Reincarnation of The Lizard Queen
7” single on Eli Records. Eli 025
5 070000 092508
… a bit of background:
I’ve been messing about with DIY recording ever since my days in NOTSENSIBLES.
For the last several years, I’ve been using the same 8 track set-up in my back room and it suits me just fine: an old 8 track digital recorder (Yamaha MD8); a couple of OK effects (Drawmer Front End MX60 & Lexicon PCM 80) and a few decent mics.
I’ve played in loads of 3-piece bands (all guitar, bass and drums – I’m into simplicity). One of the longest standing was Vincent Black Lightning. We recorded 2 albums, an EP and a single and we played 100s of gigs. The drummer was Andrew ‘Bish’ Davies and his son Bryn played his first gig, aged 13, standing in on bass for us.
A couple of years later in 2016, Bryn joined local teenage band The Goa Express on keyboards. Bish asked me if I would do a single for them and I said yes. It became a real labour of love – we cut the card for the sleeves on the guillotine in the cellar then finished them off using a scalpel and a purpose built folding and cutting jig (check out the video on YouTube of making the sleeve – here). Once folded, the sleeves had to be glued and put in a nipping press a few at a time – extremely time-consuming!
The logo for the cover was designed by drummer Sam Launder’s mum and I adapted it into a 2-colour woodblock. The rest of the cover was printed using letterpress on an Adana 8X5 – each sleeve has gone through the press a total of 6 times: twice for the Goa Express logo on the front; Once for the pink title on the front; once for the black lettering on the back; once for the eli records logo on the back and finally once for the blind embossed eli records logo on the front (which is hard to spot – you have to look for it).
The single itself came as a white label and is printed on the Adana using an adapter – once for the lettering and once for the logo. There are 500 hand-numbered copies. Every copy is slightly different and the ink smudges, roller marks and finger prints are all part of the process.
We went to a lot of effort to launch and promote the single. I filmed loads of footage for a video, which Bish and I spent many hours painstakingly editing together. There’s a great scene at the bottom of our street filmed in the dark, under the light of a lamp post of them skateboarding, which is pretty cool.
The live scenes are filmed at the legendary Golden Lion in Todmorden and the rest is filmed in the back room where we recorded it and in Bish’s music room. Richard ‘WAKA’ Walker, landlord of the Golden Lion was managing them at the time.
James Clarke played my 1964 Hofner Verithin, through my Vox distortion pedal and hand-built 20-watt valve amp. He got the blistering guitar solo down in a couple of takes.
I managed to get the single as an official Record Store Day release and painstakingly sent out one or two copies to loads of independent record shops.
For the actual launch, I arranged 2 gigs in one day – one at our local record shop Astonishing Sounds where the band signed singles afterwards and one in the evening at The Town Mouse – the band signed a full box of singles at the evening gig, which are still available. The whole project took a gargantuan amount of effort. As with all ultra-musos like me, we do it for the love of it and selling a few records is a bonus, not to mention breaking even. I wrote about the project fondly in my book Painting Snails. Bryn later left the band to play bass in Bulbeater with my son Sam and was replaced by another keyboard player.
A year or so later, it was a thrill to see the band starting to do well. Steve Lamacq played the single and they got signed to Rough Trade Management (nothing to do with the Rough Trade that distributed the Notsensibles singles – it’s just a sold-on brand name these days).
One day, I got an email from James (singer and guitarist) asking me to take the video down. He was saying ‘We’ve moved on man’. I was surprised, because it’s a great video which had got a few thousand views – it shows a young band in their first energetic flush and there’s nothing wrong with it – nothing controversial – nothing embarrassing.
I replied explaining that I had no intention of taking it down because I’d spent a lot of money making the single and the video helped promote it. I’d only sold a few and nowhere near broken even.
Next thing, I got a privacy violation notice from YouTube, which was rubbish. There’s no privacy violation – it was made with the full consent of everybody participating. I contested it and the video remained on YouTube – I thought it was very dishonest and sneaky of them to lie about it. A while later, I got an email from Calum Cassidy at Rough Trade Management:
I hope this finds you well. Iv recently started working with The Goa Express and they tell me they are really keen to have the ‘Reincarnation of the Lizard Queen’ video taken down from Youtube. Obviously it was made a while back and they don’t feel it really represents what they are trying to do now. Everyone really appreciates the work you put into the release but they are wanting to start fresh with a clean slate. Apparently they’ve been trying to reach out for this for a while, so please let me know if you can help in getting this taken down.
Again, I contested it, pointing out that the Beatles never tried to hide their early Hamburg days and the Who never denied their iconic 1964 Railway appearance.
Finally, I got an email from YouTube saying that they’d taken the video down due to copyright infringement. Again this is untrue, because the single is meticulously registered with all the royalties agencies with the band’s full knowledge and consent.
I’m pleased that they’re doing well, but disappointed that they feel the need to try and erase their past – especially in such a dishonest way. In my opinion, it smacks of spoilt-twat delusions of grandeur. What kind of band snivels about being seen in public ffs? I can think of a few choice lines from Withnail and I that suit the situation. Paradoxically, banning something always tends to increase interest and the (entirely legitimate) video is starting to go viral elsewhere.