Sunday, 22 February 2015

PO! Early Days 1987

I wanted to make a new band fuelled by my own shell-shock. After a long, plain and lovely childhood, I had suddenly encountered the cruelty of the world and been badly affected by a short spell of 'adult bullying'. Suddenly I could see terrible treatment and inequalities everywhere and I had to tell the world about it.

From my 'Spare Rib' Diary of 1987, it looks like I auditioned drummer Marc Fuccio as a potential new drummer for The Soviets but then hijacked him to form PO! with bass player Julian Glover in February. We practised at Archway Studios initially, with Julian coming round to my flat on Highfield Street, Leicester to write songs.  I did not have much furniture, so we sat on the floor. The first time, I came up with a song called 'Fairweather Fowl'. Like PO! songs until the very end, the mood was anger, sweetly sung. 

In those early days, I wrote the song 'Danny's Girl' in an attempt to portray how you can love someone who is abusive and get trapped in a terrible cycle. I had a clear purpose in writing songs like these to express myself, but chose Julian and Marc to play bass and drums respectively for convenience rather than as soulmates. Marc was in demand as a drummer and was in 5 other bands at the time. 

An early PO! rehearsal at Archway Studios, Bath Lane, Leicester

The three of us were keen to promote ourselves and decided to do things in a significant way, by bursting onto the Leicester scene. This consisted of writing and rehearsing songs, booking a big Saturday night gig at the premier big pub venue The Princess Charlotte and a massive fly-posting campaign.

The name PO! served two purposes. The name actually came from Post Office, but we liked it because it meant lots of different things in other languages. There are references to Edward De Bono, but we also used it generally to mean Piss Off! The second advantage of a short name is that you can print it BIG on an A4 poster and be seen from across the street.

PO! in the area of Leicester that is now the cultural quarter

I had pinched the idea for the fly-posting campaign from Manchester, where I'd recently seen mass fly-posting and graffiti from The Stone Roses. Although I was not familiar with that band at the time, the impact was obvious, and I wanted to see my posters all over the city. It was a classic teaser campaign, with plain PO! posters going up weeks before the gig details were posted.

       In those days, fly-posting was a cool part of local band culture. We'd mix up a bucket of wallpaper paste and dress in dark clothes to go out at night. I would usually slop the paste about, then Julian would slap the brightly-coloured poster on. Back then, local bands seemed to think that paper only came in white. My flat was above a photocopy shop and so I harnessed the power of brightly-coloured A4 to ensure our success. Just before PO! played a gig, Marc was asked to choose between PO! and his other bands, and he left. Fortunately I had met a great woman drummer called Jan Frazer, who quickly learned the songs and liked the pro-female stance of the band. 

Jan Frazer, Julian Glover, Ruth Miller
PO!'s debut gig was at The Princess Charlotte, Leicester on Saturday 18th July 1987. We aimed to make our first gig different from your average local band debut. We paid to have the same kind of tickets as professional touring bands. My idea was to have scenery in the form of massive cut-out objects that referred to each of the songs. I painted large neon-coloured paintings on thick board, cut them to shape and we hung these from the ceiling. Sadly, I don't think anyone took any photos of these or the gig. We got the local paper to write about us and so PO! began.

The Princess Charlotte pub in Leicester

became premier pub venue  The Charlotte

A list of gigs by PO! in 1987

18.7.87      Princess Charlotte
8.8.87        Highfields Community Centre (Gay Pride)
10.8.87      The Cooler
15.8.87      Abbey Park Festival
27.8.87      Royal Mail
31.8.87      Abbey Park Show
2.9.87        O'Jays 
17.9.87      Royal Mail
26.9.87     Worcester Summer's End Festival with Hawkwind
8.10.87       Leicester University
16.10.87     O'Jays
28.11.87     O'Jays
5.12.87       Palace Theatre Newark
6.12.87      Leicester Polytechnic