16
Aug

Thanks so much to Andrea Croft for this interview! I wrote last week about The Honeys, the brilliant Perth/Sydney band from the late 80s, on the blog. Almost immediately my friend Paul from the band Rabbit’s Wedding got me in touch with Andrea and she was very kind to answer to all my questions!  The Honeys released 2 albums and two singles in two different periods, back in the 90s and then reuniting for a short time in 2007. If you haven’t heard them yet, please make yourself a favour and discover them with this great interview!

++ Hi Andrea! Thanks so much for taking your time to answer this interview. How are you doing? Where are you? In Sydney or Perth?

Thanks Roque, where are you situated? I’m good, living back in Perth where I was born. Been back around 23 years now.

++ Were you originally from Fremantle? How was it back then? Were there any other like-minded bands in town? Where did you usually hang out? Was there any good venues to check out bands?

I was originally from Trigg, a suburb north of Freo. The scene was pretty healthy back then but going to Sydney was necessary to progress as a band. There were very few bands I knew in Perth as I joined up with Bruce and Grant for a couple of rehearsals and then followed them to Sydney very shortly after. Sydney was where I met most band pals. The Fitzgerald was a great pub back then in Perth and supported original bands. The live scene here now is limited as not many venues host live music anymore which is a shame.

++ And how was growing up in Australia? What sort of music did you listen to? What was your first instrument and do you remember how did you get it?

Growing up in Australia I consider a blessing. Especially the weather in Perth and the beaches, it’s pretty easygoing here. Like a big country town compared to Sydney and Melbourne. I listened to Blondie, Pretenders, Kate Bush, Divinyls mostly. Bit of an obsession with strong female vocalists! I now love Lucinda Williams and have done for years.

My first instrument was a guitar, an Ovation acoustic, then I had a saxophone for which I took lessons. I was envious of my brother’s drum kit though and would have a good bash on that now and then. As both my Mum and Dad were singers, we had many instruments available as my Dad was a bit of a collector. My folks bought me both the above instruments, lucky kid.

++ Were you involved in any bands before being in The Honeys?

Before the Honeys I was in a cover band for a couple of years with a hideous name that shall remain a mystery! Despite the ridiculous name, I had a blast with those guys. Not surprisingly, we played lots of Pretenders, Blondie, Divinyls…also Hoodoo Gurus and other stuff. We even did a gig at a bikies do in the Perth hills one night. Can’t remember which gang but it was a pretty full on night thinking back on it now. Actually, we had a residency at a pub in Freo on Saturday nights and for some reason, we’d get heaps of bikies rocking up to that every week. They had a great time but eventually the pub cancelled us as the bikie lads were starting fights after the gigs and generally being naughty bikie boys.

++ How did The Honeys start as a band? How did you all know each other?

I answered an ad in the paper, called Bruce and went for an audition. We had a couple of jams, he went to Sydney and offered me the vocalist position and I bought a bus ticket and headed East a month shy of my 21st birthday. So basically I joined a band with two guys I barely knew but luckily Bruce and Grant were gentlemen as were all the fellows I lived with over there. I made some brilliant lasting friendships in Sydney so I’m thrilled I took the leap and left Perth.

++ What’s the story behind the name of the band?

I’m fairly certain Bruce came up with that. I didn’t particularly love it at first, thought it sounded like a girl band name but it fit after a while with the style of music we were playing.

++ Did you move to Sydney before or after signing to Waterfront Records? Had you been there before? How did you get there? Was it a road-trip altogether?

Bruce went first, not sure if Grant went at the same time, I caught a Greyhound bus. Took a few days to get there. Trying to sleep sitting up is not something I’d recommend but it felt like a huge adventure to me at the time. I’d never been to Sydney before and it was very exciting as I’d been living at home with my folks so this was a kind of coming of age thing for me. I was sooooo ready to leave Perth and home. So, perfect timing really.
There were subsequent road trips together when the band went on tour. We drove our Holden HQ Panel Van twice from Sydney to Perth and back again. Continuous driving by swapping drivers every few hours. Picture it, me with 5 blokes who are all eating burgers with unpleasant consequences that I shan’t reveal at this point all the way across at the height of summer, filthy hot and next to no sleep for anyone. But guess what, it was such a great experience. We were searched by the police twice too, they went through the trailer, the roof rack, the whole vehicle looking for drugs I suppose. They found nothing, we weren’t very rock and roll I’m afraid, not a single drug habit amongst us! We loved our beer though. Good times.

++ It must have been quite an experience, moving with the whole band to a new town. Did you all live together? How did you adapt to Sydney? Did you find many differences compared to Perth?

We did live together in a two storey terrace house in Chippendale. It had a shared yard and other band members lived next door so there were some fun times had there. Honestly the place was a wreck, leaking ceilings in winter, rising damp, dodgy balconies. But to me it was fantastic and it was Sydney! Most people I knew were living in places like that and they had so much charm. The pubs we played in were in similar disrepair which was what made them awesome.
I adapted pretty well I think but I did have all these great people around me keeping me safe so I’m grateful for that. I had a few wild times but that’s part of growing up and learning. Sydney was so alive compared to Perth. Plus I’d never really seen the seedy side of life so of course I thought that was pretty exciting too. If I was to compare the two cities at that time I’d say Perth was a kitten and Sydney was a Lion. It was a great time to be in a band in Sydney with the live scene being so vibrant.

++ How did you end up signing to Waterfront Records? Did they approach you? How was your relationship with them?

I can’t recall if we asked them or our management did or if they approached us..I forgot to answer this above. We signed with them after we got to Sydney. They were really supportive of us and very nice guys. We had a great team helping us.

++ Something that strikes me is that your first release wasn’t a single or EP but the “Goddess” album. Not many bands get an album as a first release. What did you think of that at the time?

We just had the material and recorded it very cheaply, it just seemed to come together nicely. I was over the moon, it was the first recording I’d done so yes I was very happy.

++ By the way, who is the girl on the photograph of the front cover?

That’s Lillian Gish, a silent movie actress. I love that cover.

++ The album was recorded at Poons Head in Perth. How was that experience, any anecdotes you could share? Were you already familiar with recording studios by then or you had already made demo tapes before?

I think we’d done some demos but nothing like that. It was interesting for me to see how it’s all done. Recording can be arduous I’ve since learnt, especially when you have limited time and do an overnight block. But Poons Head was set up in a house so it was nice and relaxed so we got the tracks down pretty swiftly. Once it’s all mixed, it’s a great feeling knowing you’ve collaborated on something you’re proud of.

++ And how did The Honeys creative process work?

Sometimes Bruce would have a full song, sometimes he’d have a melody and a few words. In those cases I’d write some extra lyrics though I’m not that prolific. Grant almost always has the whole song mapped out so all I had to do is sing.

++ Which bands would you say were influences?

Well Bruce loved a range of music as did Grant. At the time I was still listening to the above bands I mentioned and loved Cocteau Twins, who doesn’t?! Lucinda Williams, good Country music. I went to see Falling Joys, Ups and Downs and then Big Heavy Stuff later, also the Clouds. They were all mates, still are and so good to see live. I think Suzie Higgie from Falling Joys and Jodi and Trish from the Clouds are extraordinary songwriters and great performers.

++ To promote the album you made a video for “Against The Elements”. Was it your first promo video? How was that experience?

Yes it was and I was ahem, how shall I say this, still very green. I’m not particularly comfortable on camera, it’s not something I relish but it turned out alright for a first attempt.

++ The next release also had a video, and perhaps is my favourite song of yours “The Man Who Was Through With the World”. Would you care telling me in a few sentences what is this song about?

Now that song and video I like! I’m sorry, Bruce wrote that so I can only surmise. I never really asked him what it was about, I just liked the lyrics and my take on it is that it’s about a particular person he may have known. I didn’t really feel the need to know what a song meant to be able to sing it. If I get the gist, that’s enough for me to create meaning around it. Hope that makes sense.

++ James from The Widdershins contributed piano and organ on the record. Was there a tight-knit scene with other guitar pop bands? What other bands in Australia did you call friends then?

Yep, we were friends with the Widdershins, Falling Joys, Clouds, Ups and Downs, Dutiful Daughters, Big Heavy Stuff, Hummingbirds, Skolars, Chads Tree, Swordfish, if I had a good think, I’d remember more. There were some really lovely people in bands back then and it was a fantastic opportunity for me to make lasting friendships.

++ This record also has some beautiful artwork. How much control did you have on it? Or was it Waterfront making those decisions?

We made decisions about artwork and thanks!

++ And what about that video? I noticed on Youtube that it used to be played on the music program “Rage”. Did it get much attention?

I’m not sure which one you mean but we did enjoy quite good exposure thanks to Rage when we were together.

++ After that there was another 7″ single with “Gone Away” and “Monster”. There was no video for this one, right? And how come it only came on the Waterfront standard sleeve?

Hmmm, testing my memory now..No video and I have no clue as to why no artwork. Perhaps we were low on funds, bit cheeky really that we didn’t do artwork!

++ Then there’s a long break for The Honeys. What happened? I read Andrea moved to Perth and each of you continued making music with your own projects. What other bands were you involved with?

I ended the Honeys, things felt stale and it felt right at the time. Grant and I formed Catherine Wheel and that was lots of fun. I was also in Pollyanna for short while after that. Then I came home to roost! 

++ In 2007 you reunited and released a new album, “Star Baby”. How did this reunion come through? And were these brand new songs or songs from back in the day?

Again dear Bruce had written some new songs as had Grant so I was of course keen to add my bit. I flew to Grant’s house and we recorded the songs over a few days. We did a couple of short tours after it’s release too. I think only Run Run was an oldie, all the rest were newly penned.

++ This record came out on the label Origin. Who were they?

I’m sorry, I didn’t handle that side of things so I don’t actually know.

++ There were a few reunion gigs, right? How was that experience? Much different to playing live back in the day?

They were great, we had some fantastic musicians playing live with us so the sound was full and rich. A bit nerve wracking of course, it’d had been a while but the gigs were wonderful to be a part of.

++ And what about the gigs in the 80s and 90s? Are there any in particular that you remember? What would you say was the best gig you did? And was there any bad gigs?

I loved the Hopetoun hotel, every gig there was fun. The Annandale was great too, the Petersham and the Landsdowne. Back in the day when pubs were smoky and the carpet was beer soaked. Ahhh, great times! Not really any bad gigs, but Uni lunchtime shows were never a highlight. I don’t think I’m alone in that opinion!

++ What about radio and TV? Did you get much attention? And the music press? Fanzines?

Radio yes, high rotation there for a while on JJJ which was great. TV no, just Rage, which was also great. Music press, yes, we were very lucky to be reviewed quite often and even had front covers a few times on On The Street, Drum Media and Juke.

++ While you were on a break, in 1995, a double CD titled “Ultimo” was released including the whole “Goddess” album and other rare songs on the label Phantom. Who were they? I also wonder about where these rare songs come from? And also what about those songs “Live at the Wireless”? What was The Wireless?

Phantom were another indie Sydney label that did great things for bands they signed. Very supportive people. The songs were some that we hadn’t released before and thought they needed inclusion. Live at the wireless was a program on JJJ featuring bands playing live in the studio.

++ And as that covered most of your discography I’m curious to know what would your favourite Honeys’ song be?

Wood for the Trees by a mile! Love everything about that beautiful, dreamy song.

++ You appeared on a couple of compilations but the one I’m mostly curious about is the “Shiver Me Timbers” tape on Rutland Records as it was an English label. Do you remember how did you end up there?

What the? Send me that tape! Haha!

++ After those reunion gigs, when did The Honeys stopped playing again?

Bruce and I did a couple of gigs here in Perth but the last one would’ve been about 18 months ago.

++ Then there was the passing of Bruce in 2016, very sad news, but I read The Honeys played a sort of tribute gig alongside Flicker and The Snow Leopards. How was that evening? Must have been very difficult?

We did and it was a truly humbling experience. It was also joyful to see all those people attending and all the people who performed to honour Bruce. My friend Matt worked hard to bring it all together even though he’d say it was easy. He’s a generous fellow. Bruce would’ve been so touched by that day, it was something I’ll treasure.

++ Now, looking back through all these adventures of yours in The Honeys, what would you say was the biggest highlight of The Honeys?

By far hearing our song played on the radio for the first time. And seeing our video on TV. It’s surreal and I still pinch myself to think about it. Some terrific gigs too and seeing people having a blast. Nothing beats it.

++ And today, are you still making music? Or what do you dedicate your time to these days? Any other hobbies?

I’m not at the moment, I have a small business now but I’d never say no to future recordings. Perhaps I’ll have a chat to Grant!

++ Thanks again Andrea and Grant. I would love to interview you some other time about your other bands, I already asked way too many questions now! But I have one last one, are there still any unreleased songs by The Honeys?

Nothing that I know of at this stage, I’m sure Bruce would have books full of lyrics somewhere…

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
The Honeys – The Man Who Was Through With the World

14
Aug

Another week, and now halfway through the month of August. It seems I will be moving apartments very soon, so that means that Cloudberry HQ will also move. Because of that, there will be some new offers on Cloudberry records coming up, they will be very cheap as I want you to help me with the moving. Less boxes means less work for me and that is great help. I’ll let you know in the few days.

Today I woke up with some news, I saw on a Youtube song I uploaded by The Marteens a comment. It said that Firestation will be releasing a new retrospective by this band that is related to Me and Dean Martin (who Firestation already put out a compilation). I don’t know more details, but it is great news. I love The Marteens and I wanted to interview them, sadly at some point I lost touch with Me and Dean Martin.

I have already told you all to get the new Pia Fraus album “Field Ceremony” that is coming out in a couple of months. For some reason I didn’t notice they had already put out a video to promote it. Check “That’s Not All” here.

The great Ville Hopponen and his new project Verandan have a new single out. Not too long ago I was championing the first ever song that was online by this Finnish project. Now I can only continue doing so. “Short Dream” will be part of the new EP that the band will release on the label Soliti. So far we’ve heard two songs of pure pop. How many more will be there on the EP? I hope it is a long one, 5 or 6 songs, please!

