27
Jun

About to start the second half of the year, June is almost over. Last week I was saying that there had been a lot of new indiepop videos released lately and definitely that is a healthy thing. So I want to introduce you to some of these new videos that I’ve been enjoying the past few weeks. But before that many of you might have seen the news that The Seashells, the legendary band from Umeå, Sweden, will be releasing a 7″ with us later this year. You can listen the A side, “Thoughtlessness” on the band’s Soundcloud, you are going to love it! I’ll have more news about this release as soon as the artwork for the single is completed, so keep an eye here, on the blog or our Facebook for that. Should be out hopefully by October or November.

I’ll start these recommendations by the latest video that has been released, and that’s Ay, Carmela’s “Crying in Public“. This song comes out from an EP titled “Working Weeks” that will be released on July 28th. The sound is a bit different to Carmela’s other band, Colour Me Wednesday, where she plays bass. The song is refreshing, it is classic guitar pop, simple, straight to the point, with punkish guitar and poppy vocals, but especially it is different to much of what the UK has been giving us the last few years, that folky/punkish stuff that Indietracks had been championing. For me that is important and it is already a victory.

Next up is a household name, a band that had released with us on Cloudberry: Lost Tapes. They have released a video for the song “Girls” that appears in their first album on Mushroom Pillow that is highly recommended. I remember this video started being recorded the first time the band was in NY a couple years back. It took quite a while but it has been worth the wait.

Perhaps the most exciting news was that Burning Hearts were back. They released a new song, a new video, called “Work of Art“. And guess what? It is a work of art. I’ve always been a sucker for all of their songs, and I’ve been lucky to have seen them play live. I love the imagery, the lyrics, Jessica’s vocals. I don’t know much about where or when this song will be released physically, but I hope it is soon. Top stuff.

Then another band that has a connection with Cloudberry, my friends Tiny Fireflies who I just saw once again at NYC Popfest. They have made a video for one of their best songs on their first album: “Ghost“. I suppose all of you reading me own a copy of their album, but if you haven’t you should grab one before they sell out. Gems like this song abound on it. Kristine and Lisle are two of the most talented musicians I know, and better people even. Now I look forward to their next album effort which they’ve told me they have started working on!

Expert Alterations is one of the few American bands I really like. On top of that they make indiepop the way I like it and not many does anymore. That one that ramshackles and feels like everything is breaking apart. Crashpop some call it. That one that owes a lot to the TVPs, to the McTells, to O Level and more. They’ve made a video for “Such a Stupid Fool” and it’s a lo-fi bike ride filled with Pa Pa Pas that is just infectious.

Barcelona’s Papa Topo are releasing a new album called “Ópalo Negro” this coming month. Their second promo video for this record is “Lágrimas de Cocodrilo” and it is a cracker. Very influenced by La Movida, very Berlanga, very Dinarama. A video full of Egyptian imagery, a saxophone and even a mummy! It looks like it was a lot of fun to make it. I can’t wait to have this album, hopefully Jigsaw Records carries it as Elefant prices are always a bit steep for us in this side of the Atlantic.

And actually today I got on the snail mail an EP from a very cool Japanese band that has really surprised me that I want to recommend to all of you. They are called With Me and they hail from Tokyo. They have just released this CD Ep called “Love Letter” and it includes 5 songs that you can have a quick sample here. The band is formed by Aota (vocals and guitar), Miki (guitar), Sakura (bass) and Fumi (drums). It’s top indiepop in the classic tradition of Japanese indiepop of course, that one that gets influenced by Momoko Yoshino’s bands for example. You can get this album from many stores including Disk Union, Stone Records, Sone Records, File-Under, Thistime, and more! They are also trying to make a 7″ version of this EP and have put together a crowdfunding project if you’d like to help. I’m really enjoying it and I hope to hear more from them in the near future.

So a lot of things going in indiepop world at the moment, hopefully it continues like this for the time to come!


Riviera, pronounced, is an Italian word which means “coastline”, ultimately derived from Latin ripa, through Ligurian rivea. It came to be applied as a proper name to the coast of Liguria, in the form riviera ligure, then shortened to riviera. 

I heard Riviera for the first time on a Dublab Podcast where Peter Hahndorf from Twee.net was a guest. You can listen and download this session from October 2008 here. In it he introduced a bunch of bands from Asia mostly, like Monte Carlo, Carnival Park, The Oddfellows and more. The penultimate song he played was Riviera’s “Heaven Knows I Love You” and they weren’t from Asia, but Sweden. It was a nice surprise for me.

I don’t know much about this band that only released one CD EP in 1997. I don’t own the record yet. I don’t know how hard it is to find it. Maybe I’ll be lucky someday soon as I have only added it today to my Discogs wantlist.

The CD EPwas released on Trampolene Records (TRACDS513), mostly known for being home of The Cardigans. This label was also a subsidiary label for Stockholm Records that eventually was going to be sold in 2000 to Universal. Maybe then it was sort of mainstream their releases. I don’t know how well known Riviera was in Sweden. At least, some attention they might have gotten thanks to being in the same label as The Cardigans?

The CD was economically released in a card sleeve jacket. Three songs were included, “Heaven Knows I Love You”, “Same Old Story” and “Why Was I The Last To Know?”. The credits tell us that the record was written and produced by Claes Molander. Engineered and co-produced by Charlie Hillson. Mastered by Åsa Winzell at Polar Studios. The photography of the band on the cover and back cover by Peter Larsson.

On the sleeve it is said that “Heaven Knows I Love You” is taken from the forthcoming album “A Lover’s Work is Never Done”. Thing is, I believe this album was never released as I can’t find any information about it. Nevertheless a song by the same name was included in a Japanese compilation of Swedish bands called “Pop Hits the North”. This compilation was released by Polydor (POCP-7163) in 1996, a year before the CD EP. On this compilation we could see some very fine and well known bands like The Cardigans, Cloudberry Jam or Happydeadmen among others.

So 4 songs seem to be all their recorded output.

I could find a blog post on a Swedish page called “Tidskriften Pop Revisited” about them. From it I gather a couple of interesting facts, most especially about Claes Molander who seems to be the driving force behind Riviera. We know that he lived in London between 1973 and 1978 and he became inspired by Gary Glitter when he saw him on Top of the Pops. He would come back to Sweden and have a band there called The Varlets in the nineties.

The blog continues telling us some of Claes’ influences, from Tamla Motown to Phil Spector. There’s definitely that sort of sound. But sadly there’s no more info. Luckily through The Varlets I could find out that at least they released a cassette tape in 1994. Seems it was self-released and it included 5 songs (which I found them on Youtube): “Please Let Me Know“, “I’m In Love With You“, “Sooner or Later“, “You’re Being Fooled“, “Doctor Believe Me“.

The Varlets was formed by Benny Björk on bass and vocals, Kent Alfredsson on drums, Johan Elb on guitar, Claes Molander on vocals, guitar and percussion. The produced for this tape was Håkan Göstas and they even had a manager in Jacke Nummelin. Did they release anything else? I don’t know.

Another band I know Claes was involved with was Revelation. I believe it was after the demise of Riviera. They released a 7” on Dolores Recordings in 1999 and it included the song “That’s How Much You Mean to Me” and an instrumental version of the same song on the B side.

I wonder whatever happened to Claes during the 2000s, seems like he disappeared, or perhaps not? What other bands was he part of? What happened to the Riviera album? Did they play a lot live? Whereabout in Sweden were they based? Would be interesting to find answers to all of these questions and more!

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Listen
Riviera – Heaven Knows I Love You

20
Jun

A few of you might have already seen on Facebook that I’m working on a Some Other Day retrospective compilation for the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen. I do have to ask you for some patience though! There are still a few more steps before it’s ready, and we have some records we are putting out in the next few months so, I think this compilation will be ready by the end of the year. Definitely.

Aside from that we have at least 3 7″s already in the pipeline. Cloudberry is very busy, and we hope you can keep supporting us the way you do. It’s the only way we can keep helping bands put out their magnificent sounds!

The last week I’ve seen so many new videos by indiepop bands. I don’t know exactly why. I want to do a review and recommend them to all of you but I know I have promised the final chapter of my NYC Popfest review. So I’ll try to keep in mind, remember, that idea for next week (hopefully there are even more new videos too). But today let’s see what I can remember from that Sunday almost a month ago where everyone was in awe for such historic, classic, legendary bands!

Sunday, as it has become a tradition for me, as long as Popfest is held at Littlefield, I go to Ghenet, an Ethiopian restaurant just a few blocks down on the main street. We met there with Alex as well, like last year, and we had our tibs and injera, spices and all. It was delicious. At Littlefield for some reason I always have Shiner Bock beers. It’s not exactly the best beer in the universe but it’s the only thing here in NYC that gives me nostalgia for the months I lived in Texas back in 2005.

On the way to Littlefield, crossed paths with Hampus, Alpaca Sports’ drummer, who lives quite close. He wasn’t going to Popfest but just came from rehearsing for another band in the city. I don’t know what got into me, that I surprised him, he wasn’t expecting me showing up like that and I gave him a big scare!

When we arrived Lake Ruth was playing. I liked what I had hear on the web, but I wasn’t captured totally by their live gig. It was nice though, and soothing. It was a good way to start the evening for me. I was already very tired because of the past days, legs hurt even. I’m becoming old! So after a while we went and sat down at the front room. There Kevin was making portraits of people, at the time he was doing Maz’s. I think he was charging a dollar per portrait. Maz didn’t come out that good, but the next one he did was dead on.

I met some people that evening, I met one of the Catholic Easter Colors boys that was very kind. Also I met a friend from the Soulseek days, from Ohio. Then more people at the small patio outside too were very friendly but I can’t remember their names now. Then it was very cool to talk for a while with Mary from Even as We Speak. I even took my fan photo with her. Getting older but I’m not changing!

We went for a walk. Mariana needed some coffee. The day was quite nice. But we were tired still. I don’t drink coffee, so I had to get myself together and get some strength from somewhere. Beer probably. When it was time for Secret Shine, I think the excitement started to grow on me.

I had seen Secret Shine a couple of times already. First time a long time ago in Berlin. They even invited me to the backstage and it was the first time they even met me! It was thanks to my friend Andi of course, the same who released their last 7″ that I actually have here on the distro on the website. Last time I saw them was at Indietracks. That was great as well. I remember buying a flexi from them last time there at the merch stall. They are always so great. Funny enough today I just lost an eBay bid for the “Ephemeral” 7″, one of the few Sarahs I’m missing. Oh well…

They opened with “Burning Star”s and of course closed their set with “Loveblind”. What an end was that! The guitars were just ringing! “Drift Away”, “Perfect Life”,” Into the Ether”, were a few of the songs they played. I got their setlist, written on a paper towel. Not the most glamorous setlist I’ve gotten, but I’ve gotten worse.

Next were Even as We Speak, Secret Shine’s labelmates. As I had said before this was the band I was looking forward the most. Because I love their songs, and also because of geography, chances are that this was going to be my one and only chance for me to see them. Sure I can travel to Australia, but for them to be playing a gig at the same time? Difficult! So, there I was all so giddy. And then the band came out dressed as marsupials, in the most surprising entrance to stage I’ve ever seen an indiepop band!

If I can remember correctly, Julian was dressed as a kangaroo, Mary as a koala, Matt as a platypus, but can’t remember what the rest were dressed as. I know there’s videos but the rest of the band look a bit far away and I can’t distinguish what animal they are. Maybe some of you can help me? Anyhow, why not start with “One Step Forward”?

Then the classics, “Blue Suburban Skies”, “Nothing Ever Happens”, and after a couple more songs, we got a beautiful rendition of The Go-Betweens “Right Here”. That was fantastic. The show was only getting better and better. Mary would invite two people from stage to learn some steps and sing along. Then she would ask the stage what song did we prefer, “Bizarre Love Triangle” or “Blue Eyes”? The crowd of course wanted the original song, not the cover song!

And to end the night, why not get Vernon and Cris to join the band to dance and sing and have fun on stage? Why not! That was fab! Definitely my favourite gig, and not just because of the music. I loved the communication between band and fans, how they prepared the gig with the costumes, and that they had even prepared a special cover song for the occasion. I think Popfest gigs have the potential to be special, because the fans know the songs and are fans of the bands, so when a band goes the extra mile it becomes at least for me, a gig to never forget, a legendary gig in my book. This was one for sure.

We had already secured a good spot on the front by now. And that was good. But we got so hungry. We decided to go as fast as possible to get some dinner and come back running for The Railway Children. The thing was, interesting for me, that The Railway Children had the most fans in all Popfest. Mostly older people that had been listening to them on college radio. As I didn’t grow up here I wasn’t aware of this. We grabbed some fast tacos, very mediocre to say the least, at Oaxaca, and then we arrived just when the band was playing “Every Beat of the Heart”. Lucky! That is perhaps my favourite song of theirs. I’m not a super fan as I said, but I like them, but because of that I decided to stay at the back and leave the super fans have the better places on the floor. This meant of course, no setlist for me.

The last band was The Chills. Oh dear. How exciting to see them again after seeing them in London a couple of years back. That time was amazing, with the great company of Jennifer, Miguel, Miguel #2, Christos and Matthew. Now it was time for New York, and what a gig it was. It was long, they played so many hits, a lot of songs from their last album (that I think is VERY good if you haven’t checked out).

I think the moment everyone got the chills (sorry for the bad pun), was when they played “Pink Frost”. What a moment that was. They also played songs like “Wet Blanket”, “Doledrums”, “I Love My Leather Jacket” and they closed their fabulous set with the incomparable “Heavenly Pop Hit”. Before the encore someone was about to take the setlist! And I’m all so shy asking if I can have it! That I tried so hard in London to get it, but it was impossible. He was very kind and told me that if he could take a photo, I could have it! Fantastic!! Then the band came back and the guitar player was, “oh! where’s my setlist, someone stole my setlist already!”. I kept quiet!! It was the first time I see a band ask for their setlist for the encore, don’t they already know what they are playing?

I found later the guy who gave me the setlist and gave him one CD as a gift. But he already had it! Amazing! He already knew about Cloudberry and all. So I gave him another, I hope he liked it!

A fanboy photo with Martin Philipps was next. Of course. A little chat were he told me that the plan is for The Chill come back next year for bigger concerts. Oh wow, I hope so! Then saying goodbye to everyone. To Vernon, to Cris. It was a bit of a bittersweet night. Great gigs, great fun, but always saying goodbye to friends that one doesn’t see as often as one would like.

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I got a message the other day on Facebook asking me about a band from Sheffield, from the 80s, called The Seaside. I was told that their one EP was brilliant, bloody brilliant, and that they recorded even more stuff. I was curious and I started to dig.

Sheffield has been a fantastic city when it comes to indiepop. A lot of great bands hail from there. Just lately of course I released The Suncharms compilation. They are from there. But who were these The Seaside whose only EP dates from 1991?

Their EP included two songs on the A side, “Idolise” and “Completely”. The first’s lyrics are credited to a Stan. The second to a Clix. On the B side we find “Wild C. Wilder”, lyrics by Clix and Rhinow. We don’t know the complete names sadly. I ordered the record this past week, but doubt they will shed more light on the names or any other details.

The record was composed by The Seaside, the engineer was Pete Stewart who had also worked with bands like Pulp, The Comsat Angels, Harbourkings, and even Take That. Mastered by Metalwork (MAX) and the producer was John Avery. It was recorded at Axis Studios in Sheffield.

The record came out on the Vlaw label (VLAW ONE). As you can imagine the label only released this one single. Safe to assume it was the band’s own label? Probably.

A blog called The Independent Music Review is the only other place where I found anything written about them. The reviewer says that the music sounds like flower power, like if it came from the 60s but it’s really from the early 90s. That this is a gem that never got past the mainstream baggy madchester that was reigning at the time. He mentions too that the band may have released a track on a single alongside March to the Grave, but it is only his speculation. Well, about this I have no clue. Maybe someone knows?

What I do know is that they contributed one song called “Begging Bowl” to a compilation on spinART Records in 1995. The compilation is called “LemonLime volume One… A Pop Compilation”, and it includes of course a lot of great bands like Holiday Flyer or Bomb Pops. I have a few compilations on spinART, sadly I’m missing this one. Should I track it down just for this song?

Then on Youtube our last hints. “Idolise” and “Wild C. Wilder” have been uploaded. On the “Idolise” upload I see that there used to be a The Seaside Facebook page at some point but it doesn’t exist anymore. A person remembers that one of the members used to work in Warp Records and another one lived in Greenhill.

Another fan mentions seeing them supporting The Dylans at the Borderline.

And that’s about it on the web about The Seaside. The name of the band doesn’t help much either for googling them. But maybe some of you remember them, and went to their gigs, or had some demo tapes or more recordings. I wonder what happened to them, if they had been in bands before or after, and where are they now?

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Listen
The Seaside – Idolise

15
Jun

Maybe you know but maybe you don’t. But now you can pre-order the debut 7″ by Stephen’s Shore on our website. It will be out on August 15th and it includes 4 songs, “Ocean Blue”, “If You”, “Turn Your Head” and “Let’s Go Home”. Artwork by Fabio Consoli. I’m very excited by this newish band from Stockholm, Sweden, and its jangly songs. I’m sure you all are going to like them!

I have more release news to announce in the next few weeks, so it is very exciting. I know summers usually are the time when people are traveling and having vacations, going to festivals or even disconnecting with the world, avoiding phones and internet and doing that hippie thing of reconnecting with nature. Nevertheless I really hope you can have a listen to all these new amazing sounds I have in store and feel the excitement for indiepop music once again! Indiepop is alive and kicking!

Last week I was just all about NYC Popfest. The first two nights. The beers, the songs, the bands, the gigs, the friends, everything was just so much fun! It’s a bit painful now, 4 or 5 weeks after to go back to happy times when now there’s nothing even close to it happening! How I wish I could go back in time once again to that weekend when so many good friends and such good music was making all us feel the joy of our small, minuscule indiepop scene.

Saturday was at Baby’s All Right for an early afternoon show. It was free and who can complain about that? It was packed naturally even though none of the bands are very well known in the US, or at least that’s the impression I have. I had a very quick Indian lunch a couple of blocks away as I was running very late sadly. At least I had to be there at 3pm to catch Los Bonsáis who I had seen before in Madrid Popfest but I utterly love their songs, so just couldn’t miss them. It was a bit stressful because of the train situation in Brooklyn, with several lines, like the F or the G, not stopping at their usual stops and so on. But we made it at 3pm, just on time when Los Bonsáis were playing their first song. Their was still some space in the front so we managed to get there. Vernon was already there, and we saw out friend José from Chicago who we had been missing the previous days.

As expected they were marvelous, Nel and Helena opened with “Nordeste” and ended their set with a cover of the Vaselines’ “Son of a Gun”, translated to Spanish as “Hijo del Señor”. They even had a couple of their friends get on stage to sing with them this last song. Before that they had played my favourite “Ultramarinos” and a Television Personalities cover, “Punks a Tiempo Parcial”.

The next band in my list to check out were Snow Fairies. It was quite a surprise for me to know that they were playing Popfest when they were first announced. I was a big fan of their songs back when I was a student and as it is the case with smaller bands, I never thought they would do a reunion gig at all. I know that after their demise they kept making music, especially as The Skywriters, but The Snow Fairies were in a different league I always thought. Actually yesterday I found myself listening to their album “Get Married” (I’m still missing their other album, help!) and I was enjoying it so much. No one makes music like this I thought. Back in the early 2000s there were many like-minded bands it seems. Today, none. It’s a shame.

Joanny was super surprised by The Snow Fairies. Other friends as well. They put a great show that one would have thought that they deserved to play a better slot other than headlining the afternoon show. But that’s how it is, who would have expected such a brilliant gig.

A walk through Williamsburg, now to the Knitting Factory. On the way a stop for pizza as the group was hungry. Not me. On the way we saw Remi walking by herself, of course she was to join us. Then at the pizza place Amanda would join us too. Big table, like the old times. After some coffee, and we met Sean on the line. Catching up a bit with Fortuna Pop’s leader. But it was getting closer to the moment of truth, a lineup of Cristina Quesada, Tiny Fireflies, Alpaca Sports, Mercury Girls, The Chesterfields and The Primitives was waiting for us!

There were garlands on the stage. We had been shopping earlier in the week and Andreas had found these in a stationary shop in Soho. Now it looked great. Even better Cristina’s dressed matched with the garlands almost. To open, “Pineapple Princess”. Of course. Andreas would eventually join her. “Just Like Honey” by JAMC was loved by everyone. I was very happy when she played Family’s classic “Viaje a los Sueños Polares”, but everyone just accepted defeat to sweetness with their rendition of Alpaca Sports’ “Just For Fun”, now an indiepop classic.

Tiny Fireflies and their return to NYC Popfest was next. Now adding a third member to the band. The sound was bigger, and Kristine was a superstar on stage! The songs from the album sounded gorgeously, and they also played songs from earlier on, even one from a Cloudberry release which they kindly dedicated to me <3 . It was kind of a short set, seven songs or so. “Brightest Star”, “Ghost”, “Farewell” and more illuminated the Knitting Factory with a sound that was refreshing, much different to the rest of the bands in the festival. But when it was over it wasn’t time for them to leave the stage. Oh no, they were going to join Alpaca Sports as part of the band.

