2014 around the corner! This is the last post of November as next week I’ll be out of town. In the very remote chance that you’ll happen to be in Lima, Peru, next week, there’s an event that I want you to attend. I will be DJing on the 28th at a club in downtown Lima after the bands Eva & John and Submarino play. It’s a very happy chance for me as I’m a big fan of Eva & John, who put out one of the freshest debuts this year. The link for the Facebook event is here. If you happen to be around, please say hello!

On some random Cloudberry news, I hope you are all aware that you can pre-order both The Rileys and Lost Tapes 7″. They should be ready by the end of December or early January. I’ll keep you updated as there will be posts in the blog next month of course. 4 at least. So keep an eye on that. And of course there’s a bunch of interviews I’ve been working on, trying to shed some light on some obscure bands that deserve to be known!

I’ve written a bit already about this trip to Peru, perhaps not that much as I use to when I go abroad, but I will definitely go through it when I return. But my arrival doesn’t look that great, I’ve already been told that this coming weekend no alcohol is served as there are elections for some positions in the Lima municipality. Weird laws. Just have to go along I guess.

Let’s travel to Wales today. Though not to my memories of my Welsh holiday a year and a half ago. I have very happy memories of it of course, Cardiff, Swansea, Chepstow, Tintern. One of the best weeks of my life definitely. So many castles visited. I want to go back, to Pembroke, to Caernarfon, to Anglesey, places that I have only read about in all these books about medieval Great Britain that I own. So many places I want to visit, the list goes on. I fell in love with that magical country, full of myths and mystery. True, after that trip I had one of the hardest breakups so far in my young life. And that makes Wales a difficult place for me. But still, I’m hard-headed and want to visit Wales again. And while figuring out and admiring those beautiful castles in the northwest, I also want to figure out one of indiepop’s biggest mysteries, Tynal Tywyll.

Not much of a mystery because of being obscure. I believe a lot of people know about them. But they know the name and little more. A week or two ago Andreas from Hamburg, a true indiepop visionnaire, wrote me about them. He was looking for more information about their releases.  Discogs doesn’t list all of them. So he sent me a list of information he had gathered and could be helpful for researching about them. And hopefully learn whatever happened to them.

I know of them from just some loose songs. I know mostly about them through Youtube I must admit. There’s the video for the jingly jangly “Telyn Wedi Torri” that gives us a little tour of a Welsh town (which town is it? can anyone tell me?), another video for a live performance for “Y Gwyliau“, that sounds a bit Morrissey-like, and also a pair of videos of a live gig that includes a bunch of their songs ( part 1 includes I believe “Emyr”, “Duw Rhyw”, “Cyfweliad” and “Jack Kerouac” while part 2 includes “Crocodeil” and “Showbiz”). To our luck, we also get a live performance of the song of the promo video, there is this beautiful live rendition of “Telyn Wedi Torri” that you all ought to listen and watch. The guitars don’t stop chiming!

After you’ve listened and you wonder why don’t you understand them, you’ll notice they sing in Welsh. I must admit that I didn’t hear much Welsh while I was in Wales. Only at the train stations. I expected to use some of the silly phrases I learned from the Lonely Planet guidebook we brought. But no. Welsh (Cymraeg or y Gymraeg) is a member of the Brythonic branch of the Celtic languages spoken natively in Wales, by some along the Welsh border in England, and in Y Wladfa (the Welsh colony in Chubut Province, Argentina). Historically it has also been known in English as “the British tongue”, “Cambrian”, “Cambric”[12] and “Cymric”. The 2011 UK Census counted almost 3 million residents of Wales. Of these, 73% (2.2 million) reported having no Welsh language skills. Of the residents of Wales aged three and over, 19% (562,000) reported being able to speak Welsh, and 77% (431,000) of these (that is, 15% of the total population) were able to speak, read, and write the language. This can be compared with the 2001 Census, in which 20.8% of the population (582,000) reported being able to speak Welsh. In surveys carried out between 2004 and 2006, 57% (315,000) of Welsh speakers described themselves as fluent in the written language.

