The Friday Club 7″ sold for almost 100 GBP. Let’s see for how much this one goes for, as it is quite rare too, and was listed for a price I can’t match: 45 dollars to start. The great “Lupe Velez” 12″ is going for 45, plus 12 dollars for postage, quite a deal, huh? Not for me sadly. So far, playing the lottery every weekend, hasn’t really worked. I dream of having a huge record collection with all the songs I like. Is that much to ask? Well… I would love to buy an island too, sometime in the near future. Why not? An indiepop island, can you imagine? It’s a bit unrealistic, I know, but there is a word called wishes and another called dreams. So why not dream and wish? Let’s start by dreaming today about this brilliant Aussie band. Suddenly I have their only release on my hand. The Lupe Velez 12″ purple cover invites me to know more… so who is this lady that shares name with the pop godess (Marianthi dixit!) from Pipas?

Tempestuous Mexican actress Lupe Velez parlayed her voluptuous figure and tireless energy into a south-of-the-border musical comedy career before she was 20. In 1926, Velez moved to Hollywood, where she secured a role in The Music Box Revue and was featured in a handful of Hal Roach two-reelers. Her first major role in a feature film was as Douglas Fairbanks’ fiery vis-à-vis in The Gaucho (1928); she made her talkie debut in D.W. Griffith’s Lady of the Pavements. In 1933, she married Johnny “Tarzan” Weissmuller, a union distinguished by loud, headline-grabbing public spats; they were divorced in 1938. The following year, with her career in the doldrums, Velez starred in an RKO programmer called The Girl From Mexico; this led to the popular Mexican Spitfire series, in which the irrepressible Velez was teamed with rubber-legged character comedian Leon Errol. She returned to Mexico in 1944 to star in Nana, which was not the success she hoped it would be. In December of that year, Lupe Velez killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills.

Right! So the band took their name from her as well! Interesting, even though I’m still impressed about her being Tarzan’s wife! But let’s turn the page, it’s not about the king of the jungle and the monkeys. It’s about the Mexican Spitfires. But it seems most people don’t know them or care little as I’m not aware of any blog that have written about this eighties Sydney band. But the surprise comes when you do find that there is a whole Wikipedia entry. Here are some interesting bits and pieces.

The Mexican Spitfires were a Sydney, Australia based indie rock/indie pop band formed in suburban Strathfield in the Strathfield Municipality in the mid 1980s.The band formed in 1986 and the original line up consisted of Tim O’Reilly on bass and vocals, Michael Quinlan on rhythm guitar and vocals, Stephen McCowage on lead guitar, Price Conlan on drums; however, O’Reilly, Quinlan and McCowage had previously played together in the psychedelic 1960s styled indie-pop band Prince Vlad & the Gargoyle Impalers.

In July 1986, The Mexican Spitfires played their first gig to a packed audience at the Lismore Hotel, located on Pitt Street in Sydney. They were discovered by Red Eye Records that same night and were subsequently signed to a record deal by that label. The band’s debut 6-track 12-inch EP Lupe Velez was released in 1988. The EP was produced by Jon Schofield of the Coloured Girls, engineered by Phil Punch, and featured the extraordinary keyboard talents of Russell Parkhouse (ex-The Riptides). The first EP was an immediate success on the independent charts, moving straight into the top 5 in Sydney and scoring the band significant airplay on 2JJ (now 2JJJ), particularly for the songs Sydney Town, You Can’t Run and Town Hall Steps. Lupe Velez received favourable reviews in English musicmagazine NME and in the Australian music press.

After the success of their debut, The Mexican Spitfires returned to the Electric Avenue Studio of Phil Punch to record their second 6-track 12-inch EP Elephant during 1989 and 1990. Unfortunately, that EP has not been released in any format.

Wow! Another unreleased gem in indiepop along the lines of Candlestick Park or Two People’s LPs Will we ever have the chance to see these tracks on a proper release? I think that a CD compiling both EPs would be fantastic! It would have a total of 11 songs including, from the first 12″, Sydney Town, You Can’t Run Forever, Ivy Street, Town Hall Steps, Rookwood; and from the second, Roy, Fallen Down, Long Time, She, Desperate Ways, Just Like Any Man. And tell me, wouldn’t this be a sweet, sweet dream?

If you have any info on the the band or their whereabouts, please share!


The Mexican Spitfires – You Can’t Run (Forever)


Thanks to Rich Lindsay for the interview!

++ You were quite young when The Ammonites started, right? how old were you? where you all friends from school?

Yes, we were all school friends. We must have been 14 years old. The idea of forming a band originated from being bored in History lessons.

++ How come being so young you made jangly pop? how did you get influenced by this music? I ask because it’s not that common, most kids in their teens know mostly what’s on the charts, they don’t dwelve on the music that’s been cooked in the underground!

I think the jangly pop thing really started when we discovered Sarah Records, the Sea Urchins etc. and later The Byrds. It was initially bands like The Smiths and The Housemartins – who had broken out of the underground scene and had some chart success – that made us aware of an independent/alternative music scene. But, the real twee indie pop stuff was heavily influenced by the Sarah stuff.

++ You released many, many, tapes with Rutland Records, as well as your 7″. How did they came to know your music? Did you feel part of a scene in Leicester?

Rutland got to know us because we sent them a demo tape we’d recorded on 4-track which featured the first recording of “Day in the Sun”. They liked it and kindly offered us a chance to share their practice room and release a few things on their label. Looking back there was definitely a sense of a Leicester music scene. I guess a lot of that is thanks to the existence of pub venues such as The Princess Charlotte, O’Jays and the Magazine where young, unknown bands had a chance to play regularly in front of an audience. The guy that was running the Charlotte gave us some really good support slots at the time. Supporting Cud was one particular highlight.

