I joined my first rock band Suspect when I was 16 or 17 and was the oldest member of the band. For most of the time that Suspect were together we did not have a drummer and instead used drum tracks created in a MIDI sequencer and recorded onto tape as backing tracks. I was the singer and also played occasional keyboards. Suspect never performed a single gig due to our lack of a drummer (it was still some time before bands playing to backing tracks would become acceptable - especially rock bands) but we recorded all of our songs (originals and covers) using a 4-track. Richard joined us on drums briefly but to be honest it didn't really work very well as is evident on the one track we recorded with this line up. Suspect didn't survive for long after I went to university. We had a couple more rehearsals during my first summer holiday but then we called it a day. Steve was later one of the founding members of the band Collapsed Lung who had some chart success and provided the music to one of the Coca-Cola adverts.
Suspect were: Simon Fox - Vocals/Keys Steve Harcourt - Guitar Derek Whayman - Bass/Keys Mark Daniels - Guitar (Richard Winter - Drums)
I started the band TDL when I went to Keele university. Unlike Suspect which had been very much a joint effort, TDL was really my band. Steve - the bass player - was also playing guitar in another band and TDL was very much a side project for him. A general apathy among the other members of the band ensured that I spent as much time trying to get everyone together for rehearsals as we actually spent rehearsing. Adrian wrote the music to a couple of the tracks but otherwise the writing was all by me. We only did one performance under the name TDL before changing the band name to Spirit (none of us realised that the name had been used before which caused some confusion at one gig). Despite being together for over two years we did just three gigs - two at Keele and one at the Square in Harlow which was recorded. Due to the complexities of one of the songs we performed (requiring two keyboard parts in some places and two guitar parts in others for example) this is the only band in which I have ever had to play any guitar. Thankfully this consisted of just strumming a few power chords - about the limit of my guitar playing ability. Before splitting up we recorded our original songs on a 4 track. By this time we had changed the band name to "Ten minute Syndrome". Steve and I were to get together again later.
Spirit were: Simon Fox - Vocals/Keys/Guitar Adrian Wallace - Guitar/keys Steve Hall - Bass/Guitar Paul Stinton - Drums
After the break up of Spirit I took a bit of a break from music to study for my finals.
I joined the band Night Circus when it formed shortly after I left university in 1993. We rehearsed in a pub basement in Crystal Palace which was somewhere between where Steve and I were sharing a house (in my home town of Harlow) and where the other band members lived, in or near Croydon. We rehearsed twice a week for nine months before doing our first gig and by that time we were very tight despite the fact that the songs we were performing were much more complex than any I had performed before. The complexities were mainly down to Mike who had a real gift for unusual arrangements. Unlike my previous bands I was not the vocalist in this one - I just played keyboards. By the time of our first gig I was playing better than I have ever played, before or since. Our first gig was at "The jolly gardeners" pub in Wandsworth where we played to a small but enthusiastic audience who loved our two sets - one mainly consisting of covers and one of mainly original material. At the time I would have preferred to stick to original material but Mike had argued strongly (and probably correctly with hind-sight) that it was easier to get pub gigs if you threw in a few covers. The singer in Night Circus was Richie Cooper who had been the singer in Steve's previous band "Dark Horse". Night Circus' second gig was at "The Swan" in Fulham where we were the last band out of four on the bill (the third being the main band). As a result we got onto the stage very late and many people had already left. I remember playing very badly that night although having listened to the recording since it was not as bad as I thought at the time. Shortly after this gig the other band members kicked me out (apparently for not being committed enough although I've since heard the full story and it's somewhat different). A couple more gigs were done under this line up, they recorded a couple of demos and "Restless Soul" got played on a local radio station. Richie was also later dropped from the line-up and Mike took over on vocals. Other priorities meant that the band rehearsed and performed less and less often but still got together for reunions occasionally until Steve, continuing the trend of members of my previous bands, moved abroad in 2002. I find it quite a compliment that even after kicking me out of the band, the others continued to end their live set on the only Night Circus song for which I wrote both the lyrics and music ("Under different skies").
Night Circus were: Dave Forsdyke - Drums Richie Cooper - Vocals Mike Cunningham - Bass Steve Hall - Guitar Simon Fox - Keys
After being unceremoniously dumped from Night circus it was a long time (until about 1997) before I got around to forming another band. This time I played keyboards and sung vocals. Sally played bass, Murray played drums and Andrew played guitar. For Andrew, this unnamed band was a side project because he was also playing in the already established band "The little dog laughed". This band got together for it's first rehearsal in a studio just outside Harlow. We all came prepared, having worked on a few songs we had circulated on tape in advance including "Under different skies" - the song I originally wrote for Night Circus and a song called "In Gladden fields" written by Sally. We also worked on a couple of covers - I can't remember which ones. I can honestly say that I have never played in a band that gelled so quickly and easily. "In gladden fields" was practically performance quality by the end of the rehearsal including some great harmony vocals by Andrew. Unfortunately, shortly after that first rehearsal, Murray went to work on a project in Scotland and Andrew's other committments meant that the band never got together for a second rehearsal.
After the failure of my unnamed band to ever have a second rehearsal there was another long gap before I again got involved in anything musical. Ironically, it was the birth of my son that got me writing and recording music again. I say ironically because having a child meant that I had much less free time to spend on such things. In the end it came about because, with less time on my hands I was forced to choose between music or programming - my two main hobbies at the time because there was really no-longer time for both in my life. It wasn't an easy decision but the music won out. Now I write and record in my home studio and as you'll see from the credits lists for my songs, Steve (who has now returned to the UK) and I still collaborate from time to time.
That's the abridged version. For the full version you'll have to visit my website.