Also pretty interesting is their counting system, which is very similar to French The traditional counting system used by the Welsh language is vigesimal, which is to say it is based on twenties, as in standard French numbers 70 (soixante-dix, literally “sixty-ten”) to 99 (quatre-vingt-dix-neuf, literally “four twenties nineteen”). Welsh numbers from 11 to 14 are “x on ten”, 16 to 19 are “x on fifteen” (though 18 is deunaw “two nines”); numbers from 21 to 39 are “1–19 on twenty”, 40 is “two twenties”, 60 is “three twenties”, etc. This form continues to be used, especially by older people, and it is obligatory in certain circumstances (such as telling the time).

Anyways, enough of linguistics, though I find it immensely interesting. I found a very informative biography on last.fm for Tynal Tywyll. This might start solving the mystery.

Tynal Tywyll formed in 1984 in the very confusing landscape of mid 80’s Welsh music. Heavy metal to the left of them. Reggae to the right of them. What could they do? Taking their cue from The Byrds and REM they played a chime-y, rickenbacker infused form of “pop” music and released 3 singles, 3 EPs and 2 albums. On their first TV appearance on HTV Wales they dared to wear turtle neck jumpers, paisley shirts and necklaces, which was enough to elicit, if not death threats, threats of a good kicking from some quarters. They once recorded a TV session on the same day as Heavy Metal legends Wenfflam, who wore skin tight tiger print pants in a sort of NWOBHM Saxon style, and who have gone down in history as the Welsh language Anvil. All Hail Wenfflam. (Indeed all hail Anvil too. But we draw the line at Manowar.) TT were vehemently Metal-phobic at this time, and were naively worried that being in the same studio as a metal band would infect them with the airborne virus know as “Spirit of metal” and make them buy Donington Rock tickets. It did not. As time has gone by the TT members have grown up a bit and actually consider sharing a stage with Wenfflam a privilege. Anyhoo, continuing, the band played many concerts in some very strange places such as Dolgellau village hall, which was actually rafter swinging, riotously good fun. They did get their van headbutted without provocation by a cloven hoofed man beast in Bala but that is another story. At one Eisteddfod, in a starlit field, after midnight, they were accosted by a weeping man mountain know only as “Maharan”. He could have killed the whole band with one thumb thrust but the band quickly offered the tearful behemoth words of solace like Androcles to the lion, and he was grateful and spared them. At one concert a drunken ape of a young farmer manhandled one of their guitars and surveyed it as if it had beamed down from mars, uttering quizzical grunts as he turned it every which way. They did not correct him for they were fey musicians, not ringmasters of feral turnip gatherers. Many and absurd were their adventures. They were “active” (in the musical sense) from 1984 to 1995. A compilation CD of all their records is possible within the next few months. There are no plans to dust off the turtle neck jumpers for a live reunion, as they would rather be remembered as young and relatively pretty, but their spirit lives on in the recordings.

A compilation CD of all their records? I don’t think this ever happened did it? This text was written in 2011.

Let’s head to Discogs then and see what’s listed there as any pop researcher would do as a first step.

There’s one album listed, ” Lle Dwi Isho Bod +… “. It has Scooby Doo and Shaggy on the cover. They too were used to solve mysteries. Scooby Doo was one of my favorite cartoons when little. It was aired in channel 7, a government owned channel, back in Lima. I believe it aired at around 4:30pm. I could be wrong, it was a long time ago. It was before the Cartoon Network and that sort of things. This album was released in 1992, on the Crai label (catalog CD 032) and included 20 songs! Andreas tells me that songs 1 to 14 were originally released on MC (one of the albums, probably the final one) and tracks 15 to 20 are culled from various singles.

The Ankst label  lists an album “Slow Dance Hefo’r Iesu” (Ankst 002), but can’t find any more information.

There are two singles listed. The first from 1986, “’73 Heb Flares / Rhwyma Fi“, included those two songs and was released by Recordiau Anhrefn (catalog Anhrefn 007). The second single was the one from the video, “Mae’r Telyn Wedi Torri” and was released by the Bobby Riggs label in 1987. The catalog number was SRT-7KS-1383 and the B side for this single was “Y Gwyliau”.

The Anhrefn label also released some guitar bands like Y Cyrff or the punkier Fflaps, worth checking on Youtube.

