Nick Harris (former drummer)

Back to the section Press

An early picture of Gabrielles Wish with Nick Harris, first on the left
This is a really interesting and funny E Mail message former drummer Nick Harris sent to the Gabrielles Wish official site about the history of the band in the years 1993 - 1997, when he was a member, his experience with the band, his projects afterwards and his opinion of Gabrielles Wish after he left. Many thanks, Nick.

The band were already under way when I joined, aged 24.
The original jams before I got involved were by all accounts a raw, unformed, cacophonous affair.
Paps had been playing guitar until Paul joined, and Rob's younger brother Eddie was on drums, but he left to form his own band, The Pariahs ( with the brother of Dawn Acton who played Tracy Barlow in the soap "Coronation Street"), and the lads were left without a drummer.
I met Paul on a "music technology" course in 1993 at Band On The Wall in Manchester, a course that many of Manchester's dole-drawing musicians ended up on over the years. Over the months I got to know him a bit better and one day he let it drop that he was involved in a band called Gabrielles Wish, and played me a tape of some of their stuff. I was immediately impressed... the tracks were drifting, psychedelic and dark, without rhythms, with layered tapes and keyboards and evocative vocals, that had a strong, original feel to them.
I was talked into auditioning soon after, and during the first jam I realised that here was a raw talent and attitude with loads of potential, far more so than any other band I had played in up to that point. At that time I was listening to all sorts of stuff : Fall, Can, Scorn, Swans, Godflesh, Orb, Orbital, Throbbing Gristle, Coil... and I jumped at the chance to do something progressive, psychedelic and aggressive.
Daz was a lovely bloke, always laughing and joking. His main musical passion was Joy Division and New Order and he was a very solid bass player who, unusually, preferred a fretless bass.
Rob in particular scared and impressed me with his power and intensity, and his ability to improvise some amazing vocals.
Paul was quiet but intense, studious and interested in all manner of experimental sounds and fresh approaches to making music.
I hit it off with all of them and I was officially in.

We got down to regular jamming at "the room", a draughty room backing onto a shop-fitting workshop in an industrial estate in Droylsden.

The early jams were a kind of aggressive punk/psychedelia with a strong JD / NO influence from Daz.
The songwriting was a joint affair from the start, tapes being made to mark progress on each tune as it evolved.
Various gadgets such as tape players, cheap home keyboards, an Amiga computer and a tv and radio were all utilized from an early stage to add texture. A four track was used on stage to provide taped backings - some inventive stuff was produced using random collages of tv, radio, keyboards and so on.

Soon we were gigging locally in pubs and so on, doing "Battle Of The Bands" type stuff, with strong support from friends and family.

The tunes started to write themselves, it seemed, and we were quite prolific from the start. As we branched out further and wider, we started to notice a buzz around the band, and started to meet other Manchester musicians, and get respected.
Early highlight tracks were "Gazing", "Machine People", "Visions", "Sorrow".
Before too long, (early 1994) Daz had started getting us some good gigs. Those early gigs were pretty intense: very tight in the rhythm section, but with an element of beauty, chaos and sometimes terror as we attacked our instruments, trying to forge a huge, dark sound... Rob was an amazing frontman, totally lost in the songs, singing, screaming, dancing like a madman... Paul working on sculpting soundscapes with his pedals.
Sometimes it seemed to take us over and we'd get onto another level - it would work and become something amazing- people were spellbound watching us. It was quite exhausting when we really went for it, but worth it. Obviously there were some really crap gigs as well when we didn't get it together at all... :)
We started doing "Real Horror Show", "You And Me", "Warmonger", "Tank", "Cosmic Orgasm" , "Marooned" and "Mary Bobbins" around then.

There was a lot of buzz around us; we played in Glasgow Arena supporting the Fall (if I remember rightly Mark Smith had seen us at one of our Manchester gigs), and soon we came to the attention of Mr. Chris Nagle, an established producer in Manchester who was Martin Hannet's assistant on "Unknown Pleasures" and whose ex-wife ended up going out with Mark E Smith. He offered to manage us and to produce us, should we get any studio time.

