Thanks so much to Toshiko Matsumoto for the lovely interview! Visit her mailorder here.

++ Hello Toshiko! How was the weekend? :)

I met my friend from France (who is a pilot of Air France and also a great fan of Sarah Records & indie pop!) and talked about indie pop music, indietracks, french pop, tour de france…No festivals : )

++ You’ve worked on so many indiepop projects that I can only say your indiepop activism is inspiring! But how did you get to listen to indiepop for the first time?

I started to have listen to indiepop from mid-80s. Firstly I was into British bands like The Smiths and Aztec Camera. I used to read magazines, go to imported-record shops, listen to the radio, make an off-air recording of an FM radio program watched MTV, check the US/UK charts to find nice bands/songs…it’s very hard thing here in Japan because there’s no internet at the time, Japanese was/is apt to close the door for foreigners and imported-magazines like NME was terribly expensive then.

++ Tell me the story behind Apple Crumble Record store, when did it start and who formed part of the store? Why the name Apple Crumble?

Apple Crumble Record Shop was born in Summer 2002. Me and my friends (Akira & Kazu) organized the club-party which is called “Bert’s Apple Crumble”. It’s the song-title of the 60s mod/soul group “The Quik”. I think it’s good name for the shop because “apple crumble” is famous as a sweets in Britain and it’s also suitable for an expression of “small but sweet” indie pop music : )

++ Sadly the Apple Crumble store closed not so long ago but you still offer the online mailorder. This must have been a hard thing. What is that that you miss the most of running the store?

Yes, I decided to close the shop in December last year because I was in poor health, really.
I could meet the people all over the world who love indie pop at the Shop. It’s a wonderful experience in my life.

++ You were also running Rosemary Records. How did you start the label? What inspired you? What is the full discography of the label?

Rosemary Records was born in 2003 to release the album of the Danish band “Labrador”. I found a kindred spirit in Flemming by e-mail. I hoped to collaborate with nice indie pop bands/people more and more. Labrador came to Tokyo to promote/play their songs in 2004. Mocca played in Okinawa where’s a town of the southest island in Japan in 2005. I had very nice time with them.

Here’s the discography of Rosemary Records :
ROSE 001 Labrador – Goodbye Susanne CD
ROSE 002 Labrador – Instamatic Lovelife CD
ROSE 003 Loch Ness Mouse – Cargo CD
ROSE 004 Mocca – Friends CD
ROSE 005 Bananaskin – Countryside Has Opened My Tired Eyes CD
ROSE 006 Seaside Stars – The Stranded Whale CD
ROSE 007 Sloppy Joe – Trying To Be Funny CD
ROSE 008 Mocca – Colours CD
ACR 001 Balloon Derby – Our Finest Hour 7″

++ You also DJ, right? How do you enjoy doing that? Have you ever DJed outside Japan?

I don’t organize “Bert’s Apple Crumble” anymore but I still get chances to DJ at venues, shows etc.
I DJed at the Lobo One party in Taiwan in 2006 and joined Elisa & Isman of Fruit Records’ party in Singapore in 2007. Listening & Dancing to the music of indie pop always makes me happy : )

++ And you also write on magazines about indiepop! I mean, you are unstoppable Toshiko! Since when do you write? Did you have a fanzine once? Where there any great Japanese fanzines you could recommend maybe for searching on ebay?

I’ve written about indiepop on the Cookie Scene magazine since 1998.
I have my column section “Indie Pop Around The World” and introduce nice indie pop music except US/UK. I’d written the disc reviews for Marquee magazine for a short-term.
I used to live in London in 1999. Then I made a fanzine which is called “Supermarket Full Of Cans” with the DJ member of “Bert’s Apple Crumble” (they also used to live in London in late 90s). The can-packages of British supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda were used for the covers of zines. Sumire of Violet and Claire Shop makes good zine “Twee Grrrls Club”.

++ You are writing the liner notes for the Another Sunny Day reissue in Japan! That’s awesome news. Have you written liner notes before? Or is this the first time?

I am honored to write the liner notes for the Another Sunny Day reissue in Japan. I’ve already written liner notes like The Would-Be Goods, Berntholer, Virna Lindt, Shout Out Louds, Velour, Le Sport, Hell on Wheels, Tweeterfriendly Music, The Unwanted (ex-The New Colours), The Samurai Seven, The Busy Signals, The Starlets, Astronaut (ex-Love Parade)…

++ How was your experience while working in Vinyl Japan? What was the best of those years and what exactly did you do? Favourite Vinyl Japan releases?

I was a buyer for the indie pop/rock section and imported the CDs/Vinyls from UK/Europe/US/all over the world. There’re “The Pop American Style” bands like Rocketship in the US, appeared digital rock bands like The Chemical Brothers and pop bands like Spearmint & Comet Gain from UK…so much fun even after “Swedish Pop/Brit Pop movement” era. My favourite Vinyl Japan releases are Dislocation Dance – Midnight Shift, The Hit Parade – More Pop Songs, Girls At Our Best – Pleasure, The Chesterfields – Crocodile Tears, Jazz Butcher – Distressed Gentle Folk, Jim Jiminee – Welcome to Hawaii…

++ You are quite a fan of the Philippines scene right? And you released not so long ago a 7″ by the band Balloon Derby! Care to tell me how did this release happened and what is the future of the Apple Crumble Record label?

Yes, I am. Me and Mike D. talked about indie pop music by e-mail and then we decided to make the 7s for Balloon Derby because their songs are so great! Mike D. is quite familiar with the Japanese bands/music-scene more than me : )

++ Where has Toshiko Matsumoto traveled in the world? Favourite city and why?

I’ve ever been to England, east coast of USA, Berlin/Germany, Stockholm/Sweden, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines…I like Manchester and London very much because we can spend the life with music. I like foods and weathers (not colder than Tokyo) in Asia.

++ What about Japanese food? Would you name your favourite 5 dishes and explain them a bit?

  • azuki bean icecream : a Japanese-taste ice cream. Very sweet!
  • yokan : sweetened and jellied azuki bean paste
  • hiya yakko : chilled tofu, topped with dried bonito flakes, eaten with grated ginger and soy sauce!
  • tempura : a Japanese deep-fried vegetables & fishes
  • oden : boiled vegetables/deep-fried patty of fish paste in a special soup of soy sauce, sugar, sake etc.

You should try to have Okonomiyaki, Yakiniku, Shabu-Shabu, Gyu-don, Sukiyaki, Gyoza if you love to have meat.

++ Thanks again Toshiko, anything else you’d like to add?

