When I was in my late teens and doing badly (or not as well as I should have been) at school and life in general, my mother would say to me: ‘Don’t worry, Julian, you’re just like your dad, he was a late developer too…’
I spent the summer of 2004 working in Italy as an English Tutor. Enchanted by the bel paese and its culture, as well as the works of Paolo Coelho (particularly ‘The Pilgrimage’ with its mystical leanings) and William Blake (who I had been studying at university) I returned home (in the words of Julian Cope after seeing Pere Ubu) ‘epically inspired’.
‘Lying down in Saint Peter’s Square as the sun bleaches my hair…’
At the time I was very interested in Catholic imagery. ‘Problem Child’, the first recorded Late Developers song, was written about a drunken pilgrimage to Rome. ‘Shadows in the Seminary’, the second recorded LDs song, was directly inspired by my two week stay at Collegio Marconi in Portogruaro (metropolitan city of Venice) where I shared living quarters with priests and their protégés.
Back in Liverpool, I started the process of putting a band together, playing with a few different musicians before meeting Stephen Murphy, a young Scouser from Walton with a passion for The Doors and Echo & The Bunnymen. Ste was an excellent drummer, his style sui generis. I played a battered old Fender acoustic in those early rehearsals – but when the first instalment of my student loan arrived in September, I spent £399.99 on a Mexican Fender Telecaster (with a crisp Tide Pool Blue finish). My friend Phil Pattullo, an outrageously talented musician, joined on bass guitar before switching to lead guitar. This prototype three-piece version of The LDs played several shows around Liverpool but the final piece of the jigsaw was the addition of Phil’s younger brother David on bass. ‘Our Dave’ was painstakingly taught each and every LDs bassline on a battered old classical guitar during a Pattullo family holiday to Spain. It wasn’t long before Pattullo Junior had bought himself a Fender Jazz bass, written the hook to ‘Rain Soaked Rotten Teddy Bears’, and assumed backing vocal duties.
The Late Developers rehearsed hard and drank even harder. At some point my shoulder length hair was replaced by a skinhead whilst fear and chaos slowly began to strangle our spirit. We played gigs in Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds. We also performed well-received sets in consecutive years at the Music With A View Festival in Coniston, Cumbria. On our day we were a formidable live act. But alcoholism, drug addiction and the lack of belief, discipline and a clear roadmap to success, ultimately resulted in the band’s dissolution. I fled to Madrid where I started an Open Mic Night. The Pattullo Brothers and Mister Murphy stayed in Merseyside.
‘The Late Developers: 2005-2006’ contains six studio recordings engineered by Linus Jackson at Cassette Studios in Liverpool, and four live recordings taken from a show at The Magnet in Liverpool. There are errors: a glitch on Fordham Road, some weird popping sounds elsewhere, but ultimately I am proud of the songs that we produced. We spent hundreds of hours playing together and I think the recordings reflect this fact. It is perhaps testimony to the band’s chaotic history that who played what on the studio recordings is uncertain. There were times when Steven Murphy was absent and Phil and I played drums, whilst at other points, Phil went AWOL and I myself took over lead guitar duties. I did think about naming the album ‘Rain Soaked Rotten Teddy Bears’ after what I consider to be the band’s best song, but ‘2005-2006’ perhaps better symbolises the requiemic nature of this collection, albeit in the most rudimentary manner. 2006 was also a hugely important year for me. I got sober, moved to Madrid – and, to all intents and purposes, set about ordering chaos and creating a brand new life for myself.
As I cast my eye over the track-listing of 2005-2006, I see a collection of songs which are manic and melancholic, paranoid and aggressive, melodic and theatrical. I remember the places I visited that inspired the songs: West Virginia, The Bronx, Vatican City, Venice, and ‘the path beside the army base’ that runs from my hometown of Hightown to nearby Formby. Most of all, I remember Phil Pattullo who passed away on 6 March 2015. ‘Addictions I fear you no more. It’s time to go, it’s time for me to leave this town, maybe I will see you around…’ I have written about my friend elsewhere, but the Phil that I like to remember was preserved for all time by a BBC camera crew who, in 2007, were filming the great Ken Dodd for a documentary. In the clip, Phil is busking ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis in the Mathew Street Quarter of Liverpool. Doddy stops and searches his pocket for some change. It is a beautiful and bizarre exchange. Phil is grinning as the sun shines down upon him.
Lyndon Coleman, a friend and early promoter of the band offered this recollection of The Late Developers:
Funnily enough, you came to mind this week. I was watching something on TV, (what it was escapes me), but there was a very brief clip of Phil busking in the street. I remarked on the fact to my partner. Such a shame, I had no idea Phil passed, but always remember him being a troubled soul. I remember back in the day talking with Phil at a Quiggins gig The LDs did for me. You know when you’re willing someone to get better with all your heart, that’s how I felt toward Phil. I wanted to encourage him all I could and push him into his music as a way of working through his issues.
I loved you guys. You were refreshing at the time, there wasn’t anything quite like you on the Liverpool scene at the time. You stood out, Jules, like a sore thumb, in a good way. Your passion and love of what you were doing was blinding. I remember at the time, myself and my collaborator had actually talked about asking if we could manage you, but I don’t think that ever happened for whatever reason. But besides that, The Late Developers provided part of the soundtrack to what was for me, the most creative, constructive and immensely satisfying period of my life. People like you, Jules, and The Late Developers made all that possible. I miss those days but have so many fond memories of Stamps, Quiggins, The Zanzibar etc and you guys were certainly very prominent in my thinking at the time, and I’ll never forget and will always feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with your good self, The Late Developers, and all the wonderfully creative people I had the good fortune to meet at that time.
Special thanks must go to our families and friends who supported us back in the day. The album’s cover shot was taken by my brother Sean in the attic rehearsal room in my mother’s house in Hightown.
- Fordham Road
- Greenbrier River
- Found Me A Woman
- Rain Soaked Rotten Teddy Bears
- You Are The Same As Me
- Shadows in the Seminary
- The Serpentine – Live at The Magnet
- Knives & Cigarettes – Live at The Magnet
- Problem Child – Live at The Magnet
- You Are The Same As Me – Live at The Magnet