Suddenly Alpaca Sports was a behemoth of a band! So many people, but so worth it!! I can’t remember now the bass player name, but we had Andreas, Amanda, Cristina, Lisle, Kristine and Hampus on stage too. Heck, I wanted to join them too! It was such a good gig really, they played the classics, “Just for Fun”, “I was Running” and “She’ll Come Back for Indian Summer”. They played some of the new ones, “I Love You”, “Need Me the Most”, too. It was also a return for Alpaca. A couple of years back they had played Popfest at Littlefield. It was a triumphant return, I could see people dancing and singing along the songs on the front. I was happy to see them once again and I start to wonder if they are becoming rapidly the band I’ve seen the most these past few years. Perhaps!

Burger time. And a small break. We got way too many fries so we took them to the gig. Joanny was happy to exchange pretzels for fries. Everyone happy. I couldn’t get to the front now sadly. The Chesterfields were about to go and halfway to the front will have to do. “Shame About the Rain” to start. “Oh Mr. Wilson” to warm up, until “Sweet Revenge” came on and I was all happy and singing every song. And suddenly I start to wonder when will they play “Ask Johnny Dee”. It wasnt happening! But hell, they played “Anywhere But Home” by The Caretaker Race. Wow! That was one of the best moments of the Popfest for me. I know Andy Strickland was playing now in The Chesterfields, so it kind of made sense. I do wonder though how many people in the crowd was aware of this fantastic band and amazing song. I hope many! In any case I was terribly happy. And then “Goodbye Goodbye”, I got even happier! Then they started asking which song to play or something else, I can’t remember. I just shouted “Johnny Dee”. But first was another classic, “Last Train to Yeovil”, and then finally, “Ask Johnny Dee”. The band would finish the gig with an indiepop anthem, “Completely & Utterly”. Afterwards I was happy to meet Simon Barber and that was ace too (and hopefully a Chesterfields interview in the blog soon!).

Funny enough a friend from work was also in the crowd. He had come for The Primitives! I thought that was a bit strange. I know a couple of co-workers like music, but they are more into indierock I’d say. But you can never stop getting surprised by what college radio did years before I went to uni. I think a lot of people learned a lot about some indiepop bands thanks to that (and this would definitely explain the crowd The Railway Children would bring the next day). Anyhow, The Primitives were on stage, and I was going to see them for the second time after Indietracks. Now this was a bit of a longer gig, almost 20 songs! And of course they played the ones everyone wanted, from “Thru the Flowers” to the mega hit “Crash”. I was just terribly happy with “Stop Killing Me”, “Buzz Buzz Buzz” or “Way Behind Me”. Who could complain?

And to top it all, it was time for dancing just after. Right now I can’t recall all the songs that were played. I remember one by Spearmint. I think The Smiths were played as well. I remember dancing though. But the songs seem blurry. It was Mondo Djs at this time, but they havent posted a list of what was played. In any case, it was late when we left Knitting Factory. Happy, exhausted, and with a huge smile in my face.

Seems I’ve written more than I expected! Seems the review of Sunday at Popfest will have to wait another week!

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Chaperone: a person who accompanies and looks after another person or group of people.

So here’s this band with a very early 80s name called Daryl and the Chaperones whose one and only 7″ I’ve been trying to track down for some time. Years now. Maybe some of you could help me. Especially those who are fans of White Town.

I like White Town of course, especially their classic indiepop records, “Hair Like Alain Delon” is such a wonderful song. I got to see Jyoti play in New York and also in the UK. But I’ve never even talked to him! Anyhow, you must be asking what does White Town has to do with this Daryl and the Chaperones. Well well, it was 1982 and a very young Jyoti Mishra was in this band.

As far as I know two songs were released by this band, both on this 7″ released by Shark Records in 82 (catalog SHARK 1). The songs were “My Baby’s a Spy” and “B Movie”. One in each side. The artwork of the record is a bit strange, there’s circles, triangles and squares times four, what looks like a beach chair, and then a silhouette of a guy wearing shades and a hat. Also on the cover we can read Aris_Tographics, MaestroM Ltd Spacematic Print. I wonder why the name of the printer was on it?

The A side, “My Baby’s a Spy”, would also appear on a compilation called “Low Down Kids Companion, Volume 2”, released in 2003 (!!). It was limited to a 100 copies and I’m not very sure what sort of compilation this is as I’m not familiar with the bands on it. Names like The Agents, The Spies, The Wild Boys or The Escorts don’t ring a bell to me. Seems this was a DIY label that released some cool stuff, at least it looks very cool to me. The aesthetics are just like out of a fanzine from the 80s. The strange thing of course is that this was out in the past decade.

I have never had the chance to listen to the B side. Not yet. But the A side is a wonderful slice of guitar pop, proto-indiepop if you like to call it something. It’s a lost classic in my book! You’ll see now by yourselves.

The only other information I could find comes from the always reliable Tamworth Bands website.

The band was formed by:
James Woodward – drums and percussion
Ian Hewitt – guitar and vocals
Andy Redfern – bass guitar
Jyoti Mishra – keyboards

They had a slogan, “You are never alone with a chaperone”, and it seems the only member of the band with links to Tamworth area was the drummer, James. He was from Clifton Campville.

Clifton Campville is a village and civil parish in Staffordshire, England. It lies on the River Mease, about 10 miles (16 km) east of the City of Lichfield, 6 miles (10 km) west of Measham and 7 miles (11 km) north of Tamworth. The village lies very close to Stafforshire’s borders with Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Warwickshire. In 2001 the parish had a population of 764,[5] increasing to 912 at the 2011 census. There is a fine gothic church, dedicated to St Andrew,[6] and listed Grade I. The village pub, The Green Man, is also a historic building.

From this website we learn some more interesting facts:

  • The record was recorded and produced at Steve Adam’s Studio in Birchmoor.
  • The band was formed 12 months before the single was released (so 1981).
  • The band originally had a Daryl in the band, Daryl Ainsworth, and thus the name of the band.
  • They seem to have gigged in Birmingham, Burton, Derby and Leicester.

And that’s about it. Then of course we know that in 1990 Jyoti started releasing stuff under White Town. But that’s 8 years in between! What happened in the meantime? What other bands was he in? And what about the rest of his bandmates? What did they do afterwards? Were they involved in other bands? Are there more Daryl and the Chaperones recordings? Would like to know more! Do you remember them?

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Listen
Daryl and the Chaperones – My Baby’s A Spy

06
Jun

Back from 9 days in Mexico and there’s so so so much to do! There was barely indiepop related things in this vacation, but got to eat great food, see the lucha libre, visit pre-columbian ruins and colonial churches, and even got sunburnt. It was a happy time in good company.

But as I promised I will review my experience at NYC Popfest, three weekends ago. It all started on Thursday at Le Poisson Rouge. I arrived late because of work so I only caught the last band, The Trashcan Sinatras.  I had already met many friends before Popfest even started. On Wednesday Alpaca Sports played at Cake Shop, and even though I missed them again because of work, we went for a legendary karaoke session.Tiny Fireflies’ Lisle and Kristine also joined as they become part of the Alpaca Sports team this year. From cheesy to cheesiest, the song choices were really funny and we had two great hours in the Lower East Side.  It was so much fun!

When I arrived to Le Poisson Rouge, Young Romance were playing their last songs. I wasn’t keen on them so I stayed outside the main room where the merch tables were set. It was great to meet again with Chris Jigsaw once again and with Jerv who I hadn’t seen for years. One after another I saw friends passing by and that was so great. I saw Joanny and Emmanuel who came all the way from France for Popfest, Alex and Scott who I haven’t seen in many years, and Vernon from Singapore who gave himself a New York Popfest trip as a birthday gift.

I found a small spot in the front row to the left to catch The Trash Can Sinatras. To the right was Frank Reader’s mum taking pictures. They started with “Easy Read” and went onto play many favourites like “Only Tongue Can Tell”, “Hayfever” or “I’ve Seen Everything”. They ended with “Weightlifting” and played “Obscurity Knocks” as their encore. The band was promoting their last album titled “Pendulum”, which for some reason I didn’t buy at Popfest but hope to get it soon.

Friday we met Vernon at Cafe Himalaya for lunch special Nepalese food. Two blocks down the afternoon show was happening at Cake Shop. We were mostly going there to see Silver Screen. I had met Cris Miller before in LA but have never seen him play. We arrived on time for the first band but we really didn’t pay much attention. We met Alex who was going to play guitar alongside Cris on this sort of two-man Silver Screen that was playing that day. They played a gorgeous gig on the strength of their songs. Cris was very kind to dedicate me the song “Little More Each Day” that first appeared on a Cloudberry 3″ in 2007!

I met Remi from Japan there too. I hadn’t seen her since Indietracks 2014. It was very cool that she was carrying all over Popfest a Cloudberry tote bag. Least I could do was help her get tickets for her and her friend for the next show later that night as it was sold out.

We all headed to Brooklyn afterwards, took the J train to Marcy Ave. and went for an early dinner at Bia, blocks away from Baby’s All Right. After some beers and some noodles or banh mis, it was time to go see Chorusgirl! But there was a surprise before I even saw them as Vernon introduced me to Mary from Even as We Speak. Wow! I won’t lie if I say that the band I wanted to see the most this Popfest was EAWS. But that Friday night the band I wanted to see and listen was Chorusgirl. So again moving forward to the front I enjoyed up close one of the albums I’ve enjoyed the most lately. How I wish I had discovered them earlier, would have loved to put a 7″ before they signed to Fortuna Pop, but oh well, can’t be up to date with every single band! Anyhow they played fan favourites “No Moon”, “Dream On” and “Oh, To be a Defector”. It was a bit of a short set, but it was powerful and exciting. I hope they become even more popular and come back to the US!

The only other band I liked that night was Spook School who once again proved to be one of the best indiepop bands around. What can I say? For the last three years they might be the favourite band of many of the Popfest goers. Niall always cracks me up with his jokes and their songs are a burst of pure pop and energy, hook after hook.

I wasn’t feeling that well at the end of the night but still headed to Trophy Bar as I had promised Joanny as he was DJing alongside Emmanuel the afterparty. Joanny, with his pretzels and always looking for the better deal when it comes to beers, and Emmanuel played a superb selection of indiepop. They even played a Les Calamités song as I had requested them a song by them. The Hit Parade, The Haywains, Pushy Parents, Another Sunny Day, Girls at Our Best, Barcelona and more!

Two days of Popfest and I was having so much fun. But two long days were ahead, Saturday and Sunday. A lot of great bands, more beers, merch to buy, and friends to meet were on the way. But that’s for next week post. Now is time for the obscure band of the week.

