I guess you can say that I am a founder member of the band. We put the band together in 1987 when I say we, I mean Andrea, Mark and myself. It grew out of an attempt to merge two ‘duos’ myself and Denzil Parslow, a guitarist that I had played with for some years (check out my website www.djsmusic.co.uk for more on our collaboration) and Andi and Mark who had been working with Pete Williams. Pete had moved on and when I contacted Mark we thought we could try and bring all four of us together. As it turned out only I joined Andi and Mark, and Dusk was born. At first we tried to include another guitarist Matt Phipps-Hunt but that was unsuccessful for various reasons and so we stayed as a three piece of drums (me), bass guitar (Mark) and keyboards (Andi) with Andi taking the lead vocals. I don’t think we actually decided that we would remain a trio, I think in the early days we talked quite often of finding a suitable guitarist but as time went by and we wrote and put together more material we began to formulate a distinctive sound and stuck with it. I recall we did have some meeting with a couple of guys a guitarist and a keyboard player at one point but for whatever reason it didn’t work out. That was certainly early on because we were still rehearsing at Riptide then. We rehearsed there in the early days and that is where they shot the footage for the B.B.C programme ‘Where There’s Life’ (still trying to track down a copy of that!!). When Riptide was bulldozed to make way for a new road layout in Dale End we moved to a brand new studio that an acquaintance of the band, Rob Hoffman, was starting in Newtown. This was to become Robannas. We were one of the first bands to use it, in fact Rob was still adapting the building (an old factory unit) whilst we rehearsed. It was a great boon to us here as we had our own lock-up room. This meant we could leave our equipment set up - no more lugging drum kit and amps etc in the back of Andi’s metro!!!!!! The times at Robannas were good and I personally have many fond memories. Every Saturday Mark and I would take the train into town and spent almost all day refining the rhythm section parts to Andi’s songs. She would arrive later if she wasn’t there with us all day and we’d rehearse, rework and rehearse again until midnight and beyond. We spent almost all of our free time in room 1 at Robannas; back then nothing but music really mattered very much to any of us. I don’t think we ever had a definitive Dusk sound in mind we all liked similar music and I think we tried to let whatever was in us come through. There was always a progressive element but that goes without saying if you’re using this slightly unorthodox line-up to play rock. I thought that I had a tendency to overplay to ‘fill’ in the gaps I perceived to be there, I’d come from a rock background and it took me a long time to understand that it doesn’t need to be full-on all of the time, I’ve got Mark and Andi to thank for teaching me that although I think at the same time we were learning from each other all the time.
The band did go through interesting line-up changes; the episode when Matt Phipps-Hunt returned to play with Mark and I when Andi was ill. It took on a rockier edge and it’s a pity that no recordings survive that are usable. Mark left the band for a while and John and his brother Lew joined us for a while. I think we did some very interesting music at this point and we were evolving but Andi and I were becoming interested in other genres and even pursued the folk scene for a while. Later the band acquired the guitarist John Warner-Wethered and we tried to be a little more ‘jazzy,’ at this point Mark had returned. I left the band for personal reasons in 1990 and went into ‘retirement’ for a couple of years before being dragged behind a drum kit again by John Pierpoint in 1992.
When I look back I remember those times, 1987-1990, with great fondness. But they are tinged with some regrets too. Regrets that we didn’t do more live shows, it would have been great to let more people have the opportunity to see us play. I also regret (and I know I’m not alone in this) that we did not take Dusk into a studio and record the material properly, but as I said to Andi only the other day when you’re young you think that you’ve got all the time in the world!!!!! Still we may get a chance again, John and I are working towards putting another band together at the moment so who knows?????!!!!!......................WATCH THIS SPACE.
Dave ‘Doug’ Sutheran. Feb 2007.
If you want to read about me - what I play, what I like, who I've played with, you should first of all pop on over to my page at www.randolphflagg.com/john.htm, where it's all written down already.
As to my part in the Dusk story, well it was brief - a sort of "walk-on part in the war", really! I can't remember events too well, so if I've got things mixed-up or skewed somewhat, then apologies.
First and foremost, I was and still am a fan of Dusk music. Their special blend of rock, folk, jazz - whatever! - has held me in awe since I first heard it. The band were heroes to me, and joining their ranks was like a dream come true at the beginning.
Let's back-track a little. . .
My brother Lewis was a member of an acting company, which had put together
a set of mimes or dramatic enactments to some of the Dusk songs.
