And so the great day arrived!
Being the prospective drummer the band was going to come to me. Plainy and Sucho were traveling reasonably light with guitars and practice amps. Robbo the bass player was cursed with the 70’s bass cab which was about four foot tall and three foot wide so he had had to rely on the good will of his father for a lift. These days parents seem pretty indulgent of their rock offspring especially if they ever had any aspirations in that area themselves, I know people who seem quite happy to spend the weekend living the worst part of the rock and roll lifestyle, humping gear, driving, sitting in the car outside insalubrious venues, just so their kids can have a good time. Robbo’s father was not so indulgent; the bass amp remained in my bedroom for pretty much the next year.
Sucho was the leader at this point, Plainy cultivated an attitude of barely being involved in the project although he had very clear views of what he would and would not play. Robbo, as with bass players since the beginning of time seemed a pleasant well balanced chap who over time would become a good friend. This however was the first time I had met him and only the second time I had met the others (and the first time totally sober). There was also allegedly a singer Steve who also dabbled on a basic keyboard but being a fairly free spirited character he only tended to pop along on occasions, he was a nice guy and it was always good to see him but his musical contributions were fairly minimal.
I can’t remember if there had been any discussion about the actual music, I wanted a band they wanted a drummer. In fact I can’t really think of any musical choices that would have been a deal breaker, ideally I would have preferred something a bit hard rocking like Rory Gallagher but instead Sucho produced a vinyl album which he eased onto my rather basic turntable.
It was by the German band Neu.
I had never heard of them but within the first few seconds I decided with the arrogance of youth that I could master the Neu beat. I assume the track was Hallogallo and to my untrained ears it sounded pretty simple. The first rule of auditions is not to show weakness so as soon as the other guys started to pick up the track I launched in with full force. This rather overwhelmed them as I was by the far the loudest but it takes little encouragement for young men to their amps up and soon we were grooving to our own version of Krautrock.
By this point Neu were in fact no more. There was just two of them guitarist Michael Rother and drummer Klaus Dinger. Both had served time in an early Kraftwerk before breaking away to record their first album, the one I had been introduced to today, with Kraftwerk producer Connie Plank. Dinger was a pioneer or the’ Motorik’ so let the mighty Wikipedia explain what that is all about
Motorik is a term coined by music journalists to describe the 4/4 beat often used by “Krautrock” bands such as Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk (when promoting the official album release of Neu!’s back-catalogue, Klaus Dinger stated he called it the “Apache-beat”).The word “Motorik” means “motor skill” in German, although the word’s use in music journalism may be derived from a punning modification of “motoric”, a term long used by music critics to describe relentless ostinato rhythm, or simply from a combination of “motor” and the German “Musik”
The name perhaps derives from the repetitive yet forward-flowing feel of the rhythm, which has been compared to the experience of driving on a motorway – indeed, the motorik beat is in one section of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn”, a song designed to celebrate exactly this experience. While The Velvet Underground’s influence on Krautrock is often mentioned, Moe Tucker’s drumming style has specifically been characterized as “proto-motorik.”
The motorik beat is in 4/4 time and of moderate pace. The pattern is repeated each bar throughout the song. A splash or crash cymbal is often hit at the beginning bar of a verse or chorus.
Thank you Wikipedia !
I hadn’t really got this of course, for me it was just a simple beat but listening to it again 40 years later I can’t help but be impressed, especially with the bass drum work which I had totally overlooked.
Neu made two records initially, the first one which graced my room that afternoon and the follow up. During their second attempt they ran out of money so simply fiddled with the tracks they already had changing the speed and adding effects to bring the album up to full running time. Like most bands of course they couldn’t just call it a day and persisted in various unsatisfactory and half arse reunions until Dingers death
And that was the start of my life in Rock bands.
Because we were young and fairly musically stupid the band was always as much about socialising and showing off as it was about music. I can’t remember actually playing that Neu song again but we did cobble together some musical detritus into some form of a set. It transpired that Plainy was the only one with any coherent musical vision which seemed to be Krautrock and Jazz Rock, Sucho rather liked Led Zeppelin and Robbo added a bit of a Lou Reed vibe. We didn’t have a clue; Plainy and Steve were on their ways to University anyway and while Plainy was away we inevitably crept towards heavier rock only to be chastised by him on his frequent visits back.
And so within a few weeks we had a set list which included Led Zeppelin’s ‘Rock and Roll’, Wild Cherry’s ‘Play that Funky Music White Boy’, an attempt at ‘Hocus Pocus’ by Focus and a self-penned creation called ‘Macbeth’ which sounded like a speeded up Black Sabbath.
We decided on calling ourselves The Rockwell Buzz Company for reasons which escape me. We had no plans or visions and didn’t need any because we had friends. Robbo was at the City College which was considerably more bohemian than Thorpe Grammar School and invariably people began to attach themselves to us. The most that crammed themselves into my bedroom with bed, drum kit and bass speaker was 12. I don’t know how that happened the room can’t be more than 100 ft square. Everyone apart from me and Robbo everyone smoked and we kept the windows shut to avoid too much noise pollution. My room from then on smelt like an ashtray.I would fall asleep in bed among amps, guitars and effects pedals. Some of our guests would have motorbikes which they would park, leaking oil on our front lawn. My parents remained unphased, my mum even going as far as to bring tea and biscuits into the fetid bedroom on occasions.
And so my world changed again. I suddenly had new friends, my 18th birthday beckoned
And Punk was on its way…..