The Hollow Men in action.
The Hollow Men in action.

Looking back at The Hollow Men

SEATTLE – It is 1987, and I am returning home from my first trip to the United States, a wild two-month coast to coast Kerouac-like road trip.

My big distraction, music, had not yet given me the excuse to drop out of college in London, and it seemed silly to stop so close to graduation. That said, a guy I knew from the local record store in Leeds had something cooking. His name was Choque, and he had already recorded an album with singer David Ashmore under the name The Hollow Men to favorable reviews.

My friend Howi Taylor had played bass on their debut and recommended me to them. So I took a trip up north to meet them at the ludicrously named Chocolate Factory, a psychedelic nightclub. There we hatched a plan for me to play on their sophomore effort, "The Man Who Would Be King."

I ended up playing on a good half of the record in breaks between my studies. It was a bit weird playing over the top of a drum machine and existing overdubs, but they gave a bit of freedom to express myself and made me feel very welcome. The resulting single, "White Train," made a bit of noise, so we painted a set based on a French kids TV show ("Magic Roundabout") and shot a video.

I think we had just had our minds blown by Prince a few weeks prior so there were a lot of polka dots and fedoras flyin' around. My personal homage to the purple one (or at least Sheila E) was to buy a bright pink drum kit with our advance from Arista records. The label signed us after a stint opening for the Stone Roses just as they were about to explode.

We thrashed them in a soccer match outside Sheffield University one sunny Sunday afternoon only to be humbled by their stagecraft later that night. I will never forget Ian Brown's prowling menace and the band's utter brilliance rendering those early tunes as they came of age.

It was a great time for live music in retrospect; all the touring bands had traveling supporters, much like soccer, and I think we even picked up a few of our own. We were the…