I was in a band called "Cold Flame" by this time (actually, we went through more names in one year than the group in that Eric Idle monologue, and I'm not 100% sure what our name was at this stage in the game, but I digress. . .). Dusk was renting lock-up rehearsal space at Robannas at the time (room no. 1, right next to the lobby - I remember it well!), and needed another band to share the room and split the costs. So Cold Flame moved in. I started to sit in on Dusk sessions, as well as drive members of the band to and from Robannas fairly regularly (Andi was the only one with a car at the time). So when Happy quit Dusk soon after, I tentatively offered my services as replacement bassist, and was accepted. Shortly after, Cold Flame wound up, mostly due to a sticky financial situation involving a £1000 bank loan, a £500 Boss effects box and a £500 drinking binge!
Andrea was suffering from ME, and in fact some months earlier she had been the subject of a TV documentary on the illness, which included footage of the whole band (with Happy still on the bass) in rehearsal. She was too ill to participate for quite some time, so the band was fronted for a while by guitarist/singer Matt Phipps-Hunt (another long-standing friend), who took the band down a blues/rock road - although we didn't quite reach the Crossroads. . . :¬). So my earliest sessions were during the time when we played some of Matt's powerfully bluesy tunes like "The Dresser" and "Inhuman". A tape exists of one of these sessions, but it was recorded so poorly that it's hard to make out the music from the hiss and distortion. What a shame - these were great songs.
The plan was that once Andrea was fit for duty again, we'd be up to a
four-piece, with the much-needed guitar role covered. However, almost
as soon as Andrea was back Matt left the group, for whatever reason. So
we were back to a three-piece, albeit in the keyboard/drums/bass format
that had already been proven to work in a live situation.
What was worse was that I knew it. I had learned nearly everything I knew from Happy, and he would always be ahead of me - in talent, technique and imagination. My more limited musical vocabulary and experience also slowed progress on developing the songs. The others realised this too, but were willing initially to give me time to improve my playing. I worked hard to get up to scratch, but with a few rare exceptions my efforts failed to reach the high standard required.
Enter Lewis again. Let me explain something: Lewis is a natural musician. He can pick up a completely unfamiliar instrument and get a tune out of it immediately. He can sing, play guitar, keyboards (including a brief spell inlocal rock outfit "Highway Star") drums (for a long time he was in a marching band, on side-drum and marimba), he can improvise, and he writes insanely catchy tunes - all without really trying. I don't know how he does it, or why he got the talent genes and I didn't! Along with other friends, he had sat in on some Dusk sessions, and at some point (probably during one of Andrea's absences) had started jamming with us. It became obvious that as a mult-instrumentalist who could sing and write material, his skills would work well in Dusk, so he came on board too.
Those were fun times. All was going well. We were building up an interesting set of songs and "gelling", until one day Lewis walked out at the start of a rehearsal. I can't remember what it was all about, and neither does Lewis now.
From that point on, things went into a decline. My own efforts always came up short, and I started to feel unwanted and sidelined. To make matters worse, we took a vote on whether to spend the time recording demos or playing gigs, and opted for the former (my own lack of gig experience being a factor). We started to record demos on multi-track, and the sheer tedium of it was making everyone short-fused. When Andi and Doug started talking about doing some gigs as a duo, I became completely despondent (as my own poems and lyrics from the time testify: line after line filled with fear, resentment and paranoia).
I was finally given the boot in April 1990. John Warner-Weathered had just joined on guitar, and this injection of top-notch talent must have thrown my own shortcomings into sharp relief. Happy rejoined, the band carried on as though I'd never been there. . . and promptly fizzled out.
I was saved from the doldrums by none other than former Dusk guitarist Matt Phipps-Hunt, who introduced me to a group of Lucas Engineers and musicians who eventually became The Earthmovers (www.theearthmovers.co.uk) - a genuinely fun gigging band that made up for those months hiding in a rehearsal room with Dusk!
Hell, all that sounds a bit negative, doesn't it? So, why am I excited
about a reunion?
A lot has happened since those days. I've stayed in touch (on and off) with the other Dusk members, especially after Andrea's latest group Swivel surfaced to blow my mind and wrench my heart for a second time (you really ought to buy their stunning CD - see the links page for more info!). I'm sure that I've developed enough as a musician and a person to hold my own in any new incarnation of the band - and I still love the Dusk music!
John, February 2007.
