Thanks so much to Sandy Fyfe for the interview and support!

++ Greenheart formed after two early incarnations, the first one being The Electric Sugar Children. Tell me a bit about this band, when was it formed, who were the members and if you had any releases? maybe demo tapes that one day will pop up on ebay?

I had been in a band called The Firemouths which had played a few gigs, and little brother Edd started writing some tunes. The Firemouths came to an end as people moved away and so Edd and I formed The Electric Sugar Children (named after a Biff Bang Pow! Song).

We borrowed drummer Kenny McEwan from another brotherly Perth band, The Seaniks, and encouraged Gogs to buy a bass guitar, and hey, we had a new band. We then added Paul Sutherland to sit cross-legged at front of stage and peel off mis-spelt cards of each and every lyric, a la Subterranean Homesick Blues. Our first gig was in Biancos in Perth.

We never recorded under this name. At this stage, we were very much a Jesus & Mary Chain influenced band (we covered You Trip Me Up), and it was not long before we wanted to develop the sound………

++ The second incarnation was called Pure. Why did you started a new band? What were the main differences between The Electric Sugar Children? Tell me about those “purezines” you released!

….which led to the recruitment of David Barnett as a second guitarist, and Paul Sutherland disappearing from card-peeling duties, and a name change. We had a song called Impure and I liked the idea of the band name Pure….we were trying to become less gimmicky and concentrate on the music a bit more. David added backing vocals and the addition of the second guitar added much to the sound.

This was a real busy period for us gigging much more, recording a couple of demos, publishing Purezines, being interviewed on radio, and printing badges. The demos were recorded in Seagate Studios in Dundee, and were as follows :

Demo 1, summer 1990 –
1. Panama City – an upbeat wah-wahed guitar tune about sunshine and Demerara sugar (don’t ask!)
2. Stephanie – a twee little pop song
3. Velvet – a slow moody burner about rock n roll, and fame

Demo 2, March 1991 –
1. Underfoot – a jangly pop song about prejudices over the Irish struggle in Scottish society
2. Summer Heat-Wave Heat – you can hear this on our myspage page so I won’t attempt to describe it!
3. Velvet – we re-recorded velvet, with the guitars more distorted and dreamy

There was a huge development between our first and second visits to the studio.

Things were going well, playing regularly (at the time I was also running The Oblivion Club in Perth which brought many indiepop bands to town including Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes, The Driscolls, Mousefolk, Remember Fun, The Wildhouse and many more) so we were well connected to get gigs.

We were then asked to contribute to a compilation LP on Ambition Records, Bobby Stokes Salutes the Fall of Manchester, indie bands covering Manchester bands songs, and we recorded Joy Divisions/New Orders’ Ceremony, using a different studio and we were not too happy with the result, though it did have its moments!!

The Purezines were A5 fanzines of what we had been up to, set lists, family tree, etc. We charged 20 pence for a purezine and a badge!

++ After these two bands you change your name to Greenheart. What year was it? Who were Greenheart and why the name? Also any releases to look for? Information is quite scarce on the web!

Pure were going along great but I made a huge error of judgement about this time. A few of the band members were wanting to do other things as well as Pure, and I said people had to be committed to it, and make a decision, and so everything fell apart.

However we had been offered a single release by German label, Bilberry, and to contribute tracks to a compilation being put together by Snowy Pete and so Edd and I, started again, adding Mal on bass and guitars, and my then girlfriend Lisa on piano/organ, retaining Kenny, myself and Edd.

We wanted to denote the change in personnel and so altered the name. I was a huge fan of the poetry of Alan Jenkins, and my favourite individual poem was called Greenheart, and so that was agreed as a good name. Everyone should track that poem down and read it!

++ What is this Fuzzy Peach compilation about that you talk on your brief bio on myspace?

We returned to Seagate and recorded Transatlantic, Hey Sure Shakespeare and Lucky Always and sent them off to Pete to choose two tracks – and he chose Lucky Always to open side 1 of the comp and Hey Sure Shakespeare to open side 2 (it was a 10 track compilation).

According to Pete who I saw recently, people were actually dancing to Hey Sure Shakespeare when he played it at an indie club night!!!

++ How was the Perth scene those days? One of my favourite bands was from there: This Poison! Any other bands that you’d recommend?

The scene was great. All of the bands drunk in the same pubs. No two bands were filling a similar space in terms of style. This Poison! were the pick, but Aspidistra also did very well, I shared a flat with the singer in our big rivals, The Ralf, and it was right opposite the main gathering place for musicians at the time, The Grill pub. Every weekend the party was at ours, and all the bands at that time partied in our flat from time to time. The Relations had gone baggy and were in the lower reaches of the UK singles chart, and Greenland Haze gigged extensively with their REM style. The aforementioned Seaniks continued to gig, and there was an ambitious band Best Care Anywhere who we gigged with too. And of course Luke Sutherland’s Long Fin Killie. Happy days indeed.

++ Also you say that you were called the enfants terrible from the Perth scene! what did you do?

I am so embarrassed when I look back!

We had a great rivalry with the Ralf, and at one time started a chant ‘I’d rather be a Sugar Child than a Ralfette’ and that became a thing every indie kid in town was one or the other – a Sugar Child or a Ralfette. Despite Graeme and I being flatmates and friends our bands were arch rivals. Our bass player, Gogs, was quite infatuated with Graemes girlfriend at the time, and that did not exactly make things any easier!!

In addition, we showed no respect to the older guys still peddling their music, we strutted around in our leather trousers with attitude and swagger to match! I remember playing a gig supporting The Relations, who had been on television that week playing their baggy stuff. They were in the crowd as we played. I was introducing the fact that they would be playing after us, someone in the audience shouted something not too complimentary about them, and I retorted ‘clearly someone has seen them before’ and we launched into our next song. There was a wee bit of hassle after that between us, and recently I was discussing the Go-Betweens with Gerry, singer of The Relations, and he said to me, ‘it’s a shame we have spent 20 years disliking eachother as we actually love the same music’ We are now good buddies. That’s what is great about music – the friends you make.

We also sprayed homebrew beer all over Dek Moir of This Poison! on one occasion – it’s a long story!

So we were always up to some mischief or other and when we were the large figure of our bass player Gogs would never be far from the action!!

++ I read you gigged all around Scotland, did you ever went south to England maybe? Which particular gigs do you remember the most and why?

We never unfortunately ventured south as a band, although most members have subsequently played gigs in England.

The three most memorable gigs for me would be :

1. The Red House, Coupar Angus – we were supporting Best Care Anywhere in this rural village. There was a good crowd in to see the Tom Petty/REM-inspired Best Care Anywhere. They had not expected nor ever before encountered feedback drenched indie pop and sneering attitude. I think to say we left them speechless would be true. That was the most drunk we had ever been when playing, consuming more vodka jellies than I care to remember before the gig.

2. The Halt Bar, Glasgow – supporting The Driscolls. The excitement of playing in Glasgow for the first time was great, and it was fantastic to be playing to an audience who actually all were through and through indie pop kids.

3. The West Port Bar, Dundee – a day for unsigned acts put on by the local radio station. Perth and Dundee have a fierce rivalry as cities, being just 20 miles apart. All the bands were Dundee bands except us. We always closed with a track called What She Said in ’67, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, followed by several minutes of a wall of noise with vocalist writhing front of stage and yelping the odd spontaneous lyric into the mic. We played it at the end of the gig as usual, and it was just our greatest ever version of that song, and that song was I suppose our trademark at the time.

++ What was the biggest highlight of Greenheart? How easy or difficult was to have a band with your brother?

