In the last installment, we learned about the commercial success of Dr SPaM and their transition to the prog-poppers, PaST MaD. Now’s the time to go a little deeper behind the scenes: what burned beneath the searing guitar, lightning drumbeats, scalding vocals, blistering bass and fiery adjectives?
The newfound confidence of the band, both in terms of critical response and the bucketloads of cash they owned, positively oozed from their next release. “(O)WAF! will go down on the calendar as the day clever lyrics met quality musicianship, then had a threesome with joy” raved one cowboy-hatted commentator. The album was played everywhere from shopping arcades to underground raves, leaving the world smiling and trying to emulate the perfectly-sequenced star jump progression on the album cover.
But wait. Within the band, cracks were slowly starting to appear. Dave accused Sophie of bowing to commercial pressure from a car company when she came up with the album title. Maddey started to suspect Pat of watching Flashdance one too many times in preparation for the star jump scene. Their manager, Anne, saw the rumblings of discontent, and put the band on a strict exercise regime, hoping to take their mind off things.
It was too much pressure for the mysterious Tash, who sat the album out. Without her soothing synth influence, and with testosterone and tension coursing through the 4-piece, Get Arthured was a harder, rockier sound than anything before. Fans flocked to Arthur’s Seat, the mountain overlooking Edinburgh where the recording was rumoured to have taken place. Constant police presence was soon necessary to prevent fans chipping off bits of the mountain as ‘rock’ keepsakes, for fear of the mountain losing its top.
Eager to move on from the Arthur craze, PaST MaD coaxed Tash from her solo career to recapture their pop sound. It was an altogether quieter album, both in terms of sound, promotion and popular reception. Mutterings once again surfaced between band members. Maddey and Pat, once thought to be as complementary as the very drums and bass they played, began to antagonise each other. Maddey started suspecting Pat of being too fond of Hanson, while Dave clashed again with Sophie, this time leaking rumours to the media about a deal she’s struck with radio station Triple M in the leadup to naming the album.
It was the beginning of the downward tumble. Glossy tabloid magazines, once holding up Dr SPaM as darlings, sent the paparazzi to follow PaST MaD everywhere. There was no need; the breaking foundations were about to be made very public.
Much could be read into the album covers of the band. Besides the mind-bending slant of the feature wall, the media immediately read into the positions of the band members. Maddey and Pat were far apart, and Dave and Sophie were separated also. Not only that, Dave was said to be feeling blue about the commercialisation of the band by Sophie. It wasn’t clear whether the prick named in the album cover was directed at Pat, Dave or both: all that was clear was that the guys were on the outer.
Matters worsened on a return visit to Galway. The band got talking to a local Irishman, who initially accused a random stranger of having a gay cigarette lighter, but then showed an uncomfortable amount of appreciation for Pat’s hair. This confusing but flattering experience led Pat to order a round of straight whiskeys for everyone. It didn’t go down well… but to find out why, you’ll have to visit again on the weekend, when PaST MaD slump into substance abuse, infighting, self-destruction and ultimately, disintegration.