I sat in my car outside the broken down and ramshackle old building that was apparently passing itself off as a rehearsal room. I double checked my piece of paper and my map because the internet hadn’t been invented. I was in deepest darkest Wigan to audition for a new band. Pie eaters, that’s what the folks in Wigan call themselves. Aptly named too I thought if the three blokes pouring out of the builders van in front of me were anything to go by.
I watched as a young lad with waist length hair and a black leather jacket walked into the bomb site building. I’m in the right place then I thought.
The ad I had responded to was in Kerrang magazine in the news section.
Ex Dare and Ex Sweet Sin musicians require vocalist for new project, I thought... I’m Ex Sam Thunder... I’ll fit right in. Having called the number and talked to an affable and quietly spoken young man who turned out to be Ian Salpekar, the Bass player, I was duly directed to the shit box I was now stood in front of.
I had been to many auditions in my time, most of them were similar. A bit awkward and like a first date with no one knowing what to say and everybody wondering what the others were thinking.
I had auditioned for some famous bands such as The Sweet and The Michael Schenker Group. The maestro himself actually called me at home. I was 18 years old and still living with my Mum. I was in the bath when she knocked on the door to say “ There’s somebody called Michael Sheckner on the phone for you”. I didn’t even bother to get dried or dressed as I legged it past her to get to the receiver, a sight she would never forget apparently. Bloody Graham Bonnet beat me to that one in the end. I often wondered if Michael was sorry he let me slip through his fingers as the new line up had a very public meltdown during their first ever gig.
I stepped out of my car straight into a pothole full of water. Good start. I entered the building and encountered a familiar smell. All rehearsal rooms had the same odour, especially in the 80’s/90’s... musty carpets, patchouli oil, tobacco and a faintly electrical burning thing that I think had something to do with valve amps.
I made my way down the corridor leaving one wet footprint as I went. Each door you passed was double thickness and soundproofed ( kind of ) and you could hear the muffled struggles of the next Poison or Iron Maiden emanating from within.
Third door on the left, this was it. I listened from the outside. Silence. I walked in.
As the heavy door swung open, the first sight was an enormous white Pearl drum kit with Jim Ross ( Ex Dare ) peering through his Zildjian cymbals at me. Drummers always face the door in any rehearsal room, it’s like they’re expecting to be the victim of a mob hit and need an open escape route at all times.
Andy Halliwell (Ex Sweet Sin) was doing what every other rock guitarist in the entire world does.. facing his speaker cabinets and playing about with the tuning and effects pedals of his guitar while muttering to himself and shaking his head.
Ian Salpekar ( Ex Sweet Sin also ) was patiently stood Bass Guitar at the ready, taking it all in.
Small talk and introductions over i was eager to get on with things. How many songs do you have written I asked.
“Quite a few actually” said Ian.
“Aye” said Andy.
“Do you have lyrics?”I ventured.
“Nay” Said Andy. He’s a proper Wigan lad.
“So.... do you want to do some covers then?” I asked with mounting trepidation.
“Nayyyy... just make summat up.” said Andy.
Jim raised his drumsticks in the air... CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK and they roared into a song. To this day I have not got a clue what I sang, what words I used, what melody I plucked from God knows where but whatever it was it seemed to do the trick and by the end of the session we had a band.