Paris Angels – Perfume – Louder Than War exclusive article

Paris Angels - Perfume - Louder Than War exclusive article

Paris Angles were a band from Manchester that rose to success in amongst the Madchester scene, releasing timeless music as well as playing memorable live gigs, some of the best in and amongst this period called Madchester. Matt Mead catches up with the band for this retrospective article to discuss all things regarding their rise to success plus the untimely death of their drummer ‘Big’ Simon Worrall.

As you would expect with all budding musicians Paris Angels rise to success starts as innocent musical enquiries well before any of the band members joined the band. Lead singer Rikki Turner ‘For me music came from Eddie Cochran, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. My life was a tough one. I was brought up with two sisters. My Dad would make me look after them. Fighting became a way of life. My first real taste for music was punk and Bowie, my older sister Sharon bought those records. At the age of fourteen we moved back to Guide Bridge, I was a Perry Boy, or as Mark E Smith says Hob Goblin. Football and fighting were at that age my pastimes, saving up for Fila, Lacoste, Adidas, and going to watch Manchester United.’ Guitarist Paul Wagstaff ‘Ad 1964 born in Stockport, raised in Bredbury in relative poverty on a council estate, widowed single parent with five kids to look after, kind of tough upbringing. My Dad passed away when I was six, ex-Royal Navy and got a honourable discharge, but no pension. Left me Mum penniless to fend off threats from social services to split us up. We got by though. She was, and still is a tough young lady.’ Backing singer Jayne Gill ‘ It was me and my older sister, just like any other 80’s family really. The Beatles was the first music I remember hearing, due to some old vinyl 45’s of my mums.’ Bass player Scott Carey ‘The first music I remember hearing was pop stuff Abba, Heatwave, Drifters, whatever we had in the house. I grew up on an estate in Denton Manchester, my parents were into music but nothing was ever forced upon us as children. Then I went to the local grammar school, this is where i met likeminded people and started to get into music properly.’

As a natural consequence of the ageing process music tastes change, as it was with each of the band members. Rikki ‘I was hanging around near a place called Birch Street, this when it clicked, watching these peacocks, Punks, New Romantics going to The Birch Hotel, with a downstairs room where they played wonderful music.’ Jayne ‘From an early age I always had diverse music taste from 14 years I was listening to Spear of Destiny, The Cult, but the first real music influence would be Velvet Underground/Lou Reed at 16 years of age.’ Wags ‘My Mum loved music, she always had the radio on, back in her day she’d dance for a glass or two, or so I am told. Wash days she would sing while doing her chores. I remember the scent of clothes drying on the fire guard, the humidity, the warmth of her voice, melancholy. She noticed how I seemed to light up when music was on in the house. One day she presented me with an Elizabethan brand two tone record player and three 45’s; Day Tripper, Only the Lonely and Suspicious Minds, it was around 71 or so. I’ve been listening to real music as long as I can remember.’ Scott ‘Ska and Two-Tone, then punk, then indie/psych/soul/acid house. Echo and the Bunnymen were my first obsession, subsequent obsessions have been Stereolab and Tortoise.’

Moving from just listening to music comes the intrigue and need for actually making the sounds you’re hearing, and so it was within the band. Rikki ‘I had to join a band and so at the age of 16 I walked into the Birch pub, with spikey hair and black levis, never looked back. This where I met Phil, Lee, Woods, and Girls. Music, Girls, fighting, and going to the match, went from 83 up until 87, this kid walked into the Birch called Simi (Paris Angels soundman), he had a lot of drugs I scored my first E for £30, and then decided Ibiza was my new place. At the same time Wags, Simon, and Scott started the Paris Angels.’ Wags ‘That my friend is easy. It took quite a while before I figured it out, I was a shit good guitar player. Always a ‘your crap fringe, you see round them places’ kinda guy.’ Scott ‘I was 15 when i got a bass for my birthday. My parents used reverse psychology, saying that i wouldn’t keep it up, still playing 32 years later.’ Jayne ‘I started reading and playing instruments from the age of 5, starting with the recorder then progressing to violin, cello and tenor horn . In the Angels I fell into the keyboards because of the psychedelic influence and being able to find a note so hence the vocals were more prominent.’