The best thing is undoubtedly that 20 years on we are all still friends, we all still have passion for music, and a mutual respect for one another.

I think our recording of Lucky Always was our finest moment (to date!); it was certainly at the time the best lyric I had written in my opinion. And the feedback from those that got Fuzzy Peach was excellent.

Also getting back in the studio last year to record She is Forever for the Doing it for the Kids 08 compilation was fantastic – it was a day full of emotion, and fun though a departure from our usual style.

Edd and I get on great, so being in a band together was not too tough – Gogs the bass player is my best friend in the world but he is much more difficult to handle than little brother!!!! Edd and I are two brothers who will always to some extent make music together I think.

++ Do you still follow indiepop? If so, what differences or similarities do you find between the early nineties and today?

Oh yes! Indiepop is forever in our hearts.

I am as likely to be listening to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Ballboy, as I am The Chesterfields or Mighty Mighty. All of us have broadened our tastes since then but still appreciate indiepop, and I like a lot of the new bands and thanks to labels like Cloudberry they get a medium to release some good stuff. When I put together charity CD Doing it for the Kids 08, after my daughter had been seriously ill in hospital, it was great to find so many good young indiepop bands willing to contribute to the project.

I think there are clear influences today – early Orange Juice and early Aztec Camera, Subway bands, Sarah Bands – are all influencing output. I think right now indiepop is probably stronger than it has been at any point since the late 80s and early 90s. Its great to see some of the old bands coming back and playing again. I think the key difference is that the current crop of indiepop bands have more diversity to their sound than the older generation.

Two of my 5 year old daughters favourite songs are Goodbye Goodbye by The Chesterfields and In the Rain by The June Brides – I am bringing her up well!!

++ Why did you call it a day? What are Greenheart members doing nowadays?

We stopped playing because life got in the way a bit. Edd went to university in Wales. I had the misfortune to be good at my job and so started building a career (its like that Razorcuts song, Mile High Towers!) And everyone drifted apart for a bit. We are all now back in touch though, and practising again, and recorded last year and Edd and I have written some new songs. [I have emailed a very rough demo of one of them called Counting (Up Not Down)]

Sandy (jaf) – still in Perth, huge music enthusiast, back writing songs with Edd

Edd – lives in London, back writing songs and practising and playing some small solo gigs

Kenny – also lives in London; toured the world with Long Fin Killie for a bit – back in touch with us all just very recently

Gogs – lives in London – joined Aspidistra who were NME ones to watch at one time, and who released a few singles – still very good friends with Edd and I, and we regularly go and see bands together

David – worked with the Suede fanclub and management, and wrote the authorised biography of Suede. Still playing music with a few bands including the New Royal Family, and also lives in London.

Mal – moved to Norway, played bass on a no 1 hit single, now back living in Perth.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

We want to record our legacy – a few days in the studio and one final blast of indiepop. We have learned much over the years and think we can still have the raw energy and sound, the meaningful lyrics, the passion, the DIY ethos, but with a bit of a broader sound. So if anyone reading this wants to put out a single or an EP, get in touch as we will be recording real soon!!

We adored playing live and want to try to do that again too.

Finally, thanks to you Roque, for asking us to participate and having an interest in what we do but most of all, for keeping the homefires of indiepop burning. Indiepop is an old friend, and some nights its great to come home to. Giving so many good bands some exposure, as you have done, has been fantastic and its good to see some of those bands beginning to gain wider exposure – I hope they all remember you!


Greenheart – Transatlantic

Pure – Summer Heat-Wave Heat


Thanks so much to John Parkes for the great interview!

Note from John: I met up with Rob (the original Greenhouse bass player) to talk about some of these questions – so this is as accurate as we’re likely to get!

++ When and how did Greenhouse formed? Maybe all of you were studying at Leed University? Who were the original lineup?

Not as simple a question as you might think! I’d been in a band called the Sinister Cleaners who were around between about 1983 and 1987 who split up when Andrew the guitarist left. The Cleaners had been very democratic and all balanced each other personality-wise so the remaining members were very unsure about finding a replacement and kind of felt it was a logical point to end anyway. I decided to form a new band and asked Simon Smith the Sinister Cleaners drummer to join me. Adverts in shops (I think!) found us Chris Sheldon and I bumped into Rob England the bass player at a music shop when I was putting up an ad on a notice board – both were from Leeds and had never been students, though me and Simon had been (but were no longer). Simon played on the first recording session but at some point he was asked to join the Wedding Present. He may have been in the Greenhouse and then left to join the Weddoes or he may have been helping us out after he’d joined them. We can’t remember which! So, Simon played on the first recordings but soon had to leave and was replaced by Tom Kincaid on drums.

Original line-up – John Parkes, guitar and vocals, Rob England bass and backing vocals, Chris Sheldon, guitar and backing vocals and Simon Smith on drums (soon to be replaced by Tom Kincaid on drums).

++ How many lineup changes were in the band and why did you call the band Greenhouse?

Another complicated question! After the initial (and early) drummer change we stayed the same until Chris Sheldon left to join a short lived outfit called ‘Ringo’s High’ We got Simon King in on guitar – though at some point (after a year or so?) Simon left and Chris re-joined! There are actually 3 guitarists on some of the Greenhouse recordings (most of the second album features Simon King with Chris Sheldon’s additions often using a guitar synth). I think the last line-up change was when Tom Kincaid left (or was asked to leave) and replaced with Paul Hegarty who appeared on the final recording session. The band split when original bass player Rob left and a suitable replacement was never found. Chris and me auditioned a couple of bass players while Paul the drummer waited and got bored I think. We never found anyone to replace Rob and at some point we obviously got bored looking. Chris and I did some recordings with computer drums but never found a full band until we’d gone our separate ways,

++ Where the band members involved with bands before or after forming Greenhouse?

Yes! I was in the Chorus (including 2 people who later joined the Wedding Present) who released one 7 inch single in 1985 and the Sinister Cleaners before Greenhouse. I was in Fuzzbird and Whole Sky Monitor www.wholeskymonitor.co.uk afterwards, as well as doing solo acoustic stuff www.johnparkes.com

Chris Sheldon was in Dorian Grey (or is that Gray?) before, Ringo’s High in the middle and later Glo-Star – and more recently the Dental Experience. Rob was in the Jazz Hipsters before and Pop Threat afterwards. I’m not sure about Simon King and Tom Kincaid to be honest.

None of these bands were really successful though there was the odd recording, tape and 7inch. The Sinister Cleaners recently (and briefly) reformed to finish off and record 4 songs written in 1987 which were put together with the 3 12 inch EPs from 1986 / 1987 to complete the Shine CD last year. Fuzzbird did 2 albums and Whole Sky Monitor have done 2 so far with a third partly recorded.

++ Your first two singles were on your own Firebomb Radio One label, right? Why did you decide to self-release and how was the experience of running a label?

By the time of Greenhouse I’d been involved in a number of self-released projects. Originally it came out of the post punk ethic about doing it for yourself; but really it was the only way we knew to get records out having never done that whole chasing big record companies in London thing which didn’t seem to work anyway. Some things about it were great like going to get records cut at posh cutting rooms where you could chat (briefly!) about classic records that they’d mastered but mostly it was about using a glue-stick and going to the post office to spend money we hadn’t really got. There was never any money in it so it was just what you did, really.

++ After releasing these two singles you sign for Native Records. I haven’t seen much written about this label even though they even had some big names as The Darling Buds. How did you end up in that label? Maybe you send a demo tape? or maybe they came to one of your gigs?

