In the 90s there was a lovely indiepop band in Japan called Christopher Robin. The only release I knew from them was a song included on a Pushbike Records compilation from 1994. This compilation was called “Into Somethin’” and of course, it’s been sold out and impossible to find for so long. Happily some weeks ago I found Mitsuki on Youtube where she has uploaded many songs by her old band as well from her new band. I was so happy and asked her if I could ask her some questions. Here is this small interview! Hope you enjoy her music! It’s brilliant!

++ Hello Mitsuki! Thanks for being up for this interview! Very honoured. Where in Japan are you? Do you have any special plans for this summer?

I live in Kobe. There are some nice beaches.I have no plan in this summer.

++ Let’s talk about Christopher Robin! Tell me how did the band started? When was this and who were the members?

We started Christopher Robin around 1994.Mitsuki, me, was on vocals. Masaki Yamada on guitar and Masanobu Yamada on bass.

++ How did you know each other?

We are childhood friends.

++ What about the name? Why did you call the band Christopher Robin?

Christopher Robin is a name of the most famous boy in the world. We liked that.

++ I can’t find any information about the discography of the band Mitsuki! Can you help me with that? I know there was a song on a Pushbike Records compilation and that’s all!

We released three albums on the Milky cassette label. We also contributed four songs in the Omnibus compilation album on Milky.

++ So what would you say is your favourite Christopher Robin song?

Sea Bone.

++ What influences and inspires you to make music Mitsuki?

Books, music, movies.

++ Did you play many gigs?

Yes we did. The gigs of our pop band were all planned for myself.

++ Even though I don’t understand the lyrics, I enjoy that it’s written in Japanese. Most Japanese indiepop bands seem to sing in English though. Why did you choose for Christopher Robin to have songs in your own language?

Because I think the my own language can usually represent me best in the lyrics.

++ So what happened with Christopher Robin? Why did the band split? When was this?

We split in 1997, because we were busy at work. Working hard.

++ You are doing your solo stuff now which is very nice too! Care to tell me a bit about this new project of yours?

Recently I am making acoustic music. Christopher Robin’s members help me.

++ Tell me what’s your top 3 dishes of Japanese cuisine! And if you can, explain me what do they consist of?

1. Okonomiyaki: It’s like a pancake. It has cabbage, flour, egg and pork.
2. Udon: It’s Japanese noodles. It is bonito’s soup.
3. Nikujaga: It is a boiled food of the sukiyaki taste. It has potato, onion and meat.

++ One last question, what is your secret skill Mitsuki? Tell me something most people don’t know about you?

… What will it be?


Christopher Robin – Cloudy


Snog six what? For the means of this article, let’s just say snog 6 girls. Three blondes and three brunettes. That would be good, right? Maybe at Indietracks. Maybe at the camping site. Makes sense, snog is a British word anyways… and a friend of mine already had a dream of a making out orgy at the Derbyshire grass field… some dreams do come true, you know? It’s time for the popkids to get a bit dirty, there’s too much holding hands already!

Snog 6 was a British band too. Don’t know if they snogged a lot, don’t know if they were six members, I don’t know anything at all about them. I only know one song which is called “Misery”. Perhaps the snogging between them was terrible and well, they felt miserable? But it did make them very good at making this one song. It’s just a fantastic slice of girly indiepop, in the vein of Cowboy and Spin Girl, The Bedflowers or a sweeter version of the Rosehips.

The song was released on a 7″ compilation called “Does Your Dog Moult? EP” on the Happy Dog Rekordz label in 1993. This is number 1 in their catalog and I assume it was the only release by this label. The record also includes old favourites as The Keatons and Kennedy. The other two songs on the record, the ones by Paste and Refrigerator, I recommend skipping.

But I’m not the first to pay attention to this tune. Who else could adore an obscure indiepop song? Of course, the Japanese! The band Citrus, the legendary band Citrus, who released records on Vinyl Japan and more, covered this song! Isn’t it great? I have yet to hear it though. There is this fantastic compilation were the cover is included. It’s called “Pits Are The Pits (25 GOLD=RARE=DEBRIS 1992-2000)” and was released last year on Felicity Records. I still have to get my hands on it. Still don’t know how and where to buy it. Felicity Records doesn’t answer my emails and feels criminal to pay 40 dollars for it on Discogs. I know Japanese CDs are expensive, but this is a bit too much. Maybe when I snog a Japanese girl she’ll buy it for me.

Like me, Citrus has had a hard time to find or figure out who Snog 6 were. The master Takeaki Emori has not been able to demonstrate any detective skills, and their label much less. On the booklet of this CD it reads:“The original record is used as a master without autholization on Track 11Snog 6 “Misery” because of the difficulty of contacting the band. Should the band member or any concerned parties find this release, please contact “www.1fct.net” We pay appropriate royalties to whom may it concern”.”