Shelflife now has the new album by The Luxembourg Signal available for pre-ordering. “Blue Field” will be released on October 13th on LP and CD by Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten for Europe and Shelflife for the rest of the world. Right now you can check to the song “Laura Palmer” as well as some background bio (and gig dates) on Shelflife’s site. It sounds great. There’s even a guest appearance of Bobby Wratten. This is definitely going to be a good one!

The Delicates from Australia’s Gold Coast are a new discovery for me on Bandcamp. Last June they uploaded 6 songs which I believe are not available in any format but streaming on here. What will you find? Laid-back sunny guitar pop here. On Bandcamp there is barely any information on the band but I did a quick google search and found out that they released their debut single “Farewell My Love” in 2014. The band is formed by Shani Ishigaki on vocals, Tennyson Tostee on guitar, Danny Neilson on guitar, Pete McAuliffe on organ, Joel Caust on bass and Joel Sparks on drums.

I kind of lost touch with Seapony. Long time ago I had one of their songs on one of the compilation 3″ CDs I did. I was very happy to see that at around the same time the band started getting a lot of attention and they released some very fine albums too. I though the band was no more. To my surprise I noticed that the band will be releasing a new 6-song EP on August 24th titled “Be Here Again”. There is only one song available to listen so far on their Bandcamp, the opening one, “Be Here Again”, and it is classic-Seapony. I wonder if this will be released in any physical format or not, there’s very little information, it is all a mystery.

—————————————–

As you know I’m trying to democratize the blog, and with that in mind, cover bands from different countries and not just let England monopolize it. It is most probably true that England is the country that produced more indiepop, but we can’t forget that this is an international scene, a worldwide scene. And so I’ll continue with this revolving door of countries until I have to start again. For example my friend Alex mentioned Greece. Indeed Greece has produced many indiepop bands and for some reason I didn’t think of it. So I should try to do a post about some obscure Greek band. Maybe the next one? This time around I decided to do some investigation on a band from Wales, Southville.

I wonder where Southville took their name. I feel because they were in the same island as Bristol they might have taken it from an inner city ward of the aforementioned city. Maybe we’ll get to solve that mystery. Or not.

Southville were based in Aberystwyth, Wales. Aberystwyth is a historic market town, administrative centre, and holiday resort within Ceredigion, West Wales, often colloquially known as Aber. It is located near the confluence of the rivers Ystwyth and Rheidol. Historically part of Cardiganshire, since the late 19th century, Aberystwyth has also been a major Welsh educational centre, with the establishment of a university college there in 1872. At the 2001 census, the town’s population was 15,935; it was reduced to 13,040 at the 2011 Census. During nine months of the year, there is an influx of students—to a total number of 10,400 as of September 2012. Including the suburbs of Llanbadarn Fawr, the population is 16,420.

I wanted to go there when I visited Wales some years ago. Sadly my vacations didn’t have enough days. I hope next time I visit. I do own though the first Southville 7″ and I just ordered their second from Discogs. Happily their records are not expensive, they have a proper price. Both of the Southville records were to come out on the small early 90s indiepop label Pillarbox Red that was run by Andrew Austin from Lewes. It is kind of far Lewes from Aberystwyth, it is closer to Brighton. I wonder how they got in touch. Lewes has a castle that I want to visit someday though.

The first Southville appearance on Pillarbox wasn’t one of their singles. It was on a compilation 7″ titled “Tales From The Pillarbox” (POST 2) that was released in 1992. In it Southville appears contributing the song “Sea Song”. The other bands on this compilation were Huggy’s Ice Cools, The Pristines and Cellophane.

The next release on the label, POST 3, was going to be Southville’s first release. “Looking From a Hilltop” 7″ came out in 1992 and included four songs, two on each side. On the A side there was “Looking from a Hilltop” and “Never Live You Down”, whereas on the B side there was “16th of April” and “This Town”. The songs were recorded in November of the previous year. The songs are credited to be written by J. Brenton and R. Williams.

In 1994, on POST 5, the band was to appear on another compilation. The song “My Fleet” was the opening track of “Transatlantic Pop Explosion”, another compilation 7″ that had bands also from the US, hence the name. We find here The Serenas, Tattle Tale, Musical Chairs, Orange Cake Mix, The Temperance League and Paint. On the Southville song an Emma is credited as performer.

I’ve been going in order when it comes to Pillarbox Red catalog, but not chronologically. 2 years earlier, in 1992, Pillar Box released “Inside and Out” (POST 7), the second and last Southville 7″. It is a strange record, the same song is on both sides, on A and B. Maybe it was a play on the name of the song? I wonder. This is a beautiful song, that reminds one of Brighter.

The band was to appear on any compilations on different labels. I’ll do that recap in order.

“16th of April” was to appear in 1993’s tape compilation “Polythene Star” that was released by Flaming Katy (FK001). Many cool bands appear on it like Mary Queen of Scots, Peru, The Almanacs and more.

“Walking Home” was the song that they contributed to 1993’s “Grapefruit Sunrise” cassette compilation released by Grapefruit (Grapefruit One). That same year they were to contribute another song to the same label for another tape compilation, “Underneath The Sky” appears on the tape “Lime Green” (Grapefruit Four).

On the tape “Gloomy Biscuit III”, released by Gloomy Biscuit in 1995, they were to appear with the song “Sleep”. This same song would prove somewhat popular, it was to appear on the tape compilation “The Colours of An Enchanted Dawn” on Italian label Shiny Sunset (SUNSET 9) and on 2001’s “Picnic Basket (A Shelflife International Pop Compilation)” on Shelflife Records (LIFE 020).

“Inside and Out” was to appear on two compilations. On the first Shiny Sunset compilation tape, “The Stunning Scenery of a Shiny Sunset” and on the CD “AM FM ETC” that was released by Enraptured in 2015 (RAPTCD 73). I’ll talk more about this compilation in a bit. There’s a lot to say about it.

They were to appear on two more of the Grapefruit tapes. On the sixth one titled “Meet Disco Girl!” (Grapefruit Six) they had “This is the Way Things Happen” and on the eight one, “Early Eighties Girl” (Grapefruit Eight) they contributed the song “Fireman”.

Lastly on a tape released by Meller Welle Produkte (MEL 23) titled “Fairy Tales” the band had two songs: “Sometimes I Think We Are the Strangest Things” and “The Last Time”.

That covers the discography I think. Time to look into blogs.

My friend Alex who has the blog 7iete Pulgadas has also reviewed “Looking From a Hilltop” though this time around there’s not much more information in there. Shelflife also has a post about Southville, but again not much info. I keep looking.

I find an entry on the blog Pyrolysebred dating from July 2012. In it I find the names of the Southville band members and more. It says: Southville duo John Brenton and Rhys Williams are releasing a new 7″ single this month under the moniker Tonfedd Oren, which according to the label’s website is Welsh for Orange Wavelength. More info on Enraptured Records. Of course, I click on the link to Enraptured Records and it doesn’t work.

That information takes me to the Piccadilly Records website. Here is the item listing for “AM FM ETC”, the CD I mentioned earlier. So this compilation is a “best of” compilation of all the bands John Brenton had been involved including Metrotone, Landshipping, Ohn, Tonfedd Oren and of coure Southville. There’s just one song by Southville, and many more by the other bands.

On the same website I find a 7″ by Tonfedd Oren. Here the cool thing is that there is actually some information about Southville. It says:
Williams and Brenton met when they were students in Aberystwyth, Williams being a veteran of several Welsh language bands, none of which took themselves too seriously. Recognising a similar taste in music, they started swapping 7″ singles from Welsh post-punk bands (“I think I learnt 50% of the Welsh I know through deciphering Datblygu lyrics”, says Brenton), post-C86 indie and cassettes of obscure guitar bands from America’s Pacific Northwest. They then started recording together on a 4-track cassette machine and released singles and compilation tracks under the name Southville on Brighton-based Pillarbox Red Records, before parting company to explore other musical avenues. Having stayed friends over the years, Williams and Brenton concluded that it was high time they worked together on something new, Tonfedd Oren is the fruit of that labour.

Finally! Some information! It kind of paints a picture. Now I wonder where they originally Welsh? Or were they just studying there? At least Rhys Williams seems to have been Welsh, it says he had been in many Welsh language bands. I would love to hear them.

Where else should I look? Youtube of course. I was to find a bunch of Southville recordings on Tim Alborn’s account. Mind you, Tim from the classic Harriet Records. He has 4 songs that supposedly come from a 1994 tape titled “Southville”. The songs being “Sleep“, “From This Day“, “She Says” and “Generous“. All four are brilliant, do check them out. Jangle heaven.

He has also uploaded the two rare songs from the Meller Welle tape, “Last Time” and “I Think We Do the Strangest Things“.

I couldn’t find much more information about Southville. Of course there’s information about Metrotone, and quite a bit. But I’m curious about Southville. About their music, why they didn’t release more records having written so many songs? Or if they played often as a two-piece? Who was that Emma who played in one of their songs? Would love to know more. I couldn’t even find a photo of them, how did they look like? Anyone remembers them?

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
Southville – Inside and Out

11
Aug

This week I saw many friends posting about a new compilation titled “Neon Maniacs” that is going to be released on Cassette Store Day (whatever that is, are there cassette stores in the world?) by Girlsville Records from Chicago and Nerve Centre from Falmouth. There were two bands on it that I was interested for sure, The Darling Bands and The BV’s. And it was no surprise that the songs they contributed to it were among my favourites. The Darling Buds cover The Go-Go’s “Our Lips are Sealed” and it is pretty good! And then The BV’s have an oringalsong, “The Sheep Look Up”, and it is a dreamy nice lo-fi one. Other songs I enjoyed (you can only listen to the whole thing on this website – it seems it is becoming more and more common this ‘premiere’, ‘exclusive’ thing on the web were you can only listen the whole thing on particular sites and not anymore on Bandcamp where you can actually only listen to 2 songs, and I’m not liking it very much, what’s there to gain doing this, someone illustrate me?). Anyhow other songs to check out are The Primitives’ “Really Stupid” cover by Atomic Suplex Ft Hillary Burton and  The Prissteens “You’re Gonna Lose”. The rest is a mish-mash of punk, garage, and shouty stuff that I’m personally not into.

Our friend Sebastian Voss who used to be in the Grindcore Poppies, who I interviewed on the blog, has a new album with his project The Fisherman and His Soul. “A Certain Kind of Hug” is available to stream on Bandcamp for free. There are in total 8 songs and they are a mix of styes, from synthpop to lo-fi and more. I particularly love the song “Bravado!” which is straight-up indiepop and could have been part of the handful of songs the Grindcore Poppies left behind, and I’m sure you’ll like it too.

Speaking of friends, and friends who post music links on Facebook, I noticed on one of those posts a band from Ystrad Mynach, Wales, named The Autumn Set. I thought that it is a very indiepop sounding name, I should listen to them. And even though I feel their influences are closer to folk music, to Nick Drake as they say, I listened happily to the 4 songs they have on Bandcamp, “The Girl From Crescent Gardens”, “Where The Land Meets the Sky”, “Listen to Al” and “All By Yourself (You Will Be Fine)”,  and I thought, this is really good. It is poppy and catchy! The band is formed by Sheena, Mike, Charlie, Lou and Jake, and I wonder why Indietracks, who seem to love their folky bands, can’t book a band of this quality and not some silly folk nonsense!

The Clientele will be releasing a new album, “Music for the Age of Miracles”, on September 22 on Merge for North America and Tapete for the rest of the world. Because of that the band is already promoting it with a new video for the song “Everyone You Meet” which was just released this week. It sounds really pretty, time to pre-order the album? Hopefully they come back to the US as well.

John Girgus from Aberdeen has a new CD available and it is meant to be a companion to the previously released “What Do I Wish For Now: Singles 1994-2012” and “It Was The Rain: Lost Recordings 1993-1995”. This new CD is a compilation of rarities, compilation tracks, tributes and tracks only available digitally. It is titled “Grey Skies Don’t Last: Extras 1992-2012” and has 13 songs. It also has a very good price, just $7.99. You can stream all songs from Bandcamp and hopefully I can order it in the next few few days.

My last discovery comes from Montreal in Canada. The band has the simple name Corridor and have a few releases under their belt. Their last album is titled “Supermercado” and even though it is not strictly indiepop I found a handful of worthy jangle pop songs on it. So I’ll tell you which songs to listen to satisfy your chiming guitar needs. I think my favourite is “Le grand écart”, and then you can follow listening to “Coup d’épée”, “L’espoir sans fin” and “Demain déjà”. The album is available on vinyl LP, CD and cassette.

—————————————————

As I was saying on my previous post, as I’m doing this sort of carousel of countries, trying to vary the origin of the obscure bands I’ve been featuring here, trying to avoid England monopolizing the blog, it is time for an Australian band.

I first came face to face with The Honeys thanks to Peter Hahndorf from Twee.net. On the blog I’ve mentioned many times two CDRs he gave me that he titled “The Sound of Glen Waverley”, at the time he was planning to do something similar to The Sound of Leamington Spa series but with Australian bands. This project never came to life but to me those CDRs were an introduction to a bunch of 80s and early 90s bands that were truly great. It is no surprise then that on the blog I’ve featured The Sometimes, The Mandelbrot Set, Chrysalids or The MacGuffins, all bands that were on that double CDR.

When it comes to The Honeys, I kind of prepared the way for this post in the early days of the blog. I wrote about Catherine Wheel, the band that formed The Honeys band members after they split. You can check my Catherine Wheel investigation dating from January 2009 here.

