Thanks so much to Neil Sturgeon for the interview! A Chocolate Morning was a great guitar pop from Glasgow, Scotland, that gigged a lot and released two great records. Both of these are very hard to find, going for crazy prices on eBay. If you’ve never heard them before, now it’s time for you to do so. Enjoy!

++ Hi Neil! How are you doing? I see you are still making music! When was the last time you picked up your guitar?

I play most days, I’m fortunate in that I am able to do music full time just now. I also started a new label last year which consumes a lot of my time. There’s a lot of admin involved which is quite demanding but it’s important to remember to set time aside for playing and songwriting which is after all the main reason I’m doing what I’m doing.

++ And how much of a departure is the music you make today compared to A Chocolate Morning?

A lot of the same influences are still there, to this day I feature some ACM songs in my solo gigs and I recorded a new version of one of our singles ‘This Isn’t Mine’ which is on my recent EP ‘Ride The Tide’. I would say the bands main infuences to begin with were classic 60’s bands like The Byrds and The Buffalo Springfield as well as contemporary acts of the time like REM, Echo & The Bunnymen and Julian Cope although we also loved some of the Manchester scene of the late 80’s / early 90’s. Like a lot of guitar bands of that era we were inspired too by American bands like The Long Riders and later The Pixies, Buffalo Tom and Nirvana. I still love all of those bands so I guess the music I do now will still have a bit of all that in there somewhere! Biggest influence of all was probably Neil Young and still is for me come to think of it..

++ So let’s go back in time, to 1987. That’s when the band started right? Who were the members and how did you all knew each other? Were there many lineup changes?

Myself (Vocals, Guitar), John Dunsmore (Bass) and Derek Speirs (Lead Guitar) started the band and were there til the end..I knew John from school, and Derek and I grew up living near each other, we all had similar tastes in music and started getting together to rehearse regularly when we were about 17 years old. We had a Spinal Tap-esque knack of losing drummers though, our first drummer Neil McMahon left to spend more time on his football career, we also had a fine German drummer called Klaus Suhling who then left as he was also sports minded and was a trampolining champion!
Eventually Tony Provan joined us around 1989, Tony was very influenced by the Manchester / dance scene but didn’t have the same love of the other music we were into at that time..he played on our first EP release but shortly after that Nory Wright joined the band who was a perfect fit for us both in playing style, musical taste and personality. Nory played with a cracking band called The Strange Creatures before us, they sounded like The Stooges and MC5..sadly they split but luckily for us it was at the time that Tony had left ACM so we were delighted when he agreed to come on board with us.

++ Where does the name of the band comes from?

It was actually the title of a (bad)! song I wrote! Although the song was poor I liked the title as it reminded me of some of my favourite psychedelic band names like ‘Strawberry Alarm Clock or ‘The Electric Prunes’. Our earliest band names were The Reactions (named after The Who’s early label) and The Fraugs before we settled on A Chocolate Morning..

++ You were based in Glasgow which is a hotbed for indie music, and indiepop of course. How do you remember the city back then? Where were the places to hang out and to go watch bands? I was there last February for the first time and I really liked it!

It was and still is a city that produces great music, in the 80’s there were a lot of mainstream acts from Glasgow who made it really big but we were more interested in the indie scene at the time. Unfortunately as I was too young I just missed out on the ‘Splash One’ scene in Glasgow in the mid 80’s although I did get to see a lot of those bands like Primal Scream, BMX Bandits & Jesus & The Marychain in the late 80’s when I was old enough to get in to pubs and venues. I think if I was pushed to name the best Scottish album of the 80’s I’d probably go for ‘High Land Hard Rain’ by Aztec Camera which still sounds great to this day. There were plenty of excellent venues in Glasgow at the time, the Student Unions at Glasgow & Strathclyde University always had the best touring indie bands and I saw some memorable gigs there. We also played a few times at a venue called Rooftops, there were great club nights there which usually featured a live band. I saw The Stone Roses there in 1989 when they were just breaking which was very exciting. And of course there was Barrowlands which I still think is one of the most special venues in the world!

++ What other bands from Glasgow did you like? Any of them influenced your sound, or even, to start the band?

By far the biggest influence on us by a Glasgow band was the emergence of Teenage Fanclub in the late 80’s, we shared a lot of similar influences and it was a
buzz seeing them getting bigger and bigger, ‘A Catholic Education’ and ‘Bandwagonesque’ were huge favourites on the cassette player in the vans we toured and travelled around in. There was also a brilliant band called Thrum who I went to see a few times and were amongst the best live acts in Glasgow in the late
80’s / early 90’s.

++ So I read that you played around 150 gigs! That’s a LOT! Which are the gigs that you remember the most and why?

Yes, we loved playing live and by the early 90’s had earned a good reputation for our live gigs which meant we found it relatively easy to get bookings in the UK. We were around at the time that King Tuts Wah Wah Hut opened around 1990 and played some brilliant packed out gigs there. We also got some good support slots too, supporting Teenage Fanclub, Ian McNabb (Icicle Works) and Thousand Yard Stare in Glasgow which was a great boost at the time. As we were very much an indie band without financial backing our gigs outwith Glasgow tended to be in groups of 4 or 5 dates at a time as opposed to continuous touring. There was a promoter in the north of England called Darren Poyzer who was especially good to us..he would arrange gigs there and allow us to base ourselves at his flat which was a big step up from sleeping in the van!

++ What about the experience of Kelvingrove Festival? I hear that was your biggest highlight as a band. How does it feel to play to 6000+ people?! Nervous?

That was a gig run annually by Radio Clyde, the biggest radio station here then..it was a scorching hot day and easily the biggest crowd we had played to. I don’t remember feeling too nervous, probably because we were at the top of our game as a live band by then. We were delighted to be offered a slot there as it was a bit unusual for them to feature an indie band in the line up at that event and it went really well for us that day. With Nory now on drums our live sound had become a lot heavier and dynamic and we loved our time on stage that day.

++ You released two records, both of them seem to be very rare and hard to find. How many copies did you press? And who were behind the labels “Still” and “What’s Happening”?

I think we pressed 1000 of each, the ‘Wasted’ ep was self financed, for the next single a good friend of ours Kenneth McLaughlin kindly invested funds to get it
released. I have occasionally noticed copies of both records selling for alarmingly inflated amounts on e-bay in recent years! The biggest bummer was when we were waiting to get the ‘This Isn’t Mine’ pressed the pressing plant went bust just after we had sent them the money to do it. After a few threatening phone calls they eventually sent us a box of records of which about 200 of them were broken and warped. On top of all that we had designed a gloriously colourful psychedelic sleeve, when we opened the box we were dismayed to find out that the sleeve had been printed in black & white!

++ Is it true that there might be a chance for a re-release of your songs plus unreleased stuff at some point?

I’ve always felt that we should have managed to release an album as we certainly had an album’s worth of good songs by the time we finished. We recorded a lot of demos which I hope someday soon to release, the band is still remembered fondly by some and it would be nice to open the archives and make the tracks available for the first time.

++ So alright, the first release was the “Wasted” EP in 1991. A four song slab of fine vinyl. Why did it take you 4 years to get your first release? What do you remember from the recording session for this record?

