Thanks to Uwe from Firestation Records for this interview. It’s no secret that Uwe is one of my good friends in indiepop so I’m very happy to interview him as he is a true indiepop encyclopaedia. I hope you all enjoy this interview, know a bit more about the premier German indiepop label and keep supporting it.

++ Hallo Uwe! How are you doing? You just released the new Der Englische Garten CD! I still haven’t listened to it, but arguing from the singles, this is a fantastic album! Tell me a bit about it?

Hiya Roque! I’m feeling well these days. Yeah, the debut album by Der Englische Garten was just released in germany a couple of days ago. We’re very happy about it, it took some time to get it out finally. It contain ten new tracks plus an re-worked version of “Junge Leute“ which was originaly released as 7“ single back in 2008. we’re just finished to promote the album in germany and looking now forward to receive some good reviews in the mags and airplay on the radioshows. Der Englische Garten hailed from Munich and contain members of such legendary bands as Die Merricks or C.L.A.R.K.. The band’s debut 7“ “Eine Neue Welt“ sold out within weeks back in 2007. It was the fastest selling 7“ single on Firestation ever! I fell in love with them from the start when i first heard the still unreleased track “Große Pläne“. To me they are sooo special, they brings back memories on such great bands as The Style Council, Bazooka Cain or Jim Jiminee. Feel free to check out tracks as “Heizdecke Am Strand“ or “Irgendwo Anders Hin“ and you will get a clue what i’m talking about.

++ Also there is a re-release of The Desert Wolves’ “Pontification”. This makes everyone so happy, because the Desert Wolves is one of the best bands ever! I’m wondering which is our favourite Desert Wolves songs and why?

Thanks for the great words on it, Roque! The Desert Wolves are in my heart since they released their first 12“ single. I have great memories on the day when i bought “Love Scattered Lives“ from a long gone record shop in berlin around 1988. i bought “Speak To Me Rochelle“ just a day after. I remember some people saying that Orange Juice was the perfect link between Velvet Underground and Tamla Motown, to me The Desert Wolves were always the greatest mix between Orange Juice and Motown, they had sooo much soul! I love this style!! In honest i have no idea what became my favourite track by them. Without a doubt “Mexico“ became dead important to me, it’s part of my life. It’s a song most of my friends can agree on, apart from it was a floorshaker on nearly every Ship Shape Club party in the early days.
It brings a tear to my eye every time I’m listening to “Desolation Sunday Morning“ and believe me, i don’t say such thing that often!

++ It’s very hard to interview you Uwe, you are like an indiepop institution, not only in Germany but in the whole world! But a story that is yet untold, is that one of Nollendorfplatz in 1998, when Firestation Records was founded. How did it all come together that Sunday afternoon?

The idea to found a label firstly came to my mind when Annikki and me hang around drunk at some kind of nonsens-party back in 1996. from the start we had no idea what do to, but the idea was born. Not much happend over the next two years. In summer 1998 we decided to start business. We asked our longtime friend Jan if he would like to join. He was keen on it from the start. It should have been a sunday in august 1998 when we met in a cafe around the Nollendorfplatz to make things fixed. The first thing we had in mind was to create the now quiet famous “The Sound Of Leamington Spa“ serie. It took us more than a year to release the first part of it finally. To be honest, the first release on Firestation was mostly made of the hands of Bungalow Records which passed us over a demotape by Bazooka Cain. I was kicked the first time i heard their songs, so i phoned up the band to find out if they would be interested to release something on an then absolute unknown label. Gladly they agreed, the rest is history, i think! It could have never been a better start for Firestation. Once the record was out we received orders from shops in Japan, so we could keep on releasing records without spending money on our own.

++ Was it easy to choose the name Firestation Towers for the label? Did anyone argue against it?

The name Firestation Tower Records was Jan’s idea! The three of us decided to write down the name everyone of us would have in mind for the label. I can’t remember what Annikki had on her sheet, but my idea was to name the label “Sunkissed“, stolen from one of my favourite songs by Friends Again. From the start it was a fixed idea in my mind to name the label after a song i was in love with. We let the lottery ticket decide about it. it was Tim from Mr. Dead And Mrs. Free who finally decided about the label’s name, me and Jan asked him to care for lottery.
Nowadays i would have written “A Matter Of Opinion“ on my sheet!