++ You totally considered yourselves popkids, right? If not you wouldn’t have written Teenage Pop-Kid Dreaming. But what does being a popkid during the late eighties / early nineties meant? How could you tell someone was a popkid?

At the time we recorded the record we were desperately trying to be a bit punk and garage. By then I was basically writing most of my stuff by ripping off tunes from Pebbles records or late 70s British punk. I don’t think anyone can deny there’s a large portion of Pete Shelley in the vocal on “Teenage Pop Kid Dreamin” and “Coming Down” is based on pretty standard 60s pop-garage riffs. So the pop kid reference was slightly ironic, mocking our pop kid image and the twee pop kid scene. Maybe we were trying to distance ourselves from the indie pop thing but at the same time we were pretty much confirming we’d never ever be anything else but pop kids. Even now, 18 years later, I’m still a teenage pop kid. Still dreaming too!

++ Do you remember how many tapes you put out on Rutland? Was there any particular difference between the recording of these than the 7″?

I looked at the list of tapes we had done the other day and I can’t remember for the life of me what was on all of them. As far as I recall, all the tapes were 4-track recording which we did ourselves. The single was recorded on 8-track by Alan Jenkins of The Deep Freeze Mice and Ruth’s Refrigerator.

++ What was the biggest highlight of The Ammonites?

There were a lot. Some of the support slots, as mentioned. Playing the big municipal music festival in Leicester and gigging in London … and people actually turning up to watch!

++ Were The Ammonites a gigging band? Which particular gigs do you remember the most?

I refer the Right Honourable Gentleman to the answer I gave above! ;-)

++ How involved were you with the fanzine culture at the time? Did you ever wrote one?

We never wrote one, no. I remember being amazed how many fanzines took an interest in us. Doing interviews with Spanish fanzines and having flexi disks released in Japan … It was all a bit mental really.

++ I know you were part of many tape compilations, but there are some I don’t have a clue about them, maybe you can give me a hand with any details you might remember? I’m wondering about “And they Call it Pop” on Fragrant Records and “Just Another… Compilation” on Flippin Ace Records

And then there’s stuff like that which we never knew anything about. Or maybe I just can’t remember. I have no idea about either I’m afraid.

++ About the 7″, I’ve always wondered about the cover, it has some sort of Bridget Riley imagery on it, who designed it?

The cover was just a load of black and white pop art which was meant to look terribly 60s to go along with the garage/psych image we were desperate to cultivate. It featured a copy of a portrait which John (the original drummer)  painted of his brother Steve (who had played guitar in the band before leaving to go to university). Incidentally, their other two brothers now play in Ambrose Tompkins with Robyn.

++ How did the the split Flexi on the Boshi label happened? Did you ever meet Akiko?

That was another one of those things that just seemed to happen and completely amazed us. I don’t think we did ever meet Akiko.

++ Was The Ammonites the first band for all of you? Were any of you involved with pop bands during or after The Ammonites existence?

The Ammonites was the first or second band for us all. Robyn has always been involved in various bands, basically because he’s a brilliant musician. He’d switched from guitar to drums for the Ammonites and wanted to keep playing guitar so he was playing with the Calender Dream at the same time, for instance.

I know John got very close to a proper break-through playing drums with ex members of Blab Happy. On John Peel and all that. But in the end I think the album just didn’t sell.

The Ammonites was always “my baby” so I only ever had the one band. I had a long break from active involvement in bands until a few years ago, I got a band started over here in Germany. We called ourselves the zero five, had a lot of fun with it. But for some reason I went back into retirement a year ago.

I’ve already mentioned Ambrose Tompkins. Check them out if you don’t know them. They’re very cool.

++ Why did you choose the name The Ammonites?

To quote one particular fanzine: “because they are as boring as old sea fossils”. I guess that’s the kind of mini backlash you face when your guitarist has an affair with the girl running the fanzine, only for her to get back with her ex boyfriend (the guy running it with her). Ha ha ha

++ Have you ever thought about putting all your songs together on a retrospective CD? I heard there were rumours of Rutland doing this and even a working title “Rain and Ruin”, was this true?

I never heard about that. Robyn put something similar together with all the old demos but that was just a private thing, not for release.

++ Why did the band call it a day? What are you doing now?

Rob had left to go to university. Rob had played bass for use since 1988 and had been the final piece in the jigsaw to becoming a “proper band”. I think when he left, the momentum was gone and the balance was all wrong. We replaced him for a few weeks or months but never gigged again. Shane (guitarist 1989 – 1991) and I were getting listening to totally different music and seeing less and less of Robyn socially. In the end, Robyn said he was calling it a day and it was clear that there could be no Ammonites without him. So that was it.

What are we all doing? Well, this is what I know. I’m not in regular contact with everyone.

Robyn (guitar/vocals 1987 – 1989, drums 1989 – 1991)  – Still living in Leicester, is married and has two (I think) sons. Plays with Ambrose Tompkins. And I should drop him a line!

Rob (bass 1988 – 1991) – Was living in London a long time and is now back in the East Midlands too. Sadly I haven’t spoken to Rob for a long time.

Steve (guitar 1989) – I had a recent update from his brother John and he’s now teaching in Italy apparently.

John (drums 1987 – 1989) – Living in a cave house in southern Spain and judging by the amount of YouTube links he sends me, he’s still a teenage pop kid and doing a lot of dreaming!

Shane (guitar 1989 – 1991) – I think he’s back living in Leicester. The last time I saw him he was playing in a band but finding it hard because they wanted him “to play the guitar properly!”. Don’t know what he’s up to now but I’m pretty sure whatever it is he’s being a total star at it.

Jim (bass 1991 very briefly) – I’m afraid I have no idea. I lost touch with him very quickly after the band split and I went to university. Years later though, having finished at university my then girlfriend and I got invited to dinner one night. I think my ex was studying with the girl who invited us round. Anyway, we turn up and this girl’s boyfriend is none other than Jim. That was pretty amusing.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Just many, many thanks for giving an old fart the chance to pretend he’s a pop star after all this time.


