Below is the complete text of a letter to Strangely Perfect from Doomage Khult received today, 3 April 2008.
As you will read, it’s asked that the letter be published in full or not at all. This wish has of course been accommodated.
Dear Mr Perfect
I think it’s about time I chucked in my tuppence-worth into the pot.
When I heard that The Gas Chair was about to be re-released on LTM, naturally I became curious. Some elementary detective work led me on the trail of Anth Chester, so I contacted him and he filled me in on the details – James Nice, a former employee of Factory Benelux had found half of the master tapes of said album and had asked for Anth’s permission to rip off one side of an original vinyl for a re-issue. I understand that he was given a £250 advance for this, which I stress he split with Holly 50-50 and in the process acquired the master tape of Homunculus Equinox.
So far so good I thought – after all Anth and Holly did play their parts in those recordings which nobody can deny. What I didn’t know about at that time were the “bonus” tracks, and I was a bit peeved about the inclusion of Sex Machine and Berlin of which you know neither of them had anything to do with. But by the time I found that out, it was a Done Deal in Production and I childishly decided to keep my opinionated trap shut. Be clear though, I’m not dissing Holly – after your departure strangely we didn’t forlornly shamble about in the woods waiting in vain for the return of the messiah, but continued our long and increasingly productive creative partnership.
To resume; not being bothered about getting any remuneration (I don’t need it – just as well as I haven’t received a penny), I thought it would be fun to focus on the reaction to our material some twenty years on. Like yourself I am intensely proud of all our Art and was pretty chuffed to see that it polarized the critics just as much as the first time around and thus hadn’t dated at all.
Anyway opinions are one thing and facts and assumptions are quite distinct beasts altogether. Your colourful tale of a lightning strike inducing some subtle sinister change to my personality (a storyline that surely would have been warmly welcomed by the writers of Murder She Wrote) is absolutely hilarious – in particular the increasing abuse of spirits aspect. I do seem to recall we had a very productive ale micro-brewery in place at Beside(sic) Hall which formed the bulk of our alcohol consumption in situ; but I don’t remember pouring any hard liquor down my throat either there or at any of the public hostelries. Mind you, if you mean communing with spirits – that is a different kettle of fish of which I admit to unreservedly.
It never ceases to amaze me how certain folk project shadows of their own failings onto others: I would put it to you that a more plausible cause for any perceived change of character that someone as thick-skinned as yourself may have picked up on:- was that I’d become utterly pissed off with your habitual indolence. What also rankles is your over-inflated opinion of your personal contributions to Waqqaz – being so important to the process that you are blissfully unaware of who the drummer actually was (no it wasn’t ‘Clinka’ – I’d sacked him by then, no it wasn’t ‘George (?)’ either, or anyone else that you mention for that matter)?
I rest my case m’lud.
For the record, the primary reason why I don’t want to waste my time talking to the likes of yourself (and that doesn’t equate to being a recluse), dates back to the day you paid a little flying visit to Bebside and purloined approximately two-thirds of my album collection – a heinous crime to perpetrate on a music lover, as I’m sure you’ll agree, selective or crap memory notwithstanding.
On a more positive note I am pleased that you intend to get everything out into the public domain, that’s just great – go for it. I can think of no more appropriate place than your website, and I do mean that most sincerely. I’m in possession of the entire Chaos tape archive (including videos) and would be keen to hand it all over to your most worthy cause, but the very thought of meeting up with such a dishonourable chap as yourself makes me feel slightly queasy.
Q: What’s the difference between Strangely Perfect and a bucketful of phlegm?
A: The bucket.
I thank you: Please feel free to publish this communication in its entirety on your website, or print it out and stuff it up your arse; whatever takes your fancy.
I’ve re-set the comments to appear on (virtually) every page to add a bit more spontaneity. I initially locked stuff down quite brutally after the twit muslims had hacked my site and duffed up some pix. I fixed this almost straight away with heaps of extra security that I’ve now discovered (so thanks for that chaps, and you are chaps, I can tell), but have only got round to re-implementing the functionality now. Why? Dunno. So there.
A contact page is on the way. The host supplied script doesn’t work in the blog so I’ll find another way.
The photo page has been re-jigged a bit. I’ve lost some of the stuff from Holly. I may have to ask again if I can’t find it as I lost the email with a bit of dodgy computer upgrading…
There’s no order or sense to all this. It’s as it comes. Some stuff may, or may already have been, moved into the greater narrative hopefully making a bit more sense. So this page is a repository of stupid things and remarkable feats – in other words, anecdotes, added to over time by anyone who has the need and information to do it.
