Thanks so much to Mark Hodkinson for the great interview! The Last Peach were a great guitar pop band from the early nineties that sadly didn’t break through. They released two 12″ singles, Jarvis and String-Like and received many positive reviews. Nowadays Mark is a writer and he runs his own publishing company, Pomona Books.

++ Hi Mark! Thanks for being up for the interview. You are a writer now and your latest was “The Last Mad Surge of Youth”, which I just ordered. The promotional blurb is really compelling to any music lover: “a novel about bands, growing up, moving away and getting famous, suicide, staying at home and getting bored, fanzines, the bomb, love, alcoholism, egotism and self-doubt.” Was the nostalgia for those 80s what inspired you to write it? How autobiographical is it?

I wanted to write about what I know about and that period felt particularly intense in terms of emotion and hopes. The book follows the characters into middle age, so it isn’t solely based in that period. There is some element of autobiography in the book, as there is with almost any work purporting to be ‘fiction’ but most of it is from my imagination.

++ How much of The Last Peach is in the book by the way?

Very little. I was 26 when I joined The Last Peach. Before that I was in two other bands – Untermensch and The Monkey Run. I tended to plunder this period for material because that’s when I was first starting out and doing so much, meeting so many people. I think it was a richer pool from which to draw inspiration, anecdote etc. We were more child-like and open with our dreams and one another.

++ So okay, let’s talk about The Last Peach, which I’m very curious about as there is almost nothing online about your old band. You had been in a couple of bands before though, right? How different were they to The Last Peach?

Untermensch were quite punk, really. We couldn’t play particularly well so we made a noise. It was a good noise, though, often built around driving bass lines. Some people have said we sounded a bit like the Dead Kennedys, which is fine. Although we lacked musical acumen we were devoted to at least trying to sound original, having something to say lyrically, and from the age of 16 (when we formed the band) we had a real, almost innate understanding of Art and integrity and how we were delivering the whole thing to the public. I know this sounds pompous but it was essential back then that everyone had a manifesto. I cover this approach in the novel, incidentally, how it was all very politicised and do-or-die.

We evolved into The Monkey Run when we realised we didn’t really fit comfortably in the ‘anarcho-punk’ movement. We wanted to broaden the sound. This was mainly inspired by hearing The Smiths early singles and a wonderful group called The Chameleons. I realised I could pick individual strings rather than whacking them all really hard. We were of the Manchester era that later spawned Happy Mondays, Stones Roses, Inspiral Carpets etc but just missed the boat. We played shows with The Stones Roses, Chameleons, Wedding Present etc, did Radio One sessions etc but we never met that one person (manager, label rep) who believed in us enough to take us on.

++ How did The Last Peach start? Who were the members and how did you know each other?

I packed in The Monkey Run in 1989 when I sensed we just weren’t going to ‘make it’. The music we were playing was still great but we kept getting false hope – labels asking for demos etc and then passing on us. It had become a slog – sending out tapes, hustling constantly and it wasn’t fun any more. About this time I started buying records from a store in Hebden Bridge (West Yorkshire) and the kid working there kept recommending lots of great stuff – I remember he was switched on to Kitchens of Distinction early on and most things he recommended were great. He was called David Cooper and had his own band, The Last Peach. They had already done local gigs and had a review in NME. He had just had some kind of fall-out with the rest of the group and we decided to have a jam. I brought along Pete Betham who had drummed towards the end with The Monkey Run and it worked really well. Darren Sharp, a friend of David’s played bass – he’d been in The Last Peach in a very early incarnation, I think: a lovely warm and funny bloke. I saw in David a real ambition and he had these great songs and catchy guitar riffs. I had a clear thought that being in a group with him would be more fun than The Monkey Run because he was a great organiser and grafter. I resolved that I’d be happy to play rhythm guitar, suggesting the odd minor chord here and there, but basically playing a supporting role to David. I’d been the ‘boss’ (or perhaps just thought I was!) most of the time in previous groups, which I enjoyed most of the time, but it can be a bit much and it means you take all the knocks far more personally than other band members.

++ I guess because of your writer background you were the lyricist?

Nope! I don’t think I contributed a single word or phrase to The Last Peach. Again, David had a clear idea of what he wanted to sing about and I liked his lyrics a lot. They were very conversational, nothing fancy or self-conscious – great little stories about our little lives and the people we knew. I always knew I’d one day be a writer and I much preferred the idea of novel writing to squeezing up thoughts to fit lyric meters etc.

