Thanks again so much to Johnny. If you didn’t know the ex-East Village and ex-Episode Four released some years ago an excellent solo album called “Quiet Storm” on the Japanese label Excellent Records. I recommend getting it! It’s a bit different to his previous projects, but great anyways. Now sit down and enjoy this trip down memory lane.

++ Hi Johnny, hope you are doing well. I’ve been listening a whole lot your solo record since ordering from Excellent Records a couple of months back. So I’m very glad that you are up for the interview. My first thought, and question, is if you were making any music in between this album and the last East Village release? What happened in those “lost years”?

I hope this isn’t going to sound depressing! But it’s all part of the story …
I was involved with couple of bands that took me in the wrong direction. I literally did become lost, in a musical sense as well as a personal one. The first band was  a mish mash of influences that didn’t work – a bit of hip hop, some Faces-style guitar, a ‘soft rock’ drummer and me, and whatever it was that I was trying to do had disappeared under the influence of too much alcohol and too many dark alleyways.
Then I got involved with a Ramones/Stooges-esue blues outfit that wasn’t me at all, although for a while I thought it was. It all co-incided with the break up of a long relationship, a lovely girl who I treated badly. I had lost my way and was at a very low ebb. I had no idea what I wanted. The reality was (without meaning to be dramatic) I was an alcoholic and I had allowed myself to be led, but I had no resistance. Being led was better than the alternative, which was – nothing. Music was all I had to hold onto.

++ And also, how did your music evolve from the jangly masterful and luminous songs of East Village to the personal, introspective and moody songs of your solo album?

Well, obviously EV were four people, who all had empathy. We had been together a long time and had evolved our sound. Great guitars and amps helped too of course. So, for me the QS songs aren’t far removed from EV but just myself playing them with no amps. The fact they are moody and introspective was just where my head was at that time …

++ There are some great notes you wrote about the album. On them you mention the album took life on an inter-railing trip around Europe. I’d love to do a similar trip! What gave you the energy or the will to take the train and just travel around? What places struck you and you would recommend visiting?

Spain was great – Seville. Palermo, Sicily. Athens. Sophia, Bulgaria. Budapest. All resonated with me, for differing reasons. But it was fantastic. I was still at a low place – this was a few months before Sept. 11th – and just had to get away from everything. I was working night shift sorting parcels for the Royal Mail. I was going nowhere. A friend said ‘if you’re feeling lost, why don’t you literally get lost?’ So I did. Spent a month sleeping on trains, no plan. Saw some great places, got inspired.

++ How long did you travel? Did you carry your guitar with you? How did these places shaped your songs? And can you connect particular places to particular songs?

A month, more or less. I took my guitar but actually didn’t use it much. Just twice I think. Once was in Seville, in a cheap but beautiful hotel with an inner courtyard where I got the intro to Tony Joe. Just the intro. The rest came later. The other time was in Sophia, Bulgaria. I was in a pension house. The room was decked out in pine wood. It was lovely and the acoustics made my playing a new riff – Little Miss I think – sound better than it was, ha ha. Otherwise, some of the lyrics to Misty evolved in a place called Thessolonika. Others were memories – for example the bit that goes ‘a badly played guitar, but to me you were a star’ comes from waiting at a small train station somewhere in Spain. It was sunset and hot. The air was really warm, the place was quiet. I was very meloncholic and then from outside the station I heard someone playing a guitar. It wasn’t professional but it was sweet. It took me somewhere.

++ Did you ever think of having a band for recording this album, or did you know you wanted to do it yourself from the start? Would you say that was an advantage or a disadvantage?

All I had in mind was to get the songs on tape for posterity. I had a lot of ideas for musical parts. Not just guitar but for other instruments too. So I just played them all on guitar in case I was ever going to get a band together again. It could be a template. But I didn’t have the energy or inclination to form one. The songs were about me. I didn’t have any dreams.

++ What about the name of the album, “Quiet Storm”? Where did that come from?

I was browsing in a record shop one day when suddenly a record cover caught my eye. It was Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Vol. 1 – Songs of the Quiet Storm. I bought it on the strength of that sleeve and never regretted it.

++ And is that you on the front cover? Do you smoke?

Unfortunately I do. I wish I could stop – if you know how, please help!

++ The second song on the album is about “Casey Jones”, the TV series, right? Was that your favourite TV show when growing up? What other shows did you enjoy as a kid?

Yeah, inspired by that show … not about it! A cartoon called Marine Boy. I loved that. There was a European version of Robinson Crusoe with lovely theme music. Captain Scarlett was a fave. Other things like Hawaii 5-0, Kojak etc.

++ The third track is called “Tony Joe”. Is it based on a real person?

was trying to write a tribute to Tony Joe White, the American singer-songwriter. Some of his songs knocked me out and his style of singing influenced me too.

++ Which would you say is your favourite song on the album and why?

‘Misty’ because it has the most direct memories of that euro train journey. I like the sentiment of it. Equally I like Orphan Child. It works well I think.

++ You were saying that the songs were recorded as demos. You mean you would have wanted to re-record them or? I don’t think many notice that! They do sound very good to me, but then I’m no musician 🙂

Maybe it crossed my mind to re-record them. It was suggested by someone. But Eexcellent Records liked them the way they were and I thought OK.

++ So how did the contact with Excellent Records come about? You never expected to release these songs as an album, right?

No I never expected that. They were in London and wanted to meet EV because they were fans. They wanted to re-issue the Drop Out album. So we had dinner and they asked me if I had done anything musically since EV. Well, it just so happened I had a cassette of 3 or 4 of the songs, so I gave it to them and they got back to me and asked me to do some more in the same way.

++ I just heard that Excellent Records will be folding or has already fold, which makes me very sad as it was a great label. How important and supportive were they to you?

Yes it’s such a shame. They put out an album for me and gave me something positive, which I needed. And of course they re-issued the EV albums. So very important to us and me. I think they were a little put out that I didn’t promote the album with gigs etc but Kei came to understand my reasons and wanted to promote it again because of those reasons.

++ After releasing the “Quiet Storm”, do you have any plans of making more records? I do know you have recorded some songs!

My life took off in other directions once i’d finished QS but I recently realised I had 10 or so songs written and quickly recorded a couple of them when I ws in England a couple of months back. But they are pretty rough mixes so far. Yeah, I would like to make something of them.

++ By the way, how do you record yourself? And at what time would you say is the best for you to make music?

A lot of the QS songs were written dead of night. In EV days they were written anytime, anywhere. But the recent ones just as they come. I learnt a lot of other peoples songs over the last couple of years and these ones are a kind of mix of what I learnt, I think. I also recently discovered an old Episode 4 era song that never got past rehearsals. It sounds pretty good to me so I might well resurrect that one too!

++ And going back to your traveling, and now that you are living there, is China inspiring you, in any ways, to make music?

I think so. Take a walk in the park and people are out there singing old songs, playing traditional instruments. I love that.

++ And what about the city where you live in China, are there any sights or places that you recommend visiting?

This city is so new, so big. Some nice parks, beaches, friends houses. Why are you coming over for a visit?

++ One last question Johnny, what would you say has been the most rewarding thing music has given to you?

well, that’s quite hard to answer. The chance to express myself for one. The chance to do what everyone wants to do – be in a band, tour, make records for another. But – without being too cheesy – some of the feedback i’ve had about my/E4/EV music has made me feel like I achieved something in a good way. To know you have affected people in their lives, is something else.

++ Thanks again a lot, anything else you’d like to add?

thanks Roque ….


John Wood – Misty


Thanks so much to Oskar for the interview! A couple of weeks ago I wrote about this great Valladolid, Spain, band and Oskar was kind enough to get in touch with me. El Viaje de las Flores only released a split flexi back in the early nineties (shared with St. Christopher) on the Stamp label. On it, they included one of the best Spanish indiepop songs of all time, “No Te Estoy Mintiendo”. After many years in silence, the band became a mystery. Now it’s time to learn a bit more about their history! Sit down, read, listen, enjoy!

++ Hi Oskar! Thanks so much for being up for the interview. I hear you are in London and not in Spain anymore? How come? What do you do there?

Hi Roque thank you very much for the opportunity, it is amazing that you guys still remember the band.

Espe and I decided to move in 1993 after the end of El Viaje de las Flores. I was playing at the time with Rosas en Blanco y Negro. We formed a band called “Whore” in London and played the Marquee, Garage etc.. But then we got back to Spain for a year an a half before making a permanent move in 95′.

