Artist: What Katy Did Next

by on 3rd July 2020
 

Years Active

1979 – Present

Personnel

Paul Moller (guitar, sax, vocals, various other instruments)
Mark Fell (bass, trumpet, various other instruments)
Steve McDermott (drums, vocals)
Chris Hunter (bass)
Johnny Tasker (radios, percussion)
Terry Parkinson (drums)
Kevin Rudeforth (radios, tapes)
Ian Butler (percussion)
Gary Burroughs (drums)
Ian Craven (vocals)
Trevor Simpson (guitar, bass)
Grant Ardis (drums)
Nicky Hogg (bass, vocals)
Mark Heathcote (drums)
Yana / Tanya (radios, performance)

About What Katy Did Next

Find a comfy seat and have a read of this brilliantly bonkers ride through the history of What Katy Did Next, told to us with our eternal gratitude by WKDN main man Paul Moller. This is a belter…

What Katy Did Next was formed in the autumn of 1979 in a pub in Hull by Mark Fell and Paul Moller. We were both teenagers, both on the dole, having got to know one another through playing in various local punk and post-punk bands. It was conceived as a radical avant garde project inspired by a shared passion for experimental music, art and literature. It was also an attempt to forge a poetic adventure and explore a colourful, independent, anti-commercial lifestyle in the grim reality of the spectacular/commodity society of Thatcher’s Britain. Doing it was a struggle and we had very limited resources. High wire tightrope-walking on the edge of chaos.

The musical impulse was improvisation and spontaneity, mixing things up and fusing things together. Initially the idiom we explored was free jazz but this grew over the years to encompass rock, blues, jazz, funk, country and electronic elements as the group developed and expanded. As serious as this all sounds it was conceived in a pub after all and the general idea behind it was to get drunk, take drugs, have fun and play.

When thinking of a name I suggested something literary, citing bands like Soft Machine who had taken their names from books. Mark came out with What Katy Did Next and it was so stupid that we started laughing uproariously. We never really stopped laughing about it. The strategy was to develop and maintain continuity by playing at least once a week in private as we rarely had the opportunity of performing in public. The musical element was preserved on cassette tapes but the visual element went virtually undocumented. Two videos were lost/stolen and all the early cassettes pre-1985 apart from a handful were stolen. Everything was completely improvised with every member of the group equal and all free to contribute equally. Things changed after Mark died and it became much more like a regular group. In 1987 I started writing songs again and since then my vision has tended to dominate the group up to the point where I currently work alone.

1979

Our first gig was upstairs at the Wellington Club in late 1979, totally spontaneous, no rehearsal –  Paul Moller – guitar, tapes; Mark Fell – bass; Steve McDermott – drums. Steve was a friend and had played drums in The Blue Kitchen with myself, Roland Gift on tenor sax, Howard and Adrian (Red). Steve went on to sing with Luddites.

1980 – 1982

Played as a duo. Mark Fell and Paul Moller. What Katy Did Next had a tradition up until 1986 of swapping instruments, particularly acute during this period, the pool consisted of trumpet, recorder, alto sax, clarinet, clarina, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, violin, percussion, radio, tapes and sometimes drums when we could get them. We were quite skilled at borrowing.

Mid 1982 there was a gig at the New York hotel on Anlaby Road in Hull. We played two sets of 30 minutes, alternating with Luddites. For the first set I played guitar and recited some stuff with Mark playing violin, and we had two friends with us – Yana and Tanya – who operated a radio each. For ten minutes of the second set I played alto sax and clarinet while Mark played the drums; then we swapped and Mark played the trumpet while I played the drums for the next twenty minutes. We had a strobe light going continually for half an hour. Yana and Tanya fought, whipped each other, pulled and cut hair, bit and wrestled each other very convincingly in the semi darkness for the duration. Afterwards one of them was a bit upset because it had moved from being a “pretend” fight into something that looked very real to me.

