Thanks so much to Grant Madden for the interview. Read about his later band, The Halftime Oranges here.

++ Hi again Grant! Thanks again for being up for another interview. We talked before about The Halftime Oranges but, now it’s time for your first band, Passing Clouds! First thing one notices is that the sound is very different, how would you explain the sound of Passing Clouds for those who hasn’t listened to it?

It’s loud and noisy but there is some pop in there too. Maybe not easy listening but better for it.

++ So how did the band start? How did you all meet each other?

Adam and Anne, from the band, had an advert up looking for people to form a band with which I answered I can’t remember exactly all the bands on the advert
they used as influences to narrow down who replied but I remember they were bands I liked and I seem to remember in particular The Blue Aeroplanes were in there who I did like a lot. at the time.
So we met up had a rehearsal with us and a drum machine and it went well enough to prompt another rehearsal and so on.

++ And what about the name of the band? Who came up with it?

I did. I’d had it floating round in my head as a good name for a band for a while (even though I wasn’t in a band but that’s the kind of thing you do when you are young and into music).
Passing Clouds were a brand of cigarettes that were oval shaped, they failed to catch on, they looked like you’d sat on them and crushed them whilst they were in the back pocket of your trousers.

++ Maybe this is a silly question, but do you have some sort of favourite kind of cloud?

I don’t think I did then but now definitely the Mackerel formation. This is where there are many small clouds in the sky that look like fish scales or gentle ripples on the surface of water. I think (I have just tried to look this up) they are cirrocumulus clouds, I could be wrong though.

++ Who were Bite Back! Records? How did you end up signing with them?

We sent out demos and they were interested. I can’t remember if there was a reason why we chose them, whether they had seen us and expressed an interest or whether there was a band on the label that sounded like us or one of us liked. We recorded the first single before they had agreed to release it but they said they’d give it a listen and do so if they liked it. And they must have done so, at least a little bit.
It was quite well received and so I guess that led to the second single.

++ I see the catalogue sheet inside your releases and no name rings a bell. Would you recommend me any of your labelmates?

We played with The Psylons once and they were good. I have records by some of the other bands that I was given at the time I can remember the names but not really what they sounded like. Noisebox records in Norwich were started by Pete Morgan who had been in one of the other bands which had babies in the name but I forget the full name, maybe Crash Babies.

++ Your first release was the “Protect Your Baby Ears” EP, I guess you were trying to say that you were coming up with some beautiful noise! Was that the idea? What do you remember from recording this great EP? Any anecdotes you can share?

Something very much along that idea. I know it came to me whilst at a gig by a noisy American band Anastasia Screamed, (I think they were supporting The Throwing Muses) and there was a young couple in front of me and I imagined it as something one of them may have said to the other.

++ For some reason when I read the title of your second EP “Creation’s Happy Reel” i think of Creation Records. Is there any relation with them on the title? In any case, I think your records would have fitted fine in that label, and I wonder what is your impression of what Creation Records did for independent music?

No it came from a poem about passing clouds by Stevie Smith that my sister passed me a copy of.
I like some creation bands and not others which I guess most people would say and off the top of my head I’d be fairly predictable in saying Velocity Girl by Primal Scream
was my favourite song on Creation. I liked House of Love a lot also.
I’m sure Creation were positive influence for indie music.

++ So were these the only 8 songs you recorded? Or are there more of them lying down in some tapes somewhere? Maybe there were some demo tapes released?

There should be lots of demos.
I’m not sure there is much well recorded stuff around.
I think some of the demos came out on tapes given away with fanzines at the time.
And certainly some came out on the wonderful fluff records on tapes they did.
I tended to like everything fluff did.
After I left the band carried on and released 1 track on a la-di-da records compilation.
The 1 track on la-di-da was 1 of 3 recorded for the 3rd ep. So the other 2 must exist somewhere.
My bits were removed for the la-di-da release !
After this the band changed their name to Fiel Garvie who went on to release lots of stuff.

++ And then, in general, what are your favourite songs by Passing Clouds and why?

‘Not Said’ it was the lead song on the first ep.
I like my lyrics they are not brilliant but I think I surprised myself with them.

++ I want to ask you about the story behind “Into Hole”, it’s such a nice song! Oh! And if Beverley from “Beverley Goes” is a real character?

I struggle to remember what I was thinking when I wrote the lyrics to these songs but I think ‘into hole’ is about being desperately tired all the time and struggling
to cope with life when you feel like that.
Yes Beverley was somebody real and I didn’t bother to change her name to protect the innocent.
I doubt she ever heard it.

++ On the Last.fm bio it says “Passing Clouds achieved limited success at the cusp of the indie/dance crossover, remaining very much on the indie side of the fence.” I agree with it, your sound is much closer to say, The Pastels than to the Stone Roses. But were you influenced by Madchester at all? Or you were just labelled as indie/dance by some journalists? How was that?

I never saw us as an indie dance band – I think that was just what somebody wrote.
The Madchester stuff was happening when we were going and I am sure it was an influence because I was a huge fan of music when I was younger and had more time so I listened to lots more stuff and went to lots more gigs but I wouldn’t say it was a big influence.
Comparisons are always interesting because people see things you don’t see yourself and they might like you because of this.

++ Something I like a lot about Passing Clouds is the boy/girl vocals. I think they mix really well! So I’m guessing most of the songs were written by you and Anne? Or how did the creative process work?

Me in the main and Anne did her bits – we didn’t discuss it too much. Nerves or embarrassment I think.
Sometimes I would say a song is about something and probably wouldn’t be very helpful and only give her 1 word to go on.
If she misunderstood what I was aiming for it didn’t matter because the confusion added something to the battle of the voices.

++ I asked you about Norwich bands last time, but I wonder now, what about the venues in town? What were your favourites to play at?

