It’s twelve o’clock and I’m eating chocolate. I finally got the nod from up above and so this morning I fired up my trusty Peugeot and headed down the A7 towards Marseille to the town of Tain L’Hermitage, famous for its wine and chocolate.
It’s a fairly nondescript drive through dreary desolate countryside: potato field, farm house, field, house, mist, fog, snow. But it made me think that fifteen years ago I would have seen the same view. Fifteen years ago I went to Nice with Jamshakcle, our beloved glam-folk-psychedelic rock band fronted by the magnificent Justin Brown with backing from Lee ‘Satin’ White on bass, James ‘Trickey’ Trickey on drums, Paul ‘The Quad’ Quadros on guitar and fiddle, and me, Phil ‘Oggers’ Ogley on guitar. That was a bizarre episode if ever there was one.
We arrived in the evening to witness a tight, super rehearsed girl band banging out catchy covers to a ménage of pissed up yanks, aussies, and brits. Alanis Morisette, Madonna, Oasis, Blur. Five super sexy, long legged, heavily breasted girls strutting their stuff on the very stage we would grace the following evening. As we sat down to our drinks that night watching the band further entice the now self-ejaculating males, I’ll never forget Justin’s simple line: We’re fucked.
We had long hair but we didn’t have tits and our only perfume was lager and cannabis. Furthermore, we didn’t have any hits either. Lay of the land, Windbeard, Confidence Fiend, Vibration of Joy, Do you Know what love is? Great songs but no Bangles.
The next day we each wrote down any song we vaguely knew and started to work out the cords and lyrics. We had about five hours until showtime and our current set of folky-psychedelic numbers lasted no longer than 90 minutes. Not the three hours we were expected to play for. So sitting in our rented apartment dressed in our velvet jackets, flared cords and tight nylon shirts looking more like a bunch of extras from a Doors movie, swigging beer and smoking dope, we cobbled together a set that would get us through the week. And it worked. Just. Even if we had to play ‘Stand by Me’ three times each night to kill time (much to the chagrin of Lee who towards the end of the week simply refused to play it and stood with his back to the audience).
Fifteen years later, I’m dressed in a shirt and tie, a pair of tanned brogues and French connection trousers rubbing my closely shaven face thinking how to translate Cité du chocolat into English.