14
Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
The Love Buttons – Jon, You Bastard

13
Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ Where does the name Candy Ranch comes from?

The name is actually from a porno film ha ha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ How did the creative process work for you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can i tell a joke?

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

I’ll get me coat, … Keep The Faith x

 

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Listen
Candy Ranch – Up and Away

 

09
Jun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
The Sandalwoods – The Day is Mine

19
May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was never reflected in fame or fortune, alas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call me when you get here!

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

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

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

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

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Listen
Hey Paulette – Commonplace

17
May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ Where does the name Baby Lemonade come from?

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

++ Who would you say were your influences then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 songs long-leave ‘em wanting more.

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

You would need to ask Egg Records about that one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
Baby Lemonade – World Of Mine

16
May

Thanks a lot to Kieran Eaton for doing this interview! I wrote about the Dublin band Premonition a long time ago hoping to learn more about them. Luckily a month or so ago Kieran got in touch and was keen to answer all my questions about the band. If you have never heard them before, now it is a good chance to discover them, especially with Kieran’s thoughtful and detailed answers! It makes the interview very special!

++ Hi Kieran! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! How are you? Are you still based in Dublin?

You’re welcome!! How are you? I’m as fine as can be at my age, thanks. No, I’m now based in the picturesque seaside town of Dungarvan, County Waterford in the South East of Ireland.

++ Still making music?

I am. I was the bass player in Premonition. I also played flute in the middle of one song which involved some very deft manoeuvres from me and our roadie! I still play both regularly and also a lot of saxophone; mainly tenor with a little soprano and alto when the mood takes me!

++ I know so little about Premonition, there’s very little on the web as well. So let’s start from the beginning. What were your first musical memories, what sort of music was played at home while growing up?

That’s a funny one. A very eclectic mixture. My earliest memories are of my mother playing me records on an old mono record player, the ones that had an arm that held the record above the deck and somehow dropped it just in time for the stylus to land. She played me records by The Dubliners, Percy French and Bing Crosby. My Godfather lived next door and he was in his early 20’s at the time. I used to visit him regularly and he played me records which I now know to have mainly been The Beatles. My father didn’t play any instruments but was a huge opera fan and would often play us light opera records. In later years he traveled all over the world to attend operas. My mother played some violin and piano in her school years, but not much really. They both however loved to support the arts and so as children we were regularly brought to theatre performances so I guess it was an easy transition for us to become performers. And they were very supportive of us all learning music too so we really were very lucky. I have three brothers and a sister. My sister and eldest brother sing in our national philharmonic choir. The middle brother is a lighting technician for our national tv station and also works in stage production outside of his full time job. And Gerard who drummed with Premonition still plays but I’ll expand on that in the later question.

++ What was your first instrument?

Piano. Then tin whistle. Then recorders, flute, bass guitar and saxophone in that order.

++ Then were you involved with any bands before being in Premonition? Who were Loudness of Whispers?

No. I was in a school orchestra and a group that performed medieval music before Premonition but no prior rock n roll band.

I have no idea!! We initially called ourselves Loudest of Whispers and played out first gig under that name. But then we discovered that there was another band called Too Loud To Whisper so we changed the name to Premonition.

++ How did Premonition start as a band? How did you all know each other?

The original drummer, Jimmy, and original guitarist, Tim, lived a couple of doors from each other. They started the band. Neither of them could play; they were pretty much learning their instruments by ear in a garage. Tim played flute in the school orchestra that I was in. For some reason we didn’t get on together in school probably because both Tim and Jimmy were a year behind me in school so we didn’t mix in the same circles. After I finished school I started teaching flute in my school the following term. One day I arrived early and Tim was outside waiting for someone. We got chatting. He told me that he was starting a band and needed a bass player. I told him that I was planning to get a bass and that was it, I was in. For months I’d try to learn on the bottom four strings of Tim’s guitar and he would borrow his sister’s acoustic while I saved up for a bass. Tim and I were beginning to hang out in the Mod scene in Dublin at the time. I actually ended up buying my first Vespa before the bass!! Everyone was cool with that though, priorities are priorities and we all agreed that a scooter was way more important than a bass. We were useless anyway so I didn’t exactly delay the progress of the band. We still had no one to sing though. My younger brother Gerard by now had started to learn drums. Through conversation I heard from Ger that one of his classmates played guitar and both wrote and sang songs. So a small bit of arranging later and John came to the garage with his guitar and a songbook in hand. The book was the songs from the album “All Mod Cons” by The Jam. The garage, by the way, was the craziest place to be. Tim’s father owned a small grocery shop at the front of their house. They kept extra stock in the garage which was safeguarded by a German Shepherd who was only put out when we’d arrive to rehearse. It was almost impossible to find a spot to stand without getting covered with dog shit!! Anyway, John auditioned and impressed us all so much with his ability to play and sing simultaneously that he was accepted immediately. That’s no exaggeration; neither Tim nor I could play and sing at the same time!!

Well as you can see already, we all went to the same school, Synge Street school, the one used as a basis and location for a recent movie “Sing Street” which tells the story of classmates forming a band. Only for the fact that the movie’s band are still in school but we weren’t it could nearly have been about us!!

After a couple of years Jimmy quit the band. That’s when Ger came in; to replace him on drums. A year or so later Tim quit. He was replaced by Kevin, a classmate of mine who I’ve been friends with since we were two years old. So the final line up was Ger and his classmate John and me and my classmate Kevin.

++ Who came up with the name? What’s the story behind it?

Jimmy. No real story. Once we heard there was another band of almost the same name we decided to change. After rehearsal one night we were sitting around throwing out names and Jimmy, out of the blue, said Premonition. That was it straight away, we all said yes.

++ How was Dublin back then? What were the places were you hang out? Where were the venues to catch the bands you liked?

Rough enough. Mid recession so high unemployment and generally not the best atmosphere about. Daytimes were spent hanging out with other Mods in the city centre. For some reason Mods weren’t well accepted in city pubs or clubs so we didn’t hang out there at night. There was no point, we would be refused entry almost everywhere. But they didn’t cater for our music interests either so we didn’t bother much with city nightlife. We rehearsed several nights a week in the garage and usually headed to a local pub for a beer afterwards.

There were very few venues that catered for up and coming bands. The only two really were the Baggot Inn and The Underground, a tiny pub in a basement. The Baggot was a cool place though; everyone wanted to play there. The drawback was that the band had to pay to play there. They had an in house pa and sound engineer and we would have to pay up front for a slot there and hope to make the money back on ticket sales which of course we never did. That’s why so many Irish bands disappeared We couldn’t afford rehearsal rooms and gig slots never mind recording costs. We saved for months to raise the £120 we needed for our first demo. We also had to cover the costs of posters to advertise. By the time we were gigging properly as such three of us were also holding down full time day jobs. The Baggot was a place that was occasionally used by international artists to “try out” new material on an always surprised audience. Those kind of acts were never advertised as the venue probably only held about 100 people so there would be bedlam if there was advanced warning. The biggest artist I can think of who played the Baggot to a stunned audience was David Bowie. I wasn’t there for that unfortunately. Bigger bands like The Blades had a slightly bigger venue called the TV Club but it had closed its doors long before we began gigging.

