Friday, 26 July 2013

Peter Jordan Q & A

Peter Jordan

Peter Jordan is another Medway figure who has featured in many bands over the years. I caught up with him during a recording session. There's no need to furnish you with a pre-Q&A biography...because he does the job superbly in his first answer:

1) Please tell us a little about yourself and about how long you've been associated with the Medway Towns?

A) I grew up in Medway, born in Chatham in 1964, but spent most of my childhood in Rochester. An obsession with The Beatles from the age of 13 led to me taking up the bass. I'd had piano lessons at the age of 9 when my dad said that if I learn how to play the piano, he'd buy me a keyboard that made the weeeeeeeehah weeeeeeeehah sound on Crazy Horses by The Osmonds. He didn't, he lied, and I gave up. I was playing bass, in a band, with schoolfriends. I still have tapes. We were really sh*t, but I thought we were going to be pop stars, of course. It wasn't until I met Glenn Prangnell in 1983 and joined his band, The Offbeats, that I did anything worthwhile.  I used to see Glenn at Second Sounds record shop in Chatham. The guy who ran the shop, Gary Harries, said Glenn was looking for a bass player, so I said I'd give it a go. I went to his house, where he introduced me to Martin Adams, who was going to be the guitarist. As soon as I heard Glenn's songs I knew it would be a good thing to do. I said I knew a really good drummer and I called Ian Harris, there and then. We had a band. Glenn's songs were very Beatle-y, not a very hip thing to like in those days. We were together for about 4 years and released an album, In Rhythm Offbeat, in 1984. Sometimes we played to an empty room (East End, Chatham) and sometimes to a packed pub (Nag's Head, Rochester)  After that I was in Ignorance Is Bliss for a while, with Peter Cook (better known then as Piggy) which was a lot more experimental than anything I'd done before. I'd liked his previous band, The Blood Junkies, with Dennis Pearce, a band that seemed to divide opinion (as did Ignorance Is Bliss) 
Then I met Nick Hughes (ex-Cenet Rox) and was in various bands with him for a few years, best of which was probably Choc-a-Bloc. I always felt that Nick was the man most likely to make it, I think a lot of people did at the time, be he always seemed to f*ck it up somehow. Still, we had a lot of fun along the way.  After that I decided to front bands for the first time, which, after a few false starts, led to the Reg Varney Trio in 1993, with Sean Stevens and Marcus Moir.  They'd been my dream band for a while. I'd always admired their playing abilities, from their time working together in The Round. Sean had played in a couple of bands with me before, one with Piggy and one with Nick.  Marcus had retired from drumming, but we managed to convince him to pick up the sticks again. My girlfriend, at the time, even bought him a drum-kit. We played loadsa gigs in the area, even ventured further afield on occasion, and had quite a reputation as a powerful 3-piece, mainly due to Sean's phenomenal guitar sound. Sometimes we were due to support someone and the headline act would change the playing order, so they didn't have to go on after us. Both Marcus and I moved to London in 1996.  Sean moved to Portsmouth, so that was effectively the end of the band. We did re-unite for the occasional gig in Medway when asked, but eventually stopped for good in 1997. It's a shame, because I think, as a band, we were getting better and better. 

Peter aged 14...on the road to infamy

2) What's your favourite memory of Medway ?

A) It's difficult to pick just one. I always look back on working with Nick Hughes in Slam It as a great period. It wasn't the best thing, musically, but it was a lot of fun. That band never really played a normal gig, except Maidstone River Festival. We used to play at parties in a big house in Somerfield Road, Maidstone. 

3) What's your favourite Medway building ?

A) Boring answer, but I like the Rochester view of the castle and the cathedral. To me, it's the first thing I think of when showing people around the area

4) Where's your parish ?  Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, elsewhere?

A) I was brought up in Rochester, but moved around a lot over the years, between there, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham. By the time I left for London I felt very much aligned to Gillingham. 

5) Have you some favourite bands or solo acts from past or present ? (Medway acts)

A) I liked the early Dentists era and used to go to most of their Medway gigs. Swinging Time were my favourite band of all though. I think that Gary Robertson has an amazing voice and they were really loud and intense. Being away from the towns, I'm not that up on the present scene. I think that Ben Jones is a serious talent and I like what I've heard from Frau Pouch

6) Any great memories of wild nights out to share?

A)  How do you pick one...from many years of hedonism ?  The most outrageous ones, I keep to myself until I know people better. I guess one I could share is the first time The Offbeats had a night out a band. I managed to get everyone banned from the pub. It ended with me flooding the toilets and throwing my pint over the head of the poor unfortunate landlord. 

7) What's your favourite pub? (clubs and bars do count)

I don't know the modern area, but I used to like the Nag's Head in Rochester. Earlier than that I liked the King's Head, also in Rochester. Many a mad time had there

8) If you were to show a visitor around Medway for a day...where would you take them?

A) see answer 3

9) Is there a landmark that you instantly think of for the towns ?

A) see answer 3

10) If you could live in any building in Medway...where would you choose ?

A) TOYS R US (editor's note...possibly the best answer I've ever had on that one)

Peter as an unidentified flying ramone

11) Any particular shops that you think are worth a mention ?

A) Only from the past. That would be Second Sounds, the second-hand record shop where I met Glenn. It shaped my taste(s) in music. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in there...listening to records...many times when I should have been at college

12) Which famous people...real or you immediately associate with the Medway Towns?

A)  John Wilmot and Billy Childish

13) What's your very earliest memory of being  here in these towns?

A)  Crashing my tricycle into the bollards at the entrance to Troy Town swings. I do remember something earlier but no-one believes me, so we'll leave it at that

14) Any sad memories of Medway ?

A) The death of my mother on April 29th 1982. Less significant, but nevertheless something that affected a lot of people, the closure of the King's Head Real Ale Bar, Rochester, in 1983 (probably) My daily routine taken away. Many good memories from there. 

15)  What's your favourite local music venue...past or present ?

A) Probably the Nag's Head or The Crown...both in Rochester

16) Do you enjoy the current Medway music scene ?

A)  I don't really know it, having lived in London for 17 years. I do hear things that I like from time to time. Ben Jones is obviously a huge talent.  Bear vs Manero, I saw recently in London.  Sadly, I missed Frau Pouch's set, cos I like what I've heard from them thus far. Then there's a lot of the old 'uns who still make great music. It seems the scene is still thriving and evolving

17)  Do you think the towns will change drastically...on the entertainment front...over the next 20 years ?

A)  It doesn't look like that's going to happen, does it ?

18)  What would you change about Medway...if you had the chance ?

A)   I'd move it closer to London

That concludes the Q & A with Peter Jordan. It's been fun...thank you x

Peter..with The Offbeats