I thought that Native approached us having been impressed by what we’d achieved with the 7 inches (a few reviews and the odd play by legendary DJ John Peel) though Rob tells me their secretary saw us supporting the Wedding Present in Sheffield (a Northern ex-industrial city quite similar and quite near to Leeds) where Native were based and we were picked up from there. Native grew quickly as a label I think but shrank quickly too!

++ What did you release on Native? I know there was the Normless album and the Mad Love 12″ single. What happened after? Did you release anything else?

Yes, there was the Normless album and the Mad as Love EP but there was also the ‘Denser’ album which had 2 drummers (though not at the same time) and 3 guitarists. This was also released on CD (a big new thing back then!) but I think we only got one copy each. Either the label or the distributor went bust and remaining copies were destroyed or re-cycled or sold off (though I haven’t seen copies come up second hand – not that I’ve been looking really) The sound was fuller and, well, ‘Denser’, hence the name.

++ I’ve been always curious about the song “Refugees from England”, what is it about?

It was all about the politics of the time – grey, grinding, right wing, boring…a friend was pregnant and she was wondering seriously about finding a better place to bring up a child. It was just a feeling that there had to be something better (probably a place with better weather for a start!) Incidentally Simon Smith played on this one without using the bass drum at all. I find this interesting though I guess not everyone would…

++ Was Greenhouse a band that gig a lot? I know you opened for The Wedding Present, any anecdotes of that gig? Any other particular gig you remember?

I seem to remember that we did a few gigs here and there and some short series of dates in parts of England and Scotland. We did open for the Wedding Present for one week of a three week tour. I asked Rob about this and we agreed that there should be stories but there weren’t any! It was great to play in front of big audiences but nothing at all rock and roll happened. I was also working as a roadie / ‘guitar and backline technician’ for the Wedding Present by this time too so I probably spent most of the time tuning other people’s guitars. I think there was too much just getting things done to enjoy it really. At one gig in Scotland we arrived to find ourselves billed as ‘the Wedding Present’s roadie’s band’ which was all a bit Spinal Tap but gigs to us were all about getting home at 5 in the morning and getting back up at 8 to take van’s back to hire companies.

++ What other Leeds band from that time would you recommend?

None! We really didn’t like any bands from Leeds at the time and still can’t think of any that we may have misjudged. We were aware of the Age of Chance and the Wedding Present (though they were going before Greenhouse) and we thought Tse Tse Fly had a great name at least but no-one who we thought were great or went to see play.

++ When and why did you call it a day? What did you do all after? Are you still in touch?

It all fell apart when Rob left and it never got put back together. No-one can really remember why Rob left but we think he just got bored and thought it wasn’t going anywhere. I think we were never really quite on the same wavelength and liked a lot of different kinds of music too.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

We should also mention ’57 Headmen’. This was mainly Chris, Rob and a portastudio doing short experimental pasted together sound sketches. These short tracks were put between the ‘proper’ songs on both albums. We had a CD of the ‘Denser’ album somewhere and when we turned it onto MP3s found that these tracks were ‘stuck’ to the longer songs so we need to sort that out. We also need to find a CD copy of the first album (we did have one from a French release!) When we do we’ll make them free for download via myspace. Not all the recordings are as great sonically as we’d have liked but they still sound pretty good.

There was a Radio One session for John Peel too which I think we were pretty pleased with.


Greenhouse – On The Ocassion


Big thanks to Andy Harding, Simon Burchill and Tom LeBas for the great great interview!

++ What happened to Charlie Don’t Surf? Why did you decide to start The Vernons instead? Did you release anything, maybe a demo tape or something, with Charlie Don’t Surf?

Simon B: The lead singer Jim left and the band were looking for a new singer. I auditioned and got the part. Then as a fresh start we decided to change the name to The Vernons.

Andy H: We had all started at college in autumn 1984, and I had been determined to be in a band! I’d met up with Jez and Jim (who along with Mandy had been Charlie Don’t Surf’s singer) and we had persuaded Tom to join on drums after an audition that involved him banging on cardboard boxes. CDS had done a few gigs when I was involved in putting on a ‘band’s night’ – Simon B’s band were one of the bands, he had dragged them up from Stratford. It’s probably fair to say that Jim and Mandy weren’t natural front-people and I seem to remember the transition from them to Simon being quite smooth. A new name seemed in order, as this was going to be a fresh start.

Tom: Charlie Don’t Surf weren’t very good at all. And we had to change the name as we discovered there was another CDS – in Ohio I think.

++ What were the main differences between both bands?

Simon: I think thats best for Andy or Tom to answer.

Andy: I had written some of the songs for CDS in one of my earlier bands (in Stoke) where I had sung (badly!), but I felt that while we had the basis of a decent band we did need a good singer who could write too. I felt that getting Simon to join was a real coup – I’d rated his performance with his old band – and I guess the main difference was that I felt that we could be something now.

++ Which Vernon does The Vernons pay tribute with the name? Perhaps The Vernons Girls?

Simon: We decided on the name while sitting in The Mount Vernon in Liverpool. It fitted in quite well at the time with other band names like The Pastels, The Smiths, The Housemartins, etc
Andy: It’s always good to pay tribute to a pub. At least we didn’t name the band while sitting in Ye Cracke – that would have been hard to live with.

++ Was it in Liverpool Polytechnic’s C.F. Mott campus were you all met? What were you studying? Did you get a lot of student following?

Simon: Yes I think we were all at CF Mott- now a business park! I was studying English and History and yes, most the people who saw us were students.

Andy: It really was predominantly a student audience. One of the things that finally killed off the band was the loss of our core audience who’d grown up with us, when they left college. Interestingly, one of things that had drawn me to Liverpool had been my love of The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes – if you read Julian Cope’s brilliant book ‘Head On’ it turns out that he also went to C F Mott and was in the halls of residence only a few years before us! The bit where he smacks his head in the stairwell – we ALL used to do that jumping down…

++ The NME-biography of the band mentions that “almost every young man on campus capable of wielding an instrument” was a part of the band! How much truth is in that statement? How was it to have all band members basically living in the same house / on the same street? Did you ever have auditions when people wanted to join and what was the main requirement to be in the band? Did you ever think “He’s a great chef! We may need him”?

Simon: Well we did end up with eight members, and for a time we had Jane Mitson playing flute with us as well. So I think that was most of the campus. The rest of CF Mott played in bands such as The Men Who Couldn’t play, Lars Me and Her, and the wonderful Luigi Klingon and His Magic of Italy Beat Group Sound Authority – their drummer Phil Selway ended up playing in Radiohead. I met him in Waitrose carpark in Abingdon a few years ago. He asked me how the music was going and I said fine, then I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t reply back to him with “And how is your band doing? Did you get anywhere after leaving CF Mott?”

Andy: Like I say, getting Simon as singer was great. Tom’s box/drums audition was surreal. The key thing I felt was that everyone’s voice in the band was listened to, and we tried to operate as a democracy – the downside was that decision-making could be torturous and arranging rehearsal time and so on could be a nightmare!

++ The Vernons had saxes, trumpets, keyboards, and maybe more! A bit more ambitious than the usual post C-86 band. What do you think did the band gained by having all these new sounds? How much more difficult is it to make songs with such an array of different people and instruments?

Simon: Basically if I or anyone else came with an idea for a song to a practice, it would usually sound much better once everyone had put their own instrument and idea into it. Of course you had to be careful it didn’t become too cluttered but usually we knew when to stop playing. I think if we hadn’t incorporated these other instruments we would have sounded like everyone else and would have remained an obscure indie band from Liverpool!

Andy: Building the songs from the initial idea always felt pretty easy I thought. I can clearly remember the brass guys getting their heads together and coming up with some amazing stuff just like that…

++ You played some shows with Frank Sidebottom, how did that work out? I bet they were not your usual kind of gig

Simon: It was like playing to a football crowd. However, we never got bottled off.

