The first time I saw Don McGlashan, well it might have been in the Plague or the Whizz Kids. I saw the Plague several times in the late 70s as they played some of the same gigs as Negative Theatre – Nambassa, Christchurch students’ art fest and I saw them in Hamilton and Wellington too. Apart from their outrageous front line I thought they had a solid rhythm section and that broke off to form the Whizz Kids which then became Blam Blam Blam. Somewhere in there Don took over on the drums from Ian Gilroy.
Blam Blam Blam were one of the standout bands in that era for me – they had good songs and a certain musicality that a lot of the other groups lacked. The early Spines shared the bill with them a couple of times and my drummers over that period (Caroline, Tim and Ross) all rated Don’s drumming prowess and I really liked his songwriting. I remember them coming to check us out when we played the Reverb Room – though they didn’t stick around afterwards for a chat.
By the end of the 80s Ross had left the Spines to tour with the Sneaky Feelings though we kept in touch – he told me he had left that band and was involved in forming the Mutton Birds with Don and David Long. That first line-up with Don on bass debuted in Wellington at the Carpark and my new Spines (with Andy Craig on bass and Neil Duncan on drums) supported them. Don’s songs were just getting better and better.
I’d always go to their gigs when they played Wellington after that and after one show Ross told me that David was about to quit the band and they were looking for a new guitarist – he wondered if I’d be interested. They were on Virgin Records and had just released the Envy of Angels album and I was interested alright. I got cassettes of all their records from the library and sat down to see if I could play all those great guitar lines that David had contributed. It was his sound as much as anything – he had a sonic approach to his playing. Through the 90s I’d really developed my own guitar playing and I naively thought I had a shot so I learned the songs. I was quite into the idea and thought I could maybe even bring some of my songs to the mix. I made up a sample cassette of some of my lead guitar moments from live Spines gigs and sent it to Don’s parents (the Mutton Birds were living in the UK then and it was my only contact for them).
The next time they played in town I went to the show and it was great hearing all those songs I’d been practicing belted out live – especially the Envy of Angles material which I really liked. I went backstage caught up with Ross and David and met Alan Gregg and we all went out drinking. In our cups Ross told me that Don had already asked Chris Sheehan from the Exponents to fill the role – what was I thinking?
Well I’d been thinking that it would have been great to join a successful touring band with a record deal and play all around the world with my buddy Ross – it wasn’t to be and I’m kind of glad.