Articles

Drawn on contemporaneous archive material and three recorded interviews with Robert John Godfrey.

 

THE GLORY DAYS

The Stand was set up in the mid-eighties by The Enid as a radical alternative to the normal, industry-dominated mechanisms of record production, distribution and promotion; as a way to pursue their musical goals free of the sort of commercial and artistic pressures which inevitably accumulate around the creative artist. The course The Enid charted over the years has by turns baffled and angered the music press, who usually preferred to ignore them, or at best to treat the band with extreme caution. The same Robert John Godfrey 1983can be said for a clutch of major record labels. Yet on the street, The Enid’s audience was always been there for them.

The Enid have never been a rich band. Their following was substantial, but not huge. The independence the band has achieved within the industry was bought at a formidable price - they did not have access to the sort of promotional and distributional muscle which most signed bands enjoy - and maintaining that independence remains to this day a costly and difficult business.

The Stand directly harnessed the power of the Enid following on the street - the dedicated hard-core of Enid fans. The £10 per annum which members donated to The Stand was used by The Enid to maintain and fund a comprehensive information service and mail-order record facility and to help fund the band’s various artistic projects. None of the remarkable shows at Hammersmith Odeon and The London Dominion could have happened without The Stand.

Perhaps most importantly, the Stand members served to “create a buzz” about the band and its activities - to actively promote the music by word of mouth both in Britain and abroad.

The relationship between the band and The Stand is a complex one, but at its most basic level, in return for their moral and financial support the members enjoyed unparalleled access to the artists via a periodic meetings and events, receive substantial discounts on Enid products (including concert tickets) and from time to time received free or even exclusive recordings by the band.

Steve Stewart At The Marquee Club

Said Robert John Godfrey: “The Stand is the vital, extra-promotional wing of The Enid. Without The Stand The Enid would have ceased to exist long ago."

 

THE END OF THE AFFAIR

RJG and Steve Stewart decided to split up during the recording of The seed And the Sower which was completed at the end of 1987. They decided to go out with a bang and planned two last back to back shows for the following autumn at the London Dominion.

These were to be the most ambitious and costly events ever embarked on by The Enid and The Stand. In order to fund it, a live recording together with a video recording of the two concerts was planned. Then, after a difficult time for them both, in the new year, Steve decided to move out of Claret Hall Farm to live with his new girlfriend effectively putting all their plans in jeopardy.

Apart from agreeing to show up at The Dominion, Steve Stewart walked away from The Enid, playing no further role in the band's affairs. RJG excepted this situation stoically, set about losing several stones, and plodded on.

The shows duly took place and that was that. But there was a terrible aftermath which few are aware of. The band's debts and liabilities were huge. Although RJG and Steve Stewart were mildly estranged, RJG did not wish him to have to bear the possible consequences of the financial storm brewing. Accordingly, he took steps to protect him and make sure that he was never exposed to what was bound to follow.

 

THE NINETIES - THE YEARS OF CONFUSION

Robert John Godfrey found it necessary to give up the rented farmhouse in Clare where the band were based and moved himself and what remained of The Lodge Studio to a house in Northamptonshire. He pinned his hopes on the forthcoming video and live album to balance the books. Whilst the recording (Final Noise) did see the light of day, the video project did not.

Much of the money taken in advance sales was used to fund the Dominion shows and the video production. The video master recordings turned out to be unusable. In the end, with much argument and recrimination, the project was abandoned. RJG, was now on his own, very broke and unable to make good his bargain with his fans. "There are going to be a lot of angry, upset people out there and there is absolutely fuck all I can do about it", he said whilst on the phone to me. I could tell he was near to breaking down.
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In an effort to try and remedy the situation, RJG formed a young band with a more commercial appeal (Come September). This very nearly succeeded with the band on the brink of a major record deal. However, it was not to be. The band so near to having all their dreams come true embarked upon violent and destructive argument over money, jealousy and greed and the band split.

RJG took all the blame for this sorry state on the grounds that he was too easy going with them and should have foreseen these types of problem and nipped them in the bud. (See The Poison Tree by William Blake).

***

Robert now had to survive. He moved The Lodge Studio into a run-down area of Northampton town, lived above the shop and opened for business with a young colleague, Max Read. And for a while, The Enid went quiet.
Tripping The Light Fantastic***

Enter Nick May. Nick was a well-meaning average prog guitarist; middle-aged and comparatively rich. He persuaded RJG to let him "resurrect" the band with himself in the staring role. It was a disaster and from there on in, RJG's mental health began to deteriorate.

There have been many false starts, raised hopes, new initiatives, failed compositions and broken promises. Yet in all this confusion, two albums appeared during this decade, Tripping The Light Fantastic and White Goddess. and though they are flawed they nevertheless contain some of the most sublimely beautiful music ever composed by RJG. White Goddess

Over the years RJG and his business partner Max Read, have built The Lodge into a successful business with a good reputation. Francis Lickerish is back on the scene and continuing the journey from where paths diverged in 1981. He has just completed his new album, To Wake The King,  at The Lodge and he and RJG are planning some joint efforts - in particular, a new performing version of Fand with both bands, Secret Green and The Enid in harness.

***

ENTER JASON DUCKER

Jason Ducker at The London Astoria 2003In 2001, a young punky 18-year-old guitarist showed up at The Lodge looking for a life in music. By 2003 a decision was taken for him to learn the role of an "Enid" guitarist and his musical education began. A couple of years at college and a dedication to learning the necessary techniques has paid off.

In Jason, RJG has found a musician who is dedicated, willing and able to respond to the highest challenges and has gone a long way to fulfilling the role both in the studio and on stage vacated by Steve Stewart all those years ago.

Now Jason and RJG together with Max Read and the original drummer, Dave Storey are ready to embark upon another chapter in the life of what, for me, is one of the most enduring and creative bands this country has ever produced.

 

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