Thanks much to Andrew Withycombe for the interview! (and Bart Cummings for getting me in touch with Andrew!) Hydroplane was a fantastic band from the 90s. It consisted of the same members of The Cat’s Miaow and they were around the same time. They sounded different and did continue making music after The Cat’s Miaow’s demise. They had releases in great labels as Wurlitzer Jukebox and Elefant and well, it’s time to remember them. Enjoy!

++ Hi! How are things in Melbourne? Any exciting plans for summer?

Melbourne’s good. No big plans for the summer – mostly household chores, gardening and wrangling children.

++ It’s been 10 years since the last release of Hydroplane. What have you been up to since then? Will there be more Hydroplane songs some day?

I guess the rest of our lives got in the way – family, study, career, etc. I’ve played in other bands during that time. Huon and Driving Past, two other bands I’ve played with over the years, have released albums in the last couple of years. Hydroplane has a couple of unreleased songs coming out on a label called Fox Pop in the USA sometime soon. However, there are no plans to do any more recording with Hydroplane.

++ So the first question I ask myself is, why start a new band if you all were already in The Cat’s Miaow? What was the idea behind this band? Because there was an idea, right?

I’m not sure. I think psychologically it felt right at the time. It’s hard to explain really. Both bands were the same people. Musically either band could have played most of the songs. However, the writing and recording process for Hydroplane was a bit different.

Hydroplane was originally supposed to only release one record, which was a collage of song snippets and sound pieces. I think I felt there were enough ideas in that record to expand into an album. Drive-In Records, who put out the single, were into doing an album, so we did. I guess by doing that, I may have inadvertently broke-up the Cat’s Miaow. In hindsight, I think stopping then gave the Cat’s Miaow an evergreen quality, which I don’t think we would have maintained had we kept going. Also, it enabled us to neatly package nearly everything the Cat’s Miaow recorded on two CDs!

++ And why the name Hydroplane?

Hydroplane was one of the names Dean Wareham, from Galaxie 500, considered calling Luna before he settled on Luna. Seeing he wasn’t going to use it, we thought that we might as well.

++ Back then what’s your favourite place to hang out in Melbourne? And were there any other bands in town that you enjoyed?

I’ve seen so many bands over the years, and in so many venues, it’s hard to say. I think back then we were hanging out a lot at the Empress and the Rob Roy – two pubs in Fitzroy, and the Tote – in Collingwood, which are in inner city Melbourne. I can’t remember who was doing it for me. I know I used to see the Steinbecks, Sleepy Township and Long Weekend a lot. And I really liked Seaworthy, from Sydney.

++ How different was the recording process of Hydroplane compared to The Cat’s Miaow? And what about the creative process?

The Cat’s Miaow mostly followed the standard process of writing, learning and recording. Whereas, a lot of Hydroplane songs started as loops or drones, which were used to create a groove and inspire a melody and so on. I’d been doing stuff with tape loops and samplers since the late 1980s, when I got my first 4 track recorder. We did do a bit of looping with the Cat’s Miaow. However, I think hearing the first DJ Shadow album gave us the necessary inspiration to carry on.

++ And this is just my curiosity, how many instruments can you play? And how many do you own?

Not many and not very well. I have a couple of electric guitars, a synth, a couple of toy keyboards and numerous gadgets. I did have more but have either lost them, sold them or given them away.

++ During the time as Hydroplane, both Wurlitzer Jukebox and Drive-In, labels that helped and supported The Cat’s Miaow, were releasing your records. I’ve already asked Bart about the relationship with them and The Cat’s Miaow, but I’d love to hear your take on it Andrew. How important and how helpful was the relationship with these labels?

I can’t speak highly enough of those labels. Keith from Wurlitzer Jukebox and Mike and Jamie from Drive-In are the nicest people you could meet – great to hang out with, creative, supportive and a little crazy. Crazy I mean in a good way. For example, when Keith suggested doing a split flexi with Stereolab we thought he was crazy, but it showed how genuinely he felt about us and what we were doing. Mike was the same, always ready to try something new. Hydroplane would not have existed without Mike. The original idea for Hydroplane came out of a conversation I had with Mike late one night while we were watching a film about the Ventures, a surf instrumental band from the USA, from the 1960s, on tour in Japan. The photo on the first Hydroplane single is an image taken from that film – it’s supposed to be the mysterious “Hydroplane”. Ultimately, if the Cat’s Miaow, et al ever had a profile, it’s mostly because of those guys. However, I should also mention Clint Barnes from 4 Letter Words, and Tim Adams from Ajax Records – Tim used to sell our cassettes back before we started releasing records.

++ And another question where I’d love to know your opinion is, why the hell didn’t Australian labels pick you up?

We never really tried to do anything with an Australian label. Our business model wasn’t really suited to what was going on here at the time – we rarely played, we recorded at home, were ‘Lo-Fi’, etc. Anyway, we were internationalists. We were inspired by the K Records International Pop Underground.

