Jeff Grainger (former manager)

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A brilliant article contributed by former manager (2001-2003) Jeff Grainger for the Gabrielles Wish official site about his experience with the band. Many thanks, Jeff.

I've been asked by loads of people for some kind of account about my time with the band and have always avoided doing it as it equates to a 'past tense'. Inevitably alluding to an end or full stop as regards the band's career - But never say never eh!

It all started way back early in the summer of 1993. I was DJing in a shit hole of Dive (Dysons - not its real name). In a shit hole of a town (Shaw - the sort of town that boasts a population of 10,000 but has only 5 surnames).
After one very typical night - which usually consisted of cotton mouthed Neanderthals berating me with the usual request of "towncalledmalicebythejam, y'gonna play, TownCalledMaliceByTheJam or fookin what!" - I was approached by the "charming" owner who suggested that we should have bands on - "to increase the punters", as he said. The fact that punters were decreasing rapidly because the locals threatened/intimidated and on occasion turned violent towards any outsiders was I'm sure - fuck all to do with it.
However on with the story and less of the personal vendetta. The club's owner had heard a bunch of local lads "the felt" (again not their real name) were playing The Witchwood in Ashton-under-Lyne and, as I was the DJ there too, should "invite them to play a few songs. Maybe they'll bring a couple of their mates with them too!". This was the only time I heard the club owner utter any sense the fact that 'the felt' would bring a "couple of their mates along with them too" was an understatement of immense proportions. 'The felt’ was a Shaw 3 piece; all peroxide, Adidas shell toes and swagger - and undeniably crap.
The Witchwood used to do a local band night on a Tuesday - this usually comprised of a headline act that were currently turning heads and a support act who had sent off a demo. I arrived early to collar 'the felt'. I relentlessly dogged the peroxide haired lead singer about the virtues of playing Dysons. Who incidentally was abhorred that his band had been asked to play that club.

Behind us a group of four or so scruffy looking lads were setting up their equipment for sound check. Along with the usual instruments was a TV, radios, shop mannequins, a loud hailer, bits of metal, you name it...

The felt's singer's bleats about how good his band were and how shit a place Dysons was, was brutally interrupted as the bass player from the band onstage hit an allmighty chord. Just four more chords later I knew I was listening to something rather special. The drummer kicked in and the pair of musicians duelled harmoniously for a few minutes. This was just fucking awesome! I legged it to the side of the stage and shouted to the drummer "what’s the name of this band and do you want to play a gig in Shaw next week?!".
Not hearing a word he just stared and smiled - then the singer joined them and started singing "I'm a stupid man, this is a stupid song, it goes on too long, too long, too long".
Within two minutes these guys had become my favourite band without question.
The guitarist played on the second run through and the singer picked up a loud hailer.
"Don't use that!", shouted the sound engineer.
"Use it!", I shouted back.
The band ran through part of another song then left the stage. I was absolutely fucking buzzing, never before (or for that matter since) has any band had such an immediate impact on me.
As 'the felt' became an all too distant memory I ran after the 4 guys as they disappeared through the door to the bar. I remember all too well the venue's promoter Darren Poyzer saying to me, as I passed "I've never sat through a band's soundcheck before in my life! - That was incredible!".

I caught up with the lads. "What's the name of your band - that was fucking amazing!", I asked the guy who'd been playing bass... close up he looked about 10 years old, a small skinny thing, like a nose on legs.