++ Why the name The Last Peach?

David was in the garden (as a kid) mucking about with a peach and his mum shouted: ‘Hey, what you doing? That’s the last peach…and a legend was born.

++ The band hailed from Halifax/Hebden Bridge. How was the scene there back then? Any other good bands in town? What about venues? Which were your favourite spots? I guess you hanged more in Manchester proper?

The only band I really fell for was Wonky Alice, who we also put out on Pomona. They were fantastic – a cross between the Bunnymen, Pink Floyd and The Chameleons, but much more of themselves too – out there, musically and lyrically. We played the local Trades Club a few times in Hebden Bridge which was okay but our best gig ever was at The Return Club in Halifax, which was a sort of nomadic gig. On this particular evening we played in a sports centre and as good as sold it out. The nearest thing I can think of is the Nirvana video for ‘Teen Spirit’. The place went totally, utterly mad. We had kids all over the stage, falling into the amps, the drum kits. After each song I remember this roar went up. Each of us were grinning our heads off and I think we knew that we were in the middle of one of the most memorable nights of our lives. I’d played sell-out shows with The Stone Roses, and The Chameleons before, in Manchester, but it wasn’t like this. The Halifax crowd were there for us, so it was all the more special and it was out-of-control, on the edge. There was no security or anything, just the local lads that put on the gig, and we were all overwhelmed, in a nice way – there was no fighting or recklessness, just droves of kids piling on, like Assault on Precinct 13 or something. I may be exaggerating! A bit.

++ And I wonder, living in Manchester, how important were The Smiths for you all?

Life-changing, that’s all. They absolutely distilled everything about the environment and times we were living through and turned it into perfect art. I feel people like Morrissey have some kind of ‘visitation’ that enables them to say so much so succinctly and imaginatively over a short period of time. Marr, too, but this time on guitar. All those wonderful, wonderful tunes.

++ In 1992, Melody Maker named you “Tip for 1992” along Suede and Pulp. They broke through but sadly you didn’t. Why do you think this happened?

Again, we didn’t meet the right people. That’s all the difference is when you get to a certain point. We had fantastic tunes, a real commitment and understanding but, along the way, no one took a gamble on us. We played with Pulp once. They were always a great band and deserved their success. It’s a fine line, making it and not.

++ Your first release was the 12″ single “Jarvis”. Care to tell me a bit about this record? Was this a nod to Pulp by any chance?

Jarvis was the surname of David’s girlfriend at the time: nothing to do with Pulp. I’m not sure, but I think the song is a paean to her redemptive powers. David was at a low before she came along!

++ Also on this 12″ you included “Miles Over There” which is such a beautiful song. Do you mind telling me the story behind this song?

Sorry, that one was already written before I joined. We re-recorded it later. I always felt it was a bit skeletal sounding and wanted filling out but I might be wrong.

++ Second release was the “String-Like” 12″ which has kind of an odd cover artwork, very different to the bright coloured first single. Was there any reason for this? Did you as a band design them?

I found some postcards in a second hand shop and passed them to David who always did the graphics. I thought the design he did was brilliant. We just liked the image. David did all the artwork on the first single, pretty much independently. We liked it – four feet, four socks, four lads in a band that shook the Calder Valley.

++ Which was your favourite song of yours? And why?

Back of her Sleeve was always good to play live.And so was Jarvis. They were all great!

++ Both singles were released on your own Pomona Records. How did Pomona Records started? Where did the name come from? What was first, Pomona Records or Pomona Books?

I formed the label, purposely to release the band, and later Wonky Alice. I’d done similar with The Monkey Run. We had a manufacturing and distribution deal with APT who covered most of the costs, so we had all the ‘fun’ of recording, designing, promotion etc. The label came a long while before the books.

++ So what happened, why no more releases? Why no album? Were there more songs recorded that still remain unreleased?

I think David sort of grew up and lost a good deal of his ego! He became more tolerant and compliant and kind-hearted – all the things that work against you becoming successful. It’s always a lot easier if you’re a despot. He got heavily into the cooler elements of dance music (trip-hop etc) and tried to move us into that direction. I think this led to some discontent from the rhythm section and I was struggling a bit, too. We should have done an album, that would have been a lovely memento of the times, at least. We didn’t fall out or anything. I’m still best friends with David, Pete and Darren, and that’s a rare thing.