It was the first time we had a settled line up so we decided to make our move and release something. We started it in the summer of 1990 at Studio 2 at Cava Studios in Glasgow, we only had limited studio experience and as a result didn’t quite manage to capture our live sound on vinyl. The sessions were fun though, I remember working on sound effects for our live favourite ‘Today Is Today’ and rolling around the studio floor laughing at some of the odd noises we were making with our pedals. I’m afraid we weren’t too disciplined at those sessions, there was a fair bit of alcohol and various other substances present and the title of the EP pretty much sums up where we were at!

++ The second release came out a year later and it was a 7″ that included the fantastic “This Isn’t Mine”. Care to tell me what’s the story behind this song?

I still enjoy doing that song as it’s one of the strongest choruses I’ve ever written I think. Musically you can hear The Byrds or Teenage Fanclub in there, I was
obsessed by Gene Clark at the time and tipped my hat to him in the bridge of the song with a hint of the riff from ‘Feel A Whole Lot Better’..further proof of The Byrds influence is that we named the label after one of our favourite Byrds songs ‘What’s Happening?!? Lyrically it was based around something that a friend of mine was going through at the time, it was originally called ‘This Isn’t About Me’.. It was a double sided single and the flip side ‘If You Want Me’ was probably our most popular song from the live set, listening to it now you can hear the Manchester influence a bit, the drum rhythm reminiscent of The Charlatans or
Inspiral Carpets..

++ By the way, was there any major label talk at all?

Around 1991/92 we were hotly tipped to do big things, I remember fielding a lot of calls from record companies at that point who had been tipped off by their sources in Glasgow about us. It was a stressful time as we didn’t have a manager and we could probably have done with someone to steer the ship in the right direction. The major labels in London didn’t seem to like our demos enough to make the trip to Glasgow though which was a pity. As one of the bands in the city with a buzz around us we were invited to participate in an A&R night at King Tuts in Glasgow, it was an experience I didn’t enjoy though, we weren’t at our best that night and a new Glasgow band called Glass Onion made the night their own on the way to becoming the next big thing as Travis..

++ Another highlight of yours was  being played by John Peel. How important was John Peel for you guys as music fans?

He played ‘This Isn’t Mine’ on his show, it was probably the most influential show in Britain for indie bands and it felt like a breakthrough moment when he featured us on it. We didn’t have national distribution though to take advantage of the airplay and our records were hard to get outside Scotland. I listened to his show a lot but given the eclectic nature of his tastes I would only like maybe about 20 per cent of the stuff he played, that 20 per cent though tended to make up for the other 80! In Scotland there was a similar show called Beat Patrol which featured new music and was the first airplay we ever had, I remember bass player John had just passed his driving test and we were out in the car when our song came on the radio, it was one of the most satisfying and thrilling moments of my life.

++ Looking back. what is that that you miss the most from those days?

Probably the hope and expectation and camaraderie that comes with being in your first band. Everything was new and exciting. I’m fairly lucky in that I still enjoy most of the things like recording and playing live that I did back then. The live scene was healthier too I’d say, the indie scene was thriving and I think it was easier for bands to build up a following over a number of years by playing student unions and small venues. These days you are more likely to see students going to a handful of big festival gigs per year than supporting and empathising with new up and coming acts in the smaller venues from what I see.

++ And then what happened? When and why did you call it a day?

There was a definite sense of disappointment at the apathy towards us by record companies, we had been together for a few years and were tired and broke really.
Ironically we played our most high profile gigs in our final year together and were at our best as a live band. In 1994 I started jamming with other people and it was noticeable that a lot of the energy and enthusiasm that had powered ACM had faded in comparison. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if we had stuck it out another year or two and released an album.

++ Are you all still in touch? What do you do these days?

We are still good friends although most of the band have got families now and aren’t actively involved in music. Recently we got together socially for John’s 40th birthday and had a great time reminiscing about our days with the band and we plan to get together to do something with our old demos and film clips in the near future. After ACM I released a solo album and then played in another Glasgow band called The Goldenhour who released 2 albums in 2003 and 2005 and fulfilled my love of playing 60’s garage and psychedelia. I’m currently working on a solo album which is produced by Teenage Fanclub’s Raymond McGinley which has been an amazing buzz for me. I’ve released 2 singles from it on my new Buzzwagon Beat Label in recent months and the reaction to both has been great.

++ This is a pretty obvious question, or maybe a silly one, but I was wondering what are your favourite chocolates?

Hehe..I like most types of chocolate although you can’t beat a slab of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk!

++ Thanks again so much for being up for the interview, anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you Roque for your interest in my old band, I’ll post news of any future A Chocolate Morning releases on my site at www.neilsturgeon.co.uk


A Chocolate Morning – This Isn’t Mine


I’m thinking I should leave a post ready for next week. What do you say? I’m kind of enjoying posting some news plus an obscure band every weekend. Next weekend I’ll be out of town, in Chicago. Going on a ghost tour on Saturday. Never done that though I don’t expect to see anything supernatural. But should be fun, ghost stories are great.  Everything is all sorted as Kristine has already made a schedule for the weekend. Which reminds me I have to start buying train tickets for my UK trip at the end of July before the prices are higher.

Today has been a good day on eBay even though I lost my attention for a second and lost two great records in the last seconds. I don’t know what I was thinking. Among the great findings that I won today there was a 12″ by The Wilderness Children and a 7″ by The Sedgwicks that I was missing. Happy Friday. Today I also finished the fanzine. Added a new interview to Sarasota darlings Cassolette. Can’t complain. It’s been productive.

Also today the pressing plant sent me an email saying that the test pressings for the Very Truly Yours 7″ single are on the way. They should arrive home on Monday. Perfect. We are on schedule. Now it’s safe to say the record will be released July 31st, the day they play Indietracks! Though of course, the single will be available before if you happen to be at any of their shows during their UK tour.

So let’s talk about some ghosts of the past. Let’s go this time to Ireland. To Dublin. I’m sure that somewhere in that city, someone must have it. On tape probably. If we are lucky on a DAT tape. Someone must have Guernica’s elusive unreleased album.

Not so sure where to start digging on this ghost tour. Usually my first stop is Discogs, see if someone has listed the band’s records there. In this case we are lucky. There’s even a small bio about the band:

Guernica took a heavy New Order/Joy Division influence and mixed it with indie/C86/jangle-pop sounds. They also incorporated lighter, rockabilly touches to fantastic effect. After a debut single on Solid, they signed to Idol Records in London and released one acclaimed single(orange an red – 12″). They appeared on TV several times including MT USA (“Americano”), TV Ga Ga (“Americano”), Anything Goes (“New Boy”), Borderline (“Deep Sea Diving”) and Megamix (“Homing”).

Most importantly there’s a band lineup: Joe Rooney (vocals), Derek Turner (guitar), Ray McCarthy (keyboards), Derek Lee (bass) and Dara Broe (drums). Doing some more digging I found out that the lead vocalist, Joe Rooney is one of Ireland’s top comic actors and one of the Dereks runs the Spirit Store in Dundalk and manages the Flaws.