After a few years I ended up working with Talvin Singh, who has worked with Bjork, Madonna, Massive Attack, Siouxsie etc.. We worked together for 6 years on soundtracks for feature films, commissions such as Voxygen for the English National Opera, an album “Songs for the Inner World” as well as putting an audiovisual project together called Tabtek with whom we toured all over the world, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Turkey, France, Switzerland etc..

Now I’m involved in a few projects, Plateaux (plateaux.fotone.co.ukvimeo.com/plateaux), Spectre Spector (spectrespector.fotone.co.uk) and I had just released a new album with the French saxophonist and composer Etmo, called Silver Liquid – Etmo meets Osk (shop.fotone.co.uk/album/silverliquid) with our independent label, fotone.(fotone.co.uk)

++ So let’s go back in time, to El Viaje de las Flores, this wasn’t your first band, correct? You were in a band called La Red. Care to tell me about them?

El Viaje was actually my 4th band. My first band was called ‘El punk nuestro de cada dia’ . Then I formed 39 escalones and then it was La Red. We were influenced by what it used to be called the new british psychedelia, the term shoegaze didn’t exist back then, or maybe we didn’t know it.. We used to hear bands such as the Chameleons, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, El pecho de Andy [one of my favourites Spanish bands of all time] and stuff like that. It was a natural progression from 39 escalones who was on the same kind of vibe.

++ How did the band start? How did you knew each other? Was it hard to get the right people involved?

Back in the days it was quite hard to find musicians in our hometown. I remember having to teach a couple of friends how to play bass. La Red was the same line up as El Viaje minus the drummer. I decided to stop singing and convinced Espe to drop the keyboards and pick the mic.

++ Where does the name “El Viaje de las Flores” comes from?

We used to run a bar, and on the first opening party night we gather some of the coolest musicians of Valladolid to join us in a jam session. It was Juan and JuanRa from Exit, Anselmo from Cronica Negra, me and Espe. I still remember sitting down with Anselmo trying to figuring out a name for the impromptu band to make the flyers.. We ended up calling it “the Flowers Trip”.. We liked it so much we thought we should use it for the new project Espe and I were starting, but translating it to Spanish.

++ And back then did you have any sort of expectations with the band?

Oh yes! we wanted to release our music, to record albums, that was the main goal.

++ And what would you say sparked the musician in you? Did you have any music heroes? What would you say were the influences of the band?

I think I was about 7 or 8, it was Christmas time the tv was on and then the Beatles started playing Hey Jude live and they had all those people singing with them enjoining it so much.. and the ending the Na na na nananana.. it still gives me goosebumps.. I said to myself when I grow up I wanna do that . Then it was when I was 13 and discovered the Sex Pistols and realised that you didn’t need to be a great musician to be in a band what really push me to start playing. Bowie and Brian Eno are the musicians I respect the most and off course The Beatles. When we were with El Viaje the bands we used to adore were Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, Smiths, Pixies, Spacemen 3, Cocteau Twins etc.

++ Tell me a bit about Valladolid. Where there any other like-minded bands? Which were the places were you usually hang out?

Back in days we were just a few bands. “Exit” was the band I liked it the most. They were a pretty elegant dark leftfield british sounding band, I’ve got a lot of influences from them. Luis de Castro, their guitar player ended up being our photographer, he is one of my best friends, he is like my guru. Other great bands were UA, Replicantes, Cronica Negra, El Final, The Bumpers and Rosas en Blanco y Negro.

When I was 15 and playing with “El punk nuestro de cada dia”, a collective of bands was created by the most senior members of other bands, it was called Estandard Oil. The concept was quite unique. There were meetings, teachings, concerts, recordings etc it help us to develop our music and skills. It eventually died out but I remember it fondly.

Lando club was the place where everybody used to end up, it was a club that opened from 2am to 8am.. Legendary place. Nowadays the only place that have survived the pass of time is ‘El Largo Adios’ commonly known as ‘El Cafetin’, it is the best place to go and find old friends and musicians.

++ And what about the city itself for a tourist like me,  what are the sights to see in town? and what about the food? any favourite specialties?

My favourite place is called Pasaje Guitierrez, it is a beautiful passage right in the middle of town where discos Foxy used to be, it was the only record shop where you could find imported stuff. I listened to so much music there thanks to Gelo, they even let us use the shop for rehearsals with La Red.

La Catedral, la Iglesia de la Antigua, El museo de arte policromado, San Pablo.. There are some really awesome places down there.. Food-wise tapas are great all over town, and Lechazo al horno [lamb] it’s probably the best known delicacy. And let’s not forget the wine, Ribera de Duero.

++ You only released that one track on the Stamp flexi. Do you remember how did that happen? How important was this flexi for the band?

I can’t really remember how it happened, I think we recorded a demo and sent it to different places in Madrid, and then out of the blue Miguel Seridan called to offer us the chance of releasing No te estoy mintiendo as a flexi. It was HUGE for us. We immediately hired the best studio in town to record the track.

++ And then it’s really surprising you didn’t get to release anything else, your songs are fantastic! It doesn’t make sense. Why do you think it happened this way?

Thank you very much!.. Shortly after releasing the flexi we were approached by a management company based in Madrid that had all the right connections to make the band big. They promised us everything.. and us being very young and not having a mentor to guide us, believed everything. When we were in negotiations with them we got an offer from Rosa records, a contract for 5 albums.. But the manager forced us to discard it because he was going to sign us to Polydor.. The rest is history.

++ How many demo tapes did you make? Care to list me all the songs you’ve recorded?

We had a 4 track recorder so we did record many demos . We had so many songs its impossible to remember all of the titles, the band had different formations with different sets and different sounds.

++ Surprisingly, you did tour a lot all over Spain, right? You signed with Los 40 Principales, the main musical radio in Spain, to play all over the country. How was that?

All came about thanks to Nacho Reglero who was the head of Los 40 principales in Valladolid. He loved the band so much he went to the central office in Madrid to make it happen.

++ Among all the gigs you played, which would you say were your favourite gigs and why? Any anecdotes you could share?

My personal favourite one was in Barcelona, it was the best, perfect playing great chemistry with the audience, a great buzz.. One funny situation came about on a gig we were playing where the floor was quite slippery and Luis (bass) fell down so hard that I thought he had broken his arm, but he did stand up and carried on playing as it nothing had happened, I though wow what a pro, but a few minutes later I had to eat my words cause he went and left the stage in the middle of the set, not cause of the pain but cause he needed to go to the toilet..!

++ During the latter days of the band, there’s a bit of a change on the sound. You weren’t that poppy anymore, but a bit rockier. Was that a natural change or what was going on at that moment?

Yes, I started listening to rock more and more and got completely blown away by The Cult’s album ‘Electric’.. It was a natural progression.

++ With those songs you came 3rd place on a 40 Principales contest. Did you win anything? Do you remember who came in first place?

Yes we won 250,000 pesetas, second place was a recording of a single and the first prize was an album, so again no release. It was really frustrating knowing that the band who won had a previous band who were signed to the label that some of the judges of the competition were running. We were the best band with a difference, the reaction of the public when they announce the winner was incredible, people couldn’t believe it. We truly thought we were going to win it. But hey that was another good life lesson. It was the last time I ever put myself in that kind of situation.

++ The pop music scene in Spain during the 80s was huge, the sheer amount of bands that came out from there is amazing. Did you feel part of a bigger scene? Did you think it was healthy? I do find very odd that there weren’t many small indie labels though, that it was mainly big labels supporting small bands unlike the UK…

I know, they were so many really great bands, we humbly considered ourselves a small part of that “movement”. But as you said it was very very hard getting a record deal, it was mainly all majors.

++ Then what happened? When and why did you split? What did you do right after?

The beginning of the end came about when our drummer Diego (Celtas Cortos) left the band. We didn’t have the energy to continue and at that time I was playing, and about to release the second album with Rosas en Blanco y Negro so we decided to called it a day. I carried on playing with Rosas until we moved to London.

++ Are you all still in touch? If so, what are you all up to these days?

With Espe, who is now a Chinese doctor and acupuncturist, every day. We’ve got a son together, Leon, although we are not a couple anymore. A few years back Miguel the first drummer, who is now a pharmacologist, got in touch and every time I go back for a visit we hook up. Luis lives in Madrid he owns two bars/restaurants. A couple of years ago we managed to meet for a few beers and plenty of laughter remembering the good old days. And me.. well as I said earlier still pretty much full on with the music.

++ Looking back, reminiscing of those days, what would you say were the best moments in El Viaje?