Hey you Snog 6, want to be rich? Why don’t you drop them a line? And while you do so, drop me a line too! I would like to snog with you.

Well, maybe. But for sure I would like to listen to any more other songs you had! I can’t believe you only recorded one song, there must have been some demo tapes or some bootleg from some gig, or something! “Misery” is already a great taster and I want more!

If anyone knows anything else about this band, who were they, where were they from, if they ever appeared on any fanzine, anything really, share. We are trying to re-write indiepop history!

For those who are interested, you can still pick up this record at Norman Records.


Snog 6 – Misery


I’m very pleased to interview The Sainsburys! And also very happy to announce that this June 30th a retrospective CD by them will be out on Cloudberry! It includes all of their recorded songs and it’s just fabulous! Because of that, and because The Sainsburys are such an underrated band, David Wood, from the band, and me, had a nice talk!

++ Hello David! Thanks for being up for the interview. So, we are releasing a 3″ CD including all the Sainsburys songs. All the recorded output! For those who have never listened to the band, who I would suspect are many, can you tell them what to expect from this record?

Hi Roque! Thanks for asking me! Firstly, Ant sends his apologies, he says he can’t join us today as he has to attend to his mum’s garden. The Sainsburys existed for a very short period in the late eighties.

We were, basically, inspired by being aged 17, and by the music of the time. We were also inspired by the fact that if you were into indie music, and you owned a guitar and/or a tambourine, then you could get get yourself a band, and maybe even a gig or two.

Peel, Kershaw and Nightingale were playing The Railway Children, The Wedding Present, The Shop Assistants, The Primitives, Close Lobsters, The Darling Buds, and The Bhundu Boys. We loved all of it, along with a few bands that had been around for a while such as New Order, Echo and The Bunnymen ,The Smiths, The Fall and Husker Du. Local bands were a massive reason why we wanted to be part of the scene. “My mate’s mate is in a band you know, and he is having a record released” was the kind of talk that made us want a piece of that too….The Rosehips were our heroes, in our minds, they’d hit the big time, their first single making it way up into the indie charts.

In short, we were trying to create songs with pace and melody, “Talulah Gosh jamming with The Bhundu Boys” as we were once described.

++ So let’s go back in time to 1987. You started a band then called The DirtTruckers. Was this your first band ever? What did it sound like?

DirtTruckers was my first band. There were four of us, Doulton Redmond (vocals), Neil Harrison (guitar), Mark Hassall (drums) and myself. We played one gig at Bridge Street Arts Centre, with Bubblegum Splash …..I think. As far as I can remember, it was distorted jangly guitars.

++ You said you were inspired to start a band by the other local bands in the indiepop scene in Stoke of Trent. Which were these other bands that you loved? Were you all friends?

There were quite a few bands popping up in Stoke, The Rosehips having the most success. Exit Condition were a brilliant band inspired by the American punk scene. The Flood, The Vicarage Gardens and The Singing Curtains were also knocking about then. The latter we enjoyed friendly rivalry with and we’d take great joy in
heckling at each other’s gigs. (As I remember, Mark used to drum for them too. Mark tended to be in every band in Stoke at that time, but the point of difference for The Sainsburys was that our band was the only band he wrote the music for.) Once, a Singing Curtain phoned me up and offered us a lucrative record deal, pretending to be Martin Whitehead…..I was gutted when I heard at least 2 other Singing Curtains burst
out laughing in the background…

Yes, we were all friends….so much so we freely borrowed each others drummers and guitarists on a frequent basis.

++ And then Paula joined to sing in the band and The Sainsburys were born, right? How was the recruiting process? And yeah, how did all The Sainsburys knew each other?

Mark and I decided that The DirtTruckers should move on and a female vocalist would be required. The recruitment process was very simple. Why should we conform to usual formalities of actually hearing the proposed singer, sing before signing them up… this, after all was rock n roll. Basically, we both thought Paula was cool so we asked her to join.

++ And why the name The Sainsburys? You don’t like Tesco? ;)

To be honest….I haven’t a clue where the name came from…..all the names we could think of were rubbish….The Sainsburys was the least rubbish of all I guess.

++ So tell me about this song Canal John? Who is it based on?

Paula wrote all the lyrics….she never would say who this canal based youth was…we just presumed that it was about the same bloke who had the fetish for cakes in “Cake Shop”. So if you see a man of about 40 eating large quantities of cakes on the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal…he’s your man.

++ And the Cake Shop? Do you know there is a very nice venue in New York with the same name? Many great indiepop gigs are held there!