In those days there was the Jacquard club popular because of its late license, its been shut a long time now, it may be shops I don’t know. The Wilde Club at Norwich Arts Centre was the best place for local bands to get a gig, Barry who ran it would put local bands on to play as supports to bands who were on tour so you got to play in front of a reasonably sized audience. The Waterfront opened around that time and put on a lot more bands than it does now (it lost lots of money doing this as well). We also played the Bystanders club which had a small theatre upstairs and rarely put on bands but I remember it was packed when we played which was fantastic. I think in the main it was a drinking club for postal workers.

++ And yeah, what about Passing Clouds gigs? Did you play many? Which are the ones you particularly remember the most?

We played a lot of gigs.
I suppose I have mentioned the Bystanders gig above being a good one.
Supporting The Fall in Portsmouth was good because I love The Fall.
We supported a female hardcore band called Die Cheerleader who did ‘Harper Valley PTA’ in the sound check but not the gig, I love that song and their version was excellent, faithful if a bit rougher than the original.

++ One last stop in Norwich… and it’s kind of lunch time for me and I’m starving, what’s the traditional meal or dish in your town?

In the culinary area it is famous for mustard (Colmans) and Britain’s most famous tv chef (Delia Smith) is one of the owners of the local football team (Norwich City).

++ And well, yes we have to ask, why and when did Passing Clouds call it a day?

I left for the Oranges the band carried on and became fiel garvie, I am not sure if they have totally given up but they are dormant now.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Well as before if you want to hear anything by the passing clouds send me an email to oranges500@yahoo.co.uk with your name and address and I’ll send you something.


Passing Clouds – Into Hole


The first time I had cloudberry jam was not so long ago. It was a quiet afternoon in the borough of Hammarby, Stockholm. A late breakfast actually, must have been around 4 p.m.

No hangover. Though we were up till the waking hours. Last night we went to see play The Andersen Tapes at Debaser. It was their debut gig. I don’t remember if we talked or not after arriving home. We had free tickets to get Carlsberg pints at the club. It was three nights since I had proper sleep. The big white couch has never been so irresistible.

Clearly it wasn’t my idea. I’m devoted to diet coke for breakfast and waiting for lunch. But as a good guest I couldn’t refuse even though my kitchen skills were going to be proven. I was handed a blueish bowl and some unknown steel object that might have been taken out from a surgeon’s kit. I think it’s called a whipper, but I’m not sure. The plan is to make Swedish pancakes. Pannkaka. Pour evaporated milk on the bowl. Whip it!

After embarrassing myself trying to make the evaporated milk denser and leaving all cooking responsibilities, the pancakes were eventually made. Huge pancakes. I did serve the table though.

I was explained how this works. You get the pancake and you put some of the cream I just tried whipping on. On top of that I had to spread some jam. Choices were this time raspberry and cloudberry. Then you roll it. After having some sort of burrito, you use fork and knife to cut it. It’s so easy to get full with them. I could have only 2, she had 5. And she is still skinny. I guess it’s a Swedish thing. Or maybe there’s something in the milk.

You wouldn’t guess that I preferred the taste of raspberry, right? Well, I did. I’m not at all a sweets person. I barely eat candies and I avoid any sort of pastries. What I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t too fond of the raspberry’s cloying taste, but my taste buds could handle them better than the cloudberry jam’s strong taste. I guess it’s an acquired taste.

I’ve been staring today to a cloudberry jam pot I have on a shelf next to many 7″ sleeves. It was a gift I was given long time ago, just as I was starting the label. I wonder if it’s time to open it and start practicing to acquire the taste. Moving to Sweden is always an option.


Acid House Kings – Swedish Hearts


“I used to have some friends called Geoff and Dawn who were in a band in Leicester called The Moving Fingers (Geoff was also previously in the almost famous legendary Leicester prog metal band Black Widow) and relocated to Norwich and opened a recording studio in about 1983 – The Deep Freeze Mice recorded one of our albums there. The Kamikaze Sex Pilots also recorded there and I met the main guy, who’s name I’ve forgotten, when were up there once. If “Sharon’s Been Deflowered…” is the one I’m thinking of Geoff made a guest appearance on it as Sharon’s boyfriend in a Jilted John sort of way. I think they changed their name to The Kamikaze Pilots later” – Alan Jenkins (Deep Freeze Mice, Cordelia Records)

An indiepop mystery to solve? Let’s start from the beginning…

The Kamikaze were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible.

The Japanese word Kamikaze is usually translated as “divine wind” (kami is the word for “god”, “spirit”, or “divinity”, and kaze for “wind”). The word kamikaze originated as the name of major typhoons in 1274 and 1281, which dispersed Mongolian invasion fleets.

In Japanese, the formal term used for units carrying out suicide attacks during 1944-45 is tokubetsu kōgeki tai (特別攻撃隊), which literally means “special attack unit”. This is usually abbreviated to tokkōtai (特攻隊). More specifically, air suicide attack units from the Imperial Japanese Navy were officially called shinpū tokubetsu kōgeki tai (神風特別攻撃隊, “divine wind special attack units”). Shinpū is the on-reading (on’yomi or Chinese-derived pronunciation) of the same characters that form the word kamikaze in Japanese. During World War II, the pronunciation kamikaze was used in Japan only informally in relation to suicide attacks, but after the war this usage gained acceptance worldwide and was re-imported into Japan. As a result, the special attack units are sometimes known in Japan as kamikaze tokubetsu kōgeki tai.

