Welcome to Dave's cosmic page...!
For me interest in music really started around the age of 9 whilst living in Heald Green near Manchester after hearing bands like Queen playing Bohemian Rhapsody on TOTP, and slightly later listening to John Peele on an old valve radio. I would record much of the new wave punk and alternative rock i heard regularly on my dad’s old cassette deck, and it was then I think unknowingly I began to get an interest in hifi and how music sounded as well as the music itself. The only experience I had with a musical instrument at this stage was being taught beginners piano by my mum which I remember being slightly underwhelmed by.
It was only when the family moved to Alsager, a none descript suburb of Stoke and near Crewe, that my interest in rock music was catalysed through the influence of school friends, the music they listened to and the many bands formed there. I remember hearing Black Sabbaths "Never Say die" on cassette blasting through pa speakers in a friend’s house, and then "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" on vinyl. I bought this album and played it to death on my new (secondhand) Garrard turntable, Amstrad amp and Solavox speakers.
It was about this time that my friends who had a head start on playing music, formed a band called Aphrodite, and I was asked to play bass. So far I could only play Black Sabbaths "paranoid" badly on one string but I was just glad to be asked, despite having no idea whatsoever about how to play. We rehearsed in a friends living room, and I was given an old kay (short scale) bass to use. Our first gig was in an upstairs room in the Lodge pub in Alsager, and I remember one or two members of the local band "Third Quadrant" being in amongst a select audience of around ten people.
At the age of 19, after being persuaded by the school careers officer (to give up my dream of being a musician)and take up a business studies course , I stumbled on a new music course being set up at South Cheshire college, via a strange side alley called liberal studies.. This is where I met people like Keith York who famously played with Dr Phibes and the House of Wax Equations, and a drummer called Ed from Crafty Jack, who i later recorded and played for. There was Damien Darlington in the following year who now plays as lead guitarist for the Australian Pink Floyd, and another drummer who’s brother went on to play with the Boo Radleys. Not forgetting Ian Hunphreys (Humph) who was clearly well ahead of anyone on the course technically with an amazing drumming talent. The course was dragged into controversy due to apparent widespread drug taking amongst the students on which I could not possibly comment…
Many musical events later, and I had been part of The Wizard of ID from Stone, Morticia from Stone (including Ian Humphreys on drums), and later on The Source with Tony Bailey on bass, Stacey Smith on acoustic and me on electric. II took a major part in the writing side with these bands but I like to think infrequent gigs and lack of commercial nouse, bad luck and possibly immaturity held us back from any real success,( rather than any lack of quality in the materila or live performance.) The Wizard of ID recorded 4 tracks in Derek Holts studio in Stafford (bass player from Climax Blues Band), and although at one point offered a recording contract after playing a blinding gig at Shelleys in Longton, this never materialised and the band fizzled out.
It was around this time i got into the world of computer music writing and recorded a Solo Album called Minds Eye, with one keyboard, a Yamaha SY22 and an Amiga computer. I used midi sequencing to create the whole album which I later added acoustic guitar improvisations. It was on sale in a Crewe music shop and sold around 13 copies :-)
In 1985 I set up a pa hire business with Ian Turner ,the bass player from Wizard of ID, after the band split. We got £2000 from the Princes Trust, and bought an old Turbosound pa rig. We were naive and ran the business more like a hobby and the equipment was unreliable. Ian opted out quite early on and I soldiered on despite needing to hire a van for every gig. Got regular work at the Zoo nightclub in Hanley, started off the Crewe music festival with a £70 payment from the council as part of the Crewe Carnival, and that event continues to this day. Later on after a year working in a hifi shop in Chester, the pa was sold on a whim and it would be a while before I got my sound engineering education in the form of position of resident engineer at the Wheatsheaf music venue in Stoke. I was paid just £15 a night to mix or look after bands coming through on the venue circuit from Oasis to Radiohead and Chumbawumba to Gong, Ozric Tentacles to Memphis Blues Caravan. This experience however taught me valuable lessons about live sound mixing and equipment, in a professional environment.
Incidentally later on Her Majestys Secret Goblin played at a protest gig against the closure of the Wheatsheaf music venue in front of a capacity crowd, but unfortunately despite public and council support, the venue was sold to the current owners Weatherspoons.
After deciding I needed to get more of an education about music, I applied to Dartington College of Arts and got an unconditional offer on the strength of sending my Minds Eye production and a few songs that showcased my guitar playing, rather than relying on any academic achievements which on the whole were pretty average. i took up the offer and spent three years in a really idyllic setting near Totnes in Devon, learning mostly about music culture, philosophy, and postmodernism, which has given me a humbled view of music, its routes history, and the fact that often opinions on music often seem to me at odds with its underlying form, especially where musical fads and fashions are concerned. The important link in this story however was a friend at university called Scott Hynes from Warmingham near Sandbach/Crewe, who introduced me to Paul Wassall back home, who was friends with James Lewis and Simon Dunwoodie… The Source was looking for a drummer at the time to replace the drum machine backing tracks we were using, and set up an audition with James Lewis, who played very enthusiastically and brilliantly on our track named "Morphic", but less so on other tracks. However circumstances would change, the circle was almost complete.
