28
Dec

Not many know that Fluff was the label that released the debut singles by Boyracer and Hood. Not many know that most of the records Fluff released are among the hardest to find. I was lucky to be in touch with the enigmatic DMLC who used to run the label and ask him a couple of questions. Please, enjoy!

++ Fluff Records must be one of the most obscure indiepop labels around which is quite strange as you released the debut records by Boyracer and Hood. Why do you think this is it? You can’t just google Fluff Records and find any valuable information!

There is no information on Fluff because it’s better that way. there’s always too much emphasis on labels, instead of the bands. labels always get too big and end up releasing rubbish to make profit; 4AD are a prime example of that.

++ So how did the label start? Who were behind it? Where was it based? How did the Fluff office looked like? Was this your first venture into releasing records? How involved were you with the scene back then?

Things were ran out of an attic space. it was my second venture into making records after leaving school.

++ And why did you call it Fluff Records?

It was called Fluff, not Fluff records. The name means nothing. I used to get a lot of hate letters from a group of American women studying in England because they thought the name was referring to ‘bits of skirt’. Now some of these people write for the guardian newspaper.

++ What about the DANNY catalog, what did you release under that name?

The Danny catalogue was for anything that wasn’t a vinyl release. most of that stuff was used to make trades. I think we got up to Danny 74 in the end and i know i don’t have a complete set of all those items, so I can’t provide a definitive list.

++ You practically hand-made everything! How many fanzines did you put out? what were their names? How important was the DIY ethos for the label? Do you think that DIY is something worth fighting for, something that can change the ways of the world?

There was noDIY ethos; just used what facilities were at our disposal. As of this time, the only two DIY bands worth their weight are Sex/Vid and Mob Rules. DIY can’t save the world; only John Mcclane (Bruce Willis) can save the world.

++ So let’s go back to that great catalog of yours… I did write a piece about Aspidistra, but would you tell me a bit more? They seem very obscure! Did you ever meet them? How did they end up signing to your label?

Aspidistra came from Perth in Scotland. they liked to party and they were very cool. I don’t know what happened to them though. Btw, Perth used to have some amazing record shops. I was very envious that they lived there.

++ Well, then you released Boyracer who’d later went to Sarah and then to a bunch of other labels. Did you know Stewart? Why didn’t he stay in the label? Have you followed the thousands of songs he has released? Any other anecdotes you’d like to share?

I used to meet Stewart every Monday at Gadsby’s. We fell out for good after the notorious red and brown sauce fight in a chip shop on Harehills lane. apart from the ‘room’ 45 I pressed up for myself, the last time I heard any other Boyracer track was in 1993. I was going to go and see them last time they were in my town as they were playing in the venue opposite my house. however, the missus’ dog died that day, so I had to stay at home and do the right thing.

++ The other band in the label that went to be a known name for many was Hood. How did you end up putting records by them and how there are only test pressings for “Laughing in the Face of a Contemporary Extractionist Viewpoint 10″ or the split with Liechtenstein Girl? And why was the “Cable(d) Linear Traction LP” withdrawn for sale?

The album was pulled at the band’s request. Despite them taking up so much room, I’ve been very good and not sold a single copy of it since. I used to make a lot of test pressings of records that never got released. knocking up the metalwork was very cheap back in those days.

++ There is one band that I’ve never heard in the Fluff roster: Spine. Who were they? How do they sound like?

Spine were immense. I lost all their tapes in a house move; totally gutted on that. The drummer now lives in Brooklyn and does experimental performance art. Not sure what happened to the rest of them. The reverse of the spine sleeve has a picture of Frank Zappa on there. On the day the sleeves were delivered, I opened them and looked at the picture just as the news bulletin came in to say Zappa had died. I love crap like that.

++ What about Super Eight? They really had some ace tunes! Which is your favourite song by them and how did you meet them?

I like Super Eight’s instrumental film soundtracks. They were wonderful people. I still owe them a pint after I poured bitter into their pints of lager. Last time I saw them was two years ago. They failed to recognise me dressed as a b-boy.

++ You told me that next year there will be one final release by Liechtenstein Girl. Can you tell me a bit more about it? I bet there will be lots of people interested, so plug in some shameless promotion!

We are releasing one or two records next year and then that’s it. Both will be one-sided with two/three tracks on each. Additionally, we will be playing one live gig next Christmas.

++ And now tell us a bit more about the band?

They were voted the second worst band in Leicester, ever. That’s all you really need to know.

++ Most of your releases were done during the 90s, after the whole indie explosion was over. Did you feel you missed the wave? That Fluff records would have been more influential if it was around the late 80s? Or you have nothing to regret? What was the biggest highlight of running the label?

I didn’t miss the wave. I deliberately stopped the label and moved on to form another label. At the time, Britain was bathing in the britpop scene. That scene killed music which is why indie music is so bland today in this country. The biggest highlight was definitely the Boyracer 45. the best £25 i ever spent.

++ By the way, did you get to attend any gigs by the bands on your label? Any favourite gigs?

I did attend gigs by the bands. I have lots of videos and photos of those gigs, but they are yet to make youtube or flickr.

++ Is it really true you set on fire your stock?

Is it true i set fire to the stock? yeah, I did. I kept one box of everything though, mainly for trades. I’d still like to know who stole the entire stock of hood 45s though. Was it them?

++ So after you stopped putting records out, what did you do? Are you still a music obsessed person?

I never stopped putting records out. each year, i have formed a label; then killed it and set up another.

++ Thanks again so much! Anything else you’d like to add? Maybe some pointers to someone who wants to run a label?

I have no advice.

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Listen

Aspidistra – Grip

25
Dec

We line the streets. Hamburg is ours. We walk down Wohlwillstraße. It’s a cold and chilly morning. Looks like the ashen sky wants to shower us. The cobbled streets are humid and slippery for the unwary pedestrian. After deepening into St. Pauli’s heart, after crossing the Reeperbahn district, the noise disappears. The traffic around this area is very light. It’s Saturday after all.

The city tour is headed by Nana and Andreas. Nana has planned and organized for us the whole weekend in detail. I’ve been around last year and walked in between these same buildings, breathed the same Elbe breeze. The grocery stores with their fine selection of beer, the Fritz Cola signs, the döner joints, they are all still there.

By breakfast time they have all arrived: Rémi, Delphine, Ian, Christos and Matthew. After some rolls, chorizo, juice and coffee, we are all ready to walk around the free and Hanseatic city. Click, click, click. The cameras start shooting photos as soon as we are out of Nana’s place. Rémi runs towards the swing that is 10 steps away. Back and forth he goes. Delphine joins giving him a push. Everyone laugh and laugh. The whole weekend will be the same. Nonstop laughs.

Matthew is awed by the city, by the architecture, by the statues. Christos and me talk gossip, indiepop gossip. Rémi talks to me in Spanish, I talk to him in French. Nana and Andreas walk over clouds in front of us. Ian, and his Newcastle accent, joins the gossip session. We do carnage.

We end up at a street market. Vintage clothes, antiques, old dusty records for a couple of euros. We walk around. It’s packed. The smell of currywurst in the air captivates us. We walk past many people, we walk as a pack. Kids are running around and everyone is carrying an umbrella, reminding us that we could get soaked anytime soon.

Wohlwillstraße has the artiest shops and boutiques around. On the right side of the street is Eldorado, where last year I had the chance to dj. On the left side there are lots of thrift stores that we start visiting in order. Many of these shops are not at street level, I wonder why. They are at the basement level. I get the best postcard picture in one these stores: Christos wearing a huge pink woven hat next to a mannequin. Best of memories. Rémi, Ian and Matthew start trying jackets and blazers. I’m not the shopping kind of person, I can’t stand being inside for too long. I go out to the sidewalk and join Nana who is smoking a cigarette. It’s almost 1pm and we are all hungry by now. More walking to do. Now to an Indian restaurant where we will all have to settle for vegetarian food. I get a vegetarian gyros and a Franziskaner. I should have ordered the same as Christos, that tomato soup looked great.

A phone call: “We are here!”. The Berlin crowd has now arrived. The indiepop contingent keeps growing in exponential numbers every hour and we secretly dream of taking over Hamburg tonight. What await us is brilliant. The Sunny Street will play. Matthew, Jörg and me will DJ. And everyone will dance till exhaustion on what will be an epic night. Never to be forgotten.

to be continued

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Listen
Hey Paulette – I Will Line the Streets

24
Dec

Continuing with the East Anglian bands, now a fantastic interview with David Miles from the underrated but fantastic The Potting Sheds! Thanks so much to David! To hear more songs by them you can always drop by on their myspace.