On that same discogs page there is a broken link that should have taken you here. This page is part of the Irish Punk and New Wave Discography.  I find there the same text that Discogs has as a biography. Also more information that I would copy paste but it seems these Irish guys are very zealous about their information as they have added some javascript scripts to disallow right clicking or selecting the content.  I don’t understand that. I’ve seen many of the stuff here being copy/pasted in several pages, even in Youtube. No big deal. Anyhow, the stuff they have compiled is really interesting, especially the Spain part:

“We were a New Order type band that ended up going rockabilly. We were a depressing soul-searching rockabilly band, if you can imagine that. We came up with a new type of music in fact, but we broke up after that. The keyboard player found God and he started playing keyboards at a Born Again Christian church. The bass player joined the band Sack and then he left us. Another guy has a studio near Dundalk and the drummer just got loads of girls pregnant!”–Joe Rooney, from a 2004 interview in the Galway Observer

Guernica’s records are particularly popular in Spain, where “Red And Orange” has been included on a number of Spanish compilation CDs. Here is Hugo’s explanation for the band’s popularity in Spain:

“During the mid 80’s there was a Belgian DJ called Frank Lenaers that lived in Valencia and played at a very famous club called Spook. He made Orange and Red “very popular” (considering that was a reduced circle of people). He was a true legend on the decks, he developed an unique style of mixing using early EBM’s, electro, house and industrial minimal tunes as a base for Indie pop, brit pop & rock songs like Guernica’s. Those years of good music, memories & “unhealty life” -the explosion of mescalin and xtc- are still present for some of us…”

There have also been Spanish, Italian and Japanese bands named Guernica, the source of some confusion perhaps.

Note there is NO LINK to the late ’90s pop group named Guernica from Buncrana, Co. Donegal who formed in 1997 and released two CD singles (“Surf Buddy” and 1998’s “Sights Are Cool”) before disbanding, the core duo continuing as Palomino.

Joe Rooney is a now a well known TV actor (“Father Ted”) and standup comedian. Derek Lee later in Sack (see Lord John White). Derek Turner (ex Ifter the Shifter) later formed the excellent Honey Thieves.

But of course the connection with Spain is bigger than that. The band’s name probably comes either from the Basque town Guernica or most probably from the Picasso painting of the name. This famous painting was created in response to the bombing of Guernica, Basque Country, by German and Italian warplanes at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces, on 26 April 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Republican government commissioned Picasso to create a large mural for the Spanish display at the Paris International Exposition at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris.

Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour helped bring the Spanish Civil War to the world’s attention.

But let’s not get carried away. What about the releases of the band?

The first release was the 7″ single “Deep Sea Diving” / “New Boy” released on Solid Records (ROK 707) in 1987. This record has a fantastic sleeve, one that I would have loved to released, where this white and brown dog is jumping over a monotone blue lake. Both songs on this record are great, this by far my favourite release by them. It’s just fantastic guitar pop, no wonder all of their records are so expensive and rare!

Second release is perhaps their most known record. It includes the hit-in-Spain “Orange and Red”, which in an ideal world would have been a hit in the whole world! On the flip side there are another two great slices of pop “The Queen of Our County” and “Missionary”. The odd thing about this record is that it was recorded in December 1985 and August 1986 but only released in March 1987. The record was recorded at Slane Studios and they crossed the  North Channel  to sign for Idol Records (home of the great Last Party) in London and release it as a 12″ Maxi single. Catalog number is 12ID2.

Their third release was again a 12″, this time an EP on a label I’ve never heard before “Miss Pedestal”. I would guess it was self-released but I can’t confirm it. It was catalog 001 and was released in July 1988. On the A side we find “Humming of the Engine” and on the B side “Summerville” and “Veil of Tears”. This may be my least favourite release, as it’s the least poppy one. On the B side you can find the rockabilly that is mentioned on their bio; whereas on the A side, well, that song is quite dark!

They appeared on a couple of compilations:
–  Contraseña  – with the song Orange and Red. This is an Spanish compilation.
–  Remember Collection – again with Orange and Red and released in Spain.
–  Unknown name – with Queen of our Country on Eden Music Records.
– Solid Citizens – a tape on Solid Records where they included Deep Sea Divers

Among other bits and bobs of information I’ve gathered, I found out that they toured with the more known A House (their first ever tour), as a double header bill, through all Ireland, and that Derek Turner had previously been in the band The Handsome Devils. No clue if they had any releases. The Honey Thieves did, but I guess that’s another story. And that’s about it.

The post came out much longer than I thought! That’s good, lots to read! Anyways, if anyone has anything else to add, if anyone has that unreleased album or any unreleased tracks, if anyone have spares of these records, if anyone just wants to share some memories of Guernica, please leave a comment or get in touch. It’s hard to get in touch with a celebrity like Joe Rooney for an interview, but if anyone knows how to get in touch with any band member, please let me know! Would love to learn more about Guernica.

I’m so in love today with “Deep Sea Diving” that I have just made everyone bounce their heads on the turntable.fm thingie. It’s just fabulous!


Guernica – Deep Sea Diving


Thanks so much to George Howard for the interview! Don’t confuse these Lotus Eaters with the ones from Liverpool as they were from Boston, US. They released 3 7″, two on the fabulous Harriet Records and then disappeared without trace. Happily George joined me down memory lane and well, it came out as a lovely interview. Hope you enjoy!

++ Thanks so much for being up for the interview George! How are things? I hear you are in New Orleans these days? Correct? You didn’t go through Katrina, did you?

Hi. Things couldn’t be better. I’m a lucky dude. Currently we’re on Martha’s Vineyard, but, yes, we’ve (my wife and two kids) been splitting our time between New Orleans and MV for the past six years. We did go through Katrina, yes. At the time my son hadn’t been born, but my wife and – at that point – six-month old daughter left two nights before the storm, and holed up in Memphis for a while before heading back to the east coast for about four months. We decided we really had to return, and try to do what we could to help for the city we love. as i don’t know how to drive a forklift, I decided my biggest contribution would be to teach; so I taught in entrepreneurship, management, etc. at Loyola’s College of Business.

++ So let’s go back in time, were the Lotus Eaters your first band?

Yes, Lotus Eaters were my first band.

++ So how did the Lotus Eaters start? How was the recruiting process? Were you all students at the same university perhaps?

The singer, Vanessa Tanaka, and I had gone to high school together, and then college, and we started writing songs together. Then, fortuitously, I saw Joan Wasser riding her bike through Kenmore Square with a violon case on her back. At the time, Joan had bright red hair – so she was easy to spot/follow – and I literally chased her down, and said we needed a violin player. Oddly, she agreed. Then we met Greg Jacobs (drums) and Bill Mitchell (bass) – all of us were Boston University students.

++ Why the name The Lotus Eaters? Were you then aware of the also great Liverpool band of the same name?

I was a literature major and really dug both the Tennyson poem and the section in the Odyssey Oddly, no one in the band really did any drugs, so it wasn’t maybe the most accurate name. I (obviously) wasn’t aware of the Liverpool band when I cooked up our name (remember, this was pre- Google-search days). I don’t think that many people in Boston (or the US) really were.

