A surprise encounter with an alt-rock hero (maybe) in Stockholm
Two years ago this week, my partner Paul and I visited Stockholm, Sweden, and though it was only a brief visit, we made the most of it with tons of shopping, sight-seeing, and of course visiting the ABBA Museum. Being the kind, indulgent person that he is, Paul helped me track down a record store called Pet Sounds in an out-of-the-way neighbourhood near the city’s Old Town. It’s a fantastic store; if you’re ever in Stockholm, check it out! I made my selections, including a European pressing of an album by the Paisley Underground band the Three O’Clock, and headed to the cash register, which was manned by a grizzled but friendly-looking gentleman. As I approached, a co-worker popped out from a back room and said to him, “Marty, the albums are ready for you to look through.” Marty nodded in response and I handed him my albums. “Oh, the Three O’Clock,” he remarked in a British accent. “My band played with them once in L.A.” “What band were you in?” I asked, thinking it would be some obscure act I’d never heard of. “The Church!” Marty chirped, and in my head I was like, “WHAAAAAA???” I stammered something about loving the band and having a bunch or their records, with my favourite being– and of course I blanked on the name. “What’s the one with Electric Lash on it?” I asked. “Seance!” Marty answered brightly. I was too flustered to ask him if he was THE Marty Willson Piper, one of the band’s founders and key songwriters, so I’ll never know for sure if it was him or someone named, say, Marty Fleggman, who maybe toured with the Church for a few weeks as a glockenspiel player. But later I looked up Piper online and his photos resembled my Pet Sounds Marty. According to one article, Piper had left the Church a year or two previously and was devoting his time to amassing a huge music and film archive. Maybe he was working at Pet Sounds to have access to more archive additions?
Anyway, it was a great day and I got a cool story out of it, thanks to Marty Willson Piper. Or Fleggman.