Our continued the serialisation of novella What’s The Deal With Europe? by Spencer Vale & Andrew Melladay.
Chapter 4 – FINDING THEIR FEET
The average pop song is about love. That’s undoubted. Think of most of the hit songs by boybands and only a handful are about other subjects. An example of a song that is not about love or making love is ‘Bop Bop Baby’ by Westlife. I’m not sure why they released a song about a green nappy-wearing dinosaur from the children’s TV show Barney. They’d probably run out of other people’s songs to cover. Despite the fact that Robert wasn’t interested in writing the average pop song, it made sense for Taurus’ songs to be about love or making love.
“Can you write some music for these lyrics I’ve written?” said Ashley.
“I’ll try. Let’s have a look.”
Ashley placed a roughly scrawled copy of the lyrics into Robert’s hand as he sat down at his keyboard. On the top of the page was the title.
“Sweet Spanish Hunchback?!” Robert asked or exclaimed or squeaked in a vague sort of way that resembled half shock, half confusion and quite possibly half excitement. And although 150% emotion is impossible to achieve and that three halves certainly don’t make a whole, this was an unusual occasion and required more than 100% ambivalence, the most versatile of all the emotions. Either that or football interviews are influencing my style too much.
It’s probably worth mentioning that when I was at school, there was a boy affectionately referred to as Wedgehead who thought that football was a game of three halves. He always referred to the last thirty minutes of a game as the third half. He also thought that Hugh Grant’s breakthrough film was called Three Funerals and a Wedding. Let’s hope that the lad hasn’t grown up to be a funeral director.
Anyway, so Robert’s thinking that a song called Sweet Spanish Hunchback is unlikely to be a smash hit when he begins to read the lyrics and they’re not what he’s expecting at all. You see, Ashley had written a song about undying love and simply decided to set it to the backdrop to that oh so beautiful setting of Catalonia. Robert had been a little hasty.
Ashley had also written a tune to go with the lyrics he’d written and he sang them out loud to Robert to see if he could capture how he hoped it would go. “Sweet Spanish Hunchback, just cos you’re back’s cracked, doesn’t mean we can’t be free!” sang Pat.
“I like it, but unfortunately on reflection, the verse is a rip off, a blatant rip off, of Summer of Love by Steps.” Robert confirmed.
“Damn it Steps! Why have you already done every great musical composition?” Ashley was particularly annoyed by this revelation.
Robert was going to have to write some new music instead. He had work to do if he was going to do this song justice and try and get some of the Spanish vote on the Taurus bandwagon. As it turned out, the music came to him very quickly and he soon had the basis for the verse and a chorus. All he needed to do now was set it apart from the average pop song.
You may have noticed that the average pop song, particularly those by Westlife, have a repeat of the chorus at the end with a key change. This is the moment where they get off of their stools and approach the audience. Robert decided to go 100% better, or maybe it was 400% better. Let’s not get bogged down with the maths here. He repeated the chorus and moved it up a semitone. (For those not familiar with musical terms, that means he made it a little bit higher.) Then he repeated the chorus again, a bit higher still (another semitone). Robert’s thinking was that the average pop song has just one key change. “Sod it!” he thought, and threw in another four. Five repeats of the chorus, five key changes. Quantity, not quality – that’s the way forward!
Sweet Catalonian Sun,
So warm but I just feel so cold
Since you left me alone,
The thought of your lopsided frame,
Only makes me feel pain,
As I sit in my room and I pine,
It all gets so heavy,
The weight of my love,
And the weight of your spine.
Sweet Spanish Hunchback,
I’ll give you your crutch back,
If you just stay with me.
Sweet Spanish Hunchback,
Just cos your spine’s cracked,
Doesn’t mean we can’t be free.
(We can be free.)