The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle
Site of first gig. Quite a bit was recorded here at various times e.g “Berlin”. First gig sucked Curly Jhon into into the fold. Doomage was really confident, so much so that I was shocked by the looks on some audience faces. I (SP) wore a home-made steel Viking helmet, borrowed from a biker bloke that lived in the flat below the Attic. I hung sanitory towels from the cheek pieces, dyed up to look used. It lasted two tunes as it was so fucking heavy; each time I tried to play keyboards it slipped over my face, bonked my nose and almost broke my neck with the weight of it. A band called “Last Exit” played regularly there and thereabouts. One member was called Gordon Sumner…
Site of early gigs on roster with The Noise Toys (TNT) etc. This is the pub where Chris Donald started his Viz mag. I’d often see him about, flogging his comic to all and sundry in Jesmond pubs and The Cumberland in Byker.
The Russel Club, Mosside, Manchester
Site of the Gratton “joke”. Joy Division didn’t play too bad (but it was their home patch by then). There were a lot of really scary black guys wearing floor length fur coats looking like they were packin’. I also remember “Echo Beach” being played a lot between bands. When Crawling Chaos found that Joy Division weren’t going to drink their post gig pile of “Pils”, we stepped in and drank the lot. This was when Curtis came up to me and said: “Well, I’ve tried to speak to you lot, but I just can’t get on with you…” in a very gay way… Curly Jhon gave him the ritual tirade of “Joyce! Joyce De Vision!” whence he walked off. Two weeks later he hung himself… I’ve since posted a bit more information on my recollections and thoughts about this here.
Spectro Arts Workshop, Newcastle
Played a few times there. Nice and clean and very, very, white inside. This was the gig when Strangely realised that women didn’t hold all the sexual cards. As was normal at the time, Strangely would get his kit off down to his old man long johns. Whilst prancing around he became aware that all the women in the audience weren’t listening to the music, but just trying to get a glimpse of his willy if it popped out of the slot in the front (there were no fly buttons or other closure devices)… oo-er missus.
Proudly played as part of a big “Rock Against Racism” (RaR)/”Anti-Nazi League” event. Other bands included The Mekons and X-o-dus. The Crawling Chaos played and the next lot came on. After about 10 minutes, an infiltration of thuggish types charged through the crowd, poured onto the stage and backstage as well. Strangely was pushed backstage while trying to shut the doors and hid under a table. Dozens of police arrived. A burly copper replied to me when I answered his question with “It’s a rock against racism event. It’s supposed to be peaceful.””That Peaceful!” It’s more like a bloody war zone here”. Fatso got hit on the head with a fire extinguisher although someone said they’d seen a speaker flying through the air in his direction. The legend continues. He got CIC money though.
Crawling Chaos played a youth club in Durham and left the postering to other folks – fatal mistake, although they didn’t do anything we hadn’t done previously, fly-posting, that is. However, the local burgers of that city haven’t quite forgiven the Viking pillagers from the North yet and so took offence at having various green GPO connector boxes, lamp-posts and walls plastered with our advertising (which included contact details!! (twit). In Wallsend, the local coppers paid a visit to Fatso and Jeff and hauled them off to the nick where they gave their names as Doomage Khult and Errol Dynamic, amusing the desk sergeant greatly. He soon saw the ruse and we all ended up being charged, summonsed and then visiting Durham Magistrates Court where I was told to stand up straight and take my hands from my pockets by the Clerk of the Court. The “Post Office Installations” figured many times in the charge sheets which were read out completely to each of us, to which we all pleaded guilty and were each fined £1 for each offence and £5 costs. That was £11. It seemed to take about an hour. So that was that then… It kept us going for ages in bar-room anecdotes.
Penmaenmawr, North Wales
Fuckin mushrooms and beer. On the way to play at a nurses home in Wales, the hire van broke down just north of Tebay (where the services are now, more or less). While waiting for a replacement, a field of magic mushrooms was espied. Everyone started collecting “for later” but most put one in the pocket, one in the gob. By the time the new van arrived everyone was spaced out, possibly ‘cos we woz threatened by a big guy with a shotgun at the old Tebay services. I have a lasting vision of Clinka(Gazza) strutting round lane one on the M6 Southbound with a cardboard guitar, getting nearly killed by the traffic. After stopping for (more) beer in Runcorn (luxury), we arrived at the nurses home, carried the gear up loads of stairs, set it all up and then went into a dark room for 12 hours without playing because we couldn’t see anything as there was too much spurious visual input. The next day we were still spaced out. I was shivering like mad in a crap seaside cafe thinking I was going to die. I think I took about 1000 magic mushrooms of the good firm snot-like variety, about a large handful. It’s the only time I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or closed, that night. A severe excess? Really fucking bad actually…
This picture from this page shows a pic from an attic looking down South Parade. The Hamilton has changed names several times since Crawling Chaos got chucked out for being too loud. It was down on the left of South Parade heading towards the sea. The Rex Hotel is visible as the last hotel on the right before the sea. It’s still there.
A gig was arranged and I organised a magician old school friend called Dave Brown to do a spot in between our two sets. (I only bumped into him walking down the street – funny that.)
Unfortunately, the owner woman found the music too loud and offensive (she should have guessed by our name, doh!) and called the police as we refused to stop playing until we were paid.