In Rateyourmusic I found the whole lineup for the two periods the band was around:
Andrea Croft (vocals), Bruce Begley (guitar), Grant Shanahan (bass), Michael “Blue” Dalton (slide guitar, harmonica, 1987-89), Matt Galvin (guitar, 2007-present), Lloyd Ghi (drums, 2007-present), Brett Thomson (drums, 1987-89), Phil Rawlinson (drums, 1987)

That’s important to mention. The band was around the late 80s and in 2007 or so they reformed to play shows and release an album. Speaking of albums, their debut wasn’t a single or an EP, it was an album. And that is quite strange, isn’t it? So I decided to go straight to Discogs and explore their discography.

The band hailed from Perth though if I want to be more exact, they would hail from Fremantle.

Fremantle is a major Australian port city in Western Australia, located at the mouth of the Swan River. Fremantle Harbour serves as the port of Perth, the state capital. Fremantle was the first area settled by the Swan River colonists in 1829.b It was declared a city in 1929, and has a population of approximately 27,000. The city is named after Captain Charles Fremantle, the English naval officer who established a camp at the site on 2 May 1829. The city contains well-preserved 19th century buildings and other heritage features. The Western Australian vernacular diminutive for Fremantle is Freo. The Nyungar name for the area is Walyallup.

Their releases were to be released on the classic Australian label Waterfront, an eclectic label that released some very fine indiepop like Club Hoy or The Widdershins. Because of that the Perth band was to move to Sydney where the label was based. That first album was titled “Goddess” and came out in July 1988. The catalog number was DAMP 75. The album had 10 songs, on the A side there was “Against the Elements”, “Wood for the Trees”, “Goddess”, “Fire and Brimstone” and “Bells of Spring”. On the B side, “Tears of Fallen”, “Thoughts”, “Damaris’ Lament”, “Insecurity Express” and “Texans”. The album was recorded at Poons Head Studios in Perth. The producer was John Bassett with the assistance of Rob Grant. Michael ‘Blue’ Dalton added slide guitar and harmonica in the record whereas Marie Carruthers took care of the photography of the jacket. A promo video was made for “Against the Elements“.

I sadly don’t own that album (as of yet), but I do own the 7” they released the same year. The A side is probably my favourite song by The Honeys and its name is “The Man Who Was Through With the World“. And yes, there was a promo video for that song as well. The B side was “Sick”. I also really like the cover art of this record which is credited to Jenny Grigg. The A side was recorded at Rich Studios in September 1988 and the producer was Colin Bloxsom while the B side was recorded at Sound Barrier Studios that same month and produced by The Hound (an early Game of Thrones reference?? definitely not). The engineer for these songs was John Hresc. The photo on the back cover was taken by Tony Mott and James Cruickshank, from The Widdershins, contributed piano and organ.

The band was to release a second 7″, this time with no artwork but in the classic Waterfront Records standard sleeve. It was a double A single, where the A side was “Gone Away” and the AA was “Monster”. On Youtube I found an upload by Grant Shanahan, the bassist, where he mashes up the song “Monster” with Ben Lee’s “Catch My Disease” from 2005. Bruce Begley had told Grant that the songs shared a lot of similarities. Grant says that they have the same chord progression, but that even though the songs are complementary, that melody and phrasing are similar, they aren’t exactly the same.

Their second album came in 2007. I found an interview dating of 2008 where Bruce Begley talks with the author of the blog WebCuts Music about the band’s reunion and the new album “Star Baby”. It does give some background of what was going at the time. For example it was interesting that after Catherine Wheel split Andrea Croft returned to Perth. That was to make difficult for any reunion until of course the internet and some convincing made the three core members, Grant, Bruce and Andrea, get together again. Then I find an article on the Sydney Morning Herald dating from 2008. Here Croft tells how she was convinced by Bruce and Grant to record again. This time they released the CD album on the label Origin (OR 004). I suppose the connection with the label was through Grant whose band Eva Trout had released some records with them. The album had 12 songs, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Hollywood”, “Dead Man”, “In the Sun”, “Veronica Says”, “I Couldn’t Win”, “Always Worked the Railways”, “Living Dead”, “Lightning”, “Forever Mine”, “Run Run” and “Star Baby”. The songs were recorded at Air Raid Studios and Leisure Suit Studios. Louise Cook did the art for the record with photography by Bek-Jean Stewart and Kathy Moore. The record got contributions from John Gauci on organ, piano and guitar, Paul Dunn on drums and Matthew Galvin on acoustic and electric guitar. There are videos for “Kiss Me Kate” and “In the Sun“.

At least two gigs happened in 2007 in Western Australia. The band played Creatures Loft and Balmoral Hotel.

There was a compilation double CD released by Phantom (PHCD48_1) released in 1995. On this CD was included practically everything that was recorded by the band. The first CD included “Gone Away”, “Monster”, “Rain”, “The Man Who Was Through With the World”, “Sick” “Second Home Coming”, “I Dreamed Last Night”, “Run Run”, “Drowning Heart”, “Fading Fascination”, “Blood of Cain”, “Coco Pops”, “Picture” and “Pray for Rain”. The second CD is the “Goddess” album plus two extra tracks “Wood For the Trees (Live at the Wireless)” and “Bells of Spring (Live at the Wireless)”. I think this is the release I need to track down! Where to find it? On Discogs it has never been sold! Ever!

They were to appear on compilations too. In 1989 they contributed the song “Gone Away” to the Rude Records / Waterfront Records (RUDE 004/DAMP 121) compilation “I Could’a Been a Contender”. It was released on CD and LP. Then in 1991 they were to appear on an English compilation, on the venerable Rutland Records. On the “Shiver Me Timbers” tape they were to contribute the same song, “Gone Away”.

The band was also featured on the classic Australian compilation “Like Flies in the Face Of” where they appear with the song “Monster” along so many classic bands like Even As We Speak, The Hummingbirds or The Summer Suns.

I continue digging and I found some very sad news. Last December 2016 Bruce Begley passed away. A remembering event happened earlier this year, on February 12, when The Honeys , Flicker, The Snow Leopards and friends played Bruce’s songs.

After the split of The Honeys in the 80s band members went to form Eva Trout, Snow Leopards, Pollyanna among other bands.

There is a blog named “History of Aussie Music” that has a 2013 entry about The Honeys. There are some interesting fact here. For example it mentions that the band was resident artist at pubs like Surry Hill’s Evening Star or Glebe’s Harold Park Hotel. That the band toured in an old Holden HG.

My last stop before closing this “investigation” ends up being Youtube once again. I found Grant Shanahan account where he uploaded videos of the time when they were recording their second album. I found audio and footage for “Hollywood” as well  as a video of them at Leisure Suit Studios.

I only own the one 7″. I think now I should focus in finding the “Ultimo” double-CD and then their second album. I hope I do. But I wonder if there were any other unreleased songs that weren’t included in any of those two releases. I couldn’t find much more information, but I believe they were very well regarded by Australian indie types in the late 80s and 90s. Their songs were really good which means I need to check out other projects they were involved with. But what about you? Do you remember them?

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
The Honeys – The Man Who Was Through With the World

10
Aug

Just a week ago I wrote about the Tokyo one-man project Tricycle Popstar who released a bunch of records and even more songs in the 90s. Thanks to the help of Mike Innes from They Go Boom!! I could find Masahiro Kodama, the man behind this brilliant band, on Facebook. Luckily Masahiro was very kind and when I asked to do an interview he said yes. I’m very happy how this interview turned out thanks to Masahiro’s thoughtful answers where he paints clearly how was the Japanese scene in the 90s. Sounds like it was a fun and interesting time!

++ Hi Masahiro, thanks a lot for trying to answer my questions, hope your memory is good! I would like to do this interview chronologically, start from the beginning. So yeah, where are you from in Japan? Tokyo? And what sort of music did you listen when growing up?

I grew up in Akita, a rural area in the northern part of mainland Japan. Its a famous place for rice production, there are rice fields everywhere; and It’s very cold in winter.

When I was young, I really like “Kayou kyoku” (which is Japanese mainstream pop music. I always check TV music programs out; it’s like Japanese “Top of the Pops” kind of TV show. Those TV music programs in Showa (昭和)- era were so good. The stage sets changing every different songs / every different artists.

When I was in Jr. high, the Japanese economy was booming, and the Japanese music scene really changed.
New Romantic kind of music, techno pop, Heavy metal (which I never liked) etc. I like Dead or Alive(!), The Housemartins, Nik Kershaw, Hubert Kah, A-HA, Pet Shop Boys etc. And my music tastes also changed around the same time. I found different types of music like – The Flipper’s Guitar!! For the country boy like me they are so bright, vivid & colourful, with a great sense of humour…they were my idols at the time.  And infact I still love them they made a huge influence on me.

++ Something that impressed me from the sleeve of the flexi is that it says you played all instruments. So I’m wondering what instruments do you know how to play? And what was your first instrument and how did you get it?

All instruments skills are self-taught, so I’m not really that good. I can play a little bit of Guitar & Keys, and some programming of Drum machine, that’s all. My first instrument was the Electone, which is modern type of electronic organs.  I never had a music tutor or anything, But we always had an electronic organ at home which I would dabble with. It had so many buttons, you could change the sound, rhythm, and it has auto arpeggiator as well. I was started making songs with it when I was about 13 years old.

I started the Folk Guitar (Takamine) when I was in High school.  I was never interested in Guitar Solos. But I like chord cuttings.

Late years of my high school days, I got a Drum machine (I think YAMAHA RX 5). And after graduate from high school in Akita, I moved to Tokyo where I bought a KORG 01W/FD. It’s a workstation synthesizer, it has synthesizer, sequencer, drum sounds and you can save those song tracks on floppy disks! It was so high-tech at the time!

AND This isn’t music instrument, but very important thing, Multi Track Recorders (We called MTR). When I was in high school I used a 4-tack recorder (I think TASCAM PORTA 05). And later in Tokyo (18 years old ~) I got myself an 8-tack recorder (TASCUM PORTASTUDIO 488).

++ Was Tricycle Popstar your first band or had you been involved in any other bands?

Tricycle Popstar is not my first project. In my high school days, I have a band to play my original songs with my hometown friends. Also doing my solo project as well. And one time did Synth pop duo with my friend to cover 10cc’s “I’m not in love” for music contest. In my Akita days, I really liked to play at music contest. Because I could often do quite well.

++ Was Tricycle Popstar really a solo project? Or did you get help from friends?

Tricycle Popstar is my solo project. Hiroshi Kudo (my band mate from my hometown) helped with bass guitar when we recorded The Love mushrooms’ songs.

++ Why the name Tricycle Popstar?

I forgot how I decided this project name…Maybe I discuss about naming the project with Mark, but I really can’t remember. It’s silly meaningless name isn’t it?!

++ How was Tokyo then? What were your usual hangouts? The venues you used to frequent to check out bands? And were there any like-minded bands that you liked then?

I was in Tokyo 1991~1993. (When was 19~21 years old) For a shy country kid from the north, Tokyo is a big, big city. I didn’t have many connections, just few friends in Tokyo.  What I do? Just go & check somewhere new area in Tokyo is always kind a fun for me at that time. Every local area has unique taste. I often went to, SHIMOKITAZAWA, SHINJYUKU, SHIBUYA back then.

Candy Eyes (another band from A Trumpet Trumpet Records), All Twin’s Birthday were friends of mine, so we would often go & see them playing. [https://www.discogs.com/label/178272-A-Trumpet-Trumpet-Records]

++ And in general, what would you say were the bands that inspired you and influenced Tricycle Popstar?

The Housemartins, The Flipper’s Guitar, Sex Clark Five, Egg Stone, Candy eyes, Nelories, Mama Cass, Many late 60’s psyche pops band like The Beatles, The Cyrkle, The Millennium, The Left Banke, The Hollies, French pops like France Gall, Francoise Hardy.

++ Most of your releases were on the label Behavior Saviour. Was it your own label? Or who were they?

Behavior Saviour is our own label managed by Mark & I. Mainly released my recordings and released some compilation CDs. And also released 7” single for friend band call “All Twin’s Birthday”.

I would like to mention Shintaro Taketani, he is musician, I met him through Mark, where they both worked at a posh arty cafe EAST GALLERY in Ebisu. One day, He give me a demo of his creation, I was amazed by he’s music. His music unit called “Paris Collection” was on one of our compilation CD. He is living in London now. I think he is great artist.

++ At first your releases came out in the cassette format. Do you remember more or less how many copies were made? And if you were to pick, as you released almost in every sort of format, from vinyl to tape to CD, which will be your favourite and why?

My favourite format is CD. CD doesn’t have any interference. Sometimes, I can’t concentrate to listen to music if too much noise in the background.  However I also like Vinyls too. I like the big art space & warmer sound.

Regarding our cassette release from earlier of our catalogue, those cassette selling at Rough Trade Tokyo, I don’t remember how many we sold. But not much, I don’t think. Probably about 30 each release.

++ Also was wondering why you choose to write your songs in English instead of Japanese? What was the reason?

I thought singing in English is cool. If I write serious song in Japanese, that sounds really serious and straight. If I write silly song in Japanese, that sounds really silly and foolish.

++ Did you ever make songs in Japanese?
Yes. Before coming to Tokyo, I write songs in Japanese.

++ I noticed that 1993 was a very prolific year for Tricycle Popstar, releasing a bunch of records and recording so many songs. Why was that? And how come no other year was like it?

Around that year I send lots of demo tape to other labels too and also we made a lots of connections.
Some labels’ project takes very long time and Some are quick (but usually takes long time), I think the releasing those other labels works just over lapped all at the same time around 1993.

++ I also noticed that there were a few shared releases with the band The Love Mushrooms. Who were them?

The Love Mushrooms was my project before Tricycle Popstar. Me & two Tasmanian girls, Wendy & Darelle, whom I also met through Mark. (also from Tasmanian too). And my hometown friend, Hiroshi Kudo was helping to play bass guitar.

++ You wrote the song “I Like Curry Rice” and I suppose you do. What other dishes are favourite of Masahiro Kodama that you would have loved to write them a song?

