I don’t know how common the expression”Great Scott” is. I just learned about it yesterday night while I was doing some research for this post. It does take time to pick up catch phrases in another language than yours. But this one? I’ve never heard!

So, Great Scott! is an exclamation of surprise or amazement. I could have said that the first time I heard a song by a UK band by the same name. I could have said it again when I googled them and I couldn’t find any information. And perhaps one more time after reading about the origin of this phrase according to Wikipedia?

The expression is of uncertain origin. It is believed to date back at least as far as the American Civil War, and may refer to the commander‑in‑chief of the U.S. Army, General Winfield Scott. The general, known to his troops as Old Fuss and Feathers, weighed 300 pounds (21 stone or 136 kg) in his later years and was too fat to ride a horse. A May 1861 edition of the New York Times carried the sentence:

These gathering hosts of loyal freemen, under the command of the great SCOTT.

In an 1871 issue of Galaxy magazine, there is:

“Great—Scott!” he gasped in his stupefaction, using the name of the then commander-in-chief for an oath, as officers sometimes did in those days.

The phrase also appears in the 3 May 1864 diary entry by Private Robert Knox Sneden (later published as Eye of the Storm: a Civil War Odyssey):

‘Great Scott,’ who would have thought that this would be the destiny of the Union Volunteer in 1861–2 while marching down Broadway to the tune of ‘John Brown’s Body’.

Another possible origin is people seeking to emulate the German Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha altered and anglicized “Grüß Gott!”, or “God bless!” into “Great Scott!”. The etymologist and author John Ciardi once believed this, but later recanted in a radio broadcast in 1985. Despite that recantation, the expression is likely to be a minced oath: a mild substitute for invoking the name of God; very possibly derived from the phrase “[by the] grace of God”.

Not very interesting right? Why would a fantastic guitar pop band choose this phrase as their name? Who knows. But then we’ve have heard and seen worst names in indiepop history. But what can be answered is that I know two songs by them, and they are among the most beautiful songs I know from that golden era of guitar pop. Both were released on tape compilations. One of these tapes was later re-released on vinyl, do you have a clue which tape is this? It was the brilliant Hoopla (which I also just learned that means: sensational publicity; ballyhoo; bustling excitement or activity; commotion; hullabaloo) compilation which was once released by La-Di-Da on tape and then later re-released by Accident Records (whatever happened to them?!). The song included here was “You’re Off Again”, a blissful and sweet song with perhaps the nicest trumpets in indiepop ever!

But the song that is on constant repeat today is “The Very Best Part”. You know when songs come to you when you need them? I randomly find songs, especially when moody, and they become like a best friend. They talk to me, they care for me, they even dare to advice me. That’s what has happened to me with this song. I better not talk to much about it, maybe the lyrics explain it better.

Anyways, as this is a serious blog, let’s continue dissecting Great Scott! This heartwarming song appeared on the Kite tape, released on 1989. If you are not familiar with it, I think you should definitely check it out, there are some other gems there, like The Jerks’ “Waterskin”, another favourite of mine. And that’s all I know about the jangle and trumpet masters that are Great Scott. I wonder if anyone out there can let me know anything else about Great Scott? Or get me in touch with them? I just want to thank them for writing these songs, for giving me such a cozy company.

Oh! It seems that Great Scott! was the name of a now-defunct supermarket chain in the Detroit, Michigan area, and is also the name of an indie club in Allston, Massachusetts.


Great Scott – The Very Best Part


Whatever happened to the all-female indiepop combo The Maulies? Back in 2000 they released their one and only 7″ “On Holiday with The Maulies” on Maryland’s Hub City Records and it was such a promising record!!

Last year when I was in Stockholm I had the chance to DJ at Debaser with Tommy Gunnarsson, who ran the Heavenly Pop Hits Records and was part of the brilliant The Gentle Smiles. I remember the first song he played was Dolly Mixture’s “Everything and More”. Then he played a song I had never heard before. It sounded a bit like Bunnygrunt. It sounded a bit like Cub. But it wasn’t them. “Who are they? They are really good!” – I asked. “The Maulies” -Tommy answered. “Who???”. “They only released one record, and this song is really good isn’t it?”. He was playing “Rude Limey”, the A-side.

