13
Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I couldn’t find more information about the band.

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

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Listen
The Sunflowers – Closer

09
Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
Honeytrap – Make Me Happy

06
Feb

A bunch of news worth mentioning:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
Crocodile Ride – Shimmer

31
Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ Did you feel part of a scene?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
Esmerelda’s Kite – Roundabout

30
Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
The Quentins – Take It All Back

28
Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ Was there any other songs on compilations?

No unfortunately not, a shame really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
This Mighty Fire – Dream

23
Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The book mentions Esmerelda’s Kite just twice:

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

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

Sadly early in 2015 Simon Westwood passed away.

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

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Listen
Esmerelda’s Kite – Roundabout

09
Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Holidaymaker: One who goes on vacation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
The Holidaymakers – Cincinnati

04
Jan

Happy New Year!! Back for another year, the tenth year anniversary of Cloudberry, and the 9th for the blog. Let’s continue this indiepop dream for one more year!

What’s new then? I still haven’t recovered my hard drive, but I have received some new nice packages on the mail that I feel need to be recommended. Well, I did recommend one of them last week, the BV’s new EP “Runaway Neon” that came out on tape. Luckily the band was super nice to me and sent me a CDR version so I could listen to all the tracks, and wow! They are so good! Definitely one of my favourite newish bands in the indiepop world.

It seems then that the label Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten from Augusburg is kind of a King Midas now, every band that they are involved with, like the Bv’s, is really good. I got two new records from them today too and aside from the beautiful presentation, the music is fab. The records I got were a 7″ by the band Botschaft and a 12″ by Endlich Blüte.

The 12″ EP by Endlich Blüte is titled “Der Schöne Junge Mann” and you can actually stream all songs from their Bandcamp. There are only 200 copies of this record and I feel the price is very good. So there is no excuse for not getting it! On top of it all the band has a new video for the song “Eigenwohl” and you can check it here.

About Botschaft you can hear their jangly and elegant song “Niederlage” here, on their Soundcloud. You can also stream “Reproduktionsfunktion” there as well. Happiness. Germany keeping indiepop alive!

I hope Kleine Untergrund keeps on this perfect run!

On other indiepop news I could gather during the past few days I saw that Horsebeach have announced a new album titled “Beauty & Sadness” to come out on March 17th.

Desperate Journalist another favourite band of mine have a new song out too titled “Resolution” and it is gorgeous. Sadly it is not available for me to link to their Soundcloud, only a select few hipster websites seem to be able to, but I found it on a non-official Youtube. So you can listen to it there.

But is it an end of an era? I was thinking about this last week when Cake Shop, the iconic venue in the Lower East Side, announced that it was closing. At least it is an end of an era in New York. With no Popfest and now with no venue that was extremely friendly and supportive to indiepop bands, New York seems like an island. I don’t know what will happen here. Not even there’s a Mondo to listen a few indiepop hits and dance. That’s it. Indiepop, I believe, is agonizing in NY. Time to resurrect it somehow?

The news of Cake Shop closing wasn’t a surprise. Years ago they were looking for investors. It must be so hard to pay the rent in an area that is hip and happening. CBTweeBs as Michael Grace calls the venue was a place where I got to see so many amazing bands during the years, even before I moved to the city. Many bands associated to the label played there like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Alpaca Sports, Zipper, Lost Tapes and so on. I saw many other cool bands there like Love is All, My Favorite, Airiel, Cola Jet Set and many more.

I used to start the nights with the cheap Genesee beer, and then continue with the Brooklyn lagers. The basement could get so warm, so hot, when it was packed of people. Standing on the seats on the righthand side of the basement just below the AC was the solution. The big table there were all the merch was sold, were I sat so many times and the line for the bathroom where one would meet always new people will be missed.

I didn’t go to the last shows, sadly the bands playing weren’t my cup of tea. I feel a bit bad for not supporting during the last days, but in due honesty I did go there quite often, even when there were no bands playing. If I was in the area and was up for a beer, the Cake Shop was always the first option. I liked the first floor for that, it wasn’t loud and the people that visited weren’t obnoxious, they were just like you and me, usually.

I have so many photos of friends and myself in this venue. Somehow it will be remembered by all our memories, for all those great nights of gigs and Popfest. I do hope that Andy can start another Cake Shop with the same name or another somewhere else in New York. It is important for the city to have the sort of people and venues that support bands like they did.

