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 cattle prods.....

 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 restart it.

 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 E)

 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.

 I 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 stuff.

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 list.

 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 stage.

Since then, I have not seen or heard from anyone in the band. Where are they now?

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