PATilton (1)-p1bs69n7pv1boha8b8h1q15ddl

Once the members met each other Paris Angles rehearsals began not longer after. Scott ‘We met through going to the cellar bar in the Birch hotel in Guide Bridge. It was the only place that had an alternative night, so local tribes of like-minded people assembled there, to hear music and form friendships. This is where i met firstly Rikki, then Wags (he came unto me as i had a bowl cut and asked if I liked the Bunnymen – the week after he gave me a Scott motorcycle badge – that sealed it) the 3 of us started to hang out, take speed and write Bunnymanesque songs. Then we stole Big Si from a local rock band, he wasn’t initially into what we were doing but his powerful playing and supreme ebullient personality just gelled, especially with me, we became very close allies. Rikki started seeing Jayne not long after and her love of the Velvet Underground and she was the most musical of us, meant she was in. We then recruited Mark Adge, as we needed a rhythm guitar to let Wags do his lead, and Adge was and is solid! Finally another Birch regular Tajti (pronounced Toity) was the bassist in another band that Jayne also did vocals for and we nicked him too. Tajti had a technical brain and a mutual love of Moog synths brought the missing ingredient, that brought us that Donna Summer/Kraftwerk (in our minds) edge.’ Rikki ‘We were doing Velvet Underground covers Bunnymen covers and listening to electro and early house, Simi would turn up with speed, E, and Charlie.’ Wags ‘You know what, try as I might I can’t recall how I met up with the Angels. Ah yes!. It was Scott, probably in the Birch mid 80’s. The Birch was run by a miserable twat, his name escapes me, anyhow he was kind enough to put a night on in the basement of said pub, now demolished pffft. Which drew in all the punks freaks and individuals from around East Manchester. So I suppose it was there. Simi had just got a house round the corner from mine, we used to gather round at his place after closing time. Maybe there, I might be getting me dates mixed. Anyhow, Scott came up with the name, I remember saying something like, you pretentious twat. He was good at that. It stuck. Yeah Scott used to come up with lots of stories on how Paris Angels acquired the name, he was very good at that. One story was about a Hell’s Angels chapter that ravaged the streets of Paris circa 68, it was that good a tale, even I believed it – gullible travels. We acquired a rehearsal space in the basement of the old nick, i.e. the police station in Hyde by the town hall from this fucked up hippie. Turns out to be the mortuary, Cramps-like we got pretty good, or at least we thought so. Then the Boardwalk next.’

As what happens in most friendship circles different music tastes start to form the band plus in the summers of 88/89/90 came the birth of an exciting time, especially within Manchester. Scott ‘At first we listened to Television, 13th Floor Elevators, Doors, Magazine, Bunnymen etc.. and we just copied that, but we also loved P-funk and it was seeing the Mondays that really had a big influence on us, they showed us you could be anyone and do twisted funk, when Wags got a wah-wah pedal that changed us, then all the Chicago house stuff at the Hacienda, at first we kind of shunned it, but it was Acid House with the synths that we ‘got’ and then it was like a new dawn happen and old dirty mac Manchester, lost the industrial edge and became more Day-Glo. The summers of 88 and 89 were a joy to be alive, so much was happening, a lot of our female Birch friends did fashion, I would say they did as much to influence Manchester as much as those of us trying to merge acid house and indie music. Also the parties and general vibe, felt so special – i always wondered what Haight-Ashbury would’ve been like but then we had our own period – a lot of this is through rose-tinted John Lennon spectacles , but still was an electrically scorched into the brain time of life.’

The band signed to Sheer Joy Records and started to make further progress. Rikki ‘Later on Jayne, Mark, and Tayti joined, we started to get noticed, we played the Hacienda, a double bill with Northside. Sheerjoy picked us up, and we recorded Perfume. My life at this point was a haze, my younger sister Mandy was dying from cancer. Me and Wags would go and buy Codine from the local Pharmacy to get high.’ Jayne ‘Scott and Rikki had been in a band before and Wags knew their style. Wags’ guitar riffs with Scott and Simon had a certain connection which when they all played they just knew where to fit in the riffs, the rolls, and the breaks. Later when Tajti and Mark Adj joined they were the icing. A&R were in Manchester looking for the next big band to sign up. So the Boardwalk became our resident gig every last Friday of the month for around 8 months, by this time we were packing the venue out, takings went up and the word got spread about us. We were then asked to play alongside Northside at the Hacienda, this is when (Tony) Wilson approached us and said he would sign us if we sacked one of the band members as we had 7, that was a definite no. We did a demo for Polydor, then Sheer Joy was a local guy Steve who had seen us grow in that first year and knew that we had something special.’