Ace….If that isn’t a good enough reason for The Sainsburys to reform for one last gig…I don’t know what is…although Ant has asked me to add that there is more chance of him being capable of playing for Stoke City FC than being able to keep up with the old Sainsburys Jit.

++ I think, Ate the Most should have been a HUGE hit. It’s even great to dance! How did this song come up? What is it about? And then I’m curious, who wrote the songs in The Sainsburys?

Paula wrote the words, Mark wrote all of the music including the vocal melodies and the lead guitar melodies. Mark came from a choral background. He applied his experience to melodies especially later on when he was a member of The Venus Beads and writing their songs too. At first, we just jammed songs out
in my parents garden shed but gradually Mark took over and we started to play better tunes like “Ate the Most” and “My Favourite Colour”. Before we split up, we were playing some great tunes that seemed to be much more melodic and sophisticated. Songs like “If You Gave Me Your Jacket” and “At the River”, spring to mind and we played these at a few gigs. I’ve got an old, very badly recorded gig somewhere, and you can
tell that the songs were taking on a much better, more thought out form…this was all down to Mark.

I’m afraid I don’t know what the song is about…I presume “Ate the Most” is yet another reference to the fat guy eating cakes by the canal?

++ Was there any interest from labels to release your songs? It’s hard to believe they weren’t released then. They are so good!

I don’t think there was any interest from record companies (although Ant seems to think otherwise)…but then I think that was partly our own problem as I don’t think we marketed or pushed ourselves forward enough. It wasn’t enough to be just doing a few gigs here and there, we should have been making labels listen to our music more, like other bands did…..especially with stuff like “Ate the Most”.

++ I remember reading about The Sainsburys in a couple of fanzines, were you an avid reader of them? How involved were you in the fanzine scene? I was also wondering, these zines usually would give away
tapes, was there any Sainsburys’ songs on them? Yep, I used to enjoy reading them. I did my own once…it was awful.

Glen Rosehip’s “Vandolized Idol” was my favourite, I also liked 2 Pints Take Home.

We were on a couple of tapes, the one I can remember is Shoot The Tulips. I think there were tracks on there by Talulah Gosh, The Groove Farm and one or two others. There was talk of us doing a flexi at one point too but I don’t think that ever happened.

++ You played gigs with the likes of The Darling Buds, The Groove Farm and The Rosehips. Any particular anecdotes you could share? Wish I could have met Andrea then myself!

Anecdotes? There’s been much water, wine, whisky and beer under the bridge since 1987.

I remember that at the time, I couldn’t believe that at the age of 17, I was part of a band supporting all my musical heroes….The Darling Buds, The Groove Farm and all those others. Sometimes, when Ant and Mark were playing gigs as members of The Rosehips, I’d get to tag along and we’d get to meet even more of our heroes….I remember having tomatoes on toast with My Bloody Valentine at Rocker’s flat after a Rosehips gig once….now that’s pure rock and roll.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days down in Caerleon near Newport with Harley, Bloss and Andrea from The Darling Buds just before there first top 40 hit. Many beers were had and at one time I’d be able to tell you a few anecdotes about it…but I can’t remember them.

I loved the gigs that we played at….we just treated them as a night out and had as much fun as we possibly could. Playing gigs on stages in far away places like Bristol on stages where our heroes played was a dream come true for us.

++ What other gigs do you remember?

Remember Fun and The Orchids came down from Scotland once to do a gig in Stoke and my mother made them all sleep in the garden shed. I don’t think it was a comment about their music particularly, she was just mean.

One of the best nights of my life was a New Year’s Eve in Bristol. For one reason or another, my parents had forbidden me to go out that night, so in true, rock n roll style, Ant came and picked me up and I “ran away” to Bristol for the night, specifically to the Flatmates New Years Eve gig/party, at the Tropic Club I think.

Rocker then took us to every New Year’s Eve party in Bristol and we got back
to his flat at about 9.30am.

++ Do you still listen or follow any indiepop bands? How do you remember the scene then? Was it friendly and supportive?

I still listen to loads of music from the late 80’s and early 90’s. I’m sure l listen to George Best at least once a week. I love My Bloody Valentine from that period but rarely do I find an appropriate time to listen to it these days. MBV at it’s best needs to be at number 11 on the volume dia. The kids moan if I go beyond 4. Still listen to Husker Du…and I enjoy trawling through youtube to find vids from those days. If I could only have on cd in my collection it would be George Best.

The only band I keep up with today is Teenage Fanclub….I like loads of new bands though who owe alot to the indiepop of the late eighties…new bands like Stornoway I think are ace.

I remember the scene then very fondly, especially as given the age that I was, I absolutely lapped it up. I used to love getting into Ant’s battered old mini and driving to gigs all over the place. Everyone was very friendly and gave us loads of encouragement, especially The Rosehips and the Buds.

