There’s a new split CD out now and it’s shared by The Gresham Flyers from London and The Pale Corners from Stockholm. Both bands from capital cities, both bands from Europe. Two songs each, from the British island “Berry Buck Mills Stipe” and “Blackwall Tunnel” and from Scandinavia we got “Steve Buscemi” and “Brighter than the Sun”. Artwork comes from a lovely San Francisco picture from my friend Jennifer Reiter, who is the most fervent reader of this little blog of mine. Thanks again!

So, The Gresham Flyers? A quick search on google for the word Gresham, which of course sounds like a place, gives me a town in Oregon. Can’t be, these Flyers are from UK. Well, in UK there are many Greshams: in Surrey, in Hampshire, in East Sussex… and the list goes on. So, that part of their name will be a mystery. What about Flyers? Could it be those photocopied papers kids give me so I go to their shows? Or could it be about a normal passenger on an airplane? Among other meanings of the word flyer, did you know that a flyer is a female kangaroo? What I do know, and I can tell because it’s an easy one is that “Berry Buck Mills Stipe” are the last names of the members of REM. But the song doesn’t sound like REM at all, as it has a heavier, fuzzier, guitar than your usual Georgia-Athenian fare. It also includes some fantastic boy/girl melodies and a keyboard that accompanies perfectly. Really catchy stuff! And then, again, they start with more locations, more questions for me to answer. Where in the world is Blackwall Tunnel? Answer: The Blackwall Tunnel is a pair of road tunnels underneath the River Thames in east London, linking the London Borough of Tower Hamlets with the London Borough of Greenwich. Good to know! And hey would you imagine playing this song inside a tunnel? I’ve never thought about indiepop inside a tunnel. Maybe closing a tunnel once, having a party inside, indiepop tunes? That echo we’d get… wouldn’t it be brilliant? This track is a winner of course, inside a tunnel, on top of it, below, anywhere. Listen to both at the band’s myspace and download the first one at the Cloudberry site.

Jangle pop, classic style. That’s what the great Pale Corners bring to the table. Is it true that their name is a combination of The Pale Fountains and the always underrated Brilliant Corners? Or maybe The Pale Saints and Davey’s band? Whatever is the case, The Pale Fountains have taken the 80s jangle pop school and made it happen today, with a fresh twist to it. A fantastic bassline opens the introspective “Steve Buscemi” waiting for a great violin to show up and make us almost cry for the glorious sound it makes. I don’t think Steve Buscemi needs any introduction right? I don’t think I know anyone who dislikes this great American actor. I wonder if he knows there is great song named after him. Second track is much more upbeat, much more sunny, much livelier. For some reason the drumming beat reminds me of that of The Stone Roses. Brighter than the Sun is indeed, bright, shiny, refreshing. A great way to close this 4-track EP with a big smile. I really hope you’ll enjoy it! Listen to both tracks at the band’s myspace.

The 3″CD including these four songs is now available on the Cloudberry homepage!


The Gresham Flyers – Berry Buck Mills Stipe
The Pale Corners – Steve Buscemi


Thanks so much to Gordon Will for the interview!

++ Hello Gordon! Thanks so much for doing the interview. The first thing that surprises me is that you never had a proper release. Why was that? Where there ever any plans to do a 7″ or something?

Hi Roque and thanks for asking me – please forgive any rambling. I was surprised to find interest in songs we recorded 20 years ago, let alone someone would be wondering what happened to us!

Well, I don’t think we ever thought about making a proper record, none of us had enough money to finance it ourselves, we weren’t particularly well organised. There was never any interest from any record companies. the Tayside area was slightly off the beaten track – most interest in bands seemed to be in the central belt, maybe Dundee was tainted by the memory of Danny Wilson. The A&R men would probably would have been put off by our ‘chaotic’ and under-rehearsed live shows!

With the internet it now seems to be so much easier for young bands to distribute their music, publicise themselves and generate a following – internationally even! Getting your music heard back then was the difficulty, now the problem is knowing what to listen to – the downside of digital music is the lack of LP sleeves! – how can I find good music if I can’t see what it looks like? Some of the band sites are quite impressive though and I think you just have to work out which bloggers cover the kind of music you like *cough* http://www.cloudberryrecords.com/blog/ *cough* and go from there, particularly if you’re not part of any ’scene’.

++ Do you agree with Mike Innes from They Go Boom! when he says you were Arbroath finest? Or was there other bands from the time that you’d like to recommend?

I don’t think I’ve heard that before! We may have been Arbroath’s Finest purely by being Arbroath’s Only! There was actually another band in Arbroath – I think their name was something like ‘the BlueMoonDogs’ – they played mainly punk cover versions in a pub-rock style. I bought my first guitar from the lead singer – it had an action you could drive a double-decker bus under and terrible string-rattle, the neck also had a nasty habit of loosening itself from the body, I think it was manufactured somewhere inside the USSR, possibly  to discourage western-style degenerate music.

++ How many demos did you record? Is Now That’s What I Called Furniture Vol-2 one of those? What was the total recorded output of the band?

We recorded 2 demos, each took 4 hours to record and consisted of 3 tracks. Apparently this is quite quick (it certainly seemed to frustrate the studio guys!). Despite the little time that the studio had to tamper with our sound I think we all thought that we sounded a little over-produced in places. There were a couple of other songs it would have been good to record, but I think we put down the best of what we had at the time.

The tapes sold quite well, however, with copies going all over the UK (a lot seemed to go to Hampshire), some to Germany and I think one ended up in Japan.

Some copies had extra ‘live’ tracks recorded onto the spare tape. I thought it may have had some following when I found a pirated copy in the Avalanche shop in Edinburgh a few years later! We had some air-play on Radio Scotland’s influential “Rock on Scotland/Beat Patrol” hosted by Peter Easton, who now seems to spend his days as a lowly continuity announcer. (Another promising career…… ;)

++ How did the band start?

Basically we just started as a group of like-minded people attempting to make the music we liked to the best of our abilities and have some fun doing it – I don’t think there can be any better reason for starting a band. Anyway, first came the Scubas (Self-Contained, Unlistenable and Bloody Awful) formed by myself and my friend Grant early summer 1987, no gigs or recordings, but notable songs were “driving along in my 100a” about grant’s rusty old Datsun 100a and also a wailing cover of “leaving on a jet plane”. Wendy was recruited into the line-up after meeting her at a party at her sister’s house. Somehow – probably after reviewing our practice tapes – this line-up disbanded, with myself (on bass – once described as not so much playing it as fighting it.) and Wendy (guitar and backing vocals) joining her cousin Lynn (vocals) and Ian (guitar, Lynn’s sister Alison’s boyfriend – are you following this, there will be questions later – Arbroath is a small place!) along with drummer, John (Lynn’s cousin Susan’s (actually Wendy’s sister) boyfriend – yup I’m making this worse…), in his band the Gold Blades. That line-up recorded one demo at Dick Gibson’s (No relation to anyone of us) studio in Carnoustie and played several gigs most notably supporting Motorcycle Boy in Edinburgh. The Gold Blades effectively split when I formed the Sohfas with Wendy (guitar, vocals and songs) and her sister Susan (Bass) and John inevitably on drums. The songs were written mostly by Wendy and me – Wendy supplying most of the lyrics and music being written jointly (Wendy would insist on inventing chords, so it became interesting when trying to remember how to play them).

++ Where any of you involved with any pop bands before or after the Sohfas? Did you ever reform as the Fur Cough?

John, Ian and Susan were in Arbroath’s previous finest: Henry and Mary and also I think the Wilderness Children. Wendy and her sister Susan were Skinnipin and I came from the Scubas. After the Sohfas split I played briefly with The Candy Store Prophets practised once with friends as Janice FudDuster and had a few practices with another bass player from Arbroath (…no I don’t want to try playing stuff out of that C+W songbook – me learn? surely it’s supposed to be fun – and I don’t really think Orange Juice had a C+W guitar sound anyway!)  but nothing came out of it. I have picked up my guitar a few times and written a couple of songs for the up until now back-of-my-mind-and-unrealised Shinola.  John has continued drumming and has been involved with a prolific number of bands.

++ When the band started some of you lived in Dundee and some in Arbroath. Was this a difficulty for the band or a good thing? Did you all up end up living in the same place at all?

Is it the at the start of “A Hard Day’s Night” that the Beatles all go home to a terrace, open their front doors and end up in the same house?

Although Arbroath and Dundee are only about 20 miles apart it did have an effect on practising. Booking practice rooms, travel, lugging kit about. At the beginning we just practiced in my bedroom (how clichéd is that?) but over time that became less practical – we needed proper amps and stuff.

Me, John and Susan all ended up staying in Dundee. A while after disbanding me and John shared a flat for about a year or so

++ What bands were you listening at the time that influenced your sound? Do you still listen to any indie pop

Ooh, band wise we listened to: the Smiths, the Fall, Orange Juice, Mudhoney, Strawberry Switchblade, Half Man Half Biscuit, Jonathan Richman, Sonic Youth, Trixies Big Red Motorbike (”White Horses” only tho’), Beat Happening, Galaxie 500, the Chefs, Young Marble Giants, Spacemen 3, Ivor Cutler, Sarah Records, GoGos, Girls at Our Best, 60s Psychedelia, the Pixies, Buffalo Tom, Revolving Paint Dream, Meat Whiplash, Altered Images, Beat Happening, Big star, the Beat Poets (the late 80s Scottish one), Pastels, Tiffany, Jesus and Mary Chain, Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes, Fire Engines, the Go-Betweens, Rezillos/Revillos — I haven’t attributed who liked what, purely to protect the guilty

I still listen to mostly indie music – I have a deep aversion to chart/mass market music although I am now more indie-mid now than indie-kid! I have always liked music ‘on the edge’, singing that sounds just like it’s about to go off and musicians playing just on the edge of their technical abilites. Actually anything that just has that spark of genius teetering on the abyss of madness. Well, that and a cute poppy tune does it for me every time. Not hard to please, am I? A fragile voice and some vaguely discordant music……

Currently: you’ll be able to see what I listen to once I can get scrobbling working from my zen to last.fm via Linux! In the meantime though I’ve been listening to a lot of the bands I was listening to back then, Young Marble Giants sound particularly fresh – I think they sound even better now. And there’s something fascinating about Orange Juice’s “Wan Light”? I can’t decide whether it is genius, madness or sheer folly

Recently I have been listening to: Camera Obscura (can they do no wrong?), tompaulin, Stereolab, Aberfeldy, Asobi Seksu, ballboy, emmy the great, Pizzicato 5, Postal Service, I am Robot and Proud, printed circuit, Herman Dune, the Voluntary Butler Scheme, Cake on Cake, Stephen Malkmus, Frightened Rabbit, I did go through a Belle and Sebastian phase, but I seem to like them/hate them in about equal measures – just too fey/twee at times

++ What about gigging, did you gig a lot as the Sohfas? any particular gig that you remember the most

Gigged a wee bit, probably around 20 in total mostly in Dundee (West Port Bar, McGonagles, DRCU), but also Aberdeen, Perth and Glasgow.