I have been stroking, caressing, and generally interfering with guitars
since I was an embryo. In the short years since then (ahem) I have enjoyed
making music in various bands: electric, acoustic, and often in a locked
Gavin, June 2008.
Although new to the Dusk project I have known the guys in the band for many years. My friendship with Gav goes right back to 6th form college where our mutual love of ‘proper music’ was first shared. A friend at the time, Bob, invited me to play keyboards in the band that he and Gav were in at the time, a fluffy little heavy metal combo going by the name of Bloodstone. I remember Gav’s initial reaction to the prospect of keyboards being introduced to the band. His uncertainty was summed up by him saying “This band is not going to become Europe”. Fortunately we didn’t become Europe, no matter how much we grew our hair we just couldn’t come to terms with the application of hairspray. We recorded a demo and rehearsed in a mental hospital. Rock and roll.
It was through Gav that I was introduced to Gary and, later on, Doug. Gary wrote shedloads of songs and we all spent long afternoons playing them, rehearsing them at the MAC and recording at Gary’s house. The only show we played was in Olton, a charity show if I remember correctly and a set of covers including Badge, Hold the Line and Solsbury Hill. If I recall correctly, this was also the first time I played with John. It was through this project that I met Doug. Doug! The Underdogs was a great group to be part of, mixing covers and original material. Friday evening rehearsals at Rich Bitch were memorable. I used to record rehearsals on my 4 track and still have some tapes knocking around somewhere. I also met Happy and Pete in the Underdogs and they were two truly great musicians to play with. Rehearsals in Happy’s living room and bedroom (ooer!!) were regular occurances. Some great material which lead to a couple of studio sessions, including recording at a studio without a drum kit…interesting.
Whilst working with Gav and Gary we also hooked up with a friend of Gary’s who sang. Jacqui had a stunning voice and took the songs to a new level. When I formed a band with Andy Jones (a university friend) and we were after a singer, Jacqui seemed the only choice. Grapple gigged a lot around the Black Country and recorded a 3 track cd of which I am very proud. We also managed to cover Dream Theater songs. Progtastic!! The band broke up around 1998 and sadly I have not seen Jacqui or the other guys since, apart from Andy with whom we played in a Robbie Williams tribute band for a couple of rehearsals…
Spoonflower was the wonderful name of the 3 piece combo formed by myself, Gav and Gary. Totally original material and just acoustic guitars. The songs still stand up well, both Pictures on the Wall and Secret Fear stem from the Spoonflower days. Our only official gig, if you don’t count parties, was at the BBC club where one of the band thought it a great idea to turn up an hour before the show with an unstrung guitar. Fancy that, tuning a guitar just as you go on stage. I wonder which one of us that was….
After Grapple, The Underdogs still rehearsed and much was tea was drunk post rehearsal at my house at the time in Stirchley. By this time I had started to write songs myself and was playing lots more guitar. I even attempted to play guitar on our version of The boys are back in town. Can’t believe I was let loose on that one.
The next project was a very proggy affair. Andy answered an ad for a guitarist for a Genesis tribute band, they needed a keyboard player so I was invited along. The band never gigged which was a shame but the drummer and bass player also played in a covers band that was looking to gig. I filled in at a gig they had, 15 songs to learn in 4 days I think it was, and after the gig just never left. The band became the Big Groove, a fantastic covers/function band that lasted for 5 years. Some great gigs, memorable times and superb musicians.
It was during this time that I formed Earth Calling Alice with my good chum Jim. A folky, acoustic trio, writing, gigging and recording. Along with Andy (another one) we play shows with a variety of local acoustic music promoters and last year we recorded a 4 track cd at Woodworm Studios. We have recorded a few sessions, two of which have produced cds. We are looking to do more and extend our gigging radius to convert more people to our acoustic ways.
Recently, I have been working with Hugh from the Big Groove and we are in the process of putting together some songs for recording and gigging. At the moment the project is in its infancy, but we are aiming to augment our set with a few tastefully chosen covers.
Playing with Doug has always been so easy, so when he announced his retirement from music I was absolutely gutted. He couldn’t be convinced otherwise even though we all tried hard to change his mind. When I received his e-mail in February 07 I didn’t take much persuading to join the project and the time since then has flown by. The music is developing and the band really has its own unique sound. The recent recordings are truly representative of a band moving forward. Move over Porcupine Tree here we come. Now it’s time to gig.
(Come on Gaz, write something to fill this gap!)
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