Thanks so much to Andy E for the great interview! Please check more of their music at their myspace. And for those interested, I still have some copies left of the Cloudberry single
++ Hi Andy, it’s been some time since we released the little “Flowers are Calling” single, what have you been doing since then?
Still a lot on the musical front – Graham (guitar) has been keeping his had in by turning out for a few live dates with the Gilbert Quick Orchestra, Bridgit (vocals, Violin and Keyboards) has been involved with an early music choir, and I’ve (bass and guitars) been keeping the Golden Pathway Label ticking over as well as promoting gigs for my all time musical hero Dave Kusworth. We’ve not doen anything as Joystreet although there are a few things which we hope to do not least to record some vocal tracks for a couple of songs which we never got round to completing, so I will keep you posted on that.
++ So let’s go back in time now, when did Number 4 Joystreet started and how did the band get together?
Me and Bridge had been playing in India Falls, which sort of faded out as other members of the band got involved in other projects – Simon went on to become part of the ‘Chesterfields’, and Matt formed ‘Thatcher on Acid’. I was doing some reviews for a local fanzine ‘Feeding the Fish’ when I cam across a band called Psycho Daisies which had this amazing guitar sound. The Daisies guitarist was Graham who also had a little band called Grim Noel who produced some lovely songs. Anyway we befriended Graham and set up another musical project called October Evening. We played a few gigs and produced some demos. Whilst recording was relatively easy we found it difficult to replicate things live and did loads of swapping around – I played guitar as well as bass and even keyboards on a few songs when Bridgit was playing violin and singing – Graham also took turns on the bass. So we recruited a few other including Judith – vocals, Sophie – Cello, Andy D – Keyboards, and Paul drums. This line up basically then become Number 4 Joystreet.
++ What does the name Number 4 Joystreet mean?
It’s the title of a series of Victorian children’s books – It was one of Graham’s suggestions as he had a copy of Number 4 as he liked the illustrations. You can still find these popping up on ebay from time to time – I have a couple of the series in my collection.
++ What’s the full discography of the band? There’s no place I could find this… I know there are at least 2 singles on Golden Pathway… are there any compilation appearances perhaps? What about unreleased tracks?
Regrettably the full official discography is short
* Watch The World – ( an early demo version without cello and violin) appeared on the Golden Pathway Sheeves of Gold compilation cassette album.
* Watch The World/ Flowers Are Calling/ Artic Chill – were released on the Golden Pathway vinyl EP.
* Stephanie/ Just a Shadow – were released on Golden Pathway.
* Flowers (early demo)/ Only The Tress on Cloudberry.
There is an album listed on Golden Pathway called ‘Devon Fire’ and whilst this actually exists it has never been formally released – mainly due to the fact that Graham lost the art work in a computer crash – I must sort this out and get it released soon.
There are a few unreleased tracks not least tracks which were planned to be the second single release – ‘Sometimes I could Kill You’ and ‘Desiree’. We went into a big studio to record Desiree and even recorded two vocal versions – at the time we weren’t happy with the results so we ended up with Stephanie which was recorded on a porta studio in a village hall and then mastered in a real studio. Listening again to these tracks I can’t think why we didn’t release them.
++ Talking of Golden Pathway, which is your own label, how did that start? What was the main purpose of it? Is it still going? Tell us a bit about the label
The Golden Pathway was started by Wilf local artist musician who has since sadly passed away, and Graham mainly as a label for their band Psycho Daisies. At that stage it was very short runs of casette albums – more designed for friends than anu commercial releases. There was never any plan as such behind the label that I was aware of. The advent of the joystreet single, along with Wednesday Page and Pop Parker really saw the label take off. I should also mention a nice guy called Steve Ball who largely financed the Pop Parker release. I think it is fair to say that being more business minded than the others I helped sort out the business and promotional aspects of the label, which with a distribution deal heped raise the profile. It is still going today and in recent years we have put out CD releases by The Morrisons, The Legendary Ten Seconds, Console, and Tim Chaplin. I am hoing to sort out a comilation of some of the newer bands including ‘National Pastime’ who are rather good. There is loads we could do but never enough time.