I always enjoyed our spirited cover of ‘Touch Me I’m Sick”.  I remember one of our better gigs was with the Fat Tulips downstairs in McGonagles in Dundee, I think I still have one of their T-shirts somewhere! The rest of our gigs either passed by in an adrenaline/beer fuelled haze or have been repressed by my more critical faculties. We had an old Eminar, Australian made, valve-driven guitar amp that took days to warm up and made an alarming electrical humming noise – probably due to it being ‘recovered’ from a skip a few years earlier. It was known to inspire fear in others (It still works, retaining its comforting, yet at the same time, alarming hum.

++ Where does the name Sohfas come from

I think I made that one up – Doh Ray Me Fa Soh Lah Te Doh – FaSoh -> Sohfa. Probably a comment on our musical abilities!

We were always a bit unsure of our name – there was always much discussion about changing it, hence “Fur Cough”, “The Melon Farmers” etc

++ On the Everlasting Happiness fanzine there’s a description of the Sohfas, it says “Gunpowder gelatine, Dynamite with a lazer beam, Guaranteed to blow your mind, Anytime” Do you agree with it?

“Talcum Powder, Jelly Snakes, Dyno-Rod with a Bailey’s Cream, Guaranteed to blow your nose, possibly.” would probably have been more accurate. When we were together the Inspiral Carpets had the moo “Cool As F*ck” t-shirts which everybody and their dog seemed to be wearing. John had the idea that we should have similar “Cool As F*ck-All” t-shirts made up. I think I may have made a design for them, but we never had any produced. It really should have been our band motto: “the Sohfas: Cool as F*ck-All

++ You contributed to a couple of compilation releases: “Mind The Gap tape”, “Positively Teenage”, “Turquoise Days” and “Everlasting Happiness”. Do you remember how did you end up in these releases

I think someone asked nicely! It’s surprising how much these tapes seem to come up when poking around the internet, the recording quality on “Positively teenage” though seems particularly dodgy – I think that’s where the rips of ‘Thorns’ originate, the copy of ‘Stuck on the Shelf’ must be ripped from “Mind the Gap” (They got the title wrong!

++ As many of these tapes included fanzines, let me ask you how involved were you in the fanzine culture of that time

We had little involvement in fanzines, bar buying them. There was one which we had to produce a page for, this was done in the middle of a bit of band-name angst so two copies were made. One as the Sohfas, the other as The Melon Farmers. We ended up sticking with the Sohfas though. Fanzines were great, but often of variable quality – reproduction and content: I have some fanzines that we struggled to read, they look like they’ve been run off a photocopier calibrated by Mr Magoo. Don’t even get me started on the often bizarre choices in colour scheme – can anyone actually read red text on slighty lighter red background? Once you got over that they were usually quite interesting, I can’t remember the names of the really good ones – I’ll have to have a rake around the boxes in the garage. A free tape, flexidisc or set of badges was usually the deciding factor in a purchase

++ What were the places where the Sohfas used to hang around in Arbroath? Has the city changed much since then

THE place to be in Arbroath was called Tropics, not quite sure why, but all of us went there. The DJs occasionally played good music, however for the most part it was chart stuff being dance to by the local sweaty youth brigade. It closed a few years ago. Arbroath has changed little over the years…..

++ Why did the band called it a day? What do you miss the most from those days?

I think we all just agreed that we had given all we had at the time and that we couldn’t see any way forward from where we were. I think I miss most the sense of trepidation and excitement of playing live. The constant feeling of everything just about to go catastrophically wrong was interesting to say the least. Oh, I also miss letraset.

++ One last question, can you cook an Arbroath smokie? :)

Ah, this is the trick question! Technically an Arbroath smokie has already been cooked;

The haddock are first salted overnight to preserve them, they are then tied in pairs using hemp twine and left overnight to dry. Once the Smokies have been tied and dried, they are hung over a triangular shaped length of wood to smoke. This kiln stick fits in the middle of the pair of Smokies, one fish either side. These kiln sticks are then used to hang the dried fish from the smoker’s mouth. When lit using either a lighter or more traditionally a bundle of dried heather the smoker the proceeds to inhale the resultant, slightly toxic fumes. The traditional garb of 3/4 length plaid is worn throughout the ceremony – facial hair is optional, but preferred for both male and female participants. Although anti-social this process is seen as a rite of passage: from boy to man, from girl to woman. After coughing has subsided the fish are then extinguished by stamping out the flames with a pair of Highland Brogues accompanied by the traditional Scottish Reel “I Should Be So Lucky” played, of course, on a ukulele. Not a dry eye can be seen in the whole town. Deaths by “Smokieing” are not uncommon –  ginger beards can be highly flammable, the are victims categorized by their burnt hair and wizened appearance. The introduction of filter-tipped haddock have mitigated the worst of the effects of inhalation.

Apparently they can also be smoked in a barrel.

But where’s the fun in that

Thanks for interviewing me, it’s good that people enjoy these tracks after so many years.


Sohfas – Thorns


Thanks to Harvey for the interview!

++ Who were The Odolites? When did the band form?

Ted Lethborg (lead guitar vocals songs), Gary Aspinal (bass vocals songs), Graham Rankin (drums) and myself Harvey (guitar vocals songs). We formed in early 1985 in Burnie, Tasmania. My partner and I had spent about 8 months in Europe doing the backpacker thing and I caught up with Ted when we arrived back in Tasmania. We started working on songs and recording them on a 4 track porta studio. It was a really productive time and most of our early material was written in the ensuing few months. We then invited Graham and Gary to join and started playing shows in Burnie and Hobart.

++ The band started in Tasmania but then relocated to the Australian, mainland, to Melbourne. Why was that?

We did some recording at an 8 track studio in Mole Creek, which was totally the back of nowhere as the name suggests. A farmer had a small studio on his farm which he used for recording jingles for the local radio station. Our previous bands had both recorded albums there. One of the features of the studio was a spring reverb he’d set up in an old watertank. In fact that was about it for features as it was pretty basic but a fun place to record.

We recorded a bunch of songs and thought we’d send them to all the ‘mainland’ record labels that we could find addresses for. It resulted in a stack of rejection letters saying something like “we think you show potential but we aren’t looking for new bands at the moment” which, smart cookies that we were, we knew really meant “we think you suck, stop wasting our time”. However, when we’d given up hope and confined ourselves to a life of playing Sweet Home Alabama and Cocaine on the Tassie pub circuit we had a call from an excitable chap called Bill Tolson from Rampant Records. He’d done well to track us down because we were setting up for a gig at the local pub and the bloke behind the bar came and found us. He said “there’s some smarmy bugger from the mainland on the phone for you boys. Can you make it quick?” Anyway, the upshot was Bill loved the recordings and if we wanted to move to Melbourne he’d release them on his label. We loaded up the Kingswood and went across on the boat a few weeks after that!

++ I’ve never heard from 80s guitar pop bands from Tasmania, would you care recommending me some? How was the scene there back then?

Ah yeah, it was pretty dire to be honest! As a band in Tassie you pretty much played the handful of pubs that put on live bands on Friday and Saturday night. I think they called them raves or rages at the time but most of the places were just oversized barns and your job was to keep people drinking! So the upshot was most of the bands were cover bands playing current top 40 schmuck and a few classics that always included (the afore mentioned) Cocaine and Sweet Home Alabama. For some reason they were staples in Tassie in the 70’s and 80’s and I imagine still go down a storm today!

However, there were a handful of original bands that managed to gate crash a few of the venues or, did what we did and started our own club nights. In the 70’s there was a band called the Innocents who had a hit with an amazing power pop song called “Sooner or Later”. It’s well worth trying to track down. There was a great band from Hobart in the late 70’s early 80’s that I used to go and see called Dingo Rose. They split into 2 other good bands B Culture and the Ex-Catholics. As luck would have it Ted and I are trying to get a compilation album together of Tassie bands from the period. Stay tuned!

++ The Melbourne scene, in the other hand, was a thriving one, with important bands that later would be part of the Summershine label. How did you enjoy moving there? Was it the best decision for the band? What were your favourite bands from Melbourne back then?

When we arrived in late 1985 Summershine was still a few years away and it was pretty tough breaking into the Melbourne scene. The live circuit was controlled by a couple of booking agents and to get gigs we had to do a lot of supports, often for unsuitable bands. I think we fell into a bit of gap between what happened in Australia in the early 80’s with bands like the Go-Betweens and the Triffids (who we adored) and then a much more vibrant independent sector that started in the late 80’s.

++ All your releases as The Odolites happened in a label called Rampant Records. Care telling me a bit about this label?

It was owned and operated by Bill Tolson and run out of a record distributor called Music Land. We sent them our demo because we really liked a band on the label called Honeymoon in Green. I think by the time we got to town though they were taking a break as I don’t recall them playing too much. The big band on the label at the time was Not Drowning Waving and they went on to do really well. Other bands on the label included the Hollowmen and Sea Stories and we played with those bands a lot, especially Sea Stories. They ended up getting a deal in the USA and recording a couple of albums with IRS. Great band, check ‘em out.

++ Somewhere I read about Andrew being part of a band called “Fear of Dance”. How did this band sound like? Were you or other band members involved in any bands before forming The Odolites?

Well spotted! Yes, Andrew (Ted) and Gary were in Fear of Dance and Graham and I were in a band called Noddy’s Revenge. We set up a club called the Big Ears Club in Burnie Tasmania in 1983 and both bands played the club on a regular basis. It was in a pub on the waterfront that didn’t have too much going on apart from some warfies drinking in the main bar. After the 2nd week we were packing the place out (it did only hold a few hundred though)! It was the place to go in North Western Tasmania for a couple of months and then, like all smart promoters, we quit while we were ahead and closed the place.