Kara-age is one of my favourite Japanese dishes. However I’m into making fermented foods at the moment. I make my Koji, Miso and Nukazuke on my own. So I’d make song like “Microorganism’s orgasm”.

++ On the flexi it says that you got help with the lyrics by Mark Davis. He also helped with the art. Who was he?
He is my partner. We are together over 25 years now.

We didn’t come out to our Japanese friends when we living in Tokyo, I said to them “We are friend”. However we were living together in small apartment in Tokyo.

++ “Saviour Once More” was your mini-album and I was wondering about the two guests on it, Roberto Massaglia and Wendy Brown. How did they help you on the record?

Wendy Brown (The Love Mushrooms) & Roberto (her partner back then), They sing,  “Moaner is My Cat”. The song is about their cat.

++ Also because of the song “Moaner is My Cat” and how I see cats are popular in Japanese indiepop, I wondered if you actually really had a cat then?

Moaner was Wendy & Roberto’s cat in Tokyo.  At my hometown, we had cats, and many other animals too.  A big ‘Tosa-ken’ dog, peacocks, chickens, turkeys and even minks, all of those animals were my grand father’s hobby.

++ Then I noticed that Behavior Saviour and you it seems moved to Melbourne, Australia. Is that right? Why did you move? And how was the change? Did you like it at first?

Mark’s working visa was going to expire so I applied a working holiday visa to go to Australia. We moved to Sydney first. We live there 3 years (1994~1997) and then move to Melbourne.  I love Melbourne more.

I fell in love with that laid back Aussie way of living as soon as I moved here.

++ I assume you found a different music scene there. Did you continue making music? Did you find any bands that you really like?

I thought Japanese indie music scene was quite big, however Australian indie music scene was quite small and dotted.
From an indie music label point of view, I thought it’s quite difficult to do within Australia.
++ The last release on Behavior Saviour was your album “Apostasy” in 1995. Were the songs on it reworkings of previous ones or was it more of a compilation album?

“No skin off my ass” & “Rocking chair is still rocking” was reworked. I think other tracks were on “Apostasy” was same materials on other compilation CDs“.

++ I’m also curious about your creative process. How did that work for you? And what about recording? Where did you usually record?

I had an 8-tack multi track recorder (TASCAM PORTASTUDIO 488). I always recorded in my bedroom. Usually I make song with my Guitar first, and then I make a song titles or lyrics next. I made a song title first when I make “Peach boy’s Bed sounds”.

++ Your last release was a split 7″ with Orange Cake Mix on the American label Blackbean and Placenta Tape Club. How come you ended up on an American label? Did you ever get to visit the US?

Regarding Blackbean and Placenta Tape Club release, I can’t remember I sent a demo to them or they contact us… I haven’t been to the US before.  In US, there are/were many great indie record labels. I personally like The Bus Stop Label. I would still love to go to the US one day.

++ There were a bunch of compilation appearances by the band, but I’m curious about one of the first ones, the one on the French fanzine “Gloomy Biscuit”. How did your music got to France in pre-internet times? Do you remember?

Sorry I can’t remember…

++ I mentioned a bunch of compilation appearances, like the “Lily’s S’ghetti Factory”, “Going Against Maz’s Advice”, “Come All Ye Faithful” and “Let’s Muc Out On Sound” on my blog. Was I missing any other compilation that you appeared?

In 1993, Auto Guide Records (Japan) release Auto Guide’s First Triangle (Compilation CD   AGR-1001) The Love Mushrooms was on it.

++ And what about unreleased Tricycle Popstar songs? Are there any more?

I remember there was one song, but with changing technology I think I have lost the data now.

++ So what happened in 1996 after the split 7″ with Orange Cake Mix? Why were the no more releases by Tricycle Popstar?

I think I needed new start or I was just busy living everyday life.

++ What did you do afterwards? Did you continue making music?

I start new project called “HACCHUUM” (haku-chuu-mu 白昼夢) it means “day dream” in Japanese. More psyche pop taste music. https://soundcloud.com/hacchuum

++ What about gigs? Did you play live much as Tricycle Popstar? Any happy anecdotes you could share?

In Tokyo days, I remember I’ve done two live as Tricycle Popstar. Play electric guitar and sing with karaoke backing tracks. As The Love Mushrooms, we did one live event at Meiji University campus festival (I think play with Nerolies & Venus Peter). However, that gig was terrible.

++ And radio? And music press? did they give you much attention? What about fanzines?

The Love Mushrooms were played on College Radio Chart show.Few fanzines were interested in The Love Mushrooms/Tricycle Popstar.

++ What about today? Are you still making music? What other hobbies do you have?

I continue making music pieces. Just playing guitar & sing. Not for recording (I’m not good with Computer based music making). Playing music is more meditative process for me. I love listening music & watch movies. Mark & I are into making fermented food right now. Made Miso, Koji, Natto, Suerkraut, and Kefir etc.

++ You are now based in Melbourne, but do you go back often to Japan? Are there any indiepop bands either in Australia or Japan that you’d recommend?

Yeah we still get back there every year, here are some good ones:

Ben Mason – https://soundcloud.com/benmason

Adrian Whitehead- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlwzSmnuUhA&list=PLn3qOPaLrhTyT495cE37HZwkDU0ihIGo4

Lamp – https://soundcloud.com/lamp-japan

frenesi – https://soundcloud.com/nesi-ko

Shintaro Taketani – https://soundcloud.com/shintaro-taketani

Dai Ogasawara (ex Candy eyes – He’s doing indie music label called Ano(t)raks) – https://soundcloud.com/twangytwangy/tracks

Coffee garden (ex All Twin’s Birthday) – https://soundcloud.com/coffee-garden

Hajimepop – https://soundcloud.com/hajimepop

++ I assume as we were talking about Japanese food earlier that you might have had some interest in Australian food? Have you find anything that you like there?

Meat pies, Chicken parmigiana, Vanilla slice are my favourite Aussie meals.

++ And as a foreigner in Australia, what would you recommend a tourist checking out in Melbourne where is were you live now?

We live in Abbotsford. We really like this area. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbotsford,_Victoria

And I recommended going to “Hanging Rock”. http://www.visitmacedonranges.com/see-do/the-great-outdoors/hanging-rock/

++ Let’s start wrapping the interview, what would you say was the biggest highlight of Tricycle Popstar?

This interview 🙂 Knowing somebody listening to my songs.

++ And what would you say indiepop means to you?

For me indiepop means, 青春 (sei-shun) in Chinese character 青 means Blue 春 means Spring. Meaning bloom of youth / the passion of youth. When I was doing music & label, it was pre-internet, so everything took a lot of time.
Write mail to people, making artwork by our hand, making music etc. But I like the way it was. It was warmer, more physical connection to it.

Indiepop is DIY spirit.

You can do it, if you want to.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks Roque for asking to do the interview.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
Tricycle Popstar – Passion & Kind

09
Aug

I have to start the post with the two most important discoveries of the month, two McCarthy 1988 videos that were done for the French TV. They haven’t been seen by anyone since those days, they have just been uploaded to Youtube. I want to thank again Rich Farnell from The Suncharms for pointing them in my direction, Please enjoy the best band EVER in “Should The Bible Be Banned” and “This Nelson Rockefeller“.

I think it has been a year since the time I recommended Anton Salmine’s project Glass Arcades on the blog. It was just this week that I noticed he had new songs on Bandcamp, “Linoburns” and “Teletext”, and I thought why has this one-man band hasn’t released anything properly? Is it really that there are no indiepop labels in the world anymore? The first song, “Linoburns”, is really good, people must notice that. At least I see that he has updated his page since last time, and now I know where he is from, Cardiff in Wales. I was there once, and I really liked it. Hope to go back someday.

The Indonesian band Aggi, who I recommended early in 2015, is no more. Their label HeyHo! Records doesn’t exit either. So what’s the point of talking about them again? The Indonesian punk/pop label Rizkan Records from Tangerang in Indonesia has uploaded to Bandcamp a compilation of all Aggi recordings, taken from their split with Saturday Night Karaoke and from singles and EPs on HeyHo! and Dismantled Records. This compilation is titled “Buy This Discography Make Me Rich!!” and the physical copies seem to be very limited, 50 copies and only available in stores in that country. For the rest, we can just stream it.

Exploration Team hail from Madison, Wisconsin. When was the last time you heard an indiepop band from there? I can’t even remember myself. There must have been some, right? I know about nothing about the band. I know the two songs on their Bandcamp are brand new. I especially like the second song, I think it is brilliant. It is titled “Stuck-up Sensitive”. The first song is titled “Ten Things”. This is proper jangly pop and that makes me happy. I need more people making this sort of music! The band is formed by Ross Adam on guitar and backing vocals, Allison Geyer on vocals and bass, Etan Heller on drums and Luis Perez on guitars. Both songs were written by Perez. Yes, that makes me happy, a latino in indiepop. We need more of that too.

Cloudberry friend Lisa Bouvier has a new song too. Lisa, who some years ago was touring with The Flatmates as a vocalist, has just uploaded to her Bandcamp the song “Out of Daydreams”. If you are familiar with her previous releases this won’t be a surprise. You will find her energy intact in this punky pop song. Upbeat and effervescent, this is a good comeback to the solo Lisa. Looking forward to any new recordings she posts.

Lastly, this week the indiepop supergroup Cinema Red and Blue (I’m linking to the blog Austin Town Hall as it seems it is the only place where you can stream this) and their label Fortuna Pop unveiled a new song on Soundcloud, “Come Back to the City, Babyface” and it sounds fantastic. Of course, how else would it sound if it has David Feck from Comet Gain and our NYC pal Phil Sutton in it? This song is going to be released on a 7″ with “The Captain’s Song” on the B side. If you like your songs filled with “pa, pa, pas”, this one you can’t miss!!

———————————————————

I did say I had to do some archaeology on a German band on my last post. I’m trying to spice it up a bit now, challenging somehow my detective work when it comes to long lost indiepop bands. The comfort zone has always been English bands but it is time to vary it a bit more often. Hopefully the next post will be by an Australian band or a Welsh band or… who knows. I’m not saying I won’t look into the story of English bands, I will, but it won’t be English band after English band after English band if you know what I’m saying.

When it comes to Die Blinzelbeeren I must say that this time I do own their two 7″s. How many times I could feel proud of owning the discography? If that counts as a full discography  too. I don’t have all their compilation appearances, to be honest. I do have to say that a long time ago I tried to interview Bernd Kabs, founder of Die Blinzelbeeren and their label, Blam-A-Bit. The interview was going to be about the label, and I was hoping, as it has happened in a few cases, that after he answered my questions I was going to ask about his other indiepop related projects like Die Blinzebeeren or Mondfähre. Sadly I never got his answers.

I’ll start this dig with this blog as there has been a couple of mentions about Die Blinzelbeeren already.

When I interviewed the band The Sheets:

  • ++ Your 1991 release, the “Candyman” 7″ came out in Blue Records. I heard Michael’s (Blue Records) story of how he approached you to release the record. Now I’d love to hear your side! How did this record came about? I think I met Michael on all good concerts around Frankfurt. He saw us playing at the “Batschkapp”, so I thought the man has to have an incredible good taste! There were also some friends of him, “Die Blinzelbeeren” recording a single, at my first eighttrack recordingstudio. That was at my grandparents garage in maybe 1989. We had a nice chat here and there, so the idea came up to remaster some Sheets material and cut this record.

And when I interviewed Olaf from the band Milchblumen FC:

  • ++ Do you think Milchblumen FC would have fit just fine with the lineup of this festival? Were there any festivals along these lines going on back when you were playing? I think so. We had been pure Indie-Pop. Yes, there have been a couple of small festivals, but for German bands only and mostly just for one or two days. I like to remember the Marsh Marigold Weekender in Dresden, truly funny days with little sleep with the complete Hamburg popgang. Great was also a festival in Darmstadt, where I witnessed the only gig of Wind In Den Weiden and met personally pen pals (for the younger readers: that had been something like Facebook) like Andreas Knauf, Olaf Grossigk or Frischluft-Krischan. We played at the Harmony Beat Festival in the Dresden Starclub together with Fünf Freunde, Blinzelbeeren, Ein Warmer Sommermorgen (both Blam-a-Bit) and the Noise-Poppers Honeyloops from Worms. This festival had been organised by our friends from Dresden Trixi and Susi, real Indie-Pop pioneers in Eastern Germany. Memories come up on Rock `N Roll Lifestyle including stage invasion, bloody hands from excessive tambourine playing and Frank Kabs – singer of Twee-Pop-Punks Ein Warmer Sommermorgen – who had fallen asleep amongst beer, potatoe chips and I-do-not-want-to-know-what-else.

So it is clear that Die Blinzelbeeren were an active part of the German indiepop scene. They were well connected and were friends with many of the bands at the time. So what else can we find out about them? Let’s turn our heads to Discogs and check out their discography.

The first thing that Discogs gives us is the band members, Bernd Kabs, Frank Kabs, Jens Remmer, Jörg Zimmermann and Olaf Heinrichsen. Then their first release, the 1991 7″ “Frische Beeren” on Blam-A-Bit (catalog BLAM 004). This EP had four songs, on the A side there was “Entschuldigung” and “Netter Besuch” while on the B side there was “Das Idol” and “Mein Weg Zu Dir”. “Das Idols” was a cover of the BMX Bandits’ “The Day Before Tomorrow”. All songs were recorded at Tanneburger Schafskeller and it says during the summer of 1986. I don’t know if the date is right, that would place these songs 5 years before than the release date. Maybe they were just playing with the wonderful year that was 1986? The cool artwork on the sleeve was done by Felix Bringmann.

