We were supposed to arrive in Berlin around lunchtime. Nana and me have been on the autobahn for days. At least that’s how it felt. Everyday driving all over Germany while listening to Peter’s “The Sound of Glen Waverley” compilation. We arrived quite late, around 4 pm. I was afraid that Uwe was going to be pissed. We woke up late, that’s true; and we left Hamburg even later. Berlin was empty, it was a holiday, May 1st, May Day. We didn’t see any revolts or demonstrations though, maybe because we were pretty lost in the city. It took as around 30 minutes to find Uwe’s place, and 15 to find a parking space. Not an easy task.

At last at Uwe’s apartment! Wow, what a record collection!! Records everywhere, on racks, on shelves, I bet even in the fridge! To my surprise, also waiting for us was Jan. We were meeting two thirds of Firestation Records!

Glasses of lemonade kept coming. Indiepop gossip, the latest news, future releases and plans. The state of indiepop labels, the dishonesty of legendary labels, the enthusiasm of up and coming Japanese labels, the price to press vinyl in Japan. And etcetera. It was a conversation that could have lasted for hours, maybe a sleepless day. Uwe, especially, had that same passion and drive for jangly guitars that I have. Passionate, now I can see how the Leamington Spa compilations take shape. I can see him dedicating hours and hours of searching and looking for the old bands, especially during those early volumes, where there was no myspace and old bands were almost impossible to track down. I know for a fact that he would send letters to the addresses that appeared on the back of the sleeves of the records. I wonder how many answered back.

A little trade with them, Explained Emma’s “When My Heart Rings” 7″ and The Groovy Cellar’s “When You Fly Away”. The first one appeared on the last Leamington Spa compilation, but this 7″ appeared early this year as a co-release between the German label and the Japanese Fastcut Records. This are songs from the early 80s released today! I believe this record is now sold out, sadly. But you can still get the second Explained Emma 7″, out too on Fastcut Records and Firestation: “Unnecessary Stain”. I recommend them both! I would most probably try to get in touch with the band, would be great to have an interview sometime! On the other hand, The Groovy Cellar is one of my favorite German bands. “Mac Arthur Lane”, on Marsh Marigold, is such an underrated album, it’s great. Also if you are curious check Olaf’s previous band, the legendary Most Wanted Men. This 7″ is part of the Singles Club that Firestation started not so long ago, this is number 4.

The future is even brighter! The Sound of Leamington Spa Vol. 7 will be out early next year. All I know is that there are going to be 21 tracks, and one of them is from Home and Abroad. I guess I’m not nosy enough? Also around the same time there will be a retrospective album from The Ferrymen. The 15 track album from this Doncaster band should be a winner. Their sound reminds me The Housemartins and The Beautiful Sound, and though I’m not a fan of either, I’m enjoying these tracks! Coincidence or not, the final show this band ever did was in Berlin. Huh!

The other great news, and the one I’m looking forward with excitement!, is that this December will see the release of a retrospective album of an overlooked C86 band: The Man of Westnesse. Hooray! The only two songs I know (Boating and The Coldest Water) are pure jangle bliss, favourites among favourites. The album is called “Are You Brothers” and it contains 15 (!) tracks. This is a MUST have. If you are skint, ask Santa for it. You NEED it.

And then it was time to leave, time to go meet Kat and Day, and a night tour around Berlin’s historic sites.


Close Lobsters – Firestation Towers


Thanks to Mark ‘Sparky’ Marrable for the interview!

++ The last gig in London. What do you remember from that day? Why did you take the decision to break up?

The last gig was in London at the now defunct “Powerhouse” in Islington.It was an odd day as we had taken the decision to split about 2 months earlier, so to us it didn’t seem so fretful as it was for friends and fans. Grant La-Di-Da’s Mum Terri (who was our manager) and his then girlfriend were in tears in the dressing room while we joked around about never having to see each other again. The gig itself was a good one. The only thing I really recall about the actual show is Bob giving a little speech about the crap way we had been treated by the promotor! Never was one to bite his tongue was Bob. After the gig I remember feeling relieved it was over and we’d put on a good show. Other than that nothing really.

++ You had a triumphant tour in Japan just before breaking up. How did you end up playing there? Which cities do you played? What was the best of that trip? Any new food that you tried? :)

I was sitting at home one evening when Terri rung and said she’d got us 3 gigs but we wouldn’t be getting paid. I was pretty annoyed until she said they were going to be in Japan! Apparently a group of rich kids had a thing were they put some money in the kitty each week and once a year they wqould invite their favourite band over to play..and that year it was us. It all happened just as we had taken the decision to split but the chance to go was to great to pass up. We played one gig in Tokyo and two in one day in Osaka. We were told we pulled more people in Tokyo than Primal Scream had a month earlier. The promotors were just brilliant. We didn’t have to do a thing for ourselves and anything we wanted they made sure we got it. They used to take us site seeing, which without them would have been almost impossible, imagine being in Oxford Street or Times Square and not being able to read and you’ll get the gist. However at night after we’d been dropped at our hotel we would sneak out and wonder round back street bars on our own. We were taken to Kyoto on a day off which was special, very old and traditional. The things that amused us most were the beer vending machines in the street (there was even one in the bank!), ashtrays at pedestrian crossings in Tokyo and the site of a Southampton Corperation bus in Osaka. That was really weird as Bill the drummer is from Southampton and theis bus used to run on the route passed his house! In the 8 days we were there we ate nothing but Japanese food, lots of sushi and saki. I can’t remember what it was but at the farewell meal Bob ate something that turned out to be part of the table display and no one told him until he swallowed it.

