Biography

Early - Mid 1980s

Where Next Columbus? 1986 - sorry about the easter henIt all started with Plastic Noise, I must have been about 11 or 12. It was in East Kilbride, where I grew up. I played a knackered guitar back to front, using it like a percussion instrument. We played 2 songs, one was pretty punky, a bit like The Damned's "Anti Pope", the other was a bit reggaeish. I got a taste for bands and starting teaching myself the guitar with the aid of a school friend. I was writing (primitive) songs. Over the next couple of years, I was listening to a wide variety of music - lots of punk, though. I also compiled a fanzine "Rock Is Sick" which featured local bands (I would go to see all these bands rehearse) and The Poison Girls. Don't know why, but the 2nd issue never made it to the typewriter, shame as I had an interview with Crass.

The first proper band was Reluctant Admission, we formed in the Spring of 1982. There were three of us, me on bass and vocals, a drummer (Davy Honeyman who started on tupperware; pots and pans, before progressing to kit) and a guitarist (Robert "Pugo" Traish) who shared vocals with me. We had a set, mostly written by the guitarist and myself. We received a good write up in the local press. We split up after about a year, then reformed 6 months later, I was now playing the guitar. We recruited a bass player and split up again 6 or so months later. In 1984, I worked with a few musicians and had some mini-bands (The Theme, Physical Mushrooms, 5th Column), made my debut live appearance at the School Talent Contest, we didn't win. There were still heavy punk/new wave influences. Later that year, Reluctant Admission reformed under the names Gary & The Honeymen, Wonders of And, The View, Pamplemousse, Men in the Attic and finally Where Next Columbus? (named after the Crass song). We were back to being a 3-piece - drums (same as above), bass (Jeff Cullen) and myself on guitar and vocals - we had a seperate vocalist (George Seymore) for a while and tried a few other guitarists and singers. Our major influences included the Stranglers, Pink Floyd, Van Der Graaf Generator, the Smiths, Velvet Underground and Joy Division. Lyrical themes included animal rights, anti-establishment, anti-war (lots of antis infact) and teenage confusion. Within no time we had an hour set of songs and played our first performance at a local church hall with a psychedelic projector show.

In June 1985, we recorded our first demo (5 songs). We were playing quite a few gigs. Our bass player, sadly, had to leave because of an illness. We recruited a replacement (Davy Bowles), and in 1986, we recorded a 100 minute 4 track recording. We lasted until Summer 1987.

See the Where Next Columbus? discography.

Mid - Late 1980s

Next stop, the Gobi Desert Canoe Club. There was, most of the time, myself and Lisa T playing the guitar and singing, with the aid of a drum machine. I had until this time only been in boy bands. We both shared the songwriting. We were hard to describe, music-wise - kinda gothy, poppy, punky, new wavey, industrial. We made several performances, recorded 4 demo cassettes, got several fanzine reviews, appeared on many cassette compilations and even made it to vinyl on a Cold Spring Records compilation ..and the Wolves Shall Lick the Jewels From Your Belly. For the latter days, we had Calum McKenzie (of Jimmy Saville's Wheelchair and Oi Polloi fame) and Heather Scott on backing vocals. We lasted from autumn 1987 Io summer 1990.

See The Gobi Desert Canoe Club discography.

Gobi Desert Canoe Club

Early - Mid 1990s

Gare Rama - 2002 Where Next Columbus> mark 2 1990When GDCC disbanded, I had by then released 3 solo cassettes under the name of Pearsongs Inc. They were very poorly recorded at home bouncing between 2 cassette decks - lots of hiss etc. but they are still audible. A diverse range of styles were used, from sheer pop to experimental improvisations. I used mostly guitars, voice and drum machine. In August 1990, I started a music technology college course and then had access to midi sequencing and multi-tracking. I pretty much used what I could lay my hands on and now the solo recordings were better recorded with the addition of layers of keyboards and rhythms. This included ambient, electro, dancey or industrial instrumentals. I stopped releasing solo cassettes in Summer 1994, I had by then released 7. I went back to basics for the last one with just guitar and voice.

See the Pearsongs Inc. discography.