Where were they based? According to Discogs Blam-A-Bit was based in Seeheim in Germany. Never been there. Where is Seeheim?
Seeheim-Jugenheim is a municipality in the Darmstadt-Dieburg district in Hesse, Germany. It has a population of approximately 17,000. Seeheim-Jugenheim consists of seven villages: Balkhausen, Jugenheim, Malchen, Ober-Beerbach, Seeheim, Steigerts and Stettbach. The municipality was formed on January 1, 1977 through the unification of the previously separate municipalities of Seeheim and Jugenheim. Until January 1, 1978 the municipality was known as Seeheim; after that it became known as Seeheim-Jugenheim. It is famous for its mountain bike trails to the nearby mountain Melibokus. Seeheim-Jugenheim has been home to several notable residents throughout history, including Tsar Nicholas II of Russia as well as writers Georg Kaiser and Helene Christaller.

Their second single came just a year after. In 1992 saw the light the “Erinnerungen EP” and it also included 4 songs that were recorded in November 1991. On the A side there is “Erinnerungen” and “1..2..3…”. The B side has “Sturheit” and “Schöner Abend”. There are cool runout etches on this record. On the A side it says “Kick a ball or play a guitar!” and on the B side “I really love cheese and onions for breakfast!”. This was Blam-A-Bit 011.

Aside from these two singles the band was to appear on a number of compilations. I’ll try to do it chronologically.

1990: They contribute the song “Keine Hoffnung Mehr” to the Heol Daou cassette compilation released by Katiho Records (Katiho 002). This compilation was released in France and it includes mostly French bands including big names like Katerine or Dominique A. That same year they also have a song on their own Blam-A-Bit Records compilation “Hat Das Schaf Die Blume Gefressen Oder Nicht?” (BLAM 003). The song to appear on this tape compilation was “Picknick “Frühlingswiesen Version”.

1991: The band has the song “Verlassen & Vergessen” on the cassette compilation “It’s All About Love” (SMUF 003) that was released by the pre-Firestation Records label Smuf. They also include “Frühling” on the brilliant 7″ EP compilation “Pfadfindertreffen Auf Immenhof!” that was co-released by Frischluft Tonträger (FRL 005) and Blam-A-Bit (BLAM 005).

1992: They have three songs on the tape compilation “Tonite Let’s All Make Love in Seeheim …Plus” released by Roman Cabbage (GREY 30/X). The songs were “Muh (Remix by The Notorious Buss Brothers)”, “Muh (Reprise)” and “Picknick”. Also they contribute the song “Sonntag (Live)” on the compilation tape “Wegweiser Durch’s Eiswürfelland” released by Eiswürfel Tonträger (EIS-2) and the song “Sturheit (Jezús Mix)” on the compilation CD “He Didn’t Even Draw A Fish on My Shower Curtain” released by Mermaid Records (MIRABELL 001). That same song, “Sturheit (Jezús Mix)”, appears on another Mermaid compilation that same year, “Mermaid Employee of the Month: Gustav Sackmüller” (MIRABELL 665).

1993: “Psych-Out” appears on the compilation LP “Hier Super 12 – Bitte Melden!” that was released by Viel Leicht, Viel Leicht (Propeller 005).

What else can we know through Discogs? We could see other bands the band members were involved with. For example Bernd Kabs was in Mondfähre, The Monochords and The Mazy Fields. Jens Remmer, Olaf Heinrichsen and Jörg Zimmermann were also on Mondfähre. Zimmermann played saxophone in the Gruppe Topos release “Auf, Werde Lebending” while Olaf Heinrichsen was involved in many other bands like Ease Up Ltd, Echonomics and Ska Trek.

I dig for more information on the web. I notice my good friend Alex wrote a piece about their first 7″ on his blog Siete Pulgadas back in 2010. He likes the record all right. He says the name of the band is impossible to translate, that it has to do with berries and he loves the artwork for the single.

I couldn’t find much more on the web about them. I felt that they were a well-regarded band by the German indiepop fans but I might be wrong as I didn’t see much on them written now. Maybe back in the day in fanzines and such. They appeared on many compilations, so they must have been very involved in the scene. They even run Blam-A-Bit. Maybe I get back in touch with Bernd after this post and he answers many of my questions about his label and the band. Do you remember them? Did they play much live? Any anecdotes you could share?

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
Die Blinzelbeeren – Entschuldigung

07
Aug

Another week, another post. I continue being unoriginal, a bunch of indiepop news of today and a forgotten indiepop band from the past. I wonder if this is the right format but I must admit I’m starting to be comfortable with it.

Who wouldn’t want a 4 CD boxset with 41 Jazz Butcher songs? Last week Fire Records announced just that, to be released this October. The box set includes 4 Jazz Butcher albums, “Bath of Bacon”, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, “Sex and Travel” and “Distressed Gentlefolk”. I don’t know much details about it, I hope it comes with a pretty big booklet, but what you can do right now is actually pre-order it from the band’s Bandcamp.

I guess that Jazz Butcher was the main news for last week! Now it is time to continue exploring the bands I didn’t know from Brucey’s last podcast. Many Indonesian bands were included, another sign that there seems to be a healthy indiepop scene there. I wonder how tight-knit it is. Last week I covered Toy Tambourine, this week I’ll start with Beetleflux. This four-piece from Medan is formed by Taufik Ahmad on drums, Fahrin Hartias on guitar, Aulia Nasution on guitars and vocals and Muhammad Ridho on bass. I don’t think they have released anything proper yet, on physical format I mean. Their first LP seems to be available on streaming on Spotify and iTunes. I believe it is titled “Smaerd”.  The good thing, what I’m really enjoying, is their dreamy jangly guitar pop on SoundCloud. There are a bunch of songs, from Bruce’s favourite “Calme Céleste”, which is their latest, to a bunch of demos, and an earlier EP titled “Trailee EP”. The band seems to have been going for years now, only now I discover them.

Another Indonesian band is Lousy Pop Group. This one-man band from Depok who took their name from a The Wake song is on the Shiny Happy Records label who released a 3″CD  titled “The Guy Who Runs the Government has Small Eyes”. On the band’s SoundCloud there are 5 songs, including a “Pristine Christine” cover. The song Bruce recommended on his podcast was “The Ballad of a Powerful Antagonist”. The band is less upbeat than Beetleflux, but makes up for it with melancholy and class. Very nice classic sounding and Sarah-influenced band.

Supercrush Records is another Indonesian band and their first release will be “When I’m Relax” by YawYaw also from the same country. I couldn’t find much information about the label or the band, but this sounds really good so if Bruce recommends it, I will recommend it.

Youth Portal are from Malaysia and on their Bandcamp there is just one song. Sadly. Because I’d like to hear more. The band sounds like early 2000s Swedish pop, think Labrador Records. The song that is streaming is titled “Butter Breakfast” and the lyrics are on there if you want to sing along. Not much more information about them.

Come on, what’s with bands? Why not add which city are they from? the band members? what’s the mystery?

I’m not a 100% sure if the people behind Sky Faction are the same people behind Starry Eyed Cadet but I want to think this is true. There is just one demo song on their Bandcamp and it is so so pretty. The song is titled “No One Else” and I believe it will be part of a 5 song EP this summer. The band is based in Oakland/San Francisco and what hints me to the Starry Eyed connection is that the song was engineered by Ron Songco, who of course is part of that blissful indiepop band that dazzled us a couple of years ago at NYC Popfest.

The last band I was to discover through the podcast was the Sydney, Australia, band Sachet. They have a new album out, an LP on proper vinyl titled “Portion Control” that was just released. Well, actually they have a digital single, “Grateful Dad” as their newest release, but I’ll think of the album as their latest as it is actually a physical release. The band has been uploading stuff since 2015, so there’s a lot here for me to explore. I start though with the song “Tinnitus” which opens their latest album and it sounds real fine.

—————————————–

I’m trying to democratize the blog, not cover English bands post after post. I can’t be too original, what could I post after a Japanese and Swedish band? An Australian band? Sure, that’s a good idea. A German band? Of course. But maybe those for next time? Now I want to investigate the life and death of The Wild Indians from Edinburgh, Scotland.

Once again, I don’t own any of their three releases. That makes them more mysterious to me. I was at a museum this past weekend and I read something about collectors, about that there is more excitement in the hunt, much more than in the actual object you are looking for. I wonder if it is true. I love the records I track down, I like their songs a lot. But I can’t deny that trying to find information and the record itself is truly exciting.

So yes, why not start with their records? I’ve heard their songs through MP3s and also on Youtube, but I never really looked deeply. I was aware of their two 12″ singles, but I didn’t know that their first release was actually a shared flexi in 1983. This flexi came with the issue 17 of the Scottish fanzine Deadbeat Zine which had it’s own catalog number HAVINGFUN-001. The flexi came on a wraparound black and white picture sleeve designed by Lindsay John and The Wild Indians contributed the song “Stolen Courage”. The other band on the single were Pop Wallpaper who had the song “The Great Adventure”.

There are actually credits on the flexi:
Fiona Carlin – vocals and alto sax
Kay Sheridan – basss
Kevin Low – guitar
Mike Binks – drums

The engineer was Pete Haigh at Pierhouse. The record was produced by John McVay and The Wild Indians.

The next year, 1984, will see the light the 12″ single “Love of My Life”. This song was to be accompanied by two more songs on the B side, “The Biggest Man” and “Maybe”. The record came out on the label Hullabaloo! (catalog HA!001). What is a hullabaloo? It is an uproar or fuss.

I really like the design and art of this record, white and blue, colors I use a lot on my label. On the back cover there are some credits and we see that the drummer might have changed as now it figures as Bo. No last name. Or maybe Mike Binks was called Bo? The record was also produced at The Pierhouse by John McVay and was engineered by Pete Haigh. John McVay also contributed piano on the “Love of My Life”, David Gibson played guitar on “The Biggest Man” and Tony Whelan played drums on “Maybe”. I feel this might have been a self-release as there are no other releases on this label.

Their next 12″ was to be released on another label, Rosebud (catalog SPARK 003). It was 1986, and this label had already released Pop Wallpaper, the band they shared a flexi. Maybe this was this band’s label? Probably. The single “Penniless” came with two more songs on the B side, “We All Take a Tumble in this Wonderful Life” and “Give Up the Ghost”. Now we see that the band is just Kevin Low on guitars and Fiona Carlin on vocals. The rest of the instruments are credited to Myles Raymond on bass, Les Cook on drums., Scott Hamilton on piano & strings, Kay Sheridan on bass*, Bo on drums*, Rhona MacIntyre on backing vocals. Those two with asterisks, who used to be part of the band, worked just on the song “Give up Ghost” which was engineered by Pete Haigh and recorded at The Pierhouse maybe at an earlier time. The two other songs were recorded at Planet in Edinburgh and were engineered by Chic Medley. The whole record was produced by John McVay. Now, who is the girl on the front cover? Is that Fiona?

I find on Discogs two compilation appearances for The Wild Indians. The first one dates from 1983 and it is a live version of “Maybe” that was included in The Deadbeat Tape. This was of course the same fanzine that put out their flexi. Other bands in this compilation were Strawberry Tarts, Twisted Nerve, Burlesque, Sunset Gun, Life Support and Slaughterhouse. The only one I’m familiar with is Sunset Gun. Only 100 copies were pressed for this tape and they were sold for 2 pounds as Vinny Bee, the man behind the zine, points out.

In 1985 they ere to participate on another tape compilation, “Bai-Bang!”. This tape was released in Sweden by the label Res Publika. The Wild Indians were to contribute the song “Bite the Hand”. I have no clue about any of the other bands on this tape which mostly are Swedish like Det Sjätte Sinnet or Njurmännen. Do they ring a bell?

I find a Tumblr post about Pop Wallpaper, the band they shared flexi and whose members Les Cook and Myles Raymond helped them on their last 12″. Sadly I don’t find anything similar about The Wild Indians. Maybe I’d like to listen Pop Wallpaper? I find some songs on Youtube, and they are much artsier than The Wild Indians, less poppier.

Something cool that is related to The Wild Indians is the Deadbeat fanzine. For them I find a website that is updated regularly. Aside from some scan with The Wild Indians being mentioned I couldn’t find any worthy information about the band.

I look for the people involved with the band. I can’t find much. I see that Tony Whelan who played drums on the song “Maybe” had been involved in a band called Trax and later in the fantastic Liverpool band “Care” with Paul Simpson from The Wild Swans and Iain Broudie from The Lightning Seeds.

The curious detail about all of this investigation was to happen now. Do you remember the band Garbage? Yeah, that nineties grunge band? Well, it seems that Shirley Manson, their vocalist, was at some point a backing vocalist for The Wild Indians. I didn’t see her on the credits of any of the sleeves but maybe at some point? Or maybe live?

But there was going to be one final discovery in this whole cat and dog dynamic. I was to find Mike Binks, the band’s first drummer, SoundCloud. And guess what? There’s a trove of Wild Indians recordings. I assume these are early recordings, from the time of Mike Binks in the band, as they sound quite different to the songs on the 12″s. They are a bit darker, closer to post punk than to indiepop. On this SoundCloud you can actually listen to “Stolen Courage”, the song on the flexi. And then you can listen to what I would guess were demos for the songs “Having Fun”, “Dancing as Fast As I Can”, “Call it Jazz”, “Bite the Hand” and “A Problem With Shape”.

I couldn’t find much more about The Wild Indians. I found a Fiona Carlin who is a solicitor in Edinburgh on Twitter. Might that be her? Who knows. What about Kevin Low? There’s a Kevin Low that is an artist who lived in Edinburgh during his youth and now is based in Glasgow. Could that be him? I wonder. But maybe you do know something about them? Maybe you saw them live? I would love to know what happened to them after The Wild Indians, if they continued making music. Would like to know if there are more unreleased tracks, especially from their singles period. Does anyone out there remember them?

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
The Wild Indians – Penniless

05
Aug

Thanks so much to Mark Radcliffe for answering a bunch of my questions and telling the story of The County Fathers! Just a week or so ago I wrote a post on my blog about the band looking for more information and Mark was kind enough to get in touch. The County Fathers were based in Manchester and released just one record, a 3 song 12″ with “Lightheaded” as the opening track on the Ugly Man label. It is a fantastic record but for some reason it didn’t make the splash it deserved. Today Mark continues at BBC 6music and making music.