The flexi, being number 1 in a radio program in Madrid for the whole summer (can’t remember the name.. they interviewed us). The gig we did in Toledo when we met Miguel Angel Garcia Ayuso from El pecho de Andy, what a great guy he is. Having “Devuelme tu amor” on rotation at Los 40 principales plus the touring.. Thinking we were going to make it big was quite naive but at the same time a nice feeling..

++ Have you ever thought of putting together some sort of retrospective album of all your songs?

Now that you are saying it maybe we should. It was such struggle and frustration having it so close and never actually achieving it, that I think we owe it to ourselves. Would you be interested in releasing it in your label?

++ By the way Oskar, do you have any favourite flower?

I love Lotus flowers, found them fascinating, and also because of the Indian and Buddhist symbolism.

++ Let’s wrap it here, thanks a lot! Anything else you’d like to add?

I still can’t believe we are talking about El Viaje, I would never ever imagined that after nearly 20 years people will be talking about us.

Also to whoever it reads this, check my present stuff, it doesn’t sound like El Viaje but you my like it! fotone.co.uk

Thank you very very much!


El Viaje de las Flores – No Te Estoy Mintiendo


Essen, Germany. That was the first city I visited in Europe. Not Paris, no Rome, no Athens. Essen. I flew on a direct flight from Miami to Dusseldorf on Air Berlin. They treated me like a terrorist. Probably because I wasn’t the palest in the plane. Perhaps because I didn’t hold a European Union passport. Who knows. But it was the worst experience I’ve ever had with an airline. Never again I fly with them. They made me wait and wait because they had to “clear” my name with the FBI. According to the airline counter woman there was a terrorist with my name. Bollocks. I fly often and I know that’s not the case. She could have been smarter and said I shared my name with a drug trafficker, that’s much closer to the Peruvian stereotype and our beloved coca leaf; but no, I was a terrorist. And I was a terrorist at the counter of Miami airport, and then when leaving Germany, at the Dusseldorf airport counter too. Air Berlin sucks.

That was April 2007. Late April, almost May. It was still cold in Germany but a sweater was more than enough. My mom has been living in Essen for approximately 10 years and it was the first time I was visiting her there. I remember clearly the train platform in Dusseldorf. We bought our tickets and headed to Essen. The train passed by Dortmund and thought of Stephane Chapuisat and Borussia Dortmund. Glory days when I was a kid and watched European football on cable TV. Then we arrived in Essen. Grim town. Not much going on here, I thought.

Happily in Essen I had a friend, a dear friend: Nana. I remember our first emails about St. Christopher, and later chats about her punk rock apartment walls. Her love for The Tender Whiskers and The Flowerpornoes. We hanged out quite a lot during my time there. Even going to Hamburg and Berlin. Chorizo and orange juice for breakfast, chorizo, salad and beer for dinner. Chorizo cut in heart-shapes. I guess that’s a girlie thing. Going through her record collection, and me telling her for how much she could sell particular CDs on eBay. Not that I recommend doing, but I don’t know, must be an instinct thing. Her huge keyboard she had just bought, but I’m not sure she could play. The courtyard from her window.

The day in Hattingen raining cats and dogs. Umbrella heaven. Her little car. Rolling tobacco for her, but doing it wrong. Astra beer. She changed it for Jever years later. Giving me stylish haircut. Her wooden table and the sharp stainless steel knives. The posters next to the shower. The shoes at the entrance of the apartment, something that I would used to see in Europe later, but so new to me. The coats. The computer connected to her audio system. The hip café with the cute waitress and the vintage furniture. And the great music, just fabulous music played all the time. That was Essen for me.

Food-wise I don’t think I ate any specialty from Essen. I remember having Turkish food, Greek food, and a couple of times traditional German, you know, schnitzel, sausages, a good chunk of lamb. Good stuff. Beer was always good. I still prefer white bread over brown bread though. But I guess one can get used to it. It was also the first time when I noticed the lack of plastic bags at stores. Also my first time at a Lidl. My first time at a castle, Broich castle in nearby Mulheim, though it wasn’t really a proper castle. The day trip to Cologne. That was fab. And the tram in Essen, that was my means of transport. Going up the hill, watching the whole town from up top. The wonders of geography after living so long in Miami, such a flat place.

But culturally it seemed to me like a hellhole. Nothing good could have ever came out of here I thought. Well, after 4 years of having that thought, I can say I was wrong. There is one good band from Essen and they were called The Mirror Images. Sadly, I came into their music too late.

They were exactly from Essen-Borbeck-Mitte is the central borough of Borbeck, the fourth suburban district of Essen, Germany. Together with the other boroughs of the district, it was incorporated on April 1, 1915. Borbeck-Mitte has a population of roughly 13,500 people and a total area of 3.19 km2/1.23 sq mi. The name Borbeck derives from Bor(a)thbeki, which means either river in a fertile lowland or river of the Bructeri. Wikipedia says that “Borbeck-Mitte has a distinctive cultural life, mainly on personal initiative. Several church choirs exist, as well as six carnival and six sport-shooting associations and three amateur theater groups. The cultural historical society maintains a small museum and meeting place in the Alte Cuesterey near the central market place.” I would agree with this, it must have been a personal initiative to have a band, to be The Mirror Images.

It is surprising though, that the sounds of C86, of jangle pop, arrived to Essen. How? There was no internet back then. Perhaps it was the John Peel shows that were transmitted by German Radio, as Peter Hahndorf told me once. That could be the clue and the key factor to explain why so many great bands appeared in Germany during the late 80s. Because, back then, it wasn’s Sweden the one doing great indiepop in the continent, it was Germany let me tell you. Germany had a fabulous and healthy scene, with plenty of bands and plenty of small labels.

It was Uwe Firestation who, on one of the many emails we have exchanged, recommended me The Mirror Images. I still haven’t had any luck finding their records. But luckily I found one song, just one song, on Youtube. It’s called “Eight Arms to Hold You”. And it’s just GREAT! Catchy, powerful, with lots of nerve. Just how I like my pop. This song was released in 1991 on their album aptly titled “Welcome to the Borbeck Fashion Gallery”. On this record they included 19 songs, where many of them are less than 3 minutes long. From what I gather, it was released on CD. Perhaps there was an LP version? Maybe, not sure.

But from what I’ve found online, which is not much, their previous release would have dated from 1989 and it’s an LP called “The Early Days”. Not sure what’s included in this record. From the name it sounds more like a compilation, but most probably not. On the artwork there’s a funny teddy bear inside a shape that looks like a country’s border. It’s not Germany, could it be something else? Perhaps a city?

On the next release, “Welcome to the Borbeck Fashion Gallery” we see three kids, all of them with jackets. The cold German weather, right. The three kids are blonde, not terrorists. Two of them wear red socks almost up to their knees. Must have been the fashion of those days. A bit of Google shows me there was no Borbeck Fashion Gallery. But perhaps back in 91 there was. Perhaps these three kids represented the members of the band? There were three guys in The Mirror Images, Bernd Donner (bass, vocals), Marque Beutel (guitar, vocals) and Jan Stachel (drums).

But let’s keep going back in time, now 1988. This year they released “Carl EP” which I assume was their first ever release. Who was Carl? And again, a lot of kids in the cover artwork. Perhaps the kids represent the joyful and fun ridden guitar chops of the band? Then later in 1990, a single release of the track “This Year, It’s Christmas!” A kid painting, people flying and a teddy bear, on the artwork. Last but not least, in 1992 another single “Herzlichen Glückwunsch Herr Rühmann!”. A tribute song to Heinz Rühmann who of course was born in Essen. His role in the 1930 movie Die Drei von der Tankstelle (Those Three from the Gas Station) led him to film stardom. He remained highly popular as a comedic actor (and sometime singer) throughout the 1930s and early 1940s.

No tracklist for any of these records I’ve found. No more songs I’ve been able to track down. I wonder if anyone can help. Do you know anymore about this great band? Their whereabouts? If they are still making music? If they had more releases? If you have any spare copies to share with me? Did you attend to their gigs? Anything really, please leave a comment!

PS. I’m leaving to Toronto next weekend, and then to NYC the one after. So probably won’t be having an obscure band during the next weeks. I have some interviews lined up, so hopefully the blog keeps running! Thanks again for reading. It’s nice.


The Mirror Images – Eight Hands to Hold You


Thanks again to Terry Banks for the interview. Just a week or so ago we were talking about his first well known band, Tree Fort Angst, and today we talk about his latest, Dot Dash. This year Dot Dash released a fantastic album on the Canadian label The Beautiful Music, which the lovely Wally runs, called Spark>Flame>Ember>Ashes.  If you can, do get your hands on it. It has 14 songs of great power pop! I have listened to it many many times during the past month and Im happy to recommend it to you all. But now let’s hear from the band itself. Oh! You can also become fans of them on facebook.

