26
Jun

After the good two weeks of releases, Pale Spectres 7″ and The Potting Sheds CD, there’s a little calm now at Cloudberry. But that doesn’t mean the excitement disappears. There’s a new 7″ ready to go to press and it will be announced later this week through our Facebook page. That’s not all, we are already talking to a band we love for a retrospective CD, to be the 10th Cloudberry Cake Kitchen release. But wait, there’s even more. Just got four songs to be mastered by a new Swedish band. Yes, that will be yet another 7″, as we start getting closer to the 50th 7″ release on the label. Here at Cloudberry we don’t stop loving our indiepop!

This week I have even more indiepop news, some a bit older now, but maybe you’ve missed them. So let’s start!

Teenage Superstars is a new documentary that was just screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film is directed by Grant McPhee, same person behind the Big Gold Dream documentary we all bought DVDs not so long ago! On this documentary Grant covers the time after Big Gold Dream, the time of bands like The Pastels, BMX Bandits, Soup Dragons, The Vaselines and more. I can’t wait for it to be released on DVD or screened somewhere in NYC.  There’s a Facebook page for the film.

Desperate Journalist, a band I’ve raved and championed many times in the blog, have a new video out for the song “Why Are You So Boring?“. This is the 4th single taken from their second album, “Grow Up” and I’m very happy about it as it is one of my favourite songs in there. The video is a collage of the band at different gigs and other snippets of videos, and it includes the lyrics for singing along. Great stuff!

Andreas Dorau is releasing his 10th studio album “Die Liebe und der Ärger der Anderen” on July 7th. To promote the record (which comes in either double CD, double vinyl, as a box set including the album and a flexi disc and tape), Dorau has put together a video for the song “Ossi mit Schwan“. Now, how to get myself a copy on this side of the Atlantic? I’m sure it won’t be easily found here…

Peruvian band Almirante Ackbar also has new videos. They are promoting their new album “Sonidos Ultrasónicos y Audibles Para Callar al Perro del Vecino” which will be out on July 14th. In the past three weeks two videos have appeared on their Facebook. The first one was for the song “Fiebre de la Amplitud“, a song I actually played on my podcast a long time ago. The second song was just published today and it is called “Alquimia Espiritual” and sounds ace. Hope the album gets released in physical format!

Jetstream Pony is the new project of Shaun Charman from The Fireworks (and previously Wedding Present and The Popguns) and Beth Arzy fr0m The Fireworks/Luxembourg Signal/Trembling Blue Stars. They have so far 2 demo songs on their Soundcloud, “Out of Reach” and “Not the One”, and as you can expect by the people involved, they sound brilliant. The Croydon/Brighton band is preparing alongside the fantastic Augsburg label Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten a 7″ that will include two other songs, “Like You Less” and “Had Enough”. This is very promising, hopefully the band keeps the songs coming!

Lastly a band I discovered before I traveled to Finland. I was looking for any gigs while I was going to be there and well, couldn’t find any. But I found a poppy band that I thought sounded quite nice, The New Tigers. It seems they’ve been going for some years now and have a couple of releases. Their latest, the “Vindications EP”, dating from 2016. You can check them out on Bandcamp of course. The band hails from Turku, a town I actually visited for a day and really enjoyed the vibe alongside the river, and the castle of course. To my surprise Ville, who I met once upon a time in NYC when he was playing with Cats on Fire, is the drummer of this band! I didn’t know this connection, I really liked all the music he was involved with, and at some point we talked about some project he was making with his then girlfriend. I think some recordings were made, but I never got to listen to them. I’m sure I would have loved them. But it is good to see that he continues making music with the New Tigers but also solo with his new project Verandan. Soliti, their label, has a song available for streaming “Gold in the Hills” and sounds classic. Loving it!

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This week post comes courtesy of the Fanning Sessions blog really. Last week he sent me a message saying that a reader was compiling a radio show and asked him if he wanted to request any songs. He picked “Road of the Lonely” by Bam Bam and the Calling,  and then he shared it with me.

I had no clue who they were. First time I heard their long name. The song sounded good. The quality and the style told me it was from the 80s. They were definitely Irish, Fanning Sessions only deals with the Irish. But what else? My first instinct was to check out Discogs.

There I would find immediately a small biography and thanks to that I was going to get some perspective:

From Derry, Northern Ireland, Bam Bam and The Calling were formed in 1983 by Paul McCartney, ex of late 70s punk band Graffiti, with Tom Doherty. They are best known now for That Petrol Emotion taking their name from the title of one of their songs. The band split sometime towards the end of the 1980s, although they reformed in September 2000 for a one-off charity gig in aid of Derry City Football Club.

Paul P J McCartney: Vocals & Guitar
John McCloskey: Guitar
Joe Brown: Bass
Thomas Doherty: Drums

Three releases being listed. The first one from 1987 is a single that came out on both 7″ and 12″ format. It was released by Great Records (catalog GREAT 01) and included the songs “Scraping Off the Shine” and “Colum McKeever Sings“. The 12” also included on the B side another song, “Presley”. The producer for this record was Sean O’Neil from That Petrol Emotion. David Ros was the engineer. The record was recorded at Greenhouse Studios in London.

In 1988 the band was to release another single, again in both formats. The same label, Great Records (catalog GREAT 02), released it. The songs on the 7″ were “Neck Tattoo” and “Cautious Navigations”. The 12″ added on the B side the song “Glory”.

The other release listed is a split flexi shared with the band Man Ray. The song Bam Bam and the Calling contributed was “New Surroundings”. It seems this flexi came along the Helden Magazine (catalog HL03).

My next stop ends up being the great website Irish Rock. On it there are some cool old photos and flyers. They have an extended biography there, one that says that That Petrol Emotion took their name from a song of Bam Bam and the Calling. There was a link, an early lineup of Bam Bam had Raymond Gorman who was to join That Petrol Emotion. When this happened Bam Bam split for a while. That was around 1983 or 84. Only in 1985 the band reconviened.

The band appeared on “Channel One” on BBC NI in 1986 performing two songs, “New Surroundings” and “Talking Aloud” live at The Venue in Derry.

It seems there was a live tape recorded at the Gweedore Bar in 1986 that was probably sold at gigs or as a bootleg.

The band split just before 1990. Paul McCartney at this time briefly joined Rare, the post That Petrol Emotion band as he is credited in the 1990 single “Set Me On Fire”. Afterwards Paul formed The Deadly Engines and released records with Setanta.

Here also there’s a little more info about their reunion gig in 2000. They opened for The Moondogs and The Undertones. Since then the band has performed occasionally.

Irish Rock also includes some extra discography. For example a dateless demo tape that included the songs “Scraping Off the Shine”, “Secret Meeting”, “Presley”, “Neck Tattoo”, “Talking Aloud” and “Day 15”. Also a Radio Foyle session from February 1986 with the songs “Bad Getting Bigger”, “Give the Wings Back to Bird”, “I Call To You” and “Kitchen Dogs”.

Next up I stumble upon an old Myspace. There are a bunch of songs but the only one I can seem to stream is a demo version of “Talking Aloud”. The only other song I haven’t mentioned before is “Fencewire (live)”.

Then a sort of Wiki. Here I find that Paul had also been involved with a band called The Rural Felini where he was joined by his brothers Gavin and Rio as well as David Doherty. Also that John McCloskey, the guitarist from Bam Bam, was involved in the establishment of The Nerve Centre in Derry and in his guise as writer, director animator was nominated for a BAFTA award in 2008. Wow.

I found out too that Joe Brown is now involved in a band called The Gatefolds.

Well well, Fanning Sessions have a lot of information on Bam Bam and the Calling. The first post they did was in 2009. Then four songs were posted from the demo, “Talking Aloud”, “Scraping Off the Shine” and “Neck Tattoo”. Then there are a bunch of posts promoting gigs for the band, from 2011 and 2012. But the last post on the blog about them is one dating from 2013 and it is a Fanning Session from 1987! The songs here are “Road of The Lonely”, “Only Sing” and “Scraping Off the Shine”.

My last stop is Facebook. Yes, I could find a Facebook page for the band. Perhaps I should have started there, sent them a message, see if they could tell me the story. But maybe this way works too. Maybe they can fill in the blanks left by this post. Not much information or songs on their Facebook, but it does promote their gigs and the band seem to share videos of their influences. From it I stumbled upon a Soundcloud page with recordings of different bands the band members have been involved with.

Which is the song then that That Petrol Emotion took their name from? Were there any recordings from that first lienup of the band? Why didn’t they get to record more songs? Did they play in England perhaps? Many questions still to be asked. Does anyone remember them?

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Listen
Bam Bam and the Calling – Road of the Lonely

 

19
Jun

Hello! This is a very exciting time for Cloudberry!! Last Friday we released the long-awaited and ultra brilliant 7″ EP by the Pale Spectres from Paris. This Friday too we have yet another release, The Potting Sheds retrospective compilation “Leaving By the Back Door”! Both releases are the perfect soundtrack for this summer. And you can already order them both from our website.

Now onto more indiepop news all around the world. Remember the band Sea Blite whose video for the song “Cerulean” I recommended some weeks ago? Well the band was kind enough to send me a download code for their first EP. The self-titled 4 song EP is released on tape by Death Records but now you can also stream all four songs from the band’s Bandcamp. Now I can be sure to say that the band hails from San Francisco and that it is formed by Lauren Matsui on guitars and vocals, Galine Tumasyan on vocals and bass, Andrew Bush on drums and Jen Mundy on lead guitar. The songs are fantastic, I still like “Cerulean” the best but “Pretend”, “Woolly Sweater” and “Skeleton Couch” are no fillers, but proper good songs in their own right!

Kocliko Records is a new label from Bera, in Spain. Bera seems to be a small town in Navarre. Never heard of it but looks nice on photos. I should go sometime. This new label has made a splash in the indiepop world the last few weeks announcing a couple of releases. The first one is the Tomiji EP and it is a cracker. Who is Tomiji? Well, a good friend of mine, Thomas from Pale Spectres. Yes, Tomiji is his solo project and on this 7″ there are 4 fab pop songs that are not to be missed. The 7″ is not out yet (I’ll let you know when it is), but for now the four songs, “Let’s Flip a Coin”, “Home”, “I’ll Love You Forever” and “After All” are available from streaming on Bandcamp. A great debut that no indiepop lover should miss!

The second release the label has announced is by the band Business of Dreams. On the Bandcamp it doesn’t say much about this release or the band. On Facebook I find some information. The band is the solo project of Corey Cunningham from Los Angeles, CA. There are 10 songs  on the album and they sound pretty good! It is not straight-up indiepop, not the classic sound. But it is dreamy, elegant, classy pop, driven by synths. It sounds very 80s too. I like it. Another good release, so far both choices in Kocliko are pure gold.

Who are Port Sulphur? I don’t really know who are behind this band. I couldn’t find a Facebook page. But I found two songs on Bandcamp, part of a split single on The Creeping Bent Organisation. “Orient Express” is the song I love here, it even features James Kirk (!!) from Orange Juice, who actually co-wrote this song (and it shows!). It is just WOW! The second song is “Hope / Less”and features Alan Vega. This one is not really up my street. But I tell you, “Orient Express”, is there, a contender for my favourite song at least for June.

Last news for this week, and I still have a lot more to share, as I have said before now I’m keeping tabs on everything I see on the web that I feel is worthwhile! The label Discos de Kirlian from Barcelona, Spain, have a new 7″ out now by the Stockholm band We.The Pigs. The band is formed by Veronika and Martin, with Fredrik, Niklas, Johan and  one Cloudberry friend, Charley, who released a 3″ with his older band The Mare almost 10 years ago! Anyhow, this new 7″ EP has four songs, “Start Over”, “Too Young”, “Wake Up” and “Go Away”. And as usual you can stream the four tracks on Bandcamp. The band is actually playing a release show on July 5th at PSB alongside the band Venetian Blinds. Here is more info for the event. Wish I could be there!

