30
Mar

Thanks so much to Phil Wilson for the interview! If you have been living under a rock you must know that Phil made a comeback in 2008 with a couple of releases. Then, the ex leader of the mighty June Brides, surprised us all late last year with one of the best indiepop albums in a while, one that is bound to be a classic “God Bless Jim Kennedy”. So I trust you that if you have not bought it yet, head to Slumberland if in America or YesBoyIcecream in Europe to get it. It’s great!! And after that, come back, and enjoy the interview.

++ Hello Phil! How are you doing? I hear you live in Buckfastleigh? To be honest, never heard of that place. How do you like it there?

Hey, Roque! All is good, thanks – especially living down here in lovely Buckfastleigh.It’s a little, old town on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park in Devon. One of the most beautiful places in the UK. We live in what is officially the new end of town- a much later addition. So our house is quite new, only having been built in 1792 😉 I moved down here from London in 2007 – I couldn’t stand the big City life any longer. Best thing I ever did.

The town is mainly famous for producing “Buckfast” tonic wine. It’s the preferred tipple of violent drunks in the Glasgow area – just ask any Scottish band about it!

++ I’m going to stick to your new stuff, but we’ll have to do a June Brides interview later! I still remember 2002 or so, when I was downloading from you on soulseek all your June Brides videos, before Youtube times! But let’s leave it that for later. Now let’s focus on this great  album you’ve released. It’s just fantastic and the press reviews say so too. How proud and accomplished you feel with it?

I am terrifically proud and pleased with it! I wasn’t even sure I could write any new songs, so coming up with a whole album of pretty decent tunes was just great for me. I’m not sure how many people have actually bought it, but the reviews were fantastic. I was very worried about the possibility of being mocked for trying to come back, so it was a real relief to have the album be so well received.

++ Do you feel any differences between this solo period compared to the one in the late 80s after the Junies split?

Yes! There’s no pressure now at all – as nobody really expects anything from me. At the time of the solo stuff on Creation, it felt that I had to compete with the success of the June Brides to prove something. But that feeling has completely gone.

++ “God Bless Jim Kennedy” was released by both Slumberland and YesBoyIcecream. Is there any difference between releases? Why did it happen in two labels?

It was mainly a financial decision! Who knew if the album would sell at all? So it made sense to spread the cost and risk between two labels. The only difference between the releases is that in Europe/The UK, the album is only available on vinyl. But you can get a CD in the US.

++ Tell me about the title of the album…

Jim Kennedy is/was my maternal grandfather. But he died of leukemia at the age of 17 before he and my grandmother had a chance to marry. Disastrous for him, his family, my grandmother and my mother. Everybody’s life was somewhat ruined. But me and my family all come from that terrible time. So the title is somehow ironic and truthful at the time – God (if he/she exists) didn’t bless Jim much when he was alive, but we all come from him…

++ You recorded the album at Off the Rails Studio, which Andy Fonda, your drummer, runs. Must be very convenient and helpful! I wonder what advantages this gives you? The album sounds so much fun, that I guess recording it must have been a bliss?

It was great to record it in a comfortable place. Cheap, too! It gave us the opportunity to develop the songs slowly, and to amend and re-record when new ideas arose. A far better way to record than to have to rush it all in a swanky studio! And Andy did a fantastic job recording it so well on fairly basic equipment.

++ So yeah, tell me how did the band came together? I know you knew Frank and John since the Junies, but the rest?

Arash Torabi, the bassist, found me on Myspace! He was desperately trying to find anyone within a 50 mile radius who might have heard of the TVPs, and he got me…And Arash then found Andy, too – so I had a little band together without really trying at all.

++ What about the video for “I Own It”? It’s so nice! Did you come with the idea? Where did all these Swedish kids come from?!

I wish I could take some credit for it, but it had nothing to do with me! The director, Bo Mikael Hall, had done a video for Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, who have also released stuff on the Yesboyicecream label. Emmet, who runs Yesboy, simply asked him if he’d like to earn very little money by doing one for me!

++ Going back t the album, which is your favourite song on it? And what does the number 32 mean on the song Pop Song #32?

I think “Small Town” is probably my favourite. It’s the only old song on there, and was originally due to have been a June Brides single after “This Town”. And it’s quite a personal song, about my violent stepfather and my wonderful Mum. So it’s very personal, indeed…

There’s no particular meaning to the number 32! the title is just a slightly ironic dig at myself for writing yet another little pop song that won’t set the world on fire. Not that I don’t think it’s a great song!

++ You’ve been playing a lot of gigs since you came back in 2008! Some even abroad! Which gigs have been your favourite, and why? Any backstage anecdotes you can share?

Playing abroad is always best! I’ve really enjoyed the concerts in the US, Germany and Spain. Concerts abroad are always MUCH better than in the UK. The UK is desperately fashion lead when it comes to music. This can, of course, be great and probably has meant the UK gets more than its fair share of important acts. But It also makes it damned hard for an old bugger like me to persuade UK folk to come to the concerts! I seem to get much more respect when out of this country. And there are no mad backstage anecdotes to report – I’m far too sensible these days 🙂

++ By the way, did you get to do any touristy stuff while abroad?

Always, always!! I’m not very happy about just going to a place and doing concerts – I really want some time to appreciate the place I’m in. For that reason, I always try to have days off between concerts to explore…

++ You are playing the next San Francisco Popfest too! What expectations do you have?

I really don’t know, to be honest! For the band, I’m just hoping for a decent crowd and that we don’t embarrass ourselves too much 😉 But I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the other acts.

++ How do like the indiepop scene these days? Is it by any means more cohesive than during what we consider they heyday of indiepop back in the 80s? Are there any big differences?

I enjoy an awful lot of what I hear, and I love the fact that we are all so connected via the web these days: it makes everything a lot easier, and helps make you feel part of a wider community. What’s not to like about that?! The things I’m less keen on are things that have always grated with me – anything over-twee or too precious is always going to stick in my throat. Call me an old rockist if you like 🙂 And I do believe that the interconnectedness can’t help but make things a little more homogenized – we all hear what everyone else is doing, so the weird stuff is less likely to be developing in isolation – and I like the weird stuff!

++ Speaking of which, I know you are quite up to date with indiepop bands and releases! What are your latest discoveries? Any recommendations?

Well, I do love a great pop song, so I’m always keen to hear the new bands. I’m sure I won’t be surprising anyone here by mentioning Summer Cats, the Tartans, Lets Wrestle, Sexy Kids, Standard Fare, Honeyheads, Tap Tap, Just Joans, Lininanas,Internet Forever and The Starlets. But I think the last year or two has also been a great time for resurgent older guys! Great stuff from Vic Godard, The Sexual Objects, Edwyn Collins, Television Personalities, Sarandon, Factory Star (new album coming very soon) and The Wild Swans (While I’m here, can I also please mention the other band I play in?! The Granite Shore are worthy of a listen if you like pop music big, bold and epic- think Scott Walker and you won’t be too far wide of the mark).

++ Back in the 80s the June Brides appeared on hundreds of fanzines. These days fanzines are almost extinct. Do you think the internet and it’s blogs can replace fanzines?

I’m not sure how they compare. I think the sheer effort of writing, printing and selling a fanzine meant that relatively few people did it – so those that did were pretty damned dedicated. But it doesn’t take anywhere near as much effort to create a blog. How that affects the quality of what’s written is probably a topic for an interesting debate! What is undoubtedly true is that few people will be re-reading a music blog in 25 years time, whereas my fanzine collection remains a thing I treasure.

++ I have a question from my friend Jennifer, she thinks you are a snappy dresser! She asks: “What are your fave shops, places, web sites for men’s clothing (new or used) in the UK?”

Your friend Jennifer is clearly a person of taste 😉 I really do love good quality clothes. I think a psychiatrist would probably put it down to growing up dirt poor and yearning for the finer things of life! TK Maxx (or TJ Maxx as it’s called in the States, I believe!) is brilliant for good clothes. Ignore the well known Designer labels and shop with your hands would be my advice! Just feel for the quality – and only buy design classics. TK Maxx sells a lot of boutique stuff from small European designers – which nobody buys in the UK because the labels aren’t famous enough! So you can get classic stuff in high quality materials at a fraction of the normal cost. Free advert over 😉

++ So yeah, why did you leave London? And why so many people think you are Scottish?

I was sick of my job, which had actually made me quite ill with stress. I was sick of commuting. I was sick of the dirt and the noise. And I didn’t like having to go through highly armed policemen on my way to work at the Treasury every day! So we got out. Exciting cities like London are, I believe, fantastic places to be young in. But you yearn for something a bit more beautiful and peaceful as you age a bit.

