SECRETS - THE FIAT LUX DIARIES

 
MARCH 1984

Thur 1
London Lyceum “special guests” of Thomas Dolby

After a night drive I get the band to the Columbia Hotel in central London at 4am. At 11.30am photographer David arrives and the band do a photo session in and around the hotel. Early afternoon they also do an interview with Chat Beat magazine.

Today we break from our headline dates to be “special guests” at Thomas Dolby’s London show. I then have to dash them to the Lyceum in time for their allotted 4.30pm sound check. I needn’t have bothered as Thomas Dolby overruns his for several hours. In the end I have to kick up a fuss about it, sighting the “special guest” billing as justification for some fair play. We don’t get it though and the sound check is rushed and half baked. As the doors open we all go out for a drink with Chris Carr and agent Mick Griffiths.

Back at the gig and the performance is done under the most strained conditions with the boys reckoning that the monitor mix was being sabotaged as they tried to play. David even gave a mock thank you to the sound engineers at the end of their set. We can’t get out of the venue quick enough and all return to The Columbia accompanied by Polydor A&R chief Alan Sizer and a handful of his staff, plus Mike from Gene Loves Jezebel and Chris Carr. Consolatory drinks all round! You often hear of support acts being stitched up but I have to say this is this first time it has appeared to happen to Fiat Lux – so maybe we can count ourselves lucky.

Fri 2
BBC Television Centre London – Old Grey Whistle Test appearance.
Official release date – Blue Emotion

All up at 7am for a hotel breakfast, then off to BBC TV Centre. The first thing we find is that the BBC is in the middle of a set shifters strike, so we are informed that the regular Old Grey Whistle Test set will not be available to us and so we will be performing in front of plain drapes. This disappointing news is soon dissipated when David & Steve find some large mirrors on wheels at the back of the studio. It turns out these use to be used for projecting background scenes for car chases on things like Z Cars where the vehicles were filmed statically in the studio. We managed to get the producers to agree to let the band use these as their set and they look quite distinctive. Rehearsals take place from 10am until 1pm. The presenters are David Hepworth and Mark Ellen and we meet them and, for some unexplained reason, ex- Goodie Graeme Garden before the “as live” recording takes place at 2.30pm. The show had a loose synthesizer theme to it involving the likes of Jean Michel Jarre and Kraftwerk. Ironically the Fiat’s perform The Moment and Blue Emotion with only one synth present on stage – Ian’s Memorymoog. The band is so tired after this that I next find them asleep in the TV centre foyer!

Back to The Columbia for some food and rest before the programme is aired on BBC 2 later that evening.

Sat 3
Gig:
Portsmouth Polytechnic

There is definitely a lot of joy about today. We are back as masters of our own destiny as we continue our headline tour and also a warm glow at the success of yesterday’s TV performance.

We arrive in Portsmouth, check into our hotel and find a few moments for a stroll along the beach before reporting to the venue. Everything is very well organised and the sound check runs very smoothly (thank goodness). It is while we were enjoying the lavish buffet provided by the students union that we are informed that the support band has cancelled. A daft plan is hatched and at 9pm we get the MC to announce “ladies & gentleman, your support band for tonight is… The Splids!” Steve and David have organised a scam which involves me going on carry a saxophone, road crewman Richard a bass and Ian a guitar. A bit of tuning up goes on but suffice to say that we didn’t get round to playing anything before it is announced that really the support act has cancelled. We needn’t have worried, for at 10pm when Fiat Lux goes on, the capacity crowd (about 400) goes crazy and they have the best reception of the tour so far.

When I arrive back at the hotel after the gig there is news that Secrets is Number 8 in the German “tips chart” after recently being released there.

Sun 4
Gig:
Brighton Pavillion

Take the short run to Brighton for a lunchtime interview on the ILR station Sunset Sound. From there we visit Peter Robinson who is a friend of ours who has connections with Bretton Hall through his Cliffhanger Theatre Company, a very relaxed afternoon for all concerned.

Take the band to the venue for a 4pm sound check. We all meet up with the rest of the theatre company and Steve’s London pal Bart in nearby pub The Volunteer. Our A&R man Billy Keane joins us for the gig. Unfortunately it is not as good as last night with a smaller less enthusiastic crowd, however the playing is good. Afterwards a spaghetti supper with the Cliffhanger crowd is enjoyed by all.

Mon 5
Gig:
Rachel’s Basildon

Drove band to London at 10.30am for meeting with Polydor at which the storyboard for the video of Blue Emotion is to be revealed. This has been prepared by the company called Clapperboard which Polydor has employed. After the Secrets video, which wasn’t considered mainstream enough by the record company, Steve, Ian and David have been kept out of the creative process this time. It is no surprise that they are not keen on what is presented which they see as a cliché of northern life – mines and marches “up the workers” and all that. David is nominated to ring director Tim Reed and tell him what they think. Some compromises are promised.

