They were the next big thing, the band that would follow-on from Blur bringing fame and glory back to Colchester’s vibrant music scene.
But while Absent Kid didn’t quite fulfil the hopes and dreams of both its fans and band members, it’s still providing inspiration for another creative endeavour, this time a book by songwriter and guitarist, Richard Williams.
Fragments of Youth is described as a Nineties coming of age novel which follows a young songwriter, Will, trying to make his way in the music industry who meets Amy, a young woman with headstrong aspirations of her own.
As his band, SharpShooter embark on a riotous tour of the UK, Will must navigate tragedy and temptation to keep both his band together and first love alive.
“I suppose much like everyone else,” he begins, “I was looking for something to do in lockdown. I was working from home but mainly not able to play in a band.
“I’d always thought about writing a music based novel based on my own experiences and by the May of 2020, I already had a first draft.”
By his own admission it wasn’t a great first draft but it was a start.
After finding a writing mentor on-line, who helped him re-draft the book, Richard was finally ready to send the manuscript out last Christmas.
“She was great,” Richard tells me, “coming up with ideas on how I could develop some parts of the story and how others were probably best ditching.
“Then I undertook that arduous task of finding someone who might publish it. There were a few rejections but in May one of them came back and told me how much they liked it.
“They were happy to do a small print run, and with my background in marketing I was happy to handle the PR and launch of it.”
Born and brought up on Mersea Island, Richard is now based in London.
He formed Absent Kid with his brother Martin in 2002, and after winning the Diesel U Music Award two years later, were signed by Fierce Panda, a label who had already discovered the likes of Coldplay and Keane.
After airplay on Radio One and MTV as well as support slots with the likes of Kasabian and The Subways.
“The buzz lasted about six months,” Richard says, “and then kind of fizzled out. We had some big labels come and see us play but nothing came of it.”
In the end Richard decided to pursue his other love, writing, and went to Roehampton University where he studied Creative Writing.
Richard says, “They say write about what you know and ‘the toilet-venue circuit’ (as it’s affectionately known) is a world that I know well and one I thought was under-explored in fiction. Being in the back of vans, rehearsing, hanging out in record shops, all that kind of stuff.
“It might be a cliché, but I decided to write a book that I would love to read, one that captures the ups and downs of being in a band, the cut-throat music industry, as well as the normal trials and tribulations of being a teenager and trying to find your way in life.”
The book came out last month and has been selling well in the run up to Christmas.
He continues: “I set the tale in the mid Nineties, as for me it is still the halcyon days of music and television; demos, mixtapes and handwriting letters to DJ’s and music mags.
“I hope that the book will resonate especially with music-lovers – those familiar with the cider-stained dancefloors and sweaty mosh pits. But at the heart of it is a universal love story, between Will and Amy, and their resolve in the face of tragedy and adversity.”
And even though the book is doing well, Richard isn’t thinking about a follow up any time soon, more interested in getting back to gigging.
After Absent Kid ended, Richard formed Warm Winters and now has a new band, put together from the ashes of both, called Lost Movies (pictured top of the page).
Made-up of Richard and Martin, Kerri Butcher, Ben Wilkins, Sam Leppard and Roman Atkins, they played their first gig at the Three Wise Monkeys in June and have been gigging regularly.
This weekend, they’re playing the Colchester Arts Centre as part of the venue’s annual New Year’s Eve celebrations with The Meffs and Anna’s Bones.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting back into it,” he says finally. “It’s all originals but we often slip in an old Absent Kid and Warm Winters into the set.
“It’s been really good fun and refreshing but I suppose having that break, and of course writing the book, just reminded me why I enjoyed being in a band so much.”
Fragments of Youth is out now, priced £8.99, available from all good bookshops.