I met Tommy two days after, on a cold Stockholm Monday, for a record shopping day. The first couple of stores we visited didn’t have anything that was worth our attention or our wallets. The famous Record Hunter was such a letdown. Tommy rang Nicke from Delicious Goldfish Records to see if he would open the store for us that Monday. No luck. He couldn’t: “come back Wednesday”. “Sadly I can’t, I leave tomorrow”. Where else to go? There’s one last stop: Nostalgia Palaset.

My expectations were quite low at that time. I got some money from the DJ gig and I wanted to burn it on records. What else would I do with krönor? I needed to get rid of them! We asked the clerk to show us the “indiepop” 7″ boxes they had behind the counter. We started browsing. First record that caught our attention was one marked “Norway C86″. It was by a band called Naive. Later I will learn that it was marked wrong, this band is Danish. Anyways. Let’s keep browsing.

Something really useful about this store is that you can listen to the records. There is a nice turntable with a pair of headphones. We started putting records on a side, and then listening to them, enjoying them, and then figuring out if they would still be on a side or back into the 7″ box. The Painted Word, The Pastels, Young Marble Giants, and more. The selection of Nostalgia Palaset is really good! Never seen so many nice indiepop records in a store! And if you are up for coincidences, you know what I found? Yeah, The Maulies 7″! I couldn’t believe it. Two days later I was talking about this band with Tommy. We were listening to it. Two days later we find it in a store in Stockholm. And this band is from Austin, Texas. What are the chances?

I paid 80 kr for it. I don’t know how much is that in dollars, and maybe it’s better not to know. I also got 7″s by My Favorite, Gits, Lucksmiths (not for me, it’s clear I always fall asleep to them, but a gift) a Benno Presents Various Artists (including Nixon and the underrated Cat Skills), and a Feverfew flexi. You can imagine the huge smile I had after leaving the store.

Fast forward many months. Today. I’m playing the record a couple of times. I wonder where are these girls? I always wonder where the girls are. Clearly not in Miami. But where did The Maulies go? I read the lovely insert written by Tina and Jeff from Hub City Records. They compare some turtle to Totoro, from the movie “My Neighbor Totoro”. Oh! I like that movie a lot! Also on the insert there’s a little press release about The Maulies:

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she has to decide: should I continue to allow the boys to get all the glory, or should I form my own all-female indiepop combo and kick ass? June 2000 sees the release of The Maulies debut single. Hailing from Austin, TX, the Maulies write punka pop tunes in the vein of such legendary all-girl bands as Thee Headcoatees and Tiger Trap with a touch of the British Invasion thrown in for good measure. The single’s A-side features “Rude Limey”, a savage rebuke of an arrogant Brit and his eveil ways, as well as “Gotta Take the First Plane Home”, a Kinks cover that’s been given the full Maulies treatment.

I think they are closer to Cub or Bunnygrunt, but sure, Tiger Trap is a good comparison! The first lines reminds me of a friend in Sweden that, tired of being the girl in the back in every band, decided to start her own all-female indiepop band just some months ago. Hopefully more news on that later this year, could fit nicely in the Cloudberry catalogue. But back to the Maulies.

It’s funny that on the press release they don’t mention the B-Side. They do mention both A-Sides, by no B-side. The B-Side is called “Tofu π” (smart? Tofu pie). This one is an instrumental track, and well honestly, I’m not a big fan of them. Nothing personal Maulies!

Among other interesting facts are that this record was produced and recorded at Sweatbox Studios, Austin. A place where tons of independent bands have recorded. And yes, the band lineup, that was Amy on bass, Carole on guitar and vocals, Jennifer K on the SK-1, tambourine and vocals, and last, but not least, Jennifer L on drums and vocals. No last names on the sleeve, so, impossible to google them.

Would you ever wish someone that their green card gets revoked? Tough! I think that’s the nastiest thing to wish! But that’s what Rude Limey is about. They sing to a Brit: “He’s always playing cruel jokes/I wish he’d get his green card revoked,” and “We use to call him our favorite British import/But now we call him Satan’s cohort.” Tough girls, right? Now have a listen yourself.

And of course, if anyone else knows or wants to share anything else about The Maulies, please do so! Would be great to know whatever happened to these girls!