The Ammonites -You, Me and the Sun


The 2009 Twee.net poll results have been published. Everything looks fine till you see the numbers for the Best Record Label of the year. Over the years, no label has had more votes than the 31 votes Matinée struck in 2002, the first year the “best label” category appeared on the poll. There has never been such a difference between first and second as in the 2008 poll, where, with 74 votes, Series Two won the category. Here are the numbers:

1. Series Two Records 74
2. Slumberland Records 12
3. Matinee Recordings 10
4. Cloudberry Records 8
5. Shelflife Records 4
Wee POP! Records 4
6. Labrador Records 3
Monkeymind Records 2
Magic Marker Records 2
Siesta Records 2
YAY! Records 2

So, do we believe this? NO WAY JOSE. For me, Series Two doesn’t have any credibility. It’s impossible to believe this was a fair first place. Luckily there’s a break down of the individual votes (thanks Peter!). Let’s see how many people just voted ONLY for the best label category and for Series Two. As you know, in the Twee.net poll you can choose which categories to vote for. You can always leave blank any category as well. I don’t believe any popkid would vote in the poll for only a favourite label. Perhaps I could believe them only voting for their favourite band or their favourite song of the year. But for a label? For god’s sake. Do you think people are too stupid to be tricked this way? And come on, for the people familiar with the poll, it’s always the same people voting, the indiepop scene is not HUGE, there are always familiar names. It’s terribly funny to see all these votes coming from names I’ve never seen ever before. It’s just like spam. Among these robots we have:

+ no name given
+ Andrew Palmer of The Mother Z’s (band)
+ Danny
+ kristo
+ Mataharibisu
+ OG
+ Paul Johnstone
+ renou
+ ria silva
+ Ryohei
+ star dellera

11 people! Almost what Slumberland scored. Alright, but what about the people who voted for Series Two and some other categories? Oh! those are many more and it seems they didn’t know this poll was an INDIEPOP poll. I guess Chris B.’s instructions missed this little detail. What has happened is that there is a fair amount of votes to Radiohead this year. UNBELIEVABLE! And what about the user Jeanne Betak? His best albums are worth checking out! At least for a good laugh.

I’ve seen Viagra spam on the poplist. But this spaming is even more amazing, it’s farfetched. On top of that, there’s no single Series Two release listed on Twee.net. I expected other labels to win. Labels that had a better year like Slumberland or Shelflife, or labels that ask their bands to “show some love” on the polls, as I wrote on a previous post. But, honestly, I never expected that something like this was going to happen. I guess there are no ethics whatsoever for the godsend Chris B. Criminally cheating like this, it doesn’t matter anymore if these robots care about indiepop or not. It’s about winning. FUCK the scene.

Thanks Chris B. for showing us again what you are capable of. I hope it won’t be too long when people start noticing at last the terrible damage you are causing to our little scene. Next year aim to win the Pitchfork best of list. We don’t want you around. Please.


Another Sunny Day – You Should All Be Murdered


The second split single is out! And what a cracking single it is. Take my word.

Kevin McGrother was a late 2008 discovery for me. As I’ve said, I don’t do end of year lists, but if I did, his album, “Living on Enyd Blyton’s World”, would be there. It’s a marvelous record, no fillers, just perfect songs, one after the other. The second song from the single “A Week of Wednesdays” does appear on the album, and after listening to it, you’ll have it on repeat for sure. Great lyrics and a catchy melody, what can top that? Kevin combines the magic of The Hit Parade with the elegance of Max Eider and the Jazz Butcher. The first song “A Riverside Heaven” bring us the genius of Kevin, with one of his greatest Tickety-Boo songs re-recorded. You ask who is Tickety-Boo? Well, just wait for the next Leamington Spa compilation, and some questions will be answered. Or let’s have a quick look at Kevin’s bio!

It started back in the early 1990s with Just Like Alice, raw pop songs being belted out in the pubs of North East England – chunky guitars, manic violin and glorious trumpet. Then, after a few comings and goings and a name change it was Tickety-Boo – ’sweet, not sickly boy girl vocals’, more violin and a highly regarded EP. Then came the court case when Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber and his publishers took exception to the Ticketys dropping a snatch of one of his most famous tunes into their anthemic ‘Cantona’. The band taunted the lawyers, the lawyers headed North and it all ended up at the High Court. It ended in inevitable defeat – ‘they fought the lord, the lord won’ and the band crumbled away. Ten years on and Kevin McGrother, the man behind both bands has dusted down his song collection and has released a 10 song album, “Living In An Enid Blyton World”.

And now he has put out this little single in our little Cloudberry. And how thrilling it is for me to have him on board. Two bouncy pop songs that are sweet sweet sweet that feel like an indiepop merry-go-round of fun.

Then we travel to Europe’s mainland, to Germany. Awaiting us is André Daners and his My Laundry Life. Another one-man band genius. This time it’s all about the jangle. I’ve always had a soft spot for German bands but lately I couldn’t find many that gave me that rush and urgency to listen to them. So I’m glad My Laundry Life appeared with his 80’s tinged pop that reminds me to The Go-Betweens, The Smiths and The Trash Can Sinatras. This is proper jangle! The kind that makes you happy, the ones that feels epic and classy, the one that you can’t find at your local record store. And if you can’t have enough of these two great tracks, André has already scheduled an eleven-track album to appear in March in the Vollwert Records label from our good friend Werner. A bit impressive as My Laundry Life is such a new band, formed during the late months of the past year. And now, like a storm, he is all over, getting well deserved words and praise. And hopefully soon he’ll be playing gigs! That’s what the world really needs!

