Early incarnation of Emperors of Ice Cream

The dream band that never got beyond rehearsals
Alex Green, Apollox 1995

1977

October:
Sax player Alex Green (later known as Max Akropolis of The Sinister Ducks) played in a jazz-funk band Escalator with Adrian Utley (later member of Portishead), Andy Kennedy, Coach York and Will Ballard. He also played with Stanton Walgrave, ’an occasional totally improvised band’ comprised of Glyn Bush (later member of Rocker HiFi), Pickle (aka Mr. Liquorice), Seaweed and Shriws.

29-30 October:
Stanton Walgrave rehersal
Alex talked to Glyn Bush about his ’Weirdo Rock Big Band’ idea. Glyn suggested him to speak with Alan Moore.

December:
Alex Green and Alan Moore formed a band called ‘The Emperors of Ice-Cream‘. Shrivs was also interested in doing backing tapes for the band

1978

22 January:
Escalator reunion gig at the Racehorse. They did songs like ’ Chameleon’, ’Vacuum Cleaners’, ’Blue Bossa’ and ’Hasten Slowly’.
Alex discussed his Emperors ideas with Coach York and  Adrian Utley.

I remember Alex always talking about the Emperors of Ice Cream – I didn’t join, you may be right about its virtual nature.
Coach York

February:
Alex writes Broken Duck Progression, a sort of weirdo / rock and roll mixture

March:
Pickle recommended Baby Mac as a possible drummer. He also offered to help with any technical hassles.

Emporers of Ice Cream was Alex and Alan’s brainchild. I was called in to help  work on some of the arrangements and to teach Alex how to play them on electric guitar. He was, you understand, a sax player. Would have been great if it had ever got beyond it’s conceptual stage.
Pickle (Mr. Licquorice)

Alex wrote We are the Emperors and sang bits to Alan Moore. Alan told him his ideas about a Gangster song with orthodox melody, 30’s style and promised to do the tape of  Old Gangster Never Die

10 April:
Practice session with Pickle

24 April:
Alex worked out the basis melodies for Sweet Potatoes Warblin’.
„The first half is a sort of collage of odd words, musical titoites and the very odd cough –  the 2nd bit is a real lush life pop song”
Original idea of that song came from Glyn Bush back in February.

Pickle contributed a Zappaish riff to the early instrumental version of Wurlitzer Junction (later became a Mystery Guests song)

21 May:
Escalator played  at Threnody and Gallstone.

26 May:
Alex left the Escalator and tried to focus on The Emperors

May:
Alex had 10+ or so numbers figured out in his head (for the first album). One of them was called Beneath The Pandamoon

28 June:
Alex wrote Death and Taxis :
Alan described it as ’Iggy Pop meets Damon Runyon on Broadway’

July:
First mention of Alex Green’s and Glyn Bush’s alter-egos, Max Accropolis and Grant Series. Alex used that pseudonym later with The Sinister Ducks but spelling has been changed to Max Akropolis (as Alan Moore used to write it).

14 Sept:
Alex worked out the framework for Where is Amnesia Silver?

19 Sept:
Alex wrote his Iggy Pop tribute called (A drink on) Metal Broadway
Baby Mac (drums) joined the band.
Coil (new wave band) asked Alex to play sax on a few of their numbers. Alex started to organize a joint party at Xmas for Coil/The Emperor (which never happened).

29 Sept:
Coil gig at the Racecourse Pavilion w/ Alex Green on sax

September – October:
Alex have taped a few home demos including Do The Bums Rush.
Tracklist as follows:

1, song#1
2, Do The Bums Rush
3, Do The Bums Rush – 2nd take
4, song #3
5, song #4
6, Skyscraper (written by Glyn Bush)
7, song #6
8, song #7
9, song #8

October:
Alex placed an advert for musicians in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo.

19 October:
Alex and Alan attempted to tape We Are The Emperors, Beneath A Pandamoon, A Big Future and  Night Flies Run On Alley Time in a rehersal place called ‘The Kitchen’.

20 October:
They have the last 2 numbers done.
New songs on the agenda:
Jackie, a Jacques Bel song originally done by Scott Walker in 1967
What keeps a man alive? from Threepenny Opera
Justice Traps The Guilty (???)

