Florida was once a state that had some cool indiepop bands. One of the first was Crush 22, who only released their songs in different compilations and only lately compiled on a 3″ CD here on Cloudberry. A great CD if I may say so. Their story after Crush 22 is much more known, as they became Brittle Stars and released one perfect album. But this time we are going to their early days, to their Crush 22 days! Thanks so much to Josh, Mario, Estelle and Roy! You can befriend them at their myspace too.

++ Thanks so much for being up for the interview, and for the little 3″CD we made a while back. I think the songs are fantastic, I think I’ve told you that before. But for those that never have heard Crush 22, and should buy the CD, what can they expect from it?

Joshua: Short and sweet indie pop songs.

++ Let’s do the biography part first, so how did you all meet? At University of Florida perhaps? Were you students there? And how did the band start?

Mario: I was a student there. Josh and Estelle too. Roy is from a nearby town. I don’t remember if he was a student there. I do remember being at a house show or party. I had been talking to Roy and Estelle. We somehow began talking about being in a band together. Josh overheard us and jumped right in. I WANNA PLAY DRUMS! I’LL PLAY THE DRUMS! That’s how I remember it. If it isn’t the way it started, then my brain needs some fixing.

Joshua: I believe we all met through Mario. I had had a musical crush on Mario since I first laid eyes on him. I had seen Estelle and Roy at shows but hadn’t really met them before Mario brought us all together. Estelle, Mario and I were students at UF but in completely different worlds on campus (because of differing majors).

++ What was that that inspired you to start the band? Was this your first time in a band?

Estelle: It was my first band ever.

Roy: it was also my first band. Actually I think it was the first time I really ever picked up the bass that was sitting in the corner of my room…

Mario: Why not. We all really liked pop music. We could.

Joshua: This wasn’t my first time in a band. I had been in four or five terrible bands by this point. I had never really played drums before this band though. I had moved to Gainesville for the D.i.Y. punk scene because I had booked a bunch of the bands in Daytona when I lived there. I’ve never aspired to make a living as a musician but I like to play music with my friends.

++ Why the name Crush 22?

Estelle: It’s a mashup of a catch 22 & crush… seemed relevant at the time.

Mario: Hmmm. We used to practice at the first Claire De Leon / Pop Shop store that Josh and Dan Sostrom ran. They shared it with some other vendor, and it was that other vendor’s space that we practiced in. I distinctly recall discussing Crush 22 as a band name there. That’s all I can remember.

Joshua: The name came from Estelle’s sister, Shena (she’s in Citra Super). Something about every crush being a “catch 22.” I remember I wanted to name it Brittle Stars but was vetoed.

++ How did you like Gainesville? Is there any advantage to be a band in a college town?

Estelle: Yeah, all your college friends combined make for a never-empty audience.

Roy: I have many fond memories of Gainesville- it’s a great town.

Mario: I liked Gainesville. Still do. I think Gainesville is too well known for being a punk rock town, though. It has been and still is a great indie-pop town. Easy place to start a band. Easy place to get a show. We played the famous Hardback Cafe.

Joshua: Gainesville was really supportive at that time. For a while we practiced at the Hardback Cafe (famous punk rock club) before Strikeforce Diablo, who were completely different than us but who I was into. But….we were just becoming musicians at that point and I think some of the bands thought of us as “amateurs” because we were amateurish. We made mistakes and wrote simple songs. We weren’t going to be Tortoise. A college town (like Gainesville) is a great place to start a band because it’s cheap to live and practice space is usually cheap. I’ve had band practice in my house for the sixteen years that I’ve lived here.

++ You only recorded 6 songs, but was that your whole set? Did you have any other songs? Perhaps a cover?

Estelle: 6? I thought it was 4. Or maybe 4 was the number of total shows we played.

Roy: no covers. there were a couple of songs that we played but never recorded- i’m not sure how many. i remember one specific song that mario sang and was really jangly.

Mario: We didn’t have much time to be a band. We broke up pretty quickly. I had some chords and melodies that I was about to introduce to the band, but nope. No covers either.

Joshua: We didn’t do any covers because I wasn’t a musician and couldn’t learn any other songs, I don’t think we even attempted a cover. We had maybe 10 songs but I’ve lost the practice tapes that had copies of the other songs. The song named “Anne Murray” was something that was recorded in the studio between other songs, so it really wasn’t a song. Estelle was working on it but neither Roy and I liked it and that’s why it was derisively called Anne Murray because we thought it was schmaltzy.

++ Actually, if you were to play a cover song, which one would you like to do?

Estelle: Meh, I’m not into covering songs.

Roy: I agree with estelle. but if i was really pressed, I’ve always been curious about covering either “Regress no way” or “We’re gonna fight” by 7 seconds.

Joshua: I remember at that time I was super into Northern Picture Library and would have loved to have done “Dear Faraway Friend” but we would have had to shorten it by 8 minutes or more…ha. “Wrapped Around” was covered by Vetran (Bren of Masters of the Hemisphere and Still Flyin’) for a Kindercore comp.

++ So who wrote the songs? How did the creative process work for you?

Estelle: Hmm… guys, do you remember? Pure jamming I think: maybe we started with a guitar jingle or a base note, drums came in, I’d start a keyboard line, then I’d add some vocal melodies and lyrics using teenage-love-like poems I was writing about boys at the time.

Roy: yeah- the songs all came together in practice. everybody contributed.

Mario: I remember us being pretty collaborative. We jammed.

Joshua: I remember that somebody would come up with a melody or something and we’d start fooling around with it until it became a song. I have this theory that if you don’t write a song at the first practice the band is going to fail. We wrote “If it wasn’t for this,” at our first practice.

++ You played 4 or 5 gigs only. Who did you play with? And is there any anecdotes you could share from them?

Roy: wow. this is really hard to remember… I think I still have a flier from when we played with Lenola at the hardback (i think that was our first show?). I also remember that we played with Masters of the Hemisphere and Neutral Milk Hotel at the Tallahassee Popfest. or at least i think we played with them.

Mario: I know our final show was at the Florida Pop Fest in Tallahassee. I forget exactly who was on the bill the night we played, but Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal and the Mountain Goats played the fest too. That was an awesome festival!

Joshua: That was thirteen years ago. I don’t remember any of the shows being particularly memorable except for the Florida Pop Fest. I remember when we played the Florida Pop Fest we stayed at the same place as John from the Mountain Goats and he made some really terrible home made bread that everyone pretended like they liked. He also took a three hour bath and no one could use the bathroom as there was only one bathroom and we had to go down the street to use the bathroom. He shushed us while he was watching the “Pam and Tommy Lee” tape that was in the apartment, which I found hilarious.

++ Tell me a bit about Florida Popfest 1998, how was it? Who played? Who organized it?

Mario: I believe the Florida Pop Fest was organized by the Underwood Brothers, Mike Wilkerson, Larry Bonk and others. Someone correct me if any of that is wrong. It was a BLAST! Also, for Crush 22, it was kinda emotional. It was our last show and it felt terrible to have it end.

Joshua: If I remember correctly I believe it was thrown by some of the guys who would make up Plastic Mastery (Nick Underwood, Lawrence Bonk) and their friends. Information on who played it is located here: http://www.kickbrightzine.com/shows/FLPopfest/ . As you can see we played with Neutral Milk Hotel, who I wasn’t really into at the time but love now. I was one of the organizers for PopMayhem! and we wanted to make it the same spirit of the Florida Pop Fest (ie, awesome pop music, cheap and in Florida). I remember I had a great time, Dan (from Brittle Stars) and I had a mail order at that time and we sold so much music at the fest that we put out a compilation LP with the proceeds.

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

Joshua: It’s funny, because I didn’t learn the reasons for the break up until years later. I just know that when we went into the studio to record in January 1998 there were weird inter-personal issues that were going on behind the scenes. We tried to see if we could work it out by adding another member but that only lasted a few practices and then we decided we’d play the pop fest as our last show. I think the band existed for the perfect length of time though. We didn’t stay together long enough to get stale.

++ What would you say were the main differences between Crush 22 and Brittle Stars?

Estelle: The guitarist & the bass player. Also, I think BS was our “more mature” band. We had grown up ever so slightly from Crush 22 (just slightly though).

