Colvin Mayers was the keyboard player in the early version of the Cardiacs, before joining The Sound in 1981, where he played both keyboards and guitar. He used the name Max Mayers in Cardiacs and during his early years with the Sound. He started using his real name (Colvin) after The Sound's first 3 albums. He died from an Aids-related illness on Boxing Day 1993. (December 26th, 1993)
The Cardiacs were a band (mostly) from Surrey, England. They started some time in late 1977, because Tim Smith decided that a "Pop group" would be a good way to spend time. Peter Tagg had seen Tim perform in a makeshift band previously, and convinced him to form another band. Big brother JIM was roped in (even though he allegedly couldn't play any instruments), and songs were thrown together, the first of which was allegedly "Icky Qualms" (which later appeared on the "Toy World" cassette, recorded in June 1980 and March 1981). At this point in time, they were called "CARDIAC ARREST" although their first rehearsals and at least the first gig were played as "The Filth".
Peter Tagg recalls: "Tim & I were friends at school and knew each other for quite some time before I pestered him to form a band with me. That was after I saw him do a one off gig with Adrian Borland and a drummer called Bruce something or other, under the name Gazunder at Surbiton Assembly Rooms. Tim played bass, and when I found out it was a one off event I really wanted to recreate that kind of group with him. He didn't seem that keen, but I kept on at him and then one day he called me and said that we were forming a band with him on guitar, Jim on Bass and Pugh singing. But, it was going to be nothing like Gazunder it was going to be sort of punk - but not serious punk - Jim was talking about wearing a bottle of Worcestershire Sauce round his neck. How could I say no? ".
The first full lineup of Cardiac Arrest was:
Tim Smith ("Philip Pilf") - guitar
Jim Smith ("Patty Pilf") - bass
Michael Pugh ("Peter Boker") - vocals
Colvin Mayers ("Duncan Doilet", later "Max Cat", "Button Poppet") - keyboards
Peter Tagg ("Richard Targett") - drums
Ralph Cade ("Raphael Cadd") - sax
The first official Cardiac Arrest recording was a 7" single "A Bus For A Bus On The Bus", released in 1979. Peter Tagg & Ralph Cade left in 1979 to form The Trudy. Mark Cawthra ("Little Bobby Shattocks") joined on drums, Michael Pugh then left. Tim Smith took over lead vocals shortly afterwards, and they recorded the "Obvious Identity" album in June 1980. This was a cassette-only album, consisting of 11 songs. Approximately 100 copies were produced, but sadly, the master tapes are long gone, so this little gem is only really available through tape traders, although 3 of these tracks apeared on the "ARCHIVE CARDIACS" tape and CD. Cardiac Arrest became known as simply "CARDIACS" around late 1980.
The Cardiacs supported Here & Now In Leeds - I remember it was in the winter, and my girlfriend and I stayed in a bed and breakfast, but Tim & Colvin slept in my Escort van. It was absolutely freezing, and after a comfortable night in a B&B, followed by a filling breakfast I returned to my van to find Tim asleep in it with his feet sticking out of the back door. Apparently he had to sleep like that the best part of the night, as the van wasn't long enough for him to shut the door (poor lamb). Here & Now used to play for free and have a collection - they kindly gave us a sock full of money! (Peter Tagg)
In March 1981, CARDIACS recorded some more songs that would appear on the second album "Toy World", along with a few more songs that were recorded back in June 1980 when they were recording the "Obvious Identity" album. This explains why "Peter Boker" sings some of the songs, although he had already left long before it was released. Again, a few of these ended up on the "ARCHIVE CARDIACS" compilation. The "Piffol x Times" tunes were previously unreleased Tim Smith compositions. The "ARCHIVE CARDIACS" album is the only time these were properly released. Tim Quys first gig with Cardiac Arrest (playing Bass) was also Sarah Cutts first gig (Snoopies, Richmond, 1980. Things are a bit of a blur after this point: Colvin Mayers left to join The Sound.
The Sound made their debut with the EP Physical World in 1979. It was favourably received by NME and received airplay from DJ John Peel. More of their early recordings were later released as the album Propaganda in 1999. Following the Physical World EP, the band intended to record a full-length album. Upon hearing the rough mixes, WEA sub-label Korova, then home of Echo & the Bunnymen, offered to sign the group, and the band accepted. Jeopardy, their debut album, was recorded inexpensively and released in November 1980 to critical acclaim; it received five-star reviews from three major music publications, NME, Sounds and Melody Maker. Following the album, Bi Marshall left the band and was replaced by Colvin "Max" Mayers. For their second album, the band worked with producer Hugh Jones. From the Lions Mouth was released in 1981, to further critical acclaim, though their fanbase hadn't extended beyond a cult following.
In an interview with John Clarkson of Penny Black Music, Sound drummer Mike Dudey remembers: Colvin was a clever guy and a multi-instrumentalist. He played the guitar sometimes on our records as well and had lots of previous experience of working in groups. He used to be in a group called the Cardiacs They were a very quirky South London band who we had done a few gigs with and who we sometimes socialised with. We nicked him from them. He gave us a much more panoramic feel and sounded us out quite a lot. He was a lovely guy, a bit wayward in his habits, but really generous to a fault. I can't say that I was really close to him as a friend, but as a colleague he was a very calming influence on the band at times . Sometimes Adrian would go into one of his rants about what ever was bothering him that week and Colvin would be a calming influence on the situation. He was a great influence in the songwriting department, as well of course being a multi-instrumentalist. He was super on stage too.