After leaving Dartington, I set up a recording and rehearsal studio back home in Audley near Newcastle Under Lyme with very little money and lots of begging and borrowing .For example I managed to get free soundproofing from fellow musician Dave Massey (once rhythm guitar player in Wizard of ID). The studio plan was drawn very roughly on a piece of A4 paper and off to a diy supplier I went. My brother helped out with the hard work for a small fee, and with modest equipment and purchase of an old beat up 16 track tape machine I tried to make a going concern of the studio. Importantly it allowed me to record most of the Goblin/Dream Circuit recordings there. Full discography can be accessed from the main menu.
It was at this time I met Andy Latham for the first time, living in a flat in Alsager, whom I remember on the night I met him supplied Tony Bailey and myself with his evil home brew. Unbeknown to me at the time Andy would become the rhythm guitarist in the yet to be formed Her Majestys Secret Goblin.
Our first gig was at the Haberdashers Arms in Adbaston in between Eccleshall in staffordshire and Market Drayton in Shropshire. Unfortunately Paul Wassall our keyboard player had a bizarre finger slicing incident at work and therefore couldn’t play with us. The event was organised by some local bikers who would rehearse in my studio in Audley from time to time. We somehow got a slot at the Haberdashers, which had a marquee to play in, camping and most importantly a free beer pass. We were in rock n roll heaven! Fortunately we were on earlier in the evening, before taking full advantage of the free beer. The baby Goblin was born, and we were talent spotted by a guy who then organised a gig for us at The Stage music venue in Hanley S.O.T, now called The Sugarmill. The name Her Majestys Secret Goblin was generated via necessity as we were without a name, minutes before the Sugarmill gig whilst we were drinking in the Stage bar next door.
Her Majestys Secret Goblin began to gain a reputation, though their presence and sound was perhaps slightly perplexing to many pub regulars who often chanted "play us something we know", or something else suggesting they were not totally convinced with our material. We did the occasional cover versions however such as the Beatles "Within you without you" , or Syd Barretts "Lucifer Sam".
The next incarnation of the band came about through Andy Latham following his own path north to follow his domestic and work commitments in Manchester. It was decided by popular vote shortly after to rename the band as The Dream Circuit, (although personally I was still attached to the old name), and we embarked on a writing session over the Christmas holiday period in James Lewis's barn. There we created the bare bones for what would be my most ambitious album production, using click tracks with tempo and time changes embedded within. We even hired the local theatre in Audley to record the drums one afternoon, as I decided the acoustics would give more air and natural reverb for the kit. This album was called "Keep off the Grass", a title which can be interpreted on many levels of course.
(later history to be continued)
Venues played by HMSG and Dream Circuit
Can't remember everywhere we've played but those lingering in the memory include KozFest in Devon, Off The Tracks Festival (Donington), Jolly Fest (Chester), Spaced Out Party (Derbyshire), Dog & Partridge in Sheffield, The Rigger and Freebird in Newcastle under Lyme, The Plough in Woolstanton, Limelight in Crewe, Crewe Park festival, Stone Eclipse festival at Bodmin Moor, Knights bar in Macclesfield, The Stage in Hanley, The Wheatsheaf, Kings Hall, The Talbot, The Glebe and Gardeners Retreat in Stoke, Robin 2 club in Bilston, The Antelope in Congleton, Haberdashers Arms in Adbaston, Jabez Clegg in Manchester.
Earlier influences tend to be more rock based and later influences more tending towards progressive, psychedelic and eclectic tastes encapsulated by one of my favorite bands Ozric Tentacles. Bands like Pink Floyd and Hawkwind an influence from early on and later.
Teenage years influenced by Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Motorhead, Magnum, Hawkwind, Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Blue Oyster Cult, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Deep purple and Rush.
Later influences: Ozric Tentacles, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Porcupine Tree, Gong, Nick Harper, Pink Floyd and Hawkwind.
PRS CE 22,patrick eggle Berlin Pro and home built ash telecaster.
Current main stage setup : Bogner Alchemist with Tung sol pre amp valves in main sections and jj 6l6 power valves.
Custom floor effects with Biyang power supply running Boss wah pedal, compressor,chorus, phaser, TC delay unit,and custom loop selector.
mesa boogie lone star classic and peavey classic valve amps.