++ How different are popkids in Japan to the ones in UK?

Japanese pop kids were very western looking. Very c-86ish with a touch of fifties clothing. We were warned that they don’t clap after every song but go mad at the end of the gig. This we found to be untrue. They aren’t to self consious to dance (unlike the ultra cool crowds we were used to in Brighton in particular). They were really appreciative of us being there and mixing with them and asking them questions about Japan. Thats advice I would give anyone,in a band or not, is show interest and they can’t do enough for you!

++ Going back in time, 1986, how did the band start? Did the C86 of that year was a huge influence on you?

The band really has its origins in London and Ipswich. Bob and I used to play as a duo dubiously called “I Don’t Go With Girls” in London playing music that sounded like a cross between kids tunes and lift muzak. I moved to Ipswich and formed a band with old school friends, Simon Spittle and Adam Harvey, taught myself to play guitar in about 4 weeks and we were off! After not achieving anything in two years Adam left and Simon and I played a couple of gigs as a duet. At the last one Bob come and played with us, we did some of his new songs and he played on some of mine. It was here that the idea of putting a traditional 4 peice band first came up. But within two weeks Bob and I had decided to move to Brighton and Simon,because of his career decided to stay put. When we first got to Brighton we were living in a tent and supporting ourselves by busking outside a cafe in Brighton’s famous Lanes area. It was here that we were befriended by two waitresses (Kate and Alison, yes THE Alison).Not long after I had gone back to Ipswich to collect some belongings one weekend and when I got back we’d got a drummer! The girls had introduced Bob to Bill who they were at University with and he joined straight away. Jon joined after we had done 3 gigs and again while I was away visiting family. C-86 didn’t really have that big an influence on us apart from it creating a thriving music scene in Brighton for us to get gigs in. Bob’s musical tastes were towards Dylan,Van Morrison and Robert Johnson while mine were taken from the postcard bands of 6 years earlier and poppier new wave bands such as the Buzzcocks.

++ Which bands were the ones you enjoyed to play the most during those three years? How was the scene of Brighton back then?

The bands I personally enjoyed playing with were The Wishing Stones and Colorblind James Experience. Both brilliant live. Its a shame The Wishing Stones split so soon, I think they were one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live. If you’ve a copy of “Dead mans Look” drink half a bottle of whisky and close your eyes and you’ll get the idea. Lovely guys to boot.

++ Any memories of playing at Grant La Di Da’s kitchen or garden?

Grant’s kitchen! Ha! Yes we did that. Well the others did. I was so pissed off my face i couldn’t remember any of the songs and at the last moment Jason Smart (also on La-Di-Da) took my place. He was pretty good considering. I sat in the hallway chatting with Suzanne before Grants dad hauled her off the toilet alledging she had graffittied the wall (wrongly as it turns out) So pretty messy and unprofessional night out really!

++ Everything you recorded was compiled on the hard to find One Last Look compilation but one song, right? How did this record end up being released in King Record in Japan? How is that that you never got a copy of this edition, only touched one?

I have no idea how the CD got released on King Records. Must have been a licensing thing. I touched one once in La-Di-Da’s office but was told it was Terri’s and they had only been sent one copy! Doesn’t it have pink and blue all over it? Grant recently told me he has got me a copy so fingers crossed.

++ Have you tought about having a Myspace for the band? There’s so many bands from that time that have jumped to the Myspace bandwagon

Yeah have thought about about Myspace. But until recently neither Bob or I realised there was still an interest!

++ What was your favourite HMBM5 song?

Favourite song? Bloody hell! Its changes. But it would be one of the following..Simon, Sweet Torture, I could well believe that, Courting Disaster or The Incredible Percy Mayfield. The Brighton fans particularly liked Blue in the Face and Courting Disaster. I once saw The Popguns do a brilliant cover of The latter.

++ Most (or all?) the songs were penned between you and Bob Lucas. What was the creative process of the band?

Bob and I wrote all the songs. We only wrote two together, Lets get this thing finished and Simon. The former named because we weren’t going to the pub until we had finished it! and it fitted with the subject matter. Bob wrote very slowly whilst I wrote incredibly quickly. For every song we actually played there’s probably a dozen that I/we rejected. When I had written something I would play it to Bob and then we’d take it to rehearsals for the others to help arrange.Because Bob had so many bits of lyric that had no song he would often add some lyrics to my songs. Sometimes I didn’t even notice this until we recorded them!

