A Link between Bombed Out!, Liverpool Musicians in New York and The Vietnam War in Laos.
Above Photo: A Cold Day in New York (© Camera2, Facebook)
I recently uploaded a video on You Tube. Shot in Vieng Xai, northern Laos, inside a massive cave complex where POWs were held during the Vietnam War, it was part of my research when writing my anti-war Backpacker/Vietnam crossover novel, BACK.
So why the fuck am I writing about it here, on my Punk and New Wave site?
Well, apart from some of the book’s protagonists hailing from New York, the reason I’m writing about it here and featuring the video (below) is because it also contains an interesting 1980s Liverpool band/musician link.
But first, I’m a rubbish videographer. I just babble over anything I’m shooting, thinking I’m David Attenborough or something. When I play it back I swear (literally) the next time I’ll keep my big mouth shut, but it never happens.
So on this video I needed to delete the sound of my waffle and I decided put some music over the top, and then to type far better descriptive captions over it than any commentary I could ever make up on the spot.
So, I contacted a friend, Mike Williams, who plays drums for a band called Camera2 in New York and who also writes and produces music through his own entity called Goodfinger, and asked if he could help me out.
Mike is from Liverpool. Too young to have got into Eric’s Club, he was a Brady’s-goer (Brady’s replaced Eric’s for a short while). He was also an inveterate hanger-outer on Probe’s steps (Probe was a famous Liverpool record store, where Pete Burns worked), and along Mathew Street in the early 1980s.
He recalled one of his memories of the time was “Actually plucking up the courage to enter Probe, it was so intimidating.”
“But it was inspirational. One afternoon Pete Burns [Dead or Alive] was working there with Paul Rutherford [Frankie Goes To Hollywood]. Ian McCulloch [Echo and the Bunnymen] was chatting to them at the counter when Wayne Hussey [Dead or Alive, and later The Mission, Sisters of Mercy] walked in. My head nearly exploded as a 14 year old fan of their bands. Realizing this was just an everyday occurrence in a record shop in Liverpool city center, it quickly became my weekly pilgrimage.”
Hanging around on the steps of Probe also launched Mike’s musical career:
“At 16, I was introduced to a bass player on the steps of Probe, who had ‘heard’ I could play drums. I told him I could but I didn’t have a kit. He said ‘No problem’ and a couple of days later he showed up at my house with one. No questions were asked till several weeks later some guy knocked on our door asking for his drum kit back. I wasn’t home at the time to deny all charges, so me ma gave him 20 quid. He went away happy, and I got my first drum kit…”
He said the song (called ‘Ghost’) which I’ve used in the video, was recorded in Brooklyn at Mission Sound studios. Written and produced by Mike, it was inspired by thoughts of being a lost soul in a big city, which theme also works brilliantly with the subject matter of the video.
There are some fantastic photos on Camera2’s Facebook site, not only of the band onstage, but all kinds of unusual gig and tour-related images, some of which I have used here.
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php
This is the video (dodgy videography and all):