I’ve known quite a few journalists and critics over the years and, while one or two have been haughty and imperious, most are genuinely good compassionate people with fascinating minds and are great company. They do tend to have firm views and can cop a lot of stick for it – I love their bravery.
The first time I properly met Simon was up at San Fran when he was DJ there one evening. I was writing my Ghost story about painting that week and I told him how much trouble I was having with it – he seemed like a cool guy. Someone he knew arrived and gave him a big hug and he played a Todd Rundgren track – it was a very good first impression.
Over the past few weeks I’ve spent a lot of time in his company and got to know his family and the way he lives quite intimately. The relationship he has with his son reminds me so much of how I was with my boy Ang when he was a nipper – he’s a bloody fine dad and Oscar is a great kid.
Even before I met him I used to enjoy his Facebook posts about his antics with Oscar and when the shit hit the fan with his Robbie Williams review I was impressed by the way he handled it – it was such an ugly backlash,
from Williams himself especially but Simon refused to react.
Of course it has helped that he likes a lot of my music and that he’s allowed me this platform to share my stories – he’s been very generous with me but it goes deeper and I believe we have a mutual respect and real friendship as well as our shared passion for great music.
So when Julie Lamb asked if the Spines wanted to play in Napier and Masterton later this month, even though Malky will be out of the country at the time, I said yes and asked Simon if he would sit in on drums.
He loved the idea and we started rehearsing last week – he fit straight in to the family dynamic we have in this band and I know he’s buzzing about filling the role that some of his drumming heroes have held. As a band we are really happy to have him for these gigs and we all reckon they are going to be great fun to play.
I’m not a critic or a journo but I know we need these guys. I’ve seen a lot of really hateful stuff written about Simon by friends of mine and it does stick in my craw – he can dish out hell in print but he is not mean-spirited in the way some of his critics are and now that he’s in the Spines I just felt I had to say all this to let him know we have his back.
The Ghost of Electricity – War Stories by Jon McLeary is a new initiative at Off The Tracks, a series of stories and reflections from painter, writer and musician Jon McLeary