It’s only obvious that at 19:40 I was going to be on the front row at the main stage of Indietracks. Me, the fence, the stage, in that order. On top of the stage five great gentlemen: Ronnie, Chris, James, John and Keith. The atmosphere was perfect. The day was dawning, there was a cool bliss blowing, and our normal nap time was over, we were quite awake. This was the first time I got this close to the main stage, this was the first time a band really deserved to be there. As soon as the first chords of Apologies chimed, it all was like a kind of eden.

The first time I saw The Orchids was back in 2008, at the NYC Popfest. It was a rainy Saturday in Brooklyn and took us hours to get to the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I wasn’t that impressed by The Orchids that time. I wonder why. I do have a couple of theories. The first being that I wasn’t as wise as I am today, meaning my taste wasn’t that good and I couldn’t acknowledge their brilliance. I did have their reissues on LTM and thought they were good. Nowadays I think they are among the finest songs ever written. It could be that, that The Orchids grew on me after the years. My second theory involves the amount of beer I was having with Joe Pinefox. Plastic cup after plastic cup, beer dripping to the floor, and talking loudly. Paying attention to anything aside from any cute girls walking around the venue was impossible. My third, and last theory, was that I was kept afar from the stage because some bands playing that night, especially Mahogany and Ladybug Transistor, had been so bad and I was afraid to be close and be disappointed by these Glasgow legends. Perhaps it was a combination of the three theories. Thing is that I didn’t really appreciate the gig. I can’t remember which songs they played at all and I have a very good memory. Marianthi, who was in NYC making everyone happy, was so thrilled after it and told me it was one of the best gigs ever. She might have been right. Actually, she must have been right. I missed it.

NYC Popfest 2010. The Wake just played at The Bellhouse. Ronnie and Chris have joined Caesar and Carolyn to support them live. It’s only been months since I’ve seen The Wake at the London Popfest. That evening at the Lexington, The Wake were astounding, and I was hypnotized by Ronnie’s pounding bass. One of the best gigs ever even though I wished The Wake played some songs were Carolyn sings. It was again a Saturday, not a rainy one though. It was again in May and NYC was warm. It was again in Brooklyn and again the bands playing that evening weren’t that good. But The Wake were great again. After the gig, Victoria who used to lead The Concretes was up for DJing, and well, she emptied the whole room playing moody music. Then the dance party was moved to the front room were the new DJ wasn’t any better. It really gets on my nerves when at a Popfest I get to listen any other sort of music other than pop. For god’s sake, it’s a Popfest, not an Indiefest. Sean convinced me to stay longer when I wanted to leave.

Anyways, before The Wake gig I went in to the backstage room were lots of canned beer sat on a metal bucket full of ice. I saw Chris and Ronnie there.  I also saw Drew getting his Factory era Wake records signed. I grabbed a beer, even though I shouldn’t have, and asked Chris and Ronnie to save me a setlist of the gig. You know me, I like saving these little things. It’s important memorabilia. After the gig I approached them again, for the setlist. They had given the setlist to that second DJ who barely knows who The Wake are. But that’s how life works, nothing is fair. Chris and Ronnie promised me that next time I was going to get my setlist, two setlists. Next time was coming up soon, at Indietracks, when The Orchids were playing. Sounded fair, so I totally agreed. After that it was a succession of  jokes in thick Scottish accent and thick Peruvian accent. It was lots of fun to properly talk to two of the nicest and humblest people in indiepop. And also talented!! It was dark already and we were there, against the brick wall of the Bell House, surrounded by yellow cabs. Sean joining us and throwing some more jokes. How I like these guys!

July 2010. It’s only obvious that Chris and Ronnie gave me two setlists after the Indietracks gig. They played in this order: “Apologies”, “It’s Only Obvious”, “Me & the Black & White Dream”, “Sadness of Sex”, “A Kind of Eden”, “Bemused, Confused & Bedraggled”, “She’s My Girl”, “Beautiful Liar”, “Something for the Longing”, “Another Saturday Night”, “Caveman” and “Frank de Salvo”. Okay, now that you’ve read this, won’t you agree that it is a dream set? They couldn’t have chosen a better list of songs, maybe “Tiny Words” or “I’ve Got a Habit” is missing, but, hey, this is fabulous enough!! What can I tell you, The Orchids delivered. I can’t get out of my head the picture of Marianthi and Pete Green dancing to every single song, even not all of the songs are danceable! Or Pierre climbed on the fence awe-struck with his mouth wide open. Jennifer next to me taking photos, liking James’s classy jacket. Or my Spanish friends behind me, all of us singing like a choir “who needs tomorrow…”.  Something happened that evening that made the world a better place. For 45 minutes, or whatever it lasted, we were transported and nothing mattered anymore. The Orchids bewitched us.

I do wonder what was Chris doing with a handy-cam recording the whole crowd. Did any notice that? He just stopped playing drums. sat down next to the drum-set and started filming from back there. I wonder if we’ll ever get to see that. Must be a great document. I’m sure the whole crowd was spellbind. Oh! and that moment when Ronnie made the whole Indietracks trip worth for me? Ah! He reached for an Orchids t-shirt he had up there behind his bass case, and threw it to me, from the stage to the crowd! I’ve never seen anything like that. Is it not true that usually brassieres are the ones that fly from the crowd towards the stage? Anyhow, this made my day, my week, my month. It was such a nice gesture, I’m eternally grateful. Funny enough, I turned around, with my new white and light blue logo t-shirt, and I see two girls wearing the same exact The Orchids t-shirts! They were his daughters! Of course, they must be so proud! Only one thing I’m curious of, how did Ronnie know what size of t-shirt I wear? It fits perfect!

What else can I say, it was life affirming. That show in NYC 2008 is a blur now. My biggest Orchids treasure is already the Indietracks experience. I love their records, but this gig I was lucky to attend is bigger than that. It made me believe in friendship, in love for pop music, in talent, in creativity, in so many things. Seeing the whole Orchids gang hanging around the whole Indietracks weekend, all of them camping together having fun, after so many years together was inspiring. On top of that. they put on the best gig of the whole festival. They are immense. And still, they are humble. If I was there I would only headline festivals. They have the songs to do that. And they have the musicianship to do that. And the passion. Yes, that’s what it is all about, the passion. If any of the bands that are so hyped today had a third of the passion of The Orchids… if only…a fifth…

Today I’m listening to their new album “The Lost Star” for the eight time in a row. You should all order it from Pebble Records or your favourite mailorder. The passion is still here, on their fifth album on the span of more than 2o years. Sounds as fresh and smart as Lyceum. It is classy and elegant as Striving for the Lazy Perfection. It’s a little piece of art, that perhaps will not get the recognition it deserves, because most bloggers and critics are really ungrateful. We should not throw pearls before swine. But if you want to grab one of the album’s that matters, one of the best this year, grab this one. It won’t disappoint. The Orchids always deliver.

“Who needs tomorrow/ when all I need/ all I need was you”. The memory of all the train passengers chanting these lines upon arriving to Butterley station later that night just proves how impacting this gig was for all of us. Those who missed it should be dead jealous. It wasn’t just Another Saturday Night!


The Orchids – It’s Only Obvious


To finish our Tamworth trilogy in this blog, our Mark Mortimer on bass trilogy, let’s have a look to Bash Out the Odd. As mentioned on the last post, after some changes in the lineup of Space Seeds the band changed their name to Bash Out the Odd. Their sound also changed, especially with a heavy section of brass, even with trombones and cornets! The sound was more sixties inspired, very mod-ish. Much more upbeat too. According to the Tamworth Bands page there were three phases of this band, three versions, the first from 1988-89, the second from 89-90 and the last 90-90. So let’s go one by one to understand it better. And if anyone has any more of their recordings, please share!

First version (1988-1989)

The band during this period is Mark Brindley on lead vocals/guitar, Julian Amos on lead guitar and backing vocals, Mark Mortimer on bass, Stuart Pickett on bass, Alan Hodgetts on keyboards, Martin Cooper on trumpet, Mark Allison on trumpet and cornet and Bryan Hurdly on bass trombone and euphonium. During this time the Tamworth Herald publishes the news about a video being recorded for three of Bash Out the Odd songs, in a full scale video session. Wonder if these were recorded at all, if so, will they ever pop up on Youtube? That would be ace. Anyways, a month later the band starts to stumble for the first time as Julian Amos leaves the band. It is also during this time that there is talk that Lazy Recordings were going to sign the band to their roster. Mark remembers: “The company that managed chart-hitting indie stars The Primitives and Kingsbury’s indie/punk/garage band Birdland were really into Bash Out The Odd and on several occasions came to see us live in London (and in Tamworth would you believe!?) and were interested in signing us but it never quite happened. We had several labels courting us for a while too and things seemed to be “happening” for the band but for one reason or another it never QUITE got there which is a great shame as there was great potential and as the band developed Mark Brindley started writing songs to go with the ones I wrote and we had some good tunes under our belts.”

They had one demo recorded during this time including the songs “Love Walks Away”. “Heavenly Angel”, “Mother Sea” and “Bug”. You can listen to the first one on the Tamworth Bands jukebox. Also here you can read more about the recordings of this demo as well as many memories and anecdotes about how the band started or even about the songs.

Second version (1989-1990)

Now the band has Pete Woodward on lead guitar and backing vocals, and John Bates on keyboards. Mark Mortimer remembers: “The second version of Bash Out The Odd took on a more powerful, harder sound. The classical horns remained and continued to sound brilliant but Julian Amos simply vanished one day without warning (he moved to live in Oswestry to work as a private investigator without telling ANYONE!!). He was replaced by a loud-mouthed and opinionated guitarist from Solihull called Pete Woodward whose presence in the band often led to a lot of friction which sometimes even boiled over into violent confrontation!! Nevertheless, he was a strong, powerful, rockin’ guitarist and this led the group into a much tougher-sound. Alan Hodgetts quit the group and moved to Coventry where he worked on BBC Radio and Mark (Brindley) roped in his old mucker John Bates on keyboards. We were keen for him to use his sampler and this meant, from my own point of view, we could bring in more exotic and 60s-influenced ideas like sitars and Middle Eastern string sounds etc!! Fun! During one period of time Stuart Pickett sadly quit the group and we struggled on without him with Mark Brindley’s uncle (whose name I have forgotten now!) stepping in to help out – he hadn’t played drums since his youth in the swinging 60s and this made it a challenging time really. During this period we recorded another demo – “Laughing House” and we used programmed drums to get the effect we wanted. We also had a bearded, older drummer from Birmingham for a couple of months whose name I have now forgotten who reminded me of Jet Black of The Stranglers!! Thankfully, Stuart returned to the band after a while and we continued to play quite a large number of gigs, travelling down to London on a couple of occasions to play infamous indie rock venue The Bull & Gate in Kentish Town and also the Greyhound in Fulham which – of course – was an important venue in the pub rock-dominated mid 70s and was also one of the early venues a lot of the punk bands played.

They recorded one demo tape including the songs “Laughing House” and “September Honey”. According to the version 2 page of Tamworth Bands there was also a tape including live recordings of a gig at the Fulham Greyhound. Wonder which songs were included there! I’ve included here on the blog for download the great “Laughing House”, which Mark says it “was a frantic but catchy powerhouse of a tune driven by this pounding heavy drum track and the thrashy guitars. The horns were pristine and powerful. Mark (Brindley) wrote the odd lyrics that included references to “eskimo rolls” over the music that I had written.”

Third version (1990)

The third, and final version of the band. Alan Hodgetts had came back to pick up the keyboards as in version 1 but there was a new guitarist in the band: Paul Whitehead. He is not very well remembered according to this page: “Pete Woodward was either sacked or left the band (I can’t quite remember which) due to the clash of personalities and he was replaced by a guy from Coventry called Paul (none of us can remember his surname) who played guitar and also a guitar synth (something I wasn’t very fond of!!). He was a very insular chap, kept himself to himself and the contrast with Pete Woodward could not have been more vivid!!”

There was only one song recorded during this period: “Rainy Day Sunshine”. It was recorded not at Expresso Bongo like all the other prior recordings, but at The Reptile House in Lichfield. This song was supposed to come out on an album of original material from bands that used that rehearsal space. It seems this album release never happened. Seems luck was never on the side of them. By the end of 1990 the band decided to call it a day. They would later resurface as The Strangeloves…


Bash Out the Odd – Laughing House


The Tamworth Bands page keeps surprising me. If months ago I got to discover Emma Gibbs Loves Badges there, and this past week Great Express, today I found out about Space Seeds. Seems that the indiepop, guitar pop, in the 80s, is still much of an uncharted scene. There’s still lots to cover, lots to discover, lots to listen. And then we have the 90s and the 00s, and well, it seems quite impossible to ever think of a comprehensible guide to the music we like. Sometimes I like to think of this blog as the one that will be a guide to those deep corners of our scene, to the long lost bands, to the obscure songs, that deserve to be heard. Perhaps, my real ambition is to one day be able to put together this guide in a proper book format. But who’ll read it, who’ll publish it? Maybe it would be a digital book? Does anyone use the kindle or the ipad? I don’t. There’s something wrong about them. I feel like I would lose my vision by staring and reading from those devices. Mind you I am staring and working on the computer at least 8 hours straight at work everyday. I know. It’s nonsense. Anyways, I raise the question, would the effort of making something like that work?

