This is the ‘how it all began’ bit. My mum’s mum had been a lead violinist in her local symphony orchestra in Darlington, way back in the day. Somehow, for my mum and dad there was never a question that I would learn to play an instrument.

Up in grandma and grandad’s attic there had always been various stringed instruments: a violin, a viola and a cello. Although at school I thought Gary Pearson was cool for playing a trumpet, the choice was never really mine to make.

In 1974 I got the cello and, later on, the violin and the piano were foisted upon my younger brother, Dave. From then on I had take my cello with me to school every week and was somehow co-opted into the junior section of the Batley Music Centre Orchestra.

That was the first time I realised what embarrassment was. I wanted to become invisible. Batley is a tough place to be a soft kid, and carrying a cello was like wearing a flashing neon sign bearing the words ‘Proof of softness – laugh at me and kick me at will’. I never got the kicking for it, but the sneering was soul-destroying.



In 1982 I made a decision for myself to stop playing the cello and to teach myself the guitar. My mum had been buying things from a mail order catalogue for a couple of years, so I knew they also had guitars and amplifiers. I bought a cheap steel string acoustic guitar and a spots-on-fretboard book to learn the chords. Once I’d figured out how to hold down all the major chords and some of the minors, I began to mutate them to make them easier to play.

C major is miles easier to play in a standing position with your thumb. Obviously, the quantum leap was the 3-string bar chord, after which I had no further use for the chord book.

Sometime early in 1983, after another delve into mum’s mail order catalogue, I soon had a cheap black Les Paul copy followed by a 40-watt brand X amplifier. The guitar was earthed so badly that I couldn’t change chords without it making that crackle-and-buzz death announcement.

But it did look good!



Pat never laid claim to being a hard man, nor did he have a lobby or a clique, but if he thought something was funny, he would say it or do it. At Batley High School to have kudos you were either hard or good at sports, or hard and good at sports.

I spent all my time at school trying to hide between the cracks, while Pat was a constant source of mild irritation for teachers. If he thought something was bullshit he would question it – or if it was funny he would say it. I found a lot of things bullshit – and funny, but I would keep it to myself.

Later we found out there was also musical overlapping: Anti-Nowhere League, SLF, Bauhaus, Tubeway Army, Killing Joke… I said I had a guitar, and by the summer of 1983 we’d already talked ourselves into a fictitious world of stardom – without actually having any other members, or any other equipment, or a place to practise…

One business wisdom says ‘never go into business with friends or family’. Enter Rolph (Andy) and Trev, who, absolutely coincidentally, were mates of Pat’s from his estate. (My brother came in a bit later to balance things up). Now, all we needed were ‘things’ – a microphone, drums, a bass guitar, a logo etc.



What do you call your band? Some groups fail at that stage because there are 4 or 5 egos that have to be heard. At the beginning, because Pat and myself had the idea of forming a band, we assumed it was our right to find a name.

We started as ‘The Dregs’ in the summer of 1983 in Pat’s dad’s homemade greenhouse, using taped-together plastic cider bottles for drums, me and Trev sharing one amp for bass and lead guitars, and Pat shouting over the top.

By the late autumn we’d become ‘The Munich Underground’, which Pat and myself at least, sounded really alternative. Problem was, in my head ‘underground’ stood for a movement – but in reality the Munich Underground is a tube train system in Munich, which is neither alternative, nor cool, nor famous for anything at all.

So one cold October night in 1983 Malice Virus was born.

First line-up (spring 1984). L – R: Me, Dave, Trev, Andi, Pat



When I look back on the three years of our existence and the handful of gigs, it was the only thing I ever really wanted to do. For a few moments in my life I was proud to experience that sensation of being right in the middle of something. That shiver you get when you know you’ve created something special.

When I look back, almost all of the fluctuation was down to my insistence on doing everything my own way. Ultimately, it was real life that burst the bubble.
At the end of the day, I was the middle class kid playing at poverty, whereas Pat, Andi, Paul and Trev had always known they would have to ‘do’ something to ‘get’ something out of life.

It took me a long time to admit to my own faults to myself, and even longer to realise it wasn’t just a question of fault, but for a few moments we were the best band in the universe.

Many thanks (chronologically) to Pat, Andi (Rolph), Trev, Dave, Ade, Becky, Paul and Liam



I can only speak for myself, but sound-wise there was a magical 12 months from the end of 1984 to the end of 1985, when the sound just gelled for me.

Pat’s voice had got stronger, Andi had developed his own punchy style on the drums, Paul was an enthusiastic bassist and, having his own wheels, got us mobile. Becky on synth filled in the gaps in the sound that had been there before, and I always seemed to have new ideas for songs.

That year culminated in a demo tape: ‘Angel’ – and the new songs we recorded in September 1985 were what I have always identified Malice Virus with ever since.

Back L – R: Paul, Pat, Me
Front L – R: Andy, Becky


I’ve never stopped making music. The band I helped to create and destroy has always been a bigger part of my psyche than is healthy. I never found any other musicians who wanted to play the music I wanted to play.

I am Malice Virus RL. The RL out of respect to the others, since Malice Virus was everybody. Everything I produce under the RL banner is 100% me – drums, bass, synths, guitars and that awful voice.
It’s a DIY job and a labour of love.

MVRL is my piece of the cake, but I would love to find out that the cake was bigger than my cut! If any of you are still making music, it would be my pleasure to put your stuff up on my YouTube channel – under your chosen name, of course.

To everybody else:
Have a listen to the back catalogue. Have a listen to the new stuff. If you like any of it, that’s great.

Cheers and all the best!


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