History of The Ug Brothers

The beginning of this band in 1994 was not actually the true beginning of it at all, as it had first started in October 1986 with the late great Dean Trotter on vocals and guitar. Rather, it was the start of the far more significant Part Two of the Ug Brothers.

The original Ug Brothers line-up was the same as that for The Subterraineans, except Marc played the bass instead of Jerry. The purpose of the band was to play different material to The Subterraineans, specifically some of the songs by Graham and George. The band didn’t last all that long as The Subterraineans became a gigging unit and Marc was too busy elsewhere to commit himself to much action. The band eventually ground to a halt in December 1986.

So… When Graham moved back to Exeter from London in the summer of 1994, bringing his trusty old drums with him, he met up with George (guitar) and they decided to drink as much beer as possible, do unspeakably saucy things with as many women as possible, and form the most outrageous band possible. This was clearly a brilliant idea, and one which they set about fulfilling with tremendous gusto.

The first stumbling block was the total lack of bassist. After some beer, some designing of flyers, some more beer and a few fruitless trips to nightclubs to find bass players, which only resulted in even more beer plus the aforementioned unspeakables on most occasions, who should turn up with his old mate Tom the Tongue but their old bass player from days of yore, Marc – now Dave – and his mighty magical thumb. It was so obvious what they had to do that even the copious amounts of beer, groupies and other things failed to stop them seeing it. The Ug Brothers lived and breathed once more!

Before very long, the band had written several tunes, mostly in a hard funk stylee. The place where most rehearsing took place was Graham’s flat, which was swankily located above the Real McCoy Arcade in the centre of Exeter. The place had a massive window which enabled passing shoppers to pause and enjoy the ongoing musical shenanigans, and due to this location the band quickly developed a hot reputation around the area, which was enhanced by the extra-curricular partying and hellraising that went on fairly constantly. It was not long before the band were booked for their first show, which was to be supporting Honey Sucks at the Cavern on Christmas Eve.

This created a further conundrum. The band had no singer, and only one of their songs (one from the original 1986 Ug Brothers set) had any lyrics! Dave, Graham and George sat around smoking, drinking and listening to rehearsal tapes, scribbling down ideas for lyrics, and a variety of auditions were held.

First up was Rupert, the Exeter Cavern’s very own resident MC, and a thoroughly good fellow. He was a man with an extraordinarily creditable moustache and a deep gravelly voice. Despite his obvious stage presence and his rap about ‘Onions and Gravy’ (“Let me put my onions in your gravy”, or something to that effect), he was sadly not the man for the job.

The next auditionee’s name is now lost among the mists of time. Perhaps this is a good thing. The Ug Brothers handed the poor fellow a mic and mumbled some apologies about not having written any lyrics yet and would he mind just making some up and jamming along. What followed was both ghastly and hilarious at the same moment.

The guy had just split up with his girlfriend and began a lengthy and rather dull monologue about the death-throws of their relationship. When the rest of the band finished playing whatever song it was, they all ended nice and tight leaving the hapless vocalist yelling into the mic: “And I’m really sorry!” Well, this was clearly the case, in a very literal sense, and it was all the band could do to stop themselves laughing hysterically. It was already obvious the guy didn’t quite have all of his cups in the cupboard as it were, and was totally unable to sing at all. Nevertheless, there had been such comedy in the poor fellow’s effort that the band requested he try it again. After he left the building, there was a great deal of hilarity and merriment. Oh dear.

By this time it had become apparent that a new approach was needed. Despite all the fun that was had with various girls met at nightclubs, mainly through the boys leaving flyers around on tables asking for singers, not a lot of practical progress was being made and the date of the first show was fast approaching. An advert in the local paper brought a couple of auditionees, one of whom was Natalie. She had a fabulous voice and a great personality and fitted into the band with ease. Originally The Ug Brothers had hoped to find a six foot tall shaven-headed black man as they felt it would complete the look and sound of the band, and Natalie was very far from that, being blonde and female. Some lyrics had even been written, mostly by Dave with a few by George, and Graham managed to produce the rap in Take Me Up.

With the band complete and sounding good and the pre-gig hype peaking, The Ug Brothers were unleashed upon The Cavern in Exeter where they rocked the house with their virtuoso set of new songs. The place was filled to bursting and the whole of the dancefloor area was a sea of tightly packed bodies bouncing up and down in the smoky darkness.

> to be continued… <