++ Hello again Terry! I’ve been playing more and more the Dot Dash album during the last couple of weeks. It grows more and more on me. For some reason I started thinking that the sound is not that far away from early Creation bands, like The Jasmine Minks for example. Do you think I’m totally missing the mark?

Ha… you’re not missing the mark at all.  I consider a comparison to The Jasmine Minks to be a real compliment and, yes, I loved a lot of the early Creation stuff, especially them (i.e., the Minks) and Biff Bang Pow! and The Loft — great bands.

++ It’s a really great record, and I’ve already asked you on the Tree Fort Angst interview a couple of questions about it, but do tell me which of the songs on the album would be your favourite? And why?

I think the ones I like best are those that have a slightly different, slightly darker feel to some of the other bands/music I’ve been involved with before … Songs like “Dissolve,” and “That Was Now, This Is Then,” and “There and Back Again Lane,” and a couple others.

++ And even if it’s a 14 song album, it doesn’t feel long, which I think is an achievement for two reasons. These days bands release very short albums, and usually they include lots of filler tracks. This is not your case. The tracks all sound fresh time after time I listen to them. So, were there more songs recorded that weren’t included in the album? And why did you stick to 14 songs?

Thanks – I end up discarding a fair number of songs unilaterally (i.e., never even taking them in to the band), so the ones we end up doing are ones we feel really good about.  Because of that, we never really feel like we’ve got any ‘so-so’ songs (according to us, anyway.)  So, we recorded everything — the 14 songs on the album were the 14 songs we had at the time.

++ Tell me how and when did the band start? How did you all know each other?

We got together at the beginning of 2010.  Hunter and I were in Julie Ocean.  We knew Danny from around town and we had talked about trying to do some music sometime…  In late ’09, he was playing with Bill for a one-off, one-show reunion of his (Bill’s) old band Modest Proposal – they were a mid-80’s-era D.C. mod band.  (They had lost touch with their original drummer, so Danny filled in.)  That led to the four of us giving a new a band a whirl… It came together pretty easily.

++ And what about the name? Was that easy to decide?

Admittedly, the name comes from the song by Wire, but it’s not saying “please compare us to Wire” or whatever… It’s just a good, succinct name that we all liked.

++ What about gigs? How are you doing in that subject? Any favourites so far?

So far, we’ve played about 12 shows.  Our ‘debut’ was opening for The Trash Can Sinatras, who kindly gave us our first show, in summer 2010.  I think our favorite show as a band happened a few weeks ago in October, opening for Hugh Cornwell, who was sort of the ‘main guy’ in The Stranglers.  The show was at a college, on a big stage, with a really ‘pro’ set up, which was kind of fun.  The drummer in the band was Clem Burke, from Blondie.  They were all really nice guys and it was a very fun evening.  We’ve also played enjoyable shows with Urge Overkill and The Godfathers, among others…  At the end of this month, we’re opening for the 80s U.K. band The Chameleons and are looking forward to it.

++ My favorite could be the opening track, “The Color and the Sound”, that for some reason the title makes me think of a poppier “The Sound and the Fury” by Faulkner. I know, it’s silly, but the idea is stuck in my head. Anyhow, what’s the story behind the song?

Thanks – we all really like that song, too, and felt it was sort of the obvious choice for the lead-off track for the album.  As far as any story behind the song… hmmm…. Honestly, it was pretty ‘stream of consciousness’ and took about as long to write as it does to play (i.e., two minutes flat), which is often a good sign…

++ Your first release was a little single on the German label Edition 59. Just 59 copies and I’m a proud owner of one of them! How did this release came about? Ever met Werner?

Werner got in touch by email and offered to put something out, and that’s really the only contact we had.  I think his label is a very cool ‘art statement,’ and kind of a very arch comment on the nature and realities of doing obscure music or, more accurately, music that exists on an obscure level…  It’s a groovy little thing he’s doing with Edition 59 – and I must admit I am quite impressed that, with Alan McGee’s blessing, he has reissued miniature versions of Creation singles by Biff Bang Pow!, The Jasmine Minks, Revolving Paint Dream, Slaughter Joe, Meat Whiplash, and (pre-Creation) The Laughing Apple, among others.

++ What about meeting Wally of The Beautiful Music? They should book gigs for you in Germany and Canada!

Have never met Wally in person, but if I ever find myself in Ottawa, he will absolutely be getting a shout!  And, yes, some gigs abroad would be great.

++ Let’s go back to the album. The title, “Spark>Flame>Ember>Ash”, it makes it feel this album is the beginning and the end with that title! Was that the intention?

It’s just a phrase I came up with last winter when building a fire in the fireplace… I was just thinking about the constituent parts of a fire, I guess…  The little ‘carrot’ mark —  >  — between each word just looked good graphically, in kind of an early 80s post-punk sort of way… and I also liked the ‘greater than’ connotation — i.e., a spark being greater than a flame, being greater than an ember and so on…

++ And how different would you say was the creative process and the recording process compared to the other bands you’ve been involved with?

I guess one difference  is that since Dot Dash started, and just before then, I kind of reconnected with Joy Division, over maybe the last two years or so…  Not sure why, but it just kind of hit the spot…  Maybe that had an effect… The Dot Dash stuff is still “poppy” and melodic, hopefully very melodic, but it’s sort of darker, too, at least as I hear it.

We recorded the 14 songs on spark>flame>ember>ash over the course of two Saturday afternoons and a Sunday afternoon.  We did most of the stuff in one or, occasionally, two takes… Eric, who recorded us, is a nice guy who was good to work with and got us kind of a good ‘live in the studio’ sound.  It’s got a fairly scrappy feel, but that’s a reflection of how it came together as, again, we wanted to get all the stuff down…  In any case, it was fun.

++ And what would you say are your expectations with this album? Will there be a second one?

As far as expectations, it’s just been great working with The Beautiful Music guys — so it’s already ‘successful’ on that front.  If the record gets some good reviews and manages to intersect with people who like it, or are interested in it, all the better.

Yeah, doing a second album is something we absolutely plan to do.  We have eight new songs that we like a lot and are already doing them live…  When we get to ten or so that we feel strongly about, we’d love to make a second album.

++ On “There and Back Again Lane” you sing about Superman and Lois Lane. Are you a big comics fan? Or?

Um, no, not really…  It’s just a rhyme that popped into my head when writing that song and I liked its universal feel…

++ You’ve written so many great songs over the years, so perhaps you have the answer, what makes a song a good pop song?

Thanks a lot.  Hmmm… For me, a least in terms of raw measures, the essence of a good pop song is brevity.  Being short doesn’t make a song good — but, to me, one of the things a good song will always be is brief… Beyond that, you need an appealing melody that sort of ‘declares’ itself from the outset, and lyrics that mix urgency with poeticism, using kind of plainspoken, ‘everyday’ language… Or something like that… Who knows?  Certainly not me…  I don’t exactly have a “string of hits” to my name!

++ Let’s talk guitars now. How many guitars do you own? And which do you play on this album?

I pride myself on not being a “gearhead.” You can only play one guitar at a time, so why have more than one?  But I can’t really say that, as I do have more than one guitar – I have two… I usually play a red Gibson ES-335 (think Johnny Marr, or whomever.)   I also have a black-and-white (or ‘Jetglo,’ as they call it) Rickenbacker-330.  I bought it in 1987 — drove from Richmond to Charlottesville and bought it from an R.E.M. kid at UVA.  In the South in those days, R.E.M. were like The Beatles…

On the Dot Dash record, I used the Rickenbacker for the first seven songs, but later thought it sounded a little muddy and wooly, so, for the other two sessions, I switched to the Gibson and also used a Telecaster lent to me by Eric.  I actually think Telecasters sound best for the kind of stuff I play, but I’ve always gravitated to guitars based not on how they sound, but how they look and what kind of music they make you ‘think’ of… Back then, I liked, among other things, The Jam and Beatles/Byrds/early R.E.M., thus the Rickenbacker…  The 335 (a wedding present from my better half) brings The Smiths/Postcard/Velvets vibes…

++ So what’s coming up next with Dot Dash? What’s in store for the near future?

Ha, who knows… Primarily, we hope to get a second album out in the coming year and, of course, to continue playing shows and, overall, just have fun doing it.

