31
Mar

Thanks so much to Katie for this second interview. Not so long ago we talked about her previous project, The Wilson Hospital, which was the band through I got to know her music. These days she is busy with her current band, Katie Goes to Tokyo, and it seems that at last she’ll be going to Tokyo this summer! Under Katie Goes to Tokyo she has released two albums that I totally recommend! If you want to know a bit more about her music, just keep on reading 🙂

++ Hello again Katie! How are you? Now in Los Angeles, right? How do you like it there? First time you visit?

Hi again Roque! I’m great! I’m in Vancouver at the moment and I think it might very well be one of the best cities in the world. I love it here. I just got here from Los Angeles (with a detour to Hawaii). Los Angeles and Hawaii were also great, but I guess I’m not really a beach girl. I’m more of a down hill skiing/mountain climbing girl. Lately I’ve been a lazy-hanging-in-hotel-room-girl though.

++ And you are going on tour soon to Japan and Korea! When is this? And what can your fans there expect?

Yes! I’m so exited to go there. I have never been to either Korea or Japan before so it will be an adventure. The plan is I will go to Korea in the beginning of June and stay for about a week and then go to Japan. My Korean record label Some Music and my promoter Ruby Records are putting together a tour for me that includes TV-performance, interviews, club-gigs and gigs at the Swedish embassy. I will play with a great Korean band called Mushrooms and we’ll hopefully record something together as well. I’m sure it will be a trip to remember. I’m really looking forward to meet my fans and all the people who have been working so hard for me over there.

++ So at this moment you are recording the third Katie Goes to Tokyo, album is that so? What is missing for you to finish and all of us be able to buy it?

Yes, I am…The recording of my third album has been going on for a while now and It’s going well, but I’m not there yet. It’s been a little up and down. I have written so many songs only to trash them a week later thinking they are no good. I guess after 2 albums you can’t help but get affected by what other people think or might think – maybe it’s something you’ve read in a review or something someone said about your previous albums. When you are an artist people always have an opinion about how you should sound, look like etc. I don’t want to give any attention to it, but I guess do. Sometimes. I’m gonna let this 3:rd album take its time. In other words: It’s in progress and will be finished when you least expect it!

++ And how different will your next album be compared tot he previous ones?

I don’t know. I change my mind every other week so I better not make any promises.

++ Do tell, how different is Katie Goes to Tokyo compared to The Wilson Hospital? I see Mårten still contributes with you.

KGTT is not as much 60’es (sound wise) as TWH and KGTT is not a band – it’s my solo project. After the demise of TWH, Mårten didn’t really want to front in yet another band. I just wanted to do my own thing for a while. So we decided that I should go solo. Still, when it was time to record my songs it was only natural for us to work together. It took a while for us to set the terms for the whole project and there was a bit confusion going on for a while as to the sound etc. I guess we were trying to pull the project in opposite directions. For me, the whole idea with KGTT was that I should be able to do my own thing without compromising with anyone. At one point I started thinking that if we’d continue working together then maybe we would end up as enemies. So I fired him. It only lasted for like a day. I didn’t really want to continue without him. In the end, when it comes to music there is no one else I admire as much as Mårten. There is no one I can speak my mind to as easily as him, and he gets me, even if we don’t agree on everything. So we sat down and had a very long talk and made up some rules. Since then everything is going smoothly.

++ Why the name Katie Goes to Tokyo?

The Wilson Hospital released an album in Japan in 2002. We really wanted to play in Tokyo, but unfortunately that never happened. When I started KGTT I wanted to set out a goal for myself. Something that I could look forward to. So then again I came to think about Japan and how it would be so great to go there one day. That’s why I chose the name “Katie goes to Tokyo”.

++ Let’s talk labels. The first album was released on Tap Your Feet Records, who were they? And how did you end up with them?

Tap Your Feet is actually Mårtens company. The truth is that after all the struggle with Backfish and The Wilson Hospital, I was just fed up with labels and publishers. And I thought that if we had full control over the recording rights and the publishing rights then we would never have to argue with anyone again and still get our music out there. We would be able to decide for ourselves who we wanted to work with for promotion and how to do things in general. Mårten had just started his own company and so we decided to release my first KGTT-album on our own.

++ And then the second album was released on Redberry (great name by the way!), who are they and how is the relationship between band and label?

Haha, thank you! Redberry is my company. I started it right after I graduated from law school in 2007 and so when it was time for the release of my second album, My Naked Heart, it was just natural to use my own company instead of Mårtens. There’s a lot of paperwork, bookkeeping and economic risk at steak when you release an album and I just thought I would save Mårten the trouble, if any. For my second album I signed with a manager, PR Agencies in both Sweden and Canada and a music publisher. Some Music is releasing both my albums in Korea and Ruby Records handles the PR. They are amazing and I am so happy with their work!

++ Now let’s talk songs.  I really like your lyrics so I wonder, what inspires you to write them?

Oh, thank you very much! I can’t take all the credit for the lyrics since I usually co-write them with Mårten. I guess the main thing that inspires me is people, just ordinary people doing ordinary things. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why I chose this life. Traveling has made me realize that there are so many people out there just like me, doing the same thing as I am – recording music, loving what you do one day and then hating it the next day, being beyond happy when you hear your song on the radio, getting really annoyed by that one bad review although you got 10 good ones, smiling all day long after one nice e-mail from a true fan, arguing with your music publisher, having writers block, thinking about quitting, resenting the very same thought, starting over. I’ve seen many people quit over the years and I always think they will regret it later. But who knows. I’ve promised myself that when writing music don’t make me happy anymore then I will quit. I guess I fell of the topic a bit there, sorry. I write about my life, ordinary people and love. I never write about politics. The game of politics makes my brains boil. It’s all about the package and the rhetoric. All I want to know is the truth.

++ And what about the creative process? What comes first, lyrics or music? And how did that first idea becomes a proper song in the end?

I always start with the music and then the lyrics although I know it would be much easier the other way around. I find it much harder to write lyrics to music than to write music to lyrics. But somehow the music always comes first. I usually come up with a melody when I’m out walking or doing something mechanical. I usually record it on my iPhone, but I rarely listen to what I’ve recoded. I figure that if it’s any good then I’ll remember it anyway. I write down the title for the song and what the song should be about – I basically just write down everything I can come to think of which usually leaves me with several pages of text without structure. This is where Mårten steps in, finds the missing lines and makes sense of everything. We record the music pretty early on, long before the lyrics are done. Both Mårten and I play several different instruments so we record everything ourselves.

++ I really like from the second album the opening track, “A Long Way From Anywhere” and also “My Naked Heart”. Do you mind telling me the story behind these songs?

It’s about trying to succeed but not feeling like if anything you do is enough. Once you’ve overcome an obstacle you realize there is a much bigger one ahead. But you keep on trying, sometimes not knowing why you do it, or if it’s even worth it. “My Naked Heart” is about being honest about who you are and not doing or saying what¨s consider to be the right thing within the group of people you interact with.