Fear of Dance and Noddy’s Revenge were both influenced by Punk and New Wave stuff that was around in the early 80’s. Noddy’s were probably into the poppier side. We were big fans of Orange Juice, Josef K, the Jam, Go-Betweens, Echo & the Bunnymen. Fear of Dance were a bit more art school and into the Birthday Party, Pere Ubu, Magazine & Joy Division. Both bands did some cassette only albums that were recorded at the Mole Creek studio where the Odolites later recorded.

++ “Let the Rickenbacker ring”.. is that a Rickenbacker being played in Chimes? This song is what guitar pop should be! What do you recall from recording this first single? For many this was your best song, do you agree?

Sure was a Rickenbacker. I loved my Ricky and Gary also had a Rickenbacker Bass. It was one of the earliest songs from when Ted and I started working together. The lyrics kinda reflected the excitement I was feeling re the music we were discovering at the time and the feeling that we were really onto something special with our new band. We were also mocking some of the awful cover bands around in Tasmania at the time especially one in Burnie called U Clap 2 (I kid you not) who went out of their way to be annoying.

Chimes was certainly the song that received the most attention and a live favorite along with Too Much To Dream off the EP. I have other songs that I prefer but I like sentiment of the lyrics, the chiming D chord and the Rickenbacker ring!

I’m really pleased that people from the other side of the world are finding out about the band and Chimes seems to be the song that’s attracting people. How I wish we’d had the world wide web in 1986!

++ There’s a video for this song, right? We’ll be ever see it on Youtube? That also makes me wonder if there will be a retrospective for The Odolites material.

Hmmm, yes there is but I kinda doubt it’ll make it to You Tube. I saw it recently for the first time and it was very ‘4 go down to the forest’. Lots of wandering around in the trees and bad miming. It does show off the Rickenbackers to good effect! My hair was a lot redder, Grahams blacker, Teds curlier and Gary had more of it than he does now.

++ Kathleen’s Tantrum was also a 7″. There was an EP called Persistence of Memory. Twee.net lists an LP called Face Down in the Violets. What’s the full discography of the band?

Persistence of Memory EP was first in 1985. It was five tracks recorded at Mole Creek in Tasmania that were included in the demo we sent out. Chimes was also recorded as part of that session but a decision was made to hold it back for a single and to record it again in a better studio.

Chimes 7” was next in 1986. On the flipside of this was a great song that Gary wrote and sang lead on called As Fresh As Monday + another song called Room With No View. There were also test pressings made in the UK for a 12” of this that was going to be released on Rampant via Rough Trade. For some reason the Rampant and Rough Trade deal didn’t happen so the single didn’t see the light of day.

Kathleens Tantrum 7” was the single lifted off the album so must have come out in 1987.

Face Down In The Violets LP after numerous delays was released in late 1987. Unfortunately we’d decided to split before the album was released and just did a few shows to promote it before calling it a day.

Chimes was also included on a compilation called Running Rampant and a track called Tender Object was on a split EP called the Users Club with Sea Stories and a couple of other artists.

++ Which release would you recommend to the first time Odolites listener and why?

I’d go with Chimes and Persistence of Memory. I think they had a spirit that we didn’t capture on the album. There are plenty of good songs on the album but the production and performance let it down. We do have plans to remix it though so it’ll be better then!

++ Do you know anything about the tape “Like Flies in the Face of” where Chimes was also included?

I’ve come across a reference to this on the net but haven’t been able to track one down so not sure if it was actually released or not. I have no idea who put it together but it seems to be on a German label.

++ What were the influences of the band? Had English guitar pop, the so-called c86, arrived in Australia at the time? Was that influence to you at all?

C86 itself didn’t influence us too much although I did buy a lot of those records. I think we were influenced by a lot of the same bands that influenced the C86 bands. When I came back from London I bought back a tea chest full of singles, tapes and fanzines that I’d picked up in the UK. It included all the early Creation singles and I’d seen some of those bands play in London (Jasmine Minks, the Loft, Bodines, Biff Bang Pow). I’d already been a big fan of Postcard and all things Scottish from around that period (Orange Juice, Josef K, the Scars, Fire Engines, Aztec Camera etc.) and Creation felt very much like Postcard mark 2 when I heard those early singles. In London I also bought every fanzine I could get hold of. I particularly remember one called Hungry Beat that was named after a Fire Engines song and talked about the Scottish bands, the Creation bands and also back tracked a bit to 60’s bands like the Byrds & Love. When I arrived back Ted was really getting into 60’s stuff including the Nuggets and Chocolate Soup For Diabetics compilations. So I think we really clicked with what we were listening to, both new and old, and it had a major influence on our early sound.

++ I’m quite new in my knowledge of the Australian indiepop scene, but I’d love to know if there was a fanzine culture there as well, or how was it?

I don’t recall there being too much around in the mid 80’s but a few things sprung up in the late 80’s around the time Summershine started out. We had some great independent record stores in the 80’s. Melbourne had AuGoGo, Collectors Corner, Greville, Gaslight and Exposure for starters and Sydney had Phantom and Waterfront. They were import stores predominantly so stocking what they could get from overseas plus all the local independent stuff. They tended to be the places where you heard about new bands. AuGoGo, Phantom and Waterfront all had really active labels as well.

++ Another question that haunts me since forever… during those late 80s in UK many terms appeared as C86, twee, indiepop, cuties, anorak, shambling. What terms did you use in Australia for this kind of bright guitar pop?

Indiepop was probably the main one. I don’t recall the others being used much. US bands were much more popular here in the late 80’s than UK bands so things like twee and C86 tended to have fairly negative connotations.

++ When and why did the band called it a day? What did you guys did after breaking up?

We quit within a few weeks of our album being released so late 1987. The album recording process was a really torturous one for us and we were pretty disappointed with the end result. We moved from Tasmania to Melbourne in late 1985 with high hopes and got off to a pretty good start. Persistence of Memory and Chimes were both really well received by the media but we found it hard to build a decent live following in Melbourne and it was even more difficult to build a following interstate. I think what we were doing was just a bit off-kilter with what was happening at the time. So we’d lost a lot of momentum by the time we got to record the album and when that became a drawn out process we kinda decided it was too hard.

After the split Graham joined another band of ex Tasmanians trying to make it on the mainland the Fish John West Reject. He still plays with guys from that band in a band called the Dunaways. Gary had his own band called the Somerfields that did one EP. He then joined a group called the Killjoys who’d played gigs with us in 1987. I think the Killjoys still play occasionally. They have a really strong female vocalist and indiepop fans would like them. Ted surprisingly hasn’t had his own band post Odolites but has done some production work including producing some of the Tender Engines stuff. Who they you say?? The Tender Engines are my only post Odolites band and released a bunch of singles on the Summershine label in the early 90’s.

++ What was the best thing you remember of being in The Odolites?

My fondest memories are of the early days back in Tasmania. The four hour drives to and from Hobart for gigs and the roadhouse fast food along the way. Op shopping for records and paisley shirts. Writing and recording songs in the sunroom of Teds house with a view across Burnie to the smoke billowing out of the pulp mill. Magic!


The Odolites – Chimes


Thanks so much to Dave Driscoll for the interview!

++ Where does the name The Aurbisons come from? Is there any meaning behind it? Why were you never sure about the name?

There is no meaning to it.  THE AURBISONS was my idea.  Many thought it was a play on Roy Orbison & we were sometimes billed as THE ORBISONS.  I do have a fondness for the “Ooby Dooby” one but the name came from when I was on holiday in Scotland as a kid.  I remember reading in a Scottish “local” paper of some Swiss tourists by the name of Aurbison (I know it doesn’t remotely sound Swiss) got themselves stranded on an island & the editor made the headline “Stranded, the Swiss Family Aurbison” … It just stayed in my head.  Stephen wanted us to be called WUBBERY, as in the way the Bugs Bunny character Elma Thud pronounced the word “Lovely”.  The idea being that if any body in the bar had missed us play, but would ask “who has played & what were they like!” It gave everybody the chance to say “They were WUBBERY, & they were … WUBBERY!”   In retrospect, I think Stephen was right. It would have been cool to come on stage & say “Good evening Ladies & Gentlemen, we are WUBBERY” Personally, I think Stephen was just trying to compound my already pronounced peach impediment.

++ Who were The Aurbisons and how did the band start?

Initially it was me & Stephen Mark Harris, & Tony Jenkins (Tonedef, Jenko67) who I put the cassette compilations “Abigails Birthday Party” & “Uncle Arthurs Pop Parlour” together with.  We just scrambled covers together.  In fact we actually supported A RIOT OF COLOUR for a couple of gigs which can only be described as “interesting”.. That more or less petted out.  Tonedef lived more than two hours away on his motorcycle (which he kept falling off of) & he had by then found a love interest in the form of his (quite gorgeous) Wife.. So his time was limited & we were more than quite disorganised.  Thus myself & Stephen started to try & write songs, ably assisted by Andy Bennett on bass & Sean Johnston on drums.

++ You told me that you wanted to play like Josef K, what was are your favourite songs by them? How did the Sound of Young Scotland came into your ears?

I loved JOSEF K to point of pain, that trebly guitar just sent me.  You have to remember I was guitarist by definition of the act of actually owning a guitar, not having any remote aptitude or ability to play the thing.  The first three chords, well more like the first three strums of JOSEF K’s “Endless Soul” was the first thing I learned to play that sounded remotely like you could recognise it.

The first song I heard by JOSEF K was “Chance Meeting” as played by JOHN PEEL.  My favourites are “It’s Kinda Funny” “Missionary” “Sorry for Laughing” & the PEEL session version of Alice Cooper’s late 60’s “Apple Bush” .. It’s funny when I first saw the name of the band before I heard them on PEEL, I remember just from the name, thinking that they were a synth duo.. Wow did I get that wrong!

++ Where any of you involved with any other bands before or after The Aurbisons?

Me & Stephen played together in the dreadfully named (& frankly dreadful sounding) HINDU KUSH..

Stephen previously had formed a group for a Keele University battle of the band night called GIVE US A SONG, CLIFF.  Various members would contribute as backing combo to the MULBERRY CEILINGS, Andy did something under the name of COURGETTE SANDWICH & Sean was drumming for THE ROARINGLY SLENDIDS who on occasion could  be roaringly splendid.  To be honest it is all a bit of a mush in my head. Basically, it was a bunch of friends all doing slightly different things & helping each other out.

++ You only recorded one demo tape, right? Which songs were included in it? How many copies were made? I ask as maybe one day, I hope, it will show up on eBay!

The songs were “Creatin’ A Fuss”, “Holy Cow”, “Debbie Rix” & “Melt”

++ It was recorded at La-Di-Da’s studio, did Grant never offer you to be released on his label? How was your relationship with him and his mum?