++ What about gigs? Any anecdotes you could share?

I’m not good with anecdotes. I recall the gigs all being rushed and nervy. It’s such a bizarre thing to do, standing in front of people showing off. I never truly got used to it.

++ When and why did you split? Where you involved with bands after?

I can’t remember when we split exactly – 1994? I’ve had an on-off thing with John Matthews (ex-The High) called Black September. We’ve done a couple of albums on Pomona. I was a massive fan of The High and tracked down John and he kindly agreed to ‘join’. It’s not a ‘proper’ band though – we’ve never played live. It’s the very occasional strumming and messing and recording. I’m proud of the records, though. I woudn’t put anything out I wasn’t proud of..

++ Just out of curiosity, what are you more passionate about, writing books or making music?

Books. I feel you can grow old far more graciously writing.

++ Looking back, what was the biggest highlight of being in The Last Peach?

Probably that mad gig in Halifax, or the numerous sessions in David’s cellar where we made some great noise and I always looked forward to seeing these very funny, friendly, happy (most of the time) blokes.

++ Alright, I’ve been listening to The Monkey Run stuff now, it’s really good! I wonder how those songs have flown under my radar. I will probably ask you for an interview about them some time soon. But let’s wrap up this one now. Anything else you’d like to add?

Do stuff. It’s fun.


The Last Peach – Miles Over There


Thanks so much to Brian Price for the great and thorough answers! It’s indeed a treat that Peru are back, and hopefully I will catch them live soon. If you have never heard them, definitely be on the lookout for their split 7″ with Mary Queen of Scots on ebay or, just go ahead and buy their new retrospective compilation “Across Blue Skies” from Jigsaw Records. I recommend it dearly.

++ Hi Brian! I heard the Peru show at Big Pink Cake Weekender was a nice surprise for the attendees. How did you enjoy it? Any future shows planned?

It was very enjoyable and we received some really nice, positive feedback about the performance which is very reassuring. I was quite nervous as it was the first time I’d performed as a ‘frontman’ for 18 years but, all in all, I was very happy with how things went and the reaction we’ve received.

As for the future, we’re keen do more shows wherever we’re wanted and there are a couple of shows lined up already – we’re playing in Cambridge on April 2 and we’re very excited to be heading over to Limoges in France to play at the annual Popfest there on July 9. Hopefully, we’ll be adding more dates in the coming months…

++ So what made you have a comeback with your old band? It’s different people in the band now, right?

I hadn’t listened to, or played, any of the songs for a good few years but, inspired by watching lots of live indiepop bands at Bristol’s excellent Big Pink Cake club nights over the past few years, I picked up my guitar again and started playing again with a sort of vague dream that I might perform again in public and maybe even record some new Peru songs.

I didn’t think it would actually happen though and I was certain no one really cared about the songs we had recorded back in the 1990s.Then, in early 2010, a couple of things happened that inspired me to turn the dream into something concrete.

The first was at a Big Pink Cake night where I was introduced to Marianthi who told me that she had loved our song ‘World of Jason’ which appears on the first Shelflife Records release ‘Whirlwheels’ for many years and she knew nothing else about Peru. So she was surprised to meet the person who wrote the song and equally I was amazed someone I had met in Bristol had heard the song, never mind liked it!

The same night, a certain DJ/record label owner from Peru was playing at Big Pink Cake and he told me he had bought our debut 7” purely because the band was named after his home country!

Around the same time as that, I received an email out of the blue from Chris McFarlane of Jigsaw Records saying he’d collected up all the tracks we’d released on various ‘90s cassette compilations, as well as our 7” on Waaaaahhh! and the track which Shelflife used. Chris asked if I would be interested in him releasing them as an album on Jigsaw?

All of this made me think ‘maybe now is the time to get Peru back up and running!’ I then asked Matthew of Big Pink Cake if he would let a reformed Peru play at the forthcoming Big Pink Cake weekender in Bristol. He said yes – so I thought, shit, I’d better contact my old bandmates and see if they’re up for it!! Initially, the plan was to have guitarist Steve Woodward and bass player Chris Smith on board. Both were both keen to do it but a number of events transpired against us and we weren’t able to make it happen, so Thom and Jim – guitarist and bass player from Bristol band The Kick Inside – stepped in late in the day and did a brilliant job. The great news is they’re happy to continue and we now also have The Kick Inside’s drummer, Alex, on board too.

