In-between times (1974-2013)
The truth is, I hadn’t seen Tone since I left the band in 1974. I’d received a letter out of the blue from him in the 80s; I’d replied but that was it...you just get on with your life I suppose. Blokes just don’t seem to be good at this sort of thing.
I paid a call on Andy in Hastings once during his Megahype period. We chatted about the old days and Andy’s appearances on Top of the Pops and Nationwide (!) over a cup of tea and I admired his bathroom. We then resumed our respective lives each now having a little add-on to our Factory memories.
Laurie played with Die Laughing in Worthing one night when I was
playing a pub nearby in a folk-rock band. We each spent a few minutes
listening to the other's band before going back to our own. Then
he popped in to see me ten years later and I cooked him scrambled
eggs with cheese, so he tells me! I have to admit it was in the days
when I was experimenting with eggs.
In the late nineties, when I learned how to search the web, I was able to find out what my old Factory buddies were doing. Tone was busy gigging and recording in London, Andy was living the dream in Los Angeles, and Laurie was remembering the sixties in the 6Ts. I now had the means to contact them, but still didn’t bother! I dunno, we’d been so close back then - I can’t remember any serious falling out – perhaps I thought we just couldn’t pick up where we left off.
Anyway, around 2010, shortly after returning from France, I saw that the 6Ts were playing near me in Hassocks and decided to go there with my drum-playing son, Ned. I surprised Laurie during his soundcheck and we had a great time reminiscing and catching up. He even let Ned ‘soundcheck’ his drums!
Whilst in an Indian restaurant, waiting for the meal to arrive, my son Louis took my phone and returned it minutes later announcing I was now on Facebook! Within days I’d found Hastings related stuff, in particular the SMART page, and reconnected with old muso friends from the Hastings 70s scene. It wasn’t long before I was friends with old Factory chums, Andy and Tone.
The first SMART meeting I attended was in January, 2014. It was wonderful seeing old friends again but, most importantly, Tone and I met for the first time in almost 40 years. We had lovely time catching up and we continued our conversation in the pub. We briefly mentioned getting the original band together, Tone added that he’d already discussed it with Andy. The first steps had been taken!
It wasn’t long before Laurie got to hear of the SMART meetings and started attending, now bringing three of us together and talk of a reunion had begun. By July we’d got together at Tone’s house in Maidstone to discuss repertoire and on the second time there Andy phoned us, so we were sort of in the same room together.
In September the rehearsals had started in earnest at my house in Plumpton Green; Laurie making a three and a half hour train journey from Ramsgate, and Tone a more than two hour drive. We listened to recordings made in studios, including those from Roger Daltrey's, and a live gig from 1974. Not only did the sometimes atrocious tape quality make it difficult to hear what we played, but what we actually played was at times more complex than we remembered it to be! But the process was fun and we slowly rebuilt our old set list. And Andy was doing the same in California – not so easy on your own, though.
Apart from a three song try out at my open mic night in Plumpton, the music had been confined to my small home studio. It was time to get Andy over. We decided to use Ros and my farmhouse in Normandy, France for the four of us to get together and rehearse uninterrupted. Then we would play at a friend’s bar in nearby Mayenne and ‘road test' the show. It was lovely seeing and being with Andy again and we gelled as a band and a bunch of friends again. The rehearsals went brilliantly and the gig was magical – it was so good to play together just as we had all those years ago. Andy returned to the US and we to the UK, but plans were already being made for the Hastings reunion and even to make that long awaited album.
With Andy back in the UK, we had a weekend of rehearsals before stepping into Broadoak Studios on Monday, 5th October. The ambience was perfect for the job at hand, with Harvey Summers twidding the knobs, performing his wizardry, and the boys on top creative form. All the tracks were ones we’d written and performed during our first incarnation; road-tested but never properly recorded – until now. After nine days we had all fourteen songs we’d planned in the can and were ready for the big gig.
On Friday, 16th October Factory performed their first gig in Hastings for almost four decades. This will be documented elsewhere on the site but, suffice to say, it was a great success. The album was mixed to satisfaction during November and we were delighted with the results.
It was as though we’d spent those years in the seventies choosing and blending all the best ingredients to create a fine wine. In 1976 we put it in a bottle, corked it up, and laid it down to mature. And now it’s been uncorked, a vintage wine both pure and clear ready to be savoured and enjoyed. Cheers!