The Dick Smith band…
Considering the popularity of this band not an awful lot has been written about them…well I intend to right that particular wrong and not from an outside view ..I was in the band …yeh it’s me Dave Barrett…the “wild and crazy ” lead singer….I will enlist the help and memories of some of the other members of the band and anyone else who has got something to say….
So where to start…Now my memory of my time spent in the DSB is to say the least slightly hazy ….what I think I know from what people have told me ..is that the DSB live were probably one of the hardest rocking outfits around at that time…one of the things I used to scream was ” We Mean it ” and we did ….this was no pub band doing covers…our aim every gig was to knock people flat every single gig…I remember backstage before we went on we would honestly say things like ” let’s blow this place to fucking bits….” Especially if there had been a band on before us ” you thought that was good…well take a toke on this ” we fucking meant it alright…and that I suppose is why all these years later people still cannot believe that it finished when it did where it did…
I’ll tell you the inside story…everything …if you wanna know..
Till next time,
Dave

P.D , Dave and Steve started Dick Smith and the Dole Q at the Post Office in Wallasey Village in early 1978 …..

my brother passed on a message from P.D that he was looking for a rhythm guitarist ….  viv ….  a brilliant drummer helped us out at first to get started … he couldn’t join …. he was a real working drummer so needed to earn a living …. we did some demo tapes just for the fun of it with help from Kev Roberts , Rob Fennah and Pete Leah from the pop band “Buster” , they had a TEAC 4 Track Reel to Reel tape deck … Toni Izzard played some sax on the tracks they were great at the time , Body Heat , Pyramid Song , Lady Elanor , Dreams , Silent Road …. spent lots of time getting wrecked listening over and over debating it all ….. the first gig was straight away supporting the ID at the fort perch rock at someones  party …. there was no stage everyone was on the same level in a tiny room … but it was a good start … the ID later became OMD with help from a 4 Track TEAC …….

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The first Gig

The fort Perch Rock looked like a great place to do an outdoor gig so we did just that on August 4th 1978 playing along a thin walkway only wide enough for a person to stand on …  but it was great ….. i remember  hearing this crazy clicking sound in every song and later sussed it was coming from Steves bass pickup … so later on that night once wrecked …  it was grabbed and dropped in the bin ……. Steve looked in shock and just laughed …. we got a new bass guitar  ….

The band needed to find a new place to practice … and ended up at my brothers house ….
This place had been used by bands before , whichwood, belladonna , the 198 band and now dick smith band …. dropped the dole Q
The walls in one of the rooms were padded with mattresses so we could rehearse without hassle … the band started to get cancellation gigs first at the Dale in Wallasey and Erics in Liverpool … viv was still drumming at this point …. there was a band called Scharnhorst with a great drummer Steve Swift …. viv approached these as Steve was about to leave and he ended up joining us. Once Steve was in the band we started rehearsing full time…. Swifty is a great drummer … this meant that the rest of us improved rapidly !! ending up with a really tight rhythm section … P.D had an idea to rent out a church hall … print tickets … and do a gig … so we did .. St Luke’s was one of the first.  By the end of 1978 we were playing regularly ready for more ….

P.M

Rehearsing was a noisy business  … we covered every wall in the front room with mattresses ..  we may have even included the ceiling … can’t remember .. set up the mixing desk in the kitchen area for recording and started playing …

The songs came from guitar ideas and some were just born through jamming … I was playing some chords that I had been doing for a while and Swifty said to me .. “what’s that ? ”  nothing I said just playing around with something … he started playing along and it came to life .. that was the start of motorway madness … the whole band expanded it and made it what it became  , PD added some harmony guitar in the end section and away we go … all harmony guitar stuff was always PD

PD would come to rehearsals with a complete idea on guitar .. things like .. the tribe , Shine , one Day soon , moondolls . Each band member would add their bit to the song , Dave with all the melodies and lyrics , Steve bass , Steve drums , paul guitar . The mattress room enabled us to play with ideas and arrangements … then try them out live …

Pab lent Pete enough money to buy a 4 track TEAC reel to reel and we started doing demos .. at one piont we got other bands in like … Little Giny … Original Sinn … Alternative Radio … The Needle… Kev Roberts used to help me with lots of tricks for recording and over time we got a lot better …

All the demos on this site were recorded with this setup from 1981 to early 1982 …

It’s 1978 and we need a van !  .. we’re sick of using transits .. breaking down at 2am in the middle of  ?? …. we got together with a crazy hippie ” Mad Dave ” who had found and old ambulance , Pab vetted the engine , in fact he rebuilt it … this is before he got into sound … some of the letters had come off the back of the ambulance leaving  “bula” , Alan the driver at the time “peo” .. he hated that name .. suggested getting airplane seats in the back and Steve drums talked about putting in a partition to keep  the gear from coming forward and killing us all.

