Thanks so much to Simon Ashby for this interview. Well, what can I say about The Jeremiahs?! I don’t know of anyone that has listened to them and haven’t thought these songs were really special. Their one and only record is almost impossible to find and it’s a masterpiece of jangle pop. On the web there’s barely anything written about them. And hoping there’s a re-release of all their songs, here is a fantastic interview for you all to enjoy! Also do check his blog EarTwister.

++ How did you know John, Robert and Ben? And what did each of them brought to the creative process of the band?

Before we start, I have to say this was a long time ago and much has happened since those heady days, so if there’s anyone out there who knows any different then please feel free to chip in. There’s every chance I may be talking nonsense.
John Robert and I went to the same school, we started messing around with music then doing covers and rehearsing in the drama room at lunch. Our first band was called Art23, named after the table we sat at in art class funny enough. I think they numbered the tables so they knew who to blame when stuff was pilfered. Ben is John’s cousin and arrived much later when The Jeremiahs formed.
After school John and Rob formed a band without a drummer and a art school type singer who was all haircut and no substance, to some extent we’d stopped hanging out. I was drumming and singing backing vocals in a band at college. We were doing a gig when the singer’s mic packed in and I filled in the lead vocal whilst drumming till the problem was fixed.
Not long after that gig Rob asked me if I wanted to join the band. I remember carting my drums over to Rob’s house in my dad’s car to find out that they wanted me to sing not drum, my dad wasn’t best pleased. We played as a three piece for some time before John got in touch with his cousin about playing kit. The only problem was, Ben lived bloody miles away. We travelled to his home town and spent a few days jamming and writing and pretty much dragged Ben back with us after that. He moved into John’s parents’ house and the rest as they say is……… We made our first recordings in Ben’s home town somewhere near Cheltenham in a garage come studio. We recorded two songs, ‘Never Come Back’ and a really fast number called ‘Bluer Days’. I listened to if for the first time in an age and couldn’t believe how quick it seemed.

++ Where does the name The Jeremiahs come from?

Miserable and moody was fashionable in those days, there was quite a bit of dark indie around at the time, early Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen etc. Jeremiah was the profit of doom and gloom so The Jeremiahs it was. Rob came up the name as far as I can remember. Some would say he was a sensitive introverted type, others would say a miserable sod. I remember him having a go at me once for making him laugh whilst someone was filming a rehearsal. Laughing it seems was not cool.

++ What sparked you to make music? Did you have any music heroes perhaps? And what was the music you were listening at that time? Did you feel part of the so called C86 guitar pop sound from back then?

I knew I wanted to make music from a very early age. The Salvation Army band used to come down my street once a week with a collection bucket. I was a toddler at the time but my mum tells me I’d sit on the garden wall with my tin drum and wait for them to start playing so I could join in beating my drum, it must have really pissed them off the racket that thing made. We moved out of London when I was quite young, not a place to bring up a family apparently. At first my new surroundings were great, plenty of trees to climb and open space, but as you get older it becomes more like a green prison. Music would eventually become my escape route. My mum would play The Carpenters, Mammas & Pappas and Neil Diamond at the weekends whilst cleaning the house. Between them they have written some great songs with some stunning melodies. That was my introduction to music, but around the age of 10 I got probably my best birthday present ever, my first record player. It was white and allowed you to stack 7 singles at a time. I’d never treat vinyl like that now. The first band that spoke to me was The Jam. Weller was simply singing about me. I couldn’t believe it, someone who knew what I was thinking, and the power in the music was incredible, I was gutted when they split. The Clash, Blondie (I learnt to drum to Parallel Lines in a padded cell, well a garage lined with mattresses) 2Tone and various others followed until the arrival of the Bunnymen, REM and The Smiths, my next love affairs. As for the C86 thing, I can’t say we felt part of any scene. By that time being in the band had become all-consuming and the outside world was just that, outside of what we were doing.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? Any particular ones that remain a favourites ?

We played loads of gigs, way too many to mention. As for favourites, I’m not sure. I enjoyed every time we played the original Marquee on Wardour Street in London. Every band that had played there had signed the dressing room wall and it was mad to see our names next to those of The Who, Bowie, The Small Faces, The Jam and hundreds of others. By the time we got there you had to find a small space in which to write. Not the done thing to scrawl over another band’s signatures. That wall must be worth a fortune now. The Marquee is where the Japanese thing began. We played with a band called GI Orange who none of us had ever heard off before. They were a fucking terrible band, seriously cringe-worthy. They were English, but it seems nobody was interested over here so they’d done a bunk to Japan where it transpires they were pretty popular. It turns out that gigs in Japan at the time started earlier than gigs in England, so when we went on stage the place was packed with Japanese girls. They simply took our music back to Japan with them. The next thing we knew we were being sent copies of magazines that had us top 5 in the Japanese airplay charts. By this time the band were living in the same house (I think). I remember one day when we just found a bunch of Japanese girls outside our house, bloody mad. I think Robert went on to marry one of them…….. I’ve just googled GI Orange and they’ve only gone and reformed, sad f**kers. Give it a rest boys, it was shit first time around.

++ There’s little information about The Jeremiahs’ online. So I wonder, back in the late 80s, were you more known? I mean, was there coverage of The Jeremiahs in fanzines, perhaps radio play? You think it was harder or easier back then to get your name out?

There was plenty of coverage in fanzines, Melody Maker and the like, the trouble is I didn’t keep any press, it just didn’t occur to me at the time. To busy doing it to be reading about it, and certainly no scrap book. Leave that sort of thing to GI Orange. We were pretty well supported by regional radio too.
Was it more difficult back then? To be honest it’s hard to say. The internet has certainly made it easy to access music you like, but as with most swords they’re double edged. The trouble is, you have to wade through so much shit to unearth the gems amongst it. Back then we just had to gig, gig and gig some more to build a fanbase. Our fans were pretty cool though, they’d put on coaches to follow us around.

++ So yes, that one fabulous release of yours. The very rare and sought-after “Driving into The Sun EP”. From the top of my head, how many copies were pressed? And how do you feel when it goes for crazy prices on eBay?

I have no idea how many copies were pressed, I don’t think bands asked in those days, a decent run though. Someone asked me to sign a copy whilst I was in a pub in Manchester not so long ago; they actually went home there and then to get it, crazy. How they recognised me all these years later is beyond me and so far from where the band was based too. As for the prices on ebay , I wished I’d stashed a box of vinyl away in the loft, it could pay for this year’s holiday and then some.

++ The cover art, are you all the guys in the photo? If so, who is which? And what about the back cover?

Yes that’s us. Top left Rob, top right John, Bottom left Ben and bottom right me. The pictures on the reverse were drawn by us in relation to how we perceived the song title. If you placed the drawings image over the photo you’d know who drew which. You see, mines bottom right, happy soul by nature.

++ Abstract Sounds has a very eclectic catalogue, from your fantastic jangle to well, New Model Army. I was wondering, how did you end up signing to them? Was there a contract and all, or just a handshake?

