Our continued the serialisation of novella What’s The Deal With Europe? by Spencer Vale & Andrew Melladay.
Chapter 2 – MASTERS OF THE EURO-VERSE
With nicknames in check, Robert, who had been delaying the inevitable until now, decided he could start to work on the Taurus sound. It needed a raw quality. A here’s the boys from the wrong side of the tracks quality. An intoxicating beat and a bass line to wet the undergarments of the average sixteen year old. Taking all this into consideration, he attempted a nod towards the 5ives of this world, rather than the Boylifes or Westzones.
Once upon a time, the Irish karaoke band Boyzone took a lyrical hint from the Bee Gees and made a big mistake in taking it literally. Ronan the Leprechaun found himself crooning, “Words are all I have to take your heart away.”
Now that’s fine if you’re hoping to pursue a career in magic cardio-surgery, but it’s not going to help you if you want to win Eurovision like the Taurus boys did.
Some would argue that Boyzone did have a long and successful career as a boyband, but as we’ve already established: they were crap! Taurus has never classed Boyzone as a proper boyband anyway and you can quote me on that. Oh you have, why thank you!
Middle-aged mothers worshipped Boyzone, not nubile young women, and if the latter is what you’re after then you need more than a few nice bits of love poetry.
A proper band needs the works. Words, moves and sounds. As it panned out, the Terry, Richardson, Cole combination was perfect. Richardson had the lyrical ideas, Terry could dance, and Cole could write music. When blended together in the right quantities, the world would be their oyster, and that means more than simply providing the backing music to the average middle class dinner party.
The day that would prove to be the true turning point of Taurus was the day that they finished writing their first song. Robert had already been working on some beats and grooves for “the next Eurovision winner”, but when Ashley walked in to his room with the finished draft of the What’s the Deal with Europe lyrics, the rest came together very quickly. He said, “Have a look at these lyrics and let me know what you think when you’ve read them,” presenting Robert with a scrap of notepaper before walking out of the room and back into his own.
Robert only needed to read the following:
What’s the deal with Europe?
Why’s it so full of hate?
Why do we all hate Euro-Disney?
Hey what’s the deal with Europe?
Why can’t we all love each other?
And just stop saying:
“Which way to the post office?”
Brilliant! It fitted perfectly with one of the hooks Robert had been working on. It was simple, it was effective and it got across perfectly what they were all about. Robert shouted Ashley at the top of his voice. He probably didn’t need to, his room was literally three feet away from Ashley’s and Ashley popped his head round Robert’s door before he’d even got to the ley bit of his name.
“-ley!” he finished yelling.
“Yeah?” said Ashley.
“It’s perfect! Listen to this,” and proceeded to play the keyboard, Ashley’s lyrics and Robert’s music rhythmically fitting together perfectly. One run through of a melody line to go with it and that was enough for Robert and Ashley to sing the chorus of their potential Euro-winner.
Ashley walked out of Robert’s room and back into his own to switch off his Def Leppard album. That was a complement. It meant that this had now got his undivided attention. Not many people came above ‘The Lepp’ in Ashley’s eyes. He walked back in to Robert’s room.
“This is brilliant!” He exclaimed. “Play it again.”
So they did. And Ashley started dancing round the room and singing along. And Robert started playing some new bits that he had never played before, with Ashley working out how to fit his other lyrics to it. They tried the new music and the new lyrics together and they fitted perfectly; harmonically, rhythmically, everything.
It was time to involve Patrick. So for the next few hours they got carried away in a song writing whirlwind, Patrick and Ashley discussing the lyrics and Robert worked on a full backing track for their first song: What’s the Deal with Europe?
He completed a rough version of the backing track relatively quickly considering the excitement that was going on around him from the other two. If there was one moment to pinpoint the birth of Taurus then it was this early summer evening in 2003. With the song complete, Taurus was now well and truly formed and with a song under their belt the guys actually felt like a band.
The enthusiasm, animation and eagerness to succeed were now evident in abundance; even from sceptical old Robert Cole. They rehearsed their newly written song all night at the top of their voices – honing the melody, lyrics and arrangement.
Finally at about 2:30 am they collapsed from exhaustion and retired to the sitting room for a well earned cup of tea. Almost immediately, there was a rather loud knock at the front door. To tell you the truth, the knock was the loudest thing they’d heard all evening bar their singing.
“Who’s that at this time of night?” said Patrick, sensing something brewing behind the front door that he wasn’t going to like.
“I’ll get it!” said Ashley. Patrick’s suspicions were confirmed as Ashley opened the door to be greeted by the festering personification of rage that was our ugly, smelly, beard-wearing ludite of a next-door neighbour.