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Clondalkin is a town situated 10 km west of Dublin, Ireland, in the county of South Dublin. The name is also used in relation to the area’s religious parishes. Clondalkin is home to an eighth-century round tower that acts as a focal point for the area. Acknowledged as one of the oldest and best preserved in the country, it is 25.6 metres high and has its original conical cap.

Based in Clondalkin, The Cherry Brogues is a band I’ve been curious for a long time. I remember them on Myspace but these days the songs uploaded there don’t even stream. That must have been the first time I heard them, I’m talking of 2006 or 2007. And since them I’ve been trying to track their one and only record they released without any luck.

The Brogue (derived from the Old Irish bróg) is a style of low-heeled shoe or boot traditionally characterised by multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforations (or “broguing”) and serration along the pieces’ visible edges. Modern brogues trace their roots to a rudimentary shoe originating in Ireland that was constructed using untanned hide with perforations, allowing water to drain when crossing wet terrain such as a bog. Brogues were traditionally considered to be outdoor or country footwear not otherwise appropriate for casual or business occasions, but brogues are now considered appropriate in most contexts. Brogues are most commonly found in one of four toe cap styles (full or “wingtip”, semi-, quarter and longwing) and four closure styles (Oxford, Derby, ghillie, and monk). Today, in addition to their typical form of sturdy leather shoes or boots, brogues may also take the form of business dress shoes, sneakers, high-heeled women’s shoes, or any other shoe form that utilises or evokes the multi-piece construction and perforated, serrated piece edges characteristic of brogues.

The songs that were on their Myspace don’t appear on the record and it would be interesting to know where they come from. Perhaps from demo tapes or rehearsals. The song names were “Undercurrent”, “Just Like Saturday”, “Only Better”, “210”, “What the Boy Say” and “Temptation”.

The band was active between 1991 and 1994 and was formed by Ray Gilligan, Ray Murray, Joe Rodgers, Des Connaughton and Phil Healy. From the Irish Rock website we know that Ray Gilligan went to play on The Josephs (perhaps a band to cover on another post?).

The one and only 7″ they released came out on C.G.B.G. Records (catalog CBGBS 8) in 1992. The songs included were “She Makes Me Nervous” as the A side and “Here Comes the New Kid” on the B side. They also had another song released in 1993 on a compilation called “Break Records Present… 100% Irish ’93”. On this CD they contributed the song “Look Back in Anger” and was released by Break Records.

The only other important information we could find about them was that they recorded a Fanning Session. The great Fanning Sessions blog has written a bit about the band and have asked for help without any luck in 2012. They shared the song “Numbers in Your Heart” which happens to be the third track from five from the session the band recorded in 1992. They (and now I), are looking for the other 4 songs.

Youtube also gives as a couple of clues. Someone has uploaded a song called “Options 1,2,3” and because of the intro I dare to say this might come from the Fanning Sessions though of course I can’t confirm it. Then there’s a reworked recording of the song “Two-Ten” (also written 210) by Joe Rodgers uploaded as well. This one dates from 2011.

And it was in 2011 that the band actually reformed for a reunion gig at the Grand Social in Dublin.

The band also have a Facebook page were there are a lot of photos and goodies. Time to do some archaeology on old posts there and find more about the band.

I learn the names of other songs by the band like “Weekend Teen”, “Buckle at the Knees”, “Buttercup”, “Only Better”, “It’s Over”, “Another Leo”, “No Reaction (The Penny Song”), “Trusting Emma”, “Stormin’ the Gulf” and “Social Butter”.

I also read that they went into the recording studio in 2009. Don’t know if these recordings ever saw the light of day. They also mention having played a gig at a venue called Fox and the Phaesant back in the early 90s. Other gigs happened at the Rock Garden, Whelans, Route 66, Round Towers, Tivoli and the Tower Road Clondalkin. But their first gig was at the Red Cow on New Years Eve 1991. They were the 2nd band after Big Sky while the Headliners were Jamie Cotton.

Thanks to this Facebook page I could find a recording of “Buttercup” on Youtube. And from there I could find a live recording of the song “Stormin the Gulf” being played at the Baggot Inn in 1992.

That’s all I could find about them. But I’m sure many remember them. Was wondering if anyone have a spare of the 7″? Or the other Fanning Session songs? Or what about all those songs that seem to have been recorded? Would be great to know what happened to the members afterwards, or if they had played in other bands before or at the same time. If they are playing any other reunion gigs? What do you remember about them?

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Listen
The Cherry Brogues – Numbers in Your Heart

27
May

Thanks so much to Patrik Jäder for the interview! The Mary-Go-Round hailed from Luleå, in the north of Sweden. They released just one 7″ on A West Side Fabrication in 1990 and appeared in a handful of compilations. For me they are one of the best bands ever to come from Sweden just on the strength of the few songs that were released. I love them! The perfect mix of jangly guitars and girl/boy vocals. I was very happy to finally get in touch with one of the members of the band and here are his answers to many of the questions I’ve always wondered about!

++ Hi Patrik! Thanks so much for getting back to me and for being up for this interview. The Mary-Go-Round 7″ is one of my most precious records in my collection.  Love it! I think it’s one of the best ever to come out from Sweden, if not the world of indiepop! It’s really an honour. So let’s talk about music! When was the last time you picked up your bass?

I picked up my bass today. I’m working at a school and we have a band here with the teachers. We’re playing music for and with kids (6-10 years old).

++ And what are your first music memories? Were you always into playing bass? How was growing up in Luleå?

My first music memories are at home with my parents. My dad listened to a lot of jazz music and used to play saxophone at home. My first vinyl record was “Love Gun” by Kiss. I was playing guitar at first, but changed to bass when me and some friends started a band called Pornografi (after the album Pornography with The Cure).

Growing up in Luleå was fun and there were a lot of friends who started bands. I joined my first band when I was thirteen, it was a punk band.

++ Was Mary-Go-Round your first band or you had already been playing with other bands before?

Mary-Go-Round wasn’t my first band, I played in Joon Erektion, Pornografi and Action Comics before I joined MGR.

++ Who were Mary-Go-Round and how did you all meet?

MGR was formed in Luleå by a couple of friends who loved pop music. I wasn’t with them from the start, I joined later when the bass player traveled to Thailand. They needed a bass player and I took the job.

++ Tell me a bit more about Luleå, like did any good bands go play there? Or were there any other good bands in town? What were the places you’d usually hang out at? Or the venues were you went and check bands out? Has it changed a lot?

When we played with MGR there weren’t any bands who played the music we liked or played in Luleå. The music scene was kind of boring at that time. But that’s changed a lot. Now we have a big “Culture House” where at lot of big bands/artists  play (Billy Bragg, Lloyd Cole, Soundtrack of Our Lives). There’s also a great punk scene in town where a lot of bands are playing.

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

The name MGR came from Merry-Go-Round. But that name was picked, so they changed it to Mary-Go-Round when they started the band.

++ Was it always the first option to make music in English? Who were your influences at the time?

They were singing in English when I joined the band and we never spoke about changing it. We were influenced by The Smiths, The Go-Betweens, Prefab Sprout, Beach Boys, Beatles, Field Mice, The Chills, June Brides, Close Lobsters, Robyn Hitchcock. There was a scene in England called “Anorak Pop” which we liked.

++ You were telling me that you recorded two demos before the EP. Do you remember anything about them? Like what songs were in them? What year were they released? How many copies were made?

The two demos we did were recorded on a four track recorder at our rehearsal place in Luleå. I don’t remember all the songs on them, but there were “Caught you Crying” and “Our She Been”. I don’t remember when we recorded them. We didn’t make a lot of copies and we sent them to some record companies to get a record deal.

++ Your EP was recorded at Basic Music, how was the experience working there with Johan Nilsson?

Johan Nilsson was a great guy and we recorded the EP at his house in Skellefteå. He had a studio in the house and we spent two days there.

++ I guess for me the biggest mystery of the Mary-Go-Round EP is the cover. I always wondered who is the woman on the motorcycle, is she someone you knew?

The woman on the cover is my mother. We wanted a cover which showed how we sounded, so that picture was great to have for the cover. But my mother was embarrassed.

++ Three songs were included in the EP, “Fill My Head”, “Fish Bowl” and “Noble Art”. Any chance that you could tell me the story behind each of the songs, in a line or two?

I don’t really remember the story behind the songs on the record, but Nils Johansson (the guitar player) wrote them. Noble Art was kind of tricky to get well in the studio.

++ The EP was released by A West Side Fabrication in 1990. How did you end up signing with them for this release? And how was your experience with them?

We met Jocke Wallström in Luleå when we played there with two bands from Skellefteå. Jocke liked us and wanted to put out a record with us on A West Side Fabrication. Jocke was great and we could record what we wanted.

++ And how come there was no other release by the Mary-Go-Round afterwards?

We split because there were other things in life that were more important (education, work, moving to another town).

++ There were some appearances in compilations though, I guess the most well known one is your contribution of the song “Into the Morgue” to the tape “Grimsby Fishmarket 4 – Norrköping 0”. Do you remember how did you end up in it?

Nils was listening to a lot of great pop bands and got to know Markus who had a fanzine called The Grimsby Fishmarket. He wanted a song for the tape and it was “Into the Morgue”.

++ On Discogs, there are a couple of songs listed that I’ve never heard that appeared on compilations. There was “Mary-Go-Round” that appeared on “A Major Statement” LP compilation in 1988 and “A Simple Sensation” that appeared on the tape “Second Half” in 1994. One is perhaps from your very early days and the other one from the very last days, is that right?

I wasn’t in the band when “A Major Statement” was recorded. I joined later. And I don’t remember the song A Simple Sensation.

++ I noticed that you liked collaborating with fanzines. How was the fanzine culture back in the late 80s, early 90s in Sweden? Were you into that?

The fanzine culture was kind of small, but there was Sound Affects and Base One. We had our demos reviewed in both.

++ And how was the attention of the media towards your band? Was there any interest from press or radio at all?

The media attention was very small. I think we did two interviews – one for a local radio station and one for the fanzine Sound Affects.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? 

I don’t remember exactly how many gigs we did, but there could have been about twenty.

++ If you were to think of the biggest highlight for the Mary-Go-Round, what would that be?

The biggest highlight was when we got a record deal.

++ And then when and why did you split? What did you guys do after?

I quit playing when we split and didn’t play bass for about ten years. But I started playing again in 2000 with Mattias Alkberg (the singer from The Bear Quartet). We started as a trio, but then Nils joined us. We recorded an album called Tunaskolan in 2004. I have contact with Nils, but not with the others. I’m not playing in a band now except the teacher band.