The Maulies – Rude Limey


A German label called “The Black 7″, who only released black vinyl 7″s, and only released 7 records in their run. Their most known band was She Splinters Mortar, so yes, this label was quite obscure, but at the same time, it had such great songs in their catalogue! I was lucky to get in touch with Stefan Lutterbuese and ask him many questions to unveil the mystery of Die Schwarze Sieben!

++ Hi Stefan! So you, and your friend Volker, were behind a short lived German label called Die Schwarze 7 back in the 80s. Why did you start the label? What was the main reason behind this?

The reason why we started the label was quite simple: She Splinters Mortar wanted to put a record out, and so Volker and I said: OK, you guys pay the studio, we pay the rest. But if you want to release a record, you need a record company. So we invented one, and we called it Die Schwarze Sieben. A friend of us was a graphic designer, so he developed the label logo; another friend of mine was a photographer, so he shot the cover photo; I was good in writing promo sheets, so I did the press work; Donna, who ran a small indie record shop in the heart of the city, sold the first hundred copies. And Laiky, a weird Greek music lover, hosted some live music shows where She Splinters Mortar did the support job. What I want to say is: we didn’t really think about it, we just did it: we wanted to support some good friends who were trying to be a real pop band.

++ So where does the name comes from?

I’ve had always a fan for the seven inch format. Two songs on one single seems to be quite perfect. Die Schwarze Sieben means exactly that: the black seven. That’s all.

++ Also, I wonder, where in Germany were you based? And how did the “Die Schwarze 7″ office looked like?

We came from Wiesbaden, a very nice and sleepy city nearby Frankfurt. We had one bigger concert hall (The Wartburg), and one small venue named Zickzack (which was also the name of a famous German indie record label from Hamburg), which brought us acts like These Immortal Souls, Spacemen 3 and others. It was a very small indie scene with a gothic touch, but it was quite vivid because Wiesbaden was/is part of the Rhein-Main-area, The most cute club for us was the Batschkapp in Frankfurt, where we saw all the important bands in the early 80’s like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Fall, Go-Betweens and many others.

Our office? That was my flat. And it’s the place where Volker still lives.

++ You only released 7 records in total. The name of the label is of course Die Schwarze 7. Was it always planned to release 7 records and then call it a day? Or was it just a happy coincidence?

There was no master plan. As I said before, we just wanted to support Harald and the band. But two things happened: the record sold very well, and She Splinters Mortar did a very impressive support gig for One Thousand Violins, a British jangle pop band. The Violins’ British record label was Daniel Tracy’s Dreamworld Records, but in Germany they became part of the Constrictor artist rooster, a label hosted by Philipp Boa. So one of the concert’s consequences was the contact to Constrictor (later on topped by a publishing contract), the other one was Sebastian Zabel, a writer for SPEX, the most updated German music paper. One year ago the NME invented the class of 86, so SPEX did the same for the German music scene, asking for new bands, new attitudes, new music. The funny point was: The man who asked for was Sebastian, and he did that by praising SSM’s „Straight from her Heart“-EP. From that day on the local heroes SSM regard a little bit nationwide attention, and we guys from the label got lot of cassettes from hopefully bands from all around the country. The problem was, that we didn’t have any ambition to do a real record label job. So we wrote nice excusing letters to the bands, and later on we went out for a beer. We made only three exceptions we are still proud of: Shampoo Tears, Noises from the Pearly Gates and Dead Adair. After Releasing six records we decided to do a last one: a kind of farewell compilation, That was in 1991, and it was the year SSM disbanded, and so we did the same.

++ Were you inspired by any other labels? What kind of music were you into during those days?

Definitively Rough Trade Records, the most adventurous label of all times; in 1983/84 we started to hear music from Whaam Records!, In Tape, Cherry Red and most of all Creation Records – great before they discovered Oasis. Volker and I had a post punk background, which means we liked all the indie stuff except punk – from Joy Division to The Smiths.

++ So how did you know the She Splinters Mortar gang? Did you go to see their gigs often?

We had only a small music scene, so we met at the same record shop, visited the same concerts, played football together. We shared the same music taste, so it seems to be natural that we started all together.

