It’s Sunday already. Indietracks’ last day. How should I feel? Honestly I feel gutted. I wake up with a sort of melancholy and nostalgia for previous years when the partying lasted much longer. Yesterday was a ‘fail’. There was no dancing. There was rain. It’s true, last year it was raining but the situation was different. I was a very happy man when nothing would ruin my vacations at Indietracks and then later at Wales. This year I was much more my usual self.

At least I’ll have free breakfast I thought. Make it before 11am again. I woke up late but I managed to be around 10:30am at the pub within the hotel. To my luck Cristóbal and the rest of my Spanish friends were there still.

After enjoying my necessary proteins and brown sauce for the day we headed towards the hotel entrance were Camera Obscura were getting ready to leave Derbyshire. They were all leaving, along with Francis McDonald on a big gray van. The only member of the gang that was staying for one last day of Indietracks was Lee. Andreas from Alpaca wasn’t shy at all and in the meantime, while they were waiting talked with Tracyanne and gave her a very nice present, the latest Alpaca Sports 7″. It made me grin of happiness, I know how big of a fan he is, I remember the day here in NYC when he played me twice the whole new album from a NPR stream. I thought there were some good songs on it, but he thought it was all so perfect!

To our surprise, to us who were around 10 people at the entrance waiting for our cabs, we received a present from Camera Obscura. A big box full of alcoholic treats! Wine bottles, beer cans, cider. Even water. Are we lucky or what? At that moment we decided that after Indietracks we would all meet at night, at the tables outside the pub of the hotel for our Indietracks after-party. We had now all that we needed.

Olaf and me got a free ride on Sam’s, from the Cosines, car. Jordan from Flowers rode shotgun. After a stop at a supermarket for some cash, and were I saw one of those low-life English men all beaten up after a drunken night that I only thought you see at the movies, we went all the way past Golden Valley campsite and to Indietracks grounds!

I remember Sunday to be very quiet at first. I met with Astrid, John and Amanda while they had very late breakfast by the vegetarian cafe. There were still no bands playing. Then I saw Kajsa and she was buying these long candies. Then to check the merch table where Michael from Pebble Records was giving me a hand. The Secret History records all were sold out. Same as the Flowers 7″s. I should have brought more of those, less of the t-shirts I thought.

The bar, the beer. The warm beer. There were owls too. Pet owls. Or exhibition owls. I don’t know. But there were some by the entrance. There were some by the bar too. I touched one of them on the head, and the belly. Carefully. I was afraid to being pecked and bleed out. I was just curious. I don’t think I’ve touch a bird since I had parakeets when I was six or so. And these were huge.

The first show I managed to see were Alpaca Sports at 3pm. The fifth time I see them within a year. Sometimes it goes like that doesn’t it? There are bands that you think you’ll never see and then boom, all of the time. I knew what to expect then. A flawless set of indiepop bliss. This time though there were some differences. Like their New York shows they would get help from friends. They got Miguel from The Felt Tips to play guitar and two of the Understudies to play bass and drums. Andreas always ambitious looking for a bigger sound. And why not? If it sounds better. I get goosebumps everytime I hear a song played live that I’ve released. I don’t think it’s because of self-importance, or a big ego. Sure there’s pride. But I’ve listened to these songs on repeat so many times that I feel they are almost my own. I know the lyrics by heart, especially when they are sung so clearly by a band. And that’s what happens to me with Alpaca Sports. But here there’s an exception, there’s the song “He Doesn’t Even Like You”, that I also feel like mine. When in NYC we listened to this song so many times. I would have loved to release it of course. I accompanied the band to record a video around the city. Times Square and places. I think I was supposed to appear on the video, but I’m glad I was cut off the final version. I would have looked so silly and unglamorous on it. Anyhow, that song is amazing and great to dance to it. Anyhow, the gig. It went too fast! I was standing next to Emma and her starcrushed eyes for Andreas. I was filming the whole thing. A few steps from me the Italians were singing all the songs, chanting them like tifosi. Everyone having a fantastic time. Dancing even. The French crowd was also at the front row. Jennifer was also filming but mainly Miguel. The intricacy of Miguel’s guitar playing was like always awing. Such a talent! And of course a great addition to Alpaca Sports sound this time. First time they all played together and again they managed a tight show, a fun show, and I can never say I’ve ever seen Alpaca Sports under-perform. They’ve always been the stars of every festival I’ve been.

So at the main stage we had to run for Flowers. Funny that Flowers always tell me they have the chance to see Alpaca Sports but for a reason or another, being at the same place at the same time, they can’t see them. This time because they were immediately after them and they had to set up their stuff. Though, now at Berlin Popfest I’m sure they’ll all see each other. Anyhow. Flowers. I’ve seen many nice reviews written about their gigs, the future that awaits for them, their growing popularity, and all. The surprising thing is, they are as lovely and as humble as I first talked to them. Like if they were still just a CDR band, giving their songs for free on bandcamp. Which they do of course. But they are so down to Earth that is surprising. No egos whatsoever. And perhaps that’s their secret for being so powerful on stage and for connecting with the crowd. A crowd that relates to their noisy guitars and Rachel’s inspired vocals. Powerful like always, they charmed us all. Friends of mine at the festival would come up to me later and tell me this was the best concert at Indietracks. I found Jordan just after and got their latest 7″ on Fortuna Pop, a record that continues to build the myth around the band. This is when I meet Remi, a Japanese fan. Perhaps the only Japanese fan at Indietracks this year. I introduce her to Jordan and we take photos. She happens to know Cloudberry too. I’m grateful. It made my day. I love her last name, it’s almost tsunami.

Church now. The Soulboy Collective are doing their sound check. The church is packed. When I turn around, because I took the front row seats I notice that everyone is either German or Spanish. You can’t ask for a noisier crowd! They play 6 songs. According to Olaf this is the longest set they’ve ever played. Last time he saw them in Germany they only played 3 songs. A shame indeed. Because their songs are truly beautiful, with great girl/boy vocals and classy arrangements. A very unique band, that sounds much different to any of the bands in the indiepop scene today. I guess at this time most people were watching Another Sunny Day on the train. The fact is, they missed one of the best gigs at Indietracks. Jürgen almost hiding behind the mixing desk and singing there shyly, and then in front a friendly and bubbly Lex, charming us with her big smile, and why not mention the guitar player with his thin mustache and Fred Perry wardrobe that was having the time of his life jangling along! I believe it was when they announced that they were playing “It’s All Because of You” that all the Spanish went nuts. Or was it with the last song? I can’t remember. Anyhow, it was pure beauty and because I was so charmed by it I left my shyness away, said hello to them and asked them to join me in a bunch of photos. Things a fan does.

Indoor stage. Making Marks. I believe they have only just arrived do Indietracks. I haven’t seen them around. When I got to the shed they were already on stage prepping up their instruments. From far away I said hello to Ola and then to Nina. I didn’t see them after the gig after. I wonder if they enjoyed themselves at Indietracks. I guess they did. The one thing that struck me about this show was the in-between songs, Ola telling the best stories and jokes this festival. After their show, I wouldn’t have been surprised that the stock Fika Records had brought of their 7″ sold out. A lot of people now were telling me this was the best show at the festival. For me, it was the moments when they played My Little Pony songs, that one song Ola loves telling it was a hit on MTV in Norway, that’s the best one. But don’t get me wrong, Making Marks, albeit a bit different, also have great songs. This “Barcodes” one is a true hit! And the crowd noticed, and the crowd loved it.

7:20pm. Getting a bit tired by now? Not at all. Back to the church. I have a mission in life. And that is to see The Fireworks. I had met already Shaun earlier on the day and had a bit of an incident with my Wedding Present t-shirt. But now it was time for watching Matthew’s band. A band that now counts with Emma and Isabel! Last time I saw them at Indietracks was a different lineup. I think I like this lineup much better I must say. In any case the show was a blast of throwback pop. It sounded like I was transported back to 87, listening to demo tapes of obscure bands. The Fireworks could have been one of them. Wearing anoraks and Pastels badges. Noisy, ringing guitars, bouncy basses, catchy songs, all the ingredients you need to make yourself a good band. I know Matthew for some time now, and we always have a good laugh, but whenever I see him singing, with a guitar, it is just so strange. I can’t never picture him. In fact I have forgotten the image of him playing already. I do know he is wearing a hat. And that must be it. I need to see photos. I just can’t picture him. And who cares, if they are so good live and I forget their looks or their dances or their mannerisms.  What I care is that I want to see them live again. They were really fantastic! You all better get their debut 7″ on Shelflife if you haven’t!

Time for dinner. I think I’m getting the last pieces of chicken the burrito place has. From the hill I see the main stage, The Wake are playing. I find Jennifer and we go and sit in a quiet place. We munch away, catching up. I have barely talked to her during Indietracks. I think she has been spending too much time at the stationary train.

Walking back towards the shed. On the way there Liz from The School stops me. “Do you want to be on stage with Helen Love?” she asks me. I had met Helen Love a bit ago, I stopped her and told her I was a big fan and took a photo, etc etc etc. Things I do. And now I can be on stage? Seriously? I am all up for it I say. Shooing glitter guns? Of course, even better. Let’s do it. She says to meet by the left entrance to the stage. To stand there and that she might need more people. I see Viktor around. He is a big fan too. I tell him about it, and he is up for it. And then by the front row there’s Joanny, Clemence and Amanda. They are up for it too. Kajsa is also up for it. Isabel starts putting glitter in our faces. I’ve never felt so manly in my life.

Helen Love is on and it’s being so MUCH fun. We are all jumping, up and down like atomic beat boys. Singing the songs. More like shouting the songs. It feels everyone knows them by heart here! This is an apotheosis already. We are all having the best time, dancing, almost pogoing. She plays all the classics, from “Girl About Town” to “Happy Hardcore”. It’s like she knows what we all want. It’s one of the gigs I’m going to treasure the most. And then suddenly they tell us is time for us to go in. So people start going in. And then suddenly the bouncer says that’s it. Stop. No more. And Joanny, Victor, Clemence, Amanda and me are like ‘what’s going on?’. We were asked to do it. It seems other people cut in line! Some unknown indiepop fans. Kajsa and Isabel got in. Marianthi too. Tim and Liz. What’s going to happen to us. We talk to the bouncer, and suddenly they say 4 more people or so can come in. Sadly Amanda is left out. But the rest of us go in. And then when “Does Your Heart Go Booooooom?” is about to start we all join Helen Love on stage, we shoot glitter guns and we dance like possessed people. This is all so well documented on Youtube mind you. We have the time of our lives. I remember this moment still vividly. I never expected I would do such a thing. Will I blame it on the beer or on my love for Helen Love? I dont know. Then the gig is over, I run and pick up a setlist and give Helen Love a BIG hug. For me, Indietracks has ended. I don’t want to watch any other bands. This is the memory I want to keep.

Now it was time for dancing. And I don’t know but there were no indie discos this year. I saw a post by Dennis on Anorak forum stating the same. I wasn’t alone in this. But what can I say. If I complain I get the whole British crowd against me like that one time at London Popfest when a club night didn’t care about us the indiepop people. Anyhow, at least this year they played some cheesy pop songs, and well, I’m into that too, especially when I want to just dance and be foolish. So sure, I can handle Madonna then. That’s when they played that song that I talked it was Magneto’s “Vuela Vuela” but in French. But no, it was Desireless’ “Voyage Voyage” the original. This is when we all did the train dance to some tropical sounding song. This is when I showed off some dancing skills without falling to the floor. Carl, Amanda, Amanda 2, Amanda 3, Joanny, Astrid, and more were all putting the dancefloor on fire!!!

Funny fact here. I see a guy on the dancefloor wearing a t-shirt that says Peru, with a llama. Guess what? I introduce myself and take a photo with him. Yeah, things a drunk person does.

Then by midnight of course they tell us we have to go. Hugs, kisses, time to say goodbye. Take the last train. Some making out happens in front of me. I get to talk to Graeme for a little bit, tell him to play another show! And then the ride is over. Long wait for a taxi. Pierre and me take the last one to show up almost at 1:30am. At the hotel people are bringing the box out that Camera Obscura gave us as a gift. We are all at the table, maybe around 20 of us. We are happysad. We talk for many more hours. We are leaving Derbyshire very soon, as soon as we wake up possibly. It’s all going to be so sad. But hopefully there’s next year to get our spirits high again. Be back at Swanwick Junction, because as they say in thee modern times, Indietracks I <3 you.


Northern Spies – Swanwick Junction


This week I’m thinking of doing two different posts. One for the obscure band and then one for the Sunday Indietracks review. The main reason for this is time. It’s easier for me this way, definitely.

The other reasons are that I don’t want this post to get lost among my usual babbling. Why is that? Because I really want to contact this obscure band and I’m hoping someone can help me. Why do I want to contact them? I dream of releasing a retrospective compilation of their stuff. Well, if they happen to have more than 8 songs recorded that is. I have to be reasonable sure. But I would love Shine! to be part of the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen series as I would love Nine Steps to Ugly as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. Right now I’ve just announced The Rileys CD on the website, the 4th release on a series I’m every day prouder and prouder! And also this past week the first release of the series, the Feverfew compilation, achieved the status of sold out record. I’m very happy that releasing many of my favorite obscure bands have proven successful, that one doesn’t need to follow trends when the music is good and most especially, timeless.

So Shine!

Who were these mysterious people that released a flexi and a split 12″? Who were the enigmatic band that appeared on a couple of tape compilations? The answer is, I don’t know.

There’s a name that is recurring: Martin Neumann. But he took the photos for the cover artwork for both of their releases. Most probably he wasn’t part of the band. So that’s a dead end.