++ Since when did you start listening to indiepop? What was that first band that hooked you up? What came first for you, British indiepop or German indiepop?

I should have started back in 1985. not so sure which band kept the ball rolling but it should have been The Smiths or Aztec Camera. While at school there were two groups of people. The first was in love with bands as The Blow Monkeys, Housemartins, The Style Council, Everyting But The Girl or the bands i mentioned above. The Second part was listening to german or american mainstream. hip hop wasn’t that popolar back then. If so,there would have been another group of people. I started to became a visitor at concerts in november 1986 when i saw the Housemartins playing live at the Loft. This night still means a lot to me, I even lost my shoes, would you believe? Next up i went to gigs from bands such as the Bodines, The Chesterfields or The Brilliant Corners. Still a schoolboy i spent my free time at record shops most of the time. Soon after i went to england for the first time. It was some kind of Language holiday. i remember that i never went to the school, instead i’ve hang round in the recordshops of Hastings. It was greatest fun and i remember that one of the records i bought over there back then was “Do It On Thursday“ by Jim Jiminee. Back to your question, i should have say honest, that german indiepop didn’t meant anything to me back then, simply because i don’t know about it. Not so sure, but i think that i saw She Splinters Mortar support The One Thousands Violins around the same time, but what really kicked me soon after were the first albums from bands as The New Colours or Die Antwort.i couldn’t believe that there were even german bands around which plays the soundtrack of my life. Soon after i found out about bands as The Sheets, Die Bienenjäger or Die Fünf Freunde. Back then labels as Blam-A-Bit, Frischluft or Marsh Marigold were very important to me. Sure thing that Firestation wouldn’t had found without them! the most biggest influence for me were labels as Marina Records or Bungalow. Every release on Marina Records meant a lot to me and Bungalow Records were so fucking cool back then. The label’s style deeply impressed me.

++ A project that is still in brainstorming is that of a compilation of German indiepop of the late 80s and early 90s. Do you think that will happen? How do you remember that scene? What were it’s strengths and why do you think it’s not that well known in indiepop world? Any favourite bands from back then that deserve our attention?

To release some kind of german “The Sound Of Leamington Spa“ was born in the early days of the label. It was Peter Hahndorf who came up with this idea.
But to say honest, all i have in mind for it yet is a wantlist of bands which could be part of it. I created such list some years ago. It contains most acts from the Fast Weltweit label, obscure bands as The Pariahs, Indian Summer, Jelous Chaps or Kiss Me Twice. I would love to include also some bands from the neo-mod scene as Start!, Die Profis or The Saturday Boys. I believe that there are some labels around in germany which could be interested to release the Fast Weltweit-label back catalogue, so i don’t see that much chances to include any of the label’s bands.
For sure there would be also a place for indiepop acts which were around the late 90’s as Brideshead or Bazooka Cain.
If i can speak about a German indiepopscene than i would say that their highest became in the early 90’s when labels as Marsh Marigold or Blam A Bit organized great concerts and bands as The Sheets, Painting By Numbers or Die Fünf Freunde were on the road.
When labels as Apricot or Firestation started business in the late 90’s there wasn’t such a big scene anymore. For sure there were still people who took care for such labels but for me there wasn’t any consultation between the people any longer.
I remember that we once organized some kind of sightseeing tour with around 50 as part of an indiepop weekender. I don’t think that such thing would be possible these days.

++ Why do you think, compared to those days, that at this moment there are almost none indiepop bands in Germany? Why is this? Does it have to do with the pop labels? Apricot Records seems silent, Marsh-Marigold as well, and what about Marina Records? Seems you are the only one alive!

Oh, that’s hard to say. For sure there should be good indiepop bands around in Germany these days, but i don’t have any clue about them. Although it may sound silly, i even wouldn’t care that much about them. I don’t understand most of the current indiepop anymore, it can’t give me any thrill anymore. I love to listen to new band’s but most of the today’s music which i can find on blogs or in the magazines didn’t mean anything to me. Bring me the German answer to Skint & Demoralised an i will sign them from the start!

++ Nowadays you write the Firestation blog where you have shared fantastic stories about long lost bands and background information about you and the label. But a decade ago you were still doing fanzines. What differences do you see between these formats? Any advantages or disadvantages when comparing them?

