17
Nov

So very happy, Peru qualified for the World Cup, a party we haven’t been part since 1982!! I need to be in Russia next summer. I dream of it. Getting tickets to the games is going to prove the most difficult thing, but hopefully there’s a way. I’m very excited.

This is also the last post before I head out on vacations! Hope you’ve been enjoying this series of bands from all around the world. There’s been a lot of nice comments and messages especially from people that heard these bands for the first time. Also have gotten in touch with many of them! Some of these contacts have resulted in interviews and some others well, in nothing much. But still, I think it’s been a fun exercise and I still have at least a handful more countries and bands to feature after my vacation.

Having said that, it is time to discover some new indiepop on the web!

The Mallorys: what a nice discovery! I see a heavy influence of The Smiths in the songwriting and the music of this Lake Forest, Illinois, band. Their self-titled album has just been released on Bandcamp and also on home made tapes the band is selling for 8 bucks. There are 9 songs in total, all of them having witty song titles. The credits tell me that behind the band there’s one Danny Robles with the help of Emily Murmun on backing vocals. That’s it. Very talented this Danny!

Dumb Things: more tapes. 2017 has been the invasion of tapes. Cassettes and more cassettes. I have a few and since moving I don’t know where to put them. Oh well. I think I’m alone preferring a CDR as a cheap alternative over tapes. In any case there’s a fine label in Toulouse, France, named Hidden Bay Records that has been releasing a bunch of great records. I recommended them when they put out the Brunch Club tape remember? Well now it is time for Dumb Things from Pop City Brisbane. The band is formed by Pat, Maddie, Adam, James and Andy and they sound really great on the 10 songs of their self-titled tape debut!

Clemente: Daniel Soto from Culiacán, Mexico, goes under the name Clemente. He has just released on November 10th a CD EP on the same-city label Discos en Verano. The EP titled “Buenos Aires Soundtrack” has 6 songs and according to Daniel the songs are vignettes of the time he spent in Argentina. Right now you can stream two of the songs to be included, “Lobby Boy” and “Foto del Mar” and they are really nice, clearly influenced by Spanish bands like Family or Dar Ful Ful.

Sensaciones: Well after discovering this Mexican label I decided to explore what else is in their catalog. And I find this joint project by Daniel from Clemente and Jesús Sandoval from Emma’s House Records and Pure Morning. There is only one song titled “El Eco de Tu Voz” and the sound is not much different to the classy one that I was enjoying with Clemente.

Night Sports: And the last recommendation for this week is the latest release by Kocliko Records from Spain. The 10″ by Night Sports will be released on November 23rd but you can already enjoy the 6 songs to be included on BandCamp. Who are Night Sports? It is our friend Caspar Bock who used to be in Champagne Riot and for a bit on Northern Portrait, who I met just once, curiously in Spain. There are 6 songs of classy synth driven indiepop which would be great at an indiepop party (are there any still?!). I can’t wait to get mu hands on this record. Kocliko keeps surprising with very fine and unmissable releases!

Ok! I’m off to Lisbon for 9 days! See you in a little more than a week!! 🙂

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Our 39th band in this review! Quite amazing, isn’t it? As I said in previous posts I thought I was going to only be able to review around 30 bands, but this exercise has surprised me. I’ve found many new bands from all different corners of the world and I’ve been surprised by their quality. I hope you’ve been enjoying our “world tour” and today it is the turn for Canada. Who do I want to feature? A classic band who I know very little, Cannon Heath Down.

I remember listening to their music for the first time maybe 10 or 12 years ago on Myspace. I can’t remember if it was an official page or not. In Myspace a fan could set up a Music page for the band they wanted. That may sound odd as today that is not common. In any case I don’t know if it was official or not, but I was happy to discover a jangly band that was obscure but sounded brilliantly.

The band released one album during their time and with that album they reached cult status. I still don’t own it. That is embarrassing. I see a copy that is not expensive on Discogs now but it says the jacked has stains. I don’t need it mint, but stains? That is not good for me. The album was released in 1987 on the label Bongo Sunrise Records (catalog BSLP 5866-01). This label doesn’t have any other releases listed. Maybe it was a self-release?

The album had 13 songs, 6 on the A side and 7 on the flipside. On the A side we find “Light Your Eyes”, “Julia Rainbow”, “Je Suis Certain”, “Ma-de-moi-selle”, “Fortunate” and “A Charming Sound”. The B side had “Blue Skye”, “Bone of Contention”, “Having Dreams”, “Not Now”, “Safe as Milk”, “Quagmire” and “Belly Through”. It says that the album included a printed lyric sheet. The cover art has a cool color photo of the band.

The album was produced, mixed and performed by Cannon Heath Down. It was recorded and co-mixed by Cal Stephenson and Tom Ferris at Limited Vision, Coquitlom. Additional recording at Limited and the CHF Mobile. Preproduction at Bedrock Studio, Vancouver, British Columbia (David Osborne and Darryl Neudorf), and The Loving Room, Vancouver (Bill Sherbet and Bayou Drachma). Tape editing by Greg Reely at Mushroom Studios, Vancouver. Mastered at Location Recording, Burbank, California. Type and layout at Camart Studio, Burnaby, British Columbia. Photography: Chris Magnusson. Hair by Cair. Yeah, HAIR.

Discogs also lists one appearance. The band contributed the song “Bone of Contention” to the 1991 double CD compilation “Last Call: Vancouver Independent Music 1977-1988” that was released by Zulu Records (Zulu 5-2).

This song, “Bone of Contention”, actually had a promo video which is available on Youtube. It was the only video they made.

I find the website for the Museum of Canadian Music. This museum, based in Calgary, says that has the most comprehensive catalogue of more than 100 years of Canadian sound recordings. In this website I find a bunch of interesting information about the band.

The band was formed by Jeff Hay-Roe on guitar and vocals, Christopher Davenport on drums, Jonathan Brotherton on vocals and guitar and Cameron Brown on bass and they were based in Vancouver. The whole band lived together in a house in East Vancouver, Jon, Frank and Cam on the upper floor while Jeff and his wife Jacquie (and eventually their first daughter too) on the first floor. They had many cats.

Before being Cannon Heath Down the band was called The 5th of November. At that time only Jeff and Cam were in the band. Another friend of theirs, Rod, was the other member. Then they changed the name of the band to Bayou Drachma and during this period they used French names to call themselves, Pierre, Henri, Guy and Luc, all with the same last name, Lafleur. Later they would change their name to Cannon Heath Down after the book Watership Down which none of the members had read at the time.

Jon joined the band after seeing an advert for a drummer. In the end he didn’t end up being the drummer of the band, that was Frank. Now, who is Frank? I suppose that would be Christopher Davenport.

They also mention some bands they opened for like Grapes of Wrath, 54-40, Game Theory and the brilliant The Water Walk.

Another blog that wrote about them before me was the very fine Wilfully Obscure. Here he mentions a very interesting detail, that the band released in 1989 a tape titled “Peace Bum Days”. What was on it?!

To my surprise my search would made me go to Flickr. Here I found another release, a tape titled “Safe a Love” also released by Bongo Sunrise Records. There are also a bunch of clippings. On one I find that the band formed in the Autumn of 1985 and in January 1986 the band had already completed their first demo “Ma-de-moi-selle” which was released under the name of their previous band Bayou Drachma. This song received airplay on UBC campus radio station, CITR. The next spring the band started working on a recording project at Nettwerk’s Limited Vision studios. During the summer the band played its first gigs, playing with bands like U-Men, Go Four 3, The Rainwalkers and Stubborn Blood. Then the band went on a hiatus from performing but after their album was released they resumed gigging. It also mentions that the song “Bone of Contenetion” got airplay on CITR and SFU’s CJIV.

Finally I find the tracklist for “Peace Bum Days”. It says this was their 2nd album demo and was recorded on February 1989. What is strange is that says it was only made by Jonathan Brotherton and Christopher Davenport. What happened to the other two? The songs on this tape were “Julia Rainbow”, “Sunset Jim”, “Safe as Love”, “Ten Days for Boys”, “Like a Daughter”, “Deft H.”, “Baby Pool”, “Bright and Funny Too”, “Arms Around”, “Deft S.”, “Green Monkey”, “Je Suis”, “Feel Free” and “Day By Day”. Many songs!

I keep digging on the web. The band used to play a lot at a venue called The Town Pump. Another venue they played was the Commodore Ballroom.

I’ve heard only a handful from their album, but I start thinking that they would make a very nice collection for a reissue. Why hasn’t that happened yet? Maybe it could be a Cloudberry release? I definitely would like to listen to all their songs, but maybe this could be a good idea? I’m just thinking out loud.

There’s not much more on the web. Would be interesting to know what happened to them afterwards, if they continue making music. What are they doing now? Would love to know if there were recordings by their first band 5th of November. I would also love to hear the songs on the “Peace Bum Days”. There’s not much on the web about them, though can actually listen to a few songs on Youtube. They are these lovely jingle jangly songs, just as I like them. If you don’t know them yet, this is a good time to do so!

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Listen
Cannon Heath Down- Bone (of Contention)

13
Nov

Just a few more days for vacations. So needed! But my commitment to indiepop continues, hopefully with at least one more post before Friday. This year I want to finish this exercise of finding fine guitar pop, indiepop, around the world. I think I’m getting closer. Maybe at the end I can do some sort of diagram or graphic of the countries I found bands worthy to be featured here.

But as it is usual I don’t only care for the old, the classic, pop. I also want to find new sounds, new bands, the new generation of indiepop. So here are 5 recommendations to start this week!

For this review of new indiepop I must thank Pierre and his indiepop Facebook group Twee Lovers Club. It is there where I’ve found all of these!

The Primitives: The classic and legendary band has a new video by The Primitives for the song “Oh Honey Sweet”. This song is being included on the 10″ titled “New Thrills” that is being released by Elefant Records.

Math and Physics Club: their label, Matinée, has just unveiled the song “All the Mains are Down” on SoundCloud. This song is the first single from the forthcoming album “Lived Here Before”.  It is a brilliant and lovely by this already classic band who I’ve seen a few times, but never in the US I think! There are no more details about the record, so we can only wait!

The Legendary House Cats: John Girgus from Aberdeen has a new release out on his Bandcamp under this name. There are 12 songs which as the Bandcamp says are a collection of digital and streaming releases by this project. There are some remixes and some covers as well as some originals, and happily it is available on CD.

White Shoes & The Couples Company: the Indonesian band who has been around now for so many years (I remember we featured them on my very very old indiepop blog Mira el Péndulo) has a new video for the song “Hidup Hanya Sekali”. Here they add quite a Latin flavour to it. Or maybe that’s their new style? I haven’t been following them for years now if I’m honest!

Rocketship: the Portland based band has a new flexi disc out titled “Songs from Yorozuya Detective Story”. Yes, these are songs that were included in the movie with that name which I haven’t seen. Have you? The songs which are very very short are “Sisyphus Strut”, “Low Moon in Cancer” and “Low Strings in Cancer”. They are nice instrumentals, though I wish of course they had lyrics. You know me, I need lyrics to love my indiepop. But then, that is just me.

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Approaching the 40th featured country/band little by little. Today it is number 38 and it is the turn for Austria and the band Bicycle Thieves! Don’t confuse them with The Bicycle Thieves from the UK that we covered many years ago on the blog!

I know very little about the band to be honest. I only discovered about a week ago! I was trying to find out fine guitar pop from Austria and it turned out to be a difficult task. I knew of Die Brüder which Uwe had once recommended me and even made me buy one of their albums from a second hand shop in Berlin. But I thought that they were quite popular, not very obscure and you could easily find information about them on the web. So I had to dig further.

It was thanks to a blog called the Austro-Rock-Lexikon that I was going to find out about Bicycle Thieves. I thought their name sounded poppy enough, especially as there has been an English band with that name in the mid-eighties, and I tried my luck.

I was to find a treasure trove of press clippings and photos. They all looked very much DIY, in the indiepop spirit. I was sure I was in the right path to finding something interesting. What’s even luckier was that as soon as I searched for them on Google I was to stumble upon their Bandcamp. Now I could listen to them too!

So while I have their music playing I start my indiepop archaeology on Discogs. There I end up finding out that their first record, a 12″EP, came out in 1989 on Moon Records (catalog Apollo 1).  The “Gospel Marmite” EP is perhaps their poppiest, and definitely my favourite of their releases. On it they had 3 songs on the A side and 4 on the B side, 7 in total. On the A side there was “Mirror Man”, “Leaving By Train” and “There She Goes My Mind” and on the B side, “Bullets in My Gun”, “Sunflower Island”, “Down by the Fishes” and “Worms for Breakfast”. I listen to these songs and I think of Flying Nun Records. Don’t you?

On the back of the jacket we see that the band was formed by Ronald Hartwig, Peter Fally, Fritz Hartwig and Johannes Hönlinger. They were based in Vienna and the songs were recorded between January and February of 1989 by Gebhard Sengmüller. All songs were written by Ronald and the extra backing vocals on “Sunflower Island” are credited to Gary Danner. The artwork has these very cool insect diagrams. I like it a lot.

