Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cold Hands and Quarter Moon


Introduced by Victor Rikowski

The band members:

Victor Rikowski – Guitar & Vocals
Alex Lowther-Harris – Guitar, Banjo, Accordion & Vocals
Louie Ashton-Butler – Vocals
Nicholas Frost – Violin
Jack Rennie – Bass Guitar
William J Roberts – Hand Percussion

In the autumn of 2008, Aaron Ledbury suggested to me that some kind of jam should take place between two musicians; namely, him and me. I knew he played the ukulele and he knew that I played the guitar and bass. A month or two later, Alex Lowther-Harris, who was a banjo, guitar & synthesiser extraordinaire, joined us. We began to do some general jamming, with me on the bass, Alex on banjo and Aaron on ukulele. It was around winter 2008/spring 2009 that we began to make it a regular thing. Sunday was our compulsory weekly jam. For the rest of the year we were trying to figure out what our band/music was about and what we wanted to get out of the whole thing. We recorded quite a few of our jam sessions on Dictaphone. We were working on a big repertoire of songs; songs without lyrics in a band without a singer. Most of the songs were a bunch of chords which Aaron would jam/improvise over occasionally, with Alex and me occasionally having our own time in the spotlight. In one song I played flute and Aaron played harmonica and Alex played guitar. We often swapped, switched and sometimes even modified our instruments. Our style was a kind-of bluegrass, jamming and, predominantly, blues style. But without any singer, lyrics or main melody for all of our songs we were stuck for where to go next. But we didn’t really care. We enjoyed playing music and having fun with it. Alex and Aaron wrote the songs/chords together and I wrote the baselines along with their ideas.

Late at night one day the three of us went down to the beach on the Menai Straight between Bangor and Anglesey. It was a stone beach with huge boulders and calm water. It was very dark and very cold but it was also very beautiful. We played for about half an hour before complaining about how cold our hands were. We carried on playing nonetheless. We then noticed that the moon was quarter full. It was in memory of that magical night that the band then became Cold Hands & Quarter Moon.

The academic year came to a close. Over the summer holidays I began writing songs again. I hadn’t written a song in years and it was nice to start again. I wrote them purely for my own enjoyment but when I came back to university and played a couple of them to Aaron he said he really liked them and that he wanted to work on them for the band. From then on the band had developed a whole new perspective. We were a band that did songs. The style of the songs maintained the original blues ethic, but also added in folk and even a few punk and country influences. The band line up began to change rapidly from then on. At the beginning of the year it was just me and Aaron in the band; me on guitar and vocals and Aaron on bass. Alex didn’t seem to like the new direction of the band, so then it was just me and Aaron.

However, Aaron and I both knew that we needed more musicians/singers in order to get the band to be how we wanted it to be. The next person to join the band was Nicholas Frost, who is a really good violinist and plays for the Bangor University Orchestra. He did a great job with the songs that we had. When Nick came to his first practice he brought along with him a guy known as Louie, who is a very good singer and recently (December 2009) performed a vocal solo in the Bangor University Winter Concert. I had been thinking for a week or two about finding myself another female singer but then suddenly it struck the band as obvious; why didn’t Louie join the band? We had a second singer.

Eventually Alex came back into the band playing banjo, guitar and, very brilliantly, the accordion. It was done: the band line-up was complete. Alex began to write songs too, and writing them very quickly. We began to practice regularly and for long hours of the day, much to our housemates’ annoyance. Just when we were getting pretty tight and ready to tour the pubs and open-mike’s of Bangor, disaster struck. Aaron was being thrown out of university because of his financial difficulties concerning last year’s rent. We had lost our bassist, the bassist who had learnt and written all the bass lines for the new songs by me and Alex along with the couple of cover songs we did.

We had to find a new bassist. Jack Rennie was the next person to join the band in autumn 2009 as the bassist. We began practicing again and re-learning the songs we had already done. Before too long we were performing songs in the pubs and Open-Mike’s in Bangor. First we performed in the ‘Bell Vue’ (which was my personal favourite), and the next one we did was at ‘The Underground’ or ‘The Venue’ on Bangor High Street. The next was Open-Mike at ‘The Greek’. We did a session in the recording studio soon after that, which I was using as coursework for my music degree.

For quite some time I was thinking about having a drummer and Jack Rennie had an electric drum kit. I knew how rare/difficult it is for a band to get a drummer and so this was likely to be the only opportunity of having one but, having realized that it wouldn’t suit the aesthetics of the band, I stuck with what we had. But I still wanted some percussion in the band. I went down to the shop and bought some bongos, a tambourine and an egg shaker. Soon after this William Roberts wanted to join the band as our percussionist. So now we’ve settled for the six of us and look forward to recording more songs in the studio and performing more folk/blues/country songs in pubs and open-mike sessions.

Victor Rikowski

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon

You can hear some of the band’s session on YouTube:

'Brown Shoes' composed by Alex Lowther-Harris:

'Traitor' composed by Victor Rikowski:

'Human Herbs' composed by Victor Rikowski:

'Reverence' composed by Alex Lowther-Harris:

'Stagnant' composed by Victor Rikowski:

Posted here Glenn Rikowski
The Flow of Ideas:
All that is Solid for Glenn Rikowski: