When David first started out, he recorded his song-based albums under his own name before becoming known as Sombre Reptiles in December 1980. He reverted to his own name for subsequent anthologies.
It Can Only Get Better (1978), contains David's first attempts at song-writing. Long since deleted, the opening instrumental track "First Declension" appears on the "Anthology 1977-2001" 2CD set and was also reworked 25 years after the initial September 1977 recording for "Ampersand" in 2002.
Between September 1977 and 1981, David recorded a number of experimental electronic instrumental albums under the pseudonym DDHR.
"The Drone Effect"'s title track consisted of one note played for 30 minutes with varying changes in frequency. It was often used to send people off to sleep at 4 in the morning at parties.
As the title suggests, "Munchen Musik" was recorded in Munich and, like AMF (also recorded in Germany but this time near Kassel) it’s mainly piano based.
Extracts from "The Drone Effect" and "AMF" appear on the "Anthology" 2CD set.
David was heavily influenced by his best schoolfriend at the time, Dood Hamilton. Dood started writing his own country tinged songs around 1975/6 influenced by the Eagles and Neil Young. Heartband had no drummer just Dood and Fred on acoustics and David on very basic bass. But David did occasionally use knitting needles and Tupperware boxes as percussion. Stand outs were early covers of Young's "Like A Hurricane" and Jonathon Richman's "Egyptian Reggae". Much of the material was recorded with one microphone in Dood's mum's front room.
In the summer of 1978, David joined up with the Gurr brothers to form a guitar, bass and drums trio playing mostly David's compositions. The band would play on occasional Sunday afternoons at a Mental Institution near Edinburgh much to the delight of the patients.
This was Berlin with an extra guitarist as David brought Dood in. The band played around the Edinburgh area and the setlists now included some of Dood's songs along with a memorable version of Hawkwind's "Silver Machine".
The group would rehearse at a local Church Hall every Sunday. The "Sven Diamond" album was recorded direct to cassette during these rehearsals. The Cross Keys set was played to a packed audience in Dalkeith and was Dood's last gig with the band. Essentially an audience recording bootleg.
With the departure of Dennis Hamilton, guitarist Gus Bolton was recruited and the band took on a harder sound. Gus was a veteran of local punk band The Noise. The songs became shorter, louder and faster.
"Around The Sound" (1979) was recorded during rehearsal sessions, this album captured Spring 1979 perfectly.
Kicks split up at the start of the summer of 1979 and David formed a new trio with college friend Ann Park on electric violin and her brother Jim on drums. After a couple of rehearsals, David went to Munich for the summer. On his return he formed a new trio with Gus Bolton and another ex-Noise member, Eric Merrill.
After getting a set of new songs together, David re-recruited Jim Park on drums. To allow him to concentrate on vocals, Jim's friend Jamie Frain was brought in on bass.
The band took its name form a shop in Edinburgh's Royal Mile and started gigging in January 1980. By March however, Jim and Eric had left and been replaced by Keith Apter and Nicky Hind respectively.
Whilst living in Germany David decided to give himself a "band" persona and, from a shortlist of Brian Eno song titles, the name Sombre Reptiles was chosen.
In all, David released 35 albums under this name from Love/War/Travel/Etc in December 1980 to Starcrossfix in December 1995 before becoming the Cloudland Blue Quartet in the summer of 1996. Albums were recorded using multitracking and programming with backing tapes being used for sporadic live dates.
Flirten ist ja leicht
Notwithstanding the Sombre Reptiles moniker, David formed a "real" band while living in Germany in 1981.
Taking their name from a magazine headline, Edith Baesse (now a radio DJ in Munich) was the lead singer, Carsten Tampe played guitar and Didi Rudolf featured on bass while David played drums. The material performed was taken from the first two Sombre Reptiles albums, Love/War/Travel/etc. and The Value of Games.
On returning to Edinburgh in the late summer of 1981, David pulled together a five piece line up including girlfriend Anne Fowler on synths and Capital Models' original drummer Jim Park. David played bass and two other members on guitar and saxophone respectively completed the line up (their names are lost to antiquity).
The band never gigged but produced enough material for one album including versions of songs from Sombre Reptiles' Pictures From A Magazine album. Songs written with this line up also appeared on Sombre Reptiles last 1981 album, "For You".
After Social Cue came to nothing, David and Anne teamed up with drummer Jeff Foster in a band that sound a little like New Orde. However, David was unwilling to accommodate Jeff's love of reggae style drumming and the trio split amicably.
In the winter of 1981/82, David joined punk band Last Uprising to play keyboards on their live dates. No recordings of the band exist in David's archive.
DDHR & Keith Apter
David got together again with second Capital Models drummer, Keith Apter in the Spring of 1982 and they recorded one album of percussion and synth music which was received rather well in David's adopted home from home, Germany.
Originally a four piece featuring David, old schoolfriend Alan Brodie and wife Anne Reilly (nee Fowler) on keyboards and ex-Pure Bears bassist, George Coleman, Disco Complex was formed to perform a one-off gig of cover versions of songs by the likes of David Essex, Gary Glitter, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Magazine and Roxy Music.
The band stayed together however writing their own material (some of which appeared also on Sombre Reptiles' "A Kiss and a Smile"). Keith Apter joined on percussion with ex-Ritual Dance and Pure Bears singer Kenny McLeod added on guitar and joint lead vocals. The band eventually drifted apart in the summer of 1983.
Around the time Disco Complex split up, David was performing gigs in Edinburgh as Sombre Reptiles using backing tapes. Alan Brodie joined him onstage briefly at one performance and the two decided to form a pop duo writing, recording and performing together from September 1983 for a year. After a short break they reconvened to write the difficult second album but to no avail. The duo recorded one more album of ambient music in early 1986 before changing their name to Boom!
David had known Malcolm Logan for a number of years, regularly contributing exclusive tracks to Malcolm's cassette fanzine The Plateaux Phase and recording Malcolm's band, Acoustic Youth. The two got together to write and record an album under the name Charnelhouse with Josef K bassist Davy Weddell.
Dancers Of San Martino
David formed The Dancers of San Martino with Stewart Robinson (aka Peri Urban) and brought Alan Brodie into the band along with some of the aborted Love Parade material. Meanwhile, Stewart brought in Bob Gillies from their previous band M.A.O.