++ And which would you say is your favourite Katie Goes to Tokyo song and why?

“Moving from this town” is my favorite KGTT song, I don’t know why. Maybe because it was the fist one I wrote for my first album.

++ You prefer recording in Canada these days. Why is that? Is it much different compared to Sweden?

I can record anywhere, but I love being in Toronto. I like the city, the people. Makes me feel like home. It actually reminds me a bit of my hometown, Skellefteå. Canada is not very different from Sweden except for the mentality I guess. People seem to be less stressed in Canada and more friendly. I don’t know. In Sweden I always get the feeling that the morality is that you should know your place and not try to be better/different than anyone else. Other than that, Sweden is a beautiful country, especially northern Sweden where I grew up.

++ I noticed you’ve made plenty of videos for your songs. How do you enjoy doing them? And who comes up with the different concepts for them?

Yes, I love making music videos! When I hear a song I always imagine how the video would look. I have so many ideas for music-videos that I will probably never be able to use. I was lucky to work with Maria Stenlund, who has filmed most of my videos and also created the concept for “One Way Conversation“. We’re both amateurs, with a lot of ideas and we make a great team. “A Long Way From Anywhere” and “Suburban street” was created, filmed and edited by professionals. I had so much fun shooting those videos. The Stockholm Roller derby is in “A Long Way….” They were fantastic! And my co-star in “Suburban street” is Adde, a 10 year old skate pro…he was awesome! Rollerblades and skateboarding – 2 things I wish I was good at.

++ I really like the “One Way Conversation” video, but which is your favourite one? Why?

I don’t think I have a favorite, I like them all. The videos for “Moving from this town” and “Until she breaks” (my 1:st album) are great. They both have fun concepts. I guess to make a good music video, you must see to that the scenery and the story compliments the music. A good music video does not take focus from the song – it makes the song stronger.

++ I believe your sister also stars in that video. So I wonder, is there anyone else in your family that is involved in music, or are you the only one? And do say when was the first time you picked up an instrument?

Yes, my little sister Isabelle is in 2 of my videos (“One Way Conversation” and “Paper Moon“) and my niece Agnes is starring in the video for “Good morning Accidents”. Everyone in my family plays an instrument and sings, so I guess we could form our own orchestra if we wanted to. My dad used to play bass in a rock band in the 60’es and then another band in the 70’ies and 80’ies so we had a lot of instruments at home when I grew up. The first instruments I learned how to play was either the piano or the flute. Not sure. My dad taught me how to play guitar when I was 16.

++ And talking about the videos, you aren’t a video professional are you?

No, but I wish I was.

++ So do you play live shows often? Which has been the best so far, your favourite?

I don’t play live so often. It’s hard because I need musicians to play with me and for that I need money. Or I guess I could just sing to backing tracks. I never tried that. I think my favorite gig is yet to come 😉

++ What do you say, so far, has been the highlight of Katie Goes to Tokyo? And where do you happen to have most of your fans? Can I guess Japan?

Oh…there are so many. But I remember feeling really happy when Swedish radio started playing “Moving from this town”. And when they picked up “Little sister” I felt really blessed. There’s something special about hearing your own music on the radio. I don’t know where I have most of my fans. Korea or Japan maybe. My Korea-Japan tour will certainly be a blast, but I won’t celebrate until I’m actually there. Anything can happen between now and June.

++ And now that you are going to Korea and Japan, aside from the music, what do you plan to do there? Visiting any particular sights? Go shopping? Eating new food?

I’m not sure I will have any free time. I will probably be very jet-lagged and sleep whenever I have the chance. But when I travel I usually check out the local art museum, if there is any, and historical places. I always hope that I will feel something special when I go to historical places, that there will be some kind of energy there. Unfortunately that is often not the case. I guess when a historical place becomes an institution then everything that’s magical about it disappears.

++ And after this Asian tour, what’s the next tour you wish to do? What other countries would you like to play and visit?

My highest priority is to finish my album, but after that I would love to go to Iceland. It seems so beautiful. I would also like to play in Germany, France and England. I’ve actually never been to France so it should be fun.

++ Thanks again Katie, let’s wrap it here. Anything else you’d like to add? Time to tell where to get your records perhaps? 😉

Thank you so much Roque! My records are available on iTunes, CDbaby.com, Amazon.com etc.

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Listen
Katie Goes to Tokyo – A Long Way From Anywhere

28
Mar

This week I’ve been catching up. I can say Cloudberry is in good form after my little vacations. Despite this, there’s still plenty to do. The fanzine has to be finished, the inserts for the Tripping the Light Fantastic need to go to print and The Rileys artwork has to be done. On top of that there is some Plastilina stuff that I need to finish. Perhaps this Sunday I should stay in.

One of the best news of the week for me was the arrival of the Eva & John flexi singles to Lima. I believe the foldover sleeves will be printed this week. I don’t know much as when the release date will be as it’s all in the band’s and Jalito’s hands right now. But the photo of the actual single that they sent me was, just wow! It looks really good on yellow plastic. Deliciously good. I can’t wait. It might be one of my favourite releases this year. Sadly, I know, it will fly under the radar. A Peruvian band? Who cares, right? Thing is that there are less than 300 copies of it, and I’m sure it’s going to sell out fast.

Among other important news is that the Boyish 7″ artwork is finally done. It was made by David at A Little Island and it’s striking. Iwasawa really wanted to include some sort of classic indiepop imagery and it, so it’s kind of a mix of Orange Juice and Field Mice artwork, if you know what I mean. Right now Cris is doing the mastering for the tracks and soon I’ll update the website with a downloadable track for everyone to have a taste of this wonderful Japanese band.

About other Cloudberry releases I promise to have pre-order buttons for The Occasional Flickers and the upcoming fanzine no later than this weekend.

And finally I bought my NYC Popfest 4 day pass tickets. So that’s set. Good to go.

Speaking of Popfests, the Madrid one is still so fresh to me. I can’t believe March is still not over. It was just weeks since I was there celebrating with so many good friends. It was just weeks since I got to see many bands I’ve been a fan of for the first time.

One of the bands I’ve been wanting and meaning to see for many years now were Northern Portrait. I’ve never had luck. They never play the festivals I go to. They haven’t played the US yet either. The thing is, I see Stefan quite often at these festivals. But he is like me, he goes for having fun, to enjoy himself, not to play. But I wondered always, why and why and why is his band not playing if he is here? Maybe a bit selfish of me, but you have to understand that I’m scared about band’s life spans. I know band’s don’t last forever, so I have to catch them before they are gone. For example, I never got to see Summer Cats or The Bridal Shop. I doubt I’ll ever get a chance to see them ever again.