++ Are you planning to record new songs?

Absolutely! I’ve been busy writing some new songs since the Big Pink Cake weekender and once The Kick Inside boys clear a few other commitments they currently have, we’ll be getting together to rehearse and then record those.

In the meantime, there’s talk of a 4 or 5-track EP of 1990s Peru songs which didn’t make it on to the Jigsaw album possibly coming out on Dufflecoat label… If that happens, that will draw a line under the ‘90s stuff I deem suitable enough for release, and I’ll then concentrate on new stuff, with hopefully a 7” or EP of new stuff to follow the Dufflecoat release. If no one else wants to put any new stuff out, then I’ll look at doing it myself.

++ So, Peru started in Derby right? How come you are in Bristol nowadays?

My parents and I moved from Glasgow to Derbyshire in 1985, when I was 13, and I lived there for 10 years before moving to Edinburgh to study Journalism in 1995. After that, I worked on a newspaper in Devon before moving to a paper in Bristol in 2002. I’ve been here ever since.

++ Alright, let’s go back in time? How did Peru start? Who were the original members? How did you know each other?

At the start of the 1990s, I was playing drums in The Millers which was a noisier band with influences such as Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Husker Du etc. However, I’ve always had a pretty wide taste in music and was quite immersed in the whole C86, Sarah Records, fanzine-type scene, collecting 45s and buying fanzines and tapes.

My friends and I used to go to a brilliant indie night at Rock City in Nottingham and beforehand, we’d generally meet at my place, drink a few beers and listen to records in my bedroom before heading to Rock City. Chris Smith, my best mate from school, and John Coolin, who we met at a party and knew from an indie band he played in called Kim’s Balloon, jokingly said one such drunken night that we should start an indiepop/Sarah Records-style band.

At that stage, I had only ever played drums but wanted to do something different in this new band, so I said I’d play guitar and sing. Chris, who didn’t play any instruments, said he would learn bass and we both hoped John – a real musician – would keep the whole thing together!

So I acquired an acoustic guitar, learned a few basic chords and attempted to write some songs. Chris got a bass and picked it up pretty quickly and off we went! It really was as simple as that. A little while later, in early ’92, Zoe Head joined on keyboards but left in November ’92. Her sister Kay also joined us for one recording session and one gig. John left sometime in 1993 and Steve Woodward – who was in my other band The Millers – teamed up with Chris and I. That final line up of Steve, Chris and I proved to be the most productive and was responsible for some of the better Peru material, in my opinion.

++ You know I’m from Peru, so the first time I read that there was a band called Peru I was thrilled. I wondered  why would anyone name the band with my country’s name. What was the reason?

Chris and I are massive football fans and when we were thinking up ideas for possible band names, we came up with Cubillas and Chumpitaz, the surnames of two Peruvian footballers we remembered from 1970s Panini sticker albums we bought as kids. We almost went for Cubillas but decided it was a bit too obscure, so we somehow settled on Peru instead – plus we also loved the famous 1970s Peru kit with the red diagonal band on the white shirt.

++ And who had the idea to have a Peruvian flag as an insert of the split 7″ with Mary Queen of Scots? That was such a treat for me!

These were, of course, the days before the internet/photoshop etc, and everything we did was very, very DIY, mainly due to lack of resources and money. It was established the sleeve for the 7” would be fairly plain but each band would have an insert to put their contact details etc on. We initially wanted to have a photo of Cubillas photocopied from a Panini album, but we needed to keep some white space free to stick down some contact details/info and it wouldn’t have worked. So we found a photo of a Peru flag instead, photocopied that and put the info onto the white spaces.

++ Alright, talking about that split 7″, that was the only proper release, right? Of course, until now that we have the Jigsaw CD. But why? Why didn’t you get to release more stuff during the nineties?

We had put some stuff out via the usual tried and tested method of the compilation tape and the next obvious step was to do a 7”. Richard at Waaahhh wrote saying he was starting a 7” Singles Club and asked if we wanted to be on the first one. As money was short and we couldn’t really afford to self-finance a release, we said yes and Richard paired us up with Mary Queen of Scots. We already knew Chris Lam from MQOS via correspondence from compilation tapes/fanzines etc, and we both like each other’s songs, so we went ahead with it.

