Pierless Music – What’s In A Name?

If I had a pound for every time somebody has asked me what we’re going to call this site once Hastings Pier has fully risen from the ashes, I’d probably be able to buy you all a drink.

The logic being that once the Pier has re-opened, Hastings will no longer be a pierless town, which is a fair point. I must add that the vast majoirty of the questioners have asked this in a serious manner.

Hastings Pier has certainly changed, for the better, since we started this Pierless Music site back in October 2012.

The eagle eyed among you may have noticed that I have changed the main image for the website. I took this new photo recently, after noticing that all those old original buildings at the end of the Pier had now gone.

If you compare this new photo with the one I took back in late 2010, you can see how much has changed.

So, to go back to that original question, what are we going to call this site once Hastings Pier re-opens? Well, the site will be called………… fanfare please………… Pierless Music.

Yes, we’re keeping the name the same and there is more than one reason why.

- Firstly: What would you then call the site? Piered Music?, Pier Music? etc etc.

- Secondly: The aims of this site will remain the same as they’ve been since day one. Namely trying to help promote, encourage and celebrate original local music from the Hastings area. So, why the need to change our name?

- And thirdly: It’s what we’re known as and we’d have to change our website, Twitter and email details to reflect any new name. That would only confuse people, including ourselves, so why do that? And, as I’ve pointed out to some of those who have asked, keeping our name reinforces the fact that this site existed before Hastings Pier was rebuilt.

That third point above also raises another issue that is relevant to local bands/acts and indeed Pierless Music itself. You are a brand, whether you like it or not, and your name is a part of that. It’s the way that most people/fans know you. It’s what set’s you apart from all other bands out there, so why mess with your name?

After all, if you did change it you’d effectively have to start all over again. That’s why some successful bands are still touring, under their original name, when the band of today contains none of the members that you remember and who played on those records you bought. Without that name, nobody would go and see them, as they’d just be a tribute act. You could argue that that’s what they are anyway, but that’s a topic for another day.

(I wrote a post for this site, some time ago now, about your band/act being a brand. You can read that here: http://pierlessmusic.co.uk/blog-posts/andy-gunton-2/brand/)

So this was all a long winded way of saying that Pierless Music will remain Pierless Music for as long as this website exists.

Thanks for asking though.

(PS: Do you think we should keep the new photo, or go back to the original one?)

Six Great Hastings Pier Music Videos

With the welcome news that Hastings Pier has passed its £500,000 funding target this week, we take a look at six of the best music videos that feature the old structure. There’s still time to buy shares in the rebuild too, with the cut-off point being midnight this Saturday 5th April. Visit http://www.hpcharity.co.uk/ to make your investment.

1. Dollar – ‘Oh L’Amour’ (1987)

An unlikely comeback and final Top 10 hit for 80s hitmakers Dollar, ‘Oh L’Amour’ was a cover of an early flop single by Erasure. Professional irritant David Van Day is better known as a love-to-hate TV personality these days, eclipsing the often wonderful pop he and former partner Thereza Bazar once made. We’re not sure how much influence this video had on Erasure singer Andy Bell’s own move to Hastings.

2. Kingmaker – ‘Queen Jane’ (1993)

Kingston upon Hull trio Kingmaker had a string of hits in the early 90s, falling out of favour with the public just as Britpop took hold. Taken from second album ‘Sleepwalking’, their Top 30 single ‘Queen Jane’ finds singer Loz Hardy rocking the Richard Hawley look a decade early. Hardy later turned up lending a hand on Elastica’s oddball album ‘The Menace’, while Kingmaker reformed without him in 2010.

3. Squeeze – ‘This Summer’ (1995)

Recent subjects of a BBC4 documentary, Squeeze can still pull a devoted audience live, although the cheery ‘This Summer’ turned out to be their final hit single. ‘This Summer’ packs two none-more-90s moments in one, with comic actor John Thomson (then enjoying fame in ‘The Fast Show’) in the video, and a timely cover of Blur’s ‘End Of A Century’ on the b-side. Despite many bust-ups, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook have managed to get Squeeze back on the road again.

4. Pullover – ‘Holiday’ (1996)

All but forgotten today, Pullover were huge fun live, as anyone who caught them playing The Crypt in its Britpop heyday may recall. They had three 7”s out on Britain’s indiest indie label Fierce Panda, before signing a bigger deal and reissuing the third, ‘Holiday’, with this video. It got on ‘The Chart Show’, but wasn’t a hit, and the band split a while after. Singer Carol Isherwood is now a music lawyer.