++ And it’s not like you were very obscure or anything, you were once in the Festive 50 of John Peel no less! So I find it odd. But yeah, how was that? Being in the Festive 50? How did you find out you were featured? And what was your reaction?

I think it was either Keith from Wurlitzer Jukebox or Mike from Drive-In who told us that we were in the festive 50. At the time John Peel was featuring a lot of stuff that Wurlitzer Jukebox was releasing. However, I don’t think being in John Peel’s festive 50 made us any more popular or transformed into more sales. It was exciting and did seem prestigious, but I think it was only something that really mattered to a few die hard indie music followers. The festive 50 has probably taken on legend status, particularly since John Peel died. So it probably makes us seem bigger than we actually were. Nonetheless, it’s definitely a highlight probably only matched by the Cat’s Miaow’s first Drive-In single going top ten in Rolling Stone magazine’s alternate chart back in the early nineties.

++ Was that your biggest highlight? What other highlights would you say happened during the run with Hydroplane?

As far as media recognition, and getting a bit of air play on BBC Radio One, the festive 50 was a big highlight. But as much as it sounds a bit clichéd, I think just being able to keep putting out records for as long as we did was a highlight, as well as getting to know some really great people.

++ And did you play any gigs at all?

We played a few parties. Playing live was never a priority; but it was nice to occasionally play for friends. For example, when Keith Jenkins came to Australia, he requested we play. I hired a room at The Tote in Collingwood and organised a show. Hydroplane played, off course; Huon played its first show; and I think from memory Upstairs was the other band.

++ You released two 7″s on three labels I know nothing at all. So I was wondering if you could tell me a bit about them and how did you end up releasing with them, “Liquefaction Empire”, “Bad Jazz” and “Little Prints”?

Liquefaction Empire and Bad Jazz were labels based in the UK. They were run by two brothers. They were big fans of Wurlitzer Jukebox. I think that’s how we came to work with them. Bad Jazz also did some co-releases with Drive-In. The second Hydroplane album came out on CD in the USA on Drive-In and LP on Bad Jazz in the UK. Little Prints was an off shoot of Drive-In. It might have been like a 7 inch singles club or something. I think it only released one or two singles.

++ And what about the release on Elefant? They are quite a big label these days and I believe in the late 90s they were already making themselves a name. How was that experience? Ever been to Spain by the way?

Elefant was great to work with – very professional. I think that release was part of a seven inch singles club as well. I don’t know how we came to do that single – possibly because of the “success” of the single with Wurlitzer Jukebox.

++ You wanted to release just one 7″ when you started. But then you released many records. How come did the band evolve to be so prolific?

At the time we lived and breathed music – apart from going to work, our lives seemed to basically revolve around just seeing bands, playing in bands and recording and releasing records. So if it wasn’t Hydroplane, it would’ve been another band.

++ Many singles, and three albums. Do you have a favourite song of yours?

Nothing in particular – maybe ‘Stars’ from the second album or ‘Song for the Meek’ from the first album.

++ You have songs called “International Exiles” and “We Crossed The Atlantic”. It seems there’s a longing to be abroad, am I wrong? What are the countries that you’ve liked the most? And have any of them inspired you for making songs?

No, no really longing to be abroad. To be honest, a lot of Hydroplane songs are about being in Australia. Nonetheless, some songs are about overseas. The songs that do mention overseas locations are usually about us being there. For example Bart wrote “Wurlitzer Jukebox” after we were in the UK. We were visiting Keith from Wurlitzer Jukebox during some un-seasonally cold weather. There was a lot of snow and we literally froze. “We crossed the Atlantic” is a cover. It was originally recorded in the 1960s by an Australian singer songwriter called Pip Proud. I liked the song, so we covered it. “International Exiles” is about the Cat’s Miaow. Basically, it’s a celebration of our international success!

++ And the title for that album of yours, “Hope Against Hope”, it always made me think what did you mean by it. Care to unveil that mystery for me? 🙂

Bart titled that album, you’ll have to ask him.

++ What about covers? You made a couple? Even one from The Cat’s Miaow! If I ask you today, what cover would you like to do that you never got around doing?

We did record a few covers. I don’t think there where any songs that we wanted to cover that we never got around to recording. We didn’t keep a list of songs we wanted to record – choosing them tended to be more organic.

++ And what about the artwork for your releases? Where do all those great photographs came from?

Some we borrowed. Steve Crushworthy, who did the design for the second album, as well as some of the Cat’s Miaow sleeves, took some. And the rest, we took ourselves.

++ On the Munch video compilation you contributed with a video for “Completed Extract From The Previous 7″”…

I’d forgotten about that video. I think it’s footage of us playing at a party in Dave Harris’s backyard. Dave was the guy behind the Munch video compilations.

++ So when and why did you decide to stop? What did you do after?

I don’t think there ever was a conscious decision to just stop. It was just a case of other interests and commitments taking a higher priority and making it harder to write and to get together. Moreover, geographically we started to spread out a bit. Although, I guess if we decided to get back together, we could do it via a wiki or email or something, on our tablet computers.