There’s a contact mail though on the back cover of the split 12″. The name is Alisdair Macdonald. There’s an address there. The town is King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

King’s Lynn, also known as Lynn, is a sea port and market town in the ceremonial county of Norfolk in the East of England. It is situated 97 miles (156 km) north of London and 44 miles (71 km) west of Norwich. The population of the town is 42,800. 

The etymology of King’s Lynn is uncertain. The name Lynn is said to be derived from the body of water near the town (the River Great Ouse as it prepares to enter the Wash): the Celtic word Llyn, means a lake; but the name is plausibly of Anglo-Saxon origin, from the word Lean, implying a tenure in fee or farm. For a time it was named Len Episcopi (Bishop’s Lynn) while under the jurisdiction, both temporal and spiritual, of the Bishop of Norwich; but during the reign of Henry VIII it was surrendered to the crown, and it then assumed the name of Lenne Regis, or King’s Lynn. In the Domesday Book, it is known as Lun, and Lenn; and is described as the property of the Bishop of Elmham, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The town is and has been for generations generally known by its inhabitants and local people simply as Lynn. The city of Lynn, Massachusetts, just north of Boston, was named in 1637 in honour of its first official minister of religion, Samuel Whiting, who arrived at the new settlement from Lynn, Norfolk.

I have a strong gut feeling that’s where they were based.

Their releases.

The first release was the flexi. It included two songs, “Millions and Millions” and “The City can Wait”. It’s great. The trademark fast guitars are here. Sure it will remind you of the Wedding Present with vocals closer to the classic indiepop. And also the choruses, with backing vocals, again closer to the sort of indiepop that was loved in fanzines during the late 80s. This flexi at the time was only 50pence. How have times changed. I do wonder if the flexi, as it was accustomed at the time was sold along a fanzine. The flexi was out on March 1989 and was released as I said earlier by Baz McHat Records. The catalog number was MCHAT 01.

Who were Baz McHat records? The internet answers for us:

Funded from the profits of the nine Baz McHat Promotions (1988) and early Wilde Club gigs, this flexi-disc label was the pre-cursor to Wilde Club Records. Both Shine!’s ‘The City Can Wait’ and the Bardots’ ‘Sofaelaine’ received airplay on John Peel’s Radio One show.  The label was run by Barry Newman, who began both The Wilde Club and Wilde Club Records.

There was another flexi on the Baz McHat label before it turned to Wilde Club Records. The second flexi would be a split flexi by The Bardots and Sofaelaine.  This is an important fact as the next release by Shine! would be a split 12″ with, guess who, The Bardots.

Released in 1989, this amazing record, this split 12″, contains one of my favourite pop songs ever: “Bite the Apple”.  The other song included is nice too and it was called “It Could Never Happen to Us”. Both of these songs were produced by Howard Turner and Shine! and recorded at Raven Studios in Norfolk during August 1989. It was released in the Wilde Club label and it was the first release ever put out by this label who’d get some more attention later when they eventually released Catherine Wheel. Both of the songs were on the B side while on the A side we had The Bardots with the immense “Sad Anne” and “Summerhouse”.

Some time later they would appear on a compilation released by their label called  “I Might Walk Home Alone” with their song “Bite the Apple”. This was 1992 already. And this was the tenth release on the Wilde Club label.

In the blog we’ve mentioned the great “Everlasting: A Tape Compilation” cassette before. Among favourites of mine like The Aurbisons, Holiday Makers, A Riot of Colour and more, Shine! appeared on this compilation released in 1988. The song that they contributed was “The Art of Lying Low”.

But there’s another tape where they appeared, at least that I know, there might be more! The tape was called “Everlasting Happiness” and I believe I’ve talked a bit about it before too as it was made by a very good friend of mine from Hamburg while he lived in Scotland. Mr Andreas who I was happy to see once again at Indietracks not so long ago. On this tape Shine! shined (sorry for this terrible pun!) with the first song I ever heard from them and made me look for the rest of their records: “I Just Can’t Celebrate Today”. A blast of cheerful indiepop! I was hooked immediately.

I’ve been a fan for a long time. And this is as much as I’ve been able to gather about them. So maybe someone can help me. I know it’s not just me who loves them. I remember my friend Nana for her 30th birthday made the most beautiful flyer using the artwork for the Shine!/Bardots split 12″ which you can see here. That was the night I DJed in that city too. It was one of the best nights ever. And Shine! in a way, was part of it.

So yes, let’s try to find out more about Shine! And perhaps in the not so distant feature a new retrospective CD can happen of one of the bands I’m most curious about!

++ UPDATE: Andreas who made the Everlasting Happiness tape wrote me today with some corrections and some interesting details about Shine!

“Everlasting Happiness” was compiled in my wiggly hometown called Worms during the last year of secondary school in 1990 and released in early 1991 during my civilian service as a paramedic (first edition of 100 copies and second edition of another 100 copies sold out within weeks or months). The law studies in Glasgow happened three years later in 1994/95.

For most bands on “Everlasting Happiness” (and bands that didn’t make it on there) I have basically every song they had ever recorded until 1990 (including, for example, Nine Steps To Ugly, The Golden Dawn and The Mayfields). A notable exception is Shine! who had released two official demo tapes at the time and I only have the second one entitled “Numbrainedeadumbrain” (this is currently all packed up on the attic, I remember about 9 songs which are absolutely fantastic, i.e. this would be a very worthwhile retrospective compilation)

++ UPDATE 2: Andreas pointed me to some interesting stuff!

Found out the band members names:
Tim Warnes – Bass/Vocals
Andy Bunting – Guitar/Vocals
Paul Cator – Guitar/Vocals, the later of Ivy
Mark Coulson – Drums.

Yes, that’s the Ivy that was on Sarah Records!


Shine! – Bite the Apple



I must have woken up early on Saturday. Breakfast is served at the pub until 11am. But I must have been around 10:00 am at the pub. As I learned last year, I made myself comfortable at my friend’s table, joining Cris, Madidi, Yago, and the whole Spanish crew and then headed to serve myself breakfast. This way I get breakfast for free instead of 7 or 8 pounds. I love that there’s no control for it and the people working there don’t care obviously. It is true though that last year I couldn’t get away with murder everyday as my ex-girl end up making me pay 2 of 3 breakfasts, but this year I made it to 3 free breakfasts. Sometimes it’s nicer to be single.

Proper English breakfast then. Sausages, many of them, beans, egg, tomatoes. Orange juice. And then I love HP Brown sauce over my sausages. I mix it all. Tastes heavenly. Very unhealthy though. But three times a year doesn’t hurt.

I joined Carlos and Maria on a taxi towards Butterley Station. We arrived just on time, the train was about to leave. We walked towards the front of the train, all the way to the bar were we had a very nice talk with the old gentleman that was acting as bar tender. He recommended us some beers that we took happily. I can’t remember the name right now, but I remember it had some bees printed on the aluminum, yellow and black cans. He was explaining that these beers used to be stronger back in the day, that they were made in the Midlands but god knows where they are made. Modern times as they call them.

As soon as we arrived to Indietracks grounds we knew we had to be smarter and just cross towards the first wagon and get a good place. We swiftly did that before anyone got on. Eventually the whole Indietracks was in this wooden car making  it the hottest place I’ve ever been in. What was all this fuss about? Why this heat? Why all these people? Northern Spies was going to play.

I admit not having heard any of the songs before, as when it comes to new bands I’m usually under a rock. I had heard Astrid’s other project though, Don’t Cry Shopgirl, and I love it. So for me, it made a lot of sense to go check Northern Spies. At least I knew she could sing nicely. With everyone of us sweating, bathing the car’s floor with drops falling off our faces, Astrid began a beautiful set of acoustic pop that must have lasted around 25 minutes. With jokes and stories in between songs, and unexpected charm, she made the heat almost bearable. Everyone’s t-shirts were wet. Hair was flattening. But we all gave a round of applause every time a song was over. Sweet and very descriptive, smart and quirky, that’s how the songs sounded like. From the top of my head I remember the song about Indietracks, “Swanwick Junction”, whose lyrics and feeling was, I’m sure, very dear to all of us in the crowd. And then the song “America” where Astrid sings about her next trip, a dream trip, to the US. A trip that I believe is around the corner, and where she will be playing a show here in my town, in NYC! I look so much forward to that, to hear these songs again, and perhaps be transported for a bit to Indietracks. Ah! The memories!

After we all got off the train, Astrid did a little reprise for a little kid that was on the platform. One last song. That’s when I see Paul Sunbather arriving wearing a great Trixie’s Red Motorbike t-shirt. I was very jealous of it. Where do I get it? Supposedly at Trixie’s site! I should order it now before I forget! Then as soon as I could I headed to the bathroom to wash. I needed to freshen up! I had been melting on the train.

I got to listen just a bit of Finnmark afterwards, just the end. Every one that saw the whole thing was praising them. They seemed to have sounded really well, so I bought their CDR for 5 pounds. Very pricey. I still haven’t listened to it though. But will get round to it soon. You know, there’s a big pile of CDs to listen.

More beer then. Back to the indoor stage. Choo Choo Trains are playing. I listen to two or three songs and I’m not into it. I’m not captured by the sound. Shame as I like all-girl bands. I thought crosses my mind, the drummer looks very much like Dolly Mixture drummer.

After heading out and talking to every single person at Indietracks I return, minutes before 3pm to the indoor stage. I buy and fulfill my beer needs and head all the way to the front. What’s happening? Well, Pale Spectres are playing. If I had seen them on Thursday in London and thought they were brilliant, well, at Indietracks they were even more brilliant. They truly deserved a bigger crowd, and they got it. Cute moment when Rafael was taking photos of the crowd from his drumming position. Or Stephane being almost a kangaroo jumping all around the stage while he was pounding the bass. You could tell they were having the best of fans, enjoying like it was their last concert. And you could see next to me all their French friends and girlfriends, falling head over heels for them, with pride, with excitement, with that sort of feeling that you know that your friends are making a mark here. And I must say I mixed in there, I joined that feeling. I was happy to be able to call them friends, to know them, and now to work with them in this future 7″ that will include four songs that they included in their set. You don’t want to miss that. This is one of the best bands around. Hands down.

What time it is? Well, it’s lunch time. Let’s try the burrito today. No pull pork? What do you have? Only chicken? Well let’s get some chicken. Put some more spicy sauce please. Avocados. No sour cream. Never sour cream please. Now The Understudies are on stage. I wait for Miguel to join them. They sound beautifully. What a lovely band they are. Not the first time I see them. But they always sound good. They are quite unique these days in their sound. They are ambitious, but not pretentious. They have a very polished taste I think. They are elegant. And they dress elegant too. I sit down at a table with Elin and Lindsay. Emma joins us too. Eating a burrito with friends. The Understudies sounding on the back, can lunch get better than this?

I think I got to listen the last Fever Dream song. I can’t remember by now. It sounded very hipster to me. I wasn’t thrilled. Everyone raves about them though, there must be something. I hope they have some releases soon so I can properly listen. More beer. I get to talk with one of the bar tenders for quite a bit. Our conversation revolves on the fact that there are no refrigerators. He tells me if anyone was to donate a refrigerator, next year we would have cold beer at last. People, maybe some of you have a big refrigerator you don’t need?

Let’s watch When Nalda Became Punk. The whole Spanish crowd starts filling the front area of the indoor stage. Elena can’t ask for more support. We learn that it is Antonio’s birthday too and he has got a nice present. A cat photo, framed. 1 pound I believe, bought at the merch tent. The framed cat adorns the stage now. They have plenty of stories, I love stories in between songs. I don’t like when bands start thanking every other band that ever existed or the venue because they don’t know what else to say while they are tuning their instruments in between songs. I prefer stories. And Nalda has them. The songs to me sound better than at Madrid Popfest, they sound chiming and fun. Bouncy and catchy. Way to go! Fun and tight, Nalda enchanted the Indietracks crowd. For me, I especially like the boy/girl vocals songs that they have. Check those out, they are really good. It’s really like the Spanish Pop I always loved but sang in English, without losing that classic charm of the bands from the badly called tontipop era.

Time for The Great Ghostby and him doing unheard things with the American flag. The Secret History are giving one of the best shows I’ve ever seen them. Michael is covering his head, his face, with the American flag. The band is just pouring all the energy they’ve got. You can’t think they have jetlag if you are seeing what I’m seeing. They are like an stampede of pop, of guitars, of drums, of fabulous lyrics and immense songs. My Spanish friends tell me how huge they are. How much attitude, how much “balls”, they have. That it’s unheard for English bands to come and give this much on stage. I tell them that it’s also unheard for American bands. It’s a fabulous show, playing again some My Favorite songs, songs that make Arnar the happiest fan ever. He would tell me later that was the best moment of the festival. He would have never expected to hear them again after so many years when he did in Sweden. Viktor is terribly happy. Everyone is. After the show we all take photos with Michael and Gil. Everyone is smiling. You can say The Secret History have conquered England. As I said on a previous post. The Secret History – Amazing live, if you miss them, you die. Hope you didn’t miss them then kids.

How much longer can this post get!? Then I headed for the McTells and more beer at the shed. I had a bunch of McTells records in London and I was supposed to bring them to Indietracks to get them signed. But guess what? I forgot. It was a fine show. But for some reason or another I ended up distracted chatting with people. I feel I was a bit overwhelmed with so many shows and it was time to rest. Socialize. So after the McTells I decided to skip The Pastels. I know, they are The Pastels. I love so many of their songs. But if I’m terribly honest I’m not that keen in their later stuff. Though from far away I heard them playing Nothing to Be Done. And I admitted defeat this time. The Pastels win. And me? I was far away while everyone was enjoying that perfect slice of pop.

