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The rise and demise of Cable

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History is littered with examples of ‘The Man’ stifling the true brilliance of rock n roll in the pursuit of the filthy lucre. In recent times the demise of the band Cable has been one of the cruellest thefts from the rock landscape, removing from the British scene a act that far from looking to the past for inspiration were securing a creative future for British rock. In the 90s Cable were simply the most exciting rock band in this fair land (and one of the best in any land for that matter.)

To mark the release of Souvenir: A tribute to Cable (where bands including Tom Vek, Swound, In Flight Program and The International League of Super Best Friends featuring members of Bloc Party and Your codename is Milo cover Cable tracks) the band spoke to magazine.

CableCable’s story is far more interesting than the endless stream of fashionable bands that frequently adorn your music weeklies. Formed in the early 90s moving through several line-up changes (including drummer Neil Cooper of The Beyond, Gorilla and currently Therapy!) the core line-up of Matt Baguley (guitar and vocals), Darius Hinks (guitar), Pete Darrington (bass) and Richie Mills (drums) came together leading up to acclaimed second album When Animals Attack.

Building on the incendiary angular, post-hardcore template of debut mini-album Down-lift the Up-trodden, came Animals turning heads en masse and putting Cable into that scary ‘next big thing’ territory.
Pete aptly describes the bands unique sound thusly, “Clatter, crash, screech, clatter, rumble rumble, bzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Goodnight Tonbridge Wells you’ve been a terrible audience.”

John Peel (who had been championing the band since early releases on Krunch records and had the band record two incredible sessions for his show) and Steve Lamacq were frequently attending gigs and magazines were raving about them being an ‘exciting band’, culminating with a Best British Newcomer nomination for 1998’s Kerrang Awards. Weirdly they didn’t win, there simply wasn’t a better new rock band around.

Pete remembers brushing with musical legends at the awards ceremony, “Sat on a table next to Black Sabbath. What more could a rock band want? I didn’t even notice that we didn’t win what we’d been nominated for!”

In true contradictory form the most press interest from a Cable related incident came with the headline ‘Oasis split shocker’. During the recording of Down-lift, with Neil Cooper still in tow, for new label Infectious (home of Ash and Elastica) in Wales, Oasis were recording their second effort next door. Both bands had finished recording on the same day and gone for some bevies down the local, much booze flowed and the bands were getting on well. Noel Gallagher invited them back to their side of the building to continue the merriment.

After much more drinking Darius and Liam Gallagher got into an argument after Darius suggested that ripping off the Beatles ‘was a bit wank.’

Fists started flying between Darius and Liam and then Oasis guitarist Bonehead went piling in. Noel broke it up and Liam, by now up for a fight with anyone, began swinging at his brother who was trying to restrain him. That night they smashed the place up and sure enough it made the papers - ‘Oasis split shocker!’

“I feel blessed that I had an opportunity to meet such articulate, creative people,” Darius fondly remembers, whilst Pete has a few issues with their handling of the aftermath. “Why on earth didn’t we make a meal of it in the press?”

Matt just can’t believe that the Manc scallies blamed them for all the damage.

At their peak Cable saw the shiny glimpse of the big-time. You may remember a Sprite advert of a snowboarder (or was it surfer) gliding through the streets, it was fairly easy to forget. What wasn’t easy to overlook was the soundtrack. The track was ‘Freeze the Atlantic’ from Animals and it resulted in the bands biggest selling single (charting at no. 43) - of course never ones to do things by the book, and not wanting to ‘pull a Stiltskin’ the band refused to release the track until the advert had ceased transmission for one month, which, while keeping their integrity, almost certainly damaged potentially large sales.

Live, Cable were untouchable, in their time, they blew off stage, amongst others, Reef, SNFU, Ash, A and Carrie. As a testament to this live quality the band recorded one live EP, but this was not just any normal performance record, Cable’s was recorded to a heaving mass of in-mates at Brixton Prison.

“Our agent suggested it - we wanted to play somewhere really different and record it as a live record. We’d worked our way through interesting venues such as ‘telecom tower’ or ‘mir space station’, all of which had some kind of problem associated with it. We thought it was a brilliant idea, but would never happen for obvious security reasons,” recalls Pete.

Matt adds some skewed romanticism to the retelling of the event, “I remember a good number of ageing Rastas, social workers, guards and people in grey uniforms. We played our set, crucifixes flew mysteriously from the Chapel walls, the audience rattled their chains. Immediately following the gig we were surrounded by enthusiastic inmates offering to carry our gear out to the van, which was nice.”

On the record the inmates ‘enthusiasm’ can be heard when one of the burly criminals seemingly, and slightly lustfully, wolf-whistles at Matt.

Whilst at the prison the band made a short-film also called ‘When Animals Attack’ starring Vincent Regan as an escaped convict, that was shown at the Edinburgh Festival and broadcast on MTV’s Alternative Nation show.

The band also found decent exposure on the air-waves, most prominently with legendary DJ John Peel, who awarded the band several sessions and once broadcast a Cable performance from the Radio 1 Sound City event at the Oxford Zodiac live to the nation.

Many of the bands more interesting moments, aside from the prison set, seem to have involved Darius in various states of injury. He relayed one of many tales of on-tour strangeness, “We embarked on brief career in piracy after a gig in Bristol. Along with a band called AC Acoustics we stormed a pensioner’s canal boat and tried to steal it. It all ended badly though - the pensioners were pretty annoyed and gave chase, then I fell through a trap door onto a load of metal and split a nerve in my forearm. I woke up the next day with my arm twisted into a sort of claw shape. That was pretty weird.”

