The DHSS#4 : 1990

The D.H.S.S.#4On December 22 1989, Edward ian Armchair announced to the world that The D.H.S.S. #3 was over and his intention was to recruit a new set of musicians. The plan was to use traditional guitar, bass and drums and recreate the set of D.H.S.S. songs that had become so popular locally along with new material.

The first applicant to sign on at the all-new D.H.S.S. was guitarist Adam Cukrowski, already a fan of the band. Andy Stokes then joined on bass, a friend of the Armchair for many a year from his days in The Parade. Next on drums, Martin Watts, brother of Vince and one time member of Vince's version of The D.H.S.S. from 1980/81. The final piece of the jigsaw, was Jessica Pitcher on backing vocals, she approached the Armchair on Christmas Eve 1989 in Hamlets Wine Bar and the band was complete. A fine Christmas present for all concerned.

The Armchair sent each band member a cassette of songs with clear instructions that they must be learnt and soon after serious rehearsals began. The band used a rehearsal room in Lichfield run by Brian Cropper - a blast from the Armchair's past - ex-member of RPM and The Ulterior Motives.

In Tamworth at the time, there was great rivalry between venues in the town. The Arts Centre was still the prime venue to play, but competition occurred between Lakins in Bolebridge Street and Lincolns in Church Street. The band had called upon the talents of Neil Marklew, manager of Lakins to arrange gigs in far flung places to gain 'live' experience as a band. He didn't disappoint, although the lack of an audience on most occasions did prove somewhat disappointing. The band played in Atherstone and Aston and Kings Heath in Birmingham, probably to twenty people in total.

In March of 1990, the band played their first headlining gig in Tamworth at Lincolns supported by The First Conspiracy and one week later on April 1st they headlined the Arts Centre. The gig was a sell out, The First Conspiracy supported again.

As The D.H.S.S. took to the stage, the Armchair was nowhere to be seen, the first song was Better Times, sung by Jessica. The Armchair at the time was having an enormous poo in the downstairs toilet. He took to the stage for the rest of the set. The full range of D.H.S.S. songs were performed along with new numbers Better Times, written by Armchair with original music by Vince Watts and Slave Driver and Sgt. Major Pegg written by Adam Cukrowski. The band appeared to go down well on the night and made a vast profit for once, it was decided that this hard earned money would be spent in the studio, recording their first demo.

The review in the Tamworth Herald of the Arts Centre gig was scathing to say the least. A negative review in Musicbox was unheard of - another milestone for the Armchair and one wonders if the fact that Sam Holliday (the author) being very close to Rikk Quay, John Reeman and Anice Byfield had a bearing on his opinions of the gig.

With their profits in hand the band went into the studio and recorded three songs. An original D.H.S.S. song never before recorded, 'til the Love Bites Fade, Clark Gable and the brand new song The Scandal of Billy Randall were chosen.

The band then played Night Moves, supporting the New Fast Automatic Daffodils from Manchester. They then played Lincolns again supporting The Guana Batz - both gigs saw the band perform well in front of large audiences.

In May 1990, the band decided to produce a video to promote themselves, the first local band to film a professionally produced promo-video. Filming took place on May Day Bank Holiday at the Station Fields, Alvecote Pools and Castle Pleasure Grounds, the Armchair and Jessica being the only band members available. Iain McNamee was the cameraman abley supported by Sophie Pitcher.

This frantic period of activity for the band had to come to an end. In a mere five months they had played more gigs than the previous D.H.S.S. had in it's entire existence, recording their first demo and producing a promotional video. It was now time for the 1990 Rock Festival line up to be agreed. An ever-present attendee for the previous four years and in a band that had played more gigs than the majority of other local bands, the Armchair had assumed that The D.H.S.S. would be playing outside, as part of the Festival proper. This was not the case and the 'Committee' voted that his band should play inside. The Armchair refused to play at all. Mardy bum!

The summer of 1990 was one of inactivity for the band and it was becoming a bit of a chore trying to write new material. Frictions were beginning to occur and it was agreed that in order to bring a bit of life back into the band, another guitarist and songwriter should be recruited, Rob Kinson was appointed. At this time Jessica was being courted as the potential vocalist for Flowers in the Attic and Andy Stokes, the bass player, was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the band. All of these factors added to a feeling of uncertainty. The Armchair considered learning guitar himself to try and assist with the songwriting side of things, a name change was suggested - The Red, Red, Groovy was chosen. Jessica was writing some good material of her own including I Kissed Jesus. But, things just weren't happening as they might have done.

The band gradually faded as an entity and The D.H.S.S., in all it's guises, from the synthesiser naievety of Armchair and Quay in 1979, through the exciting, innovative period with Vince Watts, and then the headline grabbing revival with Quay and Reeman, to this the all-new version, was dead.

Read the lyrics, hear the songs of The D.H.S.S.#4 here >