++ Just out of curiosity, who are Simon, Suzanne and Alison? I guess Percy Mayfield is the American musician right?

Simon was the singer that got away! Bob and I had known him since we were 9 years old (Bob and I have been friends since we were 3) Simon sadly died of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome 12 years ago.Alison was the waitress from a previous answer who I had a turbulant relationship with. Suzanne was a girl who I shared a flat with. I can’t remember exactly what she’d done to piss me off but we’re still friends. She was the drummer in Liquid Faeries. Which brings me to your last question.

++ Bob, Bill and Jon left to America after the band split. You stayed in the UK playing in another La Di Da band, the Liquid Faeries. I have the 12″, it’s quite different from HMBM5! Tell me a bit more about that band?

Liquid Faeries originally started as a four piece all girl band. They then got a boy bass player and guitarist. I was asked to join as a stop gap originally, playing just the one gig where they supported the Beans. Kate the singer then asked me to join full-time to add,as she put it “a commercial element to the song writing”. As it came at a time when HMBM5 were thinking of splitting ,and I lived with the other guitarist I said yes. The Milkstar E.P. isn’t anywhere near our best stuff..the demo’s done after that were great. The band split when Ann (Suzanne) left and we replaced her with a over trained jazz drummer who couldn’t get the hang of it and the two couples in the band also split! Very messy.

++ Do you still make music today?

Do I still play? For my own and my girlfriends amusement yes. I write occasionally because its a good way of venting things. When I play any Beans stuff its normally Bob’s songs,which I am still trying to work out (to much use of E flat!


How Many Beans Make Five – I Could Well Believe That


Two months ago I finally sent my compilation to Jessel. It was up there in his Myspace for two weeks. Jessel’s Mix Tapes have become very well known in indiepop world, especially among us that love obscure indiepop from the 80s. So it was really great to see my mix up there almost after a year since he asked me to do one! But the best part of it all is that I managed to rip songs from vinyl for the first time with this great USB turntable I’ve got. The first track I ripped was “Please Don’t Lie to Me” from the Kensingtons, which I included in that compilation I called “Tales from a Dufflebag”.

Today I decided to rescue the other B side from the Hope Corner EP. It’s called “Intercity Baby ‘94″ and what a gem of a song it is. On top of that I always liked train themed songs, even more if they sing “now I see my choo choo train coming” and then they throw some sha la las. Glorious! I just wonder what happened to this band! I can’t believe that this was their only release ever. Maybe there was more? No info on the web. Not even on Twee.net. Bummer!

The Hope Corner EP is great, and it’s greatness relies mostly in these two gorgeous B sides with chiming guitars over a drum machine that evoke the timelessness of Sarah acts. It’s no surprise that this record was recorded in Somerset, quite close to Bristol!

The 7″ was released on Meller Welle (MEL 11) on 1995. Any more info on this duo would be appreciated!



The Kensingtons – Intercity Baby ‘94


I’m pretty new to Indonesian cuisine. The couple of times I’ve had it, I’ve left the restaurant with a BIG smile on my face. It is good! If you like Chinese, Thai, you’ll love Indonesian food. I think I even like it more than those two. I can start with the dumplings. Of course you know dumplings, right? What I like is that you get many sauces to choose from, kind of like Korean style. I like sauces, trying different ones, and better if they are spicy.

I had asked for entrée recommendations to my friend Joz, who lives in Bandung and runs the small Maritime label. Around his little label a scene is thriving in the flower city of Bandung, the second biggest city of the country. Jakarta, the capital, is the biggest. Both of them are in the island of Java and both of them are home to the most exciting indiepop acts in the archipelago country, hence “The Sound of Young Java” compilations.

Actually there is this whole thing, like Chicago vs New York, London vs. Manchester, happening between these two cities. The working name for the series was going to be The Sound of Dayeuh Kolot, which is the name of the old city of Bandung. I know the name is a bit unfriendly but in indiepop, the word Borobudur has been already showcased, did you know? It was a great compilation on La Di Da that included songs by The Hit Parade, The Penny Candles, Dead Famous People, Bob, and many more. Highly recommended. I used pictures of the Borobudur temple for the covers on both first and second volume of the series.

Redang Sapi was his first recommendation, beef cooked slowly with coconut milk and spices. It was delicious. My surprise was the fried rice. It’s the best I’ve had, no doubts about it. Opor Ayam, was this juicy chicken in yellow spices and more coconut milk. And last one I’ve tried was the Ikan Goreng Balado, which was this fish in chili sauce. And according to Joz, this is everyday food, he laughed at me when I said I was paying 10 dollars for a plate. “That’s 2 dollars here” he said. It makes sense, eating that great food, boys and girls can grow up healthy and happy to make indiepop tunes!