++ How do you remember those early 90s in Boston? What were other great bands to see in town? And where did The Lotus Eaters used to hang out?

Oh, it was such a great time. Clearly, I remember it through the gauze of nostalgia, but I’m going to go with that (why not?). In the Boston rock continuum, it was sort of the last great stage; Aerosmith, J. Giels, the Cars etc. were sort of gone, and the next wave (Christmas, Zulus, Volcano Suns, Dumptruck, the Neats, Scruffy the Cat (more on them in a minute), Mission of Burma (mach 1) had done the major thing, and none of them had really exploded. And so the scene we were in had descended from that. Blake Babies had started to ascend and sort of set an example to follow. Obviously, the Lemonheads, too. But there was just this amazing amount of creativity and sort of community. You had little labels like Pop Narcotic and (not so little) Tang!, Harriet, etc. and just the general feel that Boston had shrunk. I think it was sort of its Athens, GA moment. Out of that came our little band, but, more importantly, artists like Mary Timony (Helium), Dambuilders (who “stole” Joan away from us), Mary Lou Lord, Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, Fuzzy, Gigolo Aunts, and my favorite band (maybe of all time) Amoeba Cross Section (which was Keith Grady, who later played a lot with Lotus Eaters and Greg Jacobs), and so many more I’m forgetting. I don’t really put us in the same category as, for instance, Morphine (who came out of Treat Her Right), Pixies, or Throwing Muses as those bands seemed to transcend geography.

In terms of hanging out, we all lived either together, or in close proximity in Allston Rock City. Joan, Mary, and Keith lived in the same house as Dave Derby and Eric Masunaga from Dambuilders. I lived with Greg. So, yeah, lots of fun nights with amazing music. It’s really an experience I hope my kids have when/if they go to college; just lots of sharing of ideas and support.

++ Harriet Records is considered one of the finest pop labels of America. How do you feel about their roster of bands and how did you end up releasing with them?

We were really honored. I’ll never forget we were playing a show at the Middle East, and Tim Alborn (Harriet founder) was standing next to Stephin Merritt watching us. Tim was sort of bopping around and digging it, and Stephin for most of the show was his implacable, but somewhat approving self…until we decided to do a truly misguided and terrible version of “See No Evil.” Stephin just stood there and shook his head disapprovingly the whole time. Even still, Tim approached us after the show, and said he wanted to put out a record. It was a really happy night. Tim had/has great and idiosyncratic taste. Obviously, any sane person would be honored to have any type of association with Magnetic Fields, and many of the other bands on the label.

++ That first 7″ contains my favourite two songs of yours “Falling” and “Fishing Boat”, they are just great pop gems! Who would you say influenced your sound? And do you mind telling me the story behind these two songs?

Thank you. Well, we sort of wore our influences on our sleeves. Listen to “Falling,” then listen to either “7 Chinese Bros.” or “Green Grow the Rushes,” and you’ll get a pretty good sense of where I was coming from. Peter Buck was the older brother I never had. not only did he influence pretty much every note of guitar I’ve ever played, but (from his interviews) he turned me on to everything from Jack Kerouac to margaritas. I’ve actually had the chance to awkwardly thank him for that.

Fishing Boat sort of shows some of the more disparate (i.e. non-REM influences). I was deeply into some of the English folk stuff (Fairport, Nick Drake, Van’s “Astral Weeks” et al.), and those they influenced (Waterboys, etc.). I really love/loved the sound of wood – mandolins, acoustic 12 strings, dulcimers, violins, etc. – and tried to incorporate that into what we did. But then, it all got run through sort of a Feelies-filter.

I don’t know…as they say in New Orleans it’s just all gumbo and lagniappe.

++ And I have to say I love the artwork on this one. Even though it’s simple, that compass and the greenish-blue paper is very evoking. Who came up with it?

Again, thank you. since I’m telling my secrets, that was very much influenced by (wait for it) an REM t-shirt from the Little America tour: a line drawing of a bicycle. I cooked it up, and I *think* I drew it, but, more likely, my girlfriend at the time (and, later Lincoln ’65 bassist, and now fantastic stained glass artist), Anna Johansson, a tremendous artist, drew it.

++ After that you released two more 7″s, one on your own Slow River Records and another on Harriet. Which of the three is your favourite?

I don’t think I even remember what the songs were. I do know that one of them had a sort of “rock” (or as “rock” as we got) track called “Top of the World” on it, that Keith Grady just tore up the guitar on – I liked that one a lot.

++ Are there any more releases? Why didn’t you get to release more stuff? Maybe you have a drawer full of unreleased songs? 🙂

There are a lot of songs. As to why they weren’t released. We sort of dispersed as we graduated. I went to Providence, Vanessa went to SF. It’s OK, it was a nice moment in time, and I’m glad we documented some of it.

++ Did you play lots of gigs? Any in particular that you remember?

We did play quite a lot. as above, the gig that led to the Harriet records was memorable. I remember we played a gig at a BIG club on Landsdowne street (which was outside our usual Allston/Central Sq comfort zone), and, for some reason, the stars aligned, and it was a mob scene, and we played well, and it felt something like a victory party.

++ When and why did you call it a day? Did you have bands after that?

Again, we moved after we graduated. I started a band called Lincoln ’65, which was more Neil Young/Uncle Tupelo/Townes Van Zandt influenced, and we put out a few things, and played around a bunch.

++ Are you all still in touch?

We are tangentially in touch (Twitter/FB is good for that).

++ I do know you started a label called Slow River and you eventually became president of Rykodisc. How fast did all this happen? Care to tell the whole story? And why aren’t you involved with record labels today?

Long story. Again, being in that amazing crowd I was so blessed to be a part of, I really wanted to get the music of my friends (Helium, Amoeba Cross Section, etc. out). So, I figured out how to press up 7″ singles, and just sort of went for it. That led to a really fortuitous meeting with Charlie Chesterman (whose band, Scruffy the Cat I had LOVED), and I convinced him to let me put a CD. That went pretty well, and I put stuff by Sparklehorse, Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, Vic Chesnutt, and Juicy, and was able to make a deal with Rykodisc, where they sort of let me do what I did, but gave me some more resources. That led to putting records out by Purple Ivy Shadows, Josh Rouse, Fan Modine, Tom Leach, Future Bible Heros, Disque 9, and a bunch more. Then Ryko was bought by Chris Blackwell. He and I hit it off, and he asked me to run Ryko, which I did for several years prior to it being sold to Warner.

I then started teaching and went back to school (got an mba and a law degree), and developing other things. For instance, I helped with the founding of TuneCore, and Artists House (www.artistshousemusic.org), etc. I’ve been fortunate to stay involved in the music/entertainment business (working with artists like Carly Simon, Mark Isham, Kristin Hersh, and companies like Wolfgang’s Vault, Daytrotter, and Paste Magazine). So, while not involved in “labels” I deal with them every day, and feel proud to still be actively trying to affect the culture in a positive way, which is exactly what I wanted to do when I started Slow River back in the day.