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How do we start the new year? What about a fantastic obscure band? Well, that’s the usual isn’t it? Let’s see what can we find about a band that a lot of serious indiepop fans love: The Beaujolais Brothers.

Beaujolais is a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine generally made of the Gamay grape which has a thin skin and is low in tannins. Like most AOC wines they are not labeled varietally. Whites from the region, which make up only 1% of its production, are made mostly with Chardonnay grapes though Aligoté is also permitted until 2024 (on condition the vines were planted before 2004). Beaujolais tends to be a very light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity. In some vintages, Beaujolais produces more wine than the Burgundy wine regions of Chablis, Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais put together.

Were they wine lovers then?

I don’t know much about the band, I’ve only heard the one song “Here Comes Summer”, and it is such a good song! Classic indiepop! Where does this song come from? From a 7″ released in 1988 on the Seagull Records label (CORK 001). I believe this is a self-release as there are no other releases on this label as far as I know. This was a double A side record, the other song was “Day After Day”.

Two people are credited on this record, the songs were written by M. Jamieson and R. Maberley.  Sadly there is no back sleeve photo uploaded to Discogs.

Keep digging. An unexpected turn of events. I find on Google some messages of Japanese fans to a Facebook page for Rodney Maberley. I think I hit the target. I will get to know more about the band now. Someone did the detective work for me.

I find on this profile page a small biography:
‘Le Mc Rod’ was a name borne of his busking in France and Scotland. He was a man of great musical talent and loved his life to be as simple as possible! He was full of cheesy one liners and cheese and picklle sandwiches. God bless you Rod love ya!

His full name was Rodney Keith Maberley and was born in Brighton, UK. There are more bands listed that he was involved with, aside from The Beaujolais Brothers he played with The Sexed up Lambeth boys, Ol’ Dirty Bar Stars, The Introze, The Dolphins, Heroes, Scuba Divers, Slime Time, Red Sox.

Sadly from this page I learn that it has been 8 years since he passed away. Terrible news.

I see some messages from people I know, there’s one saying that there’s a German label that wants to re-release the 7″ and probably a retrospective. Would that be Firestation? I bet on that.

It seems the page is being managed by his niece. It seems at some point there was a Facebook music player on the page were more songs by him were uploaded. Not sure if they were from The Beaujolais Brothers or from other bands.

There are also lots of photos on this page, many of him as a musician though I’m not sure which ones are from The Beaujolais Brothers. I could tell there are some by The Dolphins.

On Last.fm I could find people listening to songs by him, two songs that I don’t know if to which of his bands they belong. The names being “Moon Equipment” and “Julia”. I also tried to find out more about the other bands listed that he was involved with. But I couldn’t track any of them.

I then tried to track M. Jamieson, the other name that appears on The Beaujolais Brothers record. I couldn’t find anything either. Dead ends.

A true mystery. The one 7″ record that is classic. Were there unreleased songs? What about Rodney’s other bands? Did they sound similar to The Beaujolais Brothers? What happened to M. Jamieson? Was he involved in other bands? Would be great to know more about them and MAYBE find a copy of this 7″, would be nice to have it!

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Listen
The Beaujolais Brothers – Here Comes Summer

03
Jan

Thanks so much to Arthur Magee for the great interview! It’s been a while since I tried to interview this band that I first got to know thanks to the Leamington Spa series many many years ago. Then I was able to hear their one and only EP on Ugly Man and I was just like… wow! It was always a mystery for me why they are not much more known, more of a household name for guitar pop fans. Luckily now Arthur answers many of my questions and hopefully you’ll be discovering a new fantastic band or you’ll get to know a thing or two about this fab Manchester band.

++ Hi Arthur! Thanks a lot for being up for the interview once again. It was a long time since we were in touch, during the Myspace days, and now I have a new opportunity to ask you many questions! Of course I have to start this interview asking you about that perfect song of yours, “Pessimistic Man”, if you could tell me the story behind it?

It’s Stuart’s song. I’ll ask him. Stuart says:

Pessimistic man is the usual tale of a miserable Yorkshire lad trying to decide on what’s the worst thing happening in his life. Written in the time of the poll tax, campaign for nuclear disarmament, strikes and the everyday toil of trying to get a job and a mortgage, the ray of light is that all this is inconsequential and it is missing a loved one that is praying on the young lad’s mind.

++ There was a video for this song too. Where did you get the budget to make it? What do you remember the time making it, any anecdotes? And why was it black and white?

