Monday, 7 June 2010

Turning A Drummer Into A Crisis

“The second drummer drowned....”
Pavement, Cut Your Hair.

What is it with these drummers? There they are, manning the “skins”, sitting at the back of tour buses, counting to eight in empty auditoriums the world over. Piece of piss, you’d think but no. Drumming, especially in fair-to-middling nineties indie combos, carries with it a life expectancy roughly equivalent to someone dressed up as Mary Queen of Scots at Elizabeth I’s 50th birthday party.

If you’re the kind of person, and I know Denis Norden has a copyright on opening sentences with that clause but bear with me, who thinks that “indie” begins with the release of Parklife and that the Shine compilations of the mid 90s are some kind of Rosetta Stone of alternative rock then you’ll have been devastated to hear of the death of yet another nineties drummer.

Ah, poor Stuart Cable. The former drummer with the Stereophonics has been found dead in his South Wales home at the tender age of 40. And, as such, has found a way into rock folklore that would have been denied him had he merely lived to a ripe old age. Nobody can honestly say that Stuart was one of the great rock drummers, unless they were limiting it to Welsh bands or blokes called Stuart. But now the Dead Indie Drummers Club has a new member; the bloke from Lush has given him the tour of the grounds, thingy out of Feeder’s poured him a large drink and whatsisname from Space has shown him where the toilets are.

I used to see Stuart wandering around Cardiff wearing a ridiculous Stetson over his fantastic hair. I admit I thought he looked a bit of a prick. My prejudices against the band he used to drum for overrode any thoughts of admiring his sartorial choices or just merely ignoring them. The fact that he walked around Cardiff like a giant bubble permed cowboy was proof to me that he was a nob.

Then there was his TV show, perhaps the worst case of a show being made purely on the basis of someone thinking of a title first. Apart from Touch the Truck. The show was called Cable TV. Each week Stuart would host a chat show with some Welsh celebrity mates and Stuart would sit there grinning like an idiot who can’t believe he’s being paid to talk rubbish with people plucked from his mobile’s contacts list.

But I’m surprised at how sad I am about his unfortunate demise. I’m only a few months younger than him and it could have been me choking on my vomit in the night. Rather than someone else’s, as the grim joke about the dead drummer in This Is Spinal Tap has it. Part of me wonders how Stuart might have been feeling at the thought of his old band headlining a homecoming concert in Cardiff without him at the weekend; there would surely have been some regret at how things turned sour between him and his former friends. Perhaps he opened a bottle of Jack, put on some old Stereophonics records and got wankered and fell asleep dreaming of what might have been.

I hope not. I hope he just got visited in a pissed up dream by Keith Moon and John Bonham, proper rock gods and keepers of the beat for all eternity. Cable’s wandered off into the white light of rock and roll Valhalla and isn’t coming back.

You’ve got to admire a bloke who lived the rock and roll dream of forming a band, getting out of the Valleys and then settling for a little house back home as soon as he’d made a few quid. Not for him the pile in the country, the tax exile status, the Californian hippie retreat. Just an afternoon rock show on a local radio station and a nice house close to where he grew up. Yep, that’ll do. It wasn’t very rock and roll but he saved that for bowing out.

Rest in peace and I’m sorry for calling you a dickhead that time on St Mary’s Street. Oh and if the drummer from Shed Seven’s reading, don’t walk under any ladders.

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