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For this week I decided to do the same thing as last week, look into the archives of the fantastic series of the Sound of Leamington Spa. This time I picked up volume 4, and because I’ve been lately on an Irish sort of run on the blog, I decided to see what I could find about Beethoven’s Kiss.

First of all I must say that I don’t own their 7″. I don’t know how many copies were pressed. They only released the one. But from the liner notes included on the booklet I was going to learn a bit more about this band, which I thought was pretty obscure, but it isn’t so:
“The Wonder of You” was the last single release of Belfast band Victim in 1988. The band went under the name Beethoven’s Kiss for the one single because the recording was a departure from their normal punk style. The name was taken from the famous incident in classical music history when the master Beethoven kissed the young Franz Liszt during a performance to confirm his acknowledgement of his brilliance. The band pressed up the record themselves and it was never officially released, with copies going only to radio stations and record companies. The band comprised of Wes Graham on bass/vocals; Joe Moody on guitar/vocals; Kev Williams (formerly with Mick Hucknall’s Frantic Elevators) who joined the band on drums when Mike Joyce left to join The Smiths, and Toni Isaac on keyboards/backing vocals. The B-side of the single, “Don’t Break It” was a song Victim had been playing for years and features on a CD compilation of the band’s material released in March 2003 on Overground Records entitled “Everything”. It features Victim’s three singles and 15 previously unreleased tracks. Victim emerged from the burgeoning Ulster punk scene in 1977 and their first single “Strange Thing By Night” was released on Belfast’s Good Vibrations label. Victim were the first punk band to play the legendary Harp Bar in Belfast and moved to Manchester in 1979. There they signed to TJM Records and released two more singles. They toured the UK extensively and filled a six-week support slot supporting The Damned. Mike Joyce, who plays on several of the tracks on the new CD release, went to gain international fame in The Smiths. The band broke up in late 1988 a few months after recording “The Wonder of You”. Founder members Wes Graham and Joe Moody are currently recording new material for release later this year under the name WEBCORE.”

Ok the record was never officially released. That explains a couple of things. I check on Discogs the information for this release. According to this site it came out in 1989 and not in 1988 as the band says. Who is right? And the only interesting information here is that the songs were recorded at Square Studios in Bury, Lancashire. The record was released by the band’s own Akashic Records (catalog AK0001).

This name, Akashic, made me Google for their meaning and I learned a thing today, in theosophy and anthroposophy, the Akashic records are a compendium of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions and intent ever to have occurred, believed by theosophists to be encoded in a non-physical plane of existence known as the etheric plane. There are anecdotal accounts but no scientific evidence for existence of the Akashic records. Akasha (ākāśa आकाश) is the Sanskrit word for “aether” or “atmosphere”. Also, in Hindi, Akash (आकाश) means “sky” or “heaven”.

I look now into the Irish Music Database website. Here there are family trees for several bands. There are more connections with other bands. Already mentioned were Victim and The Frantic Elevators, but for example Joe Moody was in The Androids and Wes Graham and Joe Moody were in Emergency.

My next stop is a Victim biography on the Spit Records website. On it there is a whole paragraph dedicated to Beethoven’s Kiss:
In the ensuing months Wes and Joe set about recruiting a permanent replacement for Mike and had to debate whether or not to stick with the name Victim. Mike had been a close friend and his departure hit hard. After toying with the name Victim A.D., they opted to continue as Victim, occasionally going under the name Beethoven’s Kiss when they wanted to try out new material which was a departure from traditional punk. They brought in Kev Williams who had been drummer with The Frantic Elevators before Mick Hucknall split that band to form Simply Red. The recorded four tracks in 1985 for a promotional four-track cassette EP that attracted considerable interest and almost clinched a deal with Chrysalis Records. Next they recorded a single ‘The Strangest Stars’, which sadly was not released. They recruited Toni Isaac on keyboards – she was the girl leaning on the lamppost on Jilted John’s single of the same name! Victim then recorded ‘The Wonder of You’ (not the Elvis song) and ‘Don’t Break It’ in 1988 at Square One Studios in Bury, where Black were mixing ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ the same week. The songs were pressed up as a self-financed single released soon after on the band’s own Akashic Records and went out under the name Beethoven’s Kiss. The label on the sleeve states that the single was released in 1989, but according to the band it was released in 1988! The band were anxious to showcase the new melodic acoustic songs the band was developing, combined with the raunchiness of old Victim songs. The A side was a new song while ‘Don’t Break It’ was an old song Joe had written in Belfast some years earlier. Some months later the band recorded five new songs, which they felt confident would attract record company interest. However it was not to be and in 1990 Wes and Joe shelved the Victim/Beethoven’s Kiss project and brought the curtain down on the life of a band which had been in existence for just over a decade. For the record, a few other musicians who very briefly played in Victim were John Hawthrone, Simmo and Dave Goodlad.

So 4 songs were recorded at this session. Only 2 were released. Where are the other two songs?! I would love so much to hear them!

I looked for Webcore, to see if I could find Joe Moody. But I found no information about this band. Did they record anything? I did find a Youtube channel of his and it seems from it that he is still making music with the band Joe Zero. I just heard the song “Rock n’ Roll Wars” which is a preview of their upcoming album and it is a lot of fun!

Not much more to add about Beethoven’s Kiss. It seems it was just a one-off that left at least one fabulous song (I haven’t had the chance to hear the B-side yet! so I can’t say if I like it or not!). There are 2 more recordings at least but I cross my fingers there are more from this period. Why did Victim change their sound? Why did they decided to change names? Why wasn’t the record officially released? Why no one picked up this record and release it? So many questions, very few answers. Did the band play live as Beethoven’s Kiss at all?  Any of you remember them?

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Listen
Beethoven’s Kiss – The Wonder of You

14
Jun

Thanks so much to Richard Hall for answering a bunch of my questions! I got in touch with Jo Bisseker, the vocalist of The Love Buttons, a month ago. She kindly got me in touch with Richard who was able to answer me many of my questions about this Ambition Records band that released one classic (and in my book legendary) 12″ record. A fabulous record indeed that leaves you wondering why they didn’t release any more records.

++ Hi! Thanks so much for being up for this interview. I’m really thrilled to interview you as I really like the songs you released back in the day. Your 12″ is one of my favourites from the period. I guess we could start by who were The Love Buttons? What instruments each of you played? And how did you got together? What year was it?

Basically….the band was invented in my HEAD. I was living with Pete Briggs. I’d played bass a bit in covers bands and Pete was/is a tip top drummer. We pretended to be a band called The Buttons (in reality just an IDEA) and put up an ad at the University in Southampton. After a while Jo replied. She came round with her guitar and her fantastic songs. After about 10 seconds I realised that she wrote great songs. Really great!!! We laugh about it now but I was shy in those days and I was jumping around saying ‘you’re IN!!”. We were a 3 piece to begin with. We used to do a cover of ‘So Sad About Us’ by The Who.  Breeders copied our idea!!

++ Who came up with the name of the band? I think originally you were called The Buttons. What’s the story behind it?

We changed our name from The Buttons to The Love Buttons because we thought it was a bit edgy!!!

++ You were based in Southampton. How was it growing up and having a band there? Were there many venues to play?  Were there any other like-minded bands?

We played lots of gigs…a lot of times at the Joiners…we supported some cool bands…The Family Cat. Jane Pow.  After a time Paul (known as Rita) joined on guitar. He was obsessed with Manchester scene….bands like Happy Mondays and Inspiral  Carpets….and attempted to make us ‘jangly”.

++ And what would you say were influences for the sound of The Love Buttons?

Probably the sound we were going for was The Popguns/The Primitives. We loved 10,000 Maniacs and Throwing Muses, as well as R.E.M. Lots of 60’s stuff.

++ Mark Pearson from Ambition Records told he feels he disappointed you, that he let you down, on an interview. At the same time he said you were really keen to be on the label. How was your relationship with him? 

We never ever felt let down by Mark from Ambition….quite the opposite. We practically stalked him to get on his cool little label!!!

++ And what do you remember of the recording sessions for the EP? Why did you record at S.A.M. Bristol? Any anecdotes you could share?

The great 12 string you hear on our 12 inch is Mark, the singer of The  Steamkings. Around this time Jo treated herself to her own 12 string Rickenbacker.

++ Speaking of gigs, did you play live a lot? what were your favourite gigs and why? Were there any bad gigs that you remember?

The best gig we ever did was put on by my cousin at a college in Chichester. They hired an ENORMOUS PA and we sounded like we were playing Wembley Arena….the 300 students went MENTAL!!!

++ Why didn’t you get to release more records? Was there any interest from other labels?

Apart from letters of rejection we never came very close to signing a record deal. We’d have loved to have been on Sarah.

++ When and why did you call it a day? 

I think we split up because I moved away to Swindon after uni for a 3 month job. I ended up staying there for 6 years! But I did form a band there called Eva Luna. We went on tour and did a demo tape and some great punky indie songs. Then I returned to Southampton and set up the band Snaffler with other local pals. We produced a CD called Bingo Knickers which was great!

Sadly, after my second child, I could’nt face the hassle of dragging my equipment, amps etc off to smeggy recording garages with no toilet facilities, rehearsing, then packing it all away again – it was just too much!

++ I saw on Youtube a clip of you rehearsing again last summer. The video titled, “The Love Buttons are Back”. How did this happen? Did you make any new music? Did you play any reunion gigs?

The video you’ve seen on Youtube is when I held a garden party….I was turning 50!!!!….all 4 members of The Buttons were there. There was a friends covers band playing and after a tense standoff we all got into position. Call me immodest but I think the magic was still there!! It sounds TERRIFIC!!!

Jo was totally responsible for The Buttons being any good but she’s too busy/she can’t be arsed for us to ever do it again. Unless someone is willing to pay big bucks!! I think we’re just biding our time so that the public are in a FRENZY!!

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

Lately I’ve taken up playing drums (not very well) and play in a covers band with Paul (Rita), Nick (who was in Jo’s  NEXT band, Snaffler)…and Justin….lead guitarist in The Steamkings…and Dave who also played guitar for rage Buttons when Paul went to Uni in Manchester were called Daddy Witch and we do countryish songs by Caitlin Rose, Gillian Welch etc.

++ And has Southampton changed much since The Love Buttons day?

Southampton is a better city now than it was then. There is a thriving Craft beer scene with lots of cool little bars springing up.

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Listen
The Love Buttons – Jon, You Bastard

13
Jun

This week a short post, but a true mystery to solve!

I heard the Candy Ranch for the first time on on the CD Rupert Cook gave me two Indietracks ago. From that CD, full of obscure goodies, I was able to track a few bands and get to hear their stories. The Candy Ranch, whose “Screaming Nutter” was on the compilation, was one of the few I was struggling to find until I found that Kev was then playing in the Style Selektors. I contacted them on Facebook and Kev was kind enough to be up for an interview. Sadly he only replied the first half of it. And that’s what I’m sharing with you today. These answers are from April 2014.

And after reading them, I totally suggest checking a bunch of their songs on Youtube, they are really catchy and fun!

EDIT 13/06/2017 – Kev McGuire from Candy Ranch has sent the answers for the remaining questions. Here is the complete interview now! 

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++ Hi Kev! Thanks so much for being up for the interview! I see you are still making music with The Style Selektors. Tell me a bit about this new project of yours? How different is it to the Candy Ranch?