Budget!!! Are you joking. I blagged it from a friend of ours who ran a video company and the amount spent on it was NOTHING! It was filmed in Whitworth Park in Manchester on a bitterly cold Sunday in November. We got a lot of our friends down and just acted out scenes. Stuart or his brother Duncan made the props, the large bomb and the big heart. The furniture came from the flat Paul and I share in Hulme. I remember the Manchester Martyrs Parade passing down Oxford Road as we filmed. The video was in colour with some shots in black and white for the effect!

++ Let’s rewind a bit, was Fallover 24 your first band or had you been involved in other bands?

No Fallover 24 was my first and last band. Outside of Fallover 24, I’ve known excellent musicians, technically brilliant but they’ve never been able to match what I felt with Paul and Stuart. There was something magical there, I can’t explain it but there was.

++ And before that, what was your first instrument, what sort of music was heard at home when you were little?

Guitar. My mother loved Elvis, Roy Orbison and shows like West Side Story. I’d an Uncle Pat who played guitar and piano and he used to encourage us to write songs when we were kids. I can remember three of us sat on top of an upright piano as he played. He showed us that there was magic in the mundane, an incredible gift to give. When I was really young I heard and loved the Beatles and I watched the Monkees on TV. Actually how Fallover 24 lived was a bit like the Monkees except we didn’t have a beach house in Malibu, we’d a cockroach infested flat in Hulme, Manchester. As I got older I listened to more punk and ska bands as well as Motown, glam rock etc. I will always love the Undertones. Mostly, I love good songs and good songwriters whatever the genre or era. I’m a sucker for a good melody. Stuart was into David Bowie, Jonathan Richmond and Talking Heads whilst Paul liked Madness and bands like them. We’d a big range on influences in the group.

++ When starting Fallover 24 what sort of bands were you listening to? Did you follow any bands in Manchester at the time?

You know I really can’t remember too well. We used to go and see a lot of bands though. I became good friends with the Skol Bandeleros, who were a cowpunk band and the best live band on the scene by a country (excuse the pun) mile! The Man from Delmonte were good too. I saw the Stone Roses a few times and they were just about ok.

++ How was Manchester then? What were the places where you used to hang out? What were your favourite venues or clubs?

We lived in Hulme which was a horrendous 1960s housing project in inner city Manchester. The accommodation was so bad, they’d given up on it and rented it out to students. Bear in mind that Manchester has 50,000 students coming each year and they bring an energy. I’d studied in London for 3 years and I met more people in Manchester in 3 weeks than I did the whole time I was in London. People in Manchester tend to take you as they find you. It has a proud radical heritage and that still exists to this day, a sort of ‘Fuck You’ attitude but with a kind and open heart. There was real poverty in the city but also an incredible vibrancy. It felt like anything was possible and everyone seemed to be in a band. We had a regular gig at the Red Admiral in Hulme which was full of people selling nicked goods but it was run by a lovely Irish couple and they paid us. At the time, the place to go for bands was the International who’d a guy booking for them called Roger Eagles who really got some great bands there.

++ How did Fallover 24 start? How did you meet the rest of the members?

I met Stuart whilst he and I were trying to chat up the same girl. We ended up chatting each other up! Paul we met at a gig. Vic came from an advert in Melody Maker, drummers are always hard to get.

++ And where does the name Fallover 24 come from?

You each drink 24 cans of lager and what happens? You …(wait for it..) Fallover!!!

++ I read that the strength of the band was that you had 3 songwriters. How did that work for you? Like, how was the creative process when someone came up with a new song?

Mostly it was very, very good as we spurred each other on. Sometimes someone would have the whole song virtually written like Stuart did with Pessimistic Man and we’d add to it, Other times, we’d finish a song together. There was always a pressure to get your song heard which is probably why we never did the same set twice.

++ Your first gig was at The Red Admiral in Hulme. What do you remember from that day? How long did you play, who did you support, and what songs were on the setlist?

It was a Tuesday at the start of December. We’d actually supported a band at the Gallery but Stuart was ill so it was just Paul and myself and we played after about 2 rehearsals. I saw a picture recently and you can see I’m shouting the chords to him. At the Red Admiral, we used Harry from Gone to Earth as a drummer and Stuart was back so that was our first proper gig. I was so nervous, I was nearly sick but the idea was to face the fear, get going and make a start. Sometimes people in a group will wait until they’re ready but you’re never ready. Better to get up and do it and if you make mistakes, so what? I think we played for 40 minutes in front of our friends and after that we were up and running.

