Happy 2011!

I’m very sure that this coming year is going to be a great one for indiepop. To start off we have the London Popfest around the corner! I’ll definitely be there. So I have to start saving for the pints of beers that will have to flow like an ocean. Waves and waves of beer. Also some great lineup announcements have been made already like The Andersen Tapes, Evans the Death, Youngfuck and The Understudies for example. And Ian promised to have some table football. Now I just look forward to probably the most slot of Popfest, the Friday night dance. Who’ll DJ then?!

But how can I save if I keep finding new music? Some months ago I reduced my budget from 40 dollars to 20 dollars for weekly CDs. But I still haven’t managed to reduce the budget of records. Thing is that some weeks I don’t find anything great to buy but some other I could spend 50 or 60 dollars. It’s hard to keep track of ebay. In any case, I try to avoid paying more than 10 dollars for a 7″ or 15 for an LP.

I just saw a record, that I have never heard, for 10.99 + 3.99 postage on eBay. It’s by The Honey Buzzards and it’s their 12″ single “Sympathy’. Actually I don’t own any of their records, yet. I have heard their second single “Star Happy” though as a friend sent me mp3s some months ago. The opening track is a fab slice of guitar pop. A bit heavier than your usual indiepop fare perhaps, but still very good! I wonder if I’m going to like this other single as much. Let’s give it a chance. The eBay listing has the “Make Offer” option, so I submit my option. 6.01 + 3.99 postage. That would be a perfect 10. Crossing fingers they are up for it.

The Honey Buzzards don’t seem to be that unknown. They do have a whole wikipidia entry saying:

The Honey Buzzards were a Norwich, England based band who achieved significant Independent Music success in the early 1990s.

They were formed by Ian Thompson (born 1971, vocals/guitar), Simon Shaw (born 1972, bass) and Matthew Wayne (born 1971,drums) at Norwich School in 1988, and shortly recruited Nathan Moore (born 1970) and John Evans (born 1972) as guitarists. They took their name from a 17th Century British painting and their sound was influenced by an Art School sensibility, The Velvet Underground, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and latterly The Stone Roses.

They released three singles on Manchester Based Sheer Joy Records; Sympathy (for two girls) (1990), Starhappy (1990) and Pale Horse (1991) all of which made the Top 20 of the Indie Chart, and issued a promo single with remixes by The Orb. Their strongest sales however were in Scandinavia, particularly Sweden.

The first single was produced by Michael Johnson, who was responsible for most of New Order’s back catalogue including the “Brotherhood”, “Low-life” and “Technique” albums. In 1991, the band recorded two BBC Sessions, one for the Mark Goodier Evening Session (Radio 1) and one for Hit the North (Radio 5), while John Peel championed the band’s singles extensively.

They also appeared on the soundtrack to the Diane Ladd and Max Parrish film “Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, kill me” (1993). The band split in 1994. They achieved critical acclaim in The NME and Melody Maker, and shared a BBC Session studio with David Bowie. John Evans has gone onto to achieve mainstream national success with the band The Divine Comedy and continues to tour as their guitarist.

They also have a myspace which they haven’t logged in for years. Wish they had, so I could try and contact them for an interview, but well, it’s understandable, Myspace SUCKS. In any case, there are some songs up there for streaming, not as good as Star Happy, but worth a listen of course.

I’ve been googling around trying to figure out which painting they took their name from. I will need to find out before going to sleep later today. If not, I probably will stay up until I figure out. So give me a hand with that. In any case I looked up “honey buzzard” as I didn’t have a clue.

The Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus), is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, eagles and harriers. It is a summer migrant to most of Europe and western Asia, wintering in tropical Africa. It is a specialist feeder, living mainly on the larvae and nests of wasps and hornets, although it will take small mammals, reptiles and birds. It is the only known predator of the Asian giant hornet. It is thought that Honey Buzzards have a chemical deterrent in their feathers that protects them from wasp attack. The specific name apivorus means “bee-eater”, although bees are much less important than wasps in its diet.

Alright. This gets more confusing. I’ve never heard of the “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” movie, but it seems it’s not very good. I asked my Swedish friends if they’ve heard about them, as it says they had strong sales there, and they have no clue. I wonder if I could get a hold of the Indie Charts of 1990 and 1991. I’d like to double check the facts are right.

Doing some research online I could find some info about their releases on discogs.

“Sympathy (for two girls)” was released in 1991 instead of 1990 as stated by Wikipedia. It is catalog number SHEER 006 and included the songs “Sympathy (for two girls)”, “Always Today” and “Easy”. Then “Star Happy” was catalog number SHEER 012 and was released in 1992 (Wikipedia says 1990). This second single included the tracks “Star Happy”, “Sleepwalker” and “Balancing Act”. No information whatsoever on their third single, “Pale Horse”.

Also they contributed two songs to a 12″ LP compilation called “Presentation” released on their label Sheer Joy. The songs were “Sympathy (for two girls) (5AM Mix)” and “Easy (Electro Premix)”. THis compilation was intended to be a collection of alternate mixes from the forthcoming singles on the label. 4 postcards were included with it. The other bands to participate on this record were Lovekittens and The 3rd Bardo. Never heard of them. Any good?

And that’s it. That’s all information I could gather on the net. If anyone knows anything else please share! Or if there’s a way to contact the ex-members of the band for some sort of interview that will be fantastic. And now, let’s all be Star Happy because tomorrow is New Year’s eve and we are partying hard! Oh! and cross your fingers for me on the eBay offer!


The Honey Buzzards – Star Happy


I’ve never been a big fan of Christmas but this year I would like to ask Santa for some records. I would want some rare and obscure vinyl records from Australia. Specifically from The Tripps. Any of their releases will do. Don’t worry, I don’t have any of them, so they won’t be repeated. I’ve seen their “Sometime Today” 7″ on ebay for 20+ dollars plus postage. At the moment that’s out of my budget. Well, 20 dollars for a 7″ is always out of my budget. But for you Santa, that’s just pocket money, right? Why not? Make a popkid happy this winter. And I’ll keep behaving well, doing my job as an indiepop researcher 24/7, and uncovering beautiful guitar pop songs that the rest of the world should be aware of. What do you say? Can you make it happen? I wait for your answer sometime today.