Traveling up to Scotland on boxing day maybe 1980 we went into a skid and everything changed to slow motion as we spun around and around until we flipped on to the side and ground to a halt in the outside lane of the M6 just south of Lancaster.. Luckily there was no one else around and … what a fantastic idea to put a partition in .. probably saved a few skulls and other bits from being crushed by martin bins and mid range PA speakers that needed a minimum of two people to carry … I remember Pab saying don’t panic but I can smell petrol !  we all got out ….. fast …  no one was hurt.

Bula lay at Lancaster services until we could get up there to collect the gear , that was the end of that .. it was scrapped

The Police didn’t think much of  “Bula” .. we were stopped and the “sarg” would say I’ll rip the thing to pieces and “I will  find something” ….. he didn’t like us or bula

P.M

I used to “believe” in  great hair .. never did anything to it .. just let it be … hair was a big thing back then … when John Lennon shaved his head in 1971 I thought fuck …. whats he done !!!   we did a gig in Scotland and again someone who could make us famous was coming to size us up so we had to big it up … someone decided to give me a haircut and ended up looking like King Charles The 3rd  from the Dick Smith Show Band …. this was Steve (bass) description …

We always seemed to fall for this crap playing mad gigs for someone who didn’t come .. was pissed or just an idiot … we always thought – maybe

Dave used to wear multiple layers of clothes .. shirts and jackets ..  on stage and take them off one by one as the gig went on .. good idea really but not for the 1980’s . Someone made him a fire eater costume that was supposed to look a bit like the single cover .. Dave … I am sure …  will add his reaction to this later …

It was 1981 and people wanted us to look like a 80’s new wave band. We did a gig for the manager of Def Leopard .. he suggested we dress in leather .. for a better image …

P.M

The once famous New Brighton Baths had a restuarant attached round the back by the river … called the Riverside Restaurant … one way or another we ended up putting gigs at the Riverside  .. at its peak we used to get from 400 to 500 people jammed in  … it was a fantastic atmosphere and great gig … we used to build a stage out of tables tying them all together from underneath .. took all day to set up … some photos … I think …

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Steve and Steve

The Riverside ended with a police raid for underage drinking – Daves post portrays the events with great clarity …

We needed a new venue … tried the floral pavilion … didn’t work … so we arranged for merseyside buses to ferry poeple over to the hamilton in Birkenhead … that worked for a while … mad really aranging buses for fans … that was the band .. did not want to give in … we wanted our own gig …

P.M

Was talking to a millenial the other day .. he’s 17 years old and and already he doesn’t believe anything he hears through mainstream media and has a really cynical view about governments ..global companies and the media working in tandem to suppress any independent thought from the population and this brought to mind a series of events with DSB that led me to the conclusion that the “powers that be ” saw our freewheeling “don’t give a fuck ” style as a threat to their own cosy idea of the Status Quo…now when it was all happening ..I sort of thought ” fucking bastards …haven’t they got anything better to do than follow us around ” …DSB was a band from a little seaside town in the North of England but in the space of a few months we were ..busted ….fortunately they didn’t catch us with much but dragged Alan ” full pot ” Pearce around the house in his underpants when he insisted his name really was “Micky Mouse “….we were followed upto Sunderland by dole officers who when they came round to charge us thought it was funny that our van ” the ambulance ” had broken down and the gig was a bum steer as are there really students at university in August …we were fined and kicked off the dole…but the one where I really had some power and could have done something was our infamous gig at the riverside in New Brighton were literally fifteen police vans had mysteriously turned up outside and this police chief came up to me and said something like ” the games up sonny….turn this shit off ” ….for a second I thought ” no lets go fucking crazy apeshit and have a fucking battle ” but then looked round at the half stoned audience and thought ” fucking hell we’d get slaughtered ” so told everyone to leave in an ” orderly fashion ” as instructed …if I had my time again ..I would most definitely have said ” let’s go crazy fucking apeshit “…you can’t fucking do anything in this country…talking to some hippy traveller the other day..working ..living in his van…gets people telling him ” he’s a fucking disgrace..and why doesn’t he pay his council tax ” ….I think we all need to take a look at ourselves and realise ” we are not as free as we may think ” …fucking hell…
Dave