Mario: One wildly huge difference is that I wasn’t much of a guitarist. I tried my hardest just to be melodic within means. I was confident enough on keyboard. Still, by nature, it was always simple. I sang back-up. So, boy vocals. Josh always said the band was fragile. I think he got it right. The Brittle Stars made some proper sounding recordings. The musicianship was a notch above. Crush 22 didn’t come close to that. We were 4 people learning how to make a simple song. No next level.

Joshua: It was a different band? Seriously, Steve Clay (from Brittle Stars) is probably the most brilliant musician I’ve ever met and his guitar playing (and Dan is secretly a great musician too) make the band a different beast. Estelle and I were definitely more sure of our selves and confident in Brittle Stars than Crush 22. Crush 22 to me has got a different kind of charm and innocence, especially when Mario sings.

++ But also many of you went to form other bands that are much more known like Mahoganny, Human Television, Elephant Parade, Nervous Systems, and more. But how important was Crush 22 for you? What were your highlights of being in this band?

Estelle: Crush 22 formed some of the best times of my life. Music (creating it, listening to it, dancing to it) always played a huge part in my life and when Josh came to me and asked me if I wanted to play in a band, it was the beginning of an amazing and fun creative adventure for me. Highlights? Playing the Tallahassee Pop Fest! Jeez, you’ve got me feeling all nostalgic now.

Roy: i went on to be in many bands, most notably Brasilia and mahogany. and while Crush 22 wasn’t the most prolific band, it was very important to me. it’s where I learned how to play an instrument and write songs within a band context. i learned how personalities work within the creative process. it was the first time I’d ever played a show and recorded. Crush 22 was full of many firsts for me.

Mario: Crush 22 was my first band in a personal sense. I had been playing with my brother a bunch, but I got to reach out to others for the first time musically. It was really exciting. It was different. I met some other really great bands because of it. I remember riding my bike and coming up with my back-up lyrics. Sitting on top of the jungle gym while we took a break from recording. I didn’t know of another band in Gainesville that played in our style. I thought we were pretty unique.

Joshua: Crush 22 was incredibly important to me because I was in the midst of the breakup of my marriage and it was an outlet for me. I can still remember the first practice in the back of a vintage shop called “the Pop Shop.” Hearing Mario, Roy and Estelle write such great songs and getting to be a part of it was amazing to me. It’s funny, the practices are more memorable to me then the shows were.

++ What are you up to now? Any new musical adventures of yours that we should be looking forward in the near future?

Estelle: We just released Elephant Parade’s 2nd album. We (my husband and I) created and recorded the songs while living abroad in Israel. Those years were an interesting, strange & well, difficult time for me. The album is appropriately called, “Home.” (We’re back in Brooklyn now.)

Roy: I’m currently doing a project called Ice Orgy. it’s kinda cold ambient drone with beats. there’s and LP coming out soon. I’m also playing in an unnamed gothy/deathrock band… nothing very poppy to look forward to…

Mario: My first ever Slavagoh 7″ disc on Needless Records will be out soon. I helped Elephant Parade out recently. I played drums on one of their new songs. Grand Opening. It’s on their new album. I even added a melodic keyboard line during the chorus. I play drums for Ape School from time to time. I’m also trying to put together a proper live band version for Slavagoh.

Joshua: I’ve been in the indie rock band Nervous Systems with my friends (and wife) for six years now. We’ve recorded an album and are about to release a 7”.

++ And tell me something about you that not many know? Any secret hobbies perhaps? Guilty pleasures? 🙂

Roy: maybe not a secret, but i’m really into printing… I’m a letterpress printer by trade. it’s funny how things can become an obsession (it includes printing, typography, design) . I’m also into cycling and sports like football and basketball. i never thought I’d be into sports…

Joshua: I’ve played on No Idea F.C. (sponsored by No Idea Records) for 11 years. I like to work out with friends, play video games, and hang out with my wife. I’m boring and old.

++ Let’s wrap it here! anything else you’d like to add?

Mario: You got me all thinking about Crush 22 again. Maybe I’ll listen to those recordings tonight.


Crush 22 – These Feelings


A little white bunny outside our Travelodge window was the first sight of Saturday morning. Long day ahead. It was only 10 am. But we didn’t have any signs of getting tired. The excitement was still there. One by one to the shower, and then to our own little breakfast, consisting of diet coke and some cookies. By noon we met with the rest of the gang outside the hostel, on our usual spot, the big wooden picnic table, where also the smokers gathered.

We arrived just on time for The Hillfields. They put such a great show in the shed. Sadly there were not many people around to enjoy their elegant pop that takes the best of the Flying Nun stable. It was too early perhaps and most people were still suffering from the hangover. Or maybe they had terrible taste and went to see the other bands playing at the same time? I want to think it was the first option. For some reason I didn’t have much trouble during the festival with bands I wanted to see clashing in the schedule. Consider me lucky. Most friends did had to make decisions on the fly about where to go and who to see.  I had made a schedule, before traveling to the UK, of bands for Saturday and Sunday, so I never had this problem. Planning always pays off. Though, I would have had a big clash if Pale Sunday were to come to Indietracks as they were announced. They were playing at the same time as The Pooh Sticks. Tough one! But in the end the Brazilians didn’t come and well, Pooh Sticks it was. And that was such a treat, that show, I’m glad I didn’t have to make a decision in the end. The only other clash I would have had, was that between The Orchids and Stars in Coma. But I was going to see Stars in Coma in Berlin, in September, so the mighty Orchids it was.

Just after The Hillfields played I left the shed with them for a bit and went up to the merch tent. I bought their album and their EP for a good deal of 10 quid! And there was the great Mr. John Jervis. At last I get to see him. So of course, I asked what to do with my records that I had brought for selling. He asked me to bring them here and that we’ll figure it out. Again through the sandy and muddy patches all the way to the backstage room behind the shed. Got my box full of records and back to the merch tent. There wasn’t much space on any of the tables for my records. John told me to leave them next to the Odd Box stuff, while I was gone watching the Felt Tips, and when I came back, we’ll find a place for my stuff.

What can I say about The Felt Tips. First time I see them live and they were fabulous. I recorded on film most of their gig. And it was pure bliss, the great crooning vocals of Andrew, Miguel’s classy and luminous guitar playing, the striped-shirt Neal’s bouncy bass and Kevin banging the drums. And we were there, dancing in the front row, with Jennifer, Adria, Paulita and Kat. May I say that this November 15 we are releasing The Felt Tips album on our sister label Plastilina Records. I said it since the first time I heard it: “it’s the best album of the year. This is a defining album for these last wave of indiepop we’ve been going through. Brilliant really.

It was a good thing that most of the bands were not only playing their gigs at Indietracks but also staying for the whole weekend, enjoying it as fans even though most of them did the not so smart thing of camping. This was a very positive thing for the festival as there was always time to chat with the bands about the gig, their records, their fans, their dreams, and of course the gossip. This may be the most interesting topic of them all. Hear from bands about gigs and their organizers, the odd people they’ve met during their time as a band, and the silly anecdotes. Isn’t this one of the most beautiful things of indiepop? that bands, labels, gig organizers, clubs, and fans are almost at the same level, we all blend into one community? Everyone is a piece in the puzzle. Bands as fans, fans as bands, and everyone doing it to have fun! Doing it for the kids!

Next up was lunch. My options weren’t that many. The only place that served some sort of meat only had hot dogs (the bastard child of a good German wurst) and some very greasy hamburgers. I found this a bit annoying, as I love meat, but I don’t like greasy, unhealthy meat. There’s this believe around many popkids that meat is murder, and, whatever, they don’t have a clue of what they are talking about. Oh, dear Morrissey, the dumb things you’ve taught them. They think meat eaters, as most of them are vegetarians, are like pigs and we eat all sort of trashy stuff and we won’t have any problems eating a hamburger that sweats car oil. We’ve been demonized. This I do hope changes next year at Indietracks and we have some sort of decent place that serves nice chicken, beef, lamb, or fish. For the sake of all of us. I think the vegatarians had more options in general at Indietracks this time around. Quite different to reality though, when vegetarians have much more trouble finding a place to eat. No problem with that, that’s great actually, but don’t forget about the rest. Anyways, after a very short line, and for five pounds, I got a very nice curry at the stall. Rice, tofu and some red curry. It was quite tasty. This became my main meal through the festival. Eating it 4 times during the weekend!