I think we may have been the very first band to record at La-Di-Da studios. La-Di-Da studios being an old 4 or 8 (I can’t remember which) track desk in Grant’s bedroom.  I suspect at that time Grant wasn’t thinking about a label.  From what I remember of Grant he was (& probably still is) a lovely guy.  His Mum Terri, was great fun inasmuch that she was really supportive of Grant but pushy.  Grant was very laid back, & I suspect probably very good at lying on his bed thinking great thoughts, painting great pictures, & imagining great music.. Terri was very much “Grant, you got to make some money out of this!”  Not in a nasty way, but in a, we have bills to pay, food to buy, Grant please can you contribute rather than a lie on your bed listening to Astroturf grow, kind of way.  We clocked, very early in the day that Terri’s kept offering us tea & coffee so she could charge us for the biscuits.  We quickly, decided that if anybody left the house it was their duty to surreptitiously return with biscuits which we would eat when Terri wasn’t around.

++ Why wasn’t there any ambition for releasing a record?

I can’t remember it ever coming into our psyche.  I can’t remember having any ambitions whatsoever, which was a bit against the grain at that time, as there was a number of bands local to us you felt had quite an air of desperation to “make it” about them, although I was never sure what constituted making it.  For us the main plan was to play & have some fun. Trying to make a record would happen when we got better .. THE AURBISONS didn’t get better!  I’m quite happy to go to my grave knowing that we had a song that rhymed; Alzheimer disease, with cars crushed by chimneys & trees, Charlton’s defeat of Leeds & even my violent streak.

++ Which gigs do you remember the most and why? Is it true that your biggest fans were some skinheads?

There are two gigs that immediately spring to mind.

First a gig at Frimley Community Centre where we played with NORTH OF CORNWALLIS & BLUETRAIN.  The gig was fine, well as fine as we got.  It was getting there, that was the issue.  Firstly, we managed to get our friend Jason (Basin, Basin) to help us.  I was sat in the front of his car with a bass amp on my lap.  When we got to the venue I turned into Douglas Bader.  I tried to get out of the car but the bass amp had managed to preclude any blood from circulating in my legs & thus as I tried to get out of the car, I fell flat on my face into the gravel drive, much to the amusement of everybody.  When I had gained my composure, I started to lug equipment into the venue only to be confronted with an octogenarian woman with a mop, who (gesticulating quite aggressively, with said mop) shouted “Ere what you doing?  Get out!  Get out!!”  We had managed to find a community centre in Frimley, not the Frimley Community Centre.  Frimley is not a big place & certainly doesn’t require an abundance of community centres.  We managed to find the right venue just in time.

Secondly, we played with THE HEPBURNS at an Arts Centre in Bracknell.  The sound was appalling; something had gone wrong with the bass amp & the vocals were non existent, to the point that Stephen had a strop.  The result of which made the rest of us want to play all night!  What was funny was Stephen changed the lyrics to more or less, “I can’t hear a f**king thing” to every song … It took the offering of many beer tokens before he would talk to us again.  What made it even funnier, is that Jason (Basin, Basin) gave him a lift home & a journey that would normally have taken 40 minutes took 3 hours as he went the wrong way on the M3 & kept missing turnings back from the M25 …. Bless!!

Yes, our biggest fans were a small group of skinheads (we didn’t know them at the time) who would come to our gigs & shout “Woahhhhhhh you’re sh*t!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” after every song.  It’s funny, if they weren’t there we kind of missed them.  I later found most of them were in a band called DRINK BRITAIN DRY.  They were fantastic & ahead of their time.  They were funk-punk with white boy rapping over the top, the basic opus of their songs, being the glorification of getting completely munted.  At the end of their set the band would throw down their instruments, grab the singer & carry him on their shoulders & lay him on the bar.  Genius.

++ What’s the story behind the song Debbie Rix? It does remind me to Brian Rix :p

Stephen wrote most of the songs but this was one of mine.  When I first wrote it is was called “Reasons to hate a Saturday night” a reference to a spectacular unsuccessful relationship I had when I just left school. Girlfriend at the time suggested it reminded her of THE BRILLIANT CORNERS “Brian Rix” so Stephen was very quick to dub it “Debbie Rix” … Debbie Rix was an early 1980’s UK television presenter & has nothing to do with the song.  On occasion, people would jump & down to this, sometimes with some vigour.

++ You covered The Daintees “Roll On Summertime” occasionally, which other songs you liked to cover? What were your favourite bands at the time?

We would occasionally cover THE LOFT’s “Why does the rain?” which Stephen would sing “Why does THE RAIN, always play the West End Centre!” because they did.  My favourite was playing with BLUETRAIN we had a go at their song “Parade” … A great song thoroughly crucified!!

At that time it is hard to say how wonderful THE WOLFHOUNDS were live,  I also had a huge fondness for CLOSE LOBSTERS, THE JUNE BRIDES, THE HOUSEHUNTERS, STUMP…. THE GO-BETWEENS I remember being really good at this time.  To be candid it’s a pretty big list, don’t get me started!

++ Did any of the songs of The Aurbisons appeared on any compilation aside from Holy Cow on the first Leamington Spa?

On various cassette compilations but I couldn’t tell you which ones without digging through boxes of rubbish in the loft.

++ You were quite involved with fanzines, right? Did you made many? What were your favourite ones at the time?

“You were quite involved with fanzines, right?” … Well no.  The booklets that came with the compilations were really just that.

I would occasionally write for other peoples projects if they asked.  I do remember a lass saying she wouldn’t include an item I did on the “Room At The Top” in her fanzine (& I genuinely can’t remember which one it was) as I made reference to the super powers of THE LEGEND inasmuch as that on the gigs I went to at the Chalk Farm, Enterprise, he would dance in the face of the singer of the support band like a demented big nosed twat, wearing a “Pete & Dud” overcoat, but would go downstairs when the main band were on, but if a review turned up in the NME, there would be no mention of the support band, whom you thought he liked, but praise for the main band.. Mind you I’m sure if they had the windows open upstairs, he could have heard them from downstairs, outside next door’s ice-cream parlour.

The fanzines I liked most back in day were either: passionate beyond belief (Hungry Beat), useful tips…”How to get a subsidised meal at the BBC by pretending to be a band doing a PEEL session (Attack On Bzag) or just plain amusing (Rox).. I think my favourite was TRENDY HENRY.  It would have one word reviews.  The headline would be ‘THE VIOLENT FEMMES The Venue 17th July (1984)” & the review would be “Raunchy!” or “THE COCTEAU TWINS The University Of London Union, 13th December (1983)” & the review would be “Screechy!”   I was at that gig & THE COCTEAU TWINS were indeed screechy.

++ You now run the great Fruitier Than Thou blog. Do you believe that blogs are the fanzines of today? Or do you think both formats are different?

The reason I did my little blog was to keep in touch with friends overseas, as a look see of what I have seen recently & what I have dug out of the loft from the past, nothing more. It is always out of date.

Fanzines are alive & kicking.  Even though I’m old, fat & balding, I still go to a lot of gigs & I can assure you that I am often accosted by young girls with far too many pin badges or lads with their trousers hung so low, that the belt required to keep them up will most likely restrict their ability to reproduce in future life, asking me to buy their fanzines.

Internet publishing in the form of blogs, myface or spacebook are great, as you have the opportunity to instantly hear of others with similar interests & can get a response immediately (whether you want it or not).  Be honest, we most likely would not be having this correspondence without it

However, I still like the idea of something physical, that somebody has put together, rather than just a digital representation on a screen.  I still think there is a lot of joy to be had by postal communication.  Also, it is sometimes nice just to read something between bands or on a train home.  The odd / amusing ones are the ones I like.  A girl sold me a fanzine a month or so ago & I am annoyed because I can’t remember what it was called, or the band she was interviewing other than it was a Japanese punk band.  The format was like yours, a list of questions, but the band had sent back all the answers in Japanese hiragana & she had just printed as she received it.  I like to think the answers if translated read something like “I don’t understand this, why have you sent me this….” etc.

++ Do you feel there was a scene back then? Most bands said there was none, but some others do say yes, what do you think about it?

I can’t remember any specific scene..  What scene are you referring to?  I suppose it depends on how specialised your interest is.  I have always had quite an eclectic taste in music so I suppose my scene was “the stuff that I liked”   Certainly at the time I was listening to more pop music.  I certainly didn’t feel part of any scene, musically or geographically.

++ Why did the band call it quits?

Stephen wanted a bigger band, then a smaller band & he was going to Germany.  Just doing different things really, we are still in touch although we are separated by different parts of the world

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

If we didn’t have bad luck… Hey we wouldn’t have had any luck at all!


The Aurbisons – Holy Cow


Thanks so much to Stephen and Marc for the interview!

++ Bulldozer Crash had a drummer on the first single, right? How did the band start and how did it end up being a duo?

Stephen: The drummer was Lee (Patrick) Skelly from the Prescriptions and who is now in the Peas. Patrick also designed the Sarah Said sleeve. The band was originally called Bulldozer Clarts and that was me and Geoff Suggett, but he left and found fame with the Lavender Faction. We would later record together again as Kosmonaut, Geoff also took the photos of the fish on the cover of Imperfection. I carried on by myself and asked Patrick if he would help me record some of my songs, he said yes. We went into the studio and recorded three songs but my voice was rubbish, so I left the studio gutted. Graeme Elston who at the time was in in the Love Parade (and it was he who suggested Crash instead of Clarts) put his brother Marc’s name forward for vocal duties, we returned to the studio and Marc added his vocals to those first three songs. I smiled for a week after I left the studio that day.

Marc: I was at a loose end after university and missed making music, the student bands I was in  had done a bit of recording but I was always a sideman, Bulldozer Crash gave me the opportunity to boost my ego as a singer plus I was able to work with Stephen whose enthusiasm always impressed me.

++ Your first release came out on Sunday Records, the best American indiepop label (I think that’s a fact). Also two later singles came out in the Rolling Meadows label. How did you end up releasing there? Usually British band at the time would release in British labels, you know.

Stephen: Albert who ran the label had heard the Bulldozer Clarts song “Walks Away” on my Positively Teenage compilation tape and wrote and asked us if we would be interested in releasing a single with his soon to be started label. I have a feeling he believed the little fib I told on the back of the PT fanzine that we had just toured the UK with the Pale Saints. We did send the first demo tape “Meek” which had the two songs from the first Sunday 7″ and “Recollections” to lots of UK labels but none of them were interested, I still have all the reject letters.