After this release their first album was to be released in 1991, “King Backwards II”. It came out on Moon Records (Apollo 2) and had 10 songs. I start to suspect that the label was their own. The A side had “Joe”, “Applecake Town”, “Belgium”, “God” and “Miriam”, while the B side had “Mesmerized”, “Romania”, “Christian”, “Karen” and “Magic Bus”. Here I see what instruments each of them played. Peter played bass, Michael, drums, Fritz guitar and Ronald guitar too. It says that the LP came with a lyrics sheet. This LP was recorded in Berlin and the art was made by Amina Handke.  On a review of the record their sound is compared to the Postcard bands.

Lastly, in 1992, the second album was released. Titled “The Liquid Dandies”, the 10 song record came out now on a different label, Sacro Egoismo (102). This was a label based in Baden and was around in the 90s. The songs on this record were “Mafia Methods, “The Liquid Dandies”, “Dead Line”, Life on One Leg” and “Gospel King” on the A side and “Stamboul Train”, “Losing My Religion”, “I Swallowed the Spoon (Instead of the Soup)”, “The Fryzas” and “Kafka’s Last Words” on the B side. 300 copies were made of this record.  This record was released after the band had already split. They are actually demo recordings it says, and yes, “Losing My Religion” is a cover of REM, but in a sort of tango.

I keep looking for information and notice that after the demise of the band Ronald was involved in a band called Trelkovsky. With this band he was to release a couple of CD albums. I could find a website for him but everything is in German, and I can’t seem to find different information to that on the Austro Lexikon site. It also seems that today Ronald is making music under the name Diatopia.

I look carefully to the press clippings, see if there is something interesting in them. I see one where it says that the band was around from 1986 to 1991. One that mentions them playing on October 29th 1989 at a venue called Chelsea. Another from 1991 when they played the Termine venue on February 20th.

I see on Youtube a little story on the Franz Bilik channel. Here he tells his experience about finding about the band: “first came across the Bicycle Thieves when Rainer Springenschmied mentioned them in an episode of the Punkerecke in FM4 (which was about a million times better than this travesty called “Basement Show” by the way) when he asked Panza if he paid attention to any of the bands after the first wave of Austrian punk bands and mentioned the Bicycle Thieves as an example. The Bicycle Thieves existed from 1987 to 1992. Musicwise they had a British post-punk influence going on with a lot of jangling guitars and hushed vocals. And while I definitely wouldn’t call the Bicycle Thieves punk in a musical way they certainly had a bit of the DIY spirit to them as well as releasing a record on the Viennese punk label Sacro Egoismo. After their split in 1992 guitarist/vocalist Roland Hartwig and drummer Michael Peter formed the experimental outfit Trelkovsky, who you can also hear on this channel.

I start to wonder if they appeared on any compilations. I couldn’t find any. Nor if the other members of the band were involved with other bands. What did Fritz or Peter do afterwards?

This is definitely the first time I mention an Austrian band on the blog, perhaps there are Austrian readers and can help. What else do you know about them?

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Listen
Bicycle Thieves – Leaving By Trains

10
Nov

Just one more week before going to Portugal! Yes, next Friday I’m off. Will be returning on the 27, so any orders placed after the 16 will be posted on the 28th. But any orders placed before the 16 will be posted this week. Promise.

There are still many more discoveries and recommendations while we patiently wait for the My Light Shines For You! 7″. Also very soon I’ll be announcing the next release on the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen, so keep reading the blog.

Youthcomics: I know about nothing about this Kyoto band. The thing I know is that they are releasing a tape on November 11th on the very very fine label Miles Apart Records from Japan. The limited edition cassette is titled “Shower of 411 sec.” and I don’t know how many songs it will include. The only certainty is that the song “Youth In Our Backyards”, which I’m loving now on SoundCloud will be included. It seems that Japan doesn’t stop producing superb guitar pop these days!

Sound and Fury: the Chengdu band who I was raving not so long ago on the blog signed to Boring Productions. With the label, which our friend Jovi runs, the band will be releasing an album titled “Sprout” on November 24th. Now they are promoting it with a video for the song “Honey Knows” which is brilliant! I think this might be one of my favourite Chinese bands ever. And I want to visit Chengdu someday too.

Corrections: I have to thank Rich Farnell for posting this band on his Facebook, that’s how I discovered this Queensland, Australia combo. I think what caught my attention was that Rich described their drum machine a bit like The Field Mice. “Idolatry” is the name of the album the band has released digitally on Bandcamp. Will it appear on a physical record? Who knows. The jangle pop here is a bit darker, a bit post punk, so some songs are not exactly what I love, but sometimes like on “Shout” or “Underground City”, which might be their poppiest, are pretty good!

Salad Boys: another find by Rich. Yes, I keep an eye on my friend’s Facebook pages to find out new music. Salad Boys hail from Christchurch, New Zealand, and what Rich shared was a bit old, a 7″ that was released in November0 2015 titled “Scarce Tracks”, which is a collection of 4 songs of non-album recordings. Their latest though is a limited tape titled “Giving Compliments to Strangers” which was originally released by the band to sell during their 2017 tour in Australia. Now it has been released “properly” by Shit Teeth records. The band is formed by Joe Sampson, Ben Odering and Matt Scobie.

I Won’t Have To Think About You: Compiled by Bayu and Moopie: that’s the name of the Australian pop compilation the Melbourne/Berlin label A Colourful Storm is releasing. And what a compilation this is! The bands on it are fantastic, you get The Cat’s Miaow, The Pearly Gatecrashers, Love Positions, The Cannanes and more. Wow wow wow! There are also bands I’ve never heard before on it like The Particles, Ya Ya Choral or Maestros and Dipsos. This is a must order! And actually you can now, it is a bit pricey for me, 23 euros including postage for the world. So if you want to buy me a Christmas gift…

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The 37th band on the Cloudberry Cake indiepop world tour hails from Malaysia! More specifically from Kuching, Sarawak, in Borneo.

Kuching, officially the City of Kuching, is the capital and the most populous city in the state of Sarawak in Malaysia. It is also the capital of Kuching Division. The city is situated on the Sarawak River at the southwest tip of the state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo and covers an area of 431 square kilometres with a population about 165,642 in the Kuching North administrative region and 159,490 in the Kuching South administrative region—a total of 325,132 people.[5] Kuching is a major food destination for tourists and the main gateway for travellers visiting Sarawak and Borneo. Kuching Wetlands National Park is located about 30 kilometres from the city and there are many other tourist attractions in and around Kuching such as Bako National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), state assembly building, The Astana, Fort Margherita, Kuching Cat Museum, and Sarawak State Museum. The city has become one of the major industrial and commercial centres in East Malaysia.

Before finding about them my only knowledge on Malaysian guitar pop was that of Ferns who were part of the Cloudberry split 3″ series. They shared one of our 3″s with the British band The Shandy Express back in 2009. Before that they had an album on Fruit Records titled “On Botany” which is very recommendable. But aside from them, I had no clue about any other Malaysian band making melodic and catchy pop.

Now, because of this exercise of finding indiepop from all corners of the world, I was to be introduced to Nice Stupid Playground or Nicestupidplayground as it is sometimes written on the web. I’ll start on Discogs which has become the usual first stop for finding about bands. There I see that the band released two records. The first one, “My Life is My Parents’ Biggest Television”, was released in 2000 on the label Positive Tone from Malaysia. Even though it was on an indie label it was distributed and published by EMI. The record had 10 songs and they were: “Stereo Girl”, “Girlfriday”, “What If It Rains”, “Ballistic”, “Adult Life”, “Two”, “Nineteen”, “Discouraged”, “Favourite” and “Thank You”.

Their 2006 album “A Beautiful Life” was self released. It also had 10 songs, “Beautiful Life”, “Miracle”, “Happy”, “Chasing Butterfly”, “Telecommusication”, “If All Else Fails”, “Stronger Than Before”, “Closer”, “My Teenage View” and “Because We Are”. Clinton Ang, their now manager, was the one that offered to fund this release according to a biography on Last.fm. Not much more information about these two releases on Discogs, but I’m sure I’ll find more about them elsewhere. But first I want to check their compilation appearances.

In 1996 they had 4 songs on the compilation “Boys & Girls 1+1=3”. They were “Bedroom Window”, “She Wants”, “And I Don’t Admire (The Things That You Do)” and “Bedroom Window (Reprise)”. This release was released by Positive Tone on both CD and tape format (catalog PT 3004). These songs don’t appear on any of the albums.

“And I Don’t Admire (The Things That You Do)” also appears on the 1997 CD and tape compilation “Name of the Game (Malaysia’97 Fifa Coca Cola Cup)” that was released by Positive Tone (PT 3006). This CD celebrated the Fifa World Youth Championship that was held that year in Malaysia were the champions were Argentina.

In 1998 the song “Bedroom Window” was included on the CD compilation “Radio Friendly Songs!” that was released by Pony Canyon (PMCL 0534) in Malaysia. Later in the year 2000 “Stereo Girl” was to appear on two CD comps, “Pheaw! Vol.1” and “They Came From Planet Earth”, both released by EMI in Malaysia.

The last compilation appearance on Discogs dates from 2014. On the cassette sampler “Tales of the Insomniac Raksaksa” they contributed the song “Beautiful Life”. This tape was released by Teenage Head Records (THRRR01).

I start some searches on Google. I am going to stumble upon an old Tripod website for the band. Do you remember Tripod? Those were the days! On it there are some tidbits about their releases. For example “My Life is My Parent’s Biggest Television”‘s name comes from their second demo. The album was recorded at Craze Studio and Synchrozsound Studio between June and November 1999. “Stereo Girl” was the first single the band used to promote the record, and “Two” was the second.

They also mention the compilation “Boys & Girls 1+1=3”. They say the songs they contributed were actually the first professional recordings the band did since signing to the label Positive Tone. Bedroom Window was the first single from the album and the song itself lifted Nice Stupid Playground’s name at the local music scene when it was handpicked by a Hong Kong movie producer to be featured as a soundtrack song in this Holywood movie called “The Chinese Box” starred Jeremy Irons and Gong Li. This Boys & Girls album also won the Best English Album at the AIM Awards in 1997 and the album achieved a double platinum in the same year.

Listed here is also the demo “…Of Course We Didn’t” that was released in 1992. This demo was released in 1992 and was actually a sort of split demo with the band Mr. Wilson’s Garden, a side-project Charles fronted alongside Mady and Andy from Faded Face. Hmm, would love to hear the songs by this other band. Also we know have some names. Let’s keep digging.

The second demo, as I mentioned earlier, was titled “My Life is My Parents Biggest TV”. This tape came out in 1994 and was recorded at Sutera Music Studio. The songs included were “Shampoo Your Head”, “Drain Dance”, “Do Re Mi”, “My Life is My Parent’s Biggest TV” and “Flu in the Morning”.

The last thing that is listed in this page’s discography is a third demo titled “Thirtyzeroeight” that was released in 1995. They say this was the most success of their demos, getting rave reviews and getting the band signed to Positive Tone after Paul Moss, one of the label’s producers saw their potential. It had five songs, “And I Don’t Admire The Thing You Do”, “Kurt Goes to Heaven”, “She Wants”, “Bedroom Windown” and “Swinging Hair”.

There is also a news section which seems to have been updated last in 2013. It says the band was currently working on their 3rd album. It mentions that this album would represent the band’s first batch of new material since 1997. Wasn’t the album of 2000 and 2006 new material? Strange. Before saying that, in 2007 they were playing with the idea of releasing a Best Of compilation. I don’t think that happened either.

I also notice that the band lists here a few gigs they played, Rock the World in December of 2004 to an estimated crowd of 20 thousand (!!) and also the Band Fest in 2005. Other piece of interesting news is that for their second album the band recruited a new guitarist, Nappy, who used to be in the band Radish Fan/Blue Wagon.

What was I to find next? Guess what, a Wikipedia entry, in English. Here I get the band members, Charles Rossem on vocals, John Boniface on bass, Abdul Aziz on guitar, Nellfee Alwi on guitar and Danny Jopi on drums. Also Adrian Ed is listed as a guitarist. There is also a small biography: Frontman and lead singer Charles Rossem started Nicestupidplayground in 1992; and modeled the sound after a distant early 1980s British rock sound, citing his initial influences as the Cure, the Smiths and The Stone Roses. After several contributions to compilations, their hit song Bedroom Window landed on the album Boys & Girls 1+1=3 which featured their song as the first and main single; the compilation won several awards. After being let go from Positive Tone Records in 2003, Nicestupidplayground continued to tour minimally, offered meetings with fans upon the album release of A Beautiful Life.

The band won a couple of awards, like best music video on the show Video Muzik for “Bedroom Window”, a Double Platinum for “Boys & Girls 1+1=3” and Best English Album by Anugerah Industri Muzik for that same release in 1997.

The curious thing is that I can’t find the video for “Bedroom Window” on Youtube. They also made a video for “Stereo Girl”. I can’t find that one either. There are some live clips and many audio only Youtube videos, but not their promo videos. Why? Maybe EMI doesn’t allow them to be online? Or what?

What you will find though is several bands and people covering their songs. It seems they did make a mark in the Malaysian alternative (and perhaps mainstream?) music.

From the live videos, I can think that the band still plays up to this day. Probably not too often. They don’t seem to have a Facebook nor other presence on the web as a Bandcamp or a SoundCloud. So it is quite hard to know what they are doing these days. I think their latest gig was at a big festival called Rocktoberfest Borneo last October.

