I still sometimes wake in the night in a cold sweat, mildly traumatized by a night with the two bastions of late eighties/early nineties British hardcore that were Snuff and Leatherface. As a loose collective of music, (but not necessarily street) wise eighteen year olds, two brothers (lets call them the "Pycrafts", for that - put simply - was their surname) and I decided to promote a gig with these chirpy south Londoners (Snuff) and dour Mackems (Leatherface) in Godalming, Surrey. Later, I will try and explain the logic that preceded this hideous miscalculation of judgements.
The gig took place in a prefabricated hut that rested itself uncomfortably upon the shoulder of a municipal car-park. The hut was more familiar to hosting playgroups, alcoholic anonoymous meetings and (I must add) as an eight year old, I once saw TV's Matthew Kelly open a Jumble sale there on a Saturday morning. I missed Swap-Shop for that - it was worth it though as I saw Terry Scott haggling with an old lady over the price of a worn pair of brown brogues. I still think he had failed to see the "AA meet cancelled" sign. The "Wilfred Noyce Centre", as the prefabricated tin rathole, that definitely did not have any asbestos in the roof, was monikered was christened after a gay British mountaineer. It was no gesture of a 1980's local authority promotion of alternate lifestyles that the centre was christened after a gay mountaineer. This was Godalming, borough of Waverley, County of Surrey. Liberalism was not permitted. There were no copies of "Jenny lives with Eric and Martin" in Waverley's school libraries. There wasn't even a 'Nelson Mandela Walk' in the Godalmings A-Z . It was pegged the "Wilfed Noyce" as the town could not bear anything else named after it's most famous son, the disgraced ("forget the women and children stuff..."), then rechampioned ("Phillips worked tirelessly to send messages to other ships on the wireless to enlist their assistance with the rescue...") chief radio operator of the Titanic, Jack Philips. There were simply no other deceased yet celebrated figures the town could offer up to lend their name to a prefabricated lean-to on the edge of a municipal car park, so a gay mountaineer it had to be. If Terry Scott had already passed away, this would of course been an entirely different matter, and the "Noyce" would have undoubtedly been known as the "Scott".
So, after failing to land pop-punk troubadours the Senseless Things and negotiations had hit a hiatus over the Charlatans (Ian Brown had said they were his favourite band so suddenly they wanted £375 AND 75% of the door - outrageous) the Pycraft brothers and I settled on an opening night at the Noyce with Snuff and Leatherface supported by my own band Sleeper. At this point, I must add just in case you didn't know, that I wasn't in the Sleeper that had a modicum of success during the glory days of Brit-Pop. However, after promoting this very gig in the Neals Yard Rough Trade shop ("which is the nearest tube to Godalming?... "you could try Collier's Wood, mate") I would still swear that Louise Wener nipped in to check out the new releases, saw our poster and decided to nick the band name Sleeper. She has never denied this.
Financially the night was an outrageous success. Although, in almost every other way, it can only be catergorised as an unmitigated disaster. Trouble began after booking, what the singer of Snuff described as a "Polish" PA. After leafing through the 'Public Address Systems" section of the Yellow Pages I had settled on the aforementioned 'eastern european' system from a company called "Show Sound". I had negotiated a good price for what was described by Mr. Show Sound as a '5K rig'. Unfortunately semantics had tainted my choice of PA. It became apparent that the "show" in his organisations handle referred to the agricultural variety rather than the musical type to which I equated it. The system had arrived in the back of a flatbed land rover, and once the two tin cans had been connected by pieces of string to the amplifier, one could barely hear oneself think. The bands refused to play. I pleaded with them to play. They cancelled the gig. They cancelled it again, then said they would play. Snuff and the less than pleased Frankie Stubbs of Leatherface asked me for the fifteenth time how long it took to ship "that heap of shite here from Gdansk" and "can you ask Lech Walesa to give us a bit more in these monitors?". They refused to play again. Then they saw the amount of people waiting in the car park to see them, hundreds, and I think pity got the better of them and they said they'd go ahead with the gig.
The doors opened about two hours late. This thankfully, gave us the chance to cancel Sleepers set. The guitarist had done to much acid and put simply, just wasn't really up for it. I remember nothing about the gig itself, aside from the look of pure evil that Frankie Stubbs reserved for me from the stage. What I do remember is having what amounted to a grand in cash stuffed inside my leather jacket all through the gig.
When it ended and, the time came to pay the bands, the crowd disappeared and so did my co-promoters, the Pycraft brothers. I was left with two pissed off bands their assorted co-horts and a shedload of cash hidden inside a coat. They wanted more money than we had promised them. I sat in a corner of the Noyce, surrounded by them. They said they had seen how much we had taken - I gave them some more money. Where were the fucking Pycrafts? They said we had taken more money than that, they wanted more. I gave them more. I said I was cleaned out. I'd paid them as much as the Charlatans had wanted. They still wanted more as the night had been such an ordeal. I didn't really have any choice but to give them more cash - apart from gettting kicked around the centres dressing room (I bet Matthew Kelly never acted like this, he left happy with a pair of green trousers and a copy of the board game 'Operation'(some pieces missing)'). I gave them more money. Eventually they left. I breathed a sigh of relief and found a pretty decent whack of cash inside the lining of my jacket.
I've never been able to think of Snuff or particularly Frankie Stubbs Leatherface in quite the same way since. I was slightly suprised to see that the latters 'Mush' has just been re-released. And also that it sounded quite good. Not that I would go as far as to say that it was a British Zen Arcade, like some have. Snuff were always a pretty good laugh, bran flakes, kwik fit fitter and assorted pop hits (Tiffany's "I think we're alone now" played at hypeer fast speeds) although there was really only one joke there. However, musically, they had a couple of inspired punk moments - I still like the track below. And if you ever see either band, that extra whack of cash went a long time ago.