Managing, but only just – Chapter 7 of our #Eurovision Novel

Continuing our serialisation of What’s The Deal With Europe?  The novel that inspired the comedy movie Transatlantic Smash.

CHAPTER 7 – MANAGING, BUT ONLY JUST

There was a long way to go.  For too long the guys had been living off the band as a concept, rather than doing the things that enable you to be called a band in its truest sense.

There comes a point in everyone’s life where you’ve got to stop dreaming and do something about making your dreams reality.  Those that bother to do something about it quite often succeed.  Those that don’t bother, usually end up spending the rest of their days wondering
what if?

There is a third category of course. They’re very similar to the first category, and in a lot of ways more successful, and they are the ones that get someone else to sort it out for them.

Since the day that they formed Taurus, Patrick, Ashley and Robert had been following a path akin to category number one.  So far they had enjoyed living the boyband lifestyle to a certain extent, but where was any of this actually leading?  They needed a helping hand.

If they were going to get anywhere, they needed to realise this pretty fast.  The boys were relatively slow when it came to getting a manager.  In fact, Taurus were quite slow when it came to a lot of things, but when it came to a shortage of gigs, no, a lack of any gigs at all, they eventually cottoned on that there was a problem.  Even once they had worked out that there was a problem, they still didn’t twig on what the solution was.
I can see that I’m no longer painting the three of them in a favourable light intellectually, and you might think I’m being unreasonably harsh and dwelling on this a bit too long.  I think you’ll understand the point I’m trying to make when I explain the following argument.
As a solution to Taurus’s failure to be ‘an overnight success’, they thought that it would be a good idea to get celebrity endorsement.  Now there is nothing wrong with celebrity endorsement if you’re a boyband, particularly if the celebrity in question is Simon Cowell and his endorsement is: “So good I gave them a record deal.”  But when your celebrity is not Simon Cowell, but is in actual fact Tommy Boyd, then I believe that you’re struggling somewhat.

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I feel that I should take this opportunity to explain who Tommy Boyd is.  Just in case you don’t know, rather like I didn’t know at the time, who he is.  Tommy Boyd is quite simply the thinking man’s Timmy Mallet.  Both Tommy and Timmy started their careers on ‘The Wide Awake Club’ on ITV in the early 80s and with names like that you can understand why they ended up on children’s TV.

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So in an attempt to get a foot in the door with someone in the industry, Taurus emailed Tommy.  At the time, he was a DJ on Talk Radio and encouraged any of his listeners to email him with whatever they wanted to talk about.  Apparently, Tommy enjoyed ploughing through his in-box whilst enjoying his cornflakes on a morning and therefore the boys felt more comfortable bothering him as it was far too early in the proceedings to bother Sir Terry of Woganshire.

This is what they wrote to him:

Hi Tommy,
We are a group of lads in the stages of developing ourselves into a band called Taurus.  We think the music we have written is good pop music, we are not unattractive young men and as a result think we could genuinely succeed.
With your various media connections and interests we thought of contacting you for your opinion.  Should you have any further interest in us then we could provide examples of our songs, scripts, and photographs.

And this exactly what they got back:

Excellent sounds very mischievous.
We need more stirring of the pot.  Keep me posted, meantime always start the morning with a sly grin in the mirror.

Tommy

Damn him!  If that wasn’t a brush off I don’t know what is!  So, one email from Tommy Boyd later and they finally realised that it wasn’t minor celebrity endorsement that they needed.  They admitted to each other that they needed gigs and although they had lots of good ideas (which were in fact nothing more than good intentions) between them, they didn’t have the faintest idea where to begin when it came to finding places to perform.

So immediately they pulled out the Yellow Pages and started ringing round the local pubs and clubs and got pretty much nowhere.  The best they could manage was a spot of busking in York city centre, but it was completely unplanned, with no backing track and made them look completely amateur; which in essence they were, but this was pathetic.  The best they managed was a few handfuls of shrapnel from a couple of particularly generous tourists.  One of the coins actually struck Patrick in the knee, causing him some discomfort and the busking had to stop.  Thank god for that.
Despite the pain he was in, Robert reasoned that it was a sign of affection.  He claimed to have been at a Liverpool versus Manchester United match once and everyone was throwing coins at David Beckham when he was taking a corner. Patrick truly believed that it proved what a well respected man he was, “because it was the Liverpool fans who were throwing them!”  Patrick also believed that it was the reason behind Beckham’s wealth.  “Becks must have been well impressed too, because he called the referee over to show him,” he said.  He also explained how he realised that it must be the usual thing to do, so when he was in the Man United half where he was watching from, Robert threw some coins at him too.  Unsurprisingly to us, (but for some reason surprisingly to Robert), he got some stern looks from his fellow supporters.  He honestly thought that this was an acceptable thing to do.  “How else do you think he pulled that Posh Spice?  She’s a right classy bird.  It must have been with his money.  Basically what it boils down to, if you take Beckham as an example, is if you get coins thrown at you, you must be rich and fanciable!”
In their hearts though, the three members of Taurus knew that they were lacking direction.  What they needed was someone to get them decent gigs.  Gigs that would get them noticed.  Gigs that would lead to stardom, the final of the Eurovision Song Contest and hopefully some better quality women along the way.  After much soul searching they plucked up the courage to do something about it.  It was at this point they asked me to be their manager.
Considering how creative the three of them could be when they applied themselves (Tommy Boyd email aside), sometimes they were amazingly unimaginative.  Let’s not forget that they had once tried to persuade me to be in the band.  Me.  Mr Pauncho.  They had come a long way since that day, but despite my lack of involvement in the band for all this time, when there was a job to be done, they still saw me as the answer.  I very quickly told them that I wasn’t the solution to their problem.  I wouldn’t even be a lazy solution.  I would be a terrible solution.  My musical knowledge came from the pages of NME, not Smash Hits.  I seek wisdom in the words of the great philosophers, not the working class hero Pete Waterman.  I was not going to be the manager of Taurus, but I would help point them in the right direction.