As for being occasionally described as Scottish, I guess that mistake happens because sonically we were often compared with the Postcard bands – until it got to the point where some people believed we must actually be Scottish to sound like that!

++ What is coming next for Phil Wilson? Have you written more songs recently? Is it true that you are planning a country album? :p

I’m not sure where we go next, to be honest. I’ve never been that great at planning! I tend to write songs when they are needed – so haven’t currently got any on the boil. If I decide to do another album, I’ll have to get writing again soon!

I am actually planning to do some recording with my dad in a country style! He’s a great singer and needs to be properly recorded before it’s too late. So I have about 10 backing tracks recorded, including a country style version of “Velocity Girl”, ready for when he next comes down to visit me. I’m not sure what will happen to the recordings once they are done…

++ Aside from playing music, what other hobbies do you have?

You know, mainly just the usual…books, walking, nature. The only outlandish thing I do is try (and often fail!) to repair old mechanical watches. I love the beauty and workmanship they involve and the patience they impose on you…

++ I see these photos of Dartmoor, lots of cows, sheep and horses, and I wonder, are you an animal lover? Do you have any pets perhaps?

I think you’ve probably got an important part of your soul missing if you don’t get immense joy from nature – I’m definitely an animal lover! We don’t have animals of our own, as our house is small and old and has no garden, but we do spend a lot of time looking after ducks in our local park (here is where I begin to sound like a real weirdo!). We feed them and rescue them and the chicks when the river floods. My wife and I are also part of a rota of people who spend a lot of time trying to keep the local foxes from eating them! I go out every night between 11 and midnight to our park to discourage the foxes. Told you I’d sound weird 😉

++ And what about Phil as a cook? What is that dish you make that everyone has to lick their fingers after tasting it?!

I’m a pretty rubbish cook! But I do make a mean soup – Moroccan style squash and carrot, or curried vegetable being my best…

++ Thanks again Phil! One last question, if you were to give some advice to this indiepop community better, what will it be?

Other than to buy my album?! OK…I wouldn’t presume I knew how to make anything better. But I’d just encourage everyone to be mutually supportive – we do need each other. And I’d encourage everyone to have the courage to express themselves – we all have something interesting to give if we put our hearts into it.

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Listen
Phil Wilson – I Own It

27
Mar

Back in 2007, while I was still going to university, I started Cloudberry Records.  Those were busy days as I was attending classes and doing homework, I was an intern at The Miami Herald and ran a Spanish blog called Mira el Péndulo that was updated almost daily. I was running Plastilina Records but I wasn’t feeling that involved at the same time. And suddenly I decided that I wanted to be even busier. It was time for a singles-only label. And I wanted to release a single every 1st, 15th and 21st of the month until I had 100 releases. And that’s how it went.

I remember people asking how did I manage to do so many things at the same time. How did I find time. Actually, I was asked this same question a couple of days ago, while e-mailing with my good friend Cristóbal, and I guess that’s why I’m writing this post. To be honest, I never questioned that myself. I always felt that there was time. I’ve never felt running out of time. I would cut and paste sleeves as soon as my boss at the internship left. I would burn CDs every Saturday morning while watching European football. And I’d go to the post office every day on my way to school.

2007 was intense, even life-defining I’d say. That year I graduated. That year I also spawned a monster. I learned about love and betrayal. It was the year I attended my first indiepop festival, NYC Popfest. Also, with some friends, we started a weekly indiepop night in Miami Beach. I wrote my first fanzine too. But none of that was better than running Cloudberry. There’s nothing I love more than doing this. Even up to these days I think 24/7 Cloudberry. Even at work while working on a graphic about something related to Cuba, I’m dreaming of indiepop.

To meet the release deadlines every month I still remember my maths. I had to have 6 bands working on a single at the same time. That was the right number so I didn’t fall behind. That because sometimes bands wouldn’t meet the deadline or, in the worst case, they would split before releasing or recording the songs. I think the latter was what happened to Helie and Sunshine. We emailed a couple of times. We agreed on doing a 3″ single but one day they left nothing behind. They deleted their Myspace and they disappeared from the face of the Earth.

I wasn’t  too keen on releasing US indiepop bands back then. I don’t think in 2007 there was much quality here as the past two or three years. The exception to the rule was the irruption of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, in May, that same year. So when I discovered Helie and Sunshine that December, I was so thrilled and very excited. They sounded just up my street and they were American. From Portland, Oregon, as far as I know. At least their label “Lilydale Records” was based there. I assume they ran that record label. As far as I know their 4-song EP was the only release on Lilydale.

When I found about them, they had already released their “It’s All I Can Be EP”. They promised recording two new songs and include one of the songs of the EP on the slated Cloudberry single. I wonder which song they had in mind to be included. The tracks on the EP were: “It’s All I Can Be (Myself)”, “I’ve Got a Plan”, “Waiting for You” and “Surprise”. The first songs two were supposed to be released later on a CD and LP album called “Here We Go”. But that never came out. I wonder if they had already started recording the songs for Cloudberry or for their album. I also wonder how many people got the chance to listen to these songs. The EP was limited to 300 copies. I have number 16. The presentation was very nice too,  the CD-R looked like  a vinyl record. I wonder if they got to sell all the stock.. I wish they did.

I want to guess that Helie and Sunshine were a couple because of their last names. The credits are for Michael Walsh, guitars, on vocals and drums, and Ann Strieby Walsh, on bass, vocals and drums. But that’s all the information there is about the band.  have searched online and the only results come from  Skatterbrain and Indie-MP3. They did blog about them and recommended them.  No other traces in the WWW. It’s a shame, I feel they were into something, they could have been playing the next indietracks.

I ask myself what Michael and Ann are doing these days. I wonder if they did record more songs. And what about their stock? Will the copies that were sold become indiepop artifacts 20 years from now? Anyone know what happened to them?

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Listen
Helie and Sunshine – It’s All I Can Be (Myself)

23
Mar

Thanks again to Bart! Some months ago we covered the great Pencil Tin and the relationship with Rob Cooper from The Sugargliders, now it’s time for Girl of the World, the first band Bart was involved with. They released three singles and a compilation CD in the early nineties, and all of them I recommend getting! You could tell that something special was brewing in Melbourne during this time, it was just before Summershine started and  people in town were getting influenced by the indiepop coming from the UK.  Anyways, sit down, read and enjoy!

++ Hi Bart! How are you these days? Have you written any songs this week?

Things are good. I’ve got a couple of songs on the go. The lyrics still need a bit of work, words don’t come as easy as they used to. My life is less of an indiepop cliché these days so I have less source material to draw on.

++ We did a nice interview about Pencil Tin, and I know, we should move now to the more known Cat’s Miaow or even The Shapiros, but I want to go even back, to Girl of the World! But you were telling me you don’t feel it was your band? Why is that?

I was definitely in the band but I didn’t form the band and my song-writing contributions were fairly negligible.

++ So how did Girl of the World start? Where did you know Tim and Cameron from?

I’d never met Tim or Cam before I joined the band. Girl of the World had probably been going for a year with a different bass player before I joined. I think they had only played a couple of parties but they did have a set of songs already written.

I’d just moved to Melbourne to go to college and was walking past a music store and saw an ad for a band that needed a bass player. The ad really stood out to me for 2 reasons. Firstly it had Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning girl on it and secondly the list of influences was really unusual for an Australian band. I don’t think any Australian band before or since has listed the Pastels, Talulah Gosh, Wedding Present, Orange Juice and the Go-Betweens on an ad. I just had to join this band. I’m not even sure if anyone else contacted them.

++ Was Girl of the World was your first proper pop band? Which makes me wonder, did you three have very similar taste?

It was the first band I’d been in that released a single, so in that sense yes. Prior to that, I was in a band that went on to become the Ampersands. They released a few things on Harriet in the US. My replacement was Andrew, who I formed the Cat’s Miaow with.

I think the 3 members of Girl of the World had compatible tastes, rather than identical. I don’t think there was anything that any of us liked that the others hated. I was more into Flying nun and Beat Happening but there was a lot of common ground with the c86 era. Tim was into the Pastels and Pooh Sticks while I preferred the Wedding Present and Orange Juice, Cam had a leaning towards US guitar bands like Husker Du and Buffalo tom. All 3 us liked Teenage Fanclub and the Field Mice

++ You play bass on Girl of the World, whereas in the rest of bands you played guitar mostly. How did you pick up the bass this time? And of course, what do you enjoy playing the most, guitar or bass?