My first guess was that the Space Seeds peeps were fans of Star Trek. There was an episode called “Space Seed” in the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series, that was first broadcast on February 16, 1967. During this episode the crew of the Enterprise awakens a powerful dictator from Earth’s war-torn past: Khan. My second guess was that they were some sort of nerdy band, a scientist band, were they looked way ahead in the future and saw that NASA was going to harvest plants in space, with the so called space seeds. The plan NASA had was to be able to grow plants in space, for the astronauts to eat the crops. The surprising part was that when these crops were brought back to Earth, they were super-sized. They hope that these enormous pumpkins, as well as two-foot long (06.m) cucumbers, 14lb (6.3kg) aubergines, and chilli plants which resemble small trees, could provide an answer to the world’s food crisis  some day. They also found out that near zero gravity conditions in space result in super-sized fruit and vegetables with a higher vitamin content and the plants are said to produce harvests which are ten to 20 per cent higher than normal!

In any case, Space Seeds as a band didn’t yield many songs or lasted for a long time. They were only around for 1 year, from 1988 to 1989. And even though on the photo you can see seven people, there were originally only three people in the band: Mark Brindley, Stu Blain and Mark Mortimer. Yes, the same Mark from Great Express that I wrote about before. Later, they grew up to be a seven piece when Martin Kelly, Stu Pickett, Alan Hodgetts. Mark Allison and Martin Cooper joined. They seem to have had only seven songs recorded that were released on a tape called “Seven Track Collection”. I haven’t yet found out what were the names of all the songs but four: “Autumn Girl”, “Feel Your Touch”, “Switchblade Love”, “Saturn in Her Eyes”. The last two available to stream from the Tamworth Bands jukebox. You’ll notice that “Saturn in Her Eyes” is not really poppy, but according to press from the time, this song was their exception of the rule in their repertoire. It was their Teardrop Explosion moment. They say that the rest of the tape, the other six songs were great pop songs, as you can tell after listening to “Switchblade Love”. And gig wise, they played only 8 times live, mostly in Tamworth but also outing as far as Derby, Oadby and Burntwood. They played once a gig with a band I’ve always been curious about to listen to, but no luck yet, The Macoys. Any audio from them will be greatly appreciated!

In 1989 there were changes in the band. Lead singer Martin Kelly quit the band due to “musical differences”. Julian Amos, from The Macoys and Great Express would fill in. Also these were the last days of the band. On October the 2nd of that year, they decided it was time to call it quits and start a new band called Bash out the Odd. More on them later this week on the blog. But if you can’t wait, you can check some of their tunes on the jukebox at the Tamworth Bands page too. Pretty good stuff!

So, any chance anyone has the other songs recorded by Space Seeds?


Space Seeds – Switchblade Love


The first time I took a proper train was not really a Great Express. It was between Essen and Hamburg, in Germany. Last year. We don’t use trains here in Florida. They are non-existent, unless they are cargo trains. Actually, I used to live for around a year on a building next to some rail tracks for this cargo train who’s last stop is the port of Miami. One of the biggest this side of the Atlantic. Those were quiet days in North Miami Beach, up on Biscayne avenue, only to be noisy every midnight when the train came by. Today, another noisy train has come my way and this time it is a Great Express!

Great Express was a short lived band from Tamworth, UK. They were only around for less than two years, from 86 to 88, mostly as a side project of Mark Mortimer who was involved with many bands at the time. The band was formed by Julian Amos on lead vocals and guitar, Ted Wilson on lead guitar and backing vocals, the aforementioned Mark Mortimer on bass, Chantal Weston on keyboards and Dave Burgess on drums. Later in 1988 Dave Burgess would leave the band to be replaced by Simon Harvey.

During this time they gigged a lot, even playing next to favourites of mine, Mighty Mighty. Mark remembers about their gigs:
The gigs were always real fun and quite intense in some ways. Remember we did a gig on The Isle of Wight, having played in Salisbury the night before and we also played in mid-Wales to abject ignorance from the audience. We did a number of university gigs including Leicester University and lots of local venues including the ubiquitous Tavern In The Town, the Rathole etc.

Of course, a big shame that I couldn’t attend to any of the gigs. But my biggest disappointment is that there was no proper release that I could get my hands on, or be on the lookout on ebay. They did have enough songs for a proper release, mind you. In total they had 10 songs, all put out in 4 different demo tapes. They recorded the following songs: “Graveyard Faces”, “Witch-Well”, “Pieces”, “Heavenly, Heavenly”, “Black Flower”, “Silent Head”, “Miles High”, “(You Could) Change My World)”, “Firework”, “Total Excess at 200 Yards”. 3 of them available to stream from the Tamworth Bands jukebox. As you’ll find out, they are really good!

Mark Mortimer also gives some insight about these recordings:

Silent Head was a second Great Express line-up recording done at the Expresso Bongo in 1988. It’s a song I wrote and features, heavily, Chantal’s keyboardy sitar sounds together with Ted Wilson’s excellent 12-string guitar (what a great musician he was/is). Lead vocals were from Julian Amos. Chantal sang the backing vocals too – and it was my gibberish backwards vocals at the end of the track. The bass of course was also played by yours truly and the drums were by Simon Harvey. Mark Mortimer

All the demos were recorded at The Expresso Bongo Studios, Tamworth and engineered by Paul Speare. “(You Could) Change My World” was produced by the then Julian Cope guitarist Donald Ross Skinner (he also played keyboards on it). Paul Stansfield (ex-Dream Factory and Expresso Bongo Orchestra) played tenor trombone on the “Witch-Well” demo. Ex-Dream Factory and Terroah drummer Andy “Batman” Holt played drums on “Total Excess At 200 Yards”, Brian Lacey was lead vocals and guitar on “Graveyard Faces.”

