Co-owner Derech Rollison sits in one of Ivy Arch’s rigorously soundproofed studios drinking tea. The late Keith Emerson, of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, once rehearsed regularly in this very room. Ivy Arch Studios has been Derech’s life since it opened in 2005 but today, his hair tight in a micro-ponytail, he’s taking the Time Machine back to his many previous musical incarnations.

Article by Thomas H Green (printed in full on page 30 and 31 in our February issue).

Derech was born in Rustington’s Zachary Merton Hospital in 1958 (born Derek, he changed his name in the mid-80s in honour of The Stone of Erech from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings). His family hail from Chichester, but since his late teenage years he has called Worthing home.

Initially a rhythm guitar player, Derech’s musical journey really began in 1975 when he formed Fruitbat with singer Dylan Cole and drummer Geoff Ayling. Their sound was heavily flavoured by space cadet outfits such as Gong and Hawkwind. With Ayling’s dad Pete as their manager, they became a well-liked fixture of the local hippy scene, and played free festivals such as Stonehenge. It was Cole’s band, really; he wrote most of the songs, including
crowd favourite Just Like Magic.

However, change was in the air. “I bought Never Mind the Bollocks when it came out,” recalls Derech. “I thought, ‘This is what we’ve got to do.’ Then Gong released a punk song, Opium for the People, and we were like, ‘Wow! Even Gong are doing this!’ “But Dylan was dubious. Geoff and I cut and spiked our hair but Dylan didn’t want to. He also kept on playing Steve Hillage [Gong] riffs, which just don’t work with punk. When the time came and we committed ourselves to punk, Dylan had to go. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, telling him we didn’t want him in the band.”

Rechristened The Bats in 1978, fronted by live wire Marcus Thirtle, the band built quite a following, playing all over the south and supporting acts such as The Police. They’d hit the stage, Thirtle would shout, “Alright, we’re The Bats and we supply N…R…G…” and then burst straight into opener Ex-Bird.

“We supported The Damned at The Factory in Manchester,” remembers Derech. “The place had a tiny, triangular green room, one sink, lots of beers, no toilet facilities…

Read more via our latest issue: Here & Now Magazine February 2020

At Derech’s request, this month’s ‘Time Machine’ is dedicated to Fruitbat/Bats manager Pete Ayling, “a mentor and inspiration”, who passed away last July.

BY THOMAS H GREEN

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