Yeah The Style Selektors is a totally new project for me. It’s a very loose collective of great musicians and one of the best things is that there are no deadlines or pressures.
With The Candy Ranch because we were signed up to a management deal we had to write songs, rehearse every day then gig 3 times per week and then recording on top of that, then touring all over the UK
It took us away from home for weeks at a time sometimes and although it was a great laugh and we played with some great bands in some legendary venues I ended up totally burned out

It’s different because with TCR we wrote all our own stuff and there were 5 of us and we all had huge egos and we were so fullof enthusiasm (which is good) so there was all kinds of ideas richocheting round the room and after a while (for me anyway) our stuff became a mishmash of too many influences as far as im concerned and it just didn’t do it for me anymore i guess..

++ So let’s get back in time. When did Candy Ranch start as a band? Was it your first band ever?

TCR started in 89′ (i think) We actually got together from the embers of 2 Hartlepool bands (Taste of Freshness and Eat The Beat) and we joined forces to enter The Cleveland Music Festival and we won it…

All the bands at that time were trying to be Joy Division (which isn’t a bad thing) but it got monotonous. We were all brought up on The Specials, The Beat (who i played for last year) The Jam, Madness, Selecter, Secret Affair etc…so i guess influences were apparent in our songs and no bands were playing that stuff anymore as it was classed as passe, but we liked to go against the grain and it pissed a lot of other bands off coz we weren’t into The Smiths (yawn) although Jonny Marr is a brilliant guitarist I just couldn’t gel with Morrisey’s words y’know? Didn’t do anything for me.
It has to hit you somewhere doesn’t it? Like when i first heard The Jam i thought “fucking hell man, how the fuck do 3 people make that huge sound”

++ How did the recruiting process work for the Candy Ranch? How did you all knew each other? Who were the members of the band and what instrument did each of you play?

Like I  said we formed from 2 different bands
Kev McGuire – guitar, vocals
Neil Forcer – guitar, vocals
Gav Bell-  bass, vocals
Terry Ashley –  drums
Dave Willingham – keyboard

We also had Ste Ryan on vocals for a few months in the early days and after Neil Forcer left Ian Holdforth came in on guitar and vocals.

++ Where does the name Candy Ranch comes from?

The name is actually from a porno film ha ha

++ And who were the main influences of the band would you say? Did you like any other Hartlepool bands at that time?

Main influences were The Small Faces, The Who, The Jam, Kinks, Beatles, The Specials, The Beatles, Madness, Secret Affair, Lambrettas (who im playing guitar with in June) The Chords (who i played guitar with last year), Robin Hitchcock, Prefab Sprout, Aztec Camera, Haircut 100 (Les Nemes their bass player is a friend of mine) Lloyd Cole, Dr Feelgood, Squeeze, Sex Pistols
I can’t remember liking any other Hartlepool bands at that time, although the best Hartlepool band I ever heard was Victims of Circumstance with Ste Shadforth, great guitarist and front man. I was too driven and too focused on TCR to take notice to be honest and they all wanted to either be New Order or The Smiths
and I was so fucking bored by it all to be honest. New Order and The SMiths were still going back then so I couldn’t see the point in emulating a band that was still active !!! i much prefered trying to bring something back to life from years previous
i wanted to get a whole new bunch of people to like the Mod, Ska, 60s scene you know?

++ Tell me about Hartlepool. Where would you usually hang out? Was it a fun town then? What are the sights of town?

Hartlepool was a very busy port in the 19th and 20th centuries, it had to sides Old Hartlepool and West Hartlepool, it was the people from Old Hartlepool who legend has it hing a monkey they thought was a french spy and so Hartlepudlians have since been known as Monkeyhangers
Quite how you could get a fucking 2 foot hairy monkey mixed up with a person i’ll never know but thereagain there are some very hairy women in Hartlepool so i suppose it’s easy to get confused ha ha (imjoking but i bet i get some stick for that)
I went to english martyrs school and we used to hang out at the youth clubs all over town, justy getting up to mischief really ha ha.. you know, trying to get off with girls, showing off my new 2 Tone suits and Loafer shoes with red socks,
When I left school and got my Vespa that was it, totally infatuated with everything Mod, 60s, scotters, girls, drugs, lost weekends, trips to London sleeping near these big heaters in Mayfair coz we couldnt afford digs haha
Hartlepool has a great Marina, lots of new projects springing up, new college, new estates, new schools, lots of businesses are attracted to Hartlepool now and for me its thriving..
It has a high crime rate but hey what town doesnt huh?
I don’t live their anymore but my children do so I still go there a few times a week.

++ I read you gigged a lot, even with big names like Blur or Radiohead. Which were your favourite gigs and why? Did you prefer these kind of big gigs or smaller ones? Any fun anecdotes you can share?

We gigged all over the UK , yeah we gigged with some great bands and had a laugh. The best band we ever played with was Dr Feelgood at Hartlepool Town Hall we took Lee Brilleux for a drink before the gig.
We all got smashed and just before he went onstage we locked him in a broom cupboard ha ha. Hae kicked the door down, tripped me up, took my shoes off me and took them onstage with him, totally pissed and sang every note and performed like a true pro. It’s very sad he is no longer with us and also its very sad that Wilko Johnson has got terminal cancer, such a great talented huiman being something needs to be done about cancer you know? and soon as well they can send a man to fucking Mars or somewhere or they can blow up a village in Iraq from a mile underground in the USA and you are fucking telling me they can’t find the funds to research the biggest killer of mankind than any weapons? Bullshit, total bullshit, they are all pirates the lot of them.
With Blur we were in a big posh hotel in glasgow and we were pissed (again) so The Candy Ranch offered Blur to a game of tiggy off ground (this is a game we play where you had to tag someone, but they were only out if they were on the ground but they had to keep moving as well or they were out) we used the tables and reception desk in this hotel and the chairs. We won coz Blur were all unfit but we all got told off by the hotel manager so we took all the lightbulbs out of all the lights we could find and hid them. Very grown up.

++ You had two managers and they turned out to be quite successful. What do you remember about them?

One manager was Mick Donnelly, he was sax player for Spear of Destiny in the 80s, they were huge, he is an amazing sax player, he played with Madness, 5 Star, Sammy Davis Junior, Whitney Houston… he is currently on tour with Lisa Stansfield all over Europe. In the 90s he played for Swing Out Sister and he went to the Philippines with them (I think) We put a load of dirty movies in his suitcase before he left and the customs people at the airport in Manila made him open his case and all these films fell out haha…

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There were 13 more questions I asked. Sadly I never heard back from Kev. I just checked back at the messages we exchanged on Facebook, through the account of his band The Style Selektors but it seems that facebook page of the band is no more. It’s a shame really. Last time I heard from him was in June when he mentioned that he didn’t had time yet to answer the rest of questions. I didn’t insist.

These were the rest of my questions that remain unanswered. If anyone could help fill in the blanks that’d be great:

++ Tell me about your releases. You had three singles, right? Who put them out?

3 Singles
Screaming Nutter on Tumak & Sons
Flowergirl via Codhead Productions
Up & Away via ourselves

++ My favourite song of yours might be “Screaming Nutter” and that was your first single too. What’s the story behind this song?

Screaming Nutter is basically saying that although we all may be from different creeds and cultures we are all essentially the same ..we can all be jealous, all be nice, all be nasty and all be corrupt … the chords are distinctly similar to Happy Hour 😱

++ And is it true that this record is sought after mostly because of the photo on the cover?

The front cover photo was taken by our bass player Gav, it is of the legendary Steetley Shunter (Steetley was a factory in Hartlepool) and the Shunter was one of a kind that train enthusiasts would kill to have photos off (train doggers I call them)

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

My fave is Flowergirl, the melody is great and for me captures that early 90’s summer vibe and the Middle 8 is a cracker …of course Ians guitar solo takes it to a different orbit altogether.

++ How did the creative process work for you?

In all honesty we all used to meet at Gav’s or at The Touchdown where we were based and just bounce ideas off each other, all contributing music and vocals …sometimes it worked, other times it became a total mish mash.

++ Was there any big label interest for you guys?

We had a few labels like Polydor interested ..Feargal Sharkey of The Undertones was working for Polydor at that time a day came to see us at the Borderline in London ..he was very nice and loved our stuff, but with us sounding like The Jam, Blur, Housemartins, Madness etc he said they wouldn’t take the risk of investing in us for the public to say “heard it all before” which is fair enough really … I wouldn’t care really,,but we were really trying to sound like Inspiral Carpets and not Blur ha ha ..I’ve since told Tom (Hingley) that I blatantly magpied a lot of the Inspirals songs and he laughed his head off ..he rang me up a while ago to chat about my daughter, very nice guy.

Other record companies were interested but we had missed the boat by about a year.

++ And are there many more unreleased songs? Have you ever thought putting out some sort of retrospective release?

We recorded quite a lot of songs, I’ve got them somewhere .. would be nice to have them on a CD at some point I guess.

++ I read on a Youtube description that you were the only unsigned band to ever perform at BBC TV’s Grandstand in 1993. How did that happen? And for us that are not familiar with Grandstand, what is it? 🙂

Grandstand was a very popular sports programme on BBC1 at the time and they only used to lay songs like FA Cup final songs etc so it was a big moment for us when they played Up & Away on there and my Dad was very proud …how ironic that Brian Honour  (one of Pools all time greats) is now a mate and he came to see us at The Cavern in Liverpool a few weeks ago and is coming to see my new band The Extra Specials on July 21st at THE Studio in Hartlepool (shameless plug) 😉

++ On Youtube there’s this performance of yours on TV performing “Section 58”. Care to tell me what was this about?

Section 58 in the noise abatement clause .. we were based at The Touchdown pub in Hartlepool that Mick Donnelly from Spear Of Destiny owned and a few locals (minority as all the locals round there are the best people on the earth) claimed about the noise coming from the pub on a Friday night from the bands so we invited the noise pollution ppl down…they arrived on a Friday afternoon when we rehearsed and they basically stayed for the day and came to the gig on the night, got pissed and had people of the best nights they’d ever had ha ha .. I think the decibels were reported as being slightly lower than they really were and they became fans ..one of those officers still comes to our gigs now

++ And there’s a comment there on another video of yours asking about a footy tape circa 1991 that celebrates promotion to Division 3 of Hartlepool United I guess? Will that tape ever come out on the internet?

Yeah we released a song called Up & Away that charted (low) and it was for Hartlepool United FC back in 93′ .. Pools had beaten Crystal Palace in the FA Cup that ks to a penalty from Andy Savage so they moved on to play Sheffield Utd and we were invited down to the Blades ground and the Pools players came on the pitch wearing Candy Ranch t-shirts to the sound of the single via the ground PA and the crowd all singing along, was a great moment although me and Gav felt a bit embarrassed in the crowd as they were looking at us whilst signing …

++ I saw also on a Youtube video that there are many more contemporary photos of you guys performing. Do you still play the odd gig with the Candy Ranch or what?

We don’t see each other these days, I was with Dave and Gav for our friend Gary’s funeral about 2 years ago ..very sad, Gary loved the band, he really loved a song we had done in 87′ called Heavens Open Up and a few months before the passed away he had mentioned it when I seen him…last message he sent me was that he had voted for The Style Selektors in a best Mod band in the UK competition and we won it …I like to think Gary’s vote swung it for us ..I was singing Heavens Open Up for him in my head at his funeral..I owed him that.

I’d gig again with them as a one off, it would be good to do those great songs again, they were our songs, simple observations of life and created by all of us, not everyone can do that, not everyone wants to, but when you do create something whether it’s a massive world wide hit or one of ours then you get a sense of pride that you contributed.