++ And aside music, what other hobbies or interests do you have?

I have two children who seem to take up a lot of my spare time. Other interests include gardening, tending poultry, home maintenance, and home brewing – mostly beer, occasionally ginger beer.

++ Thanks so much Andrew, I do have one last question. What about flying in a hydroplane? Ever been on one? 😉

Unfortunately, no.


Hydroplane – New Monotonic FM


Thanks so much to Koushi Ono for the interview! The Time Capsules were active during the 90s and these dayes Koushi goes under the name Alvysinger. This is great pop in the vain of Pale Fountains, Jim Jiminee or The Jazz Butcher. Well worth the listen. Please enjoy!

++ Hi Ono-san! First of all thanks so much for being up for this interview. I know these days you are in Alvysinger but many years ago you had a wonderful band called The Time Capsules. What would you say are the main differences between them?

小野さん、こんにちは!まず今回のインタビューを引き受けてくださり本当にありがとう。最近あなたはAlvysingerとして活動していますが、数年前The Time Capsulesという素晴らしいバンドを組んでいましたよね?大きな違いは何か説明してくれますか?

First, I would like to express my thanks for your taking interest in a kind of obscure band The Time Capsules. I am now pursuing my music career as “Alvysinger.” Although the name is changed, the spirit is just the same as The Time Capsules. It is true that the taste may be more personal because “Alvysinger” is my own solo project.


++ So let’s go back in time, to the 90s, that’s when The Time Capsules start, right? How did the band start? Who were the members and how did you know each other?

では90年代を振り返りますが、The Time Capsulesが結成されたのはその頃ですよね?どのようにバンドの活動がスタートしたのでしょうか?メンバーにはどんな人がいたのですか?どのように知り合ったのでしょうか?

The founding members were Koushi Ono (guitar, vocal) and Takehiro Uemura (guitar, synthesizer). In the summer of 1996, the band started with those members, college students at that time. We had been classmates at high school. We had entered different universities, but we had great time talking about Johnny Dee when we met again during the summer vacation. We had found ourselves being good friends and respecting each other. Then, we realized our tastes for indie music totally fit together. So, don’t you think it is good time to start the band?


++ And what about the name? Where does it comes from?


We didn’t care about the music scene. We just wanted to record good music. The band was named after our hope that somebody might dig it up and listen to it somewhere and someday. Let’s put this moment in the time capsule! That was how we were feeling when we named the band. When we grew up, however, it sounded a bit too young and green, so we didn’t like it any more. That’s why I changed the name to “Alvysinger.”


++ And by the way, if you were able to travel in time, in a time capsule, when and where in time would you go?


I would like to fly back to the time when we formed The Time Capsules. It was totally a fun. We learned how to create music together, dreaming of a bright future. That was how we were. If we had been more ambitious, we would be successful. If I could go back to those days, I would spank them and make them work harder. J


++ On your Alvysinger myspace you wrote: “we were too young to overcome various temptation, video game, mystery, horse racing, and we had been crazy about idle talk in those days”. So which were those temptations? What video games did you love? Did you ever win at horse racing? And what’s idle talk?!


This is exactly the reason why we didn’t make it. We lived far away (about 800 miles) from each other, so we only worked together during long vacations. Of course, we worked separately sometimes, and sent demo tapes to each other, but basically we were lazy and crazy about pleasurable pastimes. My favorite video games? I was fond of playing anything: Nintendo, PlayStation… whatever. I would buy any newly released game. Especially, I was crazy about Biohazard (Resident Evil), Dragon Quest, and Derby Stallion, for example. I loved detective stories, read lots of manga, and watched many movies. Every weekend, I went to horse racing. I only picked a long shot, so I didn’t win every week, but when I won, it was a jackpot. Like this, I spent my undergraduate days just hanging around. I was a typical Japanese college student. And what’s idle talk? It was literally idle talk, which is empty and produces nothing.


++ On the Time Capsules’ recordings I can notice the influence of many great guitar pop bands like The Pale Fountains or The Jazz Butcher. What were your favourite bands? Any Japanese bands that you love and would like to recommend?


Yes! Let’s get down to business.J At the beginning of our project for The Time Capsules, I didn’t know The Pale Fountains or The Jazz Butcher. I wanted to produce “evergreen” songs like Burt Bacharach or the Beach Boys. I just created music as I wanted and sang as I liked. As I listen to it now, I agree that it surely sounds like The Pale Fountains or The Jazz Butcher. I love their music and I admit that I was influenced by them, but it is not that we tried to become like them. My favorite guitar bands are: The Pale Fountains, The Trash Can Sinatras, The Wind (Tan Sleeve), The Hang Ups, North of Cornwallis. My favorite Japanese bands are: Johnny Dee, SUGAR BABE, Fishmans, Uchoten, Original Love. Among the Japanese bands these days I like Petrolz (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiNL-uzJbdk) and Kimyo Reitaro (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO0-z36FrNI&feature=related ). I should mention my favorite musicians: Burt Bacharach, Alzo, Lane Stainburg, Tsuyoshi Shimoda, Kiyoshiro Imawano. I don’t listen to guitar bands very often. I like to listen to songs produced around the year of 1976 when I was born, for example, AOR, soul music and acoustic swing.