Tom: …and we never got him to take his large papier-mâche head off

Andy: The man is a genius. He keeps his head in a drum carrier. Enough said.

++ What other gigs do you remember in particular?

Simon: We nearly did get bottled off when we played to a room full of heavy duty punks at the Elephant and Castle in London. Other gigs I remember, were EarthBeat in Sefton Park playing alongside the mighty Onset, blowing The Brilliant Corners off stage, The Hillsborough support gig where we played last and had The Farm playing Pump it Up with us at the end, and my last gig when we launched the album at the Haigh building in the Polytechnic (This you can see on the Vernons Myspace site).

Andy: I particularly liked when we started playing with The Onset and St Vitus Dance, and my favourite places to play were The Everyman, The Philharmonic and The Flying Picket, all in the same area of central Liverpool. I do remember that gig in London at the punk club – we just said ‘let’s play everything twice as fast’ and it seemed to work, as we went down well enough! Actually, only this week I was thinking about the Hillsborough benefit gig we played, with it having been the 20 years anniversary recently – that tragedy really did bring the whole city together it seemed.

++ Why dedicate a song to Stockton-on-Tees? Is the song based on a real story? What about Hoe Town? Which city or town is the real hoe town?

Simon: I was born in Kent, my family was from Bristol, so you couldn’t get more southern than that. Stockton on Tees expressed my thoughts and feelings about living in the North and a particular train journey from Liverpool to Stockton. Hoe Town was based on an idea by my friend Angus Yarwood who had been in a previous band with me. At the time we were living in Stratford Upon Avon so I guess that is what the song is about.

++ What was the full discography of the band including demo tapes? I only know the “Smithdown Road” LP on Probe Plus. Why did you call it like that, was that big road important in The Vernon’s life?

Simon: Many friends lived on the road, in fact I think Tom did. The other names were Nil Draw Scored and A Slight run in with the Devil and my favourite – Twelve Variations on the Theme of Lurve – which I would like to use one day.

Tom: This is true, I lived there. Despite that, I never liked the name of the album much . . . I did like the cover, though, which came from a book of black and white 1950s Life/Magnum photographs I had bought in a jumble sale, even if someone rather overdid the “sepia” tint for us which in the end turned out kind of orange. It’s a brilliant picture of an audience laughing at god knows what in some Mid-Western community hall in 1953. Completely relevant to the Vernons sound. This is the LP cover I’m talking about – the limited edition cassette had a big blue bald head on it.

Andy: We did quite a few demos, and the final one before Smithdown Road was called ‘I Think My Hamster’s Yodelling’, paid for by Geoff at Probe…sold quite a few of those. As to the name Smithdown Road – I think that we pretty much all lived on or near it at some point…

++ How did you end up signing with Probe Plus? Was Geoff Davis a friend or maybe a big supporter of your shows?

Simon: Andy had a lot of contact with Geoff so he can answer this the best.

Andy: Probe Plus were THE indie label in Liverpool, and at the time were one of the highest profile in the UK due to Hal Man Half Biscuit’s success. We had had some majors sniff around a bit but to be honest I never thought that we’d get a major deal – we were an indie band through and through. Mick Bouvier was managing The Vernons at the time and he and I hassled Geoff by constantly going into his offices and trying to get him along to gigs. I guess in the end we wore him down! At any rate I’d like to think he became a friend and I have enormous admiration for what he has done with Probe and how he has kept his love of music fresh.

++ How influential was that amazing Liverpool scene from the early eighties, with The Wild Swans, The Lotus Eaters, The Pale Fountains and more?

Simon: I loved that liverpool scene. I still have Revolutionary Spirit by The Wild Swans – a great record. I was a massive Bunnymen fan and loved The Teardrop Explodes and at the time I was listening alot to Across the Kitchen Table by The Pale Fountains. But I was also well into The Loft, Primal Scream, early James, The Pastels and The Doors. I think you can hear a lot of their influence in the album.

Andy: Ditto – for me it was The Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes who I looked up to in the Liverpool scene. I have to say though that The La’s were totally brilliant – there was a time when they first were emerging that you could watch them pretty much every night somewhere in town, and they had awesome songs. It was such a shame that the album took years to appear and when it did it was strangely neutered.

Tom: Liverpool was a great place to be at that time – and probably still is, although I have only been back twice in about 20 years.

++ Be honest, do you really wish you were an American as one of your song says? Have you ever come to America at all?

Simon: The song was supposed to be ironic – it is a very stereo typed view of Americans. I guess living in Stratford and seeing all the American tourists in their chequered shorts and baseball caps did colour my view of them. However, I have been to Seattle recently and I loved it and the people. I also listen to lots of American music – Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Emily Jane White, Camper Van Beethoven, and I think if I had to name my favourite writer it would be Kurt Vonnegut.

Andy: I went to San Diego a few years ago – yay! – and loved it…someone take me back. Now.

++ How do you see Liverpool’s chances to win over Chelsea in Champion’s League? Pretty tough! Or maybe you don’t follow Liverpool but Everton?

Simon: They just lost and anyrate West Ham are the team to follow. However I do have a soft spot for Liverpool FC. I used to live in earshot of Anfield and often went. Visiting the Stadium when all the flowers were laid there after the Hillsborough disaster was very poignant.

Andy: I’m not a native of Liverpool rather I was born and bred a Stokie…and this season has been a joyous one for me seeing Stoke City back in the top division. Stoke is only 45 miles or so from Liverpool, and I remember going to Eric’s to see The Dickies on a matinee show when I was about 15 – brilliant!

++ Why and when did you call it a day? What did you all do after splitting up?

Simon: Unfortunately I had a disagreement with the rest of the band shortly after the album was released and subsequently left. I worked in the railway industry and then moved into teaching. I now live and teach in Lyon, France. As far as music is concerned, I played with a few other people, the most serious being with a friend called Jim Noble in a group called Sunriser. But nothing has reached the dizzying heights of playing in The Vernons. I still love music and play the guitar every day.

Tom: The rest of us soldiered on for a bit but it wasn’t the same. It was very depressing, coming straight after the excitement of releasing the album. I think I was the next one to go about 3 months later. We had a new singer who was good, but it never really worked. Andy may disagree…

Andy: I DO disagree a little actually. Andy Holland was a good singer and front person, but we had lost all momentum (not to mention our audience!) after the time it took to find him and get him in – it was the timing that was all wrong really…shame as I thought we were sounding pretty good just before we packed in. After The Vernons I started playing some stuff with Jon and Haydn from St Vitus Dance (also on Probe, and reformed with a new album out), which was fun but didn’t last too long. I actually didn’t touch my guitar for years on end, but maybe 3 or 4 years ago I started playing and writing stuff again, and have something of a band going with Tom and another friend Amos. I would like to play gigs again – I really used to love playing gigs with The Vernons and that is what I look back on with most fondness. I still see some of the guys from the band – Tom, Jon and Mick – and the Myspace page I put together got me back in touch with Simon B, Andy Delamere and Geoff. I’ve stayed great friends with Haydn and it was his idea to do the Myspace page…

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Simon: Still working on that ‘difficult second album’!

Tom: Hey Simon! Considering your employment history and current location it is quite odd / ironic / coincidental / remarkable that you once wrote a song called Running Free on the TGV… Lyon, of course, being the terminus of the inaugural TGV line when it opened on September 27th 1981.

Andy: It’s good to be in touch again with various Vernons-types across the globe after all this time…and thanks for your interest, Roque!