Let’s fast forward 38 years. 1983. This is when The Kamikaze Sex Pilots release their first 7″ on Lowther International (same label as Vital Disorders). A great two track round bit of plastic that included on the A-side the song “Dark Night of the Soul” and on the flipside we had “Red Indian Song”. Both of them really brilliant songs. Sadly I still haven’t found a copy of this record for myself. Shame! The catalog number of this record was HCN 002 and was released on an edition of 1000. Though, all the records seem to say on the matrix number on the vninyl: “This Is No. 666 In A Limited Edition of 1000″. And here comes the first hint: it was recorded at Spaceward Studios. Is this the studio Alan Jenkins was talking about?

But it wouldn’t be until 1985 that Cordelia Records would work with the band. On the compilation LP “Obscure Independent Classics: Volume 1 “Magnificent March Of The Dead Monkeys”” the fab song “Sharon’s Been Deflowered and Defoliated” was included. What a song! Should have been a one-hit wonder. Everytime I listen this track I feel like it was The Parallelograms grandparents who wrote it! Bouncy, funny, catchy, as poppy and punky as it can be! Should DJ it more often!

Surprisingly the internet throws in some answers. At a “Norwich bands” facebook group someone tells a bit about the main guy whose name Alan had forgotten:

“Kamikaze Sex Pilots”, Jon Ward was a very underrated guitarist if a little bonkers and sadly he was another one who didn’t go the distance (r.i.p) Remember when he stood for the local elections in the early 80s? He got me and Mick Smith parlimentary passes to oversee the counting of the votes in St Andrews Hall but he got so bladdered in the Festival House he never even showed up pmsl!!

So Jon Ward it was. We can track him back to a previous band called “Carl Gustav and the 84s”. The Messthetics site has a bit more about them as they put the song “Through Birds, Through Fire, But Not Through Glass” (name taken from an Yves Tanguy painting of course) on a compilation.

Carl Gustav and the 84’s certainly had fun with their lyrics. After quoting Cicero, Baudelaire and Clausewitz (long before the Reaganauts and Bushies revived his legend) on their hand-folded sleeve, you’d think they’d be trying to tell us something rather important in “Through Birds, Through Fire, But Not Through Glass,” but we’re not so sure. Still, the images are arresting: “I disemboweled myself to please her / She keeps the pieces in the freezer.”

And I can even track him even further back, to a band called The Painkillers.

And there and back again. 1983. The Peaceful Green Fair. The Kamikaze Sex Pilots played a show there. There is a live recording of it here. But it sounds very different to the songs on the 7″ or the one on the compilation. I wonder why. On this same festival Nick Nation played. What’s the connection? Well, at one pointit seems Sian from the Kamikaze Sex Pilots played with him according to Nick Nation’s myspace.

It also seems that there was a promo video for “Sharon’s Been Deflowered and Defoliated” made by Digby Rumsey. Sadly the streaming of it seems not to work. If only someone could upload it to Youtube. How I wish I could see this video!

Mystery solved?

Quite close I’d say. I have many more questions, starting with why they change the names from The Kamikaze Sex Pilots to just The Kamikaze Pilots, and more importantly, are there any more songs on tapes lying around somewhere. I really enjoy what I’ve heard so far and would love to hear more from them. If someone has a spare copy of the 7″, if anyone has more stories to tell, or more questions to ask, or just more mysteries to solve. The indiepop detective is ready for another job.


The Kamikaze Sex Pilots – Sharon’s Been Deflowered and Defoliated


Many thanks to Pete Brickley for the interview! Please be sure to get the Singles CD from The Wallflowers site here: http://www.thewallflowers.co.uk/ or be a friend at their myspace. Oh! And look forward for 8 more upcoming CDs by this fantastic band!

++ Hi! Thanks for being up for the interview! The “Singles” CD should be out anytime soon! I wonder about that letter to Warner Chapell that is on your website… do they own the recordings? What’s the story behind? I’m glad you are doing it anyway. These songs have to be heard by a wider audience!

Hello, well I did contact Warner Chapell about the release but they did nothing to help.So I just ignored them and went ahead!-Nobody owns my music except me

++ What sparked your intention to release all the singles as a collection on CD? I notice there will be more CDs released by The Wallflowers…

Nine albums are ready for release in chronological order. It seemed logical to start with the Singles compilation.

++ Let’s get into the time machine now. When did The Wallflowers start? And who were the members?

I left The Telephone Boxes, shortly after our support slot on the first Smiths tour,to start a solo career but was persuaded by warner chapell to take a band name(from page 1 issue 1 of Spiderman).The line up changed around a bit until the third single 83.7 at which point we settled for a while with Patrick Hunt-drums John Strachan-bass Vic Doyle-guitar and PB-me

++ How did you meet each other? You were based in London, right?

Vic and me were at the same school.Patrick was the Telephone Boxes drummer,who met us just after he left Aztec camera,and through him I met John & we were based in west London

++ How did the Telephone Boxes sounded like? Were there any recordings?

Telephone Boxes were utterly amazing (the Smiths invited us on their first tour and paid our expenses and a modest wage)we sounded like a cross between The Fall & an ice cream van. We recorded four demo”s for various record companies,every Smiths gig,and lots of home tapes. maybe we can release some of it one day

++ Were any you involved in any other bands previously?

Vic was in proto-punksters Death Pop and Patrick had been in Haircut 100 as well as Aztec.

++ There was later, during the 90s, a very popular band in the US with the same name, with Bob Dylan’s son. Not good at all! What do you think about them?

Sorry, I’ve heard of them obviously but I don’t know what they’re like.

++ I have such a soft spot, and I bet lots of many people as well, for the song “Blushing Girl, Nervous Smile”, perhaps one of the best songs ever written. There’s too much beauty on it! Was it written for some particular girl? Where did the inspiration come for it?

The song was written about my girlfriend when I was 16.But was also inspired by the birth of my god daughter.

++ What is the story behind that Johnny Marr was supposed to produce your records? Is this rumour true?

