The one and only homage to
Plastered in Paris (1986-1987)
Remember the heady days of the 1980's when music was electronic and
hairdo's looked like they might have been too. It was either that or electric
Well, in 1986, I was asked to stand in for a professional organist
, called Terry Candler , for the last night performance of a Noel Coward play
(The Red Peppers) that the Writtle C.a.r.d.s. amateur dramatics group were doing at the time.
One of the cast, it later transpired, was the bass player of a
defunct band from a couple of years before, and he approached me after the show
to see if I was interested in joining the remaining members of the band and
I thought this would be a great idea, so I immediately went out the
next weekend and bought a brand new Yamaha DX21 synthesizer.
The available band members on our first jamming session were Tim, the
bass player, Matt the lead guitarist and me, the keyboard player. Because Ian
the drummer was finishing his degree exams, he couldn't join us for a couple of
weeks, so the first few sessions were interesting, as we had no percussion,
although I did manage to be the drummer on my keyboard as well for the first
tunes which didn't have the need for a synth part (originally).
We were originally rehearsing in a small room off the village hall
in Little Leighs near Chelmsford, but we decided early on that this wasn't
suitable and Tim managed to get us booked into one of the demountables next to
the Galleywood community center for the rest of our existence.
Ian managed to join us on our first session in Galleywood, and this
made a huge difference to me, as I could now try to be a keyboard player instead
of a percussionist. Ian was a bit of a wild man and we soon got down to some
quite funky tunes in no time at all.
Tim was just messing around at one point and knocked up what
sounded to me as a catchy bass line, all based around four chords (F#m, A, D and
We messed around for a couple of hours and went home, but those
four chords stuck in my mind and lo and behold, the next day, I rustled up the
first complete beginning to end tune. It was destined to be called Lisa.
The next week I played the tune to the other guys and Tim instantly liked
it and began knocking up a bass line, and Ian likewise, the drum line. Matt was
the only one with a problem with the tune, as it was basically a keyboard tune.
He eventually decided to add some power chords to the key parts of the tune that
they fitted, in much later developments of the tune.
To this day, Lisa is the only tune that is written down on
manuscript, including the lyrics. As it was written by me, I have the copyright
on it, not the band.
It seemed obvious to me that the keyboard I had bought at the
beginning wasn't really up to the job, so I traded it in for a new Yamaha DX7S,
the new version of the classic DX7. This gave me a load of new sounds and
programming opportunities, which was to become the way of my part of the band.
The only problem with the upgrade was the loss of some of the sounds that were
preprogrammed into the DX21, which I could never seem to reproduce on the DX7S.
I eventually decided to program completely new sounds for each song we wrote,
which allowed for easy live performances. Incidentally,
the cartridge I used for storing these sounds still works on my DX7 II FD.
think I can blame the likes of Vince Clarke and The Pet Shop Boys for my
enthusiasm for synthesizer programming. Vince Clarke was obviously from the likes of Depeche Mode, Yazoo,
The Assembly and finally Erasure, most of which came from my area of Essex in
England. The Pet Shop Boys were up to their second album by now. Also other
influential bands for me include OMD, Human League, Tears for Fears and many
other bands of the early '80's.
Several weeks after Lisa, I seemed to feed off Tim's bass lines and
make new lead melodies on a regular basis, with Matt throwing the odd nicety in
too. I think , because I was the outsider to the band, Matt wasn't so happy
about me taking over as the lead instrument, but at the time, guitars were not
the popular instrument of the pop scene, so it was a natural hierarchy for
this period. This was 1987 by the way. Because Tim was in to Level 42, his style
was similar to Mark King (slap bass etc...).
By the summer of 1987, we had rustled up a small collection of tunes
which were of reasonable quality, so I brought a tape recorder into the
sessions, so we could listen to the playback and decide what was necessary to
make the tune better. A singer seemed to be the usual answer, but no-one had
written any lyrics to any of the tunes except Lisa, which I wrote, so it was a
bit difficult to envisage a singer standing in front of a microphone with
nothing to sing.
I believed that the band, as good as it was, needed more members to
beef up the sound depth. It never happened. I think to be the sort of band we
wanted to be, we needed at least another guitarist, a vocal lead and maybe
another keyboard player.
Matt was borrowing a Fender Telecastor and this sounded really
nice, but he had to go back to his own Gibson (not a Les Paul) and his emphasis
on the band was reduced. This caused some tension between us, the eventual
killer of the band. Matt himself acknowledged that his guitar was not all that
good, but lets face it, none of use were in good enough jobs to be able to
afford the sort of equipment that we really needed. As usual for me, I had my
stuff on tick. (That's h.p. for those who don't understand)
The next week seemed to go really well, and I thought that the band
may have found its potential at last, but this was not to be. The suggestion
that we should go about trying to do the pub circuit in Chelmsford put Matt on
a different plane to the rest of us, and clearly, this wasn't going to happen.
The next week I brought in the tape recorder for the last time, and
managed to get about an hours worth of recordings of everything we'd done by
that point. Matt had colluded with Tim earlier during the week to wind the band
up, and this was announced that evening. Ian had already decided that he wanted
to go onwards, and it was agreed that this particular evening would be the last
one for Plastered in Paris (the name was decided between me, Tim and Matt in a
pub in Great Leighs)
I don't know what happened after we decided to split, as we
suddenly found our sound and probably made the best evenings jamming session we
had ever had. I even managed to get the whole lot on tape.
At the end of the evening, we handed back the keys to the community
center caretaker, packed everything up, and went home.
This was the last time I saw Ian and Matt. Ian went on to
join a well known indie band as their replacement drummer, Tim and Matt
continued to have their own jamming sessions, and I took to writing my own
As a band, Plastered in Paris created about six or seven reasonable
tunes, that could have been recorded professionally and multi tracked to have
been a possible single and since then, I have added more potentials to this
I last saw Tim in 1992 when I was performing in pantomime that
year. He said that he still played but not much now, as he was married with kids
and all that. He said that Ian had been quite successful with his new band, and
was still on the circuit, but Matt and himself had stopped jamming by this
Since then, I have not seen or heard from anyone in the band. Where are
Does anyone still write, apart from me?
Will we ever reform?
Is anyone interested in a thirty-something keyboard player who wants to
join the band scene again?
Contact me if you are......
I don't think anyone, except the residents of Galleywood, has heard what
we did as a band, so I will attempt to create MP3 files from the original tapes
that I still have, and put them on this website. This does lead to one problem
of course. I need permission from the rest of the band to do this, and without
being able to contact them, this could be quite difficult (copyright issues, but
as nobody actually owns the name of the band, is there any anyway?).
Incidentally, I'm not sure who came first, us or the American comedy
group of the same name.
Watch this space.....
The stuff we wrote is now on CD available from me. I
will still try to sample some to give a freeview on this site. (16/01/2002)
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updated 15th January 2002