Thanks so much to Nick Fuller for the great interview! Please be sure to check the I Think of the Sea compilation that includes most of the recorded output by Almost Charlotte. You can get it at the Moments of Pleasure website.

++ Almost Charlotte starts as a three-piece and then later it expands to a full five-piece. How did you all meet? And how did this change in the line-up affected the band? Were the songs very different now? I ask especially because Matthew came in to add vocals and guitars! That must have changed a lot what Ian, Anthony and Bill were doing, right?

The original three piece (Ian Phillipson, Anthony Squires and Bill Russell) had all known each other for ages but they were looking to bring in a singer and they met Matthew through work. They were then looking for a drummer and, I think, advertised locally; I’d just moved to Brighton and replied to the ad. I think that Matthew joining certainly changed things because it gave us two quite different writers (Matthew and Ian). They were looking for a drummer to replace the machine that they were using in order to add some ‘light and shade’ so I hope that both additions moved things on. Certainly when we started to introduce more of Matthew’s songs the band’s overall sound changed quite a lot; the best period was really when we had a good mix of both writers’ stuff because I think that they were both strong in different ways.

++ Where does the name Almost Charlotte comes from?

Good question. I always took it to be a reference to The Cure’s ‘Charlotte Sometimes’ but I asked when I joined and I’m not sure I ever got a definitive answer!

++ Why did you decide to self-release your single? Was it easy to set up the Moments of Pleasure label?

I think we all believed in the indie ethic (and still do.) If the truth be told too we probably felt that we were only likely to sell a modest number locally and at our gigs so we didn’t really need to go cap in hand to a label especially as they were likely to tell us to get lost! It was pretty straightforward to set it up as long as you accepted that there wouldn’t be any national distribution and you were happy to do the leg work of pestering people to stock it/play it. We did both.

++ You recorded the single with Terry Popple from Van Morrison. How was working with him? What do you remember from this recording session? Any anecdotes you can share with me?

Terry was a good bloke and had a succession of Brighton bands in his studio at that time. We used to laugh that he was quite diplomatic in that, after a certain take, he’d say ‘that’s good – we’ll use it’ when he clearly meant ‘that’s as good as it’s going to get given that you lot can only just play your instruments!’ Diplomacy at its best. We weren’t offended. I’m not sure how his personal taste was but I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that people in the music biz (studio’s , promoters, labels) all have to sometimes work on such a range of stuff that they almost have to put their tastes aside. At that time there were a few C86 type bands around Brighton but there was also a thrash scene beginning to emerge so I’m sure that he’d have had his share of that stuff too which was hardly Van The Man.

++ I read on the Leamington Spa compilation that there were a couple of major label conversations after the single was released. What happened with that? Why didn’t that come through?

Text book stories really. We had a call from Chrysalis records once saying that they really liked the single and inviting us to go and see them with some other material. When we got there they didn’t really know who we were and weren’t much interested in our new stuff. That was a good example of how it was – and probably still is.

++ Why do you think the “break” never happened?

We were just one of a million bands really. We weren’t consistent enough and I do think that we changed so much in a short time that we’d have been a bit of a nightmare for anyone to catgeorise. The shift in people inside the band just meant that the songs changed – after Bill Russell left we had two other guitarists come and go and both (particularly Gwyn Carwardine) were very different. It was a bit unrealistic for us to expect the audience to change with us especially when some of the later developments were – er – pretty bad! I don’t get much pride from listening to the last stuff we did before calling it a day – it sounds directionless which it was.

++ On the “I Think of the Sea” compilation, you include 8 songs from your repertoire. One of them appeared on the single. What about the other 7? When and where were these recorded? Are these, plus the single, all the songs ever recorded by the band, or are there any more demo tapes lying around?

ITOTS is a compilation of the stuff that I thought represented what we did most accurately. It’s not necessarily always the best but it does sum up the band overall. For instance there are some live tracks on there that were very roughly recorded by hanging a mic off the ceiling above the stage; these were from the first gig I ever played with the band and I didn’t know the songs so I kept playing v steady (rather like the drum machine I was supposed to be replacing) so that I didn’t do something ambitious in the wrong place! Nevertheless those songs – warts and all – are a pretty good reflection of what the band was like live then. I clearly remember my first gig with them in a really crowded pub with people dancing on the tables to this pretty messy noise that we were making – it was great. ‘Sleep’ was chosen as the single because we all thought that it was an example of the next chapter – as a song it was a lot more complete and structured than most and we felt that it was a sign of where we were going. Most of the studio stuff was recorded with Terry Popple although we did do a session with the legendary Grant @ La Di Da. There are other demo’s on tape that haven’t been digitised – they’re of variable quality both in terms of the strength of the songs and the recording process.

++ Did you gig a lot? What gigs do you remember the most and why?

A fair amount. There was a kind of hierarchy then and we were always some way down it. The Popguns were at the top – quite rightly as they were brilliant. We weren’t seen as being in their league so we played lesser venues but, for all that, we enjoyed it and had a consistent following whose support we always appreciated. London gigs always gave us a bit of a boost but far and away the best for me was a support slot to The Band of Holy Joy. At the time they were the darlings of the indie press so getting the slot – and at the Escape club which was one of the best – was a result in itself. On the night we were desperate to put on a good show as it was a big crowd most of which didn’t know us. We played really well and came off the stage feeling great. A few people came up and said how much they liked it and asked us when we were playing next as they’d definitely come. The next gig though was that same old crowd. This again is a standard story for so many bands. It’s so hard to build momentum. I’m not complaining though – it was a great night and I’m still listening to Holy Joy’s stuff today.

++ Your single seems very rare, hard to come by. So I’m wondering how many copies were pressed? I really hope finding one soon!

I think we did 1000. As I said we never expected to sell them outside of gigs and local shops. We certainly didn’t sell the lot at the time and until a couple of years ago I still had some old copies in my loft. What happened though was that, somehow, it got picked up by some indie fans in Japan and became collectible which is why people now know about it. Two of the three tracks are now available on CD (one on Leamington Spa and one on I Think Of The Sea) but I doubt that any more copies of the original single will surface.

++ Among the titles of your songs I find “Moments of Pleasure” and “Too Cold for Comfort”, two titles that kind of antagonize each other. Then there’s “Hope” and “Sleep”, so I have to ask, what was the inspiration and creative process for Almost Charlotte?

That’s not easy to answer. Ian’s early songs were certainly melancholic and Matthew’s often had a more jangly pop angle although not lyrically. The route of our problem was probably that we weren’t very good at melding the two together so instead of taking the best of both we sometimes ended up clashing in the middle. In some bands that friction is really productive but in many it isn’t and I don’t think it ultimately was with us. I think that Ian wrote some really good stuff and was more accomplished than he gave himself credit for and I’ve always liked Matthew’s stuff – I’m still writing with him today.

++ Why did you call it a day with Almost Charlotte?

A collective tiredness really. We’d changed so much in three years and felt that we’d improved, become more ambitious and worthy of attention. We didn’t get any though; we felt that we’d not really seen any progress in terms of gigs/audiences/interest so I don’t think we had the appetite for anymore. A pretty familiar story.

++ What do you think was the biggest highlight of the band?

For me it was The Band Of Holy Joy gig and the day that I saw our single in the window of the legendary Rounder Records shop in Brighton! It is though undeniably nice to still know that people have an interest in us for a single that came out 20 years ago.

++ What did you do after Almost Charlotte? Are you still in touch with the other Almost Charlotte members? What do you dedicate your time nowadays aside from music?

Matthew and I got together with another couple of Brighton musicians to form Bluff which ran for a couple of years and ten of its songs also appear on I Think Of The Sea. Nowadays, Matthew and I still do some sporadic stuff as Rogue Beauty (www.wwwroguebeautycom.moonfruit.com) and I write too (I’ve done a couple of books including www.callmebud.com) I think that Ian is playing and writing music too. Some of us are still in touch occasionally through the magic of Facebook (!) but it’s been a very long time since we all met up.

