The Container Drivers
The Container Drivers, Aug 2006 Who are the Container Drivers?
The Container Drivers are:
Keg (bass, vocals)
Rik (guitar, vocals)
Dr Bryn Hans (drums)
How it began...
From 1994 onwards, Rik had been a member of a trio called Strange Black Cloud, along with myself and another guitarist. Veterans of many an attic rehearsal, the group played their one and only gig in August 1995 before apathy began to exert slow, throttling pressure. By early 1996 it became clear that for this band at least, things had run their course.
Rik had a friend at college called Bryn, who at the time played the bass in a band called Whisk. On Thursday 14th March 1996, they had a gig at a local social club. I half-jokingly asked Rik to suggest that the pair of us could support them. To my amazement, they agreed! We arrived at the club in plenty of time, expecting to play first. However, Whisk were the headline act and another local group were billed to play before them. We ended up playing last - topping the bill, I suppose. As we sat around waiting to play, we thought about what name to give ourselves. The best suggestion was The Container Drivers (named, of course, after The Fall song of the same name) and that stuck. Eventually it was our turn to play. Borrowing Whisk's instruments and also their drummer (who didn't know the songs), we took to the stage. "Hello, we are the Container Drivers. I'd like to thank the two support acts for turning up." was my cheeky introduction. We raced through three numbers at twice their normal speed; "Cosmic Sofa" (a Strange Black Cloud song), "Part Time Punks" and "Salvador Dali's Garden Party" (both by Television Personalities). We went down really well and got the loudest applause of the night!
By summer 1996, Strange Black Cloud had ceased to be. Rik and myself started rehearsing together instead. For fun, we used to play a handful of songs written by Television Personalities, who were then a recent and delightful discovery. A few years later I started up a website devoted to them, which can be viewed at http://www.televisionpersonalities.co.uk
In September 1996 we decided to record some songs on our four-track machine. We recorded 13 tracks in two sessions, one at the start of the month and one at the end. We taped a couple of Strange Black Cloud songs, a number of fun covers and one or two new tunes we'd written that summer. Unfortunately, this momentum was halted a week later when Rik moved 70 miles eastward to Leeds, in West Yorkshire, to take up a university course. Understandably, this curtailed our activities, although we got together every couple of weeks to rehearse, especially since we'd decided to go into a proper studio and record some songs, if only for posterity.
Our first visit to a recording studio took place on Saturday 18th January 1997. It was a freezing winter's morning when we turned up at a local recording studio in a rural village a few miles from where we lived. The studio was a brick building in a back garden. It was also in the process of being rebuilt. The recording suite was essentially a shell with a plastic sheet where the roof should have been, so we ended up setting up in the control room. We taped three numbers: "Dazzled by Lights", "A Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Searching for the Skylon". "Dazzled" was the last song I wrote when I was in Strange Black Cloud. Although we played it at rehearsals, we never demoed it. "Skylon" was also a Strange Black Cloud song, but "Dorian Gray" was a cover of a Television Personalities original. Rik sang lead vocals for that one. When I hear those three songs now, the enduring memory I have of the session is how cold it was in the studio! "Dazzled by Lights" seems to have a glacial charm about it. See the mp3 page for downloads.
A month later, I managed to organise what should have been our first proper gig. Unfortunately, this never went ahead due to the venue failing to provide the PA as they'd promised. On 1st April 1997 (an apt date), we played three numbers at an acoustic night at a local club, and then... that was about it for 6 years. Rik remained in Leeds and formed a band called Senescence, with his housemate Bryn, who also went to study in the city, on bass. They played several gigs around Leeds over the next two years, although it's a shame they never made it into a recording studio. In addition, he made a couple of solo performances in the pub where he worked part-time, for fun. Taking up the drums, Bryn joined a group called The Invention of Hands. In 2002, both Rik and Bryn were briefly members of a short-lived surf-punk outfit called Orphan Embryo. There was occasional talk of the three of us collaborating on something, but it never happened.
Meanwhile...
The Beautiful Music a record label based in Canada, have been planning a tribute album to Television Personalities for some time. Both Rik and myself are big fans of the TVP's, as already stated. In November 2002 I sent the label our cover of the TVP's "A Picture of Dorian Gray", which we'd taped during that visit to the recording studio in January 1997. The track will be included on the forthcoming album, expected summer 2004.
Around the same time, Darrell Whitbeck in the USA (a fellow fan of Television Personalities and a regular correspondent), decided to put together his own compilation album of various artists. Falling Uphill was to be the title, and he invited me to contribute. Thus, after a gap of six years, the Container Drivers were reunited in February 2003 to write a song, and "The Girl on the Bus" was the result. This was developed from a fragment of lyrics that I wrote back in 1996 or so. It didn't take us long to work out the tune and the song structure; even after such a gap, it was gratifying to find that the chemistry still existed. We recorded the song three months later with help from a work mate, Glyn Bailey, who owned a 16 track digital recording unit. It was my intention that the style of the song should hark back to the sound of early Television Personalities. How successful we were in capturing that spirit is something I'll leave to the listener to decide. The Woog Riots had also submitted a song for Falling Uphill and this brought us to their attention. You can read what happened next in the story of our Fall tribute.
Following the release of the Fall tribute in May 2004, we were invited to go to Darmstadt in Germany and play at the album release party. We had a great time, and subsequently went back to Germany in June for gigs in Berlin, Hamburg and Dortmund with the Woog Riots and others. A second mini-tour of south Germany and Switzerland followed in September. Two new songs were demoed ahead of this tour, and both were aired on the John Peel show on Radio 1. A London gig to promote 'Perverted by Mark E' took place at the Bull & Gate in October 2004.
We've been out and about since then and have supported bands that include Persil, Bearsuit, Decoration, We Start Fires, Steveless and Woog Riots. We're always on the lookout for more. If you're interested in booking us, get in touch.
Our debut single, 'It Must be the Pipes' was released by Topplers Records in July 2008.
Keg, 18 July 2008.
Discography
'The Ex-Members of The Fall Club'
Released on 'Perverted by Mark E: A Tribute to The Fall' on ZickZack Records of Hamburg. Cat no: ZZ 2008 (May 2004).
'The Girl on the Bus'
Released on 'Falling Uphill' by Windless Air Music in the USA. Cat no: 071 (August 2004).
Buy the CD from us - click here.
'A Picture of Dorian Gray' (Television Personalities cover)
Released on 'If I Could Write Poetry: A Tribute To Television Personalities' by Canada's the Beautiful Music. Cat no: Beauty 005 (May 2005). Early copies came with a bonus 10 track CD that included the Container Drivers' live version of 'Part Time Punks'.
'Run'
Released on German indiepop compilation pOP yOU 4 on Berlin's Hobby Deluxe label. Cat no: HDLX 0021 (June 2005).
'Searching for the Skylon' (demo)
Released on 'The Ugly Truth About Blackpool Volume One' compilation CD by the JSNTGM label. Cat no: JSNTGM 018 (August 2005).
'In the Bleak Mid-Afternoon'
Released on A Very Cherry Christmas Volume 1 compilation CD by Cherryade Music. No catalogue number. (November 2005).
'A Picture of Dorian Gray' (live) - Television Personalities cover
Released on the bonus CD that came with early copies of 'I Would Write A Thousand Words: A Tribute To Television Personalities volume 2' by Canada's the Beautiful Music. Cat no: Beauty 015 (Apr 2007).
'It Must be the Pipes' / 'You, me and Lou Reed'
Debut single, released by Topplers Records. Cat no: LITE002 (July 2008).
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