5. The Seahorses – ‘Love Is The Law’ (1997)

Having quit The Stone Roses after their disappointing comeback album ‘Second Coming’, guitar hero John Squire licked his wounds before returning to capitalise on Oasis’ success with the more trad rock of The Seahorses. Fronted by singer Chris Helme, ‘Love Is The Law’ was The Seahorses’ first and biggest hit, but the band weren’t built to last. Helme’s still recording and performing, while you probably caught wind of The Stone Roses’ reunion the other year.

6. Ash – ‘Tracers’ (2009)

Punk-pop titans Ash have a long association with Hastings, playing their first gig outside of Northern Ireland at The Crypt in 1994 and returning to the venue many times, including for their Glastonbury Festival warm-up in 1997 (the year they ended up as late replacement Pyramid Stage headliners when Steve Winwood dropped out). Never short of tunes or fans, they also packed out St Mary In The Castle in 2000. ‘Tracer’ was one of an ambitious series of 26 7” singles (the ‘A – Z Series’) the band released from 2009-2010, a period which saw them playing The Crypt one last time. Hastings Pier had closed down when they shot this video, just a year before it caught fire, making this perhaps the final appearance of the original structure in a pop video.

Stuart Huggett

Hastings – A Musical Town

You may have already seen the news that Hastings has been voted the most musical town in the UK.

I’m sure that comes as no surprise to most of you anyway and it certainly doesn’t to me. So, I thought I’d make a quick video giving my thoughts on this ‘award’.

Let me know what you think.

SMART

We all know that Hastings has a great music scene these days. But that’s nothing new and now there’s a great Facebook group for all those who remember the local music and bands from the heady days of the 1970’s and beyond.

It’s called SMART, which is an acronym for ‘Seventies Music and Retro Talk’.

You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/smart70s/

SMART was set up by local music lover Alan Esdaile and as he told me the group was originally started “to post a few of my cuttings and photos of friends in local bands from the 1970′s. But as more people got involved, I realised it needed to be from the 1960′s through to the 1980′s, all with a connection to Hastings”

SMART has since expanded beyond being just a Facebook group covering those decades though.

Alan now arranges regular meet ups of all interested parties. He said “I’ve now set up a coffee and chat group where we can all get together and chat about music, bands, pier talk etc. It’s great that a few musicians are talking about reforming bands and didn’t realise that other people were still as passionate about their music as they are/were.”

If you’re interested in going along and sharing your own memories, the next meet up is on Friday 22nd November in the bar at the White Rock Hotel from 3.30pm.

Alan’s main aim for the group is “Keeping memories alive”, but he needs your help to do that. So, if you have any old photos, flyers, gig tickets or press cuttings etc why not let him know?

As he told me “So many brilliant musicians and different bands locally come and go. But it’s quite sad that photos are kept in a draw or turning yellow in a box in the loft when other people can get so much more enjoyment out of them.”

Let’s not forget, this was a time before the Internet, social media and digital cameras. An age when nobody had a mobile phone in their pocket with which to record and share their personal gig going experience.

You just might have a piece of local music history laying around forgotten somewhere in your house. So why not have a search and see what you may be able to dig up?

SMART also has a family history angle too as Alan told me that he’s had a number of young people contacting him, asking if he has any pictures of their dads, uncles or other family members.

This goes to prove that history isn’t just for the older generation, it is important to everyone and the more of it that is preserved, the better.

The musical history of the Hastings area during the 1960′s/70′s/80′s and 90′s is a particularly rich one. So, it’s good to see somebody like Alan Esdaile trying to help preserve a unique part of our local heritage.

Why not give him a hand?

Stallion Ride Again

Sometimes band reunions happen at just the right time and the re-emergence of Hastings band Stallion may well be a case in point.

For the uninitiated, Stallion were a prog rock band from Hastings who plied their trade during those heady days of the 1970′s. The many members of the band reads like a who’s who of well respected Hastings based musicians. Including the likes of the late Steve Demetri, Phil Gill, Phil Thornton, Roger Carey and Tich Turner, to name but a few.

Stallion’s career spanned nearly the whole of that musically rich decade and they have only now got around to finally releasing their great ‘lost’ album, ‘The Hard Life’.

‘The Hard Life’ is released on Prog-o-Tone Records and contains 11 of the bands tracks, which were recorded between 1974 and 1979.

Back in the 1970′s Stallion played alongside such great bands as Traffic, Curved Air and T-Rex, amongst others. Stallion also played at the Reading Festival and did headline gigs at the Marquee club, as well as being regular performers on Hastings Pier. They also won, outright, the 1976 Melody Maker Rock Contest. No mean achievement.