++ Do you still live in Brighton? Has it changed much? What were your favourite Brighton bands from back in the day? oh! and which is your favourite beach in Brighton?

I don’t but I still get back there. It has changed a lot but it’s still a very vibrant place for all of the arts including music so it’s always great to go back there. Brighton band #1 has to be The Popguns but I also liked HBM5. As for beaches there’s really only one and it’s OK but the best thing about the place is more the vibe than the pebbles!



Almost Charlotte – Frustration


Thanks so much to Krischan for the extensive, exteeeeeeeeeensive, interview. It was a pleasure to know a bit more from the seminal German pop Frischluft! label. Hope you enjoy!

++ Hi Krischan! How is everything going? Any plans for the weekend?

I’m fine, but feel flattered about your interest in Frischluft! It’s weekend! I went for shopping on Friday (fruits, salad, chocolate…), skipped through some Doo Wop-compilations from Ace this afternoon, met my neighbours for supper and will look for a nice and sunny place in the countryside for reading tomorrow.

++ I have to start the interview asking what does the name Krischan means haha

It’s simply a nickname from Northern Germany. Rumours that I would be Chinese haven’t been confirmed yet. Although I could have created a nice él-type monarch founding on that (maybe Kris-Chan – The Emperor Of Oranges…)

++ When and why did you decide to start a label in Germany? Could it be considered that Frischluft was the first indiepop label in your country?

After the demise of Die Fahrraddiebe (named after the De Sica-classic I’ve never seen – the TV guide showed a still from the film with some Pale Fountains-styled kids – short trousers, slipovers, shaved backs) the Honigritter took over the torch. Still at academic high school we had romantic ideals and were longing for the definite pop statement: a 7“ record. Inspired by labels like Subway, él and Ata-Tak the summer and autumn of 1987 Matn, Sirken Sikora and me spent all our afternoons on creating every little detail of the Frischluft!-world snitching the Spectorian Wall Of Sound, the aesthetics and diction of Wirtschaftswunder-era Germany, the D.I.Y.-ethos of (post) punk and the enticing artificiality of Mike Always stable of Would-Be-Reals. Frischluft! aimed at being a wondrous world leaving the visitor with tears of joy. Finally a few days before Christmas 1987 we received the desired pieces of wax and sat the whole afternoon in my parent’s living room listening to the Chesterfields and some early Sixties German Schlager sticking together the Honigritter sleeves. In the evening nearly the whole edition was sold at the Christmas party at school. The Discjockey was spinning US sixties garage psych. We felt like pop stars!

++ Why the name Frischluft? And how easy was back then to press records in Germany? And what about to sell them? Was there a big crowd? I ask this because all of your releases are from bands singing in German, but maybe there was an international crowd for them as well?!

Listening to pop music should be like breathing fresh air (= Frischluft!)! I enjoy staying in the woods during holidays catching cool breezes of fresh air. It keeps me alive!

Ewald, our agent from the pressing plant, mainly was dealing with licensing 50s Jazz and Be Bop. So we were trying to show our Beatnik aspects although I’m not sure if he classified our psychedelic patterned anoraks as existentialist. He was living in the Taunus mountains (which were later sung about by Der Wind In Den Weiden) with his mother. One day we arrived just in time for plum jelly for afters. He didn’t get what we were all about, but I guess he had a soft spot for us…

Besides my home town Friedberg there were some very small focal points for guitar pop like Worms, Seeheim-Jugenheim or Hamburg linked by some few pop-kids swapping self-made records and fanzines. Apart from gemm.com

Hamburg all of these towns were small towns. Crowds seems to be a euphemistic term in this context. Everyone went for the Groove Farm’s maxime „Make a record for your friends to play“. The first to break into this secret circle were the Japanese. In the Beikoku Ongaku magazine I saw a photo of Hideki Kaji surrounded by his record collection with the Der Wind In Den Weiden and the Purzelbaum Im Badeschaum-7“s lurking out of his shelf.

++ Did you press many copies? Your records seem so hard to come by!

We had runs of 100 up to 1000 copies. The Honigritter “Kellergeister in unserem Haus” and the “Durch’s Schlüsselloch in des Mondgärtners Sternenhain” retrospective albums were limited to 10 copies each. Most records ended up in our friend’s collections, some were sold by Rough Trade in London, some by generous European patrons like Thierry in Belgium. All the remains were loaded cargo from little Friedberg’s train station directly heading for Shibuya.

++ The artwork from Frischluft is up my alley, the aesthetics of the label are so pretty. Was the presentation very important for you? How careful were you with the design of it? Who designed all of the catalogue by the way?

Frischluft! was following the ideal of L’Art Pour L’Art oscillating between German 1920s Dada non-sense and an elaborate corporate identity as with the semi hit factories of visionaries like Tot Taylor, Alan Horne or Patrick Moore. Before even writing songs or piecing together a band every release went through all stages of intellectual pregnancy summoning in the birth of a brain child. All the sleeves were designed by Matn, the Honigritter’s trumpet player often spotted wearing his white sailor suit, and me. Our treasure chests were small flea markets, our parent’s lofts and cellars. Scissors, glue sticks and pencils were our weapons when we took over the local copy shop. The lady watching over the place earned a living from our endless conceiving and rejecting ideas. In the evening we literally fell asleep between the Xerox machines kept warm by the machines still working.

++ Which labels inspired you to create Frischluft? Do you think there’s any label or band that carries that same spirit and feel of yours nowadays?

Postcard, él, Subway, Pink, Ata Tak, 53rd & 3rd, Respond, Creation, Operation Twilight, Compact, Whaaam!, Countdown…

Cats On Fire (for the boy scout-look and jangly sound), Cause-Commotion (for the shambly sound and beautiful hand-printed sleeves), Skint & Demoralised (for the passion and soul without being pathetic), Voluntary Butler Scheme (for the desire to sound huge with little means), Cave Weddings (for the punk-spirit resulting in pure pop)

++ So let’s talk about the releases. The one I’m most curious about is the Pfadfindertreffen Auf Immenhof 7″ compilation. Why have Edwyn Collins in the cover? And what about the bands that appear on this record? Could you give me a bit of a background on them?

The idea behind this release was to create a singing contest at a boy scout jamboree at Grandmother Jansen’s paddock. Oma Jansen was the legendary landowner lady from the 60s german screwball-comedy-like Immenhof-series. Edwyn in his shirt and scarf seemed to be the perfect virtual patron saint for that imaginary extravaganza. By the way, I never spoke with his lawyer…

++ What about finding the bands? How did you end up signing them? Did they send demos to you? Were they friends? How did that work for Frischluft?

On an early flyer we had Hanna-Barbera’s 60s character Wolfie stepping into the office of a friendly manager wearing shirt and tie. We challanged anyone fitting within the categories Beat, Pop or Psychedelia to follow Wolfie’s example. (This was decades before Stuart Murdock invited people to step into his office.) This request was repeated on local radio as well.

++ Once I read from Peter Hahndorf that the Frischluft bands were “The Sound of Young Germany”, would you agree?

“The Sound Of Young America” (Motown), “The Sound Of Young Scotland” (Postcard), “The Sound Of Young Wimbledon” (Compact). So it had to wind down one more step

++ One of the most known bands in your label were Die Merricks, who had many releases after leaving your label. Why do you think they were that successful? What were the strengths of the band? Did you expect them to have a career that spanned more than a decade?

I knew the Merricks from their debut release on the Augsburgian Two-By-Art label, who were the first to release a bunch of Honigritter songs prior to the single release as well. I got to know the Merricks’ mastermind Bernd through Mission Impossible – a Merricks offshoot by their singer Günther. Attracted by their Mod name I visited a concert of the latter. Bernd was also there. I was wearing a Mighty Mighty-T-Shirt and Bernd approached me with the words „great band“. So we started talking about C86 and the mid-eighties-Mod-Scene until we found out, that he even had the Honigritter-7“. I told him about our plans to release a compilation album and we came across that Die Merricks and Mission Impossible both would contribute two songs each very quickly.