Then what everyone was afraid happened. RAIN. Stupid English rain. Everything starts getting muddy and sticky. The restaurants closed. So no dinner. Everyone starts pulling out their umbrellas, their ponchos. Some are already prepared and have their rain boots on. Feeling miserable. But don’t despair. The best thing ever at Indietracks is about to happen. The best gig by far is just around the corner at the indoor stage. A bunch of cool gentleman come on stage, leading them is Davey Woodward. At his left there’s a guy with a trumpet. I grin of happiness. I secure a spot on the front row. Because I want to see them close, next to a father and a daughter. A daughter that is on her dad’s shoulder, holding a Brilliant Corners LP. I’m close too because I want a setlist after the gig. And so, it starts. And they sound so tight, so perfect, as in their records. Right now I don’t know or care how they sounded in the 80s. For me, how they sounded that day was timeless. It was the way I always expected them to sound and my plane tickets to UK were well spent. They played all the classics (well, what I assume are the classics!), from “Teenage” to “Oh!”, from “Rambling Rose” to “Why Do You Have to Go Out With Him…”, and so on. “Brian Rix” was also there. And they played “Meet Me on Tuesdays”. And then once again after people asked, shouted, for an encore, The Brilliant Corners treated us once more for “Meet Me on Tuesdays”. It was magical. And having had the chance to talk for a bit with Davey after the concert over a beer was very nice as well. Sadly the Brilliant Corners were there just for a day. They played their show and had to leave instead of enjoying the festival. I hope Davey can come next year maybe with the Experimental Pop Group! That’d be great too! But as they say, The Brilliant Corners can claim on their own, vini, vidi, vici. Because they did.

Terrible news now. The rain is awful and Camera Obscura are not playing at the big stage. They have to move to the indoor one. The discos are canceled. I don’t believe Camera Obscura were happy about it. They wanted the big stage, the bigger crowd, the better sound. But what can they do. The rain is ruining it. I hope they are not pissed! I’m always afraid of Tracyanne being pissed. This is their last show in a long time, Im sure they want to do their best. They are all looking really sharp and good today. I lost my spot at the front. I’m at the back now, chit chatting with people and getting more beer. I listen to them from there. They sound great. I look at the stage. Tracyanne is sitting, perhaps tired. It doesn’t matter, she still sings beautifully. And when their new hit “Break it to You Gently” I get truly happy. That’s the one song I really like in the new album.

Then everything is over. There’s no dancing. Most of my friends have already left the festival grounds towards the hotel. People suffer when there’s rain. They lose their minds. They overreact. I want to stay and party. I would go to the campsite but the rain doesnt seem like it’s stopping soon. They are calling for the last train. I walk towards the entrance, well more like running, and under my umbrella I have myself, Astrid, and Amanda. I wonder how am I doing this. Tiny umbrella. I dont have a better idea to give my umbrella away for the girls to get kind of dry to the campsite. I’ll manage alright on a cab. I will be dry. The night is over. And it’s over with a bittersweet taste, that I didn’t party as I would have wanted but I saw some fantastic life-affirming gigs.

I ride the taxi with Arnar and Rasmus back to South Normanton. We stay talking outside the hotel for a bit. Kenny from Camera Obscura joins us for a bit. They all smoke. I’m still a non-smoker. The wee hours. We know already that this is almost over. There’s just one more day of festival and then everyone will be leaving this Disneyland of indiepop. If only…


Heaven’s Above: Heavens Above! is a 1963 British satirical comedy film starring Peter Sellers, directed by John and Roy Boulting, who also co-wrote along with Frank Harvey, from an idea by Malcolm Muggeridge. It is in much the same vein as earlier collaborations between Sellers, Harvey and the Boultings, Private’s Progress and I’m All Right Jack.

Today’s obscure band is as obscure as it can get. I only know of one single recording by them, and it’s not the best sounding. It sounds like a demo, of course. But it’s quite a curiosity I think. And I think there’s some value to that. Their song is called “Autumn Anorak”. That’s like über indiepop. And was it because of the movie that they gave themselves that name? I don’t know. Heaven’s Above was a band from the UK. That’s as far as I can tell.

This recording comes from another very obscure tape compilation called “123456 Road Runner”. There’s absolutely no information about this tape on the web unless google forget to find it. The song appears on the B side of the tape, being the fifth song there.
There are some known names on it though, like The Prescriptions, Strawberry Story, The Snowbirds, All Over The Place, The Losers, Fat Tulips, The Cudgels, The Lovelies, Dreamscape and Dalek Beach Party. The rest of the bands on it, I’ve never heard of. But there are some interesting surprises. Like this one with it’s fabulous chorus, “Be My Anorak Baby”.

So who can help me shed some light on this band? Or even on this tap compilation?

Edit: Uwe from Firestation just tipped me that they also appeared on a tape compilation called “A Prospect of the Sea” that you can check the tracklist here. It was released on Cloud Production (Smile 003) and they included “Autumn Anorak” and also another song called “God Told Me To Do It” . No clue how this other song sounds!


Heaven’s Above – Autumn Anorak


Thanks so much to Richard Preece for the interview! The Spinning Wheels only released one 7″ back in the late 80s, but it included an indiepop classic, “A Million Years”. Years later he was going to be part of bands like Lovejoy or The Snowdrops. Most importantly for those curious about his 80s past last year Jigsaw Records released a compilation called “When The Music’s Over” that you can get here.

++ Hi Richard! Thanks a lot for being up for this interview. First things first, when are you releasing new music? I’m longing for a new Lovejoy record, or Snowdrops would be nice too!

Hi Roque – thanks for getting in touch! It’s a long time since I answered any questions about the Spinning Wheels, such is the impact of the ‘group’! I’m afraid there’s no new Lovejoy or Snowdrops releases on the horizon. It’s been a while since I released anything – the last 2 songs were on a Matinee compilation and on the Country Music compilation – both were closely linked to Keith and really, his absence from my life led to me retiring from writing and recording new music. (That and a work schedule that leaves little time for anything else!) Don’t get me wrong, I’m not moping about or anything, its just that making music has always been about connecting with friends and sharing ideas and inspirations and I had a lot of fun and met some really nice people, but it was the right time to stop. There are a few Lovejoy demos knocking around, and I recorded some amazing songs with Keris and a guy called Andrew a couple of years ago which was immense fun, but for various reasons they never saw the light of day. I’ll try to keep some of the following answers a bit shorter…

++ So The Spinning Wheels was just yourself? There was no one else helping in these recordings?

The Spinning Wheels was mostly just me – any recorded music was just me, but there was a three piece version for a while. The band came together after the 7″ came out and I was asked to play some gigs. (We played a handful of gigs in Brighton – Scott and James were the other members. We were ok, fairly tight even. But once the record deal fell through (not with Teatime) I just gave up and hid for a while and that sort of finished the band off. I probably didn’t behave too well about it, but I was deeply embarrassed at my failure…and I was young and foolish…

++ I assume you didn’t play live or if you did you didn’t do often, is that right?

3 or 4 gigs was the total. All in Brighton although we were offered gigs at home and abroad.

++ Where did the name of the band came from?

I wrote a song called The Spinning Wheels. It seemed apt at the time – I think the passing of time has been a common feature of interest and concern for me throughout my whole life. The song was recorded on my cassette 4 track and it was released on the Tea Time cassette. I think it was one of the first songs I’d written as a young student, living away from home for the first time.

++ And where you involved in any bands prior the Spinning Wheels?

Not really – a joke school band and a joke college band (although we supported the Chesterfields!) – early to mid 80s. I really didn’t have much to offer anyone musically at that point. The Spinning Wheels started as a way of sending demo tapes out to some of my favourite labels from about 86 or 87 onwards. I’d met some guys from a band called The Visitors who were selling demo tapes at gigs and local record shops and I’d seen The Chesterfields and Razorcuts as my first live music experience and I just wanted to join in really…I saw some great bands and look back on those days really fondly – apart from when I remember my social ineptness.

++ I know your music through the 7″ released by Tea Time records. How did you end up releasing the “A Million Years” 7″ with them?

See above really…Teatime had released some really good singles, Mousefolk / Teatime were fairly local to where I was living and Stuart who was in Mousefolk and ran the label was really supportive. I kept sending poorly recorded demo tapes out to loads of labels and Stuart always came back with positive comments. I probably badgered him into releasing the ‘Land of the Soviets’ cassette of my demo recordings, but Teatime had released one or two other cassette tapes (I have a Mousefolk one somewhere), so it came about quite easily. After the cassette came out, Stuart eventually liked a later demo tape enough to put some money into recording costs for a 7″. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! By then I was living in Brighton and had been in touch with La Di Da, so arranged to record the songs with Grant…

++ The three songs on that record are by far the most known to indiepop fans. Do you mind telling a little bit of the story behind these three songs?

Well, its all a bit lost in the midst of time really…but ‘A Million Years’ was a love song about a fictional break up that was yet to occur. ‘Naked Ladies’ was (you guessed it) about a girl. Actually it was really about the pictures on her and my wall…I was a young student who kind of liked Modigliani and Matisse in that rather irritating, pseudo way that students sometimes do… Yes I was an idiot and took thing quite literally. ‘Because We’re Queers’ is / was a really clumsy and poorly written homage to my hero, Joe Orton. I was obsessed. I was pleased with ‘A Million Years’, less so with the other songs.

++ You recorded the single with Grant from La Di Da. It seems so many records were recorded at his kitchen! Tell me about that experience?

I didn’t ingratiate myself well with Grant when I first met him. A group called All Over The Place were recording at his house (the mixing desk was actually in a bedroom, although instruments and vocals were recorded all over the house). I’d just turned up at Grant’s, having just moved to Brighton and although we’d had some written contact, he clearly had no idea who this person who had turned up uninvited on his doorstep was. He invited me in to listen to the mixes of the songs he was recording. I was complimentary but mentioned that one of the tracks sounded a little ‘tinny’. It went quite quiet and shortly afterwards I left…The record was released soon afterwards and the song in question was labelled as ‘Re-mix’ on the sleeve! Fortunately Grant welcomed me back a few more times and a sort of friendship developed and of course it was an obvious choice of studio when Teatime offered me the money to record some songs. He also told me about ‘This band called the Art Bunnies’ and tried to introduce me a couple of times. That’s another story though!

++ What about the photo on the front cover of the 7″, who is that?

The girl is called Jane and she was my girlfriend at the time. (So predictable, I know…)

++ And is it true there was a second 7″ scheduled for release? What happened?!

Well, yes it is true. The 7″ had been fairly well received – got a couple of plays on John Peel plus local radio stations etc… and Stuart and I were writing fairly regularly (this is a long time before emails don’t forget!) I had recorded some more songs on the trusty porta studio and Stuart seemed keen for me to record them. I’d booked some studio time, started to design the sleeve when I got the letter saying that it had all gone wrong – The recession had recently hit and a lot of small businesses were suffering – Not that Stuart would have called Teatime a business of course, but the simple fact was there was no more money – some distributors were going bust as well as smaller labels and I think a lot of people lost out. At the time I remember thinking ‘maybe he just doesn’t like the songs’ but the fact that ‘A Million Years’ remained the final release on the label eventually convinced my that Stuart had genuinely been a victim of the recession…I think he called it a day with music at that point as well.

++ I remember, maybe 10 years ago, on soulseek, a digitised copy of the “In the Land of Soviets” tape was shared around. There were no track list on the songs though. What’s the story of this tape? And I guess the title of the tape is because you are a big Tintin fan?

I think I have partially answered this above, but ‘In the land of the soviets’ was a genuine Teatime release, with a catalogue number and everything! It sold a few hundred copies as well…The tape was a collection of poorly recorded 4 track demos that I’d been sending to people. 11 songs, 1 cover version. Yes I was / am a big TinTin fan, and I still love TinTin now. But really, I was too excited that Stuart was happy to release the songs to stop and ask myself if the songs were good enough or well recorded enough. With hindsight, of course the answer to both questions is ‘no’, but like I said before, I was young and foolish…

++ I read you were at some point signed to a larger label. Who were they? And how come there were no releases with them?

I’d probably best not say who the label was, but it looked like it was going to be pretty big at the time. Once Teatime closed down, I sent copies of the 7″ to a number of labels to try and get some interest. The label in question were new, had contacts with some big labels and really cool bands. I was convinced by them that I was going to release records for them and be really well received. Basically I think they were always struggling with cash flow – promising recording time, equipment, transport etc…but singularly failing to come up with the goods. They were really nice people but in the end I think they were just naive. Songs were recorded at a studio and eventually the tapes were wiped when the bill never got paid…12 months or more of angst and uncertainty really wasn’t good for me!

++ When and why did you decide to stop doing The Spinning Wheels?

Well – once it became clear there wasn’t going to be a single and album on the new label, I was devastated. I really withdrew from music altogether for a few years. This was probably in ’91 or ’92.

++ Last year Chris at Jigsaw Records released a compilation called “When the Music’s Over”. How did this release come about? Have you ever thought before this about releasing a retrospective album?

Chris had emailed me once or twice over the years – He’d been really supportive when I was releasing records as Lovejoy and he’d sometimes ask about The Spinning Wheels. I guess ‘A Million Years’ is a bit more raw than some of my later songs and probably quite in tune with Chris’ tastes…Chris wanted to hear more! Eventually I found some demo tapes and transferred them onto my current porta studio for Chris to hear. He liked them and asked if he could release them through Jigsaw. I thought that the songs sounded pretty bad and poorly recorded, but Chris was keen and so I thought ‘why not?’. The other thing is that over the years I’d had letters and later emails from people who had actually liked something they’d heard by the Spinning Wheels, and I thought it would be good to make them available, if only to the handful of people who would still be interested.

++ But one thing that caught my attention is that many songs of yours are missing. For example “That’s the Question” that appeared on the Everlasting tape. Or many from the “In the Land of Soviets” tape. Why was that?

