Berenyi has kindly offered to contribute some Lush reminiscences to
this website. In typical Miki fashion, her accounts are honest,
fair, eloquent, personal, humorous.
They are an essential part of Lush's history,
and just plain great reading!
On a personal note: virtually everyone I've
spoken with who knows Miki reports that she is
a kind, generous, intelligent, down-to-earth and very funny person. For the record
I must state here that, despite her strong denials, its all true!
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes
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!!!
College of Higher Education
|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.
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)
||Iíve got a feeling
that it was around this time that Meriel left but I really
canít be sure.
The Sun Carriage
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!
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.
tuned for more!