The great Tamworth Bands page also has many snippets from the Tamworth Herald Musicbox column. Among them there are some very interesting ones, telling some cool anecdotes from this long lost band. I really enjoy this one, written just before the Mighty Mighty gig:

The powerful double-header is certain to see one of the Arts Centres biggest attendances so far and spectators are promised an exciting, contrasting show. Mighty Mighty…
…The Great Express. This will be the bands first major Tamworth town centre show and according to bassist Mark Mortimer it should be an interesting night for band and spectators alike.
“People who come along expecting a cross between Orange and The Dream Factory are in for a massive shock,” said Mark. “We are very powerful and there is no other band I know what sounds like us.” For those who don’t know, The Great Express began as a vision in the mind of former Dream Factory bassist Mark Mortimer. When the Factory split, he attempted to get that vision into clearer focus by recruiting drummer Dave Burgess and keyboard player Chantal Weston. Next, Mark teamed up with his ex-colleague singer/ guitarist Brian Lacey, but when the Mortimer/Lacey marriage ended in divorce, Julian Amos and Ted Wilson stepped in and the Express are now complete. Anyway that’s the history, let’s talk about the future.
“I feel like an alcoholic about this band – I just can’t get enough of it and I just crave to do gigs,” said Mark. “I feel very excited about the band, because it is close to my own true musical aims and those of everyone else in the band.”Influences such as Julian Cope and The Mighty Lemon Drops are obvious enough, but at the band’s first concert at Nuneaton they were also compared to Crazyhead, The Jam and wait for it – AC/DC.
“AC/DC, can you believe it?” said Mark. “That made me laugh at the time because I think it shows that we’re totally different and people will have to just come along and make their own minds up.
”As well as Sunday’s show at the Arts Centre, the Express will also be in action at the Tavern on Thursday night giving people a chance to make their mind up twice. I for one feel we are all in for a treat – and an unusual one at that.

And also they received so many great reviews for their gigs, and praise for their quality songs:

– To me the group came over as an aggressive version of the criminally under-rated Church wit touches of The Go-Betweens, The Jam and The Mighty Lemon Drops thrown in. For the most part it was hard-hitting and hard-sounding with the dual use of Julian and Ted’s guitars creating a colourful, meandering wall of sound. Songs like ‘Laughing House’, ‘Witch Well’ and ‘Pieces’ fitted into this strong sphere, but just to confuse matters they added surprising pop touches like the elegant ‘Heavenly, Heavenly’ which sounded like a slice from the Jam’s hallmark album ‘The Gift’.

– But the best was undoubtedly saved until last. The band finished their set with a riveting, brilliant number called ‘Over and Out’ which started like an early Pink Floyd number, and grew and grew into something large, colossal and quite mesmerising. The last minute or so as the whole band speeded the melody-up bar by bar was quite riveting and done with the sort of exact and exacting professionalism that is the outstanding feature of Mark Mortimer’s work. The whole effect was almost numbing and I am convinced that in ‘Over and Out’, The Great Express have created a classic set-ender.

– And how they justified that ‘Great’ tag tonight. Even compared to their first uplifting ‘Rathole’ show this was a revelation and proved that the Great Express are an almighty force for Tamworth to be proud of. Gone are any tracks that were less than 100 per cent dynamite and in comes powerhouse full of unrestrained anger and menacing guitars. One of two of the tunes are priceless and the band’s stage show is now dramatic and immensely watchable. Great performers, great show, great songs. Great Express. Brilliant.

Everyone seems to have been right about them. But, what happened to the record labels? Why didn’t they pick them? Or why didn’t the band self finance their own record? The songs were really strong, and I’m sure they knew that. The Great Express deserved to end it’s journey in a better way.


Great Express – Silent Head


Today, a Sunday at work replacing a sick colleague, has been quite painful. The air conditioning’s temperature has been terribly low. Winter came too early in the newsroom and my fingers are chilling while I type and keep them in shape. Who takes care of the air conditioning central system? No one knows. It’s one of the biggest mysteries in this building. It’s winter and a boy. But it is also a boy that has rediscovered that music can keep him warm. A boy that has rediscovered the tales of a fine lyricist. A boy that wants to hear Imogen Velouria’s Lean Tales.

February 2010: Lean Tales split up. The Glasgow band is no more. Some lucky people have seen them live, not me. My chances are reduced to 0% unless 20 years from now, in true c86 fashion, they regroup for Indietracks 2031. But they were not even as big as Mighty Mighty, so perhaps I shouldn’t even hold my breathe. Whatever reason they had to split up, is not reason enough for me. This is a late tribute to a band that tasted of superglue.

Superglue should have been what kept them together. Lean Tales formed during the winter of 2007, with Imogen Velouria on vocals, Chris Harvie on guitar, Erika Sella on bass and Craig Patrick on drums. Most probably a colder winter that the one I’m experiencing in my office. A snowy Glasgow, dufflecoats and wet sidewalks. They took their name from an anthology of short stories written by Scottish authors Alasdair Gray, Agnes Owens and James Kelman, with author illustrations by Alasdair Gray. They never changed their lineup. They got praises and good reviews on their EP. They deserved more, they deserved people going head over heels.

They have no Myspace these days and that’s understandable. Myspace is crap nowadays. But I’m sure that’s not their reason. Must be one tied to the demise of the band. Anyways, I’ve had their EP on massive rotation this weekend, and I’ve understood a couple of things, firstly, the lyrics are genius, secondly, they are troubled, and thirdly, something as immediate as this music, is hard to keep it up for years. It makes sense they broke up for whatever reason it was. That ramshackle spirit of theirs, that immediacy, is the same of all of those bands in the indiepop pantheon that recorded one single and broke up. The “Flesh and Paper” CD-EP, beautifully presented in red and black digipack, released on Bubblegum Records, was one of the finest releases of 2009. It included 4 songs, “The Taste of Superglue”, “Penny on the Floor”. “Money Smile”, and “Days are Quick”. All recorded at the Green Door Studios in Glasgow. How I wish I had an autographed copy. Their songs sound very different to anything that was currently being done in indiepop mostly due to Imogen’s particular vocals. A fair dissection of their music would make the Golden Pathway label proud. Lean Tales sound uncannily close to Number 4 Joystreet in many of their songs. And throw in some Chesterf¡elds-like guitars in their most poppy songs like Money Smile for example. Haunting, beautiful, smart.

A year before they had put together some songs and included them in what they called the “Displaced Persons” demos. On here they had two unreleased, but downloadable from last.fm, songs: “Winter and a Boy” and “Running Birthday Cake”. The latter included in the “Pic’n’Mix” compilation released on Bubblegum Records. Must have been more around this time that I heard from them for the first time. We emailed for a couple of times. They had nice words for the Cloudberry too. They wanted to send me a CD with demos of their new songs. Upon receiving the marker written jewel case, I played it, to be blown away by “Money Smile”, a song so in your face that, I believe, should have been a single by itself. I like it so much that I’ve given myself the treat of DJing it twice, once in London and once in Malmö. Can I say I’m very jealous Gary Bubblegum that you were the one to release it?

