Been back on my Bandmates project recently. The latest shoot was with Neil Laird, a super talented bass guitarist who I used to be in Homegroan with.
We met up a) so that I could take Neil’s photo and b) so that I could give him a copy of a studio recording we made together almost 20 years ago. One of the great things about this project is that it allows me to re-establish old friendships and have a good catch up, find out what folks have been up to since we were last together. I also enjoy getting other people’s points of view on the bands we shared together, what made them work, why they didn’t succeed as well as we’d hoped, why I, they or another member left the band etc… I quite often learn something that I never realized at the time or find myself re-assessing my own point of view. Pretty much always I arrive at the conclusion that what seemed massively important at the time, in the grand scheme of things, really wasn’t.
Neil and I were both members of Homegroan at a time when things were getting serious for the band on a number of levels. Firstly, we were writing some great songs, finding our own voice and had become, musically, really tight. We had a ‘co-manager’ called Steve who had, allegedly, music industry connections. In the small pond that was/is Wakefield we were one of the bigger fish. Secondly, however, two of our number had become addicted to heroin during this time, something that both parties managed to successfully conceal, from myself at least, for the whole time we were in a band together, but which ultimately led to the demise of the band (both members are alive and well so far as we both know by the way).
Talking through all this with Neil, with the benefit of 20 years hindsight, was really interesting and enjoyable and it certainly put a lot of things into perspective. Although we were both in Homegroan together for a relatively short period of time (around 12 months I think) both our lives were altered for better and for worse by the choices we both made at the time under the intoxicating influence that being in a great band can place upon you. I don’t think either of us would change too much about the past but I think we’ve both taken what we learned by those experiences to make our present musical ventures all the more enjoyable.
I’m pleased to say that Neil is still playing in various bands for which he has purpose built his own rehearsal room/recording studio, where our shoot took place and where Neil played me some of the music he’s been involved in making over the last few years. There is Me And My Mates, a band that Neil performs in with his brother Alan, that, frankly, bamboozled me with the many musical twists and turns that get packed into each song and you can catch him performing with his other marvellously named metal band Clown at ‘An Evening to Celebrate the Music of Ian Smart’ on September 18th at Warehouse 23 in Wakefield.