The Merricks were a band with huge musical talent on from the early days reminding massively of Dexy’s, Jim Jiminee and the likes. Bernd added his visions of the perfect pop song. I see these two points as the basis of their success. Furthermore they always were able to reinvent themselves while the musical world was ever changing. Just think of „The Sound Of Munich“ perfectly fitting with that mid-nineties Easy Listening and club pop-hype. I always thought in a better world they would have been destined for greater success. I strongly recommend Bernd’s latest project Der Englische Garten, where he returns to our beloved 7“ format.

++ Maybe my favourite band in your label is Die Honigritter, but then, I barely know anything about them! Care to tell me a bit about them?

In this very moment you’re talking to their founder and singer. Being a hopeless and sentimental pop addict I dreamt of a band combining everything I loved to create the perfect pop: Andreas Dorau’s lyrics, Talulah Gosh’s innocence, Wirtschaftswunder-Schlager, the DIY-ethos and xerox-aesthetics of punk-fanzines, the fascinating faked world of él, 50s and 60s picture books for children, American pop culture just before the British Invasion swept over it, psychedelic without the drugs and of course the strength of the straight forward 2-minute pop song. I could go on forever. The slide shows on our MySpace-site will give you a more detailed idea. My basic idea of art in general is to quote extracts from one’s favourite influences, then to reassemble these to create something new. I cannot be convinced by the denying of pigeonholing favoured by many bands. Be true to your school as Brian Wilson once put it!

The “Im Sommer…”-single was sold with a numbered leaflet you could send to us to obtain your copy of the Honigritter-Fibel (=spelling book). Finally only 5 copies were printed in green, red and black. The Fibel is presented in it’s whole extent on our MySpace-site.

++ Then let’s jump to the “Mit Sonnenschirmen fingen wir den Blütenzauber” compilation! Here there’s one UK band: Jane From Occupied Europe. I tried to get in touch with them not so long ago, but no luck. They are not that very well known, so I’m wondering how did they end up in this LP?!

We were writing to the address on the Bubblegum Splash-single trying to obtain a song by them just to learn they were no more. The Bubblegum’s flavour may have been gone, but they didn’t throw it away (as Mighty Mighty once claimed) but re-put it into shape that was Jane From Occupied Europe.

++ On this same compilation there are some bands that I’ve never heard before like The Sheets, Mission Impossible, or Painting by Numbers! Care to tell me a bit about each band on this compilation if that’s not much to ask?!

We thought of the Sheets as our ace in the hole. Successfully recreating the second generation Sound Of Young Scotland as accomplished by Lloyd Cole, The Bluebells, Bourgie Bourgie or „Knife“-era Aztec Camera soon they were tracked down by Polydor’s talent scouts. But then the major label’s (groovy) train (sic!) headed towards baggy and scally Madchester rather than Glasgow leaving the Sheets with a rumoured to exist „lost album“.

Painting By Numbers were the definite (P)Op-Art affair with black and white polka dots and floppy fringes all over the place chasing The Revolving Paint Dream back into thee cave. Their first demo was pure Psychocandy as played by The Strawberry Alarm Clock. Frank – a deadringer for Bobby Gillespie – later moved to Hamburg to join Die Fünf Freunde.

++ Another 7″ you put out was the “Thymian & Prinzengold” by Der Wind in den Weiden. Any anecdotes you can share about this band? Did you ever get to meet any of your bands? What about going to a gig of theirs?

Der Wind In Den Weiden was inspired by Kenneth Grahame’s children novel from 1908 and were meant as Frischluft!’s teen folk loner nodding into the direction of “See Emily Play” seen through the eyes of “Mummy You’re not Watching Me”-era Dan Treacy. Their only live appearance was fortified with psychedelic lidquid wheel effects, tape loops, backwards guitar and reverrrrrrb all way through. A visitor who saw the mindblowers in action said he felt like „set the controls for the heart of the sun“ taking off at the Roundhouse in ‘67.

++ I found on a web page that the Purzelbaum im Badeschaum record came with a fanzine? What was this fanzine about? Did you do any other zines?

Your source is reliable. Included was the R-fanzine, which was working in a dialectic call-and-response manner with the legendary P-fanzine run by three young pop-kids from Seeheim-Jugenheim. The R-fanzine was our Xerox-overpoke with function following form. It was intentionally put together as a final statement on a scene who once rode on the strength of post punk and was watered down by twee for twee’s sake bands in the sequel of Sarah records and the likes. You may call the 7″/fanzine package Frischluft!’s swan song… I once saw the record in the “Industrial” section of a record shop

++ I can’t find any information about the “Mit Sonneschirmen Fingen Wir Den Blütenzauber” record, what was included on this one?

The “Mit Sonnenschirmen…”-LP was conceived to mark the status quo of the scene. It featured one or two songs each by Waldmeisterträume, Merricks, Honigritter, The Sheets, Painting By Numbers, Die Fahrraddiebe, Mission Impossible and a mystery track. As most of our other releases the album was presented by Radio Luxemburg DJ Camillo Felgen besides others. I doubt that he ever came across enjoying and appreciating this homage.

According to customs the LP came with a comprehensive bundle of flyers and memorabilia following the tradition of the early Compact compilation LPs. Featured was a small mailorder leaflet offering the Painting By Numbers-demo-tape, the “Radio Tannhäuser”-compilation or a large Waldmeisterträume-art print (ltd. to 3 copies) to name but a few.

++ What about the Himbeerbubis and Tobi? Who were they and why did you release this split flexi?

Die Himbeerbubis (= The Raspberry Young Lads) should have been our label’s own Hunky Dory. They recorded only one song. The tape is lost and even the “Durch’s Schlüsselloch…”“-compilation only features the instrumental version that survived somehow. Tobi was Frischluft!’s twisted mind heavily taking on the NDW-style of Der Plan, Erste Weibliche Fleischergesellin nach 1945 or Speck Nußeck with his “Gemüselied”. The flexi was conceived as a quote of the “Klingende Post”-7″-series. Each volume featured some sound snippets of freshly released records linked by some suave boy-girl-talking flirting and praising the new hope-to-be-hits and was given away for free in german record shops during the sixties.

++ Was there any record that you wanted to release but never happened?

Five records never exceeded the status of a droll idea.

First of all we wanted to release a 7″ by The Shampoo Tears, who were the most convincing German answer to the crooning of “Rip it Up”-era Orange Juice.

Next we found a lonely chanteuse with a jazz guitar singing in the streets of the autumnal Frankfurt. We imagined her as Frischluft’s Tracey Thorn/Marine Girls/Grab Grab The Haddock.

Then there were some street musicians playing Eastern European folklore dressed with the most beautiful traditional semi-uniforms and blue Russian boots. These should have been our él band. We were afraid they themselves never heard of neither the London Pavilion nor The King Of Luxembourg. So we didn’t dare to ask them to mime and pose on the sleeve in a Nick Wesolowski manner.

The Worms scene spawned a hauntingly beautiful boy/girl-duo called Celestial. Their „the man who lived in his dreams“ should have been a one-sided single with etching on the flip we wanted the duo’s girl singer to do, who lived in the most beautiful painted room with light-blue and white bordure in an antique Roman villa-style.

