21
Feb

Thanks so much to Frida for the interview! I wrote some time ago about Inside Riot on the blog and was lucky to get in touch with Frida after that. I had been a fan for a long time, not only a fan of Inside Riot but also a fan of her other bands like Rough Bunnies or The Flame. So it was quite an honour to be in touch with Frida! Luckily she was happy to answer all my questions and here I’m crossing fingers she’ll like to do an interview about Rough Bunnies and The Flame sometime soon!

++ Hi Frida, thanks so much for getting in touch and being up for this interview. I’ve been a fan for long of your bands so this means a lot! Definitely the band that I know less about is Inside Riot, your first band, so let’s talk about that. When and where did the band start?

Hi there Roque. Inside riot has existed in different versions as long as we have been able to play instruments good enough. Anna and I played music together as children. We used to play guitar, and violin in the basement of my parents’ house. Anders (Anna’s brother) And Anna used to play with Anders friends Mattias and Martin and when I was Old enough I joined them.

++ Originally was it you and Anna only? When did Anders, Mattias and Martin join the band and how did you know them?

No, or yes. Originally, as we grew up together, we also naturally played together. But only in our basement. I was the last one to join the band which we later named inside riot.

++ So before Inside Riot you weren’t in any bands, right? But what are your first musical memories? What instruments do you play and what do you think inspired you to make music?

No, not any bands with actual names. My brothers and I also played music in our basement though. We can all play just a little bit Of everything but none of us is an expert in any instrument. We wrote songs because we wanted to impress guys we liked. Then it became more like writing a diary, together.

++ And had the other members being in other bands before or after Inside Riot?

Martin, the drummer, he was in a really good grunge band before he joined.

++ Who came up with the name of the band, Inside Riot, and what’s the story behind it?

The name is from one of the first songs I wrote. We needed a band name and the song was crap but the title was ok, so we used it for the band instead.

++ It’s said that Inside Riot used to record in Berlin and that you were in Malmö. Whereabouts are you these days? And what are your favourite things about these two cities?

We all decided to live in the same apartment in Berlin for half a year in 2002, to be able to play gigs and record. We are back in Sweden now, inhabiting the cities. Most of us live in Malmö.

++ And what do you remember about the recording sessions in Berlin? How was the creative process for Inside Riot?

Anna and I wrote songs and presented them to the band. It was always the same process. No drumming on the yellow metallic stuff, no funky guitar rhythms but otherwise the band was (almost) free to do anything.

++ Your releases came out on CDR mostly and during those early 2000s there were many bands releasing CDRs. How helpful was this format to spread your music and why do you think no one is releasing CDRs anymore being a cheap format for fans and labels?

We released CDRs due to its availability and that downloading mp3-songs was pretty slow at that time. Not that many people have CD players anymore. Now its easier to put all the songs into a homepage for free downloading, which is just as good.

++ There’s little information about your first releases, “The First Record (Eskimo)” and “Hi, What’s Your Name?” on the web. Was wondering if you could give me some background info about them? Like what year they were released? What songs were on it? If they were put out by any label?

I don’t remember exactly when those albums were recorded. Alan McGee promised to release an album on Poptones, but then they had an economical crisis and we never really sent the recordings to any other label.

++ I’m mostly familiar with the later releases, the posthumous releases, on Bedroom Records, like “1999-2002” and “Berlin Recordings + Mini EP” and they are brilliant. But I’m wondering, aside from all these releases, are there still any unreleased Inside Riot songs?

No, we released all of the good songs and also the crappy songs we rehearsed. There are of course songs that we did not rehearse and some of these songs were released by rough bunnies and some of the songs are forgotten.

++ And what made you release the compilation “1999-2002” a couple of years after the band had already split?

We met Jonas from bedroom records when we were playing as rough bunnies and we told him to also release the inside riot songs. He was very flexible when it came to our wishes.

++ I have so many favourite songs by Inside Riot, but maybe “World of Love” is my fave. If you don’t mind, what’s the story behind this song?

That song is about my first love, Guldtackan, and also about the first heartbreak.

++ And what would be your favourite song and why?

My personal favourite is ‘more lost than alive’ on berlin recordings, only because of the dreamy parts in the song.

++ How did it work releasing with Bedroom Records?

It worked fine, but in the end it would have been better to release everything by ourselves. They couldn’t produce as many cd-rs as we needed.

++ There is this mystery about five songs that are listed on the CDR “RB for Beginners”. It is said five songs that are listed don’t appear on the CDR, “How Did He Know I Had a Dick?”, “Riding in Cars”, “ESK-83”, “Human Industry”, “Teenage Obsession” and “I Say Goodbye”, what happened?

Haha, I drew the CD-r cover before I checked how many songs that actually fitted on the CD-r. I just left them out when I realised that I had to remove some songs.

++ Inside Riot (and Rough Bunnies) were covered by The Fine Arts Showcase. What do you think of these versions?

I think they are perfect Gustaf-versions. He had heard all the songs with only song and acoustic guitar as we used to live together, so the arrangements are his ideas of the correct sound.

++ Why were no other releases by Inside Riot at the time? Was there any interest by any labels?

We talked to both Fred and Calvin after playing gigs at the same clubs. They could release old stuff but we wanted to release new songs, so rough bunnies released a new record on Ypsilanti with Fred.

++ You told me that you mostly played in basements and only occasionally in clubs, I assume in Germany and Sweden? What are the gigs you remember the most and why? Any anecdotes you could share?

My favourite is when we played for maybe 150 13year olds and EVERYBODY left the room to do other activities. That was in Malmö.

++ Did you get any attention from press, radio, fanzines or blogs at the time?

Yes, pretty much. The reviewers and people playing in other bands used to love us but we never had a fan base of real people.

++ And when and why did the band split? What did the Inside Riot members do after?

Anna and I wanted to do our own thing. We were much too bossy for the others to cope with. They got serious and started to study. Anna learned belly dancing and we started rough bunnies and the flame.

++ Looking back, for you, what was the biggest highlight of being in Inside Riot?

It is so nice to play music together once a week. The song writing is the best part, tightly followed by the time in the rehearsal cave.

++ I know there’s much more to talk, like you were in bands like Rough Bunnies or The Flame and would love to do interviews about them too if you like, but let’s start wrapping this interview. Was wondering if you are still making music today?

No, but my kiddo is. She has super interesting lyrics.

++ What other hobbies do you have?

We like to hike in the forrest and walk long distances.

++ And what about Malmö, I was there many years ago and I had a good time. What are your favourite places to hang out? What are the sights not to miss and what are some traditional dishes one has to try?

There is a good place to eat Somalian food at Persborg. And the falafel in Malmö is good. And for activities…it’s nice to fly kites by the beach in the summer. And you should always explore Malmö by bike.

++ Thanks a lot Frida, it has been a pleasure. Anything else you’d like to add?

Not really, you had a ton of questions,haha! Thank you Roque.

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Listen
Inside Riot – World of Love

20
Feb

Whereas indiepop is agonizing in the US we get news that in China there will be a brand new indiepop festival soon. During two days, May 20th and 21st, the festival “Up a Tree” will be happening in Shanghai of all places. A city I visited just a few years ago and couldn’t see any indications that indiepop was going to be a thing there at all!

It came as a total surprise when late last week I saw this news. There are bands from China and Japan participating as well as DJs. They will also have a flea market, they will sell fanzines and they seem very excited about having a lot of booze as well.

The organizers are Puppy Fat Records. I don’t know who they are and could only find a Tumblr with little information.  Maybe it is just a name for the occasion.

The announced DJs are:
陳振超 ( The White Tulips)
小吉 (Die! ChiwawaDie!)
Shiyu (植物園zine)
一盒 (Fish Tank Radio)

I’m definitely familiar with Shiyu who makes the very cool Botanic Garden fanzine. The rest, I don’t know. Will they play proper indiepop? I’ve always questioned DJs at indiepop fests. I hope they do.

On the other hand I wanted to discover some of the bands playing. The lineup for the festival has:
Pictured Resort (Japan)
Gatsby in A Daze
Wallflower (Japan)
Atta Girl
The Cheers Cheers
Chimo 赤莓 (ex. 蘑菇紅)

There is no venue announced yet it seems or any schedule for the bands. It is still early, but looks promising. Let’s check the bands that I haven’t talked yet on the blog, which means everyone of them but the superb Wallflower who I’ve been a fan for like forever and I covered them when they came to play NYC Popfest.

Pictured Resort: this band I already know and I like them lots! I have their releases on Miles Apart Records but I don’t own their last release, their album! I have been living under a rock? Well, they released a new album last August and I believe is on CD and LP. It is titled “All Vacation Long” and was released by Sailyard Records in Japan. Don’t know if it is available anywhere else. The band is formed by Yuki, Mari, Yutaro, Yushi and the great Koji Takagi. Definitely a band to keep an eye.

Gatsby in a Daze: a band from Hangzhou, China. I see they have 6 songs on their Bandcamp and they are described as a lo-fi jangly psych rock band that hits the sweet spot. Sadly for me it didn’t hit the spot, I’m not much of a fan of their music.

Atta Girl: I’m familiar with this band thanks to the great labour of love of the Chinese label Boring Productions that I’ve covered before in the blog. The band has a new release that I still haven’t got it (what’s happening with me?). It is titled “Everyone Loves You When You Were Still a Kid” and is available on CD and cassette. There are 10 songs on this album and they sound great (even though on a small blurb on the Bandcamp it says they are lame on stage). I should write to Jovi about getting this release! So good!