++ That first single was Sarah Said. It included “Changing”, one of your most upbeat tracks, as the B side. Was “Sarah” a nod to Sarah Records? Which bands were you listening at the time? I can see that you were very influenced by the jangly guitars, but also with some noisier bands as you did a “Changing” version with lots of feedback!

Stephen: Most of the original lyrics to Sarah Said were quotes from Matt’s AYSTGH fanzine, but I had to change  them, maybe a few did get left in though. I was listening to all sorts of bands at the time, The Byrds, The Beatles, The Jam, Stone Roses, East Village, Razorcuts, Choo Choo Train, Springfields, I still listen to them now. Changing was my Dinosaur Jr. song, well I thought it was.

Marc: I always loved jangly guitars from The Byrds to the first Primal Scream album, I think it’s a Celtic folk thing. I felt more comfortable with our jangly side, I could never rock as hard as Stephen.

++ Automatic Smile was your second single and on this one you worked with Jyoti Mishra from White Town. He added keyboards and also produced the single. How did that happen and go? Where you a fan of White Town at the moment?

Stephen: Jyoti recorded and produced everything else we did after the first single. I was already a White Town fan, having wrote about them/him in my Fresh Air fanzine and we used to write letters to each other. We ended up working with him after a chance meeting in the Derby branch of Vision Express. Marc was working in there during his summer holidays and Jyoti came in to get his glasses fixed, they got talking and our first recording session at Satya Studios was booked.

Marc: The recording sessions with Jyoti were a breeze and he ironed out our musical creases an absolute treat. Weekends of creativity and talking nonsense about music…pure joy!

Stephen: I loved everything about my visits to Derby , I remember catching the train down before I learnt to drive and then shitting myself the first time I drove down. I thought I was the bees knees, carrying a guitar on the train, it was what I always wanted to be, in a band, recording songs and there was even someone daft enough to release them! I couldn’t have been happier at the time. I loved it in Jyoti’s bedroom studio , we would say “can you make the guitar sound like the one on the new Dinosaur Jr. record” and he would. The time he started muting the guitars at the start of Only Baby Heads Smiling, I can still remember thinking at the time this sounds fucking amazing, to my ears we had turned into Kraftwerk. Or when Jyoti added the strings and horns to Marc’s song Upwardly Mobile Friend it suddenly it was a soul song. The moment was later spoilt by Marc by mentioning Swing Out Sister!

++ Third single is in a label I really love: Heaven Records. You can’t have enough of those little Heaven zines! But something that does surprise me is that there is barely nothing written about Bulldozer Crash in these zines. Do you have any idea why was that? Why did your only British release was on this label?

Stephen: It was actually our second single, those were the first songs we recorded with Jyoti. It just became our third because Albert worked faster than Heaven. I’m not sure why we never featured in any of the Heaven fanzines, maybe they didn’t like us? They wanted us to sign a publishing deal with them, we didn’t want to and we didn’t hear much from them again. They only ever sent us one copy of the single each and that was it, at the time I thought it was a mite stingy of them. I’m sure they must have boxes of unsold copies tucked under their beds. Years later I read an interview with a Fat Tulip and they said they  released our single because Albert Sunday had asked them to.

Marc: My best Bulldozer song was on this release, I must find the demo, it was one of those Eureka moments.

++ To close your discography you released a fourth single, Headfirst and then a mini-album, Imperfection, on Sunday Records. Was it any different to record for this format than doing it for the singles?

Stephen: It didn’t feel any different because I’m sure we were supposed to be recording a 6 track 12″ and  a couple of songs for a compilation LP Ulrich from A Turntable Friend was putting out called “Calling At Duke Street”. When Ulrich told us he didn’t want to use them, Albert suggested putting all eight onto a mini album.

++ Which release of yours is the one you came up happier with the end result and why?

Stephen: I like them all for different reasons, I wouldn’t be able to pick just one, sorry.

Marc: I love Mrs Robinson’s Daughter, it has funkiness, brevity and a story…a proper pop song.

++ There was also a couple of songs on different compilations, do you remember where did they appear? There’s two on a Japanese one called “Behave Yourself”, there was the cover of Po’s Fay on the Sunday flexi…

Stephen: We had quite a few songs songs released on a few of the Sunday compilations CD’s (Sunny Sunday Smile,(I took the photo on the cover of that one) A Different Side of Sunday, Rollling Meadows – Songs about Our Past) and two songs on Behave Yourself which was on a label called Behaviour Saviour . The original version of Changing with a ton of feedback was included on numerous compilation tapes at the time, I’m afraid I don’t remember the names of them all.

Marc: The version of Fay was recorded before I  was aware of the wonderful device called a Capo…very difficult for me to listen to now!

++ I guess it’s a silly question, but why Bulldozer Clarts on the Positively Teenage tape?

Stephen: See the answer to question 1, it was just the original name. Clarts is a northern term for mud!

++ Why did you name the band Bulldozer Crash?

Stephen: We thought it sounded good.

++ What about gigs, did you play often? What were your favourite bands in Durham?

Stephen: We only played two gigs, one in Derby at the Victoria Inn  supporting Pure or Eva Luna, not sure which and the Heaven/Sunday gig in Nottingham both in 1991. The Love Parade will always be my favourite band from Durham.

Marc: I thought The Crimson Mints were like Pretenders and Graeme reckoned Final Kick from The Liberty Ship album was pure Crimson Mints… I was going for a Pretenders guitar style so it makes sense. I wish we’d played live more often, in some ways The Liberty Ship were a full band version of the ideas I had in Bulldozer Crash.

++ How big and exciting was having the Woosh club so near? What did it bring to people like you?

Stephen: The Woosh club was excellent, it used to be on nearly every friday night upstairs in a a pub called The Broken Doll in Newcastle, it was run by Stephen Joyce and he put on all the great indie bands of the time, I saw so many of my favourites, seeing them inspired me to write about them in my fanzine. Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes , 14 Iced Bears, The Siddleys, The Driscolls, The Pastels, Vaselines, (although those last two weren’t at the Broken Doll), I also discovered lots of great local bands like The Gravy Train, The Sunflowers,The Nivens, The Crimson Mints and the Love Parade. They knocked the pub down years later. I used to record most of the gigs on a really crappy tape recorder stuffed in my pocket, I recently listened to a Jesse Garon gig and the sound quality is atrocious, much worse than I remember. Looking back we were quite lucky to have such a club.

++ I know you kept doing music after (should be another interview!) but why and when did you call it a day as Bulldozer Crash?

Stephen: I don’t think we ever did call it a day. Although it’s now ten years since we did any recording together. We are always threatening to do something again but we never do. Maybe one day.

Marc: Distance and real life ended B Crash, I wanted to play in a full time rehearsing band. I never consider us split up…where’s that Rickenbacker?

++ I know you Stephen did one of the BEST fanzines ever “This Almighty Pop!” (should be another interview as well!), but did Marc was involved at all with the fanzine culture?

: I dabbled but never for fanzines, I did a bit of blogging on music more recently. I found the indie-purism hard to understand as I have broad musical tastes.

++ You are still involved in indiepop till this day. What differences and similarities do you see between those days and the scene today? Do you have any particular stance on MP3 releases?

Stephen: I don’t ever remember the music I wrote about in my fanzine being called indiepop back then, not sure when that started? It was just indie music to me and that’s what Bulldozer Crash music was, I think? Today everything seems to get done a lot faster. The internet is great for that, the instant communication is certainly something I like, even though I do miss real letters. Blogs are great too for finding out about new bands, I just wish there was more paper fanzines. I don’t like MP3 only releases, I much prefer something to hold, vinyl or CD. I do still rip my cd’s to my computer and I like the fact that I can take lots of my favourite songs with me wherever I go on my ipod.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Stephen: Thanks for asking the questions, it’s nice someone remembered us. If any one wants to have a listen  I’ve put all the songs we had released and a few unreleased ones too up here maybe someone will enjoy them. http://www.box.net/shared/tar4nsm3n0


Bulldozer Crash – Automatic Smile


Thanks so much to Pete, Rocker, Yoland and Glenn for the interview! Big hugs!

++ You have quite an up to date page, and a great interview by Kieron were almost everything is covered! So this is quite a tough job for me. So I’m going to go for some obscure facts if that’s okay? First thing I wonder is if you were involved in any pop bands after or before The Rosehips? I only know Rocker was on Flatmates and Ant and Mark 2 had the Venus Beads.

Glenn: Keyboards in Trouserdog – a Fall tribute band who don’t play Fall songs.

Yoland: In 26 years, when I’ve retired and if I live that long, I will be forming the perfect prog-folk-surf-punk band in tribute to my favourite purveyors of those genres. Any takers?

Rocker: I was a part-time member of Bristol-based band Flying Saucer Attack (sequencing drums, playing keyboards, production & co-wrote a couple of songs). I also played keyboards for a few other Bristol bands e.g. McDowell, The Family, Spectrasonic.

Pete: Around the same time as the Rosehips, I was in the Speedpuppies. Mark 1 played drums with us after we’d done a couple of gigs with a drum machine. We tried to sound like the Shop Assistants – surprise, surprise! Liz, our original singer, wore shades and stripey tops during our rehearsals but left when we got a gig because the thought of playing in public terrified her. The Speedpuppies recorded one demo (we sent a copy to Sarah Records) and did about six gigs before things fizzled out. After the Rosehips had split up, I was in Jack in the Green with Corinne and Caroline, with Mark 1 again playing drums. We played around ten gigs and recorded two demos. After that, I was in Trilemma – a two piece recording band, who didn’t play live. Trilemma ran the Blue Minnow cdr label, recorded the Crowded Wilderness 7” ep for Kitchen Records, gave away our lp, “Push What Is Collapsing” with Robots And Electronic Brains fanzine as a subscribers freebee, recorded a mini album called Caveat Emptor, released by Fence Records as part of their Picket Fence series and recorded various songs which were issued with paper fanzines. And now I’m in Horowitz.

++ You recorded a cover version of The Chesterfields’ “Ask Johnny Dee” for the Sweet William flexi. Why did you choose this particular song? And how did you end up on this rare flexi that came with the Two Pint Take Home fanzine?

Glenn: We liked the original and were friendly with the Chesterfields even though we thought their music was a bit drippy! So we thought it would be funny to ‘punk it up’ a bit. I doubt they were very impressed.

Yoland: As a general rule, everything should go faster, but once speeded-up this transmogrified into Echo Beach (Martha & the Muffins 1970-something), which amused us greatly, because it was a mild irritant to the beautiful Chesterfields, or so I recall.

