Brothers And Sisters: What Cable meant to Derby’s music scene

It’s strange how some seemingly irrelevant moments stick in the memory, the colours fading but the feeling of them refusing to be washed out by passing time. Of all the moments I’ve lived through why Cable‘s Freeze The Atlantic playing in the Garrick would be one to remain so wholly with me; the sticky sunshine of a fading summer, the stiff suede of my Adidas Campus, the fug of stale cigarette smoke hanging around me with the thrill of those first forays into the adult world; and that song in that pub giving rise to a sudden sense of local pride in a place I’d wholly hated up until then, catching the spark of their creativity.

Cable were one of the first bands to make me want to write about music, and indeed were one of the first bands about which I did. Inadvertently they were also one of the things that made me stop looking at Derby as the place I didn’t want to be (having moved from Manchester as a pre-teen with my family) and as somewhere that maybe things were happening, that maybe it wasn’t such a cultural wasteland but that I’d been too unwilling to see it, to hear it.

Musically Cable‘s albums are also among those that have travelled with me. Journalistically I have to tip a hat to Sub-Lingual as an album which not only developed the band’s sound but melded the early math rock style they had pioneered to lo-fi electro flourishes. It’s an album which showed the best of the things; a band growing and exploring their ability and sound in a way which was inclusive rather than self-indulgent.

But it is When Animals Attack for which I have a particular fondness. I am a big fan of the album as a whole – the songs, obviously but the art work, the promo film – for me it came at the right point in my musical life and it formed a near-perfect package. It is the sound of coming of age, but its one which hasn’t dated. There is still enough vitality and mystery in the sound that it isn’t with nostalgia my senses thrill at the open, now with rose-tinted whimsy that I smile at the close. Twenty years gone but not a moment passed, nor the inspiration and comfort dulled.

There was something in that moment in the Garrick and in the enduring love of their music which led directly here, to this moment now, if you look at things a certain way. And in talking to others on the scene this week about Cable it seems they are knotted into our own creative threads more often than any of us had realised. It’s rare indeed that even band’s of great success can have such a long lasting and practical impact on the place they are from, but the contributions here are only the tip of the iceberg for what they catalysed in Derby two decades ago, and the influence they still have now.

To close Cable Week on Storge I spoke to a number of people on today’s Derby music scene about how the band had influenced them.

Chris Marsh, Cheap Jazz

The first time I ever heard of Cable was 1996 when they appeared on a Cloud 9 cassette tape that came free with Select Magazine. The song was Action Replay Replay and I listened to it over and over again, sticking it on many compilation tapes that got made around that period.

I was totally unaware that there was another Cable song that I heard possibly more times than Action Replay Replay and that was Freeze The Atlantic, as this was used for a Sprite advert at the time.

Then all the pieces came together when I and two friends went to see Reef at an all-ages show at the Assembly Rooms and they were supported by Cable and Travis. I don’t remember who played first, Cable or Travis, but I remember that Cable absolutely wiped the floor with both the other bands with a high energy set, intense strobe lighting and some pretty sharp shirt and tie combos. The set started with Souvenir and I was a massive fan from that point onwards, bonding with other musicians about Cable, especially on a local level but further afield too.

I will never forget that gig. It changed the path of what music I was in to for the better and introduced me to so many bands that I still listen to today. I remember my brother heard me listening to Cable and said they sounded like the Pixies so if it hadn’t been for their similarity I probably wouldn’t of heard Pixies for another few years.

I also remember joining my first Derby-based band and having to audition to be part of the group but it couldn’t have gone better, as soon as I got there we got chatting about local bands and bonded over our mutual love of Cable not to mention we actually got to rehearse in Cable’s old practice room affectionately known as The Bakery. This room held a few old Cable artefacts including Pete Darrington’s rodding point and some old cabs bearing the logos and few of Ritchie’s old fans.

Phil Burgess, Black Rebel Coffee House, Hairy Dog promoter and Prizefighter

Cable were at the top of their game when I was just hitting my most formative year.  I remember seeing the band many times at local venues such as The Wherehouse, The Garrick, Union One, even The Flowerpot.

I was at college in Derby when When Animals Attack was released. Everyone in my group of friends rushed out to buy it from Wayahead – they became the hottest ticket in town.

It was great to see a band from our small city doing so well. Seeing them live, with all the energy in small sweaty venues certainly helped me grow such a fond love of live music which has never gone away.

Shelley Jane Newman, solo artist and Mighty Kids

I’m not from Derby. I first heard Cable when I bought a copy of Select magazine in HMV Manchester with a free cd on it. I don’t remember reading the magazine but I’m a sucker for a “free” gift.

There was Pocket Promise, sandwiched between Mogwai and Elliott Smith, taken from their final album Sub-Lingual. The year was 1998…I was late to the Cable party but I loved every bright and wonky note they wrote, discovering each blistering album in reverse order.

I moved to Derby to study music at Uni soon after with the voiced desire to start a band with ex-Cable members one day. I’m sure this is a plausible plan (call me, guys)! Derby has a whole host of fantastic musicians making interesting projects and they all seem to be wonderful people too – art without pretence thrives here.

To me Cable represent the Derby I imagined before I ventured this side of the Peak district and the warm reality I found. I’m so warm I’m craving a can of Sprite.

Dan Wheeler, Cheap Jazz and Crimewolf

Weirdly, Cable have woven through my musical career from the moment it started until now. I started playing guitar when i was about 13 and thought this got to know some “bigger boys” at school that played music too. One of the guys was taught to drum by Neil Cooper (because every drummer my age in Derby was taught by Neil Cooper) and told me about a band he was in called Cable.

As soon as I heard Cable I wanted to get noisier on guitar AND learn how to drum. I didn’t actually have any lessons in playing guitar or drums, I just used to sit and play along to other music I admired. A big chunk of that was Cable, especially Down-lift The Up-trodden and When Animals Attack. Listening to those albums blew my tiny teenage mind…the noise…THE DRUMS!!!

Some time after that I started a band with the guys from Cheap Jazz. Chris, Nav and Jamie are all massive Cable fans too. We were practicing in the hallowed Bakery, in the room Cable used to practice amongst other awesome Derby bands like Twinkie. I remember Nav once telling me that when he was a kid he was walking past the Bakery and saw the Cable lot outside the practice room. He totally fan boy’d out and managed to get an invite in to watch them practice. He still brags about it now!

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