Last but not least Frischluft!’s own Waldmeisterträume intended to do a double-7″ to be played in sequence on two turntables with sides one and three on one single and sides two and four on the other and successive sides overlapping enabling the listener to mix them seamlessly. Musically this should have been our “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”. Matn had recorded some turn-of-the-century poems from pre-psych-head Arno Holz’s “Phantasus”-cycle spoken through a hosepipe directly into an aquarium to give it the otherworldly treatment. The double single was conceived as a “From Birth to Death”-story snitching the idea from The Pretty Things 1968 epos “S.F. sorrow”. The bubbling poems should mark the beginning of the protagonist still swimming in the amniotic fluid. Furthermore we intended to work with samples of obscure erotic records trying to cash in on the success of “Je t’aime” circa 1970 (Christine Lamour, Marianne, Michelle Et David, Er & Sie et al.) This idea was partly realised some years later with Miss Soixante-Dix. We bought some corduroy jackets and wanted to stitch an amorphous mushroom on the back to stress on that 60s garage psych „band as a gang“-tradition.

++ What are the correct ingredients for a perfect pop song? What term do you prefer to call our music? twee, C86 or indiepop? why?

Most importantly you have to be a visionary. A good pop song for me is a highly artificial and constructed thing successfully pretending to be the most normal thing. I always would favour a imaginative and rich production over so-called “honest” (=boring) music. Simple but highly memorable melodies or a short guitar solo relying on one string will stick in your head and persuade you to listen to the song over and over again. Basically it’s everything major labels are trying to achieve but missing the aspect of the visionary. There have been periods where all of these issues have been considered resulting in great and(!) good selling pop artifacts (sic!) like The Beatles mid-period catalogue, ABC’s “The Lexicon of Love“ or Haircut 100’s “Pelican West”.

I see twee and C86 as two completely different things. C86 was a European thing drawing it’s influences from (post) punk and/or the UK- and US-sixties. When “indie pop” turned into “indiepop” during the early nineties it turned into an American thing shaking off completely that Thatcherite oppression, Red Wedge Movement, “kick a ball or play a guitar”, red brickstone houses, anorak/black 501s/Clarks desert boots etc.-image in favour of Hello Kitty, trainers and other bubblegum devotionals. But the most important difference for me was the absence of the punk spirit! In my opinion a lot of twee/indiepop bands (I’d take these for synonyms) lack of pop-historical and contextual awareness stressing too much on the fey and innocent aspects.

I saw that awareness creeping back in in the mid-nineties with the massive aspect of retro-culture/easy listening hype on “our music” resulting in magna opi like “algebra spaghetti”, The Legendary Jim Ruiz groups “sniff” or Belle & Sebastian’s “The Life Pursuit”. The internet en passent helped to connect local scenes spread all over the world making it a truly global and vitalized scene again, which offers so much to detect!

++ Why did you stop releasing records? Were you involved with any music activities after?

The end of Frischluft! went along with my diminished interest in a scene which had lost it’s original peppiness and it’s visionaries. I was involved with one-off Miss Soixante-Dix in the early nineties (rising from the ashes of Karl Kaiser und die Halbstarken Todesfahrer) examining the seeds sown with records like The Times “Et Dieu Crea la Femme” or The Teenage Filmstars “Star”, but rather concentrated on record collecting than producing them. Thus I consciously closed a chapter, which was running on my heart’s blood whilst being opened!

++ What does Krischan do nowadays? Are you passionate about other things aside from music?

I’m a teacher for mentally handicapped children in a little village in the countryside.

I’m passionate about a lot of things besides music: I like going to flea markets, swimming, riding my bike, graphic design, wandering through the woods, confectionery, spooky fairytales, German everyday culture from the late fifties to late sixties, potatoes whatsoever, sentimental American films from the late 60s, the books of Otfried Preußler…

++ Thanks for the extensive interview, hope it wasn’t too much! Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m the one who has to thank!

To dive deeper into the world of Frischluft! feel free to visit www.myspace.com/frischlufttontraeger

Add some music to your day!



Honigritter – Bittere Pillen


A “complain” from a friend persuaded me to book a flight to Stockholm. I really didn’t need much convincing to visit Stockholm though as I’ve been meaning to visit indiepopland for years now. I was going to be quite close, in Germany, and I first thought about taking a bus and visiting the south of Sweden, Lund and Malmö. I had time to do some little tourism around, I was going to be two weeks in Europe, it made sense. As soon as my plans to visit Malmö were unveiled, I was demanded to go to Stockholm instead. And I think it was the right decision: immediately I got offered to play some records at Debaser, Slussen. So thanks K for drilling it in my head that Stockholm was where I had to go! And on top of that, the Ryanair 10 euro flights sweetened the deal. The only bad thing, having to travel Saturday morning after a big party in Berlin. But for 10 euros I shouldn’t complain! Well, I still have to figure out how much will they charge for my luggage!

So that’s the plan, arriving on October 10th at Skavsta airport, then a bus all the way to Stockholm. Then lunch – I hope! I will be starving by then. Would be nice to see what’s typical Swedish food. I heard about a steak cooked over some wood? Sounds delicious to me. Later, this same day, I’ll head to the Fritz’s Corner club that takes place in the Debaser, Slussen, venue. There will be two bands playing, one that I really don’t know and seems to be the BIG act that night. Their name is Kap Bambino. I think this band will have the big stage while the Cloudberry people, humble indiepop people, will enjoy the cosiness of the Franska Bukten, which is, as far as I know, a small section of the huge venue. And. if things go as planned, I will share the DJ deck with a star: Tommy Gunnarsson. Do you remember that fantastic label called Heavenly Pop Hits that put releases out by Hormones in Abundance or Nixon and many more? Well, he was the guy behind it! He was also behind a band called The Gentle Smiles, which is as brilliant, but that will deserve a post later next year because there’s plans for something that is still a secret!

But the highlight of the night will be the other band playing that night: The Andersen Tapes. This will be their first gig ever! I’m so thankful and thrilled to attend this! Amanda Aldervall, who once was part of that marvelous, cult band, Free Loan Investments, and is one of the nicest and coolest celebrity in the pop-world, started The Andersen Tapes as a solo project. Last year, we put out a 3″ CD single that included three fantastic tracks that were well received by the indiepop community, getting glowing reviews and selling out quickly! As of today, I do know she is working on an album, but I’m not sure I can reveal more information about it! But be on the lookout, it’s supposed to come out on one of my favourite Swedish labels. And hopefully, I’ll be able to put a 7″ with The Andersen Tapes in the future too. That I’d love! And back to the gig. I think Amanda is getting together a full band for it! Isn’t that sweet? I wonder who she is recruiting! I bet there must be a big list (and a line) of people wanting and waiting to be part of the band. If I just knew how to play an instrument…

I already shipped some records to Stockholm and, even though I don’t know if there will be a merch table, I’ll be sure to bring them with me if you’d like to buy some and save on postage. And last, but not least, I want to thank a lot to Anders Thorell for booking this gig, for being enthusiastic about it and for making it happen. This will be a night to remember! See you all there!!

PS. There’s a piece written on the Debaser page, but I won’t hold responsible for what it says Also there’s more information there, but my Swedish skills are worst than what I think they are.

Cloudberry Records presents The Andersen Tapes
Escaping from the drowsiness of the warm Miami Beach breeze, the hollowness of neon lights streets and a broken-heart, Cloudberry started in 2007 determined to unite all bed-sitters around the world. Taste and aesthetics, hand-to-hand, a careful design, and lots of love are the foundation. On top of it, the main goal, purvey the sound of jangly guitars. Though, some distortion was going to be welcome. Carrying the indiepop flag on a hyperactive 100 singles series released in less than two years including legends St. Christopher and media darlings The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Sold-out releases, sold-out gigs, four fierce fanzines, a DIY attitude fighting those who are boycotting our dreams, and bringing together those scattered lurkers from every corner of the world. No surprise that Cloudberry is a lively splinter cell of the international pop underground supporting bands from far away Hong Kong, all the way to the American West Coast and then to the Scottish moors. Sweden has had a deep impact in the label as many bands have participated with passion, with love. Among those bands there is today’s The Andersen Tapes, Twig, The Garlands, The Faintest Ideas, Blind Terry, Japan Air, Hari and Aino, The Bridal Shop, The Mare and more. And the tradition will continue with slated 7″ records by up-and-coming bands. With no doubts there’s an inherent link between Cloudberry and Sweden, and it goes further than cloudberry jam and pancakes. Popkids of the world unite!