This week the second volume of the Sound of Young Java was released on Cloudberry. And is as tasty as their food. Twisterella opens with the catchy November. I really like their name. I used to hang out on the Swedish room of the same name on Soulseek, and the fanzine was ace! The EP continues with Leach Me Lemonade that comes with their Sarah-esque , dreamy dreamy, pop. This is their second appearance in the series. The third track is from a new band for me: Pop at Summer. It was a tip from my Spanish friend José Antonio, he is the best indiepop band finder in the world! Terrific song. And to close the EP, Cloudberry veterans Astrolab and their breath-taking guitars. Isn’t Rangga one of the best guitarist in indiepop world right now?

Lucky Bandung, this time all four bands are from there.

Oh! did you know Club 8 played there? They are still remembered. All the kids fell in love with Karolina. I could see that coming!



Annemarie – Bubblegum I See You


A big thanks to Allan Kingdom for the interview!!

++ Do you still keep in touch with fellow Siddeleys? Do you miss at all those late 80s? if so, what is that that you miss the most?

Yes, I still keep in touch with Johnny Johnson, and to a lesser extent our last (and best) drummer David “Clynchey” Clynch.

There’s not much I miss about the late 80’s to be honest. Apart from having a full head of hair. Some might see them as Halcyon days, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

++ How did the band start? I read Johnny met you at Bay 63? What kind of music and bands played at that club?

Johnny had a great attitude when it came to selecting band members; She wanted to form the coolest group in London, it was vital that the Siddeleys looked good, and went to the “right” places.
Bay 63 was a great club with an excellent booking policy & I saw many great bands play there. It had been around for years – the Clash & Madness used to play there when it was called Acklam Hall. Every so often, promoters would put on week-long series of shows featuring the bands from Creation etc. The Shop Assistants were playing the night I met Johnny. The night before I’d seen the Mighty lemon Drops. Edwyn Collins was in the Audience.

++ The guitar playing in The Siddeleys is a favorite of mine, the perfect jangle, the elegance, it’s precious! When did you learn to play guitar? Who inspire you? What kind of guitar did you play!?

Thanks! I was inspired by a couple of friends to pick up the guitar in High School – they would spend their lunchtimes playing songs like “Rip It up” by Orange Juice in the music room, and I felt left out! After leaving school I was unemployed and that’s when I taught myself to play guitar. After a year or so I was invited to join my 1st band, which was formed by the Brilliant Michael Harris, who also played trumpet on Sunshine Thuggery and was the lead guitar player in Reserve (as well as my post Siddeleys band).

I was a huge fan of the Postcard records stable, and all of the bands featured great guitar players: Edwyn Collins, James Kirk, Malcolm Ross, Roddy Frame, Robert Forster & Grant McLennan. Grant Mclennan’s lead guitar sound was of particular importance, I remember standing at the front of the stage during a Go-betweens show just to determine which pickup/effects combinations Grant used on particular songs. This was the sound that I applied to stuff like “Wet Wednesday”.

Other influences were the Smiths of course, but also Tom Verlaine from Television and Sterling Morrison. For me a good Saturday night in 1985 was sitting at home alone playing along with a copy of the Velvet’s Live 1969 LP. That’s where the Sunshine Thuggery strum comes from, playing along with “What Goes On”. But just playing with friends, and especially Michael, was where I learned the most. Being relatively untutored meant we had to rely on al lot of hard work in order to get good. The Siddeleys were a good band, (as opposed to a group of individual musicians) the way we played together was very important and the sound we had together was pretty unique. I heard “what went wrong this time” at a club recently, and it sounded great!
I saved for months and bought a Fender Jazzmaster. That was my main guitar & was featured on all the Siddeleys recordings, (the mental lead guitar on “are you still evil” is the Jazzmaster) though I also had a Fender Telecaster which I preferred for live shows. The Jazzmaster was somewhat unreliable & tended to go out of tune. We played in Manchester once & the Jazzmaster broke a string in the first verse of the first song.

++ How did you end up releasing on Medium Cool? There are some really nice bands there, like The Waltones and The Popguns. It was only a 1000 copies run, right? And that was ‘limited’ back then… now 1000 records is soooo much!

I’m not sure how the deals were made to be honest. I know Andy Wake had an early demo & liked what he heard. I believe he actually offered Johnny a solo deal, but she declined & requested that the Siddeleys as a band be released. Our relationship with medium cool was pretty fragile, and when they omitted to include our name on a poster announcing the fall releases, we knew it was time to move on.

Yeah, but you have to remember that singles were the only way that people were able to consume music. In the pre-digital world, you didn’t have a choice. No MP3s, iTunes or even CDs.

++ What do you think about Medium Cool selling all their back catalogue to Cherry Red?

Great! I believe there is a compilation being produced at present.
On New Year’s eve 1982 I bought a copy of “pillows and prayers” for £0.99, which is a great Cherry Red sampler. I’m very happy if the Siddeleys become label-mates of the Marine Girls, the Monochrome Set and Felt.