To be honest, you’re better off talking to Tim Paton on this one (I’ll give you his contact details), he was our manager at the time and also a staff photographer for the Melody Maker, so he may have some photos and press. That and I’m sure his memory cells will be less ravaged than mine. As far as I can remember though, we signed with the label. The only other things I can remember was being taken out to watch James play at the London Astoria, sitting in a private booth on the balcony, probably just after we signed. That and the bloke behind the label shared his business address with his wife who represented some of Britain’s best known glamour models, the sort that appear topless on page three of our red-top newspapers. I think she was making loads of cash, some of which was used to fund things at the label. I have a memory of Tim taking me round the label for some kind of meeting, and there were women wondering around the place with their tits out, all very enjoyable for a young man.

++ For me this release is a true indie pop classic. So if it’s not much to ask, would you mind telling me, perhaps just a little description, one or two lines, about each song on it?

The only thing I’ll tell you is that all four songs were recorded at completely different sessions. As for the lyrics, for The Jeremiahs stuff I think its best left to the listener to draw their own conclusions. Either that or you can track down Rob who I’m sure will be more willing than I to divulge what’s behind the tunes.

++ You were telling me there was a promo video for Honeysuckle Love!! I hope it shows up on Youtube someday. But how was it? What does it show? Any anecdotes you could share about it? And where was it shown? Top of the Pops?

I can’t remember where it was shown to tell you the truth. It was half performance video and half of the band wondering through some local woods and messing about. The stuff shot in the woods was black and white 16 mm film, whilst the performance side was shot in a film studio in Paddington London on 32mm. We had to mime at double the track speed as people shook a net above our heads containing what seemed like every autumn leaf that had fallen in London. The idea was that once the track was slowed to normal speed, we’d look as if we were playing as usual while the leaves were falling in slow motion. My two abiding memories are; too much make-up (colour shoot) and the fact that having worked late into the night, one of the camera men feeling somewhat tired managed to crash his new Ferrari into a tree on his way home, ouch!
There’s a kind of documentary of how the video was made that goes with it. But the audio quality has suffered quite a bit on both over the years. It’s something I hope to address when I have the time.

++ One of the songs was recorded in London, and the three other in Oxford. Why was this? Where did you have a better experience?

We’d already recorded ‘The Reason’, ‘Honeysuckle’ and ‘Wipe Away Your Tears’ in various sessions in Oxford and they sounded pretty good to us, so why re-record. We used VM Studios in Oxford quite a bit. Chris Bayliss who engineered and produced was a family friend of Rob’s clan and there never felt like any pressure to rush things. He’d also work with some of the big pop acts of the time so he knew his stuff.
The two studios couldn’t have been anymore different. VM was outside Oxford in what seemed to me to be the middle of nowhere, which by and large kept us out of trouble. Chris used to fill the vocal booth with candles and turn out all the lights when I was laying down vocal tracks, very zen.
‘Driving Into the Sun’ was recorded at Greenhouse Studios in London. I can remember hearing the Kings Cross prostitutes earning their money in the cheap hotel where we stayed, a particular pub open 24/7, having a chef to cook for us in the studio and generally having a great time.
So in answer to your question the two experiences are beyond comparison.

++ Before this release, in 1986, there was a tape that contained three songs, “Over the Stove”, “Wipe Away Your Tears”, and “Never Come Back”. I believe this is the tape I listened at Firestation HQ. It was fabulous! Which makes me wonder, how many other songs were recorded and didn’t get released?

There’s quite a bit of material out there somewhere, unfortunately not much with me. I’m doing my best to track the stuff down and digitise it before it rots. I watched a ruff video of us playing the Marquee not so long ago and there’s songs in the set I didn’t even recognise. My friend Stephen who plays bass for Twisted Wheel has got quite a bit of stuff that we’ve started to digitise, but I won’t catch up with him again until Kendal Calling Festival in late July.

++ The other song I’ve heard by you is “Far From the Maddening” which is a sublime tune. It was included in a compilation called “The Final Teaze”. There seems to be other compilation appearances by The Jeremiahs too. Care filling the blanks?

I’m afraid I can’t help a great deal. I think tracks have made it on to four or five compilations (so people tell me) but to be honest you probably know more than me. The one thing I can tell you is that I’m pretty sure ‘Beyond the Fence Begins the Sky’ was the first. The compilation was put together by a DJ from a radio station. He was probably the first to jump on the band, playing ‘Never Come Back’ whenever possible. With that said you’d think I could remember his name but for the life of me I can’t. Sometime later in Manchester I was approached by an American singer called Dane Chalfin (now a vocal coach) who wanted to cover ‘Never Come Back’. I produced the session and really wanted John to play guitar on the track but we couldn’t make it happen for some reason. It may have been our first song but it still holds a place in my heart. Shame about the drum sound though.

++ So what happened? So many great songs and just one release? Were people deaf then? Weren’t there any labels interested in releasing your records?

It’s strange but it just wasn’t that simple. It seems you hear a body of work when you listen to the music as we did at the time. Sure there were slight differences but it was all Jeremiahs to us. The trouble was that everything back then was so niche and some labels couldn’t see past the simplest movements in style. I remember somebody had sent ‘Over the Stove’ ‘Wipe Away Your Tears’ and ‘One Way to Go’ to a national magazine. They used guest reviewers from time to time and that week it was the head of Cherry Red Records, who back then were a label we really admired. The review was unbelievable and ended with what basically amounted to a deal being offered in print. But when they heard the ‘Far From the Maddening’ sessions we’d just completed they simply didn’t get it. They took it as a massive change in direction rather just a part of a bigger picture. So yes, deaf is probably right.

++ And so then what? When and why did you split? And what did you do after?

I think it’s fair to say that it wasn’t musical differences as some reported, not entirely anyway. The long and short of it is Rob and I could no longer work together, it got as bad as coming to blows. It would be unfair to go into detail as other parties were involved and the whole thing is pretty personal. Only those who appear on or live life through reality TV shows would put such things in the public domain.
I think John probably felt the same way as me and Ben was probably ducking for cover and who could blame him. I can’t be positive when the split happened but I remember playing a few cracking farewell shows, one in particular at Reading Trade Union Club was packed and fairly emotional.
I can’t speak for the others but after the split I drank too much, messed around with girls that I shouldn’t have messed around with, (which resulted in a split of a different kind) and was generally dissolute. On another indulgent night out at the After Dark Club I met a girl who was visiting whilst on a break from University in Manchester, Jo was her name. A few days later I upped sticks and headed north. It was a case of sex for no rent but I think it suited us both. Six months later I’d moved all my equipment up there and formed my next band This Gigantic World. Six months after that I was back touring and making records. The closest thing to the Jeremiahs stuff was our debut single ‘Raft’ which got joint single of the week in the NME along with a track by the Paris Angels. I have to say touring with TGW was an absolute riot from start to finish. Downing instruments mid set to fight an entire Rugby team, nearly losing our drummer Trev overboard, Partying with those kids in Belfast and playing some blinding gigs on the way.