++ You were telling me on the previous interview that you like to read. What are you reading these days? Any books you’d like to recommend?

If I rattled off all the music-related books I read you’d run out of space very quickly… The one I‘m currently reading is ‘Shadowplayers: The Rise and Fall of Factory Records’ by James Nice, which is truly excellent.    On the non-music side of things, I am four-fifths of the way through a five-novel ‘box set’ of Patricia Highsmith, who wrote all the ‘Ripley’ novels.  I’m heading into the last one, ‘Ripley Under Water.’  You pretty much start rooting for Ripley after the first novel, which is weird…  I also recently finished ‘The Cold Six Thousand’ by James Ellroy.  It’s been out for quite a while, but I missed it among his other stuff.  His novels rock, but I think my favorite by him is actually his autobiography, ‘My Dark Places.’

++ “Alright, Alright”, it’s time to “Dissolve”. Isn’t that very inspired of me? Anyhow, there’s another song in the album called “Seconds in a Day”. If you have just seconds to save some records of your collection from, I don’t know, a massive fire, which records would they be?

Ha, yes, very inspired… Hmmmm… I think I’d just grab whomever was there an leg it out the door, but let me think… Well, I have a quite rare Modern Lovers bootleg… Really obscure 1970-71-72 stuff recorded in Boston – not the ‘Precise Modern Lovers’ stuff that came out of Rounder and the French label (can’t think of its name), but from that same era…  It has them playing a New Years Eve show at the Mercer Arts Center (the NY Dolls were also on the bill.)  I think it’s called ‘Songs of Rememberance.’  I also have a bootleg of Aztec Camera playing to about 10 people in Manchester in 1981 that’s pretty great – it’s from the ‘Just Like Gold’/Postcard time… Can’t think of any others at the moment – maybe I’d grab them and cut my losses…

++ Thanks again Terry, I look forward to talking later about The Saturday People or Glo-Worm, will you be up for it? Anything else you’d like to add?

Who am I say to say no… Nothing to add, other than thanks for the interview – and thanks for writing about Dot Dash!


Dot Dash – The Color and The Sound


I was gladly surprised and satisfied when I found that at the Alfreton Tesco they sold 2 liter Diet Irn Bru. I haven’t seen this fizzy drink since I fell in love with it in Glasgow three days earlier. Since then I’ve been in Manchester, London and Nottingham acting more or less like a roadie for Very Truly Yours. I believe it all started in New York Popfest, I’d say I’ve been carrying Kristine’s keyboard for an accumulated time of 24 hours. Not exaggerating. It’s damn heavy by the way. Right, the Diet Irn Bru, with it’s platinum colored label, and that great taste that reminded me to Colombiana Postobon or the Jamaican Kola Champagne, was sitting pretty on my shopping cart along some croissants, a two litter bottle of cloudy lemonade and a Kopparberg 6-pack. Everything was gone by the end of Indietracks but the Diet Irn Bru. I saved it as a precious treasure. Sadly I couldn’t fly back to the US with it. So I had to drink it.

I can’t believe I didn’t have this soda back in February when I first visited Glasgow. Now that I remember, I don’t think I had anything but beer to drink while I was there. It’s funny as I haven’t had a sip of beer since August now. The second time around, while walking around and looking for a hotel were Very Truly Yours could stay, somewhere central, I went into one of the little convenience stores to buy a postcard for my future wife. I couldn’t resist trying the Irn Bru this time around as The Orchids mention them in “I’ve Got a Habit”: “So I’m drinking Irn-Bru / And I’m thinking of you / You’ve got the sunshine in your eyes.” I took the Diet version as I really dislike sweets. I know, that’s not very indiepop of me. I run away when they start cutting and serving the cake at parties. It’s always hard to explain to people that I don’t like cake, no one understands.

The Travelodge at Alfreton only provides you with very basic stuff like towels and some Liliput size plastic cups. Plastic cups made of the cheapest plastic around as they don’t weight nothing at all. Very risky to take them outside to the sole picnic table to have a drink. The wind would just carry them away. But it was just like that how the race to finish the 2 little bottle started. After breakfast, sausage roll and orange juice, and then having a painful time buying a vegetarian sandwich for Jennifer (because the Little Chef had ran out of tomatoes and cheese, and everything!!), I finally opened the 2 liter bottle. Tim didn’t want any. No one wanted to have a cup of Diet Irn Bru. It was just myself and Irn Bru. And I was thinking of you.

I finally had an Irn Bru drinking partner on the train back to London. The always so well-dressed Krister Bladh and I shared stories, gossip and complains, about the whole weekend over plastic cups filled with the orange fizzy drink. The melancholy of leaving the best place on Earth for indiepop pictured next to us where Leo and Vanessa were silent, cuddling and eating crisps. A bit further away Emelie and Gustav sleeping on the not so comfortable train seats. Exhausted. It was over. And soon, more or less when the train was passing by Leicester, we had finished the Irn Bru. Jennifer, sitting next to us, didn’t try a sip. It was the end. Next day I was leaving the UK. On the way back to Brockley I stopped once again at a convenience store. There was no Diet Irn Bru. Time to try Ribena I thought, but they didn’t have a diet version. I really dislike sweets.

I do miss one sweet though, Marabou milk chocolate.

After a couple of very busy weeks, I’m having much more time in my hands. I’m taking some time to relax now as the next month will be very tiring with the move and all. As far as Cloudberry goes, as you know, all orders will continue shipping normally as far as I know. I do hope to find a place in NYC close to a post office. Right now, here in Miami Beach, I have a post office just 4 blocks away. It’s really helpful. The only record in production right now is Feverfew but as soon as I’m settled in I will resume the production of the 7″s with Cassolette and Nixon. Also it seems that at last The Deddingtons remastered songs will be sent to me! That means that hopefully early next year we may have a Deddingtons release at last. I’ll keep you updated.

The CDs on rotation at home this week were:
1. John Wood – Quite Storm (Excellent)
2. Veronica Falls – S/T (Slumberland)
3. The Wedding Present – John Peel Sessions 1992-1995 (Cooking Vinyl)
4. Beaumont – This Is… (Siesta)
5. Brideshead – Some People Have all the Fun (Marsh-Marigold)

Another band I discovered through Heinz’s Youtube uploads was Purdey. Sadly there is absolutely no information about them whatsoever in the internet. But let’s try to put some pieces together, alright?

Purdey is just a family name as far as I’m concerned. There’s fabulous song by Spanish punkies Siniestro Total called “Purdey”, there are some shotguns manufactured by some Purdey company and there’s also a drink called Purdey’s that is sold in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, Holland and Belgium. It is sold in 330ml brown glass bottles with a silver or gold plastic label that covers the whole bottle. There are two variants: Purdey’s Activation (formerly known as Active Body) – This is marketed as a healthy energy drink and contains a combination of sugars and also tastes very sweet. And Purdey’s Rejuvenation (formerly known as Active Life) – This has no added sugar (but is sweet nonetheless) and is sold in a silver bottle. Both variants are made of fruit juices and carbonated water and are fortified with vitamins. They also contain Damiana and Ginseng. None of them are as good as Irn Bru.

But the name of the band most probably comes from the character named Purdey in the British TV series The New Avengers played by Joanna Lumley from 1976-77. She was a spy working for British intelligence in that show.

There’s only one release we know exists. It was a 7″ released on Acetone Records from France in 1996. It includes two songs: “Mirrors” and “My Name is Henry”. Catalog Number SOLVE 005. So far I’ve only had the chance to listen to the first track. Some months ago I found out a website for Acetone Records and wrote them, but they never answered. The site looked very much outdated, with a very 90s “geocities” style design, if you know what I mean. I’m not sure where Purdey were from, but a safe guess is that they were from France too. We know that the lyrics were written by an Eric, which is not very uncommon for French to have that name. Eric Cantona for example 🙂

The other, and most important clue, that makes me think they were French is that the record was recorded at Pôle Nord Studio by Mini & Fabius. Not sure if this recording studio exists anymore, but clearly the name is French. Translated: North Pole Studio.

Only 500 copies made and the artwork done by someone called Gijom who also contributed his artistic skills on another Acetone release, on a Sportsguitar 7″. That’s about it.

So if anyone knows anything else, has a spare copy, or wants to share any memories, please do! Now do enjoy this fabulous Pooh Sticks influenced track that is “Mirrors”. It’s GREAT!