1982/83

Our friend Chris Hunter joined us playing bass. Chris had been in a band called Aphasia with John Wilson on guitar. They did a great version of the Stones’ Jumping Jack Flash. We sat freezing in overcoats and occasionally gloves playing in a small room above my Dad’s shop on George Street where a lot of our playing was done. Nyam Nyam rehearsed there so we used their drum kit. We used to play James Brown numbers to try and keep warm. A gig happened on 14/3/83 at a deserted Bridlington Spa, a massive place and I couldn’t see a single member of the audience as we played. We were allowed 17 minutes and had an alarm clock onstage so we finished perfectly on time. Mark wore a gold lame tutu. Mark and Chris were gay and Mark wore the gold lame dress as we went round some of the pubs in Bridlington beforehand.

Johnny Tasker had been the original singer with Luddites and he joined in April, operating a radio and playing percussion (mainly gas canisters) as well as a wobble board made from a sheet of hardboard. There was also a length of plastic tube on a trumpet mouthpiece that you blew into and twirled around your head.

Chris left Hull and Johnny got sick of the gas canisters. An increasing interest in rhythm led to Terry Parkinson joining on drums. We started playing with Mark on bass, me on guitar and Terry on drums in the little room. Johnny came back playing radio, Kevin Rudeforth joined and there was a gig at Wellington Lane Community Centre on 3/9/83. Ian Butler joined on percussion. Ian was a friend of Terry’s and had been a merchant seaman. Our first introduction to him was when we were tripping on acid and he came to visit Terry but Terry wasn’t in – hearing Captain Beefheart playing Ian went round to the back flat, which was mine. The window was open and he was tripping too, so as Beefheart said  “Obeah Man!” he climbed in shouting, “Ooobie doobie man, oobie doobie man”! He was in – literally. Now a sextet – the Mato Chup Experience was born. An article in the Hull Daily Mail christened us “The Hull Underground”. We made a video in the little room – the video is long gone but the soundtrack survives as the only remaining recording of the sextet.

1984

On 8/4/84 we did a gig at The Wellington Club with Johnny Tasker and Kevin Rudeforth on radios, Paul Moller (guitar, voice, saxophone), Mark Fell (bass, trumpet), Terry Parkinson and Ian Butler on drums. We managed to find a full drum kit for Ian from somewhere. Paul Heaton played trombone with us for about ten minutes. Mark had met him on a film course. The gig was filmed but the video was stolen later. This one was a warm-up for the extravaganza that followed on 11/4/84. A Mato Chup Live Experience performing Gorgeous Geoffrey’s Rubber Zoo, we had the stage set with carpet, standard lamps, sideboards and TVs, like a living room of the era. Two female friends, dressed up in sexy gear with fishnets and old-men masks, cooked up a concoction of semolina on the stage. The rest of the band had weird face paint put on at the flat beforehand but I refused; the girls went round feeding the semolina to us but I kept avoiding them (my bit of non-conformism amongst the rampant non-conformism going on). It started getting very very messy – the gunky semolina brew was being flicked around everywhere. We played for over three hours and it ended with Mark sat on the floor with a pyramid cloak around him, tripping out of his skull not wanting to stop playing the bass. It was a fine, fine ending to what was his last ever gig with us. Packing up was fun; the P.A. people were disgusted that everything was covered in this “muck”. The management had a fit about it all and we were told to get out and never come back.. Strange things were happening. I remember Mark telling Kevin that he couldn’t be in the group because he had never taken LSD, and it all fell apart. Mark had decided to devote himself to his art and his spiritual studies. He was an extremely gifted artist. Mark Fell died in early summer 1986.

1985

I had become friends with Gary Burroughs, a drummer friend of Terry’s, and we had a few plays, found a place called Riverside near the conjunction of the rivers Hull and Humber and things fell back together again. We started on 4/5/85 with me on guitar, sax and voice, Mr Rudeforth on radio, Terry on bass and Gary playing the drums. I tried to get Mark to come along; he wasn’t interested but he took a bit from a tape I lent him and overdubbed some vocals to create “Let’s all be the billowing gut of an ageing giraffe”. He turned up one night and played guitar and sang, joining in with the swapping of instruments and helping us create an amazing hour-long medley of popular songs. As we were leaving I said “fantastic, you’re back”. He replied, “I won’t be coming again,” and never did.