++ Looking back in time, what would you say were The Jeremiahs highlights as a band?

There is nothing bad about being young and in a band; everything is a colourful and exciting new experience. It’s you against the world and fuck the consequences. The girls were good too.

++ Are you still making music these days? What other interests or hobbies do you have?

I’ve never left the world of music, I mean why would you? Since the split of TGW I’ve worked in A&R, managed bands, lectured in music business at Salford University, promoted gigs, regularly DJ a Manchester indie night called Modern Vintage, currently write for UK Music mag the Hit Sheet and the brilliant Eartwister blog and still misbehave whenever possible. I reviewed Elbow’s stunning show at Jodrell Bank Observatory last weekend and will be doing the same for the Stone Roses reunion shows at Manchester’s Heaton Park this. I’m also working with a great young band that I will remain tight-lipped about at present. Other than to say, that if you like The Jeremiahs you’ll love this lot, I’ll keep you posted.
As for writing and playing I’ve not done so in some time. However only today it was muted that something could be in the pipeline, working with Tim Thomas from the brilliant Blueprint Studios (home of Elbow). I’ll let you know if it sounds any good, otherwise it never happened.

++ So, Manchester, I was there this summer, really nice town! I hope I visit again soon, probably next year! So any pointers on what to see, where to eat, where to go record shopping?

That would make for a very long list. Just drop me a line and I’ll show you around and perhaps take in a gig or two.

++ One last question, is there any hope there will be a Jeremiahs reunion one day?

I’d love to have a reunion with John and Ben if just for a drink. I’ve spoken to John’s dad (Ben’s uncle) Clive on a few occasions but getting hold of the boys has proved very difficult. When I think of them it’s with real fondness, it would be good to hook up. As for Rob I have no idea where he is, maybe Japan. If you’re suggesting a musical reunion which I think you are, hold on a minute…………..Sorry about that, several pigs just flew past my window.


The Jeremiahs – Far From the Maddening


Is it really two weeks until Indietracks?

This year the festival is happening in early July, trying not to clash with the London Olympics. The torch will still be going from town to town while we party and a parade of grannies and celebrities will be carrying it, crossing steel bridges and posing in front of sky high cathedrals. Who cares about the Olympics, Beckham won’t be playing, right? And anyways, we’ll be in Derby of all places. And this year I’m staying in Mansfield, not Alfreton, which is a big change for me and I don’t know how will that work. And that’s because the Travelodge in Alfreton was my headquarters for the last two years, were the breakfasts at Little Chef were appalling but much needed, and the late night wine drinking with Andreas and Nana at the picnic table on the porch were nothing but memorable. And now, because some geniuses booked every single room of the Travelodge way in advance, I couldn’t find a space. And so, as the Premier Inn in Alfreton was also fully booked, the third closest hotel was my choice: Mansfield. Because I’m not camping. Ever.

Happily some friends will also stay at Mansfield which means that sharing a cab won’t be a problem. But, how well it will work? Probably cabs will be over 10 pounds. And then, I wonder how long does it take from this hotel to Butterley Station. Stuff to figure out. Figuring it out starting Saturday. Because Friday we’ll probably miss it. Our train doesn’t arrive to Alfreton until 9:30pm. And I feel going to the festival for just an hour or two, doesn’t make much sense at that point. Jet-lagged.  Traveling all day. A good sleep and rest might be the best idea at that point. Waking up early would be great, head to Tesco and supply ourselves with Diet Coke and other important nutritious elements. But I won’t count with waking up early. We’ll give it a shot. Most probably waking up around 10am and heading for breakfast around 11am. Cristóbal has been raving about the breakfast at the Mansfield Premier Inn. As much as I love British breakfast, I can only have it once a year. It’s a heart attack. Sausage, bacon, egg, hash browns, toast, brown sauce, etc, etc. Delicious. But only once a year. Indietracks time.

Some days ago I made a list of the gigs I plan to attend. There are a couple of clashes like always. Clashes that make me worry, that wish I had the ability to multiply myself; clashes that annoy me, clashes that shouldn’t happen. Though they will happen, always. It’s impossible, unless everyone shared the same music taste. During the last couple of weeks I did my homework as well. I listened to every single band playing the festival, especially, and in detail, those that I didn’t know, that have been under the radar. And well, they’ve been under my radar for a reason clearly. No surprises there. And I went and listened some of them again and again because my dear friend Jennifer told me that I would like them, that they are great, that some have even political lyrics, but no. They didn’t make me feel an urge to release their music. Yeah, that’s the bar I have now. If I want or not to release their music. It doesn’t mean that I will do that of course. But it’s more like, if I had the money, if I had the time, and if the band was willing, will I release it? And if the answer is yes. Then, I like the band, it’s worth of 40 minutes and warm beer on the front row, holding the metal fence and clapping in between every single song.

So Friday. It makes me very sad to miss The School. Their song “Let it Slip” is a modern indiepop classic and a favourite of mine for a couple of years now. And their song repertoire is not far behind. But well, here I’m crossing fingers that they are booked to NYC Popfest next year. Because that’s the only festival I attend next year.

Moving onto Saturday.

Arriving at the festival grounds around lunch time would be perfect. The first band I want to see is not playing until 2pm, so there will be some time to hang out, say hello to friends, and perhaps grab a bite. Wonder what will be the lunch options this year. Will there be at last a proper sandwich place, with real hamburgers? Or instead of vegetarian indian, maybe I can find some chicken tikka? Or what about a kebab truck? I think that would be a big hit. But then, probably the options will be the same. Though, I keep crossing my fingers.

At 2pm Vacaciones will be playing and it feels a bit like a dream. How many years listening to Vacaciones. How many years since they split. But now suddenly they decide to come back. Perhaps it was because the Japanese release of the double CD including all their Elefant recordings? It wouldn’t be a surprise if that sparked it. The CD is a must have for anyone that loves pop. It’s indispensable. More than a decade since they started playing in their native Murcia, the band of the great Rafa Skam is ready to charm the English crowd. Songs like “Poppy Girl”, “No Me Digas Que Me Quieres”, “Espero una Respuesta”, are already classic songs in my book, and for the first time, I’ll be able to sing-a-long. And LOUD!

As soon as Vacaciones gig is over, it’s time for Evans the Death. Actually I’m listening to their album while I write this post. It’s a great debut album, though I miss a bit the lack of production of their demos. But nothing you can do about this, it’s meant to happen.  Since releasing “Catch Your Cold” on the compilation”Do You Think It Will Snow Tonight?” I became a big fan of the band. Young and talented. With bright songs, catchy, and fun. It didn’t take long for a bigger label, than Cloudberry, to offer a release, and well, nowadays they are releasing their music on Fortuna Pop and Slumberland. I never got around to offer them a 7″, something I would have loved. But that’s ok. Now they have 2 7″s out and an album, all of them really fantastic. I feel they could get even bigger. I have seen them before already, at London Popfest, when they played among the first bands and the 100 Club was nearly empty. I feel at Indietracks they’ll have a much bigger crowd as they are not to be missed. My new favourite song of theirs is “Wet Blanket”.