The Vernons – Stockton-On-Tees


Today I felt it was time for some ramshackle pop in here. Not very sure where to start, I went over some of the latest posts on blogs I frequently visit. I thought about posting about Juniper (as Skatterbrain did), but I think I’ve found one of the members and thought: “always an interview is better than whatever I can write about a band”. Facts coming first hand from the band are way better. Especially as I’m pretty sure the A Turntable Friend 7″ was their first release and not the Orange Peel one as stated by Matthew, but, who knows. Both were out 1996. I only own the Fantastic Records 7″. Anyways, moving on, because I felt like writing at 12:30 am, I went over some of those legendary tapes from the 80s. Why not, most of the bands that appear in them are quite unknown to me. And listening them again always bring a surprise.

Perfect Kiss are a very difficult band to google. Of course, New Order’s song is what comes up most, if you were wondering. The song “So Many Alike” that appeared on the Positively Teenage cassette tape is the only one I know from them. It’s an upbeat, ramshackling slice of pop, quite lo-fi, quite happy, a little treat. It totally has a demo feel to it which I find charming. I wonder if they recorded any more songs. I bet Stephen Almighty Pop! must know something else about them (or maybe has a demo tape in a box in his garage!), especially as he put the tape out and the address for Perfect Kiss, on the fanzine, tells that they lived in Durham, UK. Same as Stephen!

What does it say about them on the zine?

Ashley Staff – Drums
The only drummer to have a drumroll every five seconds. This country lad from Town Kelloe is never sober (or is that in time) he also has a wicked lire in Callini t-shirts. Compensates by being a good laugh.

Dave Hickson – Vocals, Guitar
Unfortunately Dave loves Bronwyn from ‘Neighbours’ which has dented his credibility. However his wicked song introductions and bottom wiggling allows him to play guitar and sing as cool as Ralph McTell. He is to the band what Cliff Richards was to the Shadows.

Paul Dixon – Guitar
Walks home in the t-shirt while its snowing. Only just joined so is not featured on ‘So Many Alike’ but his stage prescense will allow Dave to insult the audience. Achieves amazing amplifier distortion when he remembers to turn it on.

Martin Scott – Bass
Falls asleep during practices and often pouts, (but is usually chewing a Cadbury’s creme egg). Refuses to turn his amp down, probably because he doesn’t know how to, he also suggests cover versions no-one else wants to do.

And that’s all. But maybe somebody else can throw some more facts, bits and bobs, maybe a gig review (!), on the comments section! Always good to know the whereabouts and what happened to the members.


Perfect Kiss – So Many Alike


News. Bits and bobs. Releases. Songs. Stuff.

  • A new split 3″ is out now and it includes the the fantastic Newcastle (United) band Pale Man Made and the lovely Malmö duo Leaving Mornington Crescent! Expect fuzzy guitars and catchy girl/boy vocals from the English side and perfect jangly pop from the Swedish side. As usual it’s US$ 5 and includes postage to anywhere in the world.
  • Also out now is a new 7″ by the fantastic Slow Down Tallahassee. It is a split 7″ shared with Standard Fare and was released by The Sheffield Phonographic Corporation. It includes two songs by our favourite Sheffield trio: “Angel of Death” and “Tricks”. Buy it here for £3.49 plus postage. It’s limited to 300 copies
  • Je Suis Animal has two new 7″s too. The first is ‘Fortune Map’ and it’s a split single with Glasgow’s finest Wake The President, released on Lucky Number Nine/Electric Honey Records. Get it here. And the second comes from Angular Records and has the fabulous The Mystery of Marie Roget on the A side and Secret Place on the B-side. You can purchase this one here.
  • The new Daisychain Connection website is up now! It has lots of mp3s to download from the band and different other projects of Stephen and Ian like Giant Loop of Sound, Dunn & Kirton and 99 Mr Bens. Check it out here.
  • Dan from Politburo just updated me that he has two new songs playing on Myspace. Well, maybe not new as they were recorded decades ago, but new for me! They are Euphoria, I Suffocate, Deaf, Dumb & Blind and Half a Hairpin. Totally worth passing by and listening to these tunes as they are FANTASTIC.
  • Our Bluetrain CD on Plastilina, the retrospective “Some Greater Love” is now sold out. This is our first sold out release and we are very happy about it and proud too!
  • Also The Bridal Shop mini album In Fragments is out on Plastilina… I think I forgot to mention it here! Anyways, it’s a fantastic 6 song CD that you shouldn’t miss. Prepare to dance, prepare to dream.
  • Intercity Baby ‘09 fanzine is out too. I got it in the mail just yesterday and it’s lovely. It’s been beautifully put together by my friend Jennifer (yes the same Jennifer that comments often in this blog!). I copy/paste her professional press release: The zine is full of romantic reminiscing on journeys – be they by train, car, or airplane – and the wonderful people and pop events that await us on the other end. I cannot fully express how genuine and fascinating the stories are. I really can’t wait for you to read them! Some of the contributors include Anorak’s own Pete Green, PeteOutcognito, and Martijn! Laz of Bubblegum Lemonade, Jenny of Strawberry Fair, and Charlie of Bears and The Golden Rule also wrote featured pieces.As stated in the first post of this thread, I posed five questions to a number of international pop luminaries. Some of those who thoughtfully answered these questions are from The Orchids, Summer Cats, Pocketbooks, One Happy Island, Friends, The Foxgloves, Very Truly Yours, and more!If you’d like to order one, you can PayPal me at popchicago @ gmail. Each copy (including postage) is $5 if you live in the U.S. and $7 if you live anywhere else. Copies will also be available through the luscious Caramel as soon as they receive my parcel.
  • What am I listening right now? A great German compilation called “19 Goldene Hits” that was released in the early nineties. It has songs by great tracks by Pleasure, Going Down With Brilliance, The Groovy Cellar, Crack’ A’ Wheat and more! More info in the Firestation Records blog.
  • What is the latest video I enjoyed on Youtube. Well it’s this fantastic performance by The Room playing their GREAT song Shirt on Fire. I only found this some days ago, don’t know why as this is one of my favourite songs ever.
  • The Hamburg POP Weekender was last weekend… and guess what, I missed it. Hope someone blogs about it. Would love to know how did it go!
  • A new 7″ on this little label will be out on May 5th! It’s by Swedish Pop-gazers Signed Papercuts! It’s fantastic, believe me, it includes Of My Heart as a A side and Sound of Silence as the B side. The artwork comes from the great Canadian illustrator Danny Zabbal. You can preview the A side on the Cloudberry Records main page.
  • Oh! I just got 100 Cloudberry badges/pins. I’ll post them with the next 100 orders, of course. So if you’d like to get one..


Leaving Mornington Crescent – April Song
Pale Man Made – In Your Bed


This past week I saw on eBay the elusive “(There Is) No Refrain” 7″ by Harrison. How much did it sell for? US $201.50.

This extremely rare single, this infrequent round slice of plastic, this black and white sleeve with a girl and her jump rope, shows up maybe once a year on the bidding site. And then everyone tries to have a hold on it. Of course it depends on how big your wallet is and if you are willing to confront the mighty yen. Facts about the band are very scarce. On the listing it says it was released on  the Skipping Rope label (Skip 01) and recorded in Birmingham. And then I found some bits of information on my friend Jessel’s blog. He showcased “Simply This”, the B-side, on one of his famous online mixtapes. He wrote:

One of my favourite songs! Even my 5 year old daughter enjoys singing this, especially when the “pa-pa-rap-paps” chorus comes in! The band was based in Hinckley in Leicestershire and was composed of Mick Adams on guitar, Matt Price on vocals and keyboards, Nige Shephard on bass and Andy Hill on Drums and was managed by a guy named Mike Walker! Sadly this self released 7″ was the band’s only output…2 great songs! I hope they (the band) or someone out there have a copy of their unreleased music…I would really love to hear more songs by them and find out what happened to the band members!