Suddenly Paulita and Adria came by, and told me that Ivan and Eva from Linda Guilala, had just arrived. They were playing in 30 minutes and they needed urgently a keyboard. Where to find one? What to do? Can I save the day?


The Felt Tips – Dear Morrissey


So here I am, in the promised land of Derbyshire. It’s almost 7:30 in the evening, and the noise coming from the stage welcomes me as I get down the steam train. There’s a small queue waiting to get in and I join it. Pete B, Rocker and Colm, go through the express lane, the band members queue, and I go through the slow not so special people queue. I had already paid in advance for my ticket, many months ago, so it was just matter of telling them my name. They don’t need an ID, which in these times it’s nice to know people believe in one’s honesty. As I’m leaving the counter with my Indietracks schedule/fanzine, they stop me. They say I have to pay for it, 2 pounds. I politely return it. I thought it was included with the festival ticket. I think it should be. All of this information was online, I had it printed. Sure this zine looked nicer, but for 2 pounds I can have a beer and my ugly printouts.

Anyways, now I’m walking by myself, with a big box of 7″s that I’m supposed to sell somewhere and someday during the festival. Beforehand Mr. Jervis had already sent spreadsheets with the schedules for when the bands will be able to sell their stuff, but not for when the labels were supposed to do so. I wasn’t sure when was I intended to sell them then, and especially because this year they had agreed that everyone who was selling records had to be behind the counter for at least 1 hour. I didn’t know when was my turn, and I wasn’t really looking forward to know that either. I was a bit annoyed carrying around the heavy box, holding fifty five 7″ records, with no certain direction, when I see Maria, now a volunteer for Indietracks. Great! Maria is here to save me! But she doesn’t have a clue.

I met Maria earlier this year, at London Popfest. She was one of the few Spanish speakers in the festival along with the guys from Aplasta tus Gafas de Pasta. It was nice to chat with her then, and then I stumbled upon her at Rough Trade, at another gig after Popfest and at the underground escalators. And she was always sweet. This time at Indietracks it was no exception. Even though she didn’t know anything about selling records or merchandise at  the festival, she went around asking trying to help. She asked the moronic Dan to see if he could help but of course she didn’t get any positive answers. “Let’s leave them backstage for now” she said. That was a good idea. So she took me to a small and cold room next to the shed, where guitars and drumsets were piling. Then there was even another room inside this one. A room within a room. Behind the big corroded door, there was nothing. Just a couple of empty shelves. I left my box there hoping they will be safe until the next day when Mr. Jervis arrives. As I was leaving the backstage room, Ronnie and Chris from The Orchids were walking it. It was nice to see them again after meeting in NYC Popfest just a couple of months before.

The evening was to continue in this same fashion, meeting old friends and new friends. Veronica Falls were playing their last songs when I approached the main stage to find Jennifer and Martin. There was Elisabeth too, making me faces. At that moment I get to meet my Spanish friends Cristóbal, Madidi, Javi and Alex. I know them online for years, since I was doing my Spanish language blog, probably in 2004. Cristóbal I know from soulseek, perhaps from 2002 or 2003. So many years, and now, for the first time I get to meet. They are great, and we make jokes and take photographs. Javi doesn’t believe me that I don’t like Veronica Falls. What can I do? I don’t get them. He says it’s been such a great gig. I had seen them three times now, and still not impressed. I can say they are one of the best looking bands around though, if that helps. Probably they’ll get big. I think they lack “romanticism”.

Also in the crowd is the great Mark Freeth, who has now joined the Spanish Armada from the Premier Inn. Nana and Andreas, fresh from their supermarket experience, also show up a bit late to the festival. We head to the bar, it’s time for beer. The distance from the main stage to the shed, where the bar is, shouldn’t take more than three minutes to walk. But it took us, no kidding, twenty five. Every four steps we were stopped by friends to say hello and talk for a bit. Isn’t that beautiful? On this trip to the bar the highlight was meeting Danielle and Stefan. Why haven’t I met them before I thought? They are just the kind of people that make the indiepop community worth it. I like them a lot.

Eventually we got to the bar, and to our despair, this was going to start our hate relationship with the warm beer they served. It all went to the point when we had to ask a glass with ice to cool it down. What’s the deal of drinking beer as if it was soup?

The night was dawning, and we kept on gossiping and drinking beer; I’m afraid I missed the next two bands while doing so. On another trip to the bar, over that sandy and muddy path, I met Kajsa, wearing her detective cloak, and invited her a beer. Then while talking about how Swedish people dress we notice that all of our friends are in that carriage in front of us, next to the shed. Let’s go! How did everyone ended up there? It was a bit cold outside perhaps, and most of us didn’t have coats or jackets. I didn’t bring any at all to the UK this time. It’s summer I thought. This is one of the nicest memories I have from the festival, the whole gang in the carriage, making silly videos and taking awkward photos. Emelie telling for the hundredth time the story about mouchak, Christin running away from the camera, meeting Tim for the first time, Jennifer having no beer, Anders speaking some sort of Swedish that I couldn’t pick up but the Swedes could, and Eli who still kept making faces to me.

When we got out of the carriage, the music was already over, and everyone was going to start heading to the discos or back to their hostels. Just outside the disco tent I met with Brian from The Understudies and he introduces me the rest of the band for the first time. I had already met Brian last March at a How Does it Feel dance party where he impressed me with his dancing skills, which still makes me wonder if the rest of the band can come close to his talents when it comes to dancing. The rest of the band seemed very nice, I joked with them and told them that it was a shame that are not playing this year. I’m not sure but later, when it felt as if they were avoiding to say hello again, I got the feeling the rest of the band weren’t that happy to have met me. Was it because I had too many beers and talked lots or maybe because it was too much for them to kiss the band’s only girl on the hand? Which I did, because it thought it was a nice detail. According to Wikipedia it is a gesture of extreme politeness. And I’m the epitome of politeness of course. Didn’t you know that?

As the clock approached one o’clock Jennifer got all of us, Travelodge guests, and said that it was time to go, that the last train was leaving. This was the first time that I was going to feel this recurrent void inside of me. I didn’t want to leave. I just want to stay for a while…


The Baskervilles – Staying There for a While


Thanks so much to Jim Shepherd for this fabulous interview! Don’t think The Jasmine Minks need any introduction, do they? Though, many of you won’t know that they have a new EP out that you can and should order from Oatcake Records!

++ So let’s get into interview mode. So there are already a couple of great interviews online to the ‘Minks (Caught in the Carousel, Creation Records) , I’m going to try not to repeat any questions, and make you repeat your answers! So let’s go. First off, where does the name The Jasmine Minks comes from?

The name Jasmine Minks means a lot to me – the word mink or minker is a poor or ragged person in the north-east of Scotland where I come from. And, although it was never intended from the start, the word Jasmine is a street I used to live in Aberdeen, Jasmine Terrace.

++ The lineup. I’m wondering how did the band came together, how did you all meet? How did you all knew each other? Was this your first time in a band?

The first line up to record was with Martin Keena, who was a London-Irish fella. The rest of the original group, Adam, Tom and I were all from Aberdeen and were in a few bands before, mostly to do with the punk scene and then the post-punk scene. We did audition Harry Howard for bass but Martin was the one for us. Martin was also in a punk band, Premature Ejaculation (great name!) We did go on to use quite a lot of different musicians and have enjoyed the variety of musicians we have been lucky enough to have in the band over the years. There have been many other people too who have been hard working for the Minks over the years, including Mark Allan, Chris Narayan, Kevin Pearce and Nick Jones to name a few.

++ Most of your discography came under McGee’s label, but there was this one odd 7″ on Esurient Records. Was Alan McGee okay with it? How was your relationship with Kevin Pearce? How did this 7″ came about?