Rocker: Before my time!

Pete: Mine too, though I think I popped down to the studio during the recording.

++ You shared that flexi with The Fat Tulips. Years later, when the band had already split up, the Bloodstained Fur 7″ appears on the Tulip’s label, Heaven Records. I guess you had a close relationship with them?

Yoland: So close I remember nothing, they must have used Rohypnol.

Glenn: I’m not sure I even met the Fat Tulips except for Mark of course.

Pete: I’ve got to know Mark more since the Rosehips split up. I used to be over in Nottingham watching gigs in the early 90s, bumped into him a few times and went to his wedding. It’s only since meeting the Cut Outs that I’ve spoken with Paul, who was one of the Fat Tulips Nottingham contingent, who used to arrive at our gigs armed with cut up newspaper confetti!

++ But why did it take that long for these tracks to be released? How did Heaven decide to release it?

Glenn: I have no idea about how it came about I’m afraid. As usual I wasn’t paying attention.

Rocker: I was going to release it on my own (planned) record label, Bhaji Records (It’s catalogue number was Onion1) – but when the band split up shortly after the recording sessions, I decided not to proceed with it, as we used to sell most of our records at our gigs (before t’internet) so it would probably have never broken even. When Heaven Records heard about the tracks we’d recorded they offered to release it – it was one of our finest moments, in my opinion! And I still have a box of them in my spare bedroom.

++ How involved were The Rosehips with fanzines?

Yoland: Other than answering questions and fooling about, we weren’t, were we?

Glenn: We got sent loads of interview questions and always tried to reply but they were all very samey.

++ Did any of you ever make one?

Rocker: I never did – but I’m sure Pete and Glenn each did.

Pete: I didn’t make one at the time, no. Glenn wrote one though – Vandalized Idol.

Glenn: Yes, Vandalized Idol which was shit.

Pete: It’s a great little zine – it’s about time you did a second issue!

Yoland: Iconoclastic Cardies?

Pete: Oh yes, Iconoclastic Cardies – I was a bit slow off the mark! Twenty years too slow! I put the first issue together to mark the 20 year anniversary. Lots of people contributed to it. The colour version was referred to as “like a holiday brochure” – thanks Jamie! ;)

++ Chaotic Brilliance was your own label, right? Your only release was The Sympathy for the Rosehips? Or was there something else? In any case, did you ever think releasing some other bands when you set it up? If so, which bands would you have dreamed to release?

Rocker: Chaotic Brilliance was Ant’s label – in those days the right-wing Tory UK government ran a scheme called the Enterprise Allowance Scheme – basically it was a way of fixing the unemployment figures. If you were on the dole you could set up your own business, and still get an allowance from the state, instead of the dole. So your name was removed from the unemployment figures – making the government look better. The advantage for the individual was that you no longer had to pretend to be “looking for work” ie go to job interviews and on courses, in order to receive your dole. I expect a similar scheme to be announced any day now. So Ant was able to devote his time and effort to setting up the record label. As far as I know, no other releases were planned – unless Ant can tell you different!

Glenn: Our favourite group was The Membranes, and the label name was taken from one of their record sleeves, so I guess they would have been the ‘dream band.’

Yoland: Ant should’ve got in there before the big Tom Jones revival, put out the back catalogue and retired.

++ Why on the Secret compilation you didn’t include all of your recorded output? Maybe it was too much? After all it included 22 songs already. Will we ever see those tracks that missed the cut on CD someday?

Glenn: I thought it was everything but as I say I don’t often pay enough attention. Rocker dealt with all that really.

Yoland: Output as in “put out” yes, output as in every learning curve and exercise along the way, no and neither should it.  If J K Rowling released the napkin version of Harry Potter, it would have failed to fulfil its potential (which we did anyway) and never made it to book two, for example.

Rocker: I think we included almost everything! Omissions I can think of:
“Ask Johnny Dee” – the master tape was never returned after the original flexi was cut – we could have taken it from the flexi – but the quality was considered too poor;
“A Slow Painful Death To Vivisectionists Everywhere” – there are two versions – one with Yoland’s spoken vocal, one without – can’t remember which was on the compilation but it was such a long track that we wouldn’t have put both on the same CD
“Bloodstained Fur” there was a short version on the 7″, and I think we put the longer version on the CD.
Oh, and there are a few dodgy cover versions we played live, such as “Too Much Too Young” by The Specials, which I could never play drums fast enough for.

Pete: The cover version of the Stones’ The Last Time just about makes it to the first line at the end of the compilation – there’s a full version of that somewhere. It was only recorded live though. We had a bash at Sonic Youth’s Star Power in rehearsals but never recorded it. There’s a live tape from the Punk Rock EEC Mountain from 1986 and a live tape from Stoke in 87 or 88.

Rocker: No plans to release anything else but that live version of “The Last Time” is on the “1989Live” CD which I put out on my own LocalUnderground label at the time of “The Fucking Rosehips” (aka The Parallelograms) gigs in late 2007. It was recorded at our penultimate gig – supporting The Wedding Present at a Greenpeace benefit in Plymouth – there’s also a fantastic sleeve pic of us all looking very young, stood in front of a sign saying “Bristol Centre For The Deaf”, which happened to be just opposite our Bristol rehearsal room. I still have a few copies if anyone wants one!

Rocker: On the subject of the compilation – we have no copies left. The last thing I heard from Leonard Roberge of Secret Records was that he had some copies left under his bed, which we would like to buy! However we have lost contact so if anyone knows how to contact Leonard, please pass on my email: rockerq@aol.com

++ Did you ever think about releasing an album?

Glenn: Nobody ever asked us. I can’t imagine it would have been any good.

Yoland: I think we were developing and changing too much to have had an album’s worth of comparable tracks at the time.  There was one in us, about 12 months after we ended!  It’s a bit like the output issue: some stuff is what you do when you’re learning and most bands learn before they release.  And don’t get all Sex Pistols about it – gigs are different, but committing to vinyl is another thing.  The Pistols didn’t make a record as shambolic as their first gigs. We on the other hand, never did a gig as shambolic as our first recordings….

Rocker: Neither line-up of the band ever had enough material to fill an LP – pretty much our entire recorded works fitted onto one CD!

Pete: Making a whole album never crossed my mind. I always thought we were more suited to 7” singles or 12”s eps.

++ How many demo tapes did The Rosehips record? Are there any songs on those that never made it to proper releases?

Glenn: No idea, sorry.

Yoland: Our very first “lets see what we sound like on tape” experience took place in a studio, which would have been just fine, if (a) the studio had no bloody cat and an owner who had heard of housework or (b) I was not horribly, anaphylactic-ly allergic to cats. You can play a guitar with a cat allergy, briefly, but singing requires the ability to breathe!  Dave was very accommodating about the toilet facilities and the phobia though, so it could have been worse.

Pete: There are a couple of demos from 1986. Of the nine songs “Cracked It”, “Trucker’s” and “A Much Bigger World” were never released in any form. The other tracks were all re-recorded and ended up on the Subway releases. On the two Bristol 1988 demos, Caffeine Fuel Injection” was never released, neither was the vocal version of A Slow Painful Death. When I Want Your Opinion was remixed by Rocker for the b side of the Heaven Records 7”, but the unreleased demo version has an audible vocal! The other tracks on the Bristol demos were re-recorded and ended up on the Sympathy 12” and/or the Secret compilation.

++ What about the Airspace! compilation where you contributed “Crazy Kind of Normal”? How did you end up here?

Glenn: I think it was a charity in Bristol, therefore a Rocker connection.

Yoland: Is the answer: Rocker had a hot air balloon?

Rocker: I think they approached us, so we gave them a track from one of our Bristol demos – I think Rupert from the Groove Farm, and Sara Tacchi their driver, had something to do with the charity – there’s quite a hotch-potch of bands on there! (We used to play a lot of gigs with the Groove Farm)

++ Tell me… what’s the deal with Judy’s Boyfriend? Is it a real story?

Yoland: Somebody Glenn knew? Was Glenn the boyfriend in the tale?  I wasn’t Judy.

Glenn: No it’s just a combination of Judy is a Punk and I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend by the Ramones.

Rocker: It was the fastest song we ever played!

++ What happened at the Manchester Boardwalk gig that you got banned!?

Yoland: Our lovely friends got slightly carried away with the shredded paper (before shredding machines, so that was dedication!) The paper covered the venue, probably gave the cleaners a fit and it soaked all the brandy out of my glass.  In addition, the new manager was a twat and tried to give us a drugs lecture, which I didn’t take kindly too, being a loyal and regular paying-customer of said venue, not to mention a stroppy young thing from a village where drugs were just the reminiscences of hippy parents.  Years later I did find myself in Moss Side with a mate needing gear, it was easier and quicker than buying bread, but hey – the man was still wrong about us. We were from Barlaston – still a drug free-zone and best kept village – ish.

Glenn: Nothing happened really except the janitor had to spend an extra 5 minutes sweeping up confetti.

Rocker: I really don’t remember being banned – although we did have a bunch of people who travelled to our gigs in a van, spent the journeys tearing up old telephone directories, and threw it as confetti when we played – that would probably have been enough to do it (although I went to see Grace Jones last week, and would you believe it, she’s copped our idea!)

++ What other gigs spring up to mind?

Yoland: Other gigs, TJ’s, Plymouth, Norwich Arts Centre, Glastonbury, any gig in Bristol…

Pete: TJ’s Newport with Darling Buds – the wooden stage, a distortion pedal with a dodgy connection and using Harley’s great Fender amp; Ashton Court festival – second amp channel set way too loud and waking a few sleeping hippies when I stepped on the pedal – lovely! Travelling alone midweek after work (possibly to Salisbury?) and arriving with a minute or two to spare before we were due on stage – the soundcheck had been done earlier. I walked straight into the venue, met up with the others, went straight to the stage, plugged in and we played our set. How professional! Playing with the Valentines in Bristol and hardly being able to hear the kids speak to me at work the next day is another memory.

++ Glenn says that you were essentially a Shop Assistants tribute band. Would you agree with that?

Rocker: I think that’s Glenn being self-deprecating! When I first saw The Rosehips you could certainly see similarities, but the Rosehips sound was already distinctive.

++ How many times did you see the Shoppies live?

Glenn: I only saw the Shop Assistants once as I recall – in Stoke. Could be wrong.

Yoland: Once, but they were great!

Rocker: I saw the Shoppies around 20 times – their early gigs as a five piece were just sublime – perfect mix of noise and melody.