Unfortunately, we didn’t do a great job of recording the two songs which appeared on the record – it sounds really muffled. We had to do it very quickly and only had a borrowed 4-track recorder and I think we just tried to cram too much on to it. Plus, John (who was in his final days with the band) badgered us into putting a brand new song he’d written called ‘Down’ onto the record when he’d originally planned to use ‘Oasis’ and ‘Kim’s Balloon’. It meant we had to learn ‘Down’ immediately and record it there and then, without any rehearsal or work on arranging it etc. Listening to it, you can really tell!!!

After that, we were supposed to release Roundabout as a 7” single on the German label Meller Welle. In true Peru fashion, we somehow didn’t get around to recording it in time or something, and the label ended up getting fed up waiting and released the songs we eventually sent them as a split cassette with a band called Lament.

The only other thing released ‘properly’ was the aforementioned ‘World of Jason’ on Shelflife’s ‘Whirlwheels’ compilation CD in around ‘95/’96.

++ You did appear on many compilations though, do you remember on which and what songs? I don’t mind you sharing the whole discography here!

Er, I don’t remember how many tapes we appeared on, but there were many! I started my own fanzine, Long Live Vinyl, mainly as a vehicle to promote Peru and get the name out in the open – again, for younger readers, this was what you did pre-You Tube/Myspace/Facebook etc etc. I also compiled tapes to release with Long Live Vinyl – the first being a split tape featuring, unsurprisingly, my two bands at the time, Peru and The Millers!

Other ones I remember us appearing on included C92, which featured a song called ‘Wonderful’ and one other, I think? Also – Kim who did the Bliss/Aquamarine fanzine/tape series put quite a few of our songs on those, as did David McLaughlin (aka DMCL) who ran the Fluff label which released early Boyracer/Hood output.

I reckon Chris McFarlane could be your best bet for a definitive cassette compilation discography! He even has versions of Peru songs I don’t even remember recording, never mind sending out to anyone!

++ What about gigs? You played lots? Which ones do you remember the most and why?

No, we only did a handful of gigs – all of them in 1992. The first was with The Marmite Sisters at the Princess Charlotte in Leicester. The rest were either in Derby or Nottingham and included supporting Heavenly at The Dial in Derby.

We also played a few gigs with the great Derby indiepop band The Almanacs which were probably the ones I remember most fondly. To be honest, we weren’t very good as a live unit at that stage. It was only 6 months or so earlier that I had first picked up a guitar and sang in front of anyone else – singing or playing guitar weren’t my natural ‘instruments’ and I found it too difficult/stressful to do.

So Peru became a ‘bedroom only’ band after our final gig in November 1992. (Playing drums was a different matter – I loved every minute of that!)

++ Was Peru your first band by the way? How involved were you in the indie/guitar pop scene of those days? I mean, I assume that being in Waaaaaah! made you a cutie? Or I’m wrong?

No, as I mentioned earlier, I played drums in The Millers, who grew out of an earlier band called Spacerat. Once Peru began, I was fairly involved in the indie/guitar pop scene, I guess, as I was running my fanzine and issuing tapes, as well as playing gigs with Peru and The Millers and going to see lots of bands.

On reflection, it was a great time for music – particularly in Derby which had a great little venue called The Dial where we saw the likes of The Sea Urchins, Brighter, The Orchids, The Field Mice, The Telescopes, Ride, Teenage Fanclub and even Primal Scream (in their leather-clad Ivy Ivy Ivy phase)!!

There was also a Sarah Records package tour with Another Sunny Day/St Christopher/The Field Mice on the same bill – but there were only about 20 people maximum there as it was close to Christmas and most of the students had gone home!

Over in Nottingham, there seemed to be far less going on than in Derby – although we did often see The Fat Tulips play or bump into Mark, Paul or Sheggi and gigs we went to.

We also followed a Brighter/Blueboy joint tour around the country thanks to our friend Lisa having a car and being willing to go to silly locations!

Whether all of that confirms me as a cutie or not, I don’t know. But there was a sort of indie scene, I guess, and you would tend to meet the same faces at the same gigs and club nights.

++ What about fanzines? did you have any favourites back then?

I used to buy any I could get my hands on, or swap for copies of Long Live Vinyl. As for favourites, I can’t really remember, sorry!

++ How did that release happen by the way? Did you know Richard?