Me and Olaf released our first fanzine in 1991. it was greatest fun. back then to see that people even spend money on it. We first pressed 250 copies of Smuf 1. it came with an flexi-disc by Sarah-Records band Brighter and was sold out in a hurry.
I wouldn’t sign most of the things i wrote back then but it’s still a nice document for me to find out how i felt those days.
Between 1993 – 2002 i published some issues of my own fanzine which was called Happy To Be Sad, named after an still unreleased song by The Servants. Can’t remember how many copies I’ve done.
On first view, I can’t see many differences between blogs and fanzines. Everything which was wrote will stay forever. I would love to post much more regularly on the Firestation blog these days, but there is sooo much to care about beside it, so there is no time left to write on it that often. I didn’t spend much time to watch blogs these days. Maybe i should, but i don’t care. It makes me tired to see some of them, the blogs owner include unreleased bands by their so called “favourite bands“ even without asking the bands about permission. This thing really pissed me on. Sometimes i think think that they don’t care about the music, all they are looking for is attention for something they don’t have any rights on. How silly!
There are people around who asked me to re-release this and that. When the record is out they don’t want to spend even an euro on it. I became so tired on those people, they want to get everything’s for free, we don’t need them!

++ Your most known releases are probably the Leamington Spa compilation series. So how did these shape up? And what part do each of the three labels behind it play? Any news about the next volume?

Peter Hahndorf (Claredon Records) and Sven Neuhaus (Bilberry Records) are both longtime friends of mine. It was Peter who came up with the idea to name the serie “The Sound Of Leamington Spa“, Sven gives me the most input on music beside my friend Olaf Grossigk. I will never forget that night when we first talked about spa 1. We’ve been through the bar’s of Bremen and end up in an really nice club around the Steintor. I had an big hangover from the night before when i saw the Jazz Butcher playing live in Hamburg. We were on our best and talked the whole night about the project. Before i found myself on the floor in the
next day’s early hours we decided about the line up for the first issue.

++ I’m going to put you on the spot now… you have to tell me who are the best or your favourite in German pop history in these subjects:

– Band: The New Colours
– Song: Annahmeschluß (Bazooka Cain)
– Label: Marina Records
– Fanzine: Happy To Be Sad / Hochverdichtet
– Gig: Die Fünf Freunde
– Dancer: Niels Fischer
– DJ: Ship Shape Club
– Mailorder: Mind The Gap
– Fan: Olaf Grossigk
– City: Berlin (what else should i say)

++ Tell us a bit of the upcoming releases on Firestation Records!

If things will be keen on us, Sound Of Leamington Spa 7 will be ready before the summer. This release is on delay since ages and i feel very sad for all the bands which are part of it.
These days I keep an eye to release as much 80’s stuff as possible. We hope to have an retrospective ready by Cherry Orchard in the near future and still looking forward to release the Jeremiahs back catalogue. Hopefully there will be a chance for it, so finger crossed. What’s on the plan since ten years is the retrospective by North Of Cornwallis, which are still one of my favourite bands ever! Maybe there will be finally a chance for it finally in 2010! so finger crossed for it!!
there will be another Firestation festival in Berlin took it’s place on 31 th of July this year. We will name it Popfest Berlin. There are people around in town which are not so keen on it, but once again, i don’t care about them. They asked me to ask them for permission in advance to organise such thing, would you believe? Not longer sure about those people.

++ What about the Firestation Singles Club, is there plans to continue with it?

Yeah, there were some plans the last year to continue the Singles Club. Catalogue number FST Singles Club 005 was hold for the debut single by The Soulboy Collective, the greatest German band since ages! Things took too long on it for various reasons, so we decided to stop business on the Singles Club. Instead we released the Soulboy Collective 7“ single at the end of the last year in cooperation with Fastcut Records in Japan, with the band’s debut album too follow soon.

++ Berlin is still a small city when it comes to an indiepop crowd, but things seem to be changing during the last years with people like Pop Kombinat! or Pop Assistants bringing indiepop to the city. How do you see this renaissance of the Berlin indiepop scene?

To be honest, i’m not so sure about this renaissance these days. Without a doubt Pop Assistants are doing a great job and i feel happy for them that they can organize some cool gigs these days. Andi and me meet up for a dj-set at my favourite football-bar the Schwalbe once the month. But i can’t seen any scene! Maybe i’m wrong and there is a big indiepop-crowd aroud these days in Berlin? I can only speak for me and my friends. I’m not living in the past and i feel good to know that there are people around which keeping care of indiepop these days but to be honest again i don’t want to be part of any scene anymore. Never been to Pop Kombinat, so i can’t tell anything about them.