You can order the single directly from the label page. It comes in the classic 3″ CD format and the wraparound sleeve has a lovely Swedish post stamps photo by Joe Brooker (from The Pines). And it’s just $5 (includes postage to anywhere in the world!). Don’t Stop Indiepop!


Kevin McGrother – A Week of Wednesdays
My Laundry Life – Sons & Guns


Thanks to Martin Cotter Cotter for the interview!!

++ Hi Martin! How did the Wee Cherubs come together?

I had been in a band called Radio Ghosts, we had been playing & gigging for years and it was becoming stale, so I left. The RG’s were a kind of Gang of Four, noisy, angular agit-pop type of bunch, highly original and very guitar-y, but with a fair bit of attitude and much misery – most of it coming from me!

So by the time I left I was ready for something quieter and more subtle, where you could hear actual music, the guitar tones and so on, and where not every second was filled with spiky noise. I also wanted to write melodic but probably less commercial songs; songs that I had in my head but knew were wrong for the RG’s. They weren’t even all songs – just fragments; but I wanted to let them out and experiment with them.

Christine was my true love at that time, she was playing guitar in a band called Rapid Dance. I can’t remember if she quit or if they split, but she started learning to play bass in the new post-RG band. We really were just doing it for fun. I was writing material that would never have been performed by the RG’s, and so far as I knew at that time, would never actually go further than just personal enjoyment.

Then we started realising that a few of the songs had – something. We were very friendly with other Glasgow indie bands, notably Apes in Control. Their drummer Graham was one of me & Christine’s closest friends, so he was absolutely perfect for us and was happy to split his time between the Apes and ourselves.

So we started rehearsing as a 3-piece, and soon started thinking about playing and recording, as the songs began to develop & mature. The music we were making at that time, I can’t stress this enough, was being created entirely in isolation, independent of our contemporaries, and any other “twee” influences.

If you’d known us at that time, you’d know that this was just the way we were. It was never deliberately anything – it was what actually came out. I always felt that bands such as the Pastels, who we never listened to at all, had a deliberate strategy and actively tried to promote their identity. They acted the way they wanted to be perceived; we however were way too stoned, and simple-minded, to even consider that. Certainly I was!

++ Dreaming is indeed one of the greatest pop tunes ever recorded. What was your inspiration to write this tune?

Ocht away you go. No specific event that I can recall. Tunes come from nowhere, and if you’re lucky, the words come easily and at the same time. Something you have to force out won’t sound as natural. Dreaming was just a nice chord sequence for the chorus, and the lyrics cover an imagined situation where a fellow has been so enraptured by his true love that he doesn’t realise she’s moving away from him all the time (“I lived for a while in a film, in a dream….”), until when he finally snaps out of it, by which time it’s too late (“when I woke up at last….”) – she’s nicked off with someone else. He’s then reminiscing and feeling generally sorry for himself (“a photograph of two happy kids…”) and starting to be get pathetic (“I could change but…”). I think at that time in my life, losing love and fear of losing love had more impact on me that being in love.

A song that had a peculiar inspiration was “Painless” (from the Rainforest demo). I had a dream I was watching the Smiths on TV, and when I woke up, I could still remember the tune! so while I still had it in my mind, I grabbed my guitar and worked out the chords, and used the same vocal line that Morrissey had been singing – about being Painless. It turned out to be one of our best songs. I even sent a recording of it to the great man himself, explaining how the song came into being; that we had “stolen” a song I dreamed they had played….and he wrote back on a nice postcard saying “I like it, now what?” And I have to admit, that stumped me.

++ You recorded the Dreaming single on 1983 but it didn’t get released till 1984. Why was that?

I honestly can’t remember. Probably too dissolute to get things organised any quicker. There was a hell of a lot of blow around then.

++ How many copies of the record were pressed? I have read that only 400. Are you aware of how collectible this single has become? for many it is the holy grail of indiepop!

Well, we pressed 1000. I do hear that it’s quite collectable and this makes me quite sad and bereft…

The Cherubs were never ‘big’, even locally. So a few years after Christine had left and the band split up, I still had boxes of the single left. It never sold much then, because we were much too disorganised and unprofessional to have done anything like arranging any distribution for it – we just recorded it because that seemed like a good idea at the time.

So one day, maybe 5 years after the Cherubs split, I was moving house; and rather than keep lugging around the 10 or so boxes that I still had (each with 25 copies of the Dreaming single), and have to find space for them in my new flat, I took them out and dumped them in a skip.

No wonder I’m sad.

++ What about the Bog A Ten label? Who were they? This was their second release right?

This was Apes in Control’s label. They released a single called Funtimes/Joined in the Dance, Dreaming was the second single.

As I said we were very friendly with them and we had captured their drummer, so they kindly invited us to release Dreaming on their label. They were / are very good folks, extremely creative and kind – but not business people really. Or at all, come to that.

Bogaten – if I recall the name came from a Bob Hope/Bing Crobsy road movie, and was also a monster in a later trashy sci-fi film.

Why they thought it was a good name for a record label, God knows. Remember what I said about the blow.

++ I read you also recorded a demo tape called “Rainforest”, when was this recorded and which songs does it include?

It was recorded before the session where we did Dreaming, I think, and had 4 songs – Poor Little Lost Soul, Pastures New, Waiting, and (seriously), Theme from an Imaginary Channel Four Documentary (an instrumental).

The name from the last one – as well as being a reference to Sergio Leone’s Theme from an Imaginary Western – came about because C4 was just opening and they were actually holding a competition to get some background music for their various logos.

So we put this ‘song’ together (it was really just a spacey improvisation), but as I recall, and quite typically of us, never quite got it together enough to actually ever enter the competition.

++ Why didn’t you release more records? Have you ever thought about compiling all your recordings on one CD?