The Tripps were a three-piece from Australia. I would guess from Sydney, as they recorded their songs there.  Geoffrey Forrester was bass and vocals, David Smith was on drums, and Jonathon Pritchard guitar and vocals. Their first release dates of late 1986, a two song 7″ record on the well known Waterfront Records, home of Club Hoy or the Widdershins among others. Catalog number was DAMP 42. The A side is the only song I have ever heard from them, “Sometime Today”, as a friend had ripped me an old tape with Australian goodies a while back. It is a fantastic song, of great romantic guitar pop, very much in the vein of bands like The Windmills or The Chalk Giants. Just scroll down and you can have a listen! The B-side was a song called “It’s Like a Zoo”. Both songs were penned by the bassist Forrester and were recorded at Reel Time Studios in August of that year. Produced by Chris Logan and engineered by Louise Pollack.

What about the name The Tripps? Surely Tripp is a last name. But I can’t think of any famous person with that last name worth of naming your band. Also it seems that Tripp is a nickname (also spelled Trip) for a man or boy who is the third in his male line of ancestors to bear the same name, and carries a “III” or “3rd” after his name. Another possibility is that it seems that Tripp is also the name of a clothing line popular amongst people involved with the gothic subculture, and rave subculture. Or, if you want to be a wayfarer, you want to be geographical, you can find a couple of cities called Tripp, one in South Dakota and the other in Wisconsin. Don’t think the name comes from any of these.

I’m guessing record sales weren’t too good, and that’s why they moved on to a smaller label. They went to release on Strand Records a 12″ called “Never the Twain” on 1987. Four songs this time: “Factory of Fame (Let’s Get Processed)”, “Ship’s Cat (No-one’s coming Back), “Prayer to the Rainmaker” and “Wayfarers All”. “Ship’s Cat (No-one’s coming back)” was written by someone called Afiouni. And I was really surprised to see there is an entry for ship’s cats on wikipedia:

The ship’s cat has been a common sight on many trading, exploration, and naval ships, and is a phenomenon that goes back to ancient times. Cats have been carried on ships for a number of reasons, the most important being to catch mice and rats. These rodents, when aboard, could cause considerable damage to ropes and woodwork. More serious was the threat rodents posed to the stores the ship carried. Not only could they devour the foodstuff carried to feed the crew, they could cause economic damage if the ship was carrying grain or similar substances as part of its cargo. Rats and mice were also sources of disease, an important consideration for ships which could be at sea for long periods of time. Cats naturally attack and kill these rodents. The prevalence of cats on ships has led to them being reported on by a number of famous seafarers. The outbreak of the Second World War, with the spread of mass communication and the active nature of the world’s navies, also led to a number of ship’s cats becoming celebrities in their own right.

And then there is a list of “famous” ship cats like Nansen, Peebles, Kiddo, Tarawa, and more. None known to me. I wasn’t aware that a cat could achieve celebrity status. Anyways, moving on. I do notice that there is a bit of a mariner, sailor, theme on both A2 and B2 of this 12″, right? Wonder why. Anyhow, this record was recorded in Sydney in 1987 and was produced and engineered by David Price with assistance of Geoff Gordon. There seems to be a 7″ too released this same year for “Ship’s Cat (No-One’s Coming Back)” on Strand Records, catalog Strand 002. The B side being “Green Bottle”. It has a really cute artwork on white and blue, with a female cat wishing farewell to it’s male counterpart, already sailing off.

Now let’s go back to 1986 as this B side, “Green Bottle”, had been released this year on a compilation called “On the Waterfront”. Actually two Tripps songs appear on this really good compilation that includes two other favourite of mine as Love Minus Zero and The Skolars. The other Tripps song on this compilation is called “Crystal Palace”. For those who don’t know about it, The Crystal Palace was a cast-iron and glass building originally erected in Hyde Park, London, England, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. After the exhibition, the building was moved to a new park in a high, healthy and affluent area of London called Sydenham Hill, an area not much changed today from the well-heeled suburb full of large villas that it was in its Victorian heyday. The Crystal Palace was enlarged and stood in the area from 1854 to 1936, when it was destroyed by fire. Wonder if the song is about it.

So you see Santa, even this compilation would be a fine gift for the holidays. Or what about this DVD called “More Tales from Underground Australia”? What is it? It seems to be a music video DVD including The Tripps’ “Ship’s Cat”, and The Marigolds’ “Waiting in Line”. I didn’t know there were videos for this! Why aren’t they on youtube? Really Santa, any will do, even getting in touch with the band to learn more about them! Wonder if they recorded more songs, perhaps an unreleased album! Wouldn’t that be great! So any of you out there feel like being Santa, please go ahead! I’d love to know more and listen more about The Tripps!


I’d love to send regards to the few people that enjoy and read the blog in this holiday season and have helped me find and learn more from many great and obscure bands from indiepop’s past. This may not be Pitchfork or some hype-induced blog, but we care for the songs and the artists. That’s what matters right? It’s about making them popular, not the blog. Anyways, I’ll be back after Christmas to continue with the Indietracks diary! Merry Christmas to all the readers of this little blog!


The Tripps – Sometime Today


Thanks so much to Richard Lane firstly for getting in touch after reading my previous post of Snog6 and confirming me that they didn’t snog each other. And secondly, for this great interview telling us a bit more about his old band. What a great track is Misery! Enjoy once more.

++ Hello Richard! First of all, thanks so much for getting in touch! How are you? You were telling me that Snog 6 were based in Sheffield? Do you still live there? How are the preparations for holidays going on?

Life’s pretty good cheers. Snog6 were a Sheffield band but i have moved around the country a fair bit since then. We started in 1992 and finished in 1993 so it all seems a very long time ago!! Holiday preparations are still not really going but it has snowed so we might get a white Christmas,

++ So let’s go back in time, when did Snog started out? Because that was your first name right? without the 6? And who were the members?

