From Nick Power:
Here is a short excerpt from Into The Void, which is a first-hand account of my year touring with The Coral between 2016 and 2017, after returning from a five-year hiatus. It also takes in some earlier memories of travelling across Japan and America from around 2002-2005.
These excerpts were written just prior to the album’s release.
The book is released with the album on August 10th, published by erbacce-press, and can be pre-ordered here.
The book is inspired by underground memoirs such as Ian Hunter’s Diary of a Rock n’ Roll Star and Sam Shepard’s Rolling Thunder Logbook.
A national music magazine want to photograph us while we’re dressed as fishermen. If we don’t want to do that, we can stand in front of the Liver Buildings and look out to the Mersey. They think it’ll look good, they say, for people who are unfamiliar with the band and want a taste of what we’re about. We’re not so keen on the idea, and spend half an hour going through alternate locations.
After a short interview in Parr Street Studio, we suggest going over to New Brighton for the shoot, nearer where we live. There’s a promenade there with amusements and arcades. Victorian parks with bandstands and blue plaques celebrating early Beatles concerts. A small museum dedicated to the Merseybeat starl Rory Storm.
You can see Liverpool clearly from the promenade, the old docks mainly, at Bootle and Seaforth, the brand new gargantuan container cranes that have been shipped over from Korea. They dominate the skyline like giant red painted skeletons, dwarf the Chinese and Dutch shipping freighters that amble drowsily into port.
On arrival, the photographer is inspired. We find a bandstand in Vale Park, which is painted brilliant white, with huge pillars that prop up a dome roof. We start the shoot there. After a time, we’re happy with the pictures and decide to move on.
The wind gets up. We move toward Fort Perch, a pre-war coastal defence battery, built to defend the port of Liverpool. Made with huge sandstone breezeblocks, it looks like a small castle. The grey river pounds against its north-facing wall.
On the east side, the tide is pushing in. It sprays onto a pebbled path that leads out to a tall lighthouse. We decide we’ll do the last shoot here. As we’re being battered by the spray from the sea, the photographer is trying to hand us an umbrella to use as a prop, but the idea is laughed away.
After the shoot, we shake hands with the photographer and the journalist, and they leave for their trains. We cross the road and duck into Legends Café Bar, which is wedged between a huge amusement arcade called Adventureland, and a chip shop that has its steel shutters pulled to the ground. As it’s still winter, the promenade is fairly desolate.
We sit down and drink tea from polystyrene cups. I order a portion of chips, but “the fryer is misbehaving”, the man behind the counter says.
In Adventureland, we mooch happily around the slots and arcades, pose for stupid phone photos on broken rides. There’s nobody around. We have the run of the place. What’s eerie is that everything is working as if it were packed with people. The arcades. The penny pushers. The teddy pickers. Everything lit up. There’s something about it that reminds me of the early days of being in the band. I don’t know why.
As the sky darkens on the way to the train station, we get to talking about the old nightclubs that used to inhabit the promenade. The Chelsea Reach club, which was notorious for admitting underage kids. It was almost a rite of passage to go to The Chelsea around here if you were nearing the last year of school.
It’s a funny train journey home. Molloy had left us earlier to go to the nearby cinema to watch The Revenant with his girlfriend, Fiona. So it was just the four of us. James, Ian, Duffy, me. We go over some of the weirder gigs some of us have been a part of. In that period between albums, a couple of the band played in a group called The Viper Kings, a rock’n’ roll covers band. They’d played gigs in places that their singer, Neville, had secured. Places like Skegness, Minehead, Harrogate. They’d done a few gigs in Butlin’s, too. One of the gigs was for an ’80s themed fancy dress night. Another was an afternoon matinee. Another time they were booked into a biker’s convention. All the bikers were on speed and they had to “amp up the psycho level” on the particular brand of rock’n’roll they played. They did John Mayall’s I’m Your Witch Doctor, and that won the audience over.
It would make a good film, I offer, and then someone says that if it ever got made, it should be called The Arsehole of The North.
I decide there and then that I’ll write this movie, and it will cover The Viper Kings’ apocalyptic tour of Minehead Butlin’s, Skegness and Harrogate, and I’ll document it exactly the way it happened.
New Brighton, 27/01/16