Cut Me Deep was the impetus for the live ep from Esurient. We had recorded the song for Creation and we went a bit over the top taking two weeks in the studio with the oine song, trying to make it a really big production with synths and drum machines and everything. Alan didn’t like it, so although we used an early, more ‘live band’ type recording for the Another Age album it still had the stigma of the time when we tried to make it a big production. So Kevin Pearce decided to start Esurient and to have an older live version of Cut Me Deep and 3 other songs on it too. The best things about the Esurient ep were mastering it (from a caassette) at Abbey Road studios and also the groovy gold and red picture cover. The recording is quite poor quality.

++ Thinking about the last question, I feel during the 80s most bands stuck to one label, whereas nowadays, bands jump from label to another label. Do you think there are any pros or cons to this?

Maybe groups are more promiscuous nowadays. It was nice to be able to stay with one label for a long time and develop a relationship with people and get to know then well enough that we could take the piss out of each other. I always wanted to stay with Creation but we ran out of fans really and people just stopped coming to see us. If we had moved to another country or maybe just even another record label I’m sure we could have built up a following again. So there may be times when it is an advantage to move to another labe .

++ Dan Treacy  when interviewed on a fanzine, back in the day, when asked about the early Creation bands, once said: “The Jasmine Minks are the only sort of serious band. They’re the only ones who’ll make it”. Sadly you didn’t get a true breakthrough, though you did deserve it. You had SONGS!! Why do you think it didn’t happen?

We were pretty amateurish really and that probably came through in our sound and in our image. Our songs were good and, with a bit more hard work, could have reached a bigger audience. But we were probably too eager to move on to our next lot of songs and didn’t like the amount of time it took to actually get a record released from writing it and rehearsing it to getting it into the shops. Quite often we were fed up of the songs by then and we wouldn’t play them live, not a great way to make fans!

++ How was the experience of being managed by Simon Down from the Pink Label? Any anecdotes you could share?

Simon did manage us briefly but we didn’t really have a good relationship. He wasn’t as sharp as Alan McGee by any stretch of the imagination and perhaps after McGee managing us we expected a lot more. He did well with Pink of course and I’m sure he came skinny-dipping with us once!

++ I’m curious about the name of a couple of songs. Who were Veronica, Johnny Eve and Marcella?

Veronica was a fictional old maid who had grown up being scared of the world and continued to hide away from it as much as possible rather than accept the ugliness (and perhaps the beauty too) around. Johnny Eye was one of Adam’s wonderful song titles and I truly believe that he is one of the most overlooked lyric writers of those times. There are only one or two lyric writers I would actually say compare to him and that is saying something!

Marcella is a very special song to me. Marcella was Bobby Sands’ pen name when he was in prison and the name he used to wrote poetry and other stuff to the outside world whilst there. I was fascinated by the human side of the troubles in Northern Ireland and he was a particularly interesting character who died for what he believed in.

++ You said that “Ghost Of A Young Man” is your favourite ‘Minks song, and indeed, it’s such a GREAT song. Can you tell me the story behind it?

Another Adam Sanderson lyric and what an amazing lyric it is too. I can only say I wrote the tune so it’s difficult for me assess the words. But they are wonderful nevertheless and tell the story of growing up and coming to terms with changes in life. I often sing this song and did so at a gig last year 25 years after it was written and it still affects me. This song was recorded for a demo for London Records and they had a wonderful organ with a leslie cabinet in the studio there at Denmark Street in London’d West End. McGee famously stole the tape and put it out on Creation, hee hee hee!

++ What about gigs? Did you play outside of the UK? Which were your favourite gigs you played? why?

Jasmine Minks played in Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland and Belgium. We’d have loved to have played the USA too – maybe one day we will! Gigs often were a different experience for the audience as they were for the group. I remember getting an amazing reaction in Greenock at Subterraneans but not really feeling we played any different than normal. Sometimes we did go a bit crazy and make up long jams for an encore but it depended on how we felt. I remember playing at Woods in Plymouth and getting in a few skirmishes with the audience, including me punching a member of the audience and Chris, our roadie, casually returning glass bottles to skinheads at the back of the room. The club owner thought we were great and expected us to be the next Jam!

++ How was your relationship with fanzines back then? What are your take on them? Were the ‘Minks showcased a lot on them? And do you believe blogs can capture the magic of the printed fanzine?

I read quite a few fanzines, both musical and political ones, and enjoyed people’s individual approaches to writing them. Some fanzines mixed writing on music with an almost philosophical approach. Just like blogs nowadays. They were way ahead of their time!

++ This year you released a new EP on your own label, right? The “Poppy White EP”, with songs recorded in 1992. Why did it take 18 years for them to get released? And can you tell me a bit about the songs included?

Creation knocked us back on the songs. I think Dick Green such said it wasn’t what he was looking for.(I think he went off us after Scratch The Surface album.) We paid for the recordings ourselves at a studio in West Ham in London. The songs were written around 91/92 and we had many more ready to go if we had the go-ahead for an album. It was very different for me as I had only written one of the four songs, having been used to writing all of the songs for years so I took on more of a production role working on arrangements and sounds much more than I had done for years. Tom and Foosky (a replacement for Tom on one tour when he he broke his leg and, eventually guitarist and singer) wrote three of the songs. They have strong melodies and some nice individual lyrics. But more than anything they remind me of Foosky and Mark (roadie for years) who both passed on recently. It is a good tribute to both of them. They both played big parts in the group!

++ Bob Stanley wrote once “Like far-left factions, groups that had much in common built up petty rivalries. The June Brides and the Jasmine Minks were the biggest names at Alan McGee’s Living Room club and couldn’t stand the sight of each other.” How much of this is true Jim? Were there any other rivalries going on?

I was definitely not interested in many of the bands around at the time. I really liked The Television Personalities and Primal Scream both bands with strong melodies. I had gone off the post-punk scratchy guitar sound heading more towards a rock/pop sound. I had nothing against any of the other guys personally. I had my own agenda and they did not figure in it. There were a few bands that I really did not like around the scene but The June Brides were okay in my books and I particularly liked Phil Wilson’s songs when he signed to Creation.

++ What happened after Soul Station? Why didn’t you continue releasing music during the nineties?

If we had the audience we would have I’m sure. No one was really interested as far as we could see and the rave scene was not the kind of thing that we could tap into. I did get into a lot of different kinds of music as a result of not being on the indie scene any more so it did open up my eyes to dance/ electronic music and classical music too. I carried on writing and playing occasionally and we never really recorded properly as The Jasmine Minks until 1999 when we did 3 tracks which eventually came out as a CD single called I Heard I Wish It Would Rain for Bus Stop Records in the USA.

++ What do you think of the new Creation movie?

I haven’t seen it. I did support the majority of what McGee did with Creation and it was a huge force in the 90’s so they deserve a movie! I wonder if there will be any Jasmine Minks mentions on it?

++ If the ‘Minks had started this decade, how do you think you would have sounded like?

I think we would have been an alt-folk group just like the one my niece, Hannah, is in (Withered Hand.) I love the mix of folk and pop and it allows for decent lyrics and a few sing-along tunes too. I would sign my own youthful group up to my new label Oatcake Records of Scotland  www.oatcakerecords.co.uk I’m sure!

++ There are reissues of some of the singles on Vollwert, and then the “best of” compilation on Cherry Red, but are there any plans to reissue the albums one day?

Werner in Berlin and Cherry Red have been brilliant at keeping some Jasmine Minks records available. I may release more myself if there is any demand for them. Some of the albums are better as complete albums and could do with being heard that way (1234567 All Good Preachers Go To Heaven, Another Age, Scratch The Surface, Pop Art Glory) even though I think less people actually listen to albums, preferring playlists a bit like the old cassette mixes we used to do – hee hee.

++ What is left to come from the ‘Minks? Any plans for the future?

I have hoped for a get-together with Adam as he and I had the best songs together and I don’t think either of us wrote as well separately – that would be interesting! We will play again in some form very soon I’m sure – there are a few things coming up which mean that, sooner or later, we will make an appearance or two. I’d like to release a new Jasmine Minks single on vinyl on Oatcake Records. I have loads and loads of songs and a few sound to me like the Minks could do them justice!