Johnny was (still is) a great friend of the Telephone Boxes,a great personal friend of mine, but no I never asked him to produce us.

++ I also always wondered what do the degrees of your last single “83.7 degrees” stand for? Care to tell me?

Sorry. It just means really hot!!

++ Your records were released by some not very well known labels: Idea and Mantre. Who were they? And how did they got in touch with you?

Mantre was my own label financed by Warner Chapell then stolen from me and renamed Idea.

++ What about gigging? Did you gig a lot around? What are the gigs you remember the most and why?

Not so much gigging lately but good memories of The Smiths, Stone Roses, Orange Juice, Bundhu Boys
Tom Verlaine, 10,000 Maniacs & more.

++ From those days which were your favourite bands? What were you listening to?

REM, The Dbs, Lets Active,J Cope.

++ When and why did you call it a day? Did you get involved with other bands later?

Sorry, we never did call it a day.

++ What are you doing nowadays? Are you all still in touch?


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

Keep in touch. Only eight albums to collect after this one. The band is at present Kent Davies-drums since 1988, Stu Timmonds-bass since 1991, Vic Doyle-guitar back again.


The Wallflowers – Blushing Girl, Nervous Smile


Thanks so much to Michael Bonini for the interview. The fantastic Hardy Boys are back with a great retrospective CD called “Play Songs from the Lenin and McCarthy Songbook” that no one should miss. On this interview Michael also tells us about another upcoming CD by the band and some gigs! The most important comeback of 2010. For me it is!

Hi Mike! Thanks for doing this interview! First thing that strikes me is that you are in Canada! What happened with Greenock on the Clyde?

I left Greenock (Gourock actually…next door to Greenock) in 2000 because I got married to a Canadian so I came over and have been here ever since. Davie and John now live in/near Glasgow and Derek and Ian still live in Greenock. The new Hardy Boys drummer Paul also lives in Glasgow.

See more photos here: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

++ So let’s talk business, how come there is now a new and brilliant retrospective CD, many years after you split? When did you decide it was time to do it? And was there any particular reason that sparked you to do it?

The Hardy Boys recorded a lot of songs in studios between 86 and 90. When we played people were always interested in getting more than the Wonderful Lie single so we packaged up the best of our recordings and put it together as a cassette and sold the cassette at gigs. We never released it properly at the time because we split but Elefant Records in Spain put it out as a cassette release around 1991 and we called it “5 years of boring Pop Songs”. Once the internet took off we sold it directly to fans as a CD. John had continued to play in bands and people were always asking him about the hardy boys. We started to sell a lot CDs in Japan and then noticed the Wonderful Lie single selling for lots of money on ebay. People were writing about us in blogs etc so we decided to release the CD properly. So we remastered it, designed a cover and here it is. Gigs to come soon.

++ I’m not familiar with Zzzing Recording Company? Who are they?

Niall Harkiss set up Zzzing to release the Hardy Boys CD and also Spy Movie’s new single.

++ Where does the name of the album “Play Songs from the Lenin and McCarthy Songbook” come from?

The Beatles were mostly songs by Lennon and McCartney so it’s a little political twist on that. Lenin and McCarthy being the communist and the anti communist.

++ I noticed that this album had leaked before on some of these blogs that give away free records. What is your position about them?

It cost us a lot of money, time, sweat and tears to write and record and promote those songs. When someone decides to take our music and give it away or use it for other purposes without consulting us first and asking for permission then its theft. No different from me walking into your house and taking your personal photographs. Its easy to do and its hard to stop but its not right.

++ So let’s go back in time now? I was wondering how did you all meet in 1985? And how was those early days as a band?

We all sort of knew each other. Greenock’s not a huge place. Some of us were in the same school or we went to the same clubs. I knew Alan Bannister so I got to know the rest of the band through him. There were quite a few line up changes in the first year and the line up didn’t settle until about December 1985. Early gigs however were actually pretty polished considering the line up changes but few songs written in that year survived beyond it. Seascape is the first Hardy Boys song ever written and we played it right up to 1990. I saw quite a few of the early shows before I joined. They were pretty noisy and the songs were all very different from each other. There wasn’t really a focused sound at the beginning. It was all their own stuff and the Hardy Boys rarely played cover versions

I have time … I’ll give you the edited highlights of where we all came from..

John White, Eddie Follan and Jim Ward played in a rockabilly band in 1984 called Creek Crosby and the Crewcuts. That lasted about a year then they formed the Hardy Boys. Billy Creighton joined on drums and Raymond Jack on saxophone. That was the line up for the first gig in 1985. Raymond quit and Alan Bannister who played guitar with a band called Rhythm of Cruelty (along with Billy Creighton) joined. Jim and Billy were both dropped late in 1985 and Gordon Finlay joined on drums. I joined in 1986 (I was in a band called Life Without Drums) after they borrowed my keyboard for their first demo. At the end of 1987 we replaced Eddie and Gordon with Davie McArthur and Ian McLachlan. Davie and Ian were in a band called Safe Houses at the time and they asked John to play guitar for them in return for them playing bass and drums for us (Are you following all this? )
Alan quit in late 1989 soon after Wonderful Lie was released and Davie switched to guitar and the safe house’s (by this point they had split) bass player Derek Mullen joined on bass. In early 1990 we added Kate Baker on violin but she became ill and could not play with us all the time. We split at the end of 1990

++ Was it an easy choice to call the band The Hardy Boys? Why did you name it that way?

Named after the writer Thomas Hardy. A favourite of John’s at the time.

++ Why did it took 4 years to release your first single?  I mean, you had waaaaaay better songs than many bands that were so prolific during those years?