The band released some of the most memorable singles of the decade, Jayne explains the writing process ‘Perfume was a Scott and Wags melody with Si’s drums we all added our bits on top. The original Perfume was an indie guitar version, with the remix from Suite 16 recorded and produced by Michael Johnson ( New Order Blue Monday) that really put the stamp on the tune with the dance influence. Remember recording it as the original jangly guitars then when I was sitting down stairs in the studio watching the Gulf war evolve on the news, one of the band turned on the speakers in the TV area from the mixing studio and straight away I got shivers down my neck. I heard the pulsating beat with Wag’s guitar being mixed this was the first time I heard the indie dance version.’ Scott ‘A lot of the time we would have a riff or I being a bass player would have a baseline for a song worked out and then say to rest play something to fit over the main root notes. Wags always used to play strange inversions of chords which brought the baselines to life in really great odd ways. Rikki would pen lyrics and find ways of weaving these to tunes Wags and I wrote – later as the band grew, more and more people contributed.’ Wags ‘Well it was everyone putting their bit in, Perfume started out at my house in Hyde, we all used the gather round there and get shit-faced. I had this out of tune piano in me kitchen, I’d play it anyway, amphetamine tends to make anything sound good. Hit this chord transposed it to me guitar, I had some words Rikki had some, it all came together with Tajti’s techno head. We thought it was quite good. Breathless, was something else. We got Barrinngton and Lawrence Stewart and Simon “Cromi” Crompton. Jayne was amazing. They brought her out of herself, Mark did some genius riff that to this day I envy and still can’t play.’

Inevitably the band went on tour and had some memorable nights out on the road. Jayne ‘What happens on tour stays on tour. Just some of the most memorable times of my life with a bunch of guys who looked out for each other and me, great times.’ Rikki ‘The tours we did were a haze also, I remember we played the Venue in Edinburgh, Scotland. Hibs and Hearts fans decided to have kick off at our gig, I was stabbed in the head, high on E, and broken. Around this time I met Liam, from Flowered Up, he was a good Kid, but like me loved the drugs, and clothes. When Flowered Up would play Manchester we all got together and did what came at that time naturally, plenty of E, and Coke. When Paris Angels played Camden, Liam showed up with a score, and we would get high. My last convo with him was in Camden. I remember his beautiful smile, and cheeky look, after that we both disappeared into Smack-Hell.’ Wags ‘The thing was, we knew we were good. The first gig we played at the Boardwalk there were 12 people in the audience. Let’s face it, that’s five more than the fuckin’ band. We played regular there, then the Hacienda. Johnny Worrall managed us for a while, that was fuckin’ hilarious, he got us to Paris on that Factory 3 day event, Benelux swap over. Jonathan hires this 13 seater minibus, for crying out load, there was at least 20 souls plus equipment, Giz and an alcoholic vale. Had to write about how he was getting on, questionnaire like. It was Bastille day we were all pissed, we filled the form in for him. We performed at the Locomotive.’ Scott ‘Yes too many stories, we were like a cartoon band, so many weird and wonderful things happened on tour with the Angels which nowhere near as mad stuff happened on tour with other bands afterwards. I remember a night in Derry in Northern Ireland. When we arrived at sound check they had a stack of lager, i mean about 8×24 packs! I said ‘there’s the food and booze laid on for the gig’ so we took most of beer back to hotel after the sound check then at gig was That Petrol Emotion watching (Undertones!) whilst we were playing, people in the audience were relaying the united v Liverpool score to us, we were winning 3-1 and Adge (city fan – Angels were split 60/40 Utd/City) was telling them to piss off, which was funny the kids didn’t mind. We saw armed guards outside, which seemed so odd to us. Then back to the hotel for a party with lots of people. Big Si was last seen entertaining a police party in the bar downstairs, very fear and loathing, of course he put the whole tab on the record company (and they paid it!), i had my only hotel rock n roll moment (I’m not proud) I left of a fire extinguisher off over mostly our lightning engineer Simi, who in return covered me and my entire bed in empty larger cans, when i passed out from drink – there were so many people who came back from the gig we took most of the second floor with a party that has seen us banned from the chain of hotels, good times. We played with the likes of Wonderstuff, Primatives, Northside, New Fads and Flowered Up and Desmond Dekker supported us at a Cambridge May Ball! But the best band we played with was World of Twist!’