Roque – you are good! You have done your homework! Well, ‘That’s the Question’ appeared on ‘In the Land of the Soviets’. Chris and I talked about whether to include the songs from that tape. He was fairly keen to, but I really found it all a bit to painful, especially the sound quality but also the quality of the songs and the performances. So we agreed to release only songs that hadn’t been released before apart from the ones on the ‘A Million Years’ 7″. So all the songs on ‘When The Music’s Over’ are demos from just before and just after the 7″. None were intended to be released and were recorded as simple demos.

++ Are there many more unreleased Spinning Wheels songs? How many tapes did you make back then?

There’s possibly a few – my catalogue system is really poor. There were one or two songs that I actually really liked but the tapes were damaged and they couldn’t transfer without some dropping out, which is sad. All told I probably recorded over 30 songs as the Spinning Wheels.

++ How do you remember the scene back then? Did you go to many gigs? Who were your favourite bands? And where would you usually hang out say on a Friday or Saturday night?

Well, I touched on this earlier. I got great introduction to live music, living near Exeter in the mid and late 80s. Loads of great bands from the Flatmates to the Field Mice, Wedding Present to 1000 Violins…Countless fantastic gigs that I am so pleased to have witnessed. I then moved to Brighton in 1990 – I’d been inspired to know that Creation records had relocated there and of course there were some great bands there too – Popguns, 14 Iced bears etc…I was never cool enough to be ‘part of any ‘scene’ though- I just dragged the girl I was dating to whichever band I wanted to see. Venues like The Richmond and THe Concord seemed to be pretty cool – most of the Sarah bands who played live visited Brighton at some point – Sea Urchins, Brighter, Even As We Speak, Orchids etc… as well as plenty of great bands on other labels.

++ I also wonder, how important were fanzines for you back then? And do you think blogs have the same impact, or importance, as fanzines had?

Fanzines were really important, And flexis and tapes. The thing is, there was no social networking, so unless you knew someone you were really isolated and you know, for indie kids, isolated can be a good thing, but it’s also really cool to be able to share thoughts and ideas with like minded people, which is probably why indie pop seems to thrive on blogs and electronic media. I loved some of the fanzines of the day – it was like a message in a bottle from a like minded person (if it was any good!)

++ One last question, besides music, what other things do you enjoy doing? Any hobbies?

Well, I see a few friends from time to time – Keris and Alex and I meet up fairly often…I don’t have too much time for hobbies because work is so full on, but I do spend a lot of time ferrying my own kids to their hobbies! I still enjoy listening to music and I sometimes pick up the guitar and think, optimistically, that maybe this is the day for me to finish a song off…


The Spinning Wheels – A Million Years


Thanks so much to Pat (JP Bananas) for the interview! Screeming Custard was a late 80s-early 90s band from London that released two records, a 7″ and a 12″ as well as some appearances in compilations. I was always curious about them because they sounded so different to their indiepop counterparts. Even though there’s quite a bunch of information on their website, I always wondered what happened to them. If you also want to know more, sit back, read and enjoy!

++ Hi Pat! Thanks so much for being up for an interview. Tell me are you still making music? And are you in touch with the rest of the band these days?

Hi Roque, good to hear from you and thanks for remembering us!

Although I get the guitar out from time to time I’m not doing anything serious any more. I think Rob (Action Jackson – bass) is still playing and Paul (The Corner / Donkey – guitar) may be as well. Paul went off and did the whole rock star thing with a real band after the Custards, not that any of us are jealous..

Paul, Rob and I got together at Flo’s funeral last year – nice to see them again but obviously not under those circumstances. Our original drummer, Larry, surfaced recently but no-one has seen Abbie for a while.

++ I read on the Screeming Custard page that there is or was the intention to make a retrospective compilation if there was enough interest. How is that going? Might it happen? Also, how feasible will it be for a sort of a reunion gig?

I did get the old tapes re-mastered but they were in a sorry state unfortunately. The engineer (Chris from the excellent Dalek Beach Party) said he’d never used so many Q-tips in one session. The plan was to find the best version of each song and then release a compilation through the website. Unfortunately it never really got further than wondering about names for the album – Never Mind The Dollops? I was wondering about doing something with Spotify but wouldn’t really know where to start.

We briefly discussed a reunion but Paul is living down in Bristol now. I suppose we could do something clever using the internet for rehearsals but for us the rehearsals were almost as good as the gigs. We used to be holed up in a cat-infested room on the Catford one-way system 2 or 3 nights a week and the noise and energy was fantastic. Not sure that’ll be quite as exciting over Skype. I don’t want to rule it out as I always wanted to play an English festival – back when we were knocking around there weren’t any to speak of other than the occasional New Cross and Lewisham Fun Days – but it’s unlikely.

++ When did you get your first guitar? And what made you choose that instrument over the others? Was Screeming Custard your first band?

My first guitar was from the Freemans catalogue – a Kay I think with terrible action. Must have been in the mid 1970s and it took months to pay it off. I wasn’t bothered about any other instrument – it was always the guitar for me. I took classical lessons at school, which almost put me off but then bought a book of chords, so when punk broke I was ready with E, A and D. I was in several bands before the Custards, most of which are not worth mentioning. A couple with Norman Cook (I was going out with his sister at the time) and then when I moved to London I joined The Wait, who were a pretty good Lewisham band. The band before that was called Between Yes and No; we had trumpet, viola, flute and me thrashing away on guitar. Very serious, very early-Eighties.

++ So how did the band start? How did you get to know each other?

We really did do it all through the Melody Maker ad pages. Paul advertised first and I went down and we thought we might have something. He got Rob in on bass (they’d been in a band together before) and Larry helped out on drums. We didn’t think we needed a singer and were just going to do instrumentals… When we realised we did need a singer we advertised again and didn’t get much response. But Abbie came along and although we couldn’t really hear her she just slotted right in, which was fine by the rest of us. When we first heard her voice on tape we thought Oh my God – how didn’t we notice that in the audition?

When Larry had his glider accident we advertised again and Flo was the only drummer who could keep up. He was amazing – easily the best and most innovative drummer I was in a band with. We used to see how many songs we could play in a row before he fell off his stool. We would open the set with five songs in a row but my girlfriend pointed out it was probably a little too intense, and we were also finishing the set too quickly. We all got on really well – lots of banter, lots of abuse, and no fallings out until the very end.

++ I read that it was on your second gig that you played under the name Screeming Custard. So, under what name did you play the first? And how did the name of the band come about?

The first gig was in Bromley and we went under the not very clever name of Bastard. It was the only thing we could agree on for some reason. Before our second gig we decided we needed something else so went for a lunchtime session in the Sun On The Sands pub in Blackheath. We didn’t come up with anything at all but on the way back Paul just said, how about Screeming Custard? We changed the spelling to annoy journalists I think. We knew it was a good idea when our first break was a mention in Sounds’ ‘10 Crap Band Names’ chart. Fantastic.

++ I read you were based in Bromley. How was it back then? Where would you usually hang out? Were there any other good bands in town? And has it changed much from those years?

Paul and Rob were the Bromley boys – I was in Blackheath Standard, Abbie in Eltham (I think) and Flo somewhere in-between. We used to rehearse in Pauls’ Mum’s Front Room until she got fed up and then we moved to Catford. We were part of the Catford Musician’s Collective so spent more time there and did some early gigs they put on at the Black Horse and Lewisham Labour Club. There was a band called Dandelion, who were pretty good. Before I joined the Custards I knocked around with the June Brides a bit, who were probably the best band to come out of the area at the time.

++ I’ve met Ian Watson many times, so I’m pretty curious how did he end up being your manager?

Ah, the mysterious Ian Watson. He was going out with a friend of mine so I asked if he’d be interested in helping out. He did a great job and got us some good gigs we wouldn’t have got otherwise. Not sure what we gave him in return other than headaches and five minutes on-stage at one of the Pauls Mums Front Room Extravaganzas. Before Ian got involved we were facing the problem all bands in London did at the time – you couldn’t play the better clubs unless you had a manager. Our solution was for Rob or I to phone the venue as Mr Potter to book a slot. After we’d played we’d just say that Mr Potter was with one of his other bands that evening and that we’d give him the money later. It always worked. We chose Potter because England had a caretaker manager at the time and Potter was the caretaker in 70’s sitcom Please Sir.

++ You toured in Spain. That wasn’t that common for indiepop bands back in the 80s . How did that come about and what were your highlights of that trip?

Spain was a great laugh and we got paid enough to release the first single. It was done through the Musician’s Collective so we went out and stayed with a band who got us gigs and then we did the same in return for them. So they got us on TV, a slot at a Barcelona festival and a couple of gigs in packed clubs, and in return I’m afraid they played to an empty Hype Club, were interviewed on local radio but did a good show at the Labour Club. We weren’t really similar music – they were quite quirky and rocky. Luckily (for us) the collective in Terasa where we stayed were mainly punks so we had a great time. Paul and I stayed with a performance artist called Kiku Mistu (I think) who once posted himself across Spain in a box. The TV was a definite highlight but the festival was also good. That was the first time we strangled Chic’s Freak Out.

++ And in the UK you played so many gigs! Which would you say were your favourites and why?

Hard to remember them all but playing with Cud was always great. We got in touch with them and said we’d book them a gig in London – they hadn’t played anywhere major at that point. We put them on at Hype and the place was packed. In return they put us up in Leeds and we did a gig with them in a pub – great weekend. David Gedge was apparently in the audience which was a thrill as the Wedding Present were one of the bands we all looked up to. We always loved playing at Hype before Jon Beast went off with Carter. It became a bit of a home venue for us in those rather bleak days before Brit-Pop opened doors to guitar bands again. The Fountain in Deptford was also always a good night. Not sure how they got away with cramming that number of people in the upstairs room.

++ I love your sound, “Tracy”, is one of those great indiepop gems you know. But I wonder what were you listening at this time to make music like this?!

Thanks! It was just one of those happy accidents that that was how we sounded. We were already quite noisy and then with Abbie’s twee vocals on top it seemed to just work. We were likened to The Cranes, who I liked along with bands from the Twee movement, but we mainly listened to the likes of Pixies, Gang of Four, Wire, Wedding Present, Cud, Carter, Family Cat and New Model Army.

++ Your two releases came out on Pauls Mums Front Room Records. What’s the story behind that peculiar name of the label?!

As you’ve probably guessed, that’s where we rehearsed initially and also where we recorded the first single. The engineer set up at the top of the stairs and we used the front room. Abbie was nervous so recorded in the dark apart from a globe that lit up on the mantlepiece. We set up the label because it was hard to get anyone to take a chance on us at the time. I’m pleased we did as it was a good experience running it. The label of the second single shows Paul’s mum on one side and the front room on the other. We signed up with the Cartel and sold a lot of singles in America as we were getting played on college radio out there.

++ Your first release was the “Tracy” 7″. Who was Tracy? And David?

I think David was one of Abbie’s old boyfriends but Tracey was Abbie’s generic term for any girl happy to under achieve in life. John Peel asked us the same question and then told us his daughter is called Tracy. Slightly awkward.

++ For the second release, the “Lurve” 12″ you had to get a big loan. How did that work out? Is it all paid now?

I had to take out a loan to get a roof fixed and used it to pay for the single instead. It took a lot longer to pay off than my first guitar! In fact the second single didn’t sell very well but I had 250 nicked from a lock-up, which turned out to be the label’s best day’s business when the insurance company finally paid up.

++ On the Waaaaah split flexi you were supposed to contribute a New Order cover but in the end you gave Richard the song “Raft”. What happened with New Order?

We were still doing one of the early instrumentals live and Abbie wanted to put some words over it so she wasn’t just standing there. She said she knew John Barnes’s rap from World In Motion and promptly sang it over the instrumental. It fitted okay and so we offered it to Richard at Waaaah. Someone said we should ask New Order in case they had a problem with it and we were amazed that they said they did. In the end we had to give Waaaah an out-take track that we had also offered to another fanzine, which we felt bad about. New Order then got some bad publicity for turning us down and said we could use it after all. Too late by then of course so it’s just become one of those tracks that turns up on download sites from time to time.

++ You had a song on a Big Muff fanzine flexi. I wonder how involved were you in the fanzine scene of the late 80s? It seems like there were so many of them championing indiepop.

Yes, we loved the whole fanzine scene. I’d grown up with the punk fanzines and then through the football fanzine era so the idea of DIY was always something I supported. I’d helped Norman Cook out with his Peroxide fanzine and later a football fanzine, but there wasn’t really time to get too involved once the Custards were up and running. We were good friends with Richard Waaaaah so I still have a soft spot for that publication. The internet has done many good things and keeping the spirit of fanzines alive with blogs like yours is definitely one of them.

++ Tell me a bit about the “several dodgy tapes” you made. And what about the t-shirts and badges? Did you make any other merch? You seem to have been pretty productive!

This was something I got from Norman really. He was great at making badges and tapes of that band so it seemed obvious to do it for the Custards. We had the idea for the logo and Better Badges did some good ones for us. The T-shirts were as rough and ready as everything else. I’d already hand-made one, which I wore at early gigs but we then did two versions – one with yellow custard and then one with pink. I think they sold better than the records. The tapes were just demo tapes that we drew covers for. We’d do special editions that we’d send out to fans that wrote to us. We used to get a lot of mail from fairly troubled young girls. Flo was very good at writing back; he was our agony Aunty hence his band name of Aunty Flo.

++ From all your songs, which one would you say are your favourites, and why?