Alex received 2 replies to his advert for guitarists.
1, Dave Exton (he played in the Submerged Tenth with David J, Kevin Haskins and Janis Zakis)
2, Andy Broughton (he played in Eskimo Joe with Adrian Utley and Generation X before they got famous).

Dave Haskins also replied to the advert later.

25 October:
Alex had (possibly instrumental) taped versions of Skyscraper and We Are The Emperors. Skyscraper was originally written by Glyn Bush for the D-Go-Tees but Alex wrote his own version for the Emperors and Alan furbished new lyrics for that. Meanwhile Glyn Bush did his version of Alex’s Do The Bum’s Rush and Sweet Potatoes Warblin’ . They appeared in the D-Go-Tees live set and home demos has been also recorded around 1980.

Do The Bums Rush was one Alex wrote that we used to play
Glyn Bush

Sweet Potatoes Warblin’ lyrics

Sweet Potatoes Warblin’ lyrics

Sweet Potatoes Warblin’ score by Alex Green

Sweet Potatoes Warblin’ score by Alex Green

12 November:
Emperor’s first proper full rehersal.
Lineup:
Alan Moore (vocals)
Alex Green (sax)
Andy Broughton (guitar)
Graham Scott (upright bodyless bass)
Baby Mac (drums)
Shrivs (stylophone, violin)

Alan sang his The Wide Boys lyrics over the top of a jam. Pickle did  most of the groundwork of teaching everybody the music.

20 November:
Pickle formed his band Dapper Choir which also consists Alan and Alex. At some point The Emperors and Dapper Choir seems to turning into two contrasting expressions of the same band.
Pickle wrote most of the Dapper Choir songs like Monster Parody, Ready Remedies. Andrew James also contributed with some lyrics. He wrote Caption Music and  Venus of the Hardsell which later appeared in Hellblazer as a  Mucous Membrane song.
Pickle recorded a home demo with Cathy Frost.
Tracklist as follows:

1,  Monster Parody
2,  Transistional Radio (words and music by Glyn Bush)
3,  Ready Remedies
4,  Caption Music
5,  Venus of the Hardsell
6,  Venus of the Hardsell – 2nd take
7,  song #6 – incomplete

Dapper / Emperors tape cover

Dapper / Emperors tape cover

„BY NOW, however, the acrid scant of destiny was in Licquorice’s abnormally large nostrils. He had already formed the crepuscular choral formation known as the Dapper Choir, a cabaret conglomerate whose personnel were highly unstable in most accepted senses of the word.
The by-now consumptive Max Akropolis returned to furnish saxaphone accompaniment, and even your scribe was on occasions enlisted to lend a rich Basso Profundo to the vocal section.
But the spider at the centre of this web of creativity was undoubtedly Mr. Licquorice himself, crouched over his piano like a hunchbacked vampire, long waxen fingers stabbing spastically at the ivory.
Melodies would flow effortlessly foum him, words of simple truth hung on exquisite refrains.
Unforgettable tunes like the delightful accapella ditty entitled “All dressed up in my Summersuit, Summersuit, Two heads in my hood”.”
Alan Moore, Sounds article, Mystery and Abomination”, 1981-08-08

25 November:
Andy Broughton didn’t appear at the rehersal because of his commitments with The Hatricks. He left the band very soon and Pickle filled the spot temporarly.

November:
„David had met Alex for the first time at The Angel Hotel on Bridge Street  back in the fall of ’78 when he had answered an advert that had been placed in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo by Alex seeking out “game for anything” musicians. That advert simply said ‘New Music Night and Morning’ the band in question was The Emperors Of Ice Cream and whilst David was enthusiastic about the project, he was also similarly so about the band he had just joined; Bauhaus 1919 (as they were originally called) and they were about to hit the ground running…almost. So David never became an Emperor.”
Sleeve notes for David J: Etiquette of Violance reissue CD by Andrew J. Brooksbank

„We worked on the material that would subsequently become the set for the EMPERORS, when we had a dozen songs ready I placed an advert in the Chronicle & Echo seeking fellow conspirators — this would have been October or November 1978. Dave was one of the respondants — we met in the Angel Hotel. Although he was really into the idea of the EMPERORS he couldn’t stop talking about this other band, BAUHAUS l919. Subsequently he did not have any spare time for several years and so had no involvement with the EMPERORS — and did not in fact,meet Alan until years later.”
Alex Green, Apollox 1995