"Oh cheers", he said, "we're called Gabrielle's Wish. Pleased to meet you mate, I'm Daz, this is Paul (guitar), Robert (singer) and Nick (drums)... thanks for the compliment but that was only a soundcheck, none of that was a 'proper' song, just us messing about"
Christ, this was a head fuck. I mean, if what I heard them do was good and it wasn’t a proper song then what the fuck was the 'real' stuff going to sound like?
"Listen, do you guys want to do a gig in Shaw.... Next Thursday?", I spluttered (it felt like I was asking Frank Sinatra to busk outside Victoria Station - a band like that... a place like that... oh shit!).
"Ok", said Daz, "just let us know the details, our manager Paula will be in later, just run it past her"
Their manager!!! Shit... they already had one... What a bad do. Ah well, that was my next question taken care of...
I went round the front again to start my DJ set - as is usually the case the band who soundchecks last goes on stage first. So I knew I didn’t have long to wait to see them do the "real stuff". Robert came round to introduce Paula to me and we had a bit of a chat.
I remember saying to her she was one lucky sod to be managing a band like that. I also remember being gobsmacked at the fact that tonight was going to be the bands third ever gig!!! (The first I believe was in Droylsden, not sure of the venue. The second in Oldham - a battle of the bands contest at the now defunct Shack - I'm not sure if they won the competition or not).
She explained to me about how the band got their name (Rob's eldest daughter, Gabrielle, was asked if she wanted a baby sister or baby brother when her mother was expecting their second child. Gabrielle said she wanted a baby brother. When her mother gave birth to a boy, Gabrielle got her wish hence 'Gabrielle's wish').

The band's performance that night didn't just moved the goalposts. They tied space rockets to them and blasted them into orbit.

Nick just looked cool - like he'd just got off a flight from Goa, all beads and sandals - head down, banging out the beat.
It was quite clear from the off that Paul was the 'proper musician' he always looked a little awkward on stage, never facing the audience, standing or kneeling, the only real movement from his hands as they moved frantically over the fret board.
Daz played bass like he was dodging bullets, standing tall then suddenly buckling his knee's at a chord change.
Robert didn’t just sing the songs, he became the songs, writhing, reeling, foot stamping, chest thumping.
All I remember thinking was what an absolute bastard that these guys had already got a manager. I was so mesmerised by the whole performance I forgot to cue a record up for my next set. I really was blown away!

I have to make it perfectly clear that the only reason I invited them to play Dyson's was so I could see them again live. I didn’t care what the owner or the neanderthals thought (although I was a bit concerned they might have got nasty). The gig was just as amazing as the previous week albeit with practically no one in attendance - their performance emptied the room, which I was thoroughly impressed with. They played a track called ‘Narcissus’, which Robert dedicated to the venue and its tacky floor to ceiling mirrors.


The next time I saw them, a few weeks later, was at the Roadhouse in Manchester, this was a well-attended affair and the usual brilliance by numbers from Gabs, even though Robert only sang halfway through the first song, he didn’t bother singing anything else that night.


I always kept in touch with either Darren or Paula to find out what was happening. Building up a decent friendship with the rest of the lads along the way.

They supported The Fall in Glasgow (this was sometime in 1994 if memory serves).
I believe it was at this gig where Chris Nagle saw them. Chris really is one of Manchester Music scene's unsung gods - he worked with Martin Hannett (many believe doing most of the work due to Hannett's temperamental behaviour) on Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures', produced The Stone Roses and The Charlatans too, along with many others.
Chris took the lads on in a managerial/producer capacity although I think Darren sorted the gigs out. Chris in turn introduced the lads to New Order's manager Rob Gretton who became their manager and signed them to his Manchester Records label.

The first release was a split 7" clear vinyl featuring Kill Laura on the other side. Kill Laura was a girl fronted jangly pop outfit. (The girl in question by the way was Jane Weaver who is now a successful singer/songwriter in her own right). The Gabrielles Wish tracks were 'Marooned' (a real favourite of mine) and 'Warmonger' (my least favourite Gabs track - although I still thought it was cool).

I was given my copy by Chris at the launch party held at The Hacienda, downstairs in the 'Gay Traitor Bar', an absolute blinding affair packed to the rafters with a real buzzing atmosphere.
I was DJing at quite a few venues now (Boardwalk in Manchester, The Pier in Wigan, Ambition in Oldham and had also started the night 'Subculture' in Oldham too - I had managed to ditch Dysons shortly after Gabs played there - finished on a highnote I thought), I Included Marooned in almost every set. Even though it practically guaranteed to empty the dance floor, I still played it.

As the next few years passed they released two EPs on Manchester Records (these EPs, excellent in their own right, never seem to capture the intensity they produced in their live performances - well what could I guess!) and also introduced the performance of their electronica sets.