イエス、そろそろ音楽の話をしようか(笑)タイムカプセルズの初期にはペイルファウンテインズもジャズブッチャーも知らなかった。僕らはエヴァーグリーンな曲を作りたかった。バートバカラックやビーチボーイズのように。思うように曲を作り、好きなように歌って後で聞いてみたら、なるほどペイルファウンテインズやジャズブッチャーに似ているね。それらは大好きだけで影響も受けたけど、彼らになろうとしたわけではないよ。好きなギターバンドは、The Pale Fountains、The Trash Can Sinatras、The Wind (Tan Sleeve)、The Hang Ups、North of Cornwallisなど。最近気に入っている日本のバンドはPetrolzと奇妙礼太郎。最近あまりギターバンドは聴いてないな。生まれ年の1976付近に制作されたものを好んで聞いている。AORとかソウル、アコースティックスィングなんかをね。

++ So did The Time Capsules get to release anything? I heard there was a cassette release?


Only “All for Our Tears,” which we released as cassette tapes for ourselves in 2000. We had no choice because we didn’t get any offer.

2000年にセルフでカセットリリースした”all for our tears”だけだよ。どこからも声がかからなかったからね

++ How many songs did The Time Capsules record? Care to list them for me?


We didn’t record so many complete songs. We included all songs we want you to listen to in “Touch.” As for other songs, we should keep them between Uemura and me.


++ I would say that my favorite song of yours is “Small Trick You Boy”, it’s fantastic! Care telling me the story behind the song?

私の好きな曲は「Small Trick You Boy」です。これは素晴らしい。この曲の裏話を聞かせていただけますか?

Thank you. We recorded this song as a B-side of “All for Our Tears.” We intended to make an up-tempo vigorous song. Those days I was fond of Jim Jiminee. A female voice you may hear singing in unison is my wife now. All of us sang together into one microphone… it was really a fun to record this song.

ありがとう。この曲はAll for Our TearsのB面として作ったんだ。早くてガッツのある曲を作ろうと思ったのさ。当時ジムジミニーが好きだったからね。ユニゾンで歌ってる女性は僕の奥さん。みんなで一本のマイクでコーラス録音したり、楽しかったな。

++ Also there was a CDR called “Touch” with 8 tracks. It seems sold out now. Who were the Blue Lambretta label that released it? And what can one expect from this CDR? Will there be more copies anytime soon?

8曲入りの“Touch”というCDRもありますが現在は売り切れ状態のようです。このCDRをリリースしたBlue Lambrettaというレーベルはどういった方々なのでしょうか?このCDRはどういうものですか?いつか再発される予定はありますか?

This Blue Lambretta is a private label owned by Thee Windless Gates. They kindly offered to release us on the label. In fact, I cut discs and ship them. Well, it’s a so-called self-release.

このthe Blue Lambretta labelは、Thee Windless Gatesの個人レーベル。今回焼印を押してもらったんだ。実際に盤を作ったり、発送したりは僕が行っている。ま、セルフリリースだね!

++ What about the compilation “Airport Terminal 01”? I know you contributed to it. When was it released? And who made this CD? Which other bands are on it?

“Airport Terminal 01”というコンピレーションについてはどうですか?あなたも曲を提供していますね。リリースされたのはいつですか?このCDを制作したのは誰でしょうか?他に収録されているバンドにはどういった方々がいますか?

“Airport Terminal 01” was released on Airsport label in September 2004. This label is a music division of the design company (http://www.on-airs.com) presided by Atsushi Ito in Nagoya. Uemura and I were introduced by Tsuyoshi Shimoda and had a chance to join the compilation project. Johnny Johnny’s “Still I Always…” is a great number. I am proud of our “Call me up” as a nice sprightly number.

2004年9月名古屋のデザインラボAIRSの音楽レーベルAIRSPORTからリリースされた。レーベルを主宰するのは伊藤敦志さん。僕らは下田剛さんの紹介で参加することができた。johnny johnny: Still I Always…はグレイトナンバーさ。僕らの”call me up”もナイスな疾走ナンバーだと自負している。

++ What about gigs? Did The Time Capsules play many? Any particular that you are fond of?


I don’t play gigs. It is a very rare case, but I performed together with TWG at the event called MTMR in Kyoto last September (in 2011). I’m trying to find an impressive way to express my works. My live performance (singing with playing the guitar) is not so enjoyable for the audience, I think.


++ And tell me about the Japanese scene during those days in the mid-late 90s? How was it? Were there many bands? festivals? Was there any support from the press to neo-aco bands or was it over already?