++ So what happened? Why did the band split?

We didn’t really split. Mark started to write some ace songs, ones that were noticably different. Paula announced that she was going off to university and we just carried on with Mark’s songs. The music was becoming more serious, the gain knob was being more and more clockwise every practice session, and Mark and Ant were set on a new direction. We asked Rob to join and that was it…I left and then The Venus Beads had evolved.

++ And were any of you involved with music after? Are you all still in touch?

I’m in touch with Ant regularly. We go to watch Stoke City when they’re at home. Ant has been involved in music ever since, he owns and manages The Sugarmill, an ace music venue in Stoke. I’ve not spoken to Mark for years and haven’t seen Richard or Paula since the day they left The Sainsburys. I’ve tried to find them on Facebook etc but no joy.

++ What does David Wood does nowadays? I’ve heard about a nice fancy wine store, is that so?

Yep…I own a wine and whisky shop, called The Wine Shop..in a very obvious “Cake Shop” kind of way. I also own an independent whisky bottling company.

The shop is ace, quite old fashioned, loads of lovely wines, continental beers, spirits etc… all top notch.

++ What’s your favourite wine then?

Very difficult question! I love really gutsy Sauvignon Blanc, typically from New Zealand, but also a sucker for a really oaky Chardonnay, such as Marmesa Hollister Peak Chardonnay from California….I’m a big fan of whisky too.

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

If anyone knows the whereabouts of Paula, Richard or indeed Canal John, the overweight guy who ate the most cakes…please let me know?


The Sainsburys – Ate the Most


Thanks so much to Gilly for this lovely interview. The great Pitkins released three 7″s in the mid nineties and were one of the few bands that carried the classic indiepop sound through those difficult years for our music. Check them out on myspace, they had many top tunes!

++ So alright, let’s go back in time. When did The Pitkins start as a band?

I joined the Pitkins in 1995 but I think they had been playing for a few years before that.
I knew the drummer very well so when their female vocalist left the band he got me an audition. My singing in that audition was awful ! I’m still not sure why they let me join. ( perhaps they felt sorry for me and put it down to nerves! ). About a year after I joined I asked my Friend Lorna to come and Play violin and shortly after that we got a second guitar player.

++ It was a big band! Was it easy to work with so many different personalities and characters? How do you remember the creative process of the band?

Altogether there were seven of us in the band. This proved difficult when we only played on small stages. There was never enough space for us or the equipment.

++ Why the name The Pitkins?

I believe the name was taken from a film character called ‘Mr Pitkin’

++ Who were Jawbone Records? How did you end up signing to them and releasing 3 singles? How was your relationship with them?

After a couple of years doing gigs and not getting anywhere we decided it would be fun to make a single. Our lead vocalist ollie set up the Jawbone label and we recorded it at noisebox studios.
Reece the guitarist did the artwork and we released it. I was amazed to find it was well received. It was played on radio one a couple of times.

The second single wasn’t very good and didn’t get much attention. I have to confess I hated it ! . Our third single was my favourite but sadly it didn’t sell well or get any radio play either.
Despite poor sales we were getting a good name for ourselves and had a good following. Trouble starting brewing soon after that. A relationship had begun between two of the band members and this caused a bit of a divide in the group. However we carried on and secured a promising gig in London.

++ Were the 3 singles all of your recorded output?

If you are looking for other material there is a song called distraught on a compilation record that was given away free with a local fanzine called ‘totally wired.’ I think (but I am not sure) that it was on the Noisebox label. You might be able to hunt down a copy on Ebay.

++ Oh yeah, was The Pitkins your first band?

The Pitkins was the first proper band I was in . ( I sang in a band a few years previous to that but we split up before we had even played a gig!)

++ I just put “Johnny Gets the Girl” on my turntable. Great tune! Who is this Johnny guy? Is it based on a real person? Also I’m wondering what does “BST”, the second song from your 2nd single, stands for?

By the way BST stands for British Summer Time . I’ve no idea who Johnny was based on. You would have to ask Ollie about that one as he wrote the songs.

++ So when and why did you call it a day?

The final blow came when the drummer suddenly announced he was going to quit. His wife hated the band and didn’t want him to go to London or spend any more time with us. That was the end of the Pitkins. I was gutted but good drummers are hard to find so we just called it a day. (The drummers marriage didn’t last long after that!)

++ What did you do after? Did you continue making music?

I really missed being in a band so many years later I joined up with Massey singer Ian and his friends and we formed ‘The Foster kids.’ We have made a fantastic Album which I am so happy to be a part of . Now we are all getting so old we only play the odd gig . I still enjoy it though.

