The Freeze Frame
story, in singer Steve Byrne`s own words :
and myself first met in 1980/81. I was singing in a little punk/new
wave band called
The Posers, doing
a lot of gigs around the North-West of England in pubs, bars and
clubs. Our claim to fame was playing Erics'
Club in Liverpool
at Christmas time, on a bill organised by Skeleton
and run by a guy called
John Weaver from
Birkenhead. John ran a record shop as a front to some of his other
Ronnie did some production work for Skeleton and was booked to run a
session for The Posers. We were a group of friends with jobs and
living with our folks, but it was a buzz. We did some great gigs and
built up a strong local following, helping to lend some hope to our
futures. Don't forget, this was at a time of Thatcherism and the
devestation for working class communities in the UK.
Ronnie proved to be different class; With Next,
Afraid of Mice
and The Blank
other successes already under his belt, he was that something that
we/I needed. With Next Ronnie released one single ("Funny
completed an unreleased album produced by Rupert
He joined us for some gigs on guitar and we soon hit it
off and became friends. He was a couple of years older than me,
which is a lot when you are 19/20yrs, but he was a diamond. Brought
up on the 50's and 60's tunes of his older sisters he really knew
his stuff. A good self publicist, but a diamond all the same. I
learned so much from him, mainly his approach to writing and his
quiet way of getting things done. He has a sharp mind and doesn't
suffer fools easily..... Probably why I haven't seen him in about
15yrs......... ha ha.... Seriously, he would make an ideal Manager
or Impresario, his ability to big up the important stuff and not
even mention the dubious stuff was fantastic. Particularily on the
radio.... he was a fortified natural...
His philosophy on writing was.... Just do it, it will get better....
We started writing together immediately, me sending him lyrics and
he in turn furnishing me with cassettes of ideas and demos. He was
very encouraging towards my early efforts and he helped me
He had a cellar in the house he rented in Oxton, Birkenhead.... no
really he did.... and we worked there for months sorting through
songs and ideas. I moved up to Birkenhead a little while later and
got a first floor flat in the same house as
Dave Hughes, from
Dalek I Love You
The flat had previously belonged to
the lead singer with Godot
and much more, and I see his name crop up still. He engineered one
of my favourite albums, "Bandwagonesque"
There was a definite feeling that we were gathering momentum and
getting some shape to our ideas.
We finally settled on the name Freeze
Frame, in respect
of our Godley and
and we were off.
Creme : Freeze
settled on the name Freeze Frame, we did a few shows under the band
name In a Glass
by China Crisis.
I seem to recall, but you would have to check it out with Gary
that these were amongst China’s first shows. The gigs were in a
club in Ellesmere Port called The
renowned for it’s red light clientele.
"Touch" was our first single, on
Crackin' Up. A
guy called Dave
Owens, also from Birkenhead, operated this
short-lived but important little label from Temple Street in
Liverpool City Centre. There were only 3 releases on the label all
told, this single, the compilation cassette "Cracking
Up At The Pyramid"
(March 1982), and another single from a band called
The Frantic Elevators.
The lead singer was the soon to be famous Mick
The cassette "Cracking
Up At The Pyramid", with Freeze Frame`s "Touch" on
The Crackin' Up 'office' was one of a number of rooms in an old
grain warehouse, at different times used by Tim
drummer from Deaf
School, (he was a
painter by this time),
Steve Grace from Nasty
Pop (making a
living as a carpenter) and the later to be 'cult hero' Craig
Charles, from the
TV series Red
Dwarf, plying his
trade as a Poet.
The track sounds a little naive now of course but the re-recorded
version, highlighted its qualities as a song.
was Freeze Frame`s first singlerelease, in 1982.
The time between the first and second singles was a real buzz. We
had got to know Jerry
Lewis - the owner
and co-founder of Erics' Club in Liverpool. He was busy pouring
resources into his new adventure, Amazon
Studios, as a way
of maintaining his development of
They already had singles by Wah
or Alive and
Dalek i Love You. Amazon was in Kirkby on the outskirts of Liverpool
and we got mixed up with a rare bunch including the Glass
Torpedoes and China
We also met Gil
Norton at this
point learning his trade with an 8 track and later a 16 track
machine. He would phone us with 'down time' hours at Amazon and we
would head over from The Wirral. A perfect arrangement. He became a
vital cog in our own 'Crucial Three'.
We had worked previously with a little company called
Cloud Nine Productions,
run by two guys, Dave
Roylance and Mike
were based in Amazon and produced a lot of jingle work for radio.
Dave had been developing an idea for a concept album built around
the ideas of ‘Atlantis’.
He went on to co-write the theme music for the popular soap opera Brookside
and completed a concept album based around the stories of ‘The
Sadly, I heard recently that he had passed away.
We built up a body of work that would give us a real head start. We
did a tour during this period as Godot,
including Dave Hughes and Martin
Cooper from O.M.D.
almost incestuously supporting Dalek i Love You, with
Alan Gill from Teardrop
Explodes. We got
involved in the building of a studio in Birkenhead with them at that
time and were given some free studio time. It all helped to cement
Scene', a different animal than pure Liverpudlians.
