Couch Notes #8.

“Are you having a giggle or what?! That’s clearly a tremolo!”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Can’t you tell a hammer-on when you hear one?”

“I don’t even believe this, a bass player telling a guitarist what’s what! Do one!”

First audition with the Ten Chiefs and this is what I’m faced with. Am I meant to understand any of this jargon? Kev and Pete, having it out over which technique Hendrix uses at the start of ‘Foxy Lady’. I’m beginning to feel a little out of my depth here; this ain’t what I envisaged.

I saw the advert in Treme-low Price Music (imagine that?) when I dropped in to pick up my virginal guitar, the first baby. Nice Telecaster and all. I spied the ad as I was leaving, and it looked pretty cool. Jamming with guys of the same taste? Count me in! Only I’ve been stood here like a lemon the whole time, not struck a chord, while these fellas argue in a language totally foreign.

It’s looking increasingly likely that I won’t be anywhere near the same level as these guys when it comes to playing. I always thought it’d be pretty simple, playing chords together and having a laugh, but I guess that behind the curtain it’s a different matter. To alleviate the boredom of such a tedious squabble, I start just strumming through chords – Am, C, F, G. Add an extra note in wherever, just blagging through the sequence. They stop, turning to gaze at me. I stop too, worried that my insolent interruption will be met with swift, stern dismissal, such seems to be their formal approach to things. However, Pete, the guitarist on the tremolo side of things, ushers me on, continue.

“Go on, man! That chord change is upper level! Go on!”

And the rest of the band confirm his approval, so I pick it up again, from the start, just messing with the only four chords I know, and then the drummer starts kicking down the doors and Kev drives through with a thunderous bass riff, Pete wailing down the neck on the high notes and I have very little idea about what to do next, where to go, but it doesn’t matter, because the sky is empty, and I’m flying.


Whiskey Under The Wooden Roof.

Eternal spring
which came
when the gods forgot
who I was
on rainy nights,
the sun fell
behind far mountains
that I
outside my window
curious giants,
who wanted to
know what
I stored
in my lost heart
when I
drank in


One Tree Hill.

This is the most carefully planned violence,
the earth is split, remixed and
cooked melt red, bled
by piston kicks and the five-tonne press,
then hisses and spits
itself into Staybrite drums as big as houses.

And these warehouses that birthed
an age of steel, named after giants
that held the world to answer, now lie empty.

Atlas. Shardlow. Hope. Globe.

Waiting for the city to need them again.
Occasionally disturbed by the rumble of
warehouse raves, museums or small messers,
that harness and re-sling the sound
of metal and hammer that pressed the city together.

Yet these warehouses’ orphaned children
have travelled the world
And stand tall still;
In New Zealand, On One Tree Hill
an obelisk reaches for the sky
plated with Stainless to mark a remembrance
of the Maoris and new settlers
working together in peace.
An old world mixed with the new.

And the teenagers sat around its base at midnight,
drinking cider on the edge of the world,
could be listening to tunes written with crucible bass
and furnace snare.
and the sound of the city
re imagining itself could drift
down the slope like smoke
and for a second it catches the horizon
and makes it shine.