There wasn’t much in the line of international acts either. We had a showjumping arena called the RDS and Shane Castle. I saw Queen at Slane and Michael Jackson at the RDS so I’m talking about that level of international. Both venues are still in existence and both still run concerts occasionally but we also have two stadia that can hold up to 80,000 concert goers and one 18,000 capacity indoor venue now too. Back then though the majority of acts avoided Ireland because of the “troubles” in the North of Ireland. There are six counties in the North that are still under British rule. Back then there was a lot of terrorist activity up there, regular bombings and shootings. We have peace now, both sides eventually came to a power sharing agreement which was strongly backed by the Clinton administration at the time. We reckon though that artists thought that the whole county was at war and gave us a wide berth.

++ On the website Irish Rocks it mentions that you were influenced by The Blades. What other bands would you say were influences in the band?

The Beatles. And all of the Mod bands from England in the 60’s, The Kinks, The Small Faces. Also the post punk Mod revival and new wave Brit pop of the time, The Jam, Elvis Costello, The Housemartins, The Smiths, Julian Cope, Billy Bragg.

++ You won the Dublin Millenium Battle of the Bands in 1988. How was that experience? 

Unbelievable. There were over 80 entrants. We thought we didn’t stand a chance. The two guys who ran the event, Steady Eddie and Pete the Roz, ordinary guys who loved new Irish music, persuaded us to enter. I think they probably persuaded us all to enter!! Looking back on it now we were so lucky to win. We actually got a vinyl release. Just before cd took over. We’d never have had one otherwise.

++ Were there any bands that you liked in the contest?

Yes but I couldn’t tell you any of their names at this stage!! The competition final was tough tough, the other two bands were excellent. We really were stunned when we were announced as the winners.

++ Thanks to winning this contest you got to record a single for EMI at Sun Studios. How did that go? Was it a straightforward recording? How was working with EMI?

It went very well. Sun studios was in Dublin, not the Presley one!! We had done quite a few demo sessions by then so we were very familiar with studio practices.

I think there was a limit set on the amount of hours available to make the recording but we finished it with plenty of time left over. We were well rehearsed. We would prepare by each recording our lines individually on an old cassette recorder and listening back to make sure it was all perfect so by the time we’d get to the studio it would be all systems go.

EMI Ireland was run by Rory Cowan, a hilarious character. I did all of the dealings with him on behalf of the band. He was very supportive and pushed the record as best he could. He got us airtime on national radio too, a thing that evaded most bands at our level. After EMI closed its Irish branch I worked with Rory again with a different band. He had set himself up doing PR for various acts. He is now a cast member and international star of an Irish TV comedy series called Mrs. Brown’s Boys.

++ The songs recorded for this single were “The Streets are Paved With Lead” and “Eye Like Sin”. If you don’t mind, would you care telling me the story behind both of these songs?

No problem at all. The Streets Are Paved With Lead is a song about the mass emigration of Irish people to London during the recession of the 80’s. London was of course experiencing a similar recession so many of our emigrants found themselves just as unemployed there as they were here. The Lead in the title was to counter the lyrics of an old song in which London’s streets were said to be paved with gold. John wrote both songs. I always liked the line about the Liffey. The Liffey is a river that Dublin is built on. Back then there was so much pollution that the Liffey stank like hell. Dublin is also a major port so the river is affected by the tide. When the tide went out the smell from the Liffey was so bad you could smell it all over the city centre. John’s reference is to say that leaving Dublin to be unemployed in London isn’t such a good idea. So many found themselves living in worse poverty in London than they had in Dublin. So “the scent of the Liffey is 10 times nicer than the stench of the Thames” basically means your shit life here is way better than your shit life there.

Eyes Like Sin is pretty much a song about an ex girlfriend of John’s. she broke off with him and he was still in love with her. He had a few one night stands with her over the following years. Through that he hoped the relationship would revive but she had no intention of that happening. That’s the basis of the song. Her willingness for occasional love action only prolonged his love but he knew deep inside that each time he failed to resist her he was setting himself up for more emotional hurt.

++ The record was produced by the band and Pat Dunne. How was the relationship with him and what did he add to the sound of the band?

We had a good relationship with him. He was easy to work with. I can’t say that he added much to the sound, we were very sure of what we wanted before we went in. But his knowledge of the studio was superb and he made the whole recording session very easy for us. He seemed to like what we were doing too so that really put us at ease.

++ And how did the creative process work for the band?

Simple really. At first John was the only songwriter among us. Then Ger started to learn guitar and write too. Whoever came up with the song would come to rehearsal and play whatever they had so far just with rhythm guitar. We’d all just join in and come up with our respective lines ourselves. And we’d keep going until we were all happy with the finished song. There was never any “you play this” we all just did our own thing.

++ Was there interest by any other labels after the release of the single?

No. 😞

++ I was just listening again to the A side, “The Streets are Paved with Lead”, what a fantastic song! It makes me wonder how come you didn’t release any more records?

Thanks for the compliment!! The simple answer is money, or lack thereof.

++ But did you record more songs? Perhaps there were demo tapes that you used to sell at gigs?

Absolutely. We had several demo tapes. And after the single release had come and gone there was talk that bands were beginning to get signed from demos alone without the traditional rout off trying to attract a+r people to gigs that they would never come to. So we got our hands on a Tascam portastudio and set into just recording so there are songs recorded but heard by nobody but us.

We only ever sold one tape recording that was made through the mixing desk at the Baggot. A 40 minute live set. We sold it to friends and family and used the cash to make our first demo!

++ Speaking of gigs, did you play many? What were the best ones you remember? And where was the farthest you played from home?

Yes, we played loads. I think the best ones ever were the launch night for our single, the night we won in Dublin and another competition we won in a town called Carlow about 50 miles from Dublin. My ex-wife is from Carlow and she saw it advertised in a local paper. The prize man net by today’s standards was small, about $1,000 but it was worth a lot more in 1986. It funded another recording session.

We never travelled overseas and Ireland isn’t that big so I guess about 150 miles. We were in Cork a couple of times and Sligo once. Dublin is conveniently situated about half way up the east coast of Ireland. Cork is about midway along the south coast and Sligo on the Northwest coast.

++ Were there any bad gigs that you wish not to remember?