Enjoy music, don’t stop indie pop : )


Balloon Derby – Be My Lorraine Out now on Apple Crumble Record 7″


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

  • The Cloudberry blog was on a little vacation, but now I’m back! While you are enjoying Indietracks I will be grounded for being bad. But good bad, not evil. I’m terribly jealous of you all enjoying the festival. I thought this year I was going to make it there, but it didn’t happen. London Popfest will be my next stop then. Well, a small visit to Germany is due this October, I’m really looking forward to that! I think I’ll be DJing in both Hamburg and Berlin. I’ll update about these events later. Hopefully meet you there? Would be nice to have some beers!
  • Let’s get on the news though! A new 7″ in the horizon? Yup! That’s right. The mighty Parallelograms last offering will be out just a month from now. The release date is August 25th. What do you need to know about it? It’s the first 7″ Cloudberry release that includes 3 songs! The A side is reserved for the terribly catchy “Dream on Daisy” while the B side includes two future indiepop hymns “Papageno” and “Making Faces”. I’m very happy to get to work again with them, for the third time, especially as I’m such a sucker for their previous band, Velodrome 2000. If you haven’t listened them yet, check them here. Oh! and there will be badges for the first 100 orders!
  • Also, there’s tons of news at my other beloved label, Plastilina. Jalito and me have been working quite silently during the last months after The Bridal Shop release. So what is coming up in our little Peruvian imprint? First Stop: check the video for The Bridal Shop’s “Ideal State” here.
  • Second Stop: August 1st. And that’s just around the corner. This day marks one of the happiest and proudest moment for our label. It’s the release date of a new album by the legendary Pearly Gatecrashers! Oh dear, I’m such a fan of Lenore and Tim’s band. I’m pretty sure that “Age of Innocence” is the 7″ I’ve played the most of my whole collection. So, getting the opportunity to work with them is truly one of the biggest personal highlights this year! The album is called “But Wait, There’s More” and it includes 13 wonderful tracks that live up to the expectations of any Pearly Gatecrashers fan! A must for 2009!
  • Third Stop: The Dubious Brothers’ “Antiques”. We will release in September this wonderful retrospective album the songs by this fantastic 80s band whose releases fetch for hundreds of pounds on ebay. So keep an eye on this one as I’m pretty sure it will get sold out as fast as the Bluetrain album.
  • Fourth Stop: Also during the first days of September we’ll be releasing a compilation album including many of our bands hit songs and rare tracks. This will be a great introduction for anyone new to the label’s roster! For more info please visit our site here.
  • Another release you shouldn’t miss at all is the Summer Cats debut album “Songs for Tuesdays”! I still need to get it on vinyl, but I’ve had listened the CD version and it is indeed one of the best this year. Slumberland has done a great job the past months releasing some of the best indiepop bands around like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Liechtenstein, and now after more than a decade, one Earthmen gets a release again on the bay area label. I really recommend this album, and it includes two Cloudberry favourites: “Lonely Planet” and “Wild Rice”. Check the new video for the song “Super” here!
  • Cherry Red continue to release some fine indiepop retrospectives! This time they bring us for the first time on CD the debut album by The Farmer Boys: “Get Out & Walk”. This is a must have for everyone! The label says:
    First time on CD for the debut album from The Farmers Boys. Now fully expanded with ten bonus tracks alongside the original album – a full 1 hour 20 minutes of music. Includes the singles ‘More Than A Dream’, ‘For You’ and ‘Muck It Out’ (the latter did not feature on the original vinyl release!). 20 page booklet with an introduction from Stan, plus an archive interview with the whole band, along with promo photos, clippings and pictures from the bands personal collections. Produced by the band, Pete Hammond and Peter Collins, along with additional production from Pete Waterman and Julian Mendelsohn.
  • Another fantastic release on Cherry Red is the retrospective album by Blow-Up. I already ordered but haven’t had the chance to listen to this one. I hope it arrives home soon… but it looks promising! The album is called “The Kerbstones Turns to Moss”. More info here.
  • On more Cherry Red news… it seems they will re-release Another Sunny Days’ “London Weekend”! Hopefully there will be more news about this CD soon on the Cherry Red website.
  • Back to the Farmers Boys, I only found out about the 2003 release “Once Upon A Time In The East”. It’s a retrospective of their earlier recordings, all in 8-track, way before the first album. You can grab a copy writing to Stan, the guitar player, here. I think there are not many copies left but give it a chance! And hey, if you can, convince them to do an interview for this blog!
  • Although I’ve become less of a fan of Elefant during the last years, especially after dropping so many Spanish bands, they’ve kind of come back this year with very fine releases. Their latest is “The Rise & Fall of BMX Bandits” and this one I will order next week for sure. It’s not really a greatest hits but more of a Dugly’s favourite songs compilation. There’s even some unreleased tracks and very hard to find versions of album tracks. As a big BMX Bandits fan, this is superb news! You can read more about this release here.
  • Probably I’m missing some more fantastic releases, so do recommend me some on the comments section… and yes, I remind you again that the Harrison double-CD is out and it’s one of the BEST releases this year. It’s two CDs worth of songs, no fillers! Order it here.



The Pearly Gatecrashers – Penny Drops


Thanks so much to Matt Bolton and Eddie Taylor for the great interview! Check The Apple Moths on myspace!

++ You say you sounded like Richard and Matthews mums favourite band of all time: Cliff Richards. That can’t be true! But, I do wonder, how supportive were your parents in you having a band? Were they very supportive or did they give you a hard time?

Eddie: That’ll been Richard, he probably thought it was funny at the time! It’s obviously nt true but it goes back to Matt and Richard mum coming into the lounge when they had an Apple moths demo tape playing. After a few moments she turned to Matt and said ‘Oh is this the Apple Moths? I quite like it, it sounds a bit like Cliff Richard’ heaven knows which track it was? I never did ask.it.

Matt: True that my mum was a Cliff fan, but neither Eddie or myself can claim any responsibility for that comment, the Myspace was set up by Richard, we didn’t have any involvment with it. I think that comment was supposed to be humourous. But since you ask, both sets of parents were supportive, especially Eddie’s, who were quite happy to let us jangle and bang in their garage every weekend. My Dad took us to the studio in York where the single tracks were recorded, and he can be heard on the song ‘Kymri’, uttering the words ‘As of mighty waters falling’, just before the chorus. So yes, they were very supportive.

++ Another funny thing I read on your profile is that Roger, who drummed like a robot with no joints in his arms, said you sounded like a load of faggots! Who is Roger and why would he say such a thing?

Eddie: I have no idea? It’s probably said with his tongue firmly in his cheek, a bit of friendly banter. Roger I recall was a chap in the year below Matt and I. The was part of a band called ‘sheepskin children’ who were truly noisy and I’d go so far as to say pre-shoegazer which was to me in my naïve teenage years completely opposite to the beloved indie pop bands I worshiped. If you like it was a bit of friendly band rivalry.

We played a gig with them in Low Moor, Bradford. around 1988. That was where Richard and I lived at the time, charging 50 pence entry. It was packed with the entire 6th form that had not seen either of us live. We had them on saying we’d got a dancer which was actually one of those plastic marigold flowers that danced when it heard noise. Anyway they turned up and had recruited some mates to dance on stage and at one point laid down it their heads in the bass drum which must have really hurt. It was funny to see their faces when we introduced our dancer.

Matt: He he, again that was supposed to be humourous, although he did make that comment. Roger is a chap Eddie and I went to school with, and quite a character. Also a musician, but he took a darker path, listening to the likes of Joy Division and the Sisters of Mercy etc, hence the comment, but that was just Roger. I’m still in touch with him, he’s a successful photographer in Newcastle now, he’s photographed the likes of The Libertines, Babyshambles, and The Futureheads. Roger used to believe that if you got too proficient at an instrument, you should stop playing it and take up another. Eddie and I were kind of isolated in our love of Indie Pop living in Bradford, the only contact we had with like-minded spirits was usually through the post, we wrote to bands and people who wrote fanzines.

++ You and Matthew have been friends since school. What was the name of school, and do you remember how you met? Were you the noisy kind of student or the shy ones? Did you get good grades? Favourite class?

Eddie: We went to the same middle school – 9 to 12 years Priestman Middle School and then the same Upper School 13-16 years Buttershaw Upper which interestingly was the school where the film ‘Rita, Sue and Bob too’ was shot. I was an extra in one of the classroom scenes!!

Whilst at middle school Matt was into the jam and Frankie goes to Hollywood whilst I was into the Police and Adam & the Ants very main stream. Neither of us were musically inclined at that time. Just lads who enjoyed long summer days, messing about and having a laugh!