++ What about the Sombrero Records release? How did that happen? Did Torquil McLeod (Reserve) had some influence on this one?

We knew David “Payney” Payne through his brilliant fanzine “Trout Fishing in Leytonstone”. He had put out a number of fanzines and was looking to move on to his next project, which was a record label and club. Inspired by Richard Brautigan, the label was christened Sombrero, after Sombrero Fallout, and the club became the Cool Trout Basement.

I don’t recall who met Payney first. It could have been Torquil. I understand he’s a cloudberry artiste now. You should interview him!

++ Who designed the covers of the 7″s?

The Medium cool single was put together by a designer, who used the original materials provided by the band. I designed the logo which appears on all of our releases. It was drawn by hand on my mum’s kitchen table.

A friend of Payney’s pasted together the Sunshine Thuggery cover, again using my hand-drawn type and a photo taken by Andrew and Johnny.

++ Lately there has been lots of talk about mp3 blogs / free sharing of music on the poplist and there has been controversy about what labels are for. What do you think about labels, what do they represent for you?

To me, labels mean community, a sense of identity, a cohesion in both music and design. Before the Unfortunate Drummer Incident there was a real community surrounding Sombrero records, Bob had an 8 track demo facility in Somerset, 140 miles outside of London that we used & the weekends were usually fun. The Sha La La flexi disc was recorded there. Reserve, the other band on sombrero were my friends – I had gone to school with Michael the Guitar player & introduced him to Torquil.

++ You recorded 2 Peel Sessions! That must have been a blast! Was that, you think, the highlight of The Siddeleys? What do you think Peel gave to indiepop?

The Peel sessions were amazing, but absolutely terrifying. The pressure was enormous: record 4 songs in a day, all of which must be broadcast quality, with only the barest of overdubs, knowing that the entire country will be able to hear them.

Peel gave so much, not just to indie but to the British (and in many respects global) music scene. He was the only way anyone could get their music heard, and in turn, I derived most of my musical education from listening to his show.

++ There was going to be a third single, right? “You Get What You Deserve”? Why didn’t it ever happen?! I can’t believe there was no interest at all! Being such a MONUMENTAL song

Sombrero had no money left for us and no-one else wanted to release our records. And sadly, that was it.

++ What is this story about you having a haircut all the time? Very stylish Allan! :)

We weren’t scruffy indie rockers, that’s for sure. At the time my hair was very short & a haircut at my local barber shop only cost £1.50, so in order to keep it really sharp looking, a trip to Neville’s was in order. Neville was an artist – he could simultaneously chain-smoke, watch the horse racing and still give you a decent trim. But it’s a very British, almost Mod thing. We all loved going to Camden Market looking for 50’s suits etc. It was always flattering when were referred to as “the Debonair Siddeleys”.

++ What were your favorite bands at that time to play a gig with? Who would you have liked playing with but you never did?

We played with our fellow Sombrero artists all the time, especially at the “Cool Trout Basement” Club run by the folks behind Sombrero and Medium Cool. Our friend Richard Formby also organized an all-nighter boat trip on the River Thames, where all the Sombrero bands played. But really, I enjoyed playing with anyone who wasn’t a jerk. The Chesterfields were great, talented and friendly. Jesse Garon & the Desperados were another great band. 14 Iced Bears were cool.

We supported bit the House of Love and My Bloody Valentine, & both bands were snooty, unfriendly and obnoxious.

++ What do you think about the scene today? Any similarities, differences? I think bands back then were more political, more true to themselves. Maybe I’m wrong?

I have no idea what “the scene” is today, I’m afraid. I get the impression it’s only a couple of hundred kids, scattered around the globe.

The Siddeleys weren’t part of any scene, really, we were an individual band that happened to be around when a bunch of other bands who drew on vaguely similar influences were also around.

There was little to no camaraderie between bands outside of the Sombrero fold. When we did bump into groups we had previously played with on tour, we were friendly & pleased to see them, of course.

We were political people but our music was more concerned with personal politics. It would have been absurd for us to have written a song about Thatcher.

But you are right about us being true to ourselves.

I can only speak for myself, but I think there wasn’t such a stereotypical “indie pop sound”. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that were weren’t really taking our influences from our contemporaries. The Siddeleys weren’t huddled around the stereo dissecting Primal Scream B-Sides, we were more influenced by 50’s Rock and Rollers, pre-Beatles pop such as Adam Faith, Joe Meek and Johnnie Ray.

++ Any favorite bands today?

I hear this Robert Forster guy is quite good.


The Siddeleys – My Favourite Wet Wednesday Afternoon


I’ve never been that much of a Christmas enthusiast, but maybe this year it will change: I’m putting out a 4 track compilation EP of Christmas themed songs. And actually it is really good! The four songs are originals and no, they are not carols. They are four splendid pop songs that I would totally recommend. The name of the EP is “Last Train to Christmas”, which is an April March song. All Cloudberry EPs are named after songs.