“Any chance of you lot shutting up before two o’clock?!” bellowed our neighbour, Ashley taking the brunt of the outburst. Not only would you have never wished to stand in front of this grotty Yorkshireman during such an exclamation, therefore experiencing what can only be described as halitosis through a hairdryer mixed with old Kwiksave economy cornflakes spurting forth from the wretch’s beard, but you would also never have been able to witness Ashley’s rapier response in its wonderful glory.
Unshaken by the force of silage breath, Ashley nonchalantly glanced at his left wrist, exactly like you would if you were wearing a watch; however Ashley wasn’t wearing a watch. “No, I would not have thought there is much chance of us shutting up before two o’clock considering the time is now two-thirty. In fact I’d even stretch to highly unlikely.” And Ashley shut the door.
Someone once said that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but in this instance it had been aimed at the lowest form of man and therefore makes it all the more pleasurable. This one moment of subtle delivery from Ashley Graham Richardson provided Robert and Patrick with something other than their new song to smile about for the rest of the week. The fact that they’re still smiling about it now sums up Ashley to a tee. He was always able to find the appropriate joke, tone and delivery for the situation in hand, and for that reason from the day Robert met him, he knew they’d get on.
Ashley and Robert met at university where they had been situated in the same halls of residence. The day they met, Robert guessed they would have a lot in common, and his suspicions were confirmed when he found out that Ashley had a He-man quilt cover. He-man was Robert’s favourite cartoon as a child. He thought he knew everything about that TV show. Nobody could know more about it than he did or at least that’s what he thought until he met Ashley. Ashley has still got all the action figures.
One day, I was in WHSmith and noticed that the classic He-man series (none of that New Adventures crap) had been released on DVD and I just had to send Ashley a text message to let him know. I wasn’t expecting to receive a phone call from Ashley that evening to tell me that not only had he bought the DVD ten minutes after he had received my text, (apparently Ashley was walking past Virgin Megastore at the time) he’d already watched two of the episodes and amazingly one of them was an allegory that could quite easily represent the early Taurus story.
The episode in question is called Teela’s Quest and is episode six of the first series in which Teela sets out to find the secret of her mother’s real identity. You may not know this but Teela wasn’t Man-at-Arms’ true daughter; he adopted her. He found her in a nest. It may be a bit weird, but not wanting to give too much away, The Sorceress, (she’s like a bird-spirit) entrusted her daughter into the care of Zoar, who is the great kestrel spirit (it would appear now and again as the symbol of Greyskull). She knew that if Skeletor were to find out that she had a daughter, she would be in grave danger.
It all went wrong though and Duncan (not the guy from Blue but Man-at-Arms) ended up bringing her up. So in this episode, Teela realises that she doesn’t know who her real mother is and sets out to see the Oracle to find out about her. Meanwhile, Merman lies in wait to take revenge for an act that happened two decades ago. In the process, Bakul, Demon of the Sea is released and crushes all before it except Merman, He-man and Teela. He-man then kicks some Bakul and Merman ass (obviously) and the day is saved.
Merman had selected the infant Teela as an offering to Bakul twenty years ago, Duncan rescued her and so he wants revenge for this. Come on, can’t you tell? It’s obviously an analogy for Taurus!
Patrick Terry, taking the darker role of Merman, troubled by his past frustrations with women, just as Merman was frustrated with his previous plans to sacrifice the infant Teela, sets out to release Taurus to crush all ‘Indie Girls’ who he blames for all of his ills. Ashley is represented by Teela, a free-spirit, a directionless member, given purpose by the quest to unleash Bakul on the World – representing Taurus; a great pop monster crushing all opposition!
In this episode, Robert is cast as He-man – the seasoned musical maestro in the background, guiding the process, allowing Merman to flex his malevolent feelings without anyone getting too hurt, providing good sound reasoning. A bit like He-man always did at the end of each episode: “In today’s episode Merman wanted revenge. Revenge isn’t always the best…” and so on.
So he provided the reason for Teela to search for a purpose and push on; the sort of glue that He-man was throughout the episodes that held it all together between the wavering and the downright insane.
The release of Bakul is more focussed in that it represents What’s the Deal with Europe? And really, the true identity of Teela’s mother (like Ashley’s mother) is the background for his musical inspiration that is ‘The Lepp’.
Ashley’s mother is Def Leppard and a big fish man wants to kill him because he can’t snog indie girls. Got it?
To summarise: Merman Patrick Terry wants to get revenge on women. Whilst Ashley is searching for a purpose, his mother turns out to be Def Leppard and The Sorceress, whilst Robert is in the background looking on, provides direction and a helping hand when things go wrong.
Ashley enjoyed his He-man DVD. To this day he enjoys getting all the toys out of his loft to “look” at. He’s still got his He-man quilt cover. He found a He-man satchel as well in the loft and told me: “If only I’d had that at uni. I’d have been cock of the walk!”
No one seems to go for satchels anymore. It’s a sad time for schoolboys everywhere.