Its not that easy when you live in Greenock. The musical centre of Britain is London and we were very far from London. We also had day jobs, were at uni or had families so it wasn’t easy to get into the ‘scene’ at the time. There is a lot of luck or being in the right place at the right time involved in being in a band. I guess we weren’t in the right place at the right time so we had to do it the hard way. So it took longer.

++ And how did Stella 5 Records came to you? Care to tell me a bit about the label and how did the negotiations were?

Neville from Stella 5 picked up at tape of ours from Probe Plus in Liverpool and liked it. He had a few releases on his own label and he offered to put a single out by us which we eventually did. Neville is a top top bloke

++ Then what happened? I hear you toured quite a bit with some bands like River City People and Babylon Zoo. What were your favourite gigs in general? Any anecdotes you could share?

We would play anywhere but the best gigs always seemed to be in England. We always had fun watching peoples puzzled faces trying to understand what the hell our drummer was talking about. He had a very strong west of Scotland accent

++ Then there was a one-off gig in 2000, a decade after breaking up, right? How come? and how did it go?

That was just for fun because I was moving to Canada. More on that later….

++ During those touring days you became good friends with the Blue Aeroplanes. And with Angelo Bruschini you recorded your next single “Let the World Smother You”. How was that experience?

Angelo is a friend of Neville’s and he offered to mix Smother. So he came up to Scotland with Neville and we had a fun weekend… recording studio, gig and a lot of booze. Good fun. My favourite Hardy Boys song still.

++ I have to say “Let the World Smother You” is among my favourite songs ever. Would you mind telling me what the song is about and how did you get inspired for it?

I asked John this one…..his answer…

“Hmm, I don’t like being asked what songs are about but hey hoo….LTWSY is an angry song.- it’s about celebrity culture and consumerism, about the fact that pictures of £2,000 shoes will get space in the newspapers above a story about people starving.”

Little extra info on Let the world….
When Alan quit the band we were in the middle of a short tour to promote the single. We still had one English date to play and we had about a week to rehearse Derek for all the songs and davie had to learn the guitar. During one of the rehearsals Derek started to play this riff that we liked and it turned into LTWSY. We played it as a new song at that English gig. It was a bit slower and didn’t have the big ending at that point but it was exactly what we needed at the time. A bit of fresh input. We fine tuned it pretty quickly and it we always finished the set with it after that. My best memory of the Hardy Boys is when we were in full flight at the end part of that song.

++ Talking about songs, I always find odd, but in a good way, how “Fifteen” sounds very different from everything else you wrote. Perhaps it was an early song of the band?

This is also John’s answer……

“Fifteen was one of the first songs I ever wrote. It was written in G after reading that Johnny Marr specifically wrote This Charming Man in G because many hit singles are in G!..it’s a key that lots of people like. The song is basically about the universal experience of being young and awkward and having a crush on someone. It’s about imagining that when you speak finally to her that you’ll be as charming as Cary Grant, but you end up coming across like a stuttering idiot.”

++ Back to the second single… it didn’t come out till 2005 on the Egg Restoration Series. It was supposed to come out in 1991 in the same label (Egg Records). What had happened?

In the UK in the 80s there were a bunch of regional distribution companies that were generally referred to as “the Cartel’ but were individual companies. The one we used was Probe Plus and they were having financial trouble hence the single being shelved. When we split at the end of 1990 we didn’t see any point in releasing it somewhere else. Again it was bad timing for us. Egg had wanted to release it in 1991 but we were not going to promote it so that was that until they approached us again in 2005 and released it as a CD single with three other tracks on it. Plink plonk fizz, Storm and Send Me a Sign

++ Then the next logical question, is why did you break up? And if there was any major label interest at all?

Inter band tensions that all just all got a bit out of hand. The disappointment with the single (Smother You) not being released didn’t help. It was a low point that just spiraled out of control and we ceased to exist as the Hardy Boys after a gig in Aberdeen in December 1990.

++ What happened after? Were any of you involved with other music projects?

The thing that a lot of fans don’t realize is that we continued after that. Myself, Davie, Derek and Ian decided to start practicing again and just see what happened. Kate at that point was too ill to take part. We would go to our rehearsal space and just jam out new ideas. The sound without John became a lot harder and noisier but at that point it was just music with no singing. I think it was only about Feb 1991 when John came along to see what we were doing and really liked it. He basically picked up a guitar, joined in and by the end of the night had added vocals to our first new song. We sat down and discussed a more inclusive approach to writing songs which resulted in Davie singing a few and John and Davie sang on the same songs and John sang solo on some. The question of the name came up. Do we keep the Hardy Boys or do we change it because the sound isn’t very hardy boys-ish anymore. We decided to change it. Probably not the best decision we ever made. With a new name (we decided on Flame Up) we effectively had to start again. We continued as Flame Up until 1994. As flame up we never got anywhere near the popularity of the hardy boys and people didn’t realize that it was the same 5 people. We weren’t a massive band so a lot of stuff was word of mouth so when you travel half way across the country to play the same venue that you played a year before as the hardy boys then not everyone is going to realize its basically the same band. It may come as a surprise to you but as far as all 5 of us are concerned … Flame Up around 1991-1992 was the best we ever were creatively and live.
We released 1 7”single called Need I Say More. As Flame Up we never played any Hardy Boys songs. Our first gig as Flame Up had Let the World Smother You and a song called Famous Last Words. We dropped them both during the gig so we never played them. FLW was a very very early Flame Up song that we decided sounded too much like the Hardy Boys hence the reason we never played that.

