WELCOME to RAIDERS of the lost ARCHIVE 2005
THE GANG GET BEAUTIFULLY DAZED
Sleeper Cell Live: Manchester Academy 16 August
2005/Bristol Fleece 17 August 2005/Aldershot West End Centre
18 August 2005/Beautiful Days Festival 19 August 2005.
Nick Harper: Guitar/Vocals - Moose: Bass/Vocals
- Dan Tozer: Drums
Yes indeed folks a meeting of the mindsless was
convened and Sleeper Cell was born to protest against the
Iraq War lies. Their brief: to detonate sonic bombs in public
places across the UK just like Harper acoustic only much louder
and much more thirsty..
Sonic terrorists with previous were recruited
from the Pants
movement to further our aims. First and foremost was a commitment
to make the highest sacrifice..and even worse - to descend
into cock rock if need be. Sleeper Cell - where every guitar
sound issues a fat wah (pedal).
Brother Moose of legendary work in front of, behind
and all across the bar in the Lamb, Marlborough, who also
had temporary work for 10 years or so playing bass with New
Model Army and the Damned was the first of the recruits. Known
throughout the land as 'Moose', Moose was soon to become,
'That bloke playing bass with Nick'...
Brother Dan - brilliant drummer with proper punk
bands the Lurkers, the Vibrators et al also took pity and
with (absolutely) no thought to his own career, decided to
ignore the pleas of ,'Don't do it Dan' and 'Anyone, but that
Harper bloke' because he agreed so much with Sleeper Cell's
raison d'etre. (particularly the thirsty bit).
We then withdrew the ad in the Evening Adver for
a brass section/synth player and mime artist/balloon manipulator
and went straight into rehearsal... a few weeks later.
All this jollity was made possible by the philanthropic
benefaction (and shallow thought) of the kindly Levellers
machine whose wheels rumbled and beneath the weight a rather
large fee was squeezed out of their pensions to enable me
to put my team together. (The really frightening thing is
that noone seems to be driving that thing, but hey, it's a
hell of a ride..) We were offered a prestigious slot at the
Levellers own Beautiful
Days festival - it was a call to Arms..and the Red Lion..and
the Dragon..in short - the mini mayhem tour was on..
Of course to make all this happen smoothly we
needed someone who could coordinate. A people person with
joined-up people person skills. Also someone we could trust
with cases of beer and fees from the venues. We needed a professional
Tour Manager music biz veteran who knew the ropes. There was
only one man for the job, but we got my old mate Tank instead.
A legend in his own lunchtime (10am til 2) Landscape Gardener,
Builder of Studios, Ex-Army Officer, Driver of the Stars,
Multi-Linguist (Standard English/Wiltshire/Finnish and Chelsea)
and all round the best known and most loved Rogue Trader in
the county... The H Team was complete.
We rehearsed in the Barn in that farmyard in Calstone
(off the A4, think Right Outta Compton Bassett) which is actually
a superb little Studio run by Steve who books it out occasionally,
but mostly likes to spend his time sampling the world (ever
heard one electron bouncing off the bonnet of a 1962 Austin
A30 then amplified, stretched, reversed and slipped seamlessly
into a Drum 'n' Bass loop for a cover of a Brian Heddon and
the Heddonists song?). That is of course when he isn't listening
to, quoting from or praying for/to sixties psychedelic god,
yes you guessed it - Brian Heddon.. Anyway we frightened away
all the B&B guests, terrified two old mares and killed
a few sacred cows with our not so Limp Bizkit versions of
'Building Our Own Temple' etc.
So we were rehearsed down to the finest detail
of each sinew of every note of every chord of every song with
a set list and a mission. Unfortunately our crib sheets were
eaten by the band as part of a cost-cutting measure by Tank
which left us half way up M6 creek without a padlock and three
sets of 'Trumpeter's Lips' before... Dum dah dum dum Daaaah!
THE FIRST GIG!!
So it came to pass that Dan and Moose phoned their
relatives on what might be their glorious martyrdom and began
to wonder what the hell they'd let themselves in for (tales
of 72 virgins waiting in heaven and limitless cases of cider
waiting back stage didn't seem so alluring anymore). Nevertheless
a deal's a deal (as Tank kept telling them) and we took to
the stage at Manchester Academy3 and rocked the f*@k out of
everything we could remember. Somehow the place had really
filled up (this was August) and it was hot and sticky and
rock 'n' roll just like in all the old NME mags and that -
BRILLIANT! we even stayed at the legendary Brittania Hotel
in town to complete the cliche. They've all stayed there you
know.. in fact I remember being there after a gig by some
bloke called Roy Harper when a bloke from his entourage called
Nick performed an improv song on the house piano called 'Mons
Pubis' for a wedding reception party who were also staying.