Snog6 met in a basement in Sheffield. It started out with Reg (bass), Al (rhythm) and myself (jangly indie) with Kate (vocals) and Nigel (drums) soon joining. In true spinal tap style Nigel changed to Andy – a rock god of a drummer.

++ How did you all knew each other? Was it easy to get together the band?

We all loosely knew each other and when we got a few songs behind us it kind of all fitted together. We practiced twice a week for a few hours and then started gigging.

++ Was Snog your first band? Were you always into guitar pop by the way?

Snog was my first band apart form the odd jam. For most of us it was our first and last taste of fame except for Kate who got onto top of the pops (it was the English pop music programme of the time MTV for the early nineties 😉 )

++ So what happened, why the name change? What were the threats of the original Snog band?

Snog threatened court action so as we all lived in the postal code area s6 it seemed a sensible change of name. I always hated it though I wanted us to be “Goodnight Mr President” Monroe’s last words

++ Who were these other Snog by the way? I have never heard about them!

Neither has we until the letter popped onto our door mat!!! 🙂

++ So alright, you made two demo tapes. Do you remember the tracklist of them? Was that all you ever recorded?

The first demo was “Truth” and “Close Your Eyes”. The second was “Misery”, “Truth” and I can’t remember the last song, sorry.

++What do you remember of those recording sessions? Any anecdotes you could share?

Rushed would be the word. We recorded each song in 3 hrs as we had only 6hrs time in the studio. We used the Sunday morning slot as it was cheapest. And I had to go and watch a football match for the second session. I wasn’t popular but at least we won!!!

++ What about gigging? Did you gig a lot? Any particular gigs that you remember dearly?

We played about 8 gigs. the best by far was for a student battle of the bands. Really good set up, good lights and pa and the crowd loved us. It was from there that we were offered a single on the “Does Your Dog Moult EP”.

++ How did Misery appeared on the 7″ compilation “Does Your Dog Moult?”? Do you remember?

They saw us at the band competition. John Peel played the single a couple of times (the best British DJ ever just ask anyone who knows!!!)

++ Looking back in time, what do you think was the highlight of Snog 6?

John Peel, playing live and recently finding out that 20 years later we had gone worldwide!!

++ So why call it a day? What happened after? Did you make music?

I still make music but only as a hobby. I’m a head teacher now. We split up due to artistic differences or the fact we couldn’t stand Kate. You decide 😉

++ And what about these days? When was the last time you picked up your guitar?

I play the guitar most days, record a little on garage bands and still occasionally play live with friends. i was the band at my own wedding.

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

Happy days will do it for me!!!


Snog 6 – Misery


Back in February 2008 I spend two weeks under the warmth of the Peruvian summer. The humidity and the lack of a/c, that I’m so used by now, was painful to the point of having sleeping problems. It was a good time nonetheless. Those were the days when Plastilina Records was becoming a party of two, instead of four. It wasn’t a harsh break-up, I think our friends Jose and Sete had their own good reasons to leave and Jalito and me thought it made more sense to run the label just the two of us. We could be more productive that way. This brought a breeze of fresh air to both of us to keep the label afloat first, and make it a well known indiepop label. A respected label. We had (and still have) a big debt with our home country though. Our main mission since the start was to be able to create and support an indiepop scene in Lima. We figured out that by having some bands under umbrella we could be able to do this, by organizing gigs, releasing their records, doing merch, and well, the list can go forever. You get the point. We wanted followers in Lima, not just in UK or Japan.

During these early days of 2008 there was a buzz in town about a band of 4 girls called Las Doñas. I remember being at Jose’s house while some football game was on with the volume turned off. The boombox was playing. “I’m going to show you something you are going to like” he said. He grabbed a CD called “No Hit Wonder”, a compilation of Peruvian bands that came along with a magazine called Freak Out!, and swapped it in the boombox player for the Stone Roses CD that was playing. He skipped all songs, all the way to number 08. Suddenly a band that sounded like a very rough version of Los Fresones Rebeldes was playing. La-la-las, wo-oh-ohs, and poppy guitars. This was a true discovery.

I should attribute the discovery to Iván, the guy that was behind Internerds Records who released this CD compilation. He loved Spanish indiepop lots, especially Family and early Mirafiori, but also late 90s American bands like Holiday, which was his favourite. He even made some nice instrumental songs himself, in the vein of Daily Planet, under the name Callahan. But Las Doñas had already made an splash before this underground discovery, they played at a rock contest in 2007. This contest is called Rock in Bembos and happens every year as far as I know. Bembos is a Peruvian hamburger chain that is quite popular, more than McDonalds or Burger King even, that because they have tastier hamburgers, they serve Inca Kola and have yellow hot pepper sauce! And I believe they have stores in many countries, even in India. Anyhow, they organize these rock contests were bands from different high schools are allowed to participate. I remember when I was growing up in Lima and enjoying the juicy hamburgers, that the paper tray liners in Bembos, around November or so, would have photographs and names of the bands that were going to the finals of the contest. I always thought it was a great initiative.

Las Doñas didn’t win this contest sadly. But it was the start of a very short run playing in many bars around the bohemian district of Barranco in the coming year. It was actually in one of these bars, the Bernabé, that I catch them live once, just a couple of days after Jose showed me their song. I was convinced that they could be the force that would inspire more kids to start indiepop bands and finally have some sort of scene in Lima. The song had great lyrics and an unusual charm. And you could tell they had great influences. Of course, the production wasn’t the best, but I was already thinking ahead, and thinking this would sound glorious with proper production. So I told my partner Jalito, let’s go to the gig, and sign them. Just like that. We come in, we see them, if they are any good, we sign them to Plastilina. He grinned and agreed.