++ Any nice plans for this upcoming summer?

Today I spend my days looking after my three year old son and obsessive gardening (sounds so dull doesn’t it!). My plan for the summer is to win the local gardening competition.

++ One last question! Tell me a secret skill Gill has that not many know?

I don’t really have any secret skills but I am hoping to train as an Opera singer soon. I am keeping that quiet because I fear I may be rubbish!

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

Thank you so much for your interest in the band. I thought it was long forgotten and unloved. It is nice to know that somebody appreciated what we did.


The Pitkins – Over and Out


Thanks so much to Ian Alexander for this great interview! The Spinning Jennys released only one 7″ back in the day on the well-known Tea Time label, and also a split flexi with the Fat Tulips. And that was it. They had some great tunes, so it was great to learn more about this obscure Norfolk band!

+ Hi Ian! How are you doing? Thanks for doing this interview. I know you are still doing music with a band called The Foster Kids. Do you have anything in store with them for the future?

Hello Roque,The Foster Kids are having a bit of a sabbatical at the moment, well subject to big money offers. There are only so many seeds we can cast on stony ground.

++ So let’s go back to the late 80s, early 90s, right? Who were the Spinning Jennys? How did you all meet?

Well, when Rock historians look back at the Spinning Jennys, with no disrespect to subsequent members, the classic line-up would have to be me (Ian) singing and playing guitar, Matthew playing guitar, Steven hitting drums, Matthew playing bass and Matthew dancing (yes they were all different Matthews). With the exception of the final Matthew (our Bez for lack of a better comparison) we met at Diss High School, in Norfolk, England. Steven and the first Matthew lived across the street from each other from a very early age.

++ Was this your first band? Or have you been involved with other bands before?

Any previous bands were of little consequence, even less consequence than the Jennys as our hardcore fans would call us.

++ So where does the name Spinning Jennys comes from?

The Spinning Jenny, as you may or may not know, was invented by James Hargreaves in 1764. We learnt about it in the History class that three of us were in. Also Matthew the bass player had a habit of getting off with girls called Jenny round about this time (not 1764, when we were in the History class together). That was more or less where the name came from.

++ You signed into the reputable Teatime Records, who put many favourite singles of mine, like the fab Candy Darlings one! How did you end up on this label and what was the deal between you and them?

As far as I can remember there was no deal, they were idealistic times. I think they just gave us a certain amount of singles in return for the “privilige” of having the Jennys on the label. It all came about because we won a local band competition with a prize of time in a flashy recording studio. We had absolutely no idea what to do with the finished article, I guess the standard procedure would have been to send tapes to labels such as Sarah and hope for the best. So a tape was sent to Teatime and they agreed to put out the 7″. The guy from Teatime, who we never even met in the flesh, told us that people had complained to him that the single was too “baggy” but it was too late for us we had already had our heads turned by prevailing musical trends and it was just the beginning of the Spinning Jennys decline into shameless bandwagon jumping.

++ Your only proper release was the “It’s It It It” 7″. Why didn’t you get to release more records?

Somehow the immense talent of the Spinning Jennys just passed the world by. I guess it was a mixture of not being that good and not being particularly fortunate. I’m gonna hold back the stories of the drunken punch-ups for the book.

++ Well, there is that split flexi with the Fat Tulips, but you included the third song from the 7″ there. But I’m still curious, how tight was your relationship with the fatties? Any anecdote about that crazy bunch?

I wish that I had stories about late night jams with the Fat Tulips, the Pooh Sticks and Amelia and all that but it never happened for us. Norfolk is pretty remote, I have the feeling I might have met some of the Tulips but that could be a lie. The Foster Kids did get a nice message from them on Myspace once, completely coincidentally. With regard to the flexi, it wasn’t the song from the 7″ but a song called “Splendid”. I even checked on I Wish I Was A Flexidisc just to see if I had gone loco.

++ On Twee.net it lists that you appeared in a couple of compilations as well, on “Positively Teenage”, on “Just Another… Compilation”, and “Shiver Me Timbers”. Are we missing any other collaboration?

I have no idea, in those days it seemed that songs just ended up on tapes willy-nilly.

++ Also I found on a blog someone mentioning a tape called “Spinning Too”. What’s that about?

Once again I have to plead ignorance. One problem with being in a band called the Spinning Jennys is there are always other bands called the Spinning Jennys (I just checked on myspace and there are 5 Spinning Jennys on there at the moment). It might have been related to our extended family, there’s no way of telling until I clear out that old tape box.

++ The four songs I’ve heard from you are very different, “It’s It It It”, “Supermarine”, “I’d Laugh If Your Head Exploded” and “Gardeners Weakly”. By any chance they were written by different people? How was the creative process of the band?