Lucky Jessel that he owns a copy. He is spot on with his questions too. What really happened to the band members! Where did they go?  were they involved with other bands? how do they feel about the prices their 7″ sells on eBay? or just to know how many records were pressed? It’s so rare that it seems only 50 were pressed!

I’m fonder to the A-side though! (There Is) No Refrain is such a wonderful song! Listen it yourself (that fantastic galloping bass lines… so good!). If you know anything else about this fantastic single, or about the whereabouts of the band members please share! A band like this can’t fall into oblivion!


Harrison – (There Is) No Refrain


Thanks so much to Nicky Scott for the interview!

++ 20 recorded songs but no releases. How did you end up recording so many songs and not putting them out on a record?

i suppose we were developing our sound and never thought about putting them out as singles or a cd.

++ How many demos were released? Do you remember the tracklist of them?

We released 3 demo’s with hand felt-tipped covers and envelopes, which was a great job !

Demo 1
1) Randall and Hopkirk (deceased)
2) Three White Leopards
3) Cattleline
4) Hide the Clock

Demo 2
1) Cloak and Dagger
2) The Magic Faraway Tree
3) Amateur Dramatics
4) The Wishing Chair

Demo 3
1) Climb
2) Painted They Stare
3) Claiming Islands
4) Soap Sculptures.

++ How did The Wishing Chair came together? Was the Carlisle music scene small? Did the name The Wishing Chair come from Enid Blyton’s books?

We had all been friends for a long time, and had been in a band six years previously together called ‘Long Street’. Stephen and I were school friends and had been in a band together at school called ‘Jamswamp’ after school we worked together delivering beds and furniture and had a love of music and Carlisle United, we met Liz when we were thirteen through a friend and great inspiration at the time called Steve Harkins who was singer/songwriter.simon was alot younger than us but fit in really well, and we knew him from various bands around town. At the time there was a very healthy mix of bands, who were all very supportive of each other, The Twiggs, who were my favourites, Cosmic Cat, the E-Springs, The Cat in the Hat, The Mighty Helmets, April Sunshine, Red Mullet, 10 Gladioli. The name certainly did come from Enid Blyton, A world of make believe, but with both dark and light story lines The sense of escape, adventure and realising true and full potential are laced throughout each song and each song was like a short story with characters entering, telling their tale then disappearing off…to I know not where

++ Speaking about children books, which are your favourite 5?

– Lion the witch and the wardrobe (there’s a theme here isn’t there, of magical lands)
– Lord of the rings (as a series of books)
– The Wishing Chair (of course)
– The magic faraway tree
– The Shoot football annual of 1975 (as Carlisle United were featured in it as they were in the top big las league then)

++ What were your first dreams and intentions with the band? Did you have any particular style or band you wanted to sound like or was it mainly about getting together and having a good time while playing?

Getting together, having a good time and blending everything we’d ever heard into our own sound was how we sailed all the songs were drawn from emotion and real life and fantasy

The dream was to stay dreaming…

++ Seems like you and the others were in a couple of other bands on the side, was it hard to find time for Wishing Chair? Which were these bands you were involved with? Were being in bands and play music a common hobby in Carlisle?

Stephen and I both played in different duos playing the working mens club/pub/bingo hall circuit which provided us with a living. Stephen was in partnership with guitarist Ian ‘mert’ from the Daisychain Connection in a duo called ‘Waiting for the Postman’ and I was in ‘the men upstairs’ with Paul Musgrave who was the singer in ‘Celtic Storm’, so if we were playing at night, we would rehearse in the afternoons, the duos were our bread and butter so we needed to do it, and we played 3/7 nights a week, I enjoyed it but I think stephen would say different. I suppose being on the circuit you come across many musicians across the ages from your area, so everybody did seem to be a musician, but its like that in every town im sure

++ Being from Cumbria, so close to Scotland, who were more influential for you at the time, Scottish bands or English bands? I guess also Scottish bands toured more around your town, right?

I love it that Carlisle used to be in Scotland (even though I love being English) I feel it breaksdown the crazy nationalistic sillyness that sadly has ebbed and flowed throughout history. We’re a City firmly influenced by both, aswell as Italians (who came to build a great big wall) and Danish who came and knocked down loads of walls, then settled down to stay I love how when you peep under the covers of nationality you see that it is indeed a great big collage of identity.

As a band we were influenced by both English & Scottish bands soaking up everyting we came across (like a big pop sponge).

Touring wise we got a good mix back in the 1970’s & 80’s sadly the bands used to play in our Market Hall, which had a glass ceiling so in the summer it was like watching a gig in a green house

++ Last summer Paul Vickers wrote a piece about you saying that “the music they played was quite skiffley, but with Johnny Marr-style guitar. It had a Hans Christian Andersen quality to it as well – lots of childlike imagery”. That’s a nice comment to receive! What about the Hans Christian Andersen reference, you think it was based on the music itself or simply the rather imaginative song titles (mainly thinking about 3 White Leopards which indeed could’ve been a child play by Andersen, and of course The Wishing Chair)?

Paul’s description is absolutely ace we couldn’t have put it better ourselves We were always facinated by the different levels of things like Hans Christian Anderson they were adult stories told in a child like way with all the hope, fear and excitement that childhood holds and with no limitation to imagination and possibility. 3 White Leopards is a pastiche of TS Eliot poems i’ve always been fascinated by ‘metaphysics’ (on a very basic level, not the deep deep really complicated levels that talks about maths and stuff, but on the level of it being ‘the theory of being and knowing’) this was a theme throughout all the Wishing Chair songs.

++ How often did you practice together and how did the usual rehearsal look like? Did you meet for other things other than playing, like mini golf or maybe paint ball?

We used to rehearse as much as we could, I would think at the beginning it was everyday, and that continued, we loved sculpting the songs, Simon our drummer was brought in once a week , so it was me, Stephen and Liz practicing round the fireside most nights, and in our spare time we all enjoyed origami and shark fishing together.

++ You recorded the song Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), was it your favourite TV Show and why? Which other TV shows did you enjoy back then?

Randall & Hopkirk was such a great concept two detectives and one of them a ghost who could walk through walls and basically be wherever he wanted without being spotted.

Fave TV show was Mr Benn the very thought of having a mate (in a fez) who can offer you different costumes and doorways to felt tip coloured worlds completely blew up my tiny brains as a child and still sets off quite a few explosions now.

++ Its interesting that you never released any records but managed to shoot some live videos. Were you a live band more than a studio one? Any particular gigs that you remember the most?

We did a bit of everything. we used to enjoy playing acoustic in the bar of our local arts theatre before and in the intervals of productions,because it was like our fireside rehearsals,very intimate, i don’t think we ever had a bad gig,it was all a big adventure.

++ What was the biggest highlight of The Wishing Chair as a band?

Being in a band together

++ Why and when did you call it a day? What did The Wishing Chair members did after?

I don’t think we ever split up ! we’ve all done loads of different things since then, Stephen is a professor of pop and spreads the word in many directions, Liz is postmaster general and runs base camp, Simon toured the world playing in big bands on cruiseships and I live in Thailand and have a live music venue

++ You now have your own band November222 and you included The Wishing Chairs song ‘Wishing Chair’ on your first live show (which you do superbly)! Have you ever covered other Wishing Chair’s songs?

hey thanks, we did a version of ‘digging in the shade’ i didn’t play the original recording to the Thai lads in the band, so it was a very different version,and i was singing it, i have some live video, so it maybe will be on youtube on eday . and most nights i do an acoustic set in the bar and one or two songs sometimes make the set.

