7 Jan 1995
A&M aren’t enamoured with the new CUD demo, though they do like ‘Stay’ and ‘In my confidence’ written with Alan Whyte. The news is troubling. Mike’s meeting Edwyn Collins next as he is manoeuvred into more alternative songwriting partnerships.
I hear the mixed demo at last and feel inclined to agree with A&M. Carl’s vocals, affected by a cold are rather poor. For two songs he affects a Dick Van Dyke Cockney!? There is a lack of hits. It will make getting a new publishing deal that much harder.
I agree with a friend that I will move to London in May. I am still expecting this date to be after the recording of the next album.
Meeting with Jim about songwriting. We agree the Alan Whyte songs are the best of the bunch and that more work is needed on the lyrics overall.
Bankruptcy is forecast by Easter if we don’t enter the next payment date of album recording or strike a new publishing deal. A&M regard us as a lazy band. Perhaps we are.
Carl tells me he has no plans to return to Leeds. I tell him of my own plans to join him in the capital.
Even after yesterday’s gloomy prospects, Mike manages to introduce two new promising songs to rehearsals.
After a heavy snow, Carl tries to get out of rehearing, but the roads clear too soon. It’s bad news for me, hungover and weary after little sleep, my bass-playing is piss poor and I get a deserved bollocking off Meister Mike.
After an OK rehearsal Jim calls me at home to say he is coming over tomorrow for a meeting... about me. Mike’s unhappiness with my poor playing and the impression I’m giving that I am unhappy with my role has meant the issue of my position in the band needs airing. I feel sick, my stomach aches as if overfed. I don’t know what to say. I take a walk to weigh the pros and cons of leaving.
Pros: I would be able to concentrate on my comic writing and drawing which I feel more capable of doing than bass playing (worn down by Mike’s complaints).
I could move to London and my friends. I wouldn’t have to face the frustration of disappointing myself and the band. I wouldn’t be so stressed.
Cons: No money. Work in comics is hard to come by. Being in a band is one of the most thrilling activities.
But now, with no recordings lined up, songs I don’t enjoy playing and don’t even rate so highly, no gigs lined up, no publishing deal, CUD feels like a slowly sinking ship. Will I be the first rat to leap off?
I don’t know what would let the band down most – me staying or quitting.
I guess I’ll face the music tomorrow, see what the others have to say. Part of me feels like I’m putting off the inevitable, that, if Mike hadn’t done it, I would have had to organise this meeting soon myself.
I sleep on it. The best people to talk with about this are the rest off the band.
The meeting is delayed by a late Carl and it is he who first gets a telling off for his failure to return Jim’s call last night. Then it’s mainly a sad, diplomatic discussion of my position. I come clean. I admit how bored I am, my frustration with my playing, and I confess my ambition to get work in drawing and writing. I probably talk myself out of the band, but I’m honest.
If I insist I could put twice the effort in as now, I might be good enough to still be replaced by a session player on the next album. Though nothing about money is discussed, I estimate our assets in equipment are equal to a future tax bill but I will need some money to set myself up in London.
I have made up my mind. I am leaving. I’m ready to do the next thing, to head south for the next way of life. I’m nervous but excited at being focussed on getting comics work but also sad for what I will miss, for the next time I see CUD perform... without me. The next record they release... without me.
(Neither happens, as it turns out.)
There is no practice. We arrange to meet up later for drinks.
Now I’m decided, the evening begins as rather friendly. I am smiling and positive. Mike is open and admits CUD have a possibly limited future and how upset he’s be if I couldn’t come to his imminent wedding. I fill up. Carl is quiet all night and we both cry when we look at each other. It’s very emotional. I care for all the band so much. I know I will see them for a while longer while I sort things out. I even offer to continue rehearsing with them for a while longer and offer my archives for the fan club magazine. I will be following their future closely while I persevere with my own.
Mike calls it ‘CUD’s greyest day’.
The rest of this diary I write as an ex-member of CUD, not there for the day-to-day business, not privy to all the new songs, squabbles and deals. But there are some things I know.
Jim calls. My severance contract is yet to arrive with my two months pay. The band have asked Mick Dale from the Poppy Factory to play bass temporarily till a new demo is completed in March. Jim wants me to write a farewell in the Space CUDets fanzine, which I do.
I hear that Craig Cooper is telling everyone I’ve been “sacked from CUD”. Is this the official line?
After over a month away, I call Mike. We get on well. The band have finished a 19-track demo, seven songs of which are reworked versions of those I used to play. Mike won’t comment to anyone asking if they are any good. He’s resigned to the fact this is CUD’s last chance with A&M.
Carl’s been missing his train to Leeds every week, and, I guess, getting into trouble over it. Mick Dale has his own band, Kitsch. there won’t be any offers of a permanent position in CUD until a deal is struck on a new album.
I feel better having broke the silence and my relationship with my old sparring partners is warm.
I call Carl. CUD have no money, though I’m still being paid by the band. Carl’s thinking of getting some temping work. It all still rests on the response to the new demo.
Jim calls to say CUD can’t afford to pay me a promised £400 this month since a massive tax bill has landed.
Apparently A&M do like the new demo but haven’t given full approval. They want songwriting to continue but with no new advance, it’s tough being in CUD.
Mike and Maria’s wedding. Steve, in a gaudy lemon cardy only just arrives in time. Carl, too skint, doesn’t make it. Jim, Gordon and Dez are all working with Pureessence. The day is traditional and touching. Good to see Mike, Steve and most of our shared friends again.
Goodbye, Leeds. Hello, London.
Finally get to meet up with Carl again since I left the band. He has new glasses and a new haircut. All the horror stories of poverty and working as a kitchen porter are exaggerations. He buys me a couple of pints near his flat in Marylebone.
Meet Mike in a bar at Kings Cross after a meeting with A&M. CUD are waiting for Edwyn Collins to be freed up to produce the next album. The release date for this is pegged at January 1996. I borrow the latest demo. There are a couple of good new songs but somehow the whole lacks spark, I feel, mid-paced, pedestrian. I tell Carl this is how I feel when he comes over a couple of days later to moan about the band.
Meet up with Jamie, Alan, Philip and Matt – the Worthing Crew, with Alex from Blur for the Tank Girl movie party at the Roundhouse. The place is guts only and soon a pavement of crushed plastic glasses and cans.
A&M drop CUD after disappointment with the latest demo.
I visit Jim and Julie in Brighton and catch up with the latest CUD news. Carl and Steve are being positive about the end of the A&M deal, hoping to get a new contract with the latest songs but Mike is less sure. I feel some relief to have got out when I did, avoiding this, but I am sad for my friends. It sounds as if the end if close.
Meet up with Carl and Ruth again and listen to the new demo. It has a unique interesting new sound and the bass playing IS very good. Carl is still optimistic about its prospects which is good.
I get a call to say that Carl has broken his leg. Following a hurried exit from his flat and an irate landlady, he dropped a box of LPs on his leg. Now he’s in hospital for a week getting a pin put in. CUD have decided to continue, but Carl will be turning up to practice with a plaster on his leg till Xmas. I pop in to visit him and leave my GameBoy. (I get it back about 9 years later.)
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