So, with a new flagship song written, they decided they needed to give it an airing. Patrick very quickly organised an outdoor gig at a farm just outside of York. He found the prospect of rolling in the hay with a bunch of groupies pretty appealing. He did not find the prospect of rolling in shit appealing though. Unfortunately, the latter was closer to the harsh reality.
Due to Patrick’s terrible organisational skills, nobody turned up. Not one person. It ended up being more like a dig than a gig with Patrick accidentally dropping Ashley’s speaker system (a big Hi-fi was the best that they could manage for a PA at this stage) in a fairly sizeable pile of manure.
The whole shambles got the guys down somewhat. So much so that Ashley has never worn his favourite John Deere baseball cap again and Robert couldn’t face watching any local cricket for weeks after, despite his fondness for the amateur game. It even put Patrick off masturbating for at least a whole day.
But it wasn’t long after the cock-up before Patrick got his cock-up. Not once he’d stumbled on an old compilation video he’d made of his favourite bits of shows that he’d taped off TV. Once he found the bit he’d recorded from an old episode of Sharpe starring Sean Bean, where you see a then fairly unknown Liz Hurley bare her breasts for all of 0.3 seconds, he was up to his old tricks again.
Yanking the plank was not the only trick though. None of the guys felt up to trying to arrange any more gigs yet. Not until they felt entirely sure that they had their act together – literally. They still felt that they needed some way to get the promotion ball rolling. And the Internet was the catalyst.
Many nights were taken up with dropping hints about the quality of “this new band I’ve heard about” in Internet chat rooms until Patrick started getting on his computer and leaving messages calling everyone a ‘whiney indie bastard’ or pretending to be a girl, 18 years old, 5 foot 6 with blonde hair.
Robert did his best to control the easily distracted Pat, keep focussed and stay productive. It never really bothered Ashley, who spent most evenings in his room lifting weights and listening to Def Leppard. But throughout this, Robert designed a website. A Taurus website. And it had a description of the band and its three members. Patrick was set the task of writing a description of himself for the website. He wrote:
Wild Card Patrick Terry
Originally from Leicester but now residing in York, ladies man Patrick Terry’s first TV appearance came at a young age. As a five year old boy, Patrick appeared on Jim’ll Fix It in the hope that Sir Jimmy Saville could fix his bike. To this day Patrick claims that it only needed fixing due to a drink driving incident with Stephen Hawking. Despite Jim failing to indeed fix his favourite bike and in fact giving him a brand new one with a siren sound effects box on it, Patrick has continued to crave the limelight.
Before pursuing a career in pop, Patrick was a keen footballer and had trials as a teenager for Leicester City. The music bug was soon to take hold of him, firstly in the genre of rock. He formed a band called Wet Something with lead guitarist John McKaye who he met in South East London and they released cult hit A Sink in Every Room.
Patrick is quite proud of his physique and claims to have a dwarfish penis. His reason for this is that it is “only a foot long” and anything less than five foot tall is officially classed as a dwarf!
Always the comedian, he can bring any rehearsal to absolute mayhem by reworking anecdotes from Jim Davidson’s autobiography into his life experiences. A fan of the Big D, Wild Card tries to model himself on the moral opinions of the Big Break presenter, taking his jokes as a blueprint for how you should treat others. With Taurus, Patrick will have his big break.
Patrick had certainly made use of his artistic licence. Despite the positive things Taurus was doing for their collective reputations, Robert still wanted to pursue a career where it would be about the music. He decided to make his persona equally deceptive so that it could only be vaguely traced to the real him:
Aftershox has always achieved much attention in his short life and for this reason has had to undergo many style changes to keep one step ahead of the authorities. The smallest of the members, he makes up for this in attitude and an ability to wow a crowd with one wink of an eye.
Unlike Patrick he hadn’t had any musical success before Taurus but this hasn’t stopped his drive and ambition. His avid determination shines through in his song writing, inspired by his time spent as a farm hand trying to earn money to fund his music lessons. His only previous taste of fame came as a contestant on the CITV game show Knightmare; however this has long disappeared from public awareness. At the time, the infamous Knightmare mask shielded him anyhow. Aftershox was born in Lincoln in the East Midlands but this hasn’t stopped him in his goals either.
