The Lost Jockey became too big, too unwieldy, too underpaid and too acrimonious to survive, and in 1984 a more manageable band emerged –
(named after one of my father’s flint sculptures – why?), consisting of Glyn Perrin, Shaun Tozer, Charlie Seaward, John Lunn, Andy Blake, Martin Ditcham and me. Martin, busy playing for Sade, was later replaced by Simon Limbrick. The aim was to take the Lost Jockey minimalism in the direction of pop, dance music and jazz, to get paid to play, and to concentrate on recording.
We made two albums Jumpcut (1984, Cocteau Records) and World Service (1986, EG), in collaboration with the brilliant sound engineer Philip Bagenal and the producer Mike Hedges, at Eastcote Studios in Kensal Rise, London. Jumpcut seems radical in retrospect, a mad analogue confection, frisky, unclassifiable, full of strange sounds and curious structures. World Service is more self-conscious, more careful, a product of the new digital technology – Akai samplers, sequencing. The recording sessions were long, frustrating, exhilarating.
The reviews were complementary. Brian Eno described us as ‘the most important band in the world’. Or did he? No one was ever quite sure. The sales were disappointing. Managers were bought in, and mostly succeeded in irritating us. We probably would have benefited more from psychotherapists. I remember finding myself, on a trip to New York, on the nth floor of a tower block in the offices of Geffen records, with the task of persuading some A&R man to give us a record deal. As I walked into his office he was, unbelievably, doing what all A and R people are famously supposed to do: he was sitting in front of a huge pile of cassettes, inspecting each one briefly and throwing it in the bin. Eventually he looked up at me and said ‘What can I do for you?’ With a nervous hand I put the needle on to our rather amazing 12-inch single In The Jungle. After about three seconds he said ‘I hate this kind of music.’ The track churned on pointlessly as I tried to prolong the conversation, feeling more homesick – three and a half thousand miles from home and several hundred feet in the air - than I’ve ever been before or since.
We gave performances in London and on tour in Britain. Someone described us as having the combined stage presence of a step ladder. (The music was hard to play! What did they expect?) We supported the deeply cool skronk master Arto Lindsay at the ICA in London. We did a rather glorious gig at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which included the elaborate Lenin Tempted By A Job In Advertising. (The evening was mildly compromised from our point of view by being locked into our dressing room - we were eventually set free by a helpful man who demolished the door with an axe.) We collaborated with the choreographer Christopher Bannerman on dance pieces for London Contemporary Dance Theatre and made the music for Weighing The Heart with the dance company Second Stride. Two of the sections of this spectacular and beautiful dance piece became The Perils of Tourism and The Wedding.
The band split in 1987, torn apart by disappointment. We were saved from Pink Floyd-style hell by the complete absence of any financial wrangling. There was no money. I remember a gruesome night of epiphany a few weeks before the split. Charlie was kindly giving me a lift from London to a gig in Manchester. Not far from London the car broke down. Bizarrely we elected not to call the AA, but to take a taxi. The taxi cost £175, and we gave the driver an enormous tip, curiously, I think, because we were so angry. We found ourselves in the middle of an interminable sound check. 43½ people turned up for the gig, and then it was time to go home. And time to find some other way of occupying ourselves.