Trumpets, teepees and Saxon tapes...
Where did it all start?
I've always loved music. My mum tells me that when Abba were on telly performing Waterloo in 1974's Eurovision Song Contest, I was jumping up and down in my nappy shouting 'Winner, winner!'
When I was seven (minus the nappy), my parents asked if I'd like to learn an instrument. I was keen on the trumpet. Panicking, they talked me into learning guitar.
So my brother and I started classical guitar lessons. And we went for it in a big way: footstools, music stands, exam grades, and side-parted hair.
Age 11, in 1982, everything changed. My brother brought home a Saxon tape - The Power and the Glory - and retreated to his toy teepee in the back garden to play it. In my bedroom, playing 'Horace Goes Skiing' on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer, I heard the riffs and wails. I liked it.
I traded the side-parting for a collar-length mullet and got into more metal, such as Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden. A friend of my dad's lent me a few Hawkwind albums, and I was suddenly a space cadet. A love of some prog rock came soon after, with bands like Yes and Rush.
Every Friday night, I'd wait excitedly in my bedroom for Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show on Radio One to start at 10pm, fingers poised over my cassette player's 'play' and 'record' buttons. If Hawkwind or Blue Öyster Cult were on the show, all the better.
The classical guitar soon felt a bit 'old'. We stopped the lessons and got electric guitars. Inevitably, we started a school band. I played bass because no one else wanted to do it.
A few bands later, aged 18, I joined Bardiche in 1989: a popular metal outfit in Swindon. We had the hair. We had the tight jeans. And we had a song that went, "Hard times, backs against the wall… hurgh!" We were set for stardom.
Except we weren't. We built a largish local following. One of the highlights of the time was supporting Huw Lloyd Langton from Hawkwind at Swindon's Link Centre (I was starstruck, Huw was lovely.) We folded a few years later and regrouped under the ill-fated name, Bigshot. How we laughed when people swapped the 'I' and 'O' on the posters.
A deal came and went, and the band fell apart. I floated for a few years, playing in a few semi-successful bands, then family and responsibilities came along. I was still going to give it a damned good go though - this time as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist - so I took piano and singing lessons.
Looking back, I think my early love of metal, space rock and prog blended to form the 'rock with a progressive twist' style of the CIRCU5 album, which you can get here:
CLICK HERE for the CIRCU5 album
Thanks for reading about the first part of my journey to CIRCU5. I hope you'll join me for the rest.