We also had Lizzie
Johnson from The
Passage - a
Manchester band - working with us as a backing vocalist. Another
The whole thing suddenly ratcheted up. Jerry did a deal with
RCA to lease the
Inevitable label.... invested in a 24 Track, Solid State Logic
Studio, and we managed to secure a publishing deal with Hit
and Run/April Music,
the company who run
'Genesis'. There was a bit more money around and
we paid for some decent photos to be done by a guy called
Tom Wood for the "Foxhole" sleeve and had a bit more cash to pay
Steve 'Jacuzzi' Hardstaffe,
another of the Birkenhead set who did all of our sleeves.
Gee joined us at
that point (on keyboard) from Afraid of
Mice. I remember his audition at Ronnies
place and he got the job as much for his flexibility and genuineness
as a person, as he did for his musical ability. He fitted in and he
was a big asset in terms of technique and ideas.
Freeze Frame : Ronnie
Stone, Steve Byrne and Clive
We started getting some airplay and did a
for the BBC
(26 March 1983). That
was a real highlight for me. We had also started to work with Dave
Bascombe who had
had some success with Tears
for Fears. He was
a really decent guy and again, someone I learned an awful lot from.
We went down to his place at Livingstone
Studios in Wood
Green in London and he came up to Amazon.
were working at Livingstone on
"Fables of the Reconstruction",
at the time. I would love to say we got along real fine but we never
even met them. Gutted. I do remember meeting an Irish band there,
called ‘The Blades’, and meeting Billy J. Kramer in the kitchen
over a cup of tea.
A lot of the work for "Seeking
was done at Livingstone but, the bulk of the session overdubs and
all of the extra tracks for the 12" were done at Amazon. We
contemplated a 'Cultural' idea for the songs but this work in
progress was temporarily shelved, when the A side started to become
obvious. Our old friends 'The Posers' got due recognition on the
sleeve for past times, as the original version of
"Seeking Professional Advice"
was recorded at that first session, overseen by Ronnie.
In the gaps between releases Ronnie was doing a range musical jobs,
including working with the Irish band Auto
da Fe, and
filling in for China Crisis. He was also demoing Vox AC 30 amps and
wangled himself a beauty. He was also doing casual work for a friend
of his - Cliff -
who owned a dry cleaner business. What a guy.
I was busy making
whatever cash I could on labouring jobs and in factory work. I had
three kids already and on the way to having five in all. There was a
little money from the publishing but not enough for us to live on.
We also managed to continue to do some gigs and at various times
played at The ICA
for a Capital
Radio Session, The
Marquee and The
Venue - all in
London, as well as some shows supporting
Fat Larrys’ Band.
That was a great mix. Their orange flares and our punky tight
Our trips to RCA at the time were legendary when it came to
helping ourselves to the new releases in the Press room. We also did
another BBC Session (22 March 1984), with
Kid Jensen, a
Canadian DJ who was popular for his eclectic approach to his
playlists. His show segued into Peels Radio One show on weekday
We returned to our first single
It was a great song and deserved another chance
to be recorded. We were becoming predominantly studio based as
Freeze Frame, despite the occasional shows. We fleshed out the new
wave sounds of drum machines and Ensonic keyboards, as the undertow
to the next batch of songs. Mixed with real session players the
songs found a natural rhythm, based around the concept of 'Touch'.
"Touch" was re-released in 1985, in a new version.
were supposed to be the ‘album’ artists when Inevitable was
leased over to RCA. One of the other bands signed at the same time -
A Box of Toys
- were single focussed. Our material just kept getting the nod
for release. Their track - "Precious
is the Pearl"
- is glorious though I must say.
recorded a version of "Life
is Just a Game"
- the original "Touch" B-Side at the same time, as well as
other tracks for a hoped for album. Ronnie had been on holiday to
Turkey where his' brother in law' taught with his Turkish wife. While
he was there he bought a 'saz' guitar and quietly wrote some musical
pieces for it. It is one of those that you can hear on "Where's
There was a part of us that felt a little unhappy here and there,
with regard to the role of the record company and advertising and
distribution, as well as the changing relationship with Inevitable
as Jerry became more emboiled in the politics of his job.
Effectively, he owned the studio where his artists did their
recording and he got paid for releasing the records on the company
he owned. Nice work if you can get it.
He didn't break our balls though, he allowed us full artistic
freedom with cover design and rarely questioned the choice of
material. Where we failed if at all, was to not take advantage of
delivering it to the next level. An album. That was a big desire.
I think that the Inevitable Label itself needs to look at why it
didn't capitalise on its undoubted potential. With regard to the
historical releases, it had a stable of artists that warranted
attention and in real terms could create revenue. In busines terms,
you would think, a Win/Win arrrangement.
It was in the interest of the record company not to have hits.
That sounds like sour grapes, but it was my observed opinion.