A big burly sergeant turned up with a bit of backup ‘cos the place was pretty packed. I noticed Doomage and Fatso getting pretty fired up for an argument so I put on my diplomatic hat and arranged for us to finish with a couple of quiet numbers, then the magician to do his spot, and then we’d get paid and go. We must’ve looked like good punk-bad punk to her, poor red-lip-sticked woman. The big old sergeant asked her if this was okay, in a reasonable voice, and she acquiesced, so the agreed events passed by. And that’s what happened. Extra info here and here.
This was one of the three times to my recollection that we (or I) got paid not to play!!
Working Men’s Club, Manchester
On a ‘tour’ of various places in Manchester, one was this club (name now forgotten). However, we had two sets to play and all the way through the first some bloke kept shouting at us “got any Newman – got any Newman?”
I went “wah?” to which he replied, “Newman, y’know, Gary Newman. Friends are Electric, like?”
I said “nah, we don’t do that” and he was a bit huffed. In the break the club chairman or concert’s bloke came up to us with a bunch of his stewards for comfort and asked us not to do the second set. We said “No. We’re booked to do two, we’ll play two, and you’ll pay us for two.” Needless to say, he said, “Oh that’s alright, don’t worry, we’ll pay you. It’s just it’s not what the audience are used to here…”
Aye. Manchester. Second Pay-off.
Percy Arms, Tynemouth
Not strictly a band incident. But I was up in Tynemouth a week or so ago (see picture of King Edward’s Bay as the sun set) and as I went past the Percy Arms I recalled we all got chucked out of there because I was singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, by Tony Bennett.
Naturally, as it was a 30’s style pub I thought this would be appropriate but after one warning, the barman had had enough, gave us all the money (plus some) for the drinks we’d bought and nearly finished anyway, and chucked us oot!
So there you have it – paid three times NOT to play!
Incidentally, I popped in to see Holly (The Symptoms) during this trip and his steadfast refusal to pose properly or visit me in sunny Somerset is the reason for the photo on the right.
The Chalk & Cheese Brothers
Part I: Ashington Police Station
After playing in north Northumberland (probably Lynemouth Social Club or an afternoon anti-nuclear Power Station gig in the sand dunes of Druridge Bay, our drivers and roadies at the time, the Fabulous Chalk & Cheese Brothers got us stopped because they were drunk as well.
We and them all piled in the back of the van, all denying driving but not admitting either…
Unsurprisingly, the coppers didn’t take too kindly to this and hauled us all off to Ashington nick, for questioning.
Myself? I pretended to be completely blotto and on the verge of oblivion, which wasn’t too difficult as I was only about a pint of Stella off anyway…. After some time, we were all sent on our way and I’m still unsure of the precise outcome of all this. What I do remember is that the Fabulous Chalk & Cheese Brothers were a harbinger of the Gallaghers. “Oh we’re brothers we are – exactly alike – we’re like Chalk & Cheese”. That’s the derivation of their epithet.
Part II: Tynemouth
Possibly (although the memory is a bit hazy because of all the Stella), we got stopped again by the Chalk & Cheese Brother’s (C&CB) behaviour as driver/roadies. We got pulled with all the gear in the back of their van by the coppers, again! The copper, at the driver’s door said,
“Can you get out and give us a sample sir?”
One of the C&CB’s said,
“I can’t. The door’s welded shut!” – which it was. They had to get in and out by any door except the driver’s as it really was welded shut!
So the copper walked round to the passenger door on the Transit and tried to open it, much to the other C&CB’s protestation. The copper got a bit annoyed at this and yanked at the door – which the C&CB then let loose and it dropped to the ground, dropping right onto the copper’s foot! (This was the reason for the C&CB’s protestation, but he was so unintelligibly drunk that the copper couldn’t understand him!). The C&CB’s were then hauled off and we were left to walk home, which was only up the road anyway.
I think that was the last C&CB event. they’d actually helped quite a bit, like playing at the Swallow Hotel in Jesmond, for instance, which was a weird arty-farty toff’s type of gig in their ballroom. I remember it being very, very hot there, so was quite glad to strip to the long-johns, much to the flowery-clothes-clad ladies delight!
The Rock Garden, Covent Garden
The Rock Garden in Covent Garden…. This was a later gig. It was a long journey from the North-East. Very Long. By the time we arrived (Hippy Jeff, all bleezed-up, was the driver), we’d consumed about half to a whole cubic metre of beer, this being the quantity of empty beer cans that spewed out onto the pavement outside the colonnaded place when the back doors of the van were opened on our arrival.
We did our set, which included a specially rehearsed piss-take of the theme tune to “The Sweeney”. This was preceded by us shouting and calling all the audience “Cockney Wankers – we’ve got a tune specially for you cunts”. Around about this point, the drummer, Gazza, and myself, dropped a copious handful of Magic Mushrooms each, timed (so we cunningly thought), to turn on just as we left the stage….