„Contrary to the above statement, I first met Alan two days after that fateful rendezvous with mister Green. Ushered into a dank basement flat in Colwyn road, Northampton, I became the delighted witness to a scene straight out of Kerouac’s ‘The Subterraneans’. There was the imposing figure of Alan Moore holding forth in the center of the small room, the walls of which were covered with reversed posters, picture side facing the wall(!), proclaiming that “Old gansters never die!” Whilst Alex blew smokey ribbons of saxophone sound , a sandy haired angelic looking boy known as ‘Seaweed’ scratched at a cheap electric guitar and the strange and inscrutable Doctor Pickle a.k.a. Mr. Liquerice ran skeletal fingers over the keyes of an ancient Wurlitzer. Various small time criminals and denizens of the local underground art scene nodded approvingly in the sepulcheral corners. I also nodded and eventualy joined in.
David J (Former ‘Emporer of Ice Cream’)”
David J, http://www.davidjonline.com

I only have the vaguest memory of the occasion but sure it will not have been a proper gig or a formal band – just a few people playing some songs and improvising and making things happen – maybe the genesis of something or nothing at all. Colwyn Road was where Pickle lived, so almost certainly a gathering of friends in his flat the Racecourse was just round the corner
Seaweed

The other ‘gig’ you mention was in my flat in Colwyn Rd. I think it was probably a rehearsal of something I did called the Dapper Choir which was me on piano  with as motley a collection of singers of different shapes, heights and persuasions as you could imagine. As one of the members once described it  ‘sort of a cross between Beethoven and Elvis Presley’ ”
Pickle (Mr. Licquorice)

With Northampton being a small place, it was inevitable that the paths of Moore and J would cross. This first happened in 1977 when Moore had put an advert in the local paper seeking not musicians but “co-conspiratots”.
“So I called this number up and met up with Alex Green,” recalls J and we had a long and very interesting talk and he told me all about Alan, this mad poet they were rehearsing with in a cellar. Next night he took me down there and Alan did a recitation for all these weirdoes with saxophone, toy keyboards and a guy with a twenty five-dollar guitar. I got to know Alan a bit and he was just starting to do some strips in the local paper.”
Ian Shirley: Can Rock & Roll Save the World?: An Illustrated History of Music and Comics, 2005

1979

28 January:
Alex tried to find a replacement guitarist and re-contacted David J Haskins.

04 February:
David J couldn’t join the band because of his commitments with Bauhaus.

February:
The Emperors did rehersals at the Hastwell. They got a new song called 1.000,000 Microbes and another take on Wurlitzer Junction

18 February:
Dapper Choir rehersal with Alex

20 February:
Emperors full band rehersal

27 February:
New replacement guitarist referred as ‘Nev Guitar’ left after one rehersal.

19 March:
Alan backed out of The Emperors because of his cartoon career but he remains the Emperor’s  lyricist and producer. As Pickle recommended Alex left the band to rest for a few weeks.

24 April:
New (possible) lineup for the still inactive Emperors:
Alex Green (vocals, sax)
Pickle (guitar)
Buster Skinner (guitar)
Baby Mac (drums)
+bass player

27 June:
Alex got another new (possible) drummer for the band called Fred Ryan.

June:
Sinister Duck’s/poetry-music meeting with Chad, Jamie, John Round, Alan, Pickle, Alex, Glyn, Buster, Shriv, Seaweed, Kathy, Mick Bunting, Jasmine, Dave Haskins, Dave Exton etc

11 November:
Escalator reunion gig

1980

February:
Alex joined a raggee-ska band called The Army.
Lineup:
Jono Bell (vocals), Adrian Utley (guitar), Coach York (drums), Alex Green (sax), Scott Graham (bass)

„Akropolis attempted to form the eerily-named Emperors of Ice Cream before giving up and joining the army.”
Alan Moore, Sounds article, Mystery and Abomination”, 1981-08-08

Copyright @2013 Bauhaus Gig Guide ( http://bauhausgigguide.info )
Research by Gabor Nemeth
Special thanks to Glyn Bush & Pickle.
Also thanks to Coach York, Seaweed & Andrew Brooksbank (Apollox)

Any additions / corrections are welcome. Feel free to contact me here
bauhausgigguide[at]yahoo[dot]com

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