There is of course another 7″ not listed that I did know about, that’s the one that has “Jack Kerouac” on the A side. I used to think this was the most well known record by them, but if it’s not listed on Discogs, well, I guess it’s not.  This one was released in 1990 and R072F. The B side was “Boomerang”.

Then there’s a 7″ on the Ankst label, “Syrthio Mewn Cariad”, catalog Ankst 004. Not sure what the other songs on this are. It is an EP, so perhaps more than 2 songs are included in the record.

But Andreas sends me a link for yet another single, not listed on Discogs. This one from 1988, with catalog number SRT 9KS 1858. I wasn’t aware of this one. With a very 60s artwork, this record includes the songs “Duw Rhyw” and “Gorfennaf Eto” on the A side and “Showbiz” and “Gerddi” on the B side. A veil of mystery covers this one.

They also appeared on the compilation “Cam O’r Tywyllwch” released by the Recordiau Anhrefn label. Catalog was 002. In this comp they contributed the songs “Paid A Synnu” and “Yr Effaith”.

By now I feel terrible. I don’t own any of these records! I should start getting my hands dirty and try to find them!

I keep searching and I stumble on a WordPress blog by the same uploader of many of the videos of the band. It’s called Fanzine Ynfytyn ( I believe this means Fanzine Idiot). There’s a blog post and souncloud links about Tynal Tywyll! It seems these recordings come from a completely unofficial tape! have a look! It sounds amazing. It seems these recordings are from 1985!

Okay so you have questions, what does Tynal Tywyll means? It means Dark Tunnel. This I learn from a book called Blerwytirhwng?’ The Place of Welsh Pop Music  that seems very pricey, but there’s a Google scan of it. Here it confirms that they hailed from North Wales, and they seem to be grouped into a scene called the Bethesda scene. Sadly this is the only mention of the band here.

Gladly Andreas helps me with the band members:
Ian Morris – singer
Nathan Hall – lead guitar
Gareth Williams – bass
Gruffy Davies – rhythm guitar
Dafydd Richards – keyboards
Gareth Hughes – drums

It is still very mysterious but we’ve been putting many pieces together. We have at least a better discography than Discogs by now, and we have some names. Let’s keep digging.

There’s a mention of a Gareth Williams singing in an alt-country band called Colobos in Wrexham. That’s North Wales. Could be him? What about a Gareth Hughes, playing drums in a punk metal band called Act of Supremacy? though it seems that by 2007 he had left the band already.

But I think I hit the jackpot. I found a band called Soft Hearted Scientists based in Cardiff. Nathan Hall seems to be playing there. If he is the same Nathan Hall who I think it is. Will try my luck emailing them.

Though there’s still a piece of the story that I haven’t mentioned. Tynal Tywyll singing in English. They were called The Collectors and perhaps that should be another blog post. But at least let’s mention that they released two CDs  the 1993/4  “Astronaut Girl”  and the “Desolation Angels”, both on Citizen Records.

I haven’t heard these CDs either, but some of the songs posted on Youtube, though Andreas tells me that “The Collectors are also very good and the interesting part is that they re-wrote and re-recorded (at least two) TT songs with English lyrics, e.g. “Jack Kerouac” (with Welsh lyrics) became “World Away” (with English lyrics) etc.

The first CD, “Astronaut Girl”, is catalog 002, whereas the second was 003. I wonder, was there a Citizen Records 001? I assume this was their own label.  “Desolation Angels” includes 14 songs. 6 of them appear on “Astronaut Girl”. The only song that remains exclusive to the 7-track “Astronaut Girl” is  “What Have We Got To Lose?”. The fact that the address on the back for Citizen Records is what creates a bit of confusion. It states the label is based in Cardiff. Either they moved from the north to Cardiff, which is I think a more English speaking place and started singing in English, or the label was just based there and it wasn’t ran by the band.

And here the research reaches a wall. There are no more places to look on the web at least. But I’m sure people out there must have heard about them, maybe saw them, or own their records! Would be great to hear if you have any more information about this fantastic Welsh indiepop band! A one of a kind band, that deserves more recognition in the indiepop-world!