Unfortunately, all the beer and empty stomachs meant they kicked in almost immediately. The end of the gig was a blur for me, literally, as I couldn’t focus on the keyboards any more and my mouth refused to make the correct sounds… I looked around and saw Gazza fall backward off his stool, and then vainly struggled to get back on.
That was sooo much excess and probably was turning point for myself (SP). It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but it was funny at the time. Bizarrely, the audience, which was pretty big, enjoyed it all…. Jasper, a sound/promoter type guy came over and said he wanted to do stuff for us, which was nice, but after his current project, which he said was an up-and-coming actress called Toyah! She ended up taking all his time so it never panned out. Life, “It’s a Myth-tery, It’s a Myth-tery”, init?
p.s.13/9/11: Holly has recently told me that he did the whole gig with leg & arm in plaster (this’d be from the parachute jump at Sunderland Airport, what is now the Nissan car factory, aye?). He said that when “people came up and asked me about where they could get some [plaster] like it, i told them the hospital!!!” – Like I said, too much excess.
The Moonlight Club
The gig at the Moonlight Club that led to the ridiculous slagging off by Adam Sweeting (can he play anything at all?)…. It was the one at which the live recording was made of Joy Division on that white LP. My (SP) recollection is of it being really dismal, apart from us and Joy Division, who did their usual jerky power stuff. We chose to do a lot of jams, which is probably the reason for Sweeting’s comment. It wasn’t one our best, Fatso kept going slow and then running into his power-punk drumming thing which becomes a bit tedious and hard to improvise. But it WAS live, and it WAS creative,and it WAS unique, and it WAS new. It WAS Crawling Chaos!
Electric Circus, Manchester:
During the soundchecks at Manchester’s Electric Circus, a clash of personalities erupted between guitarists (no beer spilt tho’)….
Jeff was on stage drinking a pint of beer (half full) when the band’s guitarist took offence at his presence and pushed him bodily, backwards off the stage.
Jeff fell backwards about four to five feet onto the hard floor – and then proceeded to do a perfect backward roll, all in one movement, popping up standing without losing any beer at all!
A split second later he’d placed the beer on a the floor and leapt onto the stage, straight-arm grabbed the other guy right round the trachea with his thin, strong fingers, and started squeezing until the other guy started passing out and a heap of folks pulled him off.
Amazing! No beer spilt!
The drop can be seen clearly in this image taken from here. You had to be there, I guess.
On the Manchester tour there was one gig at the above pub where Fatso forgot his drums.
So we just miked up beer trays and mats for him as he had his sticks… A bit of a twiddle with the tone controls and actually, it wasn’t that bad! There were some pretty bemused folk in the audience though.
Electric Ballroom, London
There was another fight at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London (probably 18/04/80) when Macky got walloped by one of The Monochrome Set . “And quite right too” – said Holly in a recent email to me (2 Dec 2007). “There was blood, Macky’s nose I think” said Holly to me.
(Macky was always macho and demonstrating some new commando technique or another he’d just learned.)
Bid, from The Monochrome Set, confirmed the fight, but reckoned the fight was with “a vague friend of the band” in a email to me, so he’d know I suppose, being better placed.
A Nothin’ originated tune. The only significant difference is the addition of keyboards by Strangely, especially the start which is G major and G Dim alternating chords terminating with a Bflat major then B major chord. Apparently, one day Holly and Shieldsy were going to put some flowers on his grandad’s grave. On the back seat of the bus they were travelling on was a bag containing a loofa. The bus was the 442*** (Ashington to North Shields via Deleval). They loofa and flowers were left on the grave as a gift together. Nice.
n.b. ***the 442 is no more since 2007. It’s now the 12 and doesn’t go as far. This means if the words are changed it’ll be crap.
n.n.b. 12/9/11: ***apparently the grave bit is wrong accordingly to Holly today in a cryptic message involving saki. I’ll leave it in as I distinctly remember someone telling me the tale – must’ve been Paul.
This was the banner headline in Melody Maker, I think, for the gig at the Leigh Festival. 8th September 1979 it says on this paywalled site.
Two things stick in my mind about the gig apart from it being freezing cold and there being no-one there. On the bus there were no toilets but there was lots of beer. So the empty tins were getting filled with piss (I think the bus only did one piss stop on the journey). Jeff had just filled one and Billy Connolly (Gordon) asked if he could have a drink because he was thirsty. So Jeff gave him the can and Gordon drank it remarking only, that it tasted warm.
The second thing is the fact that Crawling Chaos had a song called “Merry Christmas, Prince Charles” which Jeff and me wrote in my bedroom in 10 minutes and embellished over time. The song started with a long monologue from me backed by mournful keyboard and guitar sounds and a few cymbal splashes. The gist of the “speech” was about a fictionalised personal meeting between Strangely Perfect and Prince Charles which I always made up on the spur of the moment. Leigh Festival had some toilets (I’d just been and they were to the right when viewed from the stage) and I fitted them into the monologue. An hour or so later, when we’d finished playing, this beautiful girl came up to me and started talking about the Prince Charles song (I thought I was in there as I naturally thought she was chatting me up…). She said “You know you mentioned the toilets where you saw Prince Charles?” “Yes?” I feverishly replied…. “Well can you tell me where they are ‘cos I’m bursting?” she deflatingly retorted with her question.
