Got a little guest blog for you all to enjoy this week!
Sean’s been with us for nearly two years now. We’ve toured endlessly with him and done one of them compact discs, so he has a good story to tell. I asked him to write this a while ago but never found the right place to post it, as no one looks at myspace and Random Hand don’t have a functioning website at the moment (we will sometime soon, maybe). But this seems like a good place to put it up as its relevant to the point of the blog. I didn’t write it but that’s not the point!
So here are the unedited words of Sean Howe on inception and destruction by Random Hand, enjoy…
Wow time does fly. I find it really frustrating when I get the feeling that the older I get, the quicker time passes. That’s why I’ve now been in RH more like 18 months, so this is a little overdue…whoops! How did that happen…
It’s a bit difficult to know where to start really. When I was 1st asked join the band…gotta be honest, I’d only heard the 1st album, knew there were some good hooks on it but didn’t own a copy. So then I went on you tube and listened to some stuff. I’d seen them play live quite a few times so I knew they were a good, but after looking at all the stuff of them at festivals, the amount of gigs they’d done, who they’d played with etc, I got a little more tempted, but it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life – I’d been living in Chester for years, I had some good friends and had several good jobs drum teaching and gigging in various places, but I’d grown to overwork. I never got any time to myself, and everyone knows what too much work can do to your soul.
Getting to know the band was quite straight forward. I didn’t get Matt at first, but he grew on me well. Like shoulder hair. I didn’t see us getting on at first but it was nice to be surprised. Robin looked like you might get your ear bit if you got on his wrong side, but seemed alright so I stopped worrying. It took me a while to understand his bone-dry sarcasm as I kept getting suckered when he tried to convince me with great confidence many facts that didn’t sound kosher, at all. And Tilston was also a good ol chap. A spade was a spade. We had a lot of similar taste. I didn’t understand why he hummed in between conversations, and still don’t, but he was a good laugh, as were the rest of em.
Also, being introduced to their booking agent was interesting, watching his friend get her tits out in the bar we were in while she talked about S&M was wierd…
So it was April or May when I joined the band? Before joining I’d spent a LOT of time trying to figure out if this was really a good idea, and then a friend said ‘look, you’re never gonna find the perfect band, you’ve been in like, 20…just give it a go.’ It stopped my dithering for sometime. It seemed like in all the time I’ve played music I’ve never been truly committed. Because I love so much music, it’s nearly impossible to do everything you want AND do that as one project, because in a band you have to accommodate for 3 or 4 other dicks, which really cramps your style, haha.
A few dates with Strung Out and Mustard Plug and they knew me pretty well, and after a short while with the band it was becoming kind of obvious that my stint in punk/hc/ska wasn’t destined to be over yet. It was too much fun.
Oh, and they definitely knew how little I could drink! (A story for another time) you’ll have to ask me but if you want what really happened, ask someone else.
So the highlights of this year? I dunno. We’ve played/toured with so many amazing bands - Skints, Dirty Rev, the JB Conspiracy, KB, SB6, Mr Shiraz, Fishbone, T.Alun, Chief, Stand Out Riot, Leagues Apart, Just Panic, Broken Nose, Capdown. Oh yeah and we went to Russia , France, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Leeds and Reading (although I started smoking again that weekend) Rebellion, the list goes on. The friends we’ve been on tour with and made while travelling has been totally amazing.
Jamming with JB in Nottingham Maze was fucking awesome. In between very drunk, half their band was ripping it up with all these jazz tunes. Their drummer Bob parodied himself as the typecast chat show host, and we all marvelled at how fitting his chin was for such a job.
It was most amusing…oh how we laughed… but this kind of stuff happens a lot, which is one of the reasons it’s been so fun. If I’m honest, in all the bands I’ve played in, this is one of the best. Sure sometimes I wish I could play in stuff that’s like at the gates/machine head. Sometimes I wish I could still do the dance/drum n bass I did in my last band (yeah the next album will be just like Neurosis playing Pendulum, but for this to happen our guitarist will have to be given lots of drugs, and then be given the wrong address of the studio, in India).
I’ve come to understand that ambition is great but it’s useless if you take yourself too seriously.
Stuff I’ve remembered.
Matt and Joe had a Moustache Monday and minced circularly round a supermarket trolley in Asda to the Human League looking like Ron Jeremy and everyone’s notoriously shifty uncle. I Can’t believe matt got laid in that thing, I suppose it showed a true test of wit, or the absurdity of Newcastle.
Playing in sawyers on Halloween ’10 - any excuse to wear a dress (what)
I’ve slept drunk and naked next to a gumby Russian who couldn’t speak English. That was an awkward morning after.
Thought the world was going to end in France.
Found myself in so many places on tour watching a band I love or have never even heard before, that fit a rough description to Against Me’s ‘reinventing Axl Rose’ and thinking how great it is to be somewhere new all the time. It has a certain dream-like quality to it, because really spontaneous stuff just happens around you without any effort. The same goes for the people you meet.