It wasn’t until Upper School that we started listening to alternative bands. The B-52’s, R.E.M. The Smiths still main stream. Then discovering John Peel changed everything. One of the first real indie bands that I got really excited about were the farmers Boys.

I enjoyed maths and sciences and art where now I prefer languages trying to learn Spanish at night school. I did ok with my grades enough to get into higher education and train to become a radiographer.

Matt: We certainly have, though we lost touch for a long while after the collapse of The Apple Moths. We’ve only been back in touch for a couple of years, and it’s difficult to try and get together as we both work all hours god sends, and we both have young children, Eddie was the clever one, I was too much of dreamer to pay much attention at school. We had a small circle of friends, and we liked it that way, as we didn’t really identify with the majority of our fellow pupils.

My favourite subjects were Art and English.

++ How did the other two members come on board? Was it easy to convince them to play with you?

Matt: I suppose we came to a point where we felt we weren’t progressing. We had a good repetoire of tunes, but neither Eddie or myself had the confidence to write lyrics and sing at the time.

So we recruited my older brother Richard for that task, and my cousin Steven on Keyboards. It all happened quite swiftly, considering we had the songs arranged ready for lyrics and melody to be added, and Richard did a fine job. Steven didn’t even need to try, his keyboard parts just flowed out of him, very talented chap. Everything gelled into place quite quickly, we didn’t know at the time that something that had taken so long in the making would come to an end quite abruptly with the addition of our new members.

Eddie: It was a bit of a family affair really for them but we all knew each other well and that helped. Yes, Steve was a really great keyboard player and Richard basically had the balls to get up and sing as he was a bit older and mature he had the self confidence being in bands before. I can’t sing despite recording vocals on ‘Everything’ and Matt could hold a tune but couldn’t play bass and sing at the same time.

++ Why the name The Apple Moths?

Eddie: We struggled to find a name for the band, it probably took over 12 months. A few examples were ‘The forevermores’ from St.Christophers ‘Forevermore starts here’ and Big Red Bus long before ‘Big red bus’ came into the fray. I took A Level Mathemetics which was broken down into ‘pure maths’ and ‘applied maths’. I had a file I had decorated with rather groovy wavy looking text. Matt and I were walking home and Matt asked who that band the Apple Moths was on my file? I laughed and explained it was an applied maths folder. A few days later Matt said hey you know that name ‘apple moths’ how about that for a name? The rest is history.

Matt: He he, that’s easy, it was simply a misreading of the words ‘Applied Maths’ on folder that Eddie was carrying home from school one day. I remember it quite vividly.

++ I was wondering, why did you have a drum machine and not a drummer? Was there any reason behind that?

Eddie: That’s easy… I would write the music [guitars, melody and drums] then I’d go up to Matts house and we’d jam the rest. Matt always came up with amazing bass lines. They’re really hard to hear on the tracks as he was very self conscious and always turned them down when I was saying no, no turn them up. I wanted a more Close Lobsters in your face bass line sound. In retrospect it was probably the right thing to do what we did.

My early influences at the time were the B-52’s, Thomson Twins [Albums ‘Set’, ‘A product of..’] the Farmers boys and the Field mice, all used electronic drums at some stage. Plus we didn’t know any drummers or at least anyone who had a drum kit and could keep a beat.

Interestingly we did initially have another friend of ours called Steve Clegg who did a bit of drumming for us with just a floor tom and snare but it just didn’t sound right, consequently I bought a Roland TR707 for £200.00 which was mega expensive in those days but was one of the most realistic and affordable drum machines at the time and intuitive to program. You should see how much they fetch on ebay these days. I was having a look to try and get one. Unfortunately they are much sought after by the old skool dance brigade.

Matt: Initially, it was simply because of a lack of musicians, we used to play with a floor Tom and tambourine, but we liked it being just the two of us anyway, and Eddie was really good at programming his drum machine. It worked for us and made things a lot simpler. Drummers are a strange breed, as we found out later :)

++ How did you end up releasing a record on German label A Turntable Friend? Did you send a demo to them? How come you didn’t release in the UK?

Matt: This one’s for you Eddie

Eddie: Gosh it was so long ago if I vaguely recall I think Ullrich contacted me after hearing the one of the compliation tapes we appeared on ‘Somethings Burning in Paradise’ tape I think. He wrote and asked if we’d be interested. That resulted in me asking a good friend of mine called Mike Norton who played bass in a Hull outfit called ‘The Pressure Group’ who I thought were a brilliant band to produce a few tracks for the record. We recorded Kymri, Fred Astaire, Life’s No fairytale and Miserable Town in two days.

++ Your 7″ is a favourite of mine, of course it is, I really enjoy playing it on the turntable whenever I have a chance. I was wondering why did you dedicate a song to Fred Astaire, and I was wondering if there is any cool anecdotes you could share from the recording sessions?

Matt: Thank you very much, it’s gratifying to know that our songs moved people, as it was always our intention to make music that sounded like the bands that moved us. It was our first experience of going into a studio, Eddie arranged it all, it was all a bit awe inspiring for me, so understandably was very nervous when it came to recording my basslines, but I muddled through. By stark contrast though, Steven got his keyboard parts down in one take, playing two at once! I think we all did a grand job though, there are some sublime guitar parts in the songs, good job Eddie! The studio was great, it was built in the engineer Mike’s garden. I forget the name, but it was in a quaint little village near York.

Eddie: It was Tollerton, near York

Matt: It was really great to have an ex member of the wonderful St. Christopher producing it too.

Eddie: Fred Astaire? I have no idea again! Richard was now writing the lyrics and singing to music Matt and I had written ages ago I suppose it just rhymed. Matt and I sang on ‘Everything’ but neither of us could sing and play simultaneously then!!

Anecdotes. Sort of… we used the same recording studio as St. Christopher in Tollerton, York. The reason being Nic Robson who used to play bass for St Christopher had moved to Bradford. We wrote initially as his was the contact address on the record sleeves for the 1st three St Christopher releaseses on blue grass records. Then later we met a few times and I was keen to get him involved with his experience before he emigrated to Australia. He suggested the studio they used as he got on well with the sound engineer, so we went. I didn’t know any other studios without digging out a yellow pages. [Ah, those pre Internet days where it took ages to find things. You can just google these days and a million replies come back]. Anyway, we were recording Kymri and unknown to me Richard and Matt had been trying out some harmonies so when it came to laying the backing vocals Matt tried to harmonise the word ‘sandals’ which just sounded so wrong, it was so camp in a ‘Jullian Cleary’ sort of way, we could not stop laughing for ages.

++ How many demos did you record? Do you remember the tracklist of these tapes? Will there be a retrospective album someday?

Eddie: We recorded lots and lots of demos in a portacabin over the road from Richards house, so they sounded pretty raw but you could tell that the songs were there in essence [ I’m kicking myself now] I threw them away when we had a loft conversion about 5 years ago. I always hoped Matt or Richard had a copy but alas they did not. I was getting into orange juice and had started getting better on the guitar so was playing more confidently.

Matt and Richard had very little memorabilia to be honest I seemed to have the majority. Payment for the fred astaire single was something like 50ncopies to sell ourselves. We gave most away recently I listed about 10 copies on ebay. Some power sellers are selling for about £75.00 wow!

Matt: Sadly, The Apple Moths output was very limited, however I recently rediscovered a tape containing a tune Eddie and I recorded on one of those Amstrad Midi Hifi/4 Track Recorders.

Eddie: Probably in your bedroom??

