I’d been living in a little room in a boarding house on The Terrace and getting hassled for writing songs too loudly in the middle of the night. My girlfriend Nikki used to visit me via my window to avoid the other residents. I wasn’t particularly happy there but did manage to pour out a couple of good songs as we were falling in love.
So we all moved in to the big house – Mark, Nikki, and her friend Janet from varsity.
It was a massive place with four fireplaces in various rooms – we had electricity but no hot water just a big Zip in the kitchen that Mike Fomison scored for us. I had my own suite of rooms on the first floor that had been a separate flat and that area stank of cat piss – where I had my painting studio.
Over the time we lived there the Spines went through some massive changes – we first appeared on Radio With Pictures with Fishing and recorded our second record Punch/Your Body Stays, Caroline left to join Beat Rhythm Fashion and then Rob went a few months later. It was Nikki that put me in touch with Tim Robinson and then Wendy Calder and the band never really missed a beat. We used to practice in my bedroom upstairs.
On one side of the house there was an empty section that was totally grown over by fennel and on the other was a flat shared by strippers who became our friends.
I used to read my favourite novels to Nikki in bed at night and she would fall asleep then I would repair to my rooms and work on into the small hours on my songs and paintings.
We had a big fuck off stereo in the lounge and played a lot of music in that flat. Nikki was into the New Romantics – ABC and Human League and I was hell bent on the Only Ones, Buzzcocks and Magazine. But at some point my old school mate Geoff started sleeping on the couch all day and filled the room with newspapers and old food wrappers and it became difficult to get to the record player.
Late one night I heard Mark panicking and I went downstairs to find out what the trouble was. He’d been through some rough times and had decided to burn all his letters – he had kept a ton of them from everyone he’d ever known and was trying to set them all on fire at once in his fireplace. The trouble was some of them had got caught further up the lum and were about to set the house ablaze. I climbed up onto the roof with a bucket of water, stoned out of my head and tried to work out which chimney to pour it into. Mark was bellowing directions and we had no time to lose so I just poured it down one of the tops – it was the wrong one of course and I’d just splashed a couple of pails of water right out through my bedroom fireplace and all over our Spines gear and my tape deck.