I did have to go back through them when I was thinking about the compilation and it was interesting hearing them as complete songs rather than just wondering where my guitar had gone to in the mix. I have to say I still like Mouth and a Brain, for the lyrics but also for the way we were able to get the guitars to sound a bit heavier with each verse. I also like the two singles and Le Freak. When you’re playing the songs, your favourites are different because there are some parts you just like doing so as I say it’s odd hearing them again in a more dispassionate way.

++ Something that always caught my attention about Screeming Custard were Abi’s vocals. They are quite unique! How important were they in the vision you all had of the sound Screeming Custard were creating?

Yes, I’d like to say it was all part of a plan but as with most things with the Custards it was just a lucky accident. Abbie really was unique and had done a bit of work with Terry Hall after his Colourfield period, that didn’t go anywhere. We were the next people she tried, luckily for us. She could have been a top gymnast when she was younger but injured her wrist I think. She’d turned to music after that.

++ And when and why did you decide to split?

Well, Abbie was still finding playing live nerve-wracking and in the end decided to leave. That was the end of the band really although we did struggle on with a new singer for a while, who had big plans and took some of the band with her. It was the right time to end as we’d run our course.

++ What did you all do after? Were you involved with other bands?

The others did – I’d always said it would be my last band so I hung up my plectrum after that. Rob gigged around with the Pig-Keepers Daughter, Flo had a band the name of which escapes me but they did a single or two and Paul did very well. He’s a great guitarist so it was no surprise. We called him The Corner because he was good, but not quite as good as The Edge.

++ And these days, what do you all do? Do you have any other hobbies other than music?

I think Abbie was doing some bread-art when I last heard but the others are still into their music I think. Football was my other big interest and I currently run the doingthe92.com website for people trying to visit all 92 football league grounds. There’s about 5,000 people signed up on it and I’ve just done our first piece of merch – a poster showing the location of them all, which is selling well.

++ One last question, looking back in time, what would you say was the best part of being in Screeming Custard?

For me it was the rehearsals in the early days when the songs started to come together and we thought we were going to be as big as Bros. If you’re reading this and you’ve ever wondered about being in a band just find a couple of mates and do it – there’s nothing quite like it. I was never a good guitarist but a bit of fuzz and the right attitude can cover up a lot!


Screeming Custard – Love


We wake up like every morning to the sound of Sarah Records. Wait no. That’s not right. But we woke up at around 11am and after getting ready and packing we headed to King’s Cross once again. Our train to Derby was leaving at 1:20pm. We were at St. Pancras at around one and after topping up my phone, getting a lot of cash from the atm, and buying a tuna salad and a diet coke, we headed to our train. At the entrance gate for the train we met Dennis from Candy Twist fanzine, he had been waiting for a while there as his train was at 1:45. We suggested for him to ask if he could board our train, but no luck. A shame. I’ve had luck in UK many times asking if I can take earlier trains, I’ve always had positive replies from the train workers.

I was supposed to be on carriage B but as it usually happens in the UK they had trouble with reservations so everyone could sit wherever they wanted. So I joined Jennifer and Miguel at a very packed carriage A and sat next to a lady that had around six or seven bags with her and an iphone with a shattered screen. Messy people abound everywhere.

We arrived to Derby and we see a bunch of the poser-not-so-indiepop sitting on the sidewalk waiting for god knows what or probably just being cool. That’s a crowd I don’t want to be in, the one that celebrate the most boring bands, that brown-nose each other, and that in a way make Indietracks cater some boring music and discos for them. Because they are many, and they grow in numbers. On top of it all they don’t like me. I’m an uncomfortable person for them.

A 30 pound cab ride takes us all the way to our hotel in South Normanton, the Mansfield Premier Inn. A long ride, of about 30 minutes as we get caught in traffic on the motorway. Upon arriving our hotel is terribly quiet. I don’t see any familiar faces. It feels empty. I know Jennifer and Miguel want to nap. So I head to have lunch at the pub. To keep it very British, and to have some protein that I won’t probably have at Indietracks I get sausage and mash. With gravy. And a pint of lager.

After finishing my late lunch I start meeting familiar faces. A big taxi van brings Cris and Madidi from Little Treasure and Elena and Antonio from When Nalda Became Punk. Suddenly more people start appearing at the lobby. Carlos, Maria, Irene and Yago from Madrid Popfest, Olaf from Firestation Records, and Andreas, Amanda and Carl from Alpaca Sports. We ask the front desk clerk to call for us some taxis. And after a bit of figuring out how to fit everyone in three cabs, Irene, Yago, Olaf and me take the first cab to arrive. And all the way to the Golden Valley campsite. We don’t want to wait for any steam trains. We want our Indietracks adventure to start right away!

Who receives us by the entrance?! None other than Mr. Colm. He gives us all our bright red Indietracks bracelets and show us a little box with Helen Love and Trembling Blue Stars EPs that you can take for free. I take both. Of course. And then suddenly we are in wonderland. The grass looks greener than last year. The weather is warmer than last year. And I feel as excited too! And this is when things start getting blurry. Straight to the almost empty indoor stage to get our first warm beers of the festival.

I must have started saying hello to everyone by this point. I spent the whole evening talking and meeting up with friends. With all of them. I did stop at some point to have some curry. I didn’t see any of the bands. I wasn’t in the mood. I was in the mood to chat. To talk with friends. I believe the first friend I saw at Indietracks must have been Kajsa. She was all over the festival this year but I didn’t see her at any gigs (aside from the Helen Love one).  Then I met the big German contingent, Pamela and Paloma, and the new friends they introduced me to.

I met with the lovely people of Flowers. More Spanish friends, the biggest Go-Betweens fan Javi and the indiepop know-a-lot Manolo, this year for the first time without any injuries. The party animal Sergio was there too. Who can party like him?! So much fun to hang out. And then the Frenchies came too, everyone from the Pale Spectres gang plus the Another Sunny Night clan. All the familiar faces you want to see in one place. I also meet Astrid and Amanda. And then a bit later John. Them three will be the best companions on the dancefloor at the discos. Did I dance on Friday though? I must have at least for a bit.

Nana and Andreas show up. All tanned! What a surprise. We get some beers. And Andreas has his purple Coke. We catch up. It’s been a year since I saw them. And suddenly Victor and Naemi also arrive! And then more swedes, Rasmus and Arnar. All big Secret History fans. I get to see Vanessa too, classy girl with tall socks. She gets me up to date with Thee Ahs stories. I see Elin again, this time with her friend Lindnsey. Elin tells me the hotel looks like a hospital. That she should have stayed somewhere else. Also, that it is too far. But I tell her that it was the only one with rooms available at that time and it was the cheapest too. You don’t want to camp! Though, I would love to go to the camp discos.

More familiar faces, Toni from Jessica and the Fletchers is around too, making the Spanish Armada bigger and bigger. Because you have Rafa around, and some of the Vacaciones people too! Jennifer and Miguel arrive to Indietracks grounds. Alpaca Sports also. I meet Emma, Andreas’ girlfriend. She speaks perfect Spanish, with a nice Argentinean accent. She tells me about her time visiting Peru. And then I see Neil from The Felt Tips. And Lynsey from Scotland who I have a very nice talk after some events that happened in this blog many years ago. This is why I love coming to Indietracks. Seeing friends, making friends.

Marianthi making me happy with hugs. I see Alex too. Though there’s no Christos this time, there’s the one Greek missing. There is no Remi or Delphine either. People who are missed indeed. Matthew Big Pink Cake is around, but I see him little, unlike last year, when we hanged out at the merch tent. In general, I see people little. I didn’t have very long conversations with anyone this year. I got to see more bands, and I hanged out here and there. I didn’t even step in the stationary train. It was all about catching up after a year that I had kind of lost touch with so many friends. And as Nana said, everyone seemed a bit older this year, more grown up, more centered. I thought that was a good thing.

I lost the last train to the station. I was hanging out with Elin and Lindsay. But they have a friend, Jonathan, who is driving. He is staying with Jerv. The great John Jervis, merch table extraordinaire, record boss, gig organizer, and overall nice guy. All of us in the car, while Elin tells us about her favourite grass or something like that. Grass that grows nicer in Norway.

Already at the hotel we try to find some beer for an afterparty. But everything around is closed. But the girls are way more resourceful than me, and end up finding someone that has a bunch of alcohol… and the night continued for a couple more hours at the big pub table outside the hotel.



  1. An outcast.
  2. A member of an indigenous people of southern India originally functioning as ceremonial drummers but later having a low caste or no caste.


Do you know the Pariahs? Olaf from Firestation Records, based in Berlin, tells me they weren’t great live but their album is perfection. Uwe also from Firestation says it’s his favourite German indiepop album. I don’t know much about them. I left a note on their soundcloud trying to get in touch but no luck. Twee.net though has a small biography for the band:

The Pariahs played britpop long before Oasis did. Raised in 1989 they released their debut-CD TIGHTROPE WALK in 1992 and received quite positive reviews in Newspapers like ‘Tagesspiegel’ and ‘taz’ – the critics compared the songs with the work of Lennon-McCartney, Elvis Costello and other famous british songwriters. Unfortunately they’ve already split when guitar-based popmusic striked back. The tried to save pop for the 90s – but Grunge was stronger…

Thanks to the internet you have the chance to enjoy some of their golden oldies – and some new songs! – just enter here… http://www.reverbnation.com/pariahs

The Pariahs are: Ralph (Git-Vox), Michael (Bas-Vox), Ralf (Dru-Vox), Thomas (Git-Vox), Silke (Flute-Vox)

So let’s head to ReverbNation and see what we can find. There’s not much there. Just a lot of songs that appear also on the CD album. An album I found on eBay more than a year ago for no more than 1 dollar. If you look in the right places you can find it for cheap. And I totally recommend it.

On SoundClick there are more songs. This time there are some demos. This is quite a find I tell myself. I feel at some point, some years ago they must have tried to have a comeback or were feeling nostalgic. There’s even a Myspace, that could prove this point.

From the album we get some little information. We know that the record was produced and engineered by Thommy Hein and was recorded at the Thomas Hein Tonstudio in Berlin during December 1991. We also get to know who were responsible for the photography and artwork in the album. But that’s it. Oh! And the label was Civic Dust. Catalog number 01. It must have been a self-release, right?

But still the information is very little about the band. You don’t get to learn anything else about them. You wonder why there weren’t more releases. Why did they went straight for an album, why didn’t they put out any singles. And what happened to them? It can’t be like they stopped making music. And maybe if they were they involved with bands before the Pariahs. I wouldn’t be surprised.

The Pariahs might be one of Germany best kept secrets, but I feel you all should listen to this one great album they released. Let’s not keep them a secret no more. If you like jangly pop, classic indiepop, this might be up your street.


Pariahs – Going Down Niagara Falls


Just a couple of weeks ago I was lucky to see The Brilliant Corners perform at Indietracks. It was the gig of the year for me. It was just amazing!!! I thought it was a good idea to see what The Brilliant Corners are up to these days and Davey was kind enough to answer a bunch of my questions. But first and foremost I will point you to Wearitwell Records were you can buy a CD of a live performance of The Brilliant Corners called “From Bristol to Berlin” and also the latest of Davey’s other band (who are still going by the way!), that is the Experimental Pop Band’s latest album “Vertigo”.

Very jealous of those who will see them at Berlin Popfest soon, but I’m here crossing fingers I’m lucky enough to see them play next year, somewhere close or far away from me. Catch them if you can!

++ Hi Davey! It was so great to meet you at Indietracks. And very happy that you are up for an interview. I have thousands of questions but I’ll try to make it not too long. But first things first, how was your experience at Indietracks? What was the best thing about it? And how come you didn’t prepare an encore?! 🙂

I liked the intimacy of the event, there was a feeling that a lot of people were meeting old/new friends. People playing acoustic in the merch tent was cool, doing something like that is a bit scary but also a really exciting thing to do. I would be happy to do it next year!

The best thing has to be the wonderful reception the band got. Yes I should have kept a number back for an encore, think I was too excited and just played all the songs on the set list with out thinking ahead!

++ You are playing Berlin Popfest very soon too. With what kind of expectations are you traveling to Germany? And I wonder if you are planning to keep playing with The Brilliant Corners some more gigs after this gig?

Well I don’t think the BCs have been to Germany since 1989! I have toured Germany with The Experimental Pop Band quite a few times over the years as we were on City Slang Records ( Berlin label) for a few years. Used to get a lot of people coming to gigs saying they were fans of the BCs and did I remember the Fanzine interview I did with them. Most times I did remember. I think there is a real possibility that we might play a few more dates In Germany in 2014. I have a friend in Hannover, Jens, who really wants to put us on and record a session for his radio show. Our only other date this year is in our hometown Bristol on The 2nd November. We will continue to do reunion dates until June 2014 then our year of fun and joy is over.

++ Was it thanks to the Scared to Get Happy shows in London that you decided to reform? Or have this been in the pipeline for some time? How was that gig? Were you a fan of the other bands that played back in the 80s? I read Amelia Fletcher joined you on stage! Would have loved to see that!

No STGH had nothing to do with it. Bob ( our drummer) has periodically asked me to think about doing a one off gig for old times. I always said no as I don’t really like the idea of bands reforming as they usually sound crap! I am so pleased we don’t sound crap! Last xmas Bob and Steve ( road manager) got me drunk and pestered me for a whole night to do a gig. I told them about the BCs album Cherry Red were putting out. John Reid who put the project together and Richard who had a lot of the live recordings were also asking if there was any chance that the band could play live. I had already told them no. However during the course of listening to the songs for the ‘Hearts on your Sleeve’ album and really enjoying those songs and knowing that I had no commitments with The Experimental Pop band ( we had an album out in 2012) for the first time in decades I pondered the possibility. I was also quite drunk. Between Jan and March this year me Bob and bass player Boo met up and I have to say it was a joyful experience working out those old songs and even with just the three of us playing I knew it could be good. It was a kind of now or never moment.