Pete: 7 or 8 times. Wherever I could get to, really – Manchester International, Birmingham Burberries (some photos on the inner sleeve of the Shoppies album are from that gig), Wolverhampton with The Legend, Stoke Shelleys….I sent them a small gift at one time, chatted with them backstage  and exchanged a couple of letters with Alex. Oh – the fan-worship!;)

++ Funny enough years later there was a Rosehips tribute band! Now they are the great Parallelograms! How did you feel about having a band playing your tunes?

Glenn: The Fucking Rosehips struck me as a very funny joke, especially the name. It was good to see them when they played in Stoke and I was quite proud. They were a fucking sight better than the Rosehips.

Yoland: Thought it was a wind-up, then humbled, embarrassed, shocked and to be entirely honest, I never understood why they didn’t do any of the best (i.e. later) stuff. Lovely bunch of folk.

Rocker: I love The Parallelograms – shame Markie has run away to the other side of the world – Pete and I actually guested live a couple of times with “The Fucking Rosehips” as their tribute band was known – and Yo joined us once for a couple of verses of “Designer Greed” – and I do think that’s the closest thing to a reunion you’ll ever see!

Pete: The Parallelograms are great! As the covers band, they played our songs with a similar spirit to us and many bands of that era, that’s what struck me. Markie told me the story of their how they named themselves: Chris Mabbs and Markie were talking about lost indie bands from the late 80s and apparently Chris said something along the lines of “the fucking Rosehips were amazing”, so that was the name they adopted for the covers band. Like Yo, I feel humble, proud and a little embarrassed.

++ “A slow painful death to vivisectionists everywhere” was recorded for the Animal Liberation Front, as far as I know. But was this for a special release? Or just something you thought it was right to do?

Yoland: Yes, it was a benefit.  Or just something you thought it was right to do? –Yes it needed to happen & personally I find it abhorrent that the cause has fallen off the agenda, that the public have been tricked into believing its necessary to torture Beagles, monkeys and mice to advance medical science and that animals face more cruelty and less respect now than then, as the likes of Cook it, Kill it, Eat it & the bush tucker trials demonstrate.  Last week a dog was thrown from a car on the main one-way system in Stoke and don’t even get me started on the Kennel Club & breeding e.g. Rhodesian Ridgebacks born with spina-bifida (hence the ridge) and the healthy ones (no spina-bifida: no ridge) destroyed…

++ Did you ever hear from them?

Yoland: Hear from the ALF? No, they’re probably all in prison for suggesting A Slow Painful Death for Huntington Life Sciences (these views are my own & the ex-Rosehips cannot be held accountable etc etc.)

Rocker: We were asked to contribute a track to a compilation LP – but being the Rosehips it took us a year to record it – and by then either it had already come out, or had been abandoned, or we’d lost contact with whoever it was putting it out, so no, as far as I know we never heard any more from them.

Pete: The vocal version was the one earmarked for release.

Glenn: I never heard from them.

++ The most difficult question of it all, will Stoke City stay in the Premiership?

Glenn: We will know more at 5pm on Saturday. Personally I think they’ve made it too difficult for themselves by fucking up away from home.

Yoland: But potentially the easiest answer! Not looking good (sorry Glenn, any detectable smugness from Charlotte?)

Pete: Charlotte is Glenn’s girlfriend and she supports Port Vale, Stoke City’s local rivals!

Rocker: totally uninterested in sport – I occasionally partake of a little chairobics, though.

Pete: It’s not looking good!

++ Still no Rosehips babies? :)

Glenn: Both Marks have one or two I think

Rocker: Only The Parallelograms – we think of them as our babies

Yoland: – Some people have let the side down on that front… I have two babies, both with dubious parentage, absent fathers (but a devoted mummy), waggy tails and a total of seven paws between them (again, because some human bastard saw fit to keep 30+ dogs all inter-breeding and fighting and didn’t even get vetenary attention when my little one got her paw bitten off – he just dumped her, pregnant – nice) A theme seems to have emerged.  Doggies are asking for dinner, the fire needs more coal, but the snow has stopped.  Take care, Yo x


The Rosehips – I Shouldn’t Have To Say


For a couple of years I always wondered who were The Doris Days. The last week I’ve got to know much more about them that I could imagine. I thought there was no chance to find anything about them aside from the fantastic “Another Day” that appeared on the ‘Uncle Arthur’s Pop Parlour’ compilation tape. First it was Uwe Firestation who told me that some members of the band formed Pacific, that great pop band that left a couple of records on Creation and a favourite song of mine, Barnoon Hill. Also he told me that there were plans for a Doris Days single on Grant Lyons’ ‘La Di Da’ label. It never happened and their only demo was elusive for him and me.

Since the first time I listened “Another Day” I was hooked. I knew this band had that something, that they must have got some great tunes hiding somewhere. It is surprising they didn’t release anything, the quality of this song ask for justice, for it to be a single of it’s own. Come on, at least a flexi!

Doris Mary Anne von Kappelhoff was the real name of Doris Day. She was born in 1924 and she is still alive. Did she knows there was a band in the 80s, on the other side of the Atlantic, that were named after her? She was quite popular indeed and our Doris Days weren’t that much. She was nominated to the Oscars back in the day for her song ‘Secret Love’ which appeared in a movie that she acted as well, “Calamity Jane” (1953). Talking of which… this weekend the Oscars are happening again and I’m not very excited by the movies that are nominated. I think, to start, it is disheartening that Benjamin Button is among the nominees. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not great at all. In any case, there has been better motion pictures this past 2008. Oh well, the excuse is that America needs a new life-affirming movie, a new parable for these hard times. But giving it a nomination, I think, is too much. Aging backwards? Hmm. Let’s talk about this on Monday after we know who won. Now to “another day”, to our Doris Days.

This past week I got in touch with the great Dave Driscoll who put out the ‘Uncle Arthur’s Pop Parlour Tape’ and asked him many times about The Doris Days (sorry about that!). And what he did, is something to thank him forever! He has rescued a live gig of The Doris Days from one of his many tapes! A wonderful 8 song set at The Basement, a club in Brighton on October the 24th, 1987. That night they were supporting my favourite band ever, McCarthy! These recordings are something no one that loves pop should miss! Where to find it? Well, if you see the blogroll here there’s a blog called “Fruitier Than Thou” (any similarities to a Househunters song is pure coincidence). You just have to click there and you’ll end up at the fantastic blog that Dave runs. The Doris Days’ gig should be his last post. Listen carefully to great tracks as “No Time For Feeling Sad” (love the ‘I don’t believe it’ comment on the middle of the song!) or the trumpet driven “Feet Stuck Sound”. I wonder which of these were recorded in the demo!

On his blog, Dave gives us some details of the whereabouts of a member of the band, Dennis, who now is in a band called Shrift. I’ll try to get in touch with him! I’d die to ask him some questions about the band! And what about that the La Di Da single was going to actually be a split 7″ with all-time favourites The June Brides! I think it would have been a killer single, both bands, I believe, would have complemented perfectly. How wonderful would it be to rewind time and make Grant release this record. Both bands gorgeous trumpets on vinyl. Ebayers today would go ape for it!


The Doris Days – Another Day


At last the new Hari and Aino single is out! It took quite a bit for it to happen, mostly because of the pressing plant being turtle-slow. I sent it to press in early December but I didn’t get the records till the first week of February. The release date was this past Sunday and by now all of you that pre-ordered should have gotten the record! Just in time to be a perfect gift for the past Valentine’s Day. Which brings to mind that fantastic Darling Buds’ tune that is Valentine. I think that is the catchiest and poppiest moment of the band fronted by Andrea Lewis. Twenty something years later, “A Considerate Kind of Home” may as well be one of the best moments of the Swedish five-piece that is fronted by our new favourite Andrea: Andrea Dahlkild.

The 2 song single has, as it’s B side, the song “Maple” which could easily be a terrific A side with it’s sugar sweet vocals and breezy guitars. Hari and Aino is the only Swedish band today that recalls the heyday of the first Swedish Invasion, that of early Acid House Kings, Cloudberry Jam, The Cardigans, Red Sleeping Beauty and my favourite, The Seashells. When I listen Andrea, the way she swoons, I’m reminded of the greatness of the 90s in Sweden. It also reminds me how forgotten are these sounds for us in the west but not in the east, as Cloudberry Jam is still HUGE in Japan. What’s with us? Happoly Hari and Aino are not forgotten at all and they are in great shape right now. Touring all over UK and playing even in Holland. In a couple of weeks they’ll visit Spain.

The band comprised by Andrea (vocals), Gunnar Jacobsson (drums, guitars, mandolin), Kristoffer Rengfors (bass, guitars), Robert Klaesson (guitars, bass, drums) and Pontus Leander (keyboards, glockenspiel and melodica) has been one of my favourite since 2007 when I heard for the first time their brilliant “Your Heartache and Mine”. We got to work on a 3″ CD single that year, and in March of 2008 we put out their debut album on Plastilina. It was a perfect album. No fillers. 10 great songs. It received many great reviews. Then we embarked on to work this new single, this time on 7″, Hari and Aino on glorious vinyl at last. We got the talent of Amy Ruppel, a great illustrator, to take care of the artwork. The result speaks for itself, it’s damn pretty!

Im praising and praising non-stop, and I think that’s the only thing I could do with Hari and Aino. This is one of my favourite indiepop bands in indiepop world right now. If you haven’t checked them yet, please do so. If you want to get the 7″ you can order directly from the Cloudberry site and many mailorders.

On another note, I’ve read some complaining on some Spanish blogs about the cost of the 7″s. Well, let me do a breakdown, postage is 5.40. The envelope and paypal fee are, together, more than a dollar. So if you notice, the record actually costs around 3.50, that’s the cost price. That’s what it costs me to get it done. If you want, I can send the record in between two pieces of cardboard and tape it all around. I bet it would be cheaper, maybe around 1.50 less, or 2. If you’d like to do that, send me an email and I can make it happen for you. Not a problem. I won’t be held responsible though if the record doesn’t show in pristine condition.


Hari and Aino – A Considerate Kind of Home


Thanks so much to Pete Geoghegan for the interview!

++ You’ve made it to Wikipedia, meaning you are an important band in popular music. See, smaller bands’ pages get deleted. Are you surprised by it? How do you feel about it? What is that that Mighty Mighty left to POP!?