Funny thing is that I once “attended” an acoustic set of Northern Portrait, over whiskey and Tuborg beers, in Copenhagen. It was just Stefan on his acoustic guitar. It was wonderful and so beautiful. It only made me wish to hear all these songs with an electric guitar, because me, as a Chesterf¡elds fan, I have an electric guitar in my heart. Danielle joined on some songs with Stefan too. These songs, that should be filed under The Maritime Club, were truly beautiful as well, a bit of a departure from Northern Portrait, but still, having all that passion and heart that Mr. Larsen’s songs always have. That was 2010. That’s when I visited Malmö and I saw them both at So Tough So Cute. When I abandoned Jennifer at the DJ booth while I just socialized with everyone else. The next day we crossed Oresund and visited Copenhagen. We stayed in Valby and Danielle showed us the Carlsberg beer plant. And then Tivoli where I ran out of battery of my camera. Then Stefan met us at Nyhavn for some wonderful fish. Those were the days. Jennifer surprised that taxi cabs had special racks to place your bicycle. Me impressed by the Peruvian pan flute players at the main square. Represent!

After many Indietracks were I got to see Stefan and Danielle. And after learning some Japanese with our mutual friends Sloppy Joe, finally I was attending a Popfest with Northern Portrait playing. I can only thank enough the Madrid Popfest organizers for having such fantastic taste to book them. I won’t thank them for buying all the 10″s Northern Portrait brought with them! Sure, they didn’t bring many, but the organizers, with first dibs, got the most of them. Oh! I was so disappointed! I wanted to get one and get it signed by the band in person. But fair enough, I can’t complain or blame anyone. Who wouldn’t want that precious release? Now, I do need to get it straight from Jimmy at Matinée. And wait until I see them in NYC so they can sign it.

They headlined the Friday night show. Everyone went crazy when they played “Crazy”. Pardon the pun. It was a magical night. They sounded so good. So much class, so much elegance. Jingle jangle guitars, chiming and chiming. Just how I like them. They should release ten records in Cloudberry I thought.

I hadn’t seen them on Thursday. I looked all over the place. Some told me they had been at the Clamores venue, but I wonder where. Maybe way in the back. I was usually around the stage. I got to see them earlier that Friday. I met Caspar for the first time too. We had emailed a bit before when the song “December Slopes” was included in our “Last Train to Christmas” 3″ CD compilation. Such a nice guy. We talked quite a bit about Champagne Riot, his previous band. He told me there is a new project he is involved with. It does sound promising. I really liked both his releases in Shelflife and Matinée.

I got their setlist after the gig. I’ve never seen such a minimalist setlist. Everything was written in initials. Even Northern Portrait was just NP. Must be a Danish thing. Saving energy and all that. They played 15 songs. All of their hits. But not my favourite song! Again, I can’t complain, I’m already spoiled by seeing them live. But, you know, how much I’d love to hear “A Quiet Night in Copenhagen”. That song is genius. Next time I hope!

And as my life is just full of coincidences, they guys were taking the same flight to leave Madrid as me. My next stop was Stockholm and theirs Copenhagen of course. But we both were having connecting flights in Amsterdam. So yes, we were on the same KLM flight from Madrid to the Dutch capital. The logistics seemed a bit more complicated when we talked over beers, how to meet, where and when to take a cab and all. Thing is that it was so easy despite our flight being at 6:00am on Sunday morning, just immediately after Madrid’s Popfest last night of party!

So I grabbed all my bags from my hostel which was a stone throw away from the venue. Took one of those white cabs and headed to Gran Vía where they were staying. It was a lot of fun to take the same flight with them even though we were seated on the plane very far from each other. But going through check-in, where some Spaniards were asking me who where they, where they played and more, impressed by the amount of instruments they were carrying, and then through security, was quite something. Even better, while waiting for the airplane, at 5am, they managed to find some wine bottles to keep the party going. Popstar life you’d say? You just have to enjoy yourself when traveling I think. Upon arriving to Amsterdam we met again. We had some sandwiches for breakfast. Stefan told me about an amazing orange soda that you can only find in Copenhagen. I promised to try it next time.

And then they left. I stayed for 30 more minutes in Schiphol airport charging my phone in the meantime. It was time to go to Stockholm. But what a great time I had with my Danish friends. And how impressive and powerful they were on stage. No disappointment whatsoever. Hope I get to see them again. They are truly one of the best bands of the last ten years or so. For sure.

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So, an obscure band for the week? I’ve got one. Again this one comes thanks to Rupert’s fantastic CD that I got from him last July at Indietracks. And speaking of Indietracks, I really want to go, but the plane tickets are really expensive at the moment. I’ll have to see if prices go down at some point, or maybe look into using my miles.

keen
adj. keen·er, keen·est
1. Having a fine, sharp cutting edge or point.
2. Having or marked by intellectual quickness and acuity. See Synonyms at sharp.
3. Acutely sensitive: a keen ear.
4. Sharp; vivid; strong: “His entire body hungered for keen sensation, something exciting” (Richard Wright).
5. Intense; piercing: a keen wind.
6. Pungent; acrid: A keen smell of skunk was left behind.
7.
    a. Ardent; enthusiastic: a keen chess player.
    b. Eagerly desirous: keen on going to Europe in the spring.
8. Slang Great; splendid; fine: What a keen day!

This is one of those very obscure bands that I usually can’t find anything about them on the internet.

The song here, “Missed the Point”, appeared on the 12″ EP called “Feline Groovy”. A very good title for all the Swedish indiepop girls. Because they all love cats. The tracks on this record were “Missed the Point” (of course), “Darker Glasses”, “Down” and “Spinster”. The label was Scaredy Cat (there was a Swedish band years later with that same name), and the catalog number was PURR 003. Which were number 1 and 2 in the catalog? That’s a question that I’d love to be answered by you, my five readers. The record was released in 1990.

It seems that the band came from Morden and that they played some gigs along Heavenly.

On a blog I found a little bit of info, written by someone nicknamed “severin”

1980s indie band, beloved of Everett True (and me). This from their much sought after EP “Feline Groovy” features Gillian on lead vocal. Their other singer, Pauline, is on the chorus and wrote the lyric. They only recorded two EPs and then retired never to be heard of again. Until now.

The other release by Keen was the “Sad EP”. The songs in it were “Made Up”, “On Your Knees”, “Waiting” and “Tears Into Me”. This record was produced by Maurice Ruiz & Keen. It had a painting on Nicci Hastings on the cover.

Whatever happened to them? When and why did they split? Did they have more songs? And so many other questions I would love to ask. If anyone out there knows any other tidbits, anecdotes, or even the whole story of the band please share! And if anyone has spare copies of the records let me know. I’d love to hear their other songs!