++ David! Thanks so much for being up for this interview. How are you enjoying this holiday season? Any big expectations for 2010?

My New Year’s Resolution is to visit the pub for a nostalgia fest with Grant Madden as he has recently moved to Lowestoft. Last time I saw him was over a year ago at a Woodentops gig.

++ Let’s talk about the band, you started as a two piece right? It was you and Will Taylor. How did you two know each other and what was it that drove you to start a band together?

I was at school with Will. I bought my first guitar from him for £10 (it wasn’t a particularly good guitar!).

++ But the line-up changed a bit during the whole run of The Potting Sheds, why was it difficult to keep a stable line-up? Which one you’d consider to be the ‘classic’ line-up?

The changes were intended to improve the standard of musicianship in the band. I always wanted everyone else to be at least as good (and preferably better) than me. The ‘classic’ line-up was early 1992 with Phil McClarnon (vocals/guitar), Will Taylor (guitar), David Miles (bass), David James (keyboards) and Steve Chapman (drums).

++ Was The Potting Sheds your first band? Oh! and why the name, The Potting Sheds?

Will and I played one gig as Nigel and the Budgieburgers. Will suggested The Potting Sheds in honour of our first song ‘Don’t Mess (With My Potting Shed)’.

++ How was the Lowestoft scene? Were there any other bands worth around?

It was exciting. Grand Designs supported us under the pseudonym D.S.S. Gardening (spot the anagram) at Oulton Broad Community Centre before they became A and sold a lot of records. We returned the favour at Lowestoft Sports Centre and that was a fantastic gig. Dan Hawkins of The Darkness made one of his earliest recordings with Will and I at the controls on a hired-in 8 track. I think he was 15 at the time and was already a remarkable guitarist.

++ Once a band called Catherine Wheel supported you. You even had a gig along the likes of The Cranberries. What are the memories of yours about these gigs with these bands that were to become big?

I nearly became the bassist for Catherine Wheel. I went for a chat about it with Brian and Rob but I don’t think they were particularly impressed when I said they would be my third choice band after The Potting Sheds and Kites! They played me some of their demos but I thought they were trying too hard to sound like Ride. Even though they were very good, they were a little cynical. Only a few months earlier, they were playing rock music as Ten Angry Men! I introduced them to Barry Newman at The Wilde Club in Norwich who gave them their earliest gigs and released their first two E.P.s. They supported us during a snowstorm at Carlton Colville Community Centre shortly after they released ‘She’s My Friend’ and it was a remarkable night.

I played with The Cranberries twice. The first occasion was as bassist in Kites at Norwich Arts Centre and they were really lovely and said they really enjoyed our set. However, on the second occasion with The Potting Sheds, I overheard Dolores backstage saying we were “shit” after Phil snapped the strings on two guitars due to his over-exuberant strumming. I decided I didn’t fancy her after all at that point.

++ Any other particular gigs you have fond memories of?

We headlined two gigs to celebrate the release of the ‘Burn It To A Crisp’ compilation album in Norwich and Lowestoft. I particularly enjoyed these gigs as Will and I were wearing three hats as performers, promoters and record label bosses.

++ Your first releases were actually two tapes that there is not much information about, the “Good Effort EP” and the “Meryl Streep EP”. What songs were included in these? How many copies were made? And why dedicate one of the tapes to Mrs. Streep?!

There were four tracks on each E.P. and they were all recorded by Richard Hammerton, the singer from Red Star Belgrade, War Party and Stare. I can’t remember how many were produced – probably a few hundred at most. Will and I shared the vocals. The eight songs were ‘Like Leonard Cohen’, ‘Wet Weekend’, ‘Sarah’s Car’, ‘(Don’t Mess) With My Potting Shed’, ‘Bait’, ‘Tumbledry Me’, ‘Down The Line’ and a Robyn Hitchcock cover ‘Tell Me About Your Drugs’. We changed one of the lyrics to mention Meryl Streep and the E.P. was named after this. I pressed a copy into Mike Mills of R.E.M.’s hand when he was playing a secret gig at the Borderline in London as Bingo Hand Job and asked him to pass it to Robyn. I imagine it is still on continuous rotation on the R.E.M. tour bus.

++ Care to tell me a bit about Mad Cat Records?

Mad Cat Records was our own label. Under the Mad Cat name, we recorded other local bands, promoted a few gigs and released a compilation album of Norfolk and North Suffolk indie bands.

++ Your first release on the label was the Unsaid flexi that came along the Eyesore You fanzine. How did you ended up releasing it along this zine?

Barry Newman of The Wilde Club suggested we should release a flexi. Fraser and Matt were putting together a new Norwich fanzine so we decided to get together.

++ You made so many wonderful songs, Same Old Story being my personal favourite, so I would love to know what inspired you to write this one? What is it about?

Phil wrote the words so I have no idea what it is about. I have a strong memory of sitting on the floor of my parents’ house with Will, Phil and Val (the singer from Beestings) to work out the backing vocals a couple of days before we recorded the song and suddenly thinking “This sounds really good”. It was our first track to receive daytime national airplay on BBC Radio One.

++ But what about you? What’s your favourite Potting Sheds song and why?

‘Dream On’ or ‘Showerhead’. We only got as far as recording the backing tracks for these songs before Phil quit but they sounded amazing.

++ Oh! and what does Goldfish Memory means?

It is a reference to the fact that goldfish are said to only have a 7 second memory. This is fortunate as it means they don’t get bored when swimming in circular bowls.

++ There were plans to release a second 12″, I think you even recorded demos for it, so what happened with it? Why was it never released? Will there be a chance to listen to these songs someday? Maybe there will be some sorts of retrospective?

The 8 track demo backing tracks exist but Phil never added his vocals to them. It was a shame as we had plans to release both 12”s together as a mini-album in Japan. Sadly, it wasn’t to be.

++ What was your biggest highlight as being part of The Potting Sheds? Maybe getting John Peel to play you?

We didn’t actually hear John Peel play ‘Second Best’ at the time. The first we knew about it was when I received a fan letter from Poland! I remember taping him playing ‘Matches’ and feeling quite proud. I saw him a few days later at a gig in Norwich and thanked him and asked if he was going to play it again. He replied “Errr….” Peel didn’t seem to enjoy being cornered like that but he really was a great man.

++ When and why did you call it a day?

Phil just didn’t turn up for a recording session in Summer 1992 and we took that to mean he had quit.

++ What did you all do after? Were you involved with bands?

Phil joined Fish Logic and then became a street busker with Roxy’s Toolbox. I formed Halftime Oranges with Grant Madden and Will Taylor and David James both recorded and performed with us.

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

If you are out there Phil, get in touch. We should give these songs a 20th anniversary outgoing to celebrate the 2012 Olympics!

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Listen
The Potting Sheds – Same Old Story

21
Dec

Thanks so much to Grant Madden for this great and extensive interview. If you are looking forward to hearing more from the band, don’t doubt getting in touch with him, and I’m pretty sure he’ll sort it out for you. More information how to get in touch with him below of course, you have to do your reading homework Time to discover one of Rutland Records best kept secrets.

++ How did Halftime Oranges start? How did you all meet? Maybe at a football game?

We were all already in bands or had been in bands. I was tiring of the band I was in and David’s band was dormant and I chatted with him about the idea of a band with a football theme at some gig ( I can’t remember which, the venue was the Norwich Waterfront I remember that ) and so we had a go at writing some songs and the initial rush of enthusiasm got us going. I suspect I had some foolish ideas in my head that this was a wonderful idea that would make us very famous, sadly it didn’t.

++ Why the name Halftime Oranges?

We obviously wanted something football related so played around with a few ideas. This one comes from an old tradition in the UK in football (most outdoor team games really) to have a plate of orange segments to eat at half time. It’s an old fashioned idea though, it’s unlikely to happen much now. Isotonic drinks and the like have put paid to it.

++ Were any of you involved with other bands prior to Halftime Oranges?

