Ah, the 1980’s. I remember it well. A time when Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Adam & The Ants, ABBA, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood were no strangers to the top of the charts. A happier time for music. Madness released House of Fun which reached number 1 for two weeks. But behind all of the commotion, something even more special was brewing.
Yesterday, I asked Matt and Nick for a brief recollection of their musical journey, right from the start until their success at the present day…
Matt: “I suppose the B&B Men really started in the late 1980’s. Me and Nick had really gotten into Madness’ music after being given a stack of LPs from and older cousin. We soon bought up all the albums and were gutted that they had split and gone there seperate ways.
We used to both stay over at our Gran’s house regularly at the weekends. She had a “front room” we used to muck about in. We both had cassette recorders so came up with the idea of forming a band (which was really a pretend thing) We used to put a Madness tape in one player and sing along recording it onto the other blank tape. When we filled it with good takes we’d draw a cover and track listing and come up with a name. We were just playing but we learned to harmonise with each other.
Fast forward 30 years, still both fans having gone to many gigs from the first Madstock at Finsbury park to Suggs’ one man show. We decided to revisit our ‘act’ as I’d dabbled with the Ukulele and we could still harmonise together so we decided to put a set together to busk for Cancer Research under the name ‘The Lonesome Pines’. Still tongue in cheek as we did Laurel & Hardy’s song, Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe & wise and some other odds and sods. We always ended with It Must Be Love which earned us £5 for that song alone by a passing woman who loved Madness. We thought “why don’t we add some more Madness tracks in as that one goes down so well?” We only played these gigs one Saturday a year for a laugh and by the third year we had added NW5 to the set. I was a member of Mad Chat so decided to post a video of us playing it onto the group page in June 2016. Steve Farthing thought it was a good performance and asked if we did any others. As Madness mainly wrote on piano I didn’t really know most of the chords to play their back catalogue. We got into a conversation on FB messenger with Steve and he offered us a slot at Dublin Castle no less… but playing for 1hr of Madness songs!.. gulp… We really wanted to play but only did 3 songs. Would any other songs work with just a Uke and harmonies? We um’d and ah’d over it but both being such big fans thought we’d give it a go.
So we had some sort of structure & feedback we thought we’d set up a Youtube channel and upload the new songs as we tried them out, to gauge what would work. I’d managed to learn our favourite song of theirs from Grans Front Room days which was Ghost Train. Deceives the Eye always made us laugh so we tried that too.
As we knew Dublin Castle would be more of a performance than our busking days, and also both being fans of Morecambe & Wise I got some old red curtains off ebay to act as our ‘set’ and make us perform rather than just filming ourselves…”
Nick: “We wanted everything we did to have an element of fun where possible so we tried to introduce elements and snippets from Madness videos and sound bites past. People seemed to like the lighter side and although we like to do things well, we also love to have fun with stuff.
It was the same for the Mad Chat gig at the DC. We were nervous but we just wanted to enjoy it because, above all, we are Madness fans. Matt came up with the idea of writing something original as a tribute and he formulated the ideas for the Dublin Castle single in support of Mad Chats chosen charity. He has always had an eye for detail and so the video was always going to contain lots of Madness related elements.
We had no idea that people would embrace it as they did. It now sits on the DC jukebox alongside a picture of us on the wall. It’s amazing to think of what has actually happened in the past year or so. So many memories added and hopefully so many more to come!”
The boys are currently working on a new charity single for the Mad Chat Meetup this November. 🌜
– Dr. Ryan West 👨🏻🏫