The Andersen Tapes – Turn to Speak


Even though at the moment I’m swamped with work, duties, and life (because life is voracious), I really wanted to update the blog. One of these duties that keep piling, that I should be working on, is that of making a small fanzine about German pop. I’ll be in Berlin in less than a month and Luise and me are trying to do a little zine to celebrate the scene that is happening right now as well as some old favourite records from the past. There seems to be a healthy scene happening in Germany overall, with new-ish clubs as Adventure Playground, Hit the North, the Pop Kombinat! and the Pop Assistants. And I really believe they deserve some praise. So hopefully for the evening of the 9th, we’ll have these available. That night I’ll be at a small club called the Schwalbe djing, alongside with Uwe Firestation and Andy Pop Assistants, some favourite tunes. Really looking forward to that. If you happen to be in Berlin, please come by. I’ll post a flyer as soon as I finish that too (another thing to get done!).

While going through the German pop records I have, checking which ones would be best to recommend on the zine, I ended up with pulling out of my boxes a She Splinters Mortar 7″. But this one couldn’t wait. I had to play it immediately. While the record spinning dizzily on the turntable, I keep getting flashbacks of what I have to do. There’s a couple of interviews to do, there’s a release today on the Cloudberry Classics by Kosmonaut, the band from Stephen Almighty Pop! after Bulldozer Crash, there’s getting together some CDs to DJ later in Berlin, Stockholm and Hamburg, there’s writing the new Cloudberry zine, there’s artwork to be done for Plastilina releases, and there seems that the etcetera keeps growing as well. The horoscope witch said that September was going to be a tough month, a busy month, and she seems right. She says among other things: “These are nerve wrecking, draining aspects and you must do all you can to protect your health. Life events may wear you down, and should you feel overwhelmed, call a friend or a therapist, and do all you can to get more rest. ” Tough luck for me, seems resting is not an option. She does splinter mortar.

The 7″s continues to play. 2 songs on each side. I was recommended this 7″ by Uwe a long time ago. I haven’t played it for months and it sounds as fresh as the first time. On the A side you find “Straight From Her Heart” and “Goldmine”. On the B side there’s “All Comes Out” and “Bird of Prey”. The music, the nerve, the style, the way the guitars chime, they sound as if they were part of the Leamington Spa series! Immediately, for some reason, I’m reminded to the Reserve while listening to “Goldmine”, and perhaps to The Visitors too… but then maybe I’m just thinking of similar song titles? The bass line is great on this tune, which I think it’s my favourite. “All Comes Out” Is also really nice! This one has jangly, clean guitars, very similar to the Desert Wolves guitar textures. So who are these She Splinters Mortar? There’s a mysterious name on the record labels. It says: Harald Dawo. A quick google search says that Harald Dawo is a car photographer based in Cologne. Could that be him? I wonder so. The record was indeed recorded in Cologne, which is quite a hint to believe it could be him. It was recorded in September 1987 at the Whitehouse Studios. There are some other names, the sound technician was Detlev Schmitz, who also did the production and mixing, and Bernd Bodtländer, who took the photos of the band for the sleeve. Also this is the first release on the Die Schwarze Sieben label, which was based in Wiesbaden.

There seems to be at least another 7″ by the band with the A side “Distress”. Never heard this one. Also there is an album called “Jaguar” which was released in 87 as well. Never seen this one either. Also Twee.net lists a tape called “Rund Um Die Welt” were the song “Mind Cries Mary” was included.

And that’s about all the information there is available I think. And of course, if you are up to solving the mystery about this really nice band, do it! Any anecdotes or information is always welcome! And now I should go get some more stuff done, but first, I have to give the record another spin.



She Splinters Mortar – Goldmine


Love the sight and love the sound / I wish that I could stick around / Berlin

A night to remember, that’s what I hope this one will be. I don’t plan sleeping after this one. I’m taking a plane to Stockholm after. At 8am. I don’t know if I’m too old for this, but I’ll give it a try! I feel great and I’m so looking forward to party every night. So far the schedule looks crammed with beer, dancing and good music. Arriving the 8th, getting to see Camera Obscura with Berlin hipsters (I wonder how they dress), then attending the after-party at King Kong club organized by the Pop Assistants where the Wayward Girl will DJ for the second time (good luck at it!), the 9th is this DJ gig at the Schwalbe (see the flyer?), the 10th DJing in Stockhom, and Sunday the 11 probably I’ll suffer a surmenage and faint. Fair enough, as we say in Peru, “sarna con gusto no pica” (let me try a loose translation: scabies you like, don’t rash).

The Schwalbe is where the Ship Shape Club has been happening. That’s Uwe Firestation club! So you can expect only quality songs from him. The other day I was very happy when on an email he told me: “… the Boy Least Likely whose singles sounds like an horror to me. Brrrr !”. That totally reaffirmed my trust on his music taste! Not that I ever had any doubts about them. So, of course, I’m very honored that he organized this gig, and on top of that, that we’ll share the DJ deck! That’s thrilling. Even though he wouldn’t like me to say, he is one of the most prominent figures of German indiepop ever, from his SMUF fanzines and tapes to what Firestation has achieved with such a large catalogue. The Schwalbe is mostly a football bar I believe, and that makes a lot of sense to me. I love football and Uwe loves football. We both cheer for HSV Hamburg. Uwe must have his reasons, as he is from Berlin (yup, he doesn’t like Hertha). A bit odd maybe. But that’s ok as I cheer for the same team. But for the past two games it’s not looking that good for us, as we are missing our striker Paolo Guerrero. He got injured while defending the Peruvian national team against Venezuela. He’ll miss the rest of the season! I really like how this kid plays, but it sucks that he is so prone to injuries! If he just played a whole season, I bet he’d be transfered immediately to the Premier League. Class player.

The gig will happen at the second floor of the bar, where more or less 100 people can fit. So all of you Berliners come please! We’ll get some beers and we’ll dance to some fantastic indiepop tunes, both classic and new. And before you ask me why on the flyer it says Twee. Well, why not. Most people that read me ( and me included) don’t like this term. But I won’t mind if some twee-lover arrives at the club to listen to good music. It’s not worth to fight over a word I think. Unless it comes from those dumbasses talking nonsense on that Youtube documentary.

Also djing with us will be our good friend Andi Jenner from the Pop Assistants, who has been booking some fantastic bands in Berlin. Just a week ago he had one of my favourite bands, and future Cloudberry 7″, Bonne Idée playing. So, if you don’t really trust my music taste, and you already know Andi in Berlin, you can just come to the Schwalbe for him. He won’t disappoint!

I’ll have some 7″s for sale this day if you are wondering about that because you hate paying postage. But I won’t bring that many. I still need to grow some biceps for carrying heavier weighs on my luggage.

This will be a fun evening! I’ll see you there, right? And it’s Oktober, in Germany, you know what that means: beer!



Kirsty MacColl – Berlin


Thanks so much to Andy Sandom for this exclusive interview!

++ When and how did Red Harvest start? Where in England were you based? How did you knew each other? Who were the members?

Red Harvest formed at university in Norwich, not sure exactly when, but probably late 1985. The original members were Steve Morris (vocals), Tony Barnard (Bass Guitar), Mark Huggett (Drums), Christine Ellis (Keyboards) and Phil Martin (Guitar). They all moved to London after university, and that was when I joined the band as a harmonica player. Steve Morris was a work colleague of mine at the time. I was playing in a psychobilly band called Saddlewhores at the Clarendon in Hammersmith and Steve came along to see us one night. After the gig, he invited me to a reheasal session with his band, Red Harvest, and I became a permanent member after that.

++ Do you know if the band members being involved in other bands before or after Red Harvest?