++ These days, are you still in touch? Have there ever been talks about a reunion at all?

We haven’t talked about a reunion. I’m pretty sure that we won’t do that.

++ Aside from music, what other hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing?

I’m much into sports. A great fan of football/soccer.

++ I always like asking these sort of questions, I’ve been to Sweden and love your country, but never been up north to Luleå, was wondering if you were to give some tips for the tourist in me? What are the sights you can’t miss?

If you come to Luleå, you must visit Kyrkbyn (The Church Village).

++ And what is the traditional food and drink from your city? And what’s your football team?

The traditional food here are a thing called Palt. My favourite football team are Tottenham Hotspurs. I’m a big fan of them.

++ Thanks a lot for the interview, it’s been an honour as I said, anything else you’d like to add?

Hope you enjoy the answers. It’s great to hear that you like what we did!

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Listen
Mary-Go-Round – Fish Bowl

23
May

What a weekend. I’m so so tired. Where do I even start? Did you go to NYC Popfest? Some new people I met told me they like reading the blog, maybe that was one of you reading these lines. Thanks for that. It made me happy. If it didn’t show, I swear, I was tired. I was exhausted by the second day. And yesterday, on Sunday, I could hardly stand up! I’m getting old so soon!

In the end my expectations and my excitement to see the last four bands of the festival, Secret Shine, Even as We Speak, The Railway Children and The Chills, were more stronger than any pain on my feet. My girlfriend did take some breaks and went to sit to the front room of Littlefield. I tried to hold the fort, front row, trying to secure the setlists, my most precious souvenirs these year as it seems I owned almost all records that were on the merch tables!!

I would have loved to stay longer yesterday. Enjoy a longer evening, perhaps another beer, but most importantly a longer goodbye with friends that I won’t probably see in many years. That’s the beauty and the sadness of these festivals. So great to have your friends reunited but then you end up missing them a lot! Who to talk about indiepop and rare records now at gigs? No one almost! Indiepop friends are definitely an endangered species.

I should review Popfest in two weeks when I return on vacations. Heading to Mexico this Saturday for a week. So no, no new post next week. But the next one for sure. Maybe you can do your own investigation about some band. Or maybe you can recommend a band to cover. That’d be cool. It’s been a while since someone asked me about a particular band, obscure or not.

I just need to reorder my ideas, all my memories of Popfest are so fresh that I need some perspective before writing about them. I guess my only worry at the moment is that NYC Popfest may come to an end as this year it marks it’s 10th anniversary. That would make so many people unhappy! Me included. I hope it happens again next year of course, and I hope Maz keeps doing it. I don’t know if anyone could be as good as him at making this happen. All the acknowledgement he receives in social media is well deserved. This year again he put together a very strong lineup, with amazing headliners, and got all shows sold out. Even if the tickets were more expensive this year, it was definitely worth it. I also think it is the first Popfest I attend were all bands started at the time announced. Punctuality has never been an indiepop trait!

The venues also worked well. I think changing Spike Hill for Baby’s All Right for Saturday afternoon show was a good move. It’s a much better place. Only downside with Baby’s All Right is the prices for beer. The cheapest was $6 I believe. That’s not cool when one is used to $4 crap beer, but still, you save money.

Also Cake Shop was a good idea for an afternoon show and having the big Le Poisson Rouge for Thursday instead. The logistics in that sense worked well for Popfest. Chris Jigsaw as always ran the merch table with dedication and was even taking card payments. Modernity. All these things definitely helped Popfest be a hassle free festival.

My only concern this year were the Popfest T-shirts and totes. First day they were $15, second day they were $10 and at the last day they were $5. Sure I like supporting, I bought 2 t-shirts when they were $10, and my girlfriend a tote when it was $15, but seeing the prices go down, to be a third to the original price on the last day, well it was a bit annoying. I assume the reason for this was that too many totes and t-shirts were printed, but if I had known I’d waited until the end. As it’s common that things get sold out fast at the merch table, I didn’t wait. I guess that was the only “mistake” I saw in a flawless Popfest.

The bands? That I leave for my review when I return from vacations. There were many highlights definitely, but mine were Even As We Speak, The Chills, Secret Shine, Trashcan Sinatras, Alpaca Sports, Los Bonsáis, Cristina Quesada, Tiny Fireflies, The Chesterf!elds, Snow Fairies, The Railway Children and Silver Screen. What were yours?

I do think though that in general the Even as We Speak show was my favourite. Why? I think they made a very special gig, a gig of the sort that should happen at Popfests. They came dressed up on stage as marsupials (Australia represent!), they invited people from stage to dance with them twice (!) and even showed them some moves to do, they covered the Go-Betweens and at the end they asked the audience to choose between songs. I love that! For me Popfests are the perfect place and moment for band/fan interaction, and that’s what indiepop is all about! Gigs like this make me happy! And these are the ones that fans usually remember the most!

What do you think was the best moment and why? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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One of those records we all want to have. We indiepop lovers have heard about The English McCoy but unless we are a lucky few, we haven’t gotten their records How many copies were pressed? Will a secret stash will one day make its way to a record shop down in your neighborhood?

It was 1988 when the band released their record the label Nowyertalkin’ Records. It came out on a 7″ and on a 12″. Which is rarer? I don’t know. The 7″ had the catalog number of 7TALK 2 while the 12″ was 12 TALK 12. This label had also released other records by bands like Commando, Connie Kaldor, The Self-Destructers and David Hemingway. To be honest, I’ve never heard of these bands before.

Both editions had “Give Me Something to Believe In” as the A side and for the name of the EP as it appears prominently on the sleeve. On the B side both had “Breaking Down” and the 12″ also included the song “Buffalo Dream” on the flipside. Writing credits always for Miles Salisbury but “Breaking Down” co-written with Paul Barlow.

The record was produced and mixed by the band and Ronnie Stone. It was recorded at Studio One in Chester. It was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. From the back sleeve of the record it seems the band was formed by 4 chaps. I know at least the name of three of them: Miles Salisbury, Darren Baldwin and Paul Barlow. How come?

There’s a Bandcamp for the 80s band Things in General. These three lads were part of this band after The English McCoy was no more. They were based in Preston, so I think it’s safe to assume the McCoys were too. It’s kind of a shame that I only discover this Bandcamp today as years ago they were selling a 15 track CD called “Best of the Generals”. You can stream it of course, but for me it’s not the same! I hope I could get a hold of it. It’s really good!

Also the English McCoy had  a Twitter where I think they were announcing mostly eBay listings for their record. Not much there as info but some cool tidbits like that Miles Salisbury’s pink Tokai Stratocaster was dubbed “Pink Flamingo” by their fans or that they signed contracts with the label Nowyertalkin’ Records before a gig at Hebden Bridge Trades Club.

The last piece in the puzzle is a ReverbNation page with two songs by Miles Salisbury. There are two songs there, “Minnow” and “Old Kilcunty”. Not sure when were these recorded.

Not much more on the web about The English McCoy. Hopefully there is a chance for an interview at some point. Would really love to know more about this obscure band that recorded such a hit like “Give Me Something to Believe In”. Wonder if they recorded more songs other than the three on the record. Where did they play gigs? Who did they share stage with? And more…

Do any of you remember them?

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Listen
The English McCoy – Give Me Something to Believe In

16
May

Popfest week has started. Some friends are already in town and more will be arriving in the next hours, days. This should be one of the best weekends this year for sure. Can’t wait to see Even as We Speak, The Trash Can Sinatras, The Chesterf!elds and more. Who are you looking forward to see?

Indietracks announced some more bands last week. Aside from Haiku Salut, Bearsuit and Frankie Machine I wasn’t familiar with them so I had a listen. Sadly none of them I liked. I don’t want to be overly critical with the festival but bands like Gavin Osborn, Alimony Hustle, Sonic the Comic, Honey Joy, Robyn Johnson, DIRTYGIRL or Robberie, have nothing to do in an indiepop festival. The band Deerful surprised me with a fantastic tune on their bandcamp called “Moon Maps”, but I didn’t fall for the rest of their discography.

I know how many people get annoyed when one points a band and says: “That’s not indiepop”. They call you the indiepop police and other nonsense. But seriously, who could argue for a garage or a folk band being indiepop? I can understand when people call for example Red Shoe Diaries indiepop. I’m not fan of this band whatsoever, but I can understand why people think they are part of the scene. But come on, Sonic the Comic?

In a way I’m glad I’m skipping this year though it hurts a lot to miss PO!, one of my top ten bands ever. With rumours saying that NYC Popfest may fold after this year, I wonder if I’ll ever see Ruth Miller’s band. I guess that would be my biggest Indietracks regret (as well as missing the first three editions that were really catered to indiepop fans). I will try to go again next year though, book a hotel and wait to see if the bands are amazing once again. I love that festival, the atmosphere, the place, the town, the friends, and I even miss the warm beer. It’s just now the word Indietracks gives me so many mixed feelings, I’m not so happy about their direction the past 3 years. But who knows, maybe indiepop becomes a bit more fashionable next year and we can expect more indiepop bands being booked? Crossing fingers.

And crossing fingers that this won’t be the last NYC Popfest. If any festival has consistently booked great indiepop bands around the world that is NYC Popfest. I know this weekend is going to be fantastic. Of course you know I don’t agree with the Fortuna Pop night kind of thing, but if that’s the way I will get to see Chorusgirl for the first time, I will be ok with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that repeating bands is something that can’t be avoided. There are so many bands that can actually cross the ocean and come play. And there are many new fans coming to Popfest who have never seen many of these bands before. So that’s understandable. It’s just that for “me” it’s a bit different, for me as the indiepop fan that I am, and not thinking as a festival organizer or a label person or a band person, I wish I’d see new bands all the time! New sounds, new songs!

Anyhow, I’ll see you at Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday, for the Popfest opening! And if you are in town a day early, at Cake Shop to see Alpaca Sports’ return to New York!

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A couple of weeks ago a friend on Facebook asked me if knew about Greenfield Leisure. I was honest, at that moment it didn’t ring a bell at all, and said no. Who were they? I heard this one song on Youtube called “Leisure” and thought, this sounds really good actually. It sounded familiar though. How come?

At night at home, after returning from work, I searched my computer for this band. I found the “Leisure” mp3 in a folder that I had named Shelflife blog. Of course, Ed had already written a bit about them back in November 2008! I always come late to the party. Always impressed by the discoveries people like Ed, Jessel, Joel or Uwe make!