I wrote pretty much everything.

++ I think my favourite track is Supermarine. It’s a fantastic pop tune! It is upbeat but I also feel some sort of melancholy behind the song. Care to tell me about this particular song?

It was named after the manufacturer of the Spitfire but it sounds like quite an Indie word. It was the one song that got played on John Peel. I had just got home after a night out with a young lady (they threw themselves at the Jennys) and I switched the radio on and there we were, I though I’d pressed the play button by mistake. For me this was one of the highlights of my time as a Spinning Jenny. On the record the only two of us who played on Supermarine were Steven and I, I waited for some Monkees style “They don’t even all play on their records” style backlash but it never happened.

++ What do you remember from the recording sessions for this great single?

I can remember Matthew the bass player holding a white Rickenbacker up against a speaker to make feedback, it was his entire contribution to the recording session. Also the song It’s it it it (or It’s better now than what it was when it weren’t as good as what it is now part VII to give it it’s full title) has backwards voices on it, which were us making fun of people we didn’t like very much, we were young.

++ What about gigs? Did you gig a lot? Any particular shows you remember?

We had a lot of fun and the audiences did too, there was absolutely no pretension involved. I can’t even begin to describe some of our gigs without them sounding awful. Our first ever proper show was with the Field Mice, that should get us some indiepop cred, we also played with the Groove Farm, Bob, Heavenly amongst others but only when they came to Norwich. We played a few shows with the New Fast Automatic Daffodils (I had completely forgotten about them until this interview) we were bowled over by their funky antics and we tried to follow them down that avenue. We played with them in Oxford and Amelia Fletcher was dancing in the audience, can you even imagine?

++ Were you friends with any of the bands in the scene? How do you remember the scene in Norfolk back then? In which venues would you see the Spinning Jennys hanging out?

We were young, still teenagers and we really thought we were the bee’s knees and would not have considered being friends with any other Norwich bands (apart from the Potting Sheds we were friends with the Poting Sheds). The main place to hang out, as it still is, is Norwich Arts Centre, although Norwich does have a tendency to be a bit anti-pop and wilfully obscure.

++ So why call it a day? What did you all do after?

The Spinning Jennys limped on a long time after the single, we done Teenage Fanclub impressions for a while, bought effect pedals and made stupid noises for 6 or 7 minutes at a time and as I said before jumped on any bandwagon that was passing by. You will probably hear this answer a lot but it kinda fizzled out. Apologies to any former Jennys but I haven’t really kept up with them very well.

++ I heard you’d be around Indietracks this year? Have you been to prior editions of the festival? Who are you looking forward to see this time?

The Foster Kids played there a couple of years ago and I went for a day last year, I’m a bit disappointed they aren’t celebrating elefant’s 21st birthday this year. Please don’t think any the less of me but the main attraction for me will be the Pooh Sticks. I know it’s bad what with all the great new bands but I never saw them the first time around and I thought they were great, even my Dad liked them and could probably still sing “I know someone…”

++ You said to me that you only operate on the fringes of Indiepop nowadays. How was back then? Were you really involved? Maybe even involved with zines? Tell me what did you do?

I’ll try not to be all sentimental and nostalgic but music will never mean as much to me as it did when I was a teenager. The guitarist from the Jennys and I wrote a fanzine called “What we did in our Summer Holidays” it almost got to a second issue, we bought all the records religiously.

++ How do you feel about the international indiepop community, do you think we have something special in our hands?

That’s a tough one, I honestly can’t understand why indiepop isn’t massive and why it needs a community at all. It should be burning up the charts all over the world. With regards to a scene, you know the bit in High Fidelity where the guy gets tricked into liking someone with Phil Collins in their record collection, or something similar, obviously just because somebody likes indiepop they aren’t automatically “cool”. I can still remember a bit in one fanzine about a guy who loved punk when he was by himself in his small town with the records swirling round his head and was let down when he met other people into the same stuff. Saying that I recently went to Spain and met somebody who used to like Talulah Gosh and I was immediately on this guy’s side, it’s silly.
Sorry I’m tired and this answer is rubbish maybe I should have just said yes.

++ Oh, we should stop now! It’s getting late :p Thanks so much Ian! Anything else you’d like to add?

The Foster Kids, big money offers, that is all


The Spinning Jennys – Supermarine


Thanks a thousand to Huw Bucknell for this fun interview! It is true, last weekend I listened to his album “A Brave New Girl” (from Firestation Records, I think it’s still available) a lot, and a friend pointed me out where to find Huw. And rapidly we got the interview going and done. You can check on Last.fm for many, MANY, of his songs here. There tons of free downloads, lots of great jangle pop songs to spend a whole day dreaming.