Upon arriving to this small bar/venue, we found out that the summer heat was going to kill us. There were a couple of fans, but the body-heat of the packed venue was going to be way more powerful than them. We ordered some Pilsen Callao beers. The tall ones. And sat down for a bit until the gig started. We didn’t have a clue on how the girls looked, so we had to wait after the gig to talk to them. The gig was heroically shambling, everything was like falling apart, but they managed to charm everyone with a great attitude. I wasn’t wrong about their love for Los Fresones Rebeldes as they dared to cover, and with success, their indiepop anthem “Al Amanecer”. It was shocking to say the least. And the crowd, they knew the songs, they sang along!

After the gig was over, we approached them, all the way to the room that was acting as a backstage, where guitars and cases were scattered all around and you had to be careful not to step on them. I stopped the lead singer Susana on her way out, “hey, I’m from Plastilina Records, do you have a minute?”. It was the first time I’ve done that. It kind of felt good, like, you know, a proper label. That you go to gigs and sign bands instead of finding them online. Suddenly the rest of the girls swarmed around and we had a chat. I remember we offered them to release an EP, 5 songs. We would pay for the recordings even. We really believed them. We trusted that they could spearhead a new scene. They said “yes!”. That they would record some demos for new songs in the upcoming months, and then we would choose the best and try to find some time for recording the EP. We had time and patience, so why not.

Sadly time passed and things never came around. We had too big expectations perhaps, and didn’t consider that the band would surrender to the lack of support to an indiepop band in Lima. They did record some songs before breaking up like “La Vaca” or “Penelope Cruz”, but still without the production we hoped for. Nowadays the girls have a rock and roll band that I can’t recommend listening to. Whatever happened to their joy, to the innocence of their songs? It all went down the drain somehow. I always longed to see an indiepop band tagged Peru in Twee.net. I thought this one would be it, that we would make it happen with Plastilina. It didn’t happen. We had some shots before, but never as close as this one. We even introduced ourselves as serious indiepop entrepreneurs at their gig, right? I thought this was our chance to fulfill our Peruvian mission. But they lost hope in guitar pop somehow and by consequence  I lost hope in Peruvian indiepop.


Las Doñas – Aeorosol (demo)


10 days and it’s Christmas. I haven’t done any plans. I stayed in Miami in the end and didn’t get to do any Christmas cards this year. Not even bought any gifts. It’s going to be a quiet one. A cold one too it seems. We were almost down to 3 degrees Celsius yesterday in Miami. Bear in mind that we don’t usually have any heating, and most apartment’s insulation is taken care by newspaper inside the walls. It’s odd to see Miami brown. The greenness of the town is slowly disappearing.

My table is full these days, competing with my sheets that don’t let me escape from bed earlier than 11 am. It’s tough to be productive like this. But we I have a Gold-Bears 7″ coming in January. The record is at the pressing plant at the moment and I eagerly await for the test pressings. We are working on a video for the track “So Natural” that was also included on the Happy Prince/Cloudberry compilation released in October called “To Call Up the Shades”. The name from that compilation comes from a poem by Cavafy, and the anecdote behind it, well, there’s not much to it. I miss hanging out with my friend Christos, he is Greek, and Cavafy is Greek. So that’s all. And the title seemed fitting. Anyways, this same song will appear later in 2011 on their full-length on Slumberland Records. It’s really a pleasure to release these 4 songs by Gold-Bears, perhaps Georgia’s best indiepop band ever?

Then the month keeps busy too. The Sound of Young Java is back with it’s third volume. 4 new songs to sample the great indiepop that is made far away in the South East. Then there is a new compilation coming out tentatively called “You Should Always Keep in Touch With Your Friends”. 5 songs, all in different languages, from 5 different bands, from 5 different countries. This is a little tribute to the worldwide indiepop community, were language or nationality or whatever don’t matter. It’s going to be a cracker. And last but not least, the latest on the Cloudberry Classics series will come from Australia, 7 songs by Bart and Friends. That’s for Cloudberry. On Plastilina we have The Sunny Street album going to press any moment now! And if I look a bit forward, it feels like 2011 will be very busy in general. Lots of things to do, touch wood and cross fingers!

Touch Wood: As this expression has superstitious or pre-Christian origins it is usual physically to touch something wooden whilst exclaiming “touch wood”, or shortly afterwards, in order to benefit from the resulting good luck. If the object touched transpires actually to be laminate or some other such non-wooden material then this may result in a scramble to find some real wood, which may be perceived as ominous.

Right, I’ve been listening a lot today to this song called “Touch Wood” by a very obscure band called Nervous Curve. And mainly this post is about asking if anyone has any information on them? As far as I know there were only two songs released. Both of them on tape compilations. “Touch Wood” appears on You Can’t Be Loved Forever vol.3, the last of the series of tape compilations that Philip Ball from The Rileys used to put out. And the other song was “Your Idea of Heaven” that appeared on the Kite compilation in 1989. Both songs are great! Jangly pop at it’s best. You know the formula, catchy melodies, heartfelt vocals and lyrics, chiming guitars, and melancholic choruses. That’s how it goes. In days when a demo tape usually had 4 songs, and these being only 2, I’m assuming that there must be more recordings from this band. Anyone happen to have any more songs by them? Or any information about the whereabouts of the band? Or perhaps the names of the members? Hey! Perhaps they are on facebook! Would be great to know more from them, and dedicate them more lines than this little paragraph. But as I said, the whole world wide web is clueless about Nervous Curve. We need to make it up for it!


Nervous Curve – Touch Wood


Thanks so much to Fabien Garcia for this interview about the beloved French band Caramel who released on Marsh-Marigold, Harriet and Aquavinyle! Here we talk about Caramel, the Limoges Popfest that he organizes and sheep testicles with garlic and parsley. Great interview! Hope you enjoy 🙂 You can check more songs of them on their myspace here.

++ Hi Fabien! How are you doing? I hear you are already planning the next Limoges Popfest for 2011! Anything you can reveal about it yet?

Hi Roque ! Yes, we (the « Anorak Team ») are already thinking and working on our next Limoges Popfest. The second one, in last month of July was so cool, welcoming and enjoying bands like Northern Portrait or The Electric Pop Group, that we want the next one to be great too ! It should happen the second weekend of July 2011. What can we reveal about it ? At the moment, we’re thinking about which bands we would like to welcome. Some of them could possibly come, others not… Anyway, one band is sure for the moment to come and play here : Peru, from Bristol. We met Brian at the last Big Pink Cake Weekender in Bristol. He’s a very kind guy and he automatically answered « Yes! » when we asked him if he would like to come and play here in France for our Popfest.