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Listen
Keen – Missing the Point

22
Mar

Thanks so much to Peter Watts for this great interview. The first time I heard “Giving Way to Trains” I was so surprised. It was such a fantastic song and I couldn’t believe it was THIS obscure. It deserved better. It deserved to be an indiepop classic. Happily I found his actual band, Spygenius, and Peter was kind enough to answer some questions for me. Hopefully now the Murrumbidgee Whalers are not that obscure anymore!

++ Hi Peter! Thanks for the interview! How are you doing these days? I see you are still involved with music through your band Spygenius! What surprises me is that you are still making guitar pop music! I guess this is the music you love the most? Why would you say is that?

Well, guitar pop was my first love, and it’s always stood by me!  At a young age I got obsessed with the Beatles, especially circa 1965 / 1966 (yes, I know, so did everyone…). And then the Byrds, when I bought a 7” single which had Mr. Tambourine Man on one side and Turn, Turn, Turn on the other.  I became completely besotted with the electric 12 string jangle and just wanted to make that noise – so at first I tried to find ways of making my six string sound like a twelve string, using lots or arpeggios and open strings, kind of like on Revolver, then I actually had a go a building an electric 12 string, out of an old neck from an acoustic guitar and some really cheap fender copy body.  You could play it, just about, but it would only stay in tune for half a song… so as soon as I got some money I bought a proper one….

From the Beatles and the Byrds I got into psychedelia – all those West Coast bands – I love the folk and country influences and the big harmonies.  But I guess as much as those sixties influences, the period in which I woke up musically was an era of classic intelligent British guitar pop – Squeeze, XTC, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, the Smiths, the Jazz Butcher, Robyn Hitchcock – all of which seeped into my musical consciousness. And then alongside that there was the whole paisley revival thing in the 80s – the Rain Parade, Guadalcanal Diary, the Smithereens, Let’s Active, those sorts of chaps.  And REM, I suppose, if you push me on it… so it was guitars all the way, and I just sort of joined in.  Actually, there’s loads of other genres of music that I love too (all those classic Capitol easy listening tracks, and exotica), but the guitar is the only instrument that I’ve ever been able to master, so I guess that is another reason why my music comes out this way…

++ Tell me about Spygenius. What are the differences between it and the Murrumbidgee Whalers? How many releases you have? Do you play often?

Well the main difference is that Spygenius has managed to stay together for the better part of a decade instead of imploding under the stress of young egos clashing with each other!  Also, we have a guitar-bass-drums-keys line up rather than a guitar-guitar-bass-drums line up.  The full Spygenius line up is me (guitar), my wife Ruth Rogers (bass), Matt Byrne (Keyboards) and Alan Cannings (Drums).  And we all sing.  It started out with just me, Ruth and Matt working as an acoustic trio – we’d all been in bands before and seen them flourish and then fade away, and so I suppose our aim with Spygenius was really just to try to write, record and perform original music to the highest standard we could muster, for as long as we could get away with it!  The acoustic thing was great, but I think we really came into our own as a group after we found Alan hiding in the van… I think another difference between Spygenius and the Whalers is that the whole approach is a bit more mature – the Whalers had a lot of ideas and energy and attitude, but Spygenius have a bit more in the way of knowledge and skill and experience. So there are some advantages to getting older!

We don’t play that often nowadays – usually we play in Canterbury (in the south east of England) where Ruth and I live, but we do venture out of the city from time to time – we usually play the International Pop Overthrow festival in London and Liverpool – and in fact last year we played at the IPO in Los Angeles which was a great experience – I think we’re a very English band, so it was relief and a joy that we went down OK with an LA crowd.

Spygenius has released three official albums to date, mostly recorded in our home studio – ‘Songs from the Devil’s Typist’, ‘Red Lounge’ and ‘The Comforting Suture’.  We’re currently working on a fourth studio album, plus we recorded a couple of gigs a few months back, and as soon as we’ve tidied those recordings up a bit we’re going to release them, probably just as a download for hard core fans.  Hopefully we’ll get them done before the IPO Liverpool in May.

++ And how come you decided to re-record “Giving Way to Trains” with your new band? Have you “recovered” some other songs from that period?

Giving Way to Trains has been part of Spygenius’s repertoire for a few years now so it made sense to record it, because the Whaler’s version didn’t really mean a lot to the folk who come to see Spygenius now.  I think I originally wanted to put it in the set because ex-Whalers would occasionally come to Spygenius gigs, so I thought we could give them a little treat!  And yes, Spygenius do play a lot of the songs that the Whalers used to – as I said before, we were all pretty young when the Whalers were going and I think quite often our ideas outstripped our ability to realize them – so it’s good sometimes to revisit a tune to try to finish the job.  ‘Trains’ is a bit of an exception to that rule because the 7” exists, and so effectively I recorded a cover version of myself – which was a bit strange… quite pleased with the result, though.

++ About “Giving Way to Trains”, it’s such a great song, I think it should have been a classic. What’s the story behind this song?

Well, where should I start?  I know it sounds like it’s about one particular relationship, but it’s not.  In the UK Highway Code there is (or was, back in the 1980s, I haven’t checked lately) a line that says that at level crossings you should always give way to trains (or in American English, that you should ‘yield’ to trains).  And it makes it sound so polite, like it’s just a matter of etiquette – but of course if you don’t ‘yield’ to the train you’ll get completely splattered into oblivion.  And it seemed to me that that happens sometimes in life – that there are things you need to just walk away from even if you really don’t want to.  And I have to admit that I’m not very good at doing that, and on occasions I’ve made a real mess of things because I haven’t known when to stop.  So, the song is an aide memoir to me – don’t be an idiot: sometimes it’s better to walk away.  (Although, having said that, sometimes, just sometimes, running in front of the train (metaphorically speaking), taking the risk and forgetting about the consequences, well, that can be what makes you feel alive…  But no – I’m not going to advocate that! Don’t try this at home, kids! Safety first…) So there you go – existential conundrums explored through the medium of train related guitar pop – what could be finer!?

++ Let’s go a bit back to the early days of the Murrumbidgee Whalers. When did the band start and how did you all come together? How did you know each other? And you were based in Sussex then, right?

Actually we were based in Surrey, in a place called Carshalton Beeches which is about 14 miles south of central London (more of CB later!).  ‘Sussex Rd’ was just the name of the street I lived in, with my brother who was also in the band.

Anyway, I guess the Whalers started with me and my brother learning to play guitars in our bedroom, where we used to bash through classic 60s pop tunes together.  Then I decided to get together with some mates from school to form a band – I guess I was about 14 years old – and after quite few years and a lot of racket the Whalers emerged.  There were a lot of line-up changes, but the classic line-up was me (guitar / vocals), my elder brother Chris (guitar, vocals, occasional faltering keyboards – brave man!), David Fisher (first bass, then drums and vocals) and Rob Telford (bass and vocals).  I can’t actually remember how I got to know David – he was someone I knew of from the local musician scene and I think he replaced me on guitar in a side-project band that I’d been involved in.  The first time we ever played together, I think, was in some sort of pick-up rock ‘n’ roll band playing on the fringe of a dodgy festival somewhere in the Midlands.  I don’t remember it too well, because I was, well, let’s be honest, very drunk.  He had a pink beard, was playing the drums that night, and fell off the stage along with his kit, which I thought was pretty rock ‘n’ roll, so it was fine by me.  Anyway, I think we got to know each other after that, and when we lost our previous bass player, he asked to join and the rest is history.  Rob I met through David.