By 4:40pm half of my wishes come true. Also half the reason that I traveled to Indietracks. Half a reason that made me decide that this will be my last festival. One of my favourite bands of the last 10 years or so. Liechtenstein. Where can I start? I guess back in 2006? That’s when I heard for the first time “Stalking Skills” on myspace. It was AMAZING. When I put together that same year a tape called C-06, I had to include it. Liechtenstein re-recorded the song for me. And the rest is history. Later they will release a couple of 7″s in their own label Fraction Discs, penning more indiepop classics for the ages, like the super fabulous “Passion for Water”. And also two strong and dazzling albums would see the light of day. During all this time, even though I’ve seen the members around, especially dear Renée, who actually I saw play solo once, I’ve never managed to catch Liechtenstein live. And I’ve been close, very close, like that one time that they came to NYC Popfest and I had to cancel at last minute my flight for personal reasons. And it’s been like that, always. But at last, I’m heading over the UK, I got convinced that I had to buy a plane ticket there, when I saw they were going to play. After that, I would have seen all modern bands that I like, and I don’t see the point of traveling to attend any other festivals.  But I still have the wish of releasing Liechtenstein again, a proper release this time. No compilation. I love them. So much.

At 5:20pm, hopefully, I can make it to Bart Cummings and Pam Berry’s gig. They will play at the church and probably it will be packed. Two big names, in a tiny tiny place. So what’s the solution? Probably sit on the grass area next to the church and listen from there. Peek through the windows? We’ll see. This could be a magical moment for many, including me. Bart is releasing a new EP soon on Matinée, and from the promo song that’s been around, I can say it promises a lot. Hopefully it will be sold at Indietracks and I can get Bart to sign it for me. Should be nice to see Bart after that time in Berlin when we barely talked.

If I’m still outside the church by 5:40pm (which is the most certain thing at this year’s Indietracks), I’ll head to Gold-Bears. It’s true, I’ve seen them many times by now, but they are always fun to watch. Jeremy and company know how to put a show full of ramshackle guitars and fast-paced indiepop a la This Poison! If you’ve never seen them before. Don’t miss them. There is no one around playing this kind of frantic indiepop. And, you must know, they released last years’ best album.

At 6:20 I will head to see Joanna Gruesome for 20 minutes. I enjoy them, but I have mixed feelings. I find them charming, but nothing special. Their music sounds like the 90s, but for some reason I’m compelled to watch them. I think it’s because the girl/boy vocals. They are catchy and very poppy. My friends tell me that live they don’t have a girl singing. That is not a good sign. I’ll check them out, and see if they convince me. If not, heading straight to the Jasmine Minks at 6:40. This may be my first clash, only if Joanna Gruesome are good enough. The Jasmine Minks for sure are fantastic, but I could miss a bit of their gig just because I saw them last year already. But if I don’t have to miss any Jasmine Minks that’s fine with me too. To sing “Cut me Deep”, “Cold Heart”, or the INDIEPOP-HIT “Think!”, is life-affirming. Front row at the Jasmine Minks is what I recommend. They sounded glorious last year, no reason for them not to this year.

And now it’s time for the headliners. Both I’ve seen before. Go Sailor, once, at NYC Popfest, whereas Veronica Falls, like six times, all over the world. Both are great bands, and have plenty of hit songs. Songs that should be dancefloor fillers. And most of you will be watching them too. You know how good they are. So I’ll see you there. And we’ll have a beer.Then head to Librarians Wanted disco, to dance a bit. After an hour or so, Indietracks last train to Butterley will be leaving and our festival day will be over. Nostalgia will embrace us all and we won’t want to fall asleep, never wanting this day to be over. Just waiting for one final Indietracks day, Sunday.

But Sunday, let’s leave Sunday for next week.


Now onto our obscure band of the week: The Harpoons.

HARPOON: 1610s, from Fr. harpon, from O.Fr. harpon “cramp iron, clamp, clasp” (described as a mason’s tool for fastening stones together), from harper “to grapple, grasp,” possibly of Germanic origin, or from L. harpa- “hook” (cf. harpagonem “grappling hook,” from Gk. *harpagon, related to harpe “sickle”). Earlier harping-iron (mid-15c.). Sense and spelling perhaps influenced by Dutch (cf. M.Du. harpoen) or Basque, the language of the first whaling peoples, who often accompanied English sailors on their early expeditions.

A harpoon is a long spear-like instrument used in fishing to catch fish or large marine mammals such as whales. It accomplishes this task by impaling the target animal, allowing the fishermen to use a rope or chain attached to the butt of the projectile to catch the animal. A harpoon can also be used as a weapon.

Some of you might remember an interview I did to Bristol’s Rorschach. The latter had formed from the ashes of The Harpoons. I tried interviewing the guys again about The Harpoons but never heard from them again. Anyhow, I think everyone should be aware of their one and only 7″ they released, “Tunnel Child / Cindy Storm”. Why? Because it’s fantastic proto-indie-pop. Yeah, I’m coining a new term here. But you’ll understand me when you listen to it. It was back in 1984 when this was released, and they were ahead of their time. “Tunnel Child” is pure bliss of guitar pop, with trumpets, great lyrics, and trumpets, and choruses. Just how I love my indiepop.

On that interview we talked some bits and pieces about The Harpoons:

Yabbo: From what I remember Jon Brokenbrow (the Harpoon’s drummer) had quit and we decided to start a new band (Rorschach) with the same line up – but with Cris Warren on drums. Geoff and I had become friendly with Cris while out busking in Bristol. Cris would tag along sometimes and play harmonica.

Geoff: the Harpoons had run their natural course. The new line up and material was a lot fresher and more punchy.

Yabbo: Geoff is my oldest friend – we met at primary school when we were little children. I met Pete Stillman when I was about 14 and thethree of us pretty much learnt guitar together – often practising at ourhomes. We had a lot of very poor quality equipment. Because we were all learning at the same time I think it was easier. Geoff and I met Scott in an old nightclub in Bristol called ‘Yesterdays’. We were looking fora new singer for the Harpoons and we went up to various good looking blokes and asked them if they could sing – one of them was Scott. I seemto remember that he never got in touch, but then we met him again at a party and it came together. He was a good front man – handsome and charismatic – and he could sing.

The band was formed by most of the guys that went to form Rorschach indeed. It had Geof on bass, Yabsley (Yabbo) on guitar, Pete on guitar, Dominic on vocals and Jon on drums. On the single they got the help from Tom on Sax and Ian on trumpet. The record was produced by Steve Street (is it Stephen Street?) and the sleeve came courtesy from a guy called Phil. The single was recorded at SAM Studios in Bristol, their hometown.