++ What was the style back then in Germany when signing bands? Was it like with contracts or it was just trusting each other, having a beer together and saying, let’s do it?

The second way seems to be more interesting … No legals, no contracts, just a clear announcement: the band paid the studio, we paid the rest. This was typical for most of the do-it-yourself labels which released records these days. Their was only one point in our history where the things might have been changed: as we got a distribution deal for the “Jaguar”- LP; but poor sales and an inactive band (no concerts for personal reasons) cleared the situation very soon, so we kept the things going on on a very healthy level.

++ I have friends that always tell me how fantastic the Shampoo Tears were. I have never heard anything by them, do you care telling me a bit about them and how did they end up in your label?

Shampoo Tears came from Mainz (the other side of the river Rhein), and they were a real band, which means that they rehearsed intensely and followed a clear plan: they wanted to play as often as possible. While She Splinters Mortar liked to pose a little bit, Shampoo Tears took the game more seriously. As we released the first She Splinters Mortar-Singles the Tears asked us to put our logo on their first EP, because we knew each other (I was studying at the Mainz University at that time) very well. Later on Shampoo Tears-singer/guitarist Jörg Heiser replaced She Splinters Mortar-bass player Christian Lorenz, who left the band in 1988. Two years later the Tears changed their name in SVEVO (Jörg likes the author very much), donated us a very fine song for our last compilation record („Tapeworm“) and released two more CDs on the Peace 95-label. Starting as a classic guitar pop outfit, SVEVO came under massive influence of SST-groups (musically) and the textures of Hamburger Schule bands (Blumfeld, Die Sterne etc). I think they finished the chapter in the 90’s when Jörg went to Berlin as the German chief editor of an art magazine. But the story continues: Some weeks ago I saw a photography of a Berlin band called La Stampa releasing their first record. And one of the forty somethings was … Jörg Heiser.

++ Also you released a couple of bands I’ve never heard: Dead Adair and the Noises from the Pearly Gates. Care to tell me a bit about them and how they ended up releasing with you?

Dead Adair were a very fine quartet from Frankfurt/Offenbach. They had a charismatic singer (Charly Reichelt), wrote very good moody songs and sounded a little old school – which is meant as a compliment. I think, they contacted us because they liked our guitar pop philosophy. Noises from the Pearly Gates were just very good friends of us: fantastic live band, nice blokes. And definitely no guitar pop …

++ How much of a DIY attitude and ethics were on the label? You did tell me you were non-profit…

I think we were only realists. Our ambition was truly professional: good music, good covers, good atmosphere. But we started as a fan project and our only chance reaching the next step was the success of She Splinters Mortar. But as it started to happen, the band failed. Not musically, but as four individuals, who couldn’t get it together as a band. The recording session of „Jaguar“ was hard work, and soon after the release date guitarist Walter Muscholl left the band, Jörg has it’s own Shampoo Tears/Svevo plans, and the hope for support by the constrictor publishing deal crushed very soon.

++ Were you in a band maybe?

No, never. My favorite instrument is my Thorens TD 160 MK II record player – still busy after all these years.

++ Which other bands from Germany from those days would you like to have signed to your label?

39 Clocks, Fehlfarben, Holger Hiller.

++ After calling it a day with the label, were you involved with music?

Yes. As a fan buying records until now and as a professionell writer for a bad german record company in the 90’s.

++ Now, looking back, how do you feel about what you did as a label? What was the biggest highlight for you?

It was only an episode, but a very intensive one, especially in the years 1996-1998. Lot of concerts, lot of enthusiasm and that incredible feeling hearing a new song from She Splinters Mortar, always better and bigger than all the stuff before. As we left the scene in 1991 we had no bad feelings (and no debts), and we started to finish other things. Ten years after the release of the „Straight from the Heart“-EP I talked to the very young Wiesbaden Band Rekord, and it was a very special moment for me when they confessed that they liked Die Schwarze Sieben and She Splinters Mortar. The other electrifying moment was that Ebay auction in 2003, watching a She Splinters Mortar Single sold for 45 Euros to Japan.

++ Thanks again for doing this interview, and for all your help! Anything else you’d like to add?

No. Greetings from Volker who is very busy at the moment.