++ Hi Mark! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! There’s little written on the internet about the County Fathers so this is a great chance for me, and many, to learn a bit more about it. But let’s start with the present, what are you up to these days? Still involved with the BBC, right? But are you still making music? Perhaps writing a new book?

I currently co-present the afternoon show (1-4pm) on BBC 6music with Stuart Maconie and also the Radio 2 Folk Show on Wednesday evenings at 7. I play drums and sing for a seven piece folk-rock band called Galleon Blast (pirate themed!) and I also do a one man show of songs and stories where I play guitar.
I’ve always loved playing guitar and drums equally.

++ You were born in Bolton, right? So how did you end up in Manchester? And what sort of music did you listen while growing up?

I grew up in Bolton playing drums in local rock covers bands and listening to a lot of glam rock like Bowie, Roxy Music and T.Rex. I also loved Floyd and Genesis.
In 1976 I went to Manchester University just as punk rock exploded and so my life and my listening totally changed. I started writing songs of my own around this time and met my lifelong friend Phil Walsmley (guitarist) in my first week at uni.

++ How was Manchester then? From what I see from a distance is that there was such a fantastic scene, with so many great bands and venues. Now even there’s a new box set celebrating the 80s in Manchester. Who did you feel were like-minded bands? And what about your usual hangouts or favourite venues?

Manchester was a really exciting place for gigs at that time and we went to lots of punk and new wave shows at places like Rafters, The Squat, The Factory and The Electric Circus.
Phil and I were in a new wave art rock band called She Cracked who are included on the latest Manchester box set.
Really Joy Division set the standard we all tried, and failed, to live up to. Their records still sound like important historical documents to me.

++ Before The County Fathers you were involved in Skewdriver. How was that experience?

As regards Skrewdriver – this is quite a difficult subject which I have written about before. Before any racist and white supremacist nonsense started Skrewdriver were Phil’s band from his schooldays in Poulton-le-Fylde.
They were just a guitar punk band and later on their singer Ian Donaldson kept the name and recruited a whole new line-up for his racist rantings.
I just helped them out before any of the unpleasantness surfaced as they needed a drummer for a couple of tours.

++ How did The County Fathers start as a band? How did you three know each other? And are you still in touch?

The County Fathers started really as a vehicle for the songs I was writing. John Clayton was a producer at Piccadilly Radio and a good guitarist and I wanted the song ‘Lightheaded’ to have two dueeling lead guitarists and so I pitched Phil and John against each other. It worked really well and Phil would usually chip in with some nifty bass too. We’re still in touch. John works for the BBC and Phil and I had a later band called The Big Figures a few years ago.

++ What’s the story behind the band’s name?

The name the County Fathers – I had been reading about some American elders setting the rules for their locality and they were referred to as county fathers. I liked the name and also we had all three of us just become fathers so it seemed to fit. Many times it was mis-printed as The Country Fathers. I don’t remember us rehearsing much really. It was always intended initially as a recording project rather than a live band although we did later play live a couple of times with Richard Jones and Craig Wolf of The Desert Wolves, who I’d produced for Guy Lovelady/Uglyman – which was how that association came about.

++ Something that I was curious about were the photos on the sleeve. It is like you did the ice bucket challenge before anyone else. What’s going on on those photos? And who is the baby on the front sleeve photo?

About the photos on the sleeve – I found the front cover of the baby on a postcard in a shop and loved it. Again, it seemed to fit with the fathers theme.
then I asked the famous rock photographer Kevin Cummins, who was a friend, to shoot the three of us on waste ground outside his studio near the train station. It was very cold that day!

++ There were three songs on the record, “Lightheaded”, “You Think It’s So Funny” and “Deep South (long version”. If you can, in a couple of sentences, tell me what inspired these songs?

Of those initial songs ‘You Think It’s So Funny’ was the poppiest and was inspired by The Smiths a bit I think. It was about my ex-wife in a very oblique way.
‘Lightheaded’ was really just an exercise is seeing how many guitars we could get on one track. There are dozens on there. A wall of sound. Love it. The words are just nonsense really.
‘Deep South’ was inspired by a film about the KKK. There were a couple of other songs we worked on – the only one I can find is ‘Plain Sailing’ which is about being lost at sea.

++ On this record you worked with Nick Garside. In which studio were the songs recorded? And how was the experience of working with Nick?

So when we got to the studio I would lay down most of the basic tracks on my own with Nick Garside engineering and then we would build up Phil and John’s parts on my basic track.
Nick had a little, dark, quite scruffy studio called Out of the Blue in the backstreets of downtown Manchester, quite a dodgy area, but he was an absolutely brilliant engineer and producer.
Lots of bands used him because he did an amazing job on minimal budgets. He was a real enabler for a lot of musicians in those days.

++ Guy Lovelady mentions in his blog that you were afterwards in a pop band called St Cloud. Was this a similar sounding band? Who were in the band?

So John, Phil and I sort of drifted apart but I stayed in touch with Richard the bass player and we spent a lot of time backing the Manchester pop comedian Frank Sidebottom.
in that band was a really lovely guy called Michael Taylor who is not only a wonderfully atmospheric guitarist but also a great artist and designer.
The three of us then started to write more songs which I considered to be the next stage of The County Fathers although we were thinking of the names St.Cloud and Deep Blue Day too.
I think the only gigs we did might have been under the name St.Cloud but with my voice and words to the fore it was very much County Fathers part two for me.

++ There were many songs recorded by the band that didn’t get to be released as Guy mentions on his blog. He says there is a CD with a bunch of recordings. How many unreleased songs are there?

We recorded at the famous Strawberry Studios in Stockport where 10cc did all their stuff and also where Joy Division did ‘Unknown Pleasures’.
The engineer was another brilliant guy called Steve Robertshaw who I knew from the BBC. Sadly he died in a glider accident a few years later. A tragedy.
We also recorded at a studio in central Manchester called Startrack with another gifted, if bonkers, engineer called Royston Hollyer.
I always had the sound in my head but needed great technicians to help me to get there – however it all got a lot easy with Mike on guitar as he just created this shimmering cloud of noise.
I still totally love his sound and it began to shape everything we did. Initially I played the drums but when we moved towards gigging we recruited a really good drummer called David Dunne.
So, of the thirteen songs you can hear on the cd four will be County Fathers Mk1 (me, Phil, John) eight are Mk.2 (me, Mike, Richard, David) and one song called ‘New Secrets Sealed’ was written by me and Mike but recorded by me on my own.

++ Looking back in time, what would you say was the biggest highlight for The County Fathers?

I look back on it all with pride and sadness really. I thought we did some wonderful stuff which I still think sounds great and so that’s what matters I suppose. But of course I feel sad that no-one ever really got to hear it. I still hope that could change. Maybe you will make all the difference by getting it out there.

++ Thanks again Mark! Anything else you’d like to add?

A couple of years ago I recorded again with Mike Taylor and the old magic was still there but again, nothing came of it.
If there was interest and demand I know that Mike and I would come back together and start writing again.
I think the two of us compliment each other perfectly and so there’s lots we could do – especially with another collaborator called Gareth Blazey who helped us out with programming, sampling and all things technical.
There are lots of possibilities there so who knows.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
The County Fathers – You Think It’s So Funny

03
Aug

Where to start this post? Well by what’s most important, the new Firestation releases. At last you are able to hear some of the songs that will be released August 18th on the Berlin-based label. On Souncloud you can now find The Siddeleys’ “Every Day of Every Week” and “Things Will Be Different“, Elephant Noise’s “This Song is Our Friend” and “Remember the Big Time”, and The English McCoy’s “I Connected” and “Give Me Something To Believe In“. Keep in mind that these releases are available as both vinyl and CD but Elephant Noise which will only be available on CD. You can order directly from the label.

My favourite band from Estonia, Pia Fraus, is back with a new album titled “Field Ceremony”. Some of the songs are available now to stream on the label Seksound’s Bandcamp. You can check out 3 songs out of 10, them being “Autumn Winds”, “Mountain Trip Guide” and “That’s Not All.” The album is being released on both vinyl and CD formats by Seksound, limited to 222 copies each format. One important thing to mention is that if you are in North America Shelflife Records will be handling your order.

Speaking of Shelflife, because I’ve noticed I need a bunch of their new releases, there was an album silently released on July 21st. She Sir, the dreamy band from Austin who I knew through Happy Prince Records, have released their sophomore album titled “Rival Island” on Ed’s label. On Soundcloud you can actually stream the whole thing but only through Shelflife’s site, and it is really pretty! I need to catch up!! I also need the Star Tropics album which came not so long ago. Remember I was complaining there was no place to listen to the new songs by the Chicago band? Well there are plenty on Soundcloud now.

This week I saw some friends recommending the Glasgow band Marble Gods. Me, as a curious person, went to their Bandcamp and checked them out. And I really really liked them. Even though to me their sound sounds more like American indiepop of the 90s than Glaswegian indiepop, this is thoroughly enjoyable! There are four new songs on this digital EP titled “Songs”. I wouldn’t be surprised if a label picks them up and offers a proper release for them. The songs are “Different State”, “Going Nowhere and Thrilled to Death About It”, “Washing Machine” and “Actors”. “Washing Machine” even has a promo video.

Something that caught my attention, was a photo posted on Fire Records instagram. It was a photo of a new LP by the Television Personalities, a 1990 unreleased album titled “Beautiful Despair”. There is no other information anywhere else. I read on JC Brouchard facebook page that there is a song on the album about Felt. But aside from that…. nothing. In any case this is good news, right?

Now I want to recommend the new podcast by Bruce from Australia. Yes, he has been doing podcasts for a while now, but this time he actually talks on it. He recommends bands, he gives a bit of a background of the songs he will play, and that makes this a much better experience. I had a very good time listening to it and I also discovered a bunch of new bands, some of which I’ll start recommending on the blog in this and next posts.

So just one band this week from the podcast, Toy Tambourine. Bruce recommends the song “Another Rainy Day” from the Sommertraum EP that was released last year by Shiny Happy Records. I don’t know much about the band, though I did recommend them last year on my Sunshower post. Then it only had two songs online. It seems to be a one-man band based in Jatinangor in Indonesia. There are 6 songs on this jangly and upbeat cassette EP, “I’m a Sucker for a Hello”, “Sommertraum”, “Movie Shop”, “Blueboy” and “Another Rainy Day” conform this cassette. This is very very good, and very hard to pick a favourite song out of the 6, maybe “Sommertraum”?

————————————–

Last time I decided that it was time to feature a Swedish band, it had been a while since I looked in depth the story of a guitar pop band from that country. Most of the times I end up featuring British bands on the blog. And that is no surprise, it is a fact that most indiepop bands hailed from there, but I’m also very aware that indiepop is international, that there have been fantastic bands from all over the world but Africa and the Middle East. Even Central America that used to not have any, these days have a healthy scene in Costa Rica. Who knows, maybe in the years to come we’ll hear some great South African or Lebanese indiepop. You never know.

This time I want to explore a band from another country with a long tradition in indiepop, Japan. I’ve featured a few Japanese bands on the blog, not too many like Pastelshot, Sunshower, Pitwork, The Groovy Metal Babies, Hartfield, Livingstone Daisy, Civic, B-Flower, The Time Capsules, Thee Windless Gates, The Philips, Sloppy Joe and a few more. But it has been many months since my last post, so I started thinking which Japanese band has always been elusive to me. My answer was Tricycle Popstar. Why? Because I still don’t have any of their releases and I’ve only really heard 4 songs total by them. Those are enough reasons, at least for me, to want to know more about them.

As it is becoming a routine by now when I write these sort of posts, the first place I look for information is Discogs. It is really interesting how in the last 5 years Discogs has become much more important for us record collectors than eBay. I don’t think I miss much bidding on eBay and losing at the final second. I haven’t bid on there for a very long time. Maybe there are good records there now at good prices. Maybe I should check out. Maybe less people look for rare records there and I could have a better chance at winning. Maybe. On Discogs I don’t have to try my luck, if I feel the price is right I just get the record then. There was something similar too, Musicstack, but then it didn’t have the possibility to see a band’s all discography in one place and even read a little bio about bands sometimes. I think Discogs did it well. It could be better of course. But for now I think it is the place where all of us are shopping.

What do I find on Discogs about Tricycle Popstar. First a name, Masahiro Kodama. Was it a one-man band? I’ll try to find out. I see at least 5 singles or EPs and one mini album. I’ll try to start chronologically, though there may be some gaps. The best place to get it in order is a Japanese Geocities page (Geocities still exists there it seems) with the catalog of the label Behavior Saviour who released a bunch of Tricycle Popstar releases.

The first ever Behavior Saviour release (catalog BS001) came out in 1993 and was a 2 song cassette by Tricycle Popstar. One song on each side, on the A side there was “Take Off Your Afro (Probably Happy)” and on the B side “Look For Something Better”. These songs I haven’t heard sadly.

Their second release was also a tape, it was also the second release on the label (catalog BS002) and had a title: “Japanese Boys Singing… Hmm Ha Ha”. It was also released in 1993 and had the same format, one song on each side. On the A side was “Frank Rain” and on the B side “Crystal Rain”. Again no luck finding these songs.

Third release was again a tape. No surprise tapes are back in vogue these days. I was never a fan of tapes even though the first ever music artifact I bought was a tape. This was also the third release on Behavior Saviour (catalog BS003) and I start to think that maybe the band was running this label? Could that be the case? This release was shared with another band though, The Love Mushrooms has the whole A side for them while Tricycle Popstar the B side. Some other time I will write about The Love Mushrooms because they are excellent, I promise. But today I’ll focus on Tricycle Popstar, and so they had 9 songs on the “The Best Of” tape: “Meet Again”, “Take Off Your Afro”, “Mr Manderine Man”, “Look for Something Better”, “Music, Food & You”, “The One I Don’t Like”, “Your Perogative”, “Passion & Kind” and “I’ll Sail This Ship Alone”.