Yes. David and Will were in The Potting Sheds (excellent band there is a myspace site if you look them up I’m sure you will all like them)
I was in a band called The Passing Clouds
David James was in Grand Designs and then A who went on to sign a major deal and become famous.
Flob was in other bands at the same time, one of which The Pitkins were very good we often played gigs with them.

++ So tell me, why this indiepop/football passion of yours? I love both as well, but.. how come you decided to mix them both together? Did you all support the same team?

I guess they were my 2 big interests at the time (and now) and I thought why not.
I think it worked well sometimes (and sometimes not so well) some of the songs are just silly or contrived but generally even though not many people outside of our part of England ever heard us I like what we did.
I’ve been in 4 bands but this is the one I remember the most fondly.

++ Has Norwich changed a lot? Any favourite bands from back then? What about Norwich football? any good?

I should say The Potting Sheds (who were primarily a Lowestoft band but as is the way with these things if you were from within 50 or more miles of Norwich you were a Norwich band) were a great band not just because David and Will were in them.
Also The Spinning Jennys were wonderful (they released 1 single on teatime records which is much loved in my house.)
There’s always been lots of bands around Norwich, probably more than ever now, and lots of places to play.

Norwich football has been on the slide in recent years, for instance their highest ever finish in England, 3rd in what is now the Premiership was achieved
in 1992-93 season, when the band started. Whereas last season they were relegated to the third tier of English football (the first time for 50 years) and started this season with a 7-1 home defeat, however
things have picked up since and there is hope they may get promotion back up a level this season, maybe via the play-offs which would mean a Wembley final which would be great.
The 2nd biggest team in Norfolk, Kings Lynn have folded this season for financial reasons even though on the pitch they were doing well.
And Lowestoft Town are having a fantastic year, having made it to the first round of the FA Cup and are top of their league.

++ How did you end up signing to Rutland records? Were you good friends with Ruth Miller?

We sent out some demo recordings we had done to a few labels that we thought would be sympathetic (and to some who were chosen badly at random in that they were hip hop labels – I blamed David) to see if there would be any interest and Rutland were happy to release it.
It was great that they liked it and wanted to have it us release records on their label.
We also got to play some gigs with them and Terry played guitar with us on a radio session once.

++ There’s a song by you called “What’s the fuss with Ryan Giggs”. I guess you dislike Man U? Please tell me more about this!

I don’t hate them, I know I am supposed to but I have mellowed with age.
So really its just a silly rhyme song, I quite liked the idea of its ludicrousness.
Giggs is and always has been a brilliant player.

++ This song was included on the Clive Baker Set Fire on Me album, the only one I’ve got the chance to listen so far. It has so many nice stories, vignettes, of famous players, stadiums and even coaches. How did this album shape up? What was the creative process behind it and what about the recording of it?

It was a hodge podge of stuff we’d done up to the point of releasing it.
We’d had several recording sessions with various line ups and they were the best songs and best recordings we had.
The songs were all written at about the same time though in the 2 years or so between us forming and getting the album together.
The second album was done at one recording session with the same 5 people and even if the songs aren’t any better or worse I think we did them more justice. We sound a little bit more competent on that album.

++ Why the name “Clive Baker Set Fire on Me”?

It’s from a song we never recorded ‘Clive Baker Set Fire to me, with an aerosol made from Brut33′
Clive Baker went to the same school as someone who played bass in the band for a while and the school bullies at their school apparently (I think its a bit far fetched myself)
threatened younger boys with home made flame throwers using aerosols of cheap male after shave (brut 33) sprayed through a flame.
Clive Baker went on to be a goalkeeper for both Norwich City and Ipswich Town, the 2 big sides in this area. And if you look him up on ‘Flown from the Nest’ (www.ex-canaries.co.uk) the brilliant website
about Norwich City players past and present, he now works in the Insurance Industry, which is what me and David were doing when we formed.

++ There’s not much information online about this Grant, so what’s the full discography of The Halftime Oranges? and if you can, include demo tapes and compilation tracks

I got the following from (http://www.last.fm/music/Halftime+Oranges/+wiki) where there is also a biography and some reviews.

DISCOGRAPHY

April 1995
Peel Park E.P.
Rutland Records RUTEP9 7 inch vinyl
The only Cockney Rebel / Billy’s Boots / Terry Butcher / No goals, no dolly birds, no Jensen Interceptor / Cats go for Go-Cat

October 1995
Cantona The Album
Exotica Records Pelé 10CD CD and cassette compilation album
track – Eric (Please don’t go)

February 1996
Clive Baker Set Fire To Me
Rutland Records RUTCD3 CD album
Terry Butcher / A million ways / The only Halifax supporter / Single leather football / What’s the fuss about Ryan Giggs / Blues for John Gidman / Wembley / Billy’s Boots / Saturday / Hair / Bob Stokoe says / Battison / The only Cockney Rebel / East Fife 4 Forfar 5 / He can watch the football

October 1997
Rotterdamnation
Rutland Records RUTCD5 CD album
Any team will do / Terrace girl / Vinny Jones / Six point Christmas / Panini / Zig zag to the onion bag / A gospel song / Second city blues / Billy Dane’s grown up / The girl from 4b / Theme from Orange / Yesterday’s hero / Occupations / Stars / Moving the goalposts

April 2000
Singing The Blues – The Songs Of Ipswich Town F.C.
Cherry Red Records CD GAFFER 32 CD compilation album
track – Terry Butcher

February 2001
Highbury Anthems – 18 Gooner Classics
Cherry Red Records CD GAFFER45 CD compilation album
track – The only Cockney Rebel

March 2001
Everything Went Pop!
Meller Welle Produkte MEL 32 CD compilation album
tracks – Pass, shoot & score and All my resolutions

As well as this there were tracks on Rutland Tapes and

1990s
Beyond the Valley of the Polar Bears
Red Roses For Me Fanzine Compilation Tape.
tracks – Give it to Shilton and We Only Sing When We Are Winning

++ Also what story is behind the name “Rotterdamnation”? Does it have to do with England 2-0 loss in 1993 that signified you not qualifying to the World Cup 1994?

Yes it does, I lifted the phrase from a headline in The Sun (a British newspaper).
A miserable game.
England games often can be.
I liked the word and noted it down in my memory for future use when I read it.
I like town and place names in songs.

++ Who would you say influenced the music of Halftime Oranges? Do you still listen to indiepop records?

I loved indie pop at the time and I still do.
The bands that influenced me were the C86 indiepops ones/Sarah label bands/Bands releasing tracks on tapes and fanzine flexis – also the local indie pop bands like The Spinning Jennys seeing them live inspired me to want to be in a band who tried to make you smile.
I moved house recently and it meant packing and unpacking lots of my music and the whole process was slowed up by me wanting to play old records I’d forgotten I have, lots of them indiepop.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? Which were the best ones?

Whilst we were going we played fairly regularly in Norwich, mainly at the gigs put on by The Wilde Club and a few others around this area but we didn’t venture further afield much.
They were often shambolic due to our lack of rehearsal time.
For our first gig we supported Velocity Girl and I think that went well. We got them to sign a football which we gave out raffle tickets for to everyone who came to the gig and then we drew out the winner on stage during our gig. If nothing else it got people to watch us who’d come for the main band and I wonder if the person who won still has that ball.
We also used to like to support Prolapse when they played in Norwich, they were a great band.
We played with The Pastels when they played in Norwich and that was good.
Also we played a Rutland Records night in Leicester with Po and Super Eight which was excellent.
I remember a big loss making gig we put on in Lowestoft with The Beatnik Filmstars too.

++ So who was the best English player ever? what about who’s the best right now? How do you see England chances towards the South Africa world cup?

Hard to say if I haven’t seen players from the past, I suspect it is Bobby Charlton but I’d like it to be someone like William Fatty Foulkes. It wouldn’t
work now but 100 years ago they obviously just put the big fat lad in goal because he’ll cover more space and it obviously worked. He is attributed with saying
“Call me anything you want, but don’t call me late for dinner”

The best player we have in the England team right now is Rooney, he is the one who if he got injured now and had to miss the World Cup we would feel the most
deflated over losing.

The World Cup draw was kind to England.
I think we can progress out of the group stage, but whether we can go far I am unsure.
Recently when we have played the top sides (Brazil and Spain) we haven’t looked as good
There is always hope though and as we build towards the tournament starting I will be getting more and more excited.