“Hasn’t your Dad managed bands before?”  I asked Ashley.
“Oh don’t start with that!  There’s no way that he’s going to manage Taurus.”
“Hang on. Hang on,” said Patrick, “I’ve never heard about this before.  You mean to say that your Father is experienced in exactly the field that we’ve got a vacancy in.  Why haven’t you mentioned this before?  Here we are asking Krieger to manage us, and no offence mate but you’ve got about as much experience in this as I have in subtlety.”

I didn’t take offence from what Patrick had said, (which was probably a first for me) as he was damn right, (which was probably a first for him).  Why ask me to manage the band when Ashley’s Dad would do a far better job?  Well the answer to that was simple.  He might not do a better a job.  Yes, Ashley’s Dad had managed other groups in the past. But how good these bands were and exactly how much success they’d had was debatable.

Allow me to explain.  To put it rather bluntly, Ashley G Richardson’s Dad was a bullshitter.  Let’s start with his name.  He called himself Michael MacGee.  The first thing you should notice here is Ashley’s surname is Richardson.  His Father’s name was Richardson.  Michael Graham Richardson.  Just like his son would later imitate, (life imitating art, imitating art imitators) Michael had chosen to take the name Gee as his surname, simply because his middle initial is G.  But why MacGee I hear you cry?  The reason behind this was to impress a Scottish club owner.  He wanted to pretend he had Scottish blood in him in order to get the band he represented a gig in a lowly club in Glasgow.  Yes, he was that low.  He simply tacked Mac on to his already fake surname, in as superficial a way as feasibly possible (obviously I’m excluding McDonalds’ products from this) to create a second fake surname: MacGee.  And it stuck.  So that was that.  Michael G Richardson became Michael MacGee; Father of (none-Scottish) Ashley Gee. (Who?)

As I mentioned before, Michael MacGee was a bullshitter and proud.  The best way for me to demonstrate this is to tell you some of the lies I heard him say to boost his credibility whilst pursuing Taurus gigs:

“Yeah mate, seven years ago Johnny Richmond was drinking in the exclusive London pub, The Packet of Fudge, after the break up of his little known indie folk rock band Queen.  There he bumped into old school friend Tommy Steel-e-Dan who had passed a City & Guilds in Electronics.  So after a few Baileys, that with their powers combined, they agreed that they had all the necessary skills to form a chilled out Ibiza style combo.  After shunning the initial advances of Craig David as vocalist they settled on eighties pop legend Fergal Sharkey.  Four months, six days and a Napalm enema later, this went straight to the top of the charts all over Europe.”

Why people believed him when he talked about past glories I don’t know.
Here’s another example I heard:
“Seriously mate, this Spanish three-piece tuba turban chinstrap combo were discovered in southern France by the then head of Dirty Ticket Records, Barry Bethel, who just months earlier had lost weight on the Slim Fast Plan.  He immediately signed the group but within the next year, it being summer ’98, they had brought out this track that Taurus are covering.  Released in Europe, it topped the charts in Germany before taking Ayia Napa by storm.  It’s one of the best chill out tunes of the summer of that year.  You’ve got to take them on.”

Quite obviously lies.  But stunning lies nonetheless.  He even once tried to claim that Robert had had a baby with Claire from Steps which turned out to be Suzanne from Hear’say.

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Unsurprisingly, that was the only lie that people never bought.  But despite his occasional inclination for going way over the top, he was a useful liar.  A useful bullshitter.    The type of guy you need to manage a boyband and certainly much better than I would have been at the job.

Even with his ideal credentials, Ashley still did not want Michael to be the manager of the band.  I suppose it was due to the fact that his ability to weave a whimsical story, tell a good pork-pie, was what had plagued their relationship all of Ashley’s life.  They say that bullshit baffles brains.  It never baffled Ashley – and he was pretty intelligent as it happens.  Intelligent enough to eventually be persuaded to let Michael manage Taurus.

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