Turning Rebellion into a Living

Following on from the Punk in East Leeds article a few months ago, Alan Dawson aka Dosher tells us how teenage rebellion led to a 25 year musical career.
“As a teenager, Punk was everything to me, a really important time and stepping stone in my life. It’s kind of strange to think now but we really were seen as a threat to society, the ‘red under the bed’ sort of thing. As a Punk, I was regularly spat at and abused in the street, mad really, I was just a kid going round to me mates to play some records.”
For any aspiring local Punk who wanted to be in a band, all roads led to Crossgates Meff and Dosher was no different, cutting his teeth with the Urban Zones, Dogs of War and Honeysuckle Children.


“I tried vocals, then drums and was rubbish at both, then I picked a bass guitar up and it just felt right. My first bass hero was J.J Burnel from the Stranglers and I started to learn the Stranglers bass lines. After a few months I’d mastered them and moved on. Slowly it dawned on me I had found a talent I didn’t know I had.”
Next up for Dosher was local band Hang the Dance, which kind of took him to the next level.16-dosher

“We gigged all over the country and broke into the top 5 of the independent charts. We supported a fair few well known bands at the time including New Model Army who at the time were riding the crest of a wave. Their management approached me to take over on bass but I turned them down, the more I said no, the more they came back but I’ve no regrets, I couldn’t have lived with myself if I’d have walked out on Hang the Dance and I really wanted to know what we could achieve.”
But just over a year later Dosher did quit the band, citing the old musical differences chestnut.
”By now I’d developed my bass playing to the ‘funk slapping’ style. The problem was it seemed to be dominating the band. After I left they regrouped, got some new members, changed their style and I was at the new line ups first gig, urging them on. By then I was playing in a band called Leitmotiv whose musical style I fitted in with more. They were a step up and played bigger venues but split after about a year, I wasn’t too bothered, I was a very confident bass player and looking at music as a career.”
By then Dosher had moved away from Punk musically if not spiritually. He played in numerous Jazz, Funk and covers bands and became a sought after session musician. Eventually he accepted a contract to form his own band and play in Dubai.
“I’m always asked if it was a step down when I started playing with club bands doing cover versions. In effect it was a step up, I was getting paid for playing for the first time in my life and hotels replaced the back of the van or someone’s floor as a place to sleep. Dubai was a great experience in lots of ways. It was a different Dubai to the one we have now. Then it was unspoiled beaches and hardly a Westerner in sight. We played in a hotel, four times a night seven nights a week. Even though the Punk clothes were a teenage memory, as Westerners we still stood out as something different culturally. After playing about seven hundred gigs in about six months we became what our agent described as summer seasoned. Musically it did get boring but the pay was great and food and accommodation were provided. The only problem was our free food was from the local Tex Mex, after a week or so we were sick of the sight of Mexican food. There was a bit of a pecking order in Dubai. At the top of the ladder were the natural Dubai citizens, second were the Europeans and Americans, on the bottom rung were the Indians and Thai’s, migrant workers who did the unskilled and menial jobs. We got so bored with Tex Mex, we started to eat with the Indians who literally were making curries from left overs and boiling bones for flavour. At first they welcomed us, then after a week or so they kicked us out for nicking their grub. Later we took up fishing for our supper which was great.”

Dosher did a year in Dubai, came home and became a jobbing/session musician playing all over Europe. Then the computer age came and he learned how to program music for karaoke and backing tracks. “It was a relief not to be on the road constantly, as a job it was purely functional but payed the bills. Really, looking back I achieved everything I wanted to musically. Not many people can say they’ve had a twenty five year music career. I don’t want to sound bitter but I just got sick of agents and managers always trying to rip me off. It’s such a cut throat business, one day I just thought – I’m out of here- and found a job working in an office. It’s not actually that different from been a musician, just a lot less stressful.”
Not long after an accident while practising his other passion – Judo, Dosher damaged a tendon in his hand which kind of cemented his decision to quit the music business.
“It made playing to my standards more difficult but to be honest I was more concerned about if I could carry on with Judo than playing music.’
Here at ELM we can testify to Doshers talent with a bass guitar having seen him many times in his Hang the Dance and Leitmotiv days. Local writer John Lake recently quoted him as one of, if not the – most talented musicians to come out of Leeds in the last thirty years. 
” I turned down Simply Red, the fame and fortune didn’t interest me. I had an approach from Big Audio Dynamite which just came at the wrong time other wise I would have jumped at it. But ultimately I pretty much had a musical career on my own terms, I think people got the impression I’d rather be skint then famous but I chose my own path, that might not be to everyone’s liking but in the beginning I had a purists dream of not selling out which eventually turned to making a living on my own terms.”

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One Comment

  1. Aaahh, the naivety and idealism of youth.

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