Matt: There were no vocals unfortunately, but it sounds gloriously Lo-Fi and wobbly, I’ll get it converted hopefully, but Richard disappeared with the tape, might never see it again :( We do have a video recording of our first gig at The Raw Nook Community Centre near to where Eddie lived, maybe that might get converted too one some day.

Eddie: That will be truly awful looking back now and should remain unseen!

++ What about the song Kymri? It’s one of your best, could have been a single with that fantastic keyboard!! Is it about Cymri maybe? How did you all came up with such a great track?

Eddie: Kymri yeah I liked that track but ‘miserable town’ was my favourite. I asked Uwe to put that on the Leamington Spa CD but he insisted on ‘Everything’.

Kymri was another title-less track just music until Richard got his haqnds n it and came up with the lyrics at home. He then sang them to us at rehearsal. They obviously stuck but never did work out about what they meant, if at all anything.

Matt: Yeah, it was a lovely song, I think it pretty much came out of nowhere too, very spontaneous song, Steven’s keyboards really made that song, I think the lyrics were inspired by a Science Fiction novel Richard was reading at the time. Like I say, that song almost wrote itself as far as I remember.

++ Did the Apple Moths gig a lot? Any particular gigs you remember?

Eddie: I think we did just two or three gigs in all that time. Just as we were actually getting a bit better and with Stephen coming on board meant the live sound was a lot fuller it sadly started to fall apart.

Matt: No, we only did a handful of gigs, we were something of an oddity as indie pop was a genre of music not commonly know of in our neck of the woods, as a result, we never went down too well playing live. Maybe a contributing factor to our untimely demise.

++ Your biggest highlight?

Eddie: Playing a battle of the bands competition in Bermuda shorts and pink pineapple t-shirts [designer brand from Bradford] during winter in a night club in Bradford called ‘Rios’ and finishing last. Running in a close second has to be releasing a 7” single whilst still at school, it was worth it for the kudos alone.

Matt: Definitely receiving our copies of the single, it was indescribable :)

++ Why and when did you call it a day?

Eddie: Humm…. I actually remember that day very well. I wish it hadn’t to be fair but we had reach a time when Matt and I who were extensively the core of the band started to drift apart with different interests. I was still in college training to be a radiographer and Matt had left sixth form and got a job. He had lots of spare money and started dating those weird creatures called girls. Richard was becoming more of a driving force behind the band and was taking us in another direction. The jangly indie scene I identified with was changing those bands were dying and the ‘Madchester’ scene ie Stone Roses, Charlatans, Inspiral carpets etc were arriving along with the floppy fringe shoe gazer brigade.

Matt: This subject is a cause of great sadness for me, it was all about musical differences as is usually the case, it was the early 90’s and I was very much into the Shoegaze movement. Bands like Slowdive I was obsessed with, so obviously I was keen for the band to move in a similar direction, Richard and Steven I think were on board with this, but Eddie was very much an indie pop purist, so naturally conflict arose. In retrospect I think I was to blame for the split, but at the time, I had no idea that the single was being enjoyed as much as it was around the world, I heard reports that the single had been recieved well in France, Germany, Spain and Japan, but I didn’t really believe it, I was convinced it had just faded into obscurity. It was much much later that I discovered that the single was indeed quite highly regarded. So, Eddie left under a cloud one evening during rehearsals, and we continued under the name Windy Miller.

Eddie: I don’t recall any arguments or fights I think I just thought this doesn’t feel right for me anymore so turned my back and walked away.

++ Care to tell me a bit about the band Windy Miller that was formed from the ashes of Apple Moths? Was there any recordings? Were you involved in any other bands?

Eddie: Over to Mr Bolton………….I had nothing to do with windy Miller or the other incarnations but they did make some good tunes.

Matt: The Windy Millers evolved quite rapidly with the addition of a drummer, Dann, and later a second guitarist, Russ. I went on to play guitar and Richard, already an accomplished bass player, took up bass duties. So Windy Miller was a far cry from what we were doing in The Apple Moths. However, two tunes ‘Win by Miles’ and ‘The River’ have recently re-emerged that we recorded soon after Eddie quit, listening to them now, they’re not a million miles away from The Apple Moths sound, and can be heard on the Apple Moths myspace.

++ What are the Apple Moths doing nowadays?

Eddie: I now play bass guitar in a Bradford based covers band called 53/12 in between working full time and trying to get out on my bike as much as physically possible without upsetting the missus! I have two little boys who are absolutely brilliant and enjoy coming home to play with them after work.

Matt: We’re busy being old, working, raising families, and looking wistfully back on our youth.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Matt: Yes, thanks you very much for showing an interest in The Apple Moths and asking us these questions, also I’d like to give thanks for running such an excellent record label.

Eddie: Me too, yes many thanks for the trip down memory lane……oh and yes everyone must buy a copy of the Hepburns ‘Trojan Hearse’ CD its truly wonderful and very under rated in my opinion.


The Apple Moths – Kymri


Thanks again to William Jones for another fantastic interview! Get all Summerhouse releases here!

++ On the early days of Summerhouse Records you were working as a Music Officer, what did this job consist of?

It was my first ‘career’ job. I’d worked as a kitchen porter and a barman to fund my postgraduate year and been a temp during college holidays, but this was the first job I’d actually wanted to do.

I went up to Stockton-On-Tees for an interview at the Dovecot Arts Centre in early 1982, and it was grim! This was in the depths of a very big recession, it was a cold, foggy February morning, and I thought ‘this is what I want to do’. I stayed nearly eight years.

The job was perfect for me. It involved programming – promoting pop, folk, jazz, classical, contemporary, world music – for the Arts Centre, running classes, courses and workshops, and teaching. We had jazz/rock workshops, a youth jazz orchestra, drum workshops, a month-long composer residency with Graham Fitkin involving two newly commissioned works, and a really thriving music programme. I also ran music groups in singing, string playing, did music workshops for adults with learning disabilities, and taught guitar to small groups. Considering there was no music programme there before, the job was like a blank sheet of paper for me to write something myself. My brief was to use music and the Centre’s two performance spaces to get people, especially younger audiences, through the doors. And how we did that!

I absolutely loved it. It was exhausting, usually 80-hour weeks, but incredibly satisfying. People I’ve met since then, and at the time, told me that the Centre and my work made a big difference to the cultural life of the area. That’s worth a lot. In any job there’s always office politics and frustrations to contend with, and eventually I left because I felt I was ready to manage a whole venue myself. Although I’ve probably become more skilled and knowledgeable since then, it was my favourite job and the best time of my life.

++ A question that I’m myself always curious, is how much has pressing records changed in the last twenty years? Is it easier now or more difficult? Has prices changed a lot? What about turnout times?

It has improved in almost every way – cheaper, quicker, easier, although we’re no longer involved with vinyl. Digital design and printing, and mastering, has made things much smoother, more accurate and quicker, so now turnaround can be as little as 7-10 days. Obviously you need to allow a longer lead time to get the thing marketed and on sale. 20 years ago you could usually count on something going wrong somewhere along the way – often a test pressing of the record would be faulty and you’d have to go 15 rounds with the mastering room and the pressing plant sorting out whose responsibility it was. The only thing that’s worse now is that it’s so much harder to sell the bastards!

++ You launched with three singles, one from Friends, one from Whirlpool Guest House and one by the 4,000,000 Telephones. I know how you met Carl, but what about the Lincoln band? Did they play in Stockton-on-Tees maybe?