There’s one that springs to mind. We were booked to open for a better known band from Dublin called A House. The gig was in Cork city. We hadn’t a car between us. I was the only one with transport but we wouldn’t all fit on the Vespa so off we went on the train, guitars and gig bags in hand. Got to Cork and thought we’d walk in from the station as we’d not a lot of money. Eventually arrived exhausted at the venue. A House were sound checking so we waited our turn. Eventually their manager came to us and told us that there was another opening act booked by the venue and we were cancelled. By the time he told us we’d missed the last train home by only minutes. Kindly (I write with much sarcasm) he said we could stay for the gig and wouldn’t charge us entry fee!! I’m a seriously calm guy but if there was ever a time I felt like throwing a punch at someone it was then. We hung around for a while but we were so pissed off we didn’t enjoy a second of it. We ended up wandering the streets trying to find somewhere to sleep rough. We were such a bunch of naive fools that we put no forward planning in place. Nowhere to stay and equipment we couldn’t sleep in a doorway with. So off we strolled very slowly towards the train station. Along the way we found a late night pizza place which was open till 4.00 according to the neon sign. Only a small place so they weren’t too impressed to see us coming with all our gear. That experience is still remembered with hilarity; in fact I recently stayed in a hotel in Cork at a friend’s stag weekend and sent out a photo of the view to the Premonition lads and all came back with the same comments. It won’t sound as funny to you but try to imagine the group disappointment at the time coupled with the realisation that we were completely unprepared for the occasion. Into the pizza shop we went. Gerard is strictly vegetarian so ordered a plain pizza with extra cheese. Back then there wasn’t much available for vegetarians, especially ones who don’t like vegetables!! Out came the orders only for us to discover that this lot had never heard of mozzarella. Gerard’s pizza was thick with melted cheddar with a big pool of melted cheddar oil in the middle. Simple as that. At the time, probably because of the whole scenario, that was the funniest thing we had seen all day. Anyway, we hung around like a bad smell until they threw us out at about 4 am and wandered off towards the train station. We reckoned at that stage it would be the safest place to sleep in the waiting area. That proved to be the best decision because as it happened the first train of the day to Dublin was already on the platform and the staff kindly let us board so that we could sleep safely with our gear. We got to Dublin in time for me and Kevin to get to work on time. That was the worst gig we didn’t play.

++ And what about the press? Did you get much attention from them?

Yes, we did get good press. Again at the time it was difficult to even get a mention in the press because there was very little written about new and unknown bands. We got a small amount of mention in national press but every mention no matter how small was good. Always positive, we never got a bad review.

++ You did record a Fanning Session, and the blog Fanning Sessions Archive has two songs from that session. Were there more songs recorded at this session?

I can’t remember to be honest. I can only presume that there were only two songs recorded that time, otherwise more would be on the site. That was our second session though, there was a previous session that produced three songs but that doesn’t seem to be on the archive site.

++ And how was that, recording a session for Dave Fanning? That must have been important, a true highlight for the band?

Yes it was great to get to do it. Both sessions were very exciting. Fanning is famed for launching U2 so everyone wanted a session for his show. It took quite a bit of hustling to land the first session. I don’t remember how we got a second but to get to even record one in the studios of the only national radio station that aired new music was a fantastic experience. Then to hear the songs on air afterwards was amazing, it’s very encouraging to get experiences like that.

++ Then when and why did the band split? What did you all do afterwards? Music?

We never really split. We decided that constant rehearsal for few gigs and no nothing to come from the hard work wasn’t the way to go. Bands were beginning to be reported as getting recording contracts from demos alone so we chose that route. We borrowed a tascam portastudio from someone and recorded for a while. Ger was very interested in pursuing that option and invested in a bigger recording unit and built a small soundproof studio behind our parents house. But by the time he mastered the art of using it we had pretty much fizzled out.

Kevin continued to work in his job for a number of years. He eventually took a voluntary redundancy opportunity and now works as a very successful and award winning photographer. John continued to work in the civil service where he remains today. Ger continued recording and released material with his next band Las Vegas Basement. Well worth checking them out on bandcamp. I recorded some brass and woodwind parts along with my partner Pauline, a superb trumpet player. He also released some retro 80’s style material with another band, Les Marionettes and I played some more sax for him then. He has played with some of Ireland’s leading musicians. Drums with Jack L, keyboards with Mundy and Duke Special. He has a super collection of vintage equipment; some beautiful 1960’s guitars, a 1963 Fender Jazzmaster, a 65 Vox teardrop 12 string, a Hammond organ and Wurlitzer electric piano to name but a few. He continues to play and work as a part time hairdresser.

I stayed in the civil servic. I’ve worked there for over 30 years. I’m currently on long term sick leave due to a neurological muscular condition that I have developed. But I’ve never stopped playing. I still play bass; my four string Precision and 5 string custom made fretless are the tools of my trade. I also play soprano, alto and tenor saxophones and concert flute. I play in several cover bands, usually on a “on call” basis. My favourite bands though are a local ska outfit that also includes my partner on trumpet and a 3 pierce Mod/New Wave band in which I’m the lead vocalist and bassist. I play in the Waterford Youth Orchestra too which keeps my classical interests up to speed and I teach all of my instruments privately.

I’ve done some nice gigs with all of the ska greats from the late 70’s revival. Supported Madness, Bad Manners, The Beat, The Selecter. I’ve played on stage with members of The Specials, the Best and the wonderful Rhoda Dakar. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t joined Premonition.

++ And these days, are you all still in touch? Will there be ever be a chance for a reunion?

Yes, we’re all in touch. Facebook is a great tool for that. I meet Kevin regularly, after all we’ve been close friends now for 49 years! I don’t see John much but that’s where social media shines. And of course I still see a Ger, we’re still brothers!! As for a reunion? Maybe, we never officially split so anything us possible.

++ Aside from music, what other hobbies do you enjoy having?

Me? Well before my illness I enjoyed lots of things. I spent a few years in my youth on the national kayak slalom squad and still paddle for leisure occasionally. I’ve also run six marathons and completed a full Ironman triathlon. I can still cycle a little despite the pain it causes and still swim occasionally. Again, despite the condition I can still swim up to two miles. I tend to avoid it though because it leaves me having to recover for a few days regardless of distance of distance covered.

I’m also a dedicated Mod since my teens. I still own and ride a 1968 Lambretta scooter which is currently being given a complete restoration by a friend who shares the same passion and whose business is only the import and restoration of classic Italian scooters.

++ Never been to Dublin, or to Ireland, so was wondering what would you recommend doing and checking out, what are the sights one shouldn’t miss, or the food one has to try?

Go to the Guinness exhibition centre. Go to St. Michan’s church where the keyboard used by Handel when he composed The Messiah is on display. There you also get brought to the crypts where bodies haven’t decomposed due to a constant temperature. You even get to touch one of them!! Christ Church cathedral is also with a visit. If you’re lucky one of the organists will be practicing. They have one of the biggest and oldest pipe organs in the country there and the sound from it is amazing. There’s also a rock n roll centre that celebrates our many international contemporary artists.

++ One last question, looking back to those years, what would you say was the biggest highlight for Premonition?

Just doing it. We had great fun and the experience was always positive and it really was a great thing to do.