Tynal Tywyll – Jack Kerouac


A week ago I received the second and possibly last album by Electrophönvintage. After listening to it a couple of times on my cd player, the one I carry around in my backpack all the time, I realized two things. First this can’t be the last album by the London band. Second, this album is brilliant.

I’ve been a fan of the band for many years now. I even have asked them many times for songs for a possible 7″ release. This never happened. What did happen was that I managed to see them live once, joined them at a band practice, and bought their first 7″ from Stephen Pastel. But I guess I should start from the beginning, as it’s not a short story.

It’s 1999, and Remi Parson starts this band as a solo project in France. Indiepop child prodigy. He is very very young. The next year, in 2000, he releases his first ever record, a 7″ with Plastic Pancake Records. Four songs, “I Don’t Want to Stay”, “Etap Hotel”, “The Passage” and “Shops” color the twelfth release of this French label. A label that eventually would move to London, the same way that years later Electrophönvintage would follow.

Plastic Pancake was an important influence, and player, for the early days of the band. Since 1997 this label released many classic indiepop acts like Marine Time Keepers, Picture Center or Les Poisson Solubles. It was definitely no surprise Remi found a good home here, and also a very good friend in Pierre, who ran the label. As the label grew in releases, Electrophönvintage stagnated. Remi had joined a post rock band, The Bright Period, where he plays guitar, and eventually releases an album “A Place for Parks” on Unique Records (catalog UR 02).

There’s a break. A couple of years. Until 2003. Then Electrophönvintage comes back, I guess because there’s an indiepop heart in Remi, and even though he does love Migala and some post-rock, he needed to let loose his pop sensibility. By now Delphine Bost has joined the band to what will become a fantastic partnership. Also Sebastien Linares, who Remi worked with in A Place for Parks, joins them on bass. With this new lineup they will release their first album “We Sang A Yéyé Song” with the Unique Records label (UR 03). It’s told that this record only took 1 day to be recorded. It was recorded that year at studio ATL by Pat, and it also counted with the help of Anicet Rohée (from A Place for Parks) on drums. Electrophönvintage is no more a solo project, but a full band. This album is a beautiful collection of smart songwriting, of songs written during a long time period, the newer ones written while being a student in Grenoble, and the older ones rediscovered from old tapes sitting in a cupboard. It’s a beautiful debut album, it’s classic indiepop, and as the Facebook page of the band nicely puts it, “short wooden pop songs”. For a taster, definitely head to Youtube and check the video for “Where You’re Not“. Delphine stars, and Remi’s trademark drawn-self appears too.

Upon re-listening the album it’s impressive the change between that first album and the second. But before we fast forward lets stop in 2006. This year the band contributes three songs, “Rescue”, “The Former President”  and “Where You’re Not”, to the Unique Records compilation “Just Close To You (A Five-Year Compilation Of Unique Records)” (catalog UR 13 from this French label). This is not their only compilation appearance though. In 2009 they will appear on a WeePop compilation called “Starting Anew” with the song “Don’t Wake Me Up”.

I believe it was in 2006 that Remi and Delphine relocated to London. Perhaps earlier. It was in 2006 when I first heard of the band. It was through their other project, at that time, just a side project, The Sunny Street. With The Sunny Street I have so many stories, that I hold very dear, but that’s for another time (though I’m pretty sure there’s a writeup of the first gig I ever saw by them in Hamburg 2010). With The Sunny Street I ended up working on a 3″, and an ill-fated album on Plastilina Records (thanks to the terrible work ethic of my partner in the label during that time). Ill-fated because it took more 6 months than the announced release date to appear in people’s mailboxes. It was a shame. I felt cheated. And I’m sure a lot of people out there did too. Those who ordered the album. Gladly this taught him a lesson and the Plastilina label seems to be much more reliable these days. Shame though it happened with one of the bands I loved the most, to a group of friends that I cared for. Shit happens they say. Things weren’t the same since then. Anyhow, back to Electrophönvintage.

As a side project, Electrophönvintage, didn’t live up to The Sunny Street fame. Musically they were two different creatures. Influence-wise you could say the same. The funny thing was that it was the same people playing. Remi had recruited Ian Cowen on bass (from Pocketbooks and now in The Understudies), and Christos Kalyvas on second guitar. A band with Christos let me tell you is a winner. No one sports better indiepop t-shirts than him, all made by himself mind you! This was The Sunny Street lineup. But when it was Electrophönvintage, Johnny from Pocketbooks would join on drums.