++ It’s said that you never played the same setlist twice, that must have been hard! What other gigs do you remember fondly and why? Is there any gig that you played that you would prefer forgetting, that wasn’t very good?

We didn’t play the same setlist twice. We used to rehearse constantly and we were all writing tunes. It kept it interesting for us but looking back, there were an awful lot of really good songs that people never heard. In retrospect we should have been a little more disciplined in our approach. Playing live we were a real mixed bag. I remember a gig in Belfast at a student club when we were really brilliant. That said, I can remember a few others when we were shocking. A big issue was acoustics playing in large spaces with the sound bouncing everywhere.

++ You recorded your first demo in 1986. What songs were in it? The same as in the EP later released on Ugly Man Records?

That was recorded at Out of the Blue in Manchester. The songs were:

The Greystone
Cloth Stained Blue
Shipyards
Questions

None of these were on the EP but Cloth Stained Blue was featured on The Sound of Leamington Spa compilation.

++ At that time you were supposed to record a single with Martin Hannett, is that right? What happened?

Martin heard the 4 track of Pessimistic Man and loved it so we went to Strawberry Studios to record it. He just wasn’t at it and it never worked out.

++ Then, in 1989, you would release the “Pessimistic Man” EP on Ugly Man Records. How did you end up in this label and how was your relationship with them?

I knew Guy whose label it was and we were getting fed up with Martin who’d miss recording sessions etc. We wanted to keep the momentum going so we went and recorded it ourselves.

++ Had there been interest from other labels? Maybe some majors?

The single and video secured interest from several Majors but to be honest we weren’t ready.

++ What do you remember from the recording sessions for the single? you recorded it yourselves, right?

Yes after we’d tried to record it with Martin Hannett. It was a studio in Old Trafford in Manchester and the only clear recollection I have is Paul pressing a large red button on the desk and nearly wiping all the recordings. It was like something from a cartoon, “Umm this button says, ‘Do Not Press’ but what could go wrong?” so he pressed it!

++ It must have been a highlight when you beat on the local charts the likes of The Stone Roses or The Happy Mondays. What position did you reach? And how did this impact the band?

It wasn’t a highlight, we were just trying to push the record and we did all that on our own with no support. I was glad that we were mentioned but no more than that.

++ How come this didn’t translate nationally?

We’d no support, no money for pluggers or advertising. The record was on the Ugly Man label but we’d paid for it ourselves. Essentially we were a corner shop competing against large corporations and we couldn’t do it. There was also a lot of inverted snobbery in the Indie scene, we weren’t ‘indie’ enough. I’ll explain what I mean. We were told that our video was going to be featured on Snub TV which was a national programme in the UK. We cobbled the last of our money together and sent it down to London by courier. We came home one day to a message from the show’s producer telling us that they weren’t going to play us as we weren’t indie enough! We were living in a cockroach and mouse infested flat in Hulme at the time. Not indie enough? A mouse drowned in our chip pan! It was a blow and not the only one. It felt like a punch in the stomach!

++ There’s only 4 songs on the EP, but I wonder if you recorded more songs at all? Perhaps there were more demo tapes?

There were. We recorded versions of songs on Stuart’s Tascam Porta Studio but we didn’t have the money to go into professional studios. In fact we only did this twice. Our first demo and the recordings for the EP.

++ What was the idea behind the artwork of the EP, that sad clown is the pessimistic man?

It was a great idea from Carl who did the graphics. Just inverting the normal perception of a cheery clown. Mind you clowns are scary now aren’t they? At one stage I wanted to change it to the Smiley icon beloved of the rave crowd but we didn’t have the time or money.

++ What happened in the spring of 1989, why did you split? And what did you all do after musically?

Looking back, I know I was suicidal and I think I was having a nervous breakdown. We’d set up a recording studio and to be honest it wasn’t really something I wanted to do. A lot of things came to a head and I wasn’t in a good place and I mean that literally, Paul had to talk me down from a ledge. I know I must have been hard to deal with as I was on a real downer at the time. We remained mates though. When you’ve driven 200 miles with only enough money for 2 cups of coffee between 4 people, it bonds you. It took me 2 to 3 years before I could look at a guitar and I started to play solo. I never wanted to be in another group. It would have been hard to replicate what we had. Sometimes we were abysmal but other times we were truly magical.