The record is dedicated to “Andy Jones and those Pineapple days”. A bio on the Bristol Archive Records site clears what this means:

Formed out of the ashes of Fishponds-based goofy garage band ‘Groovy Pineapple’ with the departure of their drummer to art school in 1983, the Harpoons (with Pete Stillman on lead guitar, Steve Yabsley on rhythm guitar, Geoff Gorton on bass, Jon Brokenbrow on drums, and Dominic Fitzpatrick on vocals for the single, later replaced by Scott Jarrold after joining Shrewd) were a regular feature on Bristol’s pub rock and club circuit in the early 1980’s, playing frequently at the Western Star Domino Club, the Granary, the Bristol Bridge Inn and the Thekla as well as at other less typical venues, including a memorable gig at Glenside Psychiatric Hospital!

A session for Janice Long’s Radio 1 show recorded at the Abbey Road studios in 1983 led to a growing fan base, with the band’s double A-side single ‘Cindy Storm / Tunnel Child’ produced by Steve Street receiving extensive air play on late night national radio. A tour was arranged, with the band playing at such far-flung venues (for a Bristol band) as Dingwalls in London, and Southampton University. Their exuberant, guitar-driven sound with psychedelic touches, with many of their lyrics penned by Steve Yabsley, the popular BBC Radio Bristol presenter, continued on after the departure of drummer Jon Brokenbrow when the band reformed as Rorschach (with Michele Schillace on drums, who would later play for Portishead), and later as Santa Cruz, who signed to MCA and produced one album before disbanding in the late 1990s.

And that’s about all the information about the band online. It’d be great to hear more from the Rorschach guys, but if any of you have any more information about The Harpoons, if you ever saw them live, or any other anecdotes please share!


The Harpoons – Tunnel Child


This is the last part of my NYC Popfest review. And then onto Indietracks because there’s less than three weeks for the greatest indiepop festival of the year. Time does fly.

Let’s say this is just gossip, but when Pushy Parents got offered a place to practice before their Saturday gig, well, they couldn’t say no. I had vaguely met the band on Thursday, after been baked in the Cakeshop’s basement oven, just outside the front door of the venue just in that moment when people are  about to go home but don’t want to leave. Those extra fifteen, twenty minutes, outside the venue, hoping for something exciting to happen. Something else. Amanda and Helena, who were staying at my place, were figuring out with the rest of the band the plans, and what way were people walking towards their subway train. They spoke in Swedish naturally. And the rest of the band thought I was left behind, ignored. And then is when I briefly met them, as I say, “don’t worry about me, I understand perfectly what you are saying”, in my broken svenska. That’s when I briefly, really briefly, met Petter, Therese and Frida. Isak, the other member of the band, I had met last year in London Popfest as he had also joined that time Amanda to be part of The Andersen Tapes.

Friday I left early to work and the girls headed to Flushing for authentic Chinese fare. Saturday they were the ones who left early. They had the chance to practice just before their gig at some place in Brooklyn. They’ve never been to this rehearsal studio but they had an address and a key. The story goes a bit like this, they find the address but there are like 20 doors. All of them are locked. Now, which door will the key fit. Kafakaesque and post-modern as it seems, the key turns on one of the doors, and they end up in a sleek and fancy Brooklyn bar. There are no instruments around, no microphones, just a drum kit. This can’t be it, but there’s beer. It’s a bar after all.

They end up practicing outside the bar with the few instruments they’ve been carrying.

Meanwhile I’ve been attending the afternoon show at Spike Hill in Wiliamsburg. Chelsea and Bayern are playing the final game of the Champions League. Some people are caring about the game more than the shows. I bring in some tacos I bought from the truck outside and the bar tender is nice enough to not kick me out as this venue also serves food, and bringing your own is not allowed. From far away, biting my tortillas filled with cecina and having a pint of Hoegaarden, I enjoy one of the best NYC bands at the moment, Pale Lights. I talk a bit with Comet Gain’s David Feck and get him to sign me an old 7″ I have. Then with Felipe from Cola Jet Set we head to Academy Records and later for some bulgogi to get ourselves back together. It’s already 8pm so we head to Public Assembly.

What can I say about the Pushy Parents gig. First of all this night had the strongest lineup of the festival, with Electric Pop Group, Comet Gain, Seapony and Pooh Sticks. But it was Pushy Parents the one I enjoyed the most. You may think it’s sacrilege, with some indiepop classics up there on the billboard. It may be that I’ve seen Comet Gain and Pooh Sticks before, so the impact wasn’t much of an impact. Seapony sadly didn’t sound like on record and Electric Pop Group were nice but you couldn’t stop wondering what if they had their full band. Still enjoyable though. But Pushy Parents, they were the openers but they felt as the ones who were closing the gig. There wasn’t anything else after for me. I had my dose of fantastic indiepop and why keep on listening. I was done for the night. Especially after their last song, a rendition of Amanda’s old band Free Loan Investments. The song: “Bomb the Bourgoisie”. I remember asking her on chat to play this one months ago. It made my day, it may as well made my year.

This was the first time Helena played live. The rest of the band were much more experienced. They’ve been in many bands. And you could tell. They were so tight. They were having great fun. From the already classic “Secret Secret” to “Dear John”, they played a flawless set that encompassed their one and only 7″ record on Elefant and some songs of the upcoming 10″ on Elefant. It was glorious. And all of you missed it, well, pray that they will play again. As far as I know, this was a one-off.

On Sunday, things were a bit quieter. The venue this time didn’t have as much people and the lineup wasn’t as strong. I left just as soon White Town finished as the next three bands were a snorefest as my friend Scott put it. In a sense that was good as I was exhausted and had to go work the next day. But Sunday had a couple of highlights that have to be mentioned. First off, Dot Dash. Great, energetic, and punchy, the band that Terry Banks have put together sounded so good that it was a shame they played so early. Hopefully they become a bit bigger and come back. And what about the Holiday Crowd? They were a huge hit for me. I wonder how I didn’t know about their existance before Shelflife put their CD out. Where were they hiding? Fantastic jangle that for some reason goes unappreciated here. I feel it might be much bigger in the UK. They had songs, they had great chorus, and had stage presence. All the members exuded different personalities, and that is always a plus in my book. They seemed interesting. Would  have loved to exchange some words.

And then my good Canadian friends Sleuth. With Jainy pissed because the sound engineer sucked. Understandably so. They were fun to watch and listen. You could tell they have something special, just a bit of tightening here and there and they’ll be one of the most interesting indiepop bands around. This was cleared the next day, on the Popfest hangover show at the Rock Shop, where the sound was much better and songs like “Fishing for Moonlight” or the “Honey is in the Hive” shined brightly as Jainy’s Postcard Records’ cat tattoo. I look forward to their new recordings a lot. And to have Korean food with them again. It was a fun weekend.

