The Hidden Village of Aspergers

March 17, 2013

On Space

Filed under: childhood,music,obsessions,relationships with others — kankurette @ 9:40 pm

Amazingly, this is one of the hardest posts I’ve written yet, not least because the people concerned may see this, and hopefully it won’t freak them out – but after last night, it’s something I need to get off my chest.

A bit of background: as my close friends and family will know, having listened to me playing their music and going on about them for years, one of my biggest obsessions is the Liverpool band Space. They were fairly big in the mid-to-late ’90s, their most well-known song being Female Of The Species, and they split up in 2005, only to reform near the end of 2011. This month, they’ve been touring, and I was lucky enough to see them in London – as my brother lives down there and a friend of his would be at the gig, and I thought it would be nice to have a mini reunion – and Manchester. I went to London last Thursday, and Manchester last night.

I am Facebook friends with two of the band members – Tommy Scott, the singer, guitarist and main songwriter, and Franny Griffiths, one of the two keyboardists and the only original member alongside Tommy in the current line-up – and they knew I was going to be at both gigs. They are also my two favourite band members; Tommy is a major influence on me as a songwriter, and Franny is one of my musical heroes and two keyboardists, the other being Regina Spektor, who inspired me to keep up with the piano and mess around with keyboards. I even arranged one of Franny’s songs, Fran In Japan, for piano for my GCSE Music exam, and got an A (the flute piece my teacher wanted me to play would have got me a B). I have met them a few times and both of them have been nothing short of lovely. Franny was even kind enough to put up with me acting like a deranged fangirl at the Unity Theatre gig in 2002, machine-gunning him with questions and talking non-stop. Even after we’d had an argument on the Space forums over a song I hated, when I met the band at the Metro in London a few months later, it was like nothing had happened.

I do not worship them. They are people, not gods. They have their flaws and I don’t agree with everything they say or like every song they’ve done. But it is no exaggeration when I say that Space saved my life in high school. Spiders, their first album, came out in 1996, when I would have been in Year 8, and Tin Planet came out when I was in Year 9. The first five years of school were, frankly, hell.

In short, I was a weird kid in a new town who had no real friends – the girls I thought were my friends were laughing at me behind my back, and the one friend I did have eventually turned on me – and I didn’t know who to trust. I was made fun of for not wearing my bag properly, for being a virgin, for my accent, my hair, my bad skin, my music taste, you name it. When I told my mother I wished she had never had me, I meant it. When I started cutting myself in 1999, I hated myself and everything that I was, and I wanted to punish myself for being a horrible flawed human being. I was jealous of my brother and desperate to please my mum and stepdad, and lonely as hell. Trite though it sounds, one of the things that really got me through those years was Space’s music. I would come home and put Tin Planet on and for a while, I’d be able to escape. Even though none of them were outcasts at school, they were outcasts on the music scene; they looked like a guitar band, but weren’t, Tommy was inspired by cartoons and B-movies instead of the Beatles, and they sang about serial killers and stalkers and Charlie Manson, not pulling girls and getting pissed. When I saw them for the first time in 1998, I didn’t come down for days. When I met them four years later, it was like a dream come true, and I wanted to bottle the night and replay it forever. I was terrified that Franny would be rude or arsey, even though my then friend Jo, who knew the band, assured me he was the opposite. Thankfully, she was right.

Last night, the gig was one of the most intense Space gigs I had ever been to – it was in a small venue, where we were practically nose to nose with the band, and my ears are ringing even now. Tommy hugged me during Female Of The Species and later, invited me backstage, and I went and sat in the tiny backstage bit with him and Franny, while the other three band members, Allan the drummer, Phil the bassist and Ryan the second keyboardist, wandered in and out. As Tommy had to go back to Chester, I spent most of the time talking to Franny – and Phil and his girlfriend Emma, to a lesser extent – and stealing his JD and Coke, and I finally got round to telling him what I’d wanted to say to Space for years, the one reason why I loved them so much in 1998: that Avenging Angels, released four and a half years after my father had died, was a huge coping mechanism for me when I found out that Tommy had written it about his own father. I had always believed that Dad was watching over me, and knowing Tommy felt the same way was a huge comfort. If you’re reading this, Tommy, thank you so much for writing that song, and Bad Days too. It means more to me than I can express here.

Sitting with the band backstage and talking to Franny, one of the people who’s influenced me the most as a musician, for ages about Spain and Catatonia and whatever was magical, and I’m really grateful to the guys for the invite. I walked out scarcely believing it had happened, although my brandy and JD-induced hangover is proof it did. I know people will sneer at me, a mentally ill woman of nearly thirty with no boyfriend who’s slavishly following a band of aging has-beens around the country…even if they are aging has-beens, they’re MY fucking aging has-beens, dammit, and no-one will ever take what I had last night away from me. For has-beens, they are very loved. I doubt Phil was kidding when he said it was the best gig of the tour. The audience adored them last night. Tommy was very game, posing for photo after photo after photo with loads of audience members, and he was the same at London. It must be very gratifying to know that, after all these years in the wilderness, there are still people who love your music.

So thank you, Tommy Scott, Franny Griffiths, Phil Hartley, Ryan Clarke, and Allan Jones – and not forgetting Andy Parle (RIP), Jamie Murphy, Yorkie and Leon Caffrey, the latter three of whom I have also met. You have made this stupid fangirl this little screw-up very happy for years, your music got me through tough times, and I cannot thank you enough. You’ve been great. Bring on the next tour.

Blog at WordPress.com.