++ On the last page of the debut album there’s and ad for “Philosophy Football”. What was this all about?

They are the self-styled “sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction”.
See http://www.philosophyfootball.com/ for more details. In summary (and I lifted this from their website)
It all began in October 1994. A bright spark by the name of Geoff Andrews who’d had to stomach a dull draw between Spurs and QPR at White Hart Lane, was round at Mark Perryman’s flat in Tottenham and suggested a t-shirt with the immortal words of Albert Camus “All that I know most surely about morality and obligations I owe to football” across the chest. For reasons he’s never been able to rationally explain Mark retorted “not a t-shirt, a goalie’s top”.
Soon enough Mark had rustled up enough orders to make the job worthwhile. But design is something Mark remains blissfully ignorant of. Help was at hand in the shape of artistic genius Hugh Tisdale, who was then designing a lefty newspaper Mark’s partner edited. Knowing Hugh was a Villa fan Mark reckoned he might be up for the idea. And up for it, Hugh certainly was. A beautifully crafted bottle green shirt, quote on the front, name and squad number on the back was produced. And in short they’ve never looked back.
Basically they make fantastic t-shirts (and more stuff) featuring quotes from famous people connected sometimes obliquely.
Mark Perryman who is involved in running the organisation is an all round top bloke who does wonderful work promoting England Football Supporters as
good people. I’ve met up with him on numerous trips abroad to watch England play where he will arrange for fans to visit local schools, play fans matches between the England and opponents supporters, visit historical sites, sites of remembrance.

++ Do you go often to the stadium? Which stadium has impressed you the most?! What about the classic question, Pele or Maradona?

All the time.
I love watching live football at all levels.
I like to follow England around the world which has taken me to some great stadiums but equally I watch local football in little stadiums which aren’t much
more than marked out pitches, with small crowds of a handful of people.
Maradona I think it is more because I have seen him play in real time, all I have seen of Pele was old film to me though he looked brilliant.
They are both geniuses so hard to say. One’s opinion can change everyday on this.

++ When and why did Halftime Oranges call it a day? What did the band members do after? Are you all still in touch?

It just drifted to an end.
I can’t remember us saying right that’s it, rather we just did less and less gigs and there was nothing to get together to rehearse for.
There was a gap before the German release when we’d virtually stopped but we got back together to record that.
Nobody fell out so yes I think we are all in touch with some or all of each other.
David is a teacher now.
Flob top photographer and in Cure tribute band and I think another band (one of his old bands reactivated)
Will works where I work and does still play in a band
I have done some stuff since.

++ So, this weekend, watching football. Will you have beer? snacks? How does it work for you?

I’ll either watch or play some football.
I hate it when I am doing neither.
It’s nice to drink beer at a game but it always depends upon how I am getting there, if I am driving I can’t.
I have a theory regarding food that the lower down the league system a club is, the better the food, maybe it is because it will be made there not a corporate mass produced thing.

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

I have some halftime oranges album cds at my house so if anyone would like one send me an email to oranges500{a}yahoo.co.uk with your details and I will pass one on. If you have a like minded trade all the better but a nice email requesting one will suffice.

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Listen
Halftime Oranges – Terry Butcher

19
Dec

So who doesn’t love badges? I have tons. Talulah Gosh started out thanks to the love of Pastels badges. Flipper’s Guitar were also crazy about their Pastels badge. So why Emma Gibbs can’t be dreaming for a huge collection of badges, the biggest ever seen, a mount Everest of badges. Why not?

Alright. Let’s stop for a moment. Here I come, private eyes. I know a couple of Emmas, my favourite being Dalarna’s Emma (by far!). But I’ve never heard of Emma Gibbs! Who’s Emma Gibbs?!

No clue. If you do a google search, first result is Penthouse pet of the year 2009. I guess that’s not the one we are looking for. I mean, a Penthouse pet doesn’t have anywhere to attach her beloved badges, does her? On to the next result. There seems to be an Emma Gibbs Band. But their music is not something that sounds interesting to me, and I doubt it will interest you. Let’s turn the page, the internet won’t solve this mystery, not yet. Let’s give it another shot. Let’s search name, last name, and profession: “Emma Gibbs Loves Badges”.

First and only stop is the fantastic Tamworth Bands website that has lots of Emma Gibbs Loves Badges’ bobs and pieces from the local Tamworth newspaper, the Tamworth Herald.

Attention: I’ve picked up the most interesting and important pieces and put them together here. But still visit the site as there is a player where you can stream many of the songs from this lost band!

1. The band was formed in 1987 and the lineup included:

  • Lee Revelle – Vocals
  • Spencer Ireland – Bass Guitar
  • Andrew Hyde – Guitar
  • Nichola Musgrove – Guitar
  • Paul Byrne – Drums

2. Some background information / how they sounded.

Tamworth Herald – 29/05/87
so unique that even their name comes from a ‘Scooper heading!’ Emma Gibbs play modern acoustic pop which owes much to the heritage of Aztec Camera and more modern bands like the Bodines, their sounds is full of curiously, unfolding melodies and very strong lyrics, and if they create the sort of impact they did at their …show, ANYTHING can and probably will happen.

3. Gigs

Among the bands they’ve played one of them is well known to indiepop fans, The Rosehips. Yup! They had a gig together in 1987 at a place called The Rathole. On the same bill were Creation protegés Blow Up as well. On 1990 they would open for a bigger act: Teenage Fanclub. But there are other names I can find on this website that catch my attention, and hopefully cover them sometime soon on the blog: Fetch Eddie, Flowers in the Attic, Catch 23 and more.

4. Releases

From what I could gather, there were 2 releases, one 7″, and one 12″. The 7″ had as an A-Side the track “Patience”, and as a B-Side it had “Assured”. It was released on Utopia Records and was catalog PANTS001. The 12″ had four songs: “Unobtainable”, “What Do You Get When You Fall In Love”, “Garry Bushnell” and “Spin” and was released on the same label but this time the catalog was 1201. I think, but can’t confirm, that there was another 7″, this one including “Second City” as an A-side and “Worship” as the B-Side. If you ever see two copies of any of these releases, keep one for yourself, the other one please send to me. I’ve been looking for them with no luck so far. But let’s continue.

There was also a demo that got reviewed on the same newspaper, the Tamworth Herald:

Emma Gibbs Loves Badges – Circles
Sensitive, almost shy offering which is highly personal and highly impressive. Taken away from the arrogant stage posturings it shows Lee Revelle at his warmest and most musically intelligent and is a perfect if somewhat unexpected accompaniment to the act of verbal love-making. ‘You’ll Enjoy It When you Get There’ is cute and classy but ‘In Circles’ is even better and is dramatically effective in the three forms it is here presented. A major surprise of major standing.

Do you know anything else? Do you have any more information about this great guitar pop band? Do you have any great story to tell? If so, you know what to do: SHARE! :)

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Listen
Emma Gibbs Loves Badges – Absorb Me

18
Dec

Thanks so much to Jase “Blackie” White for the great great interview! The Dazy Chains are one of my highlights this year, as I only discovered their songs almost twenty years after! But that’s no problem, it has been really worth tracking down some of their stuff! I was very thrilled to get in touch with Jason, who played bass and also did vocals, and even happier that he was willing to do an interview! Please enjoy! And check for more stuff in their myspace!

++ Hi Jase, thanks so much for doing this interview? How are things now? Any big party planned for New Years?

Well to be honest I haven’t thought about it. My partner and I have a 2 month old baby so these things tend to slip off the radar. I’d actually love to get out of the city and hang out by a beach for a few weeks. It’s getting really hot in Melbourne.

++ I’ve been looking for Dazy Chains stuff for so long, once I got from a friend this Australian Pop! compilation he made me and included “Back to Bed” which I totally loved, what a great track, with jangly guitars, with brilliant melodies. But I could never find information online, and I wonder, why a band with such tunes is lurking in obscurity? And where did inspiration came for you?

Glad you like it! I think you have to remember that we were writing that stuff back in the early 90’s and there was no internet. Dazy Chains had a very loyal following but it didn’t really stretch beyond Australia. We were very inspired by Brit Pop and I think Sean’s guitar work was very inspired by Johnny Marr from The Smiths. For the record we have a myspace page now!

++ So let’s do some background information, how did the band start? How did you all know each other?