I was pretty much into the DIY music scene and in the early 90s, I released 3 compilation cassettes featuring a diverse collection of unsigned UK bands. Along with my own cassette releases, a lot of this was sold via mail order, fanzines, festivals and punk picnics (Scotland hosted some of the best).

Back to 1990. In Autumn, I got another band together, drums (the same drummer, Davy Honeyman, from all the Where Next Columbus? aliases), Sloany on bass, myself and Michael Sullivan providing vocals and guitar. We called ourselves Temple Ball and supported Ozric Tentacles at their 1st Scottish gig in Glasgow. Davy Bowles (from the previous Where Next Columbus? incarnation) replaced the bassist and we resurfaced as Where Next Columbus? (mark 2) and played a few performances as a 4-piece, playing a mixture of old and new. That ended in late 1991. I was also playing and performing with other musicians at college and composed music for an anti-poll tax pantomine.

Mid - Late 1990s

In February 1995, I discovered samba. There was a local community samba school in Edinburgh (I had become an east coaster) and I had been meaning to go along for ages. One night, I thought "F*** it, I'll give it a go!" I went and was hooked. Every Friday I went along and within a month I was performing at gigs. It was at the first gig, that I met the late Ian Heavens for the first time. We were both "old" punks and had a craving for samba and together came up with the concept of forming an (anarchist collective) samba punk band. For months we investigated the concept over several pints, and pretty soon we discovered other like minded punk-sambistas. We had the nucleus of a band. Our first samba punk gig happened on Cramond Island (outside Edinburgh) as part of the European Capital of Punk Festival in August 1996. Our reporte consists mostly of cover versions (mostly with a punk element) that go together well with a Brazilian rhythm. I play the guitar and sing, there is a trumpet player, 3 other singers share the vocals, the rest is Brazilian bateria percussion. There can be up to 13 of us on stage. We have to date released 3 cds, toured Amsterdam, Portugal, Brazil and Roskilde Festival. To read more of about us, visit our website.

I was given a loan of a 4 track at the beginning of 1998 and got back into a bit of a solo recording frenzie. I circulated cassettes among friends. I performed a couple of times on my own and sometimes with local singer/songwriter Richard Klein, who I had been jamming with. The frenzie wore off and I recorded less frequently.

Bloco Vomit

Beyond the 20th Century

Songs piled up and I recorded the Walking With Pixies cd throughout 2003 on a 4 track, a mixture of new songs and re-recordings of the late 90s stuff. There is a of a pagan element in a lot of the songs and there are some of the mellowist stuff I have done on this. It is mostly acoustic with acoustic guitars and percussion (mostly congas) accompanying my vocals - a little bit of electric.

Where Next Columbus? Mark 3, 2004

At the fall of 2003, Where Next Columbus? reformed - mark 3. Myself and the drummer, David Honeyman, are the only original members. After a few line-up changes we are Michael Hastie on vocals and percussion, myself on rhythm guitar and vocal, Paul Chambers on lead guitar, Steve Langsdale on bass, and David Honeyman on drums and percussion. After almost 10 years of either playing on my own or in a samba punk band, it is refreshing to be back with 2 guitars, bass and drums. On occasion we are joined with Karen Jones on harp, Warren Canham on mbira and Grace Nicol on violin. Our style is again difficult to describe, but bits of Can, Pink Floyd, American Music Club, Sixties (psychedelia, garage and West Coast) shine through. We have (hopefully!) matured a lot, played a few performances, and are recording soon. Watch this space!

In 2004, I released my 2nd cd under Gare Rama Free. This was recorded in the last half of 2004 and was recorded using more than 4 tracks. A mixture of new and old, not as mellow as the previous cd, a lot more electric guitars, bass lines (played on an electric guitar tuned down), drum machine in half the tracks and a variety of percussion throughout.

On Yule 2006, after 2 years of pottering about, I released my 3rd Gare Rama CD Just Like The River. It consists of mostly new material from this period, going up and down, fast and slow, the depth of winter and the joys of spring. In the middle of all this is a mini-concept album which the title is taken from. Musically, there is more depth in the percussion, guitar layers, vocals and ambience. In my opinion, my best recording to date. But, I am biased.

See the Gare Rama discography.


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