++ So what happened, when and why did you split? What did you all do after?

We split as it had just ran it’s course basically, I’d fallen out of love with music totally and buggered off and joined the Royal Marines as a reservist, I was having a bad time mentally, lots of anxiety attacks and stuff from my childhood getting in the way of me enjoying myself and I was horrible to be around at that time, I hated the world, do a deal everyone it so the best thing for everyone was for me to bugger off and sort myself out and the Royal Marines certainly helped. I now work as a Resuscitation Officer for the NHS in a hospital in Northern England, I think Gav is a designer and he also played bass at my wedding in 2012 with a band called The Passion Killers (great name for a wedding band) and Ian runs a studio in York (I think) ..Dave went on to run a training company and I’d heard Terry worked with adults with learning disabilities

++ And aside from music, what other interests or hobbies do you have? And I might ask, who has been the best player ever at Hartlepool United?

Hobbies … up until Millie was born i used to like going up mountains in the Lakes and Scotland with my wife Marcia a day I now front a Specials tribute band called The Extra Specials …we are employing at a few festivals and large scooter rallies this year.

The best ever r player for Pools was Brian Honour (Jacky) ..I have to say that or he will throw tomatoes at our next gig …

++ One last question then, what would you say was the biggest highlight of the Candy Ranch?++ Thanks again for everything, anything else you’d like to add?

One highlight for me was playing with Blur at The Barrowlands in Glasgow

Can i tell a joke?

2 budgies sat on a perch and one turned to the other and said ….”can you smell fish”?

I’ll get me coat, … Keep The Faith x

 

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Listen
Candy Ranch – Up and Away

 

12
Jun

This Friday, the 16th is our release date for the Pale Spectres 7″. All pre-orders have been posted and I’m sending copies to your favourite stores. Because this is an important event and you have already heard “D(r)iving“, the band has uploaded another song from the 7”, “Goodbye“. Enjoy them and order your record!

Well this week there are so many indiepop news that is not easy to make a choice for where to start. I will say though that while I was on vacations there weren’t that many indiepop moments like they used to be in the past. There were no indiepop gigs in Finland. I did go to a record store to buy the new Burning Hearts album, “Battlefields”, and probably that was my indiepop highlight for the trip.

Jessika from Burning Hearts told me that I should be able to get the record from a shop called Levykauppa Äx. So I duly went after visiting the Church in the Rock. There was one on the way to the place we were staying, on Frederikinkatu, close to the Kamppi Center. I looked around and couldn’t find the record. I couldn’t find any indiepop records for that matter. I had to ask to the clerk and told me they didn’t have it but they had the record at another Levykauppa Äx store, the one in Kallio, the hipster neighborhood. So the day after, after going through some World Fair kind of festival that had food from all over, I found the store on Hakaniemen Torikatu or Hagnästorsgatan. Yeah all streets in Helsinki have Finnish and Swedish names. That was really cool. Anyhow, I couldn’t find the record either, but the clerk found it for me. Again I browsed to see if I could find any other Finnish indiepop records, maybe Cessna, The Kidneys or the first Poverty Stinks. But nothing to be found. Anyways, it was a good buy as the record doesn’t seem to be easily available anywhere else in the world.

My other indiepop moments have to do while roadtripping through the Lakeland of Finland, on the way to and back from Savonlinna. My friend Jose brought a little bluetooth speaker and we played mostly El Último Vecino, but I think the best moment was when we played Family’s “Viaje a los Sueños Polares”. Those who understand the lyrics for this song would understand why it is such a perfect song for the setting! It was quite magical! We played it a couple of times, until the battery died.

As I’ve been making notes for news to be shared with you, many other bands announce more news. The weekend was good too. On Saturday I went to Rough Trade and listened to Flying Nun’s Roger Sheperd talk about his book “In Love of These Times”. It was very interesting. I could relate sometimes too. And he had a good sense of humour I thought. I didn’t like the other panelist, nor the interviewer, but well, it was a free thingie so I guess that’s what you get. And then Martin Phillipps playing solo (and with Hamish Kilgour doing some percussion) a bunch of The Chills songs. That was quite something. So happy that I got my lazy self out of Queens all the way to sweaty and packed Williamsburg.

I’ll start this week with the announcement of the new video for “Neon” by The BV’s. I have raved and raved about them. Time after time I feel their songs are just fantastic. They never let me down. Why haven’t they done a 7″ on Cloudberry? I ask myself the same question. In any case, you have to know that “Neon” was included in their first LP “Speaking From a Distance” on Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten which is also brilliant.

I knew about The Royal Landscaping Society going to record for Matinée for ages now. But only a week ago it was official. To mark this event the band and the label shared a gem of  a song, “Moon“. The song is part of the new compilation “Matinée Idols” that is coming out soon. In the near future the band will release a 7″ and as I have heard a little of it, let me tell you it is one you can’t miss. And hopefully, crossing fingers, after that release, they’ll release the long-awaited 7″ on Cloudberry we announced on the fanzine some time ago!

Another band to sign to Matinée is Tinsel Heart. I loved this band when they appeared suddenly on my Facebook some months ago. I wanted to offer them a release but other responsibilities and the economy didn’t let me! The good news is that they found a good home and they are sharing the song “Talk” that also appears on the “Matinée Idols” compilation. Later this year they will release a 7″ as well.

And lastly, also from Matinée is the new The Popguns album. Some weeks ago there was a new song shared by them on their Bandcamp with a limited run CD that I missed. Now you can stream the 10 songs from the album for free but even better you can buy the album “Sugar Kisses” directly from them if you are in the UK or from Matinée in the US. It sounds very good to my ears. Need to message Jimmy!

And coming back to the Augsburg label, the fab Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten, they have announced that they will release the 2nd album by New Yorkers Pale Lights. And another band related to this label, but now on Tapete Records, Zimt, have a new video out, I’m guessing as a promo for their debut album “Glückstiraden” out on August 25th. The song is titled “Schwaches Herz” and what else can I say aside that this is classic pop!

And that’s good enough for this week. There’s a bunch of more news I’m saving for next week. Maybe they won’t be news news by then, but maybe you find something that you missed out!

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It was one of those days. I went back to the classic, if not legendary, Leamington Spa series. Went to look for bands I barely remember. Ones I don’t own their records. Ones that I should find out more. And so I skipped volume 1 and 2. It seems I’ve covered most of those bands already. But on volume 3 there was a band I barely recalled, The Irregulars. Who were they?

The booklet has a photo of the band and some bio. That was a good start.
“Well we all met at school and shared an affinity for The Beatles, floppy fringes, bottled lager and making a racket. We graduated from appalling covers band to actually making some half decent tunes. On our day we sounded like a cross between Orange Juice and Jilted John and were the self proclaimed “Sound of Young Hornchurch”. But we got fed up with playing to one man and his dog in Camden and settled for infrequent gigs in youth clubs instead. Half the time we couldn’t afford the petrol money out of Hornchurch anyway. Chris”

The band was from Hornchurch and one of the members was named Chris. No last name sadly. Where is Hornchurch though? I’ve never heard of that place.
Hornchurch is a suburban town in the London Borough of Havering, East London, England, 15.2 miles (24.5 km) east-northeast of Charing Cross. Historically an ancient parish in the county of Essex, that became the manor and liberty of Havering, Hornchurch shifted from agriculture to other industries with the growing significance of nearby Romford as a market town and centre of administration. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Hornchurch significantly expanded and increased in population, becoming an urban district in 1926, and forming part of Greater London since 1965. It is the location of Queen’s Theatre, Havering Sixth Form College and Havering College of Further and Higher Education.

Well, it is in London. Been to London, but never heard of it. Seems I need to do a lot of exploring in perhaps my favourite city still.

My next stop is Discogs. I learn that they actually released something. One flexi in 1988. It was released by the Rocking Frog Promotions label (catalog HORNY TOAD 1). This seems to be the only release by this label, then it may be safe to assume it was a self-release. On the single sided flexi two songs were included “Julie” and “Against the Grain of My Life”. The second song was the one that was included in the Sound of Leamington Spa Vol. 3. I have never heard “Julie”. Maybe someone out there can help?

It seems the flexi didn’t have a proper picture sleeve cover. That is a shame. Maybe it was just used as a promotion tool to get gigs and press reviews. They weren’t especially looking forward to shifting copies. Maybe.

I found some more information on the web. The 2 songs were recorded at Reel to Reel by Joe Steel in Brixton. The sax on “Against the Grain” was played by Terry (Higson) Edwards) from The Scapegoats. I could actually find a website for Terry. Still no clue about The Irregulars band members.

I keep digging deeper and deeper on the web. I find that the band supported in their time the likes of The Wolfhounds, Close Lobsters, Miaow, The Bodines, Blow-Up, McCarthy, Talulah Gosh, Mighty Mighty, The Primitives and Primal Scream.

I couldn’t find anything else. Maybe some of you remember them? I would love what happened to the band members. If they released anything else. If they recorded any other songs. Or if anyone has a spare flexi? Any information would be appreciated!

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Listen
The Irregulars – Against the Grain of My Life

09
Jun

Thanks so much to Mark McCole for the fantastic interview! I wrote about The Sandalwoods time ago and Mark got in touch with me.  Luckily the band was making music again and they were up for answering my many questions! I discovered the band thanks to The Leamington Spa series and I’ve always been eager to listen to more songs from them!

++  So you were telling me that The Sandalwoods are back together, what are the plans for the band now? Maybe there are upcoming gigs already?

Hi Roque, we’ve recorded some new songs and they are in the Mixing Stage at present. They were recorded at John Ellis’s Limefield Studios in North Manchester and we’ll hopefully have them released in the next month or so and we’ll be out gigging them also. John was a vital member of the Sandalwoods back in the day as you’ll see (read on below)…
The new stuff is based on the same Indie Pop influence that we always had but we are now introducing some analogue synths and sequencers. We’ve kept the pop melodies but the lyrics are a a little darker and more direct. New songs (working titles): Pascal’s Wager, Yum Yum, The Story of The Gullible. Attached is a snippet of Stepping Stones.

++ So far I’ve only heard two songs by The Sandalwoods, “The Day is Mine” and “Vanessa” and they are brilliant! If you don’t mind, care telling me the story behind these two songs?

Will wrote the lyrics for these tunes and Vanessa is the only one we could probably attribute a living person to. We knew this beautiful girl called Vanessa who was the girlfriend of ones of our friends and Will decided to use her as his muse, so to speak!!

++ Both of the songs were recorded in the same session in Amazon Studios in Liverpool. How was that experience? Were there any other songs recorded then?

It was a great experience for us. We had done a few demos in various studios prior to this but this was a step up. We were lucky enough to catch the attention of a guy called Simon Duffy (worked with lots of people including the Boo Radleys) who came to a lot of our gigs and he happened to be an Engineer at Amazon Studios. Therefore, he also made the step up and Produced these tracks. As Widehead we did a few other sessions with Simon at Amazon. Will was also involved with the later Widehead stuff.

++ You also mentioned to me that you have other tracks from ‘way back’ but their sound quality is not the best. Even so, I would love to listen to them! But my question is, how many songs did you record and if you remember the names of them?

That’s correct Roque, we recorded many tracks either in small studio’s or on Will’s Four Track Recorder in his apartment. Attached is the track Calendar Girl from Manchester Vol. 1 CD which although not great quality hopefully shows the rougher sound we were into around 1994. Also, attached is a track called Appetite which was a track from one of the Amazon sessions in 1991 (not great quality as it’s an MP3 derived from a recording of a tape).
We have around 25 songs recorded from back in the day so I can’t list every song title but a few stick in the mind: Snake in The Grass, Normal Henry, She Loves You, I’m Just A Gift..……

++ Let’s go back to the early days of The Sandalwoods, to 1986. How did you, Paul and Will met and what made you start a band?