How this side of the band came about, I'm sure was kinda by accident. They were asked to support The Fall at The Hacienda. However the small detail that both Darren and Paul would be absent for the date in question didn’t stop the gig from going ahead.
"What are you going to do Robert?", I asked the singer before the night.
"A nice surprise!", he beamed back. So... the band played with only Robert and Nick.
Nick had a table full of guitar effects pedals, keyboards and a drum machine.
Whilst Robert had an effects pedal rigged up to his microphone.
The whole thing seemed quite improvised - but knowing the lads, as I do now, it would have been a thorourly-rehearsed affair. The music was an ambient, swirling, building soundscape of electronica. And as you may have guessed - totally thrilling.
I remember talking to Robert afterwards about the set. Stating my surprise at the band's decision to go ahead, potentially giving punters the wrong impression of what to expect the next time they would have seen the band live.
His reply was - well, the epitome of Gabrielle's wish's attitude:
"Who knows what the fuck to expect!", he said, "If you see the name Gabrielle's Wish on a poster that’s what you get, a bunch of cunts. It doesn’t matter if its band stuff or electronica - its still us!"
They really didn’t care what anyone thought. They did what they did and did it superbly - 'Compromise' was not in the dictionary.


Throughout 1996 the night ‘Subculture’, which a few mates and myself set up, was gaining cult status (i.e. not many people bothered to go but those that did loved it).
The venue made Dysons look like the Taj Mahal with the subtle difference that everyone who went was just fucking lovely! Indeed we had T-shirts made that carried the slogan "The DJs might be shite but the girls are ace!" (I actually wanted to say "the venue might be shite" but thought the owner might have got a bit fresh at my choice of words).
This was also the year I ventured in to the world of band management.
Lincoln were made up of a few of the "cool cats" that hung around ‘Subculture’. And in their own right showed loads of potential and promise as well as turning the heads of the A&R (but alas not their cheque book pages). Lincoln also guaranteed to put a smile on most promoters’ faces as they generally packed the joint. This actually had little to do with the band's musical prowess but quite a bit to do with the fact that a deal had been done with a local coach firm to transport fans to and from gigs.
Lincoln were as dissimilar to Gabrielle’s Wish as could possible be. However it didn’t stop yours truly here from getting the two bands to perform together as often as I could. One promoter really fell out with me when I told him Lincoln were going to support Gabrielle’s Wish instead and not play his venue. He must have thought I was really rubbing it in when he said "just give me one good reason why they’re playing there instead of here" and I replied "Well, I want to see Gabrielle’s Wish".

As well as ‘Subculture’ I was involved in promoting the local band scene... for some reason the name of the night escapes me (it was instigated by Inspiral Carpets' Clint Boon). I regard this period as the ‘salad days’ of unsigned bands. Well before Internet porn stole wrists from guitar strings of the spotty Herbert’s locked in their bedrooms (Hey! If I wanted to see tits I had to wait until ‘The Sweeney’ on Monday nights... always guaranteed, were tits on ‘The Sweeney’).

The band scene was intense. I mean you could have throw a plectrum down Oldham Street and hit six bands. I hesitate to use the word ‘buzzing’ as so many of the little blighters had taken their inspiration... or certainly their attitude from Oasis. They thought standing on stage with a Burberry cap swinging their arms round like a monkey would have got them signed.
However great bands, and I do mean really great bands (as well as Gabs and Lincoln there were Mantraluna, Tsuji Giri, Summer Isle, Thrush Puppies, Dumb to name a precious few), were thankfully never too far away.

One particularly memorable night, Gabs were doing a gig for us in Oldham... the fact I think the owner of the venue is the world’s biggest twat prevents me from mentioning its name (more of which later in this tirade).