++ You know the other day I was looking at the photos of the 2010 edition of the festival, and saw that grill with lots of meat, looked so tasty!! I thought: “that is a proper indiepop festival! Not just silly tofu but proper food for the crowd. How can people expect to party with a weak stomach? We need some proper food! French people do know how to eat.” What other highlights did you have from this year’s edition?

« How can people expect to party with a weak stomach? We need some proper food! ». That’s what we believe. And we don’t want people to starve if we want them to party during all the night. Well, we always wanted to organize the popfest in a very friendly way. People pay 15 euros and that’s all. Then, everything is free during all the weekend : the food, the drinks, the concerts, the fun. Cos’ yes, fun, fun, fun, that’s what we want. We want people to feel good. So there’s good food, as specialties from our region that people can discover, good drinks, as some beers from our region (yes, here we have great beers ! Hé hé), and good concerts. What can people expect more from a Popfest ?

The highlights from the 2010 edition of the festival ? First of all the Northern Portrait concert which was absolutely fantastic. One of the best concert I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen many. Then, The Electric Pop Group gig which was also excellent. Then, all the people dancing behind the two bands. I also remember how much the guys from Northern Portrait and The Electric Pop Group are really kind people. It was great to meet them. The French Defence concert, which came from England and is an Anorak Records’ band, was also a great moment. And finally, I must note the concert from my own band, Pale Blue Eyes which was a good moment. So my girlfriend, who doesn’t like indiepop, came to me and said : « I thought your music will be boring but your concert was great. And your songs are really jangly ! ». These were some of the highlights of last Popfest. But there were many others.

++ So yes, as you said, we’ve done an interview before, one about Anorak Records, that sadly disappeared when my old blog was hacked. Ah! Shame! But now let’s talk about Caramel, one of the greatest indiepop bands ever born in France. How did it come to be? How did you all get to know each other?

Caramel… Hey, very old memories… This was so long ago. Well, the band started in 1992. First of all, the band consisted of Denis (bass and vocals), Isabelle (vocals and tambourine) and me (guitar). I met Isabelle because at the time she was… my girlfriend. I met Denis one day in a record shop here in Limoges. I was buying a Saint Christopher 7 inch and he was buying a Field Mice 7 inch. Both were Sarah Records ! I told him : « This is a great record and I love the Field Mice ». He replied to me : « I love the Field Mice too and I love Sarah Records ». A friendship was born. We met again and he told me he would like to start a band. We did that. During a few rehearsals, a friend of Denis played drums with us. Then, the guy had to left the town for his studies. So we decided to ask a good friend of mine who knew how to play drums, Stéphane, that I knew when we were in high school, to come and play with us. He said yes. We played in this four people line-up during a few months, and starting to record a demo on a 4-tracks tape. Olivier Roussilhe, from the band Lol (later Verdurin) recorded it for us. We decided to send the demo to some labels we liked, only a few ones first : Sarah Records, Siesta Records and Marsh-Marigold Records. Three days after we sent the tapes, Oliver Goetzl, from Marsh-Marigold Records, phoned to me and asked : « Do you want to release a record through my label ? » We automatically said « Yes! ». He asked then another question : « Do you want to come and play for the Marsh- Marigold Christmas party ? » We replied « Yes ! » too. We were in November and the concert was one month after. We had never played live… And we needed another guitar player… Well, during these days, I’ve met Guillaume. I was in the street, wearing a Fat Tulips tee-shirt and this guy came and talked to me : « I love the Fat Tulips ! And Brighter is my favourite band ! » Then he told me he was playing guitar and had a demo tape. He asked me if Anorak Records would be interested in releasing some songs from his band (who will become Doggy). After listening to his songs, Denis, Isabelle, Stéphane and me thought it would be great if he could join Caramel. He said « Ok ! ». He did one practice with us and then directly came and played with us in Hamburg for the Marsh-Marigold popfest. A great one, including also Acid House Kings, Red Letter Day, Poprace, Die Fünf Freunde and Red Sleeping Beauty. A few months later, Olivier came with us to play keyboards. He played on our first mini LP. Then, for our second LP, Mike, from They Go Boom !!, came to play keyboards with us instead of Olivier. This is the short story of the beginnings of Caramel.

++ Was Caramel your first band by the way? How did you learn to play bass? Do you play any other instruments?

No, Caramel wasn’t my first band. Before that, I’ve been playing with some friends in bands called My Crystal Chamber and Poppin’ Candy. But nothing remains from them… Hopefully. I’ve never learned to play bass because I play guitar. Anyway, I’ve never learned to play guitar too. I don’t know the music. No one ever teached it to me. I’ve been starting playing all by myself. Trying to find cool tunes. Other instruments ? I know how to play the kazoo. But they never want me to play it… I don’t know why… hé hé… It seems I like the buzzing sound of this instrument and many people don’t. Which is a shame, I believe.

++ So okay, why did you choose the name Caramel? Do you like caramel flavoured stuff by any chance? haha

Well, we decided to choose this name as it was sweet and as we needed to find one quickly because of the deal with Marsh-Marigold. We wanted a name that was both French and international, that anyone could understand. And Caramel is the same in French and in English. And yes, we liked caramel, candies, lollipops and things like that.

++ I’m curious, was there any other indiepop band in Limoges then aside from you? Where were most of the popkids  based in France back in the early nineties?

When we started Caramel, we were the only indiepop band in Limoges. Here, at the time, everyone was listening and playing in punk or hardcore bands… That was quite difficult to find some gigs and venues in our town. Anyway, we didn’t care. But at the time, we also had a radio show, on a local radio, here in Limoges. It was called first « Drinking gazoline » and then « Pop corn ». By the way, we manage to get in touch with some popkids here. And some of them started bands. A few years after Caramel started to play, there were some other bands in Limoges : Dale, Shag, Blooming Park, etc.