I’m always pleased to hear from people.


She Splinters Mortar – Man Ray


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


Back again to Miami. No more London Popfest. It’s time to reactivate the blog! And what better way to do it with France’s first indiepop band: Les Freluquets! Thanks again to Philippe for such a fantastic interview. Listen more songs and be friends with him at their myspace.

++ Thanks so much Philippe for being up for this interview! How are you doing? Where in the world are you now? In the US or in France?

You’re welcome, I’m fine thank you. I live in the small town of Lexington, Virginia in the USA (the Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried there). I moved there almost three years ago with my little family.
++ So let’s talk about the great Les Freluquets! I was wondering how did you all meet? And how did you all decided that it was time to start a band?

We met in the south of France, in a nice town called Perpignan where we all lived then and where I was born. I started playing in a (punk) band as a drummer when I was sixteen and I never really stopped since then. Around 1986, after two or three years in a band called Furythme I was looking for people who would be willing to play some indie pop with me. I had spent some time in Bristol (UK), buying records, meeting the people who were about to start Sarah Records, attending gigs (Mighty Mighty, The Chesterfields, The Razorcuts, Talulah Gosh), and I decided that’s what I wanted to do. So I gathered some people, Jean-Michel, Luc, Rodolphe, and Cécile that I knew through mutual friends or work and it worked. I fed them with tapes of the bands I like and we practiced a lot. We brought something new and fresh, we had a lot of enthusiasm and energy.

++ But then there were at least three different formations of the band, what had happened? Why so many changes?

What happened is that frustration, temper, moods, egos, ambition or lack of ambition, lack of commitment all together is not a good cocktail. The first line-up split when Rodolphe Vassails (the drummer) moved to Paris and we couldn’t find a decent replacement. So I grew frustrated and moved to Paris too because he asked me to and I also thought we did everything we could in the South. Rodolphe found a new bass player Patrice Rul , and a new singer Stoyan C. (who sadly died a few years ago), and the new Freluquets were born. Denis (on lead guitar) joined us after some rehearsals and six months later we had a record deal (with Rosebud) and our first album got a lot of attention.
Then we sacked Stoyan who was a “piece of work” as they say here. He saw himself as an artist and I see myself as an artisan, and that created some problems. He was an anarchist too and that didn’t help either… But those problems could, should have been dealt with if we’d had a manager.
So we hired Lionel Beuque, a really nice guy, great frontman, but he didn’t stay long because he wanted to start his own band (Welcome To Julian) and that’s what he did. I became the singer then. We recorded our second album and everything fell apart. Rodolphe lost interest in the band, Denis had to join the army for a year so Patrice and I had to start all over again. The guys who played in The Chaplinn’s joined us but that didn’t really work either. That’s why we formed Qu4tre in 1992.

++ Were you involved in any bands before Les Freluquets?

My first band was Vision Flash when I was sixteen. We were a high school band and that was a lot of fun for two years. Then I wanted to become a frontman and write some songs so I borrowed my brother’s guitar and Furythme was born.

++ What about the name Les Freluquets? Why did you choose it for the band?

It means “The Whippersnappers” and we were desperately looking for a name at the time (”Hello John Steed” and “Therese X” were some other choices) but couldn’t find or agree on anything. Then a colleague who I had fun with at work called me a “young whippersnapper” and that was it! That was the name I was looking for. It fitted perfectly. When we moved to Paris the name didn’t fit anymore and we should have changed it but because of the good press we got after our first single I took the wrong decision to keep it. I made some bad decisions in that band but nobody really helped or said anything…

++ What do you remember from the Lenoir session? Any anecdotes you could share? Which songs you played?

We did two sessions actually. One when he was working at Europe 1 (one of those songs, “La Détente”, ended on the Heol tape later) and the other one for France Inter. Both are nice memories now even though we had some problems then. Rodolphe broke his wrist playing rugby just a few days before so I was really pissed of and we had to hire a session drummer for the Europe 1 gig. Then when Bernard Lenoir (who really liked us) returned to France Inter we recorded five or six songs that I can’t really remember (except one: “Si”, which was much better than the LP version). One of these songs featured on the “Contresens” compilation. Stoyan was so nervous he had to be in another room. It took forever to get the songs right! It was really important for the band to be there and we kind of blew it I guess because it never got aired. But we’ve been invited to his show to talk about our records several times.