We were friends at high school. Our first band was Flowers in the Fridge and that kind of became Dazy Chains. We started playing at parties and that just turned into gigs at pubs.

++ I notice there was different lineups, comparing the Daze of Our Lives EP to the myspace, especially on the drums position. What happened, why this revolving door of drummers?

Classic Spinal Tap situation. We did go through plenty of drummers. They were often poached for bigger bands. It was frustrating because we would tour a lot and just get a drummer up to speed then a bigger band would turn up and offer them fame and fortune and off they would go…

We also changed styles through the years and had a kind of folk pop phase where we enlarged the line up to include violins and keyboards.

Eventually we ended up as we started as a really solid rock 3 piece.

++ Why did you choose the name Dazy Chains? Was it easy to name the band?

I bought the name from a friend for half a gin and tonic. I just really liked it and it seems to suit our guitar pop style. About a year after we started using the name another ten bands came along and used Daisy somewhere in their name as well. It was confusing. There was: Daisy Chainsaw, Exploding Daisies…

++ Now you are in Melbourne, but The Dazy Chains were from Sydney/Wollongong, right? I don’t think I know much about the late 80s, early 90s scene there, compared to say Perth or Melbourne. What other bands you enjoyed then and what were your favourite venues?

Well this takes me back. The Sydney scene in particular was thriving until the mid 90’s when a lot of venues closed their doors to live music. We had a major influx of poker machines in clubs and pubs. It kind of killed the scene. I don’t think Sydney ever recovered. We played with plenty of bands: The Templebears, Glide, Rat Cat, Tall Tales and True, The Hummingbirds, The Clouds.

Our favourite venue was the Annandale Hotel. It’s one of the only ones that still survives as a venue today.

++ Did you gig a lot? Are there any particular gigs you remember fondly?

Heaps!! We were on the road all the time and probably pushed it too hard in the end. There is only so much time you can spend together in a mini van but we did have a lot of fun and get to see plenty of Australia.

++ Who were Yellow Music? How did you end up on that label?

Well its easy to see now that they were a record company that didn’t have it’s act together. All the right ideas but no experience and follow through. I think they got stunned by the working costs of record company promotion and publicity. They didn’t last long. They kind of took us down with them.

++ What was the full discography of the band by the way? Would there be some sort of retrospective release someday perhaps? would be fantastic!

A retrospective would be great but I have no idea how to find the masters of some of that later material – particularly the unreleased album. I certainly have access to all the early recordings so we might do something along those lines. Even if it is just a digital release.

1988 – Banana Nightmare -Single (vinyl only)

1990 – Back to Bed/Almost Imperfect – single (vinyl only)

1991 – Daze of Our Lives (EP) CD

1992 – Bite Your Tounge (Single) CD

1993 – If You Go (single) CD

1993 – Who Stole My Bike? (album – Unreleased) CD

++ How were the recording sessions of the Dazy Chains? Were they very strict, let’s record and get it over? Or maybe they were just a big party with beer and pizza? Any anecdotes you could share?

I think they were hard work. We did have fun and there was lots of beer and pizza but I remember there were times when we would sleep under the mixing desk so that we could get straight back into it when we woke up. We had a great producer, Robbie Rowlands who we still use now with car stereo wars. He has always been a very creative thinker. Fun to work with. I remember one night we miked up the table tennis table and rolled billiard balls along it to kind of get this thunder sound.

++ I’m listening right now to Precious Circle, what a great song. But I wonder, which circle is you wanted to get in? Was it some sort of social circle? or what is the song about?

Well this is one of Sean’s songs that I love too. So I can’t really say. I think it was to do with changing social circles. I love that the mandolin solo turns into a full on thrashed out guitar ending. He use to do that live with a mandolin and guitar. Great to see.

++ “Influences: all things guitar pop”. I love that. What are or were your favourite guitar pop bands? How do you feel about the term indiepop?

Well I’m never a fan of pigeonholing anything but we were called jangle pop and guitar pop. What ever works I guess.

Major influences would include: The Smiths, The Cure, Violent Femmes, The Sundays, The Beatles and heaps of local stuff that probably would register with anyone overseas.

++ What was for you the biggest highlight of the Dazy Chains?

I think our last show was pretty great. We had friends jump on stage and a kind of super group formed to play March of the Green Men which was the loudest song we ever played. Usually the best gigs were the little ones in country towns where the audience went bananas!

++ So what happened? Why did the band split up? What did you all do after?

Well classic indie burn out really. Our record company expected us to keep touring interstate and we felt exhausted and wanted to just focus of a few gigs while we wrote new songs. We had toured constantly as I mentioned earlier and it really is a difficult lifestyle to maintain. Eventually there was show down with the record company and they basically pulled the album that was due for release. It crushed us and we just had to stop. We needed to have some time off which is exactly what we did. I did plenty of travelling and moved to Melbourne. Sean kept writing songs and stayed in Sydney for a few more years. We eventually teamed up again in Melbourne with car stereo wars.

++ Nowadays you are in a band called Car Stereo Wars, care to tell me a bit about it? And how much of a departure it is from Dazy Chains?

Yes it’s quite different to Dazy Chains. Car stereo wars are coming more from a studio based experiment. All that touring kind of made playing live not so important. It was just great fun to be writing and recording again. Car stereo wars has a very relaxed feel to the song writing. It’s probably because we grew up and slowed down a bit. Alyssa’s female vocals are another obvious difference. It nice to be in a band and not be the main vocalist.

++ Thanks so much for doing this interview, anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for caring! Dazy Chains recently played an acoustic show that will probably end up on our myspace page. Keep watching. Also car stereo wars will be touring the US later in 2010. Can and say hi!

Thanks, over and out

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Listen
The Dazy Chains – Back to Bed

17
Dec

Third time lucky! Carl Green, the man behind The Whirlpool Guest House, Shandy Wildtyme and The Close-Ups, has just released a new album! This time he is going solo and calling himself Head of Light Entertainment. So let’s hear a bit about his new work, alright? And please check more tunes on his myspace and buy his new record on CDBaby.

++ Hi Carl, thanks again for another interview. You just released a new album and it’s called “I Am Liberated”. I know there’s a song on the album with the same title, but, does this title carry another meaning?

It does, yes- a musical liberation. It’s the feeling of being free of obligation- to other band members, to my public (should such an entity exist!), and indeed the music scene at large. I’m no longer bewitched or seduced by all that stuff. Quite the opposite actually. I now do exactly what I please. And there’s another kind of liberation at work too- the one of getting older. Age has granted me perspective and with that I can see more clearly than I ever did when I was young.

++ The new album is quite nice. Every song has it’s own mood, it’s own personality. It’s like 11 short stories put together. But I wonder what you think about it, what could the old fans of your music expect? Is there any similarities you think to your other bands?

There are similarities of course- it’s still left field pop music made by a bitter and twisted outsider! The real difference is in approach and subject matter. I’ve things to say and view points to express and I’m doing it directly now, not trying to be overly clever or flowery about things. Also, I’ve stripped the sound right back to guitar, keys and voice so my words take centre stage. Drums and bass are out, used occasionally to emphasize a point or enhance a mood. If that makes the album seem strange and frugal, then good- I’ve achieved my aim.

++ What does the name Head of Light Entertainment means?

Ha ha, I knew you’d ask that! It’s me and my delusions of grandeur. Me imagining myself as a shadowy controller of popular culture, stalking the corridors of pop power. Scary!

++ How long did the album take to shape up and to be recorded? Were there any bumps in the way?

It was recorded over the course of a year- September 2008 to July 2009. The songs came easily and quickly and there’s a lot more where they came from. I’m bursting with ideas right now and it’s been a while since I felt this fruitful! In Spring I begin work on the follow up and I’m raring to go.

++ You did play everything on the record! Do you prefer it that way?

Not quite everything. Me and Neil (the album’s co-producer and engineer) shared the keyboard bits and “unusual” sounds.
I do prefer doing things myself- typical of a loner really. I play the guitar in my own particular way and I wanted to carry that unstylish style over onto other instrumentation.

++ I notice you have some gigs planned out! I thought you didn’t like gigging. Or will this gigs be something totally different to the usual fare?

I’m a fickle sod aren’t I? I don’t like gigging as part of a band but I do enjoy the liberation of being solo and spontaneous on stage. I often change parts, even whole sections, of songs, whilst performing. On a whim, for fun, to see what happens…I am liberated! I couldn’t do this with a band, nor would I want to try.