++ One last question, what makes an Aberdonian  different to the rest of the Scots? 😉

We can be a forthright bunch with little grace and a very down to earth attitude, maybe that sums up The Jasmine Minks! I have been working with a few Aberdonians, apb, on a new single for Oatcake called Jaguar and that will be out soon and there is a classic rock/pop single called The Fire all ready to go on Oatcake too, a song written by me and the Beat Hotel so there is a lot happening and, for me, these are very exciting times!

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

I would like to add to all your readers that I welcome anyone who wants to to get in touch with me if they want any more information about Jasmine Minks news or Oatcake Records of Scotland at info@oatcakerecords.co.uk


The Jasmine Minks – Ghost of a Young Man


Thanks so much to Karin Reilly for the interview, and scanning some photos for me!  Celestial Daffodils were an indiepop band from Germany from the early nineties that sadly didn’t get any proper releases but did appear in a couple of cool compilations. They later became Sugareen and nowadays they are called Telesushi. Enjoy!

++ Hi Karin! How are you? I see your new band is split between New York and Göttingen, where in the world are you nowadays?

Hi Roque! I am just fine, thank you! All members of my new band t e l e s u s h i live here in Göttingen, Germany, but since I am originally from New York, we decided to emphasize that interesting piece of information to make us more exotic than the rest.

++ This new band is called Telesushi and you’ve just released a 10″ record. Care to tell me a bit about this new project of yours?

The band includes Olaf, our guitarist, Daniel our drummer and myself: the 3 pillars from the Celestial Daffodils. We then became Sugareen and now we are in our new band t e l e s u s h i. Our bass player Robert, the youngest in our band, was really gung-ho on getting our 6 latest songs on vinyl. Our first 11 songs are on CD, but CDs are so common nowadays, so we went for vinyl (each record comes with a download code to access the MP3s – we know not everyone has a record player – neither do I! But the record looks great on the shelf!). Robert also did the art work for the lovely cover. We still hope to do a video.

++ So let’s go back to the early 90s, that’s when Celestial Daffodils were formed, right? Was this your first band ever?

It was my first band ever and fulfilled a dream I had always had of singing in one. They were looking for a new singer. A friend of mine “auditioned” and I was really in awe of her courage. She returned saying that the music was not quite her thing, but she was convinced it was mine. I just laughed and pooh-poohed the idea. But she was really convinced of this and despite my resistance, she pushed me into singing for them: she gave me their demo tape, arranged a rehearsal time and even picked me up from the café I was waitressing at to take me to the rehearsal! And from then on, I was in.

++ Who were Celestial Daffodils? Where were you based? And how did you know each other?

The original constellation was Olaf/guitar, Carmen/drums, Jan/guitar, Alyiar/keyboard, Michi/bass. I was their 3rd singer who had joined them after they had been together for 2 years. They were school friends who decided to form a band and basically learned to play their instruments in this formation.

++ Why the name Celestial Daffodils?

Due to the Brit-poppiness of the music, a happy name in English was opted for Olaf told me that the name “Poppyfield Smile” was also in the running.

++ I know about some compilation appearances from your band, but were there any proper releases? Maybe demo tapes or something?

We had three full-fledged tapes: A red one entitled Simple, A blue one Different Facial Creams, and a green one Waiting for a Call.

++ Ok, so help me about your compilation appearances, I know the “Everything Went Pop” one with two songs, then on “Fieberkurve Vol. 3” and on the “Hopping Hobgoblin” tape. Any other that I’m forgetting?

We also had the original version of our song “It’s hard” on a Fieberkurve sampler tape, we were written up in a fanzine called Time Thief from Bremen, and we were told by friends that we were also on an Italian fanzine sampler tape, but we don’t know the name of it.

++ Which was your favourite Celestial Daffodils song? How did the creative process work for the band?

Favorite song? Can’t answer that one, sorry! We had so many wonderful songs! Simple? It’s Hard? Agent Dan? Breakfast Special? Nowhere To go? The creative process was usually based on a guitar riff someone had in mind and we jammed and improvised from there, filtering until the parts crystallized and pleased us.

++ Who were you listening to at the time? What were the bands you’d say influenced you?

I always loved and always will love Blondie, Kim Wilde, The Bangles and Depeche Mode. Olaf listened to lots of stuff from Sarah Records (Bristol), Heavenly, Talula Gosh and all the other bands that Amelia Fletcher sang in. Daniel is very 60’s-infuenced.

++ And what about the German guitar pop bands? Were there any that you liked and you’d recommend me?

Olaf mentioned Blochin 81, 5 Freunde, Jesterbells and other Marsh Marigold bands (that’s a label in Hamburg).

++ Did you play many gigs? Are there any you remember? Any anecdotes to share?

On the whole we played many gigs, although we never counted. Averaged per year, however, it wasn’t that many compared with other hobby bands. Some of them I remember, but sometimes Olaf will mention something I have no idea what he is talking about. You must realize that 15 years have passed since I started out with the Celestial Daffodils! Olaf likes to reminisce about when our temporary drummer Kai vomited over a clothes drying rack in the apartment we stayed in after a gig in Dresden. I prefer to reminisce about a gig we had in Bodenwerder in the woods when the young audience totally flipped out to our music and interrupted our songs to buy our tape!

++ When and why did you call it a day with the band?

That was my wish. I had two young children for whom I wanted to be there in the evenings more often. I felt exhausted and did not have any creative energy and suffered from a bad conscience of feeling like the others in the band were waiting for me to come around. The positive things we had working for us as Sugareen to move us from a hobby level to a more serious level had dissipated and I did not feel motivated. The last straw was a gig we had in a neighboring city: we were on the go for 13 hours in total to play in front of 200 people in a bar who were not the least bit interested in us. Then it was clear to me that I would rather do other things with my time. Our good-bye concert on Göttingen was absolutely wonderful. If more gigs had been like that, I wouldn’t have stopped. Afterwards, I greatly regretted the decision and greatly missed the musical creativity, but in the meantime I am very happy with
t e l e s u s h i and having reached an internal peace of not trying to impress anybody but myself.

++ Looking back in perspective, what were the best moments of being part of the band?

One highlight was when we placed 4th out of 5 bands in a band contest, but were nevertheless contacted a few days later by Enola Records, a small label in Hannover, who had been there and loved us, believed in us and wanted to cooperate. It showed how subjective music taste is and that there is a musical place for everyone. We were also always thrilled about being on samplers. The Sugareen song Black and Blue was even on a New Music Express sampler and we our video to that song was in rotation on VH-1.

++ How different was Sugareen from Celestial Daffodils?

Sugareen was a step toward professionalization. We had a record contract to make a CD and video and were optimistic we would rise above the hobby level. Regarding the band name, our experience had made it clear that no one here in Germany could either understand, spell or remember “Celestial Daffodils” so we changed it to something sweet and sugary for the CD: Sugareen. Our songwriting had matured over the years, we all had become better musicians and the best songs were selected for our CD “Ready, Steady, Go!” and produced by a producer who even strongly suggested things we almost broke up over.

++ What other things do you enjoy doing when you are not making music?

I love spending time with my kids, cooking and painting old furniture with pastel colors – that’s my “homey” side. In addition to t e l e s u s h i, I have a duo with Daniel: he plays the ukulele and I sing and we only cover songs from the 80’s. We are called l’uke and you can find us on myspace (if you look hard) and on youtube under “ukuleighties”. This quirky project really interests a lot of people. I often say “but, but, but actually we have a really great band with our own songs!” And then there’s theatre: 3 years ago I discovered an incredible and creative amateur theatre scene here in Göttingen that I have since then been acting and active in, sometimes in English, sometimes in German.

++ And this I always ask my German friends, because I love a good German hefeweizen, what is your favourite beer? 🙂

I’m not a beer freak, but I am happy drinking Becks. I never took a liking to hefeweizen. Olaf’s favourite beer is Uslarer Altstadt Dunkel.

++ Thanks again Karin! Anything else you’d like to say?

Yes! It was so nice to be contacted by you all the way from Miami! Thanks so much for your interest in the Celestial Daffodils/Sugareen/Telesushi and we hope this interview has sparked the interest of your readers as well! Please contact us! We’d love to play in Miami and we would love to be on a compilation again!