I wonder what happened to that third record they started working on. If there were any other similar Malaysian bands? I see the name of the new BorneoPop in some articles, there must have been more bands for there to be a scene, right? I would also love to hear the songs from their earlier tapes. I’ve found some on Youtube but not all. Also would be nice to hear Charles other band I mentioned. There are many questions unanswered, the internet don’t have much written about them but it has been quite a discovery for me to hear these songs coming all the way from Malaysia!

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Listen
Nice Stupid Playground – Stereo Girl

09
Nov

Thanks so much to Alistair Wilson for the interview! Some time ago I interviewed Ali about his band The Legendary Hearts and now it is time to talk about the band that came before, Watch With Mother!! With this band he released only one 7″ and made a promo video. That 7″ by the Edinburgh based band is still on my wishlist, hasn’t been easy to track down. On this interview Ali talks about his new projects, Edinburgh in the mid 80s and more. Hope you enjoy it!

++ Hi Ali! Thanks so much for being up for another interview after the one we did about The Legendary Hearts! Let’s start with the present before we talk about the past. I noticed The Legendary Hearts are back and there are new songs on your SoundCloud and Youtube. When did this comeback happen and what can you tell me about these songs?

I had lost interest in songwriting some years ago, but my interest was rekindled in 2014-15 when I spent 18 months working with a great Scottish songwriter, now based it Brooklyn, NYC, named Freddie Stevenson. He has several albums available and also co-writes with Mike Scott of The Waterboys. Shortly after Freddie headed back Stateside, I wrote 4 new tracks and decided to record them and release them on 2 CD singles, as well as downloads and streams. The first one “Make A Home / Rescue” was released in October of 2016, receiving worldwide radio play and some decent reviews. The second, “Faded By The Sun / Oceans And Small Streams” , released in February 2017, performed similarly well. The songs were influenced by my three children, the area of Scotland where I live and also by the curtains in my kitchen, which had been “Faded By The Sun”…although, at the end of the day, the song isn’t actually about curtains! We also released a “soundscape” entitled “Coney Island Rain” a couple of months ago. Basically its a piece of music rather than an actual song. Videos for three of the tracks are available on YouTube. Search “The Legendary Hearts – Scotland”. Be aware that there are 3 or 4 bands all named The Legendary Hearts! We’re the Scottish ones. The original and best! 🙂

++ And are there any releases coming in the future? Perhaps a Legendary Hearts album?

I hope so. I’ve been talking about doing an album since 1987, but I want to release something I’m 100% happy with, so it may take another 10 years!

++ Aside from The Legendary Hearts, are you being involved in any other music adventures at the moment?

I make my somewhat meagre living from teaching drums and playing drums with various bar bands and function bands. I hope to work with Freddie Stevenson again in the future. I recently played two gigs on drums for New York based, maverick, raconteur and troubadour, rock’n’roller, Willie Nile, in Edinburgh and London. That was a lot of fun!

++ So let’s go back now, because we talked about The Legendary Hearts in detail last time, but before there was The Legendary Hearts there was Watch With Mother in the mid 80s. At that time you were living in Edinburgh, before that you had been in Stirling with the band The Curious Reign, is that correct? But where in Scotland were you originally from?

I’m from Edinburgh but spent 6 years living in Stirling, where I played with my High School band “Graven Image” and then, aged 19, I joined “The Curious Reign”.

++ And another curious question that springs from the previous one is about The Curious Reign. Never heard about them, but did you release anything? Were there any recordings? And music-wise how did you sound?

There are videos and songs on YouTube posted by Brian Robinson, the old Curious Reign guitarist, now based in Canada. Search under his “silverscot 11” channel. I don’t think anything was ever released, but we were invited to support “The Thompson Twins”, before they became a successful chart trio, on a UK tour…at which point our singer left and the band and the tour never happened. We also supported “Orange Juice” once in Stirling and also “Those French Girls” who were also from Stirling and had a deal with Safari Records.
“The Curious Reign” were influenced by The Stranglers, Magazine, Bauhaus and Van Morrison. We had prominent keyboards on all tracks…but we were not synth-pop!

++ So Watch With Mother, how did the band happen? Who were the members and how did you meet each other?

The band formed in 1985 in the small coal mining village of Rosewell, 10 miles south-east of Edinburgh. Most of the 7 members lived there or in the surrounding countryside. A couple were Edinburgh based. They gigged mainly in the Edinburgh area, through the latter half of 1985, and I answered an advert for the drumming job in March ’86, after their original drummer left. The line up in 1986 was Ged Hanley (vocals and guitar), Annette Haig (vocals), Patricia Patterson (vocals), Lawrie Ball (keyboards), Maurice Dudley (bass), Alex Weir (saxophone) and myself on drums.

++ Where does the name of the band come from?

The name came from BBC Television. In the 1960s, they broadcast a kind of “Children’s Hour” strand entitled “Watch With Mother” and featuring shows with characters such as “Andy Pandy” and “Looby Loo”. Kids’ TV for the under 5s basically!

++ How did the creative process work for the band? Was it similar as in The Legendary Hearts?

Ged Hanley wrote most of the material, although we all submitted songs at various times. We took them to our rehearsal room and knocked them into shape rapidly, as we were always gigging and were keen to get new material out there fast.

++ And which bands would you say influenced the sound of Watch With Mother?

Quite honestly, everything we’d ever heard. From Killing Joke to Neil Diamond. From Half Man Half Biscuit to Simon & Garfunkel.

++ The 7″ was released by the label “Surfin’ Pict” which was your own and we talked a bit about it last time, but this time I was wondering who came up with the awesome logo for the label?

I designed that label whilst working as a city planning assistant in Edinburgh and drew it whilst sitting at my desk instead of working!

++ The 7″ had 2 songs, “Suzanne” and “Something So Wonderful”. Was wondering if you could tell me the story behind these songs? Was Suzanne a real person perhaps?

You’d need to ask Ged wherever he is. He wrote them and I guess there’s a little bit of fact and fiction contained within each. “Suzanne” was meant to be the B-side but was flipped around at the last minute.

++ The two songs on the single were recorded at Frontline Studio by Paddy O’Connel. What do you remember from the recording session? Any anecdotes that you could share?

Paddy had had a hit with “17” by The Regents. I cant remember if he produced the song or was in the band. Later, he wound up a few miles east of Edinburgh and set up a studio there. I remember little about the recording session aside from the very early Roland electronic drums I was forced to use which, due to vibrations, made sounds randomly when other parts of the kit were being played. I think they call it “cross-talk”. Really annoying. I wish I’d been able to use an acoustic kit. I think Paddy, Ged and Maurice did most of the production, although we were all credited. It was all so long ago!

++ The record sleeve has a very cool photograph that was taken by Louise McKay. Do you happen to know where is the location of that place?

Yes. The photo was taken outside The Usher Hall, a beautiful concert venue, on Edinburgh’s Lothian Road.

++ What is very cool is that a promo video for “Suzanne” was made. How did that go? Was it aired a lot on TV? And how was the experience of making it?

It was a fun video to make, although I don’t recall it ever being aired on TV. I remember we tied a double bed to the roof of our van to use on the video shoot. When we got to the studio, the bed was gone. We turned the van around and found the bed a quarter of a mile away, in the middle of a road in central Edinburgh, obstructing the traffic!

++ I see on Discogs that a song called “Sleeping” by Watch With Mother appeared on a 1981 compilation titled “In Colour/Music By Numbers”. I’m guessing this is a different band with the same name, do you know what is this about?

No, that was not us.

++ And was there any compilation appearances by the band or not?

Not that I can recall. We gigged hard, but didn’t do loads of recording. I recall a few sessions, at one of which we recorded about 10 songs in a day. The results were not great.

++ You were telling me that in 2008 you went to the local recycling facility and gave away 100 copies of the single to be destroyed. What made you take that decision!? And how many copies from the pressing are left now?

Yes!…I was moving house and getting rid of stuff and I had a box of 100, possibly even more, original, unplayed, copies of “Suzanne”. I decided that after 22 years they were going to be of no use to anyone, so dumped them in a bin at my local recycling facility. Two weeks later I discovered a used copy selling for $80 on eBay. So technically, I threw away over $8,000 worth of records. Now I only have one left. Thanks for reminding me!!!

++ And how come there were no more releases by the band?

The band started to fragment in late 1986. Ged left, followed by Maurice. We continued for a couple of months with a new bass player and Annette and Patricia took over lead vocals, but my heart wasn’t in it, so I then left and immediately recorded a demo of my own songs under the name “The Legendary Hearts” with Maurice and Lawrie from WWM.

++ Were there any other recordings by the band?

A second single, the name of which escapes me, was recorded for release on Paddy O’Connel’s “Big Noise” record label, but never was released. In fact I don’t think it was even completed. Altogether there are about 20 tracks recorded by Watch With Mother in demo form.

++ What about gigs, did you play many? What were your favourites and why?

I played well over 100 gigs with WWM in the year I was with them. We did one short British tour in mid-1986. “The Jailhouse” in Edinburgh was a favourite, as was “The Cunzie Neuk” in Fife and “The Front Page” in Carlisle, England.

++ Were there any bad gigs?

The gigs were always rowdy and a bit mad. we played a biker bar in West Bromwich, England…Thankfully they quite enjoyed the show…and the fact that there were two ladies in the band helped!

++ Did you get much attention from radio or press?

We got a great, short and sweet review from a gig we did at Liberty’s in Derby, England. It was written by a fella named Patrick Weir and it appeared in the hallowed *NME* in October of 1986. Otherwise we had some local stuff printed and won a Battle Of The Bands competition in Fife.

++ Then what happened? When and why did you call it a day?

The band started to fragment in late 1986. I think it had simply run its course. It was a bit like being in the middle of a firework display. Lots of bangs and crashes for a short while…and then it’s all over.

++ Are you still in touch with the band members? Did any of them continue making music like you did?

I still see a couple of them now and again. As far as I know, all members are still performing and making music and are still based in or around Edinburgh.

++ Lastly, what would you say was the biggest highlight for Watch With Mother?

The NME review…plus a brief reformation to support The Waterboys and We Free Kings at “Pict Aid” at Letham Village Hall in 1987.

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

Not really. It’s all in the distant past now…and I need to lie down now, having been reminded about all the records I threw away!

Thanks Roque…until the next time. Slainte!

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Listen
Watch With Mother – Suzanne

08
Nov

It is so soon that I’m going on vacation. Just for a week, but still. I really look forward to it. Need some rest, so I come re-energized to keep Cloudberry busy! And the blog too of course. Need to finish this world tour of bands, there are still a handful of countries that I want to “research”!

But of course there are indiepop news all the time so why don’t we get into that. That way I leave you with a lot of new music before I’m away. Also don’t miss tomorrow that I’ll publish one new interview!

Doble Pletina: Sadly I still haven’t got around to get the Barcelona band’s last album from 2016 titled “Así Es Como Escapó”. Not that easy to get indie releases from Spain in the US. Sometimes Jigsaw Records carries them, but if they don’t, I need to hope my friends help me. This is a shame, because I really like this band which I’ve seen once in Madrid and once in New York. But I’m not here to talk about how difficult it is to get their records but about their new video for the song “Mausoleo” which has just been released. It is a very strange concept perhaps, but who cares, the music is lovely of course.

The Seashells: Our friends from The Seashells, who we put out their return 7″ last year, have a new song! And that is brilliant news of course if you like jangly guitars, the classic melodies of indiepop, and that Swedish sensibility that we’ve been fans in indiepop since like forever now! The new song is titled “Moments of Being” and it just appeared out of the blue, according to the band to celebrate All Saint’s Day!

For Tracy Hyde: Since I discovered them not too long ago this Japanese band has become one of my favourites from that country. I remember when I wrote about them and I was pointed out that I didn’t do my research correctly, that they actually had an album out! I claimed that they didn’t! Embarrassing! Well, I made amends. I bought their album and has been played a lot on my personal CD player. The news now is that the band has a sweet new song on their SoundCloud titled “Floor”. And that is not the best news. Actually the best news is that this song will be part of a new album that will be released  on the 2nd of November. Well, we are past that date. Maybe it is out already! The new album titled “He(r) Art” has a whopping 17 songs. I look forward to having it!

Dan Dan Dero: The Lima band has been a usual in the blog. In the last few months they’ve released a couple of videos and now finally their debut album is out. It is titled “La Gran Implosión” and it has 9 dreamy indiepop songs. Most of the album is sung in Spanish but there are a few songs in English like “Tangerine” or “Muriel”. I think this is a very fine debut but I’m concerned about it being released properly, at the moment it is only available digitally. Will there be a physical release in some format? I really hope so, as I would love to have it in my collection!

The Hummingbirds: Well, it only says “Coming Soon”. It is not available yet to order. What am I talking about? An LP that will be available on the “Hindsight – A Night for Simon” that will be celebrated at the Factory Theatre in Merrickville. 9 tracks that were never before on vinyl, only available on CD on the “IV Recordings”. But it seems it won’t be easy to get hold of one of these beauties. It doesn’t really say how many copies will be pressed but ONLY if there are any copies left after that gig these LPs will be sold on a first come, first serve basis on Monday December 4th noon Sydney time and only limited to one per person. That means 16 hours less in New York so 8pm of Sunday??? I will need to set an alarm!