I know Mark Huggett is still playing drums, and has been very successful on the jazz circuit. You can google his name and find out plenty of info about him. I really don’t know about the others, I’ve lost touch after all the years. As for myself, I was the guitarist in a punk band called Chaos around 1979, and then took a rest from playing music, other than the occasional jam, and concentrated more on getting drunk instead! I joined Saddlewhores around 1986 and played with them for a while, recorded a demo session which was my first recording experience.

++ Why did you choose the name Red Harvest?

I’m not entirely sure, I wasn’t involved in that process as it was before my time. As far as I remember, it was chosen as it was the title of one of Dashiell Hammet’s most famous novels.

++ At the end of the “Strange” LP, which is the only one I own and it’s brilliant, there someone talking, telling this was the first album by Red Harvest. Who is this? and why did you include this nice little footnote?

That was Phil Martin, the guitarist. Someone had the idea (probably Phil!) to have a BBC style monologue at the end of the LP, and then blend it into a spoof shipping forecast. It was a just a bit of fun, there were a few seconds on that side of the LP that needed filling up!

++ Also this record was produced by Adrian Borland of The Sound fame. How was working with him? Any anecdotes you could share?

Adrian was absolutely fantastic to work with. He had so many ideas and so much talent, and was always full of enthusiasm. He played additional guitar on quite a few of our tracks, the most prominent was the slide guitar on ‘Runaway’. Around 1979/1980, I regularly used to see his band, The Sound, play live. I thought they were awesome, so much better than Echo & The Bunnymen and A Teardrop Explodes, who were around at the same time and similar in style. So, he was kinda a hero and it was a real honour for me to be working so close to him a few years later. I was absolutely stunned when I heard about his passing away. So sad.

++ And what about the song “Heaven”, produced by Pete Shelley! How did this go? How did you get so many renown people working with you?

Heaven was one of the album tracks from our first LP, but that’s all the info I can give you on this one I’m afraid! I never got to meet Pete Shelley, he produced the track after we had recorded it. Shame, it would have been nice to have met him. I really can’t remember how he came to be involved, I’m sure Steve would know.

++ I only know the “Strange” LP and the “Saved” LP, what’s the full discography of Red Harvest including compilation tracks and demo tapes? I ask because I want to hunt these gems on eBay!

I’ve just updated the full Red Harvest discography at Discogs.com, you can view it at: http://www.discogs.com/artist/Red+Harvest+(2)
We also recorded a few demos, and a BBC session for Janice Long. Oh, and I’ve got a live tape buried somewhere in one of my cupboards!

++ Can you tell me a bit about the Aftermath label and the Public Domain label who released your records?

Sorry, Can’t tell you anything really about those labels. They were both indie labels, with whom Steve had had sorted out a deal. I know an Elvis Presley picture disc was released on Public Domain, so it’s a privilege to be on the same label as an Elvis release!

++ Was there any interest from major labels? Why didn’t you get more popular you think?

We had a lot of interest from Beserkley at one point, but that never got off the ground. I think our big problem was doing everything ouselves and not having a proper manager. Still, I guess that’s true indie spirit isn’t it?

++ You’ve put up on Youtube the promo video for the “World Won’t Listen” single. Care to tell me a bit about the video? Where was it shot? what do you remember from recording it? any other anecdotes?

The video was very exciting to do. It was shot in Paris by a British director and cameraman, who’s names I just cannot remember at all. That’s really embarassing, especially as I work in the film industry myself these days! One thing I do remember about the shoot was the football. I remember England were playing Cameroon one evening while we were in Paris, it was the World Cup quarter-finals on 1st July 1990. We cheered like mad when England scored, and the whole bar went quiet and turned to stare at us. It was like that scene in ‘An American Werewolf In London’, know what I mean? Anyway, Cameroon scored next, and the whole bar cheered and gave us the finger! There was no violence or anything, but it did make us feel vulnerable! What a great match – 3:2 to England in the end.

++ What were your favourite Red Harvest songs?

All the tracks which featured harmonica the most! Ha ha ha! No seriously, it’s hard to put a finger on any songs really. I was particularly fond of Murder as that was the very first track I recorded with Red Harvest, I think we ended up recording that at least 3 times, the single version, the album version, and I’m sure we must have done a demo as well. There was a track we recorded in our final demo session which I really did like, I cannot remember what it was called though, but I’ve still got the tape.

++ Any particular gigs you remember and why?

I remember the Marquee gigs the most clearly I suppose. We played the old Marquee down Wardour Street, and the new Marquee in Charing Cross Road. The Old Marquee was my favourite, it was just such a prestigious venue. I had seen so many bands there myself in the punk days, it was a real privilege to have been on the same stage as many of my idols.

++ When and why did Red Harvest split? What happened after with you all? Any clues where are the other members or what are they doing?

We split not long after the 2nd album was released, not really sure why. It all just sort of fizzled out I guess. The original guitarist and drummer had left, and it just felt different after that. As far as I know, the only original member still playing music is the drummer, Mark.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

It really was great fun at the time, and it’s fantastic that there’s still some interest in our music! Thanks so much!



Red Harvest – Heaven


I feel happy inside! Happy! gravity just fade away!

I’ll be back in Hamburg in less than a month! I’m very excited, thrilled, and giggling while posting this flyer here. There will be some more flyers on the blog soon because I’ll be DJing in Berlin and Stockholm as well. But more details on those nights soon. In the case you want to mark them on your calendar, because you are in town and you want to listen to some good music, I’ll be in Berlin on the 9th and in Stockholm on the 10th (with the live debut of The Andersen Tapes!). But let’s get back to Hamburg!

I believe the flyer says more than any words could say. Of course, DJette did a lovely work designing it. And she did use some obscure imagery for it. Can you point out where the photo comes from?

It’s quite exciting that this evening I’ll be meeting at last The Sunny Street! I love their music so much, and had the chance to put out the “Insull Memorial” 3″ CD last year. I’m still fascinated how they achieved making a cheesy song sound classy and elegant when covering Haddaway’s “What Is Love?”. Now I just hope a 7″ by The Sunny Street happens in the future. Wouldn’t that be sweet? But sweeter is meeting for the first time Rémi and Delphine. They are coming with two other friends, so it’s not more a duo but a proper band! Christos and Ian are joining. Ian is quite famous because he plays in Pocketbooks and was organizing with Marianthi the Spiral Scratch nights. And Christos? Well, Christos is Christos! Nicest Greek guy in the whole galaxy. Christos if you are reading this, you know how thankful I am for that One Night Suzan record? I met Christos in New York last year. That was a good evening, wasn’t it? I clearly remember dancing with Marianthi, Christos and Pete B. to The Field Mice just before Cats on Fire fired up their arsenal at Don Hills.

In a nutshell: First show of The Sunny Street in Hamburg, you can’t miss it.

Also DJing at this special night is Matthew from Big Pink Cake! We did a little thing together when the “Where are the Supremes Tonight” 3″ CD was given away for free at his club in Bristol. So now we’ll be sharing DJ duties! That’s kind of a scary thought though. Imagine this situation: I’m just an amateur, and he seems such a professional at it! And we’ll be drinking beer German style. I can’t do any ridiculous mistakes at the deck! I’ll be booed! Can’t allow that to happen! But if that’s not making it difficult for me to play records, with such high standards to beat, I’ll have to deal with the fantastic taste of DJ Selfish, Herr Winzer from the defunct but historic Mind the Gap mailorder. I bet he is going to spin the best indiepop hits. Can’t wait to see him dancing again though. I insist, there’s no one that could dance better than Jörg Winzer.

And last, but not least: Djette. That’s Nana, one of my dearest friends, my German road-movie friend, the cheerful Astra drinker, the best photographer I know. I can’t wait to see you Nana! And we’ll blow the candles together on the 16th!

In a nutshell: I promise you’ll get some great music to dance.