Money, and the band didn’t stay together long enough. We had great fun though and although I would behave differently if I had the chance to do it all again, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I’ve never thought there would be much interest in what we did, so I’ve never considered doing a compilation. I don’t think the master tapes exist any more anyway!

++ Fashion during those early eighties was quite different from the one we came to know post-c86 tape as I can see on the photo on the 7″! What was the usual indie guitar pop kid outfit back then?

Oh for me tartan / antique shirts were de rigeur, I used to get mine from charity shops or from Flip in Queen Street (Glasgow) which at that time was an absolute goldmine for loads of second hand American/foreign stuff. Tartan shirt, maybe a bootlace tie, old suit trousers – all second hand. I do remember I used to have a great pair of leather boots – they were old 1950’s skating boots and the skates had been taken off. They took 10 minutes to lace up – they were great!

Christine had her own unique gamine style which again was not driven by any of the poserish, deliberate trends at that time; she, above any of the three of us and above anyone else I knew, was the complete embodiment of vulnerable, slightly hopeless but irresistibly lovable chic that eventually became the “twee” badge of preference. But she’d been like that all her life – it wasn’t something she ever ‘became’.

++ Being from Scotland I guess you were influenced by the Postcard Records releases, am I right? Did you go to gigs of any of their bands?

We were as I said pretty independent, to the extent of being slightly isolated. I was listening to a huge range of music and I did of course know about Postcard Records, and it was part of the soundtrack to that time for me; I’d have to acknowledge it would have been an influence, stylistically, that would be unavoidable.

But there was no blatant attempt to sound like Aztec Camera or Orange Juice or whoever, much as we liked them. We’d be subliminally absorbing them and it would have shaped some of the nuances of our sound; but then again, our sound was so varied that I don’t know that you’d categorise it as being Postcard-like.

If you’d been to any gigs, and if you listen to the two demos and Dreaming, you can pick up a major range of styles and influences, from the Blue Orchids to the Zombies. I don’t even think there was such a thing as a Cherubs sound: I have an old video of us playing a gig in Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow, and every single song is musically quite different. The only commonality is that the same three people are making the music.

++ What were the bands that you were listening at the time and influenced the Wee Cherubs?


++ Did the Wee Cherubs gig a lot? Any particular gig that you remember the most?

We gigged a bit, not really a lot. I remember we played a series of Sunday evening gigs at a sort of socialist’s social club for a time, these were great, that was where we developed a lot of the songs, and was where I met Tommy Cherry, who eventually I formed the Bachelor Pad with a while after the Cherubs spilt.

We also played a gig (the one mentioned in Kelvingrove Park) where we shared a bill with the Oysters but we played alternate songs; we’d play a song, then the Oysters would play a song (while we stood around and watched!), then we’d play a song and so forth – that puzzled a few people, naturally.

This wasn’t actually a gig but when we were starting out, we tried to get extra dates in a pub in Glasgow that loads of influential bands used (the Doune Castle). We already had gigs lined up so we used a different name, and I went to see the manager in disguise. Discussions went OK until I told him that the name of the band was “The Whustlin’ Poofs”. He didn’t like that.

One gig we played in Glasgow where the P.A. company we were friendly with brought their entire range of equipment. Normally we’d hire say the £50 offering, which was more than enough for our needs; but they wanted to see what it would sound like if they hooked up every speaker and amp they had. The loudest gig for the quietest band! It sounded great from on stage, and it looked like Pink Floyd’s sound system instead of ours; sadly I’m reliably informed that for the audience it sucked – loud, but bad!

++ Why did the Wee Cherubs call it a day?

Christine moved down to England to answer a long-held belief that she should make shoes for a living. That was the end of our relationship and with it, the end of the band. We did meet up again a couple of years later when she played bass in the Bachelor Pad!

++ Thanks so much Martin, anything else you’d like to add?

Think I’ve bored you enough!


Wee Cherubs – Pastures New


Bush is out of the White House. I wish he was kicked out as a dog, but well, this is a civilized country. But I do believe he won’t be singing as it has been one of the worst governments, if not the worst, in this country’s history. In the other hand, we are happy about him leaving office, so why not listen to a bush that does sing? Alright! So let’s listen to The Singing Bush! This was a short lived project of Mary Wyer of Even as We Speak during the mid-nineties, just in between the Sarah band and Her Name in Lights. As far as I know, there are only two songs recorded under this name: “Do What He Says (Richard, Richard)” and “Anita’s Son”.

“Do What He Says” appeared on the first Drive-In Records release, the Season 7″, a 4 way split that included songs by the Cat’s Miaow, Madison Electric, and the Shapiros. This same track would later appear on the Library Records & Drive-In compilation “Indie Aid Abroad: A Little Help for East Timor.” Not many times we see labels supporting such good political causes like this one, helping East Timor after the attacks by the Indonesian army in 1999, when they were reclaiming independence for the 2nd time. If I was one of the bands contributing in this CD I would surely be proud about it. This song seems to be about Richard Kingsmill, a DJ at the, Australian government funded, Triple J radio station. Maybe he helped Mary and her bands at his show? Furthermore, there’s even a great video for this song here. By watching the video, noticing the typical Mexican costumes, it’s not that crazy to think that the name of the band comes from the movie Three Amigos. Yeah, the one where Steve Martin and co. are looking for the ’singing bush’! Their second song was “Anita’s Son” which appeared on the Whirl-Wheels compilation on Shelflife. Could it be about Anita Raynor from Even as We Speak? And that was it. All their discography were two songs, both released in 1996 and in compilation releases.

Perhaps there were more recordings by Mary under this name? If you know anything else please share with us!


Do What he Says (Richard, Richard)


Thanks to Jo Bartlett for the interview!