After releasing 3 singles through Sheer Joy the band signed to Virgin Records. Jayne ‘The simple reason was there were 7 of us and we needed to live. Virgin offered a steady wage we couldn’t hang on any longer. Shame really, we should have stayed with Sheer Joy.’ Wags ‘ yeah we did it yeah it was fuckin ace, but the fuckwits at Virgin on the ridiculous, they didn’t have a clue, I told them so, I think I was right.’ Scott ‘We were skint. Sheer Joy ploughed any profits from singles back into the label and being a 7 piece band on an indie label wasn’t easy. Sheer Joy was great to work with as we had control but Virgin funded us which meant better studios and more time in studios but we had A7R to deal with, i think they got more than they bargained for when the signed us, we were a circus, always something happening, many diversions but also there’s bits of good work in Sundew, i listen to about once every 5 years. Recording Sundew was a brilliant time. We recorded most of it in Wales near Wrexham and we lived there for a month and did really long sessions followed by really long partying, were we exhausted but really put a lot into it. There was an optimism that what we were doing was the start of a lot to come, we naively thought the 6 lp deal we signed would be seen out.’

The band’s classic debut album Sundew was released on Virgin with the band going on to do a few Radio and TV slots. Jayne ‘The album was recorded at The Windings in North Wales, it was great, few disagreements at times but who wouldn’t with 7 in a band. Sundew captured the band at that time. Would I change it definitely not, each song captures a moment in the bands early years. We did a Peel session at Maida Vale unfortunately didn’t meet him. Apparently his son was a massive Angels fan. Think me and Mark did a quick 10 second advert infill for MTV, also a radio tour to plug the rerelease of Perfume. Remember going to Piccadilly radio and as we walked in Carol Decker was walking out ( T Pau). Her PR stopped us and said “this is some members of the Paris Angels also signed to Virgin” she just looked me up and down in disgust. I just smirked and walked off, never liked the shite music anyway.’ Wags ‘I remember the peel session, in the depths of Maida Vale. Funny you should mention, Dale Griffin of Mott the Hoople produced that session, nice fella. RIP. He understood us.’ Scott ‘ We did 2 Peel Sessions and they were a badge of pride for us, we grew up with the Peel Sessions, we didn’t meet John but I did years later at a Love gig in London, he seemed non-plussed when I said we’d done a couple of sessions but his son really like us. I wish we could get hold of the French TV interview we did in Brighton, they filmed the gig and the gig was one of our best.’

untitled

Following the success of the first album followed what proved to be ultimately the difficult 2nd album and the band splitting up. Jayne ‘At the time I was heavily pregnant so it was hard work for me, but yeah it was the same as before, always differences, think on a personal level the band had tragically lost our lighting engineer Simi and that took its toll, also the heavy partying was now also evident.’ Wags ‘Second album was mostly made up from tune that didn’t get on Sundew, recorded at Surrey Sound Studios. It had its ups and downs, the engineer was a prick, deleted a fuckin’ great session by shutting the power down. The money wasn’t coming in, on account that Virgin were umming and ahhing, they wanted us to sound like Nirvana. We were skint, but we had a laugh at the pub down the road with the locals on karaoke night. If Rob Gretton had got his way we would have been on Factory, signing to Virgin was and I’m sure some would agree was, well, a pretty dumb idea. We all fell for it, not that it makes it alright. It was money, no one on that street believed, A&R were just dogs chasing tails. Not a fucking clue, anyway, the second album, in its embryonic state was constantly marred by fuckwits, pulling us by the singular, whispers in ears it all fragmented.’ Scott ‘Lots of demoing at different studios, but also lots of distractions meant people not showing up to sessions, or attention not being on the writing, which annoyed me as i have a work ethic that means tunes first then pub, but I’m more mellow now, i can also see I was probably a pain in the arse about getting stuff done, i was very driven because, i realised this was our shot, also music was changing and there was a tendency to feel that we needed to produce something for Virgin that curtailed our more noodling side, so we kinda lost our identity. Listening back to it years later some of it was good but it wasn’t ever finally mixed properly. We were confident that we would get picked up but our management were brought to us by Virgin and once the money stopped they dropped us too, also we’d created a name for ourselves as, not difficult but a big circus, that comes with 7 strong personalities.’