Today came to my surprise that they had two songs slated for a 7″ release: “Come Take Me” and “Laundry Pills”. Who was going to release this and bailed out? I’d love to know, so I could cut their head off. Both songs are downloadable at the Lean Tales’ bandcamp. A bit less shivering than their previous efforts, and even “Come Take Me” having a quite summery feel! Ah! could it be the warmth of that violin?! Lean Tales was getting better and better as it also shows on the videos from the Bubblegum Records gig of last December (where they sang two unreleased songs, “All on You” and “Maybe”). Wonder when this ‘single’ were recorded. Should have been a bona fide contender for single of the year. The bandcamp also has the “Flesh and Paper” EP to download entirely, which makes me think of the band losing all interest in their songs. Because they are worth more than just a simple click. I highly suggest buying the copy from Bubblegum Records. I believe they are limited to 500 copies.

I never heard back from them. We’ll never hear from Lean Tales again probably. Though I could always try the Erika’s phone number on the sleeve of the demo CD when I’m in Glasgow next February. I hope in a way or another, they make music again. There is some genius in these songs. Genius enough to keep us warm in the coldest winter. Thank you.


Lean Tales – Money Smile


A couple of days ago I bought for a mere $1.50 on Amazon a compilation called “Pure Spun Sugar” released in 1998 by two labels together: American Pop Project and Candy Floss. It feels like a compendium of many small bands from those days, including some known names like Dressy Bessy, Cuckooland, Aquadays or Poastal, to name a few. It flows nicely, and surprises at many points. My first surprise is that Dizzy Joghurt, the great twee-ish band from Japan, was already in the radar of some labels in the USA, I have never understood why they aren’t more known. Second surprise was that The Brian Jonestown Massacre song included is quite good. I admit never listening to them because I think they have a terrible name. Maybe they have some stuff that’s worth? And the last surprise I get from it, is a track called “Phil Spector’s Birthday Song”.

The compilation includes many California bands, I wonder why. From the 14 songs on it, 6 are from the Golden State. That’s 43%! Two of these bands, from the 43% clutch, are from San Diego, the great Red Dye No.5 and the unknown to me, The Sleazy Beats. They are the ones who have penned that tribute song to Phil Spector, that whose wall of sound is over exaggerated nowadays with the reverb tuned up to the max. And no, today it’s not his birthday, I’m not doing any sort of tribute myself. We are a month away actually, Mr. Spector was born the same day as baby Jesus, December 25th. And anyways, he will spend his birthday in the state prison of Corcoran. Don’t think he’ll have a big celebration.

‘Kind of like the Wall of Sound/You stand tall forever…’ –  The Sleazy Beats sing.  Also as the song starts to fade, a guitar countermelody first features the line associated with the words ‘be my, be my baby,’ and then the one for ‘to know, know, know him…’ The song is full of nods to Phil Spector. But are there any nods or hints to who The Sleazy Beats were? The answer is no. I looked online for more information about them just to come empty handed.

The only other clue is an address written on the compilation. 6633 Solita Avenue, San Diego. Plotted the address on Google Maps, and went ahead to some modern stalking skills. Street View! A one floor white house comes up. A small US flag hanging outside, the front porch surrounded with a white picket fence. A lovely house, a big garage, and I assume at least 2 bedrooms. There are only four houses on this block, two in this side of the street, big enough to house a band. Also it seems to have a big garden in the back and a bungalow! Perfect place to store the drums! But then, 10 years have passed and most probably they have moved away and some retired couple is now living and gardening this house.

This case seems to have too many lose-ends and not many clues for the indiepop detective. Whatever happened to The Sleazy Beats? Did they release any other songs? Did anyone remembers them playing live? Judging from the poptastic “Phil Spector’s Birthday Song”, they were up for something special.


The Sleazy Beats – Phil Spector’s Birthday Song


Linda Guilala were on stage at last, 30 minutes late. They had found a keyboard in the backroom and seemed to be in working condition. At that moment I don’t think no one knew who the owner was. Iván and Eva were still stressed after spending the last hours on the motorway trying to be on time at the festival grounds. I wonder if it was their first time playing in UK, I think so, or did Juniper Moon ever played there? Anyways, we were there, first row again. Most people were at the chapel at this time, already making a queue worthy of a strike, waiting to see Betty and the Werewolves. I had seen them on Thursday and decided to skip them this time. Their poppy songs are fantastic, Paper Thin may be one of my top five singles this year, but I can’t handle their punky side. And then I couldn’t miss Linda Guilala, my long time friends, of long conversations about science fiction, the Japanese fans, indiepop, Aerolíneas Federales and how great Vigo is.

They played a nice set playing the songs from their debut album “Bucles Infinitos”, with the highlights “Nadie Se Dará Cuenta”, “Saber Perder”, “Te he Cambiado”, and more. The strong keyboard melodies of Eva’s, Iván’s poppy guitar hooks, succeeded in England. I was a bit worried that the crowd was going to be a bit alienated with Linda Guilala’s Spanish lyrics, as it usually happens in the USA, but that wasn’t the case. The crowd embraced it, and everyone was bopping their heads. It was then the time for their last song. They had prepared something special for everyone, they were becoming a 4 piece just for this final effort. Both Adria and Paulita from Papa Topo sneaked behind the metal fences that separated the wild crowd and the bands, and joined Linda Guilala. Iván stayed loyal to his guitar, Eva switched to a bass guitar, Adria picked up the Roland keyboard, and Paulita, well, she was going to give us backing vocals, the sweetest ones. They delivered a fabulous version of “Torremolinos”.

Now, Indietracks organizers, next year you have to book Papa Topo, and hopefully Iván and Eva can join for a 4-piece “Oso Panda”. It’s a very smart idea.

The gig was over, and what do people do when a gig is over? They head to the bar. And so we did. We stocked ourselves with beer, asked for glasses with ice and headed to the chapel. Betty and the Werewolves were almost done and in 30 minutes The Parallelograms were on. We didn’t want to miss them, and we assumed this one was going to be packed. So we better be early! The Parallelograms had been added to the bill just some days before after some band decided not to play. I don’t remember who it was. It all came into place. The Parallelograms hadn’t split but Markie had moved to New Zealand. Luckily for all of us, he decided to have some vacations in UK and come to Indietracks. Smart move! What a shame though, their drummer couldn’t play Indietracks, but who came to the rescue? Claire from Slow Down Tallahassee! She came up and filled in just fine on the drums. Later I would ask her, how did she learn the songs so fast? I was going to learn she dates The Parallelograms drummer, and she knows the songs by heart!

