My Bands

Shiny Tight Stuff

*Much of the information here is redundant, since I’ve already written one extensive blog post on this subject, but I’m rewriting it here so as to follow the structure established in the first post in this series.*

Who were we?

* **Craig** played guitar and wrote songs. As time went by, he also developed a role as vocalist.
* **Nathan** played keyboards and sang backing vocals. He also had occasional turns as songwriter and lead vocalist.
* **Jim** was the drummer.
* and I played bass, wrote songs and sang vocals. Initially I did all the singing, but my role gradually decreased as Craig gained confidence, and when Nathan joined the band.

How did we meet?

Craig, Nathan and I all went to secondary school together. The story of how I met Craig is chronicled elsewhere on this site, but we didn’t become good friends until five years later, and we formed the band quite soon after that.

For a brief period, the band also included a friend of Craig’s called Martin. He joined us for a couple of gigs (second and third) and an album, but the less said about that, the better.

Nathan was a good friend of mine who I had known since I was 11 years old. Once the band had been going for about a year, he joined us as an occasional live musician, and eventually became a full-time member. Craig met Jim at college, after we’d all left school – the band had been going for about two years at that point.

What did we do?

Initially just a bedroom band, it took on a life of its own. Our first “album” was an improv tape that we recorded at home, our next few were recorded on a 4 track and distributed as cassette tapes, and our last one was recorded on a digital 8 track and distributed on CD. And we’re not even talking CD-Rs here, this was a small run of proper professional audio CDs.

Our gigs also grew in size, starting with small pub gigs and developing to charity events and intimate University gigs. Initially we played a 50/50 split of covers and original songs, but in later years we shifted the balance in favour of original songs.

Early covers included *Crazy Little Thing Called Love* by Queen, *I Wanna Be (500 Miles)* by The Proclaimers and a host of Pulp songs. Later covers included *I Want You Back* by The Jackson Five, a version of *I Will Survive* that is based partly on Gloria Gaynor’s original, and partly on the cover version by Cake, a version of *Whole Again* by Atomic Kitten that takes an interesting turn halfway through, and a jazzy instrumental version of *Sweet Dreams* that draws inspiration from the version by Marilyn Manson as well as the original by The Eurythmics. We played a lot of different cover versions over the years, most of them only once. This is why I felt sufficiently qualified to write a blog post about how to choose the right cover versions – because I’ve chosen the wrong cover versions enough times!

Were we any good?

When we formed the band, Craig and I were all potential and no talent, but we improved quickly. Nathan was a phenomenally talented musician, which probably explains why he didn’t clamour to join the band straight away. I don’t know much about drumming, so I don’t really know how to distinguish “good” from “awesome”, but Jim definitely lies somewhere in that range.

The purpose of the band was never about extended solos and showing off our individual skills, it was always about coming together as a band, having fun, and providing entertainment. I think we succeeded.

Did we get on well together?

Without a shadow of a doubt. We were friends before we were bandmates, which says it all. That said, Craig and I did share a flat for a few months at one point, which wasn’t a terribly successful project, but we were the victims of difficult circumstances there.

What happened?

Life took us all in different directions, and I’m not talking figuratively. The distance between our respective places of residence is so great, and the cost of transport is so high, that a band practise has to be an all-weekend thing. We all have a lot of other things on, and the band is now so low down our respective lists of priorities, that it hasn’t happened for a long time, and it’s unrealistic to think that it’s going to happen again any time soon.

Did I like it?

Too much. There were occasional shitty moments ((I can’t listen to the handclaps on *Horatio Fellatio* without wincing)), but on the whole it was like some kind of dream, and I feel blessed to have had the good fortune to be in a band with genuinely good friends, playing genuinely good music, having a genuinely good time. The band has been more or less defunct since 2002, with the exception of four weekend sessions between 2004 and 2005, but I’ve been so madly in love with the memory of the band that I’ve been unable to let go until recently.

The band hasn’t split up, exactly. There’s been no fallout, no tears, no musical differences forcing us apart. The friendships still exist, and the songs still exist, but in all other respects, *Shiny Tight Stuff* is history.

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