Nightmares in a Damaged Brain

Trotsky – guitar
Johnny – bass
Duncan – drums
Dung, Grebo, Pod – vocals

nightmares logoThe band Nightmares in a Damaged Brain was started by Dung, he chose the name and I joined it later on. We had not played together for some time, and we did only his material, and perhaps one or two cover songs. He left to go to York, and who was left kept playing under the same name. There was Me, Duncan, and Johnny. We used to practice at my house in the countryside, they used to hitch, come by bus, or even walk to the practices. Here is a rough recording of one of the practices. The  song/music “Hell Exists” was written by Dung.

We played a different repertoire, mainly original material and we did not perform many cover songs, except for The Animals cover “I Wanna Change the World”. Dung had left and I stood in on vocals and guitar. Towards the end of the set Pod joined for “Smash it UP”

I found it problematic to sing and play at the same time so we got Pod to come in a sing. We did “Smash it up” by The Damned as a last number like a ritual, the chords were taken from the “Machine Gun Etiquette” LP on the back cover. I dreaded playing it as I could never play the solo, in fact I was terrible playing all solo parts, I used to pick a fret and hammer it with runs, but after that I was lost and you can hear it…it would sound like an out of tune “Gang of 4”. I was a rhythm guitarist for a reason! I used to envy the guitarist who could play a descent instrumental, I could not and did not want to, I loved chords and rhythm.
Instrumentals were a mystery for me and still are. I sounded out of tune and I was… but in the end I accepted the fact and celebrated it by not caring…it became an “out of tune” instrumental, not only a “chicken guitar solo” (Buzzcocks)

Concerts
One of the first gigs we did was over in the North East at Ferryhill, here are some photos from the gig. (L-R: Johnny, Pod, Duncan, Trotsky)
ferryhill

Then followed a series of concerts and Jam sessions at Stars and Stripes.

Concert at Stars and Stripes, Botchergate/Carlisle 29/1/85
Here is the live recording from the gig:

Here is a couple of advertisements publicizing our gigs.
gigs

Concert at The Enterprise Allowance, St. Annes/Carlisle
The set list from the gignightmares set list

Here are a few photos from The Enterprise gig. We were supporting D.O.S. on the day.
enterprise

Jam Sessions at Stars and Stripes
A Jam Session recorded in 1985 (sometime before March) This seems an one of the last recordings of nightmares At the Jam Session at Stars and Stripes, before the name changed and we became Havana Affair. The songs were recorded through the mixing desk and they have been “changed” as was often the case, playing around with levels and making the recording unbalanced.Oct20274

The tracks are:
Fools Gold – the words are by Dunno and the music is by me
Hell Exists – the words and music are by Dung
Mentor – words and music are by me
Playing with Fire – words are by Pod, music is by me
A Day in a Million – words and music are by me

We supported The Straw Dogs at Whitehaven
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Nightmares and D.O.S. played at Stars and Stripes
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An original poster publicizing a Nightmares gig at Stars and Stripes on the 16th October 1985. I think it was Johnny who made this poster, possibily influenced by Kate Hooper (?).
Picture 005

A Day in a Million
This was the 1st song of our live set, it was preceded by a taped recording of instrumental music, this was conveyed to the P.A. by ramming the vocalist’s microphone into the speaker of the cassette machine, and it worked quite well.

I am not sure where this came from or the idea came from of pre-recorded music, perhaps the Ramones or The Clash? When it stopped playing I came in with the guitar riff played on the top 2 strings of the guitar using the phaser and the rest of the band were right on queue. The song was written after too many drunken nights, too much theorizing, idealizing, too much listening to The Doors with Cumbo, too much wanting change and nothing happening. Too much wanting a relationship and not having one… musically, I intended this song to be based around 1 chord only and I tried to build it upon the chord of E, by using 7ths, 6ths, 9ths, diminishes, aug etc. then breaking away from it in the chorus and using conventional power chords. The end phrase is a breakdown of those E chords and playing different inversions.

It was one of my songs that worked well (in my mind and on stage), Pod gave his all on this song and I was very pleased with other band members for creating their own interpretations, Johnny’s bass riff was his invention and Duncan’s drums matched the ideal magically. I hope the recording matches the energy we felt by performing it, I remember people dancing to it at Stars and Stripes and thinking “bloody hell” it was a nice feeling to have ones musical ideas appreciated.

We also performed The Clash’s “Safe European Home”, I would have played this in “Business Controlled” and I think we did a good job of it in Havana Affair too; the ending was well executed in a live performance I think.

I Wanna Change the World
We also did a cover of The Animals’ “I’m going to change the world”, this would have been my choice as I loved listening to The Animals, and the Angelic Upstarts had covered “We gotta get out of this place” by them also, which I liked a lot, but the title was good also. I saw it as a cynical view of many things. This feeling that you are full of ideals, bravado, philosophies, educations and that you think you can change anything in life, society and your environment, we could not but we think we could. Musically, I open the riff with the phaser and did the solo with it too. It was a good version in my opinion, full of energy and as an R’n’B track it worked well with distortion.

Also, in those days at the gigs, as well as on the streets, there was a lot of violence. This recording has a rare example of it happening when we were on stage playing. It records “Nigel got kicked in”, I guess at the time it was his world changing! I think this sort of thing happened quite often, I was at a few gigs where violence took place and if your face did not fit it would be a good enough reason; it was taking place all over. The reasons behind him getting beat up in the boys toilets I do not know exactly? He was the manager of the band D.O.S. and perhaps that group was not liked by certain members of the Punk/Psychobilly community…maybe it was for this? Who needed a reason anyway in those days? The voice is of Pug, coming through loud and clear is that “Nigel got kicked in”…while the tape recorder is standing on the table next to the stage, I did not know until afterwards what had happened.

Escape From Reality
I wrote the words after watching too many films on day time TV, it is simply about escaping from life by watch films and TV, and how sex and violence numb us and excite us at the same time. How life is not as exciting, how life is boring and we need “drugs” to live a little. The music was based around a technique of deadening the strings on the down stroke of the strings and then letting go on the up stroke while picking the chords. The verse is based on this technique and the chorus is full on thrash. Duncan’s drumming is excellent in this he mimics the style of the guitar with his snare work.

A Slow One
I could not think of a title for this one, so it was called how it is! The meaning is my frustration at music and my ability not to play it the way I wanted. How I had spent years learning and yet not getting to a level I wanted to be at. The riffs are pure RnB, and the solo is worked out note for note…no improvising on this track. Johnny’s bass holds the thing together as it can be quite an “empty song”.

We had changed venues for rehearsals, we were now rehearsing in Johnny flat, just off London Road, were we could leave the equipment. One rehearsal I came to Chris had joined the band. He was well known who his work with Carlisle bands such as Combo Zombo, No support etc. From then Nightmares ceased to be, the name changed to Havana Affair, but its members stayed the same. The music was basically the same although Chris’s influence was noticeable. I did not mind at all, it was a different direction.

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