++ I also know you are an avid collector, so would you recommend your favourite record stores in Berlin or do you prefer to keep them for yourself? I would understand!

Great question! Yeah, record shopping became one of the most important part in my life since the early 90’s when i became a record dealer. There are still a lot of shops in berlin which care for second hand vinyl. I love to visit those places with friends, although i should better care for shopping on my own. My favourite shops in town are Cover Music, Comeback, Rocksteady Records and The Record Store in Brunnenstrasse. I can also recommend Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free for new stuff. This shop was very very important for me in the early days and i still visit them on regular basis. If you have some free time you should firstly visit Cover Music. It will take you hours to go through the whole vinyl selection, but all my friends from abroad found some great stuff. I bought that Siddeleys 12“ for three euro just a couple of weeks ago from it. Maybe the best place for record shopping is the Mauerpark market which takes it’s place every Sunday. We’re selling records on our own on it twice the month. I stay away from it in the colder days, but there is still business on that market in the winter days. I can recommend this place for every collector!
If anyone out there needs further recommendations please feel free to contact me.

++ And what about gigs? I know nowadays you don’t go to that many, but tell me which ones have been the best you’ve attended!

I gave up on it since they banned smoking in some clubs two years ago. I’ve been to gigs twice the week at least back in the past but to be honest i don’t care about it that much these days, i rather like to hang out with my mates for some drinks instead. On one hand I’m feel sad to became tired on it but to be honest there are not much band’s around these days which i would love to catch up live. There are some gigs which are on my top-list, maybe it was the greatest for me to see Roddy Frame live in the mid 90’s. the Brilliant Corners gig at the KOB in the late 80’s was also fucking great. Not to forget the Housemartins in 1987 and Morrissey seeing singing “William It Was Really Nothing“ back in the winter days of 2006! i have also great memories on a Teenage Fanclub / Groove Little Numbers gig at ULU London which took it’s place in 1991. Groovy Little Numbers played with full Brasssection! What a great night!

Thanks a lot for your great question, Roque! I’m looking forward to see you again later this year!


Der Englische Garten – Heizdecke am Strand


A couple of months ago I was asked to write a small travel diary from my time in Berlin. It was for the Japanese magazine Cookie Scene. As it was entirely translated and published in Japanese, I thought sharing the original English version here.

Schönhauser Allee U-Bahn station is noisy. The train’s wheels screech, the crowd bowls over the stairs, hasty pedestrians finding their way throughout Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. I’m there, a bit lost, my German language skills are not the best, I’m a bit shaky and tired after two sleepless nights. First one traveling all over the Atlantic. The second one at a Camera Obscura gig, and then at an after-party at Club King Kong. I look around the station for a familiar sign. Up and down, left to right, the people, as shadows, flicker. My bag is a bit heavy, I carry around 20 CDs for the DJing night. I have big expectations, I have a great arsenal of indiepop tunes.

I’m meeting Uwe and Olaf from Firestation at Uwe’s apartment. It’s a bit cold outside the big avenue. I pass by a Mediterranean restaurant called Alhambra. I pass by a tattoo shop. I never liked tattoos. I ring Uwe’s. The door opens and I go up the stairs as if I knew them by memory. I had been there last year, but it seems ages. Great! I meet Uwe again! a BIG hug! This is serious, I’m at the indiepop master’s place. I go through his records. I rummage. I choose around 10 records I want to get from him. I could choose a hundred, but my budget is a bit tight. Then Olaf arrives. We are going to get some Eastern European food at a new place around the corner. When we get there, it’s full. We go to another restaurant, and we like it. They have chicken. We like chicken. The three of us order chicken. On my European trips, I always enjoy going to eat out with meat eaters, usually it’s always vegetarians, and that is always a turn off when I want to appreciate food. Anyways, food is great and we drink these huge glasses of beer. I’m secretly feeling proud. I ordered my food in perfect German, or at least the waitress understood me clearly.