Those days the movement called Shibuya-kei (Shibuya style) was popular among young people in Japan. Many neo-aco bands and guitar-pop bands started their career. There were a lot of indie labels. That was the last period when we had a dream in music, I guess.


++ You are from Kitami-Shi in Hokkaido. I don’t really know much from your city to be honest. Were there any other like-minded bands? Are there neo-aco fans there? And what about your favourite places to hang out and party there?


There is nothing you can be proud of in the music scene in Kitami. There are a few local bands. There may be some neo-aco fans, but I don’t see any indie-pop party here.


++ And if I was a tourist in your town, what would you say are the must see sights? And food? Any specialties in Kitami-shi? 🙂


Hokkaido is a treasure chest of Japanese food. Anything is delicious here, seafood, land products, sweets and so on. It is a very cold area with a lot of nature. If you visit me in winter, let’s go on horseback to see drifting blocks of ice on the sea. Then, we will warm ourselves eating hot pot dishes.


++ And what did you do in between The Time Capsules and Alvysinger?


As I said at the beginning, the only difference between The Time Capsules and Alvysinger is the name of the project. We just changed the name for refreshment. Then, Uemura got busy with his job and he is now taking a break from his music career. That was in 2005 and I switched to PC-based recording at that time, so I was studying how to use the mechanical equipment. In 2006, I started recording songs by myself and releasing them under the name of Alvysinger.


++ When you are not making music, what other hobbies or interests do you enjoy doing?


I’m working full-time for a company, so I usually work at the desk in the office. After coming home, I play together with my little daughter. I spend two hours making music in my own room every night while she is sleeping. After all, I have no time to spare for other hobbies. I like riding on a horse, reading, watching movies, and betting on a horse, but I spend only a short time on any of them. I like cooking, too. Cooking is very similar to making music. Speaking of movies, “Låt den rätte komma in” was great! I was really taken with it. I haven’t seen the Hollywood remake version yet. “Millennium” was good, too. Swedish movies are very successful these days.


++ So, let’s talk about Alvysinger sometime soon Ono-san? Let’s wrap here this Time Capsules interview, it was a pleasure. Anything else you’d like to add?


Thank you for your attention. The history of The Time Capsules ended up, but I will continue to release songs as Alvysinger. Uemura might be coming back. I’m really looking forward to the day when we work together again and release our new songs.



Translated by Masafumi Moriwaki

翻訳 森脇正史


Time Capsules – Small Trick You Boy


Thanks so much to Paul Stewart and Phil Ball for the interview. Our own Cloudberry Records have just released a fantastic retrospective by Feverfew that includes all the songs they ever released plus more. 17 remastered tracks where the genius of Feverfew shines. A classic, and a great way to start the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen series. Packaged in a lush custom digipack, and liner notes by Phil Ball, bassist of Feverfew. You can get the record by sending 15 dollars (US orders) or 17 dollars (Intl. orders) through paypal. Both prices include shipping and handling. You can find more information on the Cloudberry Records site, on the Cloudberry Kitchen series area. Now sit back and enjoy!

PS. All orders are on their way. Sorry for the little delay, it’s been hectic with Cloudberry moving to New York and all! Thanks again for the support and patience.

++ Tell me about the name of the album? Where does the phrase “Something of Nothing” comes from? And why did you decide to name it like that?

PB: That’s something that has come from my side. Something Of Nothing – this was an expression that my Mum would often use to describe other people’s egotistical boasts. Basically that they had nothing special to boast about and they were just building up the smallest things to try and make themselves look important. It just seemed fitting to use that as the title for the album. Feverfew was just a band, a group of friends, that played and wrote songs, nothing more, nothing less. We never pretended to be something we were not. It’s funny that other people have become very precious about it…

++ So it’s been more than 20 years since you were around as Feverfew. So how did you start as a band? How did you all know each other?

PS: I already knew Keith from the Church we used to go to. We dreamed of forming our own pop band so we started writing songs using the old guitar I had and a mono cassette recorder. We would have been in our mid teens then. We soon realised that to realise the dream that we needed to expand the line up so I knocked up a flier and put it in the music shops in Reading; that’s when Phil called my house and suggested we meet up for a rehearsal.

PB: I seem to recall that I saw the advert in Hickies a local music shop in Reading Town Centre, I had already played in a couple of local bands but after they split I was looking to join an indie guitar POP band. I saw the advert called up and it went from there. Originally it was just the three of us and a drum machine writing and rehearsing in Keith’s bedroom.

PS: I later met Victoria at a bus stop who said she sang and invited her along too. This foursome formed the original nucleus of the band

PB: The funny thing was that all of us were Woodley based, and lived approx. 5 – 10 minutes from one another but outside of Paul and Keith we never actually knew each other. This proves that it’s a small world but as individuals we can still be so distant from each other in so many ways….
During this time we started to write songs but struggled to find a permanent drummer, the first two recordings we made were using friends and relations as “session” players.

