What a rollercoaster ride this has been. Two weeks ago I was a knot of nervous energy and fear, wondering how our reunion would go. Now, with three days to go to our second and final gig I am preoccupied with 101 things that I need to do in the next few weeks, viewing our get-together as a highlight to be enjoyed. My faith has returned. How could I ever have doubted that things would work out?
We were so young and unformed when we first met. I certainly wasn’t ready for the attention and probably squandered a thousand unique opportunities. Would we have handled it differently if it had happened to us now? Most certainly. I think that our attitudes to everything from who we trusted to how we structured songs would have been much sharper. But of course, the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing.
What this reunion has taught me is that my fallow period needs to be brought to an end. For a while I needed to lie relatively low; life was exhausting and a burden at times so it made sense to “pupate” and wait for the right time to re-emerge. The confidence that the last few weeks and months have given me reinforces my overall plan, thin though it is, to end my self-imposed exile in the country and become part of the noisy, giddily-spinning world again. Life is exciting and full of surprises.
We have all grown up so much in the 22 years since we ended our day-in-day-out contact. I’m amazed by how ill-judged some of our decisions were and how we wilfully ignored the screaming evidence of our own eyes and ears. In the following years, working in the music business, I was able to spend time observing other people’s mistakes and triumphs and to measure our own choices against these. I developed strong opinions on the tiniest of seemingly insignificant details and became a nightmare to go to a gig with. I couldn’t watch a band without commenting on the sound (obviously), stage wear (quite important), behaviour of the crew (slightly nerdy) and range of merchandise (totally boring to my friends). I saw some of the best performers of the ‘90s at close range and I learnt a lot. Blur. The Chemical Brothers. Neil Young. Bjork. Beck. Super Furry Animals…at one point I was catching between 15 and 20 bands a week. If only we’d taken time out to do a bit of observation 22 years ago.
The thing is, when we started out we had so little idea of what a successful band did. We stayed small, rehearsing on a farm and running shy of major label interest early on. Later, we received some press criticism for not realising how good we were and for failing to fulfil our potential. I think that this was fair, in a way. We were, at times, scared of our own shadow. That’s the difference now. We know the value of what we do.
There’s no regret, no wishing for another chance, at least not on my part. There’s just no point. We are still slightly amazing in that we can’t, between us, name more than a couple of chords but can manage to play mostly in time and generally in tune. I’m looking forward to Saturday and to playing again in a way that I never used to when we were about to head out on tour. I was too often torn apart by self-doubt and crippled by fear. Now all of that is a memory and I can finally enjoy being in a band…