I’d been playing bass since i was 16 and at that point didn’t know how to play guitar. I was about 25 before I started to learn the guitar. I haven’t played bass in probably 10 years. I’ve just lent it to the teenage daughter of a friend from work so she can play in a band. A guitar is better for writing songs, I don’t actually consider myself much of a guitarist tho.

++ Why the name Girl of the World? That can’t be about a particular girl, can it?

It was a re-appraisal of the phrase “Man of the world”

++ First release was in Parasol, when they were just starting. It was the “Travel EP”, how do you remember the recordings of this one? And how come it ended up in far away Urbana, Illinois?

The recording of the Travel ep is probably one of my fondest memories of the band. It was incredibly exciting, recording at Simon Grounds home studio. I’d probably only been in the band about 9 months by then. We had been rehearsing twice a week since I joined and had a hell of a lot of new songs. Andrew had earlier recorded pretty much every song we knew one afternoon at the church hall where we rehearsed on the 4 track and we released the best 10 on cassette. Not long after we recorded the Travel ep Tim went on a round the world holiday and scattered demos along the way. It ended up on Parasol as they got to the phone quicker than Bus stop when they listened to it together. Heaven offered to do it as well but by that time we’d already agreed to do it with Parasol

++ Also the second release was on Parasol: “Le Cirque” 7″. This may be a very silly question, but do you like circuses Bart? I just got this nostalgia and had me thinking that I haven’t been to one since I was maybe 12 years old, but I always loved them, especially the magicians. Do you like any in particular about them?

I always find them a bit seedy, clowns give me the willies. I took my kids to one not long ago and they’ve changed a lot since I was a kid. Hardly any animals, but lots of acrobatics.

++ Ok, let’s get back to serious questions, who is the Emma that has lyrics credit on the “Le Cirque” record?

A friend of Tim’s.

++ I was always surprised by your release on Heaven Records, mostly because you sound very different to The Fat Tulips who I also love. In any case, they made a great choice to release you! How did the you deal with them?  Did you ever get to see them or meet them?

I know I never met them and I don’t think Tim did either. Back then it was a very slow snail mail sort of existence. It would take at least 4 weeks to get a reply back from either the UK or US, that’s if the person you were writing to was prompt…. and international phone calls were hideously expensive.

++ Heaven is one of my favourite labels, not only because of the music, but because you could tell the people behind it were very passionate, with all the little inserts, mini-fanzines, and real zines. It was a labour of love. I was wondering what was your take on that, and why do you think that kind of passion is not seen often these days? Not that it was often seen in those days, but you know…

I’ve just read Tim’s little story in the fanzine that came with the single and I think the only true thing in it was the bit about me being a little older than Cam and Tim. I think time and distance can act as a sort of prism to make things appear better than what they were at the time. In general, things weren’t all that great back then.

++ On the “Five Year Old” record, there was a photo of a llama included, was that your idea? It’s kind of dumb to ask I know, but I always feel proud about our Peruvian animal haha

That would’ve been Tim’s idea. I think that single was organised when he was living in the US and Cam and I didn’t have much input into the visual side of it. I’m sure there was a reason for the llama, but for the life of me I can’t remember the story connected with it.

++ With Girl of the World you started working with Simon Grounds as a producer, what did he bring on the table?

Simon brought a lot to the table. A wealth of experience and talent and a vast array of vintage guitar pedals. He projects quite an eccentric persona, sort of like a cartoon mad professor. I think we were all initially in awe of him. I’d been a huge fan of his band shower scene from psycho. They used to do bubblegum covers, but deconstructed, simplified, then exaggerated. Simon was bit like that as well.

++ Ah! and what about the “Wonderboy” compilation, why did it didn’t include all the songs? It should have!

Yeah, it probably should have. I think the Travel ep was probably left off simply because the master was on analogue tape and the others were on DAT.

++ I have to ask, how come none of your releases came out in an Australian label?

Because no Australian label wanted to release us. We thought Summershine might for a while but then they signed The Earthmen, and The Earthmen became our official nemesis and we were insanely and irrationally jealous of them. Which was funny, because I was actually a fan of theirs and went to see them live a lot, particularly when Rob was in the band. And it’s even funnier now as Scott is doing a bit of singing with Bart & Friends.

++ Looking back in time what is your favourite Girl of the World song, and why?

I tend to prefer the earlier songs stylistically and it was also the time of the band that I have the fondest memories of, but I’ve always thought that Circus was the best song Tim ever wrote. Good lyrics, melody, catchy chorus, a bridge that builds up. I’d love it even if I wasn’t in the band.

++ So why did you split? Are you all still in touch?

I left because I felt that Tim was treating Cam and I like a backing band and not acknowledging the contributions we made. Having said that, I can’t really think of a single instance now to support that and I think it was mainly being played out in my head rather than in reality. I’m sure I was a moody, pain in the arse to be around at that time (some would say I still am) but I mainly think now that being around someone as charming and confident as Tim just made me feel more of a loser. Tim was everything I wanted to be but wasn’t.

I’m still in touch with Cam, tho don’t see as much of him as I’d like due to him living in Sydney. I imagine if he was living in Melbourne he’d be in bart & friends.

++ And was it immediately after Girl of The World that you started Cat’s Miaow?  Did you do anything in between?

No, the Cat’s miaow started 18 months before I left girl of the world. There was quite a bit of overlap of when I was in both bands. For the most part during that time girl of the world were in hiatus due to Tim living in the US for about a year. There were a few months in early 1994 when I must have been playing in the Cat’s miaow, Pencil tin, Girl of the world and Blairmailer. I think I might have failed a couple of subjects at college around this time as well….

++ Oh! and before I forget, I’ve been meaning to ask you this before, on the On the Great Indie Discography it mentions that you were in a band called Blairmailer. I have never heard about it, do you mind telling me a bit about it?

That was David and Michael Nichols band. There was a CD, Home of the falcon which I don’t play on but I remember sharing bass duties with Andrew in a live version of the band. Blairmailer did a short tour of the US in 1994 and played at the Yoyo A Go Go festival. Afterwards I went onto DC and did the Shapiros with Pam.

++ Okay, let’s start wrapping it here, but one last question, what do you like better of living in Ballarat compared to Melbourne?

It’s so much easier living in Ballarat with a young family. I live in a really quite street behind a church near the centre of town. It’s like living in a little country village with church bells chiming on a Sunday morning. I’m walking distance to cafes, pubs, supermarkets, post office, my son’s school. I could even walk to work if I wasn’t so lazy. I do miss my friends in Melbourne tho.

++ Thanks again Bart, a pleasure as always, anything else you’d like to add?

I probably played more live shows with girl of the world than all my other bands combined. Our first show was supporting The Sugargliders at their record launch for the Butterfly Soup single on Summershine. We actually played with them a lot and we’d do combined band encores with all of us onstage doing songs like “Pristine Christine” or “Sensitive”. Girl of the World’s last show was at The
Sgargliders farewell show which provided some symmetry to it all.

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Listen
Girl of the World – 3000 FT

21
Mar

Another week has gone by and things look really good. First of I would love to invite all Brazilian fans, especially those in Sao Paulo, to go and have a look to the new record store in town: Locomotiva Discos. It’s run by the always enthusiastic Gilberto Custodio and they are stocking all the best indiepop records around. These days, in the iTunes and downloadable music, where people don’t value physical records as they deserve, imagine how passionate one must be to open a physical record store. And that’s how Gilberto is: passionate. And, to push a button, if he let’s me quote him from an email exchange we had: “I don’t think physical records stores will be extinct, at least not until I am still alive”. A Cloudberry package is already in it’s way there, too which makes me very happy as I love Sao Paulo, a place where I spent so much time during my teenage years.

Yesterday I managed to find a cheap flight to NYC in May. Just $179 round-trip. It should be a great NYC Popfest, the lineup is ace! Sure, there will be those who don’t like seeing bands playing back to back Popfests, but these bands, that are repeating, are among the bands that have grown the most the past year. And even then, they put up a great show. I think Gold-Bears, Dream Diary and Sea Lions, were my three favorite bands at Popfest 2010. So let’s see if they can live up to that and make it even better this year! So yes, good decision of the organizers to give them another chance to dazzle the crowd. On top of that, there is Go Sailor headlining one of the nights. That is such a treat that I cannot wait! Also this Popfest will showcase Persian Rugs and Caucus. If you haven’t noticed these two bands have a 7″ coming out soon on Cloudberry! If nothing goes wrong at the pressing plant, both 7″s should be sold during the festival. And of course to see in America for the first time two of my dearest bands, and friends, The Sunny Street and The Felt Tips, is probably what makes this Popfest worth for me. Should be a blast!