PS: Lloyd later followed on drums and at this point we could genuinely say that we were finally a group

PB: In between times Vicky left, Christine joined and then left and Vicky returned once more. Jason came and went as second guitarist and finally we were joined on acoustic guitar by Lloyd’s brother, Lee.

Keith – Vocals
Vicky – Vocals
Lloyd – Drums
Phil – Bass
Lee – Acoustic guitar
Paul – Acoustic and Electric Guitar

This was the final band line up and the one that continued from late ‘88 until the bands demise. So over the life of the band the sum of parts was 1 bassist, 3 singers, 3 guitarists and 4 drummers (incl Dr. Rhythm…)

++ And why the name Feverfew?

PS: Keith had read that Feverfew was the first known thing to grow in the earth naturally after the Hiroshima bomb was dropped. This really made an impact on him and we thought it was a fitting name for a band as it was quite abstract. At that time we didn’t want to be called “The (something)s” like a lot of the names springing up at that time.

++ I hope I don’t sound biased, but “Something of Nothing” may well be one of the best indie pop records this year. The songs are so strong, music and lyric wise. So tell me how did the creative process work for you?

PS: Usually, I had the chords and basic ideas for the songs then Keith, Phil and I would host a practice in one of our bedrooms and, after endless cups of tea and much scribbling in exercise books we would work out and arrange the songs. Once we built up a reasonable number of songs we’d then book a rehearsal room and work on the live sound with the drums.

PB: I think that at this time we were just learning the craft of song-writing, the ideas would be constantly tossed around between us, each of us suggesting things, adding and taking bits away, and the songs would gently evolve over the numerous cups of tea. During the jamming process Keith would have some key words and harmony ideas, the final lyrics would tend to come a little time after the “tune”. For the three of us the song writing together seemed to be a very natural process, the mass majority of the feverfew songs were actually written in Keith’s bedroom over cups of tea. I believe the time that we knew we had “something” was when we wrote Casey Jones, this was the point when everything just clicked.

++ And also, why, with so many great songs, you didn’t get to release more records back in the day? Wasn’t there interest? It’s hard to believe!

PB: Originally we thought that we needed to follow the usual “grind” that bands would go through, for example playing all the toilets in London, touting ourselves to record labels etc. but we soon realised that this was not really us and not something we wanted or needed to pursue. We realized that we could do things on our terms and in the ways that we wanted. I don’t want to sound like some old hippy but for us it was much more “organic”. There was “Interest” but we wanted to do things in the manner that we wanted, we were never keen to give up artistic control

PS: you have to put things in context; we’re talking mid/late 1980s and there were some excellent bands appearing overnight. Reading at that time had a very strong healthy music scene with many venues and some really great bands. You could literally see 2 or 3 bands every night of the week if you wanted. I guess you could say we were ambitious but knocking on record label doors wasn’t something we thought was worthwhile. Which suited us as we just loved playing live.

PB: For feverfew it was just about writing songs and playing and never about ego or adulation.

++ Let’s talk about gigs? Which were the best? Any anecdotes you could share?

PB: Actually during our time we played quite a few, I found my diary from 1988 quite recently and I was surprised that there were so many dates inside. I think that other bands always found it strange that we were quite happy to be first on, the main issue for us was just about playing and not about where we were on the bill.

Best gigs:  South Hill Park Wilde Theatre, this was early 89 and also the ones at the After Dark supporting our indie pop heroes were always memorable. For me the one that always sticks in my mind was when we came back together in Feb’91, a celebration for the live of a sadly departed friend. We played like our lives depended on it, it was a very special night.

Anecdotes:- I think my falling over the double bass of Jim Jimenee always sticks in everyone’s mind, I can still hear the crash on the floor even now and can visualise it slowly falling over. To this day I still maintain that to place it in the middle of the floor was a stupid place to put it. Anyhow finally no harm was done but the dirty looks from Jim Jimenee could have killed. Also feverfew having a rummage through the “Sale of the century” prizes, I really would not have liked to won the bed…

++ And what about that TV appearance? How did that happen? Was it a strange or just a fun experience?

PB: Just completely surreal… I think that we were always in two minds about doing it but in the end we just went for it. This was the in the very early days of Sky TV and the “Squarial” so probably only 2 or 3 people saw it…

PS: This is a bit of a blur really but I think Keith knew someone who was connected with the people looking for various acts for a talent show on Sky TV. It was, and still is, quite surreal as we found ourselves being called for make-up before recording ‘Bed Of Roses’ for a real TV show. We met Paul King (from ‘King’), comedienne Faith Brown and Keith Chegwin.

PB: Cheggers was always a hero for the band, we always had a soft spot for “Cheggers plays POP!” We would often play the theme tune in rehearsals and I think on more than one occasion during our live set

++ Your tapes, as well as the flexi were released by “Mighty 3 Minutes”. Care to tell me who was behind this label and how important was its support towards Feverfew?