It feels like I’m leaving a lot of Popfest stories out of these posts, but it’s time to move to the obscure indiepop band of the week, Macguffins.

Let’s all transport to Melbourne, Australia, in the 80s. There are many great bands at the moment, some more successful than others. Some good labels too. And there’s one band whose one 7″ always escapes from me. Always at last minute on eBay someone bids more than me. And my excitement, my hopes, are all killed, destroyed, buried. This is one of the 7″s I want the most, it’s the Macguffins and the single is “Rich Together”. A song that makes me tremble for the sincerity of it’s lyrics and the romanticism behind it.

The first time I heard this song was on a mere MP3, a rip from a tape compilation Keith D’Arcy had done for the indiepop-list. The compilation was called “A Sandwich and a Sweater” and I feel it has become some sort of lost classic. It has a lot of fabulous and obscure tracks on it, were every song and every band are worth investigating. Years later I would listen this song again and the B side as well, “Dirty Ol Life”, on a compilation Peter Hahndorf made called “The Sound of Glen Waverley”. It was only CDR and handed to a couple of friends. He intended to release it one day, as the sort of “The Sound of Leamington Spa” but with Australian bands. It never happened because Jim from Egg Records wanted to do the same, so not to step on his toes, Peter let the project on a side. Sadly Jim never got around to releasing it anyways.

Since then I’ve been in love with one of the finest songs I know. A song that deserves to be in thousands of mix tapes and burned CDs.

This fab record was released on the DEX label (catalog 218E) in 1988. The sleeve art is a photo, taken by Gary Moore, of the band though I can’t pinpoint who is who. The band was formed by Rowan Smith on vocals and guitar, Michael Paxton on bass, Michael Wilkins on drums and Philippa Nihill on vocals and keyboards. On “Rich Together”, Glenn Bennie added some guitars. The record was produced by Mark Woods. The single was recorded in Sing Sing studios.

Originally popularized by Alfred Hitchcock, the term “MacGuffin” refers to the object in a movie that drives the action. In most cases, what the MacGuffin actually is irrelevant. It exists solely to get the characters moving and drive the plot forward. The only real requirement is that it must be something people are willing to cheat, lie, steal, kill, or be killed for. As long as it sounds plausible, it’ll work. Still, despite the very loose qualifications for a MacGuffin, great films have used some pretty memorable ones.

I don’t know whatever happened to this great band. I assume they didn’t  have much success. I wonder if they had more songs recorded. If they played live often. When and why did they break up. But there is information about what happened to some of the band members after.

Rowan Smith went to join a couple of bands, Barefoot, Antenna, GB3, Coda, Youth Group, as well as helping recording and playing instruments with a couple more bands. Michael Wilkins played in Redfish Bluefish (who I’ve never heard but it’s said they were proper guitar indie pop!). And Philippa would also join GB3 as well as releasing some records as a solo artist, though she had some sort of breakthrough along Glenn Bennie, as the Underground Lovers, a band that is well known in their native Australia.

The Underground Lovers officially assembled in 1990, playing their first gig in May that year at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel, supporting The Macguffins. In addition to Bennie and Giarrusso, the original lineup featured Philippa Nihill (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Stephen Downes (bass) and Richard Andrew (drums); Maurice Argiro replaced Downes on bass following the first show.

Interesting fact, the Macguffins were still going two years after the release of their 7″. Perhaps it was the success of Underground Lovers that made the Macguffins split? Who knows. But if you know anything else about this long lost band, if you have spare copies of “Rich Together” and want to help a soul in need, please get in touch. Would love to know more about the Macguffins!


Macguffins – Rich Together


Quite an exhaustive week thanks mostly to a freelance job that, like a snowball, became bigger and bigger. Moving domains, websites and databases is never fun. Working with some people who don’t understand anything about it, and expect everything to be functional within hours, is really annoying to say the least. My patience wore thin. If I hadn’t signed a contract until July, I would probably call it quits. The money is never worth if it’s going to affect my sleeping patterns. That’s my rule of thumb. But, in the end, I convince myself of being a professional and found some energy, somewhere deep in my soul I guess, and managed to finish it. But of course, there won’t be time to relax. I can see a pile of work coming up, though it won’t be freelance so I’m hoping that I can work at my pace. A pace I haven’t been able to have probably since last May, when things got terribly busy with NYC Popfest, and there was no time for anything else. But no complains then, it was busy but in a good way.

How can I bring back that weekend of Brooklyn Lagers and L and R trains. A weekend when Amanda and Helena stayed at my place and woke me up singing “Secret Secret”, a weekend of new friends and familiar faces, a weekend where indiepop reigned supreme again. I guess Indietracks will revive some of that excitement in a month, but it is a different experience altogether. It’s in the middle of nowhere and “exploration” means seeing trains and farm animals, unlike here in NYC where it has a wider meaning. Though also, the immersion is much different, Indietracks is like an indiepop holiday; NYC, is a different experience. It can’t be compared.

It’s been a couple of years since Maz took over NYC Popfest, and every year he keeps doing it better. You can only salute his taste, trying to always bring the new bands to the NYC public, something that me, attending many popfests, celebrates. It’s refreshing to see bands that I haven’t seen before. And Maz is good at that. He doesn’t just book his friends. As I told him, he is a ‘visionaire’. He knows what the fans want when it comes to indiepop. And mostly because he is fan himself. And it’s clear he dedicates a lot of his spare time to discover new and exciting music. During this NYC Popfest weekend, in a turn of events, at one point, on Saturday, he went up on stage just before Saturday Looks Good to Me. For the first time he addressed the fans directly,  with no shyness or stage fright. He thanked everyone that attended. He thanked all the bands. And last but not least, he invited everyone to the dance party. It was one of my Popfest highlights. I feel it’s important to make these festivals as personal, as friendly as possible. I think Maz is achieving that.

For me there was one band that was brilliant. And they were Cola Jet Set. Tight, fun, and close to pop perfection, Felipe Fresón’s ensemble was as dreamy and fun as you want a pop band to be. Even though they had lost some members in the last couple of years, the band seems to keep going strong, and everyone that is new, replacing an old member, performs just as good, and maybe, better. Alicia, Daniel, Ruth, Joan and Felipe gave a fabulous performance on Saturday night, even to the point that Maz had to ask twice to the sound engineer to give them more time so they could perform two more songs. One of them, an encore, “Al Amanecer”. And the fans were thankful to it. People danced non-stop to songs that most don’t understand because of the language barrier. And that is enough to point out how good they were. And how about Felipe’s introduction to each one of the songs? Not a story of what the song is about, but a little footprint perhaps, a little note with irony and love about what was going to be the next song. It was endearing. And the band smiling non stop, having the time of their life. And Joan leaving the drums, getting close to the stage, hitting his drumsticks, and asking for the crowd to get wilder, happier. And shouting, “one, two, three”, Ramones-style, because they were in NYC, and “Al Amanecer” is as punky as it gets.