In my job my antennae were highly attuned to new up-and-coming bands, locally and around the country, and Melody Maker, the old weekly music paper, had made 4,000,000 Telephones one of their bands ‘most likely to’ at the end of 1985 for the coming year. I got their LP sent to me and booked them at the Arts Centre. The album was great, and the band live were absolutely breathtaking. I fell in love with them immediately. They were unlike anything I, or you, have ever seen. Six composers, four of them singers, very fine players, swapping instruments, going out into the audience, and playing music which they themselves claimed often emptied rooms in five minutes, winning over a very tough Stockton audience with some quite avant-garde stuff. I once read a review describing rap concerts as ‘two blokes walking round a stage with microphones shouting at each other’. And that’s partly what the Telephones were, but so much more of course, with far more visual interest, a totally live, vibrant and original band. Richard, one of the singers, was reminiscent of a very angry bank manager, striding around the stage in white shirt and braces, and Carl, the other lead singer, very young and charming, with a brilliant line in surreal comments. Their manager Pearl was great to deal with – very efficient and totally straight, both of which are unusual qualities in this business. I heard that she used to freak out those silly A & R men in London, who couldn’t cope with a dress sense and manner apparently based on a church fete from the 1950s, politely requesting a cup of tea rather than a line of the finest Colombian. The band must have been a nightmare to organise and manage, and she did a brilliant job.

I’ve often wondered whether my memory isn’t clouded by nostalgia, but three years ago we decided to release that original album, which had never been on Summerhouse, as a CD on our label at last. The band reformed to promote it, and launched it at a concert in the same hall in the same college in Lincoln where my group had supported them back in 1987. It was a very eerie experience, but amazingly, on minimal rehearsal, the magic was still there, and a chemistry that probably only ever ignites when those particular people are on the same stage at the same time. It was a great night. Then they played at a Summerhouse night at the Spitz in London, and a friend of mine had exactly the same reaction I did in 1986, completely bowled over by them. Whatever it was they had, they’ve still got it!

++ Why did you choose to name the label Summerhouse? Was there any other label that somehow influenced the aesthetics of yours? And who came up with the lovely house drawing for the logo?

I had a shortlist of names for the label, I can’t remember any of the other options except that they were pretty embarrassing. I remember one of our criteria was that it couldn’t be something you’d feel silly saying when you answered the phone – in retrospect a very good branding approach. It was just one of those flashes, and the name seemed to sum up many qualities – brightness, optimism, positivity – that we wanted in the music. It’s also the name of a village near Darlington, but I didn’t know that at the time! There was no record company who influenced us, although we often envied the cachet of fashionability that attached itself to some other labels, we couldn’t understand how!

The image was by a young graphic design company in Middlesbrough called Studio 8. I’m glad you like it. It’s been with us since 1986, and we’ve occasionally looked at changing it but always ended up thinking ‘if it ain’t broke…’ The house certainly ain’t broke, even if some of the people inside it are.

When we launched the label the key people were myself and Carl Green. Carl’s involvement was more moral support and a nice line in colourful insults to negative reviewers, rather than practical or financial input. We used to plot our world domination strategy over very slow pints of lager when I’d go out to help him with his mobile disco in working men’s clubs in Middlesbrough. Being fairly naïve about the business we felt we needed a London presence and invented a kind of benefactor and shadowy ‘sleeping partner’ called Derek. In fact he did so much sleeping he was never actually awake. One local newspaper feature described him as ‘the mysterious Derek’ and he certainly was – especially to us.

We also felt we need a third band, and hadn’t yet signed 4,000,000 Telephones, and I’ve still got one of our early letterheads with the names Friends, Whirlpool Guest House and Breaking Away who, like Derek, were fictional. We hadn’t thought ahead to what would happen if someone actually wanted to hear something by Breaking Away, so we discreetly dropped them. They understood. At least they returned later as the title of a song on the first Friends album!

++ Was it easy to get distribution with Probe Plus and Red Rhino? Was it easy to deal with them? Why do you think distributors ultimately folded?

Both were part of an independent distribution network called the Cartel. Probe Plus were fairly easy to get on to, but they were very candid that they didn’t think they’d sell any records. They were right – we didn’t! In fact for a long long time I wondered how any label anywhere managed to sell more than 27 copies of their output.

I can’t remember how we came to part with Probe Plus, I think it was probably just a two-single deal. Red Rhino showed an interest when we signed 4,000,000 Telephones, having already distributed their self-produced debut album which had done quite well for them, particularly in Germany. So they were reasonably impressed when we went to meet them with a good package and release schedule of three bands including the Telephones.

The thing with Red Rhino was that it opened up our eyes to the fact that our market wasn’t really the UK, it was ‘the abroad’. Until then we’d never considered that anyone in Japan, Australia, the USA would want to buy our records. After all, why should they? We’d never been there. We hadn’t encountered this word of mouth thing, and assumed that if we weren’t getting covered in NME, Melody Maker or Sounds, then we weren’t getting covered anywhere else. It was when we got our first sales statement including Let’s Get Away From It All, showing that we’d shifted 1,000 copies just like that – that’s when I thought, hell, where are these records going? Again we were very naïve, really – never thought they were selling just because they were very good! That’s when we realised that the UK was just a small part of our total market, and since we started it’s only accounted for 15% of our sales.

++ Then you signed Rumblefish who, in my opinion, recorded their best output on your label. How did you meet and made them part of your label and how did you feel about Jeremy’s band going to East West? Did you give him any advice before leaving to a big label?

We approached them when their label Pink decided to call it a day, and they made a commitment to Jeremy to get him set up with a new label. Rumblefish had just played at the venue where I worked, and I went for them. We were their best offer, possibly even their only offer.

There was a big gap between their two singles due to the collapse of Red Rhino, and we and the band knew that if we could just get the second single out then it would be the last that we could do with them, as we were out of money and had to cut the label right back to Friends and Whirlpool Guest House again. After the second single we didn’t really keep in touch, so I had no advice to give Jeremy, who obviously didn’t need it anyway. The first I heard they’d gone to East West was when I bought their album in a bargain bin at Tower Records at Piccadilly. We made contact again when I wanted to put the two singles (and their Pink Label single) on a compilation, 1234: The Early Singles. In fact I think I tracked him down through the Friends Reunited website. I heard that the East West deal had been one of those typical major label experiences, where they record the album and aren’t happy with it, do it again, and just as it’s released they are dropped. To Jeremy’s credit he had a second shot as Low Art Thrill and got signed to Island. If I’d had anything to say it would just have been ‘all the best’ and, in the words of Abba, ‘thank you for the music’.

++ The other band that signed around the same time was Quinn The Eskimo. I have to say that I’ve never heard them and whenever I see their record in eBay is a bit too expensive for me! Would you care telling me more about them? Will there be any retrospective CD for them as well?

Quinn The Eskimo were from Newcastle and were recommended to us by Red Rhino, who gave me a tape of their album, which was fully recorded but unreleased as they had no label. It was acoustic indiepop/rock, and if you want a comparison I’d relate it to Miracle Legion who I thought were great. I liked it and thought it was just right for the label. Again it got caught up in the Red Rhino debacle, and we never got back the unsold copies to remarket.

We didn’t keep in touch and I don’t know what happened to them. No, there won’t be any CD.

++ When Red Rhino folded, how did you manage to distribute Summerhouse? Was there a moment that you thought, “this is it”? I’m very glad you’ve continued with the label I have to say even though it seems it’s been a very bumpy adventure!