++ And how do you see, after working in labels, this moment in the record industry. You think digital downloads will make physical records obsolete at some point? Or you think there will always be space for a fabulous slab of vinyl?

I worry less about the physical v download issue, and more about the negative impact on revenue when we move to an almost entirely streaming model. Labels/artists who are used to $7/transaction will be lucky to get $.007 / transaction. so the model has to evolve (it will).

As for physical – it’ll always be there. The recent (happy) vinyl resurgence has less to do with sound quality and more to do with the fact that we as humans desire to share things, and hold things, and vinyl represents what Hugh MacLeod (and others) refer to as social objects. So, yeah, they’ll always be there, and it would be wise for other industries (I’m looking at you, books) to understand this.

++ I know you’ve written books about it, but would you mind giving some free tips to those who want to start a label?

Hmmm. Look for ways that you can embed a social component into your venture. I’m passionate about social entrepreneurship, and i think if more creative types took the time to understand this, it would relieve some of the tension associated with monetizing art (s.e. looks at impact as well as profit in terms of success metrics).

I also think you have to understand value and expectation alignment in order to succeed.

It’s sort of too long a topic to reduce here. sorry. But, I’d say if you have the impulse to start something (label, whatever), listen to it, and do it. the cost of failure is very low these days, so it makes it all the more reasonable to take a stab at something.

There’s lots of good advice out there (Artists House (www.artistshousemusic.org), Hugh’s blog, Seth Godin’s blog, my blog, etc.)

++ One last question, is there any secret skill of yours that not many know?

Thank you. I don’t really have any secrets (skills or otherwise), but I’m a surprisingly good cook (if I do say so myself). I also know a good deal more about the capital markets and commodity/pm exchanges than people might guess.

++ Thanks so much George! Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for your interest and your very cool blog, and for allowing me to page through my mind on this Father’s day morning – a nice gift.


The Lotus Eaters – Falling


Another week goes by and Indietracks gets closer. And even though I have to admit I’m not excited at all about the lineup this year, I look forward to what Indietracks really is. An indiepop amusement park! Being with friends, riding the train, dancing, meeting new people, and just the great atmosphere in the middle of Derby. I’m thinking that on the weekend before Indietracks, I’d like to go to Canterbury and Brighton, each for a day trip. Any recommendations in these cities?? Then I’ll be joining Very Truly Yours on their tour. I believe I’ll be joining them for their gigs in Glasgow and Manchester. That I look forward a lot!

Also next week in Miami Beach there are some good indiepop news as Sarasota darlings’ Cassolette are coming to play! Just a couple of blocks away from my place. They released “Not Just Anyone” on the Cloudberry compilation CD “Do You Think it Will Snow Tonight?”. A superb track. Nowadays we are working towards a 7″ that hopefully will be out in the near future. It’s really exciting to see Ciera again, I think it’s been a year or maybe two since she was down here. She has had some really cool bands before, Que Possum for example released a fantastic split 7″ with Boyracer, and Sugarbears had a delicious slice of synth-pop on the “Where are the Supremes Tonight?” CD compilation. So something to really look forward next Saturday. Here is the event if anyone wants to join: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=228464947165949

Cloudberry-wise I’m finishing the fanzine this weekend as I got the last interview on the mail at last! I have the CDs ready. I will update the website with the song information as well. Sorry it has taken a bit of time. It will be worth it. Don’t you all want a zine with Christine Garlands on the cover? On other news I got drafts for the artwork from Becca Stadtlander for the coming Youngfuck 7″, it’s looking really great! Isn’t she great?

But now onto serious matter: the weekly obscure band. This week I’d like to feature Future World Moves, from Livingston, Scotland. I was actually in touch some years ago with them through myspace, I even sent them interview questions, but never heard back from them sadly. I guess life came in the way.  They only released one record, one that I’ve been trying to find a copy for myself without luck for a long time, so if you happen to have a spare one, please let me know. Don’t overprice it 🙂

As far as I can tell the name of the band comes from a song by the same name of theirs. There is a bunch of recordings posted on their own Youtube account. Some songs are really lo-fi, but there are many interesting jangle pop slices there as well. The other important fact of information was that the band was comprised by Phil Paterson, Gerry McCart and Alex McTaggart and as I said they were based in Livingston. I’ve been to Scotland this year for the first time, in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I had never heard of Livingston though, though is it possible I passed it on the train in between the other two cities? The name sounds very familiar. I read a bit of Livingston right now:

Livingston (Scottish Gaelic: Baile Dhùn Lèibhe) is a new town in West Lothian, Scotland. It is the fourth post-war new town to be built in Scotland, designated in 1962. It is located approximately 15 miles (25 km) west of Edinburgh and 30 miles (50 km) east of Glasgow. Livingston is also the second largest settlement in the Lothians after Edinburgh. Until 1963 the area surrounding the ancient village of Livingston was open farm land and the ancient village is now called Livingston Village. The name was taken from this village which dates back to 12th Century when a Flemish entrepreneur called De Leving was granted land in the area. He built a fortified tower which is long since gone and the settlement that grew up around it became known as Levingstoun, Layingston and eventually Livingston.

If you still live there, or you visit, I hear that the 3 guys in Future World Moves still make music, well kind of, they still play live in a covers band called “We’re Not Iguanas”. Not sure if their whole set is my cup of tea, but they do play some Buzzcocks and Undertones and that I do like! I’m sure they secretly still make original music though, you can’t just stop!

Anyhow, back to that one record they released. It was a self-released 12″ minilp. Catalog number being FWM001.  Black and white cover, with a band photo in the middle, the same promo photo I posted in this entry. As I have never had the record, or even seen it, I cant assure you, but I believe it had 6 songs. I know that A1 was “Voice of Autumn”, B1 was “Particular Day” and B2 was “Roar of Thunder”. I can hear influences by The Chameleons throughout the tracks. Great 80s guitar pop overall!

The information about them online is very scarce, really a  shame, as they did release a record. So, as always, any info about them will be very welcome. Where are they now? Are there more recordings? Why is their one and only record so hard to find? How many copies were pressed? Would like to know more!


Future World Moves – This Particular Day


Thanks so much to Bernd Wagner for the interview. I also want to thank Christian Bauer for helping for this interview to happen. The Wide Plains were a great guitar pop band from Worms, Germany, in the late 80s. These days they are back together and sometimes they play live. Lucky those who get to see them! Let’s hear their story.

++ Hi Bernd! How are you doing!? Whereabouts in Germany are you these days? Still in Worms?

To make things a little bit easier I’ll first introduce you to the band.The Wide Plains reformed in 2010 are:
Andi (keyboards, backing vocals)
Bernd (vocals, guitar, trumpet)
Christian (bass)
Jürgen (drums, backing vocals)
Robert (guitar)

Andi is a new member. In the early days we had another guitar player (Michael) who now lives too far away to join the band again. Except me (living in Mainz) all the members of the band live in Worms (the town is not named after these little animals speared on fishing-hooks).

++ How was the scene back then in Worms during the late 80s and the early 90s? How did you like it? What were your favourite places to hang out?