John quit Flame Up in 1993. He wasn’t happy with the direction it was going. We limped along without him for a while longer and then stopped. In 1995 myself, John and Derek started messing around again writing songs. We recorded an album which we called Nova Scotia. We kept using the name Flame Up. We also put together a CD of the earlier flame up songs that we call ‘Crank It’. Usually people who inquire about Hardy Boys material end up with this stuff as well. After I went to Canada, John formed “Mouse Eat Mouse” and released a single and an album (Mair Licht) to critical acclaim around 2004. It’s a very strange sounding album as it is sung in ’auld Scots’ (that’s a language that they used to speak before they anglified us). He quit in 2008 not long after Davie had joined. Davie has since quit Mouse Eat Mouse and now both of them are in Spy Movie which John started in 2008.
I was back in Scotland in 2008 for a few days and took the opportunity to record John singing that very early ‘Flame Up sounds like the Hardy Boys’ song “Famous Last Words”. I had recorded a rough backing track for him to sing to. I asked Davie to record the guitar but he didn’t want to. Derek came to Toronto on holiday the same year so I recorded his bass then I filled in the rest of the guitars and mixed it. So I class that as a new Hardy Boys recording even without Davie actually playing on it. I play his guitar lines so that’s close enough

And that’s pretty much that.

As far as Hardy Boys are concerned there will be their first proper gig in 20 years on April 29 2010. Line up will be

John White, Davie McArthur, Derek Mullen and Paul McArthur (Davie’s son). Paul will be playing drums. Most of us haven’t seen our original drummer Ian for years. He no longer plays music. They are currently arranging for a short tour in the UK for September which I will hopefully go over for.

We will have another CD available shortly called Outakes. This is a CD of all the other stuff we recorded but didn’t include on the Lenin CD. Its currently being remastered. Much of it is made up of recordings from 1988-89. The master tapes of these recordings were lost in a fire before the mix was done but I had a partly mixed cassette of what we had recorded. Famous Last Words is on it and some other recordings from 1986 and 1987.

++ Oh! I think I’ve asked way too many questions, more than we agreed, it’s just that it’s fantastic to be talking to you, I really do love The Hardy Boys music. Thanks again so much Mike for this interview. Anything you’d like to add? Maybe some shameless promotion about the CD?

The CD is a pop masterpiece from the 80s but still fresh and great today. Direct everyone to out facebook page



the zzzing recording company



myspace site


and if you are only of the ipod generation then get it on itunes worldwide

++ Oops! one last minute question! What does Plink Plonk Fizz mean? :)

There was a TV commercial in the UK in the 70s and 80s for a headache remedy called Alka Seltzer which had 2 tablets drop into a glass and the little slogan was plink plonk fizz. The song itself is about the music scene in the UK in the late 80s where bands like happy Mondays glorified the use of drugs… hence Plink Plonk fizz (here’s another song about drugs. Make sense?


The Hardy Boys – Let the World Smother You


People say that the world is getting smaller and smaller everyday. That a virus like H1N1 can travel from Mexico to Australia in hours, traveling first class on a pressurized airplane cabin. That the internet connects us all in intertwining social networks. That we are closer than ever. And if that wasn’t enough for me to understand this phenomenon called globalization, I could find Kentucky Fried Chicken all over London.

But does that prove anything?

The world is still GIGANTIC. And I don’t mean it in any geographic, geological or geometric way. My friend Jennifer woke me up today with a Divine Comedy song: “Absent Friends”. While she was enjoying the music of Mr. Wright in London, I ended up at a second-floor hipster discotheque in Miami Beach. Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” welcomed me. What would I have given to be at the Buffalo Bar singing along to “Love and Death in Metroland”. So yes. Absent Friends. I’m the absent friend. Not her. Not Daniel who was throwing the party. Not Christos who, I bet, was dancing to Blueboy at the El Records special. No. They don’t belong to Miami. It seems it’s clear I don’t either. I’m the one that is absent there.

The distance to London, the price of a transatlantic flight, the wasted hours thousands of miles above sea level, are a fact. The immigration regulations to move and establish myself as a London star are heartless and also a fact. Being an absent friend just makes the world utterly GIGANTIC.

I guess our indiepop scene has made us all get closer, better, friends. But at the same time, we are spread all over the world that being together is such a rare commodity. Which could be something not too terrible as there is always something to look forward to. When we make the world collapse, when we make it the size of the palm of our hands, when we travel to a Popfest, or next stop Indietracks.

Last October while I was in Berlin, at the Firestation headquarters, we discussed about the much needed The Jeremiahs’ retrospective CD. Aside from the great 7″ they released on the Abstract label, and a couple of compilation tracks, Uwe has some fabulous demo tapes by them. After having a listen to them, Uwe pulled out from his shelves a 12″. A white and light blue sleeve, with black typography all over it. The band’s name was “This Gigantic World” (I bet you didn’t see that coming?). It was a 12″ single, on the A side a track called “Raft”, on the B side “Hoover Bag”. Now you ask me what’s so special about it? Well, listen carefully. After The Jeremiah’s split, Simon Ashby, the singer, went to form This Gigantic World.

The band was conformed by Simon on vocals and guitars, Matt Vessey on bass, Jason Brown on guitars and Trevor Rising on drums. The record must have been released on 1991 as it was recorded on December 1990. It was produced by Ciaran McLaughlin from That Petrol Emotion. It is catalog number TAKE 6.

That’s all information available. The mighty Google suddenly becomes terribly small in results. I wonder what happened to them. I think “Raft” is such a great song, with fantastic basslines and breezy vocals, not that far away from c86-cult favourites The Jeremiahs. I wonder if they had more songs. If there are any demo tapes lying around some attic. If they are still based in UK, or if they set sail on a raft somewhere else in this gigantic world. If they become absent friends.

As always, any further information about them please share!


This Gigantic World – Raft


Pete-B from Horowitz and before from The Rosehips shared with me some moths ago 6 songs by a previous band of his: Jack in the Green. I was gladly surprised by this band that were around 1991 to 1994. And happily we could get together most of the band for this great interview and learn more about these demos that never saw the light on a proper release. To listen more Pete has set-up a myspace, so check it out! Thanks again to Corinne, Caroline and Pete for this interview!