Most of the material released including vinyl is still available direct from our web site www.goldenpathway.co.uk
++ The design for the singles are beautiful though I have to say, a bit difficult for storage purposes, haven’t found a polybag for them yet! But, honestly, the care and design for them are striking. How did you went to through this path and not stick to the conventional 7″ packaging? Why do this amazing folder packaging printed both sides with photos and medieval imagery? Was any of you guys in art school perhaps?!
Yeah you spotted it Graham was the art school guy and is a very talented artist. Given the involvement of artists like Wilf and Graham it was somewhat inevitable that the label should seek to utilise their talents and produce an artistic edge to the releases. It was all about giving people something they’d value – a good record – EP releases rather than than singles, and a nice sleeve to look at. From the business angle I always liked the idea of the single sleeves standing out a few inches about the others in the rack. There was also a DIY element to it – doing the style we had meant we could put together the packages ourselves and we had many a happy hour using double sided sticky tape putting the packages together.
++ I can hear Strawberry Switchblade as an influence, am I right? What other bands were you listening and loving at the time?
Yeah we loved Strawberry Switchblade and still do – it has been quite a few years since we haven’t included a version of ‘Trees and Flowers’ in our live set. However, the Strawberrys were out much as the same time as us, and inevitably the fact that we both had two girl vocalists singing in harmony gave comparissons but these were largely coincidental. Also the use of drum machines was common for the bedroom musicians of the time. If you listen to some of the Strawberry’s demos (download from their website) you can almost imagine them sat in their bedroom in Scotland whilst we were doing the same thing in deepest Somerset.
Graham had a love for 60’s psychedlic stuff, Bridge early music, and me the Velevet underground. In india we used to play things like Sunday Morning and Femme Fatale live and with Joystreet we used to play Yardbirds tracks live like Evil Hearted You and Heartful of Soul which were fun. The medieval influence appeared in songs like ‘when to her loot’.
++ I think you have beautiful songs and the lyrics are quite amazing, who wrote them? How did the songs shape up? How was adding a cello or a violin to them? Was that a hard thing? These instruments weren’t that common in the scene then, right?
Thanks. The songwriting was pretty easy between us Graham was most prolific in terms of setting out a guitar line, athough I did a few, lyrics were mainly mine, with Graham doing a few in the later tracks. I often used to sit and quickly read a few of Graham’s victorian books which I interwove with what else was going on in life to produce interesting lines. Bridgit is brilliant at the melody bits – although always prone to leaving out a few critical words because they didn’t quite fit! Bridgit also did one or two of her own compositions. We all played a fair part in the arrangements.
The cello and violin were something we were keen to include and with Bridgit playing violin it made sense to utilise her talent. We weren’t to keen on the cello sound the keyboard produced so Sophie was drafted in to play the real thing. She was great and just got on and did the cello bits without any fuss, an excellent musician. I can’t think of any oter bands who had a similar line up to us. The main head ache was playing live as sound engineers rarely came across a violin let alone a cello in the type of ‘rock’ venues we were playing. However, we got hold of some clever stick on transducer type things which meant you could plug the strings straight into the PA without the fuss of mikes and feedback.
++ I’m wondering about two songs in particular: who is Desiree from “Desiree”? and, what about Christ appears? What is that all about?
Good question which I can’t answer Desiree is a song written by a band called the Left Bank which very few people have probably heard of let alone who know what the lyrics mean. ‘Christ appears on the factory floor’ is one of Graham’s so I will have to ask him about that when I see him next.
++ I found a video on Youtube for Just a Shadow where it says: “Just a Shadow was recorded in a small village hall in Somerset. The video shows old cine footage which the band and friends recorded, to use as a back drop at some of their early gigs.” So can you tell me about these gigs? Did you gig a lot? Any particular gigs you remember?
