eardrum

m a r k s   p a g e

I was born on the fourth of December 1963, in Ongar War Memorial Hospital, the last tube stop on the central line. However, I was brought up in Petersfield in Hampshire, a sleepy market town, where I went to Sheet County Primary School from the age of five and Petersfield Comprehensive School from eleven. I had been taught the piano fom an early age, as most of my family had been (and still are) keen amateur musicians and actors, although of a classical nature. Handel and Shakespeare were the hero`s in my house and `pop` music and TV although not exactly banned, they were frowned upon. Actually I now agree with this sentiment despite everything that I have done since.
So, at this time (eleven or twelve) a friend of mine (Nick Elborough) and I were making stupid Pythonesque tape recordings, like you do, and at school we were hearing about Punk Rock etc. The tape recordings changed slowly into being musical experiments, playing things backwards, making tapeloops and attempting to play Clash City Rockers with little success. We suddenly realised that we had a band, and named it straight away after our hated Geography Teacher. "Uncle Ian" was born!
Over the course of ten years, we produced some of the weirdest fucked up music I`ve ever heard. We were mainly electronic, using synthesisers and home made electronics that todays Techno artistes would have killed for. Our influences included Caberet Voltaire (the early stuff: Mix up, The Voice of America, Nag Nag Nag),The Residents (the early stuff: Duck Stab, Buster and Glen) Kraftwerk (the early stuff of course) Test Dept, Can, Pil, Tangerine Dream. We recorded hours and hours and hours of stuff, mostly improvised noise, which sounds today like very Lo Fi Techno but we never released a thing as no one was interested! Slowly we changed into more of a `band`and did gigs in and around Portsmouth where we had both moved in order to go to Art College to do film and video. Around this time, approximately 1985, We released one track on the Against the Tide compilation tape on the local Bite Back! label. One other track on the tape caught our ears, it was Vegetate by a band called the Cranes, We immediatly used it in a video we were making at the time, and were introduced to Jim and Alison in order to show it to them.
It was during this time that I also met Steve Austin, at an Uncle Ian gig, at the Portsmouth Poly Student Union. I was chain-sawing huge blocks of polystyrene on stage (just one of the weirdy things that we used to get up to!), after the gig I was congratulated on the performance by Steve who was covered, head to toe in tiny bobbles of polystyrene, and looked like a walking snowman! We`ve been friends ever since!
Soon we all released tapes on Bite Back! Uncle Ian released `Going ape in the optics factory`. Steve Austin released his solo project `Music from the Withered orange tree`, (Both are still available from Bite Back! 51 Bath Rd, Portsmouth,PO4 OHX) and Cranes released `Fuse`.(Whichis available from Cranes, PO Box 144, Portsmouth, hants PO5 2PY)
In about 1988/9, I was asked by Alison to join the Cranes on guitar and keyboards, which I promptly did and for a year or so was in both bands at once, until Uncle Ian was no more, we went quietly and no-one noticed much, with pleasant memories of ten years of weirdness! The highlights were...Hmmm, let me see? Playing at the last Stonehenge festival, Supporting UT at the Club Dog, which later became the very successful MegaDog.
Anyway, Cranes went from strength to strength and is another story which it is not my intention to speil on about here but can of course be investigated and a good starting place is the dedicated web site at http://www.dedicated.com or click here!
For a couple of years I was very happy to tour and perform with the Cranes and be in a "proper" band and I still am, however the Cranes are a writing partnership of Jim and Alison Shaw, always were, always will be, and I slowly needed to write some of my own stuff (if only for myself)So I got myself a sampler and a computer and Eardrum was born. Wow, what a crazy instrument the sampler is! If only we`d had one in the old days!! Ha Ha! Of course I did not stay on my own for long, I think everyone needs someone there to play things to and get ideas from, and Steve stepped in and became that person. He interestingly enough is not in the slightest bit interested in technology or computers and is more into the spiritual, ethnic side of life. So our "studio" is divided in two, half is computers, synthesisers and technology, and the other half is drums, bongos and shaky things! (when I say studio, its actually half my bedroom, much to(my wife) Christine`s annoyance!) All our (fairly meagre) equipment is old, broken/malfunctioning and make lots of hiss and hum, so we are not exactly perfectionists. And thats all I want to say!!


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