I still think ‘this is it’ at some point most weeks! What happened with Red Rhino was that after the second Friends single Far And Away we moved on to a ‘manufacturing and distribution’ deal with them. If a label showed promise, Red Rhino would advance the money to print and press the next record and recoup the outlay from initial sales until they’d recovered their costs, after which you’d get paid as per your standard deal. The benefit to labels was that they could release records much more quickly, as they didn’t have to wait until each new release had moved into profit before being able to afford the next one – a bit like living on credit really, and we all know what happens there! The benefit to the distributor was presumably that it gave them more product to distribute – so long as it was all selling. I guess what happened was that Red Rhino overstretched themselves, and all of these releases they’d advance-funded weren’t actually recouping their costs. Either way, Red Rhino went into administration, and since some of our records were a long way from recouping Red Rhino’s money they went to the receivers and were sold off very cheaply, and we never actually got our hands on some of our own releases. That’s why, to answer your earlier question, I think the distributors folded.

At that point we decided we never wanted to be in hock to a distributor again, and radically trimmed down the label to what was actually profitable and a release schedule that was slower but more manageable. Red Rhino resurfaced in the same place with the same people but a different name, APT, and we went with them, this time on a straight distribution deal. They then merged with Revolver, and finally became Vital, one of the big two indie distributors in the UK. The inevitable happened. At some point in the mid 1990s they culled a lot of their smaller indie labels like us. I still remember the hilarious and pathetic conversation they had with us. They didn’t even have the guts to drop us properly. Our label manager said something like ‘Er, we just feel, like, it isn’t really, like, going in the direction…um, we just think…’ and so on, blah blah blah. I actually said ‘So you want to drop us’ and they said ‘Well, I suppose, yeah…’ So we pretty much even had to drop ourselves for them!

We’ve subsequently been with three more distributors. The first were that lethal combination, incompetent and dishonest, and we ended up taking them to court on grounds of lack of sales statements and payment. We won and got our stock back, but the cost of enforcing payment, when they had no money, was prohibitive. Of the other two, one dropped us (again) and the other gave up on distribution completely.

We now haven’t been distributed for a couple of years and don’t mind at all! In fact I think the whole distribution business is near the end of its natural life, and we don’t need it anyway. No major record shop is going to stock our product, and we can deal quite effectively with the key independent stores on a sale-or-return basis for new releases. The distributors and major stores occasionally see a brief ray of sunshine as the light fades. Every so often there’s a news story about vinyl coming back into fashion. If it is – someone please tell our customers. And every so often they get a bit of an unexpected boost and sales surge when something big happens. But after all, Michael Jackson can only die once – twice at the most.

Yes, it’s certainly been a bumpy ride, and I’ve fallen off many times along the way.

++ How supportive was the fanzine scene of the late 80s for the Summerhouse labels and bands?

It was very supportive, and I was often touched by people who would devote their time to making a single fanzine just about us or including us, which happened a few times. Some of these people became friends and have kept in touch over the years. I think the fanzine spirit is still there, sometimes even in the original print medium, sometimes as blogs or websites. It’s become even more important as the number of music weeklies has shrunk, and those that remain focus so much more on established artists.

I can’t say that it ever seemed to result in extra sales, but then that wasn’t the objective of the person producing the fanzine. Having been a dedicated fan of bands and musicians myself I understand and sympathise with the feeling behind them, and always appreciate anyone who makes that kind of effort and feels that strongly about music.

++ Now that Whirlpool Guest House was Shandy Wildtyme and playing live, were there any gigs together with Friends? I mean, were there any Summerhouse only gigs? ;)

There were a few. After we left Stockton we were invited back a couple of times to headline gigs at the Arts Centre where I’d worked. One of them was the best we’ve ever played. Having been a bit ramshackle live in our early days I think we surprised people when we went back sounding a lot more assured and solid. We played support on a double-bill with Shandy Wildtyme when they were promoting Luminous. There were just three of them, and since we’d just released Folk Songs, we did it as a three-piece acoustic version of Friends, with myself on voice/guitar, Martin Parker on percussion and Katherine Dow Blyton on backing vocals.

Earlier on we’d put on a big Summerhouse gig at Middlesbrough Town Hall in the late 80s, with 4,000,000 Telephones headlining, plus Friends and Whirlpool Guest House. And in 2007 we did a night at the Spitz in London, with Showstar, 4,000,000 Telephones, Friends and Jeremy Paige from Rumblefish.

++ Why did you relocate to Sheffield?

I relocated to Worksop to manage a venue, and after that worked in Sheffield as General Manager of a theatre company. We moved the label at the same time, so for a short period we had a Sheffield address. This had the bizarre byproduct that a couple of Japanese fans once turned up at the PO Box (which is literally just a locker in the post office) thinking they’d find us there. With great ingenuity the post office tracked me down at home and told me to expect the arrival of said fans! I spent a day showing them the sights of Worksop, which should really only have occupied about half an hour!

++ Why did you decide to re-manufacture the catalogue on CD?

The first album we did as a CD was Bluishness. This was only the fourth Friends album and the first three were still selling on vinyl so we’d though we’d give the first album a shot on CD and see what happened. It went well, and so we gradually worked through the catalogue until it’s almost all available on CD. There’s still vinyl available for some of our releases but we’ll never make any more on black plastic.

++ How did Steve Skinner join the label roster?

Steve was a friend I’d met through booking his band International Rescue, and later Edwyn Collins, for whom he played guitar. I’d gone to his flat in Bridlington and done an all-night demo recording session on his Portastudio. He played me this song Lucille which I actually thought was an Elvis cover, but was actually a Steve pastiche. Although it’s not particularly within the ethos of the label, I fancied it as a novelty single rather than anything long term, and we put it out, hoping that someone might pick up on its quirkiness. This was a mistake. Steve didn’t have time to promote it, due to Edwyn Collins commitments, and it sold very poorly, so we just laid it to rest. It’s still there, in many many boxes, and it’s a fine single, quite witty really. I learned from this not to go into things knowing that they’re one-offs, we just don’t have the resources to make things happen like that.

++ Which of your releases artwork is your favourite and why? Who took care of that by the way?

Generally I like photography-based covers. My favourite is The First Day Of Spring, because it’s a great photograph, very atmospheric and beautifully lit, and it works very well when you turn the cover over and get that nice cream background colour. It was my concept, and the photograph was by Barry Shingleton who had designed Roads Leading Everywhere. I’d bought some of his work in an exhibition at the Arts Centre where I worked. I wanted a photo that filled up the whole cover, and we decided not to have any text on it, in order to intrigue people into turning the record over in the racks to find out more about it. Nearer to the release date that seemed rather risky for an unknown band so we took advice to put a sticker on it with the band name and record title. We got removable stickers which wouldn’t tear off leaving a mark, and spent a day at the distributors’ warehouse sticking them on. Inevitably, although they didn’t tear, they did leave a nice sticky patch when you peeled them off! Aarrggh!

I’m also especially fond of Late Night Early Morning which I think is very moody and evocative of one of the songs (Streetscene) and very particular to London. I did a lot of research for that cover, and spent several weekends seeking out London mews streets to find the right one. It also took me back a long time, to parties I’d been to at college in the early 80s in places like Chelsea and Fulham. Martin Parker and I went down to Cranley Mews at about 5 o’clock one Saturday morning to catch the sunrise.

The Rumblefish covers have a very individual quality that came from Jeremy Paige who now teaches design, and used to make huge billboard posters and even go out flyposting them. We’ve still got some old Friends posters he did.

The Showstar album is also a pretty stunning piece of production. We just reproduced what they did with the original release on Anorak Supersport as faithfully as possible, even trying to get the identical brand of paper they’d used. It’s beautiful.

