It was on the plot of grass outside what used to be Europe’s largest public toilet, the Tunbridge Wells Forum in Kent that I met My Favourite Co-Pilot. The trio stem from Middlesborough, and quit their jobs ten months ago to tour the country in the hope of getting recognised and to build up a devoted fan base. If "recognition" comes in the form of a KKKK review from Kerrang for their first album, ‘South Drive,’ released by Toddler Records, then they haven’t done too badly so far. Despite this, they are still a "new band", still coming to grips with the fact that people turn up to see them, or even better, to interview them. Which makes it easier to ask them the one question that in a few months time they will come to dread; Why the name?

John Hoy Taylor, the band's lead singer and bassist, launches into the most enthusiastic of explanations. To him a co-pilot is another way of describing a person in your life that is always there to help you out when things get rough. Originally it was to be the title of a music webzine that he was planning to design and run, but with the creation of the band, the webzine plan collapsed and the name was handed to his new hobby.

Most reviews of the band’s album have included comparisons to Finch or Taking Back Sunday, something the band have come to regret. Although there are similarities in their music, the group deny that these have been big influences. In fact their influences stem from a huge variety of genres and bands, which include everything from the Police to Blink 182, Guns’n’Roses to Marvin Gaye. Their own music is a mixture of punk and Emo, and the reviews they have been getting for their songs has been varied, jumping from one end of the scale to the other.

They have been described as “The best British hardcore punk band.” On the way back from a gig in Birmingham at around the same time they got a text from a friend saying well done for their review in 'Kerrang'. As they stopped at a petrol station to buy a copy they were barely expecting to see Four shiny capital Ks staring up at them. The only words that drummer, Dan Osborne, can sum up to describe the experience is “really weird.

It seems, however, that not everyone feels the same way. Only a week later they found out that they had been given a terrible review from 'Rock Sound', which took the mickey out of the press sheet, which their record company had sent out. In this press sheet they were compared to Yes, the above-mentioned Finch and a selection of other Emo bands. It seems that new bands have very little power over their image, which is often enthusiastically manufactured by the record company without the band’s involvement. The incident didn’t dampen their spirits though, and the group refuse to let reviews, good or bad, harm the way they view themselves. All they really want is some petrol money, a few beers, and ten people at their gig. They don’t expect anything else, especially as some of the bands they have been playing with on their recent tour still refuse to go on before them at gigs. Dan Osborne insists that this doesn’t bother him. They don’t expect to become big straightaway. In fact they dread the idea of becoming a regular on the front cover of the NME for a month or two and then disappearing like a lot of other bands.

Since they started the band, the boys have learned a lot of unsavoury things about the music business. Although their CDs can be bought in Virgin stores, they are hugely overpriced at £11.99, but bought from the band directly it is only £6. Who gets the profit? Certainly not the band.

Along with the enthusiastic reviews have come other hints of things to come; they are being mobbed! Well, nearly. A guy came up to John Hoy-Taylor in Boots the other day, and strangers seem to be waving hello all over the place. At least, that is, when they are not driving to gigs, which they seem to have to do nearly every night, each one in a different county. Dan drives the van, whilst John and guitarist Ian Wanley enjoy idle pleasures such as playing on their Game Boys. They organise most of the gigs themselves and plan to tour for as long as they can.

The group prefers playing small venues, rather than visiting big cities, which they deem a waste of time. As Dan puts it “Why would people want to come see us when Toploader are playing next door. That’s how people in London think. We just want to play where people know us.”

“Basically", John explains, “why play to one guy when we could be playing to fifteen people who are really into us in Swindon ? ”

Without a tour budget they cannot really afford to play to empty chairs. They have been living off the band for less than a year now, and not a single one misses the job they left behind. Ian earned money pouring pints in the men only bar of a social club, whilst Dan worked in an electrical shop. John worked in the Job Centre, but before that gave up a degree in Computer Engineering at Newcastle University. One day, he says, he’ll get a degree.

At this point, a girl waves at the boys from the other side of the green, shouting “I’m going now I’ll see you soon!” Is it a girlfriend, I ask them? “ No” was the general reply. “We don’t even know who she is.” I could see what they meant when they said that so many strangers were suddenly their friends. They confide though, that at some gigs the only people watching are the doormen. Other times people turn up out of the blue just to have a drink at the bar, not even realising that a band is playing that night. For this gig the band have made sure that posters had been put up in the local area, so that people actually know about it.

In their hometown of Middlesborough, their gigs are completely different. Around 250 people usually turn up for each one. As a comparison, less people turned up to see the Darkness when they came to play there before they shot to stardom. Support in their hometown is obviously the strongest, but even their previous bassist has admitted to being jealous of their success. He got booted out of the band for lack of commitment. His catchphrase was “I could be in bed by now.” But in comparison, John left university to pursue a career that is often very difficult to live off. Each of the three members have taken a chance but will soon hopefully be reaping the rewards.









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