Always assumed that broadcast television was something that happened in the past, like smoking on airplanes or typhoid. It was something your parents did in between having unprotected sex. I personally stopped watching television after they cancelled Chorlton and the Wheelies in 1979. I tried to get an online petition going to renew it for another season but I was only seven and the internet back then was basically a building across the street from the Post Office called a Library. I’d heard they might be doing a reboot of Chorlton and the Wheelies with Russell T Davies at the helm but no luck so far, but they should definitely consider it. Peter Capaldi would make an excellent Chorlton.
I’d considered going on TV before, but in the end I’m grateful those makeover shows didn’t answer my many begging emails. Ultimately I’ve just had to learn to accept my idiosyncratic look and body shape. However the idea of Bombskare appearing on television was never a consideration, and even if it was, we’d assume it would have been on a show with a title like World’s Somethingest Something and would have involved helicopter camera footage and probably tasers.
So when the opportunity presented itself to participate in a television show about real, un-auto-tuned bands who work for a living, we had two questions; would there be cake and beer, and would we get to meet Bono? Question one was really a two part question.
We were told there was a high probability of cake/beer but that a meeting with Bono was off the table, however there was the possibility of meeting Noel Edmonds, the next best thing. It’s been no secret that we’ve wanted to meet Noel for years, mainly so we could administer a monumental doing to the twat. He’s our least favourite Noel after Gallagher and Fielding. Turns out Edmond’s security detail is bigger than Emperor Palpatine’s so that plan is on hold. For now. We were also told there was no reward of any kind for appearing in the show, however we would have the privilege of getting our photo taken next to a BBC sign. We would also get a nominal appearance fee of one pound, I shit you not, if we made it onto the actual show because everyone has to get paid something as a performer I guess. We agreed to their terms and so they sent up a film crew to check our bad selves out in person.
We met them at Colorsound at Haymarket, neutral ground if you will, where The Proclaimers rehearse. Craig and Charlie were out for a walk somewhere, so why not. Besides that, there was no way we could be letting BBC cameras into the BombLab, that’s a security nightmare. Even if they could get the clearance, which I doubt, we’d have to shutdown the Ska Photon Accelerator, the Stargate and worse, we’d have to find a babysitter for Zombie Lloyd Knibb which I’m personally uncomfortable with, he doesn’t like change.
We did a couple of songs, an original and a cover. They said very good and off they went. Some months later we were contacted again and told we were going to be visited by Rhod Gilbert and Midge Ure and more cameras and that’s what happened, they walked in on us in mid song. We finished our two song set and they interviewed us Richard and Judy style on the couches that Charlie and Craig had conveniently left in the corner. Those guys were still away and they were taking ages.
Both Rhod and Midge were down to earth, straight talking, no celebrity pretensions or anything. We were allowed to make a limited amount of eye contact and everything. Midge even laughed when I asked him if he had ever done any charity gigs. Both of them seemed a bit weary possibly after traveling around the country listening to bands in venues, rehearsal rooms, bedrooms etc. Contrary to what was shown I think we were near the tail end of the filming and auditioning process. He seemed impressed with our performance and right enough we were selected to appear in the semi-final over in Belfast. We’d actually get on the telly. Bonus.
Now here’s some advice to anyone out there who might be going on TV doing the one thing that you love doing and that you’ve dedicated your whole life to perfecting and that you’re most proud of; anyone going on to the Great British Bake Off or Britain’s Next Top Painter & Decorator or whatever. Before you go on, it’s very important you have several pints. It’s the one mistake that most people make before going on TV. I once saw a guy on Masterchef who burst into tears when his souffle didn’t rise correctly and thought to myself, that guy is bafflingly sober, if only he’d had five lagers in a plastic glass beforehand he’d have been right as rain. In our experience that’s how you DO television. Because we’re professionals. We’re giving you pearls here.
All the bands we met were excellent, a great cross section of styles. Pieces of Mind from Wales, who formed in 1963 originally and have a combined age of about 800, were great. They told us they didn’t really want to go through to the final because half of them would probably be dead by the time it happened. One of them took Sharon Osborne’s virginity apparently which she mentions in her autobiography. Doesn’t give him a very good write up. GT’s Boos Band, another Scottish band were also great. Proper old school blues rock with easily the best guitarist in the competition. From Belfast there was Wookalily who were brilliant with a folky vibe. They had the best song of the competition with Abba’s Gimme, Gimme, Gimme. Twas excellent. And of course from Wales there was Johnny Cage and the Voodoo Groove, a kind of swampy, greasy rock and roll sound. We loved them. Brilliant guys. We’re bringing them to Edinburgh next week.
So we were told it was Midge’s decision who goes to the final in Manchester and that no one can force Midge Ure. Maybe God. He picked us fortunately and the Johnny Cage boys in a fairly awkward, all the bands on stage moment. It must have been a tough call for Midge, all the bands were great. Always thought music competitions or cooking competitions were a bit odd. One man’s delicous gateau is another man’s turnip and aspic. We are just grateful that MIdge enjoyed our gateau on the night.
Possibly our favourite thing about that trip to Belfast was teaching Rhod Gilbert about love and Buckfast, and the love of Buckfast.
Great guy. We asked him what was going to happen in the final, who was there and so on, but he wouldn’t say. He did say ‘whatever you do in the final, it has to be SPECTACULAR’. He said it in full caps like that. So for the following two months we put recording on hold and busied ourselves in cover version hell, like Satan’s backing band, trying to do the most ridiculously spectacular ska cover yet. So what happens in the final? It’s in the future so there’s no way of telling.
In the meantime the most important news is that we are at least half way through recording our next album. The songs just keep appearing in the Necronomiska, fully written and arranged like olden times, and so we keep heading back into the studio to record them. It’s fantastic, and it’s also good to be back in Chamber Studio again. We recorded our first single there back in 2000AD. This time we’re using computers and a million pound mixing desk. That’s what it sounds like anyway. We have our old friend Graeme Young at the controls and stuff is sounding good. Expect to hear stuff soon.