++ And a couple of years back you signed Southbeach, something totally different to pop, but dance music. Is that a style you like a lot? Also Showstar joined the band, being the first non-British band to be released in Summerhouse, which makes me ask, have you ever been to Belgium?

Southbeach (Pete Maude) was an old member of Friends from the late 80s. Thanks to the internet he tracked me down in around 2001, we met for a drink, talked about old times, and he gave me a CD of the music he was doing now. It was excellent. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about dance music, but this had a definite quality about it. What I like about Pete’s music is that as well as being rhythmically interesting (which I find a lot of dance music isn’t) he’s got a great harmonic sense (maybe from being a bass player) and comes up with some beautiful chord sequences and fragments of melody that work with them. He’s done two singles with us (the second as download only) and I’m very happy with them. I think any definition of the Summerhouse style is broader than just ‘indiepop’ (which anyway 4,000,000 Telephones certainly weren’t) and is more to do with the integrity and beauty of the music. I’d hate us to be very narrowly pigeon-holed, and I think Southbeach’s music is classic Summerhouse in its way.

The signing of Showstar came about, uniquely, through a CD they sent me with an approach to release their album in the UK. We get lots of these and don’t usually get around to listening to them. One Sunday I was working all day in the office and decided to get through the pile of CDs on my desk. When I got to Showstar I thought the first song was OK, the second made me really stop work to listen, and the third, Day By Day, I just kept playing. And their album stayed on my player all day. I then went over to Brussels to meet their label Anorak Supersport, and we sorted out the deal very easily. Their label head and manager, Sergio Taronna, is really great to deal with, dead straight and no bullshit, and very realistic like us, so they were completely in tune with our attitude of ‘steady progress’ rather than any hype about being ‘massive’ overnight. I then went to see them play in their hometown of Huy, and they were brilliant, so we confirmed the deal. About six months later we put on the Summerhouse night at the Spitz in London, mainly to launch Showstar. By this time they’d played a lot of festivals in Belgium and France, and were really lean and fit, like a very well-drilled football team!

++ How many more years can we expect Summerhouse to continue releasing music? Will you have a stand at Indietracks?

I think the deal at Indietracks is that there’s a shared stand and everyone takes a turn staffing it. Very democratic. Given a free hand, though, we’d probably have a warehouse at Indietracks.

We’ll keep going as long as the music’s still coming and as long as the bank allows us to.

++ Today is big salad day at William Jones house?

I think this weekend it’s going to be a very big ratatouille, very healthy and highly recommended for avoiding death. But go easy on the rat, readers.

++ Thanks again William, keep it up, and thanks again for doing what you do for pop music. Anything else you’d like to add?

Not much. Thanks to you too for your comments and your interest. My band and the label are really my life’s work, almost my identity, and at last it’s good to know that we’re reaching people in greater numbers, partly through networks like yours. I appreciate it.


Friends – Let’s Get Away From it All


The past week my head has been kind of in Berlin so there’s some incongruence with this post. I must be mixing up everything right now. To keep making things more confusing, this post is about Hamburg and Japan, and I swear this is not a mix up.

Around 13 months ago I arrived to Hamburg after driving for an hour and a half from Bremen. Entering the city was fantastic, the huge port received us, quite overwhelming. Never seen so many cranes and containers before. Then around town, riding fast through the narrow streets, over the cobblestone pavement, and us on the map trying to find our way. Finally, we reached Henning Honeyhead’s place, a beautiful building, steps away from a small square. The perfumed smell of a boulangerie welcomed us to this little corner of Hamburg. 2 blocks down was the Elbe and I could make out some fake palm trees and sand. Was it a fake beach? I should have checked out.

Mixing things up again, this post is about covers, and so The Voltarenes had done a fantastic version of Another Sunny Day’s “Anorak City”. It was called “Altona City”, and this is were we were: Altona-Alstadt. I found out that in this area it was about disliking HSV Hamburg and supporting St. Pauli football team. And me, that I always supported Paolo Guerrero, had to shut up! Not very good things were told to me about HSV! Also, not so far away from Henning’s, a street we crossed everyday, the Reeperbahn, a centre of Hamburg’s nightlife and also the city’s red-light district. In German it is also called die sündige Meile (the sinful mile). And believe me, you could see some strange and weird things around there. Especially at early morning, after coming back from a gig!

I remember there was a cool vintage store, crossing the Reeperbahn, that Henning’s buddies run. I don’t know if they ever worked. They were outside all the time, on a bench, chatting and drinking beer. A block further was the Eldorado bar. What happened there deserves another page. But let’s keep walking. We finally get to the Astra Stube. I’m going to see the Honeyheads play live!

All of us, popkids, were outside under the elevated train rails, chatting and avoiding the first act: a band called Puts Marie that wasn’t anyones cup of tea. But the wait was worthwhile. The Honeyheads appeared, immaculately uniformed with yellow-white tracksuits, and I was getting another Astra. Martina, Nico, Leif and Henning were putting a great show! And then they say, “this is our last song”. And even though I feel like they should go on forever, I’m happy to know they are closing a great gig. And then they play this totally unknown song for me which is way too catchy and Martina vocals are just perfect for it!

“What was that last song you played?” I asked them immediately they finished, just when they were unplugging their guitars. “It’s called Linda, Linda, we heard it in a movie, a Japanese movie”. A movie I only saw early this year, when Netflix started carrying it. I did find the song on Youtube (both original and movie version) when I came back to the US, but I wish there was a recording of it by the Honeyheads, so you could see why I think this is the ultimate version of it.

Let’s backtrack now. The original Linda, Linda was released by The Blue Hearts in 1987, a popular Japanese punk rock band that performed from the latter half of the 1980s to the early half of the 1990s. This song reached #38 on the Japanese charts during its release year. It was released as a 7″ and the B side was “Boku wa Koko ni Tatteiru Yo”. Let’s fast forward now. 2005. The movie Linda, Linda, Linda is released in Japan. The plot goes like this:

Linda Linda Linda tells the story of a group of four high school girls who decide to put together a band for Hiiragi-sai, their school cultural festival. Three days before they are to play the festival, the guitarist and singer quit the band. The remaining members, Kei Tachibana, Kyoko Yamada, and Nozomi Shirakawa must figure out what to do or risk cancelling. They decide to perform covers of The Blue Hearts songs, but all agree that they need to find a new member to be the singer. They ask the first girl that walks by – Son, a Korean foreign exchange student. Son is not fluent in Japanese, and this leads to some difficulties and misunderstandings, but through sharing in the ins and outs of high school life, they are able to understand one another.

I really enjoyed the movie and if you have a chance, try to see it. Maybe you feel inspired to start a band! And if you do watch it, check the walls of the rehearsal room the girls use. You’ll see a Beat Happening poster. Iisn’t that cool? And mixing it up again… today I woke up listening to Beat Happening’s “Sleepyhead” and went yesterday to bed listening to the Cat’s Miaow’s “Sleepy Head”. But these, are not original and cover. Go figure.

So, if I ask politely, from this column. Henning, Martina, Nico, Lief, would you please record this song for all of us? please? Now, let’s enjoy a track from their first release.


Honeyheads – Out of Marseille


I’ve always wanted to collect stamps but I never did. I do have tons of stamps all around my cork board that I’ve saved from the packages I receive from all over the world. Packages containing indiepop of course. But I wouldn’t say that’s a collection. I mean, I dont have a clue which are the rare stamps, or the ones that cost a lot of money. Also, many of the ones I have are repeated. I have tons of that Swedish one that has an osprey, for example. So many, that I could make a wallpaper out of it!

