(above) Neurotica video shoot
6 Jan 1994
Two discs of samples (mostly guitar stabs and tambourine) are compiled for Steve to trigger from his new drumpads. With click tracks running too, Steve’s going to have to a be a tight bugger on tour.
Will it still be fun playing if we’re trying our utmost to replicate the studio takes?
Jez from the A&M art dept turns up to discuss the sleeve for ‘Neurotica’. We choose something much tidier than we’ve had before and limit the use of inserted extras (a dayglo madonna is surely much more tasteful than having me in a mobile with my trousers down.
Carl is a record two and a half hours late for rehearsals. Still, we’re likely to be ready for the tour.13 Jan
NME interview with Johnny Cigarettes and Derek Ridgers. Johnny forgot his tape recorder and what he remembers from the night is limited, but we got on OK. He seemed most interested in Carl, but I suppose that’s reasonable.
Meet Lindy Hayman, director for the ‘Neurotica’ video. A lot of good visual ideas are bandied around. Steve skips the meeting.
Watch our pals, Ket Kolomper at the Duchess of York. Both Chris and Gordon in the band are ex-roadies of ours. As thanks we’ve backed the release of their e.p. and invited them as support on our tour.
(Note: Chris Harrop later joins Black Star Liner)
Train to London for video shoot.
Despite a few plays, ‘Neurotica’ isn’t playlisted on Radio 1. Apparently DJ Emma Freud singled us out as one of the ‘leftfield’ bands she didn’t like to play!
The shoot is in a derelict powerhouse in Rotherhithe, very unglamorous, but it’s one of the least tedious video recordings we’ve had to endure. The shoot is mostly in mono and our suits are painted with white emulsion. Our hair is slicked into more severe styles. Carl was reluctant to wear his locks slicked back. He hides his eyes behind gothy-looking Lennon shades the director persisted in pushing his way.
This video includes extras (of the human kind) for the first time – trapeze artists. We’re not sure the video represents our own style but it should look different. (See the results, below)
A&M want to postpone the date they would normally decide on extending their option on us for two months, till sales figures for the new releases are in.
We meet Jim. He favours us leaving A&M and seeing how interested Paul Adam is on taking us on at Polydor.
News is our album release may be delayed (groan!)
Still, the tour is on: first show, Brighton Pavilion.
We play surprisingly well after a long live absence and the crowd are enthusiastic. Despite the continuing problems with the record company we’re in good spirits about the shows.
Shattered but we get up early again to record a live lunchtime session (‘Purple love balloon’ and ‘Slipaway’) for GLR. The station has lost its copy of ‘Neurotica’ and the A&M rep isn’t carrying one.
London Islington Garage gig – much smaller show than usual in the capital for this ‘club’ tour. It’s tortuous. Everything that could go wrong does. Steve’s sample CD slips, his pads fail to trigger samples, Mike’s effects rack breaks down, he goes out of tune and plays badly. Carl is croaky and roadie Dez falls off his stool. Mike’s understandably in a foul mood afterwards, apologising to all the A&M bods that turned up, including Osman, the new MD. The MD seems polite buts he’s asking to extend our option period for three months, unpaid. We agree to a compromise, get paid and get our records released. Nice to know the new MD is fully behind us though (!)
Hours of interviews then a reassuring excellent gig at Windsor Old Trout.
Crew: The Cref, Dez and Big Gor
‘Roadie points’ earned by attacking a sleeping Gordon with fire extinguishers at the Columbia. New road crew, Gordon and Dez are a hilarious combination. Dez wakes tour manager, Gary, up with the ‘Roadie Alarm Clock’(a fart).
Colchester Arts Centre
We return to the city that stole our rider last time. This evening the venue is a church, the gig run by hippies with their own cheap and nasty P.A.. They offer us dope, then earplugs for a baby. The gig goes well.
Carl has a GLR interview with Gary Crowley, then it’s a return to a sold-out Derby Wherehouse for a wild, cramped gig.
We record three live tracks (‘Neurotica’, ‘Mystery Deepens’ and ‘Purple Love Balloon’) for Radio Nottingham, then it’s on to the final night of this brief, teasing tour: Stoke-on-Trent Wheatsheaf. The venue is snuck between road junctions and car-part shops, and freezing cold. We play to a packed house. Dez handcuffs Dave.
Live session for Mark Radcliffe on Radio One: ‘Slipaway’, ‘Mystery Deepens’, ‘Neurotica’ and ‘Ski Bum’.2 Feb
Round Mike’s to choose the sleeve for ‘Sticks and Stones’ (another A&M single choice destined to drain our fanbase). The cover image is not exactly as we imagined, the neon straw too long for the coke bottle.
Heavy snows in Leeds.
Jim calls to say our midweek chart position is 29. We’re hoping to remain in the Forty.
Jim comes over. ‘Neurotica’s steady at No.30 but press and airplay are difficult. Apparently no-one can pin us down. We have a long, tiring debate on our image. An Elvis ‘68 comeback look is considered. Only Carl and Steve adopt this in the end.
‘Neurotica’ enters the chart at 37, slipping more than we expected but at least it’s in the Top 40.
Band meeting at the Marriott Hotel. We discuss videos and our image ‘problem’. Mike makes a point that he feels the only member of the band with any interest in being a musician.
First bass lesson. I have technique but little musical knowledge.
A&M want to renegotiate money for next year or extend our option period further. Why am I not surprised! Jim wants us to make a decision by Tuesday (15th Feb) whether to stay or go from the label that obviously doesn’t give a shit about us or understand what to do with our music. Right now I favour quitting A&M – a fresh start, new people, people who actually want us.
News that doesn’t help: Apparently had Gallup, who have just taken over the charts, done last week’s, ‘Neurotica’ would have been at 27. Ha!
University friend, Pete Cattaneo is asked to direct our next video but he stays on holiday in Thailand instead. (Note: Pete goes on the direct The Full Monty a few years later.)
A&M Greece call wanting Carl and Mike to be free for a P.A. soon.
Jez turns up with some good presentation for the ‘Showbiz’ sleeve, then Jim depresses us with A&M’s latest offer: £65,000 down from this year’s £110,000 and little commitment to a new album. Jim reckons we’re not in a great negotiating position and favours us staying with the trumpet.