Celestial Daffodils – Stay


The indiepop detective seems to have been on a long vacation. Someone told me that he had been sunbathing on some idyllic Caribbean island. Another friend told me he was skiing in Norway. But I needed him to solve a case for me, the mystery of  The Hermit Crabs. So I sent him an email yesterday asking where he was, if he could help me with something. He answered:

“Hi Roque,

I could take the case, but I don’t have access to my indiepop archive, I can answer you from the top of my head. Tell me what it is about and I’ll get back to you.

Life is good now, I’m in Vietnam and I plan staying until December. I came to rest and to surf.  You should join! I know you have the beaches very close to you, but you can’t compare the exoticism of this place to South Beach. Look, I’ve traveled a lot, and I can say that the most beautiful and uncrowded beach in all of Southeast Asia stretches from Da Nang’s Son Tra Pennisula to the tourist town of Hoi An. This 30 kilometer long white sandy beach was the site of the famous China Beach R&R spot for GIs during the American War, as well as an international surfing competition in 1992. Despite the fact that Five Star resorts are popping up like mushrooms along the Da Nang/Hoi An corridor, surfers and other beach-lovers are few and far between.

This section of the coast is beach break. We have pretty consistently surfable waves beginning sometime in September and trailing off in May. During the summer months of June, July and August, the seas tend to be quite calm. Off-shore storms can be a source of wave action, stirring up the usually calm seas of August to yield a couple of days of good surfing or making the usually surfable November seas so rough that you might think twice about even walking on the beach!

looking forward to hear from you!”

What a coincidence I thought. These Hermit Crabs loved to surf, and actually they had a song “Surfin’ Vietnam”! Go figure! They also had a song called “Surfing Mice”.  So I wrote him again, and told him to tell me everything he knew about The Hermit Crabs, the 80s band, not the contemporary one from Glasgow that I had the chance to see in New York Popfest 2008.

“Roque, first thing you have to know is that the word hermit comes from the Greek ‘eremites’, “person of the desert”. Second, you have to learn about this little animal that many people like having as pets. In general, and despite their moniker, hermit crabs are social animals that do best in groups. They also require a temperature and humidity-controlled environment, and adequate substrate to allow them to bury themselves while moulting.

Most frequently hermit crabs use the shells of sea snails; the tip of the hermit crab’s abdomen is adapted to clasp strongly onto the columella of the snail shell. As the hermit crab grows in size, it has to find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This habit of living in a second hand shell gives rise to the popular name “hermit crab”, by analogy to a hermit who lives alone. Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, use “vacancy chains” to find new shells: when a new, bigger shell becomes available, hermit crabs gather around it and form a kind of queue from largest to smallest. When the largest crab moves into the new shell, the second biggest crab moves into the newly vacated shell, thereby making its previous shell available to the third crab, and so on.”

This was clearly not much help, but quite interesting. Especially the Greek part.

“About the band I don’t know much to be honest, they seem to like to surf like me. And probably they came to surf to Vietnam, you know they have that song and I see a lot of British tourists around here. There was that 12” EP on Thunderball that I have never got the chance to get it. I don’t even know the tracklist. Last time I saw it on eBay was like two years ago. Then of course, the iconic song, “Surfin’ Vietnam” that appeared on the “Lets Try Another Ideal Guest House” the compilation that was released by Backs Records where all profits were donated to Shelter on a National Campaign for The Homeless. Right? Some ace bands on that compilation, Talulah Gosh, TVPs, Close Lobsters. Their other known song, “Surfing Mice”, appeared on a split flexi shared with 14 Iced Bears on Frank Records. This one is a live version. A shame, because the song is GREAT! and I’m sure that properly recorded it could have been a smash hit. On the sleeve it says:

greg waverly – vocals, malibumo – bass, tam tam tareago – drums, marky – guitars & vocals, recorded dec’86 by Juliet.

But checking on the flexi itself, the song “Surfing Mice” is credited to J. Martin and M. Hellings. I assume it is Marky Hellings. But what about J. Martin?

That’s all i have, hope it helps! I’m off to put on my wetsuit, the waves are calling me!”

And so, that’s all? What a disappointment.

Clearly, the mystery is still not solved. So many loose ends, and not that many clues to figure out about these Hermit Crabs. Whatever happened to them? Anyone wants to give it a shot at being detective and telling me anything else about this lost band from the golden days of indiepop?


The Hermit Crabs – Surfin’ Vietnam


“So that’s Nottingham castle.” Up on the hill, through our window, just as the train was slowing down. This was the first interesting sight while crossing the English countryside but we weren’t going to visit it and quench our Robin Hood fantasies. No, we had other plans for this Friday. We were heading to our own indiepop Disneyworld, to Indietracks.

We’ve parted three hours ago from St. Pancras, around 11 am, with no breakfast and tired faces due to a late night at HDIF in Brixton. In charge of our delegation was Jennifer, of course, as she had already been at Indietracks, while this was my first time. Joining us was Martin, capo di tutti capi of train platform locations and timetables; Emelie, future senator of Sweden and now a popular blogger; Luise, our own German partisan who would soon desert our brigade to join enemy forces; and Christin, the angelic voiced singer of The Garlands, my partner in crime. But we weren’t prepared to what the train had in store for us: no space for our rally. We did know that coach train had reserved seats and that all of our seats were all over the place. And even though the carriages seemed half full, all the facing seats with table in the middle seemed to be taken. So we scattered. Christin and me sat together and we lost touch for three hours with the rest. One headphone for her, one headphone for me, and we shared some of the music I had just uploaded to the iphone. The fast slides, the visions, of the green fields, were flashing through us while we listened to Fantastic Something’s “The Angels Took Over the Train”.  Then The Orchids came on. The train kept galloping on it’s northbound way.

After a short break in Nottingham station, some Diet Coke breakfast, and the proper visit to the loo, we were en route to small tiny Alfreton. The commute was quite short, but at last we could conduct our small rally as the seats weren’t reserved and the wagon was quite empty. We traced on paper the plans for the rest of the day. To begin with, we hastily left the station and took a couple of taxis to our new home, the Alfreton Travelodge. A decadent little hostel that boasts having a Little Chef restaurant in it’s grounds. And just outside the hostel doors, as we were arriving, we could see some familiar faces were smoking cigarettes. I believe they were waiting there to greet us. They weren’t Little John and the rest of the Merry Men, but little Eric and the merry kids. Quite close.

By now Luise had already defected as she was going to stay were the wild indians were, at the tent encampment on the outskirts of Indietracks. Meanwhile, in our room, we were choosing and claiming our towels, stocking cups, and reckoning the surroundings through the window. We pinpointed some curious white rabbits outside, prying to be our lunch. Suddenly a huge spider calmly, sewing it’s web, came sliding through the wall behind the bed. This was the moment I knew I was alone in the fight, the girls panicked and ran into the bathroom. With precision, and a big sized shoe, I sent the spider to a better life. Emelie and Christin came out and started jumping on the bed, non stop.

There was a big Tescos store not so far away, on King’s Road, maybe 20 minutes walk. Now Jennifer and Martin had joined us, or better, we’ve joined them. Avoiding bumblebees, and smelling flowers, blowing dandelions and taking cheesy pictures, the walk was quite amusing. But more amusing and more surprising, was meeting Nana and Andreas in the middle of one of the aisles at Tescos. It was so natural at the moment though, as if these Germans have always lived in my neighborhood. I believe they were looking for a picnic mat. Nana, as a good big sister, recommended me to buy an umbrella. Me, as a good little brother, didn’t listen. My purchasing history in Tescos only included a 2 liter Diet Coke. Emelie bought water and bananas, Christin got some cookies and a Corona, “la cerveza más fina”, six-pack. Little Eric and his crew also popped up at Tescos. With the speed of a shoplifter, but the naiveté of a Swedish provincial boy, they swept all the San Miguel cans Tescos had. Them, bad boys, with a big proud smile and their white plastic bags, walking out the door. Timeless.