Apart from that, we didn’t stay to see Joyce Division but we saw OMD and their spinny tape deck (we had one similarly but kept it out of sight)
In this review of the 24 hour party people film, the author, Miranda Sawyer states
So, the Tony Wilson of the film is constantly saying, ‘I’m a Cambridge graduate, you know,’ which the real-life Wilson doesn’t.
..er. That’s not quite true from my recollection , you know. Before “Sex Machine” was released by Factory we made a surprise visit to Wilson’s house in Glossop, (not the one in Palatine Road, Didsbury – that was another time when we got scowled at by everyone there except Erasmus and Wilson).
Initially, Wilson wouldn’t let us in. But we knew he was in, by the car, smoke from chimney, etc. He popped his head through a chink in the curtains to see who was there, and when he saw it was a bunch of scruffs, let us in.
It was a nice little cottage on the side of a hill and was a lovely sunny day. He told us “sorry… but I’m a bit worried after the Louis Edwards expose I’ve done on “World in Action” “. He presented/investigated for the show corruption in Manchester United and he thought the big boys were coming round to do him in. We got the picture from his end, this is someone’s view from Man U Trust.
After that, we got chatting and smoking. He had a huge video collection with all the “So It Goes” tapes, which was nice. He was especially pleased to show us some old Tiswas stuff which he droned on about. During the stay, Jeff and him started comparing degrees e.g. “wot you get – oooh, a first! Where d’yu geddit – oooh Cambridge, oooh Newcastle” etc etc.
At this juncture, some of the lads got bored and went to play in the fields. Me, the bleeze was too much and I passed into neverland.
The point of all this; well he did go on about his degree and he was immensely proud of it.
Crawling Chaos History: Myths passing as Truth, revealed
The Crawling Chaos started in Ashington, Northumberland in the UK by two young men, soon to be Doomage Khult and Strangely Perfect who met at the local school years ago, sharing an interest in astronomy, music, gloomy science and horror fantasy novels and science itself. Keith Wear had a key role in design & encouragement in all things at this time.
By early 78 they’d set up music & studio equipment and developed techniques as the gear was made, writing compositions but without a clear idea of personnel requirements. A reasonably clear idea of styles and attitudes was in place.
At this time, though Keith was keen he wasn’t really good enough to be partners and his life was taking another route anyway. The name was chosen around 77 because it sounded good being a partial homage to H P Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos and also because it had ambiguity since Strangely had not managed to read it all the way through despite several attempts because he was usually too drunk to finish it. The name stood out from band names of the time, it sounded dangerous and gloomy and for the two young men it had derived kudos. Thus started THE CRAWLING CHAOS although the definite article was usually dropped. It was supposed to be an actual creature of nightmares, but see here for more on that. Mutual friends led them to end up dossing on the floor of Eddie Fenn after a drunken night at a Lurkers gig in Whitley Bay. The Attic Studios were quickly established in Eddie Fenn’sflat which included knocking a huge great hole through from one room to the next. n.b. The mutual friend (Jim from Durrim), appears as the title but not the subject of the song “Wee Jimmy”.
A recording and live performance band followed with a core of Errol Dynamic on (Keith’s) drums until they were nicked, Doomage Khult on guitar, Strangely Perfect on keyboards and vocals. Engineering, mixage and production were handled by Strangely and Doomage. Two bass players joined and left in rapid succession, Steve Smooth and Dave Cook.
The first gig was at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle, near the Keep, on the first floor inside the bay window. (The picture was taken by Strangely in 2002). At this time the band were gigging at least twice a week in places such as The Gosforth Hotel upstairs with Arthur 2-Stroke’s mob, The Noise Toys, or Spectro Art Workshop down Bell’s Court off Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. The “sound” changed during this period due to the demands of gigging from the original avant-garde free-flowing jams to include more tightly worked new wave pieces. The “sets” very often were created on an ad-hoc basis dependant on the audience and how the band were feeling at the time. Numbers would be shouted out and with a few quick nods they’d be played. Sometime it’d be “JAM” and off we’d go. Many of the coterie of helpers and followers of Crawling Chaos appeared at this time. In human relations, Crawling Chaos and their ilk used the pitmatic test. Survivors of the ordeal ended up as mates. Everyone was free to do their own thing. The only penalty would be ridicule if you did something daft.
The Nothin’ Connection
Following an advert in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle for a bass player, with the tag line “we are sick of straight jerks jacking it in”, Holly joined the ensemble.
He and some school friends from Seaton Deleval, Paul Shields, Guzzle and Fen (Michael Fenwick) had a band called Nothin’ performing Holly’s music and co-written lyrics from Shieldsy. The Nothin’ connection would continue, some tunes becoming part of The Crawling Chaos’s repertoire and the bands (and other connections) performing on the same bills.
