Thanks to an unlikely chain of events involving a Kiwi, a drug dealer, a reservoir, Paris, a wedding, a deportation, a grass, and a serve of spectacular naivety, I ended up leaving the UK in my mid-twenties, relocating to Australia. When I first arrived down under I had decided to put together a home studio and concentrate on recording – at least as far as my own material was concerned. I wasn’t going to get a live band together. Instead I thought that I might look around and see if I could join another band as a guitarist, to satiate my performing needs and to avoid all the inevitable hard work of running my own group.
I started checking out the musicians wanted ads, and for a long time I could find absolutely nothing appealing whatsoever. Then I stumbled upon a curious little ad – someone calling themselves Jesus was looking for musicians to form a band and help tell his story. Intriguing. Now for a while I’d been educating myself in the mythology of the world in general, which included the reading of a few books about the famous Jewish carpenter, so this piqued my interest. Ok, so he’s probably quite mad, but it’s still more interesting than anything else I’ve seen in the last six months, so let’s see what it’s all about.
Thus I met up with “Jesus”, a thirty-something year old hippy from Byron Bay, complete with dreadlocks and those loose cotton trousers that people from Byron Bay all wear, without exception. I presume it’s a legal requirement, or perhaps you get presented with a pair once your dreadlocks reach a certain length. Naturally shoes were out of the question.
It turned out that – unbelievably – Jesus wasn’t his real name, he was otherwise known as Shane. Shane had been “doing a lot of work on myself” using a meditative technique involving mirrors, which seems incredibly fitting as he was a full-time professional narcissist. Through this work he had come to realise that he was the reincarnation of not only Jesus H Christ, but a certain Adolf Hitler too. (I’ve often wondered what the H stood for, and now I find myself wondering if H is for Hitler?)
Shane told me that Jesus’s reincarnation as Adolf, and his subsequent genocidal actions, were a revenge, a life aimed at getting his own back on the Jews who had been so dastardly to him nearly two thousand years previous. His current incarnation, apparently, was here to reconcile the two previous personalities and tell this story, bringing peace across the world via the medium of improvised music. Well they do say God works in mysterious ways.
Now I quite liked Shane, but this all seemed a little unlikely if I’m honest, and a bit… well, crazy. Shane explained to me that his soul was in transition and the music we would make was part of this. He was going through a process of purifying himself and would no longer drink alcohol or smoke weed – although I soon worked out that what he actually meant was he would no longer drink alcohol or smoke weed unless it was someone else’s.
Anyway, more out of morbid fascination than anything else, I had a few jams with him, one session of which I recorded, and still have somewhere. In fairness, it’s actually very good at times. I would improvise some guitar, which would at least half of the time mean playing around with riffs from songs I knew he wouldn’t recognise as I couldn’t think of anything better to play. He would then sing his story over the top, with a deep strong voice that was genuinely powerful and affecting (well this would make sense of course, as both Jesus and Hitler were very good public speakers). Although how he’d have felt if he knew his emotional outpourings were being accompanied by the riff from Animal Nitrate by Suede, a song about gay sex and poppers, I don’t know.
At first I was quite impressed by the range of melodies that Shane/Hitler/Jesus could improvise. Then he asked me if he could have a go on my guitar, so he started noodling away and I started singing. I realised at this juncture that it is actually incredibly easy to sing any old nonsense along to someone playing guitar, and in fact this is the way I write songs anyway – the difference being that in the process of writing you cast aside all the crap and keep the good bits, and really fine tune the lyrics. I suggested as such, along with the notion that perhaps we should just make these stories into songs, but Shane wasn’t impressed. It just wouldn’t be pure, man. And we know all about his previous incarnation’s dubious views on purity.
It was within about five minutes of ending this last rehearsal that I realised if I wanted a half-decent band then the only option was to form my own one, so I quit. I think I was the first disciple that Shane recruited, but I was by no means the last. I would sometimes see adverts for gigs he was doing, but I never made it along to one. Fair play to the dude though, he stuck at it and gave it a really good go. I know the plan was to be touring the world in 2013 with a twelve-piece band (of course!), but to the best of my knowledge this never happened – even though this was prophesised by Shane himself many years previously.