(First published in Acoustic Magazine No 122)
It occurs to me that having written my two previous articles for this esteemed publication I have failed to, in any way, introduce myself, shocking manners I know. So to correct this oversight I thought I’d tell you a bit about me. My name is Andy Pritchard aka Pilch and I have existed in the shallows, or the depths, depending on which way you look at it, of the music business for over 40 years. If you were to view the industry as a huge tropical fish tank, the stars would be the Fan Tailed Guppies or Angel fish, startling and magnificent but mostly short lived. But look at the tank for a while and you would begin to notice movement down the bottom. In amongst the reeds and stones, feeding on the detritus of those above, not brightly coloured but long lived and essential to the ecosystem of the tank, a bottom muncher. Gently patrolling the lower reaches, living off the unwanted food and excrement of the those darting around in the bright lights and bubbles, making the occasional foray upwards to see what all the fuss is about before sinking back to the gravel and anonymity.
Yes I’m afraid that is I. In a career that has left the great stadia of the world untroubled I made my bones in the pubs and clubs of the capital and apart from probably three or four occasions when defeat has somehow been snatched from the jaws of victory that has been where you will most likely find me. As with all musical journeys there has, of course, been many excursions into other areas, or tanks to keep the metaphor going, including musical theatre…lot’s of Fan Tailed Guppies there…about which I’m sure I’ll write in the future. But these days, when not embroiled in Corporate Gigs and fundraisers with the Impossible Groovers you’ll find me singing my tunes with comrades of a similar vintage as Pilch and the Midnight Tinklers….”No gig too small” somewhere around the capital.
The thing is it all started so well. As a twelve year old, walking the corridors of my school one lunchtime I stumbled into an audition that was to change things forever. The English National Opera, which I think was still called Sadlers Wells then, had come looking for urchins to perform in their upcoming production off La Boheme. Being something of a natural when it came to all things urchin I was duly selected and before too long found myself on the opening night at the Coliseum in Leicester Square singing my head off in front of 2300 people. Having been severely bitten by the performing bug it would, alas appear that I peaked far too soon, with the graph heading mostly downwards ever since. I guess the low point was some five years ago when I found myself doing a solo acoustic gig in the upstairs room of the White Hart, a pub in the Mile End Road opposite the notorious Blind Beggar. An engaging space of somewhat faded glory I found myself performing to…two couples and a dog. If I’m honest I don’t think the dog was listening and the couples seemed to have other things on their mind given the encouragement of the shabby sofas and soft candlelight. But bizarrely, in that moment I arrived at a kind of musical Eden. Gazing into the single spotlight loosely suspended with the aid of gaffa tape some 3 foot from my face I found myself dredging deep from the emotional barrel giving the songs everything I had. It was as if there was some kind of musical purity to be drawn from the situation, where you end up doing it for the sake of the music alone. I know you’re thinking “He’s really lost it now” but I would encourage you to question yourself on where you motivation to perform comes from. I mean when you start out it’s a lot about impressing people, particularly the opposite sex but as the years go by…well?
I don’t mean the kind of “dark night of the soul” contemplation. This kind of inward reflection can only be truly successful when accompanied by a couple of noble ales preferably in the company of similar minded folk, probably when listening to some bloke singing his heart out in an establishment of ill repute… oh, but don’t bring the dog…
Fellow bottom munchers, I salute you.