Actually, though, the single of Giving Way to Trains was recorded by the previous line-up, with David on bass and a guy called Martin Gregory on drums. I think I met Martin because he was a friend of the younger brother of the guy I used to sit next to at school.  Or maybe it was through a youth club?  I’m not sure, but he was also part of the local musician scene. I always had an ear to the ground in those days for the names of people who were playing, you know, just in case you’d suddenly need a new drummer…

++ And who came up with the name? What’s the name about? I read there’s a river in Australia of the same name? But also a song by Harry Robertson?

I think we must have been named after the song, but not even realized it!  Or at least I never did.  I’d never heard of the song until just now when you asked the question and I looked it up on Youtube – the person who came up with the name was a former bass player I think (am I right, Simon?  Was it you?) and as far as I remember we decided we liked it because of the idea of telling tall tales – obviously there are no whales in the Murrumbidgee, so if you’re claiming to be a Murrumbidgee Whaler then there’s got to be something fishy going on from the outset.  That seems to be what the song is about, so I guess that was the original inspiration – I knew the story, but I’d just heard it as an anecdote, I didn’t know about the song.  It kind of fitted us though, because there was always a bit of a folk influence in our music – people kept saying I sounded like Ian Anderson (which I never understood – although I did have a habit of standing on one leg on stage at that time…).  In any case it was a terrible name for a band doing what we were doing because promoters couldn’t spell it (“Tonight!  The Murrum Bridge Whalers!”) and / or they would think that we were a reggae band (“No, ‘Whalers’, not ‘Wailers’”).

++ So you released the one and only 7″, which you were telling me only 250 copies were made! That’s so little. How come you didn’t press more? And also, why weren’t there more releases by your band?

The original 7” was entirely self-funded and we didn’t have a lot of money, so we just pressed enough to use for promotion purposes.  I seem to remember that we printed 500 sleeves, so that we could just get the discs done if we ever ran to another batch.  We sent out loads of them to anyone we could think of – record companies, magazines, management companies – and got occasional nice reviews, but never really much interest. I seem to remember being invited to sit in the lobby of Chrysalis records for several hours before meeting someone for about 30 seconds, but it never came to anything.  As for why there were no more releases, well I guess the band dissolving in a maelstrom of youthful egos didn’t help!

++ This release was self-released under Ahab! Records. I guess you were a big Moby Dick fan as well? Just to keep with the whale theme, right? How did you enjoy doing the label bit? Sending out records, promotion? How was your setup?

I’d really, really like to be able to claim that we called the label ‘Ahab!’ because Albert Camus presents the good Captain as an exemplar of the ‘absurd hero’.  But I can’t. It’s not true.  We did indeed use that name just to keep the whale theme going, and to be honest even now I still haven’t read the book.  I have seen the ‘Dicky Moe’ Tom and Jerry cartoon, though, and that was a life-changing moment… In fact, ‘Ahab!’ wasn’t really a proper label, it was a marketing ploy to make the record look more official than it really was.  I think we did consider turning it into a real label, but we were pretty naïve and never quite got our act together.  I can’t really say much about our set up, because it was all pretty chaotic and hit and miss (mostly miss, to be honest…) – we’d send out and chase up the records ourselves – that’s the four of us plus our good friend James Kliffen who acted as our manager.

++ In this record the B side was “In a Garden” which I still haven’t had the chance to listen. But do tell me what is this song about?

Yes, hmm, In a Garden.  Not a great song, which is one of the reasons why Spygenius has never picked it up, I suppose.  Ghastly lovelorn teenage angst about a girl I dated way back in the last millennium.  It has a folky tune, sung over a guitar part that sounds like Johnny Marr c1983 if he had joined the Cure.  Actually that makes it sound better than it is.  I have recently made an mp3 copy of the Whalers’ version, and keep planning to put it on Sound Cloud, then chickening out in the interests of public decency… not my strongest moment.  I suppose it has some sort of naïve charm, but the lyrics are just awful.  Not awesome, awful… but I will let you know if I ever do commit it to the internet…

++ “Giving Way to Trains” was also included in a 7″ compilation released by House of Dolls. How did this release came about?

Well, there’s the thing.  None of us can remember.  When you first contacted me about doing the interview I got in touch with David, Robert, Chris and James and everyone thinks that someone else in the band was responsible for sorting out that contact.  David told me to ask Chris, Chris thought that James had set up the deal following a suggestion from David or Robert, Robert thought that James had set it up, but James doesn’t think it was his idea.  I know it wasn’t mine!  I know that somehow we got an interview for House of Dolls (which was conducted in a Buddhist Café in Croydon for some reason…?) and getting the track on the EP came from that – but how we got the interview?  Sorry, none of us has any idea, it’s lost in the mists of time… this may partly explain why we never rose to any massive success: we were all very easily confused….

++ What about other recordings by the band? Are there any? Maybe lying in some demo tapes in someone’s cupboard?

Actually, they’re in a sideboard.  Yes, the Whalers did record another four songs on 16 track, and I do have a quarter inch reel of tape which I think has these songs on, but I don’t have a reel to reel recorder, and anyway I think the tape would have to be baked or something before it can be played.  I will get around to making digital copies of them one day.  I can’t actually remember which songs are on there, but I think one of them was a song called ‘Heathen’ which is scheduled to be revisited on the next Spygenius release.

++ How was Carshalton back then? What were your favourite places to hang out? Did you go out there often? Or did you mostly commuted to London and see bands there?

Carshalton is an ancient village mentioned in the Doomsday Book.  Carshalton Beeches, which is where I’m from, isn’t.  It is mentioned in a Monty Python sketch, though.  Carshalton Beeches is a mile or so up the road from Carshalton proper, and is an area where a lot of medium priced housing was put up between the wars, so that people could live there and commute to London.  It centers on, and is actually named after, the railway station.  In fact, the house that my brother and I grew up in backed onto the railway station.  (And if you listen to Spygenius’s version of ‘California Sunshine’, on our third album, it starts with a station announcer – that’s more or less what I could hear from my bedroom every morning when I was a kid.)  Back in the 80s there wasn’t a whole lot for teenagers to do in Carshalton Beeches (or in Carshalton, for that matter) – in fact there was pretty much nothing to do.  There were no clubs or bars or venues to speak of, and even now the only real landmark apart from the station is a baker’s shop.  That baker’s shop is the geographical hub of Carshalton Beeches….

