“Oh, there he is…sat in his ivory tower, making judgements on bands from behind the safety of his keyboard. Oi! Max! What have you ever done with your life eh? Where are your songs mate? Eh? Eh?”
First things first.
I’m not in an ivory tower.
I’m actually sat in a ground floor tenement flat in an almost good postcode in Edinburgh.
It’s not small but it’s not what you would call…roomy.
Do you know what I mean?
It does us though.
Second things…I only rarely make judgements on bands/songs and when I do it comes from a place of deep love. Not love for the band or song I’m passing some terribly negative judgement on, obviously, but for you…I have heard these terrible songs and I want to save you from them.
That’s an act of kindness.
You should be thanking me.
Imagine if you had never heard “Country House” and you stumbled upon it without anyone ever having warned you in advance about how awful it is?
I don’t actually have any songs.
I did once write a song about a “nite klub” in Kirkcaldy.
The club was called Caesar’s.
My “lyrics” included the following line;
“Saturday night at Caesar’s palace, a crowded dance-floor filled with malice.”
You are welcome.
I’m no Bob Dylan.
More Bob from the corner of the pub, the bloke with a Cornish pastie as a pet.
But…I was in a band.
We were called…This Years Model.
After the Elvis Costello song…and the headline on a copy of “The Face” with Kate Moss on the cover.
I wrote the whole sorry tale here a few years ago.
Last weekend I was clearing out our spare room.
I say spare room when what I mean is box-room.
It’s got a tumble dryer and a record player in it.
As I tidied and cleared and cleaned and organised I stumbled across a box full of old cassette’s and CD’s.
Two of those CD’s were the demo’s that This Years Model had recorded back in 1997.
The songs were all written by the guitarist.
A very talented chap.
He’s gone on to make real records and play gigs and festivals and things.
He’s not famous or anything but he wasn’t really interested in that I don’t think, he wanted to be a musician. He had songs in his head that he wanted other people to hear. Now they hear them. Job done.
My job in the band was to sing.
I was the singer.
The problem was that I couldn’t actually, you know, sing.
I know what you are thinking.
You are thinking that when I say I couldn’t sing that I am being self-deprecating. You think that I think that I can sing. You reckon I’m being modest in an attempt to have you say “Oh Max, you really can sing.”
I’m not doing that.
I’m being as honest as I can be.
I can’t sing.
I wasn’t all that bothered about the fact that I couldn’t sing.
I had heard Ian Brown singing live and reckoned that some genius producer like Stephen Street would push a few buttons, twiddle a few knobs around in the studio and BOOM…I would sound like an angel.
Oh yes, I was fairly sure I was going to be a successful singer…based on no evidence to support that at all.
I never said that out loud but in my head, in my hear, in my dreams…I was fairly sure it was only a matter of time.
The truth of the situation turned out to be a bit different.
Read the story and you’ll find out.
There were four songs recorded for the demo.
We turned up at a dingy rehearsal room in Leith and someone, I have no idea who, recorded us as we played live then we put those recordings onto blank tapes, printed off some covers that had a vaguely Smiths-y vibe to them and…
Actually I don’t know what happened then.
I don’t think any of us ever sent them to a record company or anything.
I sold a couple to some customers in the McDonald’s where I worked and, somehow, we had them on the shelf in the local record shop.
We thought that we sounded like the band The Smiths and Suede could have been if only they had put the effort in. That “effort” amounted to sitting around talking a lot about how brilliant we were, playing about 4 gigs in various dives in Edinburgh and using the fact that we were, officially, in a band to impress girls who were far too beautiful to even look at us under normal circumstances.
I think that what we actually sounded like was one gifted musician, a bloke with a bass, a boy with a drum kit and a chap with a Morrissey obsession.
During one of our rare live appearances I attempted to do that thing where you swing the microphone about a bit…like a sort of camp version of Roger Daltrey. In my head this was going to look effortlessly cool and very rock and roll. Sadly, nobody had told me that you need to secure the mic to the lead with loads and loads of gaffa tape before attempting this move otherwise the mic just falls away from the lead and you end up looking like a tool. This is a very good metaphor for my life.
Here you go then…This Years Model with “A Good Enough Reason to Breathe”.
I can only apologise.