After the band had sound-checked they asked me where they could disappear for a pint. I told them a few places nearby but told them not to venture into the pub next door as, at the time, it was rumoured that some far right wing groups were using it as an unofficial meeting place.
"Right", said Rob, "we won’t go in there then" - the precocious fucker!
Off the band went and straight to the pub I told them not to go to. I stood there with my heart in my mouth at the prospect of Manchester’s finest getting beating to a pulp as a result of Nazi bating. Much to my relief, an hour or two later, in walk the band (with, their by now trade mark, ‘30-seconds-before-they’re-due-to-go-on-stage’) all lush and giddy at their piss taking of the National Front.
This merriment spilled over into the bands set and Robert’s goose-stepping and shouts of "Nazi bastards/wankers/arseholes!" etc etc. were either misheard or misinterpreted by some ‘credit card crusty’ who was hanging around the bar.
Suddenly this guy jumps up and goes directly up to Robert nose to nose, not saying a word, just staring at him. Robert and the rest of the lads were acting as if nothing was out of the ordinary... well what was "ordinary" at one of their gigs?!
I approached the guy with the ‘softly softly’ line of attack. Taking hold of him the arm and ushering him off the stage... but back he goes again straight up to Robert.
So, again I usher him off the stage... And back he goes for a bit more intimidation. So I usher him off once again... and guess what? Yep, ditto! Well I gets so pissed off with this bloke I stick one on him. Now let me make it clear I deplore violence... but he was spoiling my gig. Besides I must confess to feeling more than a little chuffed when Robert told me they were working on a song called ‘The Mauler’ in my honour... ah shucks..

It was also during this time that my mate Brian had started a fanzine, ‘Urban Spice’, and as I was one of the main contributors. Basically using it as a platform to go on about how great Lincoln & Gabrielle’s Wish were.

It was around this time that Nick left to join Hedzjellmo (all very mutual).
I remember writing in Urban Spice "the mighty 4 are now the mighty 3 + 1 as super sub ‘Paps’ has now joined them on stage as a permanent member".
To the best of my recollection Paps was always ‘around’. My earliest memories are of him sat at the side of the stage with a spliff the size of a chair leg, playing tapes and samples between songs. His profile just seemed more prominent after Nick’s departure.
The band's set included a mix of electronica and ‘band’ material. After a few months Steve joined as their new drummer and once again the ‘band’ gigs seem to take priority over the electronica ones. Steve was a very good drummer, decent bloke, very friendly and chatty. However I never though he fitted in or more importantly wasn’t in sync with the rest of the band... I wasn’t surprised when he left.

Ironically it was during the "Steve Period" that they hit upon one of their greatest claims to fame. They were asked to support New Order for the "come back" concert at the Manchester Apollo. To say that there wouldn’t have been a band in Manchester that would have killed for the opportunity to share the limelight with such Mancunian titans is putting it mildly.

This was the summer of 1998 and I practically fainted the night Paps phoned me to say they were on the bill and I was on the guest list. I was like a kid at Christmas waiting for the date and more excited at the prospect of seeing Gabs on the big stage after seeing them play so many toilets.
Come the night of the show, I was at my (then) girlfriend's, and as per, she was faffing about getting ready (vanity and laziness are not good combinations in ladies and could well account to one reason she’s now my ex).
"C’mon for fuck's sake or we’ll miss them", I pleaded.
"I’ve got to do my hair... and don’t swear!"
"It’ll be dark in there no one will see your fucking hair!"
"Don’t swear!"
I drove like a maniac to the Apollo (not exactly easing an already tense situation). Parked the car and legged it across the road. A tout stopped me and offered me £200 for my ticket. No chance mate!
I’d seen practically every Gabrielle’s Wish gig in Manchester and I wasn’t going to miss this one! As I burst into the auditorium I could just about make out Paul leaving the stage. I headed off to the bar, got our drinks in, relieved at the fact I hadn’t missed them. Putting the comments made by a group of lads behind us about how good "that last lot were" down to the fact that they must have caught some of the sound check. A few cheers in the crowd and this was it! - I ran through to the front of the stage to see three lads walking on. Three! Who the fuck were these? I ask a guy next to me...
"Doves, I think, mate", he says.
"Erm has anyone been on before them?", I ask.
"Dunno mate, just got in."
Phew! So we stand and listen to Doves and pretty impressed I was too.
Just Gabs and New Order left... what a night!
As the venue steadily filled to capacity and time drew on. I began to get a very uneasy feeling.
Spying a friend of the band and mine in the crowd I ask him...
"Hey Alex, have Gabrielles Wish been on?"
"What! You mean you’ve missed them?"
My heart sank, no way, no fucking way.
"You’re kidding yeah!"
"No they were first on - went on at 7 o'clock for some strange reason. Not to worry I got it recorded"
I was inconsolable.
Suddenly the lights dimmed. On stage stroll New Order and I’ve never been so pissed off to see them in my life.
Actually the New Order gig wasn’t a total travesty (well maybe it was). It obviously brought Gabrielles Wish into a bigger spotlight. Which gained them some quite noted attention (apart from our beloved webmaster).
A friend of Peter Saville (Factory Records designer), Matthew Robertson, who was himself a designer and was so impressed with the band that he wanted to start up a record label in Australia (where he lived). And wanted Gabrielle’s Wish to be the first release (to this day it is still in the pipeline... however when it will actually come into fruition nobody actually knows).