Mirrors – Purdey


Thanks so much to Terry Banks for the interview. Tree Fort Angst was a Washington DC band in the early nineties that released records on lassic indiepop labels like Bus Stop or A Turntable Friend. They were great, and I think, underrated. Later Terry was part of Glo-Worm, St. Christopher, The Saturday People and Julie Ocean. These days he plays in a band called Dot Dash that I recommend all you to listen, so there will be a Dot Dash interview here pretty soon. But now enjoy the first band he was in, Tree Fort Angst!

++ Hi Terry, thanks for being up for this interview. There’s lots to cover I believe, but I would love to start with the present. These days you are in Dot Dash and you have just released an album with The Beautiful Music. It’s a great power pop album, I would love to recommend it more and more. So first question, how did you end up working together with Wally at The Beautiful Music? And to those who are familiar with Tree Fort Angst, what would you say they can expect in this album?

Wally had got in touch with The Saturday People a number of years ago (must’ve been almost 10 years ago) about contributing a song to a Television Personalities tribute comp he was putting together. It wasn’t something we ended up pursuing (as all our recording time pretty much went to originals) but he and I kept in touch, as he’s a great guy and we have strikingly similar musical tastes. When he expressed an interest this past summer in putting out something by Dot Dash it felt like a great fit.

As far as people who know Tree Fort Angst stuff and what they should expect from Dot Dash, I’d say it’s kind of a continuation from The Saturday People and Julie Ocean — i.e., the two bands that existed “between” TFA and Dot Dash — but I suppose some of the 60s influences have kind of been replaced by a slightly early 80s-ish, post-punk thing… It’s equally melodic and poppy, but slightly darker in places; still energetic but a bit more streamlined, at least that’s how it sounds to me.

++ On the album there’s a song called “There and Back Again Lane”. We all know what that means. But I’m wondering why did you decide to write a song dedicated to that tiny tiny street? I would assume your St. Christopher connection kicked in?

Yeah, I did get the lyrical idea from the name of the Sarah comp, but it’s just a good rhyme; a cool evocative phrase that popped

++ And talking about St. Christopher, I always wondered that you live in DC but you were in the original lineup of St. Christopher? Is that right? Or am I missing something?

Ha, well I suppose this is an example of how just because something’s on the ‘Net doesn’t mean it’s true I’m not sure how this misnomer came to exist, but I am most certainly not an original member of St. Christopher. They actually started in 1980 — they were called Vena Cava for the first year or two, during which time they issued two singles, both of which sounded like an effects-y Buzzcocks or maybe a punky, early U2. They became St. Christopher round about ’82. I didn’t show up until the 1990-91 timeframe and was in the band for about a year. It was a blast, though. We played lots of shows around the U.K., plus a number of gigs in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, etc. Really good fun.

++ You were involved with many great indiepop bands, bands that will be remembered in indiepop history like Glo-Worm and The Saturday People. I would love at some point to do some interviews about both of them, and Dot Dash of course. But let’s start with Tree Fort Angst. I have to say that I have all your releases sans the flexi. So let me begin with that elusive flexi! Is it easy to find? How many copies were pressed do you remember? And what about the artwork? Are you a big pop art fan?

I do remember that flexi and I’m not sure how it came about. The guy must’ve written to me. I know he was from France. This was all pre email, so you’d get letters (remember them?) He asked for a song to put out on a flexi and our policy was, if you want to put something out, we’re down with it. I have no idea how many he pressed, but I remember that he sent a few copies of the release when it came out and they all had a little dried leaf inside the sleeve. I thought “Wow, this guy is really going for the twee thing. He’s putting leaves inside the records…” We never considered ourselves twee, but we were kind of associated with that scene and sometimes you just have to roll with it… As far as the artwork, yes, my then-girlfriend (now wife) was very into 60s pop art – Liechtenstein, Warhol, Hockney, etc. — and I sort of picked up on it from that. I stuck with that (the pop-art thing) for record sleeves, etc. for quite a while.

++ Tree Fort Angst started as a solo project, right? So what happened? How did you end up being a three-piece?

It was a little convoluted. I lived in Richmond, Virginia. I went to college there. I played in two bands there, one was called Roy G. Biv (after the colors of the rainbow.) We were trying to be ‘pop,’ but actually sounded more like a punky, thrashy, unpracticed Housemartins. The other band that followed was called The Knievels and was more coherent and accomplished — kind of a power pop thing. Anyway, both those bands contained my good friend John Gotschalk, who was, and is, a very talented guy. The Knievels was kind of his band and his stuff had sort of a Teenage Falclub-meets-Cheap Trick feel — really great, exciting songs, but a little heavier than where I was at the time — I was really, really, really
into Postcard and The Go-Betweens and all this light jangly stuff, even verging on acoustic Jonathan Richman-type stuff… So, on friendly terms, I dropped out of The Knievels and they kept on as a trio. I then set about doing my own ‘solo singer/songwriter’ thing — totally under the spell of Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame and Tracey Thorn and Grant McLennan. I liked the songs I was coming up with, but the ‘solo guy with an acoustic guitar’ thing felt lame and boring… I wanted to be in a band so… um… I… roped my pal John back in (to join me in TFA, on bass), which he kindly agreed to. Hunter Duke was a guy we knew in our Richmond social circle. He was a great drummer and was up for it, so we went with it.

++ What did John and Hunter bring to the creative process?

A lot. They were funny, easy-going guys, and great players (way better than me) and were up for doing my songs.

++ And where does the name Tree Fort Angst comes from?

The best way, just made it up. The last couple of bands I’ve been in (Dot Dash and Julie Ocean) take their names, obviously, from song titles of other bands. I think they’re really good band names, but I prefer the ones that are purely made up. In terms of where the name comes from, I knew I wanted something with “Tree Fort” and it needed a third word, hopefully, something kind of pretentious… I was thinking Tree Fort Society, but that didn’t quite have it. My girlfriend came up with “Angst,” sort of joking, but it was good, so that was it.

++ The first recordings were put out on a tape called “Fifteen Songs of Vim and Vigor”. This seems and sounds very obscure. What tracks were on it? And do the songs sound like the later releases of Tree Fort Angst? And why did you self-release it?

It was a cassette with a pretty elaborate fold-out sleeve with all the lyrics and these weird little illustrations from a dictionary scattered around the layout. Six of the songs from the tape were later culled by A Turntable Friend for the Six Songs EP. The other nine songs kind of languished (i.e., never went anywhere but the tape), but they were pretty good (I thought) and similar to the stuff that made it to vinyl, sort of Go-Betweens-y, Aztec-Camera-y stuff, at least in theory… I self-released it because, well, I didn’t know what else to do with it…it was sort of a “long-form demo,” I guess… One funny wrinkle is that it was recorded by a guy named Barrett Jones, who had a little studio in his basement in Arlington, and soon
thereafter moved to Seattle to become a drum tech for the then-rising Nirvana and later produced the first Foo Fighters record (sort of a weird association for an obscure jangle-pop tape.)

++ Your first proper release was on the classic German label A Turntable Friend, a label that had exquisite releases. How did you end up releasing your record so far away? Did you try other labels for your first release?

I was in England then, in St. Christopher, and kind of sending the TFA tape around to various labels, here and there…. Again this was all pre-Internet, so you really just got addresses off the back of record sleeves or out of fanzines. I sent a tape to A Turntable Friend in Germany and Ulrich, who ran the label, wrote back to me in England, saying he wanted to do a 7” EP and suggesting which songs. I was all for it. I did send tapes to other people (am sure of it), but Ulrich was up for it, so I thought why keep looking?

++ On this first single there’s a song called “Four Years, Six Months, Two Days”. Does that period of time really mean something to you?

It sort of does and it sort of doesn’t… I often take something that actually does mean something to me, or is “about” someone or something, and I weave it around other things, just phrases or ideas I like, and that’s the song… The funny thing about that song is that a TV series called One Tree Hill which titles all of its episodes after song titles, named the lead-off episode of their fifth season after that song. It’s pretty weird, as most of the other song titles they’ve used are from people like U2, Bob Dylan, R.E.M., etc. (info at: http://www.oth-music.com/titles.html) I can’t figure out how or why they would even know about a minuscule, penny-ante band like Tree Fort Angst, but it seems that the guy who is the series creator
graduated from the University of Maryland (which is near D.C.) in the early 90s, so maybe he was into the D.C .indie pop scene back then and knows the band/song that way… Who knows…

++ Throughout your releases the aesthetics are very similar. Who designed the cover art? And where did these photos came from? Im pretty sure I’ve seen the photo of Tilting at Windmills in another band’s cover art, though I can’t remember right now which band!