With this lineup they played a bunch of gigs, mostly in London. They did play one Indietracks gig in 2012. At the chapel. Those were happy days for me. 2012 was a good year just before Indietracks, then things went a bit downhill for me. But during Indietracks, sitting next to Alex, on the coldest summer I’ve experienced, rainy, visiting cows and donkeys, a week in Wales, a happy heart and dreams of a future by the coast of Skåne or in a wooden cabin in Unalaska, we enjoyed one of the most beautiful indiepop gigs of the year. I have the setlist still, dedicated to me, an illustration of a man open mouthed, all colored, and in that open mouth the songs to be played: “Siq”, “Where You’re Not”, “You Met a Girl”, “Football Teams”, “Shops”, “The Former President”, “Orphée”, “That Loving April”, “Michel”, and my favourite “Burgundy”. I’ve never seen so much effort put on making a such a neat setlist. You can tell aesthetics were important for them, and they cared very much for their band. Details like this speak for themselves.

Let’s rewind a bit, the previous year, 2011, I went to Indietracks too. Before that I went as sort of a roadie with Very Truly Yours to a couple of cities in the UK. One of those cities was Glasgow. Upon arriving our friend Krister was there waiting for us to give us a bit of a tour. Before that we had some food of course. I had haggis and beer. Krister tried the Arbroath Smokies. So adventurous we were. We headed then to Mono, the store Stephen Pastel runs. We were lucky that that day he was around. Krister introduced me to Stephen, and I as thrilled that he knew about Cloudberry. We took a photo, though not as cool as the one Daniel So Tough has. Anyhow, I went through the store and found Electrophönvintage’s debut 7″. Didn’t think twice to buy it, even though I already had it. You can call me nuts. But it had to be done.

If I rewind a bit more, to 2010, but earlier. February 2010. London Popfest. By now it’s over. But I’m still hanging around. I’m invited by Remi to join Electrophönvintage for their band practice. I had never seen them live, so I said yes. I would love to. I carried some instruments around. I think the practice space was around Oxford Street, but I might be wrong. We took the bus. We sat on the second floor. Ah! The double decker buses. I miss them, sitting on the front of the second floor just like Jennifer taught me. Until next July probably huh? Anyways, Johnny didn’t come to practice. So there was no Electrophönvintange practice anymore. Resourceful Remi decided then that it would be a Sunny Street practice instead. My luck then was that I would never see them playing live. I would have never imagined that two years later I would end up seeing them. Funny fact: I recorded the ‘video’ for “Insull” of The Sunny Street during this would-be Electrophönvintage practice.

Fast forward again. 2013. “Play Harp in Your Hair” is released. This is their second album. From what it says on bandcamp, these recording are not new. They are from 2006. These are the credits stated there:
released 23 June 2013
Recorded by Pat at Atl Studios. France. Summer 2006.
Personnel: Delphine Bost, Rémi Parson and Sébastien Llinares.
All songs by Electrophönvintage.
Big thanks to Pierre-Antoine, Alexis, Anicet, Bart, Bruno, Camila, Christos, Gérald, Ian, Jean-Louis, Jonny, Martin, Pat… + Everyone we forgot (thousands).

I ordered the album and arrived promptly. 5 pounds plus postage for a nicely packaged CDR. Hand-made. Handwritten. Assembled with scissors and glue. Released by  Remi’s classic imprint “Phonic Kidnapping Records” (home of Remi’s solo CDR, Cocoanut Groove first 7″ and more), and only limited to 50 copies (run for your copy). 8 songs. Short and sweet. If it’s fair enough, to say for a 2006 album, this is one of the best albums of 2013 for me. I keep playing it again and again. Songs like “Burgundy” and “Football Teams” are classics in my book. I love how Delphine sings in “Putefix” too. My favourite in the album is “Carrots Code”. The melodies are smart. There is a warmth that you don’t find often in songs anymore. It’s all simply done. There’s no tricks, no cheating. It’s what it is. It’s heartfelt music. It’s like opening up Electrophönvintage’s members souls and pouring it into a blender, and getting these 8 songs. Without artifices. Honest. Sincere. Transparent. You feel this is a band you want to be friends with. Spend a night with them listening to their favourite songs, and hearing their anecdotes about growing up, while drinking beer around a bonfire. You can tell these songs are made by people like me or you, people that love pop, that breathe pop, that dream pop.