++ Thanks Huw for being up for this interview! How are you doing? When was the last time you picked up your guitar?

Thanks for interviewing me… and I’m not doing too badly, thanks for asking. Now then… the last time I picked up my guitar..? That was this morning, actually. I tend to reach for it during those 20-minute ‘null’ periods while my girlfriend, Jo, gets ready to go out… usually starting off with an extended free-form improvisation based on ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ and gently morphing into ‘Lost Highway’ by Hank Williams. It’s almost impossible to over-state quite how much this irritates her… particularly if it gets to the point where I start adding ‘wolf’ effects to my Hank impression. She’s quite a sensitive lass.

++ Who are the Spanish Amanda? From what I gather it’s mostly you Huw, but on the CD booklet it seems to be a full band. Care to tell me how did the band start and how was the recruiting process?

The Spanish Amanda was mostly me and my then-flatmates. We’d all done Theatre Studies at Lancaster University in the early 1990’s and ended up living in a flat in Golders Green, north London. Jacky Wood and Elliot Falk were both musical types (as well as being fine actors… if you type ‘Bel Amour’ into YouTube, you can see Jacky as the girl with the blow-up boyfriend… which is extraordinarily cheering…), and Maria Trewin was another university friend who lived nearby. Lots of kind-hearted souls dropped in and helped out on various tracks.

++ Where does the name The Spanish Amanda come from?

My recollection – and it’s a very vague one – is that it was chosen in about 1997 by my then-girlfriend. I’d been calling myself London Fields for a while (after the Martin Amis novel… I thought it sounded thrillingly cool and aloof…), but she decided I needed a change. We came up with a list of names, and she liked the Spanish Amanda (which I hated). She liked puns… but was less keen on me, as it turned out… which I guess is why she left shortly afterwards. Hey-ho.

++ Did you gig a lot? Which particular gigs do you remember the most?

As the Spanish Amanda… no. In other bands… occasionally. To be honest, I’ve always been pretty dreadful at playing the guitar and singing at the same time, and I’m not fantastically pretty to look at, either. The most fun I’ve recently had playing the guitar was at my friends’ Bob and Scott’s wedding… a Shirley Bassey number… but you’ve got a captive audience at weddings, haven’t you..? No crowd-surfing, perhaps… but definitely captive.

++ Your only release was the “Brave New Girl” album on Firestation Records. How did you get signed to the fantastic Berlin label?

More or less by accident. In the late 1990’s, we’d been sending off cassettes and home-made EP’s to dozens of labels around the world, and were set to have an album released on Sandcastle in the US. We’d sorted out which songs were going to be ‘Sandcastle’ tracks, and they’d done a tiny cassette-only release of early demos… at which point Firestation (who we’d approached around the same time) got in touch and also offered to put out an album. The tracks that ended up on ‘Brave New Girl’, though, were mostly the oddments that Sandcastle didn’t want… some songs I really loved, certainly, but frankly a bit of a hotch-potch. And then the chap who ran Sandcastle – a very affable bloke called Brian – decided to fold the label. So our ‘main’ repertoire of songs was never formally released… which is why I’ve put a lot of them on Last.Fm, free to download for anyone who wants them. Firestation were always extremely friendly, though.

++ I was also wondering, why didn’t you get to release anything else? Do you have many unreleased tunes lying around your place?

Dozens! However, at the time when things were really starting to happen (people phoning up and asking us to play festivals in Europe, and so on…), I started training to be a teacher. And when I finally found some time on my hands, I’d somehow lost the urge to write or sing the kind of angst-y, soul-baring stuff I’d done in my 20’s. Partly, I think it was because I was much, much happier… and also because I’d started living with Jo, my girlfriend… and nothing scuppers the angst-y, soul-baring songwriting than happiness and cohabiting.

++ Your songs were recorded in between 1998 and 2000 and across different places, Wales, England, even France. Do you feel these different periods and geographical locations had a strong influence on the album? Why so much traveling?

Wales and France were because I spent a lot of time looking after my dad when my mum died, and those were the places he was to be found (’Getting Naked With Anais Nin’ was about my dad… he was in a fairly bad way at the time). Generally not very cheerful travels… but (as is often the way…) quite productive on the writing front.

++ You do dedicate a song to Aberystwyth. How important is this town for you?

It’s where my mum’s family were from… but with regard to the song, it’s also where two fairly seismic personal events happened… one early in 1996, one early in 1998, at the start and end of an almost implausibly troubled relationship. I always liked Aber, though… there was a fantastic amusement arcade there, back in the early 1980’s, called the King’s Hall… a vast cavern of adolescent debauchery… I used to save up for months so I could fritter away my pennies on Pacman, the dodgem cars and hot dogs… Mmm…

++ I was reading the thank you lines on the CD, and you thanked Richard from Waaaaaah for his wise and kind words. I was wondering then, were you involved in the scene in the early nineties? Did you have a band prior to the Spanish Amanda?