And what can I say about hanging out with Felipe. Record shopping at Academy Records where I found the “Not Just Mandela” compilation for six bucks among other things. Having some bulgogi while we waited Pushy Parents. Getting some Burning Hearts records signed, and me, getting my Fresones Rebeldes’ “Al Amanecer” 7″ signed by the master himself. Endless conversations about Spanish indiepop, the story behind Los Canguros, Pepito Sex, and what not. The Barcelona scene, Brighton 64 and Kamembert. Los Negativos. His Vespa and his trip to see Les Calamites. It was good times. And can’t wait to hang out again. Perhaps when I find the time to visit Barcelona. Wouldn’t that be glorious?

And talking about signed Burning Hearts records. Weren’t they magnificent? I got the chills when they played “Into the Wilderness”. I was hypnotized by their set. The two times I saw them. They were just perfect. They had a SOUND. And I feel terrible now for missing them at NYC Popfest 2009, when they were just a duo. So I can’t compare. But this four-piece they are today, they can be huge if they wanted. They have songs, they have a particular sound that is both dreamy and edgy, and they are great musicians. Jessika is among my favourite vocalists at the moment in the indiepop scene. Well, at the moment is a bit paltry, I’d say since they started, 5 years ago, when I listened “I Lost My Colour Vision”, since then, she is one of my favourite vocalists. White socks up to her knees, holding the microphone and playing at the right time the keyboard, she exudes passion and control, and I find myself  bewitched by their songs. And I say it now, I wanted to release it back in the day. I love that song, and funny enough, they didn’t play it. But they played all my other favourite songs, so why would I complain.

It was sad that last year they had to cancel their Indietracks show. I was so excited to see them. I thought that maybe that was going to be my last chance. But the world is generous, and I was lucky to see them twice in NYC this May. Once at the sauna of The Cakeshop, sweating like if I was running a marathon in the Sahara desert, and then at The Rock Shop, where only a few, those militant indiepop fans, attended that Monday after Popfest. A Popfest hangover show indeed. Seeing Jessika and Henry again, since 2009 when they came to play with Cats on Fire, was great. And they haven’t changed a bit, they are nice, humble and friendly as they were. And they keep doing great music. And you know, I look forward to one day when I can work with them. They are among the best bands around, really creative and talented, that deserve to play more festivals around. It’s a bit confusing to see why they don’t get invited to more shows around the world. They are as good as Cats on Fire. And shouldn’t be seen as a sister band or something like that. They are a band on their own. And they keep better and better. “Into the Wilderness” should have been a HUGE hit last year.

There’s more to what NYC Popfest offered and I will continue to cover it next week. Also hopefully there will be time to do a little preview for Indietracks. I need to do that because I don’t have a clue yet if there are any clashes this year for me. Need to organize myself. Anyhow, moving to the meaty part, the one that is important for all of us, indiepop collectors, the obscure band of the week. This week I’ll introduce you to The Lowthers, from Manchester I believe.

I believe they hail from Mancunian lands, but I can’t assure you 100%. I can only tell you this for sure, they were formed by Simon Howles on vocals, Fran Wright on guitar, Julian Dyson on bass and Roger Quigley on drums. They were called “Fine British Mitherers” and they were around 1987 and 1988. Maybe earlier too. Maybe later too.

They appeared on two compilations. The first one is from 1987 and was a tape compilation called “Are You Ready?”. This was a proper indiepop compilation that included the likes of The Haywains, The Driscolls, The Mayfields and more. The song they contributed was  “Whoose Afraid?”. I remember hearing it. Though I can’t seem to find an MP3 of it. I’m sure many of you have it. And if you have some time, please do send it my way. I feel I have this compilation somewhere on MP3, but I still haven’t had the time to organize some of my hard drives, nor my computers, since I moved to NYC. Somedays I seriously think I need an intern or even better an assistant to organize a bit the mess here. Any takers?

The second compilation appearance, the one I know I love, is on the “The Disparate Cogscienti” compilation, released in 1987. This compilation was on the Cog Sinister label ran by The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. The song was “Sylvia” and what a song it is. It’s pure jangle! But first a little history of the Cog Sinister label thanks to Discogs:

The first appearance of the Cog Sinister label was in 1987 when The Fall used it as the imprint for their self-released anthology album “Palace Of Swords Reversed”. The imprint returned in 1990 when the band signed to Fontana and used Cog Sinister as a vanity label for their releases. When they moved from Fontana to Permanent Records, they continued to use the Cog Sinister brand on their releases .Since leaving Permanent in 1995, The Fall no longer used Cog Sinister on their new material. However, since 1997, the imprint has become part of the Voiceprint label group, and is being used for reissues of the group’s back-catalogue.

“The Disparate Cogscienti” was the second release on the label and it includes another gem, Beatrice’s “A Girl Like Me”. So I do recommend getting it, as I listened Jessel’s recommendation once, that time he took me to a – secret, secret – to find so many great records in what may be the best record shopping experience I’ve ever had. That day I picked up this fabulous black, white and yellow sleeve from one of the racks, after my good friend asked me if I knew about it. Of course I didn’t. He said it was worth it for the Beatrice song. Though he did mention that The Lowther’s song was quite good. And good it is. And the compilation is worth getting for The Lowthers song too I say. On Discogs at the moment there’s a copy for 4.99 euros if you are interested. I say get it.

Sylvia s(y)-lvia, syl-via as a girl’s name is pronounced SIL-vee-ah. It is of Latin origin, and the meaning of Sylvia is “woods, forest”. The Latin form Silvia was more popular for centuries until recently. Rhea Silvia was an ancient nature goddess, mother to the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Shakespeare used the name Silvia for the love interest in his play “Two Gentlemen of Verona”, probably intending to give the impression of a typical Italian girl though the name has come to be regarded as an English name. Through the centuries, Sylvia has many variant forms: Silva, Silvaine, Silvana, Silvania, Silvanna, Silvia, Silviana, Silvianne, Silvie, Sylva, Sylvana, Sylvanna, Sylvee, Sylvette, Sylviana, Sylvianne, Sylvie, Sylvina, Sylvine, Sylvonna, Sylwia, Zilvia and Zylvia.

Who was this enigmatic Sylvia, that the vocalist is saving himself for? Was she real, I wonder. If she was, she did inspire a fantastic indiepop song. Or maybe they were inspired by a historical Sylvia as Shakespeare did? If so, I would rule out the Sylvias with different spelling, so no Queen Silvia from Sweden, and no Silvia Pinal from those Mexican soap operas I saw with my nanny back when I was a five year old. Or Sylvie Vartan, that French chanteuse who was pretty pretty. We rule her out too sadly. So what about Sylvia Syms, the British actress? She is a possibility. It’s not a rare thing 80s band singing about actresses from back in the day. The other known Brithish Sylvia I can think of, and then I can’t think of many as I’m not British, is Sylvia Pankhurst who was a main player in the English suffragist movement in the early decades of the twentieth century. So no, don’t think they sang about her. Most probably, I’m just thinking too much and they just sang about a Sylvia they knew, a Sylvia from their neighborhood who they had a mad crush with. Lucky her. The song is really GOOD.

