DARK | Interview | 14-Volume Series of Complete Recordings

Uncategorized December 12, 2022

DARK | Interview | 14-Volume Series of Complete Recordings

DARK was one of those incredible groups that privately released a sole album that sadly got buried in time. Luckily the recorded ‘Dark Round The Edges’ from 1972 is getting more attention than ever thanks to the Seelie Court label.


The band was formed by Steve Giles whilst at school in Northampton in 1968. DARK performed at a few local gigs, and as their playing got tighter, decided to go into SIS Studios, Northampton, with engineer Allan Bowley, to record an album. The six tracks, written and arranged by the band were recorded over a weekend in 1972 and consist of melodic progressive rock laced with lots of fuzzy guitar riffs. 

Only a handful of copies were pressed, and Giles, who had a strong interest in photography, made the first twelve copies into full-colour gatefold sleeves, complete with booklets of photographs stapled together, augmented with handwritten notes. They were handed out to band members and their girlfriends. The band then split with Clive and Martin going their own ways, and Steve and Ron continuing to record for their own pleasure until 1977 when Ron married and moved to Cornwall.

DARK Mk IV

“I had put my heart and soul into that band”

Seelie Court recently released a massive 14-volume series of your complete recordings, including 13 x LPs & 1 x single, how did you approach this massive project?

Steve Giles: Quite a few years ago now, I was becoming rather overwhelmed dealing with all the DARK interest and the, almost constant, requests by labels to reissue ‘Dark Round The Edges’ (‘DRTE’). I felt it was time I handed some of this over to a label on a permanent basis. None of us are getting any younger. So, having been in contact with Seelie Court many times over the years, I mentioned this, and also the fact that in, I think it would have been 3 or 4 years at that time, it would be the 50th Anniversary of ‘DRTE’. They offered to take over the Publishing Rights with the idea of doing something special during 2022. I readily agreed, and contracts were drawn up. Maybe if we’d had divine knowledge of the upcoming problems with pressing plant delays and Covid, the project might have been started earlier – but I kept digging through all my old tapes which, with absolutely no forethought at the time, I had actually kept. Amazingly – they had survived those 50+ years, almost totally intact. I even found a Live recording of DARK Mk I from 1969 which I had completely forgotten about. Seelie Court insisted on hearing them and were very keen to issue them all. I was very loathed to do that as I had only recorded them for my own amusement and were not of the best quality. They were never intended to be heard even by family and friends, let alone a much wider, even World-Wide listener. Seelie Court insisted the recordings had an archival relevance – that they, effectively, amounted to my life’s work. So I agreed. Listening back to the LPs now – sure, some of the recording quality is “not good” but some of the, albeit immature and self-indulgent, playing has rather surprised me. I am now so glad I agreed. This series is also going to be available as a 7CD box set.

DARK Mk I

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume I’ | Volume I features a live recording from 1969 featuring ‘Mrs. Towers,’ ‘Sky Blue,’ ‘Untitled Jam,’ ‘Purple Haze,’ and ‘The Jam 1975’.

Yes. I’ve just alluded to the Live recording. I think I only discovered it early this year. I was really excited when I realised what it was. I didn’t think I had any recordings of the very first line-up. This line-up was myself with 2 schoolmates, Bruce Duncan on bass and Charlie Hiams on drums. We were all still at school at the time. I formed the band in 1968 with Bruce and another guy on drums, purely because he had been in the Boy’s Brigade and so was used to bashing a snare. He didn’t really work out so we chatted with a few other friends and Charlie agreed to give it a go. He had never touched a drumstick in his whole life so, obviously, he didn’t have a kit but I had assembled something previously just by purchasing cheap drums from various sources, one at a time, until, eventually, I had a complete kit … of sorts. The snare skin soon split and, not being able to afford another straight away, I “mended” it with sellotape. Anyway – we used to do a few Cream and Hendrix covers. ‘Purple Haze’ is the only one that remains. The rest of our set was made up of Bruce’s compositions, ‘Mrs. Towers’ and ‘Sky Blues’ are two of those. Sadly, Bruce passed away in 2014. ‘Untitled Jam’ needs no explanation. That left Side 2 needing filling. We wanted to include ‘The Jam 1975′ somewhere in this series and, whilst trying, as far as possible, to have all tracks in chronological order, this was the only place there was enough space. I made this recording late in 1975. I had set up a studio in the loft at my parents’ house. I had one of the A77 Revox machines from SIS Studios and had supplemented that with a 4-Channel TEAC A-3340 Simul-Sync recorder. Ron and I used to record there on a weekly or fortnightly basis and I’d record and overdub on the TEAC, eventually mixing down to the Revox. Then in November, I saw an advert for a very economical 12 Channel mixer – £249. So, I drove over to Cambridge and bought it. I now wanted to test it out in conjunction with the TEAC so I gathered some pals together to record something:
Ron Johnson – who plays 2nd guitar on this,
Clive Thorneycroft – drums,
Julian Temple – bass … he was bass player in another band I was in at the time – City Road,
Bob Stryjek – bongos. Bob had played with DARK on occasions and was drummer in City Road.