Ed says that he kept the compilation “East of Croydon” in his collection just because of the strength of the song “Leisure”. I don’t know much about this compilation, the bands on it (The Flips, Calling Hearts, A Circle Charmed, and more) are totally unknown to me. This compilation came out in the early days of the 80s, in 1981. Released by a label called Nothing Shaking Records (SHAK 1) it included a booklet with 16 pages dedicated to the bands, though it’s said not much information appears about them. This same label would also release 7″s by two bands that appeared on the comp, for The Heartbeats and The Big Combo.

Croydon is a large town in south London, England, the principal settlement of the London Borough of Croydon. It is located 9.5 miles (15.3 km) south of Charing Cross. It is one of the largest commercial districts outside of Central London, bearing one of the largest shopping districts and a developed night-time economy. It is identified in the London Plan as one of 11 metropolitan centres in Greater London. It has a population of 52,104 in the 2011 census, comprising the Addiscombe, Broad Green and Fairfield wards.

East of Croydon, there’s Beckenham, Bromley and Chislehurst among others. But where were these bands from? Croydon or one of the many towns east of it?

We do know that Greenfield Leisure came east of Croydon, they hailed from Orpington, Kent.

Orpington is a suburban town and electoral ward in the London Borough of Bromley in Greater London and lies at the south-eastern edge of London’s urban sprawl. It is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London. Before the creation of Greater London in 1965 Orpington was in the county of Kent. Kent also remained the postal county for Orpington after this time.

They were around from 1981 to 1983 and were formed by:
Cliff Dowton – vocals
Simon Pritchard – vocals, cello
Rory Manchee – guitar
Simon Marchant – guitar
David Evans – bass
Cliff McLenehan – bass
Steve Goulding – drums
Nick Kenway – keyboards
Matthew Smith – vocals, violin, keyboards and bicycle frame

The Wiki page created by Kent Bands describe them as a post-punk collective who produced experimental DIY music, with songs formed out of improvised recordings.

They list one gig from 1981 at the Old Queens Head in Brixton and also list some related bands:
– Normil Hawaiians – who also appear on the East of Croydon compilation had Simon Pritchard, Simon Merchant and Cliff Dowton in it
– Jacob’s Ladder – had Simon Merchant
– Mumbling Maracas – had Rory Manchee and Nick Kenway

On the Shelflife post, David Evans commented. From it we know that he wasn’t a fan of the song “Leisure” but that he remembers recording it at the Mousehole Studio in Orpington.

Aside from this appearance they released two records. First a 7″ in their own Strange Orchestra Records (CAMP 1) with the songs “L’ Orange”, “Sally” and “Orange Cut”. This came out in 1981 and was produced by Pete Leggert.

The second release by the band was a 12″ on the same label in 1982. The EP was called “Those Far Off Summers” (CAMP 2), included two songs by side. On the A side “Ever Ready (Mind)” and “Bat Baby” and on the B side “First Time” and “Too Fat to Frug”. This record was recorded at Ariwa Sound Studio in Thorton Heath.

It’s said that the lyrics for “Too Fat to Frug” were inspired by the novel “The Crying of Lot 49” by Thomas Pynchon. The record was mixed by Neil Frazer.

David Evans mentions on the Shelflife blog that they had started demoing for a third EP but their distributor went bankrupt before they could record in the studio. He says they were sounding a bit like pre-Madchester. I was able to track three songs from that studio rehearsal thanks to a blog called Die or DIY. The songs are “The Man with the Prehensile Nose”, “The Old Man Cried” and “Yellow Socks”. It seems this EP was going to be called “Candies EP”.

This same blog has an extensive post about the band. From there you can download all their studio recordings as well as the live gig that was listed in the Kent bands Wiki. Also they link to a clip of John Peel introducing the song “Too Fat to Frug”.

It seems Rory Manchee was in touch with this blog. He recalls the music they were listening at the time an influencing their sound, how they ended up on Illuminated Records, and a bit about Kevin Armstrong (who appears on the East of Croydon comp) becoming a celebrity of sorts in Orpington as he ended up playing on records by Prefab Sprout and playing with Bowie and Iggy Pop. But I guess the important bit on this blog post is why the Candies EP wasn’t released. It’s said that the band split, that there were some musical differences already and they all started either to study or to work or even to start families.

As mentioned earlier, some of the band members joined the Normil Hawaiians. Simon Pritchard self-released some cassette albums with the names “Handle Had a Candle” and “Dog-Like Jeans”. Nick and Rory played in various bands along Richard Fromby (who had played with the Jazz Butcher) and Alaric Neville (from the Bridewell Taxis and the Ukrainians).

These days Rory makes music under the name Wharf99, it’s electronic music though, very different to Greenfield Leisure, and it seems he is living in Australia.

What else do any of you remember by them? Are the other members making music too (I found some info for Simon Marchant, based now in Faversham, and seems that he is still making music under the name Zinta and the Zoots)? What other gigs did they play? Difficult to pinpoint this post-punk band, but at their finest moments they were making amazing proto-indiepop music!

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Listen
Greenfield Leisure – Leisure

09
May

10 days away from Popfest and things seem to be quiet once again in indiepop world. I guess the only noteworthy thing that happened last week was Papa Topo’s new video “Ópalo Negro“. This is the promo single for the same titled album that will be released the 17th of June. It’s a fantastic song that sounds a lot like one of Spain’s heroes, Carlos Berlanga. Can’t wait for the whole album.

Now on secret or kind of secret news, I had the chance to hear the new EP by fellow New Yorkers Pale Lights. It’s called “Seánce for Something” and it’s coming out on May 23rd. I’m not a hundred percent what format it will be released, I’m guessing as a 7″. I hope so at least. The band is still working on their 2nd LP, and if it’s anything like the beauty I hear on this EP, well, it might be a contender for best album for the year, whatever year it is going to be released. There are four songs in this EP, “Mother Cries”, “Girl in the Park”, “Alone in this Room” and “Sweetheart”. It feels like the sound of the band has gotten more and more layers. And I really enjoy the girl backing vocals in the songs. I think the band is growing better and better!!

In a way it’s kind of good that there are not that many news. I’m thinking of raiding the merch tables at Popfest. Not that I’m missing many things from the bands playing, but you never know. Also Chris Jigsaw is coming and he always brings a lot of goodies.

Also if anyone wants any particular Cloudberry releases please let me know and I’ll bring them to the festival for you. Can save you some postage. The same goes for anyone in Mexico City as I’ll be visiting in around 3 weeks. Just drop me a note through here, to the email or Facebook. It all works.

Anyhow, am I forgetting anything else? Is there any cool new releases that deserve my attention? I know the C87 box set has announced a release date for June 10th. That is an important release to get even though one knows almost EVERY song, but it’s always nice to read the booklet.

And whatever happened to the Twee.net poll for this year? It seems open still! What a shame.

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote this on the Ferocious Apaches post:
The last bit of information I found is a poll from 1987 where the band gets the 10th place on the”What’s Your Favourite Local Band?” question. On the first place is Dance Stance who I don’t know who they are. Fetch Eddie (also covered in the blog) appear on 8th place.

Well, a little digging doesn’t hurt, right? I had to check who the Dance Stance were. Maybe they were good!

I find that they released one 7″ single in 1986 n What Records (WR 73). The A side was “The Other Side of Paradise” while the B side was “The Sweetest Pain”. I find the A side song on Youtube and I think to myself, this is a very fine tune!!

Beautiful guitars and then some trumpets! And the melodies remind me a lot of many Australian bands of the 80s like The Hummingbirds or The Falling Joys. Sure, Dance Stance are English, but what can I do? They just remind me of them! And it’s a good thing! I love all these bands.

Haven’t had the chance to hear the B side “The Sweetest Pain”, but did find on Youtube a video for “Gather the People“. Not very sure where this song comes from. Perhaps a demo tape. The video is said to have been shot in the late 80s by film students the band knew. It’s said that the audio is the result of a recording session at the Basement studios in London. The project was not completed as the band were ejected for excessive partying, Something at which the band excelled.

This song is a bit different to the one on the single. Maybe they were getting some Madchester influence by the late 80s.

And then we end on a website I’ve visited often, Tamworth Bands. Here we find out that the band started in 1984 and it seems at the beginning they were more of a soul band. The band was formed by:
Paul Hanlon – lead vocals
Neil Sheasby – bass guitar
Nick Thomas – lead guitar
Phil Ford – drums
Jim Stretton – trumpet

We do know though that on the record the band was formed by:
Paul Hanlon – vocals
Neil Sheasby – bass
Nick Read – lead guitar
Dik Delaney – keyboards
Phil Ford – drums & percussion

And they had the help of their “brass crew”, Guy Greenway on trumpet, Paul Tunnicliffe on tenor saxophone and Andy Codling on alto saxophone. So I wonder from what period of time is the band lineup listed on Tamworth Bands, before the single, or after the single?

Other credits on the single are the production by Paul Speare, the design by David Delaney and that the record was recorded at Ritch Bitch in Birmingham.

Sadly I don’t own this record, so if anyone has a spare copy please let me know. Would especially love to hear the B side!

Anyhow, what else can we find on the web? Well, they played a lot of gigs all the way up until 1990 at venues like Aston University or The Rathole among others. We find too that the band was originally from Atherstone.
Atherstone  is a town and civil parish in the English county of Warwickshire. Located in the far north of the county, Atherstone forms part of the border with Leicestershire along the A5 national route, and is only 4.5 miles from Staffordshire. It lies midway between the larger towns of Tamworth and Nuneaton and contains the administrative offices of North Warwickshire Borough Council.
Atherstone has a long history dating back to Roman times. An important defended Roman settlement named Manduessedum existed at Mancetter near the site of modern day Atherstone, and the Roman road, the Watling Street (now known as the A5) ran through the town. It is believed by some historians that the rebel Queen of the Britons, Boudica was defeated at the Battle of Watling Street by the Romans in her final battle near Manduessedum. The Domesday Book of 1086, records that Atherstone was held by Countess Godiva.

On a clipping from 1989, from the Tamworth Herald, a gig of theirs at the legendary Mean Fiddler venue in London we learn the name of a bunch of other songs by the band like “Certain Feeling”, “Like Brother”, “Mighty Mighty”, “Push Comes to Show”, “Grandma’s Philosophy” and Reward”. Did they record any of these? On the same clipping it’s said that the band was signing a major management contract with Goodyer Associates. That’s cool, but it seems this didn’t help them much as one would have hoped for them to release more records. What a pity.

Also in 1989 the band appeared on TV on the tv programme “Opportunity Knocks”. This appearance is not on Youtube sadly. Wonder what song they played.

But I guess the most important news I could find on the site was that the band also released a CD single in 1987. Those days this was seen as very prestigious and rare. Not many bands were doing CD singles then. In it 4 songs were included, “The Other Side of Paradise”, “Heaven Help Me”, “Love Parade” and “Falling Down”. The latter three songs were recorded at Paul Spear’s Expresso Bong studios. 1000 copies were pressed. I haven’t see this CD single on Discogs. Would love to track it down and listen to the other three songs!

