The musical seed was planted in the mid-eighties when I became aware of the band Orchestral Manouevres In the Dark.
Their first four albums were a mixture of unconventional pop songs and experimental electronica – I was captivated. I discovered that the two founding members were not trained musicians, which led me to believe that perhaps I could make music too. I saved paper-round money, bought a used synthesizer and was hooked. Spent the rest of the decade buying further sound toys and writing primitive songs.
I started a band in 1991 (initially called Lewis Drops) with my two closest friends, Andy Smith and Martin Bell. I met Andy at cubs at the age of 8 (we both cared more for Star Wars and inflicting cruelty on our siblings than earning badges). Martin was a former schoolmate (though our friendship began after we’d both left school – we saw countless gigs together and spent many a Sunday experimenting with the synths).
Hive, 1992. Martin, myself and Andy.
In 1992 we changed our name to Hive and began gigging at modest venues around the South East, playing mainly to often-confused straight-rock audiences. I wrote quirky pop songs that combined electronics (sequenced synths, drum machines and samples – programmed by myself and Martin) with Andy adding guitar, Martin bass (and voice) and myself vocals and guitar to the equation. Our sound was once described as ‘a throbbing musical landscape that conjures Asimovian worlds’, which still sounds pretty cool.
Flyers from live shows, 1993.
A year later we rented a house together and were clubbing regularly, catching electronic bands such as Underworld and Orbital in their infancy. Seeing their highly improvised shows inspired us to reinvent ourselves, and we started moving towards a purer electronic dance sound
Martin left the band due to family commitments at the end of ’95. Andy took a break to study psychology. I carried on writing whilst juggling my full-time gig as a graphic designer.
Hive, 1998. Andy and I soundchecking at Quiddity
With Andy back onboard we wrote a new live set for Quiddity – an underground event held in a huge field near Guildford. We played there two further times – the final gig, in ’98, was one of our all-time highs – the tent was packed and, as they say, it went off!
We changed our name to Dialog> in ’99 and continued crafting a huge ever-growing collection of tracks. Andy got married on the cusp of a new millennium.
I devoted the whole of 2002 to the project, learning new studio gear whilst mixing the final batch of songs. Also devised a complex hardware rig for live use that allowed us to mix like a DJ. We had plenty of great tracks and were considering an album release.
Dialog>, 2003. Andy and I with
the complex rig, Martin as DJ.
I made the decision in 2003 to move to the States to be with my future wife. Though difficult times, Andy and I finished mixes and played one final gig (with Martin returning to DJ).
While I prepared for the move to Atlanta, Andy kept the Dialog> moniker and took a course in music production. He set up a new software-based studio and began to forge his own production identity. I took a long break from making music, continuing a graphic design career in the States.
Cover artwork for the two Dialog> albums.
After sending Nick Baxter, owner of SKP Recordings some unreleased tracks, ‘Diving for Pearls’ was given a digital release on SKPR White in December 2009.
Buoyed by Nick’s enthusiasm, I talked with Andy about making further tracks available, with the idea to release a series of digital EPs. The first, the ‘Jello EP’, is already out with more to follow in the months ahead. There’s also an ongoing digital compilation entitled ‘Doggybag’.
Reenergized musically, I am currently working on several musical projects – including new material, a collaboration and revisiting some old gems.