++ Let’s wrap it here,  thanks again for the interview, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Not much to add really. I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to go down memory lane in detail, thanks so much for asking me. But if any of your readers are doing or thinking if doing the same thing, do it!! The financial and fame side of success isn’t important really, at least not to me. I wouldn’t be the person I am without having this experience. And I wouldn’t like to be anyone else!!

Thanks again. It’s off to a two day audience with a James Galway, the world’s greatest flautist with me now. I’ve watched him teach before. He’s an amazing musician whose advice applies to all players of all instruments so I’m looking forward to learning more about the most wonderful language in the universe, music.

So, it’s goodbye from me for now, or as we say over here in our native tongue, slán. (Pronounced slawn)

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Listen
Premonition – All the Streets are Paved with Lead

22
Apr

Thanks to Mark Lyons for the fantastic interview! Resque released one album and a string of popstastic singles in the early nineties, with “Yeah!” becoming big in Japan! They also recorded many promo videos, and toured extensively. As there is not that much written about them on the web I asked Mark if he’d be up for an interview after he commented on my blog. Hope you enjoy the interview and that you discover (or rediscover) the brilliant Resque!

++ I got in touch with you thanks to a comment you left on the Hookline & Silverfish post I did some time ago. You mentioned the Majestic gigs. I was never there of course, so I’m curious about them. Care telling me a bit about them?

The majestic gigs were two big charity shows organised by the local Reading radio station ‘Radio 210’. We shared the bill with bands like ‘Hookline and Silverfish’, ‘The Jeremiahs’ and ‘Sometimes Sartre’. They were legendary. Completely packed the largest venue at the time in Reading and certainly launched International Rescue locally.

++ Resque was formed in 1989. So I wonder if you were in any other bands before that?

I was in a band at school called ‘The Unknown’. Honestly we were like a art experimental band! We were like a cross between Psychic TV and Echo and the Bunnymen. At least we thought we were! I was 14/15 years old when we we started gigging. I once got spat at by about 50 skinheads at Reading town hall. Pretty scary for a 15. Luckily it got better quite quickly after that experience. Couldn’t get any worse.

++ And going further in the past, what would you say are your first music memories, like what sort of music you grew up listening to? And what was your first instrument?

My first musical memory is my mum playing me ‘Help’ by the Beatles when I was 7 years old. It was a real ‘lightbulb’ moment. I loved how it was a really catchy pop song with a really dark message. My first instrument was an second hand acoustic guitar at 12 years old.

++ Resque actually formed as International Resque. Why did you drop the “International”? And who came up with the name?

We actually called ourselves ‘International Rescue’ originally. Dave Simons, the lead singer, came up with two choices ‘International Rescue’ or ‘The Men from Uncle’.

++ Who were the members of the band? What instruments did each of you play?4

The original line up was Dave-Vocals/guitar/Harmonica, Andy Lawlor-drums,Tim Banks-percussionist, Jem King-bass, me on guitar.

++ What would you say were your influences at the time of forming the band?

We were really influenced by 50/60’s music, Def Jam and skate punk.

++ How was Reading back then? What were the places to go to? The venues to go check out up and coming bands? Were there any like-minded bands?

Reading back then was a completely different beast. There were only a couple of pubs and 3/4 music venues. ‘Cartoons’ wine bar was a great bar, the legendary ‘After Dark’ club, the ‘Majestic’ and 21 South St. There were lots of excellent bands in Reading at the same time. Too many to mention to be honest. Apart from the ones already named above there was ‘Jo Jo Namoza’, ‘The Jaybreaks’ and ‘Jonah Reece’ but most of the bands at the time in Reading were very good.

++ Your first release was the popstastic 7″ single “Yeah!”. What a song! I have to ask, what is the story behind this song?

Our first release wasn’t ‘Yeah’ but ‘Love in the right direction’. It came out on local record label ‘Acorn records’. There were only a 1,000 pressed I think. Maybe only 500. It’s actually worth a few quid. Especially in Japan now. It features a saxophone solo from the chap who, I believe, played with Dexy’s midnight runners. But I may have imagined that! It got lots of radio play on 210 and really helped cement our reputation locally. We were completely filling venues in Reading now. It was at this point that myself and Dave decided we wanted to take the band more seriously and make it our full time job. This decision caused a few of the band to re think their positions within it. It led to the only major personnel changes in the bands history. We welcome Roger Wells on bass and Wez on drums. With full respect to the first line up (who I still love dearly!!) this, for me, was the classic Rescue line up.

It was also at this point that we had to change the name from International Rescue to International Resque. We’d recorded the first single in Gerry Anderson’s (Thunderbirds creator) studio and he didn’t like the fact we’d stolen his name so we had no choice. It was then that we signed to ‘Davy Lamp’ records. Steve Lamacq’s co owned indie label based in Harlow. We put one single out with them called ‘Yeah’.

++ This song also had a promo video and it looks like you had a blast recording it. Where was it recorded? Who were the girls on it? Your girlfriends at the time? And how was that first experience doing a music vid?

We got good airplay nationally with ‘Yeah’ but the video really pushed us up the ladder. We recorded it on a rooftop in London. I had a friend who worked for a top modelling agency (Jess Hallett from Storm agency) and she got some of the girls to appear in it with us. The policeman in it was 100% real. He was very understanding.

++ This 7″ came out in a great label, Davy Lamp, who released another favourite band of mine the Blind Mice, how did you end up with them? How was that relationship?

We didn’t really have a relationship with The Blind Mice. We were from different parts of the country. I remember they were good though.

++ Your 2nd single “So Way Down” came out on Groovy Tunes. Never heard that label, was it a self-release perhaps?

The next single was on the ‘Groovy tunes’ label. The only other act on Groovy tunes were ‘Jive bunny’!! Their success paid for our single. We did go on lots of record labels. We enjoyed the signing parties!! 7 and 12 inch releases were all the rage at the time.

++ This 2nd release of yours came out in both 7″ and 12″ formats. What was the intention with that? And what would be your favourite format for music?

We did extended versions for the 12 inch.

++ Again, for “So Way Down” you recorded another promo video. At that time you wouldn’t see so many indie bands making videos, how important do you think they were for you in promoting your music?

At the time videos were a really important promotion tool. The video for ‘So way down’ was a nightmare to record though. The director wanted us to play on the tube at closing time on a Friday night in London. It was an awful experience with half of London drinking population shouting abuse and throwing things at us!! If you look closely you can see how terrified we were.

++ It is just after releasing this single that you changed your name to Resque. And then on 1991 you were to release your debut album “Life’s a Bonus”, a record full of fantastic pop tunes. I read a bio about Resque saying that if you had released this album some years later you would have been accepted as a Britpop band, that at the time you didn’t fit anywhere. Do you agree with this?

We then signed a longer deal with ‘Musidisc’. A much bigger label home to ‘The Levellers’ and ‘Zodiac Mindwarp’.  I think you’re right about the britpop comparison. Just a decade to early!! And we definitely didn’t fit into any genre at the time.