Important is not a word any of us would use. The internet is still a bit of a mystery to us all. We’re 20th Century boys. What is great is that people have access to our music. As for our legacy? Mick is such a great songwriter. If it wasn’t for him, I’m not sure the rest of us would have attempted to write. So on a very personal level I’m glad of that.

++ You said you started the band over a shared love of soul music, Postcard Records, The Velvet Underground and Socialist Worker Party politic. What was your favourite Postcard release? What do you think was Postcard’s legacy?

Mick and Hugh were the postcard fans. My favourite is Blue Boy by Orange Juice – raw power and emotion. Again – legacy? A label responsible for Orange Juice, Joseph K, Aztec Camera, The Go-Betweens….it speaks for itself.

++ How involved were you all with the Socialist Worker Party? How important was for the British to be involved in these parties during the Thatcher years?

There were no jobs, the miners were on stike, Nelson Mandella was still in jail, nuclear attack still iminent…the divide between left and right, rich and poor was a lot clearer in those days I think. It was dificult not to be politically active. There was a benefit gig to play every week! People seem more apathetic these days but that’s a generalisation. I wasn’t old enough to vote when I joined the band! It was a long time ago.

++ Who were Mighty Mighty? When and where did you got together? Why the name?

Mick (my brother) and Hugh met in the early 80’s and palyed in a band called Domestos. They formed Mighty Mighty (Curtis Mayfield song), Russell joined on bass, H on drums and I was last to join. I said to Mick one day, “If I buy a keyboard, can I join the band?”. He said, “Yes”. Simple as that.

++ How much luck was there to appear on the NME C86 tape? How did you end up there and how did it help the band after? What is the song “Law” about?

Luck? Yeah. It’s all based on luck. Ask any band. There are plenty of talented acts out there who we’ll never get to hear. It helped tremendously. We got a lot of exposure for a band with no manager or agent even, at that time. Law? I think it’s about a dangerous girl. You’ll have to ask Mick but he’ll probably insist on having a lawyer present!

++ Your first release was “Everybody Loves the Monkey”… what do you mean by “the monkey”? I was wondering about the Girlie label, who ran it? and why the catalog was organized by the word GAY?

Again, you’d have to ask my brother. The only monkeys I’ve ever seen live in zoos. We ran the label ourselves. It was very primitive and great fun. Russell and I got through quite a few Pritsticks putting the artwork together. Gaye is H’s partner. We used their house as head office. It was just a little “thankyou” to her.

++ How involved were you in the Birmingham scene? I’ve noticed you were really close to The Sea Urchins, with members of them appearing in your record sleeves. Which other bands were good friends with you? Was it a friendly scene? Or did you have any problems with any bands?

Don’t think we were ever really aware of a scene. There were bands we shared the bill with who we admired. Pigbros were great. Bridget, Robert and James (Sea Urchins) were friends. I played with them very briefly in my mum’s front room. My sister has a family with James’s baby brother so there’s still a close connection. I’m off to London to see Bridget at the weekend.

++ You did gig a lot! What were your favourite gigs, those that you still remember vividly?

Aberdeen. Everybody’s fave. The power/lights failed but we played on. It was just great fun. Fantastic crowd.

++ You were also part of the first flexi released by the legendary Sha La La! How did Throwaway ended on Matt Haynes label? Were you followers of his labels? Would you have liked to be in Sarah?

Pete: I haven’t a clue how we got on the flexi. I guess he asked us. I think we may have been more at home on Sarah but then if Chapter 22 hadn’t come along, we probably wouldn’t be talking to each other today.

++ How did you end up on Peel’s show?! Was that the biggest highlight of Mighty Mighty?

He played Monkey. That was the highlight as far as I was concerned. I remember Russell and I jumping up and down. Recording the sessions was fantastic. He insisted on introducing us on stage once. We still miss him. He can’t be replaced.

++When and how did you signed to Chapter 22 Records? Who were they?

Erm…1986? Craig Jennings…don’t think I spoke a word to him. I was very young and shy. I use that as an excuse quite a bit.

++ Early this decade you end up releasing all your back catalog on Vinyl Japan. Was there always interest from Japan? How rare are these CDs now? I’m still looking for copies of the BBC CD and “A Band from Birmingham”! How did you end up releasing in Vinyl Japan, an historic indie pop label!?

We had no idea we’d been picked up by them but were thrilled to be available on CD now as well as vinyl. Craig was behind it. Think it helped to claw back some of the studio costs for him. I don’t think we had much of a fanbase in Japan in the 80’s. It really was great to find out that people were still interested and listening. We’re trying to track down any remaining stock. We’ll let you know if we find anything!

++ Were any of you in other bands before, during or after Mighty Mighty?

We had a few funny side projects – Russell Burton’s 15 Minutes, The Velvet Underwear (feat. Bridget Sea Urchin), The Kitchen Cinq (feat. Derek Hammond of Yeah Yeah Noh – our friends and fave band – how could I forget them!). Hugh left and formed The Belfast Cowboys, releasing a mini-album on Swordfish. The rest of us played as The Raree Show, quite a different sound, all guitar and three lead singers! Pre-MM? The usual garage and college band sort of outfits. Nothing of note although Domestos were really quite good.

++ How important was the fanzine culture of the eighties? How involved were you?

The fanzines were crucial. Before the major weeklies picked up on you it was the enthusiasm of the fanzine editors that started to spread the word. No internet remember. Again, it was all part of the homemade/handmade aspect of music. It goes on now but the tools available are so sophisticated these days, it’s barely comparable.

++ What is that that you miss from the pop scene back then? How different do you think it’s from today? Do you still listen to indiepop?

It was a much smaller world and by that I mean there were fewer of us. It seems saturated these days and there are good and bad points to that. People were not really interested in forming or listening to guitar bands so you really did feel outside of the mainstream. It wasn’t conscious, it was just what we loved. We were extremely naive, as were most of the bands back then. Kids are a lot more savy these days and perhaps they need to be. I still listen to music. I still make music. Indiepop? Sure. If I like it, I like it.

++ Why did the band decided to split up? Will there be a reunion gig?

Hugh wanted to leave. We let him go. With hindsight, I think it was a mistake. We should have soldiered on. We had no deal, but we started without a deal. It’s quite easy to loose sight of why you do what you do. Hindsight though. Easy for me to say it now but I was very young and shy at the time….A reunion? We hope to play Indietracks this Summer. We’re scattered here, there and everywhere so it will take some organising. We’ll see.

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

Thanks for talking to us. Looking forward to getting The Leaking Machine out on Cloudberry. Maybe we can find some lost MM tracks for you!!


Mighty Mighty – Gemini Smiles


A week and a half ago Jennifer wrote me about some bands and tracks from a mix CD she got years ago. It included bands like Small Factory, Gangway and Dislocation Dance. But there were three songs that I didn’t have much of a clue. One of them was Zeitgeist’s “Freight Train Rain”. Until… I got to listen the track.

“I have heard this one before!”. The question was, “where?”. After a bit of searching, I found this same song, the exact same song, but this time being credited to The Reivers. Yeah, the fantastic jangle pop band from Austin, Texas. So what had happened? Why did two bands released the same song? A quick search showed me that it was again fault of the nonsense of major labels and careerist bands, that want to brand a name…

“As Zeitgeist, the quartet had built up a good following through an indie album and touring, but on the eve of releasing their first major label album, Capitol Records did a name search and found that the German word had already been trademarked by a New Age ensemble. Front man John Croslin recalls that the crystal-wearers “weren’t flexible at all” and so the band ended up with the new name, leaving their fan base baffled. “We could’ve changed it to `Zeitghost’ or something, but we didn’t,” says Croslin.

Who has ever heard about this Zeigeist new age band? no one! Why were they such suckers with their names? Aren’t New Age people generous, sharing and peaceful? And they can’t share a name? Huh! New Age is pure stupidity. That’s what it is. The power of crystals and all that neo-pagan nonsense, the universal truth, their spiritual bonding and so on, does that help our society? No. It’s a non-challenging way of life, it’s not reactionary, it’s not rebellious. It severely damages your brain. It’s going back to medieval times, to the alchemy, to faeries and even extraterrestrials. But let’s get back to our Zeitgeist.

Zeitgeist, originated in Austin, TX with a lineup that included: John Croslin- main songwriter, vocalist, guitars; Kim Longacre- vocals, guitars; Kelly Bell- bass; and Joey Shuffield- drums. Shuffield left the band during rehearsals and was replaced by Garrett Williams. By the time their first self-titled E.P. was released on db Records in 1984, Cindy Toth had replaced Bell as bass player. This new lineup would remain consistent throughout the remainder of the Reivers’ existence. Releasing the full-length album “Translate Slowly” the next year, they began to build a sizeable audience.

That little bio appears on The Reivers website which I recommend checking out. That same “Translate Slowly” is the one album I’ve heard from them. What has happened was that the CD version came out in 1987 when the band had already changed the name. Right! So that’s what created all these misunderstandings.

About the “Freight Train Rain” song. It was released as a 7″ single, not only in the US, but also in UK! In the US it appeared on the DB label from Atlanta, the same one that released The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” (?!) and many Pylon records. On the UK it appeared on Stiff Records, Kirsty McColl fans know this one. The B Side was “Hill Country Theme” (which appears in the album too). This 7″ appeared in 1985. But, let’s rewind a year, and we find out that Zeitgeist released the Zeitgeist EP, a 12″ record that included “Freight Train Rain”, “Wherehaus Jam” and “Electra”.

During 1985 they put out a couple more records. A 12″ including “Araby”, “Freight Train Rain” and “Things Don’t Change” was released. All of the songs were alternate versions. Also they contributed to a couple of local Austin compilations. Their biggest surprise that year was the fabulous Translate Slowly album. A great jangly pop album that includes many standout tracks like my favourite “Blue Eyes” and old favourites “Araby” and “Freight Train Rain”! This song is everywhere you’d say! But it’s a brilliant one, so why not have it all over the place? How does it sound? Jennifer told me: “The song I have is called ‘Freight Train Rain’ and has a really cool combination of guy and girl vocals. The guy sounds a lot like him from Even As We Speak. Someone is really pounding on an acoustic guitar making it sound really percussive. A girl is wailing in the background while the guy sort of sing-speaks. It sounds odd written down but it’s a fab song!” Don’t think there’s a better description than that!

1986 would see their last release under the Zeitgeist name, the 12″ promo-only single “Atlantic City”, which was released by Rhino. A cover of a Bruce Springsteen song. And then the name change happened. The Reivers kept releasing records and even appeared on nationwide TV. But that’s another story.


Zeitgeist – Freight Train Rain