I wonder how objective and fair I can be recommending something I’m releasing. Of course all labels do their press kits and they praise and praise their bands. In that situation it is fine, people don’t mind. But if I write about it in a blog, praising the songs and bands, what would the reaction be? I’m guessing people will be negative. Maybe it’s somethting of the human condition? Perhaps the difference is that press kits are ‘anonymous’?

The EP opens with “Antoinette’s Christmas Wedding” by Twig. Kalle (from Elenette) and his sax had already been part of Twig’s repertoire, as you can see in their 2008-defining “Life After Ridge” album. On this track Kalle comes handy with his services to bring out a standout track. It is impossible not to think of the album track “Constance and Her Cousins” that has a very similar vibe, the sax and a girl name. The three-piece sounds as classier as ever. Actually it was Henrik from Twig that wrote me a month or so ago suggesting the idea of making a Christmas compilation. He loves Christmas and I can tell, I’ve heard a different Christmas song on their myspace for the last two years. And Mathias told me today that they are working on another Christmas tune! May it be the Swedish snow? being close to the North Pole? that makes the Twig guys love this time of the year? The only thing I’m certain that is that they passed me their enthusiasm. I can imagine the swedes in a big Christmas banquet like Fanny and Alexander, wouldn’t you too?

The second song is courtesy of The Soft City. The band has changed a lot since their Cloudberry single. Well, at that time is was mostly Phil with help from many of his friends. Now it is a band in the whole sense of the word. Phil doesn’t take control of the main vocals anymore, that duty is now Dora’s. Also Jason Corace (from A Boy Named Thor, do you remember?) plays the electric guitar and Phil goes to his favourite instrument, drums, the same he played on Kicker and the underrated but amazing Velocette. The song “Snow is Falling” reminds me to Kicker, and that’s a good thing! A pop song with capital letters, a POP SONG. That’s what it is. What is funny about this Christmas tune, as Phil points out, is that the New York band are one Jew, an agnostic and one unidentified! Who would have thought! Listening the song you would have thought The Soft City was all about joy in Christmas time!

“When The Stars Are Shining Bright At Christmas Time” is the third tune. And this one comes from fellow New York band Strega. As you might now this band also has pedigree, Poundsign pedigree! Wavelenght might have been one of the best indiepop albums in the 90s. You are lucky if you come around a copy of it. EBay is not easy on the prices on this one either. It is good, a very fine record, that maybe didn’t break thru because at the time indiepop was all about Aislers Set, but hey, this was as good. The song is a bouncy, upbeat, two minutes and a half piece. And as everything comes around, the six degrees of separation theory, it was Henrik (Twig) that saw them live in New York, at the Union Pool (a place I like a lot!) and recommended them to me. The water flowed and eventually the band closed the 3″ single series with that wonderful single of them: “Emotional Self Destruction”.

And then going back north, now to Denmark. It’s Champagne Riot, a new band for me and for the label too. I’m waiting impatiently now for his debut on Shelflife, and if the songs are as good as this Christmas one, this will be one of the winners of 2008. That doesn’t mean I’ll make a best of list, but I most probably vote at the Twee.net yearly survey. “December Slopes” is the song name and this has the most epic sound of all the 4 songs. There is something about Caspar’s singing that brings memory of 80s synthpop bands, with that charming decadence that exudes pop elegance. Think of a less pretentious Fosca, a darker Human League and maybe you have an idea. Then the EP is over. And most probably you’ll want to play it again.


Red Sleeping Beauty – Christmas


It’s been a lazy Sunday morning and I’ve been reading some old fanzines. Going through them I started wondering about The Bedflowers. Fanzine writers say that they were going to be the next Siddeleys. Their demo tape was really appreciated at the time. I haven’t had the chance to listen to that tape. Maybe Peter Twee.net has it? But now he is traveling all around Mexico.

I read Richard’s Waaaaaah number 3. He has been to a gig of The Bedflowers. Nine minutes and nine songs. Janice asks for more vocals and promises to do better. Two songs later and the crowd notices: “they’re playing the same set again!”. Eighteen minutes and they’ve finished the gig, playing twice their same set.

The Bedflowers was a duo: Janice White and Danny Moran and they were from the Manchester area. Their demo tape I’m looking for was released by Bop Cassettes. I know that label! They released the early stuff from The Man of Delmonte (one of my favourites!). The demo was called “Songs: Summer 1990″ and included three songs, “Madly in Love with 25 People”, “You’re Not Blonde and Stupid, But Nobody’s Perfect” and “I’m So Cool”. The other only song I know, the one I’ve heard, is “My Ex-Lovers Address” that came on “The Waaaaaah! CD”. Which is indeed a great tune but it seems that the sound of the band had changed by this time. From what I read, their early stuff was more similar to The Fat Tulips or Screeming Custard! That sounds like heaven to me!

