My best friend at high school was a guy called Chris. Chris was all of the things I wished I was…but wasn’t. He was good at sport. He was a genuinely talented artist…he even made it to art school in a big city while I ended up in Paisley studying something infinitely less interesting and less creative. He was confident. He was cool. Anyway, enough about Chris, this isnt about him (although a bit of me thinks that everything in my life is about him). But he does play a part in what this is about.
Chris and I are standing outside the Plaza at Eglinton Toll in Glasgow. It’s May 1994 and we are waiting to see Blur. We have arrived ridiculously early so that we can be as close to the action as possible. When I say “ridiculously early” I really do mean ridiculously early. It is mid afternoon. Nobody else is within a few miles of the venue. Popular as Blur are at this point in history the are clearly not popular enough in Glasgow to merit hours long queuing.
A few hours before show time a chap (definitely a chap and not a bloke) exits the venue and approaches Chris and I. He introduces himself as Paul and says that he is the tour DJ, then he asks us if we know of any second hand record shops nearby. We sniff the chance to weedle our way into a meeting with Blur and offer to take Paul record shopping. We learn that he is the DJ at a London club night called “Blow Up!”. We know about Blow Up! because you can’t open the NME at this point without mention of it in interviews or seeing adverts for it. It’s hip baby. Real cool. You dig.
Cool as Chris is and cool as I think I am at this point neither one of us is actually all that cool…certainly our weekly visits to the Lido nightclub in Kirkcaldy for the student disco on Thursdays where we have to bring along our own records because the DJ doesnt actually own any “indie” music doesn’t quite match up to Blow Up! with its who’s who of Britpop on the guest list.
Paul is actually cool. Hes a DJ. He lives in London. He knows Blur!
Chris and I are suitably impressed.
When we get back to the venue Paul instructs us to sell our tickets as he will put us on “the list”. We can barely stand up. We are going to be on the guest list fora Blur gig. Then Paul announces that we will have backstage passes and that he can also sort us out for the show in Edinburgh the following night. At this stage Chris and I are pretty sure that life just cannot get any better than this. Then we remember that the support act are Sleeper which means that we might get to be in the same room as Louise Wener and if that happens then one of us might end being married to the most beautiful woman in the world.
Oh shut up. We were young. We ran free. Kept our teeth nice and clean.
The shows are great. We meet Blur. We see Louise Wener. I end up marrying her. We are very happy together. Fine. Fine. The shows are great. We meet Blur. We see Louise Wener.
We also get invited down to London for the big Blur show at the Ally Pally…guest list again and invites to the after show at Blow Up!. I go to the gig, Chris can’t make it. I don’t go to the after show because I’m on my own and lack the confidence to enter a room filled with my heroes. Missed opportunity. Rumour has it that the bass player from Dodgy was there.
One of the things that we found out about Paul was that he worked in a second hand record shop in Camden (I cannot tell you how impressed we were by that…we both worked in McDonalds) called Off the Floor Records (it’s still there music fans). Even more impressive though was the fact that Paul was also in a band. A band. Could this guy have been any cooler? The answer is no, of course. Not in 1994. This guy was basically the entire Britpop moment wrapped up in one human being.
“The Weekenders” were Paul Tunkin on vocals, James Hender on guitar, Chris Remington on bass and Steve Smith on drums. They sounded like…London. Specifically they sounded like London in 1994; soaked in Kinks melodies, drenched in the fury of The Jam and The Buzzcocks, bathed in the glories of England’s pop past but gearing up to be the sound of England’s present and maybe future too.
Their debut single was a mail order slab/stab of the Britiest of Britpop. “All Grown Up” backed with “Househusband”. They sounded like they may have been recorded in my front room…raw, rough around the edges and all the better for it. To be honest it doesn’t actually matter all that much what The Weekenders sounded like, there were more important things to consider about bands at this point like; did they come from London? Were they mods? Did the singer have a girlfriend who was in Elastica? Big picture stuff.
While this first single wasn’t exactly the stuff of legend musically speaking, certainly nobody now talks about it in hushed, reverential tones and my copy would probably fetch about 75 pence on eBay, their next single was genuinely brilliant. “Seems You Missed Sunday” was a hymn to staying out all night, taking loads of drugs and then crashing out for 24 hours. Simple stuff but stuff that when set to a cracking, crackling melody can make the hairs on the back of your balls stand on end (no, I don’t know what that means either and, no, I don’t know why I said it instead of “back of your kneck”.). It’s ace, properly ace. I reckon maybe 174 people have ever heard it and that makes me sad, especially when you consider that someone like Olly Murs has probably got platinum records.
There was one more single which, for its title alone, deserves to still be number one in the charts; Inelegantly Wasted in Papas Penthouse Pad in Belgravia. Told you. Number one title. That was it. All over for The Weekenders. A mini album emerged which compiled all of the singles but an album proper never emerged which, I think, is a real shame because few other bands captured the Britpop “scene” better than The Weekenders. They were not the best band to emerge at that time, they aren’t a great “lost” band ripe for the discovering but they were fun, they were energetic and they were living the dream while people like me were cleaning toilets in McDonalds on Kirkcaldy High Street.
I wonder what happened to Chris?