He knew Rob Gretton from way back and at some point enticed him along to a gig from which a record deal came with Gretton's new label Manchester Records.
Some studio time was pencilled in at Suite 16 in Rochdale (Hooky's old studio) for us to record the cream of our current set.
A small cash advance was tendered, with which various items of essential gear were bought (mostly second hand) including a PA and desk, a vintage DX7, a new guitar and amp for Paul, a new bass amp for Daz, a drum machine, and a good second hand kit and new cymbals for myself.

By late 1994 I had started an unpaid placement at Planet 4 studios (owned by Simply Red drummer Chris Joyce) as tea-boy and gopher, and ended up working on some sessions where Rex Sargent was producing - he had worked with The Fall and was quite in demand as a producer. So I thought he might appreciate some work, and we got him in as engineer on the first Suite 16 session in early 1995, that produced "Marooned", "Warmonger" and another tune that sounded a bit like "atmosphere" by JD but I can't remember the name - it got dropped anyway.

What I can remember about that session is that large amounts of amphetamines, dope and booze got consumed, leading to some serious paranoia, which enhanced the feel of the tracks even while it damaged our brains!
Chris Nagle was like his mentor Hannett, in that he seemed to be into doing loads and loads of takes, much to our annoyance, as we were after the raw feel that came with the first few takes. We were all pleased with the results.

The two tracks were later put out on the first Manchester Records release, a split 7" single in late 1995 with Kill Laura who were a female fronted poppy guitar band(!).


As far as I can remember we went in to Suite 16 again a few months later, on slightly less drugs this time, and recorded the rest of what was to become the Gabrielles Wish EP, though this would have to wait until 1996 to come out. It would include the two tracks off the split single MANC 1.


Plenty of gigs and loads of new material throughout this year, including a 10 day long mini-tour of the South West in the summer, surfing towns and so on, where we were too skint to afford hotels so we either camped in tents or stayed at the promoters house, a very nice partially deaf (!) lady whose name I forget. It still cost us a fair chunk of what was left of the advance however.

Paps was, as usual, our official driver and roadie. Chris came along to do his inventive live sound. Paul nearly died from an asthma attack halfway through and had to be talked into staying in the band.
The gigs were pretty good, and generated some interest from the locals - one guy wanted to use "Marooned" as a soundtrack to a surfing video he was making! I ended up copping off with a groupie at the end of the tour and staying down their for another week with her, to be fleeced of what little money I had left. It took me two days to hitch back home...

The Manchester Records launch was quite soon after we got back, at The Hacienda. We were starting to suspect by now that we could be onto something bigger than before, with the likes of Peter Hook and Terry Christian at the gig, and some great reviews in the press.

Being signed to Rob Gretton's label had some kudos, although I think he was worried that we were a bit too left-field and undisciplined, i.e. not commercial enough... he said we were one of the few bands around who reminded him of the energy of early JD and Happy Mondays.

The music continued to develop and evolve, and we started doing more heavy / technical stuff like "Blowjob" and the other tracks on "Golded Up". In the autumn we had another Fall support at The Hacienda where Paul and Daz were away, so some of the first electronic stuff, produced by myself and rob using the amiga (running the octamed tracking program), dx7, drum machine, tapes and effects was showcased, in front of a good crowd. We did it all live, with computer, tapes, keys, live mixing and a mate of mine on processed harmonica (weird!). It was dark and dub/techno influenced.

I had been doing my own electronic stuff over the years with whatever gear I could get my hands on, and Paul was also into computers and sequencing, and it was something we had been doing from the start, although it wasn't a main feature of gigs until after I left, apart from that gig.
Paul and myself used to go down to Abraham Moss college to produce experimental stuff and backing tracks using the Atari and samplers and synths they had there. We did a lot of really good 4-track stuff in the room that few people have heard, and the same goes for jams... a lot of the sessions were amazing, but never to be repeated, or played live.
I have a tape from October 95 that has some great dark ambient stuff and proto-electronica on it that we all were involved in producing in the room on the four track- including a real dark monster of a track called "Used To Be My Town" - all industrial metal samples, crunching synthetic effects, sub bass, and sick vocals from Rob. We re-recorded it in 97 for release, but it never made it out.