There’s been good news here and there. Had a nice birthday time as well. Got some more rare records for cheap. And there are new freelance possibilities coming up. It’s still a long shot to make it to Indietracks though, but if these jobs happen soon, there is a slight chance I can make it! Only problem will be that the Premier Inn is already fully booked and the Travelodge is almost full. And it is true too that as of late I feel more compelled to save the money and go to Stockholm in October instead. I’ll have to see, still Indietracks haven’t announced any bands, and can’t think of that many bands that I’d love to see live that I haven’t seen. Maybe Very Truly Yours?

Anyways, new band to recover this week: Second View. Still no luck at finding their one and only 12″, which is as rare as they come. Maybe even impossible. It seems lots of copies found their way to Philippines. Mind you, the record and the band were German. There was a re-release of this 12″ too, under the name of Moscopeboys, but that one is as hard to find. Well, maybe someone can give me a hand with that? The two songs included, “Machinery” and “Everything is Gone”, are true guitar pop gems. Two fantastic slices of 80s pop, with classic new-wavy keyboards, that reminds a bit to This Final Frame, The Wild Swans or Care, but with a German flavor!

The 12″ was released by the band’s own label, “View Records”,  in 1986. Catalog number was F 669.602. No idea how many copies were made. Shouldn’t be more than a 100o as it is extremely rare. The internet doesn’t have much information about the band aside from a couple of blog posts from some Pinoy fans. We do know that the band’s lineup consisted of: Andreas Knirsch (bass, vocals), Oliver Sassin (guitars), Ingo Kreutzer (keyboards), Martin Buberti (drums) and Jens Rohracker (percussion).  The address on the back cover says that they were based in small Eschershausen in Lower Saxony, between Bielefeld and Braunschweig. If you check this location on Google Maps, you’ll see it’s so small, and you get to wonder how come these guys created such great music being so far away from proper civilization! Where did they get their ideas? their inspiration?

Then this same record was released by Fun Factory Records on that same year 1986. Though the artwork was totally changed and the band had started to call themselves Moscopeboys. Not sure what a moscope is. Any ideas? The only word that comes to mind is ophtalmoscope, but that can’t be it, right? In any case, could it be that when Fun Factory released the record they asked the band to stop distributing the View Records version? If so, where is the rest of the stock?

Some further research, trying to locate the guys behind the bands, make me end up on the worst site in the world: Myspace. I find that both Oliver Sassin and Ingo Kreutzer have been making music for the past years under the name Ultramarin. It sounds much different to Second View but it’s really nice as well, very soothing! And they sing in German now! Sadly they haven’t logged in since 2010. Can’t blame them, no one wants to login to Myspace these days. In any case, I left them a message there, hoping to hear from them. If not, I’m hoping they get in touch here! It would be great to learn more from them, maybe do an interview! And of course, if anyone has any more information about the band please share!

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Listen
Second View – Machinery

16
Mar

Thanks so much to Stephen Vesecky for the interview. If you are in Austin this coming Friday don’t miss out him and his band Strega! And well, what can I say about #Poundsign#? They released two fantastic, and classic, indiepop albums in the late 90s and these days they are sadly missed. Perhaps one of the best indiepop bands to come from America and I never got the chance to see them live. So here’s hoping a Popfest asks them to play again! Anyhow, enjoy the interview!

++ Hi Stephen! How are you doing? I hear you are going to SXSW! What are the plans there?

We’re going to play Michael Zakes’ mini-popfest at Waterloo Cycles on Friday at 330PM. I’m definitely excited for all the new bands that will be there. That’s the main thing. I have no preconceived notions. I’m excited to see Puro Instinct, Dessa, Brandt Brauer Frick, among others.

++ I know you are in Strega, and I really like what you are doing, but because I miss it first time around, I was wondering, do you ever miss the #Poundsign# days? Will there be any chance that you’ll play a one-off show, a reunion, one day?

I hope we can. everyone is busy with their lives but it does seem like everything comes back around again eventually, so i’m hopeful about the future. I think everyone feels that Poundsign was special, and so it has to feel right if we’re going to do it again.

++ So how did #Poundsign# start? Was it your first band?

I had a band in high school called “Strange Behaviour” that was just a 2-person outfit, inspired by Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode. Poundsign was the first band I was in where I felt like the songs we were writing were as good as anything done by other bands. Around that time I was in another band with a bunch of dudes and I played bass, which was sort of like a combination of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, and The Dead Milkmen. Poundsign was great because I could be more myself with this band.

++ Was it easy to get the band together? How did the recruiting process worked?

It started with me and my friend Ravi hanging around in college, he was good about convincing me that we could do a band, that the songs we had written were good enough. Then in the fall of 1993 we recruited Alicia and Becky to be in the band. It was nice how it all fell together.

++ And why the name of the band? I never know what to search on ebay, to use or not to use the “#” is the question…

At the time, I liked Kraftwerk’s “The Telephone Call” song. It made me think about how telephones allow you to make a connection with someone in a weird distorted way. you can’t see the person, but the sound of their voice makes you imagine what they look like. one night I was staring at the phone touch pad while talking on the phone and just thought the poundsign was a good symbol for all that.

++ Your first release was the split with fellow Bay Area indiepop band Poastal. And that makes me wonder, how was the scene there back then? It seems like there was something going on! Which were your favourite bands there and what about the cool places to hang out?

Poastal were originally from Southern California, but they came up to SF around the time that we all moved there. The cool places were the Bottom of the Hill, spots in the Mission like the Make Out Room, Latin American Club, The Piano Bar, The Edinburgh Castle, Aquarius Records. The Mission is still my favorite part of SF. The Epicenter was still cool at the time, I think Excuse 17 played there.

++ What about the Michigan 7″. Is Michigan an important place for you? And who were Belmondo Records?

Becky wrote the song about Michigan. All of us in the band had ties to Michigan, my dad lived there at the time, and Becky would stay there with her folks and I think she was out there while she was thinking of a boy in California, or something like that, so that’s what the song’s about. Probably.

Belmondo Records was connected to Mod Lang records. I think the idea was just to do a few limited releases.

++ How did you end up signing to Fantastic Records? They are probably one of my all-time favourite indiepop labels from the US!

They wrote to us after hearing the Poastal split single, and then they released the “Almondy Many” single, and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

++ How many copies did you make of the “New Live and Rare” CD? It seems impossible to find! Actually most of your records are pretty rare. Maybe you could consider making some sort of retrospective box set or something?

I’d love to do another Poundsign release. we’d have to do something with a label where we could make it special … I know it can happen. i’m definitely open to it. it would be fun to make a package out of some of the rarer songs that some people never got to hear.

++ I’m also kind of curious about the artwork for “Underneath the Marquee”. What’s the story behind it?

I think the art was taken from a postcard that Becky found in Scotland.

++ I’ve always had a soft spot, and dearly loved, your song “Ayso”, why wasn’t it included in any of the albums? Care to tell me how this song came about?

It was one of Alicia’s early songs. I think it was based on her daydream about playing soccer. the first time we actually played the song was in a little stage in a park at the Chico indiepop festival in 1996, and i think Alicia was wearing some sort of soccer shirt. That was one of the first songs Alicia wrote that she could tell was really good, so it gave her extra confidence when she sang it.

++ Now it’s your turn, which is your favourite #Poundsign# song and why?

My favorite might be “Sundried” off the wavelength album. Although maybe AYSO is my favorite, come to think of it. This is really a hard question.

++ Are there any more unreleased #Poundsign# songs?

There are at least 3 unreleased songs that we never recorded.

++ Is it true that you prefer recording in home studio over a proper studio? Why is that?

At the moment I like going to a studio for special things, like drums, and I love working with engineers who know a lot about reverbs and effects. Otherwise it’s just better to record in a place where you are comfortable. Like your living room.

++ What about your Japan tour?! How did that go? What impressed you the most from Japan? Any other anecdotes you can share?

I enjoyed playing in japan. people were very appreciative. We had “taco” which is Japanese for octopus. i think it was a small piece of octopus surrounded by fried dough. Sort of like an octopus doughnut hole. We played with a band called “Running Catch” who were super cute. Kenji from the Fairways translated the lyrics to “Telephone” into Japanese so I sang it that way at the Japanese shows.

++ And here in the US, which were your favourite gigs, and why? Best band to share the bill?

We always liked playing with Imperial Teen, they were a popular band that we really liked. And of course there were the classic shows with Track Star, Aisler’s Set, Rocketship, The Fairways.

++ When and why did you call it a day? What did you do in between #Poundsign# and Strega?