++ Was wondering if there were any other labels that were interested in your music at that time? the big labels perhaps?

We did have interest from the ‘major’ labels at the time. But Musidisc seemed to understand us the best. They were supportive of us. And we had all the normal band v label nonsense as well but they did their thing well.

++ You contributed to a couple of compilations. There was a song called “Move It” on a 1990 tape from the BRAG agency. Was it like your promotional agency? Or who were BRAG?

Brag agency was our booking agents. Lisa Bennet was the most incredible agent I’ve ever worked with. We pretty much toured non stop for years and years and she was truly superb. A major factor in the bands (small) success. We also had a superb manager called ‘Gary Pettit’ who really was the fifth Beatle.

++ There was also the “Disposable But Happy – Dozen” tape released on the fanzine of the same name. It came with a bunch of other awesome indiepop bands like The Penny Candles, The Rileys or Shelley’s Children. How important was for you, and the independent pop scene in general, the fanzine culture of the late 80s, early 90s, do you think?

The fanzine culture at the time was a big asset for us at the time and we were regularly championed.

++ There was also a flexi-disc shared with The Hinnies on Why Not! Records in 1991. How did this happen? Were you friends or played gigs with The Hinnies perhaps?

I have no idea about the Hinnies Flexi disc!! You know more about that than I do!

++ In the hypothetical case of you being able to chose a band that was around the time as Resque for a shared flexi or 7″ what would your dream choice had been?

My dream choice for a shared Flexi disc with us back then would have been ‘Senseless things’. We were fortunate to play a lot of the gigs with them and they were truly excellent in my opinion. Great songs and they looked fantastic.

++ I saw on Youtube a TV appearance of Resque playing “Watch Me When I Fall”, which was your next single released by Musidisc. What TV programme is it? How was that experience? Did you get to be on English TV again?

The ‘watch me when I fall’ tv appearance was on a Saturday kids television show called ‘Eggs and Baker’. Hosted by Cheryl Baker of ‘Bucks Fizz’ fame. It was actually one of the last things we did as a band in the U.K. And I think you can see we were tour frazzled after years and years of constantly playing most nights.

++ There is also a Japanese video of a Resque interview on Youtube. On it there are bits of a promo video of “She Drives My Train”. Will that be ever uploaded to Youtube perhaps?

We did make a video for ‘She drives my train’, our most successful single. We got met by armed police at Brighton train station as we’d let off a smoke canister while filming on the train. I don’t think it’s online. We got played on Radio 1 with this I think. It’s so long ago now! It was another push up he ladder either way.

++ Speaking of Japan, you had several no. 1s there in the independent charts. Do you remember which songs were the ones that reached that number?

We only actually had one Japanese number one and that was with ‘Yeah’.

++ And how was your experience touring Japan? What cities did you play? And what was what surprised you the most of that country? Have you been back?

It was one of the highlights of the bands career. The tour of Japan was incredible. We were s lot more popular there than anywhere else. We had people waiting at the hotels for us to sign albums. That hadn’t happened before. Both signing and hotels!! We played about 14 gigs in 16 days all over Japan and the islands. Finishing with two nights in Tokyo. We loved Japan and they loved us. We did consider relocating there at this time but it never really materialised. I’ve never been back but I’d love to.

++ What about gigs? I read you supported Carter USM several times. What other bands did you play with? And what would you say are the gigs you remember as the best and why?

We played lots and lots of shows with Carter USM and that was probably the most important factor in the whole Resque story. This really helped us get a following national and we got to the point where we were confident of pulling punters in all over the country now. Not an enormous following but a really amazing little cult following that would come to most gigs. Bunking off college and school to come to see us play. They were fantastic. The hardcore even had their own name. They were the ‘Bros rape squad’. They were a group of about 12 girls who would just turn up wherever we played. They were such a mad following. It wouldn’t have been the same without them.

The gig I remember most was the first time we played the famous ‘Marquee’ club in London. Not only was it an amazing show but it was the first national review we received. Melody Maker called us ‘The Monkees of the 90’s’. We were more than happy with that.

++ Where there any “bad” gigs?

There were bad gigs but not many considering we toured non stop for so long. Without blowing our collective trumpets we were really good live. In my humble opinion.

++ There is a fantastic gig of International Resque on Youtube were you play songs like “Things Our Mother Said”, “Take Me Back in Time”, “Social Worker”, “Bounty Girl” and “Hobbies” I believe at a venue called The Square. What do you remember of it? What year was it?

No idea when that Harlow gig was but I do remember it. Just. As you can imagine they do blur a bit as age creeps in. It’s probably the only ever recorded version of our post modern classic called ‘Hobbies’. One of the most popular songs we played live.

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

We got great support from both press and radio over the years. We weren’t press darlings but we only had one bad review as much as I can remember. That was from Caitlin Moran in the melody maker. She said of our cover of Prince’s ‘Alphabet Street’ that we didn’t murder it as such but we threw it’s still twitching body into the boot of a car and drove it over a cliff! Apart from that one it was all good.

++ Was wondering if Resque left many more unreleased tracks? Or if everything you recorded was released?

There was one last recording session that remains unreleased. It did have one really great song called ‘Fairweather friend’ which was going to be the next single but unfortunately it never saw the light of day.

++ What happened in 1992, why did the band broke up? Did you keep in touch?

In 1992 I left the band after the Japanese tour as I’d given it 7/8 years and really wanted to try something different.

++ I read many of you went to different bands afterwards. Wez to Carter USM, you went to form Chuck and Roger joined Airhead. Do you think there were any similarities to the sound of Resque in these bands?

I don’t think Resque’s sound influenced the bands we all joined afterwards to be honest. Not because we didn’t like it but just we all needed a change.

++ Has Reading changed much since those days? If one was to visit, it is one of the many cities I haven’t been in the UK yet, what would be the places, the sights, one shouldn’t miss?

I’ve not lived in Reading for about 14 years now. When I go back it has changed a lot since the 80’s but that’s no bad thing. Everything moves on.

++ Thanks again Mark for this extensive interview! One last question though, what was the biggest highlight for you in Resque?

The biggest highlight of being in Resque for me was the fact we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. I got to travel the world with my closest friends. I pretty munched laughed from start to finish. We’re all still really close and it was a huge part of my life. Im very proud of what ever little we achieved and I think we’re generally remembered as a good band.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for showing an interest in my past. I really enjoyed reminiscing.

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Listen
International Resque – Yeah!

14
Mar

Thanks so much to Trevor Elliott for the interview! Whirl was a fantastic band from Brighton that released two 12″ EPs in the 1980s, on Playroom Discs and September Records. They also had a split flexi with Crocodile Ride (who I wrote about not so long ago). I found the Heaven Forbid EP some years ago while record hunting in London and I fell in love with their sound! So very lucky that Trevor could tell me the story behind the band now!

++ Thanks a lot for being up for the interview! How are you? 

