Thanks so much to Andrew for this interview. It’s been a true honour as I really really really like The Groove Farm and many of their songs are favourite of mine. I still think “Surfin’ Into Your Heart” is one of the best indiepop songs ever! And as Nikki from Bubblegum Splash told me: “The Groove Farm shops at Asda”, just so you know…
++ Thanks Andrew for doing this interview! How are you doing? How is 2010 so far?
Slow and cold. We’ve had one of the worst winters for snow and ice that England has had in years.
Musically, things have been moving at a snails pace, but in the end it will all turn out just fine. New Beatnik Filmstars album possibly. New, well, old but unheard Groove farm tracks, and a few other ideas all taking shape slowly…
++ So let’s talk about the mighty Groove Farm! What a band you were in, I love it! First of all, I want to ask, as you are the expert, can a band sound shambling on purpose? I feel it can only come natural… people that try to sound shambling always do it wrong, it has to come out from the heart. What do you think?
I’m not sure how other people have achieved it. With us it was pure. It was because we were total amateurs! We did improve as we went along, but we still somehow had that shambling element, like it could all fall to pieces at any second. And sometimes it did!
++ Okay then, The Groove Farm/ How did you all knew each other? How did the band start?
Jon (Kent) and I were friends for many years. We moved to Bristol with the sole intention of starting a pop group. We knew Chad who played Bass for us for a while, we met Rupert through Chad, and we found Jez later from an advert. There were others in the band for short periods of time, but none of them lasted too long because they didn’t fit in the way the ones I’ve mentioned did.
++ So it was at a Flatmates concert that you decided to play live, right? What was that from them that inspired you? What other bands from the period did you like?
It was actually a Wedding Present show, an early one at The Tropic Club. The Flatmates were the support (their second or third gig?). I thought both bands were ace, but the Flatmates impressed me with their rough and ready, a bit of a mess performance. They were up there having a laugh. I thought, if they can do it, then we must be able to, so I went back to the others and said I think we can start playing live now, even though we were still only learning…
++ Where does the name Groove Farm comes from?
We obviously needed a name and quickly, and it was the best we could muster up. Once we used it I decided I hated it, but by then it was too late. I originally saw it on the side of a cardboard box, which was upside down. I thought it said Groove farm, it actually read GROVE FARMS. I also hated the name Beatnik Filmstars seconds after first using it…maybe it’s just me, I dunno.. I always choose a name then after decide it’s rubbish!
++ So is blue your favourite colour? What’s the deal? Heaven is Blue? Baby Blue Marine?
No not at all. I prefer Green, but Heaven Is green sounds silly. Baby Green Marine works quite well though…
++ And you liked football I notice, which teams are you fans of? And who are the footballer on the Surfin’ Into Your Heart single sleeve?
No, I hate football, it bores me to death. I went to watch Bristol Rovers play West Ham once with John (Austin/Beatnik Filmstars) and I was bored before it even began. The footballer on the sleeve was someone quite well known, but I can’t remember who…I think probably a Bristol Rovers player as they were Rupert’s favourite team. Everyone I’ve ever been in a band with loves footie, but I have no interest at all. Actually, come to think of it, I think the Beatniks are all Rovers supporters, so Rupert must be a Bristol City fan…Blimey! That was close, He’d go mad if I got that wrong, you know how these footie fans take it all so seriously!.
++ And talking about Surfin’ Into Your Heart, that’s maybe my favourite song by yours. Do you mind telling me the story behind it?
It’s so long ago, I honestly can’t remember. I think I made it up on a train. I make up most of my songs on trains. You are right, despite the record version being terrible, it was a very good throwawy pop song. Girls Aloud or someone like that should cover it.
++ I heard there are more recordings that have remained unreleased and you only discovered them lately. Which songs are these and why didn’t they ever get released?
Aha! I’m not spilling the beans yet…I found some unfinished 8 track recordings, we were doing for a French (or possibly German?) radio station as a live session, but the little 8 Track studio (The Facility) closed down before we got to finish them, so I’ve located an 8 track machine, and will be mixing them soon. I also found some 4 track recordings of un-released songs, but they might be too rubbish to use, and a couple of demos including ‘Surfin’ Into Your Heart’ which I think is better than the record version.
++ What about those 4 videos you recorded? Not many bands from the time got to record videos, and you got 4! Where were they recorded? Any funny anecdotes of recording this?
We filmed loads of stupid stuff at the time. We would just hire a video camera for a day, and film stuff… No one owned a video camera back then, unlike today when there is one attatched to every phone! I’m sure we made more than 4 videos, but they were all home made and rubbish.
++ On one of them, on the byline of the video on Youtube you wrote: “I’m Never Going to Fall in Love Again was from the band’s second long player, which was one of their more popular sellers (if selling almost 4000 can be seen as ‘popular’!)”. You do know that as of 2010, it is IMPOSSIBLE to sell 4000 copies? If you sell 500 copies of an album you are already considered successful. How do you feel about that? Would you blame illegal downloads? Or the itunes phenomenon?