Upon entering the chapel, we could see that not many left the small venue after Betty and the Werewolves. People were going to save their precious spots, especially those on the front rows of seats. I found a space in the middle. Not so close, not so far. And there we waited with our beer with ice cubes for 20 minutes. Quietly The Parallelograms walked in to the stage: Meriel, Markie, Toniee, and stand-up drummer Claire. First thing that came to my mind is that Meriel has the nicest dresses in indiepop and that I longed for Markie’s Hello Kitty guitar that I had seen on photos. They shyly said hi to the crowd. They were the sweetest. You could see how much they were enjoying themselves, you could tell that the band means a lot to them, but above everything else, they are very good friends and they were here to just have fun. No ambitious and pretentious poses, just play some great pop! And so they did, one by one, all their songs, all of them proper indiepop hits. And I was enjoying all of this like a child, singing along to “1,2,3 Go!” and to “Making Faces”, and the proud moment of listening “Dream on Daisy”, the song they let me release on 7″ as a single! It was perfect. After every song, they would all jump at the same time, being their secret code that the song was over. Making me blush twice, dedicating me songs. The gig must have lasted 10 minutes or 30 or an hour for what I care, it was just perfect, and it could have continued for 24 more hours and it would have been perfect. It was the moment when going to Indietracks became a the right decision. Every penny spent on traveling there and paying for hostels, eating tofu curry and drinking warm beer, was worth.The Parallelograms were mighty, on a league of their own. I remember my Spanish friends standing up feeling groggy after the gig. It was a explosion of proper indiepopness!

Elisabeth trying out Markie’s guitar. Alex getting his Parallelograms 7″ signed. Me, taking photos with the band. Andrew from The Felt Tips joining up for a chat. Jennifer telling him that she had already seen the artwork of The Felt Tips that I was supposed to have kept secret. Me saying that The Felt Tips album was the best album of the year. Andrew don’t believing me. These are the memories after The Parellelograms gig. It all feels blurry. There was too much joy. I really hope this is not their last gig ever. Markie, here’s an advice, please take more vacations to UK!

We had 40 minutes in between to the next life-affirming gig, The Orchids were on the main stage. I went to the merch stall to check out at last what had happened to my records. Horror. They were nowhere to be found on the tables. Trevor wasn’t there anymore. Someone was boycotting the sales or someone thought that it was dangerous for people’s health to listen the records I had released. Or something else. My USPS Priority flat box was sitting lonely on the grass behind the merch tables. Full of records, but not full of life. But as you all know, you can always count with John Jervis to save the day. We moved all the flyers, moved some records by some questionable bands, and made some space for our records, just next to John’s WIAWYA stuff. And to tell the truth, he is a way better seller than me. He made more money in 2 days that Cloudberry makes in a week! John, don’t you want to run this label too?

6:40 pm now. The first chords or “Apologies” are chiming. I’m on the front row, and Marianthi has already started to dance. The Orchids are next!


The Parallelograms – Dream on Daisy


Just arrived to work from a busy morning working on some label stuff. Got my hair all messy after carrying 500 records from the first floor to the third floor of my building, which is the part I dislike the most when there’s a new release coming. 500 records are really heavy to carry at once, you can get sweaty! Then back again to the first floor and pick up a box with 500 sleeves and another with the 500 inserts. Then go back upstairs. I wonder how come I don’t look like Charles Atlas.

So yes, the new Oh! Custer 7″ is ready to ship even though the release date is on Monday the 15th. For that I set up a newsletter to be sent at 6:00 am eastern time, as it is also noon in Europe. Around lunch time, when people check their emails. Then, the emailing continued. Got some good orders from different international shops and hopefully I will be able to afford paying the sleeves’ invoice that will be coming up soon. Press sheet is done, courtesy of the great writing of my friend Emelie, and I just ordered 100 more pins to be given away for free. My pulse beats fast, I hope I’m not forgetting anything. Then comes the part I like the most: opening the boxes. I’m considering on purchasing a box-cutter for Christmas.

Some nice records also arrived today for my collection, new 7″s, and new CDs. Happy times. But also I get an email from fellow obscure-indiepop enthusiast Matt Mastin asking me if I checked a band called “On the Pulsebeat” on the Harlow Bands jukebox. Yes, the same page were we discovered more songs from the great Some Other Day. My answer is no. I’ve never heard about this band, ever. He tells me: “that track “Living at the same address” is truly a long lost indie classic if I’ve ever heard one !!” So I run and check. And he is right. This is great stuff! Who are they?! And again, my pulse beat accelerates. I need to know. I need to find out who this band is. And I have to go to work, and there’s not much time in between, but I know I won’t be happy with myself until I exhaust every effort in trying to figure out who this fantastic Harlow band was.

Clearly, On The Pulsebeat’s pulse beat stopped beating a long time ago, during the mid-80s. The small bio on the Harlow page says:

On The Pulsebeat were Kevin Wells on bass, Ewart Richardson on guitar, Jane Hawkins on synth, Barry Rice on guitar and Ray Davies on drums. In 1985 after recording “Castles In The Air” Jane left and Jo Maskell joined. They recorded “FIVE” together. They entered the Rock Competition in 1984 and 1985 but failed to reach finals on both occasions.

At first listen, especially on their upbeat tracks, they remind me to the obscure band Hearts on Fire, that released an album on Midnight Music and I believe should deserve a post here on the Lost Bands section! It seems they only recorded two tapes, the aforementioned  “Castles in the Air” and “Five”. On “Castle in the Air” the tracks included were “The Price You Pay”, “False Situation” and “Discovery”. It was recorded in Stable Studio and it was produced by Gary Westcott. On their second demo tape, “Five”, we find the tracks “Now”, “Loneliness”, “Inside Story”, “Living at the Same Address” and “The Touch”. This time the songs were produced and recorded by John Brown. But it seems there were more recordings, perhaps another tape, as we find on the Harlow page jukebox some more songs like “Lost and Found”, “Running”, “The Events” and “The Price You Pay”.

A google search gives me no results. I check their previous bands listed in this page, “Blue Heaven” and “Foundation”, and there’s no information. This is it. There’s no more. Time is running and I have to run to work. Seems there’s nowhere else to look for more info about them. Thus, to keep my mind sane, I decided that my last resort is to write this blog post, calling out, asking if anyone can fill in the blanks. Whatever happened to On the Pulsebeat? When did it stop beating?


On the Pulsebeat – Living at the Same Address


It’s just some other day, some other Sunday here. It’s a quiet one. For once the temperature has dropped under 15 degrees and, without the hellish warmth of this town, the days seem longer. My worries revolve around having printing sleeves for a new release and noticing there is a mistake on the track list, thus they have to be trashed. Very annoying, will have to print a new set. Also cut them and glue them together. Lost of hours lost. It’s really just some other day.

