3. Live For Today
5. The Cat
6. Zero Time
Recording Date: July, 1972.
Group Members: Steve Giles (gtr, vocs), Ron Johnson (bass gtr), Clive Thorneycroft (drums), Martin Weaver (lead gtr), Carl Bush (bass gtr), Bruce Duncan (bass gtr), Charlie Hiams (drums), Martin Moloney (kbds), Bob Stryjek (drums).
Originated in Northampton, 1968. Recordings made at SIS studios, Northampton.
The following text was contributed by Steve Giles. 31/05/2013:
I first got a hankering to play guitar in the early '60s after my Aunt took me & my younger brother to see 'The Young Ones' with Cliff & The Shadows. I was totally captivated with Hank Marvin, his guitar and playing. I must have made that apparent to my parents because they got me my first guitar for Christmas 1965 before I became a teenager in March the following year. I remember being slightly disappointed with it because it was a Spanish type acoustic guitar and I'd been hoping for an electric one.Initially I didn't get on all that well with it as I have relatively small hands but I persevered as best I could until one day I got the chance to try out an electric guitar and got on much better with that. So, after badgering my parents for a short time, they agreed to get me one. They sent me off to Midland Music Centre that used to be in Cowper Street, with a family friend who played guitar for advice and to oversee the purchase. This was Friday October 21st 1966. I remember the date because it was the day of the Aberfan disaster and when we got home Mum & Dad were watching the news reports on TV. I spent the next year or so teaching myself to play with the aid of a book of chord shapes and playing along to records. I decided I really wanted to play in a band and, having discovered Eric Clapton & Jimi Hendrix, I wanted to play lead guitar! So I taught myself how to play that by, basically, working out which notes worked in whatever key and remembering were they were on the fret board. Once I knew where my fingers could go in any one key, I just played & played along to Cream tracks until my fingers knew where to go without too much thought from me! Now I had to form a band!
I was friendly at school with another guitarist - Bruce Duncan. So he agreed to form a band with me and, fortunately, was happy to play bass as he was a great admirer of Jack Bruce. We found someone else at school who had banged a snare in the Boys Brigade, so we chose him to play drums. My dad had bought us a small drum kit, so that was no problem. Unfortunately - Boys Brigade boy was! Not much cop at all - and I don't think he was really interested anyway. So we roped in Charlie Hiams - who, despite the fact he'd never held a drum stick in his life, was actually surprisingly good. Had a natural rhythm. We had a band!! Just the 3 of us, initially. Now for a name. That came about one day as I was reading a weekly magazine I subscribed to at the time - Weekend - which for some inexplicable reason that I never bothered to fathom, actually came out on a Wednesday. Anyway, in one edition was a black & white photo of a French actress, Mireille Darc. That was it. As soon as I saw that name I knew that's what I'd call my band. Then, after a heated argument with the others, who thought 'Mireille' was a stupid name for a Rock Band, I decided on DARK instead. No - I jest. Obviously!!
DARK was born. This would have been mid 1968. We were probably a bit naff to start with but we had great fun! Bruce wrote a couple of songs - as did I - and eventually we decided to try a gig. We organised our own. I can't remember any dates but I know we played Christchurch, Holy Trinity and Park Avenue Methodist Church Rooms. One date I do know - at yet another Church Rooms, this time Headlands, was Friday 7th November 1969. This I know because a friend of mine recently found a poster I had made advertising the gig.
He had kept it all these years! Eventually we expanded the band by adding a keyboard player. We tried out one or two before landing Martin Moloney. I can't remember when this was or how we found him. Whether he answered an advert or whether someone knew him, I don't know. I suspect the latter. He probably joined sometime in 1970. Things are a bit hazy then. I know we recorded a few songs at SIS Studios with that line up and we gigged some more, locally. At some point Bruce decided he'd had enough and we found Carl Bush to replace him. Soon after that, in early '71, Charlie left and I put a classified ad the the Chronicle for a drummer and Clive appeared. I was really pleased about that. I'd seen him play in bands locally and was very impressed! Being 2 or 3 years younger than me, he was very young then, but I thought he was the best local drummer I'd seen! It wasn't long then before Martin disappeared and we became a 3 piece again, then Carl left so I advertised again and - 'Thank My Lucky Stars' - Ron replied.
Tragically, Carl died a few years ago from Multiple Sclerosis.
We had been using the cellar under my Dad's photographic shop 'Giles Photography' in Wellingborough Road to rehearse in and Ron turned up to the audition with a couple of mates - Kenny Piper (I later found out that was his cousin) and Mark Parrish. Both of them would later become our 'Roadies'. We put Ron to task playing 'Maypole' which was, I think, the first song I had written a couple of years previously. Not too difficult to play, basically. "Just play 'D'", I said to Ron. I doubt we played half a dozen bars before I realised we'd found our new bassist. I was totally blown away!! He was playing much - MUCH - more than 'just D'!! And, apparently, Ron was impressed enough with us! Fortunately, He was happy to join. We set to work rehearsing my songs and a few covers during the next few months and managed to play a few gigs. Some we organised ourselves and some through an agent. Those ones weren't too successful!
