2005. Don’t look for it….it isn’t there any more.
I awoke on New Year’s day 2005, probably, I don’t remember it at all, I don’t know what I was doing on New Years Eve, I have no recollection of anything about it at all.
I do remember that a few days before, on Boxing Day there had been a terrible Tsunami in Asia killing over 250,000 people. Paul Maps and I had decided to run a series of gigs to help the relief effort. We thought we might raise a couple of hundred quid . We couldn’t give a lot ourselves as we were both potless (see Joyfest 2004 / massive unsecured breakdown inducing debt) so we thought we would ask a few of our friends in bands to see what we could do. What happened still touches me to my very soul and changed both of our lives forever. Most of this 2005 review will be based on this as the breakdown that I alluded to in the previous sentence came along about 3 months later and resulted in a journey to Aberdeen in bare feet eating Toblerone and a brief move back to Guernsey to straighten my shit out. In 2005 I was in the loud indie punk band Rhesus, with my great friends and legends Arran Rhesus(Mr M. Nutz, Monkey Arran, Arran J. Lovechild), Wayne Rhesus and Aurore Rhesus. It was such an important time for me that I still use Rhesus as my online name for everything.
We decided to hold a week of gigs in February, I have just googled it to find Paul’s review from the time, that I just read and it has brought me quickly to tears, so I am going to take a break and finish my cup of tea. So many people that feature in this review have since become firm friends.
It started at Dingwalls, is Dingwalls still there? I don’t know, it is probably sponsored by an eyebrow shaping company if it is now, Gig #1 (when # meant number). Stuffy and The Fuses, Luxembourg, Piranha Deathray (what a name for a band) and The Favours. This was a quiet show, It was Valentine’s day and it was chuffing freezing. The bands were all brilliant. Luxembourg, people I barely knew at the time, were on fire, they played ‘Close Cropped’ which I still believe is one of the greatest love songs ever written. Stuffy and The Fuses, who I didn’t know from Adam but who played with Graham Coxon sometimes, who I had bored to tears when I was drunk at the Buffalo Bar and begged him to play for us (more later), played like they would have to a packed Wembley Stadium. Pirahna Deathray were dark and brilliant. I missed The Favours as I was outside running the door but Paul said they were ace.
Gig # 2 still rates as one of the greatest days of my whole life. When I first met Ian Catskilkin and Eddie Argos we decided our dream gig would be Mclusky, Art Brut, Rhesus. So I though f**k it, contacted Falco and he said he would do it, Paul had contacted The 100 Club and they said they would give it to us for zip, we were in! A great night and a great cause. Then came the email: “Jim, check the website”, Mclusky had split up. It wasn’t going to happen, what were we going to do? We had no headliner, we had the whole 100 Club to fill? So I asked Graham Coxon, who said he would do it, then his baby was born and he couldn’t do it, so it was us, Rhesus, who no one had heard of and Art Brut, who a hand full of people had heard of and Sam & Me, some mates of Eddie’s who I still haven’t heard of, and a whole 100 Club to sell out. Then something happened. The timing of this remains bloody vague. Rhesus were playing the Dublin Castle, as we did so many times, and in rolled a very drunk Mikey from Art Brut holding a piece of paper, which was a contract, from Rough Trade! They had been signed.
The day of the gig came, within 20 mins it became clear that it was going to be a good one. We totally filled the place. John Kennedy had agreed to DJ for the evening along with the Rock & Roll Idiots, (more on them later) and it was awesome. I got to play my white SG at The 100 Club.
Throughout the rest of the week we saw brilliant sets from Barrel, Salvo, The Patty Winters Show, S*M*A*S*H (one of my favourite ever bands ), Lucifer Star Machine, Corporation:Blend, M.A.S.S and the week culminated in a party at The Windmill with Rhesus (again), Salvo (again), Abdoujaparov (featuring my friend and hero Les “Fruitbat” Carter of Carter USM), The Video Club (I think this is the day that the idea for Subliminal Girls came from), Ciccone (who were consistently excellent , always), Stephan Smith and Jim Bob (Also from Carter USM). It was a great show. Everyone was hammered and we received news that Bloc Party had agreed to do a collection at a Virgin Megastore gig that they were doing to our charity too. We ended up raising almost seven grand. We were obviously delighted.