After getting up to date, gossiping about indiepop, the latest bands, the latest trends, which records we are releasing next and so, we leave the restaurant in search for the enigmatic Schwalbe. Uwe usually DJs there, and he has told me many stories about it. Sometimes the polizei comes and asks to turn the volume down. I hope not this time. After a fifteen minute walk on a chilly autumn night, we arrive. It’s a pretty place. The lights are not that bright, and there’s a poster pasted at the door stating I’m DJing. Feels good. I don’t get many chances to DJ in Miami. No one knows indiepop here. I meet Andi from the Pop Assistants who will also team up with us on the DJing gig. He is very nice and friendly. The Pop Assistants are like a booking agency, they bring superb bands to Berlin. I meet the owner of the place too. She asks me if I want beer. Of course I want beer! And I get it for free!! I get a Becks. Not my favourite, but you never complain about what’s free. At around 10pm Andi starts DJing. I’ll go after.

I start my “hit parade” with Second-Hand Furniture’s “There’s Nothing to Celebrate”. Instantly a lot of people come by and ask me what is it! It’s such a wonderful song to dance, so no wonder! Now Care’s “Flaming Sword”. I notice people enjoying it. Catchers’ “Cotton Dress”. Typhoon Saturday. Some Kirsty Maccoll. And I continue playing my favourite songs. I’m on my element. It feels great. And the beer keeps coming. And the laughs keep coming, and all the popkids are enjoying the night. My heart beats tunefully. Berlin is mine for a couple of hours. I’ll be back in ten days, but I won’t DJ here anymore.

Uwe takes over the decks. He tells me he has to always start with Aztec Camera if not, things don’t go right. He gets a bit nervous before DJing. It’s strange for me, he always DJs, he should be totally used to! But he isn’t, and that’s the charm of it. I sit next to the decks, on a large couch with my friends. We take photos. We try some dance moves. We dream of me staying in Germany. I still dream about it, wonder why there are stupid immigration laws. Shouldn’t we all be free to choose where to live and where to work? Borders are unnatural. They are an artifice, they are absurd. But we are not angry or disappointed. We are happy, indiepop is beating and the night is ours.

I get one more round at the decks. I would lie if I say I remember what I played. It’s quite late and beer has been flowing like the Rhein river. Then Uwe takes over again. In a blink of an eye it’s already 4am and I need to go. The party could have lasted longer, maybe till 6 or so. But I have a plane to catch. I’m leaving at 8am to Stockholm. I have a DJ adventure there this same day. It will be my third sleepless night but I feel fine. Energized. I’m living an indiepop dream. I leave the Schwalbe sad, I wish I could have hang out more with the Firestation guys. But I’ll see them again on my way back. It’s farewell but it’s not goodbye.

The chilly night has become warmer after such a party. I walk towards the closest U-bahn station. The streets are noiseless. It’s a clear sky and the moon squashes me. Berlin has inspired me. I just count the days when I’ll be back. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can stop indiepop.


Strange Idols – Berlin


2010 has been so busy for me that, aside from preparing a couple of interviews, I haven’t had much time to update the blog.  At my workplace, at the newspaper, we’ve been working extra hours because of the Haiti earthquake and the Super Bowl that’s happening this weekend. On top of that I still have some freelance job to take care of, some website for a shopping mall. Yes, I’ve been totally swamped. I’ve always liked working under pressure and with tight deadlines so that wasn’t a problem. What was worrying me was that I didn’t have much inspiration, first to write on the blog, and second to finish the fanzine. I had finished it some weeks ago, but then I had second thoughts about an article, and decided to write something totally different instead. So here we go. It went to print on Monday. So hopefully that will be out at last.

Some weeks I’ve been working 7 days, and the rest 6 days. I wish I could update the blog more often for the 5 or 6 people that read it. But don’t despair. I do have good news that don’t include the word work. I booked a flight for the New York City Popfest in May, and also a plane ticket for Indietracks. You’ll get to see me a lot this year. Terribly sorry for that. ;)

I get to work riding the bus. Usually takes me around 25 minutes. I live in this big island called Miami Beach, at the southern tip, which is commonly called South Beach. Everyday I walk across Flamingo Park and then four more blocks till I hit Alton Road. The bus stop is on the other side of Alton Road. It’s some green bench with no cover, so if it rains, good luck. There is not a pedestrian cross to get to the other side either, but I still cross the heavy traffic avenue. I just need a little patience till it’s clear for crossing. Then I calmly wait for the “S” bus while I listen the latest CD I’ve got on my cd-player. I know, I know, I still haven’t got around to get one of those iPods. That’s one of the few things I don’t care about modernizing myself. I mean, what’s the point? Having an iPod usually means the destruction of the “album” format. Who the hell listens a full album, from the first song to the last one, on their iPod? No one.

