There are just so many stories, so many adventures, our delight that time at the Riverside or his that time when he played a rare solo show upstairs at the Garage for us and all the rats, seemingly hundreds of them – the rats were running around in the roof above the stage during sound check, “cor, brilliant” he said as he just stood there watching them above his head with that stupidly big grin of his, just standing there as the soundman, Dave, tried to get him to sort out his guitar. Tim was really bothered that a loud guitar would scare the rats, he was really hoping they’d stay there for the gig, I don’t know if they did? Surely they did? And the strange thing is we were putting on gigs every week upstairs at the Garage around that time and we never saw ever them or heard them like that again, they all came just for Tim’s gig.
A week on now and it is is still so very raw and there is a big musical-shaped hole that can’t be filled before we even think about the even bigger Timmy hole. Tim Smith was brilliant to know, he was wonderful to work with, to put out records for – I’m repeating myself Iknow and I can’t really write a decent piece yet, but there is a need ot post more here on the Organ website, they are our fuel and it was so worth releasing those records just for the quiet time after we’d done the mastering, thew times afterwards in the pub, just me and Tim afterwards in the pub talking about all kinds of things for hours and hours without all the chaos of a gig or a soundcheck and (selfishly) without anyone else being there. There are so many stories, it was brilliant, he was, no, he really really was special and that’s before we ever get to the music he made. But then you can’t separate the two, Tim was his music and his music was him, nothing about it was made up, if just came out of him, all the wonderment and the heart and curiosity and everything else, it touched us all, it brought us together, it made being a fan something special, that family, that pond, the greeting of each other, it saddens me to thing there will never be anything quite like standing in the middle of the pond at the Astoria again, hell we shall miss that pond, no other gig or band ever came near it!
I probably said some of this already this week, I don’t really care, if I posted some of this already on these fractured pages then so be it, Tim Smith has always been our fuel, Cardiacs are one of the main reasons Organ happened, you might argue they were the rreason, they’re certainly why it carried on and on (and on), And yes, we did do it with a sledgehammer, we did intentionally put then in every single issue back there, we did intentionally never let up or a shut up. And yes we were driven by the music, but there was a part that was driven by an anger directed at mainstream music press that went out of their way to ignore (and at times try to damage) what was so obviously happening right under their noses, soemthing that was happening in such a brilliant way. Cowardly music journalists would secretly tell us they really liked them but it was more than their jobs were worth to say so in public. editors would ban them, it might not have been official but yes, there was most certainly a ban, we heard it first hand on more than once and from more than one editor or advertising department. I shall never forget how Cardiacs climaxed a thing we did (“we” being Organ, the TLF and Sonic Pollution, three London underground gig promoting teams of the time), ir was a thing called the Eight Day Itch back in the early 90’s, Cardiacs closed it with a brilliant gig on a brilliant night over in South London in New Cross – we were almost dead on our feet, a gang of us had come together to put on eight nights straight of gigs, and Cardiacs headlined the biggest of those gigs on the final night – it was brilliant, the Venue was bursting, we were way over capacity if the truth be told, the bill was excellent, bands upstrairs and down, a real coming together of underground tribes, it was something very very special, the NME covered all eight days of the itch with a big two page spread and refused to even acknowledge Cardiacs triumphant involvement – the music press were all powerful at the time and they damn well knew it, this was way before the web or even radio that was anything more that John Peel, the music press and particularly the NME were arseholes – now really isn’t the time but we’ve seen some real hypocritical posts from some of them this week.
And yes it did cost us, we did have various publishers offer us deals and backing if only we’d stop going on about Cardiacs so much and focus a little more on bands who had record labels and marketing deaprtments behind them, we could have compromised so many times along the way (and some of those times have been really really tough), but no, not for one second did we ever consider it, Cardiacs and especially Tim Smith were always our fuel, they were the reason we did it, Cardiacs are why we never stopped. Ands yes I will admit to a certain price in a quote from Jon Poole in an interview in Earzone fanzine where has said something like “it was only Organ that kept us going through the 90s”. And yes, there is a reason why the Ditzy Scene single was our last ever release on ORG, there was little point in releasing anything else after that (unless by some miracle, that next Cardiacs single we were already getting ready to release when the awful news of Tim’s illness came through, if that had somehow miraculously came together we might have carried on with the label). I’m proud of that Ditzy Scene single, I’m proud of all the Cardiacs and Sea Nymphs records we got to put out, the many gigs we got to put on, the solo shows, the Panixphere gigs, the secret Cardiacs gigs in the back room of the Falcon, the big ones at the Astoria, the Organ’s tenth birthday party in 1996, those times at the Garage or the Marquee or the old (proper) downstairs pre Barfly Monarch. the compilation tapes and albums that got the music to new ears, that animated film Marina madee in the warly days that got them on the whole world window (or the telly as other others know it), nah, not for one second did we ever consider compromising, Cardiacs were the reason why we we even think of it.
