I can’t accurately recall but I believe Paul told Will we no longer required his services as a bass player. I know Will held a grudge for many years about his sacking, and shortly thereafter moved to London.
A word about Will. We must have met when the Maldon Grammar school turned comprehensive, around 1969, although I can recall seeing Will in the loos at Grammar school, hanging out with the bad boys, and smoking cigarettes. I think he told me he started smoking around the age of 7, can you imagine that in this day and age? His early childhood was spent living in a beach hut close to the Mill Beach pub, I can’t begin to understand how cold and damp that was, but he describes those years pretty cheerfully.
We shared an obtuse sense of humour(inspired for the most part by Monty Python’s flying circus) which we waved like a Rebel flag. We are talking about the man, be great-coated with long black greasy hair, who Nazi saluted Her Majesty on her first visit to Maldon in 1971. Because Will was always the rebel, perhaps brought about by his Father’s disciplinarian attitude. We tuned in, loved the same stuff, the same girls, the same Rock’n’Roll(initially Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies, Mott the Hoople), the same comics(mostly Jack Kirby, but we feverishly collected British comics too)and had had our “rites of passage” together. Whilst we were still at Colchester tech Will played a one off gig at the Art school as the “Degenerates” with Matthew West(in 1975, at a “Dada art” party thrown by Edwin Pouncey ). He made himself ridiculously high platform shoes, and wore a Top hat with a syringe stuck in it! I did my best Johnny Thunders impression, playing a Yamaha SG, in a band called Dawn Treader(prog or what?)all chiffon and platform sandals, courtesy of Hilary Peyton.
Will was the Punk archetype proper, the real thing, and in the day he looked like a hybrid of Dee Dee Ramone and Lou Reed. The Velvet Underground loomed large in our influences(thanks to David Gowlett), and both Will and my guitar playing was firmly on the downward stroke, a la “I’m waiting for the Man”, with added Johnny Ramone fuzz and ram-a-lama. Now he could no longer be part of it, but the Accidents had to move on. World domination was our goal and for that we needed someone bang on the money bass guitar wise. Time to call another old mate of mine, Nick Fisher
Just like Mark, Nick had attended Maldon county primary school with me. When I was a kid I always thought he was American, and I believe his oldest sister did actually marry in the USA so the family no doubt visited the States from time to time. Nick has always had a huge creative streak, whether it be music or painting. He’s a fabulous artist(just like Sir Seager)but his bass playing is phenomenal. I once read a quote from Keith Richards that said if he could have any accolade after his death, it would be that he’d influenced other people’s guitar style. Thanks to Carl Seager Nick’s unique technique has been taught to many, and I’m sure anybody that’s ever played with the man has been influenced musically by him. And in the unlikely event that hasn’t occurred Nick’s gentle and wise demeanour, coupled with his outrageous sense of humour would knock anybody for six! And like Mark he remains one of my closest friends to this day.
Prior to joining the Accidents Nick had been a pro musician for some time, playing West End shows in London. Godspell and Jesus Christ superstar are the two I can remember, his partner in crime drumwise being Colin Woolway, another great muso who ended up doing a stint in the Flying Heroes along with Nick and I. Nick must have joined the Accidents Autumn 1978, whilst Tony Lowe managed the band. Tony had moved from London and bought a house in Church walk. Him and his business partner Steve ran a small leather goods shop in Maldon, and they drank in the Queen’s Head on the quay, our local, the place where Will and I had spent most of our adolescence. Tony was an original Mod and a natural born hustler. He had, to paraphrase his good self, “more front than Buck house!” He knew a lot of the shakers and movers of the time, and the ones he didn’t know were in his sights. Tony was convinced the Accidents would be a major success, and for probably the better part of a year, he tried to make that happen.
The sound the Accidents made now was super tight and professional. Nick, Paul and Mark were leagues beyond me musically, they literally could play anything. And our look had changed too. Gone were the Ramones t shirts and leathers, on went the skinny ties and winkle pickers.
Tony decided we’d best make some demos to showcase our new sound, so he called upon an old mate of his, John Loader. Tony knew John via the Crass, who we’d hung out with at their farm in Epping, Penny Rimbaud being a mutual friend and an old mate of Tony’s. And we had another Crass connection too because whilst I was at Art school around 1975, Eve Libertine was in my year.
John was a very disciplined producer/arranger, and how he ever survived working with the Jesus and Mary chain let alone Big Black baffles me! There were “no needles in the red” or excessive volumes, and very little in the way of effects, so in that sense it made us work harder. But personally I felt like I was back at school, with a very strict master, who had little time for our creative nuances. But the experience proved fruitful and twice, in November 1978 and March 1979 we went Southern studios in Barnet and made demos with Mr Loader. Tony, Paul and Nick met with Jack Bruce with a view to him mixing the “Blood spattered with guitars” demos, but sadly it didn’t happen.
Tony and I visited all sorts of posh record company offices in London, playing our demos to countless A&R men, who for the most part politely declined, with the exception of Chris Parry. Chris had A&R’d and done some production at Polydor. He’d made a enough money to go independent, and had put the Fiction label together.
The first band that he’d “discovered” were the Cure. After much negotiation Chris asked Tony and I to attend a Cure gig at the Elephant and Castle pub in London. Mr Parry was mixing their sound and when we got there he invited us to sit with him and watch them. In those days the Cure were a three piece band, and Robert Smith sported an Afro hairdo, which really spoilt the effect for me! After a couple of songs Chris turned round and asked what I thought of the band. Partially as a result of too much record company hospitality, but mostly because in those days if someone asked my opinion I’d give it to them straight(without my aquired dipomacy!)I told him I thought they were shit. At that point Chris Parry’s interest in the Accidents suddenly waned. Oh dear.
When Nick announced in Spring ’79 he was going back to his pro gig, this time with the Rocky Horror Show touring company, and Tony had decided he’d move to Cornwall, things were to change for us once more……