So, I put myself on one channel of the TEAC, Ron on another with the others in a stereo image over channels 3 and 4. I then mixed down to the Revox, panning the guitars as required and adding echo via a Binson Echotec 2 machine. To get the “phasing” effect, I recorded the mixed master to channels 1 and 2 of the TEAC – then again on channels 3 and 4, adjusting the sync occasionally to get the phasing, finally mixing to two recordings in places where I was happy with the phase effect.

Loft Studio

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume II’ | I love the photo you used for the cover. It’s Part 1 and the next one is Part 2 of live recordings?

Thanks! Yes – 15-year-old me with my Broadway Budget guitar, all painted up. My first electric – but not my first guitar. That was a Spanish-style acoustic Mum and Dad bought me for Christmas 1965. I persevered with that although, having rather small hands for a guitarist, I struggled a bit with the wide fretboard. So, I pestered Mum and Dad enough till they relented and bought me the Broadway. Actually, they enlisted the help of a family friend who played guitar. He drove me over to Midland Music Center in Cowper Street, Northampton where he eventually decided the Broadway would be the best for me.

I actually remember the date very well, sadly. It was Friday 21st October 1966. The day of that really awful Aberfan disaster. Once I got back home I found Mum and Dad glued to the small B&W TV watching the news reports. Being days way before instant worldwide news, reports were only just coming through. Yes. All recordings on ‘Volume II’ and ‘III’ are from a 1970 gig by DARK Mk II – which now includes Martin Moloney on keyboards.

DARK Mk II

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume III’ | What can you say about the cover artwork used for this one?

Part 2 of the 1970 DARK Mk II Live recordings. The photo is of my immediate family taken in the garden of 110 Holly Road, Northampton. The occasion is the 78th birthday of my Gran Elsie, seated centre, August 15th, 1970. On either side of her are my Auntie Doris (her sister) and my Mum, Winifred. Pet name ‘Wiff’. That came about because her younger brother had trouble pronouncing her name. Behind are my brother Tim and Dad Len. My Mum was born at that house. I bought it in 1980 after Gran and Auntie Doris had passed and I’d had it done up and modernised.

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume IV’.

The first 4 tracks are from DARK’s first recording session at SIS on April 25th, 1970 and the line-up is DARK Mk II – with track 5, also recorded at SIS, sometime in March 1971. This was a track that had been composed by Richard Cobby ARPS. A local photographer and classical guitar teacher.

He had been commissioned to write a jingle for this “Primeat” company – disappeared long ago now. It was to be played on their stand at the 1971 Ideal Home Exhibition. This is DARK Mk III – after Bruce and Charlie had left to be replaced by Carl Bush on bass and Clive on drums. Slightly out of sequence, this track. Fitted in where we could. I’ve no idea how, or why, Richard got that commission. I can only assume that Primeat was a local company. No memory of that now.

DARK Mk III

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume V’. These are cellar rehearsals?