In the early nineties, there were popkids everywhere in France : Rennes, Brest, Nantes, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montauban, Strasbourg, Paris, Lille, Marseille, Nice, Montpellier, Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand… and many many more. Most of them great people and, unfortunately, some really bad ones… Anyway, it was really exciting. Cos’ there were a lot of fanzines, labels, bands.

++ So how did you end up releasing in a German label, Marsh-Marigold, and not in a French label, considering during those years there were plenty of cool French indiepop labels?!

As I told before, Marsh-Marigold was the first label to ask us to release something. We immediately accepted because it was, after Sarah Records, our favourite label. After that, we didn’t had to search for another label. At the time, Marsh-Marigold Records was already some kind of « cult » label. Really adored by the popkids… Which made some bands and people in France jealous from the fact we were on this great label.

++ Did you get to play shows in Germany because of this relationship? Did you play in any other countries?

Yes, we went to Germany to play shows because of the relationship with Marsh-Marigold Records. Oliver offered us the opportunity to play there and it was always great concerts, and now great memories. Yes, at the time, we also played in Belgium and of course in France.

++ What was the best show that Caramel played ever? What anecdotes do you remember about it?

Our best show… I think in fact of two particuliar shows : one was in Bordeaux and it was very powerful. There were not a lot of people in the audience but they really seemed to enjoy it and danced a lot. The second one was our last show ever, in Hamburg, Germany, for the Marsh-Marigold Christmas party of 1996. We played fast and it was really jangly and fun. The sound was fuzzy and we enjoyed it a lot.

++ What were you listening during those days? Did you consider yourselves Poppunkgaragemods? That’s quite a term!

We were listening to all the great bands there were at the time. Our main influences were the bands from the C-86 so called scene, mostly The Pastels and The Housemartins, and some early punk bands like The Undertones or The Buzzcocks… There were also bands like Talulah Gosh, The Fat Tulips, Strawberry Story or Heavenly that influenced us a lot. And we also loved bands from Sarah Records, Bus Stop Label, Heaven Records, A Turntable Friend Records, Summershine Records, K Records, etc. No, we didn’t consider ourselves as « poppunkgaragemods ». It was a kind of private joke. We were indiepop kids !!!

++ What about ¡Olé Zamora!, why that name? What’s the story behind that? Anything to do with Zamora Football Club?

The name of the CD « ¡Olé Zamora! » was just another joke for us. Zamora is the name of Olivier, our first keyboards’ player. As I do, he’s got Spanish origins. When we were recording the first mini LP, we thought it was fun to use his name. So no, nothing to do with Zamora FC.

++ Eventually you did release on a French label, on Aquavinyle. Did you ever get to meet them? How did you end up signing with them and not continuing with Marsh-Marigold? Tell me a bit about this label as I don’t know much.

Yes we released a 7 inch on Aquavinyle. It was a label ruled by Thomas, a friend of us who was living in Bordeaux. So yes, we often met him. He also used to organize some concerts for us in Bordeaux. Through Aquavinyle, he also released 7 inches from Blueboy, Bouquet and a few other records. Well, we didn’t properly « sign » something with Aquavinyle. Oliver, from Marsh-Marigold Records, always let us do what we wanted and release records with labels who wanted to. But most of our songs were recorded for Marsh-Marigold, of course. Oh, and at the time, we also contributed to many many compilations tapes for labels and fanzines around the world : England, USA, France, Japan…

++ So this 7″ was the great Johanna. Let me guess, one of you guys had a crush on a Johanna?

No, no one of us knew a girl called Johanna. It was just another joke about a character from a french TV soap called « Hélène et les garçons » who was very popular at the time in France. This girl, named Johanna, was absolutely stupid…

++ And the last release was a 7″ in the great Harriet Records. You did release only on cool labels! How did you end up signing to a label across the Atlantic? And why didn’t you get to play here in the US?

About the record with Harriet, it’s Tim Alborn who used to get in touch with Denis. He just asked to him if he wanted to release a 7 inch through his label and, of course, we accepted his offer. For us, it was an honour to release a record with such a great label. It was one of our favourite at the time and we were pleased to release that last record with him. Why didn’t we get to play to the USA ? No one ever asked us too. And just after the 7″ with Harriet, we decided to stop the band. Anyway, I must say that at the time, things were not so easy as they are nowadays. So, going to play in the US was just a dream.

++ Looking back, which of your releases was your favourite? Do you have any favourite song?

I think my favourite release was the « Triangle » 7″ released through Marsh-Marigold. Picking up just one song from us would be difficult… Maybe « Pas tous les jours dimanche ».

++ What about telling us something about Caramel that no one knows about?

We recorded our songs in a wine cellar. And this is absolutely true. Isabelle’s grandfather used to be a wine merchant. He lived in a small village in the countryside near Limoges. When we wanted to do some recordings, we all went to her grandparents’ house and stayed there during the days we needed to do the recordings. And the first time we did that, he told us it would be great to record the songs in the wine cellar. We thought it was a good idea. So we did most of our recordings there. Maybe the wine barrels who were there also had a great influence on us…

++ You also recorded a video for “L’ete ‘en Ville”, one of my fave of yours! Any anecdotes you could share about the video? Seems like it was fun to record!

Yes, it was real good fun to record it too. The father from of a friend of us was the director from a psychiatric hospital in Limoges. We needed a big room all painted in white. He told us : « There’s one in the hospital, I’ll ask to my father ». And his father agreed. So we all went there, with one camera and many many friends. Xavier and Sylvain, two friend of us who were students, told us they could record it. Xavier was studying cinema in a school in Angoulême. The recordings were done in two hours. Then, he went to do an internship for the Scottish TV. The guys there helped him to do all the film editing. Now, Xavier is working for the local TV here in Limoges. Sylvain is working in a TV in Paris. It was their first filming experience.

++ After listening one more time to your songs, I wonder, are there still any other songs that never got properly released?