Crawling Chaos had organised a show at the Rex Hotel in Whitley Bay. Strangely asked Rod, semi-tongue-in-cheek (as I never expected a positive response – SP), if he’d like to buy some tickets for himself and his TV chums…… He took a wodge (!), and bizarrely, about a dozen straight-looking TV types turned up to the gig, where they witnessed the normal show of the time which included Strangely stripping to his long-johns, Doomage alternately sneering at and showing off to everyone and Errol sweating a lot. After the show, one particular guy said he really liked the performance, to phone his mate and to say that he, Tony Bulley, thought we were good and that his mate, Tony Wilson should give us a listen as he’d just started a record company called Factory Records. Strangely remembered that Bulley was the director on the infamous Sex Pistols/Grundy live interview (I nearly always read the credits! reference), and also knew of Wilson from his earlier time in Wales watching Wilson’s TV show in the Granada TV area showing artists like Iggy Pop, Joy Division and The Sex Pistols. So I (SP) phoned Wilson up, and So It Goes, as Tony Wilson’s excellent show on TV was called at the time…
Demos were sent to Factory. Twat Hannett (Hannet link now points to Wayback Machine since the current page is full of shite gobbledegook) took an immediate dislike to The Crawling Chaos possibly because he had no control over the band apart from exerting negative forces from afar. An alternative view from Doomage is that he actually didn’t believe it was possible for us to get “Sex Machine” as good as it was and is… He exploded in the end.
Tony Wilson was impressed and decided that they’d want to see us so he said if we could get to Leigh for a open-air festival he’d organised, (he DID say all this, that’s what he was like), he’d put us on. So we did. (these previous links contain interesting info on the business practices of Factory/Tony that have also emerged in other areas – we should have guessed then… The comments by Chris Miller are especially salient). (see here also – added on 31/10/2007) We filled a coach from Target with our fans and went to Leigh. I think we were on just before OMD. This was the day that Billy Connolly drank a beer can of Doomage piss (he’d used it as a toilet) on the coach journey, remarking that the beer tasted warm… The day was a typical absolutely freezing bank holiday, audience minimal but reaction good despite the conditions.
The subsequent headline in a UK music paper was “Angst in East Lancs Wasteland” which was about right considering the situation on a disused dark grey pit heap (this is no criticism of the real organisers or the area; it’s just the way it was).
Tony’s blagging did get us on though as there were a heap of bands that didn’t pass Mrs Miller’s selection process! I’ve posted an article here about a visit to Tony Wilson’s house in Glossop.
After much delay due to Arty-Farty Wilson and the other creative media types having control over the sleeve design the single “Sex Machine” was released. The control was such that a highly expensive metal embossing master was needed to pump out the cardboard. This was reputed to be £700 alone at 1980 prices. The first run sold out in less than a fortnight pushing the record close to the top of the indie chart despite the embossing being flattened out when the records were stacked up at the warehouse. They were so cash-strapped that another batch couldn’t be made until they got some Joy Division money in. So the £700 master was a complete and utter waste and the fast sales and heightened demand could not be capitalised on so all momentum was lost. Apparently, the design was the second one they had in mind (this was FAC 27, even though the catalogue numbers are out of sequence). Who knows how much the first one would’ve cost (presumably they chose the cheap one). It’s ironic (or maybe just karma), that Factory was brought down by the album cover cost for a New Order thing in 1992. At least Tony Wilson plugged away to get it out though. The hidden dark machinations of Rob Gretton maybe started about then. It was a Tony Wilson riposte to one of his previous wheedlings that produced the “joke” at the Russell Club video of this has now been rmoved …
(In case the ‘joke is dead, use this link from the Wayback Machine) (added 29/11/11: iancurtis.org seems to be folding so this is a screenshot of the webpage) During the long delay before record release, the distrust towards Factory started. Among the demos, was a politically motivated tune, penned by Strangely Perfect called “Mary Whitehouse” about the whiter than white whinger of the time by that name. This was written in 1977 while Strangely was working in a fibreglass factory in Welshpool, Powys. The key guitar hook of the tune was identical to the Joy Division (who virtually co-habited with Factory at the time) guitar in the single “She’s Lost Control”. CC said JD had pinched it although now, since examining the time-lines, it looks like a case of parallel evolution and that Jeff and me were completely mistaken with the source of our ire.
Further mistrust followed when Factory “lost” some of the masters for the follow up LP; then the LP had to be re-mixed in an expensive Newcastle studio adding to costs which were taken into account when splitting the ‘profits’ as was normal Factory practice; then it was postponed; then it was finally put out on the graveyard Disque du Crepescule (twilight or semi-darkness in French) label (aka Factory Benelux).
They mucked this up as well, changing the carefully crafted anagram-title of “Gas Chair Clown” to “The Gas Chair”.
Wacky cover though! Needless to say, the cash generated was piss-poor and all momentum to the band was lost due to the back room machinations of key Factory personnel.