++ You have this song called “Lady Godiva’s Horse”, and there’s been many songs written about Lady Godiva before, but I’m wondering if your inspiration comes from the old story, the legend. And if so, what other legends do you like? Do you like mythology?

I’m not sure there’s been any songs written about her horse before! No, the song doesn’t deal with the legend, it’s more a musical daydream about being uninhibited and wanting to shock. I’m not a natural exhibitionist but I’d like to give it a go, see how it felt for a day!

++ And also, why dedicate a song to Agyness Deyn? Is she your new muse maybe? :p

Not at all, and the song isn’t about Agyness per se. It’s about the freakish ideals women are subjected to in the 21st century, how it makes them feel and what it does to their self worth. Fashion models, female pop and movie stars, are held up as modern godesses, ikons of impossible perfection, and the media relentlessly taunts and dares women to try and emulate them. Is it any wonder so many women today have eating disorders and low self esteem? It’s a terrible state of affairs.

++ You also wrote a song, “The Face of a Girl”, that has that lovely line “Do you see a whole new world? when you see the face of a girl”. Yes, girls are so so so pretty! And I have had many endless discussions with friends wondering what’s the most important feature in a girl’s face, I’d go for the nose I think, smile will come second. What about you?

It’s the eyes for me, but it’s a subtle combination of features and movement that define the beauty of a female face.

++ You dedicate the CD to pop misfits and lovers everywhere. I love that. I want to hear from you what is a pop misfit though

A pop misfit is someone who has what it takes, but for whom there are no takers.

++ So in the near future, what can we expect from Head of Light Entertainment?

My fondest regards…

++ Christmas is around the corner, are there any preparations being done? maybe a big party? What would you like to get from Santa this year?

I’d like Santa to get me, full stop. I’d like a lot of people in general to “get me”, full stop.

++ One last question, as it’s lunch time here and I can’t decide what to have today, what’s Carl Green’s favourite food? And can you cook it?!

Spicey things all the way! I make a rather tasty chilli-con-carne, lots of mushrooms, peppers and chillis. Good food should always bring on a good sweat I believe!

++ Thanks again so much Carl, anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, thank you Roque for your interest in my music past and present. It’s comforting to know that there are people out there on a similar off-kilter pop wavelength. Merry Christmas!

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Listen
Head of Light Entertainment – I Am Liberated

15
Dec

Thanks again to Carl Bedward and Karl Moseley for another interview, this time about their first band Leopold Bloom. Please check the interview with them about their band Where Gardens Fall and listen to some more tunes, from both bands on their myspace.

++ Thanks again Carl and Karl for being up for another interview! How are things now in Birmingham? Any special plans for Christmas? Here in Miami what’s common is that people have pork for dinner, what’s the tradition in your town?

Karl: Nice to speak to you Roque. I’m looking forward to a meat-free Christmas. So, I’ve got salad to look forward to

Carl: Salad. We def wont be spending Xmas lunchtogether!!!

++ Let’s talk music now, who were Leopold Bloom? And when did you start as a band?

Karl: Leopold Bloom (LB) consisted of myself (Vocals), Carl B.(Guitar), Ian Hough (Bass) and an assortment of drummers. We formed LB, and I might be a year or two out, in 1983/4. I was kinda scratching around as to the first time me and Carl actually picked up a guitar and why we did it. I know everyone gives a typical cliched answer to this, you know “blah blah after seeing so and so at the…etc”, all I remember is playing these massive instrumental pieces on awful cheap guitars and through a single amp, which I remember, having to be glued back together at some point. Our first purchase, not surprisingly, was a guitar tuner

Carl: I first got a (terrible) guitar back in 1980 but couldn’t figure it out so didn’t bother with it until years later and was just as bad then !!!!

++ Was this your first band or where you involved with any other bands before?

Karl: This was our first band.

++ Why did you choose the name Leopold Bloom?

Karl: As you probably know, Leopold Bloom was the centralfigure in the book‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce.
I am sure Carl chose the name and not me…I still thinkit’s of a pretentious name .Though there was a band call Josef K (quite liked them!)

Carl: I honestly don’t recall being responsible for the name but who knows!!

++ On Stephen Cudgels blog he mentions you released at least one song on a compilation? Which compilation and which song was that? Was there any other releases?

Carl: ‘The Convert’ was released on a compilation album released by rhythm recording studios in Leamington Spa entitled ‘The Rhythm method’. the song ‘Myself Willing’ was also released on a compilation album but I have no memory of who/why/where etc I dont even have a copy…maybe Stephen Cudgel could help with this one???

Karl: Likewise, I have no memory of this release.

++ What are the names of those 7 tracks included in your 2 demos? When were they recorded? And will there be a chance for some more of these songs to show up on myspace? Oh! And which is your favourite Leopold Bloom song?

Carl: They were ‘The Convert’ ‘Myself Willing’ ‘Wicked Winter’ (2nd demo)‘Hands & Eyes’ ‘In & Out’ ‘The Contradiction’ ‘Birthplace’(1st demo)
My favourite would prob be either ‘Underwater’ (unrecorded)or ‘The Convert’

Karl: Personally I like the ‘The Convert’ best. With the last note
of this we became Where Gardens Fall.

++ Was there any chance to get a record deal? At least the 2 songs I’ve got the chance to hear, are quite good!

Carl: There was never any record company interest but there were quite a few good songs that were never recorded in a proper studio as we didn’t have the money but these songs gave us a springboardto write the songs we did later with Where Gardens Fall.

++ How about gigging as Leopold Bloom? Any good anecdotes?

Carl: We used to play a local ‘Heavy Rock’ pub called ‘The coach & horses’ in a town called West Bromwich near to where we lived. It was an out and out rock pub which was totally at odds with what we were doing at the time we didnt endear ourselves to the locals very much especially when we did a 10 minute plus version of the Velvet Underground ‘Waiting for the Man’ improvised as ‘Waiting for the bar to close’ at the end of our set as bands had to keep playing until the bar closed.

Karl: I remember the first gig clearly. We played at Rowley Regis Sixth Form College and the set-list included: They Walked in Line, Ice Age and Shadowplay, all by Joy Division and our own songs, The First Man, Do You Remember, Free the Spirit and Going Away. The second gig was at some Roman Catholic community centre…we really shouldn’t have been allowed to play there

++ You mentioned me that it was with “The Convert” song that you saw it was about time to fold Leopold Bloom and start Where Gardens Fall. This song has a very dark vibe though, unlike most of Where Gardens Fall stuff. Where did the inspiration came for it?

Karl: This song was about a woman in pure ‘existential’ crisis. Her religion and her children had left her with no feelings at all. I suppose ‘you never to old to learn’ refrain comes across as very cynical?

++ The other song on myspace, is “Myself Willing”, which is much more of a guitar pop tune, much more upbeat than “The Convert”. I really enjoy this track! What’s the story behind it?

Karl: ‘Myself Willing’, for a change, now seems a lot more optimistic in it’s lyric. I remember that I really wanted to move from this damp ridden flat that should have been condemned years ago but when push came to shove, I had grown very attached to my environment and found that even living in a hovel had its pluses in relation to creativity. I lived in a nice high storey council flat during Where Gardens Fall period. Hence, the quality of the music was a lot better!

++ Also on Stephen’s blog he mentions that you were such a good showman, that you would do a few sort of Morrissey moves crossed with a bit of Michael Stipe! Any comments?

Karl: Certainly dont remember this…but there again

++ Alright, so what was for you the biggest highlight of being in Leopold Bloom?

Karl: This is perhaps the easiest question of all…just playing live and people enjoying it. WGF, tome wasvery grandiose, as near to a work of art that I have got…

++ You mentioned that you were influenced more from books than from music. So I’m wondering what are you reading nowadays? And if you have some sort of favourite book or author? Or a top five?

Karl: Top Five books…
Ulysses by James Joyce
To the LightHouse by Virginia Woolf
Madame Bovary by Flaubert
Ariel by Sylvia Path
And everthing ever written by Ian McEwan (sorry cheated there!)
At the moment I’m reading Graham Swift’s Memoirs but really looking forward to reading a book called ‘Me Cheeta’, check it out onAmazon…

++ Thanks again for this, a second interview! Anything else you’d like to add?