Hi Roque, Thanks for asking us. We are all very well thank you.

++ Still based in Brighton? Are you all still making music today?

Alan lives in Saltdean on the outskirts and Caz who lives in Brighton. Rob lives in Worthing, just along the coast, and I’m in Earlswood, Surrey, mostly for work purposes. Karen lives in London.

I think Rob is the only one still playing regularly.

++ I know that aside from Whirl you had been in some other bands like Eusebio or Blow Up, but would love to know if there are more bands that you had been involved with?

I was in an early formation of what became Peter and the Test Tube Babies whilst still at school, then a few bands with school friends, during my college days I played in a band called Fear of Water before forming Whirl and then joined Blow Up as they were short of a bass player. After Whirl I played guitar in some other bands that never really did anything.

Alan Stirner was also in Blow up, and Sharkboy (after Whirl), and played on The Wolfhounds’ Blown Away LP.

Rob Colley was in The Ten Million Quintens (named after Quinten “Norman” Cook. Aka Fat Boy Slim), 14 Iced Bears, Arthur, and until recently The Murmurtrons.

Caz Adams, played in Eusebio, a great band that rose from the ashes of The Milk Sisters, but unfortunately were never signed.

Karen O’Keefe, played in Bill Prince’s The Wishing Stones and Basingstoke’s finest, The Rain.

++ What are your first music memories? What sort of music was played at home when growing up? What was your first instrument?

I grew up listening to my Mum and Dad’s record collection, they were old Mods so The Hollies, The Who, The Beatles, Wilson Picket, and lots of Motown and Northern Soul.

++ What inspired to make music? What would you say were your favourite bands at the time?

I first started playing Bass because I was given one.

In the 70’s I loved The Clash and The Jam. The early 80’s it was more Orange Juice and anything else on Postcard Records, Echo and the Bunnymen and Wah.

++ I read that at the beginning there were many changes within the band, that couple of people were kicked and others left. Who were these people? Were they in other bands? how many formations were there?

I’m not sure where you read that but yes that was the case. Alan and myself were always the core of the band we referred to ourselves as the Whirl Organisation, inspired by Edwards and Rogers, The Chic Organisation. Lol

In the early 80’s we started out as a five piece, with a singer called Matthew Glendinning, (son of Victoria Glendinning CBE biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist). Who fancied himself as a bit of a Morrissey. I was on rhythm guitar, autoharp and backing vocals.

Over the years there were many members including Mark Waterman who went on to music production. He produced many artist like Five Thirty, Elastica, Depeche Mode remixes, Swervedriver and Venus in Furs.

We also used to joke that we’d had more drummers than Spinal Tap, until Rob joined us. At one point in time we had Chris Window (The Milk Sisters and Blow Up) on drums. So Alan, Chris and myself would go from rehearsing with Whirl on day to rehearsing with Blow up the next.

We also had Dominic Minques, from the 14 Iced Bears and Blow Up on Bass for a while.

++ And how did the classic band formation come to be? What year was it?

Alan and I met Caz, in 86 I think, via her partner Mark Burletson (Eusebio and The Milk Sisters) she auditioned and was perfect, and I had known Rob since I was 19 and when the Quintens split up Rob Joined us also, he had been our stand in drummer up until then along with Chris Window.

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

I think Alan came up with it, we wanted just a one word name that reflected the music.

++ How was Brighton then? Were there like-minded bands that you liked? Did you feel part of a scene? What were the places, the venues or clubs where you used to hang out?

Brighton was fantastic back then and always has been. We had the Mods in the 60’s, a great punk scene in the 70’s and then the Mod revival, Indie and psychedelic scene in the 80’s. Brighton is so cosmopolitan with two Universities and an Art College, there’s always been all sorts of scenes, and also famous for it’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population. I consider myself to be very lucky to have grown up there. In the 70’s we all used to go to the Gay clubs, as they were the only one’s open, but then as Punk took off there were many more “venues” like the Crypt, (which was an old Crypt) The Alhambra, The Inn place, The Richmond and then later, The Electric Grape, Zap Club, The Big Twang and The Sunshine Playroom.

There were loads of likeminded folks and bands around so the competition was strong.

++ I’ve heard 9 songs from, I believe, from a demo tape and makes you wonder why songs like “You Are My Friend” or “In a Dream” were never properly released. But I don’t know much about this demo. When and where was it recorded and are there more unreleased songs like these?

A later recording of “In a Dream” was released on the Heaven Forbid EP, but I think that those were very early recordings circa 1985/86 from a rehearsal room in Hove that was run by Mark Waterman and Annie from Elastica used to hang out there.

++ I found out that two other songs, “Lost” and “Tell All Your Friends” appeared on a tape titled  “Goodnight Miffy” that was included with the Especially Yellow fanzine. Again, online it is so hard to find information about this fanzine or this tape. How did you end up contributing to this fanzine? And where do these songs come from? From a special recording session or another demo tape?

Again “Lost” and “Tell All Your Friends” were early demos released on the Especially Yellow cassette. The tape and the fanzine was the work of fellow Brightonian, music fan and Indie journalist legend Johnny Dee, before he went on to have songs written about him (“Ask Johnny Dee”- The Chesterfields) and work for the New Musical Express and the BBC.

++ In 1987 you released your first EP, the “Heaven Forbid EP” on Playroom Discs. They were also based in Brighton, I guess you were friends before signing with them? And how was your relationship with them?

Playroom Discs was run by Sean Sullivan and Gordon Kaye who used to run The Sunshine Playroom club on a Wednesday night in a pub opposite the pier in Brighton. We all became and remained very good friends with them to this day. Sean went on to form Arthur with Rob Colley and Gordon is still making a living from DJing all over the country.

++ This is a fantastic EP, I’m happy to own a copy, what do you remember from the recording sessions at Bloomsbury Studios?

Thank you, I’m pleased you like it and very surprised that you’d even heard of us let alone have a copy of the record.

I remember having a bad cold and having to do few takes on the vocals, but apart from that and a couple of guitar overdubs it was basically a live recording. It was really the only way to capture the energy of our live show. I also remember that it was engineered by a guy called Terry Popple who at the time was Van Morrisons drummer and in more recent times Graham Bonnett he also worked with the 14 Iced Bears and the Popguns.

++ The photos on the jacket of the EP, where were they taken?

They were actually taken by an art/photography student that lived in our Victorian house and were taken in Alan’s front room in the same house that I lived in. The sleeve pictures didn’t come out as well as the actual photographs that were taken which was disappointing.

++ A year later you released another 12″, the “Clear” EP, but this time with another label, September, a label that had released favourite bands of mine like McCarthy or The Wolfhounds, but I know so very little about this label. Who were they and how did you end up working with them?

