A rough guide to your first show – Waster style

Accordion player, Joe, looks back at Will Tun & the Wasters‘ first show on the five-year anniversary!

We were so hyped to play our first proper gig, even though it wasn’t really a “proper gig” at all, it was us playing to all our mates drunk in the shed in my garden. We’d just left school, none of us really had much to do, none of us really knew how to play our instruments at all (except possibly Deaglan, who’d spent five years playing tin whistle in social situations, confusing and annoying a fair few people in the process). Will Tun was taking his first steps learning to be a songwriter, we had about 3 songs bashed out by this point, including one called “Juliet”, which we later discovered was a straight rip of a second-rate Dire Straights tune. Another tune was “Midweek Drinking”, one part shit diddly-diddly Mandolin riff, one part awful puns about drinking. I think it went something like “listen up sonny, about this Mandolin, it’s secretly a bottle of Broker’s London Gin. In all the drunk confusion I forgot about the brandy, got a flask, up me arse, isn’t that real handy? Ooaah midweek drinking! Woah-hoo-oh, midweek drinking.”

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​Then there was our Folk-Punk cover of “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine too. Imagine the most jangly, floaty folky chords played under the lyrics “terror rains drenchin’, quenchin’ tha thirst of tha power dons, that five sided fist-a-gon. Rally round tha family! With a pocket full of shells.” I’ve still never heard anything quite like this cover…

​I’m not really sure what we were drinking at the time, but I do know that it would have been in a blue bottle, be around 7% and wouldn’t have cost more than about £2.50 for 2 litres. We didn’t really stop drinking cheap cider for the next 3 years as a band, ultimately resulting in our signature drink “Waste Juice”; two parts cheap cider, one part cheapest energy drink in the offie…

Some of our mates were in bands too, some of them were pretty good, playing at bigger venues and getting offered support for touring bands. We knew a lot of shit metal and emo bands coming from Reading, everyone thought so-and-so’s tech-metal band were gonna be the next big thing (in a Kerrang! magazine sort of way). We’d just started following the trail of underground UK Punk laid down by stalwart bands like Sonic Boom Six and The King Blues; we were discovering loads of bands and it felt like and endless trail of new, exciting music and scenes.

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​I guess this was what we wanted to imitate as a band, we loved all the old-style folk-punk but it seemed like there was something new afoot. Where The Pogues were up high on a mystical pedestal of folklore and UK punk history, The King Blues were down the road playing the Community Gardens squat in Reading. The idea of a DIY Punk community seemed like an endless tunnel of hidden meaning and ethics, waiting to be revealed by older punks who we looked up to. ​“The Punk Scene” appeared to us then like a tangible, concrete entity, formed and shaped by those who came before us into a free-standing behemoth preciously guarding its hard-fought values and ideals. We all smoked at the time and we adopted the slogan on the Rizla packet as our life mantra; “It’s what you make of it.” Little did we know what this might come to mean for ourselves, for our band and for our community over the coming years… It felt like we didn’t know much, except that it was all tantalysing, romantic and it meant something to us.

​And from all these grand ideals and notions came the music itself which was quite frankly, quite shit! We’d half-learnt Fairytale of New York before our first ‘show’ to our mates. Looking back I’m really not sure the chords were right and I was definitely playing the melody wrong. I’d first picked up the accordion at our first practice only a month earlier, I chose it because it was loud and it looked cool. It was an untamed, mysterious beast that I didn’t have the slightest understanding of; I learnt the D major scale and keyboard-wanked over most songs. We’d written our first proper song only a couple of weeks ago, “Drink Johnny, Drink”. It was great because we could all stamp our feet really loudly and shout about drinking a lot, it was kind of catchy too in a tuneless pisshead sort of way.  So there we had it, our first set for our first proper gig; “Bulls on Parade (folk version)”, “Fairytale of New York”, “Midweek Drinking”,  “Juliet” and “Drink Johnny, Drink”. We were ready as we’d ever be!

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​Some of our mates came round to get pissed like we’d been doing all winter. There were probably about ten of us maximum, we were a tight-knit crew of scoundrels and Wasters at the time! There were only four of us in the band then; Deaglan, Will, Jared and myself. Johnny and Ivo were there who later joined the band, consumed into the ranks from our small pool of mates who owned instruments (knowing how to play wasn’t a requirement). We got pretty pissed as per usual, then after a while we cracked out the instruments when it felt right around the peak of drunkenness. ​None of us could especially sing, but it felt great shouting out some bawdy drinking tunes, stamping our feet and playing these strange instruments on this unknown trail of folk and punk. We thumbed our way through “Midweek Drinking”, freestyled a shambolic “Bulls on Parade”, yelping and howling our way through “Drink Johnny Drink”. It got to just before the stroke of midnight and we bashed out “Fairytale of New York” for all our mates pissed on Christmas Eve. It was objectively utter shite musically speaking, but as a drunken celebration with mates on the other hand, it was glorious. We felt high and elated from our little personal victory, playing our instruments alongside each other in actual songs. It didn’t really matter to us that we couldn’t play, we were enjoying the vibe and we played songs about things we thought were cool, and we could shout them out wherever we wanted. ​

​We didn’t really have a solid “message” or “sound”, but we knew that our friends were special to us and there was so much exciting music out there pushing things forward. We didn’t have many ambitions, we wanted to play some folk-punk, some ska and maybe a pub gig or two. It felt like we started to have a community of our own, something that we could be proud of as mates and look back on as something cool that we did. We didn’t really know what to do or what to expect, we were just curious to jam, busk, bash it out and see where it all went…

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Will Tun & the Wasters

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