The DHSS#1 : 1979
Mid 1979. The sun was shining, the beers were flowing, it was a tough life struggling to the dole office for 9.30am, waiting for the pub to open at 11, sitting in the sun all afternoon.
Throughout the summer months Armchair began reciting a variety of his poems in The Stable with Rikk playing instrumental records as a backing. This became a regular evening event.
The Armchair and Rikk Quay had known each other since late '77 early '78 and were now beginning to chat about musical plans. Quay had been the only DJ playing punk music locally and had DJ'd at Reliants gigs in the past. He was still DJ'ing as Rikky Patrick when he and Armchair began listening to early Human League ('Being Boiled') and The Normal ('Warm Leatherette'). Quay realised that if he was ever going to be in a band, his musical leanings would take him down the synthesiser route. The decision was made - he was going to sell his disco gear along with his entire record collection. The Armchair contributed one scratched Boomtown Rats single - what a great loss! Tamworth Organ Centre beckoned and Rikk's new career as Tamworth's one and only synthesiser guru had begun.
Practising took place in Rikk's Masefield Drive flat and several songs were written, induced by gallons of Black Label. Steve McDaid, once Rikk's assistant as a DJ appeared and would occasionally contribute with his guitar. By this time Rikk had taken on the name of Rikk Quay (supposed to be pronounced Rikky, but no one realised and called him Quay instead - which stuck). McDaid had the vision to call himself B. Bumble!! (his career was very short lived). A variety of names were suggested for the band, including Those Attractive Magnets, but the chosen name was The D.H.S.S. (The Department of Happiness and Self-Satisfaction - conceived by Armchair whilst cashing his Giro in Tamworth Post Office).
A gig was organised at St. John's Youth Club. The band performed a short set of 5-6 songs including The Factory, Rewind, Test-Tube Adults and No Sex. McDaid departed immediately afterwards - bye, bye.
Armchair and Quay continued with the electronic music/modernist lyric angle and decided it was time to venture into the studio and record some songs. Steve Adams' studio near Polesworth was the only option and things got off to a great start when Quay left his synthesiser in the boot of the taxi. To beef things up a bit they called upon two trusted friends Vince Watts (now back in Tamworth) and Sam Norchi, ex-bass player of The Reliants. Vince and Sam heard the songs for the first time in the studio and recorded backing tracks on two songs, Rewind and The D.H.S.S.
The studio sessions were a great success and The D.H.S.S. became the first local band to release a demo tape for sale to the general public. Boosted by a feature article in the new Musicbox column in the Tamworth Herald and the accompanying photograph by Johnnie 'Are you the pop group?' Walker, sales of 'Packaged Pleasure' went well in local record stores, with each tape containing pretty pictures, free gifts and a copy of The Daily DHSS. Hearing of this up and coming band, local ageing rockers ICE called upon the services of The D.H.S.S. to perform at their Multiple Sclerosis Charity gig at Tamworth Assembly Rooms on December 28 1979. Sam Norchi sensibly suggested, as the band had never played together and only had a total of 4 songs, this was maybe a bit foolish and declined to play, Armchair, Quay and Watts disagreed and went ahead with the gig.
The night was a success for the band although very little dancing occurred, mainly hampered by the number of wheelchairs. An improvised song called 'Kiss' stole the show and a Happy New Year was had by all. But did this mean a long and extended career at the pinnacle of popular music, find out at The D.H.S.S. #2.
Read the lyrics, hear the songs of The D.H.S.S. here >