What a weekend that will be. If you are in town, please come by! It will be jede Menge Spaß! Now it’s time for Hamburg’s finest: The Legendary Bang! Yes! It makes me so HAPPY to be back in Hamburg!



The Legendary Bang – Happy


Thanks so much to John Douglass for the great interview! Listen to more music from Kid Sinister at their myspace and at their label page Sons of Art.

++ Hi! How are you today?

Very well thank you!

++ Let’s get into business, let’s talk about Kid Sinister! How and when did the band start? What was the lineup and how did you all meet?

I went to school with Phil Rice the drummer and he had just left Bristol band Misdemeanour. I had been signed to Atlantic Records as a solo artist but it was not going anywhere and I felt I wanted someone else to sing my songs. I saw an advert in a local paper for a singer looking for a band and arranged to meet Steve and somehow he became our singer. Mike joined on bass and that became the nucleus of the group.

++ How do you remember those days in Bristol? Was there a thriving scene? Has it changed a lot?

Yes it was a thriving scene and a good place to be in a band. The only difference was there was less of an infrastructure to support the music business side so it was always felt that you had to move, or spend a lot of time travelling, up to London.

++ Where does the name Kid Sinister comes from?

A line in a Rickie Lee Jones song, can’t remember which song but it’s off her classic debut album the one with Chuck E’s in Love….

++ Did Kid Sinister gig a lot? Any particular gigs you remember the most?

Yes we did gig a lot, I don’t think we ever fully captured our best moments on record, they usually happened live. That’s why I was glad to get a chance to tidy up some live recordings and release the live album of songs that we never recorded.


++ You only released one single, “Sugar Rae” 12″, right? You even set up a label because of this release! Care to tell me a bit more about why did you go the self-release way and about the Sons of Art label?

We had had a lot of interest from the major record labels but it wasn’t happening quick enough so we decided to do it ourselves. Although we weren’t ‘indie in sound’ we were in attitude and felt we could do it ourselves with the help of the Cartel, which had grown out of the late 1970’s punk & indie movement. We had intended to release an album on Sons of Art but the band split up and Steve & I regrouped as Wushcatte, where we were singed to Kitchenware Records/EMI so we mothballed the label until a few years ago.

++ Any anecdotes about the recording of this single?

The main recording studio in Bristol at the time was The Coach House run by Andy Allan. Andy was a folkie technician who somehow found himself at the centre of a musical revolution.

We were half way through our recording session when a group moved into his newly built pre production suites. That in itself confused us, ‘pre production, what’s that all about?’ We were used to rehearsing in a shitty cold damp room where everything was too loud and then setting up in a recording studio and recording it as we rehearsed it.

Any way this new ‘group’ had been in a week and all they had set up was a TV and some state of the art, but in reality rather primitive, video games. They had also racked up a huge phone bill. Andy was very unsure about them and although they apparently had a record label he had not seen any money and was getting nervous. We all had a good laugh too as they didn’t seem to have any ‘real’ instruments either!

Well I don’t know who had the last laugh as we went on to record our 12” single ‘Sugar Rae’ which is now fetching £50 on eBay whilst the other ‘group’, called ‘Massive something or other’, went on to record one of the seminal albums of the 1990’s, ‘Blue Lines’ and thus launched the ‘Bristol Sound’ and a thousand trip hop imitators.

Our only contribution was from Steve our lead singer. Neneh Cherry was recording with them and had a new baby with her and Steve got very drunk, threw up everywhere and ‘trip-hopped’ down three flights of stairs, taking out baby’s stair-gates one by one, Rock ‘n’ Roll eh?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if we had had our wits about us we could have listened, learned and maybe teamed up with these great artists and collaborators and even appeared on the album. There was a YTS tea boy, called `Jeff’ who did appear to be taking it all in though, apparently he was thinking of naming his fledgling band after a suburb of Bristol just off the M5, Portishead!

++ Feel My Pulse might be my favourite song of yours! Would you mind telling me what is it about? Where did the inspiration came for it?

We recorded this at SAM studios above what became the Moon Club and then the Lakota with Steve Street. Steve was thinking of giving up the music industry, one too many overdubs with 80’s band ‘RedBox’, and we probably confirmed his decision.

Lots of major/minor seventh/sixths chords, this could be quite a stonker live. Again I was still clinging on to a bit of lead vocal! The original idea for the guitar riff came from a guitarist we played with for a few weeks called ‘Jerry’, forget his second name, but he worked for the BBC. He was a very nice guy and a good guitar player but he could never remember what he had just played, he would come up with a brilliant lick and then be totally unable to play it again. His time keeping was a little dodgy too. We arranged a band meeting and the first item on the agenda was time keeping and commitment. Jerry turned up late for this meeting as usual and arrived jolly as ever, ‘have I missed anything?’.. ‘er yeah, you’re fired’. Still no hard feelings.

Kit Morgan played guitar on this session but it wasn’t mixed very well.

Line up Steve ‘Logg’ Hogg Vocals, John Douglass Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocals, Phil Rice Drums, Mike ’Thin Man’ Rogers Bass, Tim Walter keys, Kit Morgan guitar,

Lyrically it reflected the ‘true’ story of an attempted suicide when unemployment was rife in late 1970’s early 80’s. There were a lot of ‘pop’ bands with political lyrics then, The Style Council, Blow Monkeys etc.

++ What happened with the interests of the major labels for the band? Why didn’t that work out? What happened to all the other songs you recorded?

Despite continued interest the band called it a day in 1990. It was the end of an era and a good time to stop, commercially we may have had further to go but musically it was time to move on.

We released an album of all our studio recordings on Sons of Art records which is still available via the website but is also on itunes via the excellent Bristol Archive Records. They have also released a live album recently so pretty much everything we did is now available.


++ Listening to your songs, I see there’s a lot of variety in them, from straight-forward pop songs to mellow ballads, was this the intention or did it came naturally? How did songs shaped up for Kid Sinister, from the first idea to the final recorded song?

I was the songwriter and never really wrote in one style or genre, I had a number of influences but Paul Simon was big one and he has always written songs which are distinctively his but in many musical styles.

The songs were arranged by the band and tended to reflect the period we played in, i.e. the 1980’s. Many of the songs would sound different if we were to record them now. We had a reputation for being ‘tight & polished’ but I’m not sure if that was true, I think we jammed quite a bit.

++ What music were you listening at the time?

Paul Simon, John Hiatt, The Beach Boys, U2, Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Buddy Holly, and of course whatever was on the radio at the time, some of it good some of it bad.

++ Why and when did Kid Sinister called it a day? What do you do nowadays for a living?

1990 if my memory serves me right! I carried on working in music details of bands below. I also had my own CD import & music management business and then moved into music education. I now work for ‘Access to Music’ supporting the next generation of musicians.

++ Were you involved with any other bands after Kid Sinister broke up?

Steve & I continued working together and formed ‘Wushcatte’ who were signed to EMI & Kitchenware Records, home of amongst others Prefab Sprout. Our debut album, ‘this third animal’, is still available from Amazon, www.amazon.com. We also released an electronic album as ‘Widescreen’, working with acclaimed musician/producer, Richard Grassby-Lewis, available via www.2ndsight records.co.uk. Steve went solo for a while and released an EP called ‘Lakeside’ featuring songs co-written with myself, available via www.sons-of-art.com. We are now working under the name ‘Augustine’ and have an album, ‘Acorns Up’, out now on the revamped Sons of Art label, www.sons-of-art.com.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

It’s amazing how much interest remains in the band. I really appreciate it and thank you.



Kid Sinister – Feel My Pulse


One of the worst moments in running the Plastilina label was the failed release for the California Snow Story album. We had already promoted in our website, approved the artwork, received the master, saw it leek on soulseek, but at the last minute we had to drop it. Why? Well, I guess it’s not worth it to go into details, let’s just say it was a ‘misunderstanding’. A month later the album was released on the, now sadly-defunct, Letterbox Records label in UK. “‘Close To The Ocean” was a gorgeous album, a step further for the band David Skirving (an ex-Camera Obscura) founded years before. The biggest improvement was that of the band becoming a duo with the addition of Sandra Belda. Her name was unknown for many (if not all) popkids but happily I was already familiar with her previous band: Superété. I knew, since day one, that this combo, these Batman and Robin of pop, were going to be able to craft a lush album.