The Cheers Cheers: I think I’m missing this band’s sole release, “Carinae”  as well. Also on Boring Productions it was released on CD/Cassette with 6 songs. Very nice introspective indiepop solo project by WangXiaoYu from Shenzhen, China.

Chimo: from Shanghai, the local band for the festival. I find two “releases” on Bandcamp. In reality they are just two songs that feel more like sketches. These two bedroom recordings have no vocals. And you know, instrumental songs and me we don’t get along. I wasn’t hooked here.

All in all pretty promising, at least 4 bands I would definitely want to see. And I think the dance parties should be pretty good too, don’t know Chinese indiepop fans but I’m assuming, as this will be the first time for the festival, that people will go with all the energy, in the perfect mood for having fun! Wish I could be there!

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So I expected to find at least some proper information about The Magic Shop when I started digging the web. I thought that if they had been on Sha La La, at least the band members names will be available somewhere. But no. Even though their one and only release might be thought as a classic one, the band has left nothing behind it seems.

As most of you know Sha La La was the precursor label to Sarah Records. It was run by Matt Haynes and it released a string of flexi discs, most of them shared by two bands. That was the case of The Magic Shop who were to share a flexi with The Visitors. It also happens that this was the last release, the last flexi, on Sha La La. This was 1987 and Sarah was about to be born.

The flexi came along many fanzines. It was common at the time that sort of system. You were to release a flexi and a good way to sell it was through other people’s fanzines. This flexi in particular (catalog Ba Ba Ba 008) accompanied the following fanzines, “Make it In Ongar”, “Simply Thrilled (#4)”, “Hedgehogs and Porcupines (#8)” and “5,000 miles from George Square (#2)”.

The Magic Shop contributed one song, “It’s True”, and The Visitors contributed their classic “Goldmining”. I tried long ago interviewing The Visitors, sent the questions and all, but never heard back. Maybe they could have shed some light about the band they shared the flexi with.

4 60s girls dancing on the cover of The Magic Shop side of the sleeve. No information whatsoever. The Visitors instead have a photo and a contact name and names of  towns, I’m assuming where they were from. Why the difference? Why didn’t The Magic Shop wanted to be contacted or leave any information? Why such a secret?

I have no clue where to look. Whereabouts in the UK they came from? Were they involved in any other bands? Did they play any gigs? I can’t recall seeing their name on fanzines, I have really no idea where to find anything else about them. That’s why I’m asking you, maybe you remember them from the time. Did they record any other songs? “It’s True” is a gem, but there must have been more from where that came from, no? Maybe the one and only demo tape they released? Who knows?

Edit: Sam on Facebook pointed me that the three girls from the cover come from another record: Bill Haley And His Comets’ “Bill Haley’s Greatest Hits!”.

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Listen
The Magic Shop – It’s True

13
Feb

This week, as it is quiet in indiepopnews, I have a long review of many bands I’ve heard for the first time in the past weeks. Hope you like some of them.

Astragal: they released a tape (yet another release I won’t get because of the format, shame) on Banana Tapes out of Nashville, TN, last September. I arrived to their Bandcamp thanks to the CD16 compilation. For that comp the band had contributed probably the best song out of the 3 on their tape EP, “Notations”. A lovely jangly and dreamy song. My second favourite song being the closing one, “Scenery”. The band is formed by Sam, David and Jimmy and they hail from Houston.

Traveling with Monika: yet another band I discovered thanks to the CD16 compilation. Now this one is quite a surprise as they hail from Bangkok! I haven’t heard of Thai indiepop bands in ages, in more than a decade. I was in Bangkok just some months ago, if only I had known, maybe I could have seen them live. They have 3 songs out and they are really nice. The band is formed by Nisarat, Thanapat and Samart. I think my favourite thing about the band are the vocals especially on the song “Traveling With Me”. Really cool!

The Whistling Possum: Only one song on their Bandcamp, the same as the one that they contributed to CD16: “Some Popkids are Even Worse”. In any case this is a very cool song coming all the way from Jakarta, Indonesia. The band is formed by Adi, Kaneko, Tio and Yenezkiel and they also seem to have a blog but I can’t understand a thing!

The Newsletters: from Melbourne comes this cool band that had a 7″ single out in 2015 and a three track digital single in March last year. I’m really enjoying the songs from this last digital effort. On CD16 the A side from the 7″ single, “Lucky Country”, was the one that was included. This 7″ was released by Butter Cup Records and seems to be still available.

Horsebeach: they have now “Beauty & Sadness”, the song that gives title to their new album streaming on Bandcamp. Sounds fantastic as everything they have put out. You can now pre-order the digipak album.

The Cottons: I think Kaneko and Yenezkiel from The Whistling Possum are involved in this band. I found two of their songs, “Yesterday’s Gone” and “It’s Only a Day” on the Dismantled label Bandcamp. They sound really promising! Lots of superb-sounding bands still coming from Indonesia!

Her’s: two digital singles for this band that will be debuting in Madrid Popfest very soon. The band is based in Liverpool and it is just a duo, Audun and Stephen. My favourite song being “Dorothy” out of their first single.

Pan Total: a fantastic discovery thanks to Madrid Popfest booking them. I feel very sad to have missed their limited edition CD that included 9 fab songs. I don’t know much about this band. They hail from Logroño and they seem to have been around at least since 2012! Where was I? How come I’ve only heard about them just a few days ago? It is embarrassing! Hopefully they re-release it? One can only hope.

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Was very surprised when I saw the song “Closer” opening the 4th CD in the “Still in a Dream: A Story of Shoegaze: 1988-1985” released by Cherry Red last year. I don’t know how obscure the band was back in the day, but these days it is not a band that I feel everyone remembers. There is very little on the internet about them. I wonder if the label got in touch with the band, the small bio on the booklet says very little, almost uninteresting information:
“This Tynemouth band were initially touted as Newcastle’s answer to the Stone Roses. Their first release “Bubble Bus”. shared a Whoosh flexi free with fanzine Two Pint Take Home. Further singles followed on Sympathy For the Record Industry (“Teenage Death”) and Tea Time (“Daydream”) before they settled in 1991 on Clawfist for “It’s Only Everything” and “Closer”, an anthemic, swirling guitar-fest produced by That Petrol Emotion’s Steve Mack. Their final release was a split single that coupled up The Sunflowers version of Smashing Orange’s “Collide” with Smashing Orange’s rendition of The Sunflowers “Something You Said.”

 

Nothing new there. Of course it gets a bit on my nerve the misspelling of Woosh Records.

But yes, they did release their first song “Bubble Bus” on Woosh’s eight release (catalog WOOSH 008), a flexi they shared with St. James Infirmary (a band I’ve written about here before and waiting now for their interview to be completed). The Sunflowers song was the second song on this fold-over paper picture sleeve, with a photo of two eyes printed in green and blue. The flexi was not only available with the Two Pint Take Home (vol. 4 by the way) but also with the Waterbomb vol. 4 fanzine.

Their second single, from 1990, came out on Sympathy For The Record Industry (catalog SFTRI 64). This is quite interesting for me as this label was based in Olympia, Washington in the US. It wasn’t that common for these sort of British bands to end up on American labels. It seems the label had high hopes for the band, releasing the 7″ in a variety of different colour vinyl records: yellow, tangerine, orange transparent, dark blue and turquoise. The songs included were “Teenage Death” (a favourite of mine) on the A side, and “Twenty Fifteen (live)” on the B side. The A side was recorded in Chamber Studios in Edinburgh on February 1990. The B side was recorded live at Newcastle Riverside on January 31, 1990.  The photography on this record is credited to J.R. Hughes. He is also credited for recording the B side.

Their third single was to come out that same year, 1990, on the very well-regarded indiepop label Tea Time Records. “Daydream” (catalog TEA 08) was actually the B side even though it was the song giving the single its name. “Twenty Fifteen” was the A side. Artwork for this record is credited to P. Mann. Photography to  J.R. Hughes again. The producer for this record was Jamie Watson who was the one that set up Chamber Studios in Edinburgh in 1986. It is no surprise then that the band recorded this single there.

Then they were to move to Clawfist Records. It was 1991 and they released the “Closer” 7″. On the B side we got “Day Into Day”. This was the fifth Clawfist release (HUNKA 005). This label was set up by the Vinyl Solution record shop on Portobello Road in London. The record was mastered at The Exchange, a Camden based mastering studio. Other credits on the sleeve include Design by Jocky, Mastered by Mike, Photography by J.R. Hughes and Produced by Steve Mack.

The same label was to release another single the same year. On Clawfist’s 7th release (catalog HUNKA 007) The Sunflowers put out “It’s Only Everything” on the A side and “Too Far to Fall” on the B side. Credits are similar as the previous record, Design by Jocky, Photography by J.R. Hughes and Steve Mack as producer.

Their last release was part of the Clawfist Singles Club (this was number 18). As mentioned before The Sunflowers covered “Collide”, original by Smashing Orange, whereas “Smashing Orange was to cover “Something You Said”, a Sunflowers original. I wonder if The Sunflowers released anywhere “Something You Said”.

They were to appear on a legendary compilation in 1990. On the Positively Teenage tape they contributed two songs, “Sunflower Babies” and “Sunflowers Mum”. About this tape I believe I’ve covered many bands that appeared on it on the blog like The Lavender Faction, Love Parade, The Penny Candles or The Mayfields.