++ How important was Bernard Lenoir for the indiepop scene in France?

He was and still is the French John Peel, but in a more conventional way. I mean you don’t hear a lot of French indie bands on his show. He used to be a press attaché for a record label when he was younger and it shows… But thanks to the British or American records he plays on his show he influenced a lot of people. I used to be a Wings fan and when I heard The Jam “All Mod Cons” on his show it changed my life. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had the same kind of experience.

++ So when and why did Les Freluquets moved to Toulouse? How different were things there for the band compared to Perpignan?

We didn’t move to Toulouse but played there so often it felt like home. In 1987 we were there once a month or something. Our most important gigs were played there, we recorded our first single there and we played our last concert (supporting Julian Cope) there. And we had family there too (Cécile lives there a successful illustrator). We had a different following in Toulouse, they were not our friends like in Perpignan. Their response was different. Perpignan wanted us to “rock” more whereas Toulouse accepted us as a pop band. There are a lot of students in Toulouse and that’s one of the reasons why I think we were taken more seriously there. Some musicians in our hometown hated or despised us because we were “poor” musicians. There was a lot of jealousy too. When they were our age they didn’t go anywhere as band members and we did, even if it wasn’t that far. We were new (and naive): Inspired by the punk movement (we don’t care about musicianship) but hoping to be popular, fun to watch and to hear too and those guys just didn’t and couldn’t get it.

++ There is a famous tape where you appeared, the Heol tape. How did you end up on this compilation? Do you know anything else about this tape? What about all these new French indiepop bands that were appearing at that time, which were your favourites?

Yes it’s the “Heol” tape #1. Anne Moyon was a fan and we used to write to each other very often. She started several fanzines (”Bobby’s Hips” for instance) and can be called “the godmother of the French indie pop”. We were more famous than most of the French bands on that tape at the time but we were glad to be part of it. Always my obsession to be a part of some movement. She chose the song “La Détente” and I don’t remember why I’m afraid.
I didn’t have any favourite because I didn’t know a lot of bands like us then. I’ve never been a fan of low-fi pop and most of the bands on that tape were low-fi. To be really honest I thought we were better than all of them! (Katerine excepted because he was different and really talented). We had different backgrounds too. I saw ourselves as a working-class or lower middle-class band among bourgeois bands so there was a distance between us. We played with Des Garçons Ordinaires (on the “Heol” tape #2) in Brittany and they were really nice guys.
We were friends with Les Objets and Gamine only and we looked up on the later, as “little brothers” do I guess, because they were on a major label and were really good.

++ Do you feel there was some sort of Golden Era of French Pop back then?

I’m not sure about that but there were a lot of fanzines though, people who wanted to hear more French indie pop bands back then. Now there are blogs but not as many. I wish I could have known more like-minded musicians that’s for sure. Bands were kind of competitive (Chelsea, The Little Rabbits for instance) so our relations were not great. We were willing to help anybody because I wanted us to be a part of some movement but it didn’t work that way. The ones we helped forgot about it or just didn’t care, I don’t know. I guess I expected too much and/or people didn’t have the same expectations.

++ I’m looking for a full discography of Les Freluquets, maybe you can help me with that? Do you know any place that may still carry the records?

Everything is there:


The only record missing is the flexi “La Débauche” you could get with the excellent fanzine “In The Rain” from Rennes some weeks before our first album was released. We never really demoed any songs but we did release every track we had from our recording sessions so there’s nothing hidden anywhere.

++ Which songs that you penned while being on Les Freluquets are you most proud of and why?

I guess that today the one I’m the most proud of must be “Envers Et Contre Tout” off our second album “Discorama”, because I didn’t use such chords before (don’t ask me what they are, I still don’t know, I’m only a self-taught guitar player) and it was so easy to write that I was really amazed. I didn’t have to think about them, they just came along as I wrote the music. Then “La Débauche” because it’s the first one I wrote for the Parisian Freluquets and it was played on Lenoir’s radio show and I remember how happy I was that night, dancing in my bedroom to the sound of our band. I like “Love Story” too but the Perpignan version that we played live only once was closer to what I had in mind (McCarthy’s “Frans Hals”). And I have to add our very first single “De Nos Jours” because it started all. We had a good time recording it, and we didn’t have that with the other line-ups. Actually the ones that I’m fond of are the songs that were recorded as demos or only played live in 1987-88. Too bad I never found a way to release them… I didn’t write “Les Portes” but it was one of our best songs, and as I played the feedback part on Denis’ Gibson 335 the people sitting in the studio clapped, so I was proud (surprised at first).

