I Was A Rock Star

My friend Olie was in a TOTALLY raging band called NOJAHODA.  They signed to Sony for a stupid amount of money, toured with Reef (OMFG), and traveled the world shooting music videos with strippers in Las Vegas.

The band was made up of people who went on to do pretty interesting things – I will leave it up to you to research that.  Ahem.

I always loved the stories Olie told me about his rock star days, but it’s only been recently that the good old internet has made it possible to embarrass him by posting videos like this one to his facebook:

The final straw was when someone set up a Myspace for them, with the tag line, “Freedom to Freak”.  After that I knew I had to get these stories down.

According to that very Myspace: Jahoda was a psychologist who attempted to define normality with a seven point plan. Vocalist and guitarist Leo felt the points didn’t quite fit him or his friends. Hence his bands name: Nojahoda.


HOW DID NOJAHODA START?

It was 1998. I bumped into my best friend from primary school, who I hadn’t seen in 7 years. We had a emotional, slightly awkward, teenage reunion and discovered we both loved metal.  It was a bit like When Harry Met Sally minus the sexual tension.  I went over to his house, we played Metallica songs together, and decided that I would be the drummer, Leo (my friend) and his older brother would sing, and a old friend of theirs would play bass. In the beginning we were called The Furious Jerk Offs,  but eventually we ended up with the name NOJAHODA.

I kind of wish we’d stayed being called The Furious Jerk Offs.

HOW MUCH DID YOU GET SIGNED FOR?

The deal was for £250’000 or £750’000…I can’t remember.  Sony heard the album and became interested, then other labels started making offers in case they missed out – the whole thing turned into a bidding war. When we finally signed to Sony they weren’t entirely sure what they had just taken on – we were on the same label as Jamiroquai and Stereophonics, but didn’t sound like any of them.  They didn’t know what to do with us.

DID YOU HAVE A ROCK AND ROLL COKED UP SIGNING?

No.  There was a M & S Chinese food platter, sparkling wine, and a polite round of applause. It was pretty uneventful. We were given a limo to drive us home which I thought was fucking cool.  I called my girlfriend at the time, and said I was now in a proper famous band, so she better watch out. She was very excited. However, everyone else lived in Ladbroke Grove, so after the driver had dropped them off he refused to take me to Hackney because it was too far.  This was after I’d sat in the back daydreaming about my girlfriend freaking out when she saw her awesome rock star boyfriend arriving home in a limo.  Instead we had a massive row and she tried to break up with me. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d been in the limo.

WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE MONEY?

Most of us were still in 6th form college and living with our parents, then suddenly we had a accountant called Julie who we’d call up, and she’d put the money we asked for into our bank accounts. I loved Julie.  I remember the day my bank balance went from £1.25 to £10,001.25 – I went wild. I took my friend to the fanciest restaurant I knew ( Planet Hollywood) and ordered everything on the menu. I had no idea what I was doing.

Most of money went on extravagant meals in expensive novelty restaurants (I love Planet Hollywood), cabs, and CDs.  A large amount went on a flat in New Cross.  It cost me £350 a month and I rented it for a year, sleeping there twice. It was a total waste of money,  but was into the idea of being 17, in a band, with my own place I could bring girls to and impress them into having sex with me.

That never happened.

WHAT ARE YOUR WEIRDEST MEMORIES OF THAT TIME?

We played a day festival in Milton Keynes. We didn’t know what it was, but we had the same booking agent as Marilyn Manson, so we reckoned that anything they booked must be pretty cool.

This wasn’t the case. The gig was in a gigantic Sports Hall, and was a nightmarish under 16’s Fun Park for the day, filled with children and their parents.  When we walked in a clown was holding a plate spinning contest, and an announcement over the PA informed people where the Street Dance competition was being held. It was like a budget Smash Hits Poll Winners Party held in a Lidl.

Two other bands were playing.  Headlining at 4pm was boy band Scandal, fresh from their performance on Blue Peter, and looking like a more annoying, less edgy, Hanson. The drummer had a headset microphone like Madonna, which he never took off. He looked like a prick. The other band were glam punks Rachel Stamp who turned up drunk, confused, and dressed like Poison. The drummer wore silver trousers, a feather boa and, a pink bike lock round his neck. No one was happy to be there, except Scandal, who were treated like superstars.  They spent the whole time being mobbed and looking really smug. They all wore suits. I hated them.

HOW WAS THE ACTUAL GIG?

We Gaffa taped black upside down crosses all over ourselves, and Milo put on a Mexican wrestling mask and wrote “Satan” on his chest in the hope that we’d be deemed offensive and not be allowed on.  It didn’t work – Milo just got in trouble with the elderly caretaker for ripping off the shower curtain to wear as a cape.  He was made to promise to re-attach it once he’d finished, which he did.

Milo’s cape got in the way, and he couldn’t see because of the wrestling mask.  I’d gaffa taped my mouth shut (probably in protest of not having one of those cool microphones) which made it really difficult to breathe.  I spent the whole show on the verge of fainting. All the inverted crosses and capes proved to be pointless as the children couldn’t have been less shocked or scared and were actually very supportive. Some of them even asked for our autographs, athough I did feel that it was out of pity.

We loved watching Rachel Stamp – they looked like a bunch of wasted transvestites on a hen night, and freaked the shit out of everyone there.  I never got to see Scandal play, since we left the second we got off stage.  I imagine they went down really well. The kids loved that microphone.

TELL ME ABOUT VEGAS STRIPPERS

We managed to get Sony to send us to Vegas for two weeks to shoot a video in a legal brothel in the desert. The brothel looked like a 70’s lounge club, and boasted a “girl buffet” – there were menus lying around which detailed all the different “courses” you could have with the girls. The tenth course sounded really exhausting. It was still operating while we were shooting, so random guys kept coming in looking to get laid.  They seemed pretty surprised to be confronted with a bunch of over excited English idiots dressed in ridiculous purple lounge suits.

The women who worked there were all really lovely, but they were all sat around waiting for customers at 10am in filthily slutty underwear, watching ESPN, picking at their bikini lines, and eating a reeking meat stew which smelt like strangely like cheese. I was expecting more of a Moulin Rogue/Girls Of The Playboy Mansion vibe,  rather than feeling like I was in the waiting room of a family planning clinic in Wigan. They were all very friendly though, and some of them even watched, and applauded, our performance for the video.

HOW DID THE DREAM END?

Sadly the market for punk inspired country thrash ballads was pretty small in 1998, and every band we played with was an Oasis/Verve knock off.  We talked about leaving, and they didn’t renew our contract.  There were no hard feelings though, they’d been pretty supportive – for our first single cover we wanted to be made up to look like Mediterranean porn stars, and they let us. Apparently the rapper Xzibit came into the Sony offices where there was a huge poster of our single cover , pointed to it and said, “Yo, these motherfuckers for real?”

I love Xzibit.

AND THE MONEY?

I saved absolutely nothing, and was back to looking at a £1.25.  I missed Julie. But despite that it was definitely one of the best times of my life – the whole experience was amazing, so fun and weird.

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