The History of Bad Manners
A time - served drummer leaves
The 1995 US tour had re-kindled the wander-lust in the band drummer Stef. He had also fallen in love with an American girl and so after many years of pushing the live sound, Stef departed, but not before he had completed all engagements on the Fatty's back in Town tour, where he taught me several things about on the road survival including how to make takeaway lunches from breakfast leftovers, the value of a jar of French mustard and the essential need for a person to carry a penknife. Stefan and his Grace are now happily married. It took 12 months to find a proper replacement in Carlton Hunt who has led the band's percussion ever since and has got to be one of the finest SKAcore drummers on the scene. For a while the band used Rob from Essex band Eskalator who was a great bloke but tended more towards the reggae end of the off beat world.
Stef's last tour marked a watershed for Bad Manners in early 1996. SKAndinavia '96 was the band's first full tour of the four main countries that make up the Nordical Council for over a decade. It was not since Chewitt had left in 1986/87 that the band had undertaken a dedicated tour exclusively for the fans in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. This was going to be a big tour. The whole gang were looking forward to it. In the case of Buster and Louis Cook, the last time they had seriously toured Finland, there had been a huge waiitng crowd at Helsinki Airport and Special Brew was in the top three ! This time, although the venues were a little smaller, there were actually people waiting at the Luxury Five Star HISPERIA international hotel for the band when they arrived - who had also turned up in 1980 ! These were absolute Bad Manners train spotters and the same sort of people were encountered in Sweden where one autograph-obsessive actually exchanged a sacred and impossibly rare copy of Mental Notes for a set of band signatures!
The gigs were amazing, friendly and the food was superb across Denmark, Norway and Sweden. It was on the Finnish leg that things got even more interesting. The boat across the Baltic Sea was accompanied by an ice-breaker, riding shot gun for the band and Louis commented on the womb-like sounds the ice pack made as the ship whooshed past it. He felt secure. Others were scared shitless. To fortify themselves, the whole band went to a very large and posh bar lounge and watched the Finns and Swedes dancing to Euro-disco sounds from a show band, including Yellow River…
Matt Godwin and others approached the band and asked if they wanted Bad Manners to play an impromptu set, using the band's instruments. Owing to the state the band was in, they were amazed that the band leader agreed, only to be disappointed when band members refused to share mouth pieces on brass instruments with a horn section that was decidedly worse for wear.Consequently, Bad Manners continued talking to Finns and Swedes, drinking, people-watching and talking to a large group of Finnish students who were on their way home after what Finns call the 'trip.' Basically, younger Finnish women sometimes go on a fun cruise for the weekend and meet Swedish guys who want to take advantage of the cheap booze on the Finnish ships, in Finland or Estonia. There was plenty of this sort of 'cultural exchange' going on and various band members were teaching the Finnish students English language. In return the Finns promised to come to the gig the next night in Helsinki.
As the night turned to morning, the band hit the sack only to be awoken a few hours later by the knowledge that one of their number had got lost and was extremely drunk. The band disembarked at Helsinki and reached the HESPERIA International, where they would also appear that night, in the underground CLUB SIBERIA. It was -25C in Helsinki and they were a man short. The man turned up however - in Estonia. He had gone to sleep on the floor of an empty cabin in the Swedish part of the ship. Turfed out by an angry cleaner he took advantage of the British consul in Talinn and got a ship back to Finland just in time to play the gig, which was broadcast live on Finnish TV !
The day before the gig gave the band a chance to book into their individual suites. The HESPERIA management were nothing if but generous. The band was given a free bar tab, restaurant tab and room service. Mini-bars were emptied, a barrel of lager was quaffed and people dined on beluga caviar, snails, oysters and reindeer steak in the restaurant. And CHIPS. Dave Welton and Louis tried to visit the house of the late, great Finnish leader and national hero MANNERHEIM but it was closed that day. Dave Turner took a magical tram ride around the capital and asked inane questions of Finnish passengers.
True to their word, the Finnish students turned up - 65 of them. They formed an obliging front row of adoring fans for the TV cameras who also picked up on the excellent Finnish skins, mods and scooter people who had turned up. The gig was a mega event and Buster was interviewed live from the Sauna and Steam complex before the event.
The hotel continued to be generous into the night with champagne, saunas, a swimming pool and many other services laid on. Stardom…
After Finland came return gigs in Sweden where the band got a rough ride at Ljinroping then Malmo, finishing the tour at Copenghagen, Denmark where they performed and lived for a day or two in the alternative world known as Kristiannia. This community is set apart from the rest of Danish society and has many of its own ways, liberal customs and almost a separate legal system compared to other Danish regions. Here, the band feasted on roast dinners. Buster ate a whole half of a lamb. We have photo's to prove it. This episode fits in nicely with all the other culinary chapters of Bad Manners history, such as the time Buster ate 28 Big Macs before finding himself too poor to make it 30. He has eaten a whole shark while on an Arabian tour and in Argentina, consumed a whole hindquarter fillet of world class A+ grade beef.. In the Isle of Wight, Buster once ate 15 lobsters served up with lemons, salt and pepper.