As the Central Line pulls out of the tunnel to the West London suburbs sunlight stabs through the trees in to the carriage from an ice-blue, Winter sky. To North Acton - guitar on back and a suitcase full of effects; fuzz, echo, tremolo…

Survival Studios (“The leading provider of music rehearsal facilities in London”) run down but friendly rehearsal rooms. Silver Gaffa tape binds down the frayed ochre carpet; the walls are “off-white”. Bands of all shapes, sizes, ages, styles and genres come and go day and night. Today Sadie and the Hotheads are in room 6. Terl, Nick, Steve, Ron, Philly, Elizabeth and Simon.

Terl is flamboyant, effervescent, dapper and unique; creative and entertaining. Nick spends some moments leaning back against the wall, eyes closed – possibly considering what he will play next, or else just feigning sleep before he sways into action – a kaleidoscope of cubist sound fills the room from deft fingers. Ron slithers on upright – pins it down.

Steve points out errors in the bar-count and weaves bouzouki countermelodies. The girls focus on the meaning of the lyrics and shape the songs.

Small Tasks sounds like Stand By Me. Old Boyfriends is flippant and frivolous. On Blues Song Simon and Nick deliberately push each other further off-key rather like Tom Waits and Marc Ribot – The Piano Has Been Drinking, indeed. A majestic Use It Up  soars through the small room like a caged thing trying to make an escape… and it’s done. The UK tour starts here.

Simon

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