les membres du groupe et leur univers

The Illiterate Hands

Avec On A Friday

On A Friday a joué avec "The Illiterate Hands" sur ces dates :
1 - 1988 – concert à St. Helens
2 - 1987, Oxford, Old Fire Station

 

« The Illiterate Hands » est un groupe de jeunesse de Jonny Greenwood, qui s’est créé à Oxford.

Le groupe était composé de Matt Hawkesworth (à la guitare) – Jonny Greenwood (clavier & harmonica) – Andy Yorke (chant) et Simon Newton (Basse). Le nom du groupe est l’idée de Matt Hawkesworth. Plusieurs membres du groupe ont aussi participé au groupe Folk In Noise :

Matt Hawkesworth (guitars) and a certain Jon Greenwood (keyboards, harmonica) had formed a band called « The Illiterate Hands » (the name was Matt’s idea) and had already written some songs together, which they asked me to sing. A very old friend of mine from primary school called Simon Newton was recruited to play bass. My memories of all this are pretty dim – all I can remember from the pre-Nigel days was rehearsing in Simon’s bedroom.
— Andy Yorke/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

Au départ, à la batterie, on trouve un boîte à rythmes, qui va être remplacée par Nigel Powell. Ce dernier va faire connaissances avec les membres du groupe car on lui demande d’enregistrer une démo pour eux. Nigel était batteur à la base, mais comme il était un des seuls jeunes à posséder du matériel d’enregistrement, tous les petits groupes faisaient appel à lui  :

Eventually, hearing through Welby (as we referred to him – it was a public school after all) that I had some recording equipment, Mark Schofield, who was managing a band called The Illiterate Hands, approached me to find out if I would record them.
— Nigel Powell/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

 

Le courant va vite passer, notamment avec Jonny (Jonny et Nigel possèdent la même boîte à rythme, une SpecDrum…)

Through him I met Jonny, and we formed an instant connection, discovering we used the same drum machine (the SpecDrum, a small box attached to the back of a ZX Spectrum computer – what dynamic and exciting lives we led). I also met Andy, but my earliest memories of him are how completely silent he was.
— Nigel Powell/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

 

Début 1987, Nigel enregistre donc une démo de 8 titres pour le jeune groupe. Les chanson sont justement très « jeunes » selon lui, et il suggère aux membres de « The Illiterate hands » d’opter pour une vraie batterie plutôt qu’une boîte à rythme. Jonny, attaché à sa boîte à rythmes,  a quelques doutes, mais il se laisse convaincre. Le groupe arrête de répéter dans des chambres à coucher et s’essaye à la salle de répétition de l’école, avec Nigel à la batterie. Ce n’est pas très évident au départ, le groupe a du mal à investir la scène…

Early in 1987 we convened at my parent’s house to record 8 songs onto my portastudio, although two of them were alternate versions of the same songs. For a reason that now escapes me, I insisted that the recording be credited to ‘Sphincter Studios’. The recording came out to my satisfaction, and cemented very close friendships between me and Andy, and me and Jonny. I suggested that they should try using a real drummer (me), and, despite Jonny’s doubts (he loved his drum machine) we tried a rehearsal in the school’s theatre.

Now, I had been a rocker for some time, but these guys were more bedroom musicians, and not entirely prepared for the volume levels of a live drumkit. After some shocked looks as I began playing the first song, we started trying some volume control methods, resulting finally in a small fort being built around the drums from various bits of unused scenery. This meant I couldn’t see anyone, so at the end of each number, I had to pop my head up to see if I’d done OK, and if everyone else was alright.

— Nigel Powell/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

 

Vers cette époque, Nigel va entendre parler du frère d’Andy Yorke, Thom, qui officie lui aussi dans un groupe, On a Friday, avec le grand frère de Jonny Greenwood. Thom a été impressionné par la qualité de la démo de « The Illiterate Hands », et il demande donc à Andy de le mettre en contact avec Nigel. Pendant l’été 1987, Nigel enregistre une démo pour On A Friday.

Also around this time, Andy mentioned that his brother was jealous of the quality of the Illiterate Hands’ demo (??),and was asking who’d done it. So after my exams that June (1987), I spent a good few weeks of the summer recording a demo for On A Friday, who by this time had included Jonny in their ranks, as a keyboard player.
— Nigel Powell/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

A l’été 1987, Illiterate Hands joue au bal de l’école :

I think this summer was also the one where Illiterate Hands played the school fete. We set up on the pavilion on the field. Then dark clouds gathered, and a light rain began to fall, so we picked up everything and ran it into the school theatre. Then the sun came out, so we picked up everything and ran it back out to the pavilion. Then it got really cloudy, and the rain began to come down, so we picked everything up and ran it into the theatre. Then the rain stopped and the weather got really nice, but by this point we were so tired we could barely play, so we left everything in the theatre.
— Andy Yorke/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

La line-up du groupe change un peu fin 1987 : Alan Welby est remplacé par Jason Moulster.

By the time of The Illiterate Hands’  last gig, at Abingdon College Of Further Education, Alan had been replaced by the wildly brilliant Jason Moulster, whom me, Jonny and our friend Ian spent the whole of their gig standing next to the stage being amazed at.
— Nigel Powell/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

Quelques autres démos sont enregistrées :

It’s difficult to figure out when things happened around this time. We were at school, Illiterate Hands recorded some more songs at a big studio near Oxford through a school friend whose dad worked for mixing desk makers SSL, some more recording happened at my parent’s house for IH, Nightshade, and some solo tracks for Thom, there were school and local gigs…
— Nigel Powell/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

 

En 1988, tous les groupes jouent des concerts, parfois les uns avec les autres.

The next year also saw lots of gigs for everybody, with my brother’s band Nightshade playing in Oxford with On A Friday, The Illiterate Hands supporting OAF at The Old Fire Station (we were described in music magazine ‘Local Support’ as « like those nauseating kids from the Casio advert », before saying that really we were quite good), and all the Abindgon school bands (bar OAF) playing at St. Helens, Abingdon’s sister school. Headlining that night was Skag and the Gynacologists, featuring Alan Welby on bass and a certain Jim Crosskey on guitar.
— Nigel Powell/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth

 

Un concert un peu desastreux fait prend conscience à tous les membres que le groupe doit rebondir : Andy s’essaye à la guitare, Jonny au violon sur un titre qui sonne très Waterboys.

(The Hands did actually play one more gig, at someone’s party near Wantage, but believe me, it’s best forgotten). We rehearsed a couple of times after this without Matt, trying to take things in a more artful direction (my memory probably paints this as more successful than it actually was), including a Waterboys influenced song with Jonny on viola. It didn’t last, but it was Andy’s first time playing guitar in a band situation.
— Nigel Powell/ Site-archives d'unbelievable Truth
Vers 1991, le groupe change son nom en Illiterates Hands ; le “The” disparait, de même que Jonny, engagé à temps complet sur Radiohead. Pour autant, il n’oublie pas ses amis à qui il donne encore un coup de main, notamment en aiguillant un bon ingénieur du son, Jim Warren, vers eux.
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