++ How was the press and radio? Did you get much attention from them?

A bit but like I said, the promotion budget was zilch. I thought, if you put out a great record, people will play it. I was naive, it doesn’t work like that. I think we sent it to the NME 8 times before we got a review. Melody Maker gave us a live review and John Peel played it. I’m not sure if local radio in Manchester even played it. We also got the video on late night MTV when it started in Europe. All this we did ourselves, ringing people up, hassling them etc. It’s what you need to do but it’s draining.

++ And what about the so called C86 scene, did you ever feel part of it? Did you get much attention from indiepop fanzines perhaps?

No, we didn’t feel part of it or at last I didn’t. People start bands for lots of reasons but it’s never to be part of a scene. That’s a terrible reason to start a band. Be yourself, do the music you love otherwise you’ll never do anything. We were friends with some bands in Manchester though and we met some wonderful, amazing people.

++ What about today, are you all still in touch? Making music perhaps?

I’ve always kept in touch with Paul and Stuart. They’re more than friends to me, more like brothers. We are a caring but dysfunctional family. Sadly, I’ve lost touch with Vic the drummer. I did speak with him a few years back but I’m not sure he wants to be found. We listened to some of our old 4 track demos and recordings we made of rehearsals and realised that actually we’ve written some really brilliant songs that have not been recorded properly never mind heard. We get together when we’ve the time and we’ve put 4 of our old songs down. How do they sound? Really great. We’re looking to get more recorded.

++ These days, what other hobbies do you enjoy having?

I run a walking tour in Belfast which is where I’m from. I love football but I’ve a family so outside of them and my guitar I don’t have a lot of free time. I try and listen to as much new music as I can usually in the car.

++ Are you still in Manchester? Has it changed much since those days in the 80s? Are there any good band still in town?

No I don’t live in Manchester anymore, I’m from Belfast and I live there now but I do go over. In fact I’m going in January to meet up with Paul and Stuart from Fallover 24 and rehearse some of our old songs. I’d like to get 4 more recorded soon. Stuart still lives in Manchester whilst Paul lives in Warwick in England’s West Midlands so you can see the logistics of getting us together are difficult. Manchester has changed incredibly in the last 15 years. It’s totally transformed and reminds me of New York. It will always produce bands but what makes Manchester special is the approach to music. Most places people go to hear what they know or have heard before. In Manchester they go to hear something new, something different which is incredibly liberating.

++ I guess we should start wrapping it, I think I might come up with even more questions if we don’t stop, but I would like to know what was the biggest highlight for you of being part of Fallover 24?

Meeting Martin Hannett was good, not because he was a so called legend but because he and I used to get on well and would go for a beer in Chorlton. Hearing the record unexpectedly on John Peel was lovely too but the real highlight was meeting wonderful people like Paul and Stuart who I was in Fallover 24 with, Mandy, Sue and Anthony from the Skol Bandeleros, Dave Thom and Harry from Little Douglas/Gone to Earth and many others like Tony Dooley or Sheridan McLoughlin, Herman and John Nancolis from a project called the Site. It was the worst of times but it was also the best of times too, to paraphrase Dickens.

++ Thanks again for the interview, anything else you’d like to add?

I always describe us as an unpopular pop group so we’re setting up a web site:

www.unpopularpopgroup.com

We’re recording our old songs as we never had the money first time around and people will be able to access them from the web site when we get it up and going. I think they sound fabulous, pure pop, two guitars, bass and drums with great tunes attached. We’re doing this for the love of it and because it’s still good fun and also because it’s always annoyed me that the songs never reached the light of day. Looking back, I’d say to anyone that if you want to do something, do it. To most people Fallover 24 never existed, we didn’t create a splash, more a pebble into the sea but that pebble still created small ripples and those ripples have come back to us from all over the world. People have contacted me from New York, Canada and Japan which I think is incredible. I’d like to think we did something positive which this world needs. So if you’ve got something you want to do, do it, life is short but make sure it’s positive. It might not work out how you wanted but at least you’ll have no regrets and when you’re a middle aged old fart like me you’ll have something to look back on. To paraphrase Helen Keller, “Life is an adventure or it is nothing”.

Oh and we’re available for weddings, bar mitzvahs etc…!

Love, light and peace

Fallover 24

You can contact us at: Fallover24@gmail.com

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Listen
Fallover 24 – Pessimistic Man