So, mostly I’d go to London – up to the Mean Fiddler (the old one in Harlesden), Dingwalls, the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, places like that.  Back then there was a pretty good pub scene for original live music, and the Whalers were part of that – playing at the Bull and Gate, the Half Moon (Herne Hill) and, erm, I’ve forgotten… other similar pubs, most of which are now gone.  First tribute bands and then Karaoke started to erode the original music scene, and then everyone decided to stay at home and watch their home cinema systems instead of going to gigs, so one by one the pubs died or changed their trade.  I was really pleased to discover the other year that the Bull and Gate was still operating as venue (in fact Spygenius played a gig there, twenty-odd years on, and it had hardly changed.  Same sticky stains on the floor…).  But I just heard that the Bull and Gate is going to close down soon, as well…

++ Did you gig a lot? Any favourite gigs that you remember? Any anecdotes you’d share?

The Whalers mostly gigged around London playing short sets – half an hour or forty minutes – which were great, but they’ve all sort of blurred into one in my head over the years.  But, whenever we could we would also get gigs in student unions which were really good because you’d get paid!  Those are the ones I tend to remember – as for anedotes, well, the event that always sticks in my mind was at a gig at one of the colleges in Cambridge.  I always used to wear this hat on stage – it was a really beautifully worn out railwayman’s cap, and quite often as we were jumping about and what have you, it would fall off, which it had on this occasion.  So there I was, standing at the front, lips glued to the microphone, so I can’t see the rest of that band – but then I became aware that Rob’s playing had become just a wee bit random, that there was a lot of cheering going on in the crowd, and that a lot eyes were pointed in Rob’s direction.  So as soon as there was a gap in the singing I turned around to see what all the commotion was about, and basically, what was happening was that the pizza that Rob had eaten before going on stage had turned out to be a bit dodgy and had decided to escape back to the outside world.  So, no polite way of putting this, Rob was throwing up, on stage, into my hat – and at no point did he stop playing, which I thought demonstrated consummate professionalism.  In any case, the crowd seemed to enjoy it.  I was a bit conflicted, though, because I was very fond of that hat, and tried to rescue it – I thought I’d figure out how to clean it later.  So we stowed our gear in a ‘secure’ room somewhere on the campus, and went back to our accommodation for the night (a floor, in a corridor, in some or other halls of residence).  Next day we discovered that someone had managed to get into the room where our gear was stored and had made off with two microphones, and my befouled hat.  Weird.  Why would anyone do that?  Pinching the microphones I can understand, but why the violated hat?  Some sort of trophy?

++ During those late 80s there were many great guitar pop bands. Did you like any of them? Did you feel part of a scene?

Yeah, I really liked the whole guitar pop scene of the mid-late 80s – in addition to the groups I mentioned before, I got massively into the Throwing Muses and the Pixies – I think they did a tour of the UK together sometime in 87 or 88 and I remember getting to as many of those shows as I could.  I don’t know if we really felt part of that scene, though, we weren’t successful enough!  But we certainly felt akin to it, we sort of aspired towards it – I think we felt part of a sort of pub-sub-scene!? There were loads of groups playing around the London pub circuit at that time, people who fitted musically with the guitar pop culture of the late 80s, and who were just out there trying to make a name for themselves.  We’d bump into each other a lot, and sometimes arrange joint shows.  There was a band called the Bicycle Thieves who we used to hook up with quite a bit (not the same as the one from Liverpool or the one from Texas – they were from Lewisham) – I don’t know what happened to them…?  But another great thing about the London live music scene in the 80s was that you didn’t just have aspiring bands and up-and-coming bands and American bands – you also had people who’d once been pretty big playing in some really cool intimate little venues – guys like Geno Washington and my personal favorite, Wilko Johnson – Wilko’s just finished his farewell tour and it occurred to me that I’ve been going to see him quite regularly for 28 years.  Back in the 80s I went to see Wilko a lot, every chance I got – I picked up so much about stagecraft and about how to play killer rhythm/riffing guitar from watching that man.  I remember not long after I saw him for the first time dragging the entire Murrumbidgee Whalers along to one of his gigs to sit and learn at the feet of the master.  Love him.  I’m really going to miss him.

++ And when and why did you split? What did you guys do after?

I think we split in 1990.  Why?  Well, did I already mention the whole ‘egos of young men in their early 20s’, thing? I did?  Also, the whole experience was very intense and I think we’d burned out a bit – we’d not managed to achieve the success we’d hoped for, and then the musical backdrop changed – the ‘Madchester’ thing started happening and we began to feel out of step – also, Rob wanted to go back to University and David wanted to branch out on his own, so I guess the thing had just run its course. Following the Whalers David set up his own group (Jubilee) which Chris got involved with, and I formed a series of bands trying to pick up where the Whalers left off – the most recent and successful of which is Spygenius.

++ Are you all still in touch? What are you all up to these days? Any other hobbies aside making music?

Yes, we’re all still great friends and hang out when we get the time, we’re all still playing to one degree or another, and we all get involved in each other’s projects.  David has released a couple of albums of his songs, which Rob, Chris and I have all played on.  David has also recorded and mixed some of Spygenius’s recordings, and Spygenius has on occasions worked as David’s backing band.  In fact David and I co-wrote a song a couple of years back – California Sunshine – which we’ve both recorded and released.  I think Rob and David are gigging together at the moment, along with Alan (Spygenius’s drummer).  And it’s good – more relaxed than in the 80s, which, on balance, makes for a more creative environment!  And the Murrumbidgee Whalers did actually do a reunion gig a few years ago – just the one!  A bit rusty, but it was fun. There are no plans for any more, though.  And we’re all still in touch with James as well, who maintains a keen interest in what we’re all doing musically – in fact a few years back he asked both David and Spygenius to play at his wedding, which was great fun, and somehow ended up with us all having a jam with Robyn Hitchcock – an unexpected bonus and a long story…. The only ex-Whaler I’m not really in touch with any more is Martin Gregory who played drums on the single – he moved to the States, to Boston.  Ruth and I did go to visit him back in 2005, but he forgot we were coming and drove to Maine for the weekend, so we never got to meet up.  Still, Boston has lots to entertain the stranded British tourist, so we were just fine.

++ One last question, looking back, what would you say was the biggest highlight of the band?

On a good night, there was a real chemistry between the four of us.  I think if you’ve never been in a band it can be hard to understand the power of that collective mind thing – it’s elusive and fleeting, but, damn, it’s good when it happens.  And I’m not saying there hasn’t been chemistry and good chemistry in bands I’ve been in since – there has – but the Whalers was where I first experienced it, and you never really forget that.

++ Alright, let’s wrap it here. Thanks so much Peter, happy to have heard the story of the band, and being a little less obscure for me at last. Anything else you’d like to add?