Then the sad news. Paul Hanlon, the vocalist passed away in 2001. I found out through the Tamworth Herald, that has some news for a memorial football match taking place September 22 in 2013.

Does anyone else remember them? Would be nice to know more about them, and hopefully listen to those other songs they recorded and even watch their tv appearance!

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Listen
Dance Stance – The Other Side of Paradise

02
May

It’s already May. The month of NYC Popfest. And what’s new in the P!O!P! world?

Well, Silver Screen is going to be playing Popfest. This has been a late announcement and I’m very happy about it. I love Cris Miller’s project and was lucky to work with him on a 3″ Cloudberry single back in the day and later on his second album on Plastilina Records. That album is truly a masterpiece and it was no surprise that Fastcut Records has reissued it on vinyl. Can’t be missed.

On other news Linda Guilala, Vigo, Spain’s favourites, has just released a new video for “Cosas Nuevas“. This song is their latest single and will also appear on their new album “Pisconáutica” to be released on Elefant on June 10th. I suggest turning up the volume as it’s the best way to enjoy all the layers of sounds and Eva’s vocals.

Firestation have 6 new releases coming out May 13th. That’s quite a lot! So we have:
– Start – Heute Nacht LP
– Big Gun – Heard About Love EP (this is not a 7″ like the original issue but a 12″ that includes 3 demos too)
– Yeah Jazz – 30 Years LP (maybe the most exciting release from them all. 19 song compilation!)
– Peppermint Parlour – Whatever Happend to Pop Songs (this is a 12″ reissue, same songs as the original. Now, “Pep Sounds” should be released some day!)
– Me and Dean Martin – Let’s Romantisice Our Youth (I was talking earlier on with Me and Dean Martin about doing this release in the Cloudberry Kitchen, but they found another home it seems. Always a bit disappointed when things like this happen of course, but in the end what matters is that the songs get released anyways! 13 songs and I can’t wait for this! So many favourite songs in here!)
– Endless Bob Brown – S/T (17 songs!! Wow. Not to be missed, classic jangle pop!)

Shelflife had some news too, the single “Mi Amor” by Red Sleeping Beauty will be released on March 25th! Such a fantastic song, it is becoming hard to wait and wait for the new album Red Sleeping Beauty will be releasing later this year.

Djustin is the collaboration by Johan Angergård from Acid House Kings, Club 8, etc etc, and our friend Rose Suau from the amazing Shoestrings and Invisible Twin. They’ve been unveiling songs every couple of weeks on Soundcloud and I’m really enjoying them. It’s not exactly indiepop, but synthpop with indiepop spirit if that makes any sense! Their EP is to be released this month too!

Maybe I’m missing something? What else is coming out that deserves our attention?

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Such a long time since I visited Cardiff in Wales, but it wasn’t that long ago on the blog that I wrote about Bomb and Dagger, a Cardiff band, and I said:
The other listing Discogs has is that from them appearing on the compilation “0222 A Compilation of Cardiff Bands” that was released by Popdy (catalog Popdy 101). In this compilation also appears the band Papas New Faith that I should definitely cover as they are truly great! Anyhow, the song that Bomb and Dagger contributed in this LP was “Strike”. I like that Discogs mentions on the notes that 2 of the bands on it went to form Super Furry Animals and Catatonia. Funny, I guess some care about those bands!

So today I thought covering Papas New Faith. Back when I wrote that I only knew that one song that appears on that compilation. That song was “This House” and it’s a brilliant one. It’s pure jangle pop from the mid 80s, but the rest of the songs I’ve been listening online are quite different. Much rockier!

They had two proper releases, both in 1988.  The compilation with “This House” dates from 1989. Maybe they were becoming poppier in their later years?

The same titled 12″, released on Garage Records (GAR 001) included three songs, on the A side the song “Shine“, and o the B side we find “All the Same To Me” and “Parallel View“.

Their second release was another 12” with 3 songs. Again on Garage Records (GAR 002) this one had “Through the Roof” on the A side and “Mystery Train” and “Every Trip” on the B side.

As I’ve found the songs on Youtube I’ve linked them for you. They are all on the same account, from one comment I read I deducted he was a friend and a fan of the band.

What’s even greater on this account is that they have uploaded demo tracks from the band. We can find: “Dirty Earth“, “Shine” and “Burn the Boat“, the three coming from their first demo tape titled “Shake Your Head Until You’re Tired!”. Other songs included in this demo were “One Way Out” and “Flawless”.

There are also two recordings from the Janice Long show on Radio One. There’s “Bring You” and “Gather Up“.

But those are not all the goodies in this account. Two live TV appearances are available: the band performing “One Way Out” on the Juice programme in 1987, and “Dirty Earth” at the same show.

Luckily the band members are also listed on these youtube clips:
Martyn Jensen – vocals
Kevin Jensen – keyboards, guitars
Alex Silva – guitars, sax
Mike Ormsby – bass
Kris Ayre – drums

Mike Ormsby, 5 years ago, commented on one of the videos saying he was living long term in Transylvania in Romania, but at the moment he was in Azerbaijan, by way of Chad in Africa. Wonder what he does for a living!

I keep digging and I found an interview to Dave Owens on We Are Cardiff. Dave Owens seems to be a true Cardiff music connoisseur, as the intro to this interview says, he is at every decent Cardiff gig wearing his coat and holding a pint. When asked about the bands he remembers from his youth he mentions Papas New Faith. He recalls the Chapter Arts Center who promoted live music most nights of the week in the original Chapter Bar. He says of Papas New Faith the following: …fantastic should-have-beens such as Papa’s New Faith (featuring Alex Silva – now in house engineer at Hansa Studios in Berlin, but better known as the producer of The Manics’ Futurology and The Holy Bible).

This same Alex Silva seems to have been working on a bunch of big movies and all. This is his website it seems. Got there through an All Wales forum. A chap called Simon says: “yeah he was with papas new faith with Jamie from the hope they were the last ever band to play on the old grey whistle test. knew him well and his brother Naz, his mum Suzanna owned the chippy we all hung out in caerphilly but lost touch nearly 30 years ago. looking at his website and the people his producing i should imagine he is a multi millionaire by now”.

From there I learn that Alex Silva was in another band called Street 66 “Alex Silva was the lead singer/ guitarist with Street 66, saw them many times supporting Steve Marriott at the new Ocean club and the Colours and other bands at a few places as well. He’s gone on to be quite successful in the music business, producing and stuff.”

What about the other members? What happened to them? Were they involved with other bands? And was this all their recorded output? The compilation song, plus the two singles plus the demo tape? I wonder if they had more songs sounding like “This House”, that song is such a gem!!

Anyone remember them?

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Listen
Papas New Faith – This House

29
Apr

I wrote some months ago about The Man Upstairs on the blog. I love this band and I was terribly happy when Nigel got in touch with me! Immediately I asked if I could interview him and learn more about the band as there isn’t that much written about them online. He agreed and here we are! Looking forward definitely to that retrospective album that The Man Upstairs are working on!

++ Hello Nigel! Thanks a lot for getting in touch and for the interview! It’s so cool that The Man Upstairs have a website with so many goodies, especially all those songs available for listening. Thanks so much for that! Since when has it been up and who maintains it?

It is a fabulous site but I have no idea who put it together or who maintains it. It must be a secret!!! I would love to be involved.

++ There are so many questions about The Man Upstairs, but first I want to ask you about a 7″ single that Discogs lists as yours with the songs “Summa” and “Gospel According to Mark”. This record doesn’t appear on your website. What is this about?

This 7 inch single appeared on the now defunct Clockhouse Records in 1982 and was recorded at Keele, Staffordshire. Side one featured a Cure inspired track written by Rodney Blake: he named the song after his girlfriend ‘Summa’. It was Rod who originally formed the band with bass player Graham Sharp. Side two is a song written by myself and Rod about a local guy, Mark, who was obsessed with fashion and posing!! We screen printed the covers ourselves and sold out in a few weeks. This led to a deal with Birmingham based company Graduate Records who also signed UB40 and The Chameleons. Although we recorded several tracks for Graduate the company folded before any were released.

++ So let’s start from the beginning. What are your first musical memories from when you were a kid? Who or what influenced you to be a musician?

My first musical memories are from school in Kent when I used to make up lyrics and tunes about my mates. My parents listened to Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and had a Dansette record player. I remember my Dad coming home with a Kinks record and my mum hating it: I loved it!! The first single I bought was Rocking Robin by Michael Jackson and first album was Fog on the Tyne by Lindisfarne…work that one out!! I always wanted to be a singer-songwriter and finally got the opportunity at university when I met Rod and Graham. It was Punk and New Wave that inspired us most. I remember hearing The Sex Pistols and was blown away and when I heard Joe Jackson’s Sunday Papers and his brilliant lyrics I finally knew that songs didn’t have to be about love etc…you could really say something and get it off your chest. Song writing is the best therapy!!

++ And who was first Terry and Gerry or The Man Upstairs? Just trying to get the chronology right. And had you been involved in any other bands at the time already?

The Man Upstairs was first but the bands overlapped for a few years. My first band was a punk outfit called Private Public formed in 1977. We came last in a Stoke on Trent band competition, but got 10 out of 10 for star quality!! The other groups were all prog’ rock or AOR.

++ How did The Man Upstairs start as a band? Who were the members and how did you all know each other?

I was playing a gig with Private Public at Keele University and Rod and Graham were there. They were looking for a singer for their new band The Man Upstairs and I jumped at the chance. We were all students and had the same taste in music. We loved the Cure, XTC etc and wanted to do something different from the bands around the Midlands at that time. Rupert Knowlden was recruited on drums and the line-up was complete. We had a keyboard player for the first concert but he didn’t fit in. We played all over the country and moved to Birmingham in 1983. When Graduate Records folded Rod and Graham left the band: myself and Rupert took a new direction with the help of co-lead singer Carolyn Bennett, Tim Simpson on bass and Alan Smyth on guitar (Smitty later produced The Arctic Monkeys). We stripped the sound down, added a jazz tinge and sweeter harmonies. Once again it was a change inspired by dissatisfaction with the bands around at the time and our collective musical interest.

++ Why the name The Man Upstairs? Where does it come from?

Graham Sharp came up with the name. It is a nickname for God!! He even wore a dog collar on stage as a punk metaphor!!

++ You were based in Birmingham. How was your town then? Were there any like-minded bands? What were the good venues were you used to hang out?

