The dashing and cordial Martin Rossiter of the English group Gene has
graciously agreed to contribute a road report to ATN, detailing the
trials, tribulations, and petty arguments of one band, one bus, and a
seemingly endless tour. In today's report, we meet the band and
assorted others. Meet ATN special correspondent Martin Rossiter:
Eleven people, lost luggage, perspiration, claustrophobia, nightly
panics. It's hard to find the words to describe this lifestyle, for it
is a lifestyle, not a job, an occupation, or a hobby. "Weird" is a
little too MTV for my palate. Ditto "wacky." "Peculiar" is close, but
not quite right. I think "odd" best sums up this experience.
There are eleven people in our traveling circus. Let's say hello:
Terry Merchant is the Godfather. Born circa 1812, Terry is by far the
most experienced member of the gang. His official capacity is backline
technician; this does not stop him from drinking, in one evening, more
than an entire Betty Ford meeting could muster in a week.
"Fuck off, Pip, get it yourself." "Why the fuck should I? You left it
there!" etc. etc. etc. These delightful contributions to the English
language come from Scally, shirt seller and wannabe Beatle, and Pip
Rhodes, lighting designer and pocket generator.
Next in line is Chris Wibberley, the latest addition to our party. If
every group has one deathly silent and mysterious member, Mr.
Wibberley is our man. Is he a serial killer? Is he a former Colombian
drug baron? Does he make chickens uncomfortable when the moon is full?
We know not. He does, however, give us a wonderful sound when we
perform, and for that all past indiscretions and sins of omission are
Brother Louis, Daddy Louis, Daddy Who and Love Slug are some of the
more complimentary monikers given our Tour Manager, Paul Louis
Henderson. The man is unstoppable. He is a rock, a god amongst men, an
emerald in a sea of glass, the color red in a monochrome world. He is
also sole and chief editor of my road reports. Draw from this what you
The fifth member of Gene is the fearless Snake, our devoted soundman.
A brief history: Matt and Steve know Snake from their pre-Gene days in
Spin. Returning from a Birmingham show one evening, the Spin van broke
down, and Snake and the driver hopped out to investigate the problem.
An errant truck plowed into the van while Snake was still under the
hood, throwing him forward and breaking his back. I repeat, he broke
his back! Nevertheless, whe Gene formed there was Snake, offering his
services free of charge. We love this man.
Ex-paramedic and Village People look-alike (which one? -Ed.) Russell
Fine is our driver. We have only known Russell two weeks, but it feel
like two years. Driving to Vancouver, we were discussing the OJ case
when Russ turned and said, "What, OJ's in trouble?" This man is the
king of comedy.
On to the band: Steve Mason is our guitarist and the world's sleepiest
man. Kev Miles is our bassist and amateur comedian. Matt James is on
drums and a great philosopher. Lastly, for myself, Martin Rossiter,
I'm the singer, and anything else is not for me to say.
I am sitting in a day room in Sioux City pondering what further tales
to tell, but my thoughts are interrupted by Matt and Steve arguing
over socks. Steve heightens the drama by attempting to juggle the
socks in question, while asserting his right to ownership. This is a
typical Gene scenario. No lines of cocaine, no televisions crashing
through windows, just eleven people, lost luggage, perspiration,
claustrophobia, nightly panics, and socks.