Yes – the famous “Cellar” under my Dad’s photographic shop, 237 Wellingborough Road, Northampton. Now half of the Sir Pickering Phipps pub. I doubt they were all recorded at the same rehearsal but they are all DARK Mk IV – after Martin Moloney left, and all during 1971. Back to a 3-piece again. Carl Bush is on bass now, sadly, no longer with us, and Clive is on drums. A couple of covers on this and the audio from the “In The Sky” cine film, which was unearthed not that long ago. Something else I had forgotten. Another version of that track is also there along with others from when we were rehearsing for the October ’71 SIS recording session. ‘Let It Rest’ – one of my compositions that, as far as I can recall, never saw the light of day.

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume VI’.

Side 1 has the results of that 1971 SIS session – October 27th. Recorded and overdubbed in one evening. We had 5 acetates made from ‘In The Sky’ and ‘RC8’. Only one of those, to my knowledge, still remains. Clive is the proud owner. Side 2 is of Live recordings from November 1971, soon after that session and just before Carl left. Probably his last gig.

Featuring a short but sweet drum solo from Clive – before my solo in ‘Maypole’. No recollection now of why I don’t have the whole of that track – but so glad Clive’s solo was captured and kept.

DARK Mk V

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume VII’ | Instrumental sessions…

These are all the backing tracks from the 1971 SIS session – before vocal overdubs. No guitar overdubs were done. To one degree or another, you can hear the guide vocal I sang so that the other guys knew where we were in each track. I love the ‘RC8’ miss-start.

Carl messes about and I have to tell him to “Shush.” But he does another cheeky “doodloo” anyway! Ha-ha! Love it. He was a really great guy!

‘RC8’ Splice

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume VIII’ | Fantastic to hear the ‘Dark Round The Edges’ session.

Yes. The backing and outtake tracks from the SIS DRTE Session, 9th July 1972. I did a bit of guitar overdubbing at the end of the session but went back on the evenings of the 11th, 12th and 13th to finish off and do the vocals. ‘RC8’ was the only track done in one take. Strange to hear it without the “Flush!” It was basically a “Live” recording with only the vocal being added later. Martin wasn’t playing on ‘Darkside’. He’d only joined DARK about a month before and the recording session had already been booked. So, with limited time for him to learn all 6 tracks, we thought it would be fair if he didn’t have to do this, the most intricate one. We still had trouble with it though. As we were only recording a stereo image on 2 channels, we had to get it right, all of us, all the way through. Both Ron and I got a bit psyched out the closer we got to the intricate middle section. We both caused a miss-take. Martin’s guitar is all “live” on all the tracks he plays on – no overdubs. He plays the raucous solos on ‘The Cat’ and ‘Live For Today’ – and the effects on ‘Zero Time’. Actually, ‘Zero Time’ was also done in one take, initially. We’d got through it fine but there was something I noticed whilst recording that I wanted to check out. So, Allan ran the tape back until I found the bit I wanted to listen to. “No – that’s fine. That’s ok. Let’s do the next.” So Allan started recording – suddenly realising he hadn’t wound the tape forward again! Aaargghh – NO!! After one false start on the next take, we got it down! Some light-hearted moments whilst trying to get ‘The Cat’ and ‘Maypole’ underway!

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume IX’ | Reproduces the original ‘Dark Round The Edges’ cover drawn by you and your then girlfriend on the very first white-label test press made in 1972.

Yep. The “Doodle Sleeve” version. Volume IX was the original reissue in October of ’22, which was a full-size facsimile sleeve. These are now all sold out!

“Doodle Sleeve Girlfriend”

The version included in this series is Volume 9v. A variant that only includes an image of the Doodle Sleeve, not a full-size replica. This will match the format of all the other sleeves in the series. It has a printed label and inner sleeve and the LP is the Abbey Road Remaster, so it is totally different from that first Doodle Sleeve. 

“Doodle Sleeve” Front

Back in 1972, I had initially been sent 2 test pressings, which actually had the proper black-on-red labels, not plain white labels, in plain white sleeves. I can’t remember why but myself and my girlfriend decided to do those doodles. It was before I had constructed any of the now-famous photo sleeves.

“Doodle Sleeve” Reverse

That first version came about because Seelie Court had been approached by a pressing plant in April 2022 to choose something from their catalogue for a very limited run of 200. They obviously thought of DARK so contacted me. I was all for it – but we wondered how we could make it “special.” The Doodle Sleeve was decided upon.