The next day the band had a sold-out gig at Dingwalls in London. In true rock n roll style, they decided the show must go on, having an emergency rehearsal in London on the afternoon before the gig to rework the songs as a three-piece.

As the band took to the stage Darius joined them with his arm in plaster, but instead of performing he spent the entire set, where he would usually stand, in a comfy chair watching television.

Much to his surprise half-way through the set a pizza delivery moped entered the venue and brought him a pizza to munch on as well. The press lapped up the spectacle and the gig received rave reviews.

“Our car crash was quite strange. We were hit by a drunk driver, our van landed on its roof in Pete’s garden. I spent the night in hospital keeping an eye on Darius who was concussed and had amnesia as a result. every couple of minutes Darius would ask ‘where am I?’ and I think I explained what had happened to him about 249 times. by morning I felt like I’d gone completely mad, and I’d convinced Darius that we found him wandering naked and incoherent in the Eagle Centre (main shopping centre in Derby), which he still believes to this day,” adds Matt.

The Cable story appears to be full of positivity, it is hard to see why they aren’t a house-hold name in 2006. In 1999 on the brink of releasing their highly-anticipated third album Sublingual the band were forced to split after financial difficulties caused by legal-action from the bands ex-manager.

Following the split rumours were rife; they weren’t ‘allowed to use the name Cable again’, they ‘could never play music again’ and ‘all the money had to go to the ex-manager’ - these are all, of course, not true. But what is the truth around the bands split?

Matt explains the situation, “I’ve never heard any of the other stories - but how I remember the whole fiasco is we were very unhappy with our manager, so we told him he was ‘sacked’. He didn’t like this at all, and for about a year he chased us through the courts, and we came out of it quite badly. I think he suspected we were secretly lording it off the ‘Freeze the Atlantic’ ‘millions’, that we were lying about being broke, so he called our bluff and pressed on with the lawsuit despite everything. It wasn’t until we were all back on the dole - that I imagine the penny dropped for him, and he had to accept a fraction of his initial claim. Anyhow, even after that we found ourselves in a financial knot which gave him control over our finances (music related) for several years. This crippled the band of course, and naturally made the situation for us and our new management impossible. I couldn’t see what else we could do personally, it was absurd, and hopeless. I went home, and sat in the dark listening to Slayer for about 6 months.”

Pete is more bitter and less diplomatic when relaying the demise of the band, “We fired our original manager for being a fat lazy fuckwit. He took us to court for loss of earnings because we had terminated the contract early. This took almost 3 years. He managed to claw back just enough to make sure the bank account was totally empty and we couldn’t carry on. The judge also saw fit to award him 20% of all of our advances as Cable for the following three years. The only way to deny him access to that money was to deny us the advances, by splitting. Despite overwhelming evidence from dozens of people who’d worked with him saying he was a useless tosser, we still lost. I guess him and the judge must be in the same lodge or something. Is this libellous?”

Sublingual would rightly have taken the band to the next level, as it saw them further forge their own sound and create more poppy accessible music that appeal would have won many a new fan. The band all agree that it’s the best album they recorded.

“I’m personally happiest with Sublingual. It was our most focussed album, inching towards a sound of our own. When Animals Attack seems generally to be most popular, but I hear too many of our own influences (or my own at least) too clearly,” explains Matt. Pete calls any one that thinks it isn’t the best album a ‘crazy fool’.

But that was it - Sublingual achieved modest sales, despite universal press acclaim and, after a series of farewell gigs, Cable were no more. Their last free gig at Camden Dingwalls had massive cues with many fans unable to get in.

The band have been working on other projects - Richie is embarking on a solo project called Mills, Matt is currently in the superb Je Suis Animal in Oslo where he now lives and at one point Darius was supposedly to sign a deal with Graham Coxon’s label Transcopic. But it is Pete who has been a very busy boy. As well as playing in Derby ‘super-group’ Hudson Super Six, he also works as DJ Razorcuts making instrumental hip-hip which has earned him guest slots at Ninja Tunes club night and on their Solid Steel radio show. A 12” under the moniker saw him receiving unexpected attention, “The record had been a cult hit in Japan unbeknown to me, so after the Ninja club gig I was suddenly attacked by these crazy Japanese girls exposing their breasts shouting ‘Lazercuts, prease sign us.’ That’s true, ask Strictly Kev of Ninja Tunes! Of course, being the reserved English gentleman that I am, I promptly wrote all over their tits with permanent marker. I just kept thinking ‘this never happened to me in Cable!’”

On top of all this he has recorded some stuff with Neil Cooper on a project called Cut Hustlers and has done remix work for Therapy amongst others. In 2006, the band’s new myspace page has drawn messages of pure admiration and numerous calls for them to reform, and the tribute album could rightly turn a new audience onto their music. But will they ever perform again?

“I think truthfully, by the third tribute album we might consider it,” jokes Matt.

Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, maybe they are destined to be just a memory of a great band stopped on the verge of achieving what their music deserved.

Will we ever see Cable again? We can hope, can’t we?

Find more on Cable and the tribute album at:

myspace.com/atributetocable
sublingual.co.uk

 

 

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