The Waaahhh single?? I only knew Richard though writing to each other to swap fanzines/flyers etc. He just asked if we wanted to do the split 45 and we were happy to do it.

++ So who is Jason from “World of Jason” and “Sammy”? And Kim from “Kim’s Balloon”? What are the stories behind these songs?

Jason is an old school friend I haven’t seen or heard from for about 20 years. The song ‘Sammy’ isn’t technically a Peru song. My brother, Mark, and I were recording a batch of his songs (Marcus) which I went on to release as a split cassette with Johnny Domino (another of Steve Woodward’s projects) through Long Live Vinyl, and I was just jamming the two chords which make up the song. Mark began jamming along and we recorded the guitar parts. He didn’t want it to be an instrumental so I quickly scribbled down some words and recorded a vocal part and he then added the harmony vocal.

It needed a title so we went for ‘Sammy’ which was the name of our old red setter dog. The irony is that Chris McFarlane at Jigsaw said it was his favourite ‘Peru’ song and wanted it on the album – so there you go!

‘Kim’s Balloon’ was named after John Coolin’s former band, which he had named after his niece, Kim.

++ Why and when did you split?

As is often the case, we never officially split. The difficulty we had – and I guess the reason why we didn’t release much stuff back then – was that we were rarely in the same place at the same time. John went off to study in Manchester while he was still in the band, then after he left and Steve joined, Steve went off to study in Sheffield. Things slowed right down when I left for Edinburgh. We did record a few songs when I came back during holidays, but it was getting more and more difficult to carry on so it just fizzled out…

Chris and Steve did record a few songs together in my absence – one of which, Horror Story, appears on the Jigsaw album.

++ What happened after? Were you involved in other bands?

While Peru was still stumbling along, my other band The Millers fizzled out, too, and Steve and Giles from the Millers started Johnny Domino – a kind of lo-fi / alt-country combo.

Some time in ’94, I joined a new band called Boy Scout which featured Marc Elston from Bulldozer Crash, Nick Glyn-Davies, who was in the original White Town line-up, and Rob Fleay who played bass in The Almanacs and was involved in loads of other things too. This quickly became quite a serious band and we courted some major label interest for a while. Unfortunately, it coincided with me being accepted for a place on a Journalism degree course in Edinburgh which I started in ’95. We tried to keep it going with rehearsals and shows during holidays but I felt I couldn’t properly commit to a band based in Derby while studying in Scotland so, after summer ’96, I reluctantly left Boy Scout.

While studying in Edinburgh, I played drums in my brother’s Mark’s band – a little ramshackle, country-pop outfit that has had a residency in a Glasgow bar for the last 20 years or so!! It was always great fun and involved lots of drinking as well as playing and singing! That ended when I moved to Devon in 1999 but I’m happy to say the band is still going and I always join in for a few songs every time I visit Glasgow.

++ Fast forward, 2011. I have in my hands the “Across Blue Skies” CD, a compilation of your recorded output on Jigsaw Records. But it was missing the song “Cubillas”, right? But hey, Cubillas star in the cover. What a player he was! What do you remember about him?

As I said earlier, we were huge footy fans and we remembered Cubillas and his teammates from the old Panini sticker books. Also, as a Scotsman, I have always had a bit of love-hate relationship with him as I have nothing but admiration for his play and the two great goals he scored against Scotland in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina – but he also broke our nation’s heart as his goals effectively made it impossible for us to qualify to the next stage of that tournament! After we named the band Peru, I was determined to have a song called Cubillas – so I wrote a little instrumental and named it after him. For some reason, Chris McFarlane didn’t want it on the album, but it will get included in something soon, maybe on the Dufflecoat Records EP?

++ And hey, tell me about this CD, how come Chris find out about you? And what do the people that have never listened to Peru can expect from it?

He somehow got a hold of my email address and just wrote out of the blue in early 2010. He said in the email that he didn’t think I’d be interested in releasing stuff and probably didn’t want to look back or think about the band, but he was wrong and I was delighted to hear from someone in the US who knew as much about the band as I did!! I’m grateful to him for getting the CD together so quickly and for his support. What can people expect? Some honest, from-the-heart melodic and mainly melancholic indiepop songs recorded between 1992 and 1996.

++ Let’s wrap it here, see you in London Popfest? We have to continue the beer drinking but no soul club this time!

