Cable are –
Neil Cooper 1994 – 1996
Richie Mills 1996 – 1999
Detailed Biography written by Cables very own Pete Darrrington exclusively for sub-lingual.co.uk
Part One – 1990-1995.
In 1990 Matt Bagguley and Darius Hinks move to Derby to attend Derby university studying graphic design. They had both been playing guitar together for about a year, with the dream of forming a band at uni. They shared a house and persuaded the 3rd member of the house (Russell) to try his hand at playing drums. Various college mates came and went on bass and generally things were just a racket in a bedroom until a college battle of the bands made them decide to knuckle down, write some songs and enter.
Another band also competed on the night, a poor man’s My Bloody Valentine called “Pathfinder” – whom I was playing bass for at the time. Neither band were placed anywhere in the competition!
For a while, local guitarist Gary Thatcher took on the bass duties (he later went on to play guitar for the beekeepers, a Derby band who signed to Beggars Banquet and released a number of eps, but were dropped before they releasde an album I think). It was about this time, around 1992, that Cable met Bivouac – UK grunge upstarts signed to Elemental Records (home of rocket from the crypt etc). Nick, who ran the label, watched Cable supporting Bivuoac and liked what he saw very much. They were rough round the edges, but had great song potential he thought. He paid for them to record a demo. Songs that got recorded were ‘choice’ ‘weakened’ and ‘amy’.
Nick was disappointed with the demo – particularly the rhythm section, which let the band down – they were loose and undisciplined. Nick told the group that if Elemental were to sustain any interest in the band, they needed to change their rhythm section. By now, Darius, Matt and Russell were best mates, so giving Russell his cards was very difficult. Gary wasn’t such a problem – he had his own project anyway, which would ultimately lead him to his job in the bee keepers.
Russell was gutted, but remained friends with the band and became a driver/roadie instead, as he was the member of the band who owned the van!
Local gig promoter John Armitage also liked the band but not the recording and offered to ‘help them out’. He organised adverts in music shops and local rags and began asking around to find the group a rhythm section.
They found a female bass player (Suzie Ward) and heavy metal guy called Martin Sivret to play drums. Suzie suffered from terrible stage fright and often threw up before seconds before taking to the stage. This lasted around 6 months. Another demo was recorded – this one paid for by MCA, (Nick was friends with an A&R guy there and had pretty much ground him down till he agreed to demo the band). This demo was better received and the A&R guy, John Walsh decided to check the band out live. They were good, but they just had to get rid of the guy out of Iron Maiden on drums. This time, the band resisted blindly following the advice of an A&R guy, but tried to get Martin to get rid of the tassled leather jackets and van halen t-shirts. He was having none of it. Suzie sided with Martin. About this time, they came to record in a studio I was working at – a little 8 track place opposite the local music shop in Derby. I was bored of my band and wanted to do something with a bit more get up and go. I recorded Cable’s new songs over 2 days, whilst Matt and Darius were constantly pitched in arguments with Suzie and Martin. It didn’t look good and it made the work slow.
2 days after they’d recorded their 3rd set of demos, Darius phoned me. They’d had a big row with Martin who’d quit in a huff. Suzie had walked out, coming out on Martin’s side. Whilst I’d been recording them, we’d talked about music and they knew that I played bass. Plus I knew all their new songs inside out, as I’d listened to them dozens of time while recording them. So Darius asked me to join – they were desperate too, as they had a number of gigs supporting cult skate band SNFU, who were on Elemental in the UK. We had 3 days before the first show and no drummer. I called Neil Cooper, who I knew from Gorilla and The Beyond – they had a rehearsal room at the studio where I was working – he was the best drummer I could think of and probably the only one who could learn the material in the time remaining.
I think we had 1 rehearsal on the saturday morning before we got in the van. Me and Neil had had the tapes of the recording to listen to, but due to commitments between the pair of us, we couldn’t actually get together until the day of the gig. We did 3 hours and set ourselves a limit of 5 of the easiest to learn songs. We then jumped in a transit and drove to Leicester for the first of the gigs.