PB: This was a label managed and operated by a guy called Phil Broadhurst, a local fanzine writer and all round good guy (and also fellow Woodleyite). It was just a meeting of minds… After a few months working together, Phil also began managing the band. We had the same ideals and same philosophies both personally and politically so it was a natural progression. Phil was a very integral and important person, an inspirational figure for the band. He was unofficially the additional member of the group, he was always there to pick us up when we doubted ourselves.

++ So yes, the “Give it Up” flexi. Who is that little boy on the cover? And how well did this flexi do? I think I paid like 20 pounds for it in a store in Stockholm! Must be quite rare!

PS: The picture is of me aged 2 or something in my parents’ back garden. I must have been about 2 or 3 I guess. It was Keith’s idea to use the picture on the front sleeve. We paid for the flexi disc ourselves; we probably got 1,000 or so pressed I guess and sold them or gave them away at gigs. I guess they are pretty scarce these days.

PB: Seems strange after all this time that this is so sought after, we were selling them for 70p and we struggled to sell them… I think that finally they were all sold (or given away) but it took some time.

++ The flip side of this flexi is a song dedicated to “Casey Jones”. How come?

PS: It’s just taken from the first line of the song and fits in with the sample of a steam locomotive at the beginning but the song isn’t about Casey himself.

PB: It was just a metaphor that Keith used, an expression to describe a long lost love. It was a spin on the age-old lonesome train metaphor. I think that the best thing ever written about Casey Jones was that it was the “1st post Thatcher love song”

++ Then there was another proper release, the split 7″ with The Rileys on A Turntable Friend. This release happened already after you had split, am I right? Did the label convince you to get back together or what? How did it work out? And how come you ended up releasing a record in Germany?!

PB: Actually The Happiness EP was recorded by a group of friends rather than two bands and was never really intended to be released, it was just the coming together of a group of people to celebrate the life of a friend tragically lost. After the recording session everybody was extremely pleased with the end result (both artistically and personally) so we considered releasing it, first idea was as a M3M release. Around this time I was having a lot of correspondence with Ulrich from A Turntable Friend and he offered to release it so we agreed. Keith designed the sleeve and Phil Broadhurst wrote the liner notes and the rest as they say is history

++ On top of that you released many tapes as Feverfew. Care to list them? And how many copies would you make of them?

PB: The list of release would be similar to the one below:-
• First demo (four tracks) Casey Jones / I won’t touch a girl again / Kindly Written Words / All the things I gave to you (Tape not officially released)
• 7” Flexi (M3M) – Give It Up / Casey Jones
• Cassette version of flexi (four tracks – Give It Up / Casey Jones / Pretending To Be Someone Stronger / Give It Up (long version))
• Cassette tape issued free with Sprog Fanzine – incl. Give It Up (long version)
• Cassette EP(M3M) – The Night It Rained Perfume (four tracks)
• Cassette EP(M3M) – Songs To Make Friends By (eight tracks)
• The “Happiness” EP 7” (A Turntable Friend) – two feverfew tracks Bed Of Roses / She’s Leaving plus two tracks by The Rileys (In reality all four tracks were performed by the same group of people)

Quantitites, actually I have no real idea probably between 3 to 4 hundred maximum. I am also sure that we released a joint Flexi with 9 Steps To Ugly which was given away with a fanzine but I honestly cannot find any evidence. The 9 steps track I seem to remember was Vaudeville, maybe this is just completely my imagination…

++ I’m kind of picturing your merch table at gigs, with the tapes, the flexi, and also pins. Did you usually have a merch table? What other things you used to sell? Pins? T-shirts? And who usually was sitting behind it, taking care of the fans?

PB: Back in those days there was no Merchandise stall or table, it was just the band selling the tapes and flexi after the gig. Generally I used to look after the selling (with support from the other members) and also the financial side of the band. The badges that were made were distributed free with the flexi. For T-shirts there were only ever a limited edition produced, I think these went to the band and our closest friends. I am not sure that we ever had any “fans” there were always a number of regulars who would appear time and time again at the gigs and buy the tapes etc. In turn the next time they would bring their friends and it grew in that way. There were also a number of people that would write to us via fanzines, compilation tapes and the like, we were always very flattered by the attention and always did our best to respond and write back.

++ Feverfew wrote so many great songs, I have many favourites, but I’m wondering which are your favourites. And which were the fans favourites back in the day for playing at gigs?

PS: Personally, I liked playing Kindly Written Words and Pretending to be Someone Stronger. The band sounds really fluid and some of Keith’s best words are on The Demise of Rock’n’Roll – all about a local DJ.

PB: For me Casey Jones, Summer 82 and A Crimson Gloom plus there were some other newer songs that we never recorded. I think the lyrics to all the songs are quite special. From a “fans” perspective probably “The night it rained perfume” or “Bed of roses” or perhaps “Answered Prayer” these were the tracks often mentioned in the letters and postcards we received.

++ And yeah, why didn’t you get to release more records? It’s hard to believe that with so many great songs no one seemed interesting in putting them out?!