The Richard from Waaaaaah thank-you was because he very kindly pointed me in the direction of people like Didier Becu (thoroughly decent chap behind the Original Sin zine, who really championed the early Spanish Amanda) when, frankly, we simply didn’t know that any other like-minded people were out there. Anywhere. Most of the early nineties, however, found me alone in my bedsit pouring my heart into a 4-track, pale-skinned and bug-eyed, like a malnourished indie Gollum. There *were* drifting coalitions of chums that you *could* call bands, I suppose… Babyblind, London Fields… but nothing very formal or lasting.

++ Another thing that comes to mind, is your admiration to The Go-Betweens, having a song named after them, and also your contact address on the sleeve. What do the Go-Betweens mean to you? And what will be your top five songs by them?

I was very, very fond of the G-B’s… although I came to them rather late, in the mid-90’s, well after their split. Seeing them at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2000 when they reformed was one of the handful of gigs that’ll really, really stick with me. As for top tunes… well, I’d probably go for…

i) Apology Accepted
ii) Part Company
iii) Dive For Your Memory
iv) When People Are Dead
v) Darlinghurst Nights

They’re all lovely really, though, aren’t they?

++ One last question about songs, who is Mister Banks? Did you work for him?

Not only did I work for him, I surreptitiously wrote a number of songs in his basement and stole a harmonica from him before I quit. Banks was (and is…) a music shop in York, and I worked there for a year after university. It was an absurdly Dickensian place back then, and they treated the younger staff members like a series of disposable Bob Cratchits. The whole ‘working for Mr Banks’ situation seemed to represent the brick wall my life had hit (birth, school, university… working for Mr Banks). My friend Antonia and I would head round the corner to the Lendal Cellars bar every night and drink ourselves into stupors… so I’d be perpetually hungover at work. No-one seemed to notice. The other young ‘uns were cool, though… Paul, Catherine, John who worked upstairs in the Brass Band department. Saints, all of them.

++ Which other bands did you follow?

Back then… anything with a jangly guitar and a grudge. Bands like the Wedding Present would’ve been favourites… likewise Microdisney… and anything even faintly Smiths-y. My all-time favourites would have to be the Mekons, though. For the last 20 years, my sole ambition has been To Become A Mekon. Or a member of The Three Johns. But then they’d have to be called The Three Johns And A Huw, wouldn’t they..? Hm. Lots of people said that the Spanish Amanda sounded similar to C86-y/Sarah-y bands like the Field Mice, but I’d never heard of Sarah Records at the time… a whole load of fantastic stuff had just drifted under my radar somehow. My iTunes ‘Most Played’ list informs me that I’ve been listening to an unhealthy quantity of Robyn Hitchcock, Momus and Something Beginning With L recently…

++ It’s been ten years now since the release of the album, what have you been doing since then? Can we expect any release of yours in the future?

Teaching, mostly! I’ve also written a couple of novels (faintly Nick Hornby-ish ones about disaffected, lovelorn 20-somethings…), and done odd bits of artwork for music-y friends. As for musical releases… well, perhaps. I wrote a few new songs for a gig that was supposed to have happened a couple of years ago (and then fell through), a bit more lyrically abstract than my old stuff. Apart from that, I find myself strangely drawn towards recording a dub reggae concept album loosely based on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy…

++ How do you feel about the album after this time? How do you think it has aged?

I think it’s very, very patchy. Am listening to it now, actually… despite my serious misgivings about my own voice… Hm. I think ‘Go-Betweens’ and ‘Aberystwyth’ still work, don’t they..? I reckon the stuff on the unreleased Sandcastle album (’Rallye Sport’) has held up far better, though… ‘1600 Mexico’ and ‘Jackson Road’ are favourites. That’s where I’d direct anyone who was Amanda-curious, really… the ‘Rallye Sport’ stuff on Last FM.

++ And when you are not making music, what other stuff do you like doing?

Lots of photography… the stuff with film and darkrooms and so on. I have an unhealthy fondness for the chemicals. I used to do a bit of film-making, too – 16mm and Super 8 – but it’s mostly writing that takes up my creative energies these days.

++ Thanks again for the interview Huw, any exciting plans for this summer?

Well, the Mekons are playing a couple of London dates in July…

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Just my thanks for seeking me out – it’s been fun – and best wishes with everything Cloudberry-related. I shall be keeping my beady eye on you from sunny Brentford…


The Spanish Amanda – Go-Betweens