Bridge, Graham and me had been to London to see Virginia Astley play live. It was part of a series of gigs where the live act had their favourite film played before their set – so the audience got to see a good film and band on the same night. We liked the concept, but the practicalities of putting on a film at the venues we were playing at the time was a unrealistic. Thus, having come across an old cince camera Wilf, Graham and me set about producing an film of abstract shots – mainly out of focus. The bit of film used on the ‘Just a shadow’ you tube track clip is a rush job and hopefully we will do another version as there is a lot of more usable film footage not included. Anyway following from the theme of art and music we ran the cine film at a couple of gigs as a back drop including when we supported Roy Harper on one occasion. As we weren’t really a band who bounced around when we played it gave another dimension to the live outings.
We did quite a few gigs, but the one I remember best is when we played at the Fleece in Bristol UK. It’s a big venue and a lot of name bands were playing there, and there was quite a lot of interest in us with a good crowd turing out. Anyway about an hour before we were due to take the sage Paul our drummer called to say he wasn’t going to make it due to being stuck somehwre in northern England. Thankfully the Chesterfields drummer kindly drove his kit up to the venue and John Parish of ‘ PJ Harvey’ fame played drums for us. We had to do a short non drum set to start the evening a venue were getting concerned about the time. Suffice to say that John was brilliant and the gig well received.
Another gig which will stay with me is when we played a venue bwhich doubled as a small brewery in deepest Devon called the Beer Engine. There was a bit of an issue regarding our fee and the venue oferred to provide free real ale to help compensate. Graham, somewhat unusally, thought he’d make the most of this and ha probably tried a pint of each variety they had on offer before we played. I dont’t think a single song went the way it should have on on one song Graham lost his way entirely during the guitar brake I tried my best to follow where he was going on the bass but eventually gave up and left him to ramble on and eventually find his way back to the actual song.
++ What would you say was the biggest highlight of Number 4 Joystreet?
For me it was when the first single received a rave review in the likes of the NME. It was great to appear along side the likes of ‘real’ bands like Echo & The Bunnymen. It’s funny but I don’t think any of us had any real ambition to make it big so to speak and we were always very happy putting out stuff on a little indie label with a bit of an underground edge to it all. I suppose that this in part refelected the artists we liked at the time – I would have been much happier being a Nikki Suden type ’star’ than say Mick Jagger.
++ Are you still in touch with all the members? Do you still live in Somerset? Has it changed a lot?
With the exception of Sophie and drummer Paul we have all kept in touch – me and Bridgit have had to because we are married! I saw Graham at the recent Dave Kusworth gig I put on in Yeovil and Judith is living down the road in Dorset. We are in Cornwall and Graham in Leeds but family and friends bring us back to Somerset from time to time. What seems to have changed is the local music scene as there doen’t seem to be many bands coming through anymore or the support for local music for some reason. Yeovil in Somerset has a great venue called the Orange Box which should be the place to go.
++ There’s a lovely cover of The Flowers Are Calling by The Magic Whispers from Spain, have you heard it? Do you follow or like any contemporary indiepop band?
Yes that’s a really good version – it was great to hear one of our songs covered although they got some of the words wrong. I get to hear quite a bit of new music with the label still receiving emails from hopeful bands. Exeter UK has a good indie scene going on with the likes of National Pastime and Console. Also in deepest Cornwalll there are some good bands like I say Marvin (who may have just split up) and My Elvis Blackout who are excellent. I’d much rather see a band live than watch tem on TV, although myspsace throws up a few gems. I must however confess that you are mire likely to find me playing the latest release by Dave Kusworth than any new band – although in terms of mainstream stuff I thought that Pink’s ‘don’t leave me’ was a brilliant little song.
++ And now summer’s over, but I guess, there’s still time for for enjoying life? What other hobbies do you have aside from music? Any plans for the upcoming weekend?
Well I’m sure Graham will be doing yet more DIY on his house, Brdgit will be doing more music – singing playing the piano or even the church organ. As for me I’m managing an under 18’s football (soccer team) and our new season is just about to start.
++ Thanks so much Andy, anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks for keeping the interest in Indie going – keep up the good work.