I used to spend all my money in the boozer beforehand and hid behind the amps until Bill (the owner) had given up trying to collect. We discovered that Dave Stead of Luddites had a set of keys and started going in at midnight after the previous band had left, regularly playing til 5 or 6am. Two guys walked in one morning, pulled out ID and said “it’s ok lads, we’re the Police”. They had heard the noise and had come to investigate.I once chased a friend called Noddy around the room with a power tool on a long extension cable, both of us laughing.

Terry had a friend called Ian Craven who came one night and was really nervous but at some point went up to a mic and started doing vocals. It was an absolutely amazing stream-of-consciousness rant and he got really into doing it, never having done anything like it before. He had to bend over double to vocalise, the mics being at waist height. Ian was about 20 years older than me, was going through a bad time, he didn’t have a job and actually wanted one which was unusual in our circle. He was going through a divorce. Ian was very quiet and unassuming and the transformation was incredible. He poured his heart and soul out into those microphones. UFOs in your cornflakes! We played for 23 weeks at Riverside and did a gig at the Adelphi Club on 7/11/85 with Ian Craven vocalising. After that it fell apart again.

1986

On 14/10/86 Steve McDermott (vocals) joined Kevin Rudeforth and myself for a performance at the Ferens Art Gallery where we did the soundtrack to some films being shown as part of an event organised by Hull Time Based Arts.

1987

In February I got everything together for a couple of days recording done by Paul Moller – guitar, vocals; Mr. Rudeforth – radio, voice; Jonathan/Cess – homemade electronic things, voice. There was a supposed deal with Tony Menzies in London but he let us down. I never wanted to sing and couldn’t sing but around this time I started to write songs again and the only way they were going to get played was if I sang them myself so I worked on singing whilst playing guitar as a matter of necessity.

In September we hooked up with Mike (bass) and (another) Ian on drums and had a few rehearsals, but it was going nowhere except down the pan. Somebody pulled the chain; it was me. I was relying on borrowed instruments, my sax was stolen and the clarinet broke. Towards the end of 1987 I became increasingly interested in playing acoustically as it seemed easier than getting rehearsal rooms and recalcitrant musicians together so I got a cheap Yamaha acoustic guitar from a catalogue, hooked-up with Trevor Simpson and off we jolly-well-went again.

1988

I had known Trevor Simpson for many years and his interest in playing acoustic slide guitar coincided with my desire for a simpler, acoustic approach for the stuff I was playing, and the songs I was writing in late 1987. At the beginning of 1988 we decided to give it a go and see what happened. Mr Rudeforth was still with us, and Gary Burroughs decided to get back on board, using mainly a snare drum with brushes. We were based in a room at Trev’s house and started rehearsing in January 1988, also doing some playing in Gary’s garden.

We did a gig at the Blue Bell Inn pub on 17/5/88 which was supposed to be a monthly residency but finished the next day when the cleaners found evidence of dope smoking all over the room. The same kind of deal resulted in a gig at The Haworth Arms pub on 21/6/88 but afterwards the landlord said, “You’re okay, but I don’t like your tribe”. Banned again. We carried on regardless and brought out a cassette tape dedicated to Mark Fell called Dead And Gone which was sold in local shops.

1989

Gary decided he was at the end of his tether and had enough and wanted to leave, which he did in April. A week or so later we got offered the support slot on the first Beautiful South tour in June. We got slaughtered on Rebel Yell bourbon and said yes.

Mark had met Paul Heaton on a film course in 1983 and he had played trombone for a few minutes at one of the Wellington Club Mato Chup extravaganzas in 1984. Then he started The Housemartins and I didn’t see him for a few years. He had spotted our cassette tape in a shop window so when he bumped into Mr Rudeforth at The Silhouette Club he offered us the gig.

