performing ferrets

More notes from Coich


The band started because a few of us were tentatively trying to make up some kind of music even though we couldn't play any instrument. Paul and I were inspired by hearing Captain Beefheart keeping a beat by stomping his feet, blowing the odd blast on a harmonica and growling odd snatches of lyrics.


Nige and I also were messing around with vaguely Monty Python inspired would-be funny songs. The three of us amalgamated and dropped the attempt at contrived humour - just did really simple short songs. Steve heard a tape, which I thought might send him running, but he liked it, so we got ourselves a guitarist. He had been in a kind of a rock band. Steve had a talent for nifty riffs and odd little ballad-like strumming.


I don’t recall being aware of anything musically going on locally. We were in our bubble.


Paul and I did vocals/backing. I was inspired by the Velvet Underground and Lou’s not-really-singing vocals. We covered 'We're Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together' badly.


We were not political with the big P. Just a lot of teenagers – actually not like a lot of the Maidstone ones, we were a tad prone to contempt towards prog-rock and guitar solos. We used to invite friends to little gigs in my dad’s workshop in the garden. We played parties and a few little halls and went down pretty well. But we began to realise we were seen as somewhat ‘madcap’. The ‘thinking man’s Barron Knights’ as Paul put it. A local rag then described us as ‘quirky’ and that was what forced the change to something a little harsher.


I started tapping on tins and Tupperware boxes and Paul took over all the vocals. He and I wrote most of the lyrics.


Brow Beaten

I remember well how Brow Beaten started. Steve and I were fooling around in the workshop, vaguely seeing if we could scratch up a song. He was playing a couple of sparse chords, I was keeping time of a cymbal and floor tom and I just started quietly repeating ‘So brow beaten’ in the spaces. Steve grinned at me and we bunged on the tape recorder… That first ‘version’ was a fragile little thing, quite tentative.


There was an obscure innuendo in the title because we used to describe Steve’s strumming as ‘browing’ or ‘browdying’. Hence after he played it on his show, John Peel’s querying repetition of the refrain “Browdy, browdy, browdy, Broadway brow” followed by a lugubrious “I don’t know”.


Maidstone

Around Maidstone there was a bit of a love/hate thing between us and some local skinheads. They used to come to our gigs in order to chant in between songs about how much they hated us. Then one day as I was walking by the Medway in town, a lone one of them accosted me. I stopped, rather nervously and he said, “Heard your song on the radio. How come you didn’t do one of your better ones?” Luckily he wandered off before I could explain.


The Artwork

This, much like our general attitude to the band, was partly accidental. I had been trying a few lino prints of a sort of ferret image to try and make a t-shirt. The record sleeve is just a photocopy of some try-out and not a deliberate design as such (with added typing etc.).


Ferrets EP
The 1980 EP with bonus track Convenience, released by Insolito Records on vinyl.