Sometimes, as an artist, you just have to listen to what the world is trying to telling you. So it was in the case of Dave Jackson, frontman of reformed Liverpudlian post-punk outfit the Room.
Dave has had a long and varied career under many aliases since the Room formed in Liverpool from the ashes of 051, Dave’s first band. Timing was such that the Room emerged on the fringes of the nascent post-punk scene in Liverpool and played their first gig as the Room at the legendary Eric’s club in 1979.
Signing to new indie Red Flame the band released two full length albums (‘Indoor Fireworks’ and ‘In Evil Hour’) and a mini album ‘Clear!’. But despite a hook-up between Red Flame and Virgin and the support of John Peel amongst others, the band never quite managed to push themselves beyond the indie charts before splitting in 1985.
Subsequently Dave and long-term bass-player Becky Stringer formed a string of bands – Benny Profane, Dust and the Dead Cowboys – whilst later still, Dave recorded further albums under his own name working with different musicians from in and around Liverpool.
However, as it turns out, The Room was not finished with Dave and the first inklings of this came when former Room band-mate Paul Cavanagh got in touch to work on a new project in 2017.
Seeking a label to release the new material, Dave and Paul approached the label who had reissued material from the Room in 2004 and 2005 as Dave explains.
“Initially, we approached LTM, and (label boss) James Nice said, yeah, he would put it out but only if we called ourselves the Room. But Paul didn’t want to do that!”
Paul and Dave in the end took the new project forward under a not entirely dissimilar name, but Dave admits now that a seed had been planted.
“Yeah, it was kind of at the back of my mind, you know, rather than at the forefront, but because Paul wasn’t keen on us calling ourselves the Room we ended up as the Room In The Wood.”
After two albums, the Room In The Wood came to a natural conclusion when Paul announced that he didn’t want to continue playing guitar. In the meantime, Dave had received an offer to collaborate with a local band.
“I did a guest vocal for Decibel, which Darren (Brown) our current guitarist plays in. He then suggested us writing some songs together, and it kind of stems from there.”
Despite the success of the one-off collaboration, Dave confesses he initially had some reservations.
“When he initially said, I’ll send you some ideas for songs, I wasn’t sure how that would work out because Decibel are more like a kind of heavy metal Joy Division or something. They’ve got a kind of hardcore edge to them and the song that I did with them wasn’t the kind of stuff that we do with The Room!
“But I think we hit it off straight away although often it’s not what he expects – what he thought was the chorus, becomes the verse, and the other way round.”
The embryonic duo next recruited Becky to the still unnamed band (and her son Ethan on keyboards) before the band made their live debut – at indie weekender Shiine On in November 2021.
“We were actually booked as the Room In The Wood, but when Paul decided he didn’t want to do it I got in touch with them to ask was it okay if we did it as The Room.”
Finding a drummer for the show proved problematic and the quartet ended up performing for the first time under the old name backed by a drum machine. Although Shiine On often seems focussed on nostalgia, Dave and his colleagues took a different approach.
“We were doing mostly new stuff but we threw in ‘Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought To Crawl’ to justify being called The Room in a way!
“It was kind of weird because it was baptism of fire for Ethan because he’d never actually played with a live band before. And we were using a drum machine rather than a live drummer. But we got through it!”
With this show behind them, another unexpected invite for Dave was to push him closer to a 21st century incarnation of The Room.
“These people from the Philippines got in touch with me and asked me to go over and perform only Room songs with a Filipino backing band.
“They’ve got this massive obsession with what they call new wave music and it’s people about 10 years younger than the acts who seem to have built up a cult following for these acts.
“So, I sent a list of songs from both eras of the Room which meant it was a setlist that was never, ever played by the Room. And I had to re-learn ‘New Dreams for Old’ which has that octave leap which gets harder as you get older!
“The trip was really weird, but it was great.”
With work progressing on the new songs, a final decision had to be made on what to call the project. There really was only one choice.
“Darren was asking me what we should call it and I thought, well, given that Becky’s back in the band and the reason why Darren got in touch with me was because he’d been a Room fan in the first place, The Room seems appropriate.”
New album ‘Restless Fate’ was completed in 2022 and released on 9 x 9 Records in January this year. There remained one vacancy within the band however.
“We used a session drummer for most of the early recordings and played with a drum machine for the first year or so.
“But when we played in January to launch the album in Liverpool, Clive Thomas, our old drummer from the original Room, who I hadn’t seen for nearly 30 years, turned up with his wife and hinted that he’d be into playing drums with us, even though he lives in Devon and we’re based in Liverpool.
“So, he came up and we’ve played one gig with him recently and he’s going to play on the tour as well.”
With a positive reaction to the new record, the upcoming tour in September with Red Guitars offers the band the chance to spread their wings beyond the North-West of England and present the new record to different audiences up and down the UK.
“I think it’ll be mostly new stuff with maybe three old songs and we might vary those. We’ve been playing ‘No Dream’ and ‘Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought to Crawl’ off ‘Indoor Fireworks’ and ‘New Dreams for Old’ but we’ve got plans to introduce other songs into the set and vary the old songs that we play.”
With the band already working on a follow-up to ‘Restless Fate’ with Clive on-board in studio, it looks like the Room’s second lease of life is going to run for some time yet.
‘Restless Fate’ is available on CD and record from 9 x 9 Records.
The Room play the Attic at the Garage in Glasgow with the Red Guitars on Thursday 7th September..