++ Hello! Though Danny wrote some great liner notes for the Some Greater Love CD, I still want to know more about the mighty Bluetrain! The band started when Kevin Moorey replaced Mike Auton on drums and Go!Service changed it’s name to Bluetrain, right? Why didn’t you keep the name? And why did you choose calling it Bluetrain?

We started writing a batch of new songs when Kevin joined the band. His influences were different to Mike’s which mean the music took on a slighty new sound. Kevin was listening to A Certain Ratio, The Pale Fountains etc which we all got into. We were also listening to a lot of jazz / blue note at this time. Blue Train by John Coltrane was a particular favourite, so we re named the band in his honour. It made sense to have a new band name to go with this fresh new music we were making.

++ Something that I find curious and really lovely is that all of you went to the same primary school. Were you friends back then? Would you have expected that all of you were going to make music and more over, together?

Myself and Rudy are both the youngest of six children – all his siblings were in the same classes as all my siblings! His older brother Tom was in the same class as my brother (also called Tom!) Danny and Kevin were also in this class. So the two Toms, Danny and Kevin were friends at school. Rudy was actually in the year below me. We all knew each other and would all be at the same parties etc. It was only a while later we actually started playing music together. I guess I would have been pretty suprised to know we’d still be making music together so many years later! Rudy plays in The Yellow Moon Band with myself and Danny now and our debut album is released next week, so yeah, it’s all quite strange really!

++ You had already released the Go!Service 12″ on Dreamworld before releasing, on the same label, the “Land of Gold” 12″. How did Dan Treacy react to the name change? Was it easy to work with him? Any particular anecdote about such an influencing figure?

Dan was fine about the name change, he understood. We were very young so had no experience of working with anyone before Dan. Looking back he was pretty eccentric. This was before e mails or mobile ‘phones so the only way we would get in touch was really when Dan would ‘phone on my parent’s land line. He would disappear for weeks at a time and then my Mum would call up the stairs ‘ Dan’s on the ‘phone’ and I would run down, really happy to hear from him. It took about a year from recording the Go! Service single before it actually came out. He was great to work with and helped organise us loads of gigs at his Room At The Top club in Camden. We supported bands like The June Brides, That Petrol Emotion, The Mekons (it was a room above a pub and it was so full for that gig that we all nearly crashed through the floor – the landlord kept coming up the stairs looking terrified as the ceiling below was shaking!), 1,000 Violins, The Housemartins and of corse The TV Personalities. We also went on tour round Europe with the TV Ps – that was an incredible experience. Rudy had his 16th birthday on tour!

++ The single nowadays is such a sought after item for collectors. It can go for over 150 GBP! How do you feel about this? Do you know how limited is this single? 1000 copies?

I think it was 1,000 copies. I’m chuffed to bits to think that it has become a collector’s item. We were all so proud when both singles came out. I worked in a record shop when the Bluetrain one came out and I would get a real thrill when someone I didn’t know would come in and buy it. Someone once actually said ‘I’m friends with the band, I know Jo’ when they bought it, that made me giggle as she obvioulsy didn’t know me at all!

++ Just a curious question, why the opening track on the Land of Gold 12″ is ‘Wheels Go Round’ and not ‘Land of Gold’?

A mistake at the pressing plant!

++ You made a lovely video for Land of Gold too. Was this your idea or the label’s? Where was it recorded and how much fun was doing it?

Dan was friends with a film student who made the video as part of his course. We were really lucky. It was great fun making it – that area is the docklands in London and is now full of very exclusive apartments.

++ You ran a club in Surrey called The Buzz Club. You had quite a lot of initiative! What was the best of running this club? I bet you booked all of your favourite bands, right? Who were some of those bands that brought their talent to your town?

Well, we were inspired by Dan and his club in London. Again we were really young and didn’t know what we were doing, but we learned by picking up a phone and as you say, booking all our favourite bands. We ran the club once a month and the list of bands is pretty impressive, again this is something we’re really proud of: The June Brides, That Petrol Emotion, The Mighty Lemon Drops, Primal Scream, The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, The Manic Street Preachers, Suede, Elastica…..that’s just off the top of my head, many more played there.

++ On Parade, one of my favourite songs, there’s a guest appearance by Jon from The June Brides playing his trumpet. How did it happen? Did you find that it was easy to cooperate between bands? Most people I’ve interviewed from the time say that there wasn’t really a scene, that everyone was doing their own thing.

We had played with The June Brides a few times and thought Jon’s trumpet would sound great on that track – he kindly agreed and I think it worked a treat. There was a scene, we were based just outside of London and so were on the fringes of that scene. I think each city had it’s own thing going on, usually with a cool label to go with it. So maybe lots of small scenes? If there had been a festival everyone could have played back in those days, you could have brought all those cities together and it would have been an awesome line up!

++ Rudy leaves the band and Frank arrives from America, right? How did you find him? Do you remember what that Melody Maker advert said?

I remember him ‘phoning up for the first time after he saw the advert, but no, I’m afraid I can’t remeber exactly what the ad said. I asked him what guitar he played and when he said a Rickenbacker – he was pretty much in straight away!

++ With this new lineup you recorded three new tracks “Some Greater Love”, “Decline” and “You Bring Me Back to Life”. Only Some Greater Love was released on two tape compilations: Abigail’s Birthday Party and the Uncle Arthur’s Pop Parlour. Do you remember who made this compilations? I believe they even came with fanzines, right? I only know the tracklists…

Abigail’s Birthday Party was made by Dave Driscoll. He was a Buzz Club regular. I forgot about Uncle Arthur’s Pop Parlour, now you mention it, was it Scottish? I wonder if it was something to do with The Soup Dragons – we were friendly with Sushil from the band and he had a fanzine. Umm, I’m not sure about that one.

