In the summer of 1990, I’d just finished three years studying art and graphic design and was about to start making some phone calls in an attempt to progress my life. In my left hand I had a big list of design agency phone numbers and in my right hand I had a clipping from the local newspaper, showing a local band advertising for a singer. I chose the latter.

We started playing some local gigs. Most notable was a place called The Den, Wigan. Also known as The Transport Club, it was essentially a club for the local bus drivers, but on one evening every week, it transformed into a little den of iniquity. Punk bands, ska bands, death metal and indie guitar bands all stopped by. I was there one night in 1991, in a pretty stewed state, trying to focus on some thrash band that had come over from America, playing with local band Jailcell Recipies. They were pretty good as far as I remember. I didn’t realise at the time, but it was Green Day. Turns out someone was videoing the gig at the time and this shows the kind of place it was.

Monkeyland had played a gig previously before with the original singer, Dave Spencer, but my first gig with the band was at The Den, supporting The Tansads and singer songwriter Peter James Mercer. (I also played guitar with PJM, for a couple of gigs around 1993/4).

We played a few times at The Den. One time I remember going down in the day to soundcheck, only to find a band was already set up there rehearsing loudly. It was The Verve who were just starting out. A few times we played gigs with local bands Easter and More Perfect Watchers. One time their bass player had blown his amp and so asked Neil if he could borrow his amp for the set. Neil reluctantly watched as his bass amp was cranked up to the max, at which point Neil stormed on stage and pulled out the plugs, mid-set, leaving them bass-less. More Perfect Watchers singer, Gerard Starkie went on to form Witness, who did pretty well.

We got pretty good at pulling out plugs. One particular gig was at The Morcambe Empire, where a couple of thousand students would descend upon this club and get totally wasted. By the time we got on stage, they were all totally wired on a mixture of snakebites and testosterone. And so the elite section of the idiots pushed to the front and started giving us some verbage and spitting on us. Steven seemed to be enjoying revving them up even more, but overall it was a pretty horrible experience. As we were packing away, backstage, we noticed that all the electrical wiring was being routed from one set of sockets, with one big master switch. The van was started up and the switch was flicked, plunging the entire venue into darkness and silence… apart from the cries of 2000 complete wankers. We drove off happy.

More gigs followed in Manchester then London then Liverpool and on and on, supporting the likes of The House of Love, Shed Seven, The Railway Children, Power of Dreams, Back to the Planet, The Chrysalids and many other established indie bands of the time.

We cut some vinyl; an EP called Placebo, featuring four tracks; Old Obituary, Unheard, Big Mistake and Resort, which incidently had the words ‘Crotchless Anaemic Spiderman’ scratched into the mould – I still don’t know why. We got some radio play from the BBC, XFM, Signal Radio and others and then Steven needed a break. I was sad about this, as Steven had always brought a unique element to the sound. Also we’d just recorded and performed Closer Than, which I felt was the start of a new direction for us.

We performed a few gigs as a three piece and then we were joined by Gary Aston on guitars. More gigs followed, more recordings took place such as Corinna, Better Days (featuring Jill Burke on backing vocals), Over the Wall and others.

The track we always finished with was called Looking for a Source. It was one of those tracks that never really ended, just a verse and a chorus, but which seemed to get longer and longer every time we played it.

It was a fabulous experience playing in front of, what would be sometimes hundreds of people, sometimes thousands with the supports,, and sometimes a couple of people and a dog. If just one person came up to us after the gig and said it was interesting, even if they thought it was rubbish, then that would be enough to carry us through to the next gig.

Eventually things started to fade as we all got involved in other things, ordinary life weaved in and out and it got more difficult for all of us to all have the same mindset. But the music mindset always comes back if you truly enjoy it and so it did in 2000 when we formed a new band called Cannula and then came back together in 2016 as we were in 1990-95.

In 2016, I got together again with Neil, Woody and Steven, with the good intention of doing some gigs. Rehearsals began, aptly in Woody’s brother Paul’s brewery. (good point to mention Paul’s bar in Wigan, The Tap ‘n Barrel, keeping the live music scene alive). It didn’t actually result in a gig, but we did start recording some new tracks. The House That Leaves You Always Wanting More, was originally a Heifervescent track on the Little Egg album, but worked well in rehearsals as a Monkeyland track, so we recorded and produced a new version and also put out an animated video with it.

Oscar Goldman was a brand new track, which was slowly transformed from a very early Monkeyland song called Let’s Take a Ride. Exorcism was originally one of the first Monkeyland songs from The JR Hartley Tapes.

This was followed by two singles, Slaves of the Motherland, which was originally written by Steven and then built up further by us all. Come Fly With me was released in 2019 and is one of several tracks from what ‘might’ be the first ever Monkeyland album, which has been in production for a long time now.


I got a phone call one day from Mark Radcliffe, Radio 5 DJ at the BBC. He basically phoned me to say that he’d been sent a demo tape of a track called Resort and that the quality was absolute garbage. I don’t know if he did this for comic effect, but he kind of left it at that for a few seconds. I think in my confusion I said ‘thanks for letting me know’. He went on to explain that he loved the track, but he needed a better quality version. To be fair, it was a demo tape recorded quickly on my 4 track.

This prompted us to get into the studio and record it properly, which we did, and immediately send to Mark to play on his Radio 5 show.

Following this, we were contacted by Mark Goodier from Radio 1 for some material for his show. When we put the Placebo EP out, Terry Christian, gave me a call and interviewed me for a piece in the Manchester Evening News. It was interesting to hear him ask me questions, then read my responses back, before I’d even said anything. Anyway he wrote an accurate article and then gave us a lot of airplay on his radio shows.


Cannula was a band we started around the end of 1999. Before I joined Monkeyland there was a different singer; Dave Spencer. I remember my first meeting with Monkeyland where Neil played me their studio recordings of Burn the Witch and Captain Crashout – they were far better than my crappy cassette demos. Since leaving the band Dave carried on writing songs, sometimes recording with Woody, but here was a chance to have a new format, Dave would sing and I would play guitars, with Woody and Neil as they were.

We played a few gigs, my favourite one being at The Star and Garter, Manchester, arranged by Tom Hingley from Inspiral Carpets, who I was working with at the time. We also recorded a 9 track album called A Neon Serenade. Dave sings on most tracks apart from Dirty Harry and Creatures which were my vocal contributions.