Yesterday, while waiting for some friends to arrive for an indiepop listening party, I was going through some of the stuff that came on these packages. Looking this time in my demos/CD-R/tapes box. There’s lots of stuff that deserve a writeup I think! But the one that caught my attention was this CD-R by this lovely Swedish duo. Why? Must have been the extreme cuteness of the pencil coloured sleeve or the handwritten tracklist on the back. Or the sweet note the girls wrote me?

You know, this was a last.fm miracle. I was the top listener of this band back in early 2006. One day I get an email asking me: “I’m just curious how you found out about My brother’s stamp collection!”. Just like that, out of the blue. I did learn that the band was a duo formed by Marita and Matilda, from Sweden. And how wouldn’t I be a top listener? These were lovely songs of the twee variety: very lo-fi, toy instruments, glockenspiels, and girlie vocals.

After that I emailed with Marita a couple of times and told me a bit about the band:

We just made a couple of songs for fun and recorderd on tape, like 2 years ago. So right now nothing really happens. But maybe we will do something soon, at least I want to! It’s quite funny, because we were not inspired by anything specific when we wrote the songs. I had learned to play like three chords on the guitar, so we just improvised! (February 2006)

A curious thing, that not many know is that their song “Rocker Boy” was covered by Nixon on his 2004 release “Crazy, Sexy, Cool” (it appears on this release as Rocker Boi – yes with an I instead of a Y). I believe Matilda was a good friend of Roger.

Then one day I received this fantastic CD-R on my mailbox. And I loved it. It included all of their recordings which were:

  1. Shoes Not Books
  2. Candy Song
  3. Rocker Boy
  4. Breakfast Fun
  5. Romantic Comedy
  6. High Heels
  7. Sneakers
  8. The Best Day

I never heard again from them. They told me they wanted to record more songs. I hope they did. I wonder how they sounded like. Maybe like this KitKat I’m eating now, sweet and crunchy? Or like a rosé wine? Maybe you like them too


My Brother’s Stamp Collection – Romantic Comedy


Yesterday I went to the movies. I saw this trailer for (500) Days of Summer where the boy is listening to the Smiths “There’s a Light That Never Goes Out” on his ipod (or cd player, can’t remember exactly!) inside an elevator. There’s a girl too there, and she talks to him: “I love The Smiths”. And eventually they fall in love and you know… eventually break up. I don’t know if the movie will be any good, maybe it’s just another chick flick… but isn’t it a lovely way to start a movie? moreover, isn’t it a lovely way to meet a girl? I wonder why it took so long to Hollywood studios to figure this out!

Longing for something as fantastic to happen, and probably because of the influence of that gray donkey skin sky smashing the summer through our huge window, suddenly I felt arrested by melancholy. No wonder I’m stuck listening to this song a thousand times now. I just love (<3) this song. I just ask will somebody, one day, give Pat Fish the credit he deserves?

Here I am, I’m just lying on the floor with you
We had to get drunk, it was the only thing we could do
Well, it’s funny ‘coz I thought that it could have turned out quite romantic
But it isn’t like that, which is fine, ‘coz it means I can stand it

My best friend’s girlfriend… I’ve got a girlfriend
And you’re somebody’s girlfriend too
You know it only ever makes me down

Oh look, it’s easy,
You come round my house, give me information, then you go home
Well, it sure beats talking all that foolish rubbish on the telephone
But I don’t know about all the implications of all this,
I just feel so-so,
But it’s a measure of a feeling that I can’t identify
that I can let you go

My best friend’s girlfriend… I’ve got a girlfriend
And you’re somebody’s girlfriend too
You know it only ever makes me down

Something’s got a hold on my heart and it’s making me down
You left me singing
“Don’t sleep in the subway darling,
Don’t standing in the pouring rain, Maureen.”


The Jazz Butcher – Girlfriend


Thanks so much to Duncan McMillan for getting in touch and for the interview!

++ Who were The Stolen Picassos? How did you all meet?

I joined from an advert in the newspaper which Martin had written. Brad was already in the band, as was Graham. Sandra is the younger sister of Linda whom I had been out with a few times. I met her at their family home and later introduced her to the band.

++ Why did you choose the name The Stolen Picassos?

The name was Martin’s idea – from memory he heard a news article about some paintings that were stolen at the time.

++ How was the scene in Perth back then? What were your favourite bands from your town? and from Australia overall?

Perth had some brilliant acts when we were playing out, many of whom we were friends with. The Stems had disbanded but there was Charlottes Web, Greg Dear, Palisades, The Bamboos.

++ What kind of music were you listening at the time?

Hoodoo Gurus, REM, dBs, Smiths, Television, Byrds, Alvis Costello, The Jam, Go-Betweens, Church, Violent Femmes, Ed Kuepper.

++ You released one 12″ on Easter Records! How did you know Kim and Dom from the label? Was this your biggest highlight? Any cool anecdotes you can share about how this release happen?

Kim came along to a gig one night and talked to Martin afterwards – Martin said later he was asked if we want to record, and he said yes. So we went to Shelter Studios and did it. Yes it was the biggest highlight.

++ How do you feel about the price of the 12″ on the web? Quite high! How many copies were pressed? It seems such a rare record!

Don’t know how many were made, but I took a few copies back to NZ for family and friends.

++ Were there any other releases by the band? Maybe there were some demo tapes or other recordings? (if so, do you remember the song names?)

We recorded a few songs, most of which were on the EP or the compilation tape which was released (Out of the Woodwork…). There was one I can remember that I personally liked that we recorded but wasn’t released, called “Nobody Heard”.

++ I have only heard only a couple of songs from the band, all of them so GREAT! What was your favourite Stolen Picassos’ song?

There were a few really good ones towards the end which Martin came up with – I always liked the up-tempo songs, especially if they had tempo changes. There was one in particular I really liked but can’t remember the name.

++ Did the band gig a lot? Do you remember any particular gigs?

Yep we played a lot, mostly to small audiences in small pubs/bars that were known in the alternative music scene. We did one big one as part of a number of acts on the same night, can’t remember where…. I recall playing at the Stoned Crow in Fremantle a few times. One night in Perth we supported this wild very high-volume thrashy band (Kryptonics, or Plutonics??), and another time at University of Western Australia we supported Weddings, Parties, Anything. They had a big booze budget which we feasted upon while they were on stage. Never got around to thanking them for that – but thanks W,P, A! It was a great night.

++ I read that there was a single scheduled for 1989 on the Bus Stop Label in the US. What happened with that?

Don’t know anything about it.

++ Are you a fan of Picasso at all? Do you have a favourite painting by him? In any case, what are your favourite painters?

No. Never been interested in paintings at all.

++ When and why did you call it a day? Were the band members involved with any other bands after?

Brad left the band first – he was the youngest and was a bit bored, maybe, although I don’t know the reason for him leaving. Then I was asked to join the Palisades by Ian Freeman, who knew Martin very well, and had sought Martin’s approval beforehand. I wanted more rocky stuff, more up-tempo and energetic, so for me it was an easy decision.

Don’t know what the others got up to, because I went to Sydney with the Palisades. I have never heard from any of them since, but would like to.

++ What does Duncan McMillan do nowadays?

I manufacture small wind turbines and sell them in NZ, along with renewable energy systems. It’s expensive to make them and it’s a small market here, so I have to do other engineering work as well.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

The Stolen Picassos changed my life forever – Martin educated me in the meaning of good music, something which I have appreciated all these years. I was opened up to a whole different world with that band and began down a path which would keep me out of society’s groove to this very day. I don’t have a 3-bedroom house in the suburbs and have never owned a TV.


Stolen Picassos – Save a Little Piece