September was run by Paul Sutton, who was involved with The Pink Label (https://www.twee.net/labels/pink.html). We had supported both The Wolfhounds and McCarthy many times in London and in Brighton and even though we weren’t as political as the other bands Paul was interested in putting out a record of us. We all got on on very well and Rob and I are still in touch with Dave and Andy from the Wolfhounds, their new album is fantastic by the way.

++ How different was recording this EP compared to the first one?

Caz had left the band a few months before so we had a new bass player Karen O’Keefe; a friend of Alan’s sister, who played in The Wishing Stones and The Rain, who had once interviewed Sonic Youth on TV, so slightly different dynamics but mostly still live. There were a few more guitar overdubs as Alan had just been introduced to a Rockman peddle by the engineer, who kept likening our sound to Split by the Groundhogs

++ Also I’m quite curious about the Japanese characters on the A side label, what do they say?

I really have no idea I’m afraid, I hope it’s nothing offensive.

++ One of the songs of the EP, “Your Heart’s As Big As The Whole Outdoors”, appeared on yet another tape compilation, the “Everlasting: A Tape Compilation” in 1988 on the Everlasting label. A very cool tape with lots of fab bands like The Orchids or TV Personalities.

Both Rob and I had no idea that this recording existed until I saw it on the Discogs website a few years ago. I’m assuming it’s a demo version from Bloomsbury Studios, I’ve not heard the tape.

++ Your last last release ended up being a split flexi shared with Crocodile Ride in 1989. About the label “The Sound of Spasm” I know next to nothing. Who were they? And did you know Crocodile Ride before releasing the flexi? Did you ever play gigs with them perhaps?

The Sound of Spasm was from a fanzine called Spasm run by a lady called Tish , who I bumped into for the first time since it came out, at a Wolfhounds gig just before Christmas last year. It was great to catch up. I don’t think I knew any of the Crocodile Ride members and I can’t remember playing gigs with them.

++ Last appearance as far as I know, you can correct me, was on a CD compilation titled “Staring at the Sun 2” with the song “You Almost Killed Me” in 1993. This was many years after the band had split, is that, right? How did this happen?

I didn’t know anything about this until I saw this question so I You Tubed it. It’s certainly not us but you can be forgiven for thinking it was us as it’s certainly got a similar sound. I quite like it actually. From what I can gather they’re from your side of the pond.

++ So yeah, when and why did the band split?

1989 I think, there was a few issues between Alan and myself and after a few difficult gigs and rehearsals, Karen called me to say that she couldn’t carry on in the band, and I decided it was time to move on also, after all it had been nearly 10 years playing with Alan in more than just one band, and our friendship was struggling and the fun was rapidly disappearing.

++ What did you all do after? And what are you doing today?

Alan went on to play in Sharkboy and I believe he works in a Bicycle shop now. Rob still plays in bands and works as a Plumber, Caz played in Eusebio, had two lovely boys who now have their own bands and now works as a sign language interpreter, Karen was working for Local government, and is now a planning consultant. I am a Horticulturalist and build Gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show.

++ How come you didn’t get to release more records, perhaps an album?

There is an acoustic demo for an album somewhere I’ve got a recording of about 4 songs for it, but we split before it was complete.

++ Was there any interest from big labels at any point?

Not really, we had a sniff from London Records and Pinnacle and then Tambourine records were interested for a while following several support gigs with The Dentists but then September stepped in.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? Are there any in particular that you remember with fondness? Were there any that weren’t good at all? Any anecdotes you could share?

We played loads and loads of gigs supporting people like Edwin Collins, Julian Cope, Primal Scream, The Weather Prophets, and That Petrol Emotion. One night we turned up to headline a gig in Camden and were told that the support band were called Stone Roses, however they didn’t turn up and then the next week they were all over the music press, the rest as they say is history. On a similar note we had Lush as one of our support bands once and a couple of weeks later they were signed by 4AD.

++ Did you get much attention from the music papers? Or radio?

We had a few very flattering live reviews’ and magazine features’ although the second single wasn’t as liked as much as the first by the press. Steve Lamacq and Janice Long played us a few times on the BBC radio evening shows. We actually topped the chart of our local BBC station Radio Sussex.

++ And what would you say, looking back in time, would be the highlight for Whirl?

The highlight for me was supporting Edwin and Julian, two of my all-time hero’s and they were such nice people, and I was a bit star struck. Also we appeared on a local TV programme called “The Pier” which was a local (South East region) gig guide programme.

++ Today, aside from music, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

I’m involved in a local conservation group for Earlswood Common and do small gardening jobs for friends, and I also enjoy cooking.

++ And how is Brighton now? Has it changed much compared to the days of Whirl? Are there any bands that you like there?

Brighton has changed loads there are now more venues to play in
There’s a great young band called the Grasshoppers that I saw support Grant Heart a couple of years ago. Also a friends sons band The Ferns are ones to watch out for.

++ If there’s anyone visiting your town, what would you say one shouldn’t miss?

Record shops and niche stores in the North Lanes, there’s also some fantastic architecture including Brighton Pavillion built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV. And football (Soccer) fans should go to the Amex Community Stadium to watch Brighton and Hove F.C. If we keep playing like we have been this season we should be in the Premiership League next season

++ Thanks so much for answering all the questions in this extensive interview! Anything else you’d like to add?

Cherry Red records are releasing a follow up to the C86 cassette, called C88 and “Clear” will be featuring on that, I think that will be out later this year.

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Listen
Whirl – Heaven Forbid

02
Mar

Thanks so much to Stephen Lawson for the interview! I wrote about Blue Nose B before in the blog and he was kind enough to get in touch and tell me the whole story behind his band! I really loved their song “My Diary” after I discovered the band through the connection with Waving at Trains. And I was wondering how come Blue Nose B wasn’t more known! Happily here Stephen gives a better perspective of the band and the period.

++ Hi Stephen! Thanks a lot for being up for this interview. First things first, is it Bluenose B or Blue Nose B?

It’s Blue Nose B. It’s different on many of our records mainly because we were very drunk for most of our early years.

++ You were telling me that Blue Nose B is mainly you, but what would you say was the classic lineup for the band? How did you know each other? And when did the band start?

The classic line up was David Billows (vocals), John Briody (guitar), Michael Lawson (drums) and myself. David Billows is my cousin, Michael my older brother and John was one of my best friends from school.

++ You named the band after being fans of Everton FC, is that right? Do you go to the games? What would be your best Everton FC memory by the way?

People think we were named after Everton fans but we were actually named after the lines of men waiting to collect their unemployment benefit. They stood in the cold with their bluenoses. They were very political times. We were all Liverpool FC fans and the best game was the 1981 Liverpool v Real Madrid champions league final at Parc Des Princes in Paris. We won the game 1 0.

++ You were formed in Liverpool. Those early 80s in Liverpool must have been exciting, lots of great bands. Did you like that period in time? What were your favourite bands and why?

They were the best times. They were so exciting. We used to drink with Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, The Mighty Wah and China Crisis. It was the most vibrant of times. My favourite band was Echo and the Bunnymen. They were perfect. Ian McCulloch was brilliantly moody and Will Sergeant on guitar was stunning.

