Back in the early 90s myself, Pe McClory and our recently departed mate McCann, used to meet on Sunday afternoons in Pe’s bedsit in Halebank to sit about, smoke ‘rocky black’ and drink bottles and bottles of Merrydown cider. During these sessions Pe and McCann gave me an education in their musical taste. Some of which I knew - Hawkwind, The Damned, Ozrics, Poisoned Electrick Head - but other stuff - The Subhumans, Serious Drinking, Peter and the Test Tube Babies - was new to me. Through a fug of smoke and laughter we found common ground and pretty soon we were spending those afternoons jamming rather than listening to music. Me on keys, Pe on guitar and McCann on bass. I tried to sing along at one early session but from their reaction it was clear that this was to be a purely instrumental band, not that we were ever really a band as such.
Those Sunday afternoons became 3 day sessions where we would get the jams into some semblance of order, and then McCann would go home and program his Alesis drum machine and bring back the rhythm track which we would then record the music over on my Tascam 4 track. Great fun. Just doing it purely for our own enjoyment. Our equipment was shit. Typical second hand shop fayre which mostly came from ‘Fast Eddie’s’ in Runcorn or ‘Simms Cross Curio’s’ in Widnes, and which usually ended up back in there when we needed money for booze and fags. ‘Boomerang’ instruments. Pe had a silver ‘Marlin Sidewinder’ guitar, I had a Roland D-5 of dubious provenance, a Casio CT-670, which I’d got for my then recent 18th birthday, and a Jen SX1000 which McCann swapped me for an eighth. McCann had his Alesis drum machine which I *think* he bought from Greg and also a Rickenbacker bass copy which he used to call ‘the bat’ due to it having a ‘neck like a banana’. All of this was passed through Boss DSD-3 pedals. Pe and Paul had one each. We cobbled a number of tunes together and pretty soon I wanted us to play them live. The problem was that McCann didn’t want to play live.
This is where Lee entered the picture. We rehearsed and got ready for our first show at Storey’s bar in Widnes, me on keys, Pe on guitar, Lee on bass and, as McCann didn’t even want to come along to the venue or loan us his beloved drum machine, we played the drums back from a tape played Pe’s HiFi tape deck. It didn't even have phono outs and so we had to knock together a home made lead for it. Electrical tape was our ever present pal. Now we needed a name. We settled on ‘Ürm’ as every time we were asked what the band’s name was that became our standard reply. The spelling was lifted from section 3 of Yes’s ‘Starship Trooper’. The gig went great, as did the others we did, including one in Nick’s flat above Echo Taxi’s on Albert Road in Widnes and one supporting Poisoned Electrick Head at the Widnes Queen’s Hall. Inspired by Lecky Head’s impressive ‘Telebot’ we had a thing we called ‘The Ürm Machine’ onstage with us,. This was just an old reel to reel tape recorder with luminous paint on the reels. We pressed play on it and it span. That was it. I found the reel to reel machine during my day job clearing out council flats with me Mam’s boyfriend Barry. We got to keep any old shit that we found.
We did more gigs and in between becoming notorious locally for tearing about in my mini at 3am and plastering bus stops in ‘Ürm comics’ - leaving literally not one millimetre uncovered by them - we recorded the pieces. As a side note, and further testament to our skintness, we used flour and water to stick the Ürm comics to bus stops, making them a real pain the arse to remove. Our popularity was cemented. Literally. In the last few weeks I have been trying to remove the layers of hiss and drek from those poorly recorded tunes and I’ve got the first one done. So, at long last, here for your delectation is one track from the eponymously titled Ürm album - ‘City of the Elgarin’. This is the sound of dole.