I moved to New York … we played a few shows after that, but it just felt like it was time to move on.

++ So ok, you moved from San Francisco to New York. Which place do you like best and why?

I don’t want to say I like NY better, but that is in fact the case. I like SF, I love riding my bike over the golden gate bridge. It’s featherlight. NY is heavier, there’s more drama. At least, that’s how I perceive it.

++ And you DJ quite often, right? What are some songs that never fail as floor fillers for you? 🙂

Usually i start out with regular rock music including some indie pop like The Drums and The Pains, and then by the time everyone is a bit drunk I’ve moved on to electronic dance music and some hip hop, which you can listen to here:

http://stephenvesecky.com/resources.html

My dancefloor favorites are Florrie, Daft Punk, Robyn, “I’m Your Boogie Man” by KC and the Sunshine Band, “Dancing in Outerspace” by Atmosfear, LCD Soundsystem, Gold Panda, Ke$ha, “Kids” by MGMT. La Roux.

++ Let’s wrap it here, thanks again Stephen. Aside SXSW any other gigs coming up for Strega? Anything else you’d like to add?

We have a facebook page that everyone should check out, we’re doing a lot of recording, and I’m sure there will be lots of gigs in the Spring and Summer.

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Listen
#Poundsign# – AYSO

15
Mar

Thanks so much to Chris Morgan for the interview. I only knew about The Deddingtons thanks to the Leamington Spa series where their song “The Last Day” was included. Of course, this was one of my favourite songs throughout the 6 volumes that have been released so far, and I was always wondering who The Deddingtons were. They never got any proper releases mind you! But I hope this will change soon! Enjoy!

++ Hi Chris! Thanks so much for the interview! Are you still living in Nottingham?

I am, yes – but via a circuitous route that took me away and, happily brought me back. I live about 12 miles away from where we recorded as The Deddingtons.

++ First thing I wonder about your old band is if there are any more recordings other than “The Last Day”, you know we all have been craving for more! Did you record demo tapes or something? Do you remember the song names?

Well, I’m surprised to find out that people have been craving more stuff; mainly because we didn’t know that The Last Day was even released! I fear the hand of a mercurial ex-manager at work! There’s a reasonable catalogue of tracks that we recorded. In terms of names: She, Solitary Sunday, Happy Agai, Sheelagh and Naively immediately spring to mind.

++ Let’s go back to the late eighties, just before you were part of The Deddingtons. Were you involved with music then? Was the bass your first instrument? Self-taught?

I was playing guitar at the time, but just for myself which I first learned on my Dad’s old Hohner acoustic. He showed me a couple of chords, and I was off… I migrated to the bass a little bit later

++ It’s strange though that on the Leamington Spa liner notes it says you played guitars and Chris King the bass guitar? Mistake I guess?

Maybe, maybe not. Matt, Chris and me all played the guitars on the recordings – so it’s possible that he played the bass on this. Our live line-up was Andy on Drums, Matt on Lead, Chris on vox and Rhythm, me on bass.

++ So alright, let’s go a bit forward in time to the early nineties when The Deddingtons formed. How did that happen? How did you all knew each other?

I met Matt Wright when we were both working part time for a supermarket and, despite the funky brown nylon uniform, we recognised each other as groovy indie types. We got chatting about The Smiths, which was our favourite band Matt told me he was looking for a guitarist. I went round to Matt’s parent’s house with my really cheap guitar and bass and before I knew it I was in a band called The Social Divide. The SD seemed to have an almost revolving door policy on it’s members and eventually fizzled out.

At around the same time Matt and I started to play in a covers band, The Losers, which really helped us to learn our instruments. Chris King of the SD played keyboards. It also gained us an ace drummer, in the form of Andy Luczko. For The Deddingtons, we trialled a couple of singers, who both could hold a tune but didn’t quite “hit it”. We realised quickly that Chris King had the most fabulous voice – we coerced him into becoming our front man.

++ What inspired you all to make music?

We were at an age where, after girls, music was probably the biggest thing we were interested in. The Smiths had just split, The Stone Roses, The La’s and The Sundays had released their first albums and we just kind of thought, y’know, we could do this.

++ And why the name The Deddingtons? Where does it come from?

Rather prosaically it came from the name of the road that Matt’s parents lived on. We had to have a “the”, because all best bands at the time did. Except Teenage Fanclub. Matt’s parents house was also were we converted the loft into a recording studio – we had an old 8-Track reel-to-reel, a proper mixing desk all housed in a sound proofed booth – it looked and worked like the real thing. Can you imagine getting that chance What wonderful parents, eh? Jim Wright sadly passed away recently and we couldn’t have asked for a bigger supporter and fan. A truly lovely man. The Loft got really hot in the summer and, as the water tank was up there we had to stop everytime some one flushed the toilet….halcyon days.

++ So again, it seems to be some sort of mistake on the Leamington Spa liner notes, it says you never played live. But on the Youtube comments to the Last Day track, someone assures that he had been to at least a gig or two. Who is right? And if you did play them, do you remember any about them?

We did play live,but only on a handful of occasions.

++ What about the scene in Nottingham during those years? I can only think of Heaven Records and The Fat Tulips… what were your favourite bands in town and maybe your favourite places to hang out?

There wasn’t a scene as such. Other than The Tindersticks and The Yons, I’m hard pressed to name any bands at the time.

++ On these same liner notes it praises Chris King as a perfectionist in recording layer after layer of guitars. I can see that on “Last Day”! How did the creative process worked for you guys?

Chris King is a genius. We had eight tracks and he produced and engineered all the demos – what he managed by bouncing tracks and such, was incredible. It’s hard to say where the songs came from, we tended to work on feel. A couple of us would work something up and then we’d kick it around until it formed. We had the luxury of time: only Andy held down a full time job – we spent two long, blissful summers doing what we wanted to do. We pretty much kept office hours too, kicking off about 10 in the morning and finishing when Matt’s Mum and Dad announced that they were off to bed!

++ And of course, as it’s the only song we all know, I’m wondering what is this song about, how did you all came with it? Is this your favourite one from the Deddingtons repertoire by the way?

I guess The Last Day is all about the loss of youth, working within the moment and not missing the chances that life could give. The lyrics are Chris’s – he’d be best placed to explain them.

++ So what happened? Why didn’t you get a proper release? It feels a bit unfair!

Well we had a couple of moments where we thought we would get a proper release. We sent demos off around the word and the head of A&R at WEA called Matt up late one evening, saying how much he loved what we were doing and could we send some more tracks. We duly sent off more tracks and never heard from him again…

++ And so what happened after, why did you call it a day? I hear most of the band became The Days, but you didn’t right?

We had enlisted the services of a manager, who I didn’t get along with at all. I dislocated my shoulder, which stopped me playing the bass for a few weeks. The new manager introduced a new guitarist, who was a decent bloke, but without any consultation. I fell out of love with the band and quit – perhaps a bit rash but I was only 20 at the time. I haven’t really spoken with Matt or Andy since, which I regret. After I left, manager-bloke brought his brother into the band and pushed Chris King onto bass.

++ Could you say The Deddingtons and The Days were kind of the same band? Or were there too many differences?

In my limited view, very different. The Deddingtons were original and ahead of their time, eschewing the zeitgeist.

++ Have you been involved with music after those years? Are you still listening to guitar pop?

I joined a Derby band called Saltbox in 1994 and we enjoyed moderate success on the local indie-scene and played in London a few times. We had record company interest and got played on the radio – BBC Radio Derby’s Mark Sheldon (now working at 6 music) was a big champion of ours and even suggest in print that people should “ignore oasis and dry out with Saltbox”. How’s that for a press-clipping? I’m currently recording some solo stuff, mainly as a hobby, under the guise of Reporters. My wonderful kids and wife , as well as work commitments are the main focus now I’m old and boring!

++ Well, let’s wrap it here! Anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to say thanks for getting in touch – it’s great to know that some people liked what we tried to do and we’ll release more tracks onto YouTube soon.

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Listen
The Deddingtons – The Last Day

14
Mar

The past days I’ve been laying out around 250 pages worth of indiepop news and interviews, compiled mainly from this blog. The idea is a book of course. It feels some of my posts or interviews are really long and a screen is not the best medium for them to be read. The idea started during a conversation with Olaf from Firestation during a very cold afternoon in London a couple of weeks ago. We’ve been record hunting earlier, finding some great stuff actually (like the Hope flexi!), and it was already time for lunch. The warmth of a kebab shop and shwarma and falafel sandwiches, perhaps triggered the idea of looking for on-demand printing and compiling all these interviews that one day will probably get deleted by a hacker or some sort of wordpress bug. Who knows, but digital can’t be trusted.

