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Pulp: The Bath Bankers

The Bath Bankers

Extracted by Stephen Bray from an interview with their bass guitarist, Paul.

I met Russell on the [Business Management] course at Bath Uni in 1979, and we became friends because of that. The course started in October and was mostly filled with kids from well to do families, and Russell and I were in the minority of kids from ordinary working class backgrounds.

It was in the days where suddenly it was OK to join a band even if you couldn't really play. I got a bass guitar and played some rudimentary riffs, Russell was on guitar, and we had a keyboardist called Steve and a singer whose name I can't recall. No drummer. We knew Steve and the singer socially. The band was formed from scratch, driven by Russell, (of course) and i think the band started after Xmas. Russell came up with the name.

We didn't do any covers. It would mostly have been thrashy punk stuff, but I also recall a spooky discordant repetitive melodic song about a fairground and some scary people who worked there! That was the only decent song we did really which I recall got some good feedback from the reviewer at the arts barn. He wrote for some sort of Uni fanzine I think. I looked up [Pulp's] 'Fairground' on Youtube and the skeleton of the song is in there! Amazing!

We did a total of two gigs. One was at the "Arts Barn" at the Uni and one as part of a big music day which culminated with a performance by The Vapours. So in a way I can vaguely claim to have "supported" The Vapours, though they started at 10 p.m. and we were on at 10 a.m. [Editor's note: In April/June 1980, The Vapors were on a UK tour and played at Bath University on 21st June which was presumably this gig]. A local band called Alarm Clox who had a 7" single out were also on that bill.

We didn't do any recordings - recording something back then was a bit different. I do recall a photo of the Vapours gig but looked in my old shoe boxes of photos and couldn't find it.

As a sideline to the band, Russell ran a fanzine called "The Bath Banker" back then and one edition included an early review of a Pulp gig in Sheffield whilst he was back home in the summer holidays (of 1980). [Other than that, Russell didn't mention Pulp. I wasn't at the gig that they played at Bath Uni].

We were on a sandwich course, so at the end of year one we went off to a work placement for six months. In the meantime Steve switched Universities and the singer disappeared from Uni and we never got going again. After we disbanded, I wasn't such close friends with Russell as before and I was pretty useless musically. It was me who lost interest and sold my bass and amp for cash to buy a hifi system.

I did go up to Sheffield in 1982 [actually 28/2/1981!] to stay over at his dad's house and go to see The Fall and Cabaret Voltaire at the Polytechnic. Russell must have liked The Fall, but I think he was more interested in Cabaret Voltaire

Russell was strange and very different and not really dictatorial at all. He arrived at Uni in 1979 with his live in girlfriend, so the Uni wouldn't help out with accomodation. His Hitler moustache and stary eyes made him stand out. He had a left field style of thought process. Generally unconventional when lined up with the Bob Wigley anally retentive types on the course. Also a ironic / wicked sense of humour. Of course he shared my own "underground" music tastes. He was interesting and wasn't condescending I liked him.

A while back I was looking up ex course members who got famous and wiki'd Russell. [The wiki stated that] he got a first class honours degree. He was [actually] the least interested student and got a 3rd. I never knew why he applied for the course to be honest. It was full of posh people who wanted to go on and run big companies. A couple succeeded (Justin King - Sainsbury's and Bob Wigley - Unilever)

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