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

Thanks for taking a trip in The Wishing Chair, Off we go, we know not where ………


The Wishing Chair – Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)


Thanks so much to Phil Andrews for the interview!

++ Why did you decide to call it a day with Chapter 29 and start The Morrisons? I’m quite curious of that first band of yours, were there any recordings or releases?

I think we had gone as far as we could with it really. It was Ian and Jerry’s first band in which they literally learned to play. If it had been 1986 and not 1982/83 I think the twee sound would have found a better home. There were a number of fairly basic recordings and funnily enough these have just been released as a CDR album by Series Two Records.

++ Were you fan of The Doors at all? Or was the name a joke? What were your favourite bands at the time?

Ian was a big fan of The Doors but the idea came one Sunday night when we were both down the pub and pretty drunk! We were nearly called The Jim Morrisons!! Ian has always been a big garage rock 60’s fan and introduced me to The Velvet Underground amongst others. We were both very inspired by punk and the “just go and do it” ethic to writing and playing.

++ How did the whole band came together? At one point you were a five piece right? you even had a saxophone!

We actually started as a five piece and after about six months (in time for our first gig) Shelley joined on saxophone and backing vocals to make it six!!

++ Why did you decide to self release the Listen To Your Heart flexi? H ow fast did those 1000 copies go?! How did you afford pressing it?

We saw that a flexi was the way forward through the music press at the time and we actually recorded ours before we had even gigged. Once John Peel played it several hundred copies went via mail order within the first couple of weeks. Johnny Dee then approached us about giving the balance away with his Especially Yellow fanzine which we did and that lead on to the EP for Playroom Discs. Ian, Jerry and myself saved up the money for the flexi at £10 a week each for about two months.

++ Most of your recordings were done “live”, straight to a four track! Why did you do it that way? Were you looking for something with more energy? What difference do you find between those recordings and the Playroom EP?

Most of the recordings were done live on four track because that was all we could afford. Home recording equipment was still basic and expensive and a “proper” recording session would have been too expensive as well. It does have the advantage of sounding more rough and edgy and because the recordings were done with friends we could do more of them and re-do the ones that didn’t work out so good. With the exception of Travellin’ Boy and Lament we were disappointed with the EP sound which we felt was too polished. Ian and I prefer the four track demo versions of the songs better.

++ The EP of yours is fantastic. Listen To Your Heart, Storm, Lament (such a good bassline and trumpets!) and the underrated Travellin’ Boy (this could have been a single by itself!). Why didn’t you keep releasing more music? I heard Golden Pathway was going to release something but it never happened? What’s the story?

Thanks Roque. We always liked the EP songs it was just the recordings that sounded too polished!! Golden Pathway were poised to release our next single which was going to be Brighter Days as Karen and Gordon at Playroom Discs still had other EP’s to get out before they could think about another Morrisons one. Things still moved very slowly back then and we needed the distribution network that the labels had remember there was no internet and MySpace back then. Travellin’ Boy by the way was always one of my favourite Morrisons songs we did play it again in the live set a while back which was fun. On the subject of bass lines it must be said that Dave is an awesome bass player.

++ How was your relationship with Johnny Dee? How helpful was him with his Especially Yellow fanzine in spreading the word of The Morrisons?

Johnny was real helpful. Without his input giving away Listen To Your Heart with Especially Yellow we wouldn’t have got the EP deal with Playroom Discs. We mainly exchanged letters (no e-mail then) but I’m sure I met Johnny once at his flat in Brighton when Ian and I visited Karen and Gordon but my memory is a little wobbly here it was a long time ago. I always read Johnny’s articles if I come across them in the papers though.

++ What was the biggest highlight for The Morrisons? Maybe getting the flexi played by John Peel?

The John Peel plays will always be special he was after all the most iconic DJ of all time. We did play some really great gigs at the time too people seemed really up for it. It still surprises me though when people get in touch now who bought the records back in the 80’s.

++ Do you remember anything about those tape compilations were you appeared? Like the Rewind compilation tape or the Now That’s Righteous one? Who did these? How did you end up on them?

We used to do loads and loads of fanzine interviews at the time and these would often come with requests for tracks for compilation cassettes. We always donated tracks and I lost count of who had what. It’s great to see that some of those are really popular even now.

++ On the Leamington Spa compilation liner notes you say you were darlings of the fanzine scene! How involved were you in that scene? Did you ever gave it a shot to make one? Which ones were your favourite ones?

As I said above we were doing several a week they were a great way of getting the band’s name around. We never started one ourselves although the local one here called Swim I would regularly write for. Favourite fanzine well Especially Yellow of course!!

++ What was your favourite gig playing for The Morrisons and why?

It would have been in 1987 at Bart’s Tavern in Exeter. We played with a band called The Precious Stone Thieves and the place was packed. There was no stage at Bart’s and the audience was literally pressed right up tight in front of the band. We played really well that night and made lots of friends. We were always regulars at Bart’s after that.

++ Why did you call it a day in 1988? Were you involved in any bands after that?

I think we were all getting frustrated. Things weren’t moving fast enough for us I think we felt we should be touring and releasing records but it seemed to take forever for things to move forward. In hindsight I think we needed a Manager we were still doing everything ourselves from writing songs to booking live dates, PA hire and vans etc. I played bass in a band called Jensen for about five years. Ian, Jerry and Dave played in a number of bands before we re-formed The Morrisons in 2003. We lost contact with our drummer Jason until a couple of months back when he spotted our You Tube stuff and got back in touch again.

++ You released a fantastic retrospective CD with the good friends of Firestation Records called “Songs From the South of England”! Im very glad it happened as it introduced your music to a broader audience. How do you feel about your songs twenty years later? I think they’ve aged really well! Which is your favourite song of your repertoire?

It was great to do the Firestation release as it drew together lots of loose ends and packaged up a lot of songs that had just sat quietly on the shelf getting dusty. I think a lot of the songs still sound good and I’ll often strum through some of them at home even now! We do play some of the 80’s stuff in our live sets now but it tends to be “forgotten” ones that we never recorded at the time. Favourites would be Travellin’ Boy, Storm and Brighter Days (we have been known to play all three of these even now!!).

++ Last question, which is your favourite beach in Torquay?

It’s called Oddicombe and is real quiet compared to the main tourist beaches. You can reach it by using an old Victorian cliff railway which is fun and there is a good pub called The Cary Arms about a ten minute walk away. If you ever visit Torquay give me a call and I’ll take you down there!


The Morrisons – Travellin’ Boy


Thanks so much to Jon Clay for the interview. Check out “Tunes for Saturday Boys” compilation CD on Firestation Records!

++ Your website enunciates, ‘The Ferrymen play Northern Pop’. What is Northern Pop?

Northern Pop is a name or genre that we made up ourselves. In a similar way that Northern Soul was so called because it was first played in the UK in clubs around the North of England, Northern Pop is guitar based pop music that was first played in the North of England!

++ How did the band start? How did you know each other?

The band started in late 1990 when Wayne decided to form a new band after his previous band split up. The early band went through a few line-up changes and I joined in 1992. Wayne’s girlfriend at the time was my cousin, so between her and a school-friend of mine I got persuaded to audition for the job of bass player.

++ More than ten people have played either live or when recording with The Ferrymen. Why did you have such a big cast of players in the band? Was it easier to work this way?