The Pits Studio
Errol Dynamic left to live in Manchester during this period but before “Gas Chair Clown” was released. Another contact with a local band called “Danger in Paradise” led to a mutual agreement to start Foetus Products in the basement of Baldy Chester’s flat in Tynemouth. (more)
Rough booths were constructed and when finances permitted, another room was anechoic-ally kitted out with loads of headache inducing thixofix glue keeping it together, lagged and double glazed drum/vocals booth and wired in mike and headphone circuits. The studio was up to four-track tape by now at 15″ per second.with 2 track master at 30″ per second.
This period saw the recording of lots of material which would appear later on “Gas Chair Clown”, “Homunculus Equinox”, “The Big C” and “The Last Pose” LPs as well as “The Blonde Etheopian”(sic) EP featuring lots of tracks by the old “Nothin'” ensemble and performed mainly by those members. The “Gas Chair Clown” was released on the Factory Benelux offshoot. It contained material recorded at the Pits and at the Attic. The wacky cover was by The Belgian artist, Denyse Willem, who has done loads of stuff in a similar vein. I like it.
When some royalties came in, all the members of Foetus Products (and a few liggers) had a celebration meal cooked on Chester’s manky old gas stove. It was roast chicken. It was “The First Foetus Feast”! And jolly nice it was too.
Only the EP and “Homunculus Equinox” were released by Foetus Products during “The Pits” occupation. “The Last Pose” was produced mainly by Chester as a vehicle for some of his tunes from DIP days. It was released after Crawling Chaos had left the premises, dividing equipment and severing Chester from any Foetus Products business.
Later, Chester managed to acquire some original master tapes – which is the output re-issued on CD by the LTM label. He did not contact me regarding the CD production or royalties for these issues or anything since 1985, save to complain later to me about mentioning these facts on these and other web pages. Further on-line releases are his doings, mainly sourced from “The Last Pose”; The door to The Pits never opens when I’ve knocked though the lights are on; I am told to phone when I’m in the area but am turned down just before arriving; The email, in this digitally connected age, “doesn’t work”; What am I to think? What would you think?
Bebside Hall Studio
Following the general decline in relations and then fall-out with Chester, premises were obtained in a wing of Bebside Hall, Northumberland. (To be strictly accurate, although the address was 1 Bebside Hall, it was actually part of the outbuildings for the Old Hall, long demolished). A certain local notoriety had obviously evolved when a postcard arrived from local Newcastle band Freak Electric (Lorna and Ian, along with Moyly and George) addressed simply to “The Noisy House, Bebside“. (n.b. Later, Bebside Hall was demolished and is now a block of apartments. The ruins feature on the cover of Spookhouse.)
During this period all the later output was recorded and the last vinyl material published for public consumption. This was “The Big C” and “Waqqaz” (although various other compilations were published by the remaining and alternate members this was the last vinyl output). “The Big C” contained material recorded at the Pits and Bebside Hall. The output was much more professional than previous relying on new tighter scripts rather than reworked old recordings and edits of jam sessions for avant-garde effect. Crawling Chaos continued to confound the critics.
Strangely Perfect, deluding himself with his excessive lifestyle, left the band, at least until his head cleared as it was killing him. He went to France for six months with his soon-to-be 1st wife workingcasually (although he always had a core belief that his work with Crawling Chaos was incomplete). For five years Crawling Chaos continued with varying levels of activity and membership around a core of Doomage and Holly. This later period is still relatively poorly documented. Live shows in Europe and elsewhere continued and a video was produced (now found). The release of creative work in tape format, similar to the previous “shouting at dozy twats” and Homunculus Equinox but in compilation form, continued, mainly through EE Tapes. Tuva was one of the nom de chanson at this time for Crawling Chaos who had by now a very floating membership. Other local bands used the studios and mentions of this and recordings can sometimes be found on the net.
No further vinyl releases were made following Strangely’s departure.
“Waqqaz” was the last album containing Strangely’s contributions. It took a lot of effort to produce, and we all really believe it is contains works of creativity that the world will recognize eventually. He is very proud of Crawling Chaos and is honoured to have worked with all of the different members of the band.
Doomage occasionally spoke to Strangely since those times, finally expressing his initial feelings completely here. He unfortunately and surprisingly died in 2010 following several years of optimistic letter writing ‘tween him and me, Strangely, using his partner Jackie’s email address. Holly continued working at Bebside until the landlord kicked him oot. After a period working in Holland, he returned to the North-East of England and records and occasionally entertains as one half of The Symptoms (latterly 400 Vulcans). Strangely and Holly have been in contact since July 2007 and Holly has been a good source for archival material and correcting errors therein. Mr Excess, after bizarrely returning to our roots, making videos and helping others in the community, finally (and sadly for me) reached the Carlsberg induced oblivion he craved in December 2009. Errol Dynamic (The Honourable Ted) probably won’t speak to anyone again. He’s happy with his own stuff, having previously worked with Mark Riley and the Creepers. Haircut hung himself, which was weird – and very sad. The information about band members following Strangely’s departure has been provided by Holly & Doomage and can be found here. Strangely Perfect, back in the UK in 86, started landscape gardening but stopped that when it became too dangerous, then ran a delivery business and news agency with his wife, got his Class One HGV, spun wheels for some years while raising a family and then created custom SQL and VBA code for a foreign-owned business leeching from the NHS and its employees until he saw the light. He now lives in France (where he should have stayed 30 years ago).