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume X’.

‘DRTE’ – Remastered at Abbey Road Studios by Sean Magee on October 25th, 2021. A very bittersweet experience for me. I had lost my partner of 18 years, suddenly and unexpectedly, only 2 days before. I seriously considered abandoning the session. Sean had the master tapes already in his possession, so he could easily have done it without us. Seelie Court totally understood my predicament and, whilst desperately wanting me to be at the remastering session, left it totally up to me to decide. However, after recovering from the initial shock, I realised Katy had known all about the session and was really looking forward to hearing how it went and seeing any photos or videos I would take. I knew she would have wanted me to carry on and do it, so I did. The Abbey Road Remastered LPs are dedicated, in the run-out etchings to her, and my daughter Carly who I lost in 2011, on Side 2. And to my Mum and Dad on Side 1 – for all the amazing support they gave me once I had formed DARK. This Volume will just have a single B&W sleeve, with the authentic facsimiles of the B&W photos I used on the original sleeves.

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume XI’.

This volume is exactly the same as ‘Volume X’ except that it comes in a facsimile colour gatefold sleeve and includes a 20-page booklet, an A2 Poster and will be presented in an Outer Art Bag. Again, of course, Remastered at Abbey Road Studios from the original stereo master tape.

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume XII’.

Both this and ‘Volume XIII’ comprise all the tracks from our ‘Anonymous Days’ album. During the intervening years between 1990 and 1994, we had saved all money from licensing the rights to labels to put out ‘DRTE’ again. We decided that the best thing to do would be to use that money to record another album. So, we arranged with a local studio, Outrider, to have several sessions to lay down the 9 tracks that we had rehearsed, the first one being on March 12th, 1994.

We got down backing tracks to ‘Don’t Worry About That,’ ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘Miles and Miles Away’. During that session, another one the next day and again on 5th April, we finished and mixed ‘Don’t Worry’ and ‘Journey’s End’. We finished adding tracks to ‘Miles and Miles Away’ but intended to book further sessions later in the year to finish that and record the rest of the tracks planned for the album. Annoyingly, before we could do anything else, Outrider closed down.

They were renting the property and the landlord had decided to raise the rent to a level Outrider was not prepared to pay. So, we were left with the task of finding another studio, eventually deciding on Far Heath at Guilsborough, just outside Northampton. We booked a session for the 14th and 15th of January, 1995. We still had 6 tracks to record, or so we thought. Unfortunately, although we had the master multi-track tapes for ‘Miles’ – we couldn’t use them. They had been recorded on a 16-track machine on ½” tape.

DARK at Outrider studio with Mark Thompson engineer

Far Heath used a 24-track machine and 1″ tape. Totally incompatible. So – we had 7 tracks to record. Not possible to do everything in those 2 days, so other sessions were booked from the 10th to the 26th of November of that same year. Some years later, having got possession of all the multitrack masters, I had them transferred to digital files so that I could remix and remaster them. This I did in 2016 but I have remixed and remastered again this year, specifically for this series of LPs.

Angus Wallace and Steve Giles at Far Heath studio

‘Catalogue Raisonne – Volume XIII’.

The second part of my remix/remaster of ‘Anonymous Days’ – PLUS two tracks from rehearsals in The Cellar whilst preparing for the sessions. The tracks ‘Alibi’ and ‘Preacher Wife’ were eventually rejected but, fortunately, considering they were only rehearsal tracks recorded on a cassette deck, they’re not too bad. The final track is from the multi-track master of ‘Miles and Miles Away’ recorded at Outrider. As the later version features on track 2 of the first LP, I have changed the title slightly to ‘Miles and Miles’.

‘I’m Not Sad’ / ‘All Through The Night’.

This is part of the Catalogue Raisonne series, except it’s a 7″ single, although it’s 33⅓ rpm because, at 45rpm, ‘I’m Not Sad’ would not have been able to fit. These tracks are from the first SIS Session of April 25th, 1970, and are my two most laid-back compositions. Actually, I’m not sure if I intended to record ‘I’m Not Sad’. We played it after Allan had set up the mics and was getting everything balanced. At points later in the song you can hear different mics being faded in and out as he experimented. It’s also obvious in places that we don’t seem to know the song that well. We didn’t. I had not long written it and we were still practicing it, so I decided to use that as a way to settle into the session. I was, in the end, reasonably happy with it and loved the general sound, especially Charlie’s brushes – so, fortunately, I decided to keep it.