Only to say thanks very much for requesting the interview.  It is amazing to me, and really, really, pleasing, to think that people have heard and liked our record, and that they care enough to want to know more.  Music ultimately is about communication, so it’s both weird and wonderful to be getting some replies now to that little musical message in a bottle we sent out all those years ago.  I love it!

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Listen
Murrumbidgee Whalers – Giving Way to Trains

21
Mar

Hello! It’s been almost two weeks since the last update and I will be honest, I didn’t miss much blogging. I guess it must be because I was abroad on vacation and my mind was somewhere else. Now that I’m back in New York I started to miss this blog. I started to have nostalgia for endless afternoons looking for information about some obscure band and just writing some of my adventures and dreams.

There are a couple of news on Cloudberry side. If you head to the website you can check the Occasional Flickers A side for the next single they are putting out with us. The song is “Capitalism Begins at Home”, and it’s really beautiful. I always loved Giorgos vocals and had worked with his band before on Cloudberry with a 3″ and, even before that, on an album on Plastilina. Pre-order button will soon be up. So keep an eye.

About Tripping the Light Fantastic, as many of you have been asking me, it is being pressed at the moment. I will send to print the jackets during the weekend and will also sit down and write the inserts before it’s too late. I have this nostalgia for their hometown, for Hamburg, so probably I’ll be writing an ode to that fantastic city. So, if everything goes as I think it will go, the release date should be April 10th. Sorry for the delays, but all these price changes at the post office kind of pushed the release a bit.

The fanzine. Waiting for a song. That’s all. As soon as we have it. We’ll send it to print.

How can you help to speed up the process? Well, buying some records always helps! We did lose A LOT of money with the postage increase as we had pre-orders with the old postage prices. Of course it wasn’t the customers fault, so we sent the records, at an almost 100%, to everyone who pre-ordered. I think we did the right thing. Though it did hurt us proper.

While abroad I got to see Alpaca Sports live. Also got the chance to spend some time with them, so nice lunch, and then a bit of chit-chatting. They are fantastic people and I can’t wait until they come to NYC for Popfest in two months. Their live show was perfect. It felt like they’ve been playing for like forever. They know how to be tight and put a fun show. I believe they sold out all their records at the Madrid show by the way, and they brought lots. They were so successful there. The crowd was dancing and singing along the songs. A friend next to me told me he felt he was having a time warp to the early 90s, that Alpaca Sports would fit so nicely on one of those 3″ CDs that Marsh-Marigold used to release. I agreed. How couldn’t they fit along The Seashells or my beloved 50,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong? Top stuff!

Andreas and Amanda are naturals on stage. I know Andreas favourite band might be The Brilliant Corners, but when I see him strumming the guitar I think of Julian Henry of The Hit Parade. Not that I’ve ever seen The Hit Parade live, but it’s how I always imagined them. Amanda compliments the songs perfectly, hiding behind her goldilocks hair and appearing again, with whimsical charm and shy vocals. Pa Pa Pa. And start again. She told us about her Spanish jacket. Her amazing story. She wanted to go to some stores in Spain, but they have strange hours in this country. Closed on Sunday, closed in the afternoons. Strange. And Carl, is at the back, doing all the secret things that make Alpaca Sports sound great live. All those little sound effects are being taking at his little station at the back. It feels like he is some sort of mastermind in the shadows, enchanting all of us with the Alpaca Sports potion.

Another great “Cloudberry” moment was seeing The Garlands again. They headlined my party in Stockholm and they made me, and the crowd, swoon. It was quite interesting to see them in Sweden, the chatty Patrik and cute Christin not talking in English to the public, but in Swedish. It was a more natural feel to it that I enjoyed. They played all their hits. They made me so happy. Me standing at the front, watching how Maria’s fingers crawl over the bass fret. And Robert banging the drums, full power! Einar is dissecting his guitar, playing those wonderful chords that make The Garlands special. Christin, well, I want to hug her, she is just great with her soaring vocals. And Patrik, he is the FUN. He makes The Garlands feel like the indiepoppiest band on Earth.

Other “Cloudberry” band I got to see in this trip was Los Lagos de Hinault. It was the only band that Oscar from Zipper liked. And I find it easy to see why. The lyrics. They do write fabulous lyrics. You’d might think it’s a shame that they are written in Spanish and because of that not that many people can appreciate them. But the thing is, perhaps these lyrics wouldn’t be that great if they were sung in another language. Think about that. Quirky, smart, and bookish, Los Lagos de Hinault are in a class of their own in the Spanish Pop scene. They deserve much attention I think. Perhaps they won’t be huge ever, but they do deserve a cult-following. And judging by their live set, potent, direct, and with a lot of presence, I wouldn’t be surprised. My only regret, not having being able to secure a photo of myself with the whole band!

And the only other band I’m going to mention in this small review is Zipper. They played early on Saturday’s Popfest night. They were the special guests for this occasion as they had written the Madrid Popfest official song for this year. A blast of a minute and a half of pure POP! And how was their set? It was short, around 12 minutes or so, but it was a ricochet of fantastic melodies, fast guitars, catchy chorus, and an indiepop attitude that is so contagious. As always I’m so happy to see them, have some beers, some calamaris, some chorizo. They are the true indiepop band from Madrid. And because I’m so spoiled and lucky, they will be coming to NYC this year for Popfest. Can I actually ask for more? I wonder how many times I’ve seen them already. Thing is, every time they play they are so good that it’s never enough.

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Now let me talk about an obscure band. An Irish band! There are not that many more bands left to cover from the (by now) legendary mix CD Rupert gave me last year at Indietracks. Today let’s try to uncover the mystery of Cuba Dares.

The Irish Rock web site has a small bio about them:

Ronan Stoke’s band formed early 1982. Initially a duo of Stokes & Clancy plus a drum machine, this expanded Dennis Rusk (guitar), Tony Kennedy (bass) and real live drummer Barry O’Rielly. This lineup split when Ronan and Blathain moved the band to London circa 1984, where Rory Stokes, Paul Mooney and John McGrath all joined as The Sussed had split. Cuba Dares released one fine EP in 1986 (by which time Paul Mooney had moved on) which won single of the week in NME (among others) and is difficult to locate these days. The lineup that recorded the EP is listed above. They split sometime after.

There are reputedly many unreleased recordings.

The lineup mentioned in that bio is:
Blathain Clancy – vocals
Ronan Stokes – guitar
Rory Stokes – guitar/keyboards
Chris McKenna – bass
John McGrath – drums

They were based in Dublin and later in London.

Their discography only included that fantastic 12″ EP. IT was called “One Nine Eight Six EP”. It included on the A side the song “Yellow and Red” and on the B side the songs “Sweet Ephemeral” and “Lost Without a Trace”.

The engineer for this record was Simon Osbourne. And the record was released by Mastervolume Records. Catalog was MV12S1.