Off then to Basildon – a large night club venue – for a sound check. Some of David’s Grimsby friends turn up for the show. The audience is fairly small again, but another enthusiastic crowd. Check in to an out of town motel afterwards.

Tues 6
Gig:
Penny’s Norwich

Check out at 8am so that we can get to Kings Lynn in time to meet Peter Powell who is presenting a BBC Radio 1 Goes East Roadshow in the town – this involves the DJ driving around the town centre in a “pop mobile”! Then there is a record signing session in a local record shop where we rendezvous with Alan the record plugger. We arrive in Norwich in time to explore the town and eat before arriving at another female named night spot. Do sound check and this time there is a large crowd. I drive the boys back to Yorkshire at the close of play.

Wed 7
Video Shoot – Blue Emotion: Day 1

Collect the guys at 6am and drive them to Barnsley where we rendezvous with the Clapperboard film crew at The Queens Hotel. The first bit of filming takes place in nearby cobbled road called James Street and involves a marching scene with a large number of extras assembled by Pilot Theatre Company. Bob from the band Tempole Tudor plays the father in the scene. It is a very cold day for standing about outside. After a hearty warming lunch at The Queens we move to Bretton Hall in West Bretton for the indoor finale scene. This involves the band playing minstrel in the gallery while a banquet of actors cast as toffs downstairs in the portico hall is interrupted by protesters from the march. Filming is ended by 9pm and everyone heads home for an evenings rest. Unfortunately David uses this opportunity to eat some out of date food!

Thur 8
Video Shoot – Blue Emotion: Day 2
Gig: Leeds Warehouse

Get everyone to today’s location - the village of Gawber in South Yorkshire – by 10.30am. Shooting begins in and around the local Victorian school with more marching with extras followed by some internal shots with school children in class. I get to play the school master with classic cape and mortar board hat. When I finish this I reunite with the band who are at Gawber colliery filming shots in and around the mine. I discover David is really ill with some sort of food poisoning and he is struggling to continue, complaining of aches and shivering he has gone so white that the make up people have to so a special job on him before the close up shots in the mine lift shaft! The filming concludes with more marching shots with extras dressed as miners having to break ranks to allow past a Rolls Royce with actor playing the mine owner inside.

There is just time to get Steve, Ian and an ailing David back to Leeds for the sound check for tonight’s gig. Once complete I take David back to his house for some recovery time before the 10.30 stage call. The performance to a packed home crowd goes well.

Fri 9
Gig: London University

Leave Yorkshire for London at 11am.

We arrive at the venue at 4pm. Sound check was done by David and Ian while Steve was being interviewed by a Swedish newspaper. Support bands are The Simmonics and The Gersha Girls. After the sound check we meet up with Wakefield musicians friends Steve Smith from Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and Stuart Kennett from Stranger Than Fiction. David’s Grimsby pals have also made a trip to see the gig. Chris Carr, Sarah Swain and plugger Sonnie Rae attend from the London operation.

The gig is brilliant and the crowd love it. Afterwards Howard Devoto, who Chris Carr is also working for, comes to the dressing room to meet the band. Everyone then joins us at The Columbia Hotel where we are staying for after show drinks.

Sat 10
Gig: Retford Porterhouse
Janice Long Session transmitted BBC Radio 1

There is time for shopping in Notting Hill before an afternoon drive down to Retford. The Porterhouse is notable for it’s very low ceiling onstage. After the sound check and a bit of careful planning to avoid anyone bumping their heads we seek out a local pub.

Some of David’s Grimsby friends and a group of fans from Leicester are the most vocal during the show. (David’s friend Rick asks permission and shoots an 8mm film of the event). Afterwards we wind down at a local disco before driving back to Yorkshire in the small hours.

Mon 12
Yorkshire TV filming at Sheffield Leadmill

This was billed as a live concert recording of current Yorkshire based pop successes, which was being done for a special allied to local news programme Calendar. The presenter was Martin Kelner and when we got there in the morning I was surprised to see the band having to go over Splurge and Blue Emotion several times in front of occasionally passing audience members. Other bands involved included Heaven 17 and The Comsat Angels and no doubt others that we didn’t see as the thing was due to go on all day. It was a kind of poor mans Tube really. (None of us ever saw it broadcast so I’ve no idea if it ever was).

Meanwhile producer Hugh Jones was travelling up from London to start work with the band tomorrow. I met him at Sheffield railway station. In the evening all the Fiat Lux extended family – road crew etc, join us for a meal with Hugh at the new Pizzaland in Wakefield town centre. Afterwards Hugh stays with Steve.

Tues 13
Smithy Brook Farm

Steve, David and Ian present ideas for new material to Hugh and some basic rehearsing goes on through the afternoon. I get call from Polydor to say that Blue Emotion is up to No59 in the UK charts and to expect a Top 40 place next week as they have diverted all their strike force effort towards making it happen.

Wed 14
Smithy Brook Farm

More song construction and pre-production work with Hugh Jones.