STGH was great , on so many levels it was great. There was no warm up gig prior to it but we played and all the old magic was in the air, the audience were wonderful. I had not seen Amelia for a long time but got in touch with her and she was really up for doing the gig, she like me was uncertain how it would go but we really enjoyed it. Amelia played a lot of gigs with us in the 80s. I remember buying the Wolfhounds debut album, great album, so it was wonderful to see them live for the first time!

++ In the last couple of years there has been a bunch of Brilliant Corners CD reissues by Cherry Red Records. How did this partnership start? And are there any more releases coming up?

Think Cherry Red asked me for the rights to the back catalogue some 5 years ago or more. I agreed as I was often being told that people could not get hold of the old stuff and I also saw that some people were paying crazy prices for vinyl on ebay. I also thought a new generation of kids might be into what we were doing so it should be available to them and I did not have the time to do it myself.

The idea was that Cherry Red would put out stuff chronologically. It was not until the recent release that I got really involved mainly due to John and Richards enthusiasm for the project. They still have ‘Hooked’ ( not our best LP but some good songs on it) and History of White Trash ( our final album and a bit of an overlooked gem, lots of good pop songs on it.) Not heard if they intend to release these. You can get a limited Live CD of a gig the BCs did in Berlin on my label Wearitwell records.

++ Let’s go back in time. Were you involved in any other bands prior of The Brilliant Corners?

Prior to the Corner’s me and Chris were in a band called The Hybrids we started out sounding like The Jam and Kinks and ended up sounding like Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division!

++ What are your first musical memories you have as a kid? When and how did you get your first guitar?

I got my first guitar pretty late in life. I was 16 and it was right in the middle of the whole new wave, punk scene and that inspired me to write songs. My mothers side of the family were very musical, mainly country music and 50s and 60s pop , so I grew up with uncles and cousins who were in bands. I don’t know why I did not take guitar up at an earlier age, I was buying records with what little money I had so I was already hooked. My earliest musical memory is having my plastic Beatles guitar flung on the fire ( 1964), mum got mad with me for making a racket so she threw it on the fire, I think Paul McCartney’s face melted last. Ah so I was traumatised by this experience and that’s why I got a guitar so late in life!

++ How did The Brilliant Corners start? What was the recruiting process? And was it an easy choice to name the band with the Thelonious Monk album name?

Me and Chris met Dan ( trumpet) and we would go to his house and jam and sometimes I would bring songs I had written. I met Bob when I was working as a lab technician and he was the test tube washer. He looked like a punk and said he played drums. So we now had a drummer. Bob had a friend called Winston who would turn up and bang on stuff. They both had a friend called Steve who would show up and say we were great and we should play in a pub. So we did and that was out first live experience. Dan owned the Monk album can’t remember if it was me Chris or Dan who took the song title as the bands name.
Later Winston bought a guitar. Dan left to go to university and we put our first singles out. Dan came back from university, rejoined the band, we then became quite well known. Winston broke his arm prior to a German tour and Phil had a week to learn all his parts! Phil then left the band when Winston came back in but rejoined us when I broke my arm and he learned all my parts! When Winston and Dan left. Phil joined the band for a while. Phil then Joined Cowboy and Spingirl and Paul Sandrone played guitar in the final line up.

++ That you named your band after that always made me wonder. You must have such a wide and broad specter of influences. But I wonder if there are any indiepop bands that you would think influenced your band?

I have really diverse tastes and that shows from the BCs development through to everything I have done since. Also not many people realise that me and Dan played in an avant guard Jazz band called Spaceways in the late 8o’s when he had left the band and I was still in the band. So my ears were really open to stuff. I don’t think indiepop bands did influence what we did but bands of that time that did were certainly Orange Juice, Josef K and the The Go Betweens. Infact a song on Hooked ‘Hemingways Back’ could be the Go Betweens!

++ Trumpets. I love that you have trumpets. How did trumpets become a big part of The Brilliant Corners sound?

Dan played trumpet! Bearing in mind I have already said that my first band metamorphosed into Echo and the Bunnymen meets Joy Division, only a nutcase would add trumpet to that! but we did. It has to be said that a lot of our first gigs were primal , noisy Jams, the songs came later. I also think those 60s records I was exposed to with lush orchestral backing was knocking around in my mind..

++ On the liner notes of the last Cherry Red cd I love that you mention how important were haircuts and how to dress back in the 80s. Though I’m sure you were the coolest kids in Bristol, I wonder how was your town back then? Has it changed a lot? What were your favourite places to hang out? And which other bands did you like hanging out with?

Gosh, Bristol was a really difficult place to grow up in the 70s and 80s, if you were a bit of an outsider/ oddball like me, one was always getting beaten up or picked on. Later after punk had happened I noticed that there were more oddballs around and I could hang out with a few people. These people seemed to go to the gigs I went to. Getting involved in music made me feel special and not too much of a freak.

In the early 80s there was only the Dugout Club which we could go to. You could hear all kinds of music there. Revolver Records and Tony’s was the place to get vinyl. The Student Union bar had local art school type bands on. You could hear 60s R &B at The Western Star Domino Club. We played some gigs there too. By the mid 80s there was more of an alternative scene. I was living in a part of Bristol Called Stokes Croft, ( The area is now considered very Bohemian) it was very low life but the pubs were good, the Tropic Club was around the corner from where I lived and every indie band worth mentioning played there. By now Sarah Records and Subway were happening. Bands I hung out with? We did lots of gigs with The Chesterfields, Mark Barber from the band is still a good friend and The Flatmates, in fact I grew up a few streets away from Deb Haynes, we just thought it was a fucking joke the two of us in an indie band! No one from where we grew would have a clue about being in a band! I’ve run into Rocker quite a lot recently he’s a good guy. (If you want more details about stuff like this I have written Blogs about it that you can access via wearitwell records) I remember some mad nights in Belgium with The Dentists- great band.

++ Another thing that I often think about is although you have a vast discography, I’m sure there are still many unreleased recordings by The Brilliant Corners. Am I wrong? And if not, any chance they will ever get released?

There are many unreleased songs, I used some on the recent album and some were used on the Berlin live CD too. You never know some of this stuff might see the light of day but I would have to think carefully about this. The live CD works really well as it is a whole gig in its entirety with the mistakes, out of tunesss and me yapping in between. All this captures the mood of that time. Cherry Red have an option to put the bands last 2 albums out.

++ To what extent would you say your songs are autobiographical? I ask because there’s many many times where I’ve felt these songs very dear to me, experiences that anyone could have been through, especially songs like “Oh!”, “Teenage”, and the like. You know, those of boy meet girl.

Well I think there is always going to be elements of autobiography in some songs. Part of the charm of song writng for me is that sometimes it comes from the heart and at other times I don’t know where the hell the words have come from but they come and it happens and rather magically it means something to me and hopefully can mean something to others. I think you can say an awful lot of things in boy meets girl songs, a lot people underestimate this. Its a genre that I continue to enjoy using. The songs you mention are mainly autobiographical.

++ And if I would make you choose the one song that you like the most of your repertoire, the one that has to be played at every gig, which one would you choose and why?

Strangely that is not too difficult a question. I would always want to play ‘Meet Me on Tuesdays’ and ‘Growing up Absurd’ I don’t really know why though!

++ Tell me a bit about the video of “Why Do You Have to Go Out With Him?”. How did it come about? Any funny anecdotes while filming it?

I don’t really remember too much about making that video. Think at the time we had got into a habit of choosing a song for a single and then begging someone to film us in return for beer money or sex , which to our surprise seemed to work. Seem to recollect that it was made after we had done a UK and German tour so we were buzzing and tired at the same time.

++ During the 80s you mostly do everything by yourselves. You released your own records, did your own videos, probably even found your own gigs. It seems you had this energy most bands during those years lacked, that after the one record they would split up. I wonder what it was that kept you going? It mustn’t have been that easy right?

ou are absolutely right that we did most of these things ourselves but we also ran into a few people who would also find us witty and charming and would do a few things for us. One example being a guy Called Andy Franks, at the time he was Depeche Modes tour Manager. He had remembred us from the early days in Bristol when he sometimes did the door at The Western Star Domino Club. Andy came to one of our our London gigs and we got drunk and had a laugh and before you knew it he got us a tour set up in Germany. So it was not entirely down to all our own endevours. Chris delt with most of that side of things, the money and planning and he was very good at it. We both spent a lot of attention to the look of the sleeves. I really liked that creative side of it, how things looked, our haircuts were very important too!

The longer we were together it actually got more difficult to do as the indie bands who were considered our contempoararies did become more professional and were on big labels that we would never be able to compete with. Also for whatever reasons we did not conform to what the ‘indie scene’ became so in an odd way we were outsiders again as we had not released one classic disc and dissapeared! Back then we could continue to put out stuff becuase we were so fucking obsessed by it. We just about earned enough money to keep doing it and most important of all we had time to do it as we had avoided getting anyone pregnant!

++ Many questions already. Perhaps we should do a second part if you are up for it! I still have so many questions! But before we stop, why did The Brilliant Corners split? And what would you consider was the biggest highlight of the band?

It’s hard to specify a single reason or incident that lead to the band folding but in many ways it was due to some of the above. The more the buisiness side of things had to be thought about the less one could play a gig with an open heart. I think with in the band there was a creeping sensation that we had to ‘have made it’ and what ever made it was, we had not made it. I remember on our last tour getting the feeling that the band was going through the motions a bit and that was a horrible feeling to have. I don’t think one can underestimate the power of the written word too. The BCS had always polarised opinions but some of the press and comments we were getting was pretty vicious. I remember Dan reading a live review we had and him almost in tears, not long after he left saying he could not play live anymore.

Biggest highlight was hearing the band on John Peels show but in a strange way here and now, playing these reunion dates is, because I know we are doing the songs justice, I know we are playing with joy and verve and I never thought that would have been possible. To have this short opportunity to do this again, is perhaps the best highlight.

++ Thanks again Davey!


The Brilliant Corners – Meet Me on Tuesdays


Thanks so much to Steve Jenkins for the interview! Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Chalk Garden and Steve was kind enough to get in touch and be up for the interview. It’s so great to read and know the story of this obscure band from London. I recommend everyone also to head to Steve’s soundcloud where you can stream more Chalk Garden songs as well as songs by his other projects Bel-Air-Lip-Bombs and Spinning Belinda. So discover one of the best kept secrets of the UK’s late 80s!

++ Hi Steve! Thanks so much for getting in touch! Are you still  living in Lewisham? Do you feel your town has changed for better or worse since the heyday of the Chalk Garden?

Actually I do still live in Lewisham but the CG’s were never really a Lewisham band, that was another of my bad jokes. The main 4 band members were from all over the UK, Tim (singer) grew up in Chichester on the South coast of England, Carlo (bass) grew up in the Midlands, Ken (drums) is from, Leicester and I grew up in the West Country, a village just outside the trashy seaside resort, Weston-Super-Mare. When the band first got together most of them lived in West London; later Tim & I got a flat together in Lewisham, because it was cheap and Carl ended up living there too. For a while we were practically the Monkees (minus the television programme, recording contract and Californian sunshine).

++ There’s very little information online about the band, but there’s the mention that you were the fifth best band in Lewisham. You say that’s a joke, but I wonder if there were any other good bands in Lewisham that you enjoyed?

As mentioned above we weren’t really from Lewisham, we just live(d) here. If there was a Lewisham scene then we knew very little about it. By the time we moved here we were gigging all over London and the bands that we knew were one’s that we ran into at the various venues or at the rehearsal studios. If pressed I would have to say that the other great Lewisham bands were Spinning Belinda & the Bel-Air Lip-Bombs but, since these were my other bands I may not be the best judge. One other band of note was Yellow Bird. They were the band of another room mate, Tim Groves and mainly consisted of Tim & his crazy talented girlfriend. I played bass for them for about a month and Tim played drums in the CG’s for a similarly short period. I don’t think Yellow Bird played more than 2 or 3 gigs before Suzie (the singer) went off to art school and was never seen again. Tim has posted some songs on SoundCloud which are definitely worth a listen. On the wider London scene we rubbed shoulders with a lot of bands who were up & coming. We played gigs with Suede, Senseless Things The Blue Aeroplanes, Jesus Jones and an early version of Elastica amongst others. None of them really impressed although I later became a big fan of Elastica. In all the time gigging around London only 2 bands really stood out for me, a Bristol band called Nautical William who were excellent live but disappointing on vinyl, except for their debut single ‘Love House’ which is great and can be found on YouTube. The other band that I loved were the Murrumbidgee Whalers; we shared the same rehearsal space, bonded during drink breaks and played a number of gigs together. It was a great arrangement, we all got on well and even shared some fans, unfortunately we had to stop playing with them because they were so good they made Carl feel insecure; he even left the band for a while claiming that we were wasting our time because we’d never be as good as the Whalers. Just one example of the bizarre self-harming which marked our career and pretty much guaranteed that we would never get a record deal.

++ What about in the rest of London? Did you follow any bands in the late 80s? And where did the Chalk Garden band liked hanging out? What were your favourite venues?

I think I would be right in saying that the main thing that drew us together and held us together was our similar musical tastes mainly Echo & The Bunnymen, early REM, Sonic Youth, the usual indie fair but we were also big fans of the late 70’s British punk scene – for me it was all about the Ruts & Crass, for everybody else The Jam and Wire. By the late eighties, predictably enough we were all carried away first by the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses and later by Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr, Pixies, anything loud & brash. My own favourite record from that time was an album called ‘Boing’ by a British band called Airhead. I thought I may have been about the only person to buy it but my wife was as big a fan as me and it was re-released on i-tunes just last year so must have been more popular than I imagined. Our favourite place for hanging out in the late 80’s / early 90’s was a large venue & club in nearby New Cross called ‘The Venue’. Every Friday & Saturday night they would have live music followed by a huge retro nightclub and a separate sweaty room where there was an indie-disco. It was located next to Goldsmiths College so was always filled with bright young things and was a 10 minute walk home even when drunk. Every time I hear Ride’s ‘Like A Daydream’ I am transported back there. As for performing, the best venues were the Bull & Gate, Kentish Town (for hard-core indie credibility), The Powerhaus, Islington (great stage & proper sound system), The Amersham Arms, New Cross (for being close to home so some of us could actually drink) and The Marquee (for all round rock credibility).

