I’ve never been into the Cocteau Twins myself… just ain’t my thing. However, I recently got into an online discussion in which I mentioned that I’d known their second and main bass player Simone Raymonde in the old days when he’d been in a band called Disruptive Patterns, and that this group had morphed into The Drowning Craze. Or rather, I mentioned that the Drowning Craze had emerged from a band whose name I couldn’t remember off the top of my head! It took some serious thinking to retrieve the name…
In the late-seventies and early-eighties I belonged to various groups that played and rehearsed in and around London and its south-west suburbs – the furthest out of London I played was in places like Guildford and Stevenage (okay Stevenage is north of London, but mainly we played south-westish), usually in pubs or sometimes clubs like The Starlight in West Hampstead (the less prestigious upstairs venue twinned with the relatively small Moonlight Club). We practiced all over the shop too, but the best place I ever rehearsed (circa 1980-81) was in an 8 track recording studio located in the basement of Theatre Projects in Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden.
Dave King, who drummed for a band I was in called Basic Essentials, worked at Theatre Projects as a recording engineer and so we were allowed to use the place at the weekends for free, not just to rehearse but also to record. It was amazing, during breaks we’d rake through old tapes and dig up demos by the likes of T. Rex and The Average White Band who’d used the Theatre Projects studio…. although during the week the bread and butter work there was recording stage effects for plays. At the start of the eighties, Covent Garden was still in the process of being transformed into the shopping mall from hell it has become today, so we’d have a laugh in the area and after rehearsals we’d usually go to a tiny caff on the north side of Leicester Square which we called The Basic Essentials Cafe (I can’t remember it’s actual name and – like Theatre Projects in Neal’s Yard – it isn’t there any more) for espresso.
Anyway, because I was playing in various small time groups, I got to know a lot of other bands, including Disruptive Patterns. I’d guess Disruptive Patterns were a going concern around 1979-80, I certainly saw them several times and one of their tunes is still lodged in my mind. It was probably called Pleasure Never Hurt Anyone, since that line was the main refrain of the chorus. Disruptive Patterns were a fairly straightforward new wave act with some backwards and forwards psychedelic nods (and more like The Psychedelic Furs than The Sex Pistols). The two members of the combo I recall being on friendly terms with were singer Andy McInnes and bass player Simon Raymonde, although I’d imagine I spoke to other members of the group as well. Both Andy and Simon struck me as nice guys, but given the way bands work it didn’t surprise me when Andy was kicked out and an American girl called Angela Jaeger was brought in to front the group, which simultaneously changed its name to The Drowning Craze (the line-up and name change may have been at the instigation of the indie label Situation 2, who the group signed a record deal with, but I’m not certain this was the case).
I went to see The Drowning Craze early on somewhere in central London (I don’t remember which venue, but some small club) and didn’t like the new singer or the new songs (the set was completely different to the one Disruptive Patterns had been performing). I lost sight of Andy McInnes pretty soon after this, but carried on running into Simon Raymonde by chance on the street or in clubs pretty much up to the time he joined The Cocteau Twins, I haven’t seen him since then. Since I didn’t like Angela Jaeger as a singer, I only ever saw The Drowning Craze once when she was in the group – but after she was replaced by Frank Nardiello, I have a very dim memory of giving them a second chance and liking what they did with him a little bit more (but whether this was a gig or a rehearsal I’d been invited to witness, I can’t recall).
There are a couple of photos of the Disruptive Patterns on Fred Pipes’s Flickr pages, and a comment in a Cocteau Twins discussion thread riffing off Fred’s photos. But it would be nice if someone could help me recall some other Disruptive Patterns tunes, the venues they played (mainly around Guildford as far as I recall – Wooden Bridge etc.), and possibly even upload any demos that might exist! Also am I right in thinking there is a link between Disruptive Patterns/Drowning Craze and a late-seventies punk band called The Rubber Flowers who were probably based in Farnham (which is further south-west than I ever ventured) and whose line-up included Alex Binnie?
It was interesting attempting to dredge this minor piece of music history from my memory, and thereby realise how much of it I must have forgotten. That said, there are a lot of tunes that probably never made it onto vinyl rattling around my head from that time. For example, I can remember two songs by a band called The Lasers, Living In A Television (‘livin’ in a television, ray tube for a home, livin’ a television on my own!’) and Show Us Your White Bits. I can’t recall where this band were from but I assume it was south-west or west London suburbs. Anyone know anything about them? I guess I’d better stop there or this is gonna get too seriously obscure!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check - www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!