On our way back our starving souls found an oasis at the Swan & Salmon pub. It was almost 5pm and it was empty. They had a very good deal where you could order two meals for the price of one. As we were five, Jennifer was left out, but she was happy because she only eats salads, no meals. Martin and me ordered fish and chips, Emelie and Christin some pasta primavera. Beer for the boys, and juices and soft drinks for the ladies. The conversation revolved over the bright red napkins of the pub. First I taught everyone how to make paper boats. And after, we found a better use, making masks out of them, impersonating Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

If by now we thought we’d had no energy, we were really wrong. The excitement was too big to even think of anything else than Indietracks. A quick walk back to Travelodge, thanks to a shortcut among the bushes Martin found, leaving some stuff and taking some other stuff from our rooms, and calling the cabs to come pick us and take us to Butterley station, home of the steam train that will transport us to the magic kingdom of indiepop, everything happened fast, one thing after the other. Now we were in separate cabs riding to the station. I happen to be without the rest of my team, but with Markie from the Parallelograms, and Colm and Ben from Help Stamp Out of Loneliness. Really great company! And by no means wild indians from the camp site, just proper popkids that sleep in real beds.

How did we end mixed up in the cabs? I don’t remember, I guess we all just wanted to be at the Indietracks as soon as possible. What I do remember is making a big noise, us little indiepop devils taking over that steam train, and landing at last at the promised land!!


Fantastic Something – The Angels Took Over The Train


This is a very special interview with my friend Olaf. Milchblumen FC were Olaf and Jan during those early 90s in Berlin. They were also making music under the name Abramczyk and Going Down With Brilliance. Later Jan would start Firestation Records with Uwe. Then he’d leave Firestation Records! And who joined Uwe this time was Olaf. I have just saw both of them in Berlin a month ago, and it was great fun. And in between jokes, talking about this blog interviewing bands that are so obscure and that the interviews are too long, I told Olaf, “be prepared that you are next”. And he said, “bring it on!!” And here it is! Hope you enjoy! Thanks so much Olaf!!

++ Hallo Olaf! Thanks for doing this interview of course. It was nice to see you at Indie Pop Days Berlin, how did you like it? Who were your favourite bands?

Hi Roque, it´s an honour for me being interviewed by my favourite blog. Thank you very much for your interest in my music career. Okay, the Indie Pop Days. I really enjoyed those days very much, have seen brilliant bands and met old and new friends. Apart from many other bands I personally preferred Lucky Soul and Allo Darlin´. First for Ali´s amazing presence on stage and their professional set which I enjoyed pretty much during three days of pure Indie-Pop. Second because of their zest for life and playing. I mean, look at Bill Botting on stage… Further highlights were Zipper, who woke me up on Sunday afternoon, Lisa Bouvoirs version of “Thunder Road” and those four minutes of pure pop magic of The Pocketbook´s “Fleeting Moments”. Also my DJ set with Kitten on Fire was fun, we both would have liked to dance to it.

++ Do you think Milchblumen FC would have fit just fine with the lineup of this festival? Were there any festivals along these lines going on back when you were playing?

I think so. We had been pure Indie-Pop. Yes, there have been a couple of small festivals, but for German bands only and mostly just for one or two days. I like to remember the Marsh Marigold Weekender in Dresden, truly funny days with little sleep with the complete Hamburg popgang. Great was also a festival in Darmstadt, where I witnessed the only gig of Wind In Den Weiden and met personally pen pals (for the younger readers: that had been something like Facebook) like Andreas Knauf, Olaf Grossigk or Frischluft-Krischan.

We played at the Harmony Beat Festival in the Dresden Starclub together with Fünf Freunde, Blinzelbeeren, Ein Warmer Sommermorgen (both Blam-a-Bit) and the Noise-Poppers Honeyloops from Worms. This festival had been organised by our friends from Dresden Trixi and Susi, real Indie-Pop pioneers in Eastern Germany. Memories come up on Rock `N Roll Lifestyle including stage invasion, bloody hands from excessive tambourine playing and Frank Kabs – singer of Twee-Pop-Punks Ein Warmer Sommermorgen – who had fallen asleep amongst beer, potatoe chips and I-do-not-want-to-know-what-else.

++ So let’s go back in time. Who were Milchblumen FC? What did each of you played? How did you all meet?

Milchblumen FC were Jan Kühn (guitar), Birgit Peters (guitar), Alexander Freyer (bass) and me (vocals and drum computer). When Uwe and I wrote our first fanzine in 1991 we also received some orders from Berlin. Curious for the people behind the addresses we met Jan at a Pariahs gig. We noticed him at various other gigs before because of his Clint Boon memorial haircut. Jan and I were on the same wavelength immediately and soon after a long night out clubbing we decided to record a dance version of “Please Rain Fall”. Well, not really successful, but that weekend we recorded four Low-Fi songs. We knew Birgit and Alex from the Indieclub Dogwash and after some talking both were very much interested in joining. Birgit took quickly some guitar lessons and we started…

++ Why the name Milchblumen FC?

We wanted a slightly ironical Twee band name, therefore Blumen (flowers). FC has got to do with our enthusiasm for football and also because we all were fans of Teenage Fanclub. Because I have the Berlin typical articulation weakness in the different pronunciation of “ch” and “sch” this was included jokingly by the word Milch (milk). Of course, altogether the bands name does not make sense at all.

++ Was this your first band? Which other bands were you involved with?

Yes, that was my first band apart from the badminton racket guitar band with our gig at the age of six. Milchblumen FC was an incarnation of our music creation. We played and recorded under various band names such as Jetstream (our shoegaze outfit), Going Down With Brilliance, Snowblind, Abramczyk (named after a German football star of the 1970ies), Northbound and I am sure various others. Some of these “projects” were duos or trios but Jan and I were always part of it.

++ The only song I know by you is “Auf Dem Halensee” that appeared on the 16 Goldene Hits CD. Were there any other songs released?

On „19 Goldene Hits“ were also „Grungemädchen“ (Abramczyk) and „Only Place“ (Going Down With Brilliance with Jans vocals) included. The tape compilation “It´s All About Love” included our first two demo recordings.

++ You were telling me you will digitise many tapes full of songs by the band. So when will that be?! 😀 and more or less how many songs did you had?

As soon as I have the technical equipment, but I am not a freak for technology. All in all it should be about 30 tracks. Amongst them cover versions of Depeche Modes “What´s Your Name”, Aspidistras “Sunrise”, Eternals “Breathe” and “Nothing Much To Loose” from My Bloody Valentine in a folk version. I heard my favourite song of us “Wir Sind Nur ´Ne Neue Krachpop-Band” (We Are Just Another Noisepop-Band) only once because later I lent the master to somebody and never got it back.

++ Why didn’t you get to do a proper release?

I don´t know. I wanted to produce a flexi single but the only pressing plant was in England. Including import tax it would have been too expensive. It was pretty difficult to arrange a proper release on a different label in the mid 1990ies as the number of Indiepop Labels reduced rapidly. The only considerable label would have been Marsh Marigold but I am sure we would have been too bad for Olivers expectations.

++ What about gigs? Where was the farthest from Berlin that you played? And which were your favourite gigs and why?

We did it for the gigs! Between 1992 and 1995 we had some gigs but outside of Berlin one only but that one was very special. A huge club, stage light like at Pink Floyd, a nice accommodation and we even got money for it! Weekenders are the funniest anyway. The record release party of “19 Goldene Hits” was also good although the CD wasn´t finalised yet. Almost 300 guests watched apart from us and various other bands also Groovy Cellar, Westway (Pre-Blochin 81 / Lato) and the only gig of Uwes band Thorn (Fallin´from stage, loosing his t-shirt and breaking young girls hearts) at the “Insel der Jugend” club.

++ Which other bands from the period did you like? Was there a scene in Berlin?