Around that time it wasn’t too bad in Worms. We met in clubs, pubs, coffee-shops and discotheques called “Fabrik”, “Kanal”, “Schwarzer Bär” or ”KD” which all have one thing in common: they don’t exist anaymore. When we were bored we went to Mannheim or Mainz. Most of our favourite bands from abroad played live in a club called “Batschkapp” (still existing!) in Frankfurt, a town, you might have heard of (in contrast to those mentioned before). For example we went there to see Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, The Go-Betweens, Felt, Biff Bang Pow, The House of love,The Woodentops,The Triffids,The Chills,The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream,The Charlatans and many many more.

++ What about fellow bands? Were there any other guitar pop bands in town?

In the late eighties Worms was crowded with guitar-pop-bands. It all began with “Autumn’s Chant” in 1984 (with later Wide Plains members Bernd and Robert amongst others). When “Autumn`s chant” split up in 1986 “The Blue Eyed Bandits” (Bernd),”The Blue and White collar workers” (Robert) and a little bit later “The 7 Roberts” (Robert) were founded. Around that time Jürgen played in “The Rayn”, Christian formed “Drab Hotchpotch” while Andi joined “The Wallflowers” and later “Sonic Flower Groove”. After all the “Wide Plains” started in 1989.

++ How did you knew each other?

Robert, Michael and me went to the same school. Apart from that Worms is a rather small town and all the bands knew each other.

++ What about the name? Where does it comes from?

The name “Wide Plains” was Jürgens`s idea. Having just been to U.S. he suggested to name the band after a suburb of New York City. We thought it sounded really cool and agreed. Months later Jürgen had to admit that this suburb`s real name is “White Plains” but at that point everybody already knew us as “The Wide Plains” and so we left the name as it was.

++ You released the song “One Bright Day” on a compilation tape on the Heaven Sent label. How did you end up doing so? Care to tell me a bit about this label too?

The owner of the “Heaven Sent”-Label was a guy named Ralf Hoffmann, nickname “Hopemann”, who, by the way, was also a member of the above mentioned “Sonic Flower Groove”. He was a guitar-pop-maniac and released several compilations, mainly on tape. Apart from bands of the region some better known bands from abroad also contributed songs to these compilations, for example “14 Iced bears” from the U.K. (do you know them?). Some of these tapes seem to have found their ways to Japan. 20 years later a Japanese guy called PomPom Takashi stumbled upon one of these compilations. As he liked “One bright day” very much he put it on “Youtube”.

++ Did you have any other releases? Perhaps some demo tapes?

We released the tapes “New hope for the lonely” and “Spring valley stories” as well as a vinyl-EP with four songs. A few days later we split up. So we sold only a few pieces. Most of the records are still stored away in a cellar somewhere. You may have one if you like (and if we`ll find them).

++ I read on a Youtube comment that you plan to digitise all the tracks you recorded. How is that going? I’d love to listen to these songs!

The only songs that haven’t yet been digitised are those on the E.P. mentioned above. They reflect our late “Madchester”-period.

++ How many songs were recorded by the way?

In the late eighties/early nineties we probably recorded about 20 songs.

++ What about the songs on the ReverbNation page? Are these new ones? They sound so good! You’ve never lost your touch, huh! What’s your favourite song of your repertoire then?

All the songs on ReverbNation are old and were recorded in the late eighties/early nineties. The song with the video is the only new one on ReverbNation. It`s a demo version of “Scanxiety (waiting for the scan)” which is currently one of our most favourite songs. But we are working on new material which is even better than we expected when we re-united. Hopefully it will be finished at the end of summer. We`ll let you know!

++ You are still going with Wide Plains, but there was a long hiatus, right? What happened in that interval of time?

As you can imagine we`re not in our twenties anymore. When we split up in 1991 we were all students in different subjects. In the following twenty years we worked in different jobs, got married or split up and got one to four kids. One thing that we always shared and that distinguished us from many of our contemporaries was our ongoing passion for (the right) pop-music, especially guitar-pop.

++ I noticed you have had some gigs as of lately, how are you enjoying them? Any new gigs coming up?

Our biggest problem is the lack of time for rehearsing, recording and playing live. We’ll probably play two or three gigs this year (next gig: 30th of July) in the region.

++ How do you compare these gigs to the ones in the past? What has been your favourite gig you’ve played and why?

The audience has grown older too. That`s one of the reasons the concerts aren’t as lively as they were in the early days.

In my opinion we played our best concert in 1991 when we supported “The Jazz-Butcher” from the U.K. (I hope you know them) in Mainz. It was great and unforgettable experience to play in a big and sold-out location in front of hundreds of people supporting one of our favourite bands.

++ I’m wondering, especially because of your sound and because you started in 1986, how influential were those c86 bands from the UK? Did you have any favourites? Did you feel your sound and spirit was akin to what was going on in the British isles?

This is a serious question. Although we all listened to the C86-bands and went to their concerts the Wide Plain`s influences are quiet heterogeneous. I could fill pages with the names of all the bands which we loved and grew up with, also the new ones if they only sound like the old ones, for example “The Pains of being pure at heart” or “The Head and the Heart” to name just a few. Listen to BBC6 music and you`ll know which kind of music we prefer.

++ Giving one last look to the past, what do you think was the biggest highlight of The Wide Plains as a band?

As I already mentioned above and I`m sure the others would agree, the biggest highlight was supporting the “Jazz-Butcher”.

++ So what is ahead for The Wide Plains? What can we expect in the future from you?

I ‘d prefer to tell what you can not expect from the Wide Plains in the future: I suppose we won`t go on tour in Japan or the U.S..

++ You know, I’ve been around many cities around Rhineland but never been to Worms, I’m wondering if you can tell me what is there to visit in your town? I can probably visit next time I’m in Germany 🙂

If you’re interested in history,for example the reformation and Martin Luther, Worms is the right place to go to. If not you should visit other German cities.The music scene has changed dramatically. There are still bands with many different genres but I`m not sure if there are still any other or younger guitar-pop-bands around. Most of the musicians in our age nowadays play in cover-bands. If you nevertheless decided to come to Worms you’d be very welcome.

++ Oh! and as a big fan of German beer, I always have to ask this question, what’s your favourite beer?

Although we also drink beer, the region between Worms and Mainz, named Rheinhessen, is better known for its famous wine. If you like to try a typical white wine from here ask your local dealer for a very dry “Riesling” from “Rheinhessen/Germany”.

++ Alright, let’s wrap it here, anything else you’d like to add?

You didn`t ask for the reasons of our reunion. Apart from the Wide Plains song who turned up in the internet after 20 years (see above) which was one motivation to start again it has something to do with painful hamstring-muscles and Ian Brown (former singer of the Stone Roses). Unfortunately 11-month year old Jonathan sitting next to me is getting louder and louder. So let`s wrap it here.


The Wide Plains – One Bright Day


Not many news this week. It’s been a very quiet one. At least I could finish answering all emails that I had piling and bought a plane ticket to Chicago for the 4th of July weekend. It will be my first time in the Windy City. For sure I’ll visit the Millenium Park and the Art Institute. Would like to see Adler Planetarium and the Navy Pier as well. And it seems I will go onto a ghost tour as well. That sounds quite exciting!

