Miki's Reminiscences
 
Miki Berenyi has kindly offered to contribute her Lush reminiscences to this website. In typical Miki fashion, her accounts are honest, fair, eloquent, personal, humorous, and just plain great reading! They are an essential part of Lush's history, and she will be contributing more of them in the future as time permits.
 
On a personal note: virtually everyone I've spoken with who knows Miki has told me the same thing - that she is a kind, generous, intelligent, down-to-earth person. For the record I must state here that, despite her strong denials, its all true!
 

Mixing and then Remixing Split:
Mike, Scott, Alan, four monkeys and a pinball machine

Many thanks to Neil I. for obtaining Miki's permission to publish this story.

 

Basically, we had such a nightmare with Split... Mike Hedges was great when we were at Rockfield recording the album, but he insisted we mix the album at his studio which was in the middle of nowhere (Domfront), France. This made huge financial sense to him as he would not only get a producer fee but also a studio fee (yes, I believe his reasons were that cynical!) and it also meant that he was happily at home with his family while we were cut off from everyone we knew and totally isolated. There was absolutely nothing to do in that place Ė no tv, no computer Ė a desolate little village with a bakery and a tiny unwelcoming bar. Mike had one pinball machine which Ė to be fair Ė was really excellent, but the stingy bastard made us pay to use it! Mostly, our days consisted of walking into town to change our money into 1 Franc pieces to use in the pinball machine. We must have put £500 into that fucking machine!!!

These were isolated and panicky times Ė our manager went awol, our Warners A&R man was going through a mid-lifer and Ivo had decided to retire from 4AD. Cut off from our usual network, we put our trust in Mike as the only person who Ė at least Ė had been involved in the record all along. A real mistake. By the time we got back to London the whole thing sounded like shit and we were thoroughly depressed.

At this point, names got bandied around for someone to come and rescue the sound of the record by remixing it.

Our manager, Howard Gough, organised a meeting at a restaurant in Portobello. We met with both Alan Moulder and Scott Litt. Howard was easily dazzled by wealthy Americans and had basically already made up his mind that we should work with Scott. His entire value system by then revolved around success as a barometer rather than taste.

I have to admit that we were in such a sorry state after our experience in France that we were barely communicative and had lost any confidence in our own judgement. Anyway Ė Scott seemed personable enough even if we couldnít relate to him at all. Alan was instantly great Ė sympathetic and earnest and sweet-natured and just a breath of reviving air. Howard spent the entire meeting with Alan rubbishing UK indie music (Alanís forte) while spouting on about how brilliant and talented Scott Litt was.

We went in the studio with Scott. Despite our reticence, Howard was so up the guyís arse he virtually told us that if we were mad enough to pass over Scott when he was willing to subordinate himself and do us this grand favour by even LISTENING to our music, then our careers would be pretty much over in America.

What followed were 2 demoralising days in probably the most expensive studio in London. Scott pressed a few buttons on two tracks with little or no feedback from us. We sat there like 4 monkeys on a wall smiling tearfully and trying to muster some enthusiasm. The whole charade probably cost us a small fortune, but hey Ė Howard got to hang out with another rich American and we got 2 tracks out of it that sounded like Mike Hedges had mixed them in his sleep.

Then we went into the studio with Alan. Just half a day in I wanted to hang from his shoulders weeping with gratitude.
 

These photos from Lush's time at Domfront
while Split was being mixed
were generously provided by Phil King.

(click on them for a high-res view)


...in the middle of nowhere, France


Mike Hedges' gloomy studio...

Ian Grimble and the Mixing Desk from Abbey Road


Chris playing pinball

Chris at Mixing Desk in the basement

Chris out by the pool, which was covered in the winter by a silver tent


Chris in his bedroom

Life on the Lollapalooza Tour:
Boredom and Ulysses, in the midst of mayhem

 

Yes, well. Lollapalooza. Iím not sure I can actually remember that much of it. I do remember having a really good time but I think I actually acted like a complete moron for most of it. Traveling around with that kind of circus almost requires that you act like a retarded alcoholic drugged-up sex addict.

I think I started out with some books and cassettes, thinking Ė I know! Iím on tour for 9 weeks. Iíll do something constructive. Iíll finally get round to reading Ulysses and... Iíll... Iíll learn Italian!

After about 3 days of sobriety and application I think I was in danger of boring myself to death.