PS: As I said before, we weren’t out to change the world and, being unconnected with any label, meant we were free to make our own choices. If we had really wanted to, we could have gone further. I have a rehearsal copy of one of the last songs we ever wrote as a band and it stands way above everything else we did but at that point people were starting to move away, change jobs, get married etc. Who knows?

PB: Actually I am in full agreement with Paul, a number of the later songs were really great, however many of these were never recorded and I guess will never see the light of day… The songs that were written over the period / life of the band were always very personal for the band, we never tried to write Pop songs for mass consumption. I am extremely proud of each and every one of them as they all have a lot of memories associated with them

++ So right, what happened? Why did the band split the first time, and then the second time? And what did you all do after?

PS: (were there 2 splits??) We never really fell out; we tried to keep things together for as long as possible but as people’s lives and circumstances change it was eventually decided we would disband. There were also a lot of sideline projects going on which is a good thing.

PB: I think that I mentioned before that the band never split, it just kind of dissolved, we never really separated, we just weren’t doing “it” anymore. In Mid ’89 I was getting married, Keith was in a relationship and moved to Brighton and I seem to remember Paul falling out of love with the guitar and in love with a girl and that was that. Late ‘89 I formed The Rileys with Lloyd, Vicky and Jason from feverfew with Mike and Richard, around this time Paul was back playing in She’s Gone and as an aside starting to write songs with Keith.

When Jason died in Jan’91 it pushed everybody back together once more. Born out of the shared grief we started talking about playing together again, began rehearsing, then we played a joint gig in Feb’91 (This was originally a gig that The Rileys were booked to play). Due to the positive energy and feeling that came from those sessions we then went back to the studio to record some tracks in April’91 this eventually became The Happiness EP. Around this time there was some talk about starting over once again as feverfew but in the end everybody decided that it was the perfect way to finish.

++ Back again to our compilation, why did you decide it was time to release it? Was there any reason behind it?

PB: On the back of reigniting my interest in music / indiepop I got involved with a number of Internet bloggers who were very interested in old school indiepop and in feverfew and also The Rileys, around this time I also got involved in Facebook and from this a number of enquiries came reference releasing a Feverfew retrospective compilation. Personally I never really considered it at all, however there were a number of offers made and it just seemed a good time to collate all the songs as a united body of work, many of which had never been formally released or were available only as very poor quality recordings lifted from the tapes and singles etc.. I ran the idea past Paul and he agreed it was a good idea. Timing wise in 2011 it was 20 years since we made the last recording session as Feverfew so everything just seemed to fit. The main reason and concept for the release was to serve as a celebration of a band, of a friendship and also to commemorate the lives of two very special and important people. It is as simple as that, there were and are no ulterior motives.

++ And how do you think the songs have aged? To me they sound so fresh!

PS: The songs evoke really happy, creative times. I was in a band with good friends and we all really enjoyed ourselves. If I’m honest, there is a tinge of sadness associated with it for me as the world was a much easier place to inhabit then than it is today and I yearn for those times again. As for the music, I think they stand up very well on their own; a little naive in places but we were cutting our teeth as musicians and we spent a lot of time honing our craft. We had high standards and ditched a lot of material if we didn’t all feel it was up to the standard we set ourselves.

++ And looking back in time, what would you say were the highlights of being in Feverfew?

PS: For me, the gigs were such a high, the friendships in the band and recording our own material in a proper studio and coming away with a cassette you could play on your Walkman.

PB: When I reflect back I realize how lucky I was to be able to write songs and to perform with some very talented and creative musicians and above all that I was fortunate enough to meet and enjoy a friendship with some wonderful, generous and honest people.

++ Now the important questions, are you still playing music?

PS: After Feverfew Keith and I formed Blueboy who were signed to Sarah Records and released 3 albums and a few singles. After that we had a brief fling as Arabesque and then later as Beaumont on Siesta Records which amounted to a further 3 albums. After Keith’s sad death a few years ago I began writing again and am now preparing material for a new baroque-pop inspired project called Edwardia (see www.myspace.com/edwardiamusic).

PB: I have just started playing once more after a gap of more than 15 years, I am now playing bass with The Occasional Orchestra a band comprising the ex-members of indie favourites Home & Abroad

++ What other interests and hobbies keep you busy or entertained when not making music?

PS: I have amassed a collection of old tat from the 1930s and ‘40s and my work in a Museum just outside London keeps me very busy.

PB: I have a very demanding job plus family commitments (a wife, three children and a dog) therefore I do not have so much additional spare time outside of the “Occasionals” and normal life so I try to make time to spend with my family, to read and relax as much as I can.

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

PS: Thank you for including us in your writings; it is flattering to know that people are still interested in something that we did such a long time ago !

PB: Yes, also from my side thank you so much for the opportunity. In addition it’s been a real pleasure to get to know and to work with you over the last months, thanks for the many interesting conversations!! Keep up the good work!


Feverfew – Crimsom Gloom