I think all our songs were released. I can’t remember one that was not. But it’s so long ago that I’m not sure about it.

++ So when and why did you call it a day? What did you all do after? Still in touch with everyone?

The band stopped just after our last concert in Hamburg. It was in the beginning of 1997. We had to stop because Denis went to study and live in Wales, Isabelle went to live in Paris and Stéphane went to live in Toulouse. After that, Guillaume and me started another band called Corner Kick. We did some great concerts here in France but we never released any record. Guillaume also kept on doing his songs with Doggy, his solo project. Now, Stéphane also plays with him and he also plays with my new band, Pale Blue Eyes. Denis played in several bands in Cardiff and then in England where he’s living now. We’re still all in touch except Isabelle who’s now in Paris which is not so far away… So maybe, Caramel will play again one day… Why not for a future popfest in Limoges ? Who knows ? 😉

++ Ah! I could continue with more questions, there’s lots to ask. But let’s wrap it here. Again with a food question, what’s Limoges specialty? Can you cook it? 😉

Limoges food specialties ? There are so many ! My favourite one is the limousine hotpot. It’s not made with a big car. This name is because « Limousin » is the name of the region where we live. It’s made with salted pork (legs and flat ribs) and a big chitterlings sausage, cabbages, leeks, carrots, turnips, potatoes, two cloves of garlic, an onion studded with cloves, a “bouquet garni”, pepper. I know how to cook it and I like it a lot. One other very typical is the sheep testicles with garlic and parsley. But I don’t know how to cook it and I don’t like it a lot.

++ Thanks Fabien! Anything else you’d like to add? See you in London Popfest?

Thanks Roque for the interest in Caramel !!! Will I go to London Popfest ? I really hope so but I don’t know it yet as I’ll maybe working when it’ll happen. Anyway, I look forward to go and see you there !


Caramel – L’été En Ville


It’s already December. That means that the Twee.net poll is open. Remember to vote. Let’s not leave it to Series Two to boycott it again and again. By the way, do they still exist? Our scandalous friend Chris seems to be quiet. Maybe he found inner peace in a retreat. Also December means that everyone starts posting their top 10, top 20, even top 100 records of the year. As if I care. As if anyone cares anymore. Everyone nowadays believe they are tastemakers because they have a blog or even a facebook profile, when in fact I feel they are embarrassing themselves with their choices. Did they even buy those records? Right, those are their top picks, the records they loved so much this year, but they couldn’t spend 10 dollars on them. There’s something wrong with the picture. Don’t you see? It’s also very funny that everyone that do these lists always add the disclaimer: “This is by no means a definite list”. What does that mean? Why do people like doing incomplete stuff? If it’s not definite, why not wait, make up your mind, have a definite list and then publish it? Why the urge of publishing something you are not sure of? On top of that it’s 2010. Decade-worth lists also coming up.

I’m not sure which records came out in 2010 but one of my favourite was “Dansette, Dansette” by Tender Trap. It wasn’t really a comeback, but it felt like one. It was the most powerful version of Tender Trap ever heard. Strong lyrics, great songs, and lots of pop hooks. For some reason, I know this record will be forgotten by many year end lists. They always forget the good records. They only remember the hyped ones. Anyways, it felt natural for me to be happy when I learned that Tender Trap were replacing Love is All at Indietracks. So after having my life defined by The Orchids and their mighty set, with a knot on my throat, I walked (or floated?) all the way from the Indietracks main stage to the shed. Second time seeing Tender Trap in three days. Third time in the year. I knew by hear that they always start with “Suddenly” and end with a cover of Talulah Gosh’s “Best Friend”. A raucous cover that the three times transported me back to 86 even though I didn’t live it!

It’s funny to remember Amelia asking me where I got their CD from, that she hasn’t seen it yet. It was just a promo one, on cardboard sleeve, but still. It was May in New York City and the record wasn’t out yet. Tender Trap were headlining the Friday gig at Mondo at “Don Hill’s”. A painful lineup for me to get through that day. Happily Allan kept the night a happy one, giving funny names to anyone he pleased. So I got through it. I really wanted to see Tender Trap for the first time. And even though everyone was leaving early because Peggy from the Pains was having a 90s disco party somewhere else, I stuck around. Tender Trap came last that night. I knew a couple of songs from the new album, Girls with Guns and Fireworks. Both had already been given a video treatment for their youtube fans. Also I hoped them to play Oh! Katrina, which they did. But I wasn’t ready for their new arsenal, for their new songs, especially for that popstatic bomb that is “Do You Want a Boyfriend?”

After the gig Sean Fortuna Pop set up his merch table. “Sean, what’s going on? You don’t have anything by Tender Trap?” I asked. Sean, grinned. From a secret stash below the table he got some promo CDs in cardboard sleeves. One was The Pains’ “Say No to Love” single, and the other was Tender Trap’s album. He had brought these promos to give away at radio stations in NYC. Dedicated record label boss! Of course, I borrowed a pen and went outside the venue. Amelia signed it: “Hi Roque. This is the 1st I’ve seen”. Geeky moment. Happy moment. It was nice to chat with Amelia then. They were leaving the next day though! What a trip, just for one gig! Also got to meet Rob for a bit, asked him about the Five Year Plan. He pointed me out to the myspace of his old band, and that’s how that interview I published on the blog in August, came through.

Thursday in London. The day before Indietracks. I arrived to London at 11am and had been hanging around with Jennifer around Greenwich. Had my first mutton hamburger. Was good. Then we met with Christin and Emelie just outside the Windmill at Brixton were the HDIF gig was happening. Pocketbooks, Betty and the Werewolves and Tender Trap were playing. A fantastic lineup. Jennifer and Me were djing between bands. We had some terrible hamburgers from a shop across the street. We were early, so we sat just outside the tables at the Windmill. We saw the bands start coming for soundcheck. First were Betty and the Werewolves, then Pocketbooks. Suddenly Peter Twee.net arrived on his bicycle. We had trouble finding a suitable place for him to lock it. Then Amelia and Rob came on a blue station wagon. It was nice to see them again. She was surprised to see me again after just two months! And on different sides of the Atlantic! Anyhow, the gig was great. Now Sean did have some Tender Trap records. I got “Dansette, Dansette” on LP. I didn’t get it signed this time. Actually it is still sealed in plastic wrap. The CD is the one getting the heavy rotation. I don’t trust my turntable needle you see!

