There were many high and low points during the career of the band. That they got through them all is a testament to the members. Here are just a couple of stories.
The AWOL cymbals
Sometime during 1982, the band was playing a gig at the Cedar Club, Perry Bar, Birmingham. The band’s manager decided to set up an interview with BBC radio the same day. It was a late gig and we would have plenty of time to fit it in. However, the band was late and well behind schedule before even setting out. The van got caught in traffic in atrocious weather and was an hour late arriving at Pebble Mill studios. The interview was cancelled. No matter – on to the Cedar Club.
Paralex arrived at the club ten minutes past the three o’clock deadline and found the doors locked until five. Two hours later the owners opened up and allowed the band in. We ferried our two-and-a-half tons of gear from the van on to the stage. The drummer then enquired “where’s my fuckin’ cymbals?’. In the rush to get away in the morning, they had been left back at Newark in the rehearsal room.
In a panic, the three people responsible rushed to get to a music shop in Birmingham city before they closed for the day, in the hope of hiring a set of cymbals. We found a shop but had no joy with the hire plan. Fortunately, a drummer was in the shop who kindly offered to us lend his cymbals on the condition that we ferry him back home 16 miles to fetch the kit then let him and his girlfriend watch the gig for free.
Finally arriving back at the club, plus cymbals, at about seven the band assembled the rig and prepared for the gig. Doors opened at nine and the band were getting paid 50% of the door take. Admission cost £1. By half-past ten, there were five punters in the audience – two for free and three paying customers!
The atmosphere in the dressing room could have been cut with a knife. all this effort for five people! The drummer (who had been pretty cool up to then, all things considered) then announced that “if we go out and play to five people tonight, I’m leaving the band tomorrow”. To which the guitarist replied “if we don’t go on, I’m leaving!”
I don’t remember how the conflict was resolved, but I do remember that we went on and played our hearts out for one and-a-half hours. We put on the full show including dry ice and pyrotechnics and the roadies were frenziedly dashing around the stage as if we were playing at Castle Donnington!
As for the audience – two of them left after the third number and we played the rest of the set to three people and the bar staff. After packing the gear back into the van, we didn’t even bother collecting our £1.50 door takings! We arrived back in Newark at about 4 am and I don’t think a word was spoken during the journey.
It was just one of those days when almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but we look back on it in the pub now and have a really good laugh.
The soup kitchen
During the ‘Whoring Tour ’84’ Paralex played the Derby Rock House on a Friday night and had two gigs at the Mechanix at Kettering the next day. Instead of returning to base that night, the band decided to find a lay-by on the way to Kettering and sleep in the van.
However, sleeping on a pile of Marshall 4×12 cabs in about -4 degrees of frost and with five or six other bodies who have just done nearly two hours on stage isn’t very conducive to a good night’s sleep, and by about 5 am we were back on the road, heading toward our destination.
We arrived at the Mechanix around 7 am and parked the van up outside. As there were no shops yet open where we could get breakfast, we decided to fire up the prima stove and cook some soup and beans. We rolled up the back of the van and set to work, all huddling around the flame for the bit of warmth it offered.
In our anticipation of hot food we all neglected to notice a scruffy, unshaven chap who had hustled in amongst us. When one of us challenged him, he thrust his hand in his pocket and enquired “how much?” – He thought the van was a soup kitchen and we were all waiting for our handouts!