The first rehearsals of The Debutantes took place in late 1996. I teamed up with singer Reece Fairfield, whose last band Robinson had just split. I’d followed Reece since my teens, watching him in Hip Di Roc in the early 90s and then driving his band Afro around the country in my van, circa 94/95. He was a brilliant singer and frontman so it was an easy decision to sit back and play guitar for The Debutantes.
We were joined by Dave Sparky Watts on keys, drumming duties seemed to switch between Ian Studd and Al Thorne quite regularly, and Barry Taylor was our only permanent bassist – we had a few others that didn’t work out, to put it mildly.
Reece and I wrote the songs together, the first time I’d written with anybody else. I’m still really proud of some of the stuff we wrote, and I think it holds up well twenty years on. We cut a few singles, including these two:
I left the band in mid-1999, moving to New Zealand, and leaving The Debutantes was something of a wrench. I returned to the UK a year later and did some another demo and a couple of gigs with the band before migrating to Australia at the end of 2000, and the band carried on for a few years without me… but it was 1997-1999 when it was a really active concern.
Working with Reece and watching him perform was something of an apprenticeship for me, and I learnt a lot about singing and stagecraft from Reece. When I was ready to start performing again in Australia a few years later with Zeptepi I had the confidence that I was lacking in my pre-Debutantes bands.
Reece and I did continue writing for a bit after I left the band, and two songs we wrote together – Machine and Vision – both featured on the debut Zeptepi album in 2005.
I really miss this band…