Yes, I look forward to catching up for another beer or two at the London Popfest – maybe not as many as last time, though. ☺

++ Alright, thanks again Brian, anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you! And thanks to everyone who has bought the album, downloaded tracks, helped, encouraged and given words of support so far!


Peru – World of Jason


Sometimes you get asked those silly questions, what’s your favourite colour? your favourite number? or your favourite animal? For the last one I usually answer the giraffe. No particular reason. Something on the subconscious probably. Also in the early days of the label I loved drawing giraffes on the thank you notes for the customers. So there must be something about them, perhaps those strange geometric brown spots on their body, or their long long neck, or those little antennae they have?

Whatever it was, it made me grin the first time I heard there was a guitar pop called The Giraffes. I found out about them on the Jangle Pop Boutique blog many moons ago. This one was a nice blog, recommending mostly obscure bands. I believe the writer was from Romania but he disappeared also. And he hasn’t updated his blog in ages. I wonder if Blogger will close it someday. Anyways, he did a very small post about The Giraffes saying:

UK band “The Giraffes” released their debut single – “Pass Me By” in 1988 on the “Love Madness” label. There is no additional info about this band on the internet. “Pass Me By” is a lovely jangle anthem.

That and a link to this great track that is “Pass Me By”. That was it. So the indiepop researcher in me decided to dig a bit more today.

The name giraffe has its earliest known origins in the Arabic word الزرافة ziraafa or zurapha, perhaps from an African name. It appears in English from the 16th century on, often in the Italianate form giraffa. The species name camelopardalis (camelopard) is derived from its early Roman name, where it was described as having characteristics of both a camel and a leopard. The English word camelopard first appeared in the 14th century and survived in common usage well into the 19th century. The Afrikaans language retained it.

Now let’s move to the 20th century. To 1988. Let’s go to the West Midlands in the UK. This is when and where The Giraffes emerged. After the experience of being in bands like Ens, Reluctant Stereotypes, Pink Umbrellas and Squad, founding members Steve Edgson and Sam McNulty were joined by Nigel Williams (from Wedge Cafe), Larry Lupin (ex-God Toys), Robin Hill and bassist Richard Priest (who later managed Pulp) to form The Giraffes.

There is not much stuff online about them, it’s true. And their records seem to be over the 15 dollar mark I allow myself to buy these days. One day of course I’ll be rich and my mark will be over 100 quid. So as I write this lines, my only experience with them is that great “Pass Me By” song that I actually played in Malmö some months ago when DJing there. My friend Graham was really surprised by it, he wondered how such a good song was so obscure. I ask myself the same. It could have been a true indiepop classic! So yes, this song was the A side of their debut 7″released on the “Love and Madness” label. The B side was called Rooftops. This single was released on October 1988 and was produced by Paul Sampson.

The second release is probably the most obscure one, I’m not sure if it’s a 7″ or a 12″. It was the “One Step” single, also released in the same label in May 89. This one was produced by Roger Lomas though. Third and last release is perhaps the one that is easier to find by the Coventry band. It is the “Lazy Hazel Heart” 12″ that has that lovely jacket cover of a black and purple giraffe. Again, same label and same producer.  This one was released on January 1990. The other two songs on this record are “Think of You” and “Lose My Soul”. There is also a 7″ version of this single sans “Lose My Soul” and the lovely sleeve. But the story doesn’t end there. It seems they kept going and they finished their album in July 1992. It was called “Giraffitti” and was never released. It was produced by Sampson and Lomas. Quite a clever name for the album, no?

Many years later, the two founding members, Edgson and McNulty would start a project by themselves properly called “Two Giraffes”. There is a website that is not updated since Feb. 2009 and also you can stream many songs from their myspace. They are rather good!! Unfortunately they haven’t signed in since 2007 so getting in touch was impossible. Oh! And there’s a video on Youtube for their song “Silvery Trees”. A bit more ska that we are used to, but enjoyable! And what about the video “Pure Poetry”, the Two Giraffes’ World Cup song? Wonder if as The Giraffes they got to record any videos too!

Sadly surfing through google I found out that Steve Edgson died in July 2009. So perhaps some of the many questions about the band will be unanswered forever. I do hope that the album gets to see the light of day. If the rest of the songs on it are as half as good as “Pass Me By” we’d have a corker of an album. I’m crossing fingers here that we’ll hear from Sam McNulty someday. I just wrote through his Youtube account. We NEED to listen to Giraffitti and the rest of The Giraffes songs. “Pass Me By” is way too good to not to want more!