++ Hi! You made some great songs, and if it wasn’t for Pete, I would have never known about them! But now I wonder the story behind you all… tell me, how did the band start? How did you all meet? And what was the line-up?

Corinne: Myself and Caroline were at the local Sixth Form College at the time. We had met at secondary school. We had started singing and trying to write songs. I had been playing classical Spanish guitar for years and was keen to play electric. I think I had this weird Karaoke type machine that we were trying to record on! I knew Caroline had an amazingly unique voice from the start. It was just coincidence that we met Pete. I’m surprised he didn’t fall about laughing when he heard our stuff!

Caroline: Well Corinne and myself decided to make songs together after her dad bought her a really dodgy recording machine! Corinne already played classical guitar and began to translate and fuse it with electric guitar. She showed me the basics on the bass from which I began to write bass lines and we both sang. Shortly after we met Pete and his mate in a pub, realised he played guitar also and had a lot of experience within the local music scene. Both Corinne and I were about 16 at the time. We showed him our stuff, and he started to play with us!

Pete: It was a chance meeting in a local pub in 1990/91. I was there with a friend and we got talking to Corinne and Caroline. We got onto the subject of music, swapped numbers and mentioned something about forming a band. It’s all a bit lost in the mists of time but I think that Corinne said that she and Caroline had written some songs. It was a Sunday afternoon when we got together and recorded them on 4 track cassette. I thought the songs were great and had a naive innocence about them. After that initial recording afternoon, we started practicing more regularly. Corinne and Caroline would write the songs and we’d work on them in the evenings and weekends. We recorded with a primitive beat from a drum machine and when we wanted to play live, we asked Mark Milward who I knew from Rosehips days to drum for us and, bless him, he said yes!

++ Where did the name Jack in the Green come from?

Caroline: From a card that I bought for my sister. It had a picture on the front of a wee impish creature frolicking amongst greenery! On the back it said the picture portrayed ‘Jack in the Green’. The rest is history. Apparently, it represents the personification of springtime!

Corinne: Yes, it came from a birthday card Caroline sent to her sister. She got it from the bookshop she was working at and it appealed to us as a band name. It does sound quite ‘folky’ though.

++ I heard you were very young and didn’t know how to play bass or guitar before starting the band, is this rumour true? How did you figure out you wanted to start a band then, and how long did it take for you to play the instruments?

Corinne: I had been playing classical guitar from the age of nine but I had never played electric and didn’t have a clue about chords! In fact, I wrote ‘In a Space’ by actually directing Pete as to which chords I wanted! (he was so patient!). It took me a while to transfer my classical skills, and I’ve still not mastered rhythm guitar fully now!

Pete: Weren’t you and Caroline 16 or 17 years of age? Caroline picked up the bass really quickly and I may have pushed us into being a band, saying c’mon, you’ve got the songs, let’s play them together, find a drummer and play live. It just seemed the natural way to me.

++ I also heard that Corinne played guitar with fingers and no plectrum, why was that? Must have hurt so much at the beginning!

Corinne: I didn’t play with a plectrum because I didn’t know how to. I just played my electric guitar the same way as I had always played my classical. It killed my fingers! I would have huge blisters because of the amount of playing I did. I did have many interesting remedies suggested by people, though!

Pete: I’d never seen or heard anyone play electric guitar like Corinne, with classical style finger strokes to play lead. With the Strat, a delay pedal and a Fender amp, the sound and phrasing were a joy to hear. I love playing rhythm guitar and little riffs and fills so the two guitar styles complimented each other.

++ What were you listening at the time? For me it’s a bit hard to pick influences in your music! It does remind me a bit to The Heart Throbs if anything…

Caroline: Never heard of The Heart Throbs to be honest mate! I was listening to all sorts of stuff…from The Incredible String Band and Gong, to the Happy Mondays to the Bee Gees and some! Go figure! You could say I had a bit of identity crisis when it came to my taste in music!

Corinne: I know my guitar would have been influenced by my favourite classical pieces. I loved playing Leo Brouwer. I also had always listened to Blondie and Curved Air. I had just discovered Joy Division at the time, and was listening to PJ Harvey and Primal Scream!

Pete: I was listening to Stereolab a lot – Super Electric and the run of singles around that time. Dry by PJ Harvey was a favourite.

++ Was the demo the only thing you recorded? Was there any interest from any labels?

Pete: We recorded two demos, a year apart, in 1992 and 1993 – both demos had three songs on them. We sent a few out and but didn’t get that much response. Too Pure was one label we sent to. Che Records phoned up for a chat and we had a mysterious phone call from some major label A&R chap who wanted to chat about the “layering of guitars”.

Corinne: We also recorded lots of stuff in Pete’s house. In fact, Pete was a bit of a recording fanatic! Every little thing we created was recorded – so glad he did!

Pete: There were other songs, some completed and recorded on the 4-track and a few others half done.

Caroline: Well I seem to remember that we were supposed to be playing a gig at Tower Records in London but alas we went our separate ways. Does anyone else remember this or am I making it up folks?

Corinne: Yea, I remember that!

Pete: I’m not sure how that happened to come about but yes, we were offered it but didn’t play.

++ What do you remember from the recording session? Any anecdotes you could share?

Caroline: I remember making egg mayonnaise sandwiches for everyone and for some reason adding garlic powder to ‘em which stank out Pete’s car big time! lol. I remember always being over critical when it came to my singing voice…was never happy with it.

Pete: Ant Price from the Rosehips/Venus Beads was a real support to us. He came along to help out when we recorded our first demo, offered us our first gig and was always encouraging us. On “In A Space”, we had altered something and forgot to tell Mark, until he was on his way to the live room to record the drum track. It was a case of us saying, “Oh, by the way Mark, there’s a bit in this we haven’t told you about!”

