The great sound that you associate with Gavin Sinclair and The Mysterious Beings doesn’t happen by accident. Well, alright, it does kind of happen by accident, but you still need a band. Or do you?
The Mysterious Beings have been described, or are about to be described, as a rag-tag bunch of musical misfits, modern troubadours gathering artistic influences from all over the world and feeding them into a giant musical sausage machine. The resultant sausage is both spicy and delicious, if rather chewy and not particularly good for you.
Unfortunately, none of them can sing. Arguably, neither can I, but, what the heck, that didn’t stop Ed Sheeran.
GENE POOLE-SKIMMINGS (ENGLAND) – KEYBOARDS
Gene Poole-Skimmings is a graduate of the Edith M and Albert J Pollock School of Music, Dance and Building Maintenance in Bournemouth, England, from where, as he is fond of reminding us, he graduated with a degree in piano and air conditioning repair. We don’t like Gene very much, but he is quite good at keyboards and his unpopularity with other band members contributes to that edgy tension that permeates so many of our songs. Still, if anyone knows of a half-decent keyboard player who is looking for work, please let me know.
ALDO SACHS (FRANCE) – SAXOPHONE, TUBA
I first met Aldo, the youngest member of the band, in Paris, where he used to play tuba in the subway. At that time, there were very few tuba playing dwarfs in the Parisian transportation system and, at only four feet three, Aldo had carved out a small but lucrative niche for himself. He was popular with other musicians, always willing to lend his amazing sense of rhythm in support of violinists and accordion players and earning himself the affectionate nickname of the Metro Gnome.
It took me two years and a couple of van-loads of unfiltered Gitane cigarettes to lure him out of his subterranean habitat and into the back of my roadie Ford Van Drijver’s unmarked Transit van. Ironically, none of our songs actually feature a tuba, but it turned out Aldo was also a dab hand at the saxophone, which was lucky really. The unfiltered Gitane habit is unfortunate, as it restricts Aldo’s playing to a maximum of twenty-eight seconds or one hundred and forty notes per song, whichever is longer, but he doesn’t take up much space in the van and we think it’s worth keeping the little feller around just for that.
KIT BASHIR (AFGHANISTAN) – DRUMS, AFGHAN NOSE HARP
The history of rock is full of chance meetings that have led to inspired collaborations. Great artists have been discovered playing in the most unlikely of venues, but few contemporary musicians can claim to have been discovered in a secret compartment of a recently purchased Ford Transit van.
When we bought the van from a friend of Gene Poole-Skimmings in a pub in Kirkcaldy, we had no way of knowing that it had previously belonged to a people-smuggling ring based in Romania. It wasn’t until we had left the pub and were half way to Glasgow that Dee discovered a receipt from a strip club in Bucharest and we began to doubt Gene’s friend’s assurance that it had one previous owner, a clergyman in Edinburgh who used it to take his cat to the vet. At about the same time, we started to become concerned at the rhythmic thumping coming from somewhere under the van and sent Aldo to investigate. And that’s how we discovered that the van came with a built-in Afghan migrant.
It turned out that Kit had not been signaling for help. An intensely shy man, he was not entirely unhappy at having been abandoned in a locked six foot by three foot metal compartment and had been amusing himself by beating out the rhythm of a traditional Pashtun camel scratching song on the van’s front axle. Our drummer at the time, Fat Eric, an unimaginative percussionist and flatulent travel companion had stepped away from the van to relieve himself against an emergency motorway telephone and it was the work of an instant to chuck his duffel bag onto the hard shoulder and drive off with his replacement.
It turned out that Kit was not happy sitting up front and we had to return him to his compartment under the van, where he still spends most of his time, but he emerges punctually before every gig. We don’t understand a whole lot of what he says, and have never actually seen his nose harp, but he’s an adequate drummer and, more importantly, a lovely bloke.
DEE SHARPE (SCOTLAND) – GUITAR
Anyone who has seen us in concert will permit himself a knowing chuckle when I refer to Dee Sharpe as my right hand man. Not only is Dee a fabulous guitarist but he achieves his distinctive sound with the use of only one hand, having lost the left one after a llama bite went septic far from medical assistance during a research trip to Peru for our planned “Inca” album in 2013.
Having a one-handed guitar player is an even better gimmick than an emphysemic midget occasional saxophonist and this is the reason why we have resisted pressure to produce music videos. If you want to see how Dee does it, you’ll have to stump up for a ticket to one of our infrequent but invariably sold-out live performances.
The photo is from 2012, before the llama bite incident.
JUAN TUSRIFOR (PERU) – BASS
We met Juan during an impromptu performance at the Como Se Llama Su Llama Hotel in Puno on the edge of Lake Titicaca, which we were staging to raise the bus fare to send Dee to the nearest hospital equipped to treat septic llama bites. His hand had already swollen to about three time its normal size, and disunity had broken out in the band after I shouted out, quite innocently, “A big hand for Mr. Dee Sharpe on guitar.” At that point, Dee stormed off the stage, ignoring my protestation that it was his bloody bus fare we were doing all this for. To make matters worse, Aldo had discovered a particularly noxious brand of Peruvian cigarettes which had combined with the altitude to leave him flat out at the back of the room and in danger of being kidnapped by an Andean traveling circus.
The crowd was becoming restless and I doubt if we would have made it out alive were it not for Juan. Grabbing Dee’s guitar, he leapt onto the stage and offered to take his place. I asked him his name, he said, “Juan Tusrifor” and the boys all started playing. It turned out to be one of the best gigs we had ever done. We even raised enough money to send Dee by train instead of bus, so he had nothing to complain about.
After the concert, I explained that we’d love to have him in the band, but we already had a guitarist. On the other hand, we didn’t have a bass player, having thought, wrongly as it turned out, that we could get by with Aldo playing the bass parts on his tuba. When he pointed out that he could also play bass, we all shook hands (except Dee) and welcomed him aboard.
BEAU STROKES (USA) – FIDDLE, SLIDE GUITAR
I became friends with Beau in a bar in Hickory, North Carolina, where he was the only one to come to my defence during an altercation with a big old boy named Bubba, described in some detail in the song Jeez Louise.
Much later that night, Beau confided in me his history as a special agent for the CIA. The tiny fiddle in the picture was specially made to be smuggled into the heartland of the Islamic State in Syria for the purpose of undermining the repressive regime with a bit of old time bluegrass music guaranteed to set the most stubbornly Salafist foot a-tapping. Beau’s knowledge of Arabic was at best rudimentary, consisting of the phrases, “Please direct me to the train station,” and “I am not a CIA spy,” which, his handlers assured him, would allow him to move around the country while avoiding detection. Soon captured, he escaped execution when it was discovered that his fiddle playing drove away vermin, and he spent two weeks in a former Kentucky Fried Chicken outside Mosul stuffed with giant piles of freshly looted banknotes that were being nibbled on by mice and the occasional starving citizen of the Caliphate. US special forces soon zeroed in on the tracking device embedded in his fiddle and liberated Beau and several million dollars after taking out some of the vermin that Beau had missed.
Ladies and Gentlemen…The Mysterious Beings