I have many names. Here are the bands that I am currently in, and what they are for.n.b. All of the following are on hiatus given current circumstances but equally none have disbanded. There is unfinished business with virtually all of them:
Petomane: First album "Top Trumps" came out in limited edition last year to almost unanimous ignorance. A new album "The Rock Machine Turns You On" will be out when it's finished and not before, though given the previous album was over five years in the making and we're just getting older and slower, I wouldn't hold your breath. Unless you have hiccups and limited access to a chilly key.
Key tracks: "The Dark Night of David Soul", "The Plumber", "Yellow Glove"
Lyrical themes: Incredibly varied. Given that the gestation period of the album it's all over the shop. Songs about the flying Dutchman rub shoulders with Climate of Hunter knock-offs and meetings with superannuated TV dectectives in pub toilets.
Personnel: John Patrick Higgins, Christopher Kasch, Martin Kent Smith
Red Atlas: A live, or at least responsive to electrical current, six piece proposition. On hold currently for a number of reasons not least the singers mistrust of the rest of the band. Some recordings have been made, none of which were particularly satisfactory.Really good though. in a way that it seems impossible to describe.
Key tracks: Little Nemo, Drink the young wine, Deep, deep sleep of england,
Lyrical themes: Initially starting as a series of faintly mysogonistic revenge songs things take a spooky supernatural turn as loads of ghosts turn up and hang about, not doing much.
Personnel:John Patrick Higgins - singing, Simon Endicott - guitar, Ian Olney - guitar, Martin Kent Smith - guitar, Ben Pestell - bass guitar, Simon Oldham - drums
Big Marker: Big Marker were amongst the first sustained works that Douglas Steel and I made and the concept was fairly solid: we were three 17 year old boys from the village of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire. Our songs reflected our interests: girls, trying to get served in pubs, getting arrested for flyposting over a postbox and er King Alfred. In fact Douglas couldnt contain his musical sophistication and i couldn't maintain my stated intent not to sing and Big Marker became more and more jaded as time went on. The music of Big Marker remains far and away my wife's favourite band. Of the bands I've been in at any rate.
Key tracks: Really Hitting Ashley, Kilometres Davis, Etiquette,
Lyrical themes: getting drunk, feuding with ex-band members, mythical bluesmen.
Personnel: JPH, Douglas Steel
The Woods: The Woods was a band specifically invented for the musical "The Night of the Crabs". It's scope is vast encompassing thrash metal, folk tunes, music hall, nu-wave and even a sort of anaemic funk. Its some of the best and most realised music i've ever made and it WILL make it out into the world in some way.
Key tracks: I'd rather be drinking than thinking, Bartholomew's Fare, King Crab, A King Considers, Water Works,
Lyrical themes: Giant crabs invading the coast of Wales and paraquat poisoning.
Personnel: JPH, Douglas Steel, Michael Steel
KNOCK-KNOCK : KNOCK-KNOCK had it's genesis in an episode of Geraldo and the first song was entirely Douglas' construct: I filled in a few of the lyrics but the structure, title and concept were all his. After we put together "When it comes to girls (I ain't got no friends)" it was quite obvious that it was neither a Big Marker song nor did it fit anywhere within the framework of a musical about giant rampaging crabs. So a new band was born: KNOCK-KNOCK. With KNOCK-KNOCK we could explore whole areas of sound: Devo, Sparks, Eno and Gabriel, Sly Foxx, Fox, Landscape and Rockwell all flew into the mix. And I discovered the joy of singing in a German accent a la Klaus Nomi. KNOCK-KNOCK is a lot of fun. To do, at least. I can't vouch for the listening experience.
Key Songs: When it comes to girls (I ain't got no friends), Heart Murmur, If you prick me, Sleep Plated Nightmare,
Lyrical themes: er...friends, brer rabbit, The Trains by Robert Aickman
Personnel: JPH, Douglas Steel
The Club of Queer Trades: Writing songs with Martin is a joy as i get to write the words first and he then wraps my strangulated prose into some musical swaddling while managing to give it a melody and meaning at the same time! He's no slouch. I write a lot of my best lyrics for The Club as I am allowed room to play with form as well as content. The general trend is toward melancholia but some of the angriest songs i've ever written fall under this umbrella too. Oh, and i mean it, ma-an!
Key songs: I am beset by angels, That Plane has Sailed, Cold Devils, Boaster's Bar, Hip Replacement Priest, Not safe in Taxis,
Lyrical themes: Love, loss, love lost, jealousy, spite and righteous indignation
Personnel: JPH, MKS
The Namedrops: there is a contradiction at the heart of The Namedrops . The Namedrops is Martin's serious attempt to pay tribute not only to the riot grrl bands he so adores, as well as the entirety of the female fronted pop records from the year dot (and there is an inherent dichotomy there as well). However these would be grrl power anthems written by two men, espousing the sorts of things we thought girls songs should be about and trying to find girls to sing them! We may find some yet as the songs were quite good but Martin has deflected this compromised situation beautifully by joining a real female fronted punk band: The Ethical Debating Society.
Lyrical themes: girls = good, boys = bad, dancing, premature ejaculation,
Key Songs: Welcome to Dumpsville, Impossible, No Sex Please (we're skittish,) Never been afraid,
Personnel: JPH, MKS
The Charlemagnes: Another high-concept project. Or at the very least fair to middling - good to firm concept project. The Charlemagnes again are a two piece Nuggets style garage band with an awful lot of dead former members many of whom will be eulogised in song. The singer is Johnny Ghostly and the guitarist is Marty Polpette and I had originally writing between song banter as the main part of the show: it would be like Buster Pointdexter but without the credentials! The songs are the foray into parody I've ever done; titles like "Stoopid Girl", "That Girl is a mess" and "teardrop stop" are clearly from snot-punk school of terrified mysogyny, whereas "Shellshock Shuffle" clearly owes some small debt to the Ramones' "BlitzKrieg Bop". I still have some of Johnny Ghostly's monologues and it would be good to play these in a live setting - if nothing else they rock!
One other thing: I wanted to get an authentic 60's NY fuzz-beat sound for the guitars but it never happened: Martin plays guitar with an English accent!
Lyrical themes: Fallen soldiers, stupid gurlz, heartache, drugs and those they kill, being cool,
Key songs: Teardrop Stop, Shellshock Shuffle, That girl is a mess, Heart Face
Personnel: JPH, MKS
Nude Scientists: If you can imagine Big Marker twenty years on, living in an urban, metropolitan environment and beginning to feel middle-classed and middle-aged pangs of terror, as their life and life-style are suddenly irrelevant and the howling paranoia of the Daily Hate is starting, sickeningly to wear them into a rounded, more ergonomic ball of fear. Then add some synths. Nude Scientists are the snobbish terrified uncles of Big Marker; aghast at what they see hear and smell on the bus but more aghast at having to use public transport in the first place! They are snobbish, resolutely misanthropic and deeply, deeply terrified. Morrissey would love 'em.
Lyrical themes: Young people today, aging, no respect, hatred, the Daily Mail, Clarkson,
Key Songs: You again, Intruder Alert, Hangover Hospital, Idiot, Chicken in a box on the back of the bus,
Personnel: JPH, Doug Steel