The story to date….!
Meg and Jez originally met in January, 2001, at the side of an arctic cold swimming pool in a hotel complex on the tourist ridden south coast of Gran Canaria. Their respective parents had decided to get away from the German winter and got to know each other in the hotel.
Meg was 4 and Jez had just turned 2, but they already had a lot in common. They both lived in Germany, Jez in Düsseldorf and Meg close to Mannheim, but both were growing up bi-lingually as their respective fathers both came from England. They were daydreamers and very playful. (The kids, not the fathers!)
……and 12 years later it would become clear that they shared much more. Not only a love of music, but talent. Musical talent far beyond their years. The ability to surprise and delight and even bring tears to the eyes of old-school punk rockers!
Meg’s parents noticed when she was 9 years old that she had an ear for a melody. Not only could she sing, but she could already accompany songs in a different key and sing backing vocals. They contacted a local vocal coach, who was also a friend of the family. Lorna Dooley took Meg under her wing and helped develop the sound and confidence we all love today.
Lorna still plays a major role in Meg’s life and musical development and is now helping both her and Jez with song arrangements and vocal harmonies.
The two families kept in touch over the years, meeting in Düsseldorf or Mannheim, but it wasn’t until the Spring of 2011 when Meg turned up in Düsseldorf with a recording of a song she had done for a school project.
Until then, the subject of Meg’s vocal coaching or the fact that Jez had started to play the guitar, had hardly even been mentioned
On this evening, the foundations were set. Jez picked up his guitar and started to play along.
But, what had attracted Jez to the guitar? As son of Essex-born drummer Vom Ritchie, (ex Dr. and the Medics) you could be forgiven for assuming a genetic affinity to the drums and he did actually try it out. Briefly; when he was six years old. He obviously had music in his blood, but his heart beat for another instrument and years later and out of pure curiosity, he picked up the guitar and never put it down again.
As fate would have it, a little while later, his parents took him to an AC/DC concert where he experienced the legendary Angus Young. Jez’ mother remembers how he lost control over his jaw muscles and spent over 2 hours with his mouth opened in amazement.
That was the beginning – the great inspiration. After this, 8 hours every day were spent practicing. At the start he taught himself, picked up riffs and licks from Youtube videos or books and then from other musicians who helped him out or from whom he simply picked up the style! In time he learned how to play almost every AC/DC song and thought, „What more do you want in life?“.
On this special evening in Düsseldorf in the Spring of 2011, when he picked up the guitar and started to play along with Meg’s song, everything seemed to fall into place. They soon realised that there were thousands of songs they could try out together.
Songs were selected. Fortunately they noticed that they had a similar taste in music – and humour, as time would tell !). They began to rehearse. Saturday night visits to Düsseldorf developed into a showcase for the 2 young musicians, where they would perform newly practiced songs in the basement bar to a more than willing audience. Very soon it became clear, that they were learning incredibly quickly and that they had an almost intuitive sense of making music together. They weren’t just good – they were „really“ good.
The distance didn’t stop them. In the last 2 years Meg has been backwards and forwards to Düsseldorf by train and Jez to Mannheim in order for them to spend weekends rehearsing.
Then the first public performance! As mini-support for TV Smith and Vom in KuBa in Jülich in December 2011 they played 3 songs.
The feedback was instant and exciting. Any thoughts of „Oh, how cute“, and smiles of non-expectation as they came on stage were quickly sent packing, over the border, yelping into the woods of no-mans land!
On stage the musical talent took on a kind of magic. Jez’ dynamic method of playing, at the age of 12 was incredible and Meg, at 15, had such a clear and powerful voice that the audience immediately fell under their spell. Jülich was the first audience to fall in love with their dynamic youthfulness and magical clarity.
Time and rehearsals went by. Meg sometimes travelled alone to Düsseldorf by train and Jez to Mannheim. As often as possible they would get together to practice. A colourful mix of old and new songs packaged in an entirely new way. Their humour and sense of fun would come across and, of course, their talent.
All this rehearsing and self-discipline and the speed in which they were developing resulted in a support gig at the release party for the second Cryssis – CD, „Kursaal Nights“, in February 2013.
Meg and Jez played 6 songs and the applause started in the second bar of the first song. When they launched into „Lion and the Lamb“ as a nod to TV Smith for the support slot in Jülich, the magic really unfolded and it has since become something of a trademark. So much so, in fact that TV Smith himself asked them to join him on stage in Düsseldorf at an acoustic festival in March 2013.
That was a wonderful moment. One that nobody present will forget so quickly. It was, however, at the Cryssis support gig in February that Campino and Andi from the longstanding and hugely successful German band „Die Toten Hosen“, which Jez‘ dad Vom joined in 2001, saw the kids perform for the first time.
„Son of a Preacherman“, and „Lion and the Lamb“, especially, are songs that remain in memory. The first, a song by Dusty Springfield from a time that their parents only just remember and the other, a ballad from a punk icon.
Maybe it was this mixture and the element of surprise – hearing these 2 songs from such young kids. Maybe it was simply their love of music and their incredible talent that presented them with the opportunity in the summer of 2013, to perform on the biggest stages in Germany, as special guests for the Toten Hosen.
The first, major performance as guest appearance was on 10 May, 2013 in Pier 2, Bremen. The excitement was tangible, the performance magical and the feedback from the audience simply fantastic.
Then came the jump to the football stadium in Bochum. In two steps from a small stage with a handfull of fans to an open air spectacle with 27000 people. An opportunity which most people can only dream of.
We are at the beginning of an exciting journey. Where the future leads, remains to be seen. We look back at the performances with Die Toten Hosen in Bremen, Bochum, Hannover, Heilbronn, Kassel, Cologne, Freiburg and Schweinfurt – more than 250000 people in 8 weeks! – and ask ourselves where we will find them next.