I’d heard of Will, who in the North Manchester area was known as a quality guitarist and he had a 1963 Telecaster which was unheard of for kids in our area! Paul met Will in 1985 and Paul played him a song he wrote which was inspired by The Monochrome Set. Will liked it and that was the start of it really. Together with our close friend Martin we formed the band.

++ And before The Sandalwoods, had any of you had been involved in bands before?

As a teenager Will had already played in a few bands including The Butchers with ex-school friends including Tony Kirkham (now keyboards for the Stereophonics). Paul and I played in a Rockabilly outfit called the Toy Town Trio.

++ What would you say are your first music memories? What sort of music was played at home while growing up? What was your first instrument?

The usual Parent influence for Paul and me which triggered our Country/Rock n Roll/Rockabilly interest which we still enjoy today. A big influence for Paul and I was an older cousin Mozz, who was an original punk who saw all of those bands (Stranglers, Clash, Buzzcocks, Joy Division etc.). He really introduced us to New Wave and very early Indie Music (Orange Juice, early Prefab Sprout etc.). Mozz Doogan has released 5 Albums under the pseudonym Transmission 13:
http://louderthanwar.com/transmission-13-stars-shine-darkness-album-review/
On top of that Paul and I used to obsessively listen to John Peel (every night 10pm) which opened us up to more eclectic music like The Monochrome Set. Will was obsessed by music from a very young age and was a Bowie, early Roxy Music, Talking Heads and Velvet Underground fan before he hits his teens. Will has a really wide range of musical and guitar influences which has been a very important element of our sound over the years
We all started our music life playing the Guitar.

++ Who came up with the band’s name and why the name?

Martin Fisher came up with the name. We’ve known Martin since we were 5 years old and Martin and Paul were in the same class throughout their junior and high school days. Martin has a vivid and creative mind and was coming up with several names including the ludicrous ‘Uncle Fester’s Shark Infested Underwater Botanical Popcorn Garden’!!!! “That’s a tough one to remember Martin. Do you have any shorter ideas?” “What about The Sandalwoods” Martin replied, and it stuck. Martin left the band after about six months. He has always been obsessed with Vinyl records and it was clear his passion was going to be DJ’ing which he still does very successfully today under the guise of MARTIN BREW. Also, check out his Music Mixes under the guise of J-Walk, well worth a listen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ctun-HFsA6s

++ I read that the band played many different styles, from country to reggae and that you also included all sorts of instruments, from sax to accordion. How did that work out for you? And how come you are more known as an indie guitar pop band?

There were a number of bands in the early and mid 80s who were really mixes genres (Prefab Sprout and the Daintees) We saw how it was possible to play a varied style from Country to Jazz, Indie to Pop and that felt natural to us. We all wrote songs and all had our own favourite genres so we decided if the song is good enough then it shouldn’t matter what style it is in. So it wasn’t necessarily our music that was ‘Indie’ it was our approach and abandonment that fitted into the indie ethos. However, we pretty much settled on the Indie Guitar sound by 88’ and hence the tracks you’ve heard.
We all started off as guitarists but we knew we all couldn’t play the guitar and also employ a keyboard, sax player, bass player and drummer. Therefore, we all learnt the basics: Drums, Bass and Keyboards and swapped around but we still needed a multi-instrumentalist which is where John Ellis (Session Player – Corinne Bailey rae, Lilly Allen, John Squire) comes into it as he could play any instrument and was a vital jigsaw piece.

++ You contributed in the 80s songs to two compilations, “This is Manchester Vol. 1” and “Manchester”. How did you end up in those compilations?

This is Manchester Vol. 1 (VANESSA) – We had a good following in the Manchester area and through our gigs and demo’s we got some decent reviews. Tony Davidson who curated the album liked us and asked us if we would contribute. We knew Tony had Key 103 Piccadilly Radio Station in Manchester on board which was great as DJ Pete Mitchell played ‘Vanessa’ many times to promote the album. As a band, you always remember your first radio play! We also had great support from Craig Cash (UK TV Show: Royle Family) who played Vanessa many times on KFM Station.
Sounds Leamington Spa (DAY IS MINE) and Manchester Vol.1 (CALENDAR GIRL) – this was simply a case of the compiler somehow knowing who we were and asked us to contribute.

++ Speaking of Manchester, how was it back then? What were your favourite places to hang out? Your favourite venues to go check out bands? Whereabouts in Manchester were you from?

Will was born and bred in Manchester and has lived here all his life. Paul and I were born in Donegal, Ireland and as small kids moved over to Manchester. We all settled in the ’rough and ready’ streets of Cheetham Hill, North Manchester. If we weren’t gigging ourselves we pretty much had a weekly routine of hanging out at the famous Hacienda, watching bands at The Boardwalk and spending hours at Piccadilly Records challenging ourselves to finding the best, weird and wonderful indie records.
From Joy Division onwards Manchester became a central place for music all the way through the 80’s with A Certain Ratio, New Order, The Fall, The Smiths but in early 1989 everything changed with the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets. The music changed and the city changed in terms of venues popping up everywhere.

++ Why were you listed as The Sandle Woods on the “This is Manchester” compilation? Was that a mistake or you went by that name sometimes? And what was White Metal Music, seems your song was copyrighted under that name.

It was a case of rushing the album out in quick time that meant things weren’t checked before it went to print, hence the misspelling. White Metal Music was the company Tony Davidson set up to issue the release. If we knew then what we know now then we would have controlled our own copyright. Tony Davidson knew what he was doing as he ran off the Spain with the Mastertapes!!!!!

++ How did the creative process work for you? How often did you practice? How many recording sessions did The Sandalwoods do?

We very rarely wrote a song together from scratch in a rehearsal, we didn’t want to be forced into writing like this as the end product is usually garbage. We rehearsed about three times a week however, we would be lucky to get through more than two tunes a night as we always loved the music debates, the joking, the drinking etc…We wrote separately and we would play the song to each other, usually acoustically at Will’s apartment. If we all liked it we would help arrange it. Whoever wrote the song nearly always sang the lead vocal on it. It’s pretty much the same today on our latest batch of songs, the only difference is that we can use Garageband and Logic to demo it. No-one in the band has ever been that precious about their song, we all trust each other when it comes to the critical and appreciation side of evaluating a song. We have all become better musicians and play more instruments and there is more emphasis on melody and instrumentation rather than songs derived from block chord structures (if this makes sense).
In total we did approximately six studio sessions and lots of tunes on Will’s Four Track.

++ Were there any favourite bands in town that you liked or inspired your sound? Did you feel part of a scene?

As teenagers we all jumped on the usual bandwagon at the time The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen, Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout, Pale Fountains etc. There was no internet back then so it was obviously a lot harder to seek out those quality indie bands. However, we quickly picked up on Will’s influence regarding The Velvet Underground and we often incorporated ‘Run, Run, Run’ or ‘I Love You Suzanne’ or ‘There She Goes Again’ into the set. We weren’t really part of the Manchester scene. Partly timing (too late for the New Order phase and too early for Madchester Scene) but also we were not tied to being part of any scene.

++ What about gigs? I could find flyers for a gig at The Gallery and The Boardwalk. Did you play many? Any anecdotes you remember?

We played a lot, from our first gig in North Manchester in 1986 at an outdoor Neighbourhood Festival we played all over Manchester including Manchester University, The Boardwalk many times, The Gallery, The Venue to name a few. We also played across the North West from Leeds University to Liverpool.

++ Did you have a good following you’d say? What was the farthest you played from Manchester?

Yeah, we had a good following in Manchester. Paul and I were lucky enough to have a big circle of family and friends and word spread via them. Will likewise, seemed to know everyone in Manchester! Will knew loads of local bands and through them we also got a decent turn out at gigs.

++ Did you get much attention by the press then? What about radio or fanzines?

We had quite a few good reviews in the NME, Melody Maker, Fanzines etc. We had a very good review by Terry Christian, Manchester Evening News but I would say Mick Middles writing for Sounds Magazine was our best supporter giving us a few good reviews. Will kept a few of these and I have attached them.

++ You split in 1990 and you went to play in many different bands. Care telling me a bit about these bands? Did you release anything?

As Will previously mentioned, Paul and I started Widehead and Will played in this band later on and we just did a few demos in Amazon Studios: Tracks – WIDEHEAD, WALK ON WATER, PERSPIRATION and APPETITE. By the time we hd hit the late 80’s the Pixies were a huge influence and we took a British Indie Pop sound and introduced very Pixie-esque guitar playing
Will was heavily into his Guitars at this stage and built up an armoury of vintage guitars and over 200 vintage and exclusive guitar pedals.
He was the subject of a feature article in the renowned Guitarist Magazine around 2002. Will went on to play with Pete Wylie, Andy Rourke, Brian Glancy (AKA The Seldom Seen Kid) and may more.

++ You reformed in 1994 with a heavier sound and then almost immediately became a covers band, right? Why the decision to reform and then change to a covers band? Are there any recordings from that heavier sound period?

The track Calendar Girl came from this 1994 session. In reality we never really ‘split up’. We have always had phases were we get together play and record and then leave it for a year or two. As we got into our thirties and early forties we had more commitments but thankfully we are now ready to go again hence the new stuff. The covers stuff was just about having a bit of fun and keeping up our playing, however, we were adamant that we would only cover New Wave stuff: Jam, Undertones, Tom Robinson, Squeeze etc

++ Then when did you split again? What did you all do afterwards?

As stated we just lay fallow for a year or two at a time and just got on with our jobs, family etc.

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

Will has no other interests apart from Music especially Guitars, he sleeps with a different one every night!! Paul and I love our sport especially Rugby and the famous soccer team Manchester United.

++ Are you still based in Manchester? Has it changed much? What are your favourite places now, any good bands around now? what are the sights no tourist should miss?

Will and I are based in the Prestwich area (home of the Fall and Elbow) of North Manchester and Paul is based in Liverpool. Manchester is even more vibrant and exiting now than ever before. It definitely is the ‘second’ city behind London and the music scene is massive. The only issue is that the music doesn’t feel as exclusive as it once was in the late 80’s/90’s because there is so much of it now.

++ What would you say was the biggest highlight for The Sandalwoods during their time?

Paul was in the bathroom of The Crown and Anchor Pub in Manchester City Centre around 1990 and saw a piece of graffiti on the bathroom wall. It read: “All Manchester Bands are shit including New Order, Happy Mondays and The Sandalwoods”. Not bad company to be in!!

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Listen
The Sandalwoods – The Day is Mine

08
Jun

Moi! Jet-lagged, and with ten thousand things to take care of, that’s how I woke up today, just after returning yesterday from my almost two-week vacation in Finland. I’m exhausted. I had so much energy while traveling, criss-crossing the country and making daytrips to Estonia and Sweden. Would love to share my experiences with you, and will do so shortly. Not on today’s post but next week. This week what I want to do is to get up to date with you all.

First things first then. The Pale Spectres 7″ arrived. They were waiting at home for me. All pre-orders will start shipping this week. The official release date will be announced pretty soon. But you can order the record now and I’ll post them right away. Then The Potting Sheds compilation is ready at the pressing plant. They should be delivered to Cloudberry HQ next week or the following as the latest. Seems like a great start for this summer!