Among the exciting things, this upcoming week will be like Christmas on my snail mail. First I’m receiving the inserts for the Oh! Custer 7″, then the 7″s themselves and later the sleeves. Ready to ship to the  ones who have pre-ordered it. Think I’ll need to change the blade on my cutter too, lots of inserts to cut! The other news is that I already received a proof of the new album I’m releasing on the new label I’m putting together with my friend Victor Raul, it looks good, but we need to make a few changes as it didn’t print as we wanted. So now we are looking forward to a new proof copy. We are hoping for a December 1st release, and we should unveil the website any day now. It’s looking very nice. But then, most weeks are like Christmas on my mailbox, so just some other week.

Anyhow, that album we are releasing has been on heavy rotation on my CD player. It’s called “Australia” and it’s by Gothenburg band “Tellus about the Moon“. It’s really nice, it’s haunting! There’s some bright guitars, a lot of elegance, and trumpets! The boy/girl vocals are delicious on it. It has taken us ages to be able to put it together and at last it seems we have it, the ball is rolling on this new project. And yes, I said haunting before, and you know what haunts me when I listen to this album? I hear the ghosts of a long lost 80s band: Some Other Day. Their spirit is very much alive on this record. I feel and sense so many similarities, that gives me the chills. And not like it is a copycat or anything, but it feels both bands were in the same brainwave 20 years apart!

Some Other Day had those bright guitars, that elegance, that melancholy in the vocals, and these dreamy boy/girl vocals that are my weakness. They didn’t get to release an album sadly. They didn’t get to release anything proper. Just two songs on compilations. The first one was “Sad But True” on the “Uncle Arthur’s Pop Parlour” tape that our friend David Driscoll released. The other was “Bury Your Sins” on the “Not Just Mandela” LP, a tribute album for South Africa’s then president that included bands like The Housemartins, The Sullivans or even Billy Bragg.  This one I haven’t had yet the chance to listen sadly. They did release at least one demo tape that included 4 fab songs: “Head Still Full of You”, “All Water Under the Bridge”, “It Stays With Me Always” and “Midnight”. This little collection of songs are wonderful! You can stream them from here, the Harlow Bands Jukebox.

After listening to these songs I immediately went to google and tried to find any information about them, hopefully a contact, as I would love to interview them. I did find Mark Walshe, the vocalist and leader of the band, on myspace, but still he hasn’t signed on it. Seems he is living in San Francisco. There is a very interesting blurb there:

Mark is from England. He has been living in San Francisco for the last 14 years but only came for a two month visit. His big brother once took him up to Twin Peaks at the very top of the city and said “all this could be yours”. It wasn’t his to give, but the point was well made. Through his teens and into his twenties Mark played in bands back in England. Lots of good rock and roll groups. He’s from Harlow Town which is just a hop and a skip from North London. Back in the 70’s and 80’s, at first glance, Harlow appeared to be nothing more than a large training camp for Tottenham and West Ham football holligans. Thanks to the one and only decent local venue called ‘The Square’ Mark met many fine musicians and got involved in some good old rock and roll. He played in Dark Horse, The Clinic, Some Other Day and The Tender Trap. Harlow, as it turned out was also a breeding ground for some damn good art. Moving to London in the late ’80s The Tender Trap became his main concern and he spent much of his time in a transit van traveling all over Britain. A favourite memory was a tour with ex-‘Men They Couldn’t Hang’ lads ‘The Liberty Cage’. They meandered all the way up to Edinburgh and lived there for a week whilst performing shows at the festival. One day he hopes to write a book about those times but fears that only his mother and the other people in those bands would read it. Perhaps the driver too.

On another page I could find a little more info on the band:

Some Other Day were formed after Mark Walsh left The Clinic. Originally a two piece with Mark on guitar and Suzy Allen on vocals they soon expanded and added Billy Dawkins on drums. Soon after this they added Richard Martin on bass. Some Other Day entered the 1985 Rock Contest but failed to reach the finals.

Also I found a rambling by BBC Radio’s Steve Lamacq saying:

A couple of us also managed to stage an editorial coup, seizing control of the Gazette’s music page and writing endlessly about the Newtown Neurotics and various other lesser-known local hopefuls (one of which, a band called Some Other Day, I also ended up managing unsuccessfully for about two months).

Maybe he is the one to blame for the band not having a proper release? “Managing unsuccessfully”? The songs are so good that I don’t see why not even a self-released 7″, or even a flexi, couldn’t have happened. Their music was not just music for some other day. I wonder if there were more songs, why did they break up? if they play lots of gigs? Maybe those living in San Francisco can tell Mark to get in touch! Maybe this helps for you to track him down?

Rarely is there a night that Mark Walshe is not in a bar (pitching trivia questions). Originally from Harlow, Essex, Mark lived in North East London in his early twenties. His interest in broadcasting originated in his rock and roll bands ‘Some Other Day’ and ‘The Tender Trap.’ Mark has worked as a DJ and booker for Nickie’s nightclub in SF’s Lower Haight St. and as full time DJ/emcee at SF’s Virgin Megastore, where he turned the downtown shoppers onto music and interviewed Nelly Furtado, Blondie, De La Soul and David Byrne. He much prefers people mistaking him for Jimmy Page than Simon Cowell, which is the main reason that he hasn’t had a haircut in some time! Mark writes and performs his own songs, which he dearly hopes won’t remind you of Donovan! Stop by and play Wednesdays at O’Neill’s Irish Pub (San Mateo), and Thursdays at Elephant & Castle in San Francisco.

Ah! and now back to my some other Sunday.


Some Other Day – Head Still Full of You


Thanks so much to John Martin for the great interview and the exclusive mp3 for the blog. The Hermit Crabs were a great band that released a split flexi with the 14 Iced Bears and a 12″ on Thunderball Records. Enjoy!

++ Hi John! Thanks so much for doing this interview. So first things first, how come you are both J. Martin & Greg Waverley as you told me on the comments section of my Hermit Crabs post?!

Hi there Roque, the reason for the two names is quite simple: Greg Waverley was the nom de guerre I went under as a Hermit Crab. But when it came down to writing credits I felt it best I use my real name in case we made any money from the songs, which we didn’t!

++ So how did the Hermit Crabs came to life? Who were the members and how did you all met each other?

The members were myself on vocals, Marky Hellings on guitar, Peter Hunt (Malibu Mo) on bass and Steve Perry (Bam Bam Baruso) on drums. We lived in a small town, so you tended to gravitate towards the people who were into the things as you, and with us it was music, so there was a network of people who would hang out. Marky and Mo had played in bands together and Steve had been in a band with another friend of mine. Me and Marky started messing around making music in 1985 with Marky singing and guitar and me on bass. At first we were doing odd soundscapes with echo machines and effects pedals, but the music started to take on more structure and Marky wrote some lyrics to them. We played a gig as The Deckchairs and we got Steve to play drums on the night even though had never rehearsed with us! I remember it as a great gig. We were all big fans of the Velvet Underground, so in my mind it was a beautiful cacophony though the audience may have begged to differ! Anyway, after that, I packed the bass away and we continued to rehearse in Marky’s bedroom and write lyrics together. The songs sounded quite summery and upbeat so we hit on the surf theme and carried it on into the look of the band and that’s what became the Hermit Crabs.
++ Were in the UK were you based by the way?