Difficult to even try and write about Tim or the music this week, one week on from the leader heading off to the stars with his rats and the wonderment of “how we would all look at a fly if only it was a big as a lion, we’d be amazed, we’d do nothing but watch them, we’d do nothing all day, cor, look at that, how can anyone ever squash a fly?” There was and is only ever will be one Tim Smith, it has been impossible to write about it all “properly” this week, we have tried.
This is the band biography we had on the ORG Records website, it was written many years ago, probably back in the 90’s when we released the Bellyeye single
“We’re always lost for words when we have to try to write a description of Cardiacs. Every contradiction in the world comes into your head. They are utterly, totally unique – which in these days of post post-ironic irony recycling and tiredness should be enough to make them part of your life. Yes, every band cliché is turned on its head with Cardiacs: don’t bands get tired and repetitive after a few years – or at least sell out? Cardiacs are writing stuff that takes our breath away and breaks new ground 20 odd years after their first, home made single. They write tightly structured, often intricate tracks that make musicians worship them. A Cardiacs gig generates the wildest moshpits you’ll ever see, mad sweaty people of a bewildering cross-section of ages and musical tastes bouncing up and down in time to twists and turns, wrecking to To Go Off And Things (a total thrash-out that happens to be in 7/8 time), pogoing to the delirious ska of In A City Lining, just plain dancing to irresistible tunes… that’s Tim Smith’s secret, you see – tunes. Tunes you have to sing along to, even though (if you took them apart) they weren’t quite as normal as pop tunes should be… Cardiacs have been described as: fairground music; punk rock; prog rock; beautiful; frightening; deadly serious; total euphoria; ugly; sexy; avant-garde; pop genius; totally genuine; disturbing; uplifting… Let’s cut this attempt short, let’s just say that they really are all things to all people. Just remember that a ridiculous number of their fans loathed them on first hearing, then (by some mysterious process that we’re still unable to fathom) suddenly had to run to a record shop five years later to buy all their albums”.
And one week on you suddenly find yourself quietly sighing, and you think come on, this is silly, pull it together, work, paint, get on with it, but it isn’t silly and we know the rest of the Pond are feeling it. We will all miss him so much and things will enter our heads and we’ll smile and we will keep on saying things like “Tim would have loved that”, “I bet Tim loved that record?”, we’ll see a particularly impressive dog passing by and just say “Dogs is manner from heaven” as we have many times over the last ten years. We’ll kick ourselves for not sending him this new album or that new piece of music while we still could, he loved to hear new bands, he was forever asking who he should go check out, “Who’s new fella? What ya seen?”, and we’ll selfishly say “if only we could go see him and tell him one more time…”
And it has been so good to see so many heartfelt posts in the last six days, so many stories, so good to see people sharing with each other, to see brilliant pieces of writing this week like Rhodri Marsden’s great piece in the Guardian – “If Tim Smith influenced you, he really influenced you. His legacy following his death aged 59 might be small in the wider realm of pop, but for many of us it feels disproportionately massive. If you ventured far enough into his chaotic world of sound – somewhere between pop, psych, punk and prog – it would inevitably become an all-encompassing love”. or that excellent bit of writing from Sean Kitching in the Quietus, or the piece in Brookyn Vegan or seeing the sad news in the headlines on the BBC website or coverage from national newspapers. I probably shouldn’t be saying it now but I will, for so many years it seemed like we were the only ones willing to say it, to shout about them, sad as it was it was this week it was also somehow brilliant to see so many well written pieces that really do get why we all loved Tim and his band and his music so so (so) much, why they are important, why it has been so difficult to even listen to any of it this week.
And yes we will still go on and things, we won’t shut up, we’ll still talk about them and him and play them and write about them (and paint about them). We won’t shut up, we will keep on going on – there are people out there who will in days and weeks and years to come find the music for the very first time as we all once did when one of our mates bugged us with a messy tape of a gig at the Croydon Underground, or when we accidentally found ourselves witnessing them for the first time at Stonehenge or opening for some other band who couldn’t follow them – we could tell tales of meeting a band called Well Well Well and them telling of their horror of having to go on after “those bloody Cardiacs” that time at the Reading Festival back in 86 – “there we were all nervous about being the second band on stage in front of all those people and then we saw them in their strange bandsman uniforms all diving in puddles of mud and yelling at each other back stage just before they went on before us to open the whole day! We knew before they’d played a note of music that there was no way we could follow them!” he said with a smile on his face – that was a brilliant day, there were so many brilliant days. what a brilliant 35 year adventure it has been, Thank you Tim, “Thank You Sir!”, thanks Cardiacs family, thanks pondfish, thank you all, oh what a joy. (sw)