The Mighty Bogg /
Added on January 15th, 2009 (6692 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
Graham Marsh, born February 1966 in Wakefield, UK. I now live near Leeds in the UK, and work as an electronics engineer. I'm married with three children so spare time is a bit limited for interests! I like photography, music, RC helicopters, watching Discovery Channel and drinking red wine.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
I think my first ever C64 demo was done in BASIC. It had a bird flapping around the screen, and was credited to The Quiet Man which I probably pinched from one of my favourite musicians, John Foxx. My memory of it is very dim, so if anyone knows better, let me know. After that I came up with the Bogg handle. Bogg relates to my surname Marsh, i.e. swamp or bog. I just added a G and stuck 'The Mighty' on the front to make it sound pompous.
What group(s) were you in?
I was never in any groups, just little old me in my bedroom. I did a Christmas demo for Compunet once with a friend, but I think I did mostly everything. I've never seen that demo since. Anyone got a copy?
What roles have you fulfilled?
With reference to my own demos, I did everything, music, coding and graphics. My coding and graphics weren't up to much, but they did the job!
How long were you active for?
1984 to 1986 or early 1987 I think.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
I bought a Spectrum in 1982 when I was 17, but a couple of years later saw a C64 demo in a store. The demo had an old-style car driving along with bushes and tree sprites whizzing past, which I thought was amazing. I think it was an official Commodore demo, and I still can't find it anywhere! In 1984, Compunet came along and the rest is history. I don't think my stuff would have been so widespread without Compunet.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Well, I had an old wood grain colour TV that cost me £35 from a scruffy old TV repair shop and a big split-level computer desk. On the top level were a joystick and Commodore Sound Expander full-size music keyboard; underneath was the C64 itself, cassette deck and 1541 disk drive. I also had a recording studio of sorts, with a four track tape recorder and a few synthesizers, and a table covered with photograph developing equipment, so my bedroom was pretty full.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
In my very early demos, which were BASIC programs using data statements for the musical notes, I did an interrupt-driven machine code pulse width modulation routine to fatten up the sounds. Most of my later music was done with Master Composer which made the music easier but still needed a pulse-width routine. I was given a better one later by a better programmer; check Bogg Album 1 for the credit. Anything I did that sounded clever, like synth drums or the typical C64 arpeggio chords, were coded note by note and speeded up a lot.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of Bogg Album 1 as I spent hours analysing the songs I covered and distilling them into 3 voices whilst (hopefully) keeping the feel of the original track. I was also proud of Bogg Album 2 as I experimented a bit more with filters and ring modulations etc, but I did get a bit of negative feedback for album 2, as it wasn't cover versions, and some of it is a bit odd. I'm slightly embarrassed by the voice samples on Album 2 now, a gruff 18 year old from Yorkshire trying to be Monty Python. Awful now, but seemed a good idea at the time!
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I don't remember any heroes scene-wise, but in terms of the C64 generally I was always slightly in awe of Tony Crowther. I saw him at a show around 1985 but didn't pluck up the courage to talk to him. I always wished I'd had a bit of Rob Hubbard's genius too, as he got a career out of the C64, whereas I only ever made a few hundred quid. But never mind!
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
The interrupt-driven music driver I first saw on the C64 version of Hall & Oates' Maniac song. To hear music whilst typing in code really amazed me!!
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
No, I went to a few consumer shows and met or saw a few people of note, but most other contact was via Compunet.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Compunet was the only scene I was involved with. Otherwise it was just nerdy little me in my bedroom. The Amiga was very well-named. If I'd had the more outgoing personalities my own kids have, I'd have been out partying, not coding computer music in my bedroom, and wouldn't be talking to you now!
What were the particular highlights for you?
It's difficult to remember now, but I spent hours playing Jeff Minter's Psychedelia, and some of the Compunet demos were pretty groundbreaking, usually involving sprite borders or parallax scrolling. Bob Stevenson did some excellent graphics stuff, I seem to vaguely remember.
Any cool stories to share with us?
I suppose it was quite cool to receive the Compunet Personality of the Year trophy, in 1986 I think. It was given to me by Terence John (TJ) who appeared to be a self-appointed moral guardian of Compunet. He sent me a few emails complaining about bad taste in some stuff I'd written and uploaded that I thought was funny. I've seen some of it since on the net and he was right. It was bad taste and definitely not funny, but what you think is funny in your teens doesn't seem so amusing when you're older and wiser...
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
The person I've had most contact with is Barry Leitch through email, most recently in September 2008, catching up on the years since our last emails.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I think I bought it in 1984, but no, I don't still have it. When I eventually got bored and got interested in girls, I killed my C64 by pouring a drink into it, watching the characters on screen change to garbage. Ironic that I'm now an electronics engineer. How dangerous could that have been?
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
It was obviously groundbreaking in its day, as everything new usually is. But computers have moved on so much since the C64 I don't understand why it's still in use by anyone. I enjoy firing up the emulator every so often to pretend I'm 18 again, but a few minutes of nostalgia is as far as it goes. I have better games on my mobile phone, and have a full-blown multitrack recording studio on my PC with any sound I want at my disposal. Why go backwards? Having said all that, it is nice that people are still interested in my old stuff to the point where you are asking me these questions, so mustn't grumble.
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
If you mean a real C64 SID tune, then probably never. The odd PC remix of my old stuff maybe, but I very much doubt I'd buy another C64. I wouldn't know what to do with it, and the life I lead now means I'd never find the time to try.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Hi to anyone who remembers me!
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