What would you say are some key differences between your own and the Abbey Road mix?

Let’s be clear here. Abbey Road did NOT remix the album. That is not possible. The master tape is a 2 channel recording of the backing tracks with overdubs. It was never a multitrack recording that could be mixed. Both mine, on the Doodle Sleeve, and Abbey Road’s are remasters, not remixes. Actually, I was very surprised to hear how close my own remaster was to that of Abbey Road’s. Of course, theirs is, to my mind, superior. I had produced my remaster from the original tapes, very slightly reducing the separation and adding some subtle effects in a couple of places. Just for me, really. I doubt most listeners will notice. The Abbey Road remaster is straight from the tape. No manipulation and so is just as we would have heard it in playback at the studio, although, more than likely, better! I love it!

Master Tape

How was it to work with Ron Johnson at Abbey Road?

Well – to be honest, we didn’t really do any work. It was just good to be there to watch it happen, and watch Sean at work.

Steve Giles at Abbey Road Studios

We traveled down in Ron’s car and I was glad he was able to come along. Due to Covid restrictions, only two were allowed at remastering sessions, or Clive would have come along as well. Being with Ron was good – being able to chat. Otherwise, I’d have been alone on the journey with my thoughts.

Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios

The whole process was a blessing. Very cathartic. A real relief.

Ron Johnson at Abbey Road Studios

An art historian, and ex-director of Moma and the Canadian National Gallery, has written a brief introduction to the series of LPs.

Yes – and I’ve only just been made aware of this. Astounding and, in some respects, mirrors my own feelings regarding the quality of those early recordings against the quality of the playing.

“The only reason I recorded the album is my realising we would soon be splitting up”

Poster for Farewell Gig November 1972

How do you feel about the fact that Dark is getting such incredible treatment after all these years?

I just can’t get over it. Seriously. I mean, let’s face it, this has been going on now for over 30 years. Each time something happens I think “Well, that’s it now. People are going to start getting fed up with this-” But no! There were the Akarma releases. Ok, most of those are illegal presses – but they’ve kept the interest going. Then the further legit presses – then the 2 colour gatefold originals selling for £25k+ a few years ago, and a B&W gatefold going for £12k. Then that auction – another B&W gatefold, with a damaged LP mind, effectively going for over £24k. It’s just mind-blowing.

Especially when you think that the only reason I recorded the album is my realising we would soon be splitting up – which we did. I had put my heart and soul into that band over the last four years, including my last few years at school, so I wanted to create something tangible, something I could keep for the future. Something I could look back on and remember all the good times. Something I could show my kids. There are many that have now done that for me.
I am totally humbled!

DARK Mk VI

We did a fantastic interview back in 2013, is there any story left that would you like to share with our readers?

I remember that very well, Klemen. I was really chuffed to be asked to do it at the time – but I’m pretty sure I’ve gone over some of that ground again in this latest interview and anything I could have added, has been done here. All I can do is finish as I did for that original interview:

“I would very much, on behalf of myself and the other members of DARK, like to thank our fans from all over The World (I still can’t believe that) for the incredible support we have received over the years. And to anyone who has bought an album, of whatever version (even the bootlegs – they still paid money for them) we extend our heartfelt thanks! And to all your readers of this article – thanks so much for your interest.”


Headline photo: DARK Mk IV

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2 Comments
  1. Josef Kloiber says:

    Thank you !!! When should the 7 cd box be avaible ????

  2. Steve Giles says:

    Hi. Thanks for your query.
    I don’t have a specific date yet.
    We’ve been concentrating on getting the LPs finished – and they are now available for pre-order and will start shipping from about 27th January.
    All work on the CDs is complete – apart from some cover art.
    Work will continue on that during January and it’s hoped they’ll be available shortly after the LPs are.
    Happy New Year!

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