“Bubble Bus” also appeared two years ago, 2014, on the “Ten Little Records: The Woosh Collection” that Jigsaw Records put out that included most of the Woosh flexis.

Time to leave Discogs and 45cat. Time to dig online for more information. I reach the Cud website. The Sunflowers are mentioned on their gig diary, for October 6th 1992:
Newcastle University.Pals, the Sunflowers turn up to quaff all our rider. The gig’s a sell-out but we’re put in the smaller hall with a precarious stage where we fear the lights may topple onto Steve. The Dunphy clan turn up and we put on our best show so far.

Perhaps the best find on the web is this one, live footage of The Sunflowers. Here I could find them performing “Closer” at Newcastle’s The Broken Doll sometime in 1990. From this video’s small description we know The Sunflowers played high-profile supports with acts like That Petrol Emotion, Pale Saints and Slowdive. This is truly amazing! Wish I had been there! The music soars!

I read the video comments, maybe someone remembers anything about them. Someone named Mark Wilson says that the band fell out with their bassist and they never got over it. Was that the reason the band split?

From the Feral interview I did many months ago, there is a Sunflowers mention from Arlo:
Not long after the Feral single we became a 3 piece briefly. We then recruited Ian Nagel from The Acrylic Tones on guitar. He was a real 60s aficionado and Feral took on a more psych / jangly sound for a year or so. We then disbanded for a few weeks, Ian continued with the Acrylic Tones, and we recruited Paul Schofield from The Sunflowers on vocals and renamed the band Camp Freddie. Camp Freddie was a good little band. We holed-up in a barn in Felix’s auntie’s house near Morpeth in Northumberland.

This is the first name associated to The Sunflowers I can find, Paul Schofield!

Another mention of The Sunflowers on the blog comes from The Lavender Faction interview. When I ask about Stephen from Woosh, I’m told:
I think he said he was living with his partner, the girl from out of the Sunflowers and they have a child or children, and he works as a full time guitar tech, touring, ect, with major acts although I know he used to roady for My Bloody Valentine. I don’t know if he toured with them when they recently reformed.

I couldn’t find more information about the band.

It seems that during the last few weeks I’ve covered a lot of bands of the Newcastle area, I hope someone there remembers The Sunflowers, what happened with them? Why they never released an album? Why did they split? If they continued making music? If they were involved in any other bands? If they had more recordings?

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Listen
The Sunflowers – Closer

09
Feb

NYC under a snowstorm. Perhaps the best moment to write blog posts even though I have little to say. I already posted this week and it is not too often that I make two blog posts a week (excepting the times when I post an interview). But I feel like researching some more indiepop. Digging deeper. Finding new records to buy, new songs to listen, new bands to add to my pantheon.

Detective novels and long rides on the subway now that I work  in the Financial District. Days go fast. A week of vacations might open for me the first week of September. Might go back to London. Or to The Netherlands. Or Iceland? Those seem to be the best choices. Was doing a little research of what new to see around London, a city I’ve visited so many times. Shamefully I still haven’t been into the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey, so those I’d visit for sure. But then I noticed this place, Royston Cave, in Herfordshire, that I can reach on the train, and I think I would love to visit that place. And then I’d need to add at least a castle visit. I’ve always wanted to go to Bodiam castle, but seems complicated to reach. Warwick then? Anyways, I’m only dreaming at the moment. I might not even go!

I should instead focus on my Finland trip the last week of May. I already have the plane tickets. What would my route look like? It all depends. There’s a chance we end up renting a car. If that was the case there’s the intention of driving all the way north to Rovaniemi and then crossing to Sweden, to Luleå. That’d be something! The only other extra places we’d visit if we rent a car would be Vaasa and maybe Oulu. Without the car the plan is to definitely go to Helsinki (obviously), Turku (there’s a castle!), Hämeenlinna (another castle!), Tampere (for Moomin museum), Savonlinna (probably the nicest castle in Finland, at least from the photos), and then Rovaniemi to get inside the Arctic circle. We’d probably do this in a mix of buses and trains. We still can’t book either anyways, so probably by March we could have a better idea. Very excited.

At the end of the year, for holidays, it seems the plan is to head to Mexico, but this time to Yucatan and the Riviera Maya. Checking out mostly pre-columbian sites as well as beautiful beaches. Escape the winter and have great food (cochinita pibil, yum!).

What scares me a bit about all this traveling is that there is absolutely no indiepop involved in it. Maybe if I go to London that would change, maybe there’s a gig or two. Or at least I could meet with indiepop friends. But then, this just may not happen.

I should try to go to more of the small gigs within NYC, those that are really not indiepop gigs but a mixed bag of bands where 1 happens to play nice indiepop and the rest crap. Tough. Paying to see 4 bands but only caring for 1. Hate that. But that’s how it usually is. Promoters usually don’t care.

Anyways, turning the page… here are some bands that I’ve discovered lately (thanks to CD16) and I think you should check them out:

Toilettes: I heard “Observatorio” on the CD16 and thought, where does this beautiful lo-fi racket comes from? They hail from Barcelona and they are two girls, Joana Mallol and Julieta Caprara. They have a tape out (I don’t know if it is still available) on Discos Walden/Discos Populares and it includes 8 songs, all which you can stream on their Soundcloud. This is really, really great. Pop that reminds of flexi girl-fronted indiepop bands like The Felicitys, The Definite Article, or even Talulah Gosh!

Lillet Blanc: quite the surprise. Their song “Foul Play” is gorgeous, but more surprising is that they hail from NYC! Damn. So close and I had no clue. Joel all the way in Peru could find them first. This means I should try to go see them whenever they play. They have three songs out on Bandcamp and it seems these songs were also released on tape. They seem to be formed by Sean Camargo, Andre Bellido and Emily Rawlings. A three-piece. That’s always a good number. And they seem to have some connection to Latin America because of their last names, so that makes me even happier. My only problem, as you know I hate tapes, is that I’m really sad these songs, and also the Toilettes ones are available in that format. Bring back CDR!

I Saw You Yesterday: the song they included was “Girlfriend” and has a great shoegazy sound. I look for them on the web. Surprise, surprise, they are Japanese and on the Ano(t)racks net label. I’ve checked this label before and it’s bands. But somehow I must have missed them. They have for download the “Malibu EP”. 4 songs that you can also stream. The band is formed by Hidemasa Shimoda, Kai Murakami, Kazushige Suzuki and Reiji Shibata. Not sure where from Japan they are from. I wish this label, with so many great releases, would put out some stuff in physical format. CDR?

Memory Drawers: seems the CD16 was pretty international. Memory Drawers contribute the song “Maybe” and they hail from the Philippines. It has been a while since I listen some great pinoy pop! So this is pretty exciting. On their Soundcloud I could find two more songs, “…For Any of This” and “Hart (?)”. There’s not much info about them, but they do have a Facebook page where I hope I can find more stuff about them in the future. So far they have been featured in a filipino newspaper. Maybe they’ll be big someday?

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Honey trapping is the private investigative practice of evaluating the fidelity of partners in marital and nonmarital romantic relationships. Investigators are employed by wives, husbands, and other partners usually when an illicit romantic affair is suspected of the “target”, or subject of the investigation. Occasionally the term may be used for the practice of creating an affair for the purpose of taking incriminating photos for use in blackmail. A honey trap is primarily used to get evidence. In a typical honey trap a private investigator will approach the spouse of a client and attempt to flirt with them.

Honey Trap or Honeytrap. I’ve seen the name written in both ways. But I’m going to go with Honeytrap. One word. I own a flexi by them and it is fantastic. I’ve heard some other songs and they are pretty good as well. I notice I know nothing else about them. Time for detective work then.

“Honeytrap were formed in 1988. Basically what happened was that I was first starting to do gigs I called myself “Sonny Rancher” then as I drafted in more members we changed the name at the same time. The complete and final line up just before we broke up in 1990 was as follows:
Phil Walton – vocals, guitar
John Peel – guitar
Jon Haslam – keyboards
Dave Haytack – bass
Jon Dickson – guitar
Tony Stewart – drums

All songs were written by myself and Jon Haslam.
Phil Walton (January 2003)”

This is what it says on the booklet of the Sound of Leamington Spa Vol. 3 compilation where Honeytrap appeared contributing the song “Peace in a Picture”. There is a bit of a different story on Twee.net. That one says:
“All but John Peel and Tony Stewart worked at TRADECRAFT, a company that traded with third world countries and paid 1st world prices direct to producers, look it up . Whoosh fanzine started at around the same time, owner Steve Joyce also worked at Tradecraft. During a conversation regarding an imminent Whoosh Club which was due to be held upstairs in the Broken Doll public house featuring Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes, Phil Walton agreed to fill one of the support slots. Calling himself Sonny Ranchero, taking the name from a ditty he had recently penned he enlisted the services of John Peel. A small handful of gigs later and David Haytack joined, closely followed by Tony Stewart. At this point and still operating under the name of Sonny Ranchero, Phil Walton and Jon Haslam began discussing and exchanging song writing ideas. Jon joined the group which was promptly re-christened Honeytrap. One additional member was later added, John ‘Dicka’ Dickson (Guitar) before the band went their separate ways around 1991.”