When I arrived to Miami the bus fare was US $1.25. It didn’t change for years. When the gas prices skyrocketed a couple of years ago they changed it to $1.50. A couple of months later they decided, let’s take advantage of the commuters and ask for $2.00. It’s a ridiculous price for the service.

Picking up old Cuban women on every corner, greasy muscular guys that seem to have escaped from Gold’s Gym, the thirsty construction workers hiding their Natural Ice on Burger King cups, the Hassidic Jews from the Hebrew Academy with their particular attire, posh girls with bright polished toenails from the renowned Miami Ad School, the smelly homeless with their human-size backpack, and European tourists with Hawaiian tees on their way to “Jungle Island”, the S bus runs steady till 5th street where we turn right and take the McArthur causeway towards downtown.

We have around 3 million people in the metropolitan area. And we have one public rail system that is a joke. It doesn’t connect Miami Beach with Miami, which lies in the continental area, on the Florida peninsula. It goes nowhere but to Dadeland mall. And it costs $2.00 to ride on it, the infamous Metrorail. There has always been talks about expanding the rail service, making it go at least to Miami International Airport. Supposedly this will happen by 2014. We’ve always hoped that we’d have a train on Miami Beach, at least some sort of monorail, something to get from here to there. From the library on 19th street to my favourite schwarma spot on 10th and back to Lincoln Rd to the movie theatre.

South Beach is the only area in Miami that has pedestrians, that is pedestrian friendly. Everything else in Miami is only car friendly, just like most American cities. The city acknowledged that and implemented these 25-cents-fare little buses that circle South Beach that makes it more or less manageable, though waiting for them takes forever. But to get to downtown Miami, where I work, I have to take the $2.00 regular bus which is usually a headache.  I can only dream that a train will be built one day connecting our island to the mainland. How long will it take me to take this dreamy daily train to work? Perhaps 5 minutes!! I’m so close! This would be so perfect, my daily train. I really look forward moving to a city with trains. New York, Berlin, London…

Or Gaubretière près de La Roche sur Yon? Where?! That’s where The Little Rabbits are from. A French band that penned the fantastic “The Daily Train” tune that was released on a compilation called “Contrasens” in 1991. It was released by the FNAC, which is like a Borders store but ten thousand times better. But let’s stop ranting and complaining, now enjoy this fantastic tune that is a classic for Japanese indiepop fans!


The Little Rabbits – The Daily Train


Thanks so much to Martin King for the interview! For those who are living under a rock The Desert Wolves have just released (or should I say re-released?) their Pontification album with 4 extra songs! All of them brilliant! You can find it at the Firestation Records HQ. Also you can find the glorious Desert Wolves on myspace here.

++ How are you doing? How has 2010 been so far?

Been sorting out some minor corrections and a book proposal for my PHD-which is on The Beatles.

++ You just released, or should I say, re-released, the Pontification album with four extra tracks on the Firestation label. Would you care telling me a bit about each of these four songs? Why weren’t they released before?

“Skin Deep” was one of the final demos we did along with the Gunmetal Jaguar.i never really liked it that much so left it off the album-i have warmed to it a bit! La Petite Rochelle was released on the Rochelle 12″. “She Wore My Sweater” was recorded in the same session as “Mexico” -8 track genius- but i never really liked the way it turned out. “Passion in the Afternoon” has a sort of U2 rumble on it as an alternative but we liked the other version better .

++ Are these all the unreleased Desert Wolves songs, or are there still some more laying around somewhere on dusty tapes?

There are no more tracks but there was a Desert Wolves mark 1 which Nick and Dave Platten were in and there are some demos -they were a bit more punky-did boredom as an encore-that sort of thing- Dave would be able to tell you more and about the origins of the name.

++ What was the main reason that made you decide it was time to re-release the masterpiece that Pontification is?

The re-release idea really came from nagging by Uwe at Firestation!

++ So let’s go back in time… how did The Desert Wolves start? How did you get to know each other

I joined in late 86 as a mutual friend told me they were looking for a new singer -we did our first gig at the international supporting the stone roses in jan 87.

++ How did you end up signing to Ugly Man records? How was your relationship with Guy Lovelady? Any anecdotes you could share?