Carl: Leopold Bloom was our first band hence we just recruited ‘mates’ even if they were actually worse players than we were (and we were pretty bad)….that didn’t really workandas time went onso we learnt from that and approached Where Gardens Fall differently which was a much better experience musically.

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Listen
Leopold Bloom – The Convert

12
Dec

From the top of my head, a couple of things I learned in Stockholm.

  • My way around town:
    – Walk 2 blocks to Luma tram station.
    – Take the tram towards Alvik
    – Get off at Gullmarsplan
    – Take the subway (tunnelbana) towards the city (or Hässelby strand, Åkeshov)
    – Get off at Slussen or Gamla Stan
  • But my favourite way to town was this small ferry that would take us from Hammarby Sjöstad to Södermalm. It even had some pillows for you to sit on and books to read. Sadly the ride takes around 5 minutes.
  • The garbage pick-up trucks are little. They look like toys!
  • Record stores still exist but most of them carry lots of crap. (which is not exclusive to Sweden, this is the worldwide norm, of course). I was recommended to check out Record Hunter and I couldn’t find anything worth there. But there is one fantastic place for indiepop lovers: Nostalgia Palaset. I found lots of rare gems (a Feverfew flexi, a My Favorite 7″, etc.) there that I bought and some others that I had to hide.
  • Delicious Goldfish opens only a couple of days. I wanted to visit that store! Shame.
  • That churches should be built on the hilltop. Makes a lot of sense. They look huge that way.
  • There are some huge birds around town. Well not huge as a condor or even a pelican, but bigger than your regular pigeon. But they are the size of a chicken even though the idea of making rotisserie from them seems to scare the swedes. I can’t remember the name at the moment of this bird. It had some blue feathers, rings a bell?
  • Twenty kronor are, more or less, what a half-liter Coca Cola costs.
  • Making the line at the Systembolaget, not being carded.
  • To count from 1 to 10 (ett till tio), though my Swedish skills have improved considerably since then. Now I can count till a hundred at least.
  • How to order a subway ticket: the famous remsa. Worth for taking only 8 rides, though it has 16 spots to be stamped.
  • People prefer texting over calling. Telia was the company giving service to my German sim card this time.
  • It’s not unusual to walk around the streets and listen to ABBA. That makes the whole Stockholm experience complete.
  • That people can be civilized even though there’s a manifestation/parade asking for Kurdistan’s independence. Hey, no smoke grenades!
  • I’m not supposed to eat inside a bus. Had to hide my döner among my records! Still not sure what kind of meat was on it. Didn’t taste like lamb, that’s for sure. But it was quite tasty for a 4am snack.
  • Everyone was excited and hopeful about the Sweden – Denmark game. They all came late for the party because of the game. But by then their excitement was gone, Sweden was virtually out of the World Cup (which would be later confirmed). Felt good to at last have some people that share the sorrow of having your national team out of the World Cup. It sucks so much!
  • Trying to get the whipped cream to be a bit more dense. Ok. This I didn’t master.
  • Pancakes with raspberry jam and cloudberry jam (plus that whipped cream!) are way too sweet! I was full with one! My fantastic host could easily eat 4 and look great still!
  • Candy stores are quite common. You can find candies of every colour and sizes. These are Kajsa’s favourite affären, Godis, godis, godis.
  • And of course, I learned that kyckling is all I need to know. Kyckling och potatis! Kyckling med curry! Yum!

I miss it. Crossing fingers that I can go again in 2010.

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Listen
The Seashells – Hide in Your Memory

10
Dec

Thanks so much to Pete, Hutch, Mark and Michelle, all four members of The Speedpuppies, for this great interview! They just released on this label (Cloudberry of course!) a retrospective CD that includes their 5 recorded songs and they are so fantastic! The Speedpuppies were a short-lived band from Stoke-on-Trent on the late eighties, and many may know that Pete went to be part of The Rosehips and he is nowadays half of the fantastic duo Horowitz! If you want to listen some more tunes, drop by their myspace!

++How is Stoke this winter? Are you getting ready for Christmas?

Hutch: I’m no longer in Stoke but I was there for last Christmas and loved it. Sub zero temperatures and a warm welcome in the pubs.

Pete: It’s getting colder by the day and there aren’t many leaves left on the trees that grow amid the urban destruction that passes for redevelopment. I’ll be stocking the fridge with beer and checking pub opening times ready for the Christmas break.

Mark: It’s cold and I’m almost done shopping which is a first.

++ How did you all knew each other? How do you remember Stoke’s scene back then?

Hutch: I met Pete through mutual friends probably at one of the local indie nights, or maybe even at the Wayfarer which was this cheesy pub disco in Stone where I lived. We regularly bumped into each other at various gigs. Michelle’s sister was at school with my sister and we probably knew each other through mutual friends around Stone.

Mark: I knew Pete from The Rosehips days and got introduced to Hutch & Michelle through him.

Michelle: I can’t remember how we got together – maybe in the local pub, through friends of friends – but I’m not sure. I do remember practicing at Hutch’s parents’ house and we occasionally used some practice studios in Stoke. We played several gigs around Stoke and recorded the demo. I believe we had a break during the summer of 88, when I went to work on a camp in New York State. We had the gig at “The Zoo” when I came back.

Pete: Hutch, together with our mutual friend Ade Brightmore, started putting on an alternative non-goth nights at Parkers No. 7 in Stone. Back then, it was goth, goth, goth – that was THE alternative – but not at Parkers, where it was the Mary Chain, Primitives, Shop Assistants, Membranes, Age Of Chance et al. The Rosehips spurred me into thinking that I could actually be in a band, rather than just play guitar in my bedroom and that’s where the Speedpuppies began. We were a four piece originally, with Michelle on drums and Liz singing. It rehearsals, Liz in her stripey top and shades, looked like Alex Shop Assistant and really, I just hoped we could do something along Shop Assistant lines. Liz used to take gig photos of lots of 80s indiepop bands – someone should try to coax her to put them online! Anyway, maybe it was shyness or nerves but Liz couldn’t and wouldn’t sing in public and left the band, when we were offered our fist gig. Michelle moved to singing and took to it like a duck to water. Until Mark joined, we used my old Boss DR-110 drum machine at gigs. Without a drummer, we used to practice at Hutch’s parents house – Mrs Hutchinson used to bring us tea and cake in the middle of our practices! I already knew Mark from The Rosehips and when he saw us play with a drum machine, he offered to drum for us.

Before The Speedpuppies formed, I put an advert in the window of a local music shop, along the lines of “Guitarist seeks….influences – The Shop Assistants and Sex Pistols.” Naturally, some goth types answered! We had a few rehearsals in a student living room in Stoke. I borrowed a friend’s electric guitar, which had previously sounded great, but he’d sawn off the top part of the body, to make it look like the one that Pete Shelley used in the Buzzcocks. The guitar now sounded a pale imitation of its former self but nevertheless, we rehearsed Bowie’s Queen Bitch and a few other covers. Richard, who was the singer/non singer (it’s a long story, Roque!), became a good friend and acted as driver (and saviour) when I had to get from Stoke to Plymouth and back in one night to play a Rosehips gig.

++ Which other bands from Stoke you liked?

Hutch: The Rosehips were excellent. There was also a band called Exit Condition who were a three piece with what sounded to me like an early Husker Du.

Pete: There were some great bands in Stoke around that time. The Sainsburys are one of the great long lost indiepop bands. Someone should force Dave Wood to locate the master tapes and get the tracks heard! In fact, I might have another go myself! They were brilliant. Ant and later, Mark from the Sainsburys, were also in The Rosehips. Vicarage Gardens were excellent, like an early REM. Honeycrash were a shambolically and heroically fun and funny live band and made one ace single; The Anythings were a cool Velvets influenced band but they seemed to disappear! We used to go and see Flame On! and Exit Condition who were ferocious bands, very much influenced by 80s American hardcore.

Mark: The punk ones mainly – Adversary, Exit Condition, Reverse – it was quite a close-knit community

++ Why did you decide to change the band name from The Safe Boys to The Speedpuppies?

Mark: You’ll have to ask the others. I just hit the tins at the back.