Olaf tells me that in Germany it’s very common to use this kind of service, no wonder why they are the number one country in printing books. So as soon as I came back to the US I started doing some research, and it’s not that bad. A 300 page paperback with color covers can be priced around 20 dollars.  It’s not that cheap, but it’s fine I believe for something that maybe not more than 50 people will be interested. We’ll see. But it’s clear to me that I have material for a second and third volume already.

While bringing over the texts to inDesign for the book, I noticed that some blog entries didn’t get transferred from the previous version of the blog to this second version. I’ll try to fix that in the next couple of days.

Also since today the fifth Cloudberry fanzine is sold out, which reminds me it’s already time for a sixth one. I’ve been thinking of doing it an orange fanzine, would you like that color? There’s been blue, red, green, purple and black so far. Will start planning this in the next couple of weeks. On behalf of the fanzine price, which I read somewhere that it was overpriced, I want to say that it includes a CD and postage, bear that in mind. And it’s not a photocopied fanzine, it’s professionally printed, cut and stapled. There are no white margins around the pages, there’s bleeds. And it’s printed on heavy paper, not your usual white A4 printer paper. If that’s not enough, the zine comes on a protective polybag. Bear that in mind, especially if you’ve never seen one and just love to complain.

And I know many are waiting for me to give some sort of feedback about the last post, but I won’t feed this nonsensical circus. People seem to have a lack of reading skills and don’t see the points I raised. In any case, it showed how loving and accepting this community is. Let’s leave it like that, and let’s pretend everything is fine. It seems that’s what these British kids are obsessed with, pretending we all love each other. That’s what makes us indiepop fans, right?

But enough of news, now is time to one of my favourite things on this blog, discovering and sharing long lost bands!  So, have you ever heard about The Bicycle Thieves?

It’s an easy guess that their name comes from the famous movie The Bicycle Thieves, an 1948 Italian neorealist film directed by Vittorio De Sica. But what else do we know about this band that seem to have disappeared in oblivion even though there’s a myspace page that has not been updated in a long time?

I had totally forgotten about them, but while in Glasgow, at Love Music, next to the train station, I found a 12″ copy of “Waterfront” for a pound. This is their second single, released in 1989,  and the easiest to find, there’s even a 7″ version of it. Both, the 7″ and 12″ includes as a B-side the song “Tearing At Each Other’s Hearts”. It was released on the Sun Zoom Spark label being this their first release on their catalog. Label name taken from a Captain Beefheart song. Both songs were written and produced by C. Lewington and The Bicycle Thieves and the records were distributed by Pinnacle Records. That’s all there is to gather from the sleeve.

But why not let’s go back to their first single, which is very hard to find and includes my favourite song of theirs: “Ghostdance”. I still haven’t had the chance to find this fine slice of C86 guitar-styled pop. A true gem! This first single was released Clear Spot Records, which I’m guessing was their own label. Catalog number again is number 1. And of course, the great sound doesn’t surprise as this was recorded in the heyday of guitar pop, 1986! The B-side is “Louise” which is a very good song too and I’ve noticed someone has already blogged about this B side. But I have to disagree! The A side is the winner here! But he is very right when he says: “and just the right amount of chiming Rickenbacker verve and swagger”.

Though this name Ghostdance makes me utterly curious, what does it mean? A quick look on wikipedia tells me:

The Ghost Dance (also called the Ghost Dance of 1890) was a religious movement which was incorporated into numerous Native American belief systems. The traditional ritual used in the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, has been used by many Native Americans since prehistoric times. In accordance with the prophet Jack Wilson (Wovoka)’s teachings, it was first practiced for the Ghost Dance among the Nevada Paiute in 1889. The practice swept throughout much of the American West, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. As the Ghost Dance spread from its original source, Native American tribes synthesized selective aspects of the ritual with their own beliefs. This process often created change in both the society that integrated it and the ritual.

The chief figure in the movement was the prophet of peace, Jack Wilson, known as Wovoka among the Paiute. He prophesied a peaceful end to white American expansion while preaching goals of clean living, an honest life, and cross-cultural cooperation by Native Americans. Practice of the Ghost Dance movement was believed to have contributed to Lakota resistance. In the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, US Army forces killed at least 153 Lakota Sioux. The Sioux variation on the Ghost Dance tended towards millenarianism, an innovation that distinguished the Sioux interpretation from Jack Wilson’s original teachings. The Caddo Nation still practices the Ghost Dance today.

Interesting, huh?

It seems these two were their only two releases before disappearing. But it makes you wonder as there was such a long time in between releases, 3 years. There must have been many more songs recorded. And there was as you I found out on last.fm of all places! Here you’ll find free downloads to “Waterfront” and “Louise” and lots of songs more to stream. How I wish these were compiled on a proper CD! Also a nice find on last.fm is a small biography of the band written by a user “clewingt”, could this be C. Lewington? Must be. Sadly he hasn’t logged in to last.fm in years, so no chance of contacting him for an interview to learn more about his previous band. Anyhow, the bio reads:

The Bicycle Thieves hailed from South East London, forming in the mid 1980’s and finally dispanding in the early 90’s. A guitar rock band with a sound reminisant of REM or Lloyd Cole as well as reaching further back to the sounds of the Byrds, Love and Bob Dylan. Singles “Ghostdance”/”Louise” and especially “Waterfront” received good airplay on national radio one, London and local stations. The band played London venues such as the Marquee and Brixton Academy as well as up and down the country and France.

And that’s all there is online. So here’s hoping our friend C. Lewington gets in touch, or maybe anyone else can share any more info about this band! It would be appreciated! For now enjoy the fantastic “Ghostdance”!

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Listen
The Bicycle Thieves – Ghostdance

07
Mar

My bus ride from Brixton to Elephant & Castle was entertaining to say the least. It was quite rainy and my super sized chicken sandwich was struggling not to get wet in the brown paper bag. My fries were kind of soaked but still tasted like heaven. Actually everything tasted like heaven and felt like heaven. It was uplifting to see The Andersen Tapes again, this time with an all-star cast. And the pounding dancefloor setting The Windmill on fire to the sounds of Felt and the Sea Urchins. It was heavenly. Even the stupid people left the venue after the bands to go all the way to Stoke Newington. It was so close to perfection. But…

That night I met at last Scared to Dance’s Paul for the first time. Even though we’ve emailed couple of times before and offered me beers everytime I was in London, he managed to ignore my presence. This I find very hard as I don’t look very English and I’m much taller than your average indiepop person. But he did. I started to think his ‘friendship’ was more about spamming me with his endless Scared to Dance promotions and clubnights even though I can’t attend any as I live on the other side of the pond. Maybe I was some sort of important contact. He really insisted in me carrying his fanzines. I am no mailorder I told him and politely declined his request. But he insisted, telling me that I may like the bands on it. But no, I didn’t. I support proper indiepop, not Cindy Laupers with ukuleles.

Anyways, our differences were put on a side that Friday. Well, my differences, I’m not sure if he has any with me. He approached me and said hello. I think what triggered this was a cheeky response of mine on the anorak forum. He was asking for song requests for his DJing set on the Saturday night at Popfest. I asked him to play: “Belle and Sebastian – Century of Fakers”, “Television Personalities – Posing at the Roundhouse”, “Boyracer – Post Modernist Retro Bullshit”. This because I have serious doubts about his indiepop militancy. I didn’t think he is faithful to the cause. I felt he is in the scene for his own selfish goals.

I was already uncomfortable with him taking over Saturday night party at Popfest. The way he was promoting it, as it was his own gig, as if he had organized it all by himself in the 100 Club, was provoking to say the least. His flyers were misleading. It felt like he was the main event, not London Popfest. It felt he was doing a favor to team Popfest to DJ. Nowhere on his flyers or promo sheets -yeah, he has all those because he is very professional about these things- there was some sort of honest gratitude to the Popfest people. On top of that, he had managed a sweet deal: after all the bands have played people could come in for his club for the sum of 3 pounds. It all didn’t feel very indiepop. It was really shady. Why didn’t So Tough So Cute get the same treatment for Friday for example?  Wonder what the politics behind this were.

I was actually asked to DJ between the bands on Saturday. Of course I said no. I didn’t want to be associated to this shady dealings. Imagine if in his next fanzine it says Cloudberry DJed for Scared to Dance. Wouldn’t be nice to be associated that way, would it? I know for a fact that when invited to DJ at different places our friend Paul, not the alien from Simon Pegg’s new flick, takes all the credit, even doing it in far away places like Norway! I don’t know why. Whenever I’ve been invited to DJ, I feel very flattered and honored. All the credit goes to the organizers if the things go right, and if the dancefloor gets empty, well then that’s me to blame. But then, I have no agenda on building a name for a club. Though, if your goal is that, why don’t you do it with your own effort, not from other people? Don’t be a leech.