++ After that you recorded two more songs, with a new line-up change, “Twenty Years” and “Reason to Be”. Why weren’t these, or the previous three, part of a proper release, a second single? It would have been so great

I don’t know. Frank went back to America and Danny and I knew we wanted to go there too, so I think those last two recordings never got played to anyone really. I can’t remeber why the three with Frank on guitar didn’t come out. We never fell out with Dan / Dreamworld, maybe we just driffted apart or something. That was actually a fairly busy time, when Frank was in the band. We toured Scotland and played with The Pastels and The Mighty Lemon Drops (who had got pretty big by then) and were getting offered gigs in Paris and other European cities.

++ Going back to fanzines, was Bluetrain involved in the fanzine culture of the time?

Danny and myself had a go at doing one. I can’t remember what it was going to be called. We got a far as interviewing Peter Hooton from Liverpool band, The Farm but I don’t think we ever actually finished the first issue. There was alway at least one skinny kid selling fanzines at the gigs we played, especially London. The Legend AKA Everette True used to always be at the gigs at The Room at the Top with a plasitc bag full of fanzines for sale. We were interviewed by a fair few too. I used to love those fanzines.

++Something that is quite interesting is that Bluetrain sounds totally different from most of the bands in UK during those late 80s. You were still a guitar pop band, but your sound was closer to the early 80s, that of Lotus Eaters or Pale Fountains, to the neo-acoustic sound, than that of the jangly C86 sound. What were the bands that you’d say influenced your sound?

We all had slightly different tastes. Danny and I were probably the most classic indie kids in the band – we loved The Loft, The June Brides, Lloyd Cole (me especially when it comes to Lloyd), Orange Juice, all the Postcard stuff, Kevin introduced us to The Pale Fountains and funk music, Rudy was listening to jazz. We all enjoyed the music we played to each other and knew it was great to stretch our horizons.

++ Why did you decide to call it a day?

Danny and I went to America for six months – we hooked up with Frank and played with a friend of his on drums. We played a few gigs as Bluetrain. When Danny and I returned to the UK we moved from our parent’s houses in Surrey to London and got caught up in that whole world. We always had a band on the go though. Jump Rope, J.D. and Bob until finally we recorded as It’s Jo and Danny and had our most success with our self released album ‘Lank Haired Girl To Bearded Boy’

++ Thanks so much. Anything you’d like to add?

Thanks very much Roque, I’ve really enjoyed the memories your questions have inspired.


Bluetrain – Some Greater Love


Five more days to bid and it’s going for £70+ on eBay. I’m not going to buy it as it’s way away of my budget, but if I was earning much more at work I’d give it a shot. I wouldn’t care much if the B side was an instrumental version of A side “Window Shopping”. Mind you, I’m not a big fan of instrumentals. But it’s all for that sweet first side, for the Window Shopping trumpet driven pop feast! But, if you are skint, you can always find this track on the “Too Much Two Tone” compilation released by EMI some years ago. That you can find used for around 5 bucks. Not a bad deal at all.

It must be that the high price has to do with the label where it was released: 2 Tone Records. This label was founded by Jerry Dammers, from The Specials, and it has been closely identified to ska and reggae influenced music. They released some big names such as Madness, The Specials, The Higsons and, even Elvis Costello. I guess by the time The Friday Club was signed, they were broadening their tastes as this is P!O!P! and quite different from their past offerings. Makes a lot of sense! as this single was the penultimate of the catalog. Nevertheless it was Jerry Dammers who produced this soul-inflicted pop gem. And he did a brilliant job! So who knows!

I love the surprises that foraging on eBay can give to you, like the exorbitant sums people pay for records and then asking yourself, would I pay that? What is also surprising is that 2 Tone did not have small runs, I believe most of their releases surpassed the 10,000 copies, so how rare are these items really? And hey, The Friday Club record was also released on 12″ format where the A side was an extended version of ‘Window Shopping’.  So, on the surface, there should be lots of copies of this record, but maybe not.

The Friday Club was a big seven piece outfit, formed in 1984 in Scarborough. The lucky seven were Andrew Brooks (Composer, Vocals, Guitar), Michael Hodges (Lyricist, Vocals, Congas), Adele Winter (Vocals and Vibes), Terry Bateman (Vocals and Sax), Eddie Eve (Keyboards), Graham Whitby (Bass Guitar) and Anton Hilton (Drums). That same year they all decided to move to London looking for better opportunities for their music. Quite a risk to take, I mean, the seven of them collectively moving to the big capital and it’s not like Scarborough is around the corner. Luckily they found a record deal quite immediately. Andrew Brooks tells the story:

“We managed to find out where Jerry Dammers lived, which at that time was a squat in Stockwell. On the way to rehearsal one evening we dropped a tape and a flyer for a gig in his letterbox. The next day our manager got a phone call from Jerry to say he liked the tape and he was coming to the gig. The gig was in a pub Brixton near where he lived, and sure enough Jerry came along, I think him and his mate and the bar man we’re the only people there (laughs). He came up to me after the gig and said he’d enjoyed it and thought the songs we’re really strong – but he’d “never heard a band so out of tune in his life” and laughed. Next day he called to say he wanted to record one of our songs, he would produce and this would be released on Two Tone.”

The band went on tour supporting Madness as the single was released. Sadly the record didn’t do that great on the charts, it did get airplay though and found itself reaching the top 100. But that was it. To make things worst, not too long after, 2 Tone folded. I wonder what happened to The Friday Club then. It can’t be that they were just a one-hit wonder. Did they still kept playing? Did they form any new band? What about that demo they left at Jerry’s? There must be more tracks there than the fantastic ‘Window Shopping’. What about any other demos? Will these tapes still be in someone’s attic? Or on some boxes left in the garage after many house moves? Who knows. But if you have anything else to add, please leave me a comment, I would love to know more!