Gabrielle’s Wish signed to ‘Pleasure’ (Rob Gretton’s new label). If I am being honest I have come to regard the 18 months they were signed to the label as the low point of the bands 10 years together. There are a few reasons for this.

Although we were all treated to the rather excellent - if rather lazily produced ‘Manchester Suite EP’, I have never spoken to band directly about this time but the feeling was always one of huge frustration.
Their ethic was always one of "lets get doing" and apart from a few local gigs and a self financed tour to promote the single this seemed a rather unproductive time for the band. To cap it all Rob Gretton died shortly after they signed. As well as a friend and manager he was also a huge fan and a true champion to their cause.
He made it quite clear to everyone that Gabrielle’s Wish were his favourite band, the LP he listened to every night when he got home was ‘Processed’ (their unreleased LP) and when it came to picking an act to play at his 50th birthday party who did he ask? Yep! Our very own GW.
However the band signed to a ‘Gretton-less Pleasure’ became poorer cousins to the likes of their label mates J-Walk. Who were in all the right places at all the right times.
One of the personal moments of joy during their ‘Pleasure days’ was at the launch party and the first time I had heard ‘Manchester Suite’ I was literally moved to tears by the songs melancholy melody and pure heaven.

Myself and a complete and utter bonkers but totally genius (and I do mean in the literal sense - genius) friend of mine, Dave Tindall, came up with the idea of ‘The Job Club (music not business)’. A concept so brilliant it was doomed to fail. The basic premise was this:

We ask up and coming signed acts, those that said yes included Doves, Jane Weaver, Andy Votel, Rooney, Badly Drawn Boy, Alfie, to play a gig for us.
We wanted to host the events at local venues as profound as we could find. We were adamant not to use any of the established ones. Instead we focused on function rooms and small bars. I have to say that in hindsight and through all the headaches, cataclysmic administration faux pas and arseholes who tried ripping us off this was the happiest of my DJing career. Dave and I would argue like fuck all else at what each of us was going to play but when the night came around - pure magic!
There are no prizes for guessing who we asked for our opening night. Gabrielles Wish were just shit hot! We held the night upstairs at a real ale pub in Oldham. We were so made up with the (critical) acclaim we went ahead and booked our next venue (the one that’s owned by the worlds biggest twat!) and act, the very much talked about Doves, they hadn’t played anywhere since their debut at the Apollo the previous year. Doves were playing it really cool their debut single ‘Cedar Room’ was getting a phenomenal amount of rave reviews. They knew then they were going to be massive and were quite looking forward to playing a real low-key gig (in case anyone reading is thinking of booking them they charged us £260 - bargain!). The whole affair went splendidly marred only by the death of Rob Gretton a week earlier and the gig was a tribute to him.
With two ‘Job Clubs’ and more arguing under our belts we foolishly used the same venue for our third gig - were the owner basically took the piss and ripped us off lovely. Despondent, Dave and I
threw in the towel and decided to make our last Job Club a night to remember...

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