Everyone in that situation made money.... except us. Little labels like Inevitable have assets to set aside for tax reasons. Certainly when there is a 'parent' company involved. Unless there is a huge hit it probably isn't worth the grief. Certainly at that time.
That could certainly said of "Foxhole", by far our biggest success and peaking at No 105.
Jerry himself oversaw the final 12", "Today
really enjoyed the recordings, using some horn players on
"Only a Boy"
who were fantastic and the incredible
singing a duet on
"It Makes Me Cry".
I'd love to say I made a real day of it with Linda but, to my loss
we did our vocals on different days. My singing voice had relaxed a
little and I was feeling more confident in myself. We did another
bunch of gigs, attracted some airplay as always but it was getting
to decision time. RCA didn't pick up the option, we managed to
squeeze out of our publishing arrangements and despite not being
able to fulfil all of our goals, we were relatively unscathed in the
great scheme of things.
We continued on for another year or two as Push
teaming up with some old friends from Liverpool, Andy
Jon Corner from A
and 3D A Fish in
The name Push Button Pony came from a slang term for ' acting horses
' trained for, and used in movies.
We did a bunch more gigs and recorded an album worth of demos for a
little French label called Carrere.
The tunes were excellent and we did some more radio but Carrere
didn't bite and we had to make some decisions.
I applied for college to do my degree in Youth and Community Studies
and Ronnie continued on in whatever role he could pick up, either as
a producer, engineer or guitarist. He originally came through art
school and had lots of options. He is still doing it now.
The missing tune "Culture Won't Wait" had become available
Hits and Near Misses - Inevitable Sampler Album" (compilation,
It was great to see an album full of artists we had grown together
with, finally get an overdue label release in LP form.
Hits and Near Misses - Inevitable Sampler Album"
Ronnie and I only saw each other occasionally from that point on.
After qualifying from college, I moved into my current work and I
used to pop around to Ronnies to drop off a bagful of condoms that I
used to get free through work. He sure seemed busy enough with that.
The final track on the 'Imaginary' CD (see below) came out under the name
Someone in case
of any hangovers from previous publishing arrangements, and was
released on "The
Invaders - Inevitable Sampler
Invaders - Inevitable Sampler
was working out of a studio near Chester, belonging to Bobby
from the 70′s Cabaret outfit, The
(The band that spawned
not sure whether this ever got an official release but it does
exist, ‘INEV 19′, as I have a copy myself. We shot a video
in the studio to accompany the track but I don’t remember ever
seeing it. I would love to.
was predominantly artists that Ronnie was producing or otherwise
working with and is well worth listening to. Jack
artist we had both worked with, ‘The
all come to mind.
I haven’t seen him now for about 15 years, like I say, although I
hear mention of him here and there and smile with satisfaction when
I see him credited with some new release or other. I was working in
a little studio in Wrexham, run by a guy called Nino,
and he knew Ronnie well and our history. I was able to pass on my
regards. I don’t know whether he got them.
I played on intermittently throughout the early '90s with a band
another batch of tunes and playing a lot of local gigs but never
looking to release anything with serious intent. I moved up to North
Wales in 1998.
I set about writing and recording a whole new set of material, as a
somewhat cathartic approach to my first marriage going under. It was
certainly that. That material is available under the name, "More
Songs About Kitchens and Stairs.... The Llay Tapes 1998 - 2003".
It is a flurry of material, made during a series of congregations
with musical friends and family. Usually involving a good helping of
red wine. It is due to be released in early 2012, under the name
"The Jazz Cigarettes".
From 2000, I began doing some gigs with some other friends who were
well established as The
They had had a lot of their work published and had developed a
musical sideline as
They wrote a 'Celtic Opera' over a period of years and I was proud
to have the role as 'The Dark Power', when it was performed a number
of times in Chester.
So there you have it. I got married again in 2006 and haven't
written a song since. That's not quite true actually, I have written
a dozen or more but only just recently started to draw them together
for finishing and recording.
and Jon Arne (The Webmaster of this page) in a picture from 2006.
I met up with my friend
Rob Riley, a
co-survivor of "The Llay Tapes" only last week and we got two tracks
down during an afternoon when I was off work. One is called "Motown
Stranger" and the other is a gospel piece, written as a replacement for the Old Rugged Cross…. Ha Ha.
Seriously, I seem to go to a lot of funerals as I get older and its about time we had a new funereal option. It’s called
On". Both songs will get an early airing through the
‘MasterBakers’ Facebook page as soon as they are ready.
'Imaginary' Freeze Frame CD :
01 Touch (Crackin’Up)
02 Your Voice
03 Conversation Piece
05 Furnished Heart
06 At Your Scenario
07 Seeking Professional Advice
08 My 10,000 Mile Home
09 Brother Brother
10 Touch (RCA/Inevitable)
11 Personal Touch
12 Where’s The Girl
13 Keep In Touch
14 Today Tomorrow
15 Only A Boy
16 It Makes Me Cry
17 Culture Won’t Wait
Stephen Joseph Byrne, December 2011