Written by local people, for local people
To advertise, call 01892 531207

Local and Topical

Published on April 14th, 2014 | by The Town Crier


Musical Inspiration

To mark Tunbridge Wells’ Forum’s 21st anniversary in January 2014 they held three nights headlined by Wilko Johnson, formerly of the band Dr Feelgood. Wilko has recently made a record with Roger Daltrey – “Going Back Home” – both men having been influenced by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, and wanting to make a good, old fashioned R&B LP.

Local band The Standard Lamps – singer and guitarist Mike Wilton, bassist James Livett and drummer Matt Bennie – supported Wilko on two nights which for them was “a dream in itself.” says Mike. “Wilko is a massive influence in terms of his unique guitar style and stage presence. So when the guys at The Forum put up the fight for us to support him and his band at those two shows, we were over the moon! The fact that they were sell out shows kept us on our toes to show a wider audience what we could do as well as being able to play to our strong and supportive local fanbase.”

Following this they were approached by Wilko’s manager Lisa Climie who asked them to support Wilko and Daltrey at a one off gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Tuesday 25th February. Lisa said,“I was so impressed with them when I heard them supporting Wilko at the Forum. They are a modern incarnation of the three piece powerhouse, stripped back rock bands such Dr Feelgood and The Who, that the British uniquely produce. They seemed like the perfect fit for this special show at Shepard’s Bush Empire – itself a celebration of those gutsy British rock roots of the 1960’s.”
Both Daltrey in The Who and Wilko in Dr Feelgood had started by playing on the trusty ‘local pubs and clubs circuit’ in the 60s and 70s, just as The Standard Lamps currently do.

I asked Mike about the London support a couple of days after the event. “The whole build up was rather nerve racking – this was our big moment to shine to an unknown audience of over 2000 people. However, I knew that Wilko’s and Roger’s audience were our audience as, like them, we’re huge Who and Dr Feelgood fans! The gig was a dream and the amount of new support from people all over the UK and abroad has been amazing. This simply couldn’t have happened without The Forum putting us up for the show and then meeting Wilko’s manager as a result”.

For Mike, these were two of many gigs he’s played at the Forum. “I personally have been playing pubs and clubs since I was 12 – firstly playing bass in a punk band. Then I started going to a local jam night in Wadhurst every Wednesday from aged 12-18 where I really learnt everything I needed to know about playing with people, and how to deal with audiences. The pubs and clubs have made us stronger as you really are intruding someone’s space. We all have played in various different original bands for well over 10 years.”

“I first played at the Forum when I was 12 years old, and they have always been open to put on whatever I’ve thrown at them. All of my bands have started off at The Forum through ‘The Stable’ nights, and Jason and the boys have been very supportive to us. We love playing there. When it’s packed and you’ve got 250 people bouncing up and down beneath your nose, singing your own songs back at you – that’s pretty special! The fact that you can eventually build up a following and then go and support the bigger acts that come to town is indispensable. The Forum boys believe in the local musicians and that’s what makes the difference.”

I wondered who had influenced Mike and the Standard Lamps, since their formation in 2009, and what their thoughts were now for the future, especially given their recent support slots. Mike said, “We have many heroes, my main ones being The Beatles, The Who and Jack White. My local inspiration is Tom Williams And The Boat. I first saw them at the Forum at Unfest 2010. They seemed like the local heroes and gave me a huge lift as they were local, and doing the things I wanted to do. If there are a few local bands that look at us the same way, that’s great! I hope that we can support these bands in any way we can. There’s so much talent out there, it’s only a matter of time before a lot of people will know about The Forum, Paul Dunton and Acoustic Valium Project and good work they all do. Without their time and encouragement, where else would we have been able to play locally, supporting a big touring band?”

For Forum owner, Jason Dormon, the Shepherd’s Bush Empire gig was confirmation of just one of the things the venue sets out to do – “The Standard Lamps going to support Wilko in London shows what can happen if we can get quality local bands on with national touring acts.” New bands get a chance to play at ‘Show Us Yer Guns’ (formerly ‘The Stable’) nights, and go onto a list, to be considered as support when a touring band of their genre is booked. In the early 90s Jason’s band Joeyfat, had toured as support for Green Day, when Green Day were playing venues the size of (and including) The Forum. This sort of inter-band support shows how important Local Music Venues are for the sake of creative development. With many such places closing down, The Music Venue Trust was created in January 2014, to protect the UK live music network, and further details can be found here: http://musicvenues.org.uk/

For news, and to listen to the Standard Lamps visit their website www.thestandardlamps.com (They will be playing The Grey Lady on Friday 18th April). To see more photos from Chris Pope visit  www.anaudiencewiththepope.com




About the Author

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