This wasn’t going to be their last work alongside The Love Mushrooms. On that same 1993 that seems to have been very productive for the band they released another split tape titled “Dynamic Pops for the 90’s Vol.1”. It seems this tape didn’t have a label. Was it a self-release? Tricycle Popstar contributed the songs “Meet Again”, “Slump”, “Passion & Kind”, “You make Me Feel (Early Version)”. What is interesting is that The Love Mushrooms seem to have recorded “You Make Me Feel (In My Room)” which might be just a different version.

And if that was the first volume, that same year both bands decided that it was time to release the second. “Dynamic Pops for the 90’s Vol.2” was again released by no label, on an edition of just 50 copies. Tricycle Popstar was to include the songs “Yaggy Blues”, “The One I Don’t Like”, “Your Perogative”, “Music, Food & You”, “(Still Thinking) The One I Don’t Like”, “Music, Food & You (early version)”, “Mr. Mandarin Man”, “Death of a Frank Man” and “Your Progative (new version)”.

I wonder about these two last tapes, where were they sold? Why so little copies? Was it just for friends? And how come the band was this prolific? Because there’s yet another release by Tricycle Popstar in 1993, a two song flexi! This is actually the first Tricycle Popstar record I was hunting down. That’s because I’m no fan of tapes, this was their first “proper” in my book. The single sided flexi “I Like Curry Rice” came out on Behavior Saviour in 93, catalog BS 005, and had on the B side the beautiful “The Rocking Chair’s Still Rocking”. From what I ‘ve seen the flexi even came with a lyric sheet in both English and Japanese. From it we also learn that the label was based in Tokyo. Possibly then the band was based there too. On the back cover there are credits, all instruments were played by Masahiro Kodama. The lyrics were written by Masahiro and a Mark Davis. The art was also credited to Mark Davis.

The 6th Behaviour Savior release was the Tricycle Popstar mini album. It was titled “Saviour Once More” and had the catalog number BS006. There were just 7 songs in it, “Saviour Once More”, “Take Off Your Afro”, “Moaner is My Cat”, “Misfortune”, “Tricycle No. 9 (live)”, “No Skin Off My Ass” and “Fairy Tales”. I couldn’t find which year this was released. Again the lyrics and design are credited to the same people as in the flexi. There are two guests though on this record, Wendy Brown and Roberto Massaglia on the song “Moaner is My Cat”. This mini album came out in a slim jewel case and as a 3″ CD.

Now the band was to work with other labels, but I wanted to say that Behavior Saviour had been already been mentioned on the blog. This is what I wrote about it when I posted about the Australian band Dreaming Genies who released on the label:
“Going back to the “Joan” CD. It was released in Japan by a label called Behavior Saviour, and it was catalog BS009. This label seems to have been closely linked with a band called Tricycle Popstar, which I barely know and I guess could be reviewed on the blog sometime soon. “

I actually was in touch with the band and they sent me some Dreaming Genies CDs, sadly they never sent me the answers to the questions I wrote for their interview. I wonder how they ended up in the Japanese label. And yeah, since then I was already thinking about covering Tricycle Popstar.

The last release of the band on Behavior Saviour seems to date of 1995. The CD “Apostasy” (BS 012) was released that year but I haven’t found much information about it on the web. Just a SoundCloud page by the user Hacchuum which might or might not be our Masahiro. There are songs which I assume were on the album as they have the artwork for it, “Are You Alright? (Drumless version)”, “The Rocking Chair is Still Rocking”, “Are You Alright?”, “Why Do Rock Stars Break their Guitars”, “Fancy”, “Last Time I Say Good Bye” and “Boyfriend”.This user seems to be based in Australia.

In 1996 a split 7″, shared with Orange Cake Mix, was released by the Blackbean and Placenta Tape Club (catalog BBPTC 25). On this hand-glued sleeve record, the band contributed two songs, “Peach Boys Bed Sounds” and “Clover”. I believe this was the last release by the band.

The band appeared on a bunch of compilations as well. In 1993, which was for sure THEIR year, they contributed “Take Off Your Afro” and “You Make Me Feel” to the French tape compilation “Gloomy Biscuit I”. This tape came along the fanzine Gloomy Biscuit who in this number covered Anorak Records, Reading, Tricycle Popstar, The Sedgwicks, Bulldozer Crash, Budgie Jacket and more.  Another tape compilation on which they appeared that year was the Japanese tape compilation “Let’s Muc Out On Sound” released by Loose Sound (LSCT 001). The band contributed “No Skin Off My Ass”.

Beheavior Saviour was to release in 1993 the compilation “Behave Yourself!” where Tricycle Popstar had two songs: “”Last Time I Say Good-bye” and “Freak Rain”.

In 1994 something curious appears. The compilation “Come All Ye Faithful”, the compilation CD released by Behavior Saviour (catalog 011) is listed as an Australian compilation. Did they move there? That could explain the Dreaming Genies question and the Soundcloud one as well. Anyways, Tricycle Popstar appears here with “Should I Become Brain-Dead” and “Are You Alright”. All the other bands on the compilation are unknown to me but the most-amazing They Go Boom!!

“Going Against Maz’s Advice” was a compilation released by the US label Four Letter Words (FLW 014) in 1994. I don’t think the title is about the Maz we all know from NYC Popfest, so I wonder who this Maz was? I thought our Maz was the first Maz in indiepop! On this compilation CD plagued by classic bands from The Cat’s Miaow to Boyracer, Tricycle Popstar contributes “No Skin Off My Ass” and “Take Off Your Afro”.

Their song “Pom Pom G.I.R.L.” was going to appear on a compilation 1996, Blackbean and Placenta Tape Club’s “Lily’s S’ghetti Factory” (BBPTC 018).

Aside from the band’s discography there is very little on the web. Possibly there might be more written in Japanese. But as I don’t know absolutely nothing when it comes to Japanese it ends up being hard. I could manage with German, Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish and English when i have to find information, but with Japanese well it is almost impossible! So maybe some of you could help me find more information about Masahiro and Tricycle Popstar? About Behavior Saviour? Was he involved in The Love Mushrooms too for example? Was he running the label? Everything indicates that he was. Would love to know what he is up these days.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
Tricycle Popstar – Passion & Kind

31
Jul

It is almost August now and I have a few things to share with you as I mentioned on my last post. I said I had 4 more items to share with you, but actually there might be more. Every day there’s a new thing of course. So let’s get straight to it.

Last week I was recommending the new songs by Stars in Coma. Songs that will appear in the band’s forthcoming album. I shared a Soundcloud link for the second single for the “Escapist Partisans” album, “Ten Years”. Well, almost immediately André Brorsson, the man behind Stars in Coma, got in touch and told me “Ten Years” has a video now. The video is really pretty, it was shot in Portugal, and that makes me excited as Portugal will be the destination of my next vacation.

Dylan Thomas is a band from San José, Costa Rica. Last week I was introduced to their latest EP, “Suceso en la Plaza” through the Latin American Twee Facebook page. The EP is available to stream on Bandcamp, I’m not sure if it is available in any physical format. The EP has 4 songs, “Fuegos Artificiales a la Distancia”, “Últimos Días”, “Suceso en la Plaza” and “Atacama.” The band, who took the name of the Welsh poet, is formed by Jan, Diego, Sebas and Esteba, and aside from a couple of songs they uploaded before, this seems to be their first “proper” release. The four songs are fine jangly guitar pop songs clearly influenced by dreampop and shoegaze. It seems that there is a very interesting scene happening now in Costa Rica, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any new discoveries coming from the “pura vida” country.

Shelflife Records will be releasing a limited CD of Russia’s Life on Venus’ album “Encounters“. I was not familiar with this Russian shoegaze band, so after listening the 10 songs on their SoundCloud I can say that this is pretty good, that Ed Shelflife has done it again, finding obscure gems from who knows where! It seems what caught Ed’s attention was their 2016 EP “Distant Lights”, but then I wonder where he found that too. Or maybe I’m just not on top of what’s happening, I’m the last to know about the cool stuff?  The band is formed by Dima on guitars and vocals, Aline on vocals, Sergey on guitars, Marat on bass and Guly on drums. They are based in Moscow and I definitely look forward to have the CD and play it at home.

I saw Even as We Speak last year at NYC Popfest. It was a gig one can’t never forget. It was wonderful. And I’m glad too that the band is back. Yes! They are releasing a new 10″ EP very soon on the Emotional Response label. The EP is titled “The Black Forest”, and it even has a German (Bavarian) flavour on the cover photography just to keep with the EP name vibe. The EP will also be released on CD and digital which is for sure good news. I know, I know, this is just talk. Where’s the music? Well, out of the 5 tracks that will appear on the EP, one can be streamed at the moment on the label’s Bandcamp. You can listen to the lovely “Such a Good Feeling“, and fall in love once again with Mary Wyer’s vocals, and the band too of course. Great great comeback!

Vasas Flora och Fauna is the band Mattias from Cats on Fire has been involved with for the past few years. The band is a trio actually and even though they have very little information in English, I’ve been following them for some time now. And now at last they are releasing their second album which I already pre-ordered (alongside the Bedroom Eyes one, though it seems I missed their first album, I will need to order that sometime soon!) from Startracks.se. The album is titled “Veneziansk Afton” and it has 11 tracks. I couldn’t really find any place to check out the songs, but because of previous releases I’ve heard on the web I think it should be good.

And my last recommendation for this week comes from England. I received a message on the Cloudberry Facebook page this week with a link to the Gold Needles’ song “Not Tonight Josephine” on SoundCloud. This song is actually the A side of a 50 copies limited edition 7″ released by Exquisite Noise Records. It is a clear lathe cut record with 2 songs, on the B side there is “Eventide”. The band is formed by Mark, Dave and Simon with recent additions of Carl on bass and Justin on drums. They are based in Kingston upon Hull.

And that’s that for this post. Is there any other news I might have missed please let me know on the comment box!

———————————————————-

Cod is the common name for the genus Gadus of demersal fishes, belonging to the family Gadidae. Cod is also used as part of the common name for a number of other fish species, and some species suggested to belong to genus Gadus are not called cod (the Alaska pollock). The two most common species of cod are the Atlantic cod, which lives in the colder waters and deeper sea regions throughout the North Atlantic, and the Pacific cod, found in both eastern and western regions of the northern Pacific. Cod is popular as a food with a mild flavour and a dense, flaky, white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids. Young Atlantic cod or haddock prepared in strips for cooking is called scrod. In the United Kingdom, Atlantic cod is one of the most common ingredients in fish and chips, along with haddock and plaice.

Here’s another band I want their records. They are not expensive, that’s true. The shipping costs might be annoying, but it is what it is. The problem is mostly that I want the CD version of their first album “French Plums” and not the vinyl version. I know, I’m uncool. For some reason for a lot of records from the early 90s it is easier to find the vinyls than the CDs. Why is that? I thought no one wanted CDs these days?

The Cod Lovers. I think the first time I noticed them was thanks to the Neo-Acoustic Guide. Their 7″ single “Best Friend” was among the records that appear as must-haves for any indiepop collector. I haven’t heard about them before. So I decided to do some research. I found out they were from Sweden and that they released on two of the most important labels from Sweden at that time, Ceilidh and A West Side Fabrication. But I didn’t do much more digging. Only today I decided it was time to do some proper archaeology work on them, especially as I’ve rediscovered how good their first album is.

What more can I ask when the Ceilidh website has a good amount of information and it is easy to find. The band had during its time 3 lineups, the first, from 1987 to 1990, being:
Niklas Barwe on guitars and vocals
Johan Hallgren on vocals and guitar
Johan Skaneby on bass
Johan Wallin on drums

From 1990 to 1991 a new member would join the band, Stefan Hubner was to play drums while Johan Wallin would now play keyboards and guitar. Then in 1991 and forward Johan Skaneby was to leave the band and Stefan Andersson was to play bass. I wonder, what did they call each other, there being three Johans in the band?

I don’t know which came first, if the flexi or the 7″. Both date of 1989. I’ll guess the flexi and start from there. It was actually a shared flexi with 4 bands: William, Cod Lovers, Traste Lindéns Kvintett and J Hex and the Scarecrow. It came out accompanying the fifth Sound Affects magazine. The catalog number was SAE 007. Cod Lovers contributed the song “Autumn“. As you can see at this time the band was a bit darker.

Their first proper release was the aforementioned “Best Friend” 7″. It came out on Ceilidh Productions (catalog CEI 013) in 1989. Aside from the band members there are a few of other credits, the cover art was designed by Klas Ahlström and the photography was done by Mauri Joutsenvirta. The B side on the single was the brilliant “Bye Bye Pain.” The songs were recorded at Mistlur Studios in Stockholm by Micke Herrström. The single got rave reviews by Sound Affects and also by Nörrköpings Tidningar. Yes, the band hailed from the city of Nörrköping.

Norrköping is a city in the province of Östergötland in eastern Sweden and the seat of Norrköping Municipality, Östergötland County, about 160 km southwest of the national capital Stockholm. The city has a population of 87,247 inhabitants in 2010, out of a municipal total of 130,050, making it Sweden’s tenth largest city and eighth largest municipality. The city is situated by the mouth of the river Motala ström, at Bråviken, an inlet of the Baltic Sea. Water power from the Motala ström and the good harbour were factors that facilitated the rapid growth of this once industrial city, known for its textile industry. It has several nicknames such as: “Sweden’s Manchester”, “Peking” and “Surbullestan” (Surbulle [sour bun] was a local nickname for the textile workers, and stan is short for Staden, which means The City or The Town in Swedish).

“French Plums”, their debut album, came out in 1990. It had 10 songs, “Mary Gogo Round”, “Pretty Things:”, “She’s So Sad”, “Close 2 You”, “Bye Bye Pain”, “Best Friend”, “French Plums”, “Kill the Time”, “Yellow Pills” and “Love Across the Ocean”. It was recorded at Decibel Studio in Stockholm by Mickael Herrström except “She’s So Sad”, “Close 2 You” and “Kill the Time” which were recorded by Daniel Gese at KM Studio in Nörrköping. The art was done once again by Klas Ahlström. As I said the record was released on both CD and vinyl formats. The catalog was CEI 016.

