It’s spring in Camberley, a commuter belt suburb south-west of London. There are family-sized cars parked in the driveways, pointy roofs, a cinema complex. Jon is a talkative ten-year-
old at the local school who is kept in constant circulation around the classroom to not distract his peers. One day he sits next to Guy, the new kid with an American accent. When the teacher’s back is turned, Jon and Guy realise they share a passion for all things exciting: bikes, music and the new Nintendo entertainment system.
22 years on, little has changed. Jon and Guy arrive on bikes for the interview. They play in bands. They still enjoy the odd video game, but have switched to Super Nintendo. Jon has even bought a house in the suburbs. He’s getting married in June and has picked Guy as his best man.
Friendship is more than a pint down the pub. For Jon Warren and Guy Miller, it seems to be about sharing more memories than you can remember.
Tell me about school.
Jon: We talked about this earlier.
Guy: There were a few activities that we got involved in at school.
Jon: We were entrepreneurs. We did something called The Swap Shop, where we had pencil cases full of rubbers, pens, whatever, and then people would come over with their stuff and we would swap it.
Guy: We monetised the whole thing and made a business out of it.
Jon: We started—not ripping people off—but getting very good stuff in return.
Guy: We’d say, “That entire pencil case is only worth this pen, because this pen is really special,” for example. We started amassing goods.
Jon: Parents were complaining, because they lost everything they had bought for their kids, so sadly we got shut down.
Guy: We created magazines as well, didn’t we?
Jon: Nintendo Magazine.
Guy: That got shut down as well.
Jon: We charged 50p for the magazine, since there was a Mars bar inside, and apparently you’re not allowed to charge kids at school. We would do choreographed dances to Michael Jackson songs as well. Just the two of us. We were weird kids.
Camberley is a small town. What did you get up to when you got older?
Jon: As soon as we could drive, we went up to Camden to go to gigs at Underworld. There were lots of punk bands around at the time. Late 90s punk.
Guy: The first gig was Green Day in 1995 at Brixton Academy, escorted by Jon’s dad.
Jon: We saw Red Hot Chili Peppers supported by No Doubt in 1996. Then we started seeing bands like Mad Caddies and Goldfinger. Punk and ska.
What attracted you to that kind of music?
Guy: I guess we felt the need to rebel to a certain extent. In a controlled way.
Jon: Against the suburbs! We wore oversized suits and mohawks, thinking we were causing havoc, when we were actually really polite. We were being out-of-control animals while sitting in corners, drinking beer.
Guy: There was a skateboard culture back then. We got caught up in it. It was a good time. When we were late teenagers, we started playing music together. What was the first band? The Harvard Rejects?
Jon: The Harvard Rejects, yes. It was like a swing-funk band.
Guy: Around nineteen, we were in another band called Working Lunch. That’s a few years ago now. Then a rival band poached, basically stole, Jonny, who was our drummer, so now we play in separate bands.
How do you think your friendship differs from the relationships you have with other people?
Guy: We know each other better than any of our other friends.
Jon: You’re definitely the person I’ve been in contact with the most solidly since we met. There has never been a period of time when we haven’t seen each other, so there’s a lot of history. I can’t think of anything that I don’t know about Guy. When you’ve known someone forever, there’s no stories you could tell me that I don’t already know, apart from what happened last week. There’s that deep...
This article was originally published in issue 22 of Oh Comely.