Whilst the rest of the country was locked down in the midst of the Covid pandemic, Baz was keeping himself busy with all things musical online.
As well as remotely completing work on Dark Matters, he also co wrote and recorded tracks for a side project featuring some other well-known musicians from other bands. Baz picks up the story:
Leigh Heggarty from The Ruts called me one day during lockdown just to say hello and catch up. We hadn’t spoken since Dave Greenfield had passed, and he wanted to know how I was doing…good days bad days at that point I seem to remember. He mentioned that he’d been asked to do something with a couple of mates who turned out to be Paul Gray from The Damned and a guy called Martin Parrott who plays drums in Johnny Moped’s band.
They were just interested in something to do to keep them from climbing the walls really you know? Bored stiff and not knowing what was going to happen with anything in our respective worlds, as we all were at that time. They asked Leigh who he’d most like to work with and, surprisingly, he said me. I was flattered and, not having met either Paul or Marty, but keen to do something to fill in the long days and something I could do from home, I said ‘yes, why not?’ We were in the midst of working on Dark Matters with The Stranglers and, as that was being done remotely for the most part too, progress could be slow so I had days stretching out in front of me from time to time with not much to do…the musician’s curse.
As the material started to fly across the ether, it became apparent that we had something. It was very weird working with people I’d never met and didn’t know if I ever would, but that, in itself, was refreshing. Me, Paul and Leigh all did our parts from home, and Marty, being a drummer and not having a studio, booked some time at a little place they knew in Reigate, where they’d worked on The Sensible Gray Cells album with Captain Sensible. He laid some drums down on three songs…completely the wrong way around, as the drums always go down first, but that was how we had to do it. This was the first time I’d met the others, as lockdown restrictions had been eased…or so we thought.
We all got on very well, vowed to continue writing, and before we knew it, there was a dozen or more songs all ready to go…all written and recorded remotely…we still haven’t to this day all been together in a room with instruments playing as a ‘proper’ band, but there are tentative plans to change that. The next thing we know, we’re sitting in a pub, a record company guy comes down for a pint, declares he really likes the stuff, and the story behind how it was done, and says he’d like to release it…and that’s where we are at the minute…sounds easy enough I guess, and it was, and hugely enjoyable.
Hopefully it’ll be out soon, as it’s being mastered as we speak. It doesn’t sound like our parent bands, but there’s an element of who we all are there in it too. Lets see eh?
With the album written and recorded, the band chose the name The Wingmen, reflecting their positions in their respective bands. The line up is Baz on guitar and lead vocals, Paul Gray on bass (and keyboards), Leigh Heggarty on guitar and Marty Parrott on drums.
The fruits of their labours are due for release on the eponymously titled album on 27th January 2023 and you can pre-order CD and vinyl here.
There’s even some whispers about live shows early in the new year. Follow Wingmen on Facebook here to be kept up to date with developments…