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36th! That is the number of countries I’ve featured so far and there are more to come! Now I’m very happy to present a band from Portugal, a country I will be visiting next week!!! I’m traveling for 8 days starting on the 17th! So yes, mark that day because I’ll be on vacations and won’t be able to post any records. So if you need any Cloudberry releases order now and there won’t be any delays!

Portuguese indiepop is not very well known. To be honest there have been only a few bands. On Cloudberry I released a 3″ back in 2007 of a band called Safety Matches. A fun twee-ish band. I lost contact with them so I’m not sure what they are up to these days. I really liked them. Aside from them I knew nothing, so once I asked a Cloudberry supporter if he could recommend me some  bands from his own country. He recommended me the band Jaguar. I thought they were alright, so I decided to explore any connections I could find with any other guitar pop bands. This is how I discovered the DIY label Bee Keeper that was around from 1994 to 1999 and released more than a few gems.

The story says that the Lisbon based Bee Keeper started out as a joke by Elsa Pires, and was about making things happen and about making music fly as far as you want it to go. Against boredom, inercia and foolish jealous competition. Bee Keeper defended a spirit of cooperation between everyone who care. You can do it if you really wanna do it. Make your little riot happen and do it yourself.
Act now, react now.
 
 That text appears on a BandCamp I found for the label, and it is very inspiring!

The label wasn’t only Elsa’s. Luis Futre was also part of it. There is a small story of the label and also the whole discography on a blog post by Under Review, a Portuguese blog that covers indie music. The discography, which I haven’t heard all, seems to be a mixed bag of music. There are all sorts, from indie rock to indie pop, everything done the DIY way. One of the few bands that made indiepop from the Bee Keeper bands was Captain Clown.

Their first appearance on the Bee Keeper catalog was on the CD compilation “This is Not a Damage Fanclub Tribute” that was released in 1996 (catalog BEE020). The edition of 500 copies was divided into two distinct parts. In the first part, 10 bands covered the  band Damage Fanclub. After these, 11 more bands appeared playing their own songs in a sub-titled part “Supermarket Music”. Captain Clown appears on the latter part with the song “Super Red Taxi”.

That same year the band was to release their one and only record, “7 Superheroes in Pink Driven Ambulance”. It came out on a format I’m not a fan of sadly, a tape. I haven’t been able to find a copy of it and haven’t had the chance to listen to the songs. I’m writing this post on the strength of the song from the compilation and in my curiosity of hearing this tape. Maybe someone could help.

The city of Castelo Branco  is a municipality and former bishopric in Castelo Branco District, in Centro Region, Portugal. The name means “white castle”. Castelo Branco gets its name from the prior existence of a Luso-Roman castrum or fortified settlement called Castra Leuca, on the summit of the hill of Colina da Cardosa. The population grew on the slopes of this hill.

The band hailed from Castelo Branco and according to the blog Under Review the band had 3 vocalists who sang true stories and that the band had 3 brothers who were in the band Mammies & Kids. Luckily this blog has a scan of the tape art and here I can find many important details. First the band members, Nuno Valente, Luis Valente and Inês Barata on vocals, Ricardo Mota on bass, Rui Osório and Vasco Daniel on guitars and Renato Jacobetty on drums. The songs were recorded in June 1996 at Estudio S. Tiago in Castelo Branco and produced by the band.

The fun art of the tape, a collage of different cartoons reminds me a bit of what was happening just across the border in Spain, with an interesting pop scene helmed by Elefant Records. Maybe there was some sort of influence. Or not. The tape included just 7 songs which were: “Super Red Taxi”, “Hello Again”, “17 (Seventeen)”, “Little Smile”, “Buzz”, “Friend” and “For Someone Special”.

What strikes me of course after all this information was to read the name Nuno Valente. It rang a bell almost immediately, an easy thing to a football fan like me. I remembered immediately the Portuguese player Nuno Valente that was part of the Portuguese national team in the Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. I’m sure it is just a case of homonymy, but couldn’t stop thinking about it!

I look into the Bee Keeper discography for Mammies & Kids, see what they were about. It actually was a band that was around before Captain Clown. They released a tape titled “Pink Elephant is Gone?!” in 1995 (catalog Bee008) which is said to be influenced by Pavement. I do read on another blog, Braga Parks, that on this tape there was a Tullycraft and a Smudge cover. Which songs? I don’t know.

I start looking for more information about the band members. It is a difficult task as Captain Clown only has the previously mentioned compilation listed. But I do a good search and find that in 2010 Renato Jacobetty played percussion on the band Musgo’s CD album “O Negro de Boumkubé”. Also I see that Inês Barata played violin on a classical record by António Pinho Vargas. Is this the same Inês? I wonder as this CD was released in 1994 before she was in Captain Clown. If it was the same Inês wouldn’t she play violin on Captain Clown?

I couldn’t find anything else on the web. It seems like that era of Portuguese indie is not that well documented. There is barely anything written about that time. I do see that on Vimeo there has been an effort to unearth this music with small documentaries about the Bee Keeper bands. Sadly there’s nothing on Captain Clown, but you can find clips on Everground, Plasticine, Toast, Radioactive Man and Dr. Frankestein. It is said though that the intention was to release a full-fledged documentary about the label in 2012. Don’t know if that actually happened.

Do you remember them? Did they record any other songs? Did you ever see them play live? Would be interesting to get in touch and see if they can tell us the story of their fun band!

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Listen
Captain Clown – Super Red Taxi

06
Nov

A new week and it is already November. I always think of the classic Desert Wolves song, “November”, when the month starts. I guess that would be an interesting exercise to do next month or next year when our indiepop world tour ends. Try to feature a band that had a song for the corresponding month. Could be fun and interesting for our indiepop archaeology. What do you think? Good or silly idea?

There have been some new indiepop finds in the last few days, so I share with you, maybe there’s something you fancy!

Makeout Point: I got an email from this very young Swedish band promoting their fuzzy and upbeat indiepop. They shared with me a bunch of songs and I can see a lot of potential here. They remind me a bit of Joanna Gruesome in a way, they are poppy but also rough in the edges. You can check the video for the songs “Indie Girlfriend” and “My Name is Blank” too. The band is formed by Shiva, Simon, Theo, Alma and Andreas.

Submarino: I recommended the Lima, Peru, band Submarino some time ago when they released their latest EP “Transatlántico” in May. The 4 song EP had as its closing song the very fine “Dominique Crenn”. And now, the song named after Dominique Crenn, a French chef best known for gaining two Michelin stars for her restaurant, Atelier Crenn, in San Francisco, California, has a cool video to promote the record that was released by Faro Discos.

Glass Arcades: always recommended on the blog, Glass Arcades from Cardiff have three new songs on their Bandcamp. Naturally they are great! The one-man band by Anton Salmine has “Underachievement”, “The View From Your Rooftop” and “Home (Videos)” available for streaming now!

Wanpaku Graffiti: there is barely any information about this American band. There is a Bandcamp with two very fun songs and that’s about it. I like the artwork they’ve created for this digital single, with different toys and especially the opening track, “Shake your Ghost”. The other song is the fuzzier “Devil World!!!”.

Girlatones: it is becoming very common to feature Melbourne bands in my new discoveries. There are so many! It is a good thing that they like pop music and that they keep creating really fun music. The Girlatones continue that tradition and have released their first album on Zenith Records on November 3rd. The 9 song album is titled “Fitting in Well” and it was recorded on a 4-track cassette. The band is formed by Jesse Williams, Leah Senior, Tam Matlakowski and Jacob Booty.

Cheap Fantasy: lastly in this review of new cool discoveries here is a band from Minneapolis that mixes boy and girl vocals. That always wins me. More synthy than our usual guitar pop fare, but nonetheless very recommendable and enjoyable. Their latest release was a tape EP titled “Life of Glass”. It includes 5 songs, “Life of Glass”, “Chain in the Night”, “Glisten”, “Ain’t Hard” and “Out of Phase”. The band seem to have been around for a bit lomger, their first release on Bandcamp dates from 2016. But who are they? Are they a boy/girl duo? Or a full-fledged band? Bands should have more information available in their sites!

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When I think of Thailand I think of Smallroom Records. Why? Because that’s how I got introduced to pop music made there. How? It was thanks to a compilation released by Apricot Records from Germany in 2002 called “The Sweets of Siam: A Bangkok Pop Compilation”. Yes. that’s going to be our 35th country and band in our world indiepop review!

Yes, it was through that CD that had a beautiful look thanks to él Design I found out about many Thai bands from the time like Penguin Villa, Groovy Airline or Armchair. One of the bands that I liked the best on it was Death of a Salesman who appeared on this compilation with the song “Spin”.

I was not going to find their songs in Latin script anymore after this hit. Only Thai. And they don’t even have a presence on Discogs. But I do know, thanks to Youtube, that they released one album. I will need to find out more. I do know it was released by Smallroom. But did they release anything else? Perhaps other compilations?

I find on Last.fm a small biography and also an article from the Bangkok Post dating from May 7th, 2003. The bio says: A synthpop duo from Thailand, consisting of Krachai Chattalada (vocals,guitar, lyrics) and Prinn Amornsupasiri (guitar, lyrics). These two young guys have been producing their own songs since they were in high school.

While from the article titled “Till Death Do Us Start” and penned by Yingyong Un-Anongrak gives a lot of details about the band:
First it gives us the real name of Krachai, it is Chaturavidh. Also that the duo won the indie “Best Newcomer” award from the Channel V Music Video Awards. That both of them know each other since kindergarten but that their friendship only happened when they began university. It was a perfect match.

At the start they were a five piece, but for some reason that is not explained they ended up being a duo. Krachai is a master degree student in England but that doesn’t mean they took their name from Arthur Miller’s play. Well they did, but it wasn’t their idea. They hadn’t read it at the time. A friend just suggested it. Then at some point they heard Smallroom:001, the first compilation on the most known Thai indie label, Smallroom. When they did, they got inspired, and excited, they wanted to be on the label, so they made sure the label got their demo. The label loved it, and they offered a release.

My next stop happens to be Wikipedia, but the Thai version. Here I could find the tracklist for their self-titled album, and yes it is all written in Thai. There are 9 songs on it and they were: “เรือชูชีพ”, “สปิน”, “มีฉันมีเธอ”, “เพียงแค่หนึ่งวัน”, “ไปในดาว”, “เหม่อ”, “วันใหม่”,  “มอเตอร์ไซค์” and “รักในสิ่ง”.

I found also another article from the Bangkok Post on the web dating from 2006. On it they write about an October 8th, 2006, show called “Another Sound in the Room”, a concert where many Smallroom acts were to be featured like Death of a Salesman, Goose or Lemon Soup. The writer compares the sound to Swedish pop or twee.

Another link I find is from LAMPtv. They have a video on Youtube of a Death of a Salesman reunion from December 2014 at the Moose venue in Bangkok. The cool thing is that there is English subtitles and we see the duo talking about the band, mentioning that their album was to be remastered for vinyl. Was it released on vinyl then?

I would have liked to find that album when I was in Thailand a year ago. I didn’t even visit a record store in Bangkok. I guess I was just having such a nice vacation that record shopping didn’t cross my mind?! What a shame. But now I’m rediscovering the music of the bands from Smallroom Records and there are a few worth purchasing.

I especially like the song I share here in this post. It translates to “vacant”. I do find some Youtube videos by the band, promo videos. There’s video for “สุขใจ” and “เรือชูชีพ“.

That’s not all, there is a clip from a gig at the Keep On the Grass Music Festival 3 uploaded to Youtube. This happened on January 31st of 2015. Here is another clip from that same gig. There are some more goodies from the same channel. I see the band playing at a train station the song I like “เหม่อ“.  There is a second part for this video where they play the song “มีฉันมีเธอ“.

Then I see a listing on Tower Records from Japan a Smallroom compilation which I can’t figure out the title. On it I know Death of a Salesman had the song “Sook Jai”.

It ends up being very hard to find any more information. Everything is in Thai and even with Google Translate I can’t figure things out. I wonder about if their album was rereleased for vinyl as they intended. If they are still playing. If there are any unreleased songs. I really like when they go poppy and jangly, they can craft very fine songs. On which compilations did they appear? And where can I find a proper Smallroom Records discography?!

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Listen
Death of a Salesman – เหม่อ

04
Nov

Thanks so much to Christopher for the interview! I was aware of Mary Queen of Scots but I had no clue about three recordings that appeared on Youtube all of a sudden not too long ago under the name Pop City Arizona. This was a bedroom project before he started Mary Queen of Scots and I was curious enough to ask him about these songs!  You can now check these songs on SoundCloud too. And yes, very soon a Mary Queen of Scots interview, I just thought it would be the right thing to go chronologically!

++ Hi Christopher! Originally we decided to do a Mary Queen of Scots interview but thought that maybe it would be interesting and go in order, do two interviews and start with the one that came before, Pop City Arizona. Would that be alright? I was very surprised when those recordings surfaced on the internet and shared with Melotron Recordings. Will they be releasing these songs perhaps in a way or another? I noticed they were only mixed this year?

I revisited some old recordings recently and found these songs which were recorded around 1990-1. I thought it would be fun to tidy them up and remix them, and put them on the web. I’ve not heard them for over 20 years. I’m a bit surprised they’re getting this amount of attention! Kostas (Melotron) asked if he could share them on his Youtube page. If someone wants to release them then I would be glad to chat.