Not to forget what happened in Steve’s toilet.
And many more that will jog my memory at some point. Cheers to another year and more
This is Sean Howe
I first learnt of the existence of this band when I was chatting to Nick Horne on the ‘first’ last ever Howards Alias tour, at the 1in12 club in Bradford. He was at the time also playing with No Comply and he asked if I knew some of the Guys from that band had a side project called Crazy Arm. He would not be the last person to bring up the fact that both Random Hand and Crazy arm are both made up of adjective and body part, which is a hilarious coincidence, but he can rest soundly that he was the first. I will also add on an unrelated note that this particular gig was one of my fondest times working as a promoter with my chum Jym, it was one of the best crowds I have ever seen in the 1in12 and the band where immense, the fact I got to support Howards Alias as well was the icing in the cake.
Enough, this is about crazy arm. It wasn’t long after first hearing about them that I poked around on Myspace looking for some traces of this band. I soon came across a profile and the song “Henry Fabian Flynn”. Any one who was in talking distance for the next few days knew about this song, everyone who lived with me was subject to it over and over and shared my enthusiasm for what we where hearing. I can honestly say I don’t remember being this excited about a band or song since. No doubt I will eat my words while writing and remembering things over the the course of this blog, but for now this was the greatest song in the world! I can only attribute my excitement to my folk music upbringing and self taught love for rock being combined in the sound they where making, also with the added help of the fact it was of course the greatest song in the world… at that time… they wrote more.
Due to the fact I have never kept a diary and large parts of my early twenties where spent exceptionally drunk, the order and details of these accounts may not match those of other people who have lived a similar experience and time line. So for the sake of these ramblings… I am right.
It wasn’t long after the discovering of this band that No Comply in fact broke up. This appeared to give Jon and Simon, who where in No Comply, the opportunity to make this there main focus and it soon worked out that they where put on some gigs with us and not much later a tour with ourselves, Failsafe and Sonic Boom Six as part of the Hidden Talent ‘Three way dance 2006’. The Three way dance was a kind of bonding exercise that the booking agents rosta embarked on once a year. Office workers get team building in Scarborough for a weekend, we got two weeks in a van chasing each other round the country and drinking everything we could… oh and playing some gigs as well.
After first playing with Crazy Arm the talent and craftsmanship of their music became apparent. Darren the singer has such a quality and delivery to it, unlike anything I had witnessed playing with the bands we’d played with and seeing him and Dan grabbing spanners to do slide solos in the gorgeous open tunings they used to then throw them away and rock the fuck out again was another thing you just where not going to see any other band do. Jon and Simon’s chemistry as a rhythm section was also unique. Jon had taken to playing the bass much like a guitar, the use of open tunings lending itself once again to proceedings allowing him to strum epic bass chords that where not present in the backing of any other band on the scene and Simon quite simply just wanting to hit stuff and play hard made this band impossibly powerful. I remember standing with Neil from Sonic Boom Six and watching them in a crappy football club in Calverly, jaws dropped and loving every second. Meanwhile 16 year old kids that just didn’t get it ran around playing tig and finding corners to finger each other. I think its safe to say that playing in these scenarios led to a great deal of frustration for this fantastic band, they where never going to go down well with the kids who wanted to hear some Ska.
I think it was a few nights before the evening just mentioned that we played in Southampton and Darren handed me a drink in the take away after we played, ‘hey Tilston, get some of this down ya’ he said, all friendly and jovial with a pat on the back ‘it’s whisky and coke’ needless to say it was not whisky or coke, but in fact Vinegar, an indecent humiliation and personal intrusion that I am still working on paying back.
It’s starting to become apparent that I could write about this band for hours and I’ve only just touched on the first experiences with them and I have written something close to a dissertation, I haven’t even mentioned Cross Country the first release or the never ending tale of the wait and release for Born to Ruin, an album that I had in it’s finished state a year before it was released, or how Darren broke his leg running across a festival field in Czech to say hi to Laila from SB6, but got back to play a blinding set the next day but had to sit down. There is also the many stories of their shit vans, how they would over take us on the way to every show we played with them laughing and pointing, accompanied by robin saying… “that van won’t last” and it didn’t!! they broke down minutes away from the last show of the three way dance in Leeds only to have to be towed all the way BACK to Plymouth! GUTTED. Later tales with vans included them losing the reverse gear and driving down a dead end in Huddersfield, fun pushing times. Its amazing how much you miss reverse when you aint got it and obviously this led to them breaking down on the way to the next show of the tour missing that and probably being towed to Plymouth from the Midlands
There are so many gems of hilarity and calamity that I have both witnessed first hand and heard about surrounding this band over the years but I feel I need to do a simon peg and ‘skip to the end’ to keep some of you people actually reading as imagine most people apart from the band reading this have started to skim.
