Till Deaf Us Do Part

Continuing the Bandmates project, last week I donned the Lycra and went cycling with my good friend Richard (henceforth to be referred to as Boris).

Boris and I have a long history of making a racket in pubs with our guitars stretching all the way back to the mid 90s when we formed Blues Assembly, or Blues Academy as one pub advertised us, which made us sound like Rock School affiliates offering courses on waking up in the morning, fixing to die and trying to find your baby.

Our twin guitar assault, powered by the compact yet obscenely loud Mesa/Boogie MkIIb and MkIII respectively, was the scourge of many a landlord keen not to upset his neighbours with antisocial levels of noise after nightfall. The way we got around this was to turn the amps down for the sound check and then incrementally turn them back up throughout the night with a kind of simmer to a boil effect. To be fair to Boris he was, and still is, half deaf and so couldn’t be blamed for cranking it up as it was something of a necessity really and in my own defense, I was just trying to keep up.

Were we really that loud? Well, I remember one night looking up to see the audience all as far away from us as they could possibly get without knocking a hole in the back wall, all wearing a strange kind of grimaced look on their faces. I also remember playing at an outdoor beer festival and my wife returning from the park half a mile away to tell me that she could hear the guitars clear as a bell while she pushed our son on the swings. Then there was the time that Boris’s amp was set up on his ‘deaf’ side and he turned it up so loud that I thought I might faint at any moment. So, yes, we were probably that loud but, as I’ve stated in the past, nobody really minds loud so long as the band’s great, which we were.

These days Boris equally enjoys the sound of the air rushing by as he hurtles down dirt tracks on his mountain bike at a gazillion miles an hour. Never one to do things by halves, Boris.


The Air That I Breathe

I am ON FIRE with the Bandmates project at the moment. Today I was fortunate enough to be deep in the belly of The Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield photographing Phill Arnold who, as well as being and incredibly technically gifted drummer, works as a member of the maintenance team there. Phill and I played in a band with Russ Smith (of ‘The Grand’ fame) back in our college days when we were young and fresh faced. Well, Phill and Russ were anyway.

While we were shooting Phill was telling me all about the climate control system that he helps to maintain at The Hepworth, how it controls the air temperature and the humidity in the galleries above so as not to cause any damage to the many priceless works of art that they have on display. No pressure there then. The data collected can then be used to prove the gallery’s suitability to house future exhibitions, on loan from other galleries, however, the slightest deviation from the perfect climate can sometimes be cause for alarm bells on the donor’s side apparently, so again, no pressure there then!

So the next time you visit The Hepworth, and if you haven’t you really should, think of Phill and the pressure he’s under to prevent millions of pounds worth of art disintegrating to dust and try not to breathe your body temperature air out into the gallery space. Much appreciated, thanks.

Here you are Phill, a nice one for yer mum!