++ There is absolutely no information about this band on the web so you’ll have to tell us everything now! But first let’s do some background. You were based in Birmingham is that right? How was it in the eighties and early 90s? Where would you usually hang out? Where did you go check out bands? Were there any local bands that you followed?

I was a uni student in Birmingham. The music scene in Brum was incredible, it had big venues but also tiny ones like The Barrel Organ, Edwards No. 8 and Burberries. You could see practically anything there and for years all I did was go to gigs. I’ve been to so many I sometimes have to think really hard whether I saw someone or not. The Barrel Organ was pretty special, there was a rundown feel about the place but I loved it. It was nice to see Matt and Clare of Sarah there one night with The Field Mice (I think). The Sea Urchins were there a lot, James and Robert were friendly and we used to chat a bit. As for bands from Brum I like, well, there are so many but I must mention Dexys, ELO and Fuzzbox. My most memorable gig was seeing The Stone Roses at the Irish Centre, just before they hit the big time. The Pixies and Throwing Muses at Burberries was also very special.

++ Was Pop City Arizona your first band? Or had you been involved with music before that? Who were Pop City Arizona? Who were the members? Or was it just yourself?

Well, the 3 songs were originally done under the banner of “Red Ochre” and were the first songs I felt confident about. As there is now another band called Red Ochre on Soundcloud I put them out under the name “Pop City Arizona” which I much prefer anyway. It really wasn’t a band as such, just me in my bedroom doodling, nothing was released and I didn’t gig. Having said that my friend Ruaraidh and I did do some rehearsals with the intention of gigging but nothing became of that.

++ And even before the bands, what are your first musical memories? Like what sort of music did you grow up listening at home? What was your first instrument and how did you get it? Do you remember?

My earliest memory of pop music as a child was watching the Bay City Rollers on TV who were at No.1 with Bye Bye Baby. It has a great tune. As a teenager I liked all sorts including The Cure, New Order, Joy Division, early Peter Gabriel, REM (I could go on…). I did share some common taste in music with my brother who liked folk such as Joni Mitchell whom I became a big fan of. My sister played The Carpenters and “Seasons In The Sun” which I’m pretty sure had a (good) effect on me.

++ And what would you say inspired you to start and be in a band?

Back in the 80’s I was very much impressed with people like Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, The Smiths and Suzanne Vega. Perhaps the very first instrument was a recorder when I was about 9, not sure how I obtained it. My sister had a classical guitar which we found in the shed but no-one knew how to tune it – nevertheless it got me and my brother interested. One day a friend of a friend was selling an electric guitar and that was the start. I bought the Billy Bragg song book, it came with a flexi showing how to play all his riffs, it was great fun. I would never be able to play like Johnny Marr but I could vaguely sound like Billy. I wrote to Billy and he was nice enough to respond with some useful advice. I had no mad urge to be in a band… it was more about expressing myself and songwriting seemed the way. Again a friend of a friend played me some of his songs on his Tascam 4-track recorder and I thought that’s the way to go.

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

Well, there was a British TV programme called “The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin” and in it was a catchphrase “so-and-so City Arizona” to emphasise something really good. So if you were having a nice pizza you may say “Pizza City Arizona!!”. It was funny. You had to have been there.

++ Who would you say were influences for the sound of the band?

Would you be surprised if I said Sarah and C86? As for the 3 songs, I guess Brighter’s “Next Summer” flexi did, perhaps, in some small way, have a influence. I also loved The Carousel from whom I pinched some words for the end of “The Girl With Mousy Hair”.

++ How was the creative process for the Pop City Arizona?

Well, it was a lot of doodling really… an idea pops into my head, a lyric or a melody and I think ok that’s interesting, where can I go with that? If it works, the song is written quickly. If it takes longer it probably means it wasn’t any good.

++ I know of the three recordings and I wonder if they were released in any way back in the day? Perhaps as a demo tape that you gave around to fanzines or labels?

I did send a tape of those songs to Pillar Box Red (I think it was them) who promptly sent it back! To be fair the remixes do sound better than the originals. I wouldn’t have put those songs on the web in their original form.

++ The songs I’ve heard are: “Girl With Mousy Hair”, “Seaside” and “Bluebell”. Was there an order to them? And if you don’t mind, perhaps in a sentence or two, would you tell what each song is about?

The running order (to be pedantic) is “Seaside”, “Bluebell”, “The Girl With Mousy Hair”. What are they about… mmm… they’re stories (not necessarily about me) about being overwhelmed with a particular emotion at a particular time, be it love, envy or sorrow. Bottling the moment, so to speak. The listener can decide for themselves.

++ Are there any other Pop City Arizona recordings?

I’m going to have another look at my old tapes, maybe something worthwhile will turn up. There are also plans to record a new song before too long.

++ Did the band get any attention from the press, radio or fanzines?

No, nothing much happened with those songs. Maybe I should I have tried harder. But by then (~1992) I had started Mary Queen Of Scots, so that was taking up all my attention. I forgot about those songs until now.

++ I must ask even if it is a silly question, have you ever been to Arizona? Probably not much of a pop place!

No, but the nearest I’ve been is San Francisco which is quite near Arizona? Anyway I hear it’s warm there!

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Listen
Pop City Arizona – Bluebell

03
Nov

I heard from Grant McPhee who made the great Big Gold Dream documentary and has lately put together the unmissable Teenage Superstars documentary too. He has told me that there are 3 more in production (!!!). This was definitely fantastic news. He mentions that there will be Fast Forward, which will cover the Edinburgh scene of the mid 80s (think Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes, Shop Assitants, Narodnik Records) and it is almost finished, Revolutionary Spirit which will feature the Liverpool scene and Zoo Records and also Anything Could Happen which will focus on New Zealand indiepop. There might be another documentary, a fourth one, but we’ll see. Anyways, that is all great news to me. I’m more than happy to know that there are people documenting the music we love and its stories. It is well worth the effort and we should support if we can! Initiatives like these matter so much!

The Occasional Flickers: finally our friends from Edinburgh who released a CDR and a 7″ with Cloudberry are releasing their 3rd album! Yes, “Sleep and The Time in Between”, has just been released by the prolific Jigsaw Records and you can stream this piece of perfect pop on Bandcamp, or better order a copy of the CD. There are all in all 10 songs.  The band has seen many changes during the years but we see Giorgos Bouras leading the march. Completing the band on this record are Panayotis Baras, Fraser Hughes and Robin Campbell Oliver. Very excited, need to order this ASAP!

Gingerlys: the New York band seems to appear on the blog everytime they sneeze, right? Every song that they have released to promote their upcoming album have been recommended here. So now that the third song of the self-titled album is available to listen I couldn’t stop that trend. So do check out “Let Down” which might be my favourite so far because I’m a sucker for boy/girl vocals. Lovely!

The Seams: first time I hear this Toronto band, and it is thanks to the latest song that has popped up on BandCamp, “Lemonade”. The band is signed to the Toronto label Hand Drawn Dracula and with them they had already released a tape album titled “Meet the Seams” a year ago. The band is formed by Kyle Connolly, Jonathan Rogers, Jesse Mirsky and Simone TB. Their music is just straight up jangle pop in the tradition of early Creation Records or even The Go-Betweens.

Grupo de Inventores: just found this Zaragoza band thinking their latest song was a cover of Josef K. Silly me. Anyhow their song “Sin Ayuda (Joseph K)” is pretty good! I see that the band is formed by G. Inventor, Jorge C., Jorge P., Enrique and Thomas. The band has a few more songs on their Bandcamp worth checking out. Their first release actually dates from January, 2015, and is a digital single for the song “Aislamiento Perpetuo” with its digital B side “Ojos (Ella Arriesga Por Amor)”.

Slowdive: not much to say about this beloved band, so no introductions needed. I just wanted to share the new promo video for the song “Don’t Know Why”.

Bokunofune: got a press sheet on the mail the other day linking to this Japanese band’s new video for the song “Nanamagari”. The band, said to be influenced by the aforementioned Slowdive, as well as by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, will be releasing a new EP titled “Signal Flags” where I suppose this song will be included. At the moment there are no websites to buy their records, but maybe at some point?

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The 34th country will be Switzerland. Quite surprised by all the bands and music I’m discovering by doing this exercise of finding indiepop or in some cases proper guitar pop in many different countries around the world. It has been a true adventure! And There are still many more countries and bands to feature in the coming weeks! The well hasn’t ran dry!

When it comes to indiepop and Switzerland, which bands do you usually think of? Maybe Sportsguitar? Probably Chin Chin? Well, that is my case too. I’m not very knowledgeable about bands in the alpine country. So my search for finding out any more bands started there, with those bands. It was going to be a happy surprise that there was a pop band with members of Chin Chin before they were Chin Chin. That was lucky. I struck gold. Esther and Marianne had been involved in Sophisticated Boom Boom in the early 80s and even released an album!

It wasn’t cheap to order the record from Discogs. But I’m very curious after hearing a handful of songs on Youtube. I thought they were pretty good! Definitely not proper indiepop but fun girl group pop, sometimes even sounding a bit like Dolly Mixture. Who is not going to like that! Now I wait patiently for the record to arrive, but of course I do my little research, see what else I can find about them.

I think it is pretty obvious that they took their name from a Shangri-Las song that was written by George Morton around 1966. A song that came out at least twice as B sides, on the “I Can Never Go Home Any More” 7″ and on the “Long Live Our Love” 7″. They definitely didn’t take their name from Dead or Alive’s debut album of the same name as that record came out in 1984, at that time the band had already been around for at least two years. Now it is also important to mention that around the same time there was a band of the same name in Glasgow that recorded three Peel Sessions between 1981 and 1983. And it was also a girl group. But don’t confuse them!

So who were our Sophisticated Boom Boom? I go straight to Discogs to find out more about them.

Their self-titled album came out in 1982 on the label Off Course Records (catalog ASL-3306). This was an independent label from their home country that was based in Saas Fee, a resort town near the Italian border. Perhaps the most famous band they released was Grauzone. The album has fourteen tracks, on the A side we have “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, “Boom Boom Rap”, “Jimmy Jimmy”, “Frustration”, “Trocadero”, “Beat Girls” and “Numa”. On the B side there’s “Boom Boom A Go Go”, “Dance With Me”, “Number One in the Radio”, “Train to Boyscamp”, “Beat Girls”, “Ready to Dance” and “Out On My Own”. All songs seem to be credited to Ernest Maeschi, a Swiss guitar played and songwriter. On his profile it says he was part of the group. But he doesn’t appear on any of the photos of the record jacket. Were the girls just a front? I start to suspect that. I see that other credits for the songs are of Stefan Maeschi, Ernest brother, as a bassist and Pasquale Isernia as a drummer. I do see two songs where the girls are credited, “Beat Girls” has Monique Sieber and “Trocadero” has Marianne Sunier. All of them seem to have been based in Zurich.

So the girls are also all credited for vocals, Marianne, Monique and Esther. The organ was played by Chiclet and Jürg Naegeli. The saxophone by Rudi “Hotcha” Tüscher. The artwork was done by Martin Byland and Urs Steiger while the photography was taken by B. Kehrli.

There is a line that kind of clears the doubt about if the girls were a front or not. It says: “Backing band is The Sozz without their singer”. The Sozz being the Maeschi brothers and Pasquale Isernia. That would make sense. How did this relationship happen? Did the girls play any instruments on the record? I mean, they did when they were in Chin Chin. Or they were only learning the ropes of the instruments at this time? According to the press release that Slumberland Records put out when they re-released Chin Chin’s “Sound of Westway”, although Esther and Marie-Anne had experience as singers for local band Sophisticated Boom Boom, neither had actually played bass or drums respectively before.

The band appeared at least on two compilations. The first one dates from 1983 and is titled “Swiss Wave Album 2” that was released by the label Astan (catalog ASL 3307). The band appears here with two songs, “Trocadero” and “Boom Boom A Go Go”.  Later, in 2001, on the CD compilation “The Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds” there is this song “Live at the Hellfire Club” that is credited to STT VS. SBB. SBB seems to be Sophisticated Boom Boom. I wonder how this song sounds like.

I keep digging and find a post on the blog Why Do Things Have to Change dating from 2016. Sadly it is one of those blogs that offer free full-album downloads so I won’t link to them. I don’t support that sort of thing. Though on the post it assures that the girl group hailed from Büren. That looks closer to Bern than to Zurich. Is that right then?

I look  for other bands the girls might have been involved. I do find that Esther aside from Sophisticated Boom Boom and Chin Chin was in the band Pull My Daisy. I must admit I’m not familiar with it. I will have to check them out. But what about the other two members, Marianne and Monique?

There is not much more on the web about them. I see comments where a lot of people confuse them with the Glasgow band of the same name. In any case both are quite obscure. Also because of their name most results are either for Shangri-Las or Dead or Alive. So it is hard to dig and find any important details about them. I wonder why did they split and start Chin Chin. If they had any more recordings. When did they start as a band. What was their relationship with The Sozz. And how did they all meet. Did they play many gigs. Many questions, no answer. But hopefully we’ll get to know more about them in the near future!

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Listen
Sophisticated Boom Boom – Beat Girls

02
Nov

Thanks so much to Paul Sullivan and Kevin Lagan for the interview. I wrote about The Chairs not so long ago on the blog and Paul and Kevin were kind enough to get in touch and answer all my questions! I discovered The Chairs with the Leamington Spa series and after I’ve been collecting their 4 records on their own Pink Halo Records, which I recommend them all. If you are not familiar with them, or if you are a fan, I’m sure you will enjoy this great interview! (Edit: This interview was published first on Sept. 15, 2017 with Kevin answers. Today, November 2nd it is re-published with Paul’s answers).