The band carried on for a short while before calling it a day. Jayne ‘The lads did a gig without me and a far as I can remember they then called it a day. We grew up too fast musically and each individual had some personal issues to deal with at that time.’ Wags ‘Well I spent a lot of time at Motorland in Chorlton. Where above our friends Eileen, Shirley, Theresa, and Colette lived; known to those in Manchester as The Bobs. Twiddling me thumbs, Martin Mittler and Martin Wright were working on something with Shaun Ryder. They were both busy with Intastella stuff, they said to me ‘Do you fancy filling our boots?’ or words to that effect. Eastie was always a part of, well everything in Manchester and come to think of it. Further afield, a very calm genius, never lost his temper. His list is endless with sound engineering duties The Stone Roses, Shack, Arthur Lee. I could go on. After Black Grape split, I was a little bit lost, directionless. East would call round and we’d play, Kinks were on his mind Kinkdom, yeah that album. I think I jumped ship my next band Jeep at 808 States studio. There was Darren Parrington, Phil Beckett, Pete Carol and Ben Knott. Upstairs at Sankeys, I think I’d found a place I wanted to be.’ Scott ‘We limped on for a bit and it became fractious and then more than any of us could bear to resurrect. I moved to Camden, just as the Britpop thing started and I ended up in a band called The Shave, very influenced by XTC, we toured a lot and started to get press and people showing up to shows, but then the singer lost his voice and the band split, he went onto manage Pete Doherty post-Libertines. Recently myself and Jayne were in Seventh House, which was a close harmony acoustic band with singer Rod Smith and guitarist now artist in his own right Nev Cottee (his new lp for 2017 will make him a star) Seventh House were musically the best band i’ve been with. Rod Smith deserves to be a star.’

Following the bands hiatus surprisingly and shockingly the bands drummer Big Si sadly died. Jayne ‘Although I hadn’t seen Simon for some years. You always think of us all the same age and the great times we had .It didn’t really hit me until his funeral when I saw everyone that I hadn’t seen for 19 years.’ Wags ‘Don’t really know, he was undergoing surgery. Every time I’d see him he’d lost weight, still had that grin, that shine in his eye was growing dim. I know this from experience, it was inevitable.’ Scott ‘It was the saddest news, i was really close to him in the band but hadn’t seen him or the others for years, his funeral was so sad, but Big Si had the last laugh, they carried the coffin out to The Jam’s Going Underground! The wake was the first time I’d seen many of the band.’

In the light of this tragedy the band decided to reform for a special benefit gig. Rikki ‘I remember getting clean, rehab, me, and Wags at this time were in and out. The Angels had split, and I was a Dad, clean, broke, and no music. Fast forward to 2013, we got together to honour Simon. For me, Wags and Scott it just never felt real, Simon had passed, we were all heart broken.’ Jayne ‘We did the gig at the Ruby lounge with money raised supporting Simons funeral cost and St Marys Hospital premature baby unit. Rehearsals; some ego’s in there but nothing unusual, it was good playing again but also sad without the big fella. Realistically the album was over 19 years old. I think after the Ruby Lounge gig and the great reception from the fans it was only fitting it was released for free. Releasing the second album wasn’t about the money.’ Wags ‘The Ruby Lounge memorial. The rehearsals were a belly full of laughs, got on like we were kids again.’ Scott ‘The idea for a gig came from Si’s wake. Rehearsals were like stepping through a 20 year portal, we just carried on, it still remains the maddest band I’ve been in, like a family more than a band. The rehearsals were half party half music. We had serious discussions with another label about releasing the album but it became so protracted we just said to our manager Phil, just give it away and let’s end it there.’

And there we have it, the end…or is it? Jayne ‘Personally I would have loved to played a few more gigs.’ Scott ‘A few more gigs might’ve been good but there’s no further plans and it was only Si’s death that meant the short reunion, we wouldn’t have done it otherwise, people only really know Perfume, so we weren’t kidding ourselves. One good thing is that we all have stayed in touch.’

Paris Angles can be found via their Bandcamp and Twitter pages.

All words by Matt Mead. Further articles by Matt can be found via the Louder Than War author archives pages.

Paris Angels ‘Beach’ pic courtesy of Ian Tilton

 

The Author

Words by

Share and comment

3 comments on “Paris Angels – Perfume – Louder Than War exclusive article”

Leave a comment?
  1. Brighton gig… was it the one at the Zap in August ’90 or the one at a festival in a park a couple of years later – Flowered Up were the headline and the Paris Angels were a late addition after another band pulled out

    All kicked off at the end after Flowered Up brought Terry’s dog on stage at the end and the security took exception to it

  2. The kid wrote a tune, Berlin, it’s magnificent….

  3. I remember the Birch & Simi (R.I.P.) All I can say is Rik has a very vivid imagination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Get Your Tickets At Skiddle

To buy tickets for our events please visit: Skiddle.

Tickets by Skiddle