This week I’ve been listening to the new-ish BMX Bandits reissue on Rev-Ola/Poppydisc, the “C86+Star Wars” CD. By doing this on last.fm the Banditos are my top band ever. What would McCarthy say to this! It’s interesting though that Rev-Ola is not part of Cherry Red anymore, I wonder why. Other albums that were on rotation were Vitesse’s “Chelsea 27099”, The Big Dish’s “Swimmer” and Johnny Rasheed’s “Inspiration”. Today was a day for listening to an indiepop compilation called “Working Titles”. This CD that comes in a DVD case has been a great surprise as there are no fillers in it, it’s just good from start to finish. Also it comes with a great booklet, with interviews to every band that appears on the compilation. This was released in Philippines in 2002. Also this week I’ve got the chance to listen all the recordings done by Feverfew, a bunch of rare and unreleased Man of Delmonte tracks and some unreleased Tender Engines.

But now onto the obscure band recommendation for this week: The Philips. As I’ve never done a Japanese lost band, I thought it was time to do so. And I’m quite curious about them as there is absolutely no information about them. There was one release though, a split flexi shared with The Ammonites. So let’s talk about that.

The 7″ flexi was a co-release between A Rare Breed Records and The Boshi Label. I don’t know much about the first label, aside that their first release was another flexi, the Hopscotch flexi by my beloved PO! The Boshi Label on the other hand was Akiko’s first “label” before the much more known Sugarfrost Records. On the Boshi Label there were 5 fanzines,  1 t-shirt, 2 cassette tapes, and 2 flexis. This one, the Ammonites/Philips flexi, was the first of the two, it was released in 1990 and was catalog number RODDY 007. Big fan of Aztec Camera huh?

I’m quite bummed after seeing on Discogs that the flexi came with a picture sleeve. The copy I have has no sleeve. Kind of annoying. I did pay 1 pound for it so I shouldn’t complain much, but still. The Philips song on the flexi is called “Young Love Be Your Monkey Tonight”. The Ammonites one is called “Jennifer”. I do wonder what does the name of the Philips song means. In any case, the song is a really fun one, with a catchy chorus and great melodies. I’d say it sounds like a stripped down Flipper’s Guitar’s tune!

And after listening one more time “Young Love Be Your Monkey Tonight”, I wonder if did they only record 1 song? That doesn’t sound right to me. I’m sure they had more stuff recorded. Was this their only release? Whatever happened to them? I feel there was a great scene in Japan in the early 90s, but it hasn’t been documented properly. Maybe it’s time to do so! So if you have any other information about the band, please share!


The Philips – Young Love Be Your Monkey Tonight


Thanks so much to Mike O’Sullivan for the interview and also to Paul Davies, also part of  the mighty City Giants! If you’ve never heard about this band well, prepare yourself as they were great! They only recorded one 7″ back in the late 80s but it’s such a good single that well, it’s timeless. Good thing is that they recorded much more stuff and will be available sometime soon it seems! Keep your eyes peeled!

++ Hi there! Thanks so much for being up for the interview. Are you still in Tooting these days? Or where in the world are you? What about the rest of the band members?

Hi Roque, Andy, Paul and myself still live in London- we all used to live and rehearse in Tooting. Tooting was best known for a very funny sit-com called ‘Citizen Smith’, he was a lazy, disorganized revolutionary Marxist called Wolfie, who led a rebellious group of half-hearted friends…very funny!

++ So just out of curiosity, what does Tooting has to offer? Never been there! And was it true that you were massive there?

Tooting is a town in South London, a brilliant place for Indian food! Our band posters used to claim that we were massive in Tooting, of course we were the only band in Tooting and even though our record sold more than Madonna’s in the local record store- there was a touch of irony involved in the statement…

++ Let’s go back in time. When and where did the City Giants start as a band? How was the recruiting process? Where did you knew each other from?

Andy and Mike the drummer were friends and posted an advert in the New Musical Express, looking for a bass player. I’d just moved to London from Cardiff to start Art School, answered the ad and joined the band. Paul used to come to our gigs and loved the band and joined later.

++ And why the name City Giants?

The band were originally called the ‘Southern Movers’ and one day with no real discussion we changed it. Andy came up with the name and it stuck.

++ Were the City Giants your first band?

I guess we all tried to form bands before we met, we were all pretty young at the time, so this was our first proper band!

++ How do you remember those early days of the band? Lots of practicing? What did you do when you weren’t making music? Where did you all hang out?

Practicing was great fun, we used to rehearse above a Fish and Chip shop in Tooting which was probably detrimental to sales for the owner. We always had lots of friends hanging out, doing comedy dancing and sing alongs etc.. We were all students at the time and when we weren’t practicing we were gigging, we played about 50 gigs in an 18 month period. Most of the gigs were in London and Cardiff/South Wales.

++ So let’s talk music. Was there a certain reason for you all to be in a band? Any sort of inspiration?

We were all massively into music and still are, how can that ever change? We were only just discussing coming across people who claim not to be into music, what does that mean?

++ You only released one 7″ single. Care to tell me a bit about each of the songs that appeared on the record?

We released only one single, the three songs were the three newest songs we had at that moment in time. I guess they sum up much of what we were about. All three songs were one take recordings played live in the studio. The first and third songs are typically frenetic and up tempo, the second more melodic. Our gigs were always very boppy/dance orientated affairs. Lyrically, many of the songs were tongue in cheek, boy meets girl disaster/comedy tales, sometimes melancholy, sometimes ridiculous.

++ It’s such a fantastic record I have to say. You released it under your own “Give it a Blast Records”. Good name for a label! How did you like that part of the music “business”, you know, selling, promoting, distributing?

I guess like many bands, we were so busy playing, practicing and doing our day stuff that eventually we ran out of steam on the business side of things. One of the highlights was meeting John Peel at Radio 1, who was kind enough to chat and play our record. We had a number of big/small record companies and management interested but weren’t really prepared to compromise in terms of leaning into the pigeon hole that might have made us more attractive commercially. Ultimately, we loved playing live and were prolific song writers, but eventually you come to a crossroads and we had to stop. It’s very exciting to start again with a bit more wisdom and experience. The same passion is still there!

++ Why didn’t you get to release more stuff? A little bird told me there are plenty of unreleased tracks!

We’ve got a dozen or so tracks from that time which are being re-mastered now and we are just considering who and how that album will be released. We’ve been amazed at the interest from all over, especially from Japan!

++ Perhaps there were demo tapes that you sold at gigs? Do you remember that?

We’ve got loads of live gigs recorded and even an early DVD of a gig in London, with some unfortunate nakedness and some very comical audience dancing.

++ So yeah, what about gigging? Did you gig lots? What was the furthest you played a gig? Any favorites?

We played a lot in Cardiff and remember breaking down on the way to a gig once which wasn’t good, not exactly rock and roll getting to the gig being towed by the AA truck. We played lots of small/medium sized venues in London, they were all good fun.

++ I heard you are going to have a track featured on the Leamington Spa Vol. 8! Care to tell me about this song?

150 seconds of genius!

++ That compilation series covers lots of great bands from the late 80s in UK that shared that great guitar pop sound. Did you have any favorite bands then?

