THE BEGINNING

In 2005, Edward Leeson became obsessed with guitar music and formed a band. Just two years later, Larrikin Love was over, at a time when it all seemed to be going so well

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The whole thing happened very very very quickly – from meeting [the band], getting signed, making an album and splitting up, it was a couple of years. Thinking about it now, it was a really funny, wild time, because I hadn’t listened to guitar music, ever. My whole childhood, I was into garage and drum’n’bass and jungle, and then when I was 14 I was really obsessed with grime, and that was all I would listen to.

Everything happened in six months, for me. I went to college, and I get very obsessed about certain things – within a day I can find something and be so obsessed with it that I have to be involved in it immediately, but then it passes very quickly also. After two months, I met Alice [Ed’s now wife] and she introduced to all these classics that I’d never paid attention to, like The Clash and Jeff Buckley, Traci Chapman – shit you should know but I didn’t. I got a job in OddBins and moved into flat near Twickenham. It was so disgusting – the windows kept falling out, and I got trench foot in my sleep – but it was a very romantic time, and I just had to find some people to be in a band with, so I went out with the sole purpose of that. I didn’t want any niceties; I just wanted to know if they’d be in this band with me. Alfie wasn’t our bassist at first; he was our manager. But I met them and had four really rubbish songs. We played two or three gigs and then these girls [Young & Lost Club Records] contacted us and asked if we wanted to put out a release. Really quickly after that four or five labels wanted to sign us, but nobody saw it through apart from Warner Brothers. We were really young – Cozzy had to get his mum and dad to sign the deal because he was just 15 or something.

We got really swept up in The Libertines early on, and we’d go to these mad shows in their flat. That was exciting for me, because it had a raw energy, so I wanted to form a band not to perform on a massive stage, but in someone’s flat, because that was much more elegant and exciting.

The best thing about those guys is that they were so open minded, whereas I maybe wasn’t, because I had this weird tunnel vision. But as soon as I got hooked on guitar music, I was soon over it as well, and I don’t mean that in any disrespect to the others, because I know they really enjoyed it, and I really enjoyed it, to an extent, but I definitely didn’t enjoy touring – I found it really sapped my energy; I didn’t feel creative anymore; my diet was really bad; we were partying way too hard and certain events happened and it was getting out of control. I don’t know what happened, but I left the last tour for a bit because I was shitting blood. My liver was fucked up. I wasn’t equipped for that lifestyle. I really wanted to retain some interest in things and some purity, and when you’re on tour for so long, you’re days are taken away from you. I remember vaguely I’d try to go to an art gallery, but I’d get tired by walking there so I’d end up going back to the bus. It became mundane and boring. You’re playing the same songs over and over again… Tensions grew and it separated a bit. And it’s no-one’s fault – and it’s least of all their fault, it’s more my fault – but it became me and them. After the show they’d go off and party and I’d just sit on the bus drinking until I fell asleep. It was just quite lonely, and bit awkward.

Certain things happened. On stage once someone hit me with a bottle and it really annoyed me. I walked off the stage, and they all came off and were like, ‘Ed, don’t be such a diva, get back on there’. I went back on stage and I remember being really wound up, and I had a drumstick and I was hitting Cozzy’s drums out of time, really sabotaging shit, and then another bottle got thrown, and that was the beginning of the end – I did this awful thing where I stormed off stage and I went upstairs and destroyed all of this electrical equipment in our dressing room. I was crying and going mad, and they came in and it transpired it was our tour managers printer and hi-fi, and everyone was so fucking angry with me.

A tension had snapped. We went to Japan after that and had a great time, but after a fortnight of partying I flew home on my own, on a completely empty plane where Arctic Monkeys were in first class, and I thought fuck this. When I got home and called our mangers they were like, ‘Is it over?’. I think they knew it was coming.

I think there might have been some bad blood because they were really happy doing what we were doing. They were such sweet people – completely unpretentious, genuine people – who loved playing music, way more than I did. Playing guitars and drums had been part of their childhood, and it hadn’t been part of mine. And so for me to chuck it away so quickly I think really offended them. I think for a long time after they despised me, because I ended it all, and in a way I wish they’d carried on without me, because I didn’t want to be responsible for ending this great fun time. I do feel regret for that.

I remember when I told them, I drank two bottles of wine to muster up the courage to tell them, and they were all really lovely. They cared for me more than I realised. I was explaining to them why I wasn’t able to do it anymore, and any ego went to one side.

We never spoke again. I bumped into Micko once, in a pub, and we had a really nice evening. And then the last time I saw Alfie was about six years ago. I was standing outside this bar and this car went passed and the horn was beeping and I looked and it was Alfie, and he wound down the window and shouted “Wanker”, and drove off laughing at the top of his voice. That was cute. But I love Alfie, he was always like that. We’d get into so much trouble and he’d always be there to sort it out. Like, we were playing in Southampton and Alfie said, ‘Right, everyone get in the van and then drive around the front of the venue in 90 seconds.’ It turned out that these guys wanted to beat up me and Micko because of the way we dress, but we didn’t know that at the time. We waited a minute, drove around the corner and there’s Alfie with his shoe in one of his socks, clubbing these guys one by one. We were like a gang and one point.

I’ve finally learned that although I might be embarrassed about my past, as you are about things you do when you’re young, for some people we were a coming of age band, just because we came out at the right time for them, and it’s pretty arrogant to dismiss it and the pleasure that other people got out of it, or still do.

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