Friday, 3 February 2012

Feb Ded's or a Deadbeat February

With snow on the ground a February issue was rarely a big one although no. 9 would go down as one of our fastest selling covers. We ran out of no. 9's in 1983 within a week of printing them.

I think by February 1984 we'd arrived in Liverpool, London, Norwich, Newcastle and other places south of the border but in 1983 it was only Scotland for issue 9 and we were dumbstruck. Numbed by Guinness and the snowballs we took ourselves off to see Charlie Higson and his troubadours, got an interview, thanked them very much and got another issue out. 10p might not seem a lot but when Guinness was 50p that meant I only had to sell 5 Deadbeats every 20 minutes.

Issue 22 in February 1984 was a different animal - going from being 20 to 21 had taken its toll on the body while Thatcher had taken it out on the economy.  I now needed to sell 7 Deadbeats for a pint of Guinness. I decided 6 Deadbeats for a pint of Tennents represented good value so changed my drink. How are the life changing decisions made. I have purified 2000 pints a year since and will be consuming my 60,000th pint in time for T-in-the-Park this year, the annual get together with fellow micro purifier systems. I often think my body's a temple but years of purifying lager has rendered it somewhat closer to the carcass it looks like from the outside. I even tried a 500 mile walk across Spain drinking tinto de virano to cure myself. Having said that, Tennents drinking's the only thing I've stuck at in my life so to give up now would be churlish, and just think what would happen to the Wellpark Brewery, it might go the same way as Ravenscraig and the other rusty vessels described in issue 22.

Ah, yes, issue 22 February 1984. I'd forgotten about King Kurt and the fun we had amid the mayhem of the Playhouse's nite club.

Shamefully I was plugging Life Support Upstairs at the Waterloo bar, but the truth behind that is we wanted to do a 24 page issue, when I re-read it I think it was more to do with getting £200 for Ads!! I must've been skint after Christmas or it was to buy a tape to tape machine. We'd sent the deadbeat master tape off to get 100 copies made and my local barman was delighted they'd sold out, so after settling my tab, I bought a tape to tape and coined 50p a time when I sold anymore. Liquid Royalties to the bands were paid in full, I'm sure...

Ah, the Dancing Bears, there's a good link to 1985! They were the outstanding Band of the Deadbeat tapes for me. I liked all of them but there was something about the Bears simplicity that worked well.

Issue 29 with Lloyd Cole on the cover straddled feb/march as Deadbeat lurched from one excuse to the next. The truth was being printer was a step too far. We could do the gigs, interview the bands, write them up, collect the demos etc but the couple of days we got off while the printer did his stuff became a week when we were printing. The issue would be printed by me very slowly. Firstly we had gone from 500 to 2500 issues, which meant we were printing 12500 sheets of paper, not 2500. That's a lot of paper. We had to buy the paper, which wasn't always the cheapest around, although now I think about it, we did get a great price for it. As gullible as I was even Deadbeat readers could tell we changed our paper supplier from issue to issue. Sometimes 80g sometimes 90g and then the thinnest 70g paper. 80 gsm - or grams per square meter meant that a standard deadbeat weighed in about 60g, but the bigger issue 22 was 72g. Those on the mailing list were always gutted when we used the heavy paper, like the one in issue 29. The Royal Mail would put a "too heavy cash to pay" stamp on it and leave them a few pennies to pay on the doorstep. You could wallpaper with that issue it was such high quality.

I remember printing the cover page. Every 30 sheets you had to stop the machine because the ink was so thick on the page one would get stuck and rotate around the drum. Pause the print, peel it off, try not to lose a finger, engage, ink up, scrap three pages, print 30 then pause, peel it off, etc. The cover took hours to print. By the time I was on my 8th tin we'd about 700 covers. All night long, to quote Lionel Ritchie, I finished about 4am with 1900 covers. Only another 9 more, hopefully they weren't as ink-centric, I mused as I collapsed into bed.

As you can see from Hiccups and the Deadbeat cartoon, thankfully not all the pages required a gallon of ink. By the end of the week the issue was finally printed and the easy bit of marrying them up, stapling them and going around the shops could begin, collecting the cash and getting wasted in the Tayside Bar, or through at Night Moves, yes I'd succumbed to the charms!

The back pages are the easiest way to jog my memory, and in the case of issue 29, I know exactly where I was in February 1985. I was proving that I couldn't and shouldn't draw while working in my mum's sandwich bar in Nicholson Street opposite the Pear Tree in Edinburgh. I was toiling for a present for her Christmas this year so as tight as I am, I put this in a frame. God bless the parents, she said she loved it and its now on the wall. There's not even a picture of me on that wall. Dont you like it when, even suffering from Alztheimer's she's still able to exercise that inherent parental duty to her 49 year old son, to say how much she loves it. That's parents for you, they never stop believing in you even though many others have tried to show them the light!

I even recognise the black eye. Keith and I were in a taxi coming down dalkeith road and this vespa pulled up alongside at the commie pool. I laughed at some story Keith had just told while looking at the two of them. Next thing the driver was giving it big throttle, the passenger jumped off the back, opened the cab door and lamped me. I've never laughed so much. A case of mistaken identity or just a belting thing to do on a friday, go out and lamp the bourgeous in the black cabs. It was one of the funniest things, made me chuckle all night, although the shiner did shine!

Happy New Year - January Deadbeats

Optimism, that's what January brought 29 years ago, although by the unpublished issue 34 in 1986 I think it was alcoholism that was running the show!

Issue 8 was a belter, I didn't realise that we made note of Chas & Di's first born but there it is in Keith's outstanding review of the year just gone - 1982 - that was the year that was. 1983 was somewhat poisoned by the jingoistic election and the music divided into light and frothy or a greater bit of urban decay.

By 1984 Orwellian thoughts were evident in some of our musical musings The Cocteau Twins were on the front cover of issue 21 and the drunken ramblings of a Vinny who had also just turned 21 demonstrated for all to see, was in need of help from somebody from trainspotting. The Deadbeat tape got 5 stars in the sounds review, I thought all the bands on the tapes were superb but Sunset Gun, the Strawberry Tarts, they were pretty special for different reasons. We were selling 1500 copies every month by now and so attempting to do poll didn't seem like a bad idea, ho ho ho. 3 responses and they were from the guys sitting next to me in La Sorbonne. Probably with the guys from Burlesque - how good is that line, 1984 and SLF the Clash and Burlesque have split up!

but by the time January was complete and by issue 29 and 1985 brought us Lloyd Cole and a new Deadbeat logo - it was rubbish so we ditched it later.