I READ A BOOK CALLED "SLEEVENOTES" BY JOE THOMPSON OF HEY COLOSSUS
I have never written anything about a book before. This is me right now:
Joe Thompson of the mighty Hey Colossus has kept a diary throughout their history and this book entitled ‘Sleevenotes’ released by Pomona Books gives us a hugely entertaining insight into a hard-working band that’s seen it all. Most bands like Hey Colossus would be around a few years, one or two would have a kid or something and they’d go their separate ways, always to wonder “What if?”. However, the Hey Colossus story rips up the rule book and shows how you can keep doing what you love with pure grit and determination. The kind of determination that means you balancing family and work life to drive from Somerset to London and back just to rehearse. Frequent journeys to the arse end of Europe to play for a handful of people before sleeping on a floor with five other blokes which is far too small, heading off to do it all again, arriving home at 3am, getting up at 5am and heading into work. The band has been going sixteen years now and they are soon to release their twelfth album with a total of just two original members remaining and another 15 who have been and gone or stayed… ridiculous.
It comes loaded with all of sorts of tales which bring to life the DIY ethic and shows how success needn’t be a factor in your artistic decisions, just keep doing what you want to do and you’ll end up with something you’re very proud of. The first time I saw Hey Colossus was in the Windmill back in 2010 in front of about 40 people. Since then, I’ve seen them a fuck load of times in vastly different scenarios, from smashing it in Raw Power festival in front of around 500 people to a weird, shoebox-sized makeshift venue in a warehouse in Bermondsey where I ended up crawling on the ceiling. He frequently makes the point whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with gaining success and playing bigger gigs if you get the opportunity, but where the magic also happens is in the DIY scene with just a few like-minded folks and you can't really beat it.
I quite often get asked why I put on gigs and this question is answered in so many ways in "Sleevenotes". If you love rock music and I mean, really love rock music, wanting to do something to contribute to the scene is hardwired and impossible to escape. People probably sit at home and watch very early live videos on YoutTube of bands like Soundgarden or Faith No More where they are playing in front of 18 people and go “Wow, I wish I was there, I really missed out”. I’m lucky in the fact that I never feel that way, that stuff is happening right here, right now, right on my doorstep. I can stroll to The Moon and I’m watching a game-changing band in their prime, absolutely killing it and it brings me so much joy. So however you contribute to the scene, whether it’s playing in a band, putting on a gig, running a label, writing a review, offering floor space or simply paying the fiver entrance fee and pumping your fist… just keep on doing it. You only get out, what you put in.
Joe is a long-term friend of Cosmic Carnage. Henry Blacker played the second gig we ever put on, Hey Colossus headlining the Windmill in 2014 was one of the all-time greatest performances and in the early days, he gave me invaluable advice on how things should be run and I’m very grateful for that. If you’re considering starting a band, or label or doing anything that you want to have longevity, read this book. He’s literally seen and done it all.
In the book, he talks of his desire to play Cathay’s Community Centre, which I’ll ask Henry Blacker to do very soon. Not Hey Colossus, if 6 people are playing in there then there will be no room for a crowd. I’ll also make sure there is a cup of tea available for him. Promoters, if you’re reading, please sort out Joe with a cup of tea. When Henry Blacker played the Unicorn a few years ago I asked the landlady for a cup of tea for Joe, she said “No, the only person who can drink tea in here is me” and walked off, she was a lovely lady. Anyway, buy this book.
Hey Colossus playing Cosmic Carnage @ The Windmill in 2014. Photo by Jose Caamano
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