When I listen to “Yellow and Red” I do think of girl fronted bands of the late 80s like Suntime Glorious, Girl Of My Best Friend, The Honeymooners, Po! and The Sundays. to name a few. It’s a terribly catchy song with a great melody. It’s not super upbeat or anything, but it feels like it. I can picture it in a good indie disco, all the kids dancing even. “Bye Bye to all the dreams I had” Blathain sings. And I could feel that. Who hasn’t had their dreams shattered? Totally. You can identify with this beautiful song, can’t you?

The other 2 songs, the B sides, if you want to listen them, you can always head to their old and abandoned Myspace. “Lost Without a Trace” being my favourite of the two.

And this is all the information I could find online about Cuba Dares. I wonder what their name means. If it has anything to do with Cuba (most presumably, right?), perhaps they even lived there! I also wonder about those many unreleased songs that are said to exist. I’d love to listen to those one day! I’m sure they are fantastic. And also about their one and only release, how many copies were made, if there exist in some place a box with copies of this fantastic record. I’d love to own one one day, play it on my turntable. It’d be so great, songs like these deserve to be played on record, not as MP3, even less stream then! Anyhow if anyone of you out there know anything else about them, any anecdotes or anything really, please share! Would love to know more about their band story!

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Listen
Cuba Dares – Yellow and Red

04
Mar

NYC Popfest just announced the lineup for this year’s edition. What can I say aside that it’s a fantastic one. Getting to see for the first time The Bats and The Wolfhounds is something I’ve been wanting for a long time. Seeing The Close Lobsters again, after their Madrid Popfest show, the best gig I saw last year, is making me giggle of excitement. Maz told me last Saturday that this was the Popfest that he is the proudest of organizing so far. And I can see why he says that. I can only hope for May to come fast. It’s just two months and change away!

The Monochrome Set, the mighty Monochrome Set, are headlining too. I saw them two years ago at the 100 Club in London. Next to friends who were making out, pints pouring, me and a girl, the red curtains which I hear are no more at the club, and that big 100 sign on the stage. Bathrooms always all the way to the left. That was the day of the infamous DJ party. I hear this year was a bit like that, with Rihanna and Beyoncé being played for the indiepop crowd. Who knows what happens in London sometimes. Still my favourite city and would have loved to attend London Popfest last weekend. But anyhow, yes, The Monochrome Set. And they’ll play “Jet Set Junta” and “He’s Frank”. Can’t ask for more.

For the label it’s also a great time. Our two latest 7″ releases will be here represented by the bands. Alpaca Sports and Flowers are coming! On top of that other Cloudberry graduates like Zipper, Cassolette, The Hobbes Fanclub and The Proctors will also be here. I’ll be very busy filming many of their songs it seems!

Now what else can I hope for this fantastic festival? I do know many international friends will be coming, and lunches and dinners will happen. I’ll be hosting friends too, so maybe I’ll get to play them my favourite records. and gossip about indiepop. And there will be a Mondo dance party on Saturday which should be the bomb. Partying there every month is fine, but can’t compare it with a crowd full of indiepop people that do know by heart “Sensitive” by The Field Mice, instead of silly girls looking at you like you are outworldly for knowing songs that they have never heard in their life, and shouting your lungs out!

But before all this I have a date with Madrid Popfest this weekend. And then my birthday party the next weekend with Alpaca Sports and The Garlands. It is already shaping up as a great year. So don’t miss me too much, I’ll come back with indiepop stories from Europe in two weeks time. No gossip though. I’m so not into that 😉

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This week obscure band is Rawhide Chomp, a band I discovered years ago on Myspace. So straight from there a little bio:

Formed during the mid 80’s in St.Helens, Rawhide Chomp were born when ex Riotous Hues Phil Smith and Gaz Capper bumped into pie king Paul Cross and his mate Jamie Flannery. Many an happy hour was spent practicing at the Fringe offices before the Chomp played their first gig. This was supporting the Tractors upstairs in McDonalds. Many gigs, real and imaginary, followed before this Chomp played it’s final show supporting the La’s at the Monro in Liverpool. After a brief spell of laziness, Rawhide Chomp reformed without Gaz and Jamie. Ex -Dixie Cartoon Mike McCauley joined as singer and Simon Pratt (Kingston and the Hunters) became drummer for a brief spell. Now 21 years later, the Chomp are reborn. Polish your shoes so you can gaze into them again. Expect new material soon!

So they were back together it says. They joined MySpace in 2008, so that might be the time when they were making new songs together or perhaps only rehearsing the old ones. If they ever played again live or recorded new songs I don’t know. It seems their story ends there. But let’s dissect that bio.

St Helens is a large town in Merseyside, England. It is the largest settlement and administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of St Helens with a population of just over 100,000, while the larger metropolitan borough had a population of 176,843 at the time of the 2001 Census. Today, St Helens is very much a commercial town. The main industries have since left, become outdated, or have been outsourced leaving the float and patterned rolled glass producer Pilkington’s, a world leader in their industry, as the town’s one remaining large industrial employer.

Never been to Merseyside myself. It’s one of the places that’s on my list for this year if I don’t end up going to North Wales.

The band Riotous Hues. They probably deserve another blog post on the blog, so wait for the next episode in this same channel. For the time being you can listen to “She’s Left” in Youtube.

I see the Monro as a fancy Gastropub in Liverpool. I find it a bit odd that it was there that they played with The La’s their final show. Maybe it was another Monro? Or perhaps during the years it evolved into a more of a upscale place? It doesn’t look like a place for electric guitars!

About the band The Tractors I couldn’t really find anything. Perhaps too much of a common name to Google. Maybe somebody there knows anything about them? Were they guitar pop?

And so what is a Rawhide Chomp? It seems they are according to some stores:
Great value for money and super tasty, these Rawhide Chomp Stix are a great treat that can be used for rewarding positive behavior, training and snacking between meals.
Helping to improve the health of both their teeth and gums, the treats can also freshen their breath. Dogs love rawhide as it satisfies their natural instincts to chew.

There is also some other tidbits I could gather from the photos they have on their Myspace.
– Their first gig was at the McDonalds restaurant supporting The Tractors on Tuesday 17th June 1986
– On Saturday August 16th of that same year they supported Half Man Half Biscuit
– It’s amazing to see gigs back then cost 75p to attend!

And that’s all there is online about this band who seems to have put a couple of demo tapes out but no releases. But perhaps, I ask, they had songs on some compilation albums? Their previous band, Riotous Hues, appeared in a couple, so I wouldn’t be surprised. Maybe someone out there can recall.

So yes, if anyone knows anything else and wants to fill in the blanks about this obscure but very chiming-guitar band, just how I like them, please leave a comment! Would love to hear more about them.

See you in two weeks!

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Listen
Rawhide Chomp – Louise