It was a fantastic place in the 80’s and still is now. There were some fabulous bands such as The Mighty Lemon Drops, Mighty Mighty, Ruby Turner and the venues were vibrant and packed. The best ones were Peacocks, The Click Club, Holy City Zoo, Barbarellas. There was a great music paper Brumbeat which fuelled the new music of the time and promoters like Dave Travis (later Oasis’s Midlands promoter) who were essential to the scene. The radio stations were brave enough to give airplay to local and underground bands…wish that was true now!! We all hung out in the pubs in Moseley, Gas Street and mainly at the Click Club. I met my wife there when she was being chatted up by Edwyn Collins (previously from Orange Juice)!! I am very lucky to have been in Brum at that time.

++ In 1985 you released the “Sad In My Heart” 7″ on Sideline Records. Who were they and how did you ended up in this label?

Sideline Records were part of the Cartel, along with Cherry Red, Rough Trade, Intape and a bunch of other brilliant indie labels. They also had a connection with Red Rose Records in Paris and someone from there saw us at Rock City in London and that’s how the deal came about.

++ I think the B side, “Country Boy”, is such an amazing song. I was wondering if you could tell me the story behind this song? And also what do you remember about the recording session for this single?

At the risk of sounding pretentious it’s a song that explores and challenges the expected roles of men and women in relationships: hence the lines ‘She wears a tie’ and ‘With his hands in the sink’. As with all the music I write and like I try to see things from a different angle. I also love washing machines which feature a lot in this song. The ‘Country Boy’ reference is based on a guy I knew who had just moved to Brum from a small village and the culture clash he experienced. It’s also a reference to Country Music which at the time was very unfashionable but we loved it!! It’s the only song I’ve ever come across with the word Swarfega in it: used in garages..thought by some as the domain of men: but not us.

I seem to remember the recording session was at Smitty’s studio in Sheffield. It didn’t take long to put down and we were all excited that it turned out so well. We went for a curry afterwards and I got food poisoning!!

++ Just afterwards you released the “Consumer EP” and the “Consumer Song” 7″. Why was this song, “Consumer Song”, released in two different formats and versions, and even with two different sleeves?

? It was Sideline’s idea to exploit two different markets: UK and Europe. I am very proud of both and Carolyn does a fab job singing. Somewhere there is a version of me singing Consumer Song too.

++ For this record there has been some changes in the lineup. What happened?

What happened was Terry and Gerry! I had co-founded the band with Terry Lilley, at first as a bit of fun but it took off in a small way and we were soon doing John Peel sessions, appearing on TV shows and playing all over the UK, Europe and America. I could not commit as much time to The Man Upstairs as I wanted to so I reluctantly left the band. It was a bit upsetting for everyone but the band continued and developed. Carolyn and Rupert re-jigged the band: Mick Vousden replaced Smitty and Chris Jones came in on bass. I think it was a fab line-up.

++ I like the artwork for all of your releases, I was wondering how much of control did you have over that?

Total control. That is the beauty of indie labels. The cover for Consumer Song 7’ was s skit on the T.V advert at the time where a hunky guy shrinks his jeans in the bath: in keeping with the blind consumerism theme of the song.

++ On the website there are songs dating back to 1982, 1983. A bunch of these demos never got around to be released. But I was wondering, as it was the fashion of those times, were these released in demo tapes perhaps and sold at gigs?

We never thought of selling demos at gigs: I don’t know why. There were some bootlegs knocking about but as with all bands like ours we didn’t think commercially: we just wanted to play our music and have fun. In the last years we did sell the vinyl.

++ Also there is an unreleased album from 1988. It included 13 songs. What happened to it? Why was it never released?

It was a compilation of everything we had recorded and will be released next year. I am in the process of putting the wheels in motion.

++ Was there any major label interest in the band?

All the majors came to see us at some point and we did meet with several suits in big offices but it never happened. I think we were a risk, too indie and to be honest didn’t care that much for corporate music. We were, and are, an indie band. The money would have been nice though!!

++ From this huge amount of songs you recorded, which were your favourite songs and why?

‘Sad in My Heart’ and ‘Country Boy’ are great because they cemented the new direction of the band after Graham and Rod left. My total fav though is ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dentist’ because it was made into a short film which featured the band, myself and a potato!! I’m proud of all of the records and the musicians on them. ‘I Bet They’re Missing Me Downstairs’ is another favourite because it’s about my old flat and feeling lonely.

++ And just out of curiosity, are there even more recordings other than all the ones on the website?

Yes. They will be on the new CD.

++ I read that you were an opening band for The Smiths. I’m sure many would be very curious about that experience. Any anecdotes you could share?

We toured with the Smiths in 1984 or 85: I can’t remember. They were so good to us and so helpful. It was a fabulous experience, from Johnny Marr coming up to me and Rupert to tell us a bunch of girls wanted our autographs, to Morrissey appearing on BBC Radio One and reviewing our single with the words ‘I know these people , we have toured together and they are great.’ Their audience at times wasn’t the most appreciative but it was an unforgettable experience.

++ What about gigging in general? Did you like it better than going to the studio? What were your favourite gigs with The Man Upstairs and why?

I prefer live shows to studio sessions but the two go hand in hand. There were loads of memorable gigs with TMU but Durham springs to mind. We played at 4.00am at an all-night Festival and our rider was a crate of champagne. We got to the venue at 3.00pm so you can imagine what state we were in by the time we went on. Rupert went to the toilet halfway through a song!! We were so different to many bands at the time in that all the gigs were well received. The MAC Arts Centre in Brum was another great night: not boasting but the audience wouldn’t let us leave the stage!!

++ Is there any gig you played that was so bad that you think is better to never remember?

No not really, but I’ve probably seared it from my memory. In the early days with Graham and Rodney we played with a couple of bands from Liverpool and ended up fighting with them in the dressing room. Not pleasant but we won.

++ David Travis commented on my blog post saying he was the band manager, taking photos and shooting the videos. How was that experience with him? And which videos are these he talks about? And where are those videos? Certainly not on Youtube!

Dave Travis is a fabulous photographer and promoter. He worked for Graduate Records at the time and shot a video for ‘I Only Work Here’. It will hopefully appear on YouTube when the new CD comes out. Dave has just done a new session with Terry and Gerry and we are still mates. He was more than just our manager, he was like a member of the band. He has an exhibition in Birmingham at the moment called ‘The History of Alternative Music’ at The Parkside Gallery, Birmingham City University which features pics from the 1970 onwards of indie bands and venues.

++ What about the press and radio play? Did you feel there was good support for the band?

The companies we worked with did a good job and employed pluggers and press people but I think we could have got more coverage. It’s never too late though? We got a lot of coverage in Japan but never went which is a real shame.

++ Were you involved at all with the fanzine culture that was very important in the UK during the mid eighties?

To a certain extent, but what’s frustrating is that I have no copies anymore. Fanzines, in a pre-internet era, were the underground way people got to know new bands, and without them there would have been no new movement in music. Sites like yours are doing the same job for a new generation…Wonderful.

++ When and why did The Man Upstairs split? What did you all do afterwards?

After my departure in 1986 the band continued but the guys drifted apart and wanted to do other things. It seemed at the time to have run its course, as had the vibrant venue scene and bands in Birmingham. Raves and Dance Music were the new fad and a lot of the old venues closed or hired D.J’s instead of bands. Carolyn went to live in France, Rupert now promotes bands in the Midlands, Tim Simpson still plays bass, Alan Smyth produces bands and writes fabulous songs, Graham Sharp is a top lawyer and still plays bass, Rodney Blake is teaching as well as playing trumpet and guitar, Mick Vousden is still playing and Chris Jones is involved in The Arts.

++ Are you all still in touch? What are you doing these days? Still making music?

I saw Rupert when my band supported Status Quo in Wolverhampton last year and I’m still in touch with all the guys although we haven’t met up for ages. I have fond memories of The Man Upstairs and would love a reunion.
In the early 1990’s I worked in Nashville as a professional songwriter and back in the UK collaborated with Alison Moyet, co-writing on an album project. I also penned numerous TV themes, three musicals, two film scores and wrote and presented for BBC Radio 2. My band at the time, ‘Gerry Colvin’s Inexperience’, was a fusion of Soul, R and B and Folk-Country and we became a firm favourite on the College circuit.

In 1993 I formed the folk-pop band ‘The Atlantics’: we toured extensively including a slot at Glastonbury Festival, where I was also M.C, and appeared on BBC’s ‘Pebble Mill at One’. My other major project at this time was film music as vocalist with ‘The National Screen Orchestra’; I also performed as a comedy double act with Hollywood superstar Mackenzie Crook.

In 1995 I co-founded the five piece folk band Colvinquarmby. We released six critically acclaimed albums and were voted best band at the prestigious Fairport Convention Cropredy Festival in 2009. In 2010 we won the Hancock Award for ‘Best Live Folk Act’. In May 2013 I was invited by New York producer and Robert Plant song collaborator Dave Barratt to record ‘Revolution’ for the ‘Beatles complete on ukulele’ album and website.

In 2014 I released a self-penned solo album ‘Jazz Tales of Country Folk’ and have just put out my new CD ‘Six of One half a Dozen of the Other’ which features ten brand new original songs.

In 2015 I became President of The Knitted Character Folk Festival, an annual celebration of alternative Folk Music and Knitting in Warwickshire. UK. This year’s event takes place on June 4th. www.knittedcharacterfolkfestival.co.uk it’s a mad event where the audience listens to great music and knits!!!

In 2015 I reformed ‘Terry and Gerry’ and was invited to support Status Quo on a nationwide tour. Terry and Gerry also appeared at Glastonbury this year following the release of their new EP ‘Dear John’.

As well as my new album I am working on a book ‘The Rabbits of Zakynthos’ due out later this year and a Man Upstairs compilation CD.

++ Then aside from music, what other hobbies do you have Nigel?

I love going to gigs, discussing The Prisoner, and drinking!!

++ Looking back, what would you say was the biggest highlight for The Man Upstairs?

Playing some great concerts, getting a record deal, touring with The Smiths and still being remembered by a select few all these years later. I’m hoping there will be new highlights in the future too!!

++ Let’s wrap it here, though first I usually like asking this question. Are you still based in Birmingham, if so, and if you don’t mind, I was wondering if you could suggest the sights, places, bars or restaurants that one shouldn’t miss if you were to visit your town?

I now live in Stratford upon Avon which is not far from Brum. If you visit Birmingham don’t miss the Canal Basin in Gas Street (The first street ever to be gas lit), Moseley Village for bohemian bars and shops, The Ikon Gallery in Broad Street and for music The Hare and Hounds or The Kitchen Garden Café, both in Kings Heath. Hope you visit soon and catch a gig.
www.gerrycolvin.com

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

You are an absolute STAR. Keep up the great work.

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Listen
Man Upstairs – Country Boy