Aftershox is a religious man, practising in the Church of Destiny’s Child and one of his other little known talents is his passion for radio ventriloquism.
Aftershox used to like spending his spare time watching village cricket down his local park but due to the many cutbacks by the short-sighted local council, the park is no longer maintained. Where is England going to get its next batch of young stars from? Not from Aftershox. For now at least his allegiances lie firmly with Taurus though he can see himself in fifteen years time playing with The Lords Taverners. He has two dogs called Shep and Phyllis. Both have been neutered.
That would do it he thought. And so to Ashley:
Derby native Ashley Gee is a minor player in the band and only there to make up the numbers. His body fat is 65% mayonnaise.
Surely the big man wasn’t really starting to become disillusioned with the band? However, he had certainly been taking less of an interest in the website and he even said that “he couldn’t care less” that Patrick and Robert had written a cheap shot joke biography about him on the site. He would soon reassert himself as the driving force behind the band, but he had this in his own way and in his own time. Robert finished off the website and uploaded it to the Web. Whilst he had been designing it, he’d decided to add a guestbook to allow site visitors to add messages. Robert hoped it would give them an accurate indication of the type of following they were amassing. He was wrong.
Within a very short space of time, the site accrued quite a sum of visitors, and messages in the guestbook showed that Taurus were achieving interest in Rotherham, Middlesbrough, Cardiff, Coventry, Sheffield and Hampshire to name but a few. Robert had designed the guestbook in such a way that visitors were requested to leave information in a number of fields, one of them being where they lived.
The results were good as they showed that Taurus’s fan base was British yet scattered. In an attempt to find out the gender of their fans, Robert added another field asking them to say whether they were male or female. Actually though, he’d just put the word Sex and left a box for them to reply. He should have known better really and all but two people replied in that oh so witty way:
Sex: Yes please
Or variants on the same theme. A selection of alternatives they got were:
Sex: If you insist
Sex: No ta
Sex: I would’ve thought so
Sex: Have you seen my face?
Sex: Go on!
Sex: Thanx 4 cumming
You get the idea. Robert also thought it would be interesting to see what song titles their devoted fans could come up with for them so they added a box called Suggested Song Title Ideas. Again, the replies weren’t exactly helpful. A selection being:
Suggested Song Title: Sack Magique
Suggested Song Title: Like my Lizarditis?
Suggested Song Title: Loving the Basin-cut
Suggested Song Title: I’ve Got Ginger Pubes
Suggested Song Title: Malakas
They found out at a later date that malakas is actually the Greek word for bollocks. The list continued:
Suggested Song Title: Recreational Incest is Fine by Me
Suggested Song Title: 84% of Squirrels hate Cornflakes (a suicide song)
Suggested Song Title: I Can’t Read. Is This Spelt right?
Suggested Song Title: Nob-Sack-tastic
They couldn’t see themselves getting far with song titles like that unless they were only going to try and sell their albums to Roy Chubby Brown fans. Robert didn’t tend to fancy Roy Chubby Brown fans. And then it occurred to him – he only wanted beautiful people to buy their music. It was all beginning to make sense. It was never about the music.
Maybe he’d got it all wrong. To hell with the website. Let’s face it, the majority of people who spend most of their time browsing the Internet and leaving messages in guestbooks aren’t good looking women. They’re geeks. They’re the kind of people who spend most of their time locked in their bedrooms with the curtains shut drinking Cherry Coke. Admittedly, these people are not Roy Chubby Brown fans, but they’re not the kind of people Robert fancied either. Ashley had the right idea.
“Let’s not waste time on the computer going thin and pale. Let’s get some fresh air, lift some weights and get buff!”