I have a bunch of indiepop news that I have compiled in the past 2 or so weeks since my last post. I’ll tell you 4 this time, and more on the next week. Bear with me. My energy has been drained. And imagine that I got home yesterday and there was no internet. It seems the city while trimming the tree in front of my house cut the cable that provides me internet. I had a technician come in today very early. He finished the job, everything was working. 20 minutes later a food truck passes by and cuts the cable. Who could be more unlucky than me. I left another technician fixing this issue and had to come to work on a barely working 3rd world country subway. I cross my fingers that I’ll have internet when back home. It is not easy the US, especially after coming back from a country, Finland, where things seems to work well, with punctuality.

I’ll start with Alvvays, a superb indiepop band that is loved and cherished by popkids and hipsters. While I was on vacation I couldn’t help but notice all my friends were reposting their new song “In Undertow“. Well, finally I’m listening to it. Yeah, I don’t travel with a computer, my phone is enough to check emails and that sort of thing. And so I wait until getting home to listen to music. I don’t feel comfortable listening to music on the phone generally. Which reminds me, I have to listen to a song by a band I want to release after I finish this post! Anyhow, this pretty song by Alvvays will be included in their second album, “Antisocialites”. It is coming out on September 8th and the band has announced a bunch of gigs starting August and all the way through December. For us in New York, we’ll get the chance to see them on October 5th at Brooklyn Steel.

Talking of NYC gigs, this Saturday at 2pm, Martin Phillips from The Chills will be playing a live set at Rough Trade. The event says that the event is really a talk with Flying Nun’s founder Roger Shepherd. He will be discussing his book “In Love With These Times” alongside Captured Tracks’ Mike Sniper. I love Flying Nun. I don’t like Captured Tracks at all. Bad pairing I’d say. But what can you do. I will just go and enjoy Martin’s music. That is what I care for. And maybe grab a copy of the book? More info on the event here.

My Barcelona friends Papa Topo have a new video out. It is already a year since they released the fantastic album “Ópalo Negro” and so they are celebrating the occasion releasing a new video for perhaps my favourite song in the album, “Enero” . Is that an Evangelion t-shirt Adrià? How much fun it is to see all of the gang, Adrià, Julia, Óscar and Sonia dancing and showing their moves in Power Rangers sort of costumes. I love the video. Reminds me of a lot of cheesy shows I saw when I was a kid like Jiban, Liveman or Flashman.

And last recommendation for this week is also another video by another Spanish band, Axolotes Mexicanos. The song is titled “Trececatorce” and is just being released for now as a digital single. I don’t care much for digital releases as you might know, so I just enjoy, on repeat, this fun little song.

There are many more news for me to cover involving so many bands that I hold dear. But I think that can wait until next week, right?

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A few weeks ago Stefano from Milano, Italy, was visiting NYC. We were having a beer and a burger at a Korean place. Why not. And of course we were talking about indiepop. And the conversation took the obvious turn. Why aren’t there any good Italian indiepop bands? Some say Fitness Forever is an indiepop band, but they aren’t really, are they? It is very hard to think of one with the classic indiepop sound.

It is surprising. I know many Italian indiepop fans. A lot. I once had this same conversation with Peter from Twee.net and he also wondered the same thing. How come there haven’t been good Italian indiepop? And suddenly while talking with Stefano I remembered one band. But at that exact moment their name I couldn’t recall. I told him, “there is a fine band, from the 90s, from Vicenza I think, but I can’t recall the name. Not all of their songs are proper indiepop, but some are and they are great!”.

I remember it now, Blanco y Tango. How do I know about them? Through another indiepop fan, Matthew. I am very grateful for all the indiepop friends that share their knowledge with me! That way I probably will never run out of songs to listen to. But how there was one classic sounding indiepop band in Italy once and now there aren’t? I don’t understand it. But first maybe it would be wise to investigate about them. To be honest, I know about nothing about them.

Discogs usually is my first stop when I go on the lookout for information. There is a tape by Blanco y Tango listed. It is an eleven song album titled “Sogni D’Estate”. The cover looks like a black and white photocopy. The songs are:
A1. L’Entusiasmo E L’Essenziale
A2. Solo Luci
A3. Give Me
A4. Su Di Noi
A5. With Or Without You
A6. Vorrei Scordarmi Di Te
A7. Lay Down
B1. Ci Sei
B2. Sally
B3. Io Correro
B4. Ti Penso

The tape was released by the label Shiny Sunset (catalog Sunset 2) in 1994. This same label had released other compilations and a tape album by the fantastic Snowbirds (who deserve a post here, right?). In some of these compilations released by Shiny Sunset, Blanco y Negro appeared.

The first ever Shiny Sunset release, “The Stunning Scenery of A Shiny Sunset”, had the song “L’Entusiasmo E L”Essenziale”. On “The Charming Trip in the World of Dreams”, Shiny Sunset 5, they contributed the songs “Cite del Nord” and “All to Have It”. On Shiny Sunset 8, “A World of Popkisses”, they had “Fuori O Dentro Te”, “Se Io Fossi Come Te”, “Forse Chissa” and “The Mermaid”. Then on Shiny Sunset 9, “The Colours of an Enchanted Dawn”, they provided the song “Se Io Fossi Come Te”. It is important to say that these were fine compilations, they counted with classic indiepop bands in them like They Mayfields, Acid House Kings, Bomb Pops, Red Sleeping Beauty, Love Parade, and more! Who were these Shiny Sunset? What I could find out is that it was actually an Italian label ran by Marco Pagano from Creazzo. So yeah, there used to be a proper indiepop tape label in Italy too!

Creazzo was in the province of Vicenza. So there was a connection surely with the band Blanco y Tango.

Vicenza is a city in northeastern Italy. It is in the Veneto region at the northern base of the Monte Berico, where it straddles the Bacchiglione River. Vicenza is approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) west of Venice and 200 kilometres (120 mi) east of Milan.Vicenza is a thriving and cosmopolitan city, with a rich history and culture, and many museums, art galleries, piazzas, villas, churches and elegant Renaissance palazzi. With the Palladian Villas of the Veneto in the surrounding area, and his renowned Teatro Olimpico (Olympic Theater), the “city of Palladio” has been listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.

Well, there is a Facebook page for the band. Not too many likes. Maybe we can change that. First important information, the band members:
Elisabetta R. on vocals
Caterina R on vocals and guitars
Giuseppe M. on guitars
Alex S. on bass
Marco Z. on drums (up to 1991)
Giovanni Z. on drums (after 1991)

Then there’s a little biography, from it we know that the band was born in 1991. That at the beginning the band style was heavily influenced by English pop and then they moved to a more pop-rock sound. They played many gigs and didn’t record an album. The tape on Shiny Sunset is actually their demo-tape. They also contributed a song to the “Rock Contest” album, though I’m not sure what this is actually.

On the Facebook page I see many stills from what seems a live performance. Maybe it was broadcasted on TV?

The next stop on the web is Soundcloud. We find Giuseppe Mantia’s account where he has uploaded a bunch of Blanco y Tango songs. Here you can listen to “01”, “I Will Find My Lover”, “Interferenze”, “Mermaid” and “Se Io Fossi Come Te”. I dig a little further and find out Giuseppe has been in other bands like Pneuma and Poesia e Diva.

I try to find out more about the other members of the band but it looks difficult. Not having their last name makes it harder.

I feel my favourite song is “L’entusiasmo e l’essenziale”. That’s when they are at their poppiest. Not all of the songs on their demo or the Soundcloud will sound indiepop. Some are darker, some rockier. But the band could chime guitars in a fantastically, in a way I haven’t heard any other Italian band. Listen and tell me if I’m wrong!

Does anyone remember them? What happened to the members afterwards? Have you heard any other fine Italian indiepop bands? Would love to know more!

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Listen
Blanco y Tango – L’entusiasmo e l’essenziale

22
May

So the Pale Spectres 7″ got delayed until June. The pressing plant gave me this excuse:
Yes, the 7″ press mold had a problem and many orders were pressed off-center (including yours), so the press had to be stopped for one week while a new mold was installed, then we had to make new labels for the repress of your order. All is fixed now and the press works fine. It just caused a lot of delay on 7″ orders that we have to catch up. Your order is planned to ship out on June 6th or sooner.

I’m very sorry about this delay. As you can see, they didn’t tell me anything in advance. As I was waiting and waiting for the record to arrive, thinking it would be by my door any day, I wrote to ask about it to the pressing plant. And only then I got this reply. I’m beyond frustrated. But I really hope they wait is worth it, that the record looks and sounds gloriously.

My main concern of course is that I will be away on vacations starting this Thursday, the 25th, until June 7th. I will be in Finland most of the time, with one-day trips to Tallinn, Estonia, and Luleå, Sweden. During the time I’m away I won’t be able to post any orders. So any orders placed during those days I will post as soon as I get back to New York. There are some good news though, by the time I’m back, The Potting Sheds compilation release should be arriving. Tentatively the release date by this fab release will be June 15th!

Don’t have that many news for this week, a shame as there won’t probably be any other posts for two weeks or so, but I’ll let you know the few tidbits of indiepop news from around the world I could gather the past days.

Firestation Records is celebrating their 20th anniversary with a concert in Berlin. 2 bands have been announced, the legendary The Railway Children and the up-and-coming New Street Adventure (who I don’t know yet). You can check more information for this October 21st gig at the Privatclub through the event page on Facebook.

So I go to check out New Street Adventure. I know I already like The Railway Children and was already lucky enough to see them last year at NYC Popfest. I go to their website, and their to the music tab. The London band have a new album titled “Stubborn Sons” that came out on March 24th on the Acid Jazz label. I press play on the Soundcloud, the first song to play is “Hangin’ On Hangin’ Up”. It is not exactly indiepop, but it is poppy enough for my taste. I like it. It may not be my favourite sort of music, but it is very enjoyable. I’ll try the next one, “Why Should We Do Anything?”. More soul-pop. This one not as uptempo as the first one. Maybe I skip to another one. But I don’t find any other song I like as much as the first one. To each their own then.

Then of course The Popguns are back! They unveiled a new video for the song “So Long” that will be included in their next album titled “Sugar Kisses” on Matinée. It is said that the album will be out sometime around June 9th. The song sounds timeless. The Popguns never disappoint. Sadly for me this song was also released as a promo CD single, limited to just 20 copies, with the song “Sugar Kisses”. Of course, because the time difference and all, when I went to Bandcamp to see if I could buy a copy, it was already sold out. Anyways, very happy to see them back in form and I hope to catch them live one more time. That time at NYC Popfest was unforgettable!

Sea Blite is a band I stumbled upon on Youtube. I found their song “Cerulean” and thought, well, this actually sounds pretty good! Who are they? They have a Soundcloud but there’s nothing in there. It does say though that this song will be out soon on Death Records. I check this label’s website. Not very indiepop, more hipster than anything, but I can’t find any information about the band. I believe they are from California, but I could be wrong.

My last discovery is the band Atrás Tigre from Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I find them on Bandcamp, through their label Triunvirato. Their new album, released May 19th, came out as a 10-song LP. All of the songs can be streamed and they seem to be in Galician, I don’t think since I’ve heard indiepop in this language since I heard some few Aerolíneas Federales songs in that language so long ago. They have a dark feel to the songs, maybe influenced by Décima Víctima, but not losing their pop sensibility. It is very interesting. I look forward to ordering this record as soon as I come back from vacations. On their Bandcamp they have two other releases, one that is just a song, “Escapar”, and a tape EP titled “Atrás Tigre”. The band is formed by Pedro, Olalla, Xiana, Lois, José Ramón and Ibán.

And that’s the roundup for this week. When I’m back I hope to have an update for Pale Spectres and Potting Sheds. Seems June will be a very busy month for Cloudberry!