The simple answer is that many of the “extra” players didn’t really want to be in the band full time as they couldn’t commit the amount of time that was needed. So, we used a lot of people for recording, but only a few of those ever played live. Throughout the life of the band we only ever had 2 keyboard players that actually played live, and only 1 trumpet player. WE played 1 gig with a trumpet player and sax player together… the gig sounded great but unfortunately the sax player didn’t want to join the band full time.

++ Why do you say it’s not cool to come from Doncaster? I’ve never been there, but I totally be interested to visit, maybe you can tell me what are the sights?

Ha ha…. Doncaster doen’t really have any sights! Doncaster is a very large industrial town in the North of England, and it’s nearest major cities are Sheffield and Leeds. Doncaster used to be a large coal mining town, but the majority of the “pits” closed in and around 1984, and the town sort of died along with the coal industry. This led to massive unemployment and deprivation which is still felt in some parts of the town today. In terms of the music industry, people just didn’t want to know if you came from Doncaster as it wasn’t considered a cool place to be. Lots of famous bands have come from Sheffield, and for a while it was a cool place to be in the 1990s (Pulp etc), but that never filtered through to Doncaster. Also, living in a city can be quite cosmopolitan due to the different mix of people that live there, but Doncaster didn’t really have that back then. Many people led their lives with closed minds and little imagination unfortunately.

++ How do you feel about all The Housemartins comparisons? Were you big fans of Paul Heaton’s band?

Well, it was obvious that we would get compared to The Housemartins as we did sound very much like them, although we tried to throw in a bit of influence from The Redskins too! We were (and still are) all big fans of The Housemartins and even the first couple of Beautiful South albums, but we also had many other varied likes and influences.

++ Whole World was your first and only 7″, right? Who released it? Which songs did it include? Any anecdotes about this fantastic record?

Yes, Whole World was our first and only 7″ single which came out on the German Black Pearl label. The 7″ contained “Whole World” , “The Story Is Always The Same” and *******************

++ You also released a couple of demos which got great reviews, why didn’t these tracks end up on vinyl?

In total I think we released 4 demos. The tracks didn’t end up on vinyl as we simply didn’t have the opportunity to release them. That has always been a real bugbear of mine, having never released an album. That’s why I was really happy when Firestation Records asked if they could put out the compilation that I’d been planning!

++ You were around a time were the jangle pop acts weren’t getting any press compared to the late 80s. On the other hand you got to tour Germany and Spain which a few bands do. What were the highlights of The Ferrymen career?

The obvious highlights of our career were the Spanish and German tours, but we also had lots of great gigs in England too. My personal highlight was getting the “Whole World” 7″ released because it was my first ever record. Another highlight of mine was playing at the legendary 100 Club in London…. it was after that gig that everything fell into place for us. Also, one of our stickers appeared very briefly in the well known film The Full Monty, so that was another highlight!

++ Were any of you involved with bands before or after The Ferrymen?

Yes, most of us got together shortly after The Ferrymen split to form a band called Barny. We were only together a short while and we played, I think, only about 10 gigs. Most of the gigs were in London but we also played in Brighton and Leeds a few times. By that time I had moved to live in London and the rest of the band were still in Doncaster and Leeds, so things didn’t really work out. After that I stopped playing and became a live sound engineer for other bands and began working in and around London. Wayne and Mat continued in various other bands for a while, but only myself and Wayne are still playing now. I am currently in a band called The Platers with a friend of mine, as well as recording with various other projects.

++ Why did you do the “There’s Only One F In Ferrymen” fanzine? What did you write in them? Was it a team project or how did it work?

We made the fanzine because we felt that it was something we could give to our friends and fans to make them remember us! Of course, all this was in the days before Myspace, Facebook etc. so it was a lot harder for bands to get people to come to shows. The fanzine included topical cartoons about what we had been doing along with copies of press cuttings, gig dates, stories and photographs. It was really a team effort but all the printing was done by me on the quiet at work

++ Why did the band call it a day?

This is quite a difficult question to be honest, because you will get a different answer depending on who you ask! The fact is several members of the band were not happy about certain aspects of the German tour, and this caused tensions between the band and the promoter. During the tour the band split up and we drove back to England with 2 gigs remaining. I don’t really want to say more than that, as I don’t want to dig up old problems / opinions.

++ You just released a fantastic retrospective CD on Firestation Records called “Tunes for Saturday Boys”, what can the first time listeners expect on this album?

Listeners can expect most of the old tracks from the Black Pearl and Plastic Disc releases along with some tracks from the first ever demo and lots of live tracks…. 20 tracks in all! The songs have all been remastered to make them as good as possible, so it’s well worth getting hold of a copy!

++ Was it an easy decision to release this album after all these years? I really recommend it, right now my favourite song is Many Times, what is your favourite Ferrymen song?

Well, it was always something that I wished we had done but due to circumstances an album release never happened. I was considering releasing one myself, but Firestation Records asked to do it and so I jumped at the chance! A label such as Firestation Records has far better contacts and distribution than me, and they have done a fantastic job. My favourite song…. wow, that’s a difficult one….. probably One Saturday, We’d Take You In Our Sleep or So Angry…. I can’t decide!!!

++ Anything else you’d like to tell the pop fans out there?

I’d just like to thank everyone involved in the release of this CD and to say thanks to all those people who have bought copies or are going to buy a copy…. support the independent record labels! So, if you liked The Housemartins, The Redskins and early-Beautiful South then this album is for you!


The Ferrymen – Stop Bending Backwards


Some time ago I wrote about Perth’s Stolen Picassos. I asked then if they had anything to do with The Picasso Twins. And the answer is yes. All this Picasso fanatism comes from Martin Gamble, the guitar player and vocalist of both bands. Which came first? The Stolen Picassos who were around more or less from August 1986 to May 1988 according to the Party Fears fanzine’s “Rickenbackers Revenge” (The Perth pop scene family tree). After the Stolen Picassos were over, Sandra Morgan, the vocalist, and Martin Gamble decided to keep on going, after the demise of Graham Hope (who I believe joined The Summer Suns at this moment) and form what would be The Picasso Twins.

There’s more to the story of course, there was a time when Martin collaborated with Ian Freeman from The Palisades and called their band The Pelicassos Brothers. Also during the early nineties, after The Picasso Twins, Martin went to record as The Mardi Picasso. But I don’t want to branch out too much, maybe leave these bands for future posts. Focus back on The Picasso Twins, on Martin and Sandra. I’d guess they were dating, though this is none of my business, right. What is, for sure, my business is that they released a tape album called “Some Mardi Sandwich” which included 12 songs. These are very very short songs, some of them lasting for a minute, some less than that, and none past the 3 minute mark. They are mostly acoustic songs and barely there’s any percussion. These are lovely little bits, but I won’t recommend them to you if you are going to go jogging around the park. The Picasso Twins are for a locked in Sunday, and if you have rain, even better.

The tracklist of the tape is as follows:
01. We All Fell Down
02. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
03. Maybe I Will
04. In a Vice
05. Too Close
06. Grin and Bare it
07. Listen to Me
08. You Took My Head
09. Slender Waste
10. Great Expectations
11. Lie Until Down
12. One Into Three

And sorry, no rapidshare link. :p

Around early 1989, Martin and Sandra decided to leave Perth and relocate in Sydney. Something must have went wrong there as they split up soon after. That was it for The Picasso Twins. They only lasted a year. Martin went back to Perth and started to record on his own. On the other hand Sandra stayed in Sydney and teamed up with Ian Freeman (from Palisades, Pelicassos Brothers, Peppermint Drops, Mars Bastards) and started a short lived project called Flowerburger, not sure if they ever recorded anything.

Fast forward 20 years later. What happened to them? No clue. Would be nice to know their whereabouts and interview them!


The Picasso Twins – Lie Until Down