Maybe A Writer: My Life In Threshold – Richard West (Book Review)


In an age that was polarised between gothic rock and acid house, the quintessentially English progressive metal band Threshold made for strange bedfellows. Entering the band’s orbit in 1992 just in time for their debut album Wounded Land), keyboardist Richard West has been a mainstay in the group ever since, enjoying the highs and lows of a band in perpetual motion. From dingy rehearsal rooms to the world’s biggest stages, Maybe A Writer documents Threshold’s (and West’s) journey with a photographer’s eye and a healthy dose of wit, making this not only the definitive Threshold story, but an important piece of social history.

Richard’s formative years will be relatable to any music obsessive; the excitement of getting your first 7” singles, (in Richard’s case, Billy Joel and Queen) Top Of The Pops on Thursday evenings and those initial, tentative music lessons. Maybe A Writer works so well because of the extraneous events that are pulled into the narrative, you might not have traded Star Wars cards, but if you’re of a certain age you’ll have dealt in Top Trumps or Panini stickers and it’s these memory hooks, lying in wait at strategic moments, that will ring bells in your mind and magically transport you back in time. Those magical moments such as attending your first gig (Gary Numan) or discovering your favourite artist (Queen) are handled with the care that can only be bestowed by a true fan. It creates a bond between writer and reader and will keep you turning pages right into the depths of night.

Those wonderfully frustrating wilderness years (including a residency in a church!) are relayed with good grace, as bands are joined and left in that elusive search for the perfect musical fit. On the surface, the metallic edge to Threshold wasn’t quite Richard’s match, but on reflection it was. The melodic, almost pop sensibility that he brought made the perfect foil for the band’s heavy sound. From herein, Threshold’s story is one that could rival any Hollywood script as the band blagged and blazed their way across the UK and Europe (and later North America) playing some big (and small) shows with the high jinks you’d expect from young men let loose on the road. Of course, this being life there’s a low for every high, but indicative of his personality, Richard sails his narrative on a steady course and gives an account of those times with journalistic flair.

Bringing us bang up to date as Richard navigated the global pandemic with both Threshold, and League Of Lights you get the feeling that there’s much more to come from Richard, and a second volume is waiting to be lived. Maybe a writer? There’s no doubt about it!