The curse of slow releases, tour cancellations, missed opportunities and line up changes are things that hit all bands but seem a great deal less deserving to this outfit as they had enough against them as it is. Its not always easy for a band to play to the right people if its members already had a profile in a less appropriate scene from their previous bands, it took a few years for promoters to start putting this band where they should be across the country with the right bands, but it does appear to be happening now. They are held in exceptional high regard by their peers, no one wants to play after Crazy Arm, but there is a lot to be said about playing to the wrong crowd and that has led to the band to be surrounded by an air of frustration. Any time I have talked to them at length, that is the one word I would use to describe their situation. Frustrated. But the more recent changes seem to have made up for a lot of the early disgruntlement. Jon Moving to guitar and getting Tim coming in on bass when Dan decided to leave, brought a great balance and new vigour to the live performance. The band never appeared to lack anything in the old line up but it became apparent that they could do much more once things changed. The regular appearance of Vicky adding some luscious vocals to the mix also shows this bands eagerness to stray away from the norm and just do what sounds right, something that everyone should take note from.
Born To Ruin finally got released in June 2009 on Xtra Mile recordings and in 2010 supported Frank Turner on what was their biggest exposure to date, finally some recognition they deserve! It is also looking like the cancelled Against Me tour that was supposed to follow that one has been re-arranged and they will be embarking on another equally high exposure tour playing to exactly the right people they should be, later this year. If there is any justice people will show them as much love as they will for the head liners and support some home grown folk/rock/alt/heavy/jingly jangly/cow punk.
Crazy Arm have never done anything fast, although I imagine the pace has added to the frustration over the years I don’t think it has done them any harm, as they have not released anything short of brilliant as a result of this slow distilling process. Its frustrated me and other fans alike that this band seemed to be catching on with people slowly but it feels like a tipping point has been reached, no longer can I expect to know everyone who turns up to see them when the play locally and I haven’t been able to expect that for a while, which is an awesome thing. They are no longer mine and my mates little secret band, they are soon to be everyone’s. Seeing people I don’t know pretending to ride horses at the front of their shows and singing every word at them has filled me with pride by association and I know its not going to stop there.
So if you love this band, as I do, go tell someone who hasn’t heard Crazy Arm about them. play them ‘Born To Ruin’ tell em to keep an eye out for the next local gig and that ‘Union City Breath’ will be out in September. This band genuinely have more to say and more heart than most and deserve your time and help, and in today’s music industry where independent artists are forced to sell there work for as little possible your help is all they have.
Also go say hi to their merch girl Rachael who is awesome and check out any band mentioned in this blog that you are unfamiliar with, as they all equally deserve your attentions.
Bands are a curious and amazing thing.
Groups of friends or complete strangers have a spark of similar interest and decide to start playing instruments together. At this point none of them know or consider the effects on themselves or the people around them that will follow.
The moment you first enter a practice room with people there is an infinite amount of possibilities that could unravel from that point. You could fall out within days over a chorus or you could form lasting bonds that take you through decades. There is no telling what effect the music you create will have on the people who hear it. People will argue over the merits of what you create, others may take inspiration from what you write, in a both positive and negative manner. On another level people will make friends at your gigs, romantic relationships will form, the list of effects and influence goes on and on. The more the effects of creating a band are considered, the bigger deal it becomes, If people realised how much social influence and pressure was on them the moment they started, some people may have got nervous and bottled it before the first gig!
The effect on one’s self is also a huge deal. If you become serious about the band you are playing in and it becomes the focus of your life, a lot of sacrifices must be made, personal relationships and financial security being the two most instantly obvious points of sacrifice, but there is such a high level of personal sacrifice and compromise that has to be endured. You are effectively entering into a weird quasi, romantic, business relationship with your band mates… A Marriage I suppose, only with less sex… or more sex depending on the band. Not to say that there isn’t a million awesome good things to come from the marriage though; You could potentially see the world and meet amazing people that you wouldn’t have met working in an office or McDonalds. You could write music that tops charts, go places no band has played and meet your heroes… why would you not start a band?
Any way I’m straying from the point of my waffle. Starting a band is an amazing and very important thing. It happens for so many different reasons, be it for the love of music or attention its all valid. Music lovers can take as much influence and inspiration from an attention seeker on stage as they can from the most gifted musician in the world, so there is no right or wrong way it should be done.
I’ve decided to start this Blog about my experiences and the bands I have come in contact with and witnessed growing on the road along with my thoughts on their conception and rise and in some cases maybe there fall and demise. I don’t pretend to be a gifted writer. I’m very aware that I’m not and my miss use of punctuation and correct spelling will drive the grammar police to tears, but I’m not writing this for them… or even you really. its for me, but you can look :)
I know who I want to write about first and will be putting that together now. if you have any bands you know Random Hand have played with and know you would like to have an insight on send me a message and I’ll see if I can put something together.
Funny things happen on the road!