Here & Now (band)
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Here & Now are an English psychedelic/space rock band formed in early 1974. They have close connections with the band Gong and in 1977/1978 worked with Gong's Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth under the name Planet Gong.
Guitarist Steffe Sharpstrings' highly individual sound was influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa. Both Steffy (Stephen Lewry) and bassist Keith the Bass (Keith Bailey) featured in 1990s incarnations of Gong.
The first version of the group was co-founded in London by drummer/vocalist Keith Dobson later known as "Kif Kif Le Batteur", guitarist/keyboardist José Gross, bassist Franco & others in March, 1974. They were known for jamming (free improvisation), which they did exclusively. The name was made up by Keith and Franco and inspired by the book Be Here Now by Baba Ram Dass. Keith, José, violinist Chris Kellaher & guitarist Jol Buchanan had been jamming together since 1973 in an apartment at 30 Hedgegate Court, Powys Terrace off Portobello Road, London. Their unpopularity with other residents in the block who had a habit of throwing mattresses and bricks at their window meant that they could not stay so they moved to a squat in for the first time in Norburn Street, W10 off Ladbroke Grove in early 1974 when they teamed up with Franco. They believed in the purity of creating music "in the moment" and didn't have rehearsals or songs. No-one ever paid to see or hear them either, as they would only play their music at free shows and free festivals.
One other part of their manifesto was to never to release, or even make, recordings of their music. Consequently, no recordings at all of the 1974 version of Here & Now are thought to exist. Other members of the original band included Franco (Bass), Marguerita (Vocals), Chris Kelleher (Violin), Joleon (Lead Guitar) and Jose Gross (Keyboards & Guitar).
The band had a residency at the Albion Free State's 'Meat Roxy' in Lancaster Road off Ladbroke Grove, a squatted old cinema to which José helped bring over an old brass bed, and made their last performance at the August, 1974 Windsor Free Festival. The band reformed as a 3-piece in November, 1974, with Kif Kif, Jose (temporarily on Bass then Keyboards), and Joleon Buchanan and moved to another squat at 373 Latimer Road, W10.
This line-up gigged at the Greyhound venue in Fulham Palace Road, before adding Brother followed by Nick Reiter (Bass), Richard Heley (Vocals) & occasionally Hugh (Flute). At this point the music changed largely at the instigation of José and Jolian. It was felt that pure improvisation tended to get self-indulgent & boring so they started working around musical themes to improvise around somewhat similar to the Jazz approach. They were influenced by bands and artists such as Ravel, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea and Weather Report as well as Hendrix, The Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Gong. José improvised a synthesiser sound by modifying a Stylophone and putting it through a Copycat echo, his other keyboard was a Wurlitzer electric piano. There are some recordings of this line up in José's archives to be eventually made available.
They then moved to another squat in Roehampton Lane and were joined by Paul Noble aka Twink (not Twink of the Pink Fairies) on his home-made synthesizer. This line-up also gigged at the Greyhound, The Chippenham in Maida Vale, the Cabbage Patch in Twickenham, a festival near Poole Dorset, the Tabernacle in Powys Square Notting Hill Gate, and Cornwall Crescent (a squat in Baker Street/Regents Park, in the news a lot at the time), before making their final performance at Stonehenge Free festival in June, 1975. They often shared the bill (even Stonehenge!) with neighbour-squatters, Joe Strummer's 101ers. After Stonehenge 1975, José Gross, Nick Reiter, Chris Kelleher and Richard Heley, amicably left the band to form the new-wave group 'Blank Space'. In 1989 José founded a sound engineering and music production school called The Recording Workshop UK in west London which he still runs to this day. In 1991 José under the name of Saracen released a number of Techno House singles including Heaven 4 with Might Jo which got to number 7 in the DJ magazine House charts. Jolian Buchanan went on to form a band called "Termite Hotel".
Kif Kif and Twink trawled the English free festivals for a bass player and guitarist, and finally found Keith the Bass and Stephen Lewry at Watchfield Free Festival in August 1975. Although this is often described as the formation of the definitive Here & Now line-up, Keith the Bass was not convinced at the time, and after a short while left to form the band 'Burnin' Sensation' with guitarist Bernie Elliott. It is around this time that Keith became known as "Kif Kif Le Batter".
During 1976 H & N was often joined on stage by dancer Suze the Blooze who, by 1977, was also singing for the band.
A year later, in September 1976, Keith the Bass did agree to join Here and Now.
Kif Kif, Twink, Steffe and Suze had toured all the 1976 summer free festivals using stand-in bass players, or just jamming without one. The band used to travel, and live, while on the road, in Twink's ex-police bus which Keith sold after Twink had left.
Just before the Planet Gong collaboration in September 1977, Keith Bailey, who by now had appointed himself leader, ousted Twink from the group and recruited Gavin da Blitz on synthesizer.
Although Gavin was a close friend of the band, other members felt that losing Twink was a wrong turn, and the associated Planet Gong excursion into 'the music biz' took them ever further from the fields of dreams..