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Sonic Flower Groove is the debut album by Scottish indie rock band Primal Scream, released on 5 October 1987. Sonic Flower Groove featured psychedelic, Byrdsy jangle pop and was the only Primal Scream album to feature founder member Jim Beattie (credited as ‘Jim Navajo’). The album sold well enough to reach number 62 in the UK Album Chart, but performed poorly by major-label standards. The disappointment was a major reason for the original Primal Scream splitting up shortly after Sonic Flower Groove, leaving vocalist Bobby Gillespie and the guitar duo of Andrew Innes and Robert “Throb” Young to reorganize the band.

But not today. I won’t speak of Primal Scream. But about a band from Germany that named themselves after their first album, Sonic Flower Groove.

They released one record. One 7″ titled “Beeblebrox Ravin'”. I hope one day it can be part of my collection. So far I haven’t managed to have it at home. I know so little about this band, and as you can expect, there is very little written about them on the web as well.

I guess the name of the EP made me curious. What is Beeblebrox? I guess I’m not too cool, as I didn’t know that Zaphod Beeblebrox is a fictional character in the various versions of the humorous science fiction story The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.He is from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and is a “semi-half-cousin” of Ford Prefect, with whom he “shares three of the same mothers”. Because of “an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine”, his direct ancestors from his father are also his direct descendants.

That also explains the name of the first song on this 7″ EP: “Zaphod Told Me”. The other song on the A side was titled “Lush”. On the B side, on the other hand, the songs are “London” and “Mother”. The record was released in 1991 by the label Heaven Sent (catalog HS 003). But to be honest I’ve never heard any of these songs. What I’ve heard are the songs the band released on many compilations.

They participated in 1990 in a tape compilation titled “Heaven Sent”, guess who released that? Heaven Sent too of course. The song that they contributed was “See The Light”. On Heaven Sent they shared the tape with among others The Wilde Plains who I’ve interviewed before. We’ll come back to this in a bit.

Next year they were to contribute the song “Strange Thoughts” to the tape compilation “It’s All About Love” on the Smuf label (catalog SMUF 003). The Smuf label was a pre-Firestation Records label that released also a Greek only indiepop tape compilation and the classic CD compilation “16 Goldene Hits” that I’ve mentioned before on the blog. On “It’s All About Love” the band shares the tape with so many fantastic indiepop bands, from The Aurbisons to Panda Pops.

In 1993 the band was to contribute the song “Summer” for another Heaven Sent compilation: “Try Another Flavour!”. This was HS 004 and was actually a CD compilation.  Many classic indiepop bands appear here that I’ve interviewed before like Jane Pow or Rorschach.

The band continues with their contribution to compilations, but no other release. Why no album? Why no other 7″? Who knows. The song “Blue” appears on the “Garage-Flowers” tape compilation by the Baby Talk label. It feels more of an international compilation. There are Australian bands, Spanish bands, French bands and of course German bands.

Their last contribution to a compilation is for another tape in 1995. It is for the Bliss Aquamarine tape “Sapphire”. They actually appear with two songs this time, “Cloudburst” and “Up Here”. Other cool bands to check out in this compilation are Peru and The Waiting List.

Remember I said I was going to go back to the Wilde Plains interview? Well, that’s because on that interview I actually got some information about this band. Just a little, but still, much more than in the whole world wide web. One of the members of The Wilde Plains, Andi, had been part of the band. It seems the scene in Worms was a bit small and a lot of the bands shared members. Andi was the keyboardist in The Wilde Plains. I had interviewed Bernd who played guitars and did the vocals.

But I get to know a little bit more thanks to this interview. Heaven Sent was run by Ralf Hoffmann, nicknamed “Hopemann”. He was actually also a member of Sonic Flower Groove. At least we know one name from the band. Not the girl vocalist, but probably the guitar player.

And this is when I hit a wall. I can’t find much more about them. But now it is when I ask your help. Do you remember them? In which other Worms bands were the members involved? Did they record any more songs? Maybe you have a spare copy of the 7″? Anything would help!

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Listen
Sonic Flower Groove – Cloudburst

19
May

Thanks a thousand to Seán McDermott for this thorough interview! Mickey Rourke’s Fride was the Irish label that released the beloved Hey Paulette back in the 80s. But those weren’t their only releases. There were a few compilations where one could discover the great sounds of The Skips or Dale Arden and the Claymen. The label was to reappear, under the name Disques Fridge, in the noughties releasing some fine releases like Crumb or Aeromodeller’s albums worth checking out if you haven’t yet. On this interview Seán was kind enough to tell me a bit about almost every band involved in the label, the label itself and Dublin of course. Now sit back and enjoy.

++ Hi Seán! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! We got in touch thanks to my post about Feargal is the Applejack here on the blog. So far I haven’t been able to find any other information about this band, but maybe you can help? Like do you remember what years they were active? Who were the band members? And what did they do afterwards?

I was out on the town with Colm from Hey Paulette. The Underground in Dame Street was the centre of the Dublin scene back then, and we fancied a beer there, but we didn’t want to pay in or anything, so we introduced ourselves at the door as the guys from Mickey Rourkes Fridge + blagged our way in for free, not really caring who was playing, which was Feargal is the Applejack.

They turned out to be a great band! We got talking afterwards, they were nice guys as well as talented, so they ended up on our 1st compilation ‘DOSTOEVESKY..?’ + then on the follow-up, ‘MY FAVOURITE THINGS’.

They broke up about 1994 or 5. I think. We kept in touch for a while, then we didn’t. I don’t think any more music followed from any of the guys.

++ I think most people will know your label thanks to Hey Paulette who are a beloved band for the indiepop crowd. You released two records by them. The first release on the label was their 7″. How did you know them? And how did you convince them to be your first release ever on the label?

I knew Éamonn from Secondary School (High School to you!)+ Derrick had been in a band with me: uptight!, Dublin’s only No Wave band, as far as we know.

I had also been the stand-up drummer in the 1st HP line-up, with Éamonn on bass, then I became their ‘manager’, kinda, or ‘5th Beatle’, as it were.

We wanted to make a record, + we figured no one else was going to give us money, so we did it ourselves. That was the ‘Commonplace’ 7”.

++ Before that release, had you had any experience working in a label? Or perhaps putting out any releases?

No, the only experience any of us had of records before then was listening to them.

++ What inspired you to start a label? Would you say there were any other labels influence in Mickey Rourke’s Fridge?

Like I said up above, we wanted to make a record + DIY was the only way we could see that happening. Everything else spiralled out from there.

Label influences were Motown, Sun + Rough Trade, of course, Fast Product/Pop:Aural + Factory a bit…

the BIG one was always Postcard; I’m sure you can tell!

++ And yeah, why the name of the label? It is definitely original!

NOT from ‘9½ Weeks’, which you might think, but from two earlier movies.

In two consecutive flicks, Mickey beats up the fridge when he gets bad news: In ‘The Pope of Greenwich Village’, when his girlfriend leaves him; in ‘The Year of the Dragon’, when his girlfriend gets killed.

An NME review of ‘Dragon’ pointed this out + said it must be in his contract. He’s my favourite actor, then + now, + that line stuck with me + sounded like a good name for a label when the time came a few years later.

++ If you were to pick a Mickey Rourke movie, which would that be?

‘Rumble Fish’ fer shure, but ’Angel Heart’ not far behind.

++ You were based in Dublin then, and I wonder if you are originally from there? And how was the scene in the late 80s there? What were the venues where you would go check out bands, or the neighborhoods you would hang out?

We’re all from Dublin, south of the river, near the canal, originally: Bluebell, Ballyfermot, Inchicore. The Underground on Dame Street was the centre of the scene, also The Baggot Inn, + bars like The Clarendon, Bartley Dunne’s, The (old) Pygmalion, all near the city centre.

++ What about the artwork for the label? Did you take care of that part as well?

I did most of it, with a little help from my friends in Saatchi & Saatchi, an ad agency where I worked at the time, but we all pitched in ideas.

++ And was it easy to distribute your records? Did you manage to create interest abroad?

We found distribution OK in Ireland. In the UK, we were lucky enough to catch the attention of Keith Cullen from Setanta Records, who helped with the logistics, + John Peel + the music press, who created some level of interest.

++ Did you ever work with artists that weren’t Irish?

Well, some of our wider circle, including me, have English blood to go along with our Irish hearts, + there was a stray Scotsman, Harry McNamara, on DOSTOEVESKY, as well as a Detroit band called Icehead, featuring ex-pat Cormac Wright, who was part of a very early version of Something Happens!

++ Your second release was a 7″ compilation where you actually are part of it as a musician with the Wayfaring Strangers. Tell me a bit about your music. What are your releases? What instruments do you play? Have you been in other bands? What about your musical influences?

On that record, the band was me + Hey Paulette, with Hugh on fiddle, harmonies from Peigí + Nicola, + Helen on tambourine. Another line up of the Wayfs recorded an album in the early 90’s but the tapes went missing + only re-surfaced a short while ago. I’d like to release that in the next while.

Grievous Angels was a band name I made up for the ‘jesus + jack daniels’ Country House remix on DOSTOEVESKY. When Dave Fanning’s producer, Ian Wilson rang up + asked if we had more like this, I immediately said yes – tho’ of course we didn’t – then recorded some home demos which turned into a Dave Fanning Session. The other Angels were Peigí + Nicola from the Wayfs + Pat + Martin from Fréres Jackman.

Years later, I put together a band called $1,000 wedding, with an album ‘exile on dame street’ that marked the emergence of Disques Fridge.

I mostly sing + play guitar, a little mandolin with the Wayfs. I’ve also been known to play bass + keyboards, + I can get sounds out of the ukulele + harmonica, tho’ not at the same time!

++ On this same compilation there’s a band I really like and that I know about nothing, that I was actually planning to write about them, Dale Arden and The Claymen. Who were they? And how come they never released a record with you?

The Claymen were HP again, under assumed names, again. Dale is a mysterious shantooze who goes by the name of John Healy during the hours of daylight. John was also in High School with Éamonn + me, then later my right hand man in MRF, from DOSTOEVESKY till the end of Phase II, mid-90’s.

Dale guested in concert with 16 again, an acoustical sideline of mine, + with Fréres Jackman, + emerges from time to time, when the occasion arises. No further recordings exist!

++ There’s also The Twigs in this compilation, another band I had never heard before. How did you pick the bands for this compilation?

Guess who? Derrick sang this one, while Éamonn rested his voice. As you’ll have noticed by now, the ‘bands’ were all Hey Paulette, with a different singer on each track, so the only ‘picking’ was on the guitars.

++ Then you were to release some more compilations, now on cassettes. Why the change of format? And what would you say is your all-time favourite format for music?

That was all about the Benjamins, as they say in Baltimore. Cassettes were cheap, + CD’s hadn’t taken over the words back then (sic transit…).

Vinyl was my first love, + it will be my last.

++ I have to ask about the name of the compilation where Feargal is the Applejack appear. Why was it titled “Dostoevesky lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?”?

That name came about during another drunken night, when a bar game that involved making up literary songs titles was invented.

I kicked things off with ‘Your cheatin Sartre’ + “ My Beckett’s got a hole in it’. Poet Patrick Chapman was the clear winner with ‘Dostoevsky lose its flavour on the bedpost overnight?’

1st prize was to name our tape years later, tho’ we didn’t know at the time. Patrick got proper credit of the tape cover, of course, + appeared on it too. 2nd prize? A set of steak knives,

++ On that same compilation I discovered the marvelous The Skips. I read about the sad departure of Derrick Dalton. I’m sure that must have been hard for you and all the Dublin scene as he was part of so many bands. How important do you think was his figure for Irish guitar pop do you think?