Within the envelope there’s a note with Remi’s handwriting, a nice cursive, one you don’t see much anymore. He hopes I’ll like the album, he asks me to let him know what I think. I hope this post answers the question. To the other question on the message, how is NYC treating me? Well, it treats me pretty well Remi. Today is pretty cold, 2 degrees Celsius. Your record accompanied me once more on the subway ride from home to work. There’s something very autumnal about your album, but I can’t pinpoint what it is. It’s an orange and sepia album, leaves falling, and nostalgia. Why? I can’t say. They are wooden pop songs. But most importantly, they are eternally hopeful songs. That’s something I like about your music in general, it feels that whatever happens, the outcome will be good.


Electrophönvintage – Football Teams


Thanks so much to Shaun Blezard for this fantastic interview! The Peach Thieves were around in the late 80s and only released one flexi with two songs “Out of Nowhere” and “Morecambe Bay”. A very rare record, that probably many of you haven’t heard, which I’m still trying to track down, but definitely worth your attention! It’s proper indiepop, with the right influences, with the right jangle. Now discover the wonders of The Peach Thieves!

++ Hi Shaun! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! I see you are still involved in music? Not indiepop though, right? Tell me what are you up to these days?

I work with electronics these days – part ambient (darkish) and improvisation and free jazz – kind of experimental I guess – I play solo as Clutter (working with field recordings and part sound art), Hugs Bison (iPad duo), Kipple (6 piece free jazz and electronics) + other one off things as they come along. You can see the kind of things I do at my website shaunblezard.net

++ Let’s go back in time. Were you involved with any other bands before The Peach Thieves? If so, care telling me a bit about them?

The Peach Thieves was my first band – I’d been very into music before then but never played an instrument till I joined the band.

++ And so when do The Peach Thieves start as a band? Who were the members? What did you each play? and how did you all know each other?

The Peach Thieves started in 1986 – Members Phillip Messenger: guitar, vocals – Johnny Picthall: guitar, vocals – Shaun Blezard: bass & Chris (can’t remember his second name): drums

Me & Phil went to school together so had known each other for years, Johnny we met in the training school at the shipyard we were all apprentices at in Barrow and Chris was a friend of a friend – he didn’t stay long as he was a serious rock type and we were a little cutsey and silly for him – he left and Neil Kemp joined on drums

++ When was the first time you picked up a bass? Do you still own your first one? What’s your favourite bass that you own?

I bought a cheap bass after joining the band it was an Italian copy of a rickenbacker (the guitar shape not the bass) not sure where it ended up, I then had a Peavey which was OK, then a 70’s white Rickenbacker which was lovely (I had to sell it to pay a tax bill though 🙁 still miss it) got given a Westone which is still my main bass – looks horrible but sounds and plays lovely, the only other bass I have is an acoustic

++ Where does the name the Peach Thieves come from?

It’s from a film The Peach Thief a 1960’s Bulgarian film, that I’ve still never seen – I think we were wanting to sound a bit arty – it’s on youtube if you want to see it http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dPBalNuBxfE

++ And I do need to ask this kind of silly question, but are peaches your favourite fruit? Did you all like them?

Not a massive peach fan – I love bananas, satsumas and Royal Gala apples the most – not sure about the others – there was no crazy peach parties that I remember

++ Who would you say were bands that influenced your sound as The Peach Thieves?

Orange Juice, The Pastels, Weather Prophets, Jonathan Richman, The Chesterfields, Primal Scream – we would have died happy to put out a 7″ on either Subway, 53rd & 3rd or Creation

++ Tell me about where were you based? What were the other cool bands in town? And the best places to go to gigs or play gigs?!