I knew from the rehearsal that the chemistry was spot on. There was a vibe to it, we were super confident and cocky, because the practising had been such a breeze. When we got on stage, we were right – it just went off like a bomb, the gig was awesome, and Neil’s power drumming finally gave Cable the artillary it needed.
In the audience that night was Gaz Roberts, owner of Krunch records.
He approached us the minute we left the stage, offered us a chance to do a single and helped pack the gear away – he was in love with the band! He had enough cash to press the record and pay for distribution etc, but we had no cash to record. John Armitage, the promoter who’d helped us out earlier lent us the money to go to a ‘proper’ studio. It was somewhere in Redditch we went, a place recommended by Neil that was owned by a guy who’d recorded the first Wonderstuff album.
We recorded ‘sale of the century’ and ‘hydra’.
John Peel had played Gaz’s only other release, a single by a canadian band called ‘the dambuilders’, so he sent him his newest release. the contact number on the record was mine and literally 3 days after he’d sent it in, John played it on the show saying it was the best record he’d had in weeks. I couldn’t believe my ears, as I was listening to the programme at the time! When the record finished, I was still in shock. Peel played another record and the phone rang. I assumed it was one of the others phoning me to ask if I’d heard it being played – but it was Peely himself! He offered us a session immediately. At the same time, the record was reviewed in the Melody Maker, given 5 out 5. By now it was the back end of 1993, so we went into 1994 on a high – we were being given A&R cards at every gig now, Steve Lamacq was turning up at our gigs to check us out and so we played it cool. Another show in Leicester and a guy came over who introduced himself as the manager of the Wedding Present. He’d read the review, heard the session and said he wanted to manage us. He gave us his card, told us to come down to London to talk about it.
The company also managed ‘These Animal Men’ who were riding high at the time, so we signed with them. Unbeknown to us, the first proper business dicision we’d had to make on behalf of the band, would be the one that ultimately led to our demise. Neil never liked them, either. We just needed someone to deal with the amount of attention we were getting professionally. We were now being chased by RCA, Geffen and a new label run by Korda Marshall (who signed Ash, Garbage and more recently The Darkness) Infectious records. Infectious were funded by Mushroom records, who, with their Jason/Kylie/Neighbours empire behind them, had money. Infectious actually offered us the least amount of money, but Korda was so in love with the band and came to see us so many times that we felt our requirements would be best served by this company – everyone at the label loved the band. Looking back, Infectious records was probably the single best decision we made. I think RCA and Geffen would have dropped us after the first album, but Korda had promised he was in it for the long haul and he stuck by his word. I remember we took very careful consideration over all the labels though and had lawyers look over the every one of the agreements. Eventually we put pen to paper with Infectious in April 1995. We were on our way…
Part Two – 1995-1998
Almost immediately after signing with Infectious, the band went to Wales for a week and gave birth to their debut mini – album ‘Down Lift The Up-Trodden’. It was during this recording session that we had our legendary ‘fight’ with Oasis, who were recording their second album next door to us – we were at Monnow Valley studio, Oasis were at Rockfield.
Both bands had finished recording on the same day and had gone to the local boozer to celebrate. We met Noel, Liam and the rest of the band in the local pub and Oasis had yet really to be come a household name. Naturally, much booze flowed and we all got on swimmingly, so Noel invited us back to their side of the building after closing time, for ‘a few more bevvies’.
Anyway, we were all pretty drunk and I just remember this argument brewed up between Liam and Darius about the Beatles – well more specifically about how ripping them off so totally was, well, a bit wank.
Next thing we knew, fists started flying between Darius and Liam and then Bonehead went in. It was actually Noel that broke it up. Liam, by now u for a fight with anyone, began swinging at his brother who was trying to restrain him. That night they smashed the place up and sure enough it made the papers – Oasis split shocker! We carried Darius off, who of course slept like a baby, albeit with a black eye…it’s one misadventure I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.