About this time I asked Grant Ardis if he would like to join us, which he nearly had in 1984. I had played with Grant in Section 60 which arose from the ashes of a band called Mental Block – and rated him as one of the best drummers I had heard. The deal with Grant was that his buddy Nicky Hogg wanted to play bass and I thought ok what-the-hell let’s give it a go, but the upcoming tour was most important. We had a meeting in the pub with The Beautiful South and I cheekily said that we would help them out on this tour if we could do the next one with the full electric band. Amazingly enough they agreed. So we (Trev, Mr Rudeforth and myself) went on tour in June as The Beautiful South’s support band.

After two gigs we had the money to get pickups in our acoustic guitars. The third one was at The Buzz Club in Aldershot where we got such a powerful sound that the Beautiful South trashed the PA because they didn’t sound like us. Someone wrote a letter to the NME calling us “‘the worst group in the world” – yes indeed! There was apparently a contingent of Hull bands who thought that they should have been doing it instead and there was a bit of heckling at one or two of the gigs.

After we got back, What Katy Did Next consisting of myself – guitar, vocals; Trevor Simpson – slide guitar; Mr. Rudeforth – tapes; Nicky Hogg – bass, vocal; and Grant Ardis – drums, vocal; began rehearsing and did a few warm-up gigs for the next tour. The gigs were engagements that Nicky had booked for his club group but we honoured them instead. At one Hessle Road pub, during the first number the landlord came running up, pointed at Mr. R (who was playing a tape of an old preacher giving it rock) and shouted “Either he stops or you all get off, now!” He paid us off during the interval.

At another pub we completely cleared the room but still got paid as it was the landlord’s night off. We went on tour with The Beautiful  South again in October and November with a couple of rescheduled dates in Ireland in December. A cassette tape of demos was sold at the concerts.

1990

We got a few gigs off the back of the tours but had a bit of bad luck and of course the music business didn’t like us. The feeling was mutual. In February Nicky Hogg left. Trevor switched to bass and we carried on, recording a demo tape in Trev’s back room and doing more gigs. “Do It Again” was one of the tracks on the demo. I once walked past Paul Heaton’s house and he was playing it at full blast. He used to compile a personal Top Twenty every week and that week it was number one.

1991-1993

Grant Ardis left in March and Gary Burroughs re-joined in May. Gary borrowed some money off his Mum and bought a 16 track recording studio which he ran commercially and also used for our own stuff which became more electronic. We put out a cassette of Ice Cream Man and did a few gigs. One was at the Wellington Club, the management didn’t realise we were playing as it was done by Roland Gift’s sister Ragna as a Sugar Shack night. They were not happy at all. Another gig was videoed at the Adelphi Club where the room was very dark. We wore white suits and projected a film, it was very effective and atmospheric, a few copies were released. There was also a tape called Live At The Institute Of Meat released around this time. During the second part of 1992 as Gary drifted away from the scene, we made a clean break, taking the master tapes and our gear with us. A tape called Milkman was released and that was the end of What Katy Did Next, again…

1995

We started in spring with Myself – Guitar, Vocals, Trevor Simpson – Bass and Mark Heathcote – Drums. Mr. Rudeforth had decided he didn’t want to perform live anymore but still did everything else as a non-performing member of the group and attended rehearsals to film some of them or simply just be there. After 6 months we did a few gigs and things started to begin to happen again. One day Mark turned round and said “I don’t want to do it anymore”. I just simply gave up again…

1996 – 2020

I moved from Hull to Whitby in North Yorkshire in 1998. On the first night (a Wednesday) I went to the folk club run by Mick Haywood. Having got to know him from numerous previous visits, he greeted me with “welcome home”. On the Friday he knocked on the door unannounced and took me on a pub crawl to introduce me to parts of the town I didn’t know about. I used to play at the folk club and in various local pubs. I was working in a pub one night when a guy called Barry Whiteland walked in, an ace guitarist specialising in fingerpicking. We started a blues night which ran for about a year and a half. During Whitby Folk Week we held our blues night in the Black Horse as usual with the slogan Blues On – Folk Off. The folkies were horrified. I bought and started playing a five string banjo – Barry was horrified enough to go back to Middlesbrough. In 2006 I moved to Edinburgh, started to collect equipment and started doing new stuff as What Katy Did Next. I am also remastering the archive of cassettes and putting stuff up on Bandcamp.

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