Soda-siphon spray ensued and the penguins got wet - some Damned
blokes called Moose and Rat Scabies who were also present
were said to have been 'amused'. Rat allegedly turned to Roy
and said in his light, lyrical voice, "You must be so
proud!" Needless to say we were a little older and wiser
this time and didn't hardly get really drunk at all...
Next night was the Fleece in Bristol. This one
was hastily arranged to fill the gap - hats off to the peeps
at the Fleece for letting us do the gig with only two days
to promote the show. We realised too late the all the hotel
budget would be spent in the first night and this one was
a callous stop-off on the way home. A few stalkers and ever
faithful core (and Moose's Mum and Dad) turned up, but the
vibe was not quite the same as the night before.. On the up
side Moose was hilarious with his inter-song banter/repartee
which left me with very little to do apart from nominal duties
and a couple of half-hour guitar solos. Hey this band lark
is a doddle - what's all the fuss about?
Next night was Aldershot. Sold out! This was much
more like the night before last..lahvely! It was a steamer
- everyone crammed in - it was reminiscent of a popular music
concert. So much so that one young lady fainted and had to
be led from the arena overcome with rather more than a touch
of the vapours. Several older members of the audience also
left, probably after wetting themselves because of the excitement...that
their systems had experienced over the last 100 years or so.
By this, the 3rd gig our powers of telepathy were ..( ask
Dan what I was going to type here)..no he wouldn't have a
clue either. Suffice to say that when I forgot some lyrics
we all seemlessly carried on playing, and segued into three
different songs (at the same time) for a couple of minutes
until the all clear sounded and we resumed anti-hostilities.
Then it was orf down to Debben for the festival.
Now the Beautiful
Days is the best festival around these days. Just like
what a festival should be. just the right amount of chaos
and fun (lots) and just the right amount of corporate advertising
and merchandise (none) (unless you count The
Levellers bibs at their shop). The line up was original
and top quality too.. Michael
Franti and Spearhead were fantastic - really full of humanity,
very uplifting, moving and what's more they played some great
music - not bad eh? I remember a hilarious camp glam new york
round-the-back-of-the-sex-shop band, Jill Sobule she was a
laugh and The Levs of course, with a rousing Billy Bragg/Clash
tribute moment.The staging of the story of Freeborn John (who
incidentally appears on the cover of Treasure Island) - the
leader of the 17th Century Levellers dramatised by Rev
Hammer, various Levs, Justin Sullivan et al with muskets,
cannons and the odd can of lager. Also appearing was Glenn
Tilbrook and the Fluffers. Most of you will know of my
association with Glenn and probably know his back catalogue
of pop classics, but you may not know that I reckon the band
he plays with are well worth the ticket alone. The geezah
on the keys is a phenomenonal player and the bass player is
always locked in tight (particularly with the keyboard player).
Glenn of course is electricity personified and very exciting
to watch (although I prefer the bassist). And then there's
Wacko Simon on the drums who makes everything more exciting
on and off stage - but the real highlight of their show is
the slow-motion post deconstruction smash-up-the-gear finale.
Is This Art? Probably, but also effing funny.
Sleeper Cell kicked off the festival because we
started at 5.59 (billed to start at 6), but unfortunately
due to 'computer says no' or somesuch - the Levellers were
playing at the same time in the next field! Haha guess what?
The big gig of the run was played to Tank and er some bloke
from Marlborough. How does that quote go? "Never in the
course of human anti-conflict has so much been payed to so
few for so little". The sun powered on however and we
built up a hell of a thirst, so it was off to the bar for
refreshingmentationals etc. I managed to focus sporadically
after that long enough to offend the landlord (can't remember
how) with the upshot being I'll probably have to don a disguise
and buy a ticket to get in this year, but so be it. This one
is better than Glastonbury which isn't on anyway so my advice
is to beat the refugees from Worthy Farm and get yer tickets
early for this one.
9 AUG 20055
9 AUG 2005
Aha! almost forgot - next week sees the awakening of the band.
It's been far too long since I was in a gang and I'm very
excited about the gigs.
I decided to call the band 'Sleeper Cell' a few
months ago because of the songs I'd been writing about our
disastrous invasion of various countries in the Middle East
where they keep the oil and was trying to say that our actions
would probably lead to reprisals. When the mass murder happened
in London I didn't have a shred of doubt that I'd chosen the
right name. My co-conspirators are my old mates Moose of Pants
fame who also played bass in New Model Army and The Damned
and Dan skin basher with the excellent band Pants
who also played with Vibrators ... sorry The Vibrators and
999 and The Lurkers - get the picture?