On Bubbyworld, Richard Waaaaaah says that the band recorded a 12″ that was never released. Could that be true? I would love to interview them and learn more from them. If you know if they are around please let me know. I’m dead curious about them. So many great reviews, great songs, and then just disappearing to dust?


The Bedflowers- My Ex-Lovers Address


I miss New York, but New York with Anna and Joe. Today Anna and Joe met in London. I wasn’t there. And both of them in different ways told me how great it could have been if we hanged out together again. That they miss those days during the New York Popfest. They have to be among the best days of my life. Of course. Could we be like the gang of Bande A Part? Me and Joe love Anna Karina… and hey! Anna has the same name! So maybe? Perhaps. Joe will be playing next week (on the 28th) in Malmö, at Kris’ club. And Anna and Joe will hang out together again. And I will miss them again. But if you are in that town, don’t miss the show, a Pinefox gig is something else! He jangles!

The memory of that June weekend in New York is still fresh. The Chinatown kids playing and cursing in the park while Anna and me were trying to figure out the lyrics from “Besando a Otra” by Los Saicos. Let me say that Anna is Swedish, but for some strange reason she loves Los Saicos, a Peruvian garage band from the 60s. Maybe you’ve heard about them? Collectors from around the world go CRAZY for their records and their prices truly eclipse what would anyone would pay for the rarest indiepop 7″. Also for many music journalists their track “Demolición” is the first punk song ever. Anyhow, Anna remembered how the song went but I couldn’t stop singing “Ana” for Anna.

I’ve become good friends with Anna for a couple of years now, emailing not that often and chatting a wee less. But this year she came to Florida. Not to the east coast, but the west coast, to Ft. Myers. I took a Greyhound bus and hanged out for a day. It was great. We had Chinese food: I had chicken and Anna vegetables. Chinese restaurant is always a winner when you are going to have food with a vegetarian. Now we were best friends. It works perfect, in New York we had Chinese again.

Back to the Big Apple. I had just got out of the plane and we were making time. It was Thursday and it was the first day of the Popfest. The Pinefox was going to play and I really wanted to see his show. Anna likes The Pines so she was looking forward to it too.

I had just put out the third Cloudberry fanzine that included an extensive interview to Joe, even featuring him on the cover. The regular Cloudberry fanzine usually has 24 pages. Joe was kind enough to answer everything with all the details you can imagine. The fanzine grew to up to 32 pages! That was unexpected! The printing price sky rocketed and in a kamikaze mission I sold out the fanzine at 2 dollars less than it’s real value. But it was worth it. It was a great zine and I wasn’t going to chop down Joe’s answers. But maybe something else, as Rachel from The Local Heroes wrote me: “Joe tells me you had to chop down an entire rainforest to print it!”.

As you know Joe also records as The Arc Lamps and as The First Division (with Tim Hopkins, from The Visitors, singing). Oh! and not forget about The Foxgloves… he has had several bands before those but I forget the name of them. He says they are not important. Okay, I easily lose the thread. Let me rewind. Okay, on our way to the Cake Shop we got a bit lost and we arrived maybe 10 or 20 minutes after 7. We went downstairs, were the bar is… and there was Joe already ready to play. He was playing an acoustic guitar that Pelle Carlberg had signed the year before at the Popfest 2007. Joe’s outfit was great, striped shirt, shorts and camping boots. I liked the anti-glamour, down to Earth and friendly approach of Joe. And then he started, some Pines songs, some Foxgloves songs…. and a GREAT cover of Glo-Worm, Joe’s favorite Pam Berry band (well, after The Pines). A lovely and intimate gig. He opened the festival in the best way possible.

To be continued…


The Pines – Forget-Me-Nots


The history of C86 is still full of forgotten bands and singles. Stacks of great 7″s waiting to be discovered. Maybe a Japanese or two are aware of them; you know how they are. Okay, back to the title of the post. Yes, I am from Peru. You knew that? but this time I’m not writing about the hipsters back home. They are called ‘arties’ in Lima, they abound. They flock the district of Barranco and dress at Neo Mutatis. Im sure the word hipster wouldn’t mean much there. I’m writing today about a Welsh band that was called Peruvian Hipsters. Coincidence or not, I love their only single. Being Peruvian I find it ironic. I can’t imagine any hipsters back in 80s Lima. During those years there was a big post punk scene in the bleak city and terrorism was everywhere… being flashy, being hipster.. that wasn’t happening. Today as I said, the story is different.

The band formed by Nigel Buckland, Ashley Evans, Phillip Holt and Jeff Hughes only recorded this 7″ on Freak Medicine Recordings (first time I hear about this label!). The A side is “Tony Hadley”… you say who? the real Tony Hadley was the main guy from Spandau Ballet. The B side was It Doesn’t Happen Everyday. What happened to them after? Why didn’t they record more songs? Why are they not more known if Tony Hadley is such a phenomenal slice of guitar pop? So many questions to ask the band from the Rhondda valley. I wonder if one day I could ask them this questions and more. Especially asking them… why Peruvian Hipsters?! and hey! have you ever been to Peru? Right now the country is GREAT! We even get indiepop bands go and play… I’ve heard Acid House Kings are next!