The only other fact, and perhaps the most interesting fact, is that Roger Quigley, the drummer, went to form The Bitter Springs, The Montgolfier Brothers, and the Verspertine record label. Alright. Most of you may know these names. But why were The Lowthers forgotten? Maybe because these were their only two songs? Hard to believe, but it’s a possibility. Two songs that weren’t released as singles, but on obscure compilations.

But still, I want to ask, because “Sylvia” is a fantastic jangle pop song that could be showcased in the great Sound of Leamington Spa compilations, does anyone know if they recorded more songs? what happened to then? did any of you happen to catch them playing live? if so, do share what you know or your anecdotes.


The Lowthers – Sylvia


Back to blogging after two weeks and writing in between South American world cup qualifiers games. That’s how busy it’s been. Busy because two weekends ago we had the city’s premiere indiepop festival, NYC Popfest and the week after, last weekend, Memorial Day weekend, I traveled to Washington DC to do some tourism among Harley Davidson motorcyclists that arrived from every corner of the US. Hope some people missed the blog. I did.

The most important news is that The Deddingtons’ retrospective album is out now on the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen label. This is the second release in the label and I’m very proud of it. It’s been a long way since the day I interviewed Chris Morgan on the blog: meeting him  and Andy in Nottingham, at the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Inn, where we all had fish & chips and a chilled beer, transferring these 10 songs from tape to digital, working and re-working the artwork, going through different mastered versions of the tracks, and so on. It took quite a while, but now I can say that at last, after more than 20 years these songs can be listened in all their glory!

The release has the same design and aesthetics as our first release on the label. Vertical, book-style, digipack, black-white-blue colors on the front and back, and full color booklet. 8 page booklet. You can expect the same class-design on the rest of the series, and you know the next release we are working on is a full retrospective of long-time favourite of mine, Strange Idols, from London, UK. We cater for you indiepop fans, we know what you want. No plans of broadening our horizons nor branching out,  we keep true to indiepop, even if sales go down and down.

On other Cloudberry news I have started working on the new fanzine. Hopefully it will be out by September or October as the latest. This time the fanzine will be printed in turquoise ink and will feature the lovely Miralda from Youngfuck on the cover. There will be interviews to Youngfuck (of course), Spook School, Nixon, Earth First, and more. Keep an eye on it!

Also, have you picked up your Cloudberry tote bag yet? We have them now on black canvas and they are very limited.

Next week I’ll try to look back and remember NYC Popfest. And also I’d like to have a look at Indietracks. I am going and I haven’t had the time to look at the schedule, not even to see if there are any clashes this year. I hope not! So those posts have to happen soon. But today I want to see if there’s any luck in trying to find more about some obscure band that is as mysterious as it gets. The name: Magdelene Fields.

I absolutely know nothing about the band. Who they were? Where were they from? What years were they active? Who knows. Clearly they are from the UK, but that’s about it.

Some months ago while meeting with Brian from Earth First for some beers, we talked about this band. I had totally forgotten about them. I have heard them on YouTube thanks to a Japanese guy called Takashi who disappeared from the map, not before thinking the world was against him and everyone wanted to “steal” his obscure bands. Childish behaviour, sure, but not surprising in an indiepop fan. Seems we have more neurosis than emo kids. Anyhow, thanks to him I know the existence of many great British bands from the 80s. I’d say a year or two ago he had this YouTube channel where he posted lots of songs from obscure songs, it was really amazing, it was like opening a can of candy, full of new flavours. I’m glad I ripped most of these songs to MP3s as the channel has long been deleted. Probably because he felt zealous about sharing these songs with the rest of us mortals.

Brian had also heard this song on his Youtube. I don’t remember how we ended up talking about them, but we agreed on how great this song was. The song was “Christmas Island” and as Krister says, it sounds like The Rain, it sounds jangly, it sounds as pop perfection. Who wrote this song? And whatever happened to this band?

The Territory of Christmas Island is a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean. It is 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) northwest of the Western Australian city of Perth, 360 km (220 mi) south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, 975 km (606 mi) ENE of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and 2,748 km (1,708 mi) west of the Territorian city of Darwin. Christmas Island has a population of 1,403 residents who live in a number of “settlement areas” on the northern tip of the island: Flying Fish Cove (also known as Kampong), Silver City, Poon Saan, and Drumsite.The island’s geographic isolation and history of minimal human disturbance has led to a high level of endemism among its flora and fauna, which is of significant interest to scientists and naturalists. 63% of its 135 square kilometres (52 sq mi) is an Australian national park. There exist large areas of primary monsoonal forest.Phosphate, deposited originally as dead marine organisms (not guano as often thought), has been mined on the island for many years.

Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary, a British East India Company vessel, named the island when he sailed past it on Christmas Day in 1643. The island was included on British and Dutch navigation charts as early as the beginning of the seventeenth century, but it was not until 1666 when a map published by Dutch cartographer Pieter Goos included the island. Goos labelled the island Mony, the meaning of which is unclear. British navigator William Dampier, aboard the British ship Cygnet, made the earliest recorded visit to sea round the island in March 1688. He found it uninhabited. Dampier gave an account of the visit which can be found in his Voyages. Dampier was trying to reach Cocos from New Holland. His ship was pulled off course in an easterly direction, arriving at Christmas Island 28 days later. Dampier landed at the Dales (on the west coast). Two of his crewmen were the first recorded humans to have set foot on Christmas Island.

As far as I know, it’s Mary MagdAlene, not MagdElene. I wonder where the Magdelene names comes from, though I’ve seen some churches with that spelling in several British pages. I don’t seem to locate any fields named Magdelene Fields either. I assume it’s a made up name. But don’t quote me on it.

There’s only one fact, this song was released on a compilation LP called “New Reaction Volume 2” in 1988. It was released on the Reaction Label, catalog number UNREST 9, and included these bands: Mind The Gap, Mr Robinson, The Rain Devils, Magdalene Fields, Dream Studio, Candybox, Barbedwire, Mike Gari, Hands Up, One Touch To Go, The Partners, Touch And Go, Big Orange, Hands In The Heavens and Midnight Media. None of them I know. There was a Volume 1 released before that had a red/orange cover, whereas volume 2 had a turquoise cover. The bands that appear on the first volume are unknown to me too.

An interesting fact is that Reaction Records seems to have spawned from a metal label, Ebony Records. You can see more info about it here. It seems the label moved into more “alternative” stuff and decided to change it’s name. Don’t blame them, come on, it’s metal. Who can listen to that all their lives?

And that’s all the information there is about this mysterious band. If you know anything about them, please share! Would love to know what happened to this band and if they recorded any more songs. Judging by the quality of “Christmas Island” the rest of their songs have to be amazing!


Magdelene Fields – Christmas Island