From Twee.net we also know that Phil Walton and John Peel hailed from Washington, Tyne & Wear, David Haytack from Flint Hill near Consett, Tony Stewart from Gosforth, Newcastle and Jon Haslam from Jesmond, Newcastle.

Washington is a large town in the City of Sunderland local government district of Tyne and Wear, England, and part of historic County Durham. Washington is located geographically at an equal distance from the centres of Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland, hence it has close ties to all three cities.

The band is listed on Twee.net as hailing from Washington in England. A lot of information already and I haven’t had to do much digging.

They only had one proper release, a flexi with two songs on the Sublime label (catalog Sublime One). There are no other releases on this label so it is kind of safe to think that it was a self-release. The two sogs on this fold-over paper picture sleeved record  were “The Boy Who Wouldn’t be Beaten” and “Make Me Happy”. The flexi also included a lyrics insert and a postcard. It was released in 1989. As far as I know it is not difficult to find this record,  I see some on Discogs. If you are missing it, please get it, it is GREAT. Two classic indiepop songs of jingle jangly quality!

That same year, in 1989, the band were to contribute the song “England” to the “Turquoise Days” compilation released by Red Roses For Me. A classic compilation packed with so many great bands from the period, from The Popguns to The Penny Candles to Fat Tulips and more!!

The other only compilation appearance I could find was that on the legendary “You Can’t Be Loved Forever 2” tape. On it they appear with the song “A Slender Grip”.

A little more digging and I could find Phil Walton’s Youtube channel. It hasn’t been updated in 3 years but he has uploaded 4 out of the 5 songs I’ve mentioned before (missing “A Slender Grip”) for you to stream and listen. The cool thing is that he has included lyrics for them!

I couldn’t find much more about them. I wonder why their flexi didn’t come out on Woosh, seemed like the obvious choice. I wonder if they have more recorded and unreleased songs. What happened to them after? Were they involved with other bands? Did anyone of you reading this remember anything about them? Did you go to any of their gigs? Would be great to know more about this obscure English band!

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Listen
Honeytrap – Make Me Happy

06
Feb

A bunch of news worth mentioning:

When Nalda Became Punk, our good friends from Spain, are promoting a new song: “Hanging Out with Imogen.” This song sounds great and is taken from their forthcoming new mini-LP to be released on March 10th on Shelflife Records and Discos de Kirlian.

There’s a compilation LP including three classic indiepop bands: The June Brides, Aberdeen and 14 Iced Bears. Each band contributes 4 songs on this “Three Wishes: Part Time Punks Sessions.” All the songs are live recordings from 2011, when the three bands recorded live sets for Los Angeles’ KXLU radio station.

Mid-march will also se the release of The Apple Moths’ “Fred Astaire EP” as a 12″ on Firestation Records. This was originally released decades ago (and you can read more about this classic band on an interview here in the blog) as a 7″ and this re-release will have extra tracks. Looking forward to it!

Next week Eggstone, the fantastic band from Malmö who were around mainly in the 90s, will play Hamburg. I’m so very jealous of this event. So if you are in that beautiful city, a city that I love, don’t miss out this 11th at 8pm at Nochtwache the comeback of “Swedish indie pop godfathers.”

And the last interesting news comes from Elefant who are reissuing the “Teenager” and “Keep it Clean” CD-singles as 7″s.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve seen on social media this past week. I’m trying to keep tabs. I’m probably forgetting stuff. As always if you have any suggestions please let me know through the comment section.

On my end there is little news as well. It is time for waiting for the pressing plants. It takes time, two months usually. So this February is just a month of waiting. March might bring surprises. In the meantime I have started planning which should be the next band to be featured in the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen series. I’ve already contacted a band that I really like and they seem interested. I hope it works out. If you have any suggestion for that too, please let me know. I’m very happy and pleased with this collection of classic recordings.

There was something else this week, something that left me with a bitter taste to be honest. I don’t want to go into it in detail, but what would you do if a much bigger label that has been unhelpful and uncaring in the past asks for help in tracking some bands?

And now onto re-discovering some obscure band from the 80s. That’s my favourite exercise.

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Crocodiles (subfamily Crocodylinae) or true crocodiles are large aquatic reptiles that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Crocodylinae, all of whose members are considered true crocodiles, is classified as a biological subfamily. A broader sense of the term crocodile, Crocodylidae that includes Tomistoma, is not used in this article. The term crocodile here applies only to the species within the subfamily of Crocodylinae. The term is sometimes used even more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia, which includes Tomistoma, the alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae), the gharials (family Gavialidae), and all other living and fossil Crocodylomorpha.

A ride on a crocodile. A Crocodile Ride. I wonder about their name. Maybe it has some more meaning. Discogs immediately gives me the lineup:
Marc Johnson – vocals/guitar
Chris Gates – bass
Matthew Owen – guitar
Stuart Allcock – drums

Then we see three records listed. Let’s start with the first one, released in 1987 on the Surfacer label, the “Ride” 7″ (catalog Surfacer 001). I start to feel this is a self-release. From what I see there was no proper sleeve for this record. Just a plain what sleeve, stamped with the name “Crocodile Ride” on red, and written with black marker the song belonging to each side. On the 7″ label I see a sticker for “Playroom Discs”. Maybe they were distributing this 7″? If you remember Playroom Discs was a label based in Brighton, that was run by Gordon Kaye and released some great records like Whirl, The Morrisons or The Grooveyard.

There is an insert including in this record it seems. There’s a scan on Discogs. It says that the release date for this record was on the 3rd October of 87. That they have already a hundred advanced orders based on their reputation as a live band in Brighton. That the lineup was completed three months before and that the core of the band was established in June 1987. During that time they had written over forty songs and that they have built their own rehearsal studios. Also it mentions that they won the Brigthon “Battle of the Bands” on their debut gig. They won five hundred pounds. With that they have financed this first single.

The songs on this first single were “Ride” and “Kiss and Tell.”

In spring of 1989 they were going to be part of a split flexi with Whirl. While Whirl was to cover “Bizarre Love Triangle”, Crocodile Ride was to contribute a song of their own, “Shimmer”. This flexi came out on The Sound of Spasm label (catalog 2). I couldn’t find what was the first reference on this label or any other information for this release. Maybe it came along some fanzine?

There last release was a split 7″, also in 1989. This time they were to share it with yet another Brighton band, 14 Iced Bears. In this record each band contributed 2 songs each. The A side was for 14 Iced Bears and they included “Falling Backwards” and “World I Love (Speed Mix)”. The B side, for Crocodile Ride, had “Ex-Hipster” and “Satellite”. This was released by the same Surfacer label as their first release (Surfacer 002) and there were only 1000 copies.

They participated in some compilations too. In 1988 they were to appear on the legendary “Hoopla” compilation that La-Di-Da (also from Brighton) released. For this one they contributed the song “Killers”. So when in 2000 this compilation was re-released on vinyl by Accident Records, Crocodile Ride was to appear again with the same song.

They included their first single, “Ride” , on an 1989 tape called “The Unknown Seven” that was released by Rain Tapes (catalog R12). The only other band I’m familiar on this compilation is Big Red Bus. It seems that Rain Tapes was according to Discogs a long running underground cassette label and distribution in the late 1980’s, run by Julian Smythe of Ruthin. Released a series of compilations called The Unknown, which ran at least up to Unknown 14 in Jan92. Also did a series of International compilations in early 90s.

Their last compilation appearance that is listed is that of the classic compilation “Alvin Lives (In Leeds)”. This was a charity release in aid of the Anti-Poll Tax Campaign. Crocodile Ride was to cover Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”!

Let’s keep looking for more info about Crocodile Ride. My last stop is Matt Owen’s Soundcloud. What a find!

There is a set of Crocodile Ride recordings, many not included in the records. We find songs like “Dance With Me” or “Treasure” that weren’t released as far as I know. There is also for you to stream “Helen” (which is “Shimmer” really), “Ex-Hipster”, “I Feel Love”, “Killers 1” and “Killers 2”. All songs were uploaded 4 years ago. So I’m not sure if we can get in touch with Matt through there. Maybe I should try.

Where were these other songs from? I really love “Shimmer”, sounds like timeless indiepop, should have been a classic!! I wonder how many more songs they recorded. They did say they had written over 40 songs by the time of their first single!  Would be interesting to find out.

I know many Brighton friends read the blog, maybe you remember them? Saw them play? Would love to know more about them. What happened to them after they split? From Soundcloud at least it seems Matt Owen continued making music, solo and also with bands called Fuck You Planet Earth, The Rock and Roll Wall of Death, Law and The Malchicks.

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Listen
Crocodile Ride – Shimmer

31
Jan

Thanks so much to Andy McVeigh for the interview! I wrote just a few weeks ago about Esmerelda’s Kite on the blog, trying to find out more information about the Leeds band that released two split flexis in the 80s and Andy, the drummer, was very kind to get in touch! Here he answers a bunch of my questions and finally I get to know a bit more about this obscure jangly band!

++ Hi Andy! Thanks so much for the interview. There’s so little info about Esmerelda’s Kite on the web so it is great that we are in touch. I guess my first question has to be who were Esmerelda’s Kite? Who were the members? What instruments did each of you play? And how did you all meet?

For all of us I think, Esmerelda’s Kite was our first band. The name comes from the novel ‘The Wasp Factory’ by Iain Banks. A great book, the main character kills his cousin Esmerelda by tricking her into holding an enormous kite. She floats off, never to be seen again…

The band was Simon , me, Mark spowage on guitar and initially, John Doidge on bass . Vikki King became bass player later on.