++ Tell me about the early days. Were any of you involved with other bands prior to the Chalk Garden?

I only bought my first guitar about 6 months before joining the band so had no previous history, Tim had been playing a lot longer but it was his first band too. Carl had played in bands at school and had some idea what he was doing, which was useful at the start. Ken, the drummer was the best musician by far. While playing in the Chalk Garden he also drummed for a band called The Keetons who were talented and wrote some great stuff but were difficult to like personally. Ken later played in Spinning Belinda & Bel-Air Lip-Bombs and was last seen playing in an excellent band called The Free French who contained other members of The Keetons.

++ How was the recruiting process? How did you all knew each other? And what was the lineup of the band?

Tim & I answered the same ad in NME (New Musical Express). In truth neither of us knew what we were doing but they took us on because we looked the part, liked the right music and were, to some extent, able to compensate for our respective lack of ability. Carl had left the band, which was originally a collection of West London friends who met once a week and did only cover versions, the week before and was persuaded to return on the mis-guided notion that we had some ability. Over the next year the original singer, drummer and saxophone player dropped out, Ken was found through NME and Tim was promoted to lead singer. The line-up stayed like that, apart from a brief experiment with Tim’s brother on keyboards (didn’t work he couldn’t compete with my thrashing) and a short period when Ken left and then came back until its final demise in 1992.

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

It was stolen from the title of a 1964 British black & white film. For a short time we were called Wasp Factory (from the book) but ditched that name when we discovered that we were not the only ones to have that idea.

++ And who would you say were the main influences of the band? Were you into the C86 bands at all?

We were certainly into the C86 bands, we actually first met in 1986 so that was the main thing going on at the time. I particularly liked the Mighty Lemon Drops, The Bodines and, rather obviously, Primal Scream (I was also really into the early Jesus & Mary Chain stuff but I thought they became too boring, I know it’s probably considered sacrilegious to say this, but they started to sound too much like the Ramones who I have always considered to be massively over-rated). BMX bandits had a brilliant name which was not matched by their songs.

++ From what I gather there were no proper releases but that appearance on a compilation 7″. Do you remember how you ended up on the House of Dolls 7″?

I sent them a tape and the magazine editor quite liked it. It was as simple as that. If only record companies had been that easy to convince!

++ That song included, “Drunk Among the Trees”, is really great! Care telling me the story behind it?

I don’t think there are any stories behind the writing of the song. Like most CG’s songs, it originated from Tim and just emerged after couple of months of thrashing around in rehearsals. The version on the single was savagely edited by Tim & the studio engineer and has always sounded mutilated to me. I recently searched for a copy of the original full-length version and came up blank. Around the time that we wrote this my younger brother went touring round Europe with a friend. They had both bought guitars and intended to learn to play them and busk their way from city to city. I showed them how to play DATT and they claim that it fed them for at least 2 months until they managed to learn something else to play. He (my brother) is now a superb blues guitarist, far better than me, and claims that he once came second to Chris Martin (Coldplay) in a pub talent contest.

++ On Youtube there’s a promo video for “Flags”. How did this video come about?

A friend of mine worked for a broadcast hire company and arranged for us to ‘borrow’ a load of equipment for a weekend to film it. One of his colleagues had studied film and was keen to direct, seeing it as a good portfolio opportunity. The Flags recording session was the first one that we had ever felt good about and we really wanted to capitalise on it and make a big push with all the record companies that had been showing some interest. It did generate a lot of interest but the regular A&R mantra of, “I like it but I think you need another six months to mature” continued un-abated. Somehow the video got a few plays on a programme hosted by Boy George on an obscure satellite TV channel but failed to provide us with the platform we were hoping for – it was fun to make though.

++ On the Soundcloud page there are many more Chalk Garden recordings. Why didn’t you get to release any proper records? Was there any label interest?

It was a different world back then. Recording demos was expensive and we were always broke. The Whalers funded their own single which was not uncommon but, aside from the cost we always thought that a record just wouldn’t be authentic unless we could actually convince an real record label to put it out. I gather we got pretty close. A couple of old friends from my home town were in a band called Claytown Troupe who got a deal and put out an album on Island Records in 1989. Some years later they told me that Chalk Garden demo tapes were on practically every record company desk that they saw and they had been convinced at the time that we would be signed soon. We were blissfully unaware, had we known I guess we may have done a bit more to try to get noticed!

++ How many songs did you end up recording? Did you use to sell them as demo tapes?

We recorded quite a lot of demos over the years but were nearly always tremendously disappointed with the results. Some are practically un-listenable. There was a predictable pattern, we’d go into the studio thinking we’d got some great songs, spend one or two days locked in the studio thinking that it all sounded awesome and the minute we left the studio and stuck the tape into the car stereo all the awesomeness would evaporate into thin air. Apparently it is incredibly difficult for a low paid engineer in a cheap studio to transfer a half-decent guitar sound onto tape. In many ways the best recordings I have are a live session recorded in our rehearsal studio. I found it recently and, whilst the sound quality is a bit rough, it is very tight and all the energy that is absent from most of the demos is there in spades.

++ And which song of your repertoire is your favourite? And why?!

As a narcissistic musician, I find it hard to listen to any of my music without obsessing over my own parts so inevitably have a tendency to judge the songs on whether I think I did a good or bad job. ‘Slow’ was always my favourite CG’s song, it’s probably about the only song where the guitars sound almost exactly as intended and my backing vocals are more or less in tune. I also rather like ‘Back To Words’ (the first time my guitar playing actually sounded competent) ‘Complete’ & ‘How To Get There’ (from the last recording session, by that time I was confident and not half bad, though the 3rd song from that session was not a great success).

++ Tell me about gigs. I hear you played a lot in many of the classic London venues. Which were the best Chalk Garden gigs? Any anecdotes you could share?

We really played just about everywhere that an un-signed band could play in London, frequently to extremely small audiences. The best gigs were always the ones where there was a decent sized crowd, the venue doesn’t count for shit if no one turns up. The high points were playing with the Senseless Things at the Marquee, head-lining at the Limelight club in front of at least 1,000 people, and playing at a huge bank holiday indie festival at Dingwalls in Camden Town. Better than all that though was the first Bel-Air Lip-Bombs gig. I had been working in my bedroom writing music and preparing tapes full of sampled & sequenced backing tracks which would be supplemented with live drums, bass & guitar when playing live. I had no idea whether it would work and feared that it might end in immense embarrassment. As it turned out it was amazing, we got a better crowd reaction than I had ever experienced before with the CG’s. The second BALB gig resulted in a call from EMI records, apparently we made an immediate impact. Unfortunately, as always, the recording sessions were unsuccessful, too dense and devoid of any of that live energy. When the singer that I was working with got fed up that instant acclaim was not forthcoming it fizzelled out quickly. My worst experience at a gig was watching the CG’s play without me after I got knocked of my bike and broke my left hand & right wrist (about the worst possible combination for a right-handed guitarist). The second worst experience was my ‘comeback’ gig. Tim managed to break strings on his guitar, his backup and my backup and I then had to give him my guitar so that the set could be completed with me watching, again, from the audience.

++ And then what happened? When and why did you split?

We split in 1992. Everybody else thought it was time to pack it in and had given up hope of ever being ‘discovered’. At the time we had Food records (Blur, Jesus Jones) showing some interest and asking for more material, we were tight, well rehearsed and, at last, confident but without the belief there was nowhere to go. By that time I was so heavily involved with my BALB project that I didn’t shed a tear, even though I thought it was a terrible time to quit. Now I’m frustrated that I could not persuade the rest to invest in one last demo – there were some great songs that never got recorded and may have made the difference – ‘Milk Tooth’, ‘Headstands In The Sand’, Don’t Change’, ‘I Know’, ‘Here We Go Again’…

++ Thanks to Soundcloud I notice that you had many other band projects after. Can you tell me a bit about each of these projects?

I auditioned as a drummer for Spinning Belinda. I wanted to learn to play the drums mainly to make me a better drum programmer, but also because I thought it would be cool to have played guitar, bass and drums in different bands. At the audition I was blown away by the quality of the songs, suggested that they deserved a better drummer than me and asked if they would allow me to audition as a guitarist. I got the gig and roped Ken in to play drums and later persuaded Tim, the other old CG’s drummer to take over from Ken. At the time I thought the songs were great but the sound was a bit staid and boring and would struggle to get noticed. I started writing my own songs with Ali, the singer and formed Bel-Air Lip-Bombs out of that. Initially Paul, the song writer behind Spinning Belinda was persuaded to throw his lot in with us and we performed a mixture of my songs and his songs which I re-arranged and tried to make a bit more interesting musically. Nobody understood what I was trying to do, including me, but it worked well live in spite of this and we did a number of really successful gigs. Unfortunately we struggled to make things work in the studio and by 1993 Paul had decided to return to Ireland and Ali became disillusioned and quit. I briefly had a 2-piece band called Palm. Initially I intended to carry on with the BALB material and let things evolve naturally but the singer, another Architect, insisted on replacing Ali’s lyrics with her own which I hated the idea of so I wrote half a dozen new pieces of music in the space of about 2 months so that Claire could do her own thing. We performed one gig which went down very well, even receiving rare praise from Ken. A few weeks later we recorded a demo. It was the first time that I was actually able to hear what Claire was doing with some clarity and I absolutely hated it. We never performed again.

++ What happened to the other members of the band? What did they do after? Are you all still in touch?

Tim & Carl both live about 5 miles from me and we still see each other on a regular basis. Tim teaches and now occasionally plays in a staff band. After the CG’s Carl formed a mod band with his brother called The Direction. They got some instant success riding a mod revival wave and released a couple of singles. He sold all of his guitars and moved to Italy for a few years but is now back in South London. He is currently recovering from a, thankfully, mild form of Leukaemia. Ken is elusive, we haven’t seen him for at least 5 years and I’m not really sure what he is doing now. I am an Architect and now run my own small design practice.

++ Tell me, when was the last time you picked up an instrument? And how many guitars do you actually own?!

After a long gap I have just put a band together to play at a party in September. Our set list will include at least one Chalk Garden song, ‘Headstands In The Sand’ but is otherwise a crowd-pleasing rock selection from T-Rex, The Cure, Blink 182, The Fratellis and a few others. I still have the same Fender Stratocaster and Fender Lead 2 guitars that I used all those years ago along with a couple of acoustic guitars and a cheap Japanese semi-acoustic with a snapped neck. I also still have every other bit of equipment that I have ever bought, amps (one Fender, one Peavey), sampler, sequencers, drum machines, keyboards, synth modules, I am apparently, incapable of ever getting rid of anything!

++ Aside from music, do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy on the day to day?

My work is pretty all-consuming and fortunately I am lucky enough to do something I largely enjoy. I have been taking piano lessons which has been hard work yet rewarding but the most important thing is my 8 year old daughter; whatever she wants to do is what I want to do.

++ Let’s wrap it here! Thanks a lot. I’m really enjoying everything I’ve heard by your bands. I wonder how they’ve been so under the radar. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks Roque I really appreciate your interest. It was all a long time ago now but every single bit of music that I contributed to means an enormous amount to me, even the ones that are patently a bit crap, and you probably can’t imagine how pleased I am that you like some of it. I am planning to go into a studio soon to complete the recording of a few BALB songs that I think deserve completing. If you are interested, and if they are worthy, I will send you copies for review.


Chalk Garden – Drunk Among the Trees


Two weeks ago I was arriving at Heathrow airport. After watching a couple of Bruce Willis movies on the plane and complaining with the United Airlines hostess about them charging for beers on the flight, 6:30 hours of sitting down at the uncomfortable economy class, my excitement was beginning to show. Though I hid it well to go through customs with a serious face. 6 days. Vacations. Thank You. And then, to pick up my bag full of records and other goodies.

Last time I was in London was for Chickfactor, in November. I was a bit down and lonely. It was no surprise then that I still had money on my Oyster card (10 pounds!) and money on my O2 phone card (4 pounds!). So no need to stop and top up these. Let’s go straight to the underground, catch that Piccadilly line towards Jennifer’s!

Buying the usual shampoo, soap, razors, you know. I travel light. Shower. Choosing a Betty and the Werevolves t-shirt. Because they were Londoners. Having lunch at the pub. Fish and Chips. Let’s keep it classic. Take the train from West London all the way to King’s Cross. Go to Jennifer’s office and pick up the merch and pedals of The Secret History. Now let’s head to The Miller, where the gig is going to take place.

Bad coincidence. I get a text message from my friend Albie. She won’t be able to make it because she has to organize something for the party. I don’t know what party she is talking about. I then realize it’s her birthday. What a moron I am. All these traveling have made me lose the sense of time. So I don’t get to see her, nor greet her. Just a stupid text message saying happy birthday. It’s hard to make it up for everyone when you are abroad and for so little time. Though you might think this is a terrible excuse.