I recall getting sent to an American Airbase. I don't think they quite understood where we were coming from! We were getting a bit despondent, gig wise. We knew we were good. The gigs we arranged ourselves went down well, but then they were mainly attended by friends. We tried a couple of talent contests. One was in Buckingham. Didn't do too well at that one, mainly because Clive fell whilst carrying an amp up the fire-escape, dropping it on his fingers, one of which broke. So he toddled off to the local hospital whilst the rest of us watched all the other acts! By now I was fearing that we would split up, so I decided I wanted to record some more songs and this time produce an actual LP. Then we would have something down on vinyl that we could keep.
I set to work composing some more numbers so we had enough for an album and we started rehearsing them. One evening, Reg Bason, who had been acting as a sort of manager for us, and who had helped to arrange some of the disastrous gigs, came down to hear us rehearse.
He was so impressed that, un be-known to us, he decided to try & get us some more prestigious work. Whether it was through him or not, I don't know, but soon afterwards we landed the gig at Wellingborough Rock Club supporting 'Status Quo'. That was nearly another disaster. The afternoon of the gig, Saturday May 6th, 1972 - FA Cup Final Day - our van decided there was no way it wanted anything to do with it, and refused, point blank, to start! What to do? Nobody else had anything much bigger than a Mini! In sheer desperation we dashed over to the School Rooms, which was the 'Rock Club' in Rock Street, Wellingborough. I found a member of 'Quo' - the bass player, inside. Unfortunately, I didn't recognise him and nearly scuppered any chance of getting their help by asking him if he was one of the Roadies. "No"!, he said, rather brusquely! "I'm the bass player! They're outside playing football". I found them in the playground. One of them agreed to come over to Northampton with the band's lorry, a tad bigger than our old 'Thames' stick-shift van, and collect our gear - for a 'fiver'! We were only getting paid 7 quid anyway! But - we got our kit in the back of their lorry, strapped it in, otherwise it would have rolled around like a few marbles in a shoe-box, and headed back to the club. A brilliant night!! As Martin Weaver later contested to. Being a good friend of Clive, he was in the audience. And, being a good friend of Clive and being in-between bands at that time, agreed to join DARK as 2nd Guitarist, to add an extra dimension to our sound in time for the album. Only just in time! We had about 6 weeks to get him rehearsed. A little while later, on Sunday 9th July, 1972, we all assembled at 12 Military Road, Northampton, where, over the next 3 days we laid down the 6 tracks that were to become 'Dark Round The Edges'. Alan Bowley engineered the album. He's not there anymore. Probably because the studio has long since been demolished and houses built on the site where that terrace used to be. I did take it over for a few years after that and recorded with friends & rehearsed with another band I joined. Alan T. Bowley went into Radio - his first love - and is now the presenter Allan Tee on Talk Radio Europe based in Spain. At the time we recorded the album, I had already decided on the name and taken the cover photos. The famous photo of the girl sitting on the settee looking out of the bay window was actually the back photo, but has become so synonymous with the LP that everybody assumes it was the front cover photo. As indeed, on the new Re-issue being released by M'lady's Records on June 25th 2013, it now is! The girl is, or was, Frances Hamerton. She had been a girlfriend of mine. We met when we were both doing paper-rounds for the newsagent in King Edward Road. One day I saw her walking past my house and the idea of the picture just sprang to mind. I dashed out and related to her my plans for the album and asked if she'd pose for the photo. After a little hesitation, she agreed. I took it in the front room of my parents' house at the time, 75 Ardington Road.
She was the daughter of the then vicar of Abington Church. She eventually married and moved away and, despite my taking her wedding photos, I can't remember what her married name is. Absolutely no idea where she is now! The other photo which, at the time WAS the front cover, the three of us, myself, Ron & Clive (Martin was still to join), was taken at a building site in St. James Mill Road. The building is now the home of MTS Power Tools. DARK did a couple more gigs that year. Wootton Memorial Hall, which we arranged as a 'Farewell Concert' and later, on 1st December for the Students of Northampton College Of Education. We arranged that in the vain hope that an A&R man from Island Records would turn up, as he had agreed. We had given them, among others, a copy of the LP, trying to elicit some interest. No Show! It was an amazing gig though and we were called back for 3 encores. We had Bob Stryjek, a very good drummer and friend of Clive, standing in for him that night.
And that, until the delayed interest in the album in the 90's, was the end of DARK.
NB. Martin Weaver provided additional guitar. He had previously fronted his own band, Wicked Lady, a Northampton band (see entry).
For further information: http://www.darkedges.net/?3e3ea140
All recorded and photographic material kindly supplied by Steve Giles. 2013.
All recorded and photographic material copyright S. Giles. 2013.
Special thanks to: Steve Giles, Martin Weaver, Antoni@Guerssen.