++ Thanks for being up for this interview! How are you? Whereabouts in the UK are you? Essex?

Kevin: Yep, I live in a small town near a river. Its called Maldon and its very old and a very nice place to live.

Paul: I have been living in Worthing on the South Coast since 1998, after having lived in London
for 18 years.

++ And do you continue making music to this day? Are you all still in touch?

Paul: We have been back in touch fairly recently. It’s unusual to find all of us on the same
continent these days, so when we met a couple of years ago it was a rare thing, but a lovely
day.

Kevin: Only make music now for my own pleasure. My son Tom completed a degree in Music and is a Bach of Jazz and can play so wonderfully – I get more enjoyment from seeing home and other amazingly talented young people play. I still listen to a whole lot of music and it’s an important part of my life.

++ Let’s go back in time then, but even way before The Chairs. Like, what are your first music memories? When did you know you wanted to play in bands? Were your parents supportive perhaps?

Kevin: My late mum and my dad (who is still here ) were fantastically supportive of me playing music. So much so, I had a toy drum set at about 5 and then around 13, I purchased a small Pearls 4 piece and played that to death! It fitted in my room at home and mum and dad still live in the same house. You can see the cracks in the ceiling still I caused form all the vibrations! They were / are great parents.

I didn’t know I wanted to be in a band until I started following the Accidents (which I later played in). I really wanted to be in this band, and one day that actually happened!

Paul: My Dad couldn’t have been more horrified. My Mum was quietly supportive as she’d always fancied being on the stage. She was always singing round the house, and I’m sure she was behind us getting a record player. We had something called a Radiogram, which was a combination radio and gramophone, and it fascinated me from the moment it arrived. It came with a small collection of records which, when I consider them now, were fundamental in forming my taste in music. If my memory serves me well they were:
A Hard Day’s Night EP the first one with I Should Have Known Better, If I Fell, Tell Me Why, and And I Love Her.
Kinksize Session EP featuring I Gotta Go Now and Louie Louie. For some reason I didn’t like either of the tracks on the other side and never played them.
Barbra Streisand Second Hand Rose / People. I liked this I thought the words were clever and it was a funny tune altogether. I can’t describe how much I disliked the b side, because I heard it once and avoided it thereafter.
Remember (Walkin in the Sand) / Leader of the Pack by the immortal Shangri La’s. Sound effects, drama and damsels in distress. A potent combination for a seven year old.
Lastly, No Particular Place to Go / Memphis, Tennessee by, of course, Chuck Berry.
There may have been others, but these are the ones I agreed to like.
I suppose that it would have to be The Beatles that made me think of being in a band. They were unbelievably cool, irreverent and hilariously funny and badly behaved in a way that no one my age could resist. My mum took me and my brother to see the film (HDN) and it completely turned my head. We used to mime along to the record with the obligatory tennis rackets and a banjo that unaccountably appeared in our house around this time.

++ What was your first instrument? how did you get it?

Kevin: Drum kit forma small shop in Colchester called ‘Keddies’. It was a kids set but at 5, didn’t need more! I also play the guitar and have had these since around 13.

Paul: My first instrument was a reed organ from Woolworth’s. I really wanted a guitar, and that appeared later on that year for my birthday. It had nylon strings which I swiftly exchanged for steel ones, without altering the action. I had bleeding fingers for a few months until I discovered I could tune it down a half step and use a capo. It was still hard to play but sounded great with a microphone taped inside it and a cassette recorder used as an amplifier / fuzz box.
The keyboard taught me, or helped me to learn, about chords, harmony and music theory. I never took lessons, and I don’t regret it at all.

++ Was your first band The Accidents? Or had you been involved in any other bands previously?

Kevin: No, the Accidents was the first band and I loved the music. When they split and Paul went off to join the Americans, Terry and Mark recruited 2 new members – Max on drums and Simon on Bass. They were ok , but never had the feel that the original line p had. When Paul and Terry came together and formed the Accidents again, I sat in and as I learned all the songs years back, it was easy. I was never the best drummer but we sounded like the accidents. Paul was back playing guitar not drums, and Mark Robins (one of the planets best guitarists) and Terry, well , it had to happen. Trevor Richardson came in after Nick Fisher and we had that sound back. It was great to be involved.

Paul: The Accidents was the first band I joined. I’d played with friends at college, had gigged and done some amateur recording, but when the Sex Pistols thing happened I was desperate to get into a band. I was encouraged to audition for The Accidents as a drummer by a mutual friend, Veronica Peyton, and broke two sticks in the first two songs. I wasn’t a drummer – I just sort of knew how to play. It didn’t take long before I started coming up with ideas for songs, and chipping in with backing vocals.

++ After The Accidents you were in The Gene Tryp and only after in The Chairs. Had you been involved in any other bands?

Kevin: I did record an album I Austal with a 17 year old singer called ‘Charlotte Emily’ and did some gigs which was great. I was able to play in a band with my son Tom who played bass and then drums ion the songs that needed refinement rather than me banging out a rhythm! I enjoyed it, but it was not a long term thing.

Paul: I left The Accidents in 1980 after I moved to London. The whole band was meant to move, but only myself and Nick Smith (bass) actually did.
After a few months of struggling along, Nick and I met Mick Frangou, a drummer, and we decided to form a new band, with me singing and playing guitar. Nick and I began to write songs, sometimes together but mostly separately. That band was The Americans, and we re;eased a single in 1981 called Disney World.

++ What about the sound of each band? How different were they? And how did you end up evolving into The Chairs?

Kevin: Now there’s a great question. The Accidents were very melodic and I felt told naive songs about love and disappointment. Very well crafted songs, wonderful sound and harmonies. ‘Trigger happy’ has one of the best guitar solos in my option! The Tryp was more a wall of sound – cleaver songs, great guitar solos, but feedback and speed and power. Lots of leather and image was important. The chairs were , well, the Chairs”! Early on, lots of jangly 12 string but we got rockier as we evolved. Paul really came into his element with his song writing and penned great songs ofr us. Each band was unique I feel. Love them all.

After the Accidents morphed in to the Tryp, Paul wanted to do more on his own as the front man, and I went along with him as did Trevor. It didn’t mean we didn’t want Mark or Terry but that sound had been and gone. It was time for something fresh.

Paul: The Accidents had started as a kind of cartoon punk band – very much in the mould of The Ramones or even Blondie. We didn’t really do the whole Clash / Pistols/ Jam social comment thing. When I joined we had a few peculiar songs like I’ve Finished With Finland, Life Oh Yeah, and In The Shower which was basically a song about Terry having a shower. It was enormous fun and a bit of a send up. I loved the whole sixties vibe and when I began writing songs for the band with Terry it became much more like beat or pop music. As we evolved as musicians so did the band’s music, becoming eventually much more of a rock band. In 1979 we were wearing sixties gear, sta prest, shirts and ties and we had started recording in earnest. We scraped together some money, from Terry’s dad and from a local guy who owned a farm (Simon MacCready?) and went to Cambridge to record our first single at Spaceward, which was the studio used by The Soft Boys at that time. By this stage we had added a second guitarist, Mark Robins, who forced us all to up our game a little, and Nick Smith had joined as bass player / vocalist.
The Americans continued in the same vein as The Accidents, although, without a guitarist of the caliber of Mark, there were fewer guitar solos and snappier songs. Our listening encompassed Elvis Costello, Squeeze, and newer bands like The Police, as well as the independent guitar pop that was coming out of America at that time: The dB’s, GameTheory and, to a certain extent, Cheap Trick. We also loved Louis Jordan and The Tympani Five.
It was power pop, harmonious, energetic and inventive.
The Gene Tryp was without question a Rock and Roll band. Loud, drenched in feedback and referencing everything from Psychedelia to The Jesus and Mary Chain, stopping off at The Stooges and The Flamin’ Groovies. We also loved Big Star, who I have up til now failed to mention, and who are hands down my favourite band ever. Apart from The Beatles, who are more than a band anyway.

++ I believe throughout these bands you shared the same members mostly. How did you all know each other? How did you meet?

Paul: In order of appearance, Nick Smith I met at school in 1965, Will Kemp, Terry and shortly after Mark, I met when I moved to Colchester in Essex to study Art.
Kevin and Trevor I met in Maldon, and after that I was introduced to Dave Read.

Kevin: Terry, Mark and Paul had been in bands together for years. I lived on the same road as Mark and very closer to Terry. I went drinking in the same pubs (The Queens Head and The Carpenters Arms) and we became friends. Im 5 years younger so a bit of underage consumption was undertaken!

++ What sort of music were you listening at the time you started The Chairs? Who would you say were your influences?

Kevin: Elvis Costello, XTC, Elvis Presley, Blondie , Pistols, Madness, the Jam and the Accidents! All played a big part in my musical evolution. I listen still to all these guys and more!

Paul: I would agree with Kevin – I was very keen on Elvis Costello, but also loved The Prisoners, The dB’s, anything that sounded remotely like The Beatles, anything from the sixties, specifically beat / psych groups from the UK like The Yardbirds, Tomorrow, The Who, Syd era Pink Floyd, The Records, but still also hanging onto my teenage fondness for Roxy Music, Jethro Tull and Yes, little of which was reflected in the music we were making.
I had a fling with Husker Du and The Smiths, loved The Pretty Things, The Small Faces and The Kinks.

++ And who came up with the name of the band? Firstly you were called The Domesday Chairs, right? What’s the story behind it?

Kevin: No idea! That’s a Paul thing. I can only remember us being the Chairs. Its the quote from Lennon, and Paul is the Beatles fan and we liked it!

Paul: Saw a picture in a Sunday magazine and it got me thinking about chairs. I knew it had to be a name that would have traction – that people would find themselves saying three of four times a day. Lennon once said of The Beatles “We could have been called The Shoes” which was the exact mentality I was after, but of course someone had already snapped up that name.
It would have been 1986 which was exactly 900 years after The Domesday Book, so I was tickled by the idea that you could buy this chair to commemorate it.

++ How was Essex then? Or where you in London by then? Where did you usually hang out? Were there any good venues to catch bands you liked? And were there any like-minded bands around?

Kevin: I lived in Essex in the early 80’s and spend time at the students union at Essex Uni SU. Saw heaps of bands, REM, The Icicle Works, Cherry Bois, Aztec Camera, XTC, U2 (at the Lyceum in 1982/3) and on and on – heaps of great bands. In those days , pubs had bands playing and all my mates were in bands. It was a great time to play toilet venues!

Paul: I was firmly entrenched in London, married and working but still devoting all my spare time to music. We would go to see bands at The Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, played there frequently, bigger bands would play at The Town and Country Club, there was The Borderline, Mean Fiddler and The Garage at Highbury.
We weren’t great ones for making friends with other bands, but we did hit it off with a band called The Dilemmas, and I frequently went to see The Prisoners (although they were none too friendly either ha ha), and later The Prime Movers. Last year I got to play with Fay Hallam from The PM’s which was a thrill.
There were a lot of bands playing similar music to ours, and more as it became a bit of a fad. I suppose I would say The Mighty Lemon Drops, Cud, Wonder Stuff and maybe The Screaming Blue Messiahs. We would run into these guys on the circuit until one by one they were snapped up by the major labels. I think we felt slightly aggrieved since our record label was genuinely independent, and what we could see was major labels adopting the trappings of a band like ours but essentially producing a boutique record label for their new signings.
It was an accepted marketing ploy, and a clever one, too.

++ Your first record was “The Likes of You” who you recorded with G. Chambers. I was wondering how was that experience? I noticed he has worked with mainstream names like Robbie Williams. What did he add to your music?

Kevin: George was friend of Paul’s and he was just a pleasure to be around. He smoked a lot too so the sessions were sometimes ‘relaxed’! I was young then and just happy to be in the band and in the studio. He made sure that the recordings captured the essence of the band and he did a great job with what technology we had back then. He added his experience but without stifling how we really sounded. Good bloke.

Paul: George I had met through a mutual friend, and we were drug buddies. We would get together and smoke tons of grass. He worked at the time for Paul Weller and was an experienced sound engineer and all round good egg. We had recorded some demos with George quite early on, so it was an obvious move to use him for our first release.
There is a story about the recording session. We went to a cheap studio in Brixton which turned out to be run by a local gangster. He kept a baseball bat and a saw (!) for protection, as he was of the opinion that the West Indian community were intent on robbing him. I won’t repeat what he called them.
We were booked in for two days. The first morning was wasted as the mixing desk wasn’t working. The reason the desk wasn’t working was because there was a dead rat inside it.
After completing the first day, the proprietor demanded payment, which we didn’t have. We said
“we’ll pay you tomorrow”
He said “No you fucking won’t”
and impounded all our gear. He eventually agreed to take payment on completion of the session, but we had to leave the studio with all our gear in his possession.
George had also arranged for us to do some recording at a studio owned and run by Rick Buckler, formerly of The Jam, which predated this. We recorded a bunch of staff that never made it onto record, like It’s the Only Way to Fly, one of the first songs written for the band, and an early version of Pink Halo, again never recorded properly or released.