The Friday Club – Window Shopping


After dreaming that it would be so great if that compilation of obscure 80s/early 90s Australian guitar pop bands materialized, I was wondering from which other country you could you do such compilations. I can only think Germany and Sweden. Maybe those are the two only other countries were little bands, that lived in the depths of obscurity and housed by small label releases, have that quality that is required for such a project. I think we could do large lists and figure out which bands and which songs could go in. If we had the money we would press the CDs and make lovely inserts with the story and photo of each band. Dreaming and dreaming.

Now I’d like to start recommending one with for the Sweden compilation: Saturday Kids. I’ve only stumbled with this band lately, thanks to my friend Takashi (arigato!) and his myspace about Obscure Indie Pop! And immediately, when this song, “West Against the Rest”, played for the first time on his player, I was hooked. Totally hooked! The jangly guitars and the youthful vocals, especially that continuous “ooooooh”, made me play this song fervently time and time again. Now it’s time for me to see if there’s any way to track their releases. Will be a difficult adventure!

The Saturday Kids were from Norrköping, the so called Sweden’s Manchester, and formed in 1987. The band lasted till around 1993 and revolved around the talent of Roger Källs, the only member that was in the band for the whole time. With the first lineup, Björn Brunnberg (bass), Jan Malmberg (drums), Johan Skaneby (guitar, vocals) and Roger Källs (vocals, guitar, harmonica, tambourine) they recorded the song “Your Dream” that appeared on the 1987 LP compilation ‘Ceilidh 005′ on the Ceilidh label. By 1990, the lineup had changed drastically: Jonas Karlsson (bass), Andreas Möller (guitar, vocals – same name as German football star!), Robert Svensson (drums) and Roger Källs. This could be considered the classic lineup as they released the “Four Beautiful Songs in D’d” on the SND label (1990). This label, based in the same city as the band, also put out a LP compilation called “SND Records Vol. 1″ where “West Against the Rest” and “Go?” were included.

Also it’s good to mention that Saturday Kids contributed “Your Dreams” to the Pet Sounds Vol.1 (1988) and “West Against the Rest” on Pet Sounds Vol.3 (1990). These were cassette compilations that came along the Pet Sounds fanzine. These tapes contain so many pop gems, most of them totally forgotten now!

By 1993 more changes in the band, Andreas leaves and Magdalena Johansson joins the band to take care of the vocal duties. They release what would be their last proper release: “Things Do Happen”. This was released as as CD-single on the Ceilidh label, and included three songs: “Don’t Know Why”, “Cotton Fields” and “In Bet With…” And then the band silently disappeared, leaving no traces behind.

In 1997, Ceilidh would re-release “Don’t Know Why” as a compilation track on the “Singles & Vinyls” retrospective CD. And that must have been the last news of the band.

If you have more info on them please share!


Saturday Kids – West Against the Rest


We arrived late to Hamburg on Friday night. It had been quite a pleasant trip on the autobahn from Berlin to the port city listening to great pop songs. But when arriving, things weren’t that pleasant, as we couldn’t find a parking space at all! Maybe it was that everyone wanted to go to the Gruner Jäger to see The Faintest Ideas? At first my plan was to stay 3 days in Berlin. But plans changed when I knew that the fast handed Faintest Ideas were going to play in Hamburg. I had put out, some months before, a little CD by them, the witty “There’s No Captain on this Cruise and We Don’t Serve Orange Juice”, and it was such a great occasion to meet them at last. I don’t think there was going to be another chance that all of us would coincide in Germany again. Of course I had to come back to Hamburg! Eventually after driving round and round, five blocks away of the club, we found a space.

We were starving and I tried, for the first time, on a corner restaurant, the Turkish pizza. Oh! It was great! Not apt for vegetarians though! And be careful, that the tzatziki sauce finds it’s ways to drip out of the aluminum foil, so ask for lots of napkins, which I forgot to do! And then, straight to the Gruner Jäger, were I had been already on Wednesday checking it out. But this time the Hit the North party was happening, and the music was going to be so much better. Marco and Jens are two superb DJs.

Getting inside the club, feeling somewhat happy that I was on the list for once, I meet Martin. I was saying hello when suddenly he gives me one of those infamous Gotheborg handshakes… !! Oh dear. And then I met the rest of the gang, Markus, Christoffer and Joel. We sat down at a table in the patio. Had such a great chat. I didn’t know that Markus and Joel were brothers! And that Markus actually knew some German and was born in Germany! It was great to meet them. And then singing me some songs about Miralda Second-Hand Furniture or Josephine Girlfrendo… oh what fun! How many anecdotes they had. And I was wearing my Faintest Ideas t-shirt and I couldn’t stop smiling. This is what indiepop is all about I thought, I’m so far away, I’m in Germany, they are from Sweden, we are getting along, is it the international language of pop?!

Then time for the gig, the crash-crash songs, the fastest guitars this side of Gedge. Their punkish Boyracer pop, Martin beating the snares, and that hi-hat shaking faster than a hula hoop! They even played some Javelins classic tunes. That, for me, was thrilling! Their “Terrific Times and Unrehearsed Crimes” is one of my favourite CDs I have on my collection. So listening live, songs as ‘Dexter’s Got a Sinister Heart’ or ‘I Was Raised as a Polar Bear’, was more than I could have asked. It was a perfect show. It was fast, maybe around 20 minutes, and the whole crowd was left in such a rush, that everybody started jumping and dancing as soon as Jens put the needle on some indiepop hits! You just couldn’t stop!

I have flashbacks and I see us all still dancing ‘Sensitive’ on a big circle, all holding hands and chanting. All of us having Becks after Becks, till the night dawned and it was day again. We all walked out of the club together. And it was a bittersweet goodbye. I always wonder when will I see them again. Hopefully when I get myself on a plane to Sweden. It’s time.


The Faintest Ideas – Nosebleeders on the Tracks