When released, the record was well received and many stated that Cable were showing that guitar music had definitely got a creative future ahead if it.
Things were snowballing nicely for the band, but this meant more problems – Neil was finding it difficult to tour with Cable as well his other group Gorilla, not to mention his studio work producing other acts.
After an exhausting tour with A.C. Acoustics followed by a brief stint on the continent, Neil decided to leave the group for his own health’s sake. The parting was amicable and Neil offered to honour any commitments Cable had until We found a replacement.
In November 95 a certain Richie Mills arrived for his audition at the bands rehearsal studio in Derby.
Richie lived in nearby Nottingham and had recently quit the band he’d been a member of for the past three years on the grounds that it was quite definitely going nowhere.
Only the third person to make it through to audition out of around seventy candidates – Richie had not only learned the three songs requested of him, he knew the full live set. With a sledgehammer style that could be subtle too, Richie earned himself a trial period of one month in the group.
The band decided that he was the man for the position whilst playing a show in Manchester the next night. Not only was it meant to be Neil’s last show with the band, it was almost the end of the band itself!
After dropping Neil off in Derby, we parked our van outside my house while We sorted out monies and pick up arrangements for the following night’s show in Tunbridge. While parked, a drunk driver tore up the quiet residential street and slammed in to the back of Cable’s van at 70mph, smashing it on to it’s side and totally destroying the vehicle. By some miracle only Darius was injured – knocked unconscious by the crash, he suffered concussion and spent several days recovering in hospital. The other members only had minor cuts and bruises.
With the release of ‘Down Lift’ looming, we knew we had to pick ourselves up and get on with things as soon as possible. Richie began playing with the group immediately and cancelled shows were hastily rescheduled. Neil asked to play one more show with the group, not wanting to remember his last gig as the accident night. We agreed and Neil bowed out from Cable in front of an eager audience at London’s LA2 venue, even though Richie had already played three shows with the band.
1996 Began with Cable touring with indie rock veterans The Wedding Present and ‘Down Lift’ was released to critical acclaim, sales were modest, but indie chart placings were good. The fan base began to grow in earnest. Richie became a permanent member and the band recorded a second session for John Peel.
We took to Europe to woo Germany with our special brand of punk rock. Having played Reading Festival in 95 as veritable newcomers, Cable were warmly welcomed to the stage at Phoenix 96 by the ever growing fanbase.
Tours with like minded acts such as Elevate and Understand worked very well for all parties and half empty venues gradually became full over the course of the year. Having toured solidly for the first half of 96, Cable retreated into their rehearsal studio in Derby to pen their first full length album.
A new single was pencilled in for an Autumn release, which was to be Richie’s first release with the group. A tour was planned with the then recently signed Groop Dogdrill. The band began looking for a producer, wanting something totally different to the raw Albini-esque style of John Robb who had produced all their earlier releases.
We chose cult US undergrounder Kramer, proprietor of Shimmy Disc Records and producer to acts as diverse as Galaxie 500, Urge Overkill and White Zombie.
The band flew to Kramer’s native New York and recorded a bunch of new songs that were to form the basis of the ‘Whisper Firing Line’ EP, to see if he was the right man for the job.
After playing their 100th show of the year at the 100 club in Oxford St, London in October 96 (20 years to the day that the Sex Pistols had last played there.) The band took up camp in their home town of Derby once again, to finish writing the new album.
The beginning of 1997 had the band perform live in Brixton Prison (just one of our off the wall ideas fuelled by a desire to always do something different!). We then returned to New York to finish what we had started and ‘When Animals Attack’ was crafted over a period of three weeks.
On our return the band began work on a short film that was to promote the album and contain exerts of all their new songs. Starring Vincent Regan as an escaped convict the film was directed by Mark Adcock and was featured at the Edinburgh festival later that year, as well being shown on MTV’s ‘Alternative Nation’ show.