Touring means essentially spending an awful lot of time in transit with one defined group of people, constantly waiting for something to happen. Itís like being in a mobile prison, but in a fun way. However, the knock-on effects are the same. It quickly becomes obvious that the time passes much quicker if you are drunk/stoned/pursuing the opposite sex (ie, being distracted). This is why people in bands generally become drunks and drug-addicts who will fuck anything in the room. To a greater or lesser extent.

I donít for a minute want to claim that we as a band indulged ourselves in an orgy of excess but Ė well Ė thereís a real canít-beat-em-join-em aspect to touring and it takes a very strong person to stand in the midst of the mayhem and not even dip a toe.

Probably thatís ok, so long as you can then go home and pretend it never happened!


The Early Gigs:
Rants, egos, sexism and Play School

  Original line-up of Meriel on vocals, Emma on guitar, me on guitar and backing vocals, Steve on bass and Chris on drums
1988.06.12 Brixton - Canterbury Arms
Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes

Lush

Horsehead

 

No stage, just a vocal PA. One of the members of Jesse Garon was a Sounds journalist who never forgave us for becoming successful. To be fair, we were probably fucking awful at this gig, but he never changed his opinion about us and relished slagging us off in print at every opportunity! Horsehead were a loud, heavy throaty-shouting band who were later to call themselves God (no ego there, then). I remember their singer, who always wore an overcoat and sported a mullet, never failed to tackle me at gigs to rant on about how shit Lush were. He took our success as a personal insult and I actually felt rather apologetic towards him, despite having to listen to his barrage of invective, as he was clearly traumatised by it all. Feelings ran high in those days but, honestly, what really made these boys so vicious was pure, unadulterated sexism. To be outdone was one thing Ė but to be outdone by a GIRL!!!
 1988.06.19 Ealing - College of Higher Education
(some other band)

Lush

Emma was doing her Humanities degree at this college and got us the gig. There was another band (I think we supported), but Iím afraid I canít remember their name. What I do remember was that the saxophone player was a bloke called Fred Harris (look him up on Wiki) who we all recognized from our childhood as a presenter on Play School Ė a UK tv show for pre-schoolers. We were genuinely impressed by this brush with fame.
circa 1988.06.25

- 1988.07.22

 

I think itís around this time that I had to leave The Bugs (who I played bass for). Iíd already missed one Lush gig because of a clash of dates - my then boyfriend, John Rowland, filled in for me on that occasion. (He later became a member of Billy Childishís band Thee Headcoats, as Johnny Johnson.) Anyway, I had to make a choice so I left The Bugs. (Iím afraid I canít recall when or where that Miki-free gig was)

circa 1988.07.22

- 1988.10.09
  Iíve got a feeling that it was around this time that Meriel left but I really canít be sure.
1988.10.09 Camden - The Falcon
The Sun Carriage

Lush

 

Bands would often share equipment in those days - not so much guitar stuff, but the bass amp and the drum kit (etiquette dictated that you bring your own sticks, cymbals, hi-hat and bass-drum pedal). Unless you were playing a big venue, swapping over the whole backline was a bit over the top and in those days most musicians were either unemployed or students (ie broke), so the more you could pool resources, the better. We didnít have a van, just a mate with an estate car (couldnít get all the gear in!), so weíd turned up at The Falcon with no drums and asked the Sun Carriage if it was ok to use their kit (it had never been a problem at any of our other gigs), but their drummer flatly refused. He gave us this great long lecture on how unprofessional we were and heíd never heard of any band sharing their equipment, but what I really remember is that he had this slightly wanky but very brand new expensive leather jacket on and it was like we were smelly and poor and he was this rich bastard! In the end we managed to get Colm from My Bloody Valentine to get his drums over to us so we could play the gig Ė lucky he only lived up the road!
1989.12.02 Glasgow - QMC
Loop

(No Lush!)

 

We were on the bill, but we didnít play! There was a power cut or something Ė maybe the PA blew up?! Anyway, after battling through ice and snow to make it to the gig, only Loop played. They did an instrumental set with just amps turned up full, which went down really well, particularly because everyone appreciated their refusal to give in to bad luck. The bloke from Jesse Garon who I mentioned before reviewed the gig for Sounds, and managed to crucify us in print. I think he said something about Scotland rightfully closing its borders to Lush. We always referred to this review as proof of the loathing we generated Ė quite an achievement to get a bad review even when we didnít actually play.

Stay tuned for more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This website is dedicated to the memory of Chris Acland

 

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