He now manages this website and all band communications.
n.b. Jeff wanted it called the pitmatic “Spookhoose” but Holly insisted it was called Spookhouse and since Jeff was by now dead and I figure only as a creative trigger on a track or so, Spookhouse it is. It’s a cracking piece of plastic to own. The artwork is from shots of the time.
To enlarge on a previous mention, the value of who-did-what only becomes an issue when rights and status are purloined from their natural home. ‘Twas ever thus in music and art. The two CD issues of earlier tapes and discs were released in several ways, depending on the author of the story, each author having their own particular gripe.
For myself, Strangely Perfect, I was not consulted on this by anyone. My gripes are post story and the dastardly deeds are done – except some fucker has raked up the ashes.
Downloadable art is another issue though.
Sex Machine and Berlin were (according to Jeff in an email to me which I still have) stolen to big up the Gas Chair Clown CD by Baldy Chester and Mr Nice. Jeff said to me when I found out how this corruption of truth occurred,
“When I heard that The Gas Chair was about to be re-released on LTM, naturally I became curious. Some elementary detective work led me on the trail of Anth Chester, so I contacted him and he filled me in on the details – James Nice, a former employee of Factory Benelux had found half of the master tapes of said album and had asked for Anth’s permission to rip off one side of an original vinyl for a re-issue. I understand that he was given a £250 advance for this, which I stress he split with Holly 50-50 and in the process acquired the master tape of Homunculus Equinox.So far so good I thought – after all Anth and Holly did play their parts in those recordings which nobody can deny. What I didn’t know about at that time were the “bonus” tracks, and I was a bit peeved about the inclusion of Sex Machine and Berlin of which you know neither of them had anything to do with. But by the time I found that out, it was a Done Deal in Production and I childishly decided to keep my opinionated trap shut. Be clear though, I’m not dissing Holly…” – Jeff Crowe
– this info is not hidden and has always been on this site. Jeff’s ‘bit peeved’ is the irony we had as schoolmates. Translate it as fucking fuming as he said to me in a later phone call, plus other not-niceties.
Art started by Baldy Chester was unceremoniously bunged as the first two tracks of the Homunculus Equinox CD to big up Chester’s ego, or if not, why?… However, my keyboard, Jeff’s guitar and our sound effects and production turn what were two dismal tracks into something a bit more special.
A similar situation exists with the on-line-only release of the cul-de-sac that was called Crawling Chaos/Danger in Paradise, though not by me (SP). True, as Jeff again said to me in an email, both Jeff and I played and added to Baldy Chester’s creations (Jeff forgot to mention the others I guess), but it was not ever Crawling Chaos.
To build on the above as Jeff’s comment says just above, Baldy, though not playing live, did artistic contributions on some of the first two Crawling Chaos albums’ content. A multitude of recordings were done in The Pits Studio that overlapped in time with various personnel, but it was always understood that the performance artists amalgamated into separate entities from the public domain releases of materiel, yet at the same time those on each recording would “receive their cut”, as it’s said… Maybe this post explains more about why this line is here and why the end has changed a bit…?
n.b. There is a large amount of unreleased material of jams, experiments, tests and versions.
At some point in the near future as tempus fugit, I will release all the emails I’ve had between Jeff and myself in a readable form. For me(sp), personally, it was to my eternal relief that Jeff and I communicated after many years gap, but also, it’s to my everlasting chagrin that we never again met face to face.
The recent death of Jackie, Jeff’s partner and through whose systems I had to communicate with the self-confessed Luddite that he was in these matters, is very sad. There have been a few happenings like this this past year. As the end of my sixth decade approaches it makes one think. As Jeff’s mam said to me this morning (29/5/2015),
Live life to the full because you never know what life will bring tomorrow. Those two went early, but they had happy lives together.
She then went on to ask about my ageing mam, which is what we do. Nichiren, a 13th century Japanese guy concludes in, “The Problem to Be Pondered Night and Day” – a brilliant read actually, from top to bottom…
You must not spend your lives in vain and regret it for ten thousand years to come.
Because the text is by me, Strangely Perfect, by definition, the information is skewed to my viewpoint using my memories of my personal experiences. But this transcript is open to continuous edit because nothing in this universe is constant and new information and opinions continuously surface like matter spontaneously arises from the quantum soup. I’ve included all of this as it’s been presented to me. Whatever has been written is probably an order of magnitude short. Or not.
– Strangely Perfect.
Please support this website by adding us to your whitelist in your ad blocker. Ads are what help the little sites keep going! Thank you!