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The Instants European Tour 

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 booked?”

J: “No… we’ll get some when we’re over there…”

G: “How long will it last?”

J: “There’s no set period, we’ll just see how things go… We might never come back”

G: “What about accommodation?”

J: “Oh, we’ll just sleep in the transit van”

G: “What, with all the gear?”

J: Yes, but we’ll manage somehow…” 

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 things unravelled… 

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.

Unsurprisingly, gigs 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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