In the summer of 1981,
the Instants main-man Joe mooted the idea of an “Instants European Tour”.
Like myself, the rest of the band were dolies (or had McJobs that they could
easily pack in), so we thought it was quite an interesting idea, if somewhat
ambitious (we had trouble getting gigs in our own town, never mind abroad).
However, unlike myself
the others still lived with their parents so could afford to take some time off
abroad, but as I was reluctant to give up my bedsit, I asked Joe for some more
details: Our discussion went along these lines:
G: “Where exactly will
the band be going?”
J: “Oh, here and
there, Holland… Belgium… maybe France…?”
G: “Are there any gigs
J: “No… we’ll get some when we’re over there…”
G: “How long will it
J: “There’s no set
period, we’ll just see how things go… We might never come back”
G: “What about
J: “Oh, we’ll just
sleep in the transit van”
G: “What, with all the
J: Yes, but we’ll
So, (perhaps unsurprisingly) I
declined the offer to go, but the other four went off, and I didn’t hear
anything from them for several weeks. Then one day guitarist Mark and bassist
Phil turned up at my flat out of the blue, and merrily proceeded to tell how
They had worked out a
rota arrangement for sleeping in the van: one took the settee that had been
installed behind the front seat (the plum pick), another slept across the front
seat, the third on the floor under the front seat (the short straw), and the
last would go in the back, separated from the others by the equipment. No sooner
had they crossed the English Channel this arrangement was abruptly curtailed due
to introvert drummer Paul (a man who never said two words when one would
suffice) suddenly announcing he was gay. He was instantly given exclusive use of the back to sleep in, away from the
others who rotated the remaining berths.
were not easy to find: I think they managed to get about three, none of
which went down well enough to invite further work, therefore their income was
practically zero and they had to live on just the savings they had taken with
them, which was not much. So most days were spent just living hand to mouth (I
think cold tins of beans were the main source of sustenance), and taking turns
to wander around whatever town they were in, whilst the others minded the van.
The band soon split into 2 factions: the druggies and the non-druggies. Mark and Phil were never averse to a spliff or three, and due to the relaxed continental attitude to drugs were like Oliver Reed let loose in an off-licence. They would go away together and score some blow, then return and get stoned in the van whilst the others went off (together or more likely separately). Mark and Phil were in the van when Joe came back late one evening, and feigned being asleep and wouldn’t let him in. The following morning they opened up the back door and found Joe and Paul sleeping in each other’s arms – most amusing for them, but less so for Joe. After that the two parties barely spoke to each other, and penniless (apart from Paul, who apparently came back with nearly as much money as he took) returned to Bournemouth soon after with the band in disarray. Once they got back, Joe sold off all the P.A. equipment and the Instants were history...
The Instants in action...
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