Life Is Like A Box Of Records – P6 (Desalvo)

Some time ago I was sitting on a bus with a token playlist of songs that had influenced my life in some way or another. Being somewhat refreshed, I started thinking of all the times that these songs had become significant and thought, wouldn’t it be an excellent idea to delve into other people’s ‘Life Record Boxes’.Luckily people have been wonderful and we have an incredible series coming up with some special people.

We kick off the feature with P6. Frontman of incredible band Desalvo, not to mention numerous projects, P6 has been very open about his life in this wonderful piece of writing. He has included the records that have been pivotal in his life and has called this – ‘Desert Island Disco’.

Over to P6 and his ‘Life Is Like A Box Of Records’….

I was born in Glasgow in 1965, an only child to working class parents & just after the death of my grandfather by Industrial Asbestosis. The murder of my Uncle in football violence in 1970 completed a cycle of bereavement which I felt hung over my early life. I believe this also fostered my distrust of authority.

My adolescence was littered with the usual sexual confusions, musical obsessions & domestic violence towards me & my mother but this also forged us, along with my grandmother as a supportive unit and I don’t doubt this subtly influenced my sexuality.

My education was fairly typical of the late 70s, I was talkative, probably quite disruptive but I left with average qualifications. I completely flunked a degree course in Physics but had relationships with two amazing women; Laura and Lindsay. I left home, attended rallies in support of the Miners, enrolled in psychiatric nurse training & came out as gay. At that time in the 1980’s I technically became a criminal – I was 20 and the age of consent for gay men in Scotland was 21.

From my room in Dykebar Hospital, and encouraged by my experiences in the wards, I corresponded with Death In June , Coil and Chris & Cosey. I ordered the ‘Disinformation’ mail art of Mark Pawson, fanzine upon fanzine and accumulated an increasingly weird record collection. I met my first partner Hugh at this time & we were together for 8 years.

With others I founded Stretchheads, eventually releasing records on Moksha and Blast First/Mute records. AIDS exploded, fear and media hatred grew – I continued working in Psychiatry until an opportunity to work full time in HIV prevention in 1992 which eclipsed my membership of the band;

After a serious queerbashing in Paisley town centre, I moved to Gourock with my second partner Gary & joined the Order of Perpetual Indulgence as a part-time Sister. I threw myself into Queer Politics & Gay Pride; I lunged erotically at Robert Mugabe at a Commonwealth meeting in Edinburgh & met Quentin Crisp & I also became close friends with two of the Order’s ‘Living Saints’ who championed the rights of the SM men criminalised by the Spanner Case. At the same time I went into therapy both for healing & learning as I trained in counselling skills and explored my chronic nihilism.

At the end of the 90’s, I met my current partner Michael & took a community psychiatric nursing job in Argyll and Bute, peddling Methadone and clean needles, driving wildly on dangerous loch-side roads & avoided being a musician. That is until I was persuaded by ex-SH member Richie & via a live cameo appearance with pH Family. Funnily enough Mogwai also played that night (surely Mudhoney pretenders, I felt?) & then ironically I later joined Desalvo as the bulky queer frontman in a metallic man-band signed to Rock Action Records.

Into the new millennium I worked in Suicide Prevention work, lectured for the Open University & me…a dropout! studied an MSc researching transsexuality, gender & prostitution. I balanced my academic studies with public health work & visceral rock-pig antics. I graduated at the same ceremony as Neil (Lord) Kinnock MEP was awarded an honorary doctorate; my mother got a bit tipsy & cried with pride. Music continued to dominate my life, but my tastes matured.

In recent years, I have veered more towards using electronics, performing political noise-scapes in ‘OV’, recording under ridiculous pseudonyms on Black Circle Records and with my friend Joe Ahmed in industrial electro duo Security, via whom & after all this time I became friends (in the flesh now) with Chris & Cosey. We lost my grandmother a few years ago aged 92, by her bedside in the RAH as she slipped away at 5am, cared for by a sweet Zimbabwean nurse she’d bonded with towards her end.

I’m sure she’s looking down with a blend of pride and bemusement at a well-lived life to date.


Photo credit: Luke G Joyce

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