28.9.82 NEW YORK, ROSELAND BALLROOM, USA
9.10.82 BOSTON, THE CHANNEL, USA (2 shows)
16.10.82 TORONTO, THE MASONIC TEMPLE CONCERT HALL, CANADA
17.10.82 MONTREAL, THE SPECTRUM, CANADA
23.10.82 CHICAGO, GRANADA THEATRE, USA
25.10.82 MINNEAPOLIS, FIRST AVENUE, USA
29.10.82 TRENTON NJ, CITY GARDENS, USA
31.10.82. RITCHIE COLISEUM, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, USA
5.11.82 SAN FRANCISCO, GALLERIA, USA
7.11.82 PASADENA, CONVENTION CENTRE, USA
8.11.82 PASADENA, CONVENTION CENTRE, USA
9.11.82 SAN FRANCISCO, ELITE CLUB, USA
10.11.82 SAN FRANCISCO, ELITE CLUB, USA
12.11.82 SEATTLE, SHOWBOX THEATER, USA
13.11.82 LA, THE SHRINE AUDITORIUM, USA
11.12.82 ATLANTA, AGORA BALLROOM, USA
12.12.82 ATLANTA, AGORA BALLROOM, USA
31.12.82 LONG BEACH NY, CLUB NETWORK,
29.1.83 NEW YORK, BROOKLYN ZOO, USA
4.3.83 PHILADELPHIA, EAST SIDE CLUB, USA
26.3.83 NEW YORK, STATEN ISLAND, PARAMOUNT THEATRE, USA
27.3.83 BOSTON, 9 LANSDOWNE, USA
29.3.83 PROVIDENCE, LUPO’S, USA
30.3.83 PLOUGHKEEPSIE, THE CHANCE, USA
4.4.83 NEW HAVEN, TOAD’S PLACE, USA
There we are then, 26 gigs over the delightful jaunt round the USA and Canada. We went to some interesting places, not that I was much interested in taking the local sights at all. Despite the days of hanging around and terminal boredom, I couldn’t whip up much enthusiasm to be a tourist. Even when we drove to Canada and got stopped at the border crossing at Niagra none of us could be bothered to get out of the car to look at the falls, preferring to sit in silence in the car instead… What a twat. We did manage to squeeze in a few Brian Brain dates along the way which were fun up to a point.
Despite all the problems, I don’t regret the decision to join PiL, nor the decision to leave. It was an experience never to be repeated, and I’ve managed to dine out on it for the last 32 years or so. People are genuinely interested in the tales which I’m always willing to talk about.
After settling back home and trying to get my own thing together, failing to gain any interest from record companies and the like, I decided to take a break from it all and didn’t bother trying to start or join a band for years. I always kept playing bass though, noodling about in the comfort of my own home and I did buy some four track recording equipment to play with but nothing really came of that. I never spoke to anyone from the band, I moved home and was pretty much untraceable, bearing in mind this was before the world opened up like a can of worms with the wonders of the World Wide Web.
I got married and started a family, responsibilities and priorities changed from then on, and I focused on enjoying the time watching my kids grow. They were surrounded by my guitars and I always encouraged them to enjoy music without forcing them to suffer music lessons with some stranger. They have all grown to be musically inclined, quite naturally, and they manage to enjoy playing music without it taking over their lives. They all understood the value of education and went on to study at UK Universities.
In the nineties, I decided to get a home computer. We had always used top of the range machines at work and thought it was time to get hooked up and find out what all this internet thing was about. I soon found that modern computers, despite their limitations, could be used to to record music, I bought a Yamaha SW1000 SG sound card and began learning all about midi as well as audio recording. I also found the limitations too, of hard drives, unexpected crashes, sofware glitches, blue screens and the like but it was fun learning and I spent hours hunched over the keyboard after the kids went to bed, the sound of the dial up modem whistling away…. Nobody could ever phone me, the line was always taken up by the modem!
One of the first things I recorded in the digital world was a cover of a PiL song. I always liked Blue Water.. It appeared on the flip side of Love Song and I liked the time signature and mood of it. My version was eventually released when Martin Atkins put together a PiL tribute album of cover versions. I put out an EP called “Twisted” on CD which wasn’t bad considering the limited technology I had available to record it.
I made contact with Martin again at Invisible Records after tracking him down on the Internet. We have remained in contact ever since but we only met in person when he came over to do some Damage Manual dates. I remember asking him how he still did it, how he was still motivated to go out and tour and sit in shitty dressing rooms surrounded by idiots. “Pete, it’s a job” he said. I then saw for the first time things with greater clarity. It was a shit job, a shit job that I chucked in for a better one and I was glad. I originally started playing not because it was a job, but because it was exciting, it moved me, it was a great big adventure at a time when I didn’t give a fuck about anything. I had no responsibilities, all I had to do was play, take drugs, get drunk and act the prick…. That wasn’t a job! The thought of it becoming so would have horrified me.
But I continued to feel the need to be creative, hence the little home studio I built myself. I eventually built my own computer with enough computing power to run Pro Tools, the same recording software used in many studios round the world and it enabled me to record at much better quality with a higher track count. I was being contacted by people from all over the world; Australia, USA, Europe and began contributing to other peoples recordings or doing complete remixes for them. Very few of these earnt any money but I wasn’t bothered about that. I was earning decent money at my day job so could afford to do these recording jobs for free. I was more than happy to help others and spent many an hour taking a poor track I’d been sent and turning it into something reasonable.