We all lived in Harlow, Essex, which a town roughly 25 miles from London.

++ What about the band’s name? Why did you choose it?
I think Marky came up with the name. Because of the surf punk thing we were doing, it seemed quite apt, seeing as hermit crabs lived near the beach and were a bit odd, not having there own shell and being a bit scuzzy!

++ Was The Hermit Crabs your first band?

Other than The Deckchairs and a million other bands that were nothing more than a name on a piece of paper, yes!

++ Let’s talk about releases. So Surfin’ Vietnam appeared on the “Let’s Try Another Ideal Guest House” compilation among many other well known bands. How did you end up in this fund-raising release?

Graeme Sinclair, who was affectionately known as Beer Monster used to come to our gigs and after a while we got chatting. He was in the process of putting Thunderball Records together but was also involved in compiling “Let Try Another Ideal Guest House” and he asked us if we had anything to put on it. We had recorded a demo after winning some studio time in a local rock contest and the strongest song was “Surfin Vietnam”, so we gave him that.

++ You seem to have had a close relationship with 14 Iced Bears, releasing the split flexi, and also your 12” on Thunderball Records, being labelmates with them. Were you all friends? How did this relationship happen? did you play gigs together?

The connection was more to do with Graeme as he was friends with Rob (14 Iced Bears). Although we played a few gigs together, we didn’t have anything to do with them socially as they were from Brighton, which was 90 miles away.

++ Talking about gigs, did you gig a lot? Any gigs in particular that you remember?

As far as I can remember we gigged quite a lot! The ones I remember normally ended in chaos. On one occasion we were supporting a band called The Wigs at The Clarendon, which was quite big on the psychobilly scene, so it was always quite edgy to play there. Anyway, one of our fans mysteriously known as the Blue Nosed Crab Crazies decided to set fire to The Wigs backdrop in the middle of our set which neither impressed band or management and we were promptly told we would never play the venue again! And on another similar occasion, an A&R from RCA records organised a gig for us supporting a band made up of all the uninteresting ones from Adam & The Ants. The A&R man was in the audience with a couple of other chaps from the label to check out his new wards with a view to make a smash hit! Also in the audience, however, were the Blue Nosed Crab Crazies, whose only intention was to shower the Hermit Crabs in beer, invade the stage and have a laugh. Being of a similar mindset, we joined in with the Crazies and reciprocated the beer thowing with great gusto. This didn’t go down well with the management and they pulled the plug on us about three songs into our set, creating our own mini riot. We thought this was brilliant and incredibly punk rock, but unfortunately Mr RCA a didn’t share the same view, and decided not to pursue us any longer, a classic case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

++ Alright, let’s not get off the track, back to discography, so the 12”, I’ve never seen it. Care to tell me a bit about it? Which songs appeared there? Any anecdotes about recording it? How did you sign to Thunderball?

The 12” was recorded in 1988 at Electro Rythym Studios in North London. Graeme Sinclair was keen on getting something out on Thunderball as were we, so he paid for the pressing and printing and we paid for the studio time, there was no signing to the label as such. The tracks were Yeah!, Octopus Love, Surfer Girl Metallica, I Think We’re Alone Now and Yeah! (Cake Mix). I can’t remember how we chose what songs to record other than they were the strongest ones from our set, but I remember recording I Think We’re Alone Now had a bit of kitsch value as Tiffany had a version out at about the same time and we thought we might get a bit of airplay! As far as anecdotes are concerned, I remember that we drank quite a lot so by the time it came to mixing, we were off our heads and our audial faculties were’nt up to much. Needless to say the songs sounded terrible and we had to pay for anothers day’s studio time to get them remixed!

++ Did you have any more songs? Maybe you released demo tapes?

There were quite a few more songs all based around the surf genre but I can’t for the life of me remember all the titles and that goes for the other songs on the demo we recorded, which is long lost.

++ And so, what’s with all the Surf references? Surfin’ Vietnam and Surfing Mice?

As I mentioned earlier, it came from the sound of the music we were making, so we took it a stage further and built a whole ethos around the band. It also allowed us to create our own alter egos and write some pretty daft songs without getting too precious about it!

++ How do you remember those days? There were plenty of great bands! Did you feel the scene was very supportive? Any favourite bands or people related to the scene that you liked?

In all honesty, we didn’t feel like part of any scene. The “twee” scene was more Graeme’s thing and although we got associated with it through the label, in our minds, it wasn’t what were doing, we thought we were Rock Gods!

++ In a nutshell, what was the biggest highlight of The Hermit Crabs?

Bringing out the 12” and getting “Single Of The Week” in the N.M.E. which was and still is a very influential music weekly.

++ When and why did you call it a day? Were you involved with music after?

After the 12” came out, we felt we had achieved everything we had wanted to and in all honesty the fun had started to go out of it which was the the only reason we were to doing it in the first place. There was no game plan and we had no ambition other than to have a good time all the time, so we called it quits! As for carrying on with music, Marky, Mo and myself didn’t, but Steve played on in various bands. I never considered myself a musician anyway, I was more of a gobby show-off with access to a microphone!

++ Are you still in touch with the rest of The Hermit Crabs? What are you all up to now?

I am still in contact with Marky who still lives in Harlow and works in accountancy. Mo moved to New Zealand and now makes furniture and I have no idea what Steve does for a living, but I know he is a grandad which makes me feel quite old! I work in advertising now but my alter ego Greg fell in with a bunch of Hell’s Angels whose need for self expression led them to form a traveling circus act which was considered outré, even by Jim Rose standards. Greg’s act was best described as a variant of the trapeze idom. Unfortunately, a diet of mescaline shot straight into the eyeball and absinthe played havoc with his balance and he was last seen shouting at cars from a pimped up bath chair in the South London!

++ Thanks so much John! I think you’ve solved many mysteries now! I’m wondering though how you’d definite The Hermit Crabs? Indiepop? Punkpop? or just pop?

Surfpunk Rock Gods!!

++ One last question, do you know anyone that has a hermit crab as a pet? 😉

Not that I’m aware of!

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Just to say thanks for helping me recall all the stuff!


The Hermit Crabs – I Think We Are Alone (taken from the radio)