I always found quite curious that the press release for the California Snow Story album mentions Sandra’s past: “Sandra was previously the vocalist in the highly rated Valencia-based duo Superété. Superété recorded music in Spain in 2001/2002 and played frequently in Valencia and Barcelona in 2003 and 2004.” I’m not being sarcastic or arrogant if I say that the band was and still is unknown to most of Spanish popkids. Of course, shame on them, but the band didn’t really do any proper release. I do know that in their hometown, Valencia, they were quite popular though. I remember many years ago, probably around 2004, while working on a compilation for a Peru-only release called “Es Pop Mamá!”, I was in touch with a band called Bisiesta, from Valencia as well. The guy from the band got me in touch with Sandra as he was so excited that someone so far away knew about this band he also enjoyed a lot. Those were the days when no one was on facebook or myspace, so it was straight to MSN, on a three-way conversation. Sadly Sandra was a wee busy working at the hospital and couldn’t talk much. I joked saying she was the “Enfermera de Noche” (the night-shift nurse) which is a classic Spanish pop song by La Mode, we talked a bit about music, and then she had to go to do her duties. I never heard again from her till the day we got in touch about California Snow Story.

Back then there was a Superété website (which was www.superete.tk). I think at some point there was a Myspace. Today there aren’t any remains of them, it’s like Scipio Africanus’ troops punished them. But if memory serves, Superété were a duo, a boy and girl duo, just like California Snow Story. It was formed by Sandra and Julio in Valencia. I’m guessing the press release is wrong when it says they recorded songs between 2001 and 2002. Their first EP dates from 2003. The second was released a year after and it’s a bit different, you can tell the band grew up. Also, worth searching is a EP released by Julio under the name Julipop. How does it sound? Not so far from Superété, just that it had male vocals.

These are the two self-released EPs by Superété:

Cuando Amanece EP
01. Te Vas a Enterar
02. Septiembre
03. Cuando Anochece
04. Mi Robot
05. Cuando Anochece (Bot mix)

Superété EP
01. Tu Silencio
02. Martina Feliz
03. La Groupie Asesina
04. Te Vas a Enterar (Bot mix)
05. Cuando Anochece (Sleepdancing bot mix)

I’m giggling while listening the wonderful “Martina Feliz” (Happy Martina) who seems was a big fan of Le Mans! Or “La Groupie Asesina” (The Assassin Groupie) with those brasses and devilish lyrics! Or the playful “Mi Robot” (My Robot) which reminds me the happiest moments of the genius Antonio Galvañ from Parade.

They played many gigs in Valencia, even opening for Cola Jet Set, now a known name for UK people after their gig at Indietracks. Also the duo played along other favourites of mine, Nobel, who surely deserve some lines in this blog. On top of that, Sandra was also involved in writing stuff for the Jamacuco fanzine, which still is around. I guess I can still ask Sandra about the band, but I haven’t been in touch in such a long time. I wonder what’s she is up to. Maybe there’s another California Snow Story album cooking? Maybe this time, I can be part of it? Or maybe I should just wait again a couple of years for news.



Superété – Martina Feliz


Thanks so much to Andrew Burnett for the interview! Please check his current project CLS Kunstwerk here. Also be sure to not miss “Forever, Until Victory!”, a compilation of all Close Lobsters singles!

++ “Forever, Until Victory!” is the new compilation that will be out soon on Fire Records. Care to tell me a bit about this? What will be included? And when will we be able to buy it?

All the singles and all the b-sides are there. Newly remastered. It is scheduled for release on 6.10.09 by Fire Records of London. Fingers crossed!

++ The name for this compilation comes from what Che Guevara wrote to Fidel Castro. Do you have any particular view about Cuba and it’s regime, or you just liked the title?

The phrase itself has a wonderful spirit of determination to it but can also be viewed in an ironic fashion when used in the context of close lobsters. Che Guevara was a prince among men.

++ According to legend, the band’s name was derived from their inability to decide between two prospective names: The Close and The Lobsters. Is this really true? If so, who proposed these names? It seems it wasn’t easy to pick up a name..

Myself and Steward were behind this accomodation/amalgamation – me close, him lobsters. close lobsters.

++ How did the band come together? Where from Glasgow where you all from and how did you all meet? Were you all fans of the same kind of music?

We met when we were at school, all involved in punk rock and its post-punk aftermaths – the real punk rock, not the one where people took it literally and uncritically, not the popular perception of leather jackets, mohawks, spitting and touristy attractions etc. So we were destined in a way to do it given our collective belief in the spirit of punk rock. The late 70s was magical for music.

++ You were part of the C86 tape. How did it happen? Did the NME call you? How did that work out? What do you feel in retrospect about that tape which gave name to this “genre” and being on it?

I can only assume by accident. A good friend Jon Hunter, trumpet player with the June Brides took us under his wing and promoted the band in London for a while. I’m sure it was his influence that helped bring about the inclusion on C86.

++ How did you end up signing to Fire Records? Did you send them a demo perhaps?

They approached us with a record deal. We signed. Some people rob you with a fountain said Bob Dylan.

++ Are there still unreleased songs from you waiting to see the light of the day?

Possibly but in a very different form. House music floats my boat these days. Electronic music.

++ You toured all around the USA. How did that happen? What would you say is different between touring here compared to the UK? What was the best meal you had here by the way? Any anecdotes you’d like to share from this tour?

We signed a agency deal with a company in New York and they let us loose on the mid west and the north eastern seaboard. Actually we had a licensing deal in the US with a record company in California which meant that our records were very much more available in the US than in the UK. All meals in the US are good – large and good.

++ Any particular gigs you remember the most?

Iowa, New York and Chicago. All very good.

++ You released two fantastic albums and many many singles. If you were to choose some songs you are really proud of, which ones would you choose? and why?

I Kiss the Flower in Bloom and Got Apprehension. They are the closest to what I wanted at the time.

++ You are still making music as CLS Kunstwerk which is quite different from The Close Lobsters. How did this band come together? And, I don’t know, give yourself some shameless free publicity! tell us more about it

CLS Kunstwerk came about as a vehicle for me to start making music again. One gets tired and jaded in life without the means to produce something of an artistic nature. A release is imminent and should be track called Cosmic War.

++ Do you still follow guitar pop music? Did you have any favourites back then? How do you feel about the Wedding Present’s cover of “Let’s Make Some Plans”? you like it?

No, not really. I like Radiohead but sometimes find them a little morose. One of favourite groups back then was the G-Betweens. The Wedding Present’s cover was very good indeed.

++ And between the Close Lobsters and CLS Kunstwerk were you involved with any other bands?


++ Are you still in touch with the other Close Lobsters members? What do you all dedicate your time to nowadays?

Sometimes. Mostly they are dedicated to their children and wives and alcohol. In that order.

++ A couple of random questions, what’s a foxhead? which are the “Skyscrapers of St. Mirin”? do you believe in saints?

Foxhead was a way of communicate the word F-head and getting through the censors. In the 1980s there was no such thing as mainstream indie music and the mainstream charts were truly dreadful. The censors and the majors dominated. It was the effects after these years that opened things up. The skyscrapers of st. Mirin are those space cadets I grew up with in Paisley Scotland.

++ And most importantly, does Andrew Burnett likes eating lobster?

Yes, had it once and liked it very much. Its a bit sickly if you take tooo much of it. Like many things.

++ Anything else you’d like to say to all Close Lobsters fans out there?

Forever, Until Victory!



The Close Lobsters – I Kiss the Flowers in Bloom