++ Something that surprises me is that influence list on your myspace page. Oh! how I wish at least half of those bands influenced some of today’s bands! Some of them are quite obscure, like The Passmore Sisters or the Gol Gappas. Was this music easily accessible in France back then? Does it have anything to do with why why there are not many pop bands popping up now in France?

Music is always accessible if you really want to. In those days the NME was like a bible for us (it was a weekly struggle to get it from the only newsagent who sold it) and Les Inrockuptibles was doing a good job introducing some of the best bands of the 80’s. I was lucky to have two older brothers too: One who could order records, the other one recording Bernard Lenoir’s radio show every night. Thanks to them we had all the post-punk records one had to have, then I went to London when I was seventeen, I bought a lot of records there, I saw The Jam at the Rainbow Theatre, and kept on going there every year or so the following twenty years, bringing back home hundreds of cool singles and albums. But it’s in 1986 that things got serious for me because I found my way then. Bristol was a cool town to be to discover all those indie bands (Revolver was a great record shop). And for the first time I was able to listen to John Peel on the radio.
So it wasn’t easy but it was possible to have access to that music. Internet brought a different thing and that’s ok but I think that going to a record shop is a better way to hear music. I still have some chills when I go to a record shop, when I see the covers, when I hear the music coming from the speakers. I still want to hold the record, read the credits, look at the photos. I miss that with Internet.
It’s when I looked at the pictures on the back cover of The Chords “So far Away” that I decided that I wanted to play in a band too. It’s when I looked at the inside cover of The Skids “Scared To Dance” that I decided to get an earring. It’s when I looked at the inside cover of The Jam “Sound Affects” (the best record of all times) that I decided that my guitar would be the same jetglo Rickenbacker 330. To us the covers were almost as important as the music. One of my brothers is a graphic designer because of that. The ten inch used to be my favourite format.
The major problem in France with music is that most interesting bands are formed by students and when they graduate they just give up to do something else, work above all. In the 80’s the now-deceased mandatory one-year military service was doing a lot of damages to bands too. One other reason is that French don’t have the same commitment to music as their British or American counterparts. And for a long time we were late compare to countries like England or Scotland for instance. When I was influenced by The Passmore Sisters, the early Hurrah!, The Close Lobsters, etc. the other French bands were into The Cure (”Pornography” era) most of the time or U2. Nowadays it’s Radiohead, in the 70’s it was Pink Floyd. To me the same old hippy crap. It seems that French musicians are afraid of melodies, of sounding pop. They have to sound moody or depressed to be taken seriously… As a guy taking Citalopram on a daily basis I don’t really need that. Give Hopkirk and Lee any day of the week instead!

++ So why and when did Les Freluquets call it a day?

As I said earlier we grew tired of people leaving the band, and Rosebud sacked us because our second album didn’t sell. Patrice and I wanted to play something different, a little “harder”; we were listening a lot to “Seamonsters” by then…
So we called it a day in 1992, one of our busiest years paradoxically.

++ You kept on making music after, care to tell me a bit about that?