We were and I still am based in Cumbria – a beautiful part of the UK – we’re just outside the Lake District so lots of mountains and lakes but Barrow where we played most is a tough working class town – the bands we got on with were Red Hour and Masai Buckeroo the only other ‘indie’ bands around Red Hour were kind of like the Wedding Present/Television and Masai Buckeroo wanted to be Butthole Surfers – we played our very first gig on the same night in 86 in fact – Best venue by far was The Labour Club – sadly not there anymore but a great left wing bar with an upstairs concert hall – spent many happy hours in there.

++ Talking about gigs did you play many? Which were your favourite gigs as The Peach Thieves and why?

That first one in a village called Leece at a place that our friend Johnny G rented – it was an old farm house and we played in the driveway with lots of other bands on during the night – Johnny’s parties were legendary and lasted a couple of days…also Johnny G’s birthday in 1987 where we played in his living room for him and a dozen friends – the best we ever went down. The other one that sticks in the memory was in Lancaster where people took us seriously, which they often didn’t in Barrow and we signed autographs – that was great

++ You only released the one flexi with two songs, “Out of The Nowhere” and “Morecombe Bay”. Any chance you could tell me the story behind these two songs?

Out of The Nowhere was just a dumb song with Phil trying to be cool name checking the Man From UNCLE etc – Morecambe Bay is based on a jazz excercise and is based in the local area of Morcambe Bay – We tried to do songs with a local flavour – still like this song a lot, lovely melodies. You would have to find Phil to ask him about any deeper meanings.

++ What do you remember from the recording session of the flexi?

Not too much, it was at Low Fold, about the only local studio run by a ‘rock’ type – thus the overly processed production – we wanted it to be rougher sounding but didn’t know enough about things to change it – the recordings are OK though 🙂 I wasn’t at all good at this time and all my parts were written for me by Phil or Johnny so it was slow going……

++ Were you also behind the label that put it out? Uncle Records? How was that experience of promoting, selling, distributing your own record?

It was our own label as no label were interested and there weren’t many we would have signed to in our youthful principled way – promotion was mainly through fanzines so we sold quite a few that way and at gigs – we were far too innocent to understand real promotion, you just talked to other bands, swapped records, sold stuff at gigs – a real nice scene

++ And why did you decide to do it as a flexi and say not a 7″? And how come you didn’t get to release more records?

We did a flexi as everyone was doing them at the time, I think we liked the throw away quality of them, we were planning to do a 7″ next but Phil decided he wasn’t cut out to be in a band and so we split up – Myself and Neil went on to form a 7 piece psychedelic country band called The Clementines (https://archive.org/details/inhanksgarage), Johnny was in a band called Cloudtown for a bit and Phil popped up in a post rock band in Manchester for a while in the 90s

++ Do you happen to have more recorded material? Are there more Peach Thieves songs hiding in tapes in someone’s cupboard maybe?

I have some rehearsals and a couple of gig recordings on cassette – no studio stuff though. I have transferred a little of the tapes to CD but I think they will have to stay in the volt for now 🙂 I must go back and have a listen, we were getting pretty good towards the end

++ The curious part of the flexi is that it is dedicated to Vic Goddard. Were you good friends?

No we heard he was retired from the music industry and was a postman after his stuff like Holiday Hymn went down badly which we all loved so we dedicated it to him for that reason.

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

Phil decided he wasn’t wanting to be a musician so he left, and as he was the main songwriter it finished the band – He wasn’t interested in the travelling about and rehearsal etc – this was mid 1986. A short while later The Clementines formed on the picket line of the shipyard we worked in – Me, Neil and a few others thought it would be fun to put a country band together to raise funds for the strike, this is why we ended up a 7 piece – we played the usual fast Johnny Cash covers and 60’s byrds type stuff – we ended up being together for nearly 5 years

++ After The Peach Thieves, were you guys still involved with music? And do you still happen to listen to indiepop?

Phil left the band and moved to Manchester and lives there with wife and kids – not seen him in ages and I don’t think he plays music anymore. Chris went off and last thing I heard was brewing his own beer, Johnny played a little in town and still plays but not in public, Neil played in some great bands but sold his kit and got married I think, I played in The Clementines, then a Neil Young inspired band called The Behans then drifted into dance music – this ended up as Clutter, not really dance but have been involved in electronics for 15 years or so, but have started playing bass again here and