We also juggle and tell jokes and play old music
hall songs from antique albums of mine from the 20th century
so it won't be non-stop anger, but as they say in the trade,
"We rock." Be there or be square.
8 AUG 2005
Found the Amarone, drank it and forgot all about the tour
Hello - how have you been? Where have I been?
Hither thither yonder and back and fro and to too. Back from
the highlands and Islands jolly - best tour ever? Not far
off if it weren't. I was chauffered by me old mucker Pablo
X with the gear stripped down from the lugfest of yesteryear
to a sleek mini rig of tomorrow and with entertainment provided
by that Glaswegian ne'er do well Tam Balloch we were travelling
Arran was its usual beautiful self but because
of some wierd entertainments licence kerfuffle I was playing
down at the Corrie enormo-dome rather than the Chapel I usually
play. It all turned out nice again though as it was packed
and a good time was had by all I reckon. It'll be good to
get back to Castlekirk sometime soon though. Tried an Arran
Blonde (that's the beer) - I think I'll try another was what
I thought when I'd finished the first.
Islay (pronounced without the 'y' you Home Counties
types) (as in St. Clair you older Home Counties types) was
weird and wonderful. The whole experience seemed to be pervaded
by an artist who is now working on the big canvas in the sky
called Sean Casey who for his keep had painted some incredible
scenes on walls of various establishments across the island.
One in particular on the wall of the Bowmore Inn seemed to
sum up the whole tour - slightly impish drinkers in the bar
that it was hanging in based apparently on locals that were
there at the time (1950s?). It had an other worldly edge provided
by some Dionysian demons egging the revellers on, but the
scene was so familiar at the same time..Think Royston Vasey
on mild hallucinogens.
Next night we pitched up in another version of
paradise on Skye. After a good few hours drive through the
most dramatic scenery in Britain we tumbled in to the Carbost
Inn. It's a great little place run by a couple of lunatics
- Spencer and Angus who gave us a right royal welcome and
tried desperately to sabotage the gig which was the next night.
We somehow made it through to 3-ish when it struck me we were
doing a very good rendition of the painting in Bowmore - inspirational!
The gig there was great - all 30 of us had a cracking
night - the wonderful Paula who runs the website that actually
lives and breathes (www.houseofharper.co.uk)
was there, but it was mainly a great bunch of Danes, Dutch
and Germans who were all vying for man of the match and the
after gig sport fest proved what a universally popular game
darts is and should definitely be made an Olympic event for
The next morning there was no sign of Spencer
or Angus which was no surprise considering their distinctly
dodgy demeanour at Farquhar's demon fiddle display in the
bar at 5-ish. The B&B guests dutifully formed an orderly
queue for breakfast however at 8, with no knowledge of their
hosts condition just a few hours previous. They waited. For
about an hour.And a half. Some left. Some didn't. After a
swashbuckling display of speed washing up some of them even
managed to get served a cracking breakfast .... eventually.
Pablo X and I took an easier option and decided to venture
forth and mercilessly hunt down our own food in the slow boat
out on to the Loch.We chased a herd of mackerel around for
a couple of years finally returning to shore with much pride
in our haul of 1 (one) fish which we headed,gutted,tailed,skilleted
and scoffed in about 2 minutes flat.
Well, we took our long haired livers to Ullapool
next and gave them a good wash and flush and rested after
a post Skye gig at the Ceilidh Place. I remember there was
a picture of a tractor behind me as I played (agriculturally).
Then it was on to Dunnethead - the most northerly
point on the mainland for a gig at the edge of the world.
The lighthouse is there to warn unsuspecting vessels from
getting blown off course permanently by one of Long Bong Sutherlands
incredible feats of jiggery tokery. He's a great cook and
served up a beauty of a feast for us, but it's no wonder because
everything's on a higher level including the artistry of the
munchies fiend. The people came from all over and the room
was pretty full for the gig, but the whole affair was peppered
with laughter, music, weird stories and other mind stangenesses.
Been there Dunnet me head in.
Invershin. Lovely place. Lovely people. Going
back,probably in November. Gonna film it. Surround sound.
Special event. Book early.
Inverness - more madness courtesy of Jeep Solid
on the bill who's not just leftfield, but has actually left
the field. Fatigue and cabin fever had set in by this point
which only added to the wysteria, but if you'd have seen us
after you'd have run a mile - we must have looked scary..
We decided to get a few hours south after the gig to get home
earlier, but every motel was full and by the time we got to
Carlisle, Pablo the hero had had too much caffeine and nine
hours after the gig we turned up at home (sunny Wiltshire)
not a little frazzled, but still laughing - probably mania.
So there's the Highlands and Islands case all
wrapped up in a nice neat bundle - the good guys win again!