Living in the Hampshire / Surrey / Berkshire borders in my teens and twenties meant that unless I took the forty minute train ride to London, exposure to indie / alternative music culture was very restricted. There were very few venues to see bands in and the clubs were full of hair gelled boys dressed in pastel coloured suits trying to get off with girls in ra-ra skirts, high heels and bad make up. The kind of girl I liked was more likely to be found in a pair of Doctor Marten boots and a pretty flowery dress, and they certainly weren’t hanging around the likes of Cinderella’s or Ragamuffins.
Until I discovered The Cube. The venue was still Ragamuffins but the night was The Cube. Like many provincial nightclubs it was entered through a door at street level with a gaudy neon sign proclaiming “Night Club Ragamuffins Discotheque” before climbing a flight of stairs to the pay desk and entering the world of mirrorballs, sticky floors and smoke. But on Cube nights, held on a Tuesday when the smart dressed kids who went to ‘Rags’ on a Friday and Saturday night and danced to ‘The Erection Section’ were at home, I found my music.
There’s a variety of songs I remember from the club around that time – The Cure, Pop Will Eat Itself, Pixies and the like, but this one brings back the most colourful memories. I remember the place seeming empty, but then these sounds boomed out and it seemed as if from nowhere the grebos, the punks and the indie kids came streaming out of the shadows and dry ice onto the strobe-lit dancefloor, arms flailing, heads shaking, singing out the words as if they were alone in their bedrooms. You could feel the physical energy and it was inspiring.
Nobody quotes Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine as being an influential or important band these days. But their black humour, puns, unusual wordplay, ability to put a tune together and hard gigging gave them a significant fan base, leading to them having 4 UK top 10 albums and 8 UK top 30 singles. They also appeared second on the bill on the main stage at the Reading Festival and reportedly blew the headliners James away with their huge bank of white backlights and intensity. Their ’30 Something’ long sleeved t-shirts sold by the bucket load and became a defining image for indie kids across the country in the early 90’s (along with the Sit Down t-shirt of James, which featured the words written on the back at the bottom). I remember seeing quite a few of those at The Cube.
Ladies and gentlemen. I give you Sheriff Fatman. Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.