“Kill the Time” 7″ was to be their last work on Ceilidh. This 7″ included also the song “Waiting for Love” on the B side. It was recorded by Daniel Gese and mixed by Mikael Herrström. It came out in 1991 and had the catalog number CEI 023.

This same year, 1991, the band was to contribute the song “Shatter the Harmony” on the free 7″ EP that came with the New Kind of Kick magazine (catalog KEX 002). Other bands to appear on this rare 7″ were my beloved Stormclouds, the great Send No Flowers and 23 Till.

In 1992 they were to sign with A West Side Fabrication and release their second and last album, “Pretty Things”. I haven’t heard much from this record, just the song “Lysergide” which is on Youtube. I feel at this point the band had changed a bit their sound and style, and even though it is fine, I prefer their jangly approach of their first album. Anyhow, I will also try to track this one. The album was released both as CD and vinyl LP and had the catalog number WE 032. It was recorded at KM Studios in Nörrköping. For this record they had the help of Sven Andersson on bongos, Calle Matsson on congas and Thomas Högfeldt on guitar. Some other credits include Sven-Eric Nilsson on the design of the sleeve, Robert Svensson and Johan Mentzer on photography and Stefan Pettersson as the engineer. The songs on the record were “Out For a Ride”, “Dreams are Dreams”, “Hey Little Sister”, “In Limbo”, “Electra Glide”, “Heart of Steel”, “Don’t Believe”, “Dead Horse”, “Lysergide”, “Glass Baby”, “Angel” and “Reminder”.

During their time the band participated in various compilations. “Bye Bye Pain” was to appear in 1990’s “The Swedish Stand 1990” on Sinderella (SIN 002) and 1997’s “Ceilidh 039 Singles & Vinyls” (catalog CEI 039) compilation LPs. “In Limbo” appeared also on two compilations, “This is a West Side Fabrication” (catalog WeCD 030) in 1992 and “The 23 Enigma” released by Pioneer.

Another song that was to appear on two compilations was “Crossway” that appeared on “Högtalarterror -94″ on Backstage (BACK004) in 1994 and Series Two Compilation Vol 17” in 2009. Also we find the song “High” on the “We;re All Part of a Family” compilation CD on A West Side Fabrication that came out in 1994 (catalog WeCD 073), and “No Hesitation” and “Angel” on the compilation CD “Sista Slaget I Peking” that was released in 1992 by Studiefämjandet (catalog 1001).

Time to keep looking. I find a Myspace, and it doesn’t really work, it doesn’t stream the songs. It doesn’t matter. Then I find an entry for the album “French Plums” on the very good Wilfully Obscure blog. The post dates from 2010 and it seems he had access then to a working Myspace. That way he could salvage a small bio that used to be there: “The band formed in late –88 in Norrköping, a seaport city of Sweden, following a Christmas party gig at the Rockslottet, the leading local rock club at that time. The response was so overwhelming that the lads decided to go on with it. After a few more explosive gigs they soon gained the interest of their friend Ola Hermanson and his record label Ceilidh Productions. The single Best Friend was released, media coverage was soaring and the band played the Hultsfred festival in 1990. In the winter of that year, the album French Plums came out.”

I look into the band members in the website Popfakta. I see that Johan Hallgren was involved with other bands afterwards like Dogstew, Pain of Salvation and Arcana; Niklas Barwe with The Bukks, Plura Jonsson, Tenderbeat, Bloom, and Eve and the Last Waltz;, Johan Skaneby in Honeycave and Interstellar; and Johan Wallin in The Standards, Liverpool, Antique, EKO, 23 Till, The Boppers, The Confusions and more.

My next step is a Facebook page for the band Northern UpBeat. This band was founded in 2012 and it includes two ex-members of Cod Lovers:  Niklas Barwe and Johan Skaneby.

My last stop is the newspaper Folkbladet.se. The article dating from December 24 of 2003 tells me that there was a reunion gig by the Cod Lovers then. It also seems that for this occasion they put out a 100 copies of a limited EP that included the song “World Inside”. This article also mentions a couple of interesting tidbits like that the band played at Hultsfred festival, Latvia and even Spain. Also it tells a bit about their early years, that the band was formed as a joke, a hobby band, that they were just going to play one show in Christmas 1988 and suddenly they became a proper band.

I wonder where in Latvia and Spain they played. If they played other festivals. If there are unreleased songs. Why the change of styles? Did the band members continue making pop songs afterwards? It seems many went into darker sounds. It would be interesting to find out more about them. How was the scene of Nörrköping back then? Maybe some of you remember them? And if anyone have spare copies of the records that’d be nice too. If not, I’ll keep looking for that elusive “French Plums” CD. I’m sure I’ll find it.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
Cod Lovers – French Plums

29
Jul

Sometimes there are news that just get you off guard, they are so unexpected. And that’s what happened when I was to learn that a new Popfest is being organized these days, hoping to make its debut in April 2018. I am already very excited about it even though I don’t know who will play. The fact that the festival is going to happen in Germany is already a big bonus. Yes, I’m talking about Cologne Popfest who the last week unveiled their Facebook page. So far what’s been announced are the dates, the 20th and the 21st of April. It should be ok weather then in Cologne I suppose. I was once in Cologne, many many years ago. I visited the Cathedral of course and went to the Roman museum. I didn’t do much more. I liked what I saw though. It would be great to return. I love pop events in Germany, there’s always such a good energy, and a good vibe too, one of camaraderie. The festival at the moment is doing some promotion at Indietracks it seems, where they have some very nice designed flyers and posters. Hopefully I can get one somehow!

Continuing with unexpected news, there is a new The Siddeleys compilation coming up. Titled “Songs from the Sidings” this is a collection of demos by one of the best bands EVER that date from the period of 1985-1987. The record will be out on August 18th and will be released on vinyl and also on CD. Check out the very cool looking cover where Johnny Johnson just looks like the best indiepopstar EVER at the Firestation Facebook page.

Our friends from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have a new record out on September 1st. It will be titled “The Echo of Pleasure” and because of that they have just debuted a video for the song “When I Dance With You“. The video was shot in London after a breakfast in a Wetherspoons. What can be better than that? Well, the band is touring the US West Coast to keep promoting this new album. For me it has been a while since I saw them live. Next time they play NYC I will make my best to be there.

Also our friends from Murcia, The Yellow Melodies, have a new video out, this time for the song “Life“. The cool thing about this video is that it was all shot at Indietracks. If there was a way to make me feel nostalgic and all melancholic about not going to the festival, even if there were just a handful of good bands, was watching the video. Also don’t forget that the band released a USB digipack (not sure what this is!) titled “In Compilations 1997-2016” not so long ago. This is a compilation of 30 songs that appeared on various compilations, on various labels, between those years.

It seems there are mostly news of friends, Cloudberry-related bands this week, right? Well, here’s one more, this time from Japan.  Our very good friends from Caucus are going to release a new album this autumn. As we have seen in my previous paragraphs, what’s the best way to promote it? A video of course! So yes, Caucus have a new video for the song “Hello“. It is all DIY, we see the band in the recording process and having fun. It feels so long now since we hanged out in NYC when they played Popfest! I hope they come back soon (or I go visit Japan!). At the moment there are no other details about the album, but as soon as I know, I’ll share them with you all.

On the Bandcamp side of things I have noticed that classic band The Groove Farm has uploaded a whole lot of releases there and many of them are rare ones! First off there’s a live tape from “The Western Star Domino Club. February 1987” which was their 6th ever gig. Then we find another live gig, “April 12th 1989, The Garden Of Eden. Windsor“, and another, “Mobstar Pop Frenzy Weekend / Reunion 2001” when they reunited for one rehearsal and one gig. Then three live gigs recorded from the audience with a cassette walkman, “8th August 1987, The Tropic Club, Bristol“, “16th April 1987. Tropic Club, Bristol” and “26th October 1988, The Moon Club, Bristol“. But that’s not all, there is an expanded “Baby Blue Marine” flexi release. Remember that this favourite song appeared on a flexi that came with the Kvatch fanzine? Well, here there are 10 versions of the song, from rare recordings to live versions. And to close with all these rare Groove Farm songs their classic EP, “Sore Heads And Happy Hearts EP” is also streaming with four extra songs from rehearsal tapes and also live from Montpellier Hotel in December 1986. This is really a treasure trove and one can only thank the band for uploading all of this! I feel Bandcamp is the perfect place for these sort of ‘releases’, live and rare, while the proper ones should always be on physical formats.

And that’s it for this post. And you can’t complain, that’s 3 posts this week! I have at least 4 more indiepop news to share as I’m writing these lines, but definitely I’ll cover them on my next post! It is good to have news!! There’s been weeks when it was hard to find stuff to share with you all!

—————————————-

Here’s a record I don’t own, one that is sadly missing from my collection. I hope to buy it soon, when it is on Discogs or on Ebay at a reasonable price. I’m talking about the sole release by The County Fathers, the 12″ maxi single “Lightheaded”.

From Discogs I learn some facts about this record. I must say I don’t know it that well. I’ve only heard one song, “You Think It’s So Funny”, and I think it is brilliant, it is catchy and the guitars chime and chime. What is there not to like? Even the vocals are great. I wonder if “Lightheaded” and “Deep South” are similar. I hope they are.

“Lightheaded” and “You Think It’s So Funny” appear on the A side, while “Deep South (long version)” is on the B side. The record came out in 1988 on the veritable Ugly Man Records (catalog UGLY 8T). The front sleeve is printed in black and white, the front cover has a photo of a baby who is being poured water on top. The back cover has three photos, small ones, for each member who are also being poured water. We get the band members names from there, Phil Walmsley on bass guitar, Mark Radcliffe on electric guitar, keyboards and drums and John Clayton on electric guitar.

The songs are credited to Mark Radcliffe and they were recorded by Nick Garside (who as of late played on the band The Distractions and who produced a bunch of classic records by The Waltones, The Man From Delmonte, The Singing Ringing Tree and more!) and produced by the band. The photography on the sleeve is credited to J.D. and Kevin Cummins. The design for the sleeve to The Great Big Co.

Of course it is easy to figure out things about Mark Radcliffe. Discogs has a small bio: “BBC Radio presenter. Radio 2 with Stuart Maconie as of 2009. As a musician, he is commonly credited as a drummer or percussionist. He was a member of Skrewdriver briefly before their transformation into a neo-Nazi band. As of 2007 plays in The Family Mahone, the Four Counts and The Big Figures a Doctor Feelgood tribute band.” If you want to read a longer bio, there’s of course Wikipedia. Plenty to know about him, but The County Fathers is not really mentioned. It is always about Skrewdriver (probably because of their later white-power affiliation), and the band Shirehorses, which was a parody band. Other band Mark has been involved is the Dr. Feelgood tribute band Mark Radcliffe & The Big Figures. To be honest, I haven’t heard any of the bands mentioned, but I doubt they are indiepop-sounding as The County Fathers.

From other articles, I found an interview with Phil Walmsley about his time at Skrewdriver. Was it in this band that Mark and Phil met? Not really. I actually find an article from The Lancashire Post where it says that “the pair met at Manchester University in the 1970s. Radcliffe says: “I was from Bolton and he was from Blackpool and we were both very into punk rock.”

Mark also wrote the autobiographical book, “Showbusiness: The Diary of a Rock N’ Roll Nobody”, where he retells his attempts at a career as a musician. I haven’t read the book, but I do wonder if The County Fathers are mentioned in it? He also published two other memoirs, “Thank You For the Days” in 2009 and “Reelin’ in the Years” in 2011. Were The County Fathers mentioned in them?

When it comes to indiepop it is important to mention that he contributed keyboards and produced some tracks for beloved The Desert Wolves.

Luckily to tell some of The County Fathers story there’s the blog “The Chronicle of An Ugly Man“. This blog, whose last update was in 2012, was run by Ugly Man’s founder Guy Lovelady. On it there are many stories involving the bands that were once part of his label. Happily there’s a post about The County Fathers and we get to learn a thing or two:

  • John Clayton worked at the time in Manchester’s legendary Piccadilly Radio. He was originally from Lancaster.
  • Phil “Whammo” Walmsley was a top architect.
  • According to this blog post, Mark Radcliffe’s story and the context of The County Fathers is written in the “Showbusiness: The Diary of a Rock N’ Roll Nobody” book. I will have to get this book then.
  • Mark Radcliffe at the time was working also at Piccadilly Radio and even gave The Man from Delmonte a Piccadilly session and booked Black for a pan European Broadcast from The Liverpool Playhouse.

Then Guy mentions that he has a copy of a CD that contains the anthology of The County Fathers recordings plus other quality outtakes from a subsequent pop combo St Cloud that Mark captained. I wonder about these songs. I would really, really, love to hear them. Also, why is this not anthology being released?? Someone know the answer? Anyone heard it?

Guy also shares his personal highlight with The County Fathers he says it “was the Ugly Man Christmas Party in 1988. The joint celebration was held with some local Manchester based fine artists, which sounds quite refined and exclusive but it wasn’t. The evening was opened by Inspiral Carpets, a then up and coming Oldham band, The County Fathers did a set and finally The Man from Delmonte wowed a packed green room. I remember the delight on Mark’s face that night getting to play a full set to a packed and excited audience. It was the stuff of legends.”

A lot of questions about this band definitely. To start why didn’t they release any other record? Why did they call it a day? How many unreleased songs did they record? What songs were on that anthology CD that Guy Lovelady mentions? Were the three of them on St Cloud? I could find some bands Mark and Phil were involved, but what about John Clayton?

Anyone out there remembers them? Maybe you saw them at a gig? Would love to know more. In the meantime, I will try to get myself a copy of the record and the book. I’ll do my homework.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
The County Fathers – You Think It’s So Funny