In 1977 Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth recruited the band to tour with them under the name Planet Gong, and this combination released a live album Live Floating Anarchy 1977 and a single "Opium for the People".
Live Floating Anarchy 1977 is reputed to have sold around 250,000 copies, more than any other Gong record.
Although credited to "Zero" (A pseudonym of Daevid Allen) the bulk of the material on the album was selected from Here & Now's original repertoire they had built up from jamming at festivals.
The title track "Floating Anarchy Radio" Was actually written by Kif Kif, Jose Gross and Richard Heley of the 1974-75 line-up, and was originally titled "Soviet Kommercial Radio".
In December, 1978 Kif Kif and Suze played their last shows with the band. KK started his own band, "The 012" with José Gross, a recording studio, Street Level also with José Gross and Grant Showbiz and formed a cassette label Fuck Off Records, a recognized pioneering move in the DIY lo-fi movement. In 1985 he formed a new trio World Domination Enterprises. In 1980, Suzy formed the cult post-punk girl-band "Androids of Mu". Kif Kif founded noisy psychedelic pop group "The Love Bringers" in 2012, with ex-World Dom bass player Steve Jameson.
Here and Now toured extensively in 1980 and 1981 living on their converted bus. This included the free summer festivals of Deeply Vale, Stonehenge and Glastonbury. The band temporarily went back to their 1970's ethos of doing gigs with no entrance fee but a voluntary collection amongst the crowd to help funds.
In 1981 Steffe left due to dissatisfaction with the direction and vibe of the band and became deeply involved in reggae/world music. playing with Inner Force. He formed Nomadiks and also worked with Addis rockers.
Here and Now continued under the leadership of Keith the Bass with Dino Ferrari (a long time roadie with the band ) and a variety of drummers. The band recorded a number of albums including Fantasy Shift, Coaxed out from Oxford,; Theatre and Been and Gone. This incarnation split in 1986 due to record company troubles and the Stonehenge Free festival getting closed down by the police. They reformed a year later in 1987 with Keith on bass, Gavin on keyboards, guitarist Dino Ferrari, saxophonist Jonathan 'JC' Lambert and ex-UK Subs drummer Pete Davis. Gavin left Here & Now finally in 1990 to be replaced by Andy Roid. Steffe returned along with drummer Steve Cassidy in 1990 after playing with Keith in a televised performance of Gong for Central TV. This line-up recorded the UFOasis album. Andy Roid left in 1996.
Since 2001, a line-up featuring Kif Kif, Twink and Steffe, mainstays of the mid-70's band, have occasionally performed, under the name "Ici Maintenants". All their material is improvised in the moment, a la 'innocent' mid-seventies Here & Now. They produced one live album 'Space and Time' in 2003, and recorded another in 2009, which is yet to be released.
Steffe left the H&N band again in early summer 2009 after concluding he could no long work with Keith the Bass. He has continued to work with Steve Cassidy on various fusion projects and contributed to Joie Hinton projects. He is now concentrating on solo work and his long-time involvement in Visitation Arena with Cher Newsam , , .
In September 2009 a new line-up was announced: Gwyo ZePix (ex Zorch and Gong); Slim Verhoef (ex Giant Eyes) Nik Nimbus; Drumbiz (ex Mandragora and Giant Eyes) and Keith the Bass.
Despite several re-releases, to date, no members of the band have ever received any royalties for these albums, or any of their other material originally released by Charly Records, including Live Floating Anarchy 1977.
In 2011 Mark Robson of Kangaroo Moon and Magick Brothers took the helm of Keyboard Meister and vocals. Andy Roid also rejoined the band following a guest appearance jamming with the band at a free party in mid-Wales in August 2011, giving the band two synth players. Dino Ferrari also made a reappearance at a gig in Kingston, Surrey in April 2012. The band were also joined onstage by Gavin da Blitz at the same gig.
In 2013 Stephen "Woody" Wood replaced Nik Nimbus on drums
Although the band do not make British television appearances, British television presenter Matthew Wright is a high-profile fan of the band, regularly mentioning the band on his series The Wright Stuff.
- Bristol Gardens (Live CD) 1977 (Free Love Records)
- Rivington Pike (Live CD) 1977 (Free Love Records)
- Rivington Pike 2 (Live CD) 1977 (Free Love Records)
- Oxford Poly (Live CD - with Daevid Allen) 1977 (Free Love Records)
- Live Floating Anarchy 1977 (as "Planet Gong") (1977)
- Give and Take 1978
- Dog in Hell (EP) 1978
- What You See... Is What You Are (LP shared with Alternative TV) (Deptford Fun City, DLP 02 1978)
- All Over the Show
- Off The Cuff (1979 Live Recordings - cassette only)
- Stolen Moments (early 80's - cassette only)
- Fantasy Shift
- Been & Gone
- Standing Forever (EP)
- Gospel of Free (1976 to 1978. Released in 1999)
- Space and Time (as "Ici Maintenants") 2001/2003 (Free Love Records)
- Wild and Free (1976 line-up re-union Live) 2007 (Free Love Records)
- Coaxed out from Oxford originally on tape, CD from 2009