137. Band Names

Part 3 of the 'Invisible Sky' series. (Starts here.)

IN THOSE DAYS WE were all in bands, and more often than not in several bands at once. We played in each other’s bands, we played in other people’s bands, and on top of that we each had our own bands. Our days were spent writing songs or learning to play songs, recording them in suburban recording studios that stank of cigarettes and sweat, or bedrooms of suburban houses converted to makeshift recording studios. Our nights were spent playing gigs in front of crowds that consisted, for the most part, of our friends, or going to see a friend’s band or going to a someone's house and playing music, or listening to music, or talking about our favourite bands, or dreaming up new bands, or just making lists of band names for hypothetical future bands. Moriarty was something of a genius at coming with band names, and just about all of the bands’ names were his idea. Max’s band was called Protocol, but he also sang in a band called The Hours, and played drums in Floyd’s band, Frozen World. Floyd played bass in Protocol and lead guitar in The Shadows and Pale Fire, his girlfriend Laetitia’s band. Raoul was a drummer – a good one – and so people were always asking him to play in their band, and on top of that he had a hard time saying no. He had a band called Letters from Persia, in which he played guitar quite badly and wrote one- and two-chord songs and yelled absurd lyrics into the mike. He was the drummer for The Blades, who everyone thought were going somewhere, and Shard, who everyone thought were going nowhere, but he also filled in from time to time for Frozen World and The Barefaced Liars. Sebastian’s band Moon Landing Hoax were good, but they were constantly at each other’s throats, in a constant state of splitting up and reforming. Sebastian played drums in that band, and wrote the songs with Felix, who sang them, although somehow Moon Landing Hoax was considered Sebastian’s band, possibly because Felix’s band was Invisible Sky. Invisible Sky was a three-piece, and some of the songs were just Felix on his own, so in that sense he had an advantage over some of the others, who were in four-, five- and six-piece bands, where the little money anyone every earned had to split into more and smaller parts, and where personality clashes made it hard to keep the band together. It was a fractious world – we were often bickering or gossiping or outright fighting - but somehow we were remained at the same time, at least until it all fell apart, as I suppose it was bound to. We were misfits, united by our inability to function in what used to be called civil society. Later, some of us figured out how to do it and others didn't. As well as Invisible Sky, Felix also played keys in Frozen World and could pitch in on keys for Pale Fire and Solid Mandala from time to time. Kim was the most talented out of all of us. Her band was called Sabotage - I used to love watching her perform. Sebastian played bass for her. She played guitar for Floyd’s band. She also played guitar for The Avatars, Infinity Ltd and House on Fire, and backing vocals for Whipping Boy, along with Holly. Holly was my favourite, personally speaking. She was smart and self-deprecating and seemingly devoid of vanity. She had a band called Blackbird with her boyfriend Ben, where she wrote the songs and sang and played a parlour guitar and he played a steel-string guitar and did harmonies. She also played guitar for Jewels of Hot and Pelican and from time to time would fill in for Carousel Horses. But the weirdest, most memorable bands of were Moriarty’s. His bands were in a constant state of forming and falling apart, sometimes with the same people but often with a new line-up. The first of them was Dragnet, a three-piece with Jonah and Raoul. Dragnet became Etchasketch when Raoul left and Little Miss Baghdad when he came back. Moriarty then decided he didn’t like that name so they became Vanguard. Raoul left a second time and the band became a four-piece called Mountains of the Moon, before the new drummer Ben quit and they became Iodine for a couple of weeks, then Speed Queen, for another few. I think their final incarnation was Iodine, as a two-piece with Sebastian, who stuck with Moriarty no matter how crazy he became, through thick and thin, as they say, long after everyone else had abandoned him, practically until the very end.