I guess I designed all of them, if you take “designed” to mean to I cut a picture out of an old book or dog-eared magazine and said “This is the cover.” I think I did get a little predictable with the 60s pop iconography, but I liked that look and tended to gravitate towards it… The Dot Dash album sleeve looks quite different. It’s a photo – sort of an abstract nighttime image – taken by Bill Crandall, who is the other guitarist in Dot Dash. You’re right about the Tilting At Windmills sleeve for the EP that was put out by Bus Stop. I later found out, after the fact, that Prefab Sprout used the same photo (of Edie Sedgwick) for their first single, “Lions In My Own Garden,” but that’s a great song, so I was kind of pleased by the unexpected synchronicity.

++ So yeah, “Tilting at Windmills”, perhaps my favorite of your songs. Care telling me what’s the story behind this fab song?

I suppose that one is kind of looking back at one’s then-recent past, just how time had already moved on from old relationships… I guess you’d call it ‘twenty-something melancholia’ or whatever.

++ That was your last single and it was released by The Bus Stop label, which many call the Sarah of the US. On this label your friends of St. Christopher had already released some records. How was your relationship with the label? And how important was for you to release on a such high profile label (at least among indiepoppers!)? Did it feel like an achievement perhaps?

Yeah, I was kind of thrilled for us to be on the Bus Stop label because, as you say, it was a really “legit” label, at least in indiepop terms. After that EP came out, Brian, who ran the label, had got a pressing and distribution deal for Bus Stop with Dutch East India and, in the wake of that, offered to put out an album, which became the Knee-Deep record, and that (i.e., getting out a long-player) was really the coup de grace, even if we were broken up (and I was then living in Australia for a couple of years) by the time it came out… Either way, I was very glad to have records on Bus Stop – it was a nice little validation.

++ Ok, let me backtrack to the “Buzzing with Beauty & Wonder” 7″. That was released on Velodrome Records. I don’t have a clue who were they. Care filling in the blanks? Where were they based, who ran the label, any funny anecdotes? 🙂

Velodrome was us, Tree Fort Angst. After the Six Songs EP came out, Ulrich, from A Turntable Friend, offered to put out another 7” EP, which was great, but he was saying it would be six months to a year before it came out, which in indie-label speak, could be double that. We didn’t want to wait that long. We wanted to strike while the iron was luke warm… so we put it out ourselves. It was a good little record, got some good reviews, and kind of got our name around… The affiliation with Bus Stop came out of that, and the Stickboy record, and appearances on several compilations, so it was worth doing.

++ And then the only other single we are missing is the “Hope” 7″ on Stickboy Records. Again no clue about them, though I like the label name. Who were they? And what was the deal between you and them? A hand shake?

He was a guy from Brooklyn who was starting up a label. The other band on the label was Nada Surf. The guy who ran the label sent a letter to the address on the Velodrome sleeve offering to do something. We later talked on the phone. He was a funny, witty guy who wanted to put something out so, as with other offers, we said ‘…Um… yeah… sure!’

++ Later Bus Stop compiled the singles on the great “Knee-Deep In The Rococo Excess Of Tree Fort Angst” album. So really? You thought you were excessively rococo? What’s the story behind the title?

I just made up the phrase. I thought it sounded like something The Fall would use for an album title and I dug that, so, voila… There you have it.

++ Then 6 years later Foxyboy in the UK, re-releases this compilation under the name “Last Page in the Book of Love” -ok, Im missing this one too!- with 10 extra tracks. Where did this 10 extra tracks come from? And how come, a re-release of a retrospective album? It’s not that common!

The Bus Stop CD had pretty much sold out, or gone out of print, which isn’t all that impressive as I think only about 750 copies were pressed. Maybe it was a thousand, but certainly no more than that. Anyway, Ara, who ran the label, was a friend and was up for putting it out — he was releasing quite a few things. I know what you mean about re-releases for indiepop, it’s sort of nutty, but, why say no… The 10 extra tracks are outtakes, a couple of live tracks, and various other oddities, including the title track.

++ You contributed to a couple of fanzine tapes back in the day. I was wondering how did you like fanzines and tapes, and can they be compared to blogs and downloadable mixes? I do feel fanzine writers were more enthusiastic and hands-on than bloggers, but well, I didn’t experience the golden age of indiepop, so you tell me 🙂

I liked all that stuff. I thought it was great. Yes, I suspect blogs are the new fanzines, and they’re great, too, but I suppose fanzines had a certain magic to them that’s now largely gone… But life changes, things move on, eh?

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

Unlike subsequent bands — like The Saturday People and Julie Ocean and Dot Dash, where we play(ed) live as frequently as possible — Tree Fort Angst had a very ambivalent attitude toward playing live; we were the same way in Glo-Worm – it was sort of a “why bother?” thing. That said, Tree Fort Angst did manage to do some good shows. Velocity Girl gave us our first gig, opening a sold-out show for them at the 9:30 Club. It was big fun. About two months later, we opened for Liz Phair, also sold-out, also at the 9:30. She was on the cover of Rolling Stone at the time, so it was one of those ‘industry buzz’ kind of shows. We played with Heavenly and Honeybunch in New York, and with Small Factory in Richmond. We played with the English band Tindersticks at the 9:30 right before we split up. So, not many shows, but the ones we did were fun.

++ So you list as influences Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, The Smiths, The Chills, etc. But I’m wondering about the smaller bands, which ones did you like? And yeah, what about that early 90s scene of DC. Plenty of good bands, right?

Hmmm… smaller bands… Of the Sarah bands, the ones I liked best were St. Christopher (who I saw before I was in the band) and The Orchids, who were excellent. A band that wasn’t part of that scene, but from the same era was The Dentists. They were great and I saw them many times. In America, my favorite band from that time/scene was Small Factory. They were great (and rocked the house at our wedding reception in D.C.) I kind of see them in an ‘American triptych’ of The Velvet Underground — The Modern Lovers — and Small  Factory… I know that’s kind of a stretch, but, for me, it’s true… And, yes, the D.C. scene was great, too. I knew and liked the people in Velocity Girl and The Ropers, and later went on to form bands with people from both of those bands… Glo-Worm played with Tsunami and Air Miami, among other shows. A little earlier than that, there was a fun, Revillos-esque band in town called The Flying Shards, I don’t think they ever made a record, but they were great live. I can’t remember who else was around… It was a while ago!

++During those days you must have hanged out quite a bit with Mike Schulman from Slumberland Records, Pam Berry, Archie Moore, etc. I’m quie curious how did you all meet and where were the places you used to hang out? And how good were the parties?

Yes, I knew/know all those people. I suppose I met them all through Mike Schulman, whom I met in the record store he worked in called Vinyl Ink, right after I first moved to D.C. Somehow, through that, I met all those other people. Pam Berry and Dan Searing (who was in Glo-Worm and The Saturday People with me) and his sister Meghan lived in two adjoining houses on Monroe Street in Columbia Heights and, yes, they had many, many parties. They were/are really generous people, the type who don’t bat an eye at having their house filled with 200 or so people, about 50 of whom no one is really sure who they are… It was cool. Small Factory played in the basement once and Glo-Worm “opened,” I remember that. Pam moved to London in ’98-ish and that was a little bit of a turning point as far as the big parties, but Dan and Meghan kept it rolling for a while.

++ So then what happened? When and why did you decide to stop Tree Fort Angst?

My wife and I relocated to Australia (Sydney) in late ‘95 until the front part of ‘97, so the ‘Angst called it a day, a while before we left. It had kind of run its course by then anyway.

++ And then of course you started The Saturday People, but that’s a story for another time. But what happened to Hunter and John? What did they do after?

They both still live in Richmond and both still play music. Hunter is in a band called Hotel X, I think. John does a few different musical things but mostly plays in a 70’s soul band called NRG KRYSYS. He can basically play anything.

++ Today, looking back in time, what would you say was the biggest highlight of Tree Fort Angst?

I was just glad to get to do it – i.e., make some records and kind of explore the creative process… Getting the CD out on Bus Stop was a nice watershed, so I guess that was the highlight.

++ And what about you Terry, when you are not making music, what other interests or hobbies do you have?

My wife and I have a couple of kids, so we’re busy with that. I like to run. I try to do four miles a day outside, and sometimes I even stick to it. I like to read. And I’m still doing the band thing, in Dot Dash.

++ Alright, let’s wrap it here, but first answer me one last question, when are you playing a Popfest? It’s time!

Hey man, tell them to drop us a line, we’ll say yes.

++ Thanks a lot, anything else you’d like to add?

Nothing other than thanks for the interview!