Anyways, fortune made me take that bus ride from Brixton to Elephant & Castle with dear Paul. After seeing two indiepop kids losing themselves in passionate kisses and leaving hastily on a double decker, and saying by to Joanny and Clemence, our bus arrived towards Thamesmead. He was heading to his girlfriend’s house. A Swedish girlfriend, something I can never have of course. Good for him. Anyways, the conversation was really nice and polite. He gave me some pointers about the area, some directions. I appreciated that. I don’t think he is a bad guy whatsoever, just doing things the wrong way, or perhaps just doing them clueless. I had to challenge him. I asked him what were his expectations with the club, and what was so different about it with How Does it Feel. He said that of course the music is different, that he doesn’t play 60s, and that the crowd is different. The model is very similar though, with the members club. “No bands in Scared to Dance” he said. He was convinced about this. It’s either bands or club, but not both. I thought that was a good point and agreed with him.

I asked him what was he playing tomorrow. He didn’t know yet. I requested to stick to indiepop, as it was Popfest, and people want to listen to it’s pop music. I certainly do. Popfests are the only time I’m treated to dance to the music I love. We don’t have indiepop clubs in Miami. And I think lots of the international crowd attending feel the same way as me. He agreed with this point. He said not to worry, that I was going to like what he was going to DJ. For the next 20 or so hours I hoped and trusted him. Then it was Saturday night. And the Monochrome Set had just put a brilliant show. It was the turn to see if Scared to Dance was going to keep the promises of a proper POP party.

But it didn’t last long until The Stooges started coming out from the speakers continued by all sorts of crap music. It felt Popfest was a joke. It felt there was no respect to the pop attendees. I felt tricked. Maybe this music was intended to those who came after paying their 3 pound?. I don’t know. Only the drunk were dancing and the dancefloor quietly started to empty.

I have a very strong opinion about the hipsters ruining our little scene (see the Oh! Custer and Gold-Bears inserts for my whole rant) and I think it’s time to unmask them. I feel Scared to Dance is fine as a club for hipsters, and it should do it’s own thing apart from indiepop. It’s clear for me that there is no connection between both. I do believe Paul loves the music he plays, but that music is not indiepop. I believe he loves his club, he loves DJing, but I want his club far away from me, it may scare me to dance for life!

We should support DJs and clubs that truly and kindheartedly support our music. So the cycle works and never ends. Don’t give slots to people that are going to laugh on our faces with music that is an insult to taste. Scared to Dance is the McDonald’s of indie clubs. They’ll play you the ABC of what hipsters love. No filters. No pop. No taste.

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Listen
Television Personalities – Posing at the Roundhouse

02
Mar

Thanks so much to Rob, Ben and James for the fantastic interview they self-titled “More Than is Healthy to Know About The Gits”. Also be sure to listen the companion piece “A Gitrodruction” where you can learn to an old radio interview plus bits and pieces of many of their songs. And if you are feeling even more curious, this Youtube channel, has lots of songs and live performances!

More Than Is Healthy To Know About The Gits
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++ How are things?

Rob: As well as could be expected

++ Whereabouts in the UK are you these days?

Ben: In Cairo. I spent yesterday and last night overlooking Tahrir Square when Mubarak resigned. Incredible atmosphere. People just went crazy. (Answered on 11th February)

Rob: I’m still battling the forces of evil in ‘Orsham. I had thought of travelling the world but as they say the best pictures are on the radio.

++ So The Gits, were they your first band? (if no, care to tell me a bit about your older bands?)

Ben: ‘Nigel the Impaler’ also with Rob.

James: No, I was in bands from 1980 – HPR, The Jackalsons and Under The Hanging Tree to name but a few.

Rob: There were many prior to the Gits that were even more unknown. But the first, who I am embarrassed to admit were called Strange Brew, was the most significant as we tagged along on a trip to Horsham’s twin town in Germany, Lage, where we played a couple of gigs and I got to know several of my later co-conspirators including Ben (during the rare moments he didn’t have his tongue down the throat of…)

++ How did the band start? How did you knew each other in the band?

Ben: In the pub. Rob heard (incorrectly) that I had a bass guitar and said if I joined the band he was forming he’d teach me to play bass. And he very nearly did. Deal sealed with a pint of Sussex.

James: The band started with Rob, Matt and Ben who all knew each other from College. I think Jason was asked if he wanted to be the singer first and I was brought in as back up.

Rob: Ben and I, as fans of The Misunderstood, were increasingly bitter about the pseudo psychedelic bands coming up from Brighton to play in Horsham so we thought we’d start our own to show them how it should be done. Of course we couldn’t do anything remotely like we’d set out to do so The Gits were a happy accident from that.

We asked Ben’s neighbour to join but he was rightly unimpressed by the stuff I’d written (he later became The Vessel of David Devant & His Spirit Wife ). I knew Matt and Jim from previous bands and I can’t remember how they got roped in but the latter actually wrote lyrics that made sense and with decent melodies which was a great improvement.

++ What inspired The Gits to make music?

Ben: Beer.

James: Living in Horsham meant living in a cultural and artistic backwater. Music was a release valve.

Rob: I’ve often wondered about that but haven’t the foggiest what the answer is.

++ And What inspired you to name yourselves The Gits?

Ben: After a rehearsal early on I was very unkind to a worm with a tonka toy. Matt rightly called me a git. The name was floated as a temporary name for the band and it stuck.

James: I think the name was a result of one of the band members torturing an insect and being called ‘A Git’

++ How was Horsham, Sussex, back then? Where did you usually hang out? Were there any other pop bands around?

Ben: It was dull but better than it became later. Horsham was voted into the top 10 of ‘Worst Towns To Live In’.

The Bear Public House.

There were few bands of any description. But you could occasionally go to a gig in ‘Champagnes’ a subterranean venue better known for the fights that regularly broke out. Far from glamorous but the only place to go after the pubs closed.

James: See above. Looking back, Horsham was a very safe and secure environment to either a/ bring up young kids or b/ wait to die. Suffocating in its normality and conformity.

The Bear pub was Gits HQ.

There were loads of other bands from Horsham, Crawley and Brighton, the majority of whom all thought they were rock stars with a small r.

Rob: Horsham used to be the major town in the region but lost that position over the last century and by the eighties it didn’t know what it was for anymore and had become a forgotten backwater.

So in The Gits era all there was in the way of entertainment were the large number of pubs left over from it’s days as a market town and a couple of crappy night clubs. It’s saving grace though was that one of the latter would put on local and out of town bands on a Tuesday night and a reasonable music scene developed around it most of whom seemed to meet in The Bear Public House.

Bands locally tended to be split between pub rock covers of the dullest veneer and what could be described as alternative though not necessarily indie pop. The Jackalsons (including Jim), No Geraniums and us were probably the pick of the litter.

* Horsham claims to fame * At one point it had three breweries and the most pubs in a square mile outside of central London!

++ What is the story behind the “Dave Evans” moniker you used in the concerts by the way? Did the rest of the band used fake names as well?

Ben: I’m sure Robs answered this. We once did a ‘Ben E Git Ben E fit’ gig. I was short of funds for Beer.

James: The Edge’s real name. I was Jammie Git

Rob: Stage names for the band was one of many daft ideas formulated over a pint of King & Barnes Brown & Bitter and for mine I thought I’d uphold the honour of a name that The Edge discarded as too boring for someone in a rock band. ‘Fat’ Git would be more apt now.

We also had Blind Lemon Git who later became Mat ‘Guitar’ Git (after the chap from the Blues Brothers Band), Jason Little Git – the token short person, who sang with us for a while and also, spoiling the theme, Chris T.

++ So right, what about gigs? Which other bands shared bill with you?

James: The Brilliant Corners, The Chesterfields, China Crisis!!

Rob: Our first gig in Brighton was with The Chesterfields and we also played with The Man From Del Monte and The Brilliant Corners on the Sussex Riverera. The Grooveyard, who I notice you have also interviewed, were on the bill of the second of those.

In theory our biggest gig was headlining The Powerhaus in Islington, London. That was where Throwing Muses & The Pixes played together! Unfortunately it was New Years Day and it could not be described as busy. I don’t remember the name of the first band but do recall they were fronted by two punkish young ladies wearing tu-tus and that the other support, Barf Roco, had what Mat described as the Grange Hill guitar sound. (For the benefit of overseas readers Grange Hill being a long running childrens program in Britain http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SlvZF6k5bE).