Corinne: Yes! Mark played a really unexpected rhythm near the end of the song and we loved it so much, we kept it in! I actually found the studio experience quite stressful. I wasn’t happy with the levels in the mix and found it difficult to get myself heard. (it’s hard being an unassertive, self-conscious teenager!!). I also did my things in one take and afterwards felt like I could have done better!

++ What about gigs? Did you gig a lot? Are there any gigs you remember in particular?

Caroline: Our very first gig was at the good old Wheatsheaf in Stoke on Christmas night! My gosh was I a nervous wreck! But it felt ace once we got into it. Remember doing quite a few local gigs and one in Bristol supporting Cake, where we met Pete’s mate Spiderman or summat! He had a really higgldy piggledy house and we all sat around his kitchen table till early hours of the morning with these two other hippy guys eating hot toast with a pound of butter on it!

Pete: Oh yes! We played one gig with Cake at the Louisiana in Bristol. We went back to Spider’s flat (Spider was in The Seers) afterwards, admiring the sloping living room floor. We didn’t play that many gigs, less than a dozen probably. The Wheatsheaf ones where we supported Venus Beads, Kinky Machine and later Birdland were really good – there seemed to be a lot of people there. I tried to get us support to Elastica and Pulp but we didn’t get the nod. We played one Christmas Day gig as a three piece, as Mark couldn’t make it. Hang on, wasn’t he in the crowd though? Haha…I remember playing maracas on the first song in the set that night.

Corinne: I was always really nervous playing live. I can remember often trying to hide myself behind pillars! I was okay once we started because I would be absorbed in my playing. Caroline was even worse, though! I had to spend a long time beforehand reassuring her. It’s a good job Pete was on stage because he was really lively! The three piece gig was really funny. I think it was my idea to play a weird Tunisian inspired instrumental. I don’t think Stoke was ready for it because we got an audience reaction of complete silence (cue tumbleweeds!). Mark, I don’t blame you for being in the audience! We did generally get a good response, though.

++ Were you involved with any other bands after?

Caroline: No it wasn’t until me and Corinne met up again a few years later and wrote some ace new stuff but then I moved to the Cairngorms in Scotland, shacked up with a farmer and my 3 kids and later had a couple more kids, the youngest of whom is just 5 months old right now. Will definitely get back to writing songs again and hopefully performing and recording one day when my children are older…if I’m not too long in the tooth by then that is…

Corinne: When I went to university, I played all the time, both classical and my own stuff. I tried to start up various bands but couldn’t really find the right people. I did answer an advert once. It was like some nightmare blind date scenario! Why do people say really inspiring things and then can’t back it up! When I returned to Stoke I did focus on my career but still tried to continue with it. Then I met up with Caroline again and we started writing. We had a great time and really clicked again! But, alas, she moved to Scotland and now has many, many, children to look after. Maybe in the future? I have now set up my own solo project called After Coco. I’m trying to record all the stuff I’ve written over the years plus my new stuff. I started with In a Space and posted it on YouTube and MySpace. The wonders of technology!

Pete: We split up in 1994 and, mesmerised by Corinne’s approach to playing, I studied classical guitar and music theory, figuring that I probably wouldn’t play in a band again and that I’d get satisfaction from learning a tough instrument. That was a great discipline. Myself and Rob Jones (Exit Condition/Venus Beads) formed Trilemma as a DIY home recording band in the late 90s, spending many intense nights in the lounge with the 8-track. We put out quite a few recordings with zines and small labels. Now I’m in Horowitz.

++ Was green your favourite colour? I ask because aside from the name, there is also a song called “You Dressed in Perfect Greens”! What is this song is about by the way?

Caroline: Green is my fave colour actually. To be honest, back then there wasn’t any real sense in our lyrics in that they meant buggar all! We just came up with words that we thought fit the song sound wise rather than them actually having a meaning.

++ What about the song “Lea”? Does she exist?

Corinne: Lea does exist! I named my daughter Lea, 12 years after recording the song! (How rock and roll is that!). I think she suits it…

++ And why did the band call it a day? What are you all doing nowadays?

Caroline: Corinne and I went to different universities so the band couldn’t continue. I now live in rural Staffordshire with my farmer fiancé and our 5 amazing children, playing mother earth rather than bass and vocals!

Corinne: I decided that although I was passionate about the music, I didn’t really want to go into the industry as a main career. I didn’t want to depend on it for income! Nowadays, I’m an English and Drama teacher. I teach in secondary schools around Cheshire, and I teacher drama for a private academy. I’m also married with two kids, Lea and Louis. When I have any time for myself, I hide away in my bedroom with my BR-900 8 track and my Fender Strat!

Pete: Corinne and Caroline went to different universities and they decided the time was right to split the band.

++I was wondering, as I always wonder about food, what’s your favourite restaurant in Stoke (or where you live at the moment)?

Caroline: ‘Pecks’ restaurant is my favourite (well it’s actually in Congleton, Cheshire), its posh nosh so to speak…my fave type of nosh

Pete: Mmmm…..food! I tend to favour Sangams in Stoke for a good curry.

Corinne: (ha ha!) Pete, you don’t change! I don’t really have a preference. If I can get out, anywhere, I’m happy. I do love eating with family and friends (it’s the French in me!).

++ What are your resolutions for this new year?

Caroline: to be thinner dear… always to be thinner………………………..x

Pete: get through it in one piece, physically and mentally!

Corinne: Don’t believe in them. Personally, if I’m not happy with something I work on changing it whatever the time of year!

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Pete: Thanks for taking the time to interview us, Roque! It all seems a long ago yet the memories are still fresh!


Jack in the Green – Circle Dance