Hutch: The Safe Boys came from first line of the song Poison of Passion. I’ve always thought coming up with band names is a hundred times harder than actually writing the songs. The name goes on the posters and the record covers. It carries all the power. It should stick with people whether they hear the music or not -whether they like the music or not. Plus finding a name that everyone in the band agrees with is tough. I think we just came to the decision that the Speedpuppies was a better name.

Pete: We couldn’t agree on a name for a long time and it was only when we had our first gig that we had to come up with one – The Safe Boys. I don’t think any of us were ever 100% happy with it but we’d rejected The Night Porters and others and we were desperate! The 1988 live tape was recorded at Hudson’s nightclub (Alan Hudson of Stoke City, Chelsea and England fame!) when we were The Safe Boys.

++ I think the Speedpuppies is a great name! But how did you come up with such a name?

Hutch: It was, I believe, one of Flame On! who came up with the name for themselves (and possibly had rejected it). Ant Rosehip told us about it and I think we grabbed it before somebody else got in there. It’s cheekily ambiguous.

Pete: Yes, it was Flame On! On the day we recorded the demo, we were the Speedpuppies, although the name on the master cassette says Doreen Slater and the Speedpuppies. Glenn Rosehip popped into the recording session and, at the end of the session, persuaded us that Doreen Slater and the Speedpuppies was a vast improvement. Caught up in the moment, we thought it was great and used it on the cover of the cassette but in the cold light of day, it didn’t really suit us, so we shortened it back very quickly! I don’t think Michelle felt comfortable with people thinking she might be Doreen Slater!

++ What about the demo you recorded? There was no interest from labels at that time? It’s strange as it is so good!

Hutch: To be honest we were all pretty new to this and wouldn’t have had a clue how to market ourselves effectively. That said, Pete may have sent it out to a few labels. At this time there were hundreds of bands all over the country. You had to be something pretty special to get industry types to travel out from one of the bigger cities.

Pete: I sent about half a dozen out to “indiepop” labels – sorry Hutch and Michelle; it’s my fault that we never got into the hands of the industry AR men! I sent cassettes to Sarah, Subway, Raving Pop Blast, Sowing Seeds and 53rd and 3rd. Sarah replied to say no thanks, but apart from that, we had no response.

++ How did the songwriting process worked for the band? Did you have more songs that never got the chance to be recorded?

Hutch: I’m sure we had a few other songs. There was certainly a cracking cover of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5. Michelle liked Dolly and insisted on doing the track and coerced us. I’d thought that C&W was crappy but we really punked it up well and it probably could have been a great single. Everyone cheered when we played it live. The songwriting was usually each of us getting bold enough to bring out little bits of melodies and lyrics and stitching them together. There may have been a few where an individual had a full song and then the rest of us added little bits here and there – like spice to a curry. Before we came to remaster these songs I’d have had a problem remembering much about them. As soon as I heard them little bits do leap out. The Killing Time was definitely Pete’s lyric. I can remember writing elements of Poison of Passion because it was during the initial Aids/HIV hysteria and it was meant to be describing some dystopian love tryst. I think that a few of us were exorcising the demons of failed relationships in those words. Half a Chance has some nasty sentiments. I cringe when I listen to some of those lines. I suspect that there were many more songs that, given time would have surfaced from each of us. Pete would have had several dusty notebooks tucked away within his guitar case. There was still much shyness to overcome before we could confidently express ourselves in front of each other.

Pete: The Dolly Parton cover was one that we used to hammer out. I came up with The Killing Time and part of Poison of Passion and I remember Hutch teaching us Half A Chance. There were a few more that we used to play – The Man You Left Behind, Obvious Clue and The Morning After, which are on a live recording from 1988. There may be a few more half finished ones on the 4 track cassettes.

Michelle: I only wrote one song as far as I can remember “You’ll Never Know” – glad it made it onto the demo tho ; )

++ Which is your favourite song of yours? why?

Hutch: I like Serenade because the arrangements seem the most advanced. Michelle does some great overdubbed vocals and we really got that lift when the chorus kicks in. There’s a nice little guitar riff that I think Pete came up with in the studio at Rugeley.

Pete: At the time, The Killing Time was my favourite. Michelle kept the backing vocals to herself and the first we knew about them was in the studio singing them! Now it’s probably You’ll Never Know or Serenade.

Mark: The Killing Time

++ You played around six gigs in about a year and a half, which is the gig you remember the most and why?

Hutch: We did one of the first in a club up at Newcastle (Under Lyme) when we still had the drum machine and it was a pain in the arse to get the right song going on it. Newcastle had quite a hipster crowd and I can remember feeling nauseous I was so nervous. Michelle suddenly became brilliantly confident in front of an audience. It was very shambolic but I think we made our mark. Somebody chalked some graffiti about us (or Michelle) on one of the underpass walls in town and to me that was a worthy accolade.

Pete: The one at Hudson’s when we were The Safe Boys, was great. Just the feeling of standing in front of a loud guitar amp was a blast! The Rosehips played as well and there was lots of paper confetti around from the travelling Fat Tulips.

++ After the Speedpuppies were over, Mark continued on a band called Flame On! I don’t think I’ve heard about this band, I guess they were fans of The Human Torch? Care to tell me a bit more about it?

Mark: They were a punk band already going. They had a great double bass drum drummer called Rob who used to play in cowboy boots and a guy called Clive on bass! The first band I was in featured Mark & Simon from Flame On! so when Rob and Clive left, Mark shifted across to bass and I jumped in on the kit.

Pete: Flame On! were very much influenced by American hardcore. They used to rehearse every week and seemed to have a batch of new songs for every gig! Mark’s drumming for the Speedpuppies was fantastic and we played together a few years later in Jack In The Green.

Hutch: Mark’s drumming was inspirational. When I heard those tracks again it was the first thing that stood out. You stick it behind a few fledgling tunes and suddenly you have raw adrenalin coursing through them. I think Flame On! got their name from a Birthday Party tune. I can’t remember their tunes too well but they were much heavier than us.

++ What happened with Hutch and Michelle? Were they involved with any other bands after?

Michelle: I still love music but my singing is mostly reserved for bath times, which is probably a good thing!!!! Some of my family still live in Stone which is where we all met, and I go back there a couple of times a year.

Hutch: I’ve been in a few bands over in Sydney but have never released any tunes. I’m one of those blokes that often get credits on CDs for lending the band my amp or something J . I DJ’d (mainly soul music) on BondiFm for a year. I’m not currently playing in any bands but I don’t feel that I’ve yet reached the end of my musical journey – whatever the vehicle may be.

++ Are you The Speedpuppies still in touch? What are you doing nowadays?

Hutch: This project has brought us back in contact. I live in Sydney and travel back infrequently but I hope we all get chance to catch up for a beer when I’m next in England.

Michelle: After “The Speedpuppies” I went off to Manchester University to train to be an Art Teacher, played quite a lot of Volleyball, and tried my hand at DJ ing for a while. I am now living in Oxfordshire, and run a Creative Arts Faculty at a Secondary School in Wiltshire.

Pete: I play in Horowitz and record friends’ bands. The Pete Green and the Corporate Juggernaut LP is partly recorded and is sounding ace. Darren and Caroline from The Blanche Hudson Weekend (ex-Manhattan Love Suicides) recorded 5 tracks here and I’m chuffed to high heaven to have played on a couple of them – they’re fantastic; I’ve been helping out Falling and Laughing, who incorporate elements of indiepop, post-rock and Sonic Youth type guitar noise – Oddbox Records are putting out their single/ep in the new year. And there’s a new Horowitz LP and a few singles to be recorded too!

++ Going back to the Christmas subject, ask Santa for a gift!

Hutch: Stoke City to beat Manchester City 0-4 on Boxing Day. Video footage of Gallagher brothers crying in their seats.

Mark: A time machine.

Pete: I’d be mightily thrilled with a copy of The Electric Pop Group’s new LP.

Michelle: The winning lotto ticket please!

++ Thanks so much for the interview! Anything you’d like to add?

Pete: Thanks so much for the release! It’s brought back great memories and, it’s put us back in touch again after all this time.

Hutch: Of the four people on that record I’m the only one who isn’t teaching in some shape or form. How did that happen and what does it say about my ability to communicate?

Michelle: It’s been great bringing The Speedpuppies back to life – even if it has been a virtual reunion so far. It’s a really good feeling to have the CD released after 25 years – cheers.

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Listen
The Speedpuppies – The Killing Time