++ Any particular gigs you remember and why?

Ben: Champagnes one Christmas. The place was heaving and people were dancing right back to the bar at the opposite end from the stage. Alistair Adams from Test department played bagpipes for us.
As usual the promoter afterwards told us he’d made a loss and we would not be getting paid. He actually had bundles of cash bulging out of his pockets!

James: I remember a gig in London playing at a Nurses College where in the toilet afterwards I was accosted by a 17 stone skinhead who proclaimed we were the best band he had ever seen and why weren’t we signed to a record label?

Rob: The Powerhouse (How was it spelt?). Both the front of house and monitor engineers asked us to do encores and on the second one I decided to jump off the front of the stage. That went reasonable well, as did standing up against the P.A. speakers to create a wall of feedback. But it was at that point I realized how high the stage was and my rock and roll moment was rather ruined by my futile attempts to get back up onto it whilst still playing.

++ With all these guitar bands in the UK, did you feel part of a scene at all back then?

Ben: No, other bands couldn’t figure us out or just didn’t like us. We were like a pub band ‘done good’ and insufficiently miserable to be ‘serious’ band.

Rob: Not really. Our rare forays into enemy territory just showed up how out of place we were. But I got the impression that a lot of folks quite liked that.

++ How would you consider your music, indiepop?

Ben: No I think we were far too flippant to be indie pop. Humour was a big part of the Gits identity, I think – Which was part of our (limited) appeal.

James: No. We started Brit pop.

Rob: To some extent as I was influenced by the ‘Sound Of Young Scotland’: Orange Juice, Josef K, Aztec Camera and the like. But I wasn’t playing a black and white Stratocaster by accident and was as much into Clapton, Cream & Hendrix as well as XTC, The Kinks, ELO, The Fall and many many more. Frank Zappa was important for the humour and the way he would combine things, like do-wop and modern classical. And I’ve always been trying to make The Beatles White Album.

++ What about releases, you only released one single right? How did that came about? Who released it?

James: No one would sign us as we ‘did not have a dance element to our music’ so the only way to get national exposure would be to release a single by ourselves.

Rob: Another calamity. I think we were looking for something to give the band some impetus and put it together ourselves but once we had it we didn’t have the faintest idea what to do with it. But that was our problem, and our strength, we never had a plan.

++ What about recording it? Was it any different to all the other stuff that was put on tape?

James: Recording was at a home studio in one day with an in house engineer. It was obviously of better recording quality than the tapes but felt a bit clinical and too polished.

Rob: Martin Stephenson put it best, ‘letting someone else produce your record is like letting someone fondle your girlfriend’s breasts’.

Everything else we did was to four track cassette and either mixed to reel to reel or DAT. It’s by no means wonderful and I had very little idea what I was doing but I think it sounds more like us.

++ What is your favourite Gits song?

James: Mother Knows How.

Rob: There’s bits of quite a lot of them I still like though I find it harder to listen to those with my lyrics. The Greatest Gift is the best of the pre-Jim Gits, perhaps Happy Song of the early ‘pure pop for pop people’ era and either Happily Mad or Bear Up of the mature band. Time To Kill has the most coherent guitar solo I’ve ever played, but ask me tomorrow and I’d choose something else.

++ And how did the creative process work for you?

James: Rob pretty much did it all. I contributed on lyrics, some drum patterns and a very occasional guitar part but virtually all the music ideas were Rob’s. I would get a tape from Rob with whole song structures and add words and melody lines if needed. Firty songs in two years – Rob was a creative genius. Please leave that in, it needs to be said.

Rob: Err… fiddle about on the guitar until I find something I liked. Give it to someone to make up words or if desperate do them myself. Get bored, call it a song and move on to the next thing.

++ You pointed me to these links where there are more than 50 songs of yours recorded! And it makes me wonder how come you didn’t get to properly release them? Some of the songs are single material! Maybe there should be a limited CD with all the songs and some liner notes… just an idea!

Ben: My fault. Promoters and agents / management would approach us after gigs when we were getting very drunk and somehow I would be custodian of the business cards they’d give us. And I would lose them…

Rob: I’m glad you like them. Doing a CD seems a bit optimistic but I’ve thought of sticking them on Bandcamp so people can hear them in decent quality. They’re on LastFM at the moment but they’ve stopped hosting files before and may very well do so again. http://www.last.fm/music/The+Gits+(UK)

++ I have a couple of questions about some songs. First, what feeling is that from “That Dunkirk Feeling”?

James: The feeling? Accentuate the Positive!

++ Second, how serious is the message of “Thank You Fans”?

James: Deadly.

Rob: When we did it we had no fans and no expectation of ever having any so it wasn’t serious. It was a bit of a piss take but mainly just daft which is a theme in a lot of the Gits endeavours. Made up on the spot and done in one take though, I was as much a loss to the world of acting as music!

++ And last one, who was the one that had the “French Girlfriend”?

Ben: Geoff Poynter the cover star of one of the tape cassettes we released misheard a lyric from another Gits song

Rob: The Cover Shepherd from our third tape was convinced that was the name of the song of ours it was based on.

++ I heard you are appearing on the next Leamington Spa compilation CD with the great “JK Rant”. Care to tell me a bit about the song that will appear there?

James: JK Rant was about the scensters who incurred my inner wrath.

Rob: The JK is for Josef K as the guitars on the demo sounded a bit like the Scottish band so it was a way of remembering it before it had words.

The CD version is a combination of the vocals from the ‘Chris Morris’ cassette version, guitar from a late rehearsal recording and I managed to get Glen going so I recorded the drums again.

++ I did notice that you have a song called “Tommy and Brenda”, by your next band Voice of the Rain (who I hope we can do an interview with later), where it mentions a love for Prenzlauer Berg. You do know that the Firestation office is right there, in Prenzlauer Berg, what a coincidence! So just out of curiosity, how do you like Berlin?

James: I like Berlin. Especially Take My Breath Away

Rob: I remember being due to go there to collaborate with a brass ensemble or something but never did as my esteemed colleague became ill for a time. He writes… ‘I lived in Prenzlauer Berg for four years, in Dunckerstr, (with the best indie club in Berlin) and then in Wins str’.

A coincidence indeed. Incidentally Richard from VTOR was the chap I made up Radio Sussex Gits favourite ‘Turn Away’ with.

++ Looking back, what do you think was the biggest highlight of The Gits?

Ben: The beer. And being played on the radio.

James: Strangely, the biggest highlight and lowlight was meeting someone on the board of Skint Records nearly 20 years after we split up who told me he loved The Gits when he was a teenager, really thought we would be famous and why hadn’t I made more of my life.

Rob: Looking back in 20-20 hindsight through rose tinted spectacles – that some folks liked what we did when we were so unfashionable and didn’t fit in with any genre or scene. So they must have liked the music, or the funny clips, or the amusing radio interviews.

++ Alright, so what happened to The Gits? Why did you call it a day? What did you do after?

Ben: Being in the Gits filled the dull void of being in Horsham. But we came to a point where we had to choose between being a ‘serious’ band or getting into University and drugs. Personally I felt being serious was not really the ethos of The Gits.

[After the Gits] Drugs, University and being serious.

James: Ben went to fight in Nicaragua and ended up at Hull University so The Gits from an original line up of five were now two and didn’t feel like The Gits anymore.

Rob: In the end we just ran out of steam but the thing that killed us off was some time before when I got pissed off with Chris and chucked him out of the band for organising a gig but not wanting us to play it. We really needed the ideas and impetus he gave us.

++ Are you still involved with music? What are you all up to nowadays?

Ben: I started listening to music again a while ago…

Film, animation, games graphics, human rights activism… watching old Gits gig videos on youtube. Ah youth!

James: I played in one other band called Kvetch for a couple of years, moved away from Horsham in ’93 and never played another gig. Took up acting as my outlet and currently work for Sussex Police.

Rob: I help out and have done odd bits of recording for a local voluntary group involved in music, the HDLMA. I played my first gig for fourteen years in 2006 and since then I’ve been in a couple of covers bands but left one because I didn’t really add anything and another because I was playing bass, badly. I’ve been trying to get a few other things going but progress is slow so I’ll probably crack on with instrumentals under the ‘Zatapathique’ banner. If The Gits revival doesn’t take off of course.

++ Thanks so much for the interview! Anything else you’d like to add?

Rob: Push wasn’t about sex.

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Listen
The Gits – Two Many People