Who are The Layers? Five humans who would, were it not for a simple lack of balaclavas, probably be robbing a Post Office near you. Instead, their maladjusted energies were channelled into music…
Pianist, polyglot and person of interest in several recent high-profile offences against public decency, Sarah first joined the band for a brief cameo at a gig in the Vaults. Restricted at the time to the piano solo in "Kiss the Girls" and some light backing in "Heart in a Jar", little did the rest of the band realise that she harboured dreams of world domination. Or was it that she's been a harbour side dominatrix? Being a resident of Bristol, both were equally likely.
Learning piano at an early age under the tutelage of the Hands of Orlac, Sarah first played in Saturnalia with legendary local crooner Gavin Lazarus. Although since then her playing has been largely unseen by audiences, Sarah was simply keeping her powder dry for later encounters with The Layers.
Having composed and played many of the keyboard parts on "Skinful of Inc." Sarah has become a staple of live appearances, playing keyboards, tambourine and backing vocals – and having endured the longest trial by nonsense in the history of music, finally joined the band full-time. She describes her goals as "a screaming left footed drive from just outside the area" and "rising like a salmon at the far post to nod past a despairing keeper."
Found in a meteor crater in a Kansas wheat field, only the absence of any noticeable super powers barred Caleb from a more sensational life. As it was, destiny rewarded him with an upbringing in West Swindon and then cursed him with a career in IT. Or possibly vice-versa. As it was, his powers only started to manifest themselves fully once he picked up a stringed instrument. Caleb's first musical performances were on the cello, earning him kudos and space on stage at the Royal Albert Hall but not the underwear-hurling fans that he craved, so he turned to the guitar.
Legend has it that Caleb pulled his first guitar from a rock to fulfil an ancient and terrible prophecy. Actually, he nicked it from the locker of an ancient and terrible Lost Prophets covers band but let's not quibble – what matters is that he started playing the guitar.
Now guitarist, backing vocalist and composer, Caleb is the greatest (at least in terms of size – no mean feat) of the Layers. His laid-back demeanour on stage disguises a razor wit and a mind like a steel trap – rusty and smelling oddly of rats.
Caleb has a hankering for a cool musical nickname, so – suggestions welcome.
The most recent Layer, floating like the cream on an Irish coffee or the awkward silence when someone mentions euthanasia while Gran’s round for tea, is Dan, who, given the turnover of drummers in the band recently (Spinal Tap were bang on…) we’re fervently hoping will at least make it to the end of this biography.
Dan’s unique combination of laid-back groove with Tourette’s-like, profanity-laden count-in has contributed to many a fit of giggles at rehearsal and reaffirmed the band’s decision not to play children’s parties. Having played in a number of bands in and around Bristol, Dan is a veteran of the local scene and knows escape routes from all of the best venues.
Also handy on the piano, no stranger to a variety of other instruments and a man of diverse interests, we’re looking forward to contributions in the song writing department. In his non-musical career, Dan is a horologist, educated readers are welcome to make professional enquiries and, for the rest of you, Dan predicts that you will meet a tall, handsome stranger – unfortunately, while Uranus is waning.
Bassist Paul enjoyed a colourful and varied past before joining the Layers. With his lucky hat and trusty bullwhip, he single-handedly rescued the Ark of the Covenant from the Nazis before the gas wore off and he discovered he'd actually had a little nap and a fresh kidney put in. This being the NHS, he'd gone in for ingrown toenails but now finds that with 3 kidneys, he can drink 1.5 times as fast so reckons he's come out ahead of the game. A veteran of the construction industry, he also owns his own hard hat, which comes in handy in rough venues.
Paul has played with all sorts of bands in the South of the UK and brings a fertile blend of styles into the Layers. In addition to forming a solid rhythm section with the Layers’ ever-rotating line-up of drummers, Paul's backing vocals add to the Layers' sound.
Paul married shortly after joining the band, although rumours that this news sparked a mass suicide amongst female fans are somewhat inaccurate. In fact they were lemmings, not fans, and although suicide was suspected, the inquest was unable to reach a firm verdict. The wedding was a beautiful affair, marred only slightly by the rest of the band showing up. Paul acts as the Layers’ complaints department, which to anyone who knows him, explains why in ten years, we’ve never had a single complaint. Nice.
The thinnest of the Layers, almost a veneer, in fact, is singer and rhythm guitarist Neil. A former engineer now employed (as opposed to working) in education, Neil started learning to play the guitar at nineteen - until the bloke at twenty-one came round and threatened to shove it up his arse.
Anyone who heard him play the guitar labelled him a natural vocalist, so plying his trade thus he played with Wheels, the Asbestos Blues Band and Cain, amongst others, before finding his place in The Layers.
Much of his early life is shrouded in bullshit but a close study of his lyrics reveals him to be a lover of sports and the outdoors, a reader, writer and a chronic and unrepentant plagiarist. Neil is a man of many parts (some of them surprisingly large) loosely held together with scar tissue and gaffer tape. He describes himself as 'male, GSOH, frequent organ donor.' His case comes up next Tuesday.
Tragically, in 2015, our founding drummer, Rupert, had to take an extended break from Layers duties due to nerve damage. He's still one of us and thus his bio is appended here as a mark of our affection.
If the Layers were a car, they would be one of those giant, rear-engine Italian supercars. Unreliability? Loud, unpredictable noises? No – for the giant, restless power plant of Rupert driving the band along on drums from the back. Also, coincidentally, providing the aforementioned unreliability and loud, unpredictable noises.
Actor, musician, electrician, dry-cleaner and more recently, highly-regarded professional photographer, the Layers' drummer has more personality than most people can manage without resorting to schizophrenia and is very much the heart of the band. The most senior Layer by a slim margin, his youthful looks suggest a soul at peace with the world – or possibly an oil painting of a ropey-looking geezer in the attic. However he maintains his zest, the Layers just wouldn't be without his drumming, backing vocals and boundless energy.
In addition to his creative talents, Roo has a Frisbee throw that would make a ninja jealous. Rumour has it that he's known to many ladies as 'The Python' – sadly due to his habit of sloughing his skin on their carpets.
We’d also like to express our deep gratitude to the other Layers been and gone, both full-time (Chris Bray) and part-time (Doug Jopling) as well as the wonderful musicians who’ve stepped in to de-pickle a potential problem gig: Duke, Toby, John, Harry, Matt, Rob and others.