Lots of different influences from different eras. Everything from rockabilly, punk, soul to rare groove,

++ Also during that time there was a big explosion of fanzines covering these kind of bands. How involved were the City Giants with them?

Not at all, always good to get nice reviews though..

++ Alright, so the sad part, when and why did you call it a day?

At the time I think we fulfilled various musical ambitions even though not commercially successful at that time, ultimately life goes on and timing is everything!

++ After that, were you involved with music?

Very much so, but I think we all wished we had stuck at it with the City Giants. It’s bizarre to bump into people on the street after all these years who still quote your lyrics to you with a little smile.

++ And what are you all doing these days?

Hopefully going to record a few new songs very soon and maybe even some gigs in the not too distant future.

++ I hear there might be a retrospective album including lots of unreleased stuff, is this true? What are the plans for the future?

The retrospective album will be ready in a few weeks, I’ll send you a copy asap!


City Giants – Little Next to Nothing


At least it didn’t take two weeks this time to update the blog, just one. Not that bad. Maybe four posts a month is not an awful rate, though I wish I had more time to write more often. I think it’s just a matter of adjusting my time and my sleeping patterns. I haven’t told many but I started a new job a couple of weeks ago. My work hours are different now and I’m still getting used to it. It’s quite hard. I wonder how come it’s so easy when I travel to Europe and I feel no sort of jet-lag. But now that I have two wake up three hours before than normal I’m really having a rough time. Everyday it feels as if a truck has ran me over when I wake up. Anyhow, as I said, it will be a matter of adjusting and eventually after work I’ll have the energy to write on the blog as I used to and not having to wait until every Saturday afternoon. It’s just a new, small beginning.

News this week? Not many. There’s a new Nixon compilation CD out on Anorak Records titled “Anorak Christmas” and it includes many of his most known songs. It’s a great thing as many fans have been longing to finally have in their hands his songs on a physical record as his previous records have been sold out for such a long time. I was happy to participate in this CD writing the liner notes.

On Cloudberry news, I’ve just answered an  interview about the label for a Japanese fanzine called Weekend Never Dies that runs the lovely Sayuri Arai, who I met in New York City. She was accompanying Caucus and Smilove. It’s a very nice interview as she asks me very interesting questions, not just the same old “why did you start a label” or “what is in store for the future”. I look forward to see the printed zine. Also by now all the regular mailorders should have the latest releases (Caucus & Persian Rugs) in stock. I just posted the last batch to the great Pebble Records in UK.

Let’s go to our weekly featured obscure band then. On my last blog post I wrote:

I do know that Daniel Bates and Graham Jordan before being in June Recruits were part of a band called Natural Instinct, who I will be covering on the next blog post. Promise. They had some great tunes!

So, here we are, trying to uncover a bit the mysterious halo of Natural Instinct.  Of course the information is very scarce. There is a small text written by someone called Steve Fox on the page I’ve been dissecting lately: Wymondham College Remembered. It says:

“Natural Instinct was the original line-up of the June Recruits before things went a bit pear shaped – I’m not sure how one band led to the other but the tape was entitled ‘Small Beginnings’ and the insert was interestingly made from black and white photographic paper. All these guys were in my year – 1981 to 1986 and – although my memories are a bit sketchy – were Robert Wylie (New Hall) and ‘Gaz’ (New; can’t remember his surname) on vocals, Dan “DOB” Bates (Kett) on lead, Graham Jordan (New) on Bass, Marvin George (Kett) on keyboard and Jim Cook (Kett) on drums. The photowork was done by Andrew Carey (New).”

“Dan Bates was called DOB because they were his initials, which was small comfort for the five years of sniggering he had to endure every time a letter arrived addressed to ‘Master Bates’ – a nice bloke though and I don’t recall a time I ever saw him without a smile. As for Marv George, he was an extremely talented guy who could play a keyboard with incredible skill; I remember being extremely envious listening to him on his synth and he once lent me a keyboard which had a ‘teach yourself’ function where the keys would light up when you were supposed to press them as it played a cheesy backing version of ‘Morningtown Ride.’ I was RUBBISH!”

First thing that attracts my attention is those words in paragraph, Kett & New Hall. I wonder if this is important at all, but perhaps for fellow students of the college it was. These are the names of the Houses were these guys were into. I’m familiar with the house system as I studied in a British school when I was a kid, but for you who don’t know, the house system is a traditional feature of British schools, and schools in ex-British colonies. Historically it was associated with established public schools, where a ‘house’ refers to a boarding house or dormitory of a boarding school. In the case of a day school, however, the word ‘house’ refers only to a grouping of pupils, rather than to a particular building.  Pupils are likely to be divided into a number of houses, which are often named after saints, famous historical alumni or notable regional landmarks (at international schools, for example, houses may be named after famous local people). Other more arbitrary names – animal names or colours, for example – may be used where the house system is adopted by a primary school.

In the case of Wymondham College, a house system was first established in 1953, with house names North, South, East and West. As the College expanded and brick-built accommodation came into use in the early 1960s, the system was revised and the Houses were given names of Cathedral towns and cities:

  • Boys: York, Gloucester, Canterbury, Norwich, Durham, Salisbury
  • Girls: Wells, Westminster, Worcester, Winchester (with Wakefield and Washington added later)

Later in the early 1970s mixed Houses were introduced and the cathedral House names were scrapped and the Houses adopted the names of the Halls themselves. Lincoln and Peel Halls were converted to Sixth Form boarding houses in 1978, Peel Hall being further converted into a boarding house for Year Sevens in 1995.

The house system is now as follows:

  • Year Seven: Peel
  • Years Eight to Eleven: Fry, Cavell, Kett, Or New
  • Years Twelve to Thirteen: Lincoln

So first mystery of Natural Instinct is solved, they were in between the Years Eight and Eleven. But wouldn’t it have been more “musically cool” if they were in Year Seven and being in “John” Peel House? 😉

Then there was one tape released at least as attested by Steve Fox. This one tape had the songs “Small Beginnings” and “That’s All” but may have had as well more songs. I can’t confirm this. I can’t either say if this was their only demo tape released or not. I wish it wasn’t. It’d like to listen more by them. About the year when these tracks were recorded I would have a wild guess of 1987 a year prior the June Recruits formation.

“Small Beginnings” is the best of the two tracks. It is a really catchy tune that reminds me of the Spinning Wheels or Windy Miller, with an upbeat drum machine that feels everything is falling apart. Really cool! It’s like ramshackle pop without the crashing guitars. There is also a cool keyboard on both songs that feels a bit like The Apple Moths. Very nice poppy atmospheres. It makes me long for more songs by this band. Whatever happened to them?

And this is were we stop. There’s absolutely no more information about the band or the members. For some reason while looking if any of the band members was in the famous ex-pupils I learned that the actor Mark Strong, the bad guy from Kick-Ass, studied here and his real name is actually Marco Giuseppe Salussolia. Not that it is important, but I found it interesting. Anyways, if you have any more information about Natural Instinct please get in touch! I’d love to listen more stuff from them!


Natural Instinct – Small Beginnings