Tuner Tales. Stories from the ring road of rock’n’roll.

In 2004 I was asked to guitar tech for The Cure. The only Cure record I had in my collection was “Boys don’t cry”, which may or may not have been their first single. You could say I wasn’t exactly a die-hard fan. It wasn’t until the first rehearsal, as they ran through their set, that it dawned on me just how many of their songs I knew and not only that, even I, a cynical and weary old road-dog, had to admit that they were really rather good and a much bigger and more influential band than I had realised.

Rehearsals were in a rickety old farm building which I later found out was something of a rock’n’roll legend in it’s own right having hosted the likes of the Sex Pistols. I had hired a cheap car (Ka) which rattled and shook worryingly at anything above 45mph. Me and Marc Carolan, the Front of House engineer, dubbed it “The Rollerskate” as we careered down the road at speeds approaching 55mph, but feeling like 105mph. We did a lot of unmanly screaming in that car.

As I neared the studio for the first time feeling a little bit nervous having never met the band or other members of the crew before, what can only be described as an unholy downpour of Biblical proportions began. The Rollerskate’s windscreen wipers scraped frantically but uselessly at the screen, the sound of torrential rain on the roof was like a full scale artillery assault and I wondered if I would even get there in one piece.

When I finally arrived at the studio I was immediately handed a very large sweeping brush to help sweep out the 2 inches of water which was streaming through the rehearsal room. I don’t remember if Robert Smith himself was busy sweeping water out into the yard, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that as a man of the people, he was. After 30 mins or so the rain eased off and we had managed to get all the water out of the building. Due to all the excitement, there hadn’t been time for any proper, or even improper, introductions. Having lost quite a bit of time we had to knuckle down and get on with rehearsals.

Later on, after eating lunch, we stood about outside in the watery sunshine still confused by the bizarre weather conditions. A delivery van turned up and the driver dropped off a large cardboard box. Simon, the bass player, started to unwrap it as the rest of the band gathered round. Eventually he pulled out a brand new bike. I stood by watching and, bearing in mind that we still hadn’t been introduced properly, decided this was the ideal opportunity for a bit of band/crew bonding. I casually sidled up to the group, nodded towards the bike and said, “Where did that come from?”
The band looked at each other, barely able to stop their eyes rolling out of the top of their heads.
“Halfords” said Robert Smith.


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