The Giraffes – Pass Me By


(Some beautiful jangly guitars)
“We are going to have a party next Saturday night, if you feel alright, come tonight…”

Can you guess this song is from Germany? I didn’t. I remember the first time I heard it back in October 2009. I had just arrived to Hamburg after some days in Essen visiting my mother. It was quite a special occasion in Hamburg, it was the 30th birthday of one of my dear friends. Also that weekend, as documented in the blog, was one of the best ever, with the legendary Sunny Street gig at the Hasenschaukel. But the first day I arrived, not many were around. I came a bit too early. So that afternoon Andreas and me went over so many records. We started with a collection of all Nine Steps to Ugly recordings. Later on a similar collection by Grab Grab the Haddock. While the music played I went over his boxes of old 80s tapes, filled with demos and rare compilations, among them his own Everlasting Happiness. Then sitting on the comfy couch and flipping through his fanzine collection. Suddenly some jangly guitars coming from the turntable caught my attention. The girl singing could have been the cutest ever, her voice I immediately adored. Who the heck are this? “This is from 1986”, Andreas tells me, “And they are from here, from Germany”. I was thrilled!

I would have loved to be in this small town party the vocalist invites us all listeners. Wonder in which small town of Germany she lived. Then Andreas wisely skipped many songs, and turned around the 12″. On the other side a dreamy “You Didn’t See” makes me melt. “They are the Love Set, but this is seems to be all they recorded” he shrugs with a smile. What a shame I think, they deserved a record deal, an album, some singles, some EPs, some flexis, some maxis, a DVD even! This is jangly guitar pop at it’s finest, innocent, fragile, but with lots of nerve, and feelings, and hope. And this is from 1986!! Love Set were on par with their English counterparts, even ahead I believe. This sound didn’t  happen until 88 or so with The Fat Tulips I think. Anyways, it doesn’t really matter who came in first, does it?

This two songs appear on a compilation called “Beat All the Tambourines” released by the eponymous label and published by Constrictor. As far as I know, this was their only release. It was distributed by another German label, Pastell. Most of the songs, including the two Love Set tracks, were recorded at Fright Train Studio in Duisburg, making me think that it must have been a small town in the Ruhr region. Funny, as that’s the area in Germany I’ve visited most places and small towns. Maybe I’ve passed by their old house or their old hang-out walking one day. Also on this record there are appearances by the well known and great Most Wanted Men and many unknown names for me like Montgomerys or Xavier Says No. This bunch of unknown bands, not really up my street though.

After coming back to the US, some months later, I receive a package from the great Jörg Winzer, great friend and indiepop know-it-all. It was a copy of the 12″. I was the happiest, even took a a photo of me holding it. It was such a surprise. He remembered that during the next days in that holy Hamburg weekend, I often put the record at Andreas turntable. First thing I did upon getting it was ripping the songs out from the vinyl and playing them many many times. Second step was to try to get in touch with the band, you know, detective work. So the research started.

The only names to appear on the record are those of M. Gülicher and T. Shock. It wasn’t that hard to find that it was Mattias Gülicher and even found a website he owned, a distribution company called “Grand Harbour”. Sadly there was no reply after my email asking to do an interview. He also seem to have played on Fenton Weills who will soon have a 3″CD on our dear Werner’s own Edition 59 record label out of Berlin. Also I could find that Mattias is from Cologne, but that’s not a small town. Perhaps, they liked leaving Cologne for some small town parties on the weekend in 86? Could be.

Now it seems that T. Shock was really a Katrin Shock, a K. Shock. She was the girl that sung so beautiful, and what a beautiful name she had, Katrin. Ah! And she also wrote the lyrics. What a talent! Wonder if she ever got to sing again in a band. Wonder if there are more recordings by Love Set. Wonder if I will ever hear from Mattias. Wonder if someone would finally do a compilation of the great guitar pop that happened in Germany during the late 80s and early 90s, some sort of Leamington Spa series, but of Germany. There are so many great songs and bands. It would be so good.

Anyways, enjoy! And let’s hope next Saturday we are invited to a small town party.

Oh! and a “love set” is a set in tennis in which the loser wins no games.


Love Set – Small Town Parties