Qu4tre started when Les Freluquets passed away. But once again we had some line-up problems. Our lead guitarist Thierry Bossot left after our first gig because we didn’t like the clothes he wanted to wear on stage. He was angry then… gone. Funnily enough he is one of my best friends nowadays. So we asked a journalist who was a fan, Pierre Golfier, to join us. We didn’t have a record label anymore but we had a publishing deal with BMG and we used their money to start our label Hype! and to record an album with Damian O’Neill of The Undertones and That Petrol Emotion producing. That was a great experience! He’s such a nice guy and a wonderful guitar player. We learned a lot from him.
We got a lot of good reviews but because of a poor distribution deal we didn’t sell enough to make another one. But we got on very well this time and we had four years of fun and good memories. Sadly Pierre passed away in 1999, he was only 33. I played lead guitar for a year or so with Malcolm Eden (McCarthy) in Herzfeld but he stopped playing music for good to try and become a writer (in the meantime we supported Stereolab at The Powerhaus in London and that was great!).
When he and our drummer Pierre-Jean Grappin left the band in 1996, Qu4tre stopped and the ever faithful Patrice and I called back Stoyan to start Mars. We only lasted a year because Stoyan had a really bad accident that changed his life, then I lost my mother and I was so depressed I didn’t feel like playing in a band anymore. The drummer of that band was Pascal Delbano who will join me in Aujourd’hui Madame five years later.
In 1998 I heard some loops that Rodolphe was recording at home and when I told him how good they were we finally decided to form Bassmati (a tribute to Bassomatic and to the fact that Rodolphe lives on rice). We had a good run, great reviews, good singles, great remixes for French and foreign acts but once again he lost interest after a while and I realized I wanted to play in a “real” band again and write some songs. The feeling was back.
Pierre-Jean agreed to join me in this new band I was trying to create and Internet gave us François Jascarzek on bass. A friend of PJ, Ludovic Leleu, joined on keyboard and guitar. We had fun for a while then I guess I’m cursed because once again, in March 2003, after our first gig half of the band left. We had different views on what kind of music we wanted to play and PJ’s alcoholism was a big problem. Truth to be told the other guy was a jerk too and I was relieved when they left.
But I didn’t want to give up so I called the only other drummer I knew, Pascal. It took us a year (!) to find a lead guitarist, Fabrice Vidal, but finally I had a good group of nice guys, and no more ego issues! I think this is the tightest band I ever played with (Furythme mark II, back in 1984 excepted). We realized a dream when we played in London in 2005 and had a great time at the HDIF night. Our last gig was supporting Spearmint in Paris in May 2006. Then I moved to the US in August and they didn’t followed me… So now I’m on my own and I have to play everything by myself (in the studio) and it’s strange but fun. I played live by myself for the first time in my life last week and people seemed to like it.

++ French cuisine is well, so famous around the world! Same as literature and cinema! So I’m wondering what’s your favourite French dish, book and movie?

French cuisine on a regular basis is the thing I miss the most in the US! My favourite dish is the quenelles au gratin (dumplings au gratin), or the beignets d’artichaut (artichoke fritters), two dishes that my late grandmother used to do very well. I’m very fond of French pâtisserie too (ah! the barquettes au marron / chesnut trays?). My favourite book is “Les Contes de la bécasse” by Guy de Maupassant because as Wikipedia says his stories are characterized by their economy of style and efficient, effortless dénouement, a bit like my lyrics actually. And he was from the same part of Normandy as my mother (my wife says I tend to be chauvinistic). But my favourite authors are all British: Colin McInnes, Alan Sillitoe, Roddy Doyle, Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons. They move me more than any French writer. Another example is how John Fante “The Road to Los Angeles” made me write “La Débauche”. I can only think of Albert Camus “L’Etranger” as a French book whose style inspired me.
My favourite movie is “Un Singe En Hiver” a 1962 movie with J.P. Belmondo and Jean Gabin. The dialogues are just great. It’s so French! But once again my favourite movie ever is “The Loneliness of the long distance runner”, an English movie from 1962 too (maybe I’m not so chauvinistic after all)…


++ And one last question, how do you see France chances for the South African world cup?

I won’t be original in saying that we should have sacked Domenech years ago. He never won anything as a coach (one French championship as a player) and was appointed! That was a big mistake in the first place. The way France play is so boring, there’s no style anymore and that’s sad because we have some of the best players on this planet. Except we don’t have a defense anymore. I didn’t expect them to reach the final in 2006 (Zidane was on fire! So on fire that he burned himself) so we’ll see what happens. But I’m not optimistic that’s for sure. Everybody says France’s group is an easy one but I don’t agree at all. Look at what happened in 2002! And I have to say our jersey is so ugly (once more) that we don’t deserve to win.

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

Just one thing: Buy my new record! Here: http://susyrecords.sugarpop.org/


Les Freluquets – La Débauche