Anyhow. At the Miller. Only the Great Ghostby and Laura are around. The rest of The Secret History are on their way. I notice that downstairs all the Pale Spectres are already having some beers. But I dont get to meet them. Not yet. Soundcheck. The Secret History gang has finally arrived. A tattooed guy talks to me in Spanish. It’s Rafael, the drummer of Pale Spectres. With his Mexican accent he asks me for a copy of the Flowers 7″. It’s all yours I tell him. It’s great to finally meet him! My new metalhead-pop friend. I didn’t expect him to be that punk!

I glue some posters on the walls of the pub. Posters for the gig. On the posters it says it’s sold out. It is. There’s only space for 100 people, and I believe 105 or something are going to be attending. Jennifer sets up a Colour Me Pop thingie, for people to leave their emails, so they can join her mailing list for future shows. I write my email first. Before anyone else. And I use my personal one. I never do that. Definitely this is going to be an special evening.

I run downstairs to tell David Feck from Comet Gain it’s their time for soundcheck. They are all having some beers of course. They come and they sound amazing. Then it’s Pale Spectres turn. Now I meet the whole gang, Thomas, Stephane, Jeff and of course, Rafael el Duracell. The cool thing is that they bring their own French crowd, friends that I see at every Indietracks I go, Clemence, Emilie and Joanny. Them three who run the Another Sunny Night club in Paris. Them three who are a lovely bunch! And joining them I meet Amanda, a Swedish girl who dresses in one piece outfits, has short hair and speaks perfect French. Later I would know she is a fantastic dancer too!

Then of course the three bands play. And they are all amazing in their own rights. I DJ too a bunch of songs. Well known and not so well known. If you google alright you can find which songs I played that night. If you are curious. I’m not very curious about it. Ok, maybe a couple of them, because I would love to know what happened to those bands. But I’ll blog about them some other time.

My highlights of the night start showing up. Seeing Christos and Matthew. Christos who wouldn’t come to Indietracks at all. My dearest friend who was very much missed. How much I’d love to hang out there like previous years. At least I got to see him on Thursday. Matthew of course I would see later playing with The Fireworks at the Church.

I meet Martin who used to play in the Meta Band, in Sweden. He is on vacations in London and he is a big fan of The Secret History. Or well, of My Favorite. It seems their shows at Goteborg and especially the Hultsfred festival are nothing short to epic. I wish I had been around then and there. They have a big Swedish following with that handful of gigs! Impressive, but well deserved if you have ever seen them play!

Of course I get to see Miguel! With who Im staying too. And with who I would get a late night kebab after running to catch the last train all the way to Ealing. Because we stayed until the last possible minute that Thursday talking with the French crowd and drinking beer. Expensive beer!

And meeting Elin! Elin from Je Suis Animal, asking her which songs to play, which Dolly Mixture song would be good. Dear Elin who blamed me for staying at a hospital-kind of hotel at Indietracks instead of camping. Elin who helped me in my stay in Tallinn. Elin who makes the most beautiful music. At last I got to properly talk to her in person!  What a star she is!

And last but not least I saw my dearest Kajsis. Another year of visiting London and hanging out. Another Indietracks of joking and telling each other all the gossip, catching up. Like we’ve always done. Buying beer, having a good laugh. It’s always lovely to hang out with her, though Kajsa, I thought I was getting a free Cosines 7″! WHAT!?

What about the gigs you say. Of course, a review of the gigs. That’s what people care. Afterall it’s about the music right. Couple of things first, the event was thoroughly organized by Colour Me Pop (aka. Jennifer). I think she found a great venue (it’s been the cleanest pub I’ve been to a gig in London), and everything went really smooth. Even the sound guy was really friendly!  So many thanks to her for letting me be part of it and DJ. Now, team Indietracks, invite me to DJ. I want to be part of Indietracks.

Pale Spectres. Very excited to see them of course. I had put a song on a compilation CD and loved their 3″ CDR on Little Treasure. On top of that I’ve been chatting now and then with Thomas and I believe we are very similar in our opinions about indiepop. I like that. I don’t have to explain, and we agree more or less on our tastes. Especially when it comes to the mafiosi. Also, those who read the Cloudberry fanzine know that we are doing a 7″ on Cloudberry pretty soon. As you can tell, it was a big deal this concert for me. And well, seeing Stephane jumping here and there like a kangaroo, Jeff being a summer-like Johnny Marr with his shorts and his arpeggios, Rafael drumming and singing giving away all of his lungs, and Thomas being the classy and shy vocalist all indiepop bands want, made a fabulous impression to the crowd. Everyone was static. The jingle jangle. The great melodies. The classic indiepop of Brighter, Brian, Blueboy and all bands that start with B, was there. And they were only going to confirm it days later at Indietracks (more on that next week perhaps).

Comet Gain. What can I say about Comet Gain? Many people say they are hit and miss. That it depends on their mood. That day they were pretty good. Way better than the time I saw them in NY. Not as good as the time I saw them at The Lexington some years back when Pete Astor opened for them. I’m a big fan of Comet Gain, there are few bands that have such a discography, and so many great songs. But whatever I say, you already know. They are already part of the indiepop pantheon.

The Secret History. First show for Mickey Grace’s new band in the UK, or in Europe even. And they did what they do every time they play in NYC. Lots of attitude, lots of energy, lots of passion, and lots of enthusiasm. Four ingredients that American bands usually lack, The Secret History have so much of it that they could give it away every single night they perform. Playing a couple of My Favorite classics, and then a repertoire that included mostly songs from the new album released on Cloudberry, the band put a killer performance, accordingly to their headliner status. It was indeed also a preamble for their epic gig at indietracks. Who would have thought. Months before when we were discussing the album, at The Sparrow in Astoria, when we were telling each other that Indietracks had to happen, that London had to happen. Sometimes wishes come true. I released the album. I saw them in the UK twice. And The Secret History are one of the best bands of these times. And they proved it. To a foreign, to a new, crowd.


I just found out that a listing for their record went unnoticed and finished on July 7th. How terrible. Really. I just wrote the seller if the record is still available. But with my luck, probably not. It was on Buy Now and at a very accessible price. The record I’m talking about is very obscure, and a lot of it has to probably do with the band name, The Sometimes. Not an easy one to google.

The Sometimes were from somewhere in Australia. And as far as I know released just one 7″. On the A side the song “People Go Home” and on the B side “Let Your Guard Down”. So far I’ve only been lucky to hear the B side thanks to Peter Twee.net’s “The Sound of Glen Waverley” CDR compilation.

The only other thing I was able to find about them was that they included the A side on a tape compilation called “Screaming at the Mirror” that was released in 1988 by Ticklish Tapes (catalog number TT 007). On this tape the only other band included that I’ve heard before is Scarecrow Tiggy. Are the rest of the bands jangly pop as well?

This appearance only confirms my suspicion that The Sometimes were around in the late 80s. They don’t have anything else listed on Discogs (not even the 7″), or anywhere else. If I could only get the 7″, maybe see who the band members were. Their label. Anything.

No more clues. Just a fantastic song for you to hear. If you have any information, or happen to have a spare copy (unless the eBay seller is kind enough to sell me the expired listing), I’d be very happy! Hopefully we’ll find out soon more about them, and perhaps, there are a bunch of their songs somewhere waiting to be unearthed.


The Sometimes – Let Your Guard Down


Was this the most successful Indietracks ever? I wish the organizers would answer. I saw big crowds. I saw a new renovated spirit in people. And most importantly, I saw passion. It’s true though that it can become repetitive for those who come every year. You get excited for the same things and you complain about the same things. It’s like that. We all know we hate the warm beer. We still add some ice to it even though that’s a sacrilege to beer lovers. But there’s no fridge. Unless there’s a fridge donation, we’ll have to stick to it year after year. That if Indietracks continues to happen every summer.

Every year there’s rumours that it will be the last Indietracks. Knowing that I “might” miss the last one, makes me cross the pond. This year even. A year where I have exclusively traveled for the festival, no traveling here or there before or after. It was a Derbyshire vacation as bleak as that sounds. But it wasn’t. Because I was in indiepop paradise, meeting friends and enjoying a handful of bands.

Because I don’t enjoy them all. I can’t. Who can? What Indietracks used to do amazingly well their first years, booking the great up and coming small bands, is not their forte anymore. Booking the bigger bands is their new forte. The headliners are picked up with intelligence and good taste. For me, it was all about The Brilliant Corners and Helen Love this year. The first playing Saturday before Camera Obscura, the second on Sunday before Still Corners.

Sure, you ask how come Still Corners headlined the closing show. You are not alone. I wonder the same thing. I like Still Corners, but their music is not the kind you want for closing a festival. Maybe they should have headlined on Friday. The opening night, when things are still calm, and we are totally fine to be dreamy and wishful. Not on Sunday. On Sunday I want to party. Party until the sun rises (though this is impossible in English culture it seems, everything should be over by midnight). But still. The energy is there. Everyone has it. And I think, Helen Love would have a better closing band. But these are just details really.

This year it felt very short. Time passed very fast. I barely had any conversations. I don’t think it’s the year I’ve seen the most bands mind you. But time flew. I even woke up early every day and enjoyed my free breakfast at the hotel. I was always before 1pm at the festival grounds. How did I didn’t have time to have long conversations with friends? How didn’t I step a foot in the stationary train? I don’t know. I don’t understand it. Simply there was no time. I remember going from here to there, to the bar, to the other stage, to grab something to eat. Talking about eating, was it me, or were things more expensive this year? That’s ok. Inflation, right? Though there was inflation at the merch stall. I bought a CD-R by Finnmark for 5 pounds. I think it was a rip off. But well, that’s me, supporting indiepop. But 5 pounds a CDR? I think there’s something wrong there.

If previous years I had the vegetarian curry many times, this year I only had it on Friday. I think it was tasty, though I prefer the previous curries they had. And also I think the portions were much smaller this year. Maybe it’s just me that loves big American portions. I don’t want to bash the food carts, but I think it really could be better. Why there’s no schwarma or kebab cart? I see these stores all over UK, why not have that here? I think it would be such a success. I saw there was a new Paella stall. But it was always empty. I think no one had it. Shame. The burritos well, that’s what I ate the most. They never had the pulled pork though. I sticked to the chicken then. They gave you 5 or 6 pieces of chicken. Like 15 beans. A spoonful of rice. And then they ran out of guacamole. They didnt know how to fold the burrito either. Ok. I’m spoiled with Mexican food in NY. But for 6.50 pounds a piece. I expect a bit more!

Prices might be the only thing that was a bit off at Indietracks. But that’s not a big deal when you are there. You just enjoy your time. Think about the bank and your accounts later.  There weren’t that many crazy characters this year but we had owls. I didn’t ask. But there were owls at the bar. I petted one of them with care. I didn’t want to be pecked or lose a finger. They  were beautiful.

The disco on Sunday was quite epic. With the train dancing and the cheesiest hits of the last couple of decades. Killing my idols, boy band Magneto, who I thought their song “Vuela Vuela” was an original. It wasn’t. I learned it was “Voyage Voyage” by Desireless. My Mexican peers never told me so. Still I believe Magneto’s best song, “40 Grados”, is an original. Unless you can prove me wrong.

Do you remember Madidi looking exactly the same as Roxanne from Veronica Falls? Do you remember the rainy Saturday jumping puddles and Camera Obscura being forced to play indoors? The sweaty train when we saw Northern Spies? Or that illustrious record boss dressed ridiculously as Scarface? Do you remember The Secret History and the US flag? The Brilliant Corners repeating “Meet Me On Tuesdays” as an encore because they didn’t practice more songs? Or when we all got on the stage with Helen Love to dance like possessed?

What a beautiful weekend it was.

Now with the Post-Indietracks blues, back in New York, working and all, I’ll see if next week I can go over the gigs, the friends, the special moments in detail. I remember I did that a couple of years ago. It’s hard, but it means a lot. The kind of energy, excitement, PASSION and LOVE you get from Indietracks is unique. I’ve been saying I won’t go next year but I really want to go once again. Please team Indietracks, make it happen again! (and maybe invite me to DJ!)


It’s Saturday, but this song is about Sundays. It’s about Big Outdoor Type. Just like the people I met at Indietracks. All outdoors. Mostly though. When it rains, we go indoors of course. And when we need to refresh ourselves with warm beer. THOUGH. There was a point when I got a very cold and chilled Stella Artois. I think it was from a secret stash from some of the Spanish crowd. Can anyone confirm/remember this?

Anyways, The Big Outdoor Type. I heard them first time back in 2008 I believe, thanks to the once prolific Shelflife blog (why did you stop Ed?!), and I liked it. It was similar in style to The Friday Club who I’ve covered in the blog already. Or The Watt Government. That sort of classy early 80s, girl-led pop.

There are two songs on this 7″. On the A side there’s “Call You on Sundays” and on the B side “Seventeen”. For sure the A side is the better. And that’s the one I will share. But you can listen to the B side on Youtube here.

The record was released in 1984 by Havasac Records, being the first and only reference in their catalog. What does that mean? Most probably that it was a self-release.

As most of these bands from the first half of the 80s, their information on the web is very scarce. In this case, the information is non-existant.

Though I’m still missing this 7″ in my collection, the blog From A Northern Place shares scans of the sleeve. On the back cover we learn some the band members first names, though we wish there were last names so we could track them down!

It says:
The Big Outdoor Type are: Tracey, Dianne, Neil, Phil, Steve, Tony
and The Brass: Steve, Dave

Some names are thanked too: Pete, Dave, Reg, Simon, Cathy and Hazel.

There are some special thanks to Phil Andrews, Dave Jones and Roy Douglas.

The only other sort of valuable information is on the labels. There are two last names: Davidge and Fuller. To whom they belong? Don’t know. I just know them two wrote both songs.

The plot thickens.

If anyone out there know anything about them, please share! Would love to know! A spare 7″ would be nice too! But now, enjoy the great song that is “Call You on Sundays”.


The Big Outdoor Type – Call You on Sundays