++ By the way, how did the creative process work for The Chairs? Where did you usually practice?

Kevin: Paul would write and demo his songs on a 4 track. In the early days we rehearsed in Holloway Road London, and then as we needed more professional sets up, we went to Hackney Road. We always rehearsed all together for 4 hours on a Saturday and then when n we had big gigs, we would often do a Wednesday evening too. We would go to each other’s house and work stuff. We all had an input, but it was really Paul’s band so he led us – and led us well.

Paul: Kevin was pretty succinct in his answer. We used a studio call 313 run by Peter Sellers’ son, and would rehearse a new song every week. Some of them were garbage and didn’t make the cut, but I felt like I had to come up with new stuff so we wouldn’t get bored. Occasionally Dave would present something for our perusal, which was usually shot down by Kevin. He was terrible for that. Dave once presented a song which Kevin immediately described as sounding like the current McDonald’s jingle.
One of our early songs 1862, was outed by Kevin as a rewrite of “There’s a hole in my bucket”. I soldiered on with it regardless and it stayed in the set for years.
I would use a 4 track to record and develop ideas, and many Chairs songs began in this way. The fun part was hearing what the band would do with my scratchy ideas, and I hope I was encouraging. I know I could be extremely precious about my writing.
I still have hundreds of demos of songs I wrote for the Chairs. One of my favourites was a song called The Golden Mile which I later rewrote and used for The Liberty Takers.
Beware, though, a lot of it is crap.

++ This first record had a cool drawing as the artwork and it is credited to the band. I wonder who was the illustrator, the designer, within the band?

Kevin: Paul and Dave for sure. I can’t draw a pair of curtains! Trevor was creative too and his then girlfriend (Claire) was arty.

Paul: We used a lot of comic art, pulp comics mostly, both for artwork and posters etc. The original singles never had picture sleeves. We spent all the budget on the label! The picture sleeves were concocted much later, in the 90’s when we were trying to raise the profile of the band. That’s also when the idea was mooted that we should compile an album (Al Green Was My Valet), which collected all our singles and b sides and some later demo’s. I have I believe the only actual copy. I put together picture sleeves for all four singles but I haven’t seen them for years.

++ You ran your own label, Pink Halo, to release your records. How was that? Was it easy to get distribution? Dealing with the pressing plants? Did you like that part of it?

Kevin: Not really. I enjoyed the live work but didn’t enjoy recording and all the stuff that goes with it” Jim Wallace did most of the other stuff. I just t wasn’t really interested. Jim is owed a lot of credit.

Paul: There was no easy way to get things done in those days – there was a lot of phone calls and leg work. No email, no internet, and The Cartel only came in later. Jim Wallace would shop around for the best deal. We had the first single pressed by Chip Hawkes formerly of The Tremeloes. That was quite a moment for me.

++ And why did you name your label Pink Halo? And what about that design that became your trademark for the labels?

Kevin: Pink Halo was names after a certain part of a woman’s anatomy” nuff said. We wanted a simple but stand out label – always a different colour for each record. We knocked around the art work and all liked the one we used. We all played a part.

Paul: Pink labels meant Island in the sixties, Immediate and Pye records. My original idea was they would all be pink. I’m not sure where Kevin got the idea about the meaning of the name. We had a song called Pink Halo which we were all very enthused about, and it may have been a contender for a single. I know we recorded it a couple of times, once for certain at the Fulham Greyhound, and I’m thinking at the BBC session also. Then we came up with Size 10 Girlfriend and it got forgotten. The first pressing was a cock up. They ran the machinery too hot and the labels got burned. They came out a sort of salmon pink and cream instead of hot pink and white. Many people, Jim included, tried to convince me there was nothing wrong, but at the time I was very disappointed. Anyway, after that we started using different colours to make them sort of collectable.

++ “Size 10 Girlfriend” was your second release and I love this song! Was wondering if in a few lines you could tell me the story behind it?

Kevin: Its about a train journey from Liverpool street to Southend where Paul saw a really hot girl and tells a story of that and many journeys. I liked playing that but it was always one that knackered me as I hit my drums very, very hard!

Paul: It’s social comment. It wasn’t about a girl, so much as the idea that there is a male ideal that dictates what sort of girl is attractive. The idea that you might choose somebody based on their physical characteristics, rather than their, you know, personality. The narrator is an idiot who has misread what sort of girl he is dealing with. We had one or two complaints from people who misunderstood it, so maybe I should have been clearer. Obviously the band didn’t understand it!

++ This time you worked with Howard Turner, who worked with more indie bands at the time. Was it much different than the first time around at the recording studio?

Paul: Howard was a lovely guy, and the experience of recording at a residential place was great for us as a band. There were no dead rats, and fewer blunt instruments. I recall recording a vocal outside in the field. The band was really playing well at this point and we nailed both songs pretty quickly. Cut and Dried remains a favourite song of mine.

Kevin: Yep, he has a very nice place and it was very civilised. It was in Norfolk were we recorded Honey, and we stayed in the cottage surrounded by fields. He had very good facilities only I wasn’t allowed to play my Gretch Kit as it was too lively. I played a silver sparkly thing from memory! Every engineer we worked with were great – all different but great.

++ Your third release, “Honey I Need a Girl of a Different Stripe”, was perhaps the one you had higher hopes with? I ask this because I notice you released it in both 7″ and 12″ formats.

Kevin: Hell yes. We had started to get attention after the likes of you, and then Size Ten. Honey was a bigger sound and people were interested. We decided to fund the12’ and 7’ with picture sleeve. The shirt was one Paul wore a lot and sort of became our image focus. When we were on Radio 1 and Elvis loved it – we thought – we have done it.

Paul: We had received some attention by this point, Steve Lamacq being a staunch supporter, and we had had a number of good reviews, and some airplay here and there. We definitely hoped that this single would make a difference – the difference being we would get some financial support, either through a record deal or a publishing deal. It wasn’t to be, however, and we saw the boat sailing off without us. Elvis was very kind to us and his patronage opened a few doors, but as I say, things were about to change.

++ Your last release, “Crestfallen”, didn’t get proper art, how come?

Kevin: No money unfortunately. I think interest had gone at that point.

Paul: It was orange. What more do you want? We recorded that one with Lance Phillips, who at that time was a sound engineer at AIR studios, then based in Oxford Circus. It was the beginning of a fruitful relationship that continued after The Chairs had thrown in the towel.

++ On the web I could find a couple of mentions saying you were really looking to sign with a bigger label. Was that true? Did you get close to it?

Paul: We talked to EMI, Chrysalis, Arista, Virgin and BMG. They came to see us, we had meetings, Chrysalis gave us some studio time, the A&R people were all keen, but just couldn’t force the issue. I remember The Wonder Stuff being signed at the same time we were in talks with their label. They had a brash image and we were sort of polite and serious. You can see why decisions were made in hindsight. Chrysalis told Jim I was not attractive enough. Makes me laugh now, but at the time it was the death knell for the band.

Kevin: It was our dream to be signed to a major. Paul may say different but that’s the truth of it. We wanted to bring what we had to the millions. I still do – I think the later stuff is greater than the earlier and stands up today. Pink Halo was ours but it was only supposed to be a stepping stone.

++ Why do you think you didn’t get the chance to release an album? Uwe from Firestation Records told me that you had an unreleased one titled “Al Green is My Valet”, what’s that about?

Paul: Being truly independent in those days meant forking out for everything from our own pockets. Petrol money, posters, record production, hiring press agents, stamps and phone bills. We would gig and make no money, so we were all working jobs as well. Getting back from Leeds at three in the morning and then having to drag yourself into work at 8.30 was no joke. I mean, we did joke about it, but it could only go on for so long.

Kevin: We just never had the money to be honest. We paid for the singles ourselves and funded from within. Jim was great and did get some outside cash for demos etc., but we never had enough. I really wish we did have as we would have made one hell of a record.

++ And are there any other unreleased songs by The Chairs?

Kevin: Shit yes! One on the best is Half way up a hill – absolutely Top song. Sycamore ridge was another. I have recording of rehearsals and gigs and a couple of live sets are great. Paul’s song writing pedigree is still top notch. There are loads.

Paul: There are many demos. Don’t Throw it in my Face, Halfway Up a Hill, 1862, Up on Psycamore Ridge, Neck of the Woods, Shakespeare’s Motorbike. There are more I’m sure, but those are ones we played live.

++ From all that repertoire of songs, which would be your favourite and why?

Paul: Either Cut and Dried or Sometimes it Takes a Hammer. Cut and Dried was for me the ultimate conflation of all the things we liked, The Smiths, Costello, Squeeze – it’s a near perfect pop song, clever and a but heartbreaking. Hammer is a song that I literally wrote and completed in a day, and I have no idea where it came from. It’s a political song but it’s not polemical – it’s how I felt about everything at that time in a nutshell.

Kevin: Halfway Up Hill; – because its rocky, powerful, has great licks and interesting drumming. Size Ten, Honey and Daze are close to it though, as is the likes of you.

++ I read that there’s a tape of your first ever gig at the Blue Boar in Southend. Who recorded it? Were copies sold? And what songs did you play? Did you have a big repertoire then or you played songs from your previous bands too?

Kevin: Paul didn’t like playing back catalogue stuff but we dd a few. He was writing for the Chairs so we did new stuff and old. I have a recording of that gig somewhere – its pretty awful I remember!

Paul: We were a three piece to start with – Dave didn’t join straight away, so it would have been pretty raw. I remember we did Neck of the Woods, Only Way to Fly and probably 1862. The rest I can’t recall.

++ What about other gigs? Are there any that you remember in particular? Any fun anecdotes to share?

Paul: I remember playing in Gloucester. That was a good one. It’s funny, I don’t remember the good gigs, only the terrible ones and the associated hardships. We once drove to Leeds for a mid week gig at some pub or other and the publican didn’t know we were coming. He said we could play if we liked. So we had a pint of Guinness and went back to London. We played at The University of West Sussex, and the headline band didn’t show up, so we had their dry ice machine. It was hilarious. We played at The Princess Charlotte in Leicester, and some rough boys in the crowd didn’t like Dave. Dave told them what he thought of them, and they were waiting for us outside afterwards. That led to us carrying a cricket bat to every gig after that. I still have it. Kevin decorated it with pictures of the band.
Kevin was very much the joker. We stopped at one of a string of awful overpriced motorway service stations, and no one had any money. So we all bought tea and toast and sat down to enjoy our food. Kevin came to the table and asked if anyone fancied a sausage, opening his jacket to reveal his inside pocket was full of them.

Kevin: What goes on tour , stays on tour. We did get beaten up in Leicester which was horrible but also quite funny looking back!

++ And what bands did you like that you played with?

Paul: I didn’t like most of them. I did like The Icicle Works, but Ian McNabb was a miserable bastard. The other guys were much nicer. Shirley Manson was in a band we supported called Goodbye Mr McKenzie. I liked their record, and Shirley was lovely, so was Big John from The Exploited.
We liked The Dilemmas, and, as Gene Tryp we had the pleasure of playing with husker Du. They were great to us.
I once met Slade on a staircase, and urinated next to Elvis Costello at the Marquee.

Kevin: The Icicle Works were really great. I liked all the bands really but I preferred the small unsigned ones. Neil Robert Herd was also a great guy.

++ On Facebook, a The Chairs page was created, it seems, mostly to promote a reunion gig, but it never happened. How come? Has there been any other reunion gigs by the band?

Kevin: We realised that we would all be in the UK in August 2015. Paul put up the page but hadn’t asked us if we wanted to play together again. Part of me wanted to , but I and Trev decided that its not going to happen. For me, the memories of the Chairs are precious and were a moment in time. Im never going to play with the guys again – not because I don’t love them, but because time moves on and we are not those people now. Paul lives in Worthing, Tex in NZ, Dave in the Stares, and I lives in Australia until a few years ago.

Paul: That was a bit of mischief. I had enjoyed a reunion with The Liberty Takers the year before, and it tickled me to consider playing with The Chairs. The truth is, Trevor and Dave have virtually given up playing, and certainly didn’t feel confident enough to get up in public. I haven’t stopped so I suppose it was a little selfish to expect it. Nonetheless, we had a great afternoon together and I also met up with Trevor before he returned to New Zealand.

++ You did a radio session for Simon Mayo. How did that invitation happen? How was that experience? Which songs did you play?

Kevin: There is a tape of it – ill find it and send it to you. We recorded in the Holy Grail at Maida Vale studios west London. We stood where the Beatles, Stones and all the greats have been – it was awesome. The engineer completely flattened our sound and I’ve never been keen on the end result. We were so close to breaking onto the mainstream and Radio was interested. I loved being there , but as I said never really enjoyed recording. I think we played, Boys form Slumberland, Shakespeare’s Motorbike, Neck of The Woods – I can’t remember the other (I’m getting old!)

Paul: It was meant to be Janice Long, but I think she left to have a baby. By the time the session was aired, Simon Mayo was doing her slot. Kevin has all the songs right – we also played an early version of Honey INAGOADS. The BBC was a most peculiar place – riddled with nepotism and the old boy network. Kevin and I pinched a teapot from the canteen, and I still have a BBC paper cup. Our producer was supposed to be Dale Griffin, formerly of Mott the Hoople, but I swear we never saw him. There were men in brown coats, and a distinct air of ineptitude. Still, a great experience. The session came about I think through a guy who was doing our press – a scouser whose name escapes me for a moment, who obviously knew Janice and pulled a few strings. That’s how we got single of the week in the NME. Just string pulling. And that’s how we got on Radio One.