++ Though I read that you come exactly from Aintree, is that right? How is that town?

David Billows came from Aintree, Michael, John and myself came from Seaforth. A seaside town on the edge of Liverpool. Lots of poverty, lots of laughter, lots of music. “In Liverpool we sing”. Singing and laughing were are antidotes to poverty. Wish I could go back.

++ And how would you say Liverpool influenced your music? How was the city back then? What were your favourite places, your favourite venues to go check out music?

In Liverpool every youngster wanted to be either a footballer or in a band. There were hundreds of bands. We would all lend each other’s equipment. One night a guy called John “spud” Murphy came and lent my bass amp because his Dad had pawned his. There were at least 20 great venues. My favourites were the Firehouse, Pickwicks and the Bier Keller. The quality of music was excellent. Unfortunately so many great bands such as Politburo and Hey Marsha never received the success they should have.

++ On Discogs your first release is a demo released in 1984. The demo included 6 songs: “The Loneliest Dogs”, “Physically Satisfied”, “Escape”, “The Dream”, “Summer Girl”, “When I Love”. Was this your first ever recordings? How were these tapes sold?

Summer Girl and When I Love were our first two demos. Ultra pop songs. Summer Girl is a jangly sweet song about being young, happy and alive in a beautiful city in the summertime. Summer Girl was voted “song of the year” by Billy Mann the editor of the sound magazine.

++ None of these songs were to appear in your proper vinyl releases. Why is that?

They never went out on vinyl because Probe (our record company) didn’t have the money. Things were tight.

++ Your first release was a 12″ single with the songs “Forever Passing Trains”, “Burning Up” and “Maybe”. This record came out on Blues Records. Was it your own label? Or who ran Blues Records?

Blues Records was our own label because probe had no money. We had to do something to get our music heard and so we lent as much as we could to achieve it. That single was played a lot on BBC Radio 1.

++ You even produced this record. Did you have any experience producing records already? How was that experience?

We didn’t have any experience producing but we knew how to play and have a laugh, so we went in full of humour and hope and came out with a pretty good recording.

++ How did the creative process work for the band? Did you get much input from the rest of musicians in Blue Nose B?

I’d write the songs At home in Seaforth. I’d play them to my brother Michael. He’d either say yes or no and then we would start working on them. As he was the drummer and I was the bass player we would get the back end right before we’d play the song to David and John. We practiced in Michaels bedroom. All the neighbours would come out into their gardens and dance.

++ I assume that the art on this record is a drawing of Blue Nose B? Who made it?

David Billows did the art work. He was a budding Michael Angelo without the skill.

++ You also appeared on some compilations like “Modesty Kills” and “Desperation”. Both these compilations were released by the Audio Visual Records label. Who were they and how did you end up there?

The song Fine Rain was played by Michael, David and myself. Paul Gill (waving at trains) and John Murphy (toy taboo, lotus eaters and Thomas Lang) also played on the track.  It was picked up by audio visual records and we went on to record a significant amount of material for that label. We had an album with Audio Visual on cassette but they sold out and I don’t have a copy.

++ I also found out on your Bandcamp that you had set up a 9 song retrospective titled “The Sinking of Liverpool: A Retrospective 1983-1989”. Was this ever released physically? I couldn’t find any information on the label Modern Polymath either.

The sinking of Liverpool was developed by Michael Lawson, it is a collection of our best recordings from our post punk period. It was never physically released however we are in discussion to put it out on vinyl as it has received a lot of interest. Modern Polymath is a new record company who wishes to release much of our old and new material. We are currently re recording Summer Girl for May this year.

++ On your Soundcloud there’s even many more songs, some much newer, not from the 80s. So first, I want to ask if there are still more unreleased 80s songs waiting to be heard? And second, from what time do the other batch of newer songs come from?

All the songs that have been put on there were written in the 80s and 90s. I have a back catalogue of over 100 songs. You will see two vinyl 12 inches and an album before the end of the year.

++ Was there any interest from other labels for your music? Maybe a big label?

In 1984 a label (Ryker Records) offered us £40,000 for when I love and Summer Girl. We turned them down. Probably a bad decision. Sony also made and offer, once again we made another bad decision.

++ So you still use the name Blue Nose B for your music. Did the band ever split? Was there a hiatus at all?

We split on many occasions and reformed with new musicians. We have worked with Henry Priestman (the christians), Pete Wylie (The Mighty Wah), Ian McNabb (The Icicle Works), Dave Hughes (Dalek I love you) and John “spud” Murphy (The Lotus Eaters). John wrote the music to the film a “Letter to Brezhnev’ and is a big Hollywood music producer now. Our album was produced by the genius Ken Nelson who has won 3 mercury prizes. 2 with Cold Play.

 

++ Blue Nose B were featured in many magazines, Sounds, NME, Melody Maker, you name it. Did you get many favourable reviews? Was it easy to get their attention?

We had loads of attention. We regularly played in front of a thousand people in Dingwalls in Camden Lock London. We were right on the edge of making it. We also toured with the Mighty Wah which was great fun.

++ What about radio? Did you get much coverage and plays?

We were played regularly by John Peel, Janice Long and Pete Powell on Radio one. Also local radio played us a lot.

++ I read that some of the members had been in a band called Indadais. How did this band sound? Any similarities to Blue Nose B?

Indadais consisted of Micheal Lawson, John Briody and David Billows. The musical leanings were derived from the 1916 Dada movement. Too Artistic for me. I was a pure pop man.

++ And of course, after so many band changes, how do you think that affected the band? Do you see it as a positive or a negative thing?

I don’t know if the band changes affected anything. All I know is I have enjoyed every minute of playing live. It is an honour to see people dancing to your music and I hope this year to be in a position to play live again. Maybe in New York with a bit of luck.

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

My hobby is my work. I’m a mental health nurse with my own business. I help people come out of long term hospital provision to community living. A bigger buzz than playing live.

++ So far what would you say has been the biggest highlight for the band?

Playing in front of a 1000 people in Liverpool, on top form with a great reaction. I cannot put into words how good it feels to become so involved with the music that you exceed the limits of your talent. Superb.

++ Thanks so much for the interview! One last question, hope you don’t mind. Hope I go to Liverpool one day, never been there, but was wondering what would you recommend checking out? And if there’s any traditional food or drinks that I shouldn’t miss?

Come to Liverpool, drink Lager, eat Scouse, laugh, sing and dance. Liverpool people are the most generous and welcoming people in the world. You can stay with me and I’ll buy your drinks. You’ll have the time of life.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interview and I hope you can review the new 12 inch single. Summer Girl and Marianne (beneath the sheet).

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Listen
Bluenose B – My Diary

21
Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ How did it work releasing with Bedroom Records?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

++ What other hobbies do you have?

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

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

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

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

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

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Listen
Inside Riot – World of Love