After that the year descended into a bit of a blur, I know that we saw Luxembourg play a lot, there were lots of Rhesus gigs, lots of Art Brut gigs, a trip to Amsterdam with Art Brut, lots of gigs that Arran and I went to and managed to enjoy whole evenings out for a tenner and have change for a kebab or crack chicken from the crack chicken shop on Coldharbour Lane. We were out pretty much every night. We met and interesting young American rocker called Jonny Lives! one night at The Windmill. Arran got thrown out of the Islington Academy for stealing booze that was free anyway.
Every single Saturday night everyone would go to Frog. Keith TOTP had an unlimited guest list. We would always be up in the Artrocker room, sneering at members of Razorlight and dancing to The Ruts with members of 80s Matchbox. Artrocker DJs and the Rock & Roll Idiots playing the tunes. It was always great fun.
Fridays was club NME at KOKO. A behemoth of an indie club favoured by those with rich parents and people in bands that were inexplicably more popular than they should have been. (We later found that there was a direct correlation between rich parents and success). It was pretty horrible there, nowhere near as good as FROG and the “little Miss Sophies from Kensington and Chelsea” would stand around looking at each other trying to spot an indie star. We always wondered how they managed to have loads of money, loads of drugs and not work. Notting Hill was coming to Camden and Shoreditch in a big big way and someone was going to cash in. It wasn’t the bands that was for sure.
All of this abruptly ended for me in the form of a breakdown in June as I had spiralled into debt and couldn’t see the wood for the trees. I packed my life into my rubbish old Toyota Townace and headed back to Guernsey. This was really the end for Rhesus too, I was intending to stay there for 3 years and come back. 3 months in I had pulled my socks up, discovered a career where I could earn some money and began planning my escape from Alcatraz. In one of the most touching, and nicest things anyone has ever done, Ed Idiot, Art Brut’s tour manager, somehow fixed it so that the band would come to Guernsey and play in my local pub on the way to playing a festival in Jersey with Kasabian and the Bravery. I am not sure if I have ever thanked him enough for this so, thank you Ed you made my year. I then hitched a lift with them to the festival in Jersey which turned out to be a massive laugh. The Bravery were a bit up themselves. They weren’t so keen on Art Brut’s “Are you the guy from the Killers? Oh sorry, ‘It was an honest mistake'” joke.
Long stories cut short, I rescued Jimmy Two Shoes from Guernsey and took him with me and we were back in November 2005. Although Rhesus was pretty much over bar the shouting bar then, our last gig was Feb 2006, I continued to put gigs on at The Metro, one that instantly springs to mind was a night where Luxembourg and The Boyfriends played. They were always compared to the Smiths, The Boyfriends although I preferred them. Jimmy Two Shoes turned around to me and said that Morrissey was standing behind me, turns out he was. He ended up taking The Boyfriends on tour with him.
For me 2005 was a year of massive highs and massive lows. Life was all about the God Is In The TV forum, Joyzine and gigging with friends. I remember David Barnett of The Boyfirends saying “If we all went to see each others bands there would never be a shit gig.” The only people at a gig with a camera were the photographers. Phones were by Nokia. I still read the NME. MySpace was how you presented yourself and your band to the world. No one took selfies and nothing that you did was ever posted anywhere ever. (Thank God).
I am sorry that there is not much detail in here. There wasn’t a website that documented everything everyone did every moment of every day then and we all drank a lot of Red Stripe (there was no craft beer). East London was still edgy and “cool” and a bit scary too. Pete Doherty and The Libertines were everywhere, I would give anything for a young band that genuinely mattered that much now (at the time, obviously, I took the piss). After the demise of Rhesus, Danny Le Pelley (of Ciccone), Jimmy 2 Shoes, Arran Rhesus (Of Rhesus) and Nicky Biscuit (of The Video Club) put together a band called Subliminal Girls for fun to take the mickey out of the rich kinds that were trying to pretend to be poor. We wrote a song called ‘Burn Koko’. They weren’t happy.
Words by Jim Rhesus
Photography by Pete Dodds
except for pictures of Abdoujaparov & The Boyfriends by Paul Maps