The Indietracks gig was as good as the other two. The same songs, but I don’t complain. Sometimes you don’t need surprises. Their selection works and in what a way!  Jennifer tells me that she hopes that tonight Amelia does shout when she sings “does he have to tease you gynecologically?”. Well, she doesn’t.. I tell Jennifer that they never do. She insists, she says they always do. Then the band throw some t-shirts to the crowd! My meter and ninety come in handy and I jump higher than little Eric in front of me. I get the t-shirt. It’s a navy blue one, it says Tender Trap – Fireworks. And it has a nice design with fireworks exploding. I always play the lottery and I never win. That Saturday, I got two t-shirts by mere luck, The Orchids earlier and now the Tender Trap one. But there is one detail. One issue. It’s a female medium size!!

But somehow, when I’m at Indietracks, when there’s indiepop around, luck is on my side. While making the line to eat for the second time the tofu curry, I meet a girl that has a Tender Trap t-shirt too. Hers is a male large size. It seems reasonable to swap right? For once things seem to go my way. If I was going to make a list, it wouldn’t be the top ten albums that every square person does. But what about a top ten list of t-shirts I got this year? Feels more interesting. To start, the Tender Trap one will definitely be there.


Tender Trap – Do You Want a Boyfriend?


Yesterday I got some new records on my snail mail. Those who are friends with me on facebook know that I try to listen and rip one 7″ a day. I scan the cover artwork as well and post it on a photo album there. It’s quite a fun exercise. I think if I wouldn’t do that I would just pile records and records and not ever listen to them. I chose to rip one of those records that just yesterday: The Capitols’ “Who Can Tel”. Don’t confuse them with the Michigan band from the 60s that penned “Cool Jerk”, this band is from 1987! Upon opening the cardboard mailer, I was really disappointed by the awful album cover, with some sort black and white photo of curly-haired lady with a half-way smile and wearing hipster glasses.  To be honest I was expecting some terrible songs too. I was giving myself reasons not to feel that bad. “You only paid 2 pounds for it, don’t dwell on it”. But turns out, this is a GREAT record.

I can’t recall how did I know the existence of this record. Could be from Twee.net as it is listed there. I don’t think the ebay lister knew much about it. He had written on the description:


Why do sellers on ebay love writing with caps lock on? First lesson at typography class was never write too much with upper case type. It’s hard to read. And I’m guessing sellers want people to read their descriptions right? I don’t get it.

Anyways, it is indeed very obscure post punk, though it would fall much better in the C86 category. It’s very much on the vein of The Shop Assistants, Chin Chin, The Wilderness Children and that sort. It’s GREAT. Sadly the record only includes two songs, none of them longer than 2 minutes. Come on! They could have included two more, especially if this was there only release. Think of the fans! And talking about fans, they had a fan club! It seems it was run by a girl called Becky who was based in Moseley, Birmingham. So, it is fair to assume the band was based there as well.

he record was released by Cake Records, a label that mostly supported not so poppy acts like Pigbros or The Davidsons. This was the only 7” released on the label. All other releases were 12″s. Ah! And it’s catalog number Slice 2.  Published by Cubic Music, Distributed by Nine Mile/Cartel. Also from the back cover we learn that the odd lady on the front cover is called Joan. Also lists the band members: Jimbo on bass, Maria on violin, Phil on drums, Sue on vocals and guitar, and Tank on guitar. All lyrics by S. Emilon. I’m guessing that was Sue. No other member’s name start with an S. What a great detective I am.

They had more songs. Checking the John Peel Sessions book I could find that they recorded a session on 6/4/87. The songs recorded were “I Want to Be Alone”, “Who Can Tell?”, “Born Yesterday” and “Failing Again”. The session being produced and recorded by Dale Griffin, Mark Robinson and Mike Shilling at an unknown studio. So, someone out there must have a recording of this! I don’t! Hope some nice person wants to share.

But let’s go back to our detective, researcher, homework. What else have we found about them? It seems The Capitols formed after the split of Cherry Red Records darlings The Nightingales. The story goes more or less like this according to Wikipedia:

The Nightingales original members were Robert Lloyd (vocals), Joe Crow on guitar, Eamonn Duffy on bass and Paul Apperley on drums, all formerly of The Prefects.  The debut single, “Idiot Strength” was released in 1981 on Rough Trade Records, following which Crow and Duffy were replaced by Andy Lloyd and Nick Beales on guitars and Steve Hawkins on bass. The band signed to Cherry Red Records and released three more singles before debut album “Pigs On Purpose” (Produced by Richard Strange) was issued in late 1982.[2] John Nester replaced Hawkins on bass before next release, the “Urban Ospreys” single. Pete Byrchmore replaced Beales (who went on to form Pig Bros) in time for second album, “Hysterics” (1983), Nester then departed to be replaced by Howard Jenner. The new line-up issued two singles in 1985. Further changes then ensued with Andy Lloyd and Paul Apperley leaving, to be replaced by Maria Smith and Ron Collins. After the split, Maria and Pete formed The Capitols, later known as The Rotten Swines (Maria was also a member of Rumblefish).

So, alright, we find here already the connection to Pigbros, and how Pete and Maria met. But who is Pete in the band? Is it Jimbo? Is it Tank? By the way, really cool that Maria also played in Rumblefish! One of my fave bands of the era! I do wonder, with that name, The Rotten Swines, did they sound like The Capitols?

This is all I’ve got so far. I want to hear more songs from them! Even from The Rotten Swines if possible. The Peel Session shouldn’t be that terrible to track, right? Anyways, have a listen yourself. This is pretty good stuff! Much better than the hit or miss indie with girl vocals that swarm these days.


The Capitols – Who Can Tell?