Zag and the Coloured Beads:
Some frequently asked questions

Prologue : A former fan and insider sets the scene

Deop! What name do they give you? You ray-gun this band is a load of bears, overblown chords big haricuts and some cool shades, I was there man crashed out on Tom's sofa avoiding his dad - "Tom, is that your friend who's vomited outside?" Still out there seeeching! I love you all .

Thanks for that, Doy, And now onto ....

(based on emails exchanged in 2003 with James Larcombe, from Stars In Battledress. But further tampered with Apr 05)

JL : Very nice! Who's who?

Top photo, clockwise, Mik Tubb as our faithful bloodhound, Steve Arthur, Tom Rosenbloom in fez, Bob White, and Paul Howard going for the Bernard Crapshit/Ealing comedy look.

JL....did you write all the material yourself, or was it a group effort?

a group effort.

JL: What were your musical influences? I'd always imagined there to be a kinship with Cardiacs...

SA says - We certainly went to a lot of Cardiacs gigs from 84-89 (when they were undoubtedly the best live band I've seen before or since). But we'd not heard of them at all before '84, when we'd been doing music for 4 years, and I'd say we evolved pretty much independently, as a band who played complicated tunes in a ragged/bluesy style. That said, the lead guitar break in 7 beat is a Tim Smith rip-off definitely. We listened to Beefheart and Zappa, mixed up with all sorts of post-punk albums of the time (return of the duritti column, marquee moon, wilder by teardrop explodes, killing joke....) old jazz, Trumpton music, plus all the usual Mojo reader's old records. On 7 beat thing, Koyaanisqatsi by Phillip Glass and 'One More Night' by Can are stirred in.

JL . I'd also be really interested in more details on the albums and the music thereon... when/where were they recorded?

Loaf of Legs was recorded around 1984-5, on a portastudio, judiciously placed at secret locations in Sanderstead, Coulsdon and West Norwood. Sawtooth Gripmaster around 1987, on a eight track and portastudio, in similar locations.
SA: ZATCB existed in some form or other from 1979. Many amateurish early tapes exist. Zag himself departed in 1983 (after a few classic gigs and the 1983 demo - one of my favourites) and formed Ring. The band people usually think of as ZATCB were Mik Tubb, Paul Howard, Bob White, Tom Rosenbloom and Steve Arthur. Though simultaneously Mik and Paul were also in Bing Organs Beastly Scrapings, Bob was in Ring, Bob and Paul were in Peru, Steve, Tom Bob and Paul did stints in the Purple People Eaters, and Steve and Bob churned out their respective solo material by the yard. There's a separate page that goes into more detail about all this.

JL: Did you play all the material at gigs etc...?

SA: Our chequered career as live act lasted from 1982-88. Suspect we didnt do more than a dozen gigs in that time. For some insane reason ZATCB traded under the name Ming and the Fods for a couple of these gigs. Live tapes exist. eg Vines Cross festival, The Star, Croydon...

JL: Any more stuff lurking on tape anywhere?

Beads proper, probably another 20 hours worth, including the legendary Keyfoot Tape. Other related projects -100s of hours. Artistic merit varies and those visiting these wilder shores must expect pain and delight in equal measure. Mmm.

JL: ...and he mentioned a later project called 'Rhineck' - (don't know if that's spelt right)?

SA: Wryneck in fact. Sometime around 1988 Bob left to concentrate on Ring, who were playing bigger gigs, were better organised, and where he had more songwriting input. Paul just got bored with it I think. So we were down to a 3 piece, me, Mik Tubb, Tom Rosenbloom - from 1990-1993. The first consequence was that without Paul to share bass duties with Mik, we stopped swapping instruments around.

JL: also sounded very interesting... anything recorded from this?

SA: Two cassette albums - (and now also 2CDs). Relistening to it now, its strange stuff. Initially I wanted to get away from the Beads' jokiness, and be taken seriously maan, so in comes a mixture of more straightforward rock, woozy atmospheres and non-specific angst. This was the era of shoegazing, Dinosaur Jnr and Snub TV. Plus I saw Levitation doing very well with these huge, intense songs. That was definitely a kick up the backside, though I was caught between wanting to copy them and wanting to be utterly different. There was a group we knew called the Belltower who were an influence too - really driving psychedelic power pop. As time wore on and Levitation burned out , our love of reliable old faves like Led Zep, James Brown etc came more to the fore. Re. the latter, even with the rhythm section on top form (and it was) Funk is difficult for a trio to do well - it needs other instruments. We drafted in Leisurely on bongos, but sadly the hammonds , horns and backing vox stayed in our imaginations.

Sounds like a dogs breakfast doesnt it ? For sure there was bad judgement & self indulgence in the Wryneck era, but, we'd claim, some great stuff too .

JL: What happened next?

The story between the beads years and the present for all 6 main members is a bit complicated. As already mentioned, Bob had 5 years with Levitation. Steve and Mik were in both the Topsters and Tryst. Tom drummed for a dodgy goth band and a disco covers band , and lots of music has been made in other solo and short lived band projects besides. See CDs and Other Bands sections.

At present Mik and Bob are musically active, in the Milk and Honey Band (much mellower than ZATCB). Tom plays in the Exeter based The Toretz. And after lengthy absences, recently even SA and PH have been making vague noises about rejoining the fray...


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Promotional shoot for Sawtooth Gripmaster" or "You stupid, stupid, stupid bastards". But one has to remember that Terence Trent Derby was the star of the era and we had to cultivate a strong image.
Zag and possibly the very coloured beads which gave the band their name.
Bob outside the West Norwood squat where various bits of Loaf were recorded.
Mik limbers up during the Sawtooth GM sessions.
Zag, sex gonk
"Handsoome Hand" (used for cover of the first Wryneck tape).
Paul on Riddlesdown and, lets face it, on mushrooms.