Tree Fort Angst – Tilting at Windmills


Ah! It’s been two weeks since the last obscure band, isn’t it? Hope you forgive me being sloppy. My grandma was in town and I was pretty busy pushing her wheelchair all over Marshalls, Ross, and the like, for 4 days. I hate going out for shopping. Though, having a wheelchair saved us from waiting in those long, damn long, lines that form at these stores’ checkout counters. We breezed by all the people thanks to some very bright store managers. Can’t thank them enough.

My energy, which was sucked up by the bright lights of cosmetic stores, is slowly regenerating and this week already conducted a couple of interviews for the blog. And I have a couple more that I have to write this weekend. Still very much excited to research and document indiepop. Which brings up to my mind what Yuiko was asking me the other day, that a Western version of the great Japanese Neo-Acoustic Guide should be done. I think it is a great idea, I’d love to organize it, but I wonder if there will be enough people willing to buy a copy. What do you say? If you are not familiar with this  guide, it compiles/recommends hundreds of records that are indiepop with a little photo and a blurb. It even has a checkbox with each entry to mark which records you already own. Records are broken up in records from the 80s and then from the 90s-00s. On each of these categories they are broken up again in singles and albums.  Many great people helped with recommendations in the book like Hitoshi Oka from Sloppy Joe or Toshiko Matsumoto from Apple Crumble Record. So I would think we could do something similar with help from Mike Slumberland, Ed Shelflife, Jörgen Fraction Discs, Uwe Firestation, etc, right? Could be very interesting. Worst case scenario it could be an e-book? Not so sure about that. I haven’t read an e-book ever and don’t own a kindle or whatever is used these days to read those.

So this week I posted the Feverfew master to the pressing plant. Hopefully it gets pressed soon. Our target release date will be December 15th, but I’m waiting a confirmation from the pressing plant just to know that’s a safe date. Pre-orders are already been taken. Remember, the first 100 orders (the ones straight from our Cloudberry page not international mailorders), will receive three pins (or badges as they call them here in the US) that are an exact copy of the pins Feverfew used to have back in the 80s.

After this release you’ll probably hear little from me as I will be in the middle of moving to NYC. Sadly this means that the release of Cassolette and Nixon 7″s will be pushed down a bit to early 2012, as I need to settle and have an address to be able to press these records. Bear with me. In the next couple of weeks we should have an MP3 teaser for the Nixon 7″. Songs are already recorded and they sound great. Just waiting for the final mixes.

And that’s about it about Cloudberry. If I remember of some other news, will post them next week.

These are the lot of CDs that have been played at home these past two weeks:
1. Harper Lee – Everything’s Going to be OK (Matinée)
2. Harper Lee – All Things Can Be Mended (Matinée)
3. Slipslide – The World Can Wait (Matinée)
4. Boat Club – Caught the Breeze (Luxury)
5. The Wedding Present – Evening Sessions 1986-1994 (Strange Fruit)
6. Various Artists – As Rare as a Kiss (Greek compilation CD-R)
7. The Sunny Street – Hidden for Decades (Plastilina)
8. My Darling YOU! – Saying Things You Don’t Want to Hear (Luxury)

And today I noticed that even though I utterly adore Spanish indiepop I haven’t presented you all any obscure Spanish band. So weird. So I want to introduce you the lush and beautiful El Viaje de las Flores (The Flower’s Trip).

Earlier today I was checking cities close to Madrid that I want to visit while I’m in Spain for Madrid Popfest. I already knew that I wanted to go to Segovia, Toledo and Avila. Those are classic tourist destinations. That’s 3 days. . I hope to arrive on the previous Saturday, and that day visit El Prado. So Sunday thru Tuesday are already booked. I was looking into another place to visit on Wednesday. I thought El Escorial, but I think I can do El Escorial on Thursday before the Popfest starts, return kind of early. So I believe in the end I’ll end up going to Cuenca on Wednesday, though one of the options was Valladolid. And it was when I was doing a wee research about Valladolid that I remembered this fabulous band.

As many boys, the first time I heard about Valladolid was through football. I remember Real Valladolid in La Liga. I always found kind of exciting that they had two Bolivian players in their team: Juan Manuel Peña (who lasted many seasons) and Marco Sandy (for one season). I’m no Bolivian, but I have a very strong bond with them, they are like Peru’s little brother, if it wasn’t for Bolivar’s stupidity we’d still be one single country. We  are the same people, though ok, Bolivians are a bit slower and nicer.

About Valladolid, well, it is a historic city and municipality in north-central Spain, situated at the confluence of the Pisuerga and Esgueva rivers, and located within three wine-making regions: Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales. It is the capital of the province of Valladolid. And it’s name origin seems to come from a derivation from the demonym Vallisoletano, which was, in fact, the Spanish demonym of the city, and means “from sunny valley”. Supporting this are texts from the Middle Ages, which use Vallisoletum, a word which continued to be used as late as the 16th century.

So let’s go there back in time. To December 1989 to be exact.That’s when Oskar Vizán (guitars, vocals), Espe Laburu (vocals), Luis Gil (bass) left the band La Red and together with Miguel Alonso, who had just left Los Invasores, formed this great band. The story says that they practiced and practiced around 20 brand new songs until they got them right. That’s when they play their first show in May 1990. It was at a venue called Pigalle. This venue in the past seems to have been a whorehouse and these days I believe it’s called Tío Molonio. After a couple of gigs, the band sign a contract with Los 40 Principales to go on tour and play all over Spain. Mind you,  Los 40 Principales is the main musical radio station in Spain with more than 4,000,000 listeners.

What happens next is their only and sole release. It was a split flexi with St.Christopher on the Stamp label. St. Christopher, who I assume everyone reading this post knows, contributed the song  “If I Could Capture” and El Viaje de las Flores, “No Te Estoy Mintiendo” (I’m not lying to you). I’m not sure if Miguel Stamp who ran the small label along his fanzine was still living in the UK when this release happened or he was already back in Madrid. He is such a mysterious man, but a very nice one indeed. Very knowledgeable of indiepop. Had many interesting email exchanges during the years, and I used to be an avid reader of his blog Federica Pulla Dixit which closed in December 2010. Anyhow, hope to meet you in Madrid Miguel!

Last time I asked him about the band he replied to me:

“El Viaje de las Flores was a guitar group from Valladolid, with a girl vocalist, very much in the same style of the British bands from the 80s that we loved (Darling Buds, Primitives, Popguns, etc). They sent us their demos and we were amazed. We didn’t doubt to ask them straight away to be part of one of our flexis, which over time, became the only release they ever did. They also played at the STAMP party where they left all the crowd asking for more as their live sets were strong and powerful. It is very curious that they had never heard these British bands I mentioned earlier, they were more into the psychedelic stuff, which as you know it somehow connected all these bands. The thing is, that they had EVERYTHING to take over the scene, songs, a live set, and looks, but like it happens many times, they trusted those who offered them the moon and the stars, and them who could have been HUGE ended up in very little. I still have their demos and I still think they are EXPLOSIVE. Hopefully one day they are rescued and giving the value they deserve as it just happened with Ataque de Caspa”

This single, “No te Estoy Mintiendo”, gets a lot of airplay in Spanish radio during 1990. Sadly that same year, in October, Miguel, the drummer, leaves the band and starts his own project called “Los Substitutos”, a 60s inspired pop band. This is when Diego  Martinfrom Celtas Cortos joins as a drummer but the band’s run was about to end soon. In 1991 Oskar leaves the band to join “Rosas en Blanco y Negro” and this is when El Viaje de las Flores decide that it’s time to fold. A shame.

There are a couple more songs by the band to listen at their Myspace (or maybe it’s a fan made Myspace, not sure). Here you can listen the fabulous “Tinieblas y Rosas” and “Chica Mala” that are from the same time more or less as “No the Estoy Mintiendo”, a time which the band considers their first period where they were more into pop music. The two other songs on the player, “En el Infierno” and “Devuelveme tu Amor” are from the second period, when Diego Martin had already joined the band. With him the songs became more rockier as you can hear. With these two songs they came out 3rd on the Gordon’s y 40 Principales contest of 1991.

For those who know Spanish and have good vision, I suggest reading these clips from newspapers from those days: Article in El Espectador, Interview 16/09/1991, Article 20/07/1991, Article in El Norte de Castilla.

And that’s about it. If you know more, want to share any memories, or you have a spare copy of that flexi, please get in touch. Now enjoy this fabulous track, one of the best of Spanish indiepop history!


El Viaje de las Flores – No Te Estoy Mintiendo