The Ugly Man connection was already made when I joined. Guy Lovelady was a great amateur enthusiast in the spirit of the times, always at gigs and often came down to the studio.

++ Where any of you involved with other bands before being part of the Desert Wolves?

I was in a band called bee vamp in the early 80s-some tracks just released on a Manchester musician’s collective cd on Hyped to Death label-also 2 indie 12″ and a peel session in 81-with Jim Parris who went on to form Carmel. I then formed the Harbour Bar -on one of Leamington Spa collections-a short lived easy listening band years ahead of its time!! A few gigs and one demo.

++ I have some questions about your songs, first of all, was Rochelle a real person, or was her a character you invented for the song “Speak to Me, Rochelle”?

Rochelle was a real person but i just liked the name. The main inspiration for most of the lyrics was a fairly new relationship with the woman i am now married to. “Besotted” and “November” in particular.

++ Also, I’ve always meant to ask you, have you ever been to Mexico? You seem to be a big Mexican food fan for sure, tacos and burritos

Never been to Mexico. The song was inspired by a Mexican restaurant on Oxford road in Manchester in 80s: “Amigos”.

++ What about “Passion in the Afternoon”? Does it have to do anything with Rohmer’s movie by the same name?

“Passion in the Afternoon” is about autumn afternoons in my flat! There is a scene in room at the top with Laurence Harvey and Simone Signouret that has a similar feel but I only discovered that afterwards.

++ Is it me, or it seems you have an interest in cars, especially vintage ones. Am I right? I mean, from the Vermont Sugar House artwork for the 7″, the album, and even the new Desert Wolves album artwork. Also you did write a song called The Gunmetal Jaguar!

I had a 62 sunbeam rapier in the mid 80s which was used on the artwork for “Love Scattered Lives” and in the video-hence its revival in nes artwork-i now have a 77 Daimler of the sort that is on the Vermont Sugar House cover-the 60s obsession was mainly me-stems from childhood and never went away-Iam a big collector.

++ What about the video for “Love Scattered Lives”? How did that came about? What are your memories from recording it?

The video was shot on a budget of £20 by someone called Liam Khan who went on to work with the Pet Shop Boys and New Order-for a larger fee i suspect-it was a great day out on the Yorkshire coast.

++ I think you are such a great lyricist, so I have to ask, where does the inspiration comes from? And how easy was to make music with the whole band? What was the creative process?

As with the Vermont Sugar House tunes started mainly with Dave-some Nick-and then I would add lyrics when we were happy with the tune. The recording of “November” is a first take and the first time i had sung the lyrics. I recently read that Bryan Ferry did that with “Love is the Drug”. I like that sort of thing.

++ How do you remember the Manchester scene from back then? Any bands you enjoyed? How did you feel about the whole Madchester thing?

In retrospect I feel very lucky to have been around the Manchester scene-from the factory in the late 70s where i saw band like the B52s/Pere Ubu/Buzzcocks/the original Human League-through the collective and The Hacienda-Madchester was a lot of un clubbing wise but i am more an 82-87 Hacienda person. Loved The Smiths and New Order but not as much as Orange Juice. And I have a deep nostalgia for a time when most people I knew were in a band.

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

Musical differences i think-some dispute because i couldn’t sing like Scott Walker- the fact that no one but Scott Walker can etc etc. The Wolves split at a foolish time, just before the Roses thing and everyone getting signed. Hated the Inspiral Carpets and the Mondays vastly overrated and the fact that the Roses were considered plod rock between 86 and 89 and had a national front following has been erased from pop history.

++What happened in that gap between The Desert Wolves and Vermont Sugar House?

Dave and i just kept writing in the gap which eventually resulted in the Vermont Sugar House stuff.

++ Are you still in touch with all members of the band? What are you all doing nowadays

Dave and I now work in academia, Nick at the EU in Brussels-saw them at Xmas. Richard went on to be a successful tour manager, he did the Spice Girls first world tour. Craig was thought to be dead based on assumptions about his lifestyle but he has posted something on youtube (re: the video).

++ We should do a Vermont Sugar House interview some time Martin! But are there any future releases coming? Should I expect some more great songs from you in the near future?

Not sure if there will be more Vermont Sugar House stuff-have a couple of nice songs kicking around and have bought a very nice 1966 Burns Baldwin so who knows.


The Desert Wolves – Speak to Me, Rochelle