How We Met: Ant Cauchi & Dave Rowntree

'I hired two strippers for Dave's 40th. They whipped him so hard he couldn't sit down'
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The Independent Online

Ant Cauchi, 31, began his music career at EMI Records. He then became new media manager and developed some of the earliest digital marketing campaigns for artists such as The Beatles, Queen, Blur and Supergrass. In 2000, he set up a digital marketing agency Outside Line, voted one of the top 50 agencies in the UK in the New Media Age Top 100. He lives in Clapham with his fiancée.

I met Dave for the first time when I was on work experience at EMI. It was in a cyber café and we were there to talk about the official Blur website, which I think was one of the first ever band websites. It was the day after Blur won four Brit Awards for Parklife in 1995 and he was a bit worse for wear. He still had "Dave" written on his face because Prince had turned up with "Slave" written on his face. I didn't know then that Dave had a computer degree and was the most intelligent man you'll ever meet, so I thought I'd show him what to do, explaining all about websites, so that was a bit embarrassing. We met at completely different stages in our lives. I was 18, working in Argos to make some money because I wasn't being paid by EMI, but I tried not to be star-struck. We got on from the start. He's a real geek like I am – and he loved that I was always messing around with computers.

For the next five years, I followed him round the world, doing crazy stuff with Blur, filming, being on stage and doing webcasts. It was nice to have someone in the band who I knew, so I wasn't just another hanger-on. After Think Tank, Dave took a break and I didn't see him for a while. Then I just bumped into him on Tottenham Court Road and we started talking about working together. We've done various music and animation projects and he's great to work with.

What Dave loves best is pizza, chilli oil, coffee and the computer game World of Warcraft. He's obsessed. When we were in New York, he'd be playing it all the time even though we were staying in the most amazing city. I didn't see him for two days because he was in his room on his computer.

One of my fondest memories of Dave is his 40th birthday. I hired two strippers to come into the office. I thought it would be funny. I asked them not to take all their clothes off, but they misunderstood and thought that meant they should take all his clothes off. I remember Dave standing in front of everyone, slowly clapping, with his trousers off, as these two girls whipped him. We went to a concert at the Albert Hall that night and they'd whipped him so hard he couldn't sit down. Every year since, he's been a bit wary.

Dave Rowntree, 42, is a musician and animator. He was born in Colchester and learnt to play drums as a child. After a degree in computer science he became the drummer in Blur. He is a qualified pilot and stood as a Labour Party candidate. He lives alone in London.

Ant just kind of drifted into my life when he started working for EMI. He was basically the internet department for the whole company. The internet was new then and I was very interested in it. He says the first time we met was the day after Blur won four Brits – I remember that night and the dreadful feeling that I had to get up the following morning.

We had a common interest in technology from the start. At the time, bands weren't really doing websites so we just made it up as we went along. After that, things went quiet. Ant wasn't making the tea any more and he got a proper job, so I saw less of him. I started an animation company and Ant left EMI and started his company. It turned out that his office was a hundred yards from my office and I bumped into him on Tottenham Court Road. I went to see him and he had a really pretty girl working in his office so I went to see him again. We ended up deciding to make TV together even though neither of us had any experience whatsoever. I may have slightly overplayed my experience to him and I think he may have done the same. We made a five-minute demo piece called Berserk and Ant flew to Hollywood to play it to a bunch of executives. I ended up working with him so much, that I moved into his office.

Ant is ridiculously clever. I do try and surround myself with ridiculously clever people in the hope that some of it will rub off on me. Because he's got so much going on in his head he speaks extremely quickly – he just can't wait to get it out. Ant is a 78rpm person. I'd meet up with him and the pace of my delivery would speed up over the day until I was rabbiting away.

I once went skiing with Ant. Everyone I know who has been skiing says it's amazing, but I was petrified. If God wanted us to slide down mountains, he wouldn't have put rocks and crevices all over the place. I just don't get it.

Ant's definitely a computer geek like me. We're the free technical support department for all our friends – if someone can't get their printer working they'll give one of us a call. But sadly, Ant holds me up to ridicule for my love of the World of Warcraft online game. All I'm doing is pretending to be a wizard and casting a few spells. What's wrong with that? *

'Now Play It' offers the world's first downloadable video music lessons taught by musicians including Dave Rowntree. For more information, go to www.nowplayit.com

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