Derrick was a major figure in Irish guitar pop, from his days as a ’teenage art terrorist’ with me in uptight! right though to stepping up to the mic with Crumb, then back again with Aeromodeller.

That was never reflected in fame or fortune, alas.

++ After that tape compilation you went to work with The Dadas, The Quack Squad and Fréres Jackman & The International Elevators. Care telling me a bit about these bands as I know nothing really about them?

The Dadas were a great pop group, led by Andy Fitzpatrick who now operates out of NYC, solo + helping out The Hatvest Ministers.

Fréres Jackman also played great pop, up to & including ska & reggae. The brothers still play live every now & then.

The Quack Squad were a comedy double act who wanted to make a Christmas record with us. ‘Why not? ’ I said.

++ And if you were to chose any Irish band that you like, which one would you have loved to have had in your catalogue? And why?

Micodisney + The Stars of Heaven. Why? Just listen…

Three of the Stars have appeared under our imprint, + Cathal from Microdisney (+ The Fatima Mansions) recorded his 1st solo track for us. We haven’t been able to release that one… yet.

++ There was an unreleased CD EP by a band called The Castanedas on your catalogue. What happened with this release?

The EP was at the pressing plant when the band broke up.

We cancelled everything just in time. Very discouraging, contributed to our lost decade.

++ Then there’s a gap of about 10 years with no releases. The label resurfaces with the $1,000 Wedding album “Exile on Dame Street” in 2002. What happened during that time? Why was the label so quiet?

Stuff happened, we grew up a bit, we felt like we were going nowhere…and not in a good way.

++ There would be a bunch of releases during the new century. I’m only familiar with the Crumb and Aeromodeller releases, which are ace. But again there are bands that only arouse my curiosity, as I have never heard before, like the aforementioned $1,000 Wedding, Villa R, Grievous Angels, Acton Bell or Éamonn Dowd. If you don’t mind, care to tell me a bit about each one on a line or two? Like what sort of music they played and what is your favourite song of theirs?

$1,000 wedding is a country-ish band I pit together with some of the usual suspects. The original concept was ‘Gram + Emmylou singing in front of Dinosaur Jr’ tho’ our songs led us off in a different direction, one that we liked better.

Villa R was Eoin from The Deportees with various Hey Paulettes. Grievous Angels we discussed earlier. Acton Bell is a solo project from Dez Foley of The Sewing Room/The Drays.

Éamonn Dowd is an old friend. We talked about doing an album together years ago, but nothing came of it. Late last year he approached me again with a new album he was preparing.

It sounded great, so I was happy to see it as a fridge disque, in partnership with Éamonn + his own label, Spellbound Records.

++ The last two releases of the label date of 2017, this year, so the label is totally going strong. I wonder then if there are more releases scheduled for this year? And how does the future looks for Mickey Rourke’s Fridge?

Well, we’re mostly making Our Back Pages readily available. When we come across something new + great – like the Éamonn Dowd album – we’ll put that out too.

++ Also I noticed that two of your releases were only released digitally. I would love to know your take about the digital vs. physical argument.

Money talks… + no argument! Going digital is practically free, which is important when you’re mostly giving stuff away. But it’s great to have a disque + a cover, 5” 7” or 12”, to hold in your hand…

++ Probably the question most people are asking by now is where can they get your available releases?

Right now, there’s stuff all over the place on iTunes, soundcloud, bandcamp, youtube… occasionally in stores too.

I’ve just set up a disques fridge Facebook page + where, over time, I’ll be curating + collating the catalogue…

+ you can get Éamonn Dowd’s CD on www.eamonndowd.com

++ Also just to make sure, is the label now called Disques Fridge?

Oh yes. Mickey Rourke’s Fridge was a 20th century thing, When we started up again in 2002, Disques name was a good way to say this is something new, following on from what went before. +we still use MRF catalogue numbers.

++ Did the label get much support from the Irish press or radio?

‘Can’t complain’ as we say over here. We got a fair amount of support from the media… more than we ever did from the public.

++ And during all these years, what would you say was the biggest highlight for Mickey Rourke’s Fridge?

Hearing the one + only live performance of the Stars of Heaven classic ‘Before Holyhead’ by Stephen Ryan at the DOSTOEVESKY launch…

+ the fact that ‘exile on dame street’ exists.

++ I think this has been a long interview already Seán! I could probably keep asking questions but let’s wrap it here. Just one more question, as I’ve never been to Dublin, or Ireland for that matter, what shouldn’t I miss to see, eat or drink when I visit?

Call me when you get here!

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

Books, movies, TV, art… + current events, as a spectator… + people.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

THIS SUMMER…
watch out for a free release of a project we’ve been working on for over 20 years…

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Listen
Hey Paulette – Commonplace

17
May

Thanks so much to Graham McDonald for the interview! Some months ago I wrote about Baby Lemonade, the beloved Scottish band that released a Sha La La flexi and a superb album back in the day. I didn’t know much about them but loved their songs. I actually would love to see all their recordings including any unreleased songs put together in a complete retrospective. Wouldn’t that be nice! Anyhow, Graham was kind enough to get in touch and answer a bunch of my questions. Hope you enjoy it!

++ Hi Graham! Thanks so much for getting in touch! How are you? Wherabouts in Scotland are you now? Still in touch with the rest of the band?

I’m no bad. I stay in Glasgow and am not in touch with the band now but saw Joan around 5 years ago – rest of ‘em- no.

++ I read that the band was based in Kirkintilloch, Cumbernauld and Glasgow. Who lived where? And was it easy to get together?

I stayed in Kirkintilloch as did Mark Abbott and Colin Campbell at the time . Joan Williams stayed in Cumbernauld and Paul Lally stayed in Glasgow. It was not easy to get together and arrangements could be difficult.

++ The band started in 1985, right? But before that, had any of you being involved in other bands?

The band started around 1985 and no one had been in  another band before this one.

++ And going back even more, what was your first instrument? What are your first musical memories?

My first instrument was an acoustic guitar or recorder . My first musical memories include listening to top 40 music , the Beatles, U2 , Clash, etc. with a mate Rab Barr circa 1975- 1981.

++ How did Baby Lemonade start as a band? How did you all knew each other?

Baby Lemonade started with Mark and I playing in his bedroom before I left home and went to college- finally finding Colin after numerous try outs . We got Joan and Paul through a college course I attended in Falkirk., Central Scotland. I knew Mark through school and knew Paul and Joan through college.

++ Was there any lineup changes during Baby Lemonade’s lifetime?

There was – Paul left- replaced by Kenny B + Gary ……..?, Colin later replaced by Martin Gregor.

++ Where does the name Baby Lemonade come from?

B.L.’s name comes from a Syd Barrett solo cut.

++ Who would you say were your influences then?

Influences- The Jam, The  J.A.M.C., Led. Zep., Beach Boys, Undertones, Ramones. Nikki Sudden, Swell Maps, Blondie, etc.

++ In 1986 you recorded your first songs at a studios in Charing Cross Glasgow. How was that experience? Do you remember which songs you recorded then?

1986 Demo?- Recorded  Secret Goldfish, Real World- pretty good experience  I think

.++ Then you would catch the attention of Matt Haynes who would release the “Jiffy NeckWear Creation” flexi on his Sha La La label. How did this contact happen? Did you ever meet him?

Contact happened through possibly Jim Kavanagh , fellow ‘zine mentor of ‘Simply Trilled ‘ and friend of Paul’s . Never met Matt but would have liked to.

++ This flexi was shared with another Scottish band, The Bachelor Pad. Were they friends with you or was it just a coincidence? Which other Scottish bands of that period did you like?

B.L. did a few gigs with the Bachelor Pad , a band from Strathbungo in Glasgow. They were friends with Jim Kavanagh  and us after a while. We liked the Primals, Pastels and the J.A.M.C.  at the time.

++ Perhaps “Jiffy NeckWear Creation” is the song most people know by Baby Lemonade, if you don’t mind, what’s the story behind this song?

Jiffy was essentially  a tie called the Jiffy Neckwear Creation – a psychedelic paisley pattern  number.

++ It also got to be single of the week. Did you get much attention from the press? How helpful was getting good reviews?

It got Single of the week in Sounds Magazine. Reviews were always helpful  and we got a few good reviews but never really got many reviews at all.

++ And what about radio play? or TV play?

John Peel liked us, played us on Radio1 / Radio Scotland – Beat Patrol- no TV. play.

++ Then you would release a 7″ on Narodnik Records. How did you end up signing with the Edinburgh label?

We signed to them after they heard our demo on the radio- just one play.

++ This 7″ was produced by Douglas Hart from The Jesus and Mary Chain. How was that? What did he add to the sound of Baby Lemonade?

It was a great experience working with one of the Mary Chain-fans of them-he left a bit of chat on the 7’’Real World- to sound good.

++ I noticed that both the 7″ and later the album have the same sort of style in the artwork. Who did it? And how important for you was the looks of the band?

Paul did some of the 7’’ design and flexi  , DDT  did the l.p.- purely incidental that they look alike. It was important that we looked good/ cool on any release.

++ Your last release was the fantastic album “One Thousand Secrets” released on DDT Records also from Edinburgh. I know little about this label, who were they?

DDT were a subsidiary of Fast Records, based in Edinburgh, managed by the legendary Bob Last  who put out original records by the Human League , Gang of Four, Mekons, Scars ,etc.

++ Why did you title the album “One Thousand Secrets”? And what would you say is your favourite song on the album and why?

It appeared like a good title at this time. I liked the tune ‘Summerhouse’ as it was quite ambitious for us at the time with a slow start before it speeds up and I Liked the bass line, a bit of  Tamla Motown about it.

++ Also, why just 8 songs?! Wish there had been more, it is so good!

8 songs long-leave ‘em wanting more.

++ Many years later Egg Records would release a CDR with the songs from the flexi and the 7″ plus some demos. Why did they release only these songs and not more?

You would need to ask Egg Records about that one.

++ Are there any other Baby Lemonade recordings that remain unreleased?

1 demo lying around somewhere with an unreleased tune but don’t know where it is.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many back then? What would you say were your favourites and why?

We played Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bellshill, Newcastle and London- probably about 12-15 gigs all in. Enjoyed ‘Rooftops ‘ in Glasgow, ‘Fury Murray’s, Glasgow- went down well that night.

++ Where was the farthest from home that you played?

We played the ‘Camden Falcon’ in London  which was furthest away from home.

++ And then what happened to Baby Lemonade? When and why did you split?

Our last gig was at the ‘Camden Falcon’, London- we split about 1988- don’t really know why we split- people did other things , moved on…….

++ What happened afterwards? Did you continue making music?

I went to become a Social Worker , joined 2 bands in the meantime and my present crew, ‘ The Diablo’s ‘ – check us out on Face Book.

++ What about these days? What do you do? What other hobbies do you enjoy doing?

I work with the Council in a Social Work capacity. I love football, movies, cycling and most of all music and my family.

++ Looking back in time, what would you say was the biggest highlight of Baby Lemonade?

Highlights for me were supporting the T.V. Personalities at the Glasgow Barrowlands- still one of my favourite groups.

++ Thanks so much Graham for the interview! Anything else you’d like to add?

Once our V.W. car broke down in Glasgow on the night of a gig in Edinburgh. Instead of making an effort  to get there we went for Italian food instead. Apparently  Geoff Travis  from Rough Trade was there looking to see us play and he’d come from London for the opportunity…. big mistake for the B.L’s…….

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Listen
Baby Lemonade – World Of Mine