Once again the group toured with old friends A.C. Acoustics, this time to promote new single ‘Blue Birds Are Blue’ and we recorded our third session for John Peel.
While on tour with the A.C’s, Darius broke his arm the night before our major London end of tour show. We played bristol the night before and Darius decided that his chosen sport after the show that night was ‘boat hopping’. This meant leaping from boat to boat in the bristol docks with AC guitarist Mark. This seemed to be great fun, until Darius jumped from one boat onto another and disappeared. The trapdoor on the deck of the boat had been left open and Darius fell a good 8 feet into the hold, breaking his arm in the process. The band’s next show was at Dingwalls in London, to a sold out crowd.
In true showbiz style, we decided the show had to go on – we had an emergency rehearsal in London the afternoon before the show, altered some songs to fit a 3 piece outfit and dropped some that obviously couldn’t work without him. We then took to the stage that night with Darius coming on with his arm in plaster. Instead of playing though, he sat down in a comfy armchair and watched telly, which had been placed on stage where he would normally have stood! half way through the show, a pizza delivery moped entered the venue and, as a total surprize to Darius, bought him a pizza to eat as well. Naturally, the press lapped the spectacle up and the gig got great reviews.
The tour came to a successful close after what could have been a complete disaster. Darius had about 6 weeks off for his arm to recover before we could do more shows though. Events of late spring saw Cable’s profile rocket and our underground cult status was finally broken.
We tentatively agreed to let Sprite use one of our new songs for an advert to promote the soft drink. ‘Freeze The Atlantic’ became the group’s biggest seller to date, skimming the national charts at no. 43. Not wanting to be caught up in the advert trap like Babylon Zoo or Stiltskin, we refused to release the song until a month after the ad’s run had finished.
Supporting major rock act Reef ensured that Cable were not a sudden flash in the pan and their own headline tour in the summer was sold out in almost every venue. The debut full length LP was again critically praised as another step forward for British guitar music. Kerrang! Magazine nominated us for best new British act of 97 in their ‘K’ awards.
The band appeared at Reading Festival 97 and two more releases followed that year ‘God Gave Me Gravity’ and the limited edition ‘Live at Brixton Prison EP’ which contained songs from our performance there in January.
1997 was tied up with two more gigs. The first, a breathtaking show at Radio1’s ‘Sound City’ festival in Oxford, was broadcast live to the nation.
Then, once home, Cable gave their final show of 1997- a secret Christmas performance to fans in their home town of Derby, as a thank you for their continued support. The gig sold out within days of it being announced.
1998: To the public, Cable remained defiantly silent for most of the year, with only a few shows in the UK, some of them under a secret name. Of course, We hadn’t been idle. The band decided that it was now time have a serious look at the Cable battle plan and the direction We were going in.
Despite the fact that ‘When Animals Attack’ was very well received, we wanted to strive for something much better, seeing our previous efforts as patchy at best. We decided that our next record would be our best and so as 1998 began we began writing the new album – this time taking much more time over the crafting of songs, which were then tested as they were written, by performing them at the aforementioned secret gigs.
We knew that in order to survive, Cable’s vision must expand – not just musically but commercially. We signed new bigger distribution deals for Europe and the far east and began negotiations with US licensees, as our records had only been available in the States as imports so far.
We travelled to America to showcase our new material at the important ‘South By South West’ festival that takes place in Austin Texas every year. This was an important milestone for us and we began to make serious inroads in the US, I remember that we were in serious nagotiation with Roadrunner records after that show.
After finishing around 20 new songs, We then returned to Wales to record the new album, choosing only the best ones to make up the album. Some of the songs never even got recorded properly at all. The producer was Paul Tipler, known for his work with Elastica and Stereolab amongst others, chosen because his experimental work ethic would add an extra dimension to the band’s new songs. The combination proved extremely productive as the band took up instruments and adopted imaginative new studio techniques to make the new record…it was by now, the middle of 1998…and there was a storm brewing…