++ Did you get much attention from the music press? What about radio?

Paul: “We were bloody awesome when we were on fire” and when we didn’t get signed we were rather put out.
We did interviews on local radio, we got a write up from Steve Lamacq in NME, most of our London gigs were reviewed favourably, we knew who was doing the review and never got slagged. It was a hard slog, and the competition was fierce.
What some people don’t realize is that the old adage is true – it’s not what you know, but who you know. more specifically, it’s not who you know, but how well you know them.
We were fortunate in that we had some good connections through our manager – he had spent time in Liverpool, and through him we got to play with The Icicle Works, and that put us in touch with a number of other people. We were very close to a number of people in the business, but none were able to hook us up with a deal.

Kevin: We had a plugger and also were featured in loads of music process and radio plays. To this day, ill never understand why we were not signed. We were bloody awesome when we were on fire.

++ You did get some good promotion by Elvis Costello, he praised your music. Do you know how did he end up hearing your tunes? Did you ever meet him?

Kevin: Honey was on a Radio Show playlist called ‘Round Table’ where new releases were provide and talked about . We were played on it and he loved it. We thought that was it – here we come, but…………………………………….

Never met him but still love what he does.

Paul: I never met him properly, just to say Hi to. His seal of approval meant the world to me, as I revered him as a writer and a performer, and his words of praise proved to me that I’d got it right.

++ What’s the story about Tim Burgess from The Charlatans stealing Dave Reade’s suede jacket? When and how did that happen?!

Kevin: I think he just picked it up and walked off with it when we were on stage in Islington,. They were not the most welcoming of bands at the time.

Paul: The Charlatans were definitely on different drugs. Their guitar player was nice, and the organist, Rob took the time to talk to us. I thought their show was amazing, and although Dave lost his jacket, it was a lesson to us how far behind we were, in terms of image and fanbase. They left us standing.

++ In the end what happened? When and why did you call it a day?

Kevin: Dave Hubbard our friend ad roadie, stepped away, and I didn’t want to be in the band anymore. I needed to move on. The others did play a bit together after with the great Mick Frangu on drums. Just sort of had enough of it an knew we had missed the boat.

Paul: The legend is that Dave Hubbard decided he’d had enough. We had been round all the record labels and publishers twice and we just had to realize that we were no longer the new kids in town. The Stone Roses had heralded a sea change in how people consumed and reacted to music, and we simply got lost in the shuffle. Literally. We considered for about two seconds that we should wear flares and buy some maracas, but that would have been somehow wronger than giving up.
Personally it was a tough period for me. I had placed so much faith in us succeeding as a band, I had actually neglected most other things in my life. My first marriage came to an end around this time, and for a long time I couldn’t even look at the music press.
I have a memory of going for a kind of farewell drink with Dave and Neil Herd who had both road managed the band, and we watched a Queen tribute band called It’s a Kinda Magic playing in a pub in Stoke Newington, while an elderly lady with learning difficulties danced alone on the floor in front of them.

++ What did you do after? You were involved in The Liberty Takers I think?

Kevin: No, I stopped playing for a short while and then joined a local band called ‘The Falling’. We played one gig in a pub, and I thought, nope, don’t want this anymore. I sold my drums, brought a pram for my new borne and started life a s a dad – it’s a fantastic life. My wife , son and Daughter are my life.

Paul: I never stopped. I felt compelled to carry on, and I began recording with Lance who had engineered the last sessions with the band. I did a few solo shows, but the best part of it was getting to record at AIR studios. Lance would call me up and together we started what was to become The Liberty Takers.
Because he worked at AIR, he was allowed to use the studio when it was “dark” so to speak. At this time, AIR was the studio of choice for people like Elton John, Costello, McCartney, Dire Straits and other jetset pop luminaries. Dire Straits had block booked Studio Two, but hated each other so much they all went home at 5 o’clock every night. Lance would call me, and I would jump on the bus and off we would go. We worked on a series of recordings, elaborate and intricate, that later formed the bulk of the first Liberty Takers album. The main thing was the clock was not running, so we were literally just goofing off and doing whatever we felt like. There was no thought of these things being released at that time, mainly because we shouldn’t have really been there.
Lance once, jokingly, prepared an invoice on AIR stationery, charging me for all the studio time we had used. I think it came to £50,000.
Trevor and Dave were both involved in these recordings, and later I joined forces with a band called The Crowd Scene, and performed initially as The Laugh In, and later as The Liberty Takers. In 1991 I went to Boston USA, and made a lot of friends, including Big Dipper The Gigolo Aunts and The Jigsaws. It was a rejuvenating experience, and I came back ready to take on the world. I released an album “Barbershop Raga” and did a number of shows with an expanded line up. Eventually The Liberty Takers regrouped and we produced what I consider to be the best thing we ever did, “The Heyday of Tony Stone”.

++ And what about today? What are you up to? Any other hobbies aside of music that you have?

Paul: I had always dabbled in writing, short stories, poetry and so on. I have now written two books of verse, and have performed some of these. I have continued to play live, in duos, trios and covers bands, most successfully as The Daytrippers, paying tribute to the greatest thing that ever happened The Beatles. We don’t wear wigs.
I love to read, I love painting, mostly other people’s, and I can now enjoy watching bands as I’m no longer fighting to get to the front.

Kevin: I like listening to music and walking, cycling and jogging. I’m a big lad but enjoy a peaceful life. I love the sky and the country side. I went back to uni in Australia at the age of 44 and obtained a Post Grad Dip in OHS , which was the area of specialism that I moved into years ago. Being in the Chairs and reflecting on how we could have been better managed (from a business perspective) actually helped m, as I studied Business and Commercial management and qualified in that field and then OHS. I travel all over the work and have been to so many countries, its opened my eyes up to how some people are forced to live. We have it good over here.

++ Looking back in time, what would say was the biggest highlight of being in The Chairs?

Kevin: Just being one of 4 who made a difference in the world of music. I know what we were and how good it could be. Playing at the Old and New Marquee Club and the Town and Country Club stand out, but in closing, I’m so grateful and proud to have been the Drummer in the Chairs., so many great memories that will also be with me.

Paul: The highlight was being part of a close unit, that no matter what happened we would share the highs and the lows. It’s like belonging to a gang. No other band has felt quite like that since, and I am so glad I got to have those experiences.
As a band I would probably say our finest moment was one of our last – We played support to The Smithereens, who we all liked, and who were all nice to us. We played a belting gig to a sold out house and we kicked ass. I can promise you, it wasn’t always like that.
There is a theory about greyhounds. They stop chasing the electric hare when they get fast enough to get close, and realize it’s not real. I’ll just leave you with that philosophical metaphor.

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Listen
The Chairs – Size 10 Girlfriend

01
Nov

Here again on a Wednesday. Seems this will be a three obscure band posts type of week. I also have an interview to post tomorrow. Things are very productive here at Cloudberry HQ. Hope you are enjoying all the new music!

FogPark: Continuing with Japanese shoegaze bands I found this band that released a CDR single earlier this year with two songs, “Cigarette Punch” and “Free Size”. It seems the Japanese know better, why release an annoying cassette when you can put out a CDR? A question I ask to all the bands this side of the world with no clear answer. The two songs are available to stream on SoundCloud as well as a month-old song titled “Sleeping Cat”. There are also three songs by a band called HotCake Mansion which I assume was the band the members of FogPark used to be in? You can also watch a video of “Free Size” on Youtube.

The Beths: First time I hear this Auckland, New Zealand, band. Their song “Great No One” is terrific! This is their latest on their Bandcamp, and I hope it gets released as a single, in an EP or in an album. Somewhere. The band is not new though. In 2006 they released a CD EP with 5 songs titled “Warm Blood” which sounds very good too! How come I never heard about them before? I should make up for it and order this CD. I’m going to go poor because I keep finding and finding great music that deserves to be bought! The Beths are Elizabeth Stokes on vocals and guitar, Jonathan Pearce on guitar and vocals, Benjamin Sinclair on bass and vocals and Ivan Luketina-Johnston on drums on vocals. Yup, everyone seems to be on vocals according to the credits. Bad thing though is that they will be playing on November 10th! That same day New Zealand and Peru will be playing a match to see who qualifies to World Cup!! Though I do think the game is at 3pm New Zealand time I think? Or is it already on the 11th? Oh dear it is hard to calculate with the time difference!!

Dan Dan Dero: the Lima, Peru, band has been recommended many times on the blog. The occasion for their mention today is that they have just released a new video for the song “Tangerine” which will be included in their forthcoming album. The video is a collage of clips that tell their adventure while they toured in Bogotá, Colombia, a few months ago.

Jarub: a fantastic song I hear all of a sudden, “Boing de Guayaba”. Who is this mysterious Jarub? Definitely he is from Mexico. It says on his bandcamp, Mor., Mexico. Where is Mor? May it be Morelia? I see that there are many, many, songs on his Bandcamp. But “Boing de Guayaba” is the standout. What is Boing de Guayaba? For those who don’t know, Boing are sort of these boxed juices that you can find in any supermarket in Mexico. Here in the US you can find them sometimes. I do in the supermarket close to mine. Guayaba is guava. So it is a song about a guava juice? This song is part of a digital album titled “Versiones Diminuidas” which is kind of strange. Song titles are in Spanish but he sings in English.

Soda Fountain Rag: our Cloudberry friend Ragnhild will be releasing a new 7″ in the near future with the Spanish label Kocliko. Because of that one of the songs to be included, “Keep My Headphones On: has been uploaded to the label’s Bandcamp! It will be released on December 23rd and I’m very much looking forward to it! How many more songs will it have? I’m guessing three more!

Half Forward Line: Jigsaw Records will be releasing the album “The Black of Mass” by the Half Forward Line, the new band from Brian Kelly of So Cow. The band is formed by Brian, Niall Murphy (Oh Boland) and drummer Ciaran o Maoláin. The CD album includes 12 indiepop songs, some fuzzier than others, with some power pop doses thrown into it. It is a very fine album which I should order soon. It is said that the album was recorded just over two days in the lounge of a derelict rural Irish pub.

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Back to Asia in our world tour! This is our 33rd different country and different band! It seems in the end I’ll be able to reach number 4o. I am pretty surprised by that, I thought, even with wishful thinking I was going to find at the most 30 countries that have had interest in producing indiepop, but I’m definitely very very happy to see there are more, that our scene is very international, and this is being proven here little by little! Time then for South Korean and the band Pirigwa or 피리과 in the local alphabet. A band that didn’t seem to have made a splash but left more than a handful of lovely sweet songs that are worth rediscovering today!

The band released only one EP which sadly is not listed on Discogs. The label is listed though, which is Beatball Records. The same label that released probably the most known Korean indiepop band, Linus’ Blanket. The Seoul label also did releases by BMX Bandits, Mocca or Advantage Lucy. So definitely this wasn’t a random thing. They did like their guitar pop! But why no one has taken the time to add Pirigwa’s release to Discogs? It would help me track their record and buy it!

Yes, I don’t own a copy of it. Which is a shame. The six song EP titled “Butane Gas Mon Cher” was released in 2007 as a CD digipak and it had the catalog number BEAT 36. The songs on the EP were: “Pajama Party“, “Superstar“, “외투도 입지 않은 채 Without Wearing Coat“, “이름모를 귀염둥이 미용실언니 Unknown Hair Shop Girl“, “Snowbound” and “감기도 널 죽이진 못해 Even Flu Can’t Kill You“. As you’ll notice I’ve been kind enough to link to all songs on Youtube for your listening pleasure.

I know that at least the band appeared on two compilations. On the Beatball compilation “Summer Has Gone By…” they had the song “Superstar” and on another Beatball, release, “The Christmas Express”, they contributed the song “Snowbound”.

I keep looking for more information about them. I finally hit some meaty information. It is not easy as I’m searching for the band in both different ways, as Pirigwa and as 피리과. I find an interview with the band Pigbit5 on a blog which I am not sure what is its name. Here I see that Pigbit5 formed from the ashes of Pirigwa. This is what it says: Pigbit5 was formed by Park Yeol, Koung Heo and Taeok Kim who were the members of Pirigwa in 2008 summer after Pirigwa was disbanded.

Okay now we have some band members names. But that’s only three names. I see on the photos of Pirigwa that they were 5 members. We are missing two?

I can’t seem to find any more information about the band. There are some Korean online shops that do sell the CD but for me, as I understand nothing of Korean, it seems like a big risk to try to buy the EP from them. Aside from that I can’t seem to find any blogs or websites, in Korean or English. Was the band based in Seoul? Pigbit5 are based there, in the neighborhood of Sangam-dong. So I feel like they did. But I can’t tell much more, the information is very hard to come by.

Definitely in this world tour this is the band I found the least information. It is a shame as the 6 songs the band put out are lovely. It probably has to do that it seems Beatball Records releases were only aimed to the Korean audience. Which is is surprising having Japan so close. Yeah, I couldn’t even find results in Google for Japanese pages. And hey, Japanese indiepop fans love this sort of sound! What happened to Pirigwa? Did they have any more songs?

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Listen
Pirigwa – 기도 널 죽이진 못해 Even Flu Can’t Kill You