The GW EP finally came out in early 96 with another Hacienda gig to launch it. Didn't sell loads but a lot of people liked it.

Loads of gigs this year including a trip to Holland for gigs in Rotterdam and Hoorne, most of which was a dope-fuelled haze. I remember Paps smuggling a lump of hash back, and getting to the ferry and having to stick it in his mouth as the customs guys came up to the van, and having to talk to them with this lump of weed in his mouth so you could barely understand him!
A couple of good but poorly attended London gigs: the Rock Garden, and the Powerhaus - memorable partly because it was sponsored by Doc Marten's so we could all go to the big DM shop nearby and choose a pair each.

We went to Liverpool Pink Museum to record the tracks for "Golded Up" but I can't remember when exactly in the year it was. Early spring I think. We were getting better at recording and had a good idea of what kind of sound we were after. It was mixed down in Suite 16, I did some of the engineering for that as Chris was usually pissed out of his head. I think Rob nicknamed him "Darth" at this point - i.e. Darth Vader, the dark destroyer. He was talented, sure, but only when he wasn't out of his head.


In 1997 we were still gigging and writing away - the music losing some of its raw edge and chaos and becoming more controlled, more structured and in my opinion more sophisticated. We recorded some more stuff, in the room with hired desk, adat and mikes to save money. Half band stuff and half stuff based around programmed sequencer and samples, including "consumer man" and another version of "used to be my town". None of the session was released.

Later in the year we went in to Suite 16 for four weekends in a row to record the LP that would be named "Processed" but never released. We saw it as a chance to record some of the older tunes from 94 like "Gazing", "Sorrow" as well as the latest live set. I have lost the tapes from those sessions but I remember it being good stuff.
The sound at gigs at that time was more solid and constructed, more song-orientated and controlled, and we started using a drum machine alongside the kit for extra precision and power. It was still good stuff, but my musical ambitions were starting to diverge from the rest of the band.

I caved in and got a job doing computer programming in may 97, and started saving for my own studio, as I was getting into drum and bass and stuff like that, and hanging out with the Ambicus sound system who we had met on many occasions over the years. I wanted to get into producing more dance based electronics, and to be honest I wanted a change from GW, so by the end of 1997 when I had got my computer and sampler and k2000 and was starting to get into making DnB, I decided it was time to leave.

The last gig I played at was supporting Half Man Half Biscuit at the Star And Garter in Manchester, 24 October 1997. A good gig and a good end to four years of musical mayhem...!


I kept the dnb stuff going for three years, doing dark dnb live PA's at the odd club night with Ambicus and others, before I got the urge to get behind a drum kit again in 2000 and joined Hedzjellmo - Mark, our singer, knew Paul and Rob from years back and used to come down to jams at the room in 93 and 94 so I knew him already. HJ supported GW in May 99 at the Night And Day which was the first time I saw Hedzjellmo live... I joined them a year later.


I was impressed with the direction Gabrielles Wish took after I left - Bo was an excellent drummer, very technical, and the songs still had that power and uniqueness about them, plus a lot more discipline and control.

I saw them live several times and Hedzjellmo did a few more gigs with them, including Alex's legendary New Order tribute night.
I still see Paul and Daz about, they came down to Hedzjellmo's recent gig at the Witchwood in Ashton.
I bump into Rob occasionally as well, as Mark sometimes works with his girlfriend on local radio.
It's a shame Gabrielles Wish have split up, but I am curious as to what Paul and Daz are up to musically and hope to be able to catch them live soon.
You never know, there might be a reunion at some point! 

No comments:

Post a Comment