There was only a small scene in Berlin, just like today. Also the bands from “19 Goldene Hits” were mainly from the sixties scene and their members were mostly a bit older than us. Indiepop took rather place in Hamburg where I spent almost every second weekend in the early 1990ies. Great time. In fact I liked all early Marsh Marigold bands very much, especially the Fünf Freunde and The Legendary Bang. Their gigs were always very very funny. I remember how we entered a local posh disco in a noble suburb of Hamburg after one of their concerts. We shocked the local rich youth with a wild dance style and a lot of spraying beer. Within minutes the dance floor was flooded. I´ll never forget their faces in my whole life. Marsh Marigold boss Oliver Goetzel is the best dancer I know till today. Besides of Marsh Marigold bands I loved the products of Frischluft for their style, bands like The Sheets or Ein Warmer Sommermorgen and especially Germanys best band Merricks…

For international bands of that time there is not enough space here, there has been too much of good music at that time just like today. It is striking that so many come from Glasgow, therefore I name as a representative for all great ones my eternal hero Roddy Frame. Nobody manages to publish only two bad songs in thirty years.

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

We were quite frustrated, meant not to be good enough. After Birgit moved to Lübeck in late 1994 we split up more or less. We tried some rehearsals with Anja but because of new hobbies and interests the band project simply paused. I personally got lost in my enthusiasm for football since mid 1990ies, visited almost every match – also away matches – for many years, so in weekends I had almost no time for the band.

++ Are you still in touch with the other members of Milchblumen FC? What happened after you split up?

Jan is one of my best friends until today and was my predecessor at Firestation Records. We still meet regularly. He´s becoming father soon. I have not been in contact with Birgit and Alex for a couple of years and honestly said I don’t know what they are doing today but I believe they made their career.

In the mid 1990ies I had a weekly radio show called “Radio Heaven – International Pop Underground” with my friend from Hamburg Martin Fuchs which was big fun. I still need to laugh today when I occasionally listen to old recorded programmes. We did 48 programmes in total amongst which there were specials like “Flexi only” and “Tape only” or specials about Edward Ball (The Times etc.) or German Indie Pop. Later I wrote some Pop-/Football fanzines and worked occasionally for my football clubs magazine. Around the year 2000 Jan and I got back to enjoying making music again. We recorded a few good demos with our friend Guido, a very talented guitar player, who a short time later became seriously ill. This is a very sad story.

++ Be nostalgic now, what are the best anecdotes of being part of the band? What were the best moments of being part of Milchblumen FC?

The concerts of course! At least I had little stage fright, amazing. Just this: When we recorded some songs in Hamburg I squeezed by accident the bass guitarist Alex´ thumb between the door of the car and the frame. I think that was the reason why our producer Gerrit Herlyn (Red Letter Day) commented Alex´ bass play as terribly ungroovy that night… At our last gig in May 1995 we replaced the band WESTWAY in last minute. They had had a terrible argument because of their “victory trophy” in a band competition so they broke up two days before the concert. Jan and I had to replace a contracted 45 minute gig, otherwise the promoter (Ship Shape Club) would have had to pay a penalty payment. Because we hadn´t practised rehearsals for about two months and had lost our guitarist and bass guitarist, our repertory consisted of six songs only. The other 25 minutes we tried to compensate with bad jokes. The 200 guests who had come to see WESTWAY were not really pleased…

Personally my highlight was to read my lyrics of “Grungemädchen” on the way to work in Berlin’s biggest city magazine. I´ve rarely been that proud ever.

++ So aside from music, you love Tennis Borussia Berlin. Why do you like such a small team?! Is that why you are not very good at table football? 🙂

The same what I like about the Indiepop scene, to be part of a small rather informal group of people. At Tennis Borussia grew a feeling of belonging together in the 1990ies when we were attacked verbally and physically in Eastern Germany. We were judged as a pretty wealthy football club from West-Berlin. But it was rather exciting to sing with 50 people in the stadiums guest area against 8.000 fans from Dresden. At the moment the clubs situation is very bad, we are last in 5th league, there come hardly 400 fans, but I still cannot let my club.

++ Haha, okay, so what other things do you like doing?

So many. people say that without a job they would be bored. This does not apply to me. Amongst other things I ride racing bike since a few years with a lot of enthusiasm (no, I do not dope) which is a kind of midlife crisis thing ;-). I am very much interested into science fiction literature including secondary literature, like to travel mainly to Spain and go hiking there. Although my job is pretty interesting (organising and working at fun fairs and christmas markets) I like to change in future. Unfortunately you cannot pay your rent from music business.

++ Tell me about Berlin, it seems I’m going too often, but you still haven’t shown me your favourite restaurant or your favourite German beer! Or your favourite hang out places!

You should not hang around with the pretty girls only! I like to eat sushi and Berlin seems to be the cheapest city for this kind of food. Almost all sushi restaurants have long term offers. The “Kuchi” in the Kantstraße seems to be the only full price restaurant but there you get the best sushi in town. Furthermore I love the “El Borriquito” in the Wielandstraße, original Spanish cuisine and live music until 5 o’clock in the morning. That’s why you meet weird people there. Is it coincidence that my new flat is in just five minutes walking distance from both restaurants? With the beers I prefer the Bavarian “Hell”, especially those brewed for the Oktoberfest, alternatively I like Czech beer very much. As an original West-Berliner I love the Grunewald forest and the river Havel where my racing bike training area is situated. On a tour through the Grunewald I can let my thoughts flow.

++ So now you are part of Firestation Records. Is it easy to work with Uwe? What are your favourite things about running a label?

It´s so easy to work with Uwe as we are best friends. Although he seems to be confused somehow, at the label he works more accurately and punctually than I do. Both we are 50% shareholders so that each of us has the power of veto. We never had to use it so far as we work on the same wave length with regard to music and other objectives of the label. My highlight in two years at FST was the release of the album of Der Englische Garten which was a special pleasure for me as a big fan of the Merricks. The cooperation with Bernd, Alex and the other members of the band was big fun, also because I was responsible for the promotion work for the first time. The CD is selling pretty well. Although I hope a big label will be interested into the band, I would like to release their next album.

As a teenager I dreamed about a career at a music label and always had great visions about the big music business. Now we work from an old sofa and a store room…

++ Tell us a bit of the future plans, 6 projects in the pipeline right?

Yes there are various things in the pipeline. We will start our autumn / winter offensive with a compilation of the first three records of The Cherry Orchard whose song “So Blind” is one of my favourites. We will proceed with the debut of The Soulboy Collective. “Clique Tragedy” contains 11 wonderful songs between Northern Soul and Indie-Pop. The guys of Mighty Mighty and the Orchids were very pleased by the songs and judged it big hit potential. Furthermore we are looking forward to the compilation of the Indie-Jazz-Pop-Outfit Playing For Time. Those who know the single “With My Heart” only will be surprised and should discover various interesting songs. A never ending story is the release of the 7th Leamington Spa sampler. Repeated we had some problems with the artwork, some of it got lost by computer trouble, but we almost finalised it now. For me the best edition, honestly! Amongst other it will contain Ala Pana Fuzo, The Gits, The Dadas or Penelope’s Web among others.

Next year, with a delay of ca. 23 years, the second album of our heroes Mighty Mighty will be released, what a pleasure. We also thought about releasing some vinyl again, amongst others a Super-Sound-12’’-Maxi single.

++ And not so long ago you organized Popfest Berlin! How was that?!

Wow, what a night! The Indie Pop Days were great but that night was much better. All bands were wonderful, starting with the very charming Paisley and Charlie, the totally groovy live experience of Der Englische Garten, the very short but impressive gig of The Soulboy Collective, the concert causing goose picket by the Orchids (Whooooo needs tomorrow…) and the absolutely party atmosphere by Mighty Mighty. We had no problems with time or the technical equipment, the bands and the audience enjoyed themselves obviously. I was locked in the heat of the Bang Bang Club from 2 p.m. till 6. a.m. and do not want to miss a single minute of that experience. It was overwhelming to walk in the morning to my living room after 90 minutes of sleep and see Hugh of Mighty Mighty ironing his shirt. In boxershorts! What a view! What a popstar!

We plan the next Popfest in March 2011, again with a warm up party. One or two old heroes will pretty likely join, wait for the surprise.

++ Thanks again so much, next time I interview you in person, anything else you’d like to add?

Yeah, hope to see you at London Popfest. I would like to thank you for the interview, now I am in a line with many of my old heroes and idols. I would like to  ask for an interview with Bernd Hartwich about the Merricks and Der Englische Garten.


Milchblumen FC – Auf Dem Halensee
Abramczyk – Grungemädchen