I was contacted by three people that really changed things for me; a French guy name Fred Suard who asked me to collaborate on some tracks and Mikee Plastik (aka Media Whore) from Florida who wanted to do the same. I also met up with an English guy called Clem Chambers who was part of a duo called Chill Bill and was doing some interesting electronica.
Fred and I became The Creepy Dolls and our studio project released two EP’s.. Grand Finale and Spit. Fred’s guitar work really bowled me over. He would send just the guitar tracks and I would do the rest, programming drums, playing bass and guitars then writing and singing the vocals. I loved doing the Creepy Dolls material, it just seemed so easy, Fred really brought out the best in me.
Mikee did the same, his material was a bit more leftfield but we suit each other in that we seem to have the same approach. It makes working on projects so much easier when there is a connection, it’s always a pleasure with Mikee and we have co-written stuff for film as well as collaborated on remixes for others.
Chill Bill was something else again borne from a solid connection of minds. This was something different again being purely electronic music that Clem was sending me. But I managed to combine elements of real guitars and bass with decent vocals and we released under the name Pete and Charlie. I did receive a phone call from Keith Levene out of the blue, asking me to play bass on his latest project. It sounded very much like the phone call I had with him In1982 prior to joining PiL, telling me that “this is it” “it’s really gonna happen and I want you on board” kind of thing… All bollocks. I agreed to help on his recordings but told him I probably wasn’t gonna play live and we eventually fell out over some silly Twitter comments that he took too seriously…. Told me to fuck off and that I’m a bald cunt. Seriously.
So I had loads of projects going on, having great fun along the way and learning a lot about recording too. It amazes me that it’s so easy to have the same recording power of a top studio in your laptop at home. I did all my recording in the early days at analogue studios, mostly 8 or 16 track, sometimes the luxury of a 24 track studio but these were expensive and you didn’t have time to fuck about. I was always happier in a studio environment rather than live, twiddling knobs and getting involved in experimenting with new software and such… Anything with buttons switches and knobs!
Sadly, my first marriage ended around the time of the Creepy Dolls release which is probably why the lyrics are a bit dark! But I soldiered on regardless, it was always good material for lyrics!… I remarried, but that ended in disaster too!
I had no intention at all of stepping on the live stage again. It kind of came out of the blue. I had made contact with the lads from Department S and went to see them live a couple of times. Their guitarist at the time also played for Back to Zero (part of the mod revivalist gang) and he mentioned that they needed a bass player for a few dates and would I be interested. I did give it some thought, but the kids were older, I was single again and I thought “fuck it why not?” I thought that I would do the first gig in Stoke and if I really hated it, I wouldn’t do any more. We set out some rehearsals and duly played a gig, my first in 32 years, at a pub in Stoke. It went really well, I was brilliant of course. There were plans to do more dates but the band took a back seat so they never happened. But I enjoyed the show, two of my kids came to see me and we had a great evening. I was reminded though of the things I didn’t like about playing live at small venues. No dressing room, shit food, lots of hanging around waiting for the pa to turn up, not enough time for a Soundcheck etc etc…… It’s a lot of effort just to play for an hour, then there’s the drive home in the morning.
It didn’t put me off, and when Department S asked me to play some live shows with them I didn’t hesitate to say yes. They were a much better proposition than Back to Zero, having had chart success back in the day we had some leverage… The thought of playing “is Vic There?” On the live stage was too good to turn down and we duly began rehearsing for dates in London and Rebellion festival in Blackpool.
So, here I am. Back playing in a band again. Some things never change though, band members still come and go and have their petty squabbles but I am playing with some very talented musicians now who are nice people too. None of the hang ups and egos of teenagers like there was back in the day. Much more civilised. Who knows where or when it will end but I’m enjoying it immensely, to a level I could only dream of in 1982 and I am much better equipped to deal with idiots or wankers who try to mess me about… Yes, all very satisfying.
I still have lots of remixes and contributions going on and I love it, playing live is a joy (mostly) and I’m probably playing better now than I ever did. I’m gonna ride it baby!
I’ll just give my official low down on the relationships I had with the PiL boys… Just so you know and that there is no ambiguity.
I genuinely had a soft spot for John and despite being a complete arse most of the time, to work with, he was brilliant. Not once did he ever tell me what and not what to do or play. He left that completely up to me and for that as a shy young boy, was really helpful. I tried to get through to the inner John, but he wasn’t having any of it, preferring to keep me at arms length. He had his moments when he tried to intimidate me but that was mostly before I was in the band and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. He had absolutely no musicality about him whatsoever, totally and utterly tuneless but he can write some decent lyrics that boy, some really great lines came from his pen and I loved listening to him deliver them live when he was on form.
Keith was always the problem In PiL not just for me but for everyone. It was always somebody else’s fault and he didn’t like hearing otherwise, such a sensitive boy. He had his problems with various substances, like we all did, but he really struggled at times and it made working with him a fucking nightmare. You never knew what Keith you were gonna get, playing live you could pretty much ignore it and carry on but in the studio it was fucking awful, really hard to understand what the fuck he was talking about half the time. I wouldn’t work with him again if he was the last guitarist in town and waved a suitcase full of money at me. Despite all that, I genuinely feel sorry for him because his contribution to music has been immense and he doesn’t always get full credit for that.
Martin was a mate and I never had a problem with him. He was out for himself regardless and I’m ok with that. Genuinely a decent bloke who deserves full credit for his achievements and his contribution over the years. It’s a shame we never got to work together again coz we were a decent rhythm section I reckon.
T H E E N D