The Belgium Connection.


I’d not long finished playing with what I believe was the UK’s first tribute to The Blues Brothers. I’d had an amazing time with the band playing gigs around the country and a few in Europe and the Middle-East but I was getting a bit fed up with chugging up and down the M1 (not to Oman obviously!) three or four times a week and as I recall the ‘big time’ was calling me – Yep, I was still chasing the fame game at this point…

I’d just hooked up with a drummer in Derby, where I was now located, and he had a couple of mates that were chasing the dream in London. Well, I say chasing, it’s probably more accurate to say the dream was sneaking upon them. You see they’d just dropped for a management deal and a few record companies were talking to them. It turns out their management team also looked after Rozalla – The Queen Of Rave – who had just had the hit “Everybody’s Free” so any act on their books was clearly fair game and hotter than a hot thing. Pretty soon they’d signed to a record company in Belgium – Private Life Records.

‘Nice for them’, I thought as my drummer buddy was telling me about it while playing their demo on number eleven at silly o’clock on a Summer’s night with the windows and doors wide open – poor neighbours. Ok for him too as it turned out; they’d asked him to go to Brussels with them to play the drums on their debut album. I wasn’t bothered… honest.

After a couple of days where I wasn’t sulking, (I wasn’t!) The Drummer came around to my house (no mob phones back then and even a landline was a luxury I couldn’t afford) and told me the Dynamic Duo in Londinium wanted a bass player to go to Belgium and do the album and he’d recommended me! Whoop, whoop!

The Drummer and I got down to daily rehearsals using The London chap’s demo cassette as a guide and after a few weeks of this, we eventually got the dates through to go do the album. Great! But then a week later we got the news that Rozalla had got the support on Michael Jackson’s Dangerous tour and my two new best mates down The Smoke had been drafted into her band. And yep, the recording had to be put back while they went and played in front of thousands of people and met and got photographed with just about every rock and pop star that ever lived. A hard life, eh! But I wasn’t in the slightest bit envious… Honest!

Not to worry. We eventually got to go to Belgium to record the album. The London Connection was already there with The Producer and laying down the guide tracks and The Drummer and myself were to drive over there in a week to do our bit. So it was left to me to sort transport and go pick up The Drummer, who when in the car proceeded to open and drink can after can of Ireland’s Finest. He did this all the way down to Dover, at the terminal while we waited to board, all the time we were on the ferry and then all the way from Ostend to Brussels. It wouldn’t have been so bad but after the third can he was wanting a ‘pit stop’ every half hour! On top of this, he was no help at all in negotiating the narrow and dimly lit back streets of the Brussels suburbs while trying to locate the well-hidden recording studio. Drummers, eh!

Anyway, we both did our things in the studio but one of my takes was unceremoniously disturbed when The Queen Of Rave made an appearance. Everything had to stop while she held court for an hour. She was nice enough and everything but I seem to recall I got right p*ssed off about it. I mean, I was halfway through a good take of a song, who does she thinks she is, eh? Spoiling my creative flow… Sheesh!

A week later The Drummer and I had finished our recording duties so we left the others to finish their masterpiece and drove back home – without the Guinness!

Now, I bet you’re wondering what happened to that album. Did it chart? Did it outsell every major release of the time? Did we get to make a promo video or appear on Top Of The Pops? Did we get to do a sellout World tour? Nah, the Gruesome Twosome fell out with The Producer and the record company while the album was still being recorded. So that, as they say, was the end of that. Good fun while it lasted though. I just had to chalk it up to experience. The Drummer? Well, he ended up touring Australia with a band, falling in love over there and eventually living there. Alright for some, eh?

I think this whole thing possibly highlights the issue of record deals, record companies and producers; especially when they aren’t all singing from the same hymn-sheet, which I presume is what happened in Brussels. Obviously, as a ‘hired-hand’ I wasn’t party to the inner workings and politics of the record company, producer and artist trilogy – thankfully.

Nowadays, people can often be heard bemoaning the modern music industry claiming it’s just about dead and there’s no good music about. Well, I disagree. With the wonder that is the internet musicians, songwriters and artist no longer need the antiquated record company to release their music. And the added bonus is it can be done singlehandedly so no falling out with anyone unless you’re the type that can fall out with yourself of course!

Talking of which, don’t forget to check out my Shop, if you want too that is!

Thanks for your time.

Andy x

In The Beginning


It was around 1983, I still lived in my home town of Buxton, Derbyshire and I was getting towards the end of the bricklaying apprenticeship I’d always hated so much. I’d been playing bass for around a year (I moved from guitar to bass after seeing Mark King on TV and also hearing Simple Mind’s ’Someone Somewhere In Summertime’) and was doing a few gigs with a local originals band ‘Kamurii’. Even after these small local pub gigs I remember being so depressed the day after whilst putting one on top of two with the wind howling up my backside five scaffold lifts up. The reality of being a rock star, or just a full-time musician, seemed a far fetched dream that was totally unattainable. Add to this the constant advice to ‘just do you music as a hobby and work at a proper job’ from those that are supposed to care meant I was becoming more and more determined to do it.

After a couple of years, several line up changes and a name change, to ‘Kiss Of Shame’ our Peak District Super Group ended up with a new guitarist, Andy. To be honest he won’t be aware of this, but he and his twin brother Steve had a massive positive influence on me and my dream. You see, they were very much the ‘go for it’ type characters. Nothing was an issue and everything was achievable, which blew me away and made me realise that if I really want ‘it’ I just need to do ‘it’. So, I started to practice more and got myself lessons in music theory and what do you know? I started to improve especially in that (at the time) very fashionable slapping and popping thing. 

Another fortuitous thing about being buddies with Andy and Steve was their dad, Barry, was a fabulous guitarist and singer songwriter who had had some great success along the road (some stories say Shane Fenton wanted him in his band but Barry declined. There were also stories about him auditioning for the Rolling Stones but unfortunately I never got to ask him about that.). 

One night when we were rehearsing – in the damp, starchy, fish scented cellar of the singer’s parents’ Fish and Chip shop – Andy brought Barry along to check the band out. Unfortunately he wasn’t too impressed with Kiss Of Shame but he did take a bit of a shine to me, which I believe was due to my slapping prowess. Eventually, to cut a long story short, he asked me to play on some of the album tracks he was currently recording. WOW! 

I practiced the songs day in day out until my fingers hurt and eventually we went into the studio (The Cottage, Macclesfield with ‘Bald Eagle’ engineering) and ‘cut’ the tracks. That was it. I’d landed. I’d tasted what it was like to be a real musician. I had seen behind the door and felt firsthand what it was like to be amongst that special group of humans. Plus it didn’t stop there, within a short time a tour of the South Coast was organised and I got to indulge in that fantastic heady feeling of being ‘on the road’. Playing venues with a proper big P.A system, having your equipment carried, soundchecks, being looked after, great audiences, silly drunken games… Fantastic!  From then on I became even more single minded to get into this music thing and promptly left my job as a bricklayer (Much to the annoyance of my parents!) to follow the very rocky road of stardom…

Fast forward thirty years and after half a dozen albums, too many lost record deals and failed bands, thousands of venues and festivals, millions of miles travelled around bits of the world, gallons of alcohol and tonnes of junk food plus a very unstable relationship with music in general and I still get those same feelings. 

But none of it beats this part of my musical journey with the excitement I have now releasing my own material and I’m looking forward to the next and the next after that.

If you’d like to hear the most recent milestone click here to have a listen.

Thanks for your time.

Andy x