Stallion have been described by some as one of the great lost bands of that 1970′s Rock music era and you can understand why when you listen to the album. Unfortunately for them, their musical career happened to coincide with the emergence of Punk Rock and we all know how that affected many bands from that era don’t we?

Given a bit more luck who knows where they may have ended up? But, at least we now have the chance to relive those far off days via their music.

I suspect though that they may look a little different to when this photo was taken of one of those sold out gigs at the Marquee club in London:

So why could this be the right time for Stallion to make a comeback?

Well, prog rock is once again in the ascendency and Hastings Pier, a very familiar old stomping ground for the band, is also making a well received comeback.

And now to drive that point home, Stallion are playing their first gig for over 30 years at The Big Green Cardigan Festival, in nearby Cripps Corner, on Friday 6th September.

We’ll be talking more about the festival in a future post, but in the meantime more details can be found here: http://www.biggreencardigan.co.uk/

To get yourself in the mood for this long overdue comeback gig, you can listen to and buy Stallion’s ‘The Hard Life’ by going here:

http://philthornton.bandcamp.com/album/the-hard-life-stallion

You can also find out more about Stallion by visiting their Facebook page here:

https://www.facebook.com/stallionprogressiverock

Rumour has it that this might not be the last we hear from Stallion as a live band. Wouldn’t it be great if one of their future gigs was back on the refurbished Hastings Pier in 2015?

Maybe I’ll see you there?

Hastings Pier Rises Again

As you may well have seen in the news today, the restoration of Hastings Pier is finally about to take place: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-23699453

Work is due to start any day now and is planned to be completed in the Spring of 2015.

This is great news for the town and I’m certainly looking forward to treading those boards once again.

One other thing I’m also looking forward to is going to gigs on Hastings Pier once again. I’ll admit that I didn’t get to see a huge amount first time around, but have fond memories of those that I did attend.

Most of us are well aware of the amazing amount of musical greats that played on Hastings Pier through the years. From the Rolling Stones to Jimi Hendrix, from the Sex Pistols to Gene Vincent, the list is a roll call of worldwide musical talent. It would be great if that impressive list can be added to after the Pier re-opens again in 2015.

The published plans do include a facility for gigs/concerts to take place, as you can see both here: http://hpcharity.co.uk/ and here: http://drmm.co.uk/projects/hastings-pier-redevelopment/   

I just hope that what is being proposed are the kind of gigs that so many people remember from their own past and still talk about today.

Personally I also feel that this also needs to include a facility for gigs by original local musical talent and not just as support acts either. This could be a great opportunity to showcase local talent in a high profile venue and it would be a great pity if this was not able to happen for some reason.

Many local bands played on Hastings Pier during its heyday, so why not make that a priority in the future?

Maybe that process could be started by making the first ever gig on the brand new Hastings Pier a celebration of original local music? Now that would be something worth looking forward to.

Let the campaign start here and let me know your own feelings about this.

Andy Gunton,

15th August 2013.

PS: Pierless Music will still be called Pierless Music, even after Hastings Pier re-opens.

Pier Less No More?

At last, some good news about Hastings Pier.

If you’ve not heard already, the Heritage Lottery Fund have awarded Hastings Pier a grant of £11.4 million towards the expected £13.9 million cost for the restoration and rebuilding of Hastings Pier.

You can find a statement and a link to a full press release from the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust (HPWRT) here: http://hpwrt.co.uk/

HPWRT have done some sterling work both before and after the fire on Hastings Pier. I had some small involvement with them myself after the fire in October 2010 and know how hard the people involved have worked towards this funding decision.

I’m sure all of the people of the Hastings area would join us at Pierless Music in thanking them for that hard work and wishing them well over the next couple of years. In some ways, this is when the hard work really starts, as the plan is to have Hastings Pier up and running again by the end of 2014.

Anyone with an interest in local music, or music generally, knows that Hastings Pier was once an important venue for live music. It played host to everyone from Gene Vincent to Jimi Hendrix and the Sex Pistols and we hope that those glory days can be revived in some way.

With the recent news that The Crypt is planning to reopen once again, albeit under a different name, it finally looks as though Hastings is going to be put back onto the national live music map once again. It’s about time.

More about that Crypt news can be found here: http://pierlessmusic.co.uk/a-new-crypt/

Things are really starting to look up for Hastings in many ways, but especially when it comes to original live music. During the brief time that Pierless Music has been around, we have already noticed a real desire and passion for helping to promote both Hastings itself and the original music scene.

It truly looks as though all the various pieces of the musical jigsaw are slowly starting to fall into place and Pierless Music hope that we can be one of those jigsaw pieces.

My only concern is that we might have to change our name from Pierless Music to something more appropriate. If we do, there are far worse reasons for doing so aren’t there?