Twenty Years On

Posted on 3rd January 2008

Ark Appreciation Pages

Ark Appreciation Pages

Sometimes it's easy to think we live in a small world.

Over Christmas I played a few games of Hunters And Gatherers with DanDan. It's a game he really likes and the rest of my games are little too advanced for him at the moment. As a consequence I don't get to play Settlers Of Catan, El Garnde, Rail Baron or Elfenland very much these days. Every now and then I think about going along to a local games club, but never seem to get around to it. On New Year's Day I decided to lookup the Halesowen Boardgamers website again, except it seems I found the old website. I've thought about going along a few times over the last 5 years or so, but with their meetings clashing with Perl or Linux meetings, it's not happened.

As the website I found (the old one as it turned out) hadn't been updated in a while, I felt prompted to check whether the group is still going and sent an email. It seems they do still meet, every Wednesday at the same venue. Then I got a second email from Dave, who helps run the club. He'd had a quick look at my website and was surprised to discover that I had been involved with the band Ark. It turns out he was the original drummer with Damascus, the band that laid the foundations for Ark, and I even had him listed on the website! He tells me he has lots of stories, photos and even some tapes of the early days, so fingers crossed some of them may materialise on the website at some point. If nothing else he says I've definitely got to come along to a club meet :)

Even though Ark ended over 12 years ago, there is still a lot of affection and interest for them. Band members still occasionally drop me a line to let me know what they're doing or help to fill in some of the gaps on the website. Fans often ask if I have various releases available. Every now and then I'll meet someone who has seen them live, usually at Edwards No.8 and will reminisce how much they enjoyed the gig. With Gel still playing locally with Bleeding Hearts and John Jowitt still playing with IQ, there is still plenty to keep the interest going. As such, this year more than ever, I plan to upgrade the Ark site. I have been doing bits in the background for most of last year, but I have so many photos and tapes I really should get a move on and make them available. Who knows may be it'll mean I get to meet a few more band members and fans.

Another music/techie crossover moment happen a few months ago when I was arranging some dates with Leicester LUG to go over as part of the 2008 World Tour. Gary who organises the meetings also happened to look at my website and discovered that I was involved with Prolapse. It turns out he knows Turk, and used to work with a few of the guys, and sees them occasionally around Leicester too. It's quite possible we've even met a few times at the gigs. I'll be doing a couple of talks for the LUG this year, so it'll be fun catching up with Gary to see what other stories he has to tell of the band :)

In these instances it isn't really a small world, partly as Haleowen and Leicester aren't that far away, and also that both Ark and Prolapse are fairly recent memories, but it is nice to cross paths with people who remember the gigs and have interesting tales to tell. Plus they were both great bands and are worth remembering. I'm looking forward to meeting up with both Dave and Gary, and hopefully it'll prompt me to sort out the photos and tapes I have of both bands :)

File Under: ark / games / gigs / music / prolapse / roadie

Hungarian Suicide Song

Posted on 25th April 2007

The other night Nicole and I were watching QI, the excellent BBC quiz show with Stephen Fry, Alan Davies and a selection of great standup comedians. Stephen asked the question 'What is the most depressing song?'. The answer was 'Gloomy Sunday'. It didn't register anything with me, until he mentioned that it was also refered to as "The Hungarian Suicide Song". At this point I got interested. One of the bands I used to work for, Prolapse, had an instrumental track called 'Hungarian Suicide Song' on their first album, Pointless Walks To Dismal Places. It started me off on a trail to see what the guys were up to these days.

Along the way I discovered an old site about the band. The page that amused me was this one, that lists ten official bootlegs released by the band through the fan club. It amused me as I was the one that recorded and created them. I still have all the master tapes in the loft from the original gigs. In fact there are some good ones I still have from the later tours too. I love live recordings, especially ones I've been to, so was rather enthusiatic to get the band releasing some of the great live gigs. They agreed and gave me pretty much free rein to come up with the titles and artwork. The titles were outtakes of some suggestions I had for song titles. Most Prolapse songs rarely feature the title in the song, and they were trying to think up some unusual titles to use. I can't remember if they used any of my suggestions, but I did come up with a list that filled 2 sheets of A4.

I had a great time working with Prolapse, although I only helped out on a few tours between 1995 and 1997. I was primarily hired as their driver for their European tours, but also ended up being Tim's drum technician and their lighting engineer whenever they did a gig big enough. They played some interesting gigs over the years, and I had a great time working with them all. It was a really shame when Tim told me they were planning to split. Although I could hear the influences, they were quite a unique band and I don't think I've heard anyone quite like them before or since.

I haven't spoken to the band for quite some time, so I was interested to see if individually they were still playing gigs. I knew Tim loved playing, so it was rather unsurprising to find him still playing drums with MJ Hibbett & The Invaders. I was delighted to discover that he has also married Emma, and even recruited her into the band. I'll have to try and keep an eye on their gigs, as it would be great to see them again. It seems I missed them playing The Jug Of Ale in Birmingham last year, so fingers crossed I can get to a local gig this year. I've just looked at the website again today and it looks like it's had a facelift in the last few days. Personally I think the old version looks better.

Of the other guys it looks like they've all got proper jobs and are pretty all following the careers they studied for at Leicester. Maybe one day, when they are revered as much as Joy Division they'll be persuaded to reform. It'll be a great day if they do ;)

File Under: music / prolapse / roadie

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