Musicmuso recently ran a piece on Jules Verne Theory, an Isle of Man based electro pop band consisting of Arron Clague and Richard Slee. The last time I caught up with Arron he was getting excited as they were about to play what could have been (and probably was) their highest profile gig to date. I'll let Arron from JVT take over from here....
To give you some background, we are Electro-pop band Jules Verne Theory, and we've just started. We played our first gig in a small bar in November last year, and our first EP "Exposure" was released last week.
As it turns out, our second gig was supporting the legend that is the Human League at a sell out 1800 + venue.
This is a little bit intimating. I have worked on records by Erasure, Heaven 17 etc in a production role, and Richard has played to more people in some rock bands he has been in. But Jules Verne Theory is new, and our Facebook page has 60 fans, which are mostly our existing friends. The Human League have 337,000....
So we nervously programmed up our live set, put the keyboards in the back of the car, and left being in a cool underground electro band for the day, to go and put one foot in show business.
We parked the car next to the Human Leagues' truck which they use to carry their equipment. As they unload their video wall, we are getting out laptops out of the glove compartment.
Now we are carrying my rusty keyboard stand past their equipment, to set up for the sound check. The Human League are just completing theirs, and I notice that on the setlist by the side of the stage, there is classic track after classic track, but they're not playing their international number 1 "Human". I wish I had so many massive hits I could miss out a number 1 single. We've got none.
I'm walking past the flight cases stenciled with the bands name, which they presumably travel the world with. I'm setting up my keyboards and have got my USB cables in a old washing up powder container. A guy stood behind a massive digital mixing desk which they tour with (which is bigger than my car) is looking amused.
They finish their soundcheck, and we start ours, we shake hands and say "Hi" as we cross each others paths on the stage. Actually their real hand they hold their microphones with, and sign autographs with.
Luckily we both know the guy doing the sound, Richard has been in a band with him before, and he produced and recorded my first ever track, which got me my first recording contract with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop when I was 17. That was 25 years ago, and he's still as friendly and funny as I remember him. For half an hour while we soundcheck, it's just us three Isle of Man locals in a massive empty venue. I have to embarrass myself and ask for adaptors to hook my domestic power and audio into their professional spec equipment.
Next we're off to the dressing room. Disappointingly, their is no ceiling lighting, just the bulbs round the edge of the mirrors for that 'showbiz' effect. We turn them on as it's getting dark, and we can see multiple reflections of ourselves everywhere, and so we stare at our shoes for a couple of hours. We are rudely interrupted from our shoegazing by the man delivering our rider (A rock and roll mixture of sparkling and still water). He apologises for the interruption, and we explain its OK because we're not famous. I'm not drinking, as the last time I tried it, I forgot how small and blurred a laptop screen can look when you're trying to play a gig.
I have had to bring a change of clothes with me so I can pretend to change, into my stage clothes, which are pretty much just a different set of everyday clothes. I'm changing to justify the room, really. At this point I abandon the washing powder container (out of embarrassment) into the dressing room bin. The cleaning staff probably assume I did my laundry in the shower while I was waiting to go on.
We are regularly visited by the promoter, and the stage manager, presumably to check we have not slipped out the window. Eventually we get the "5 minute" call, and I can only think of Kermit the Frog.
So we make our way back down to the stage, and play a great gig, to a sold out Villa Marina. Richard sings his heart out, and I make only a few mistakes which I'm sure I got away with, at least in the long term. People clap and dance along, and even applaud. We have beaten the odds and intimidation to enter show business.
Richard forgets we are now in show business, and carries his own laptop off stage. I feel like a seasoned pro, and let the roadies move my laptop the 5 metres to the backstage area, where they hand it back to me, and we put our meagre setup back into the car. As we are moving it out, the Human League roadies mistakenly ask if we're not staying to watch their show.
We explain, as massive lifelong fans, we wouldn't miss it for the world, and run like rats out of a drainpipe, we are round the back and disappear into the audience to watch the best show we have ever seen. Hit after hit rolls past, interspersed with classic album tracks. The gig finishes with the extended version of "Don't You Want Me?", an awesome hard edged version of "Being Boiled" and finally "Together in Electric Dreams".
Neither The Human League or Jules Verne Theory played our American Number 1 singles.