out) was outraged that I'd suggested that his band were now stripped of their very core identity (and left with a big pile of now even more unsellable CDs) because we were being gits.
MORAL: It's not easy to type with your elbows.
06 - Strawdog.
We were watching More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS a lot while recording these. Sadly, we seem to be missing my favourite ever Toyah quote. When discussing a Dalek costume she got for being good: “It was wonderfully perverse. It was red PVC.”
07 - Blameless.
At this stage we still weren't sure what we were. The two of us would travel to Ektar Resolution, the French's home studio and home, in Newtown . Mid-Wales at its most werewolfy.
Because there was no danger of awakening the landlady's seven hungry sisters in the isolated farmhouse we were staying in, we had the freedom to just let rip. As a result we experimented with a few different styles, trying them on and seeing what felt comfy and what made us scratch lumps out. Looking back on that intense (and noisy) rehearsal and writing time now makes me realise that we grew in confidence very fast in the isolation, and also that if we'd been attacked by a werewolf then nobody would have been able to hear our screams…
The live drums are by Phil. He's a lovely lad, and at this time might well have been playing with Junkhead . More on them (and Phil) later…
08 - Milky 2.
This is the third of the songs dragged from the cold, but grasping, hand of Nightmares in Wax . It had a different title then, but the lyrics remain the same. The ad-libbing at the end of this recording became fixed although the song itself never has. We've got a few more versions of ‘Milky' before the soil goes in.
The very first version of ‘Milky' is, of course, the Nightmares in Wax one. And thus, never likely to surface again.
09 - River.
At this point I had no idea who Richard Marx was. I want that taken into account. It's coming together.
10 - Waltz.
At the time I was plotting a play and the text is from those notes.
This is as good a place as any to talk about the theatre in Cartrefle. I was writing plays for Blood and Thunder , which was a theatre group I'd latched onto, and the French was helping out with music, doors and so on. Having access to the theatre and all the connected equipment was fantastic. NIW played their other gig in there – ‘Strawdog' got let out for a run. The intermission music was comprised of things I was listening to at the time – Sheep on Drugs ' ‘Beefcake and Babyface' started everything off, Therapy? 's version of ‘Isolation' followed up. Sometimes, people came back.
11 - Big open spaces.
I imagine this is about the werewolf country that surrounds our isolated farmhouse – that certainly seems to be what I was aiming at. Also, see if you can spot why our not-name came pretty quickly to hand when we having war meetings about what to call ourselves.
12 - Promotional tool.
In a Punctuation lesson we were given the task of writing a poem about an object we had on our person at that time. No build-up or preperation time, just write. I was still wearing a Watchmen smily face badge that I'd had since buying it in Forever People in Bristol in 1987, so I wrote it about that (yeah, you dig?). I was quite pleased with how the poem came out, so that's why it became the final section of this. And now you know what the original promotional tool was.
I wore the badge (and a white suit jacket) at every gig until we played Bangor , when it got left behind. Junkhead were billed as ‘Jughead', we slept in a haunted hotel, and I got introduced to the Blackadder - an extreme version of (non-goth tipple) snakebite and black and woke the next morning to find my legs were still on, so it wasn't a total disaster.
13 - (glorious taste)
Sometime around this time, Element ‘ released' a four-track cassingle. It was sold at gigs and no copies seem to have survived. As well as a now gone-forever instrumental called ‘Watermark', this cassingle included demos of ‘Crazy Face' and ‘Shambling' (salvaged and both now on WTF003 ) but was led by a totally different version of ‘Needleteeth' – the ‘glorious mix'. I don't think that the music went on to become ‘Glorious' later, but I might be wrong. This is just a taste of that version. Scrumpy may have been taken.