I started playing in this band when I was 15 because it offered a fun alternative to being educated. Over 15 years, the band wrote around 200 songs, releasing far too few of them in my humble opinion. We played gigs all over the planet and were fortunate enough to be signed to BMG Music Publishing and Spira Records. Living in LA for a couple of years, we were lucky enough to work with some big-name producers which made recording more fun than I thought possible.
During my years as an unemployed rock star, the band spent an unhealthy amount of time in Transit vans, driving up and down the M4. When four men spend that much time together, they find themselves coming up with stupid, boredom-induced nicknames for each other. Some of them stick. This is why I’m also known as Topher Icecry.
The most well known recording Airbus did was a B-side of Portishead’s Sourtimes, entitled the ‘Airbus Reconstruction’. We went to Gordano school with Geoff Barrow. He’d been signed to Go Beat and recorded Dummy. It hadn’t been released and, at that time, no one had heard of Portishead. He gave us a cassette (oh dear, showing my age) with a click-track and Beth’s vocal on it. We spent a day in State of Art recording studio in Easton, Bristol, recording the music (to the click-track as it had to marry up with Beth’s vocal - she overdubbed the howling on the end section after the music was recorded).
It wasn’t until the song was completed that Geoff played us the original. I remember us saying, ‘Sorry,’ or something similar, as it was so different from the original and much heavier. But that’s what makes it work. We performed it live twice with Beth, if my memory serves correctly; once at Moles Club in Bath and once at the Ashton Court Music Festival in Bristol. Below you can see a version I found on Youtube.
Ghosts was recorded by the band in a basement recording studio in Bristol on ancient (and often unreliable) analogue equipment. No computers, no wav files - this was all done on a 1 inch Souncraft tape machine and a 2 inch Studer which gave the recordings a warmth and depth of which I'm proud. If you would like a copy of Ghosts please contact me.
The building on the CD cover is the Grosvenor Hotel which is located in the heart of Bristol, near Temple Meads train station.
Below is a live recording of a song from the Ghosts album (released in 2000) called All My Wishes. The video was shot at UCLA, CA in 2001.
First cut was a television programme filmed over two days during May 1993 at the Lloyds Amphitheatre in Bristol, UK. The programme was a 'battle of the bands' which I'm pleased to say we won. Below are videos of some of the songs we performed on the show. The daytime videos are of songs performed during one the of the heats, and the night-time videos were performed during the final.
This is one of the most popular songs we performed live, and was often referred to as 'the drum song' by people who didn't know its real name (Ethnicus). This is the best version we have, as studio recordings never worked as well as when the song was played live. The video encompasses two performances, the first from the heat, the second from the final, which played out under the show's credits.
Another popular live song, sometimes called 'the mandolin song' (you can see a pattern developing here...). Again, this is the best version we have recorded.
We released this track as a 7" single (pictured below in the discography) in 1993, just after First Cut was filmed. The single did very well, selling out in local record stores.
This is an old song that we wrote in 1989 and recorded and released on Apple Trees in 1990. We played it live for many years as it was a favourite with our audience.
In 1993 we appeared on Wire TV, a cable television programme filmed in The Galleries shopping centre in Bristol UK. Unfortunately the recording quality isn't brilliant, but the video has Ross in the background, a friend from school who very sadly died in the early nineties. I thought it would be nice to have a memory of him on my website.
...is a song we wrote in the late 80's. It was one of the first demos we recorded and helped us get our foot in the door with a lot of gig venues. At the beginning of the video, you'll notice the presenter having a professional 'moment' and swearing, thinking her microphone is turned off. Ross is sitting at the front on the right of the group of people directly behind me (I'm on drums).
Prior to releasing Ghosts, we used a lot of imagery from the album cover photoshoot on our website, which was built around 1995. Although airbusmusic.com is long gone, the site is still used by Bluetree (the webdesign firm who built it) as an example of past works. See the Airbus website.
Spitfire (1988 no picture available)
Apple Trees (1990 no picture available)
Bug and the Big Fish (1991 no picture available)
Below are some reviews that appeared in local and national press when the Ghosts album Gravity EP were released.
Ashton Court Festival programme write-up, Bristol
Ghosts EP album teaser review
Gravity EP review
Below are a few of the eclectic designs used on our gig flyers. These are mainly from gigs we did in the USA.
Viper Room Flyer, Los Angeles
The 56 Flyer, Los Angeles
Space Flyer, Los Angeles
The Mint Flyer, Los Angeles
Fleece & Firkin Flyer, Bristol
The Cube Flyer Artwork, Bristol
Nick Davidge - guitar and vocals
James Childs - guitar and vocals
Chris Fielden - drums
Simon Hedges - bass (1987 - 1999)
From left to right: Simon Hedges, Nick Davidge, James Childs, Chris Fielden
Oliver Morris - bass (2000)
From left to right: Nick Davidge, James Childs, Chris Fielden, Oliver Morris
Sargon Dooman - bass (2000 - 2002)
From left to right: Sargon Dooman, Nick Davidge, Olive, James Childs, Chris Fielden
And here are some old, older and very old pictures of the band, dating right back to 1987 when we had our first rehearsal in the music block at Gordano School in Portishead. I remember smuggling beer in. How naughty.
Airbus, Los Angeles, 2002
Airbus in Bristol, around 1995 / 1996
Airbus Mixing at the Grange Studio
Airbus in Bristol
Airbus band rehearsal at Portishead Youth Club
Airbus at Portishead Carnival 1994
Airbus after a gig at Bogiez in Cardiff
Very old pic from late 80's when we used to take things seriously, Valley Road, Portishead
Airbus's 1st rehearsal in Gordano School, Portishead, 1987