Way back in the late eighties my band the Membranes (who play their biggest gig to date at Manchester Ritz on Sat April 29th with Brix and the Extricated, the Nightingales, Evil Blizzard, Dub Sex etc – all details are here )were signed to Homestead Records in the USA, we were label mates with Dinosaur Jnr and struck a friendship which was already cemented with my day job reviewing music for Sounds music paper.
The band came over to tour the UK with Rapeman and we went over to see them play in Leeds at the University. The night was initially tense because of the demo outside by feminists angry at Steve Albini’s band’s new name Rapeman.
Musically the night was amazing with Albini’s terse stripped down music sounding like nothing else and Dino’s increably loud fuzzbox attack filling the room with an avalanche of guitars and quicksilver melodies.
The next night we went over to Chester to see them play again. Dinosaur had nowhere to stay so we put them up in our house in West Disbury in Manchester- it was a shared hosue full of dolls that were painted up and heads swopped around and painted TV’s in the garden and constantly fluctuating flow of people sleeping on the floor so a hairy American rock band passing through was not going to raise eyebrows. A real band house. On the way back the band complained of the lack variation in British food- but they only wanted to eat sweets so we had to go to an all night garage and buy Twix for them.
The band were great fun to hang out with and we stayed up the night talking rock n roll and espeially about their beloved oi music – many hours were passed in the minutuisa of PArtisans, 4 Skins and even early pre nazi Skrewdriver songs being discussed.
The band stayed for a couple of days and Lou Barlow ran up a huge phone bill phoning his girlfirned back home in the states before they left.
A week later we got call and the band were insisting that their video for Freak Scene was to be filmed in our garden and we were going to get paid for it. The group turned up and knocked off two videos miming to the song in our back garden amongst the nag painted gnomes and the yellow coated plastic fisherman that we had nicked from a chip shop in Blackpool. The lush green of the garden and the psychedelic toys framed the band perfectly as they wore wacky glasses from our art room – somehow it seemed perfect and scuzzy and for years when it popped up on TV people would remark on how much America looked like the UK until we pointed into the garden and said it was actually there where it had got filmed…