…and I wonder when I’ll be back.


Peruvian Hipsters – Tony Hadley


Thanks to Darrell Mitchell for the great interview.

++ How did the band came together? Were you friends in high school? neighbours? football fans?

The band started up with Baz the drummer and me. We went to the same school in Wallingford near Oxford, but I was a few years older (still am!). After I’d left school, Baz’s dad asked if Baz could play the drums with me and a bass player called David Tomlinson who I’m now playing with again. Baz was a spotty fourteen year old, with thick glasses and his Dad thought it would be good for him to have something constructive to do, as he wasn’t doing very well at school. A few years later the band morphed into Home and Abroad after bass player Ian Norrington joined. We put an ad in the local paper and he auditioned and we went from strength to strength. Ian lied about his age as he was a few years older than me and thought we would mind.

++ What football teams you support then?

Ian supported Ipswich Town, as he was from Suffolk. I supported Swindon Town (someone’s got to!) and Baz went to watch Reading, but always secretly supported Liverpool.

++ Alison is one of my favourite songs ever. Who is this Alison girl? Or maybe it’s not a true story?

Alison does exist, but I changed the name. Partly because no one would have bought a song called Sharon, and partly because I didn’t want her to know. Sharon was really gorgeous, but couldn’t help falling for horrible men who treated her badly.

++ It was released in a label called Zebra Records. I will be honest to say I never heard about that label, can you tell me a little bit more about it?

Zebra/Zebre records were based in High Wycombe and run by my friend Sid. It sort of ended up being our own label in the end.

++ After that release, a flexi came out on Lovely Records. It was a split with the marvelous Rileys (god I love that band!). You also released many tracks on tape compilations, maybe you can help me keep the count? How did all these happen?

I’ve lost count of the different compilations too I’m afraid! Our manager Barry promoted us in a wide variety of countries and quite often there was a different compilation for different countries. Also we had more material than most bands and wanted as much as possible to be recorded and released, which is great now as there is so much to remember us by.

++ Which bands were your favourite at that time?

Baz and me were inspired by punk and new wave music above all else, British and American, including the Clash, The Jam, Talking Heads, Magazine, Elvis Costello…….. After that we really liked anything poppy with real instruments. Our songs always had a hook. I’ve grown up loving the Beatles. Ian liked complete crap, so it’s best not to go there!

++ How involved were you in the fanzine culture during those C86 years? Do you see any advantages between them over today blogs?

We did end up being part of the fanzine culture, but didn’t really notice at the time. I’m a bit scared of computers, so I rarely read blogs, but it’s the same thing really. I love people being moved enough by the music to write about it. I liked fanzines because they were so disposable and that fitted in really well with whatHome and Abroad was about. Three minutes of pop and throw it away. We were always straight on with the next thing. We didn’t worry about perfection, we embraced our flaws. We wanted to be out there doing it. There were so many fanzines at the time that often the floor was littered with them after gigs.

++ How did the Elefant / Home and Abroad relationship start? I’ve heard there is a tape Luis released?

Our manager Barry made the contact with Luis and he was really in tune with what we were trying to do. There is an Elefant tape, called In Search of the Obvious.

++ Smoky Town is the first vinyl release of Elefant, this is legendary! What memories you have of that record? Any anecdotes you’d like to share?

Smoky Town was one of the songs I’d written that we didn’t quite know what to do with. It didn’t really fit in with our set of noisy electric pop. We recorded it in a scrap of studio time with Pippa Hall guesting on backing vocals. She works in film now I understand. The song is about two untidy lives getting together and starting a relationship and was about my wife at the time. She never found it too complimentary and I guess it isn’t a conventional love song!

++ There is an unreleased album by Home and Abroad that you will make available on the web. Care telling a bit more about it?

Baz had to leave the band due to a problem with his wrist. Kenny Stone replaced him and we started to lose our throw away image. Luis asked us to do a new album, but it was never released. I really wish we had. I’m still really proud of it after all these years and I’m so pleased that some people are still interested in hearing it.

++ Home and Abroad silently left the indiepop league…. what have you been doing through all these years?

Sadly and still quite unelievably Ian died in a motorbike accident. It’s still hard to believe. I carried on in bands called the Simpletons who recorded an album called ‘Men Who Wear Pyjamas’ and later with Edna who released an album with Holier Than Thou records called ‘Beekeping for Beginners’. I had a break for a few years to have some babies and I’m now back with Baz and Barry (The Occasional Orchestra) again doing songs under my own name and with Stumble on the Valves with Barry. Check us out!

++ Anything else you’d like to say to the popkids out there?

Stay pop and do it for the music popkids!


Home and Abroad – Alison (Please Don’t Fall)