Thur 15
BBC Radio Sheffield interview

Pick up Ian, Steve and David and take them to the studios at Radio Sheffield at midday. Then back to Smithy Brook Farm where Hugh is waiting for more work on new songs. Hugh stays with David who takes him for a night on the town in Wakefield.

Fri 16
Smithy Brook Farm

Another afternoon of Steve, Ian and David going through ideas with Hugh Jones. Afterwards I take him back to my house to make sure he gets a restful night away from any partying before the trip to Rockfield Studios tomorrow.

Sat 17
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

I drive Hugh and the boys to Wales late afternoon. When we arrive at the studios we find that Polydor have organised a drum machine hire via Red Star, but it is stuck at Monmouth station, so Ian and I go there to get it.

The facilities at Rockfield are wonderful with a large farmhouse across the road from the studio for accommodation with a 3 course dinner served to us in the evening in a posh dinning room. Any plans for recording to commence are quelled when Hugh Jones has to disappear to sort out a domestic situation. Ian & David explore the nearby town, while Steve & I relax in front of the television after all that food.

Sun 18
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Work commences mid morning. There are problems with the hired drum machine, so our own TR808 is used to start work on an Ian song idea called This Sporting Life. I leave for Yorkshire. On route I am surprised to find that Fiat Lux are the subject of a question on BBC Radio 1’s Pop Quiz programme.

Mon 19
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Today David records bass, guitars and keyboards for “In The Heat Of The Night”. Steve’s Gill visits the studio and I send her cheques from Polydor for each member - £500 each for expenses. All three members of The Icicle Works (another of Hugh’s productions) pop in with their manager Tony and there is a bit of a booze up at the lodge where the studio owners live, but S, I & D assure me on the ‘phone that they only indulged in passing.

Tues 20
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Sheepish phone call from Polydor tells me that Blue Emotion has unexpectedly dived to 79 in the British Charts. I phone Chris who relates how our plugger Sonnie was despatched to the Top Of The Pops office by Polydor in the expectation that the single was going to rise 10 places only to be told by the BBC TV producers about the drop!

Back at the studio Steve is doing the guide vocals to In The Heat Of The Night and David is adding drums and having trouble with the intonation on his bass.

Wed 21
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Polydor sends another drum machine – this time a Linn, with me back in Yorkshire, David collects from the station in a taxi while dropping off Steve’s Gill and picking up Ian’s Julia, then leaving his bass to be repaired at a local music shop. The rest of the day is spent with David hitting drums and a flight case in the studio lobby to add to Ian’s keyboards on This Sporting Life.

Thur 22
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

More work on This Sporting Life, Ian adds more keyboards.  David adds guitar and more drums.

Fri 23
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Steve works on vocals to This Sporting Life. Hugh Jones rings to say he thinks they are going off track with the song and plans to stop tomorrow and work on other material that they worked on at Smithy Brooke rather than go any further with this one.

Sat 24
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

I return to the studios to join a visit from Chris Carr and Sarah. They arrive mid afternoon. Work has re-started on In The Heat Of The Night with David deploying his newly repaired bass. There is a break for a mass visit to the local pub for dinner, then we all return to the studio to watch Ian add sax to In The Heat Of The Night. Everyone stays at the farmhouse.

Sun 25
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

The party expands further when I collect Mick Griffiths of Asgard Agency from Monmouth station. Meanwhile David & Hugh are in the studio doing guitar parts for In The Heat Of The Night, while the remaining ensemble watch football at the farmhouse. We all convene at the studio to have a meeting with Mick at which we discuss live work in Europe then we formally sign a 4 year contract with his agency. We all have dinner and then the Londoners and myself head home leaving Hugh and the band to spend the evening working on the track Hold Me While You Can.

Mon 26
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Today a new bass part is conceived and recorded for In The Heat Of The Night and various backing vocals are added to tracks so far by Steve and David.

Tues 27
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

First task was for David to record drum parts for Hold Me While You Can. There was then a visit from Polydor A&R man Billy Keane which saw everyone break for dinner and a short visit to the pub to give him a progress report. Billy then has a listen to work in progress at the studio. Soon afterwards there is a breakdown of the multi track machine, so proceedings are curtailed to allow for maintenance.

Wed 28
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Various vocal recordings done on all the tracks attempted so far.

Thur 29
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Ian & David work on keyboard embellishments to Hold Me While You Can & In the Heat Of The Night.  Steve leaves for London to record an “interview” for the Razzmatazz TV programme. On completion he reported back that in the end it only amounted to one line, so the only winner is British Rail for the ticket fare!

Fri 30
Rockfield Studios Monmouth – Album sessions

Final recording session at Rockfield so a day of tying up loose ends and correcting any flaws before Hugh moves on to mixing in London next week. Listening copies of the tracks made for all concerned.

Sat 31
I return to Rockfield to collect Ian, Steve & David and drive them home to Yorkshire. Their equipment is also collected and taken to London in case it’s needed during mixing sessions.

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