I’m sitting out on the pavement in the sunshine with Stan Malandain, West Worthing legend and an original slasher avant la lettre. Every so often a punter turns up for Stan’s main business – second-hand cycles – but I’ve come to talk music.
Tell us about your roots and routes, Stan.
Stan left West Tarring school in 1957 (you could go at 15 back then) and began his drumming career immediately – which he’s continued uninterrupted, full-time and part-time.
We got a gig abroad, and I became a full-time musician right there and then. I’d never even been out of Worthing! My mum didn’t want me to go. I only had enough money to get up to London, but off I went.
With Amalgamation, Stan toured in Uk and abroad right through the 1960s and 70s (Germany 10 times). The band wrote and recorded songs – and suffered the too-common music industry fate of meeting a cheating producer who then stole the band’s work. The band went through the usual ups and downs of rock bands – in fashion, out of it, knocked sideways by shifts in the industry and consumer tastes (reggae! punk! etc!) – but through it all, they kept getting work, Stan kept on drumming.
When Amalgamation split, Stan moved on to Hunny Bunch. We were the ultimate all-singing, all-dancing band – bit like the Rubettes – all matching suits, glitter, big hair. I was 6 foot 6 in my platform boots! You can dig photos out, there’s stuff on the internet and in Mike Reid’s book.
In 1977, Stan took over Tarring Mower services, but got fed up with the heavy physical work of mower maintenace and shifted to bikes. Yes, his health had suffered as a result of the drumming and touring lifestyle, but he’s still gigging, still playing. Look at Phil Collins – his back has gone and he can’t even play. In any job, there’s gonna be injuries and your health will suffer.
By 2014, after more band splits, Stan put an advert in the Worthing paper – “Drummer: Got Me Own Teeth and Hair, Looking for a Band“.
We were drawn together and it’s so class, so amazing. I’ve gone back to basics: got the kit I always wanted – a Ludwig 1963 Classic, like Ringo’s. It’s got an authentic sound.
This spring’s gig at the Lido (Stan’s first return since playing there in 1974) was a highlight. (So many people, they ran out of beer! There were young people and old ones, all jumping and singing together- it was great. The bass guitarist from Steamhammer was there. Stan’s looking forward to the next one.
And the live music scene in Worthing? Dying on it’s bum, like everything else.
God help the young bands – it’s not easy for them. People have to buy equipment, guitars. Now you can only get a paid gig if you bring in 60 people. We played The Crown in Eastbourne and there was a bloke there with a click counter! There’s loads of great local rock bands, like SpudGun Assassins, or covers bands like Liquid Logic, but Stan tells WoBy that open mic nights and lack of venues make it hard to get paid work.
The Northbrookers who leave? They leave because there’s not enough going on for them. We’ve got the Assembly Hall, the Richmond Rooms, Connaught Theatre. Why couldn’t youngsters have access to these places, put stuff on? We’ve got the Pier – proper music licence and all – but they bring in outside bands and the local kids can’t get a chance.
Worthing challenges?My biggest concern is retail. People used to come to Worthing for a fun day out. We’d go up and down Montague Street all day and night. We loved Worthing – that’s why we stayed. But now …. Here in Tarring Road, shops shut down overnight.
Stan reckons the high street has been killed by internet shopping – and the council.
He makes the same points that WoBy’s heard over and over from artists wanting pop-ups, community groups and CICs needing premises, and cash-strapped start-ups hoping to set up here. Worthing Council aren’t helpful, don’t give reduced rents. They’ll do pop-ups at Christmas, but only Christmas. Look at Eastbourne and Brighton – so vibrant, with a busy social scene, visitors.
We don’t want empty shops. Let the rents come down a bit, give the independents a chance. Why can’t the council offer reduced rates for 6 months? A chain coffee shop is better than no shop – but do we really want 50 cafes? (This leads to a digression about meeting the lead singer of Dr Hook in Costa – yet another Worthing music connection. It’s surprising how much musical talent has passed through this town or ended up here).
The Wheel? I think it’s fantastic. Stan reckons we need more of this kind of stuff.
And while he’s as scathing as any about the stranglehold of the Worthing illuminati, he does see signs of life. I tell you, Dave Hunt’s done wonders for Worthing. Not sure we’d all agree that Dave offers what we’d like but we’re working towards living in a plural space, so yeah, wheels and chair-o-planes needs to be part of it, just as much as cold-brew coffee and artisan pizza.
Last thoughts about the future? Gloomy, unless the council bucks up.
Will it end up being a sleepy old town, with nothing going on?