Yes I know, times have changed. I blame the fact that there are too many other things for young people to be doing, DVD’s, computers, games etc. Music just isn’t as big and important as it once was. I would spend weeks trying to get hold of a record I’d heard on John peel, and once I did, I loved them dearly, looked after them, still own them. Today young kids like a tune, want it immediately, download it, listen to it usually via a cheap crappy phone speaker for a few days, get bored with it, delete it. There will be still the odd few who become music obsessed nutters like I am, but fewer and fewer as the years roll on. Shame, I think they’re all missing out on something quite special. Perhaps what is needed is a new generation gap. Something that parents hate, and the kids love. That was always a good thing with pop music, It doesn’t happen any more.
++ Do you think there’s more value on vinyl over mp3?
Vinyl, every time, Jesus! I prefer CD to MP3, No I prefer Cassette to MP3 anyday!
++ On your full discography you list a gig called “When Matt met Clare”, what’s behind this? Were you fans of Sarah records? I know you released your first flexi with Clare… why didn’t you get to be released on Sarah?
I think we could have probably got on to Sarah, but we went to Subway, before Sarah started. Matt & Clare were both Groove Farm fans, and at a show where I was giving Clare a tape of Baby Blue Marine for the flexi disc, Matt was also there and I think it was me who introduced them to each other. So all the millions of Sarah fans really should be worshiping me!!
++ Speaking of labels, how did you end up signing to Subway Organisation? Any anecdotes you could share between you and Martin Whitehead?
None that I would care to share. But I will tell you Martin does have a fondness for Apricot Jam.
++ And then you moved to your own label, right? Raving Pop Blast? How was the experience of running a label? What was the difference between self-releasing yourself and being in quite a known label as Subway?
We started with our own (Raving Pop Blast!) Moved to Subway, were unhappy, moved back to our own. Doing it yourself was easy, and we didn’t steal the profits and rip ourselves off either!
++ Another gig is named “Anoraknophobia”. So I guess you hated anorak kids? How was your relationship with the anorak/cutie/twee crowd?
No we didn’t hate the anorak kids. We didn’t like being referred to as an anorak band, because that’s a stupid thing to be called. We were just a pop group. Simple as…
++ I guess you played many gigs then? Which were your favourites and why?
· Loads, some excellent some terrible. Supporting The Wedding Present on their Bizaro tour was fun, and frightening as they had gone really big at that point so lots of people watching!. Ones we did with The Rosehips were usually fun, The one with The Chesterfields at Bristol Uni was a good one, Any we did with the Brilliant Corners, as I loved them. One of the worlds most under rated bands ever. Oh, too many to remember….
++ Then you were really prolific, you wrote tons of songs and have many releases! Not that common in bands from the time, who usually would do one or two singles and then disband. What do you think make you so prolific? And I also wonder, what’s your favourite release?
Favourite release : The Groove Farm : Driving In Your New Car – the 10 inch mix version. I like the song and I think it was the best recording sound wise that we managed. Beatnik Filmstars : The Purple Fez album. Most of that I was very fond of, and also the ‘Phase 3’ album, most of that I really like, even though it’s really scratchy and tinny. I just enjoy making up songs. I think the fact I’m still doing it proves to anyone, that I do it for the sheer love of it, while many just do it to try and become successful (yes even many so called indiepop bands) I’ve met many fakers who tried the indiepop route to success…generally it failed! For me it was always about the music. Money would have been a nice bonus, but, you can’t have it all.
++ I have a hard question now, if the band formed today rather than in the late 80s, what do you think you would sound like? How might you have assimilated into the band influences from music made in the last twenty years?
We’d sound like the recent stuff I’ve been working on. Mellow baby, real mellow.
++ Do you like or follow any indiepop bands from these days?
I like Tender Trap. They’re indiepop. And Arctic Circle, they’re very good. I’m not completely indiepop mad, or at least I don’t get to hear much that I really flip out over. I like what I like, and don’t care if it’s cool, indie, or totally mainstream. My main love is 60’s mod, soul and R&B. And 70’s New wave and Mod. I don’t like indie bands who try to sound like old indie bands, there’s a lot of those about at the moment. I’d rather just listen to the originals.
++ I never got around getting the Mobstar compilation, which was Part 1, I was a bit too young in 98. Will there be a part 2? Will there be a chance for another retrospective cd or a re-release of Part 1? You know the fans want it!
Too young!! Now you are making me feel really old! I’m sure there will, just a matter of time.
++ So when and why did you call it a day?
The Groove Farm had run it’s course. I wanted to do music without any barriers or boundaries. So I could do a soft acoustic song next to a mad fuzzy noise fest, next to a pure pop song…In the Groove Farm we were held back by the Indie pop mafia, who would get stroppy if you dared to step slightly out of the narrow little style and sound you were allowed to be doing. We always tried to change, try different things, but they were never happy about it. So I decided to start Beatnik Filmstars and do what ever the hell I felt like at the time. And that’s exactly what I did.
++ Are there any plans for a reunion? Hey! Maybe you should play at Indietracks or something!
We did do a reunion, a one off show as part of the Mobstar pop frenzy weekender back around 2000. It was a right shambles, but great fun, and the crowd loved every second of it! We’d reform to play for the right price and preferably NOT in England.
++ Thanks again so much for the interview, I think we should stop now, because I can continue and continue asking questions, I have always loved your band, but well… anything else you’d like to add?
You are very welcome. Hope you’ll check out all the new music I’m busy creating.
Anyone wishing to contact me can do so at
I’m always pleased to hear from people.
The Groove Farm – Surfin’ Into Your Heart