I met Mark age 11 at High school. John lived opposite me. Simon lived nearby . I cant remember how we all got together though!

I still see John regularly, he’s a good friend. Vikki eventually went off teaching abroad. I haven’t seen Mark for years. I’m pretty sure Mark and Vikki and John haven’t played music since. Simon released a couple of singles on Sarah – Gentle Despite.

 

++ Your two only proper releases were on split flexis. Was wondering if you ever shared a gig with or were friends with the bands you shared them, The Williams and The Groove Farm?

We were gutted John Peel played The Williams instead of us cause, frankly, they were terrible. The ‘Vampire Girl’ flexi- I cant remember how that came about. We didn’t know The Williams or Groove Farm. We did get fan letters from abroad, even Asia, from the flexis! God knows how!

++ Your first flexi came out on the Sunshine label which was run by The Williams. On it you included “Roundabout” but there seems to be a 2nd song that is not listed on the sleeve. I’ve seen it titled “A Whirl” on the web, was that the real name of it? And why was it not listed?

The ‘Roundabout’ flexi came out with extra track ‘In A Whirl.’ It was on there by mistake but was a much better song really. It was recorded with Richard Formby at Hall Place Studio. It was his idea to put the fuzzbox sound on it and it transformed it. He always had great ideas.I recorded with him a few times in the years to come with other bands. He was a member of Spectrum with Sonic Boom from Spacemen 3 later on.

 

++ Something that surprises me is that at least on Discogs I couldn’t find any compilation appearances. During the 80s most guitar pop bands appeared on many different tape compilations. Did you at all?

We never got asked to be on a compilation I don’t think.

++ Were there more songs recorded other than the ones in the flexi? Did you release any demo tapes and sold them at gigs maybe?

We did demos and sold them in Jumbo Records in Leeds. I made the cassette covers at work as I worked in an ad agency and there was a graphic design dept. with all the stuff I needed. I also did posters for gigs and me and Mark would flypost them in Leeds centre late at night with wallpaper paste! We must have had about 20 odd songs. Ive got most of them on on recorded or live tapes somewhere. My favourite song was ‘Cheesecake.’!  And another was ‘Sweep the Leaves from the Floor of My Heart.’ Looking back, we were a bit twee ( I find a lot of the Sarah stuff awful now to be honest) but we had bloody good little songs for our age I think. Would have been interesting if we’d recorded them properly.

++ Was there any interest from other labels to release your songs?

We didn’t get any major interest I don’t think. I remember getting letters from Sarah and 53rd &3rd Records quite liking us though. I think we got a bit of a local following and we played all over Yorkshire and Lancashire but never London.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? What were your favourite gigs and why? Any anecdotes you could share?

We rehearsed a few times a week in Simon’s basement. We wrote a new tune every week it seemed! We were only about 17 and it was probably the best time of my life really. We supported a lot of known bands like My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3, etc. Ive forgotten lots of gigs but it was exciting as we loved and bought records by those bands then got to play with them. We played with CUD a lot and even joined them on stage once for ‘CUD’s Kite- doing ‘You Sexy Thing’! They’d done their cover of that Hot Chocolate song for a Peel session and it kind of took off for them. I played drums and Mark was on guitar one time we played with them, and we did ‘YSThing’ for an encore I think!

I remember doing a gig with CUD at York Cellars and it was the first time people moshed/danced to us- so exciting!! We were all looking at each other and grinning! the MBV gig was great at The Duchess pub in Leeds. We were massive fans and to sit backstage with your heroes at 17 was great. It was just before their first Creation single came out I think. We played at the Leeds Uni a few times, once at the Riley Smith Hall with a massive stage. That felt weird to us!

++ Did you feel part of a scene?

There was a real scene in Leeds at the time. Us and The Pale Saints would do lots of gigs together and hang out. It was very DIY but people would turn up wherever you played. Pale Saints got signed to 4AD Records and ended up famous on the national indie scene!

++ When and why did you split? What did you all do afterwards? Were you involved in bands?

I played in a band called Dirty Vinyls for a few years. We had record company interest and Alan McGee (Oasis) was giving us lots of good gigs in London but nothing came of it and we split in about 2008 maybe. It cost us too much money but now I play Britpop/indie covers and get paid! It’s ok, I need to play , cant give it up, but I’ll never beat the excitement of those Kites days! John is now an airline pilot but still says they were his most exciting times!

++ Aside from music, what other hobbies do you have?

All my hobbies are really music based- going to gigs, festivals etc. I love football and watch Leeds United with my son, who is 13.He’s now drumming and is starting his first band! Must be genetic, I haven’t really mentioned music to him much, it must have seeped in.

The film Sing Street on Netflix nearly had me in tears- reminded me of the Kites days!

++ I’ve never been to Leeds, but I wonder if I was to go as a tourist what sights would you suggest visiting? Or maybe some traditional foods or drinks?

Leeds sights- er, not much! Leeds United stadium? Yorkshire Dales not far away. Food- fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding!

++ Thanks again Andy, anything else you’d like to add?

When I heard Simon died I went to visit his mum and sister. I hadn’t seen him in years, though I know he’d had problems. He was still living with his mum as far as I knew. I wanted to tell her that he was a massive part of my best memories and Id always love him for that. Id tried to see him when I heard he was ill but he said he didn’t want to see anyone. His mum took us into the basement where we rehearsed with the Kites and it seemed so much smaller than I remembered! Was amazing to see it though. I wish we’d talked before he died. He was only 48 I think, some type of cancer. He was a troubled soul , I always felt.

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Listen
Esmerelda’s Kite – Roundabout

30
Jan

The end of January. Time is going fast. Some bad news. Another hard drive failure. Doesn’t look good this time. Whereas my other hard drive, the first one that stopped working, seems to have been recovered, this one looks in a bad shape. I wonder what can be salvaged. If it will take a toll on Cloudberry? I wonder… a lot of back catalogue was on that backup hard drive, and I was just waiting to get the other hard drive to start transferring what needed to a fresh one or the cloud. How could I imagine two hard drives would fail within a month and a half. Tough life. Maybe it is a message? That Cloudberry has to suffer more and more obstacles? As if postage prices is not enough.

There are some good news though, I sent Some Other Day’s master to the pressing plant and it should take around a month and a half for it to be ready. So March. That’s when you should be able to get your pre-orders. I’m very very excited. Now onto getting Pale Spectres to the pressing plant. That’s the next step. I count with your support for these upcoming releases.

During the weekend I was planning how to reboot the Cloudberry Podcast. Was figuring out which sections should come back, which shouldn’t. I guess one decision would be that the interviews should be shorter. That I think will be hard as I love talking to bands/friends, but I think for the sake of the listener, a shorter interview is better. I also would love some suggestions from all of you. I would like to have a new Podcast by March. Please let me know how can I make it better. If you haven’t heard any of my previous Podcasts, you can check some of them here.

My office has moved, now I’m working in the Financial District, very close to the 911 Memorial. Today was my first day. I kind of miss Midtown, but I guess eventually I’ll like this area. It is just a matter of finding the cheap/good food places around here. It takes me 10-15 minutes longer too, to commute. That is not a terrible thing, I can read a bit longer one of the many books I want to read (I’ve set a low 45 books as a the year goal in Goodreads).

Music-wise I listened a bunch of music this weekend, but mostly old CDs that I keep buying, The Honeydrips, Cranebuilders, Young Marble Giants, Blissful and The Earthmen. I did get on the mail the Saint Etienne’ Fox Base Alpha 25 year anniversary boxset. I still have it in shrinkwrap, shame on me. They sent me an extra t-shirt. There must have been a mistake. Now I have 2. Maybe people will think it is part of my uniform, same as my collection of black jeans.

On my portable CD player I still have “C16”, the very nice compilation Joel Felipe has put out in his Impermeable label. There are a bunch of new discoveries on it, so I keep listening. Haven’t bought any other new release. What do you recommend? Is there anything new worth getting?

Indiepop seems quite. The world seems loud. Maybe when the world is quite, indiepop is loud? I wonder.

I found a nice sounding band on Bandcamp if you are curious, they hail from St. Leonards in the UK and they are called “No Middle Name”. Their album “Fondness“, released in hand-made CDs, sounds really lovely. Never heard anything from them before even though it seems they have more releases. I can only ask why bands like this don’t get invited to Indietracks? If they sound so nice and they are in the UK, why not? Why get Sweet Baboos and other crappy non-indiepop bands? The mysteries of life.

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Rediscovering some flexis I own. What about this one by The Quentins? My girlfriend doesn’t know what’s playing and she enjoys the guitars on “Take it All Back”. It sounds very lo-fi. But sounds fun, like so many indiepop songs from the period, from smaller bands that maybe their whole output was defined by appearances on compilation tapes. You know, just like the Hipflasks, The Pilgrims, The Kensingtons, The Almanacs and so on. Bands that I love.

These sort of bands of course lack presence on the internet. You can barely find any information about them.  At least the flexi, the only proper release The Quentins put out, appears on Discogs. We know that it was released in 1991 by the Sheer Joy label (catalog Joy 001), and it was the sole release on this label. Most probably then a self-release.

Two songs on the flexi, “Take it All Back” and “Let Down”. The artwork on the cover is simple, a drawing of a guitar player and his amp. On the back sleeve we see that this drawing was made by a girl named Rachel. There is also an address. The band must have hailed from Ashford, in Kent.

Ashford is a town in the county of Kent, England. It lies on the River Great Stour at the south edge of the North Downs, about 61 miles (98 km) southeast of central London and 15.3 miles (24.6 km) northwest of Folkestone by road. In the 2011 census, it had a population of 74,204. The name comes from the Old English æscet, indicating a ford near a clump of ash trees. It has been a market town since the 13th century, and a regular market continues to be held.

The band would appear on at least two tape compilations according to Discogs. In 1992 they would contribute the song “Haven’t You Heard?” to the “Teeny Poppers” tape released by Anorak Records in France (catalog SHOUBIDOUWA 01). Maybe our friends Guillaume or Fabien remembers them? They were part of the Anorak Family and I met them after they resurrected the label around 2007. Saw them at Indietracks a couple of times. Ah! I miss those days!

Anyhow, this seems to be a great compilation, would love to listen to it. You have songs by bands like The Gravy Train, Hope, Budgie Jacket, Bouquet, and more! Wow. Good selections!

Their second tape appearance is on the “Polythene Star” tape released by the Flaming Katy label (catalog FK001). I don’t know anything about this label or compilation. It was released in 1993 and The Quentins contributed “Feel so Grave”. There are some known bands in it like Mary Queen of Scots, The Kensingtons, Peru, Southville and even Boyracer. The cover artwork was credited to Anna and it was hand-coloured with crayons. The compilation was put together between 1992-1993.

Their location, Ashford, helps me find just a few more hits on the web. The first is that of a band called The Dale Coopers. It is listed that they supported The Quentins at The Monarch in Chalk Farm, London on the 4th of May of 1993.

The only other information I could find was on a zine in PDF format uploaded to Angelfire (this must be old!). The zine seems to be called “Your Mornings Will Be Brighter” and it dates of September 2000. It says it is “your indispensable free guide to life and music in South Kent”. There is a timeline for a band called Intensified who were celebrating their 10 year anniversary in 2000. We can find that in 1991 a Karl Wirrmann joins the band and it seems that he was formerly the bass player with The Quentins! That is the only name I could find associated to the band. Who were the other Quentins? Was he replaced? Or did The Quentins split in 1991?

There are so many questions. I still would love to hear the two other songs not on the flexi. But 4 songs released is very little. Did they record more? Did they release anything else? Would be interesting to find out more about them. Do you remember anything else by The Quentins?

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Listen
The Quentins – Take It All Back

28
Jan

Thanks so much to Peter Yarrow for this interview! I know This Mighty Fire just because a compilation they appeared in the 80s, “Great Sheffield” on the Homar label. For a long time I was looking for information about this jangly band, until one day I stumbled with their Facebook page (which you should be a fan of, of course). I wrote them. Some time passed and then Peter sent me some tracks, they sounded fantastic. I was so happy to have discovered their music. Then he was up for an online interview, tell the story of this obscure but fantastic band. Hope you like them!

++ Hi Peter! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! There’s so little about This Mighty Fire on the web that it’s going to be great to tell the story of the band! So let’s start from the beginning, how and when did you all meet?

We met at school in our final year – it was 1987 and, as I remember, The Smiths had recently split and New Order had a big hit with True Faith.  We would have just been coming up to our 16th birthdays.  Crikey we were so young!  It all started by Moony (at the time, a friend of a friend) saying to me “you like Joy Division, come and play this”.  At which point I was handed a bass guitar.  Moony had only been playing guitar since the Xmas before and had written a song on Boxing Day 1986 with my mate David, who had just got a Casio SK1 keyboard.  It was a really cheap little thing but one of the first that had a sampler.  The song was called “Arthur Fowler is Mental”, inspired by the nervous breakdown of a character from the BBC soap, Eastenders. You wouldn’t get away with that these days.

++ Through what sort of music did you bond? What were the influences of the band?

I think it’s fair to say the main influences on the band at that time were, Joy Division, New Order, The Smiths, The Jam, The Who and Billy Bragg.  When Pete joined, he had a very different taste … U2, Simple Minds, Jean Michel Jarre.  Drummers are always a bit different though aren’t they?

++ Was This Mighty Fire your first band? Had you been involved in any other bands before it?

Yes, other than Moony’s collaboration on “Arthur Fowler …”

++ And what would you say is your first music memory? And what was your first instrument?

Playing the recorder at the age of 6 years old.  Not very cool!  I remember my mum was pregnant with my younger sister and missed our first performance at the school Christmas concert, so we had to play again.  Lol.

++ Who came up with the name This Mighty Fire and what’s the meaning behind it?

I really can’t remember.  We were originally called “Infant Mortality” which I remember a teacher giving me a hard time about.  Then we became The Immortal.  Eventually we became This Mighty Fire, but who knows how that came about,

++ You were based in Sheffield, a place that has produced so many great bands! How was Sheffield back then? What were your favourite places to hang out? The venues, the clubs? And were there any like-minded bands that you liked?

Sheffield had been known mainly for electronic music in the ‘80s, such as Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, ABC and Heaven 17. While I liked this sort of music, it wasn’t a big influence for us.  At that time in the ‘80s there were some decent venues for local bands … Take Two, The Limit and The Leadmill.  If you played The Leadmill you thought you’d made it.  Our main haunt was Take Two, and we were able to use it for rehearsals for a period of time.  The band we got on best with was called The Glass Hammers, but on the whole we didn’t mix with many others.  Treebound Story was probably the best known at that time.  You may know Richard Hawley … he was the guitarist in Treebound Story.  I really liked them but the others weren’t keen.  Blammo! were also getting a lot of reviews (later to become Speedy).  We started hanging around with them and when we split Moony joined them.  Speedy are one of my favourite bands ever!  Pulp made a come back in the late ‘80s before they became massive – Moony and I liked them too.

++ The only song I know you released was “Ready and Waiting” that appeared on the “Great Sheffield” compilation in 1989. I’ve been looking for this CD for so long! Seems it is very rare. So I don’t know much about the other bands on it, or the label. So was wondering if you could give me a bit of a background about this compilation of Sheffield bands? How did you ended up on it? Who were there Homar label? Which bands on it did you liked?

OK, so Homar UK was formed by Marek Pryjomko (co-owner of Take Two) and Howard Willey (who worked for the Human League).  Through our Take Two connection we were asked to provide a song and to play the launch gig at The Octagon venue, which is part of Sheffield University.  If I’m completely honest, I didn’t like many of the other songs on there, but we met a few of the bands.  Debut were good guys, as were The Pineapple Crew – they were probably my favourite tracks.  A lot of the bands on the CD weren’t particularly well known in Sheffield – or at least not to me.  The Mourning After were quite interesting, not my thing but they were quite popular.

++ And what about this song, “Ready and Waiting”, what is the story behind it?

Well, most of our songs are ridden with teenage angst, so were mainly about girls.  Moony wrote the lyrics, I think, and were about some girl.  It was one of the songs that our friends / fans liked most.

++ Was there any other songs on compilations?

No unfortunately not, a shame really.

++ Why were there no other releases? Was there any interest from labels at the time?

We started sending demos to record labels in about 1989, and got some interest from Warners.  They were going to come to see one of our gigs but we split before it happened.  Oh what could have been!

++ But you did put together demo tapes, right? I think the songs I have, “Dream”, “Go Down” and “Lost and Found” come from a tape. Was there more than one This Mighty Fire demo tape? What other recordings did you make?

We did a few demos.  Our first was in 1987 and the songs were, er, “basic” but quite funny … “Memories of Summer”, “Suicide By The Sea”, and “Murderous Day”.   Our next demo was in November 1988 and was the session at which “Ready & Waiting” was recorded.  We recorded about 8 songs in one day.  We made huge progress as musicians and in our song-writing in that one year.  In 1989 we moved into a new rehearsal room which was part of a studio and started to record a bit more.  The songs you mentioned were recorded during that period and we had a few more too.  “I Know” was pretty good, and the studio owner remixed it, resulting in the indie show on Radio Sheffield naming it one of the songs of the year!

++ From the other songs I’ve listened, I think my favourite is “Dream”, it is just pure guitar pop bliss! And that catchy la-la-las. Was wondering if you could tell me the story behind it?

Teenage angst again!  I think I might have written those lyrics … I seem to recall they were about a girl I liked, but other than that I can’t remember any more.  Mark Mercer, who recorded it for us, added the backwards guitar which was very “on trend” for the time.  It’s great song and was one that the record companies liked.

++ And which of your songs would be your favourite and why?

Just as we were leaving school, Moony got a new guitar and a phaser pedal.  He wrote this brilliant song called “Why?”, it’s still one of my favourites and brings back the memories of June 1988 when we had finished our exams and were starting a new part of our lives.  We also had one called “Rain” which I loved, with a really jangly guitar.  “Dream” and “Lost Not Found” are also favourites for me.  I really like the lyrics for “Lost Not Found”, I think they were mine and are about feeling confused … “I’m happy and angry, I’m saved and I’m drowned, I’m lost not found”.  God knows what I was thinking about … oh probably girls!

++ How did you enjoy the recording sessions? Where were these songs recorded? And how did the creative process work for you?

Recording was a bit of a novelty at first, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it.  Lots of sitting around listening to the same thing over and over.  Moony got really into recording and eventually became a sound engineer.  We tended to record most of what we wrote, some recordings unfortunately were lost.  In terms of songwriting, we all played a part.  Pete learned to play guitar and wrote a few songs, Moony wrote a lot of lyrics and music.  I mainly wrote lyrics, but I remember once having this tune in my head which resulted in a song called “Can You Take It?”.  We always shared songwriting credits and felt that, regardless of who came up idea, we all played a part in the overall development of the songs.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many then? What were some of your favourites? And was there a least favourite one?

We played quite a lot locally, mainly at Take Two or The Hallamshire, which was a pub in town and a great venue.  We also played a few out of town … Nottingham, Derby, Hull, Bolton, Oldham, Leeds, Barnsley, Manchester.  It was difficult though because we were rarely paid very much and it would cost us more to hire a van and pay for fuel than we would be paid.  My favourite was when we played The Leadmill.  It was our one and only time, and we supported Havana 3am.  Paul Simonon from The Clash was in them and that weekend “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” got to number one on the back of a Levi’s ad.  The venue was packed and we went down well.  We sold our red t-shirts at that gig and wore them on stage.  We had some real stinkers of gigs though, I remember the one in Bolton was particularly poor.

++ I see you had some t-shirts made. Who came up with the logo of the band? And what other merch did you use to sell?

I think we ripped off Benetton for that logo, but we’d had a logo before that which our manager had created by a local design company.  It was based on some sort of hazardous materials graphic.  We mainly sold demo tapes but one of our friends wrote a fanzine for us once and we gave that away at gigs.  It was quite funny and positioned me as a “Rock God”.  How far from the truth.

++ I also notice there was some lineup changes through the year. Why did they happen?

Oh crikey, I forgot about that.  When we were at school Wayne and Russell (brothers) were our guitarists. They didn’t really have the same musical tastes as us, and had some opinions that we didn’t really want to be associated with.  Anyway, that was a long time ago!  There was no real fall out, they were just told one day that they were no longer required.  Moony’s brother, Chris, played percussion with us for a while too.  He later joined The Bendy Monsters.

++ I read your interests, aside from music, include football and beer. Good choices! What team do you support and what are your favourite beers?

Both Moony and I support Sheffield United … fair to say we’ve had a lot of ups and downs, mainly downs!  Pete supports Sheffield Wednesday, who are doing a bit better … unfortunately!  I really like craft beers, Brewdog is one of my favourite companies but my friend works for Stewart Brewing in Edinburgh and makes excellent beer.  I’ve told him he’s like a rock star of the craft beer world.

++ Was wondering too about if you got support from the press at all? Or the radio?

BBC Radio Sheffield had an indie show on Sunday called “Prick Up Your Ears”.  The host really liked our stuff and played us a few times.  We were once asked in for an interview, but they couldn’t use it because we were answering the questions before we were even asked.  In hindsight, we were quite cocky and full of ourselves!  Before the gig at The Leadmill I was interviewed by The Sheffield Telegraph.  I think the quote of the interview was “it’s not a case of if we make it but when”. Martin Lilleker, the journalist, seemed to agree!  I also remember when we played our first gig at Take Two, we were about 16 years old at the time, and the small article in The Sheffield Star was titled “Nappy Hour”!

++ There was a big explosion of guitar pop bands in the mid late 80s in the UK, but did you feel part of a scene?

We weren’t particularly good at joining in with other bands, especially local ones.  From memory, I think we were overly competitive and probably could have got further by collaborating more with others.  I never felt we were part of a scene, although technically we were part of the Sheffield Scene of the late eighties.

++ And what happened with the band, when and why did you call it a day?

We split in 1990. It was a genuine case of musical differences.  Moony was playing bass for Blammo! on and off, I was getting into House music and Pete was more into rock music.  There was no falling out, we just drifted apart.  It’s a shame because I think we could have got a deal, in fact I remember having to write to the A&R person from Warners who had been planning to come and see us, and we also had to pull out from a series of shows at The Leadmill, at which we were due to support The Dylans.

++ What did you all do after? Did you continue making music?

Moony has definitely been the most involved in music, firstly with Blammo!, then they morphed into Speedy, and got a record deal.  Speedy had a few singles, the biggest being “Boy Wonder” and did quite a bit of TV.  He does a lot of work with kids these days, helping them to make music. I think Pete continued, but as a guitarist rather than a drummer – I don’t think he’s doing anything now.  I did some of my own electronic music for a couple of years, then did a bit of work with a band that some friends had.  Even that was over 20 years ago!  My last foray was when I used Garageband on my iPad.

++ And today, aside from music, what other hobbies do you have?

It very much is music, I’m a big record collector and I’m into vinyl.  I play a bit of tennis too, well, when the weather’s good.  I’ve built a good career and head up learning and development in a UK FTSE company, so that keeps me busy and is an outlet for my creative side.

++ What about Sheffield today? Are you still there? Has it changed much?

I moved to Edinburgh 10 years ago, and go back to Sheffield about twice a year.  It has changed in some ways, but not in others.  I’ll always be proud of where I’m from.

++ Looking back in time, what would you say are the biggest highlight of This Mighty Fire?

I’m now in my mid-forties and there’s something both sad and cool about saying, “oh yeah, I was in a band”.  It really is about creating memories, I’ll never forget what we did … I even still listen to the demos in the car

++ Let’s wrap it here, it has been a pleasure, anything you’d like to add?

Being asked to do this was a big surprise … I’m very proud of what we did so it’s an honour to be asked to talk about it after all these years.  Thanks for asking.

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Listen
This Mighty Fire – Dream

23
Jan

Hey indiepoppers! Now back from 9 days abroad, vacations in Peru, Lima and the Amazon jungle, Iquitos and Nauta, the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve. Lots of good food, hanging out with friends and showing my girlfriend my hometown. It was really good but now back to reality, work and the US with its new government. What should one feel in this situation?

Not easy, isn’t it? But Cloudberry is very much alive with new releases around the corner. So that’s what I’m going to be doing the next few months. And I’m very excited about that! Have you heard already Some Other Day? And pre-ordered the CD? You don’t want to miss this album!

What news happened while I was away? Will have to catch up. The only news worth mentioning that I have is the release of a a compilation album on a new Peruvian label named Impermeable Records. This compilation is titled CD16 and is kind of a tribute to the C86 tape. It celebrates 20 years of the release of the mythical tape and includes 22 tracks from all over the world.

I actually got a copy already of the CD and started listening to it today. You can order it from the label Bandcamp and also stream the compilation for free.

Among the bands included we find two Cloudberry friends like Pale Spectres or Stephen’s Shore. Also there are bands I have championed in the blog like The Bv’s, Whalo, Eva & John and Yumi Yumi Hip Hop. And of course there are a bunch of bands I’ve never heard before that I need to check out.

Also would like to mention that while in Peru I had the chance to see some bands at the Paraíso Vacío festival that happened last Saturday. Sadly I had a flight very early on Sunday so couldn’t stay late and had to leave halfway through the Dan Dan Dero set. They were really good performing the three songs I had the chance to listen, as good as the last time I saw them a year or so ago. The other band I enjoyed was Serto Mercurio, who looked like very young school boys wearing shorts (not the usual look for a shoegazy bands) and who didn’t sound much as the album I raved on the blog years ago.  But in due honesty, their last song though was brilliant.

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It seems like I keep checking out what’s left on the WOOSH label that hasn’t yet been dug on the blog. Esmerelda’s Kite appeared on one of their flexis and that’s the one I own of their two proper releases.

They appeared first in a flexi on the Sunshine label in 1988. This was the only release on this label as far as I know. On this flexi they appeared along the band The Williams who I interviewed years ago. When I asked The Williams about this flexi they told me:

++ You released a split flexi with Esmerelda’s Kite that came with the Shoot The Tulips zine. I read this was the best selling of them, 800 copies. It even got airplay by John Peel! Was that the biggest highlight of The Williams? How did you end up on this flexi?

The flexi was a good thing – recorded on the strangest 4-track recorder in our bedroom – I remember that I’d met Jo in Leeds- she sold me her fanzine and introduced me to pale saints – we hit it off and discussed the possibility of doing a joint flexi together. Suffice to say my band was going on it – so in some ways it was a vanity press sort of thing. She knew a band from Leeds called Esmerelda’s Kite – of whom the singer would go on to become The Gentle Despite who released some stuff on Sarah records. I think it cost a bit – but we made it back from the sales – she sold out and so did I – it was bizarre – I’ve still got a couple left but generally that flexi is out there.

Jo hated the fact that I called the label Sunshine [in retrospect she was right] and when we got it back from the manufacturers it had three tracks as opposed to the two listed – so it was even better value for money. The John Peel thing was a highlight – Jo rang and said he was going to play the flexi – and we thought he’d play Esmerelda’s Kite – it sounded more garage etc. but we had forgotten that he had a son named William. I remember him introducing it and Paul and I just trying to tape it – it was weird to hear it on the radio. After that it got picked up by some other European stations and even ended up in some charts. Having John Peel play your record means he had to listen to it – make a decision and programme it – it was John Peel do you know what I mean – I listened to him every night. Still he never gave us a session – despite the hundred of tapes we gave him.

From that answer we get to know a couple interesting facts about Esmerelda’s Kite. They were from Leeds and they were to become Gentle Despite. We also know that Sunshine was a label run by The Williams.

The song that is credited on the flexi to Esmerelda’s Kite is “Roundabout” but there is a third song on the flexi, after The Williams’ “I Know I’m Nothing Special To You”, that is attributed to Esmerelda’s Kite and seems to be called “A Whirl.”

The next year, 1989, they were to release a red flexi with the Woosh label (WOOSH 006). This time they were to share the record with The Groove Farm. Esmerelda’s Kite contributed “Vampire Girl”. This flexi came along the fanzine Woosh No.3 that also came with another flexi by The Pooh Sticks.

“Vampire Girl” was also to appear on the “Ten Little Records” compilation that Jigsaw Records released in 2014 collecting most of the songs that Woosh put out on those classic flexis in the 80s.

Where else to dig? Well we do know the connection with Gentle Despite and so the Popkiss book written and researched masterfully by Michael White ends up being a good source of information. From it we know that it was Simon Westwood from Gentle Despite the one that was on Esmerelda’s Kite. Don’t know the rest of the band members but at least we know one now.

The book mentions Esmerelda’s Kite just twice:

Paul Gorton and Simon Westwood had been friends in their native Leeds since the age of twelve, playing together in a succession of teenage bands that followed the trajectory of 1960s rock from speed-fueled garage-punk (The Cavemen) to acid damaged psychedelia (The Emptyhearts). Westwood had been the drummer in both groups, but stepped out front to become a singer after parting company with Gorton and joining a “knockaround joke” endeavour named Esmerelda’s Kite. 

Wadd and Haynes had been encouraging Westwood about the Esmerelda’s Kite demos, so they were familiar with his name when he sent them the first trial recordings of Gentle Despite. 

Sadly early in 2015 Simon Westwood passed away.

I wonder though who else was in Esmerelda’s Kite and about those demos they used to send to Sarah. How many did they record? There’s really not much more on the web, but I wonder if anyone knows more about them?

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Listen
Esmerelda’s Kite – Roundabout

09
Jan

Next week I’m off to Lima and there won’t be any blog posts until the week of the 23rd. For those Peruvians that read the blog, who must be a few but nonetheless, if you are interested in any records please let me know so I can bring them with me and you can save some postage costs (which as you know are quite high).

Speaking of that, I did book another vacation for the last week of May and early June. I’ll be visiting Finland! Very excited. I’ve been to northern Europe a few times, to Sweden, to Denmark, to Norway, so I was missing Finland, the land of some amazing pop bands like Cats on Fire or Leevi and the Leavings. The same offer goes for Finnish fans, if you want any records please let me know and I’ll bring them with me and even if I don’t visit your town it won’t be a problem to use the Finnish postal service to send you the records as it is probably cheaper than the US one!

I have also announced on the website the Some Other Day release details. I will add a pre-order button soon. Just waiting some small details before I can send it to the pressing plant. You should be able to download one song too. Will update the Soundcloud soon with a song by them as well for you all to share. Hopefully all of this before Friday that is when I start vacations.

So let’s go through some new discoveries on the web.

What about Bitter Cherry Jam? This Japanese band have a new release titled “Sayonara” and you can stream it on Bandcamp. The surprising thing for me is that the label releasing it is a classic Japanese label that I thought was no more: Galaxy Train! I think I must have it all wrong then! The label have a full website with details and all (though sadly the shop seems to be Japan only). I think I only own one record from this label, and it comes comes to mind instantly, the 800 Cherries 7″ with “La Pa Ti Ta”. Maybe I could try to collect them somehow.

Then I saw that John Jervis’ WIAIWYA was promoting their 21st anniversary celebrations sharing a Girlfrendo demo, the first demo by this beloved band of mine. That I saw on Facebook. Little did I know that there were copies of this tape (well, a replica) being sold in their Bandcamp. Today I noticed, but of course it is already sold out. I missed it. Even if I hate tapes, I would have gotten this one just because. I love LOVE Girlfrendo. There are 4 songs on this tape but only “Easily Impressed” can be streamed.

I remember the band Maria from California on Yay! Records. They were ace. Today I found another Maria, but this time with an accent on the I. María hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and they have an album out titled “Tan de Repente” released on CD by Paper Heart Records. You can stream this nice girl fronted band’s album on Bandcamp.

And well, this one is quite late to be recommended, but I totally forgot about it. I listened to it almost a month ago but it slipped somehow from the blog. It is a 2 song digital single by the great Night Flowers from the UK. The songs being “To Rest” and “Christmas” (this is why I say I’m late). Very nice two songs on their Bandcamp from a band that I saw once in Indietracks with a different vocalist. I remember mentioning to them that I loved their songs and would love to keep in touch. Well, that didn’t happen. In any case they seem to be doing pretty good, and look forward to their next release.

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Holidaymaker: One who goes on vacation.

Back to explore the Woosh catalog. Why not? Especially with a favourite band of mine from that label that for some reason I hadn’t covered before! Very strange as I love “Everyday” and “Cincinnati” a lot!

The story of the band seems to start with “Everyday”, a classic jangly song that appeared on a shared flexi with The Nivens in 1988. This was the start of the Woosh label, catalog WOOSH 001. The foldout cover came in different colours, there were at least ones printed in blue and others in green. Mine is blue. This flexi came accompanying the first Woosh fanzine in which many bands were covered like Darling Buds, The Flatmates, Emily, Bachelor Pad, Sea Urchins and more. The Nivens contributed “Let Loose Of My Knee.”

That same year their first 7″ was to be released, again on Woosh. Two songs, “Cincinnati” and “Seventh Valley Girl” on Woosh’s 4th release (catalog WOOSH 004). Now, if you’ve never heard this or don’t own it, I tell you to get on it. This is a great single. Classic sounding, the sort of indiepop that makes me happy. And it shouldn’t be difficult to track this record down. Now, who is that girl from the cover sleeve? Most probably she is a famous actress, but I can’t say who she is. Maybe someone can help with that?

Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio that serves as county seat of Hamilton County.Settled in 1788, the city is located on the north side of the confluence of the Licking with the Ohio River. With a population of 298,550, Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio and the 65th-largest city in the United States. Its metropolitan statistical area is the 28th-largest in the United States and the largest centered in Ohio. The city is also part of the larger Cincinnati–Middletown–Wilmington combined statistical area, which had a population of 2,172,191 in the 2010 census.

What we do get to know from the back sleeve are the band members:
Adrian Smith – Vocals/Guitars
Neil Craig – Guitars
Mark Cunningham – Bass
Richard Guy – Drums

Songs credit both times appear as Smith/Craig. The record was produced by Angus McPake and engineered by Bobbie Heatlie. I also notice that the contact information for the band has an address from Edinburgh. Ok, so they were Scottish then?

Their last release is not that well known, it came out in 1989 on a different label: The Gay Cowboy Recording Organisation. I feel this was a self-release as Discogs doesn’t list any other records on this label. The catalog number was “maker 001t”. This  was the band’s first 12″ as well and was titled “Skyrider”. And yes, the A side is “Skyrider” and then on the B side we can find two songs, “Cross River State” and “Beginning at the End”. The sound of the band has changed a bit, less poppy I’d say. Still I quite enjoy the record.

Then silence. No news from the band. I guess they split. What did the band members do after?

We do know that in 1988, when the band was still going, they contributed “7th Valley Girl” to the “Everlasting” compilation. But what about other songs? Did they record any other ones?

In 2014 they appear on the “Ten Little Records: The Woosh Collection” on Jigsaw Records with “Everyday”, “Cincinnati” and “7th Valley Girl”. But that was more of a Woosh thing, this compilation, I think, or was the band involved?

I check on Adrian Smith on Discogs. They list him as being part of a band called The Beatpack with releases in 2015 and 2016. Is this the same Adrian Smith? There is such a big gap, from 1989 to 2015. Could be, but seems strange that he was away from music that long!

I do see too that Mark Cunningham contributed bass on one song on an album by Jeff Green titled “Jessica” on 2008. The song name is “Willing the Clouds Away”. No other credits for him on Discogs.

Neil Craig and Richard Guy only appear listed for The Holidaymakers. I keep digging. I find a post from 2009 about them on a blog titled Because Midway Still Aren’t Coming Back and even though the post doesn’t shed any new light, there’s a comment by a Charles Hodgson that says:
I knew the Holidaymakers back in the day – they’re from Edinburgh, heavily into Postcard records – really wanted to be in on the Jesse Garon / Shop Assistants ‘scene’ (or ‘clique’) but were just too genuinely young and fun-loving to be accepted. Some of those ‘older’ (early twenties!) bands were right unfriendly snobs as I recall from hanging out at the Onion Cellar etc in those days, ‘cos they knew The Legend (and possibly Bobby Gillespie & Alan MacGee) you know! Anywhoos, they moved to London about 1988 or 1989 and were never heard off again. Where are you Adrian, Richard? Best bands of the whole era are Close Lobsters and McCarthy – everybody knows that, right?

Interesting. This confirms that they were from Edinburgh. But what happened to them in London? Why did they disappear!

I keep googling and trying to find any information about the band members. I have hit a wall. There’s nothing at all. I am rather sad. I really like their songs. I wonder about if they left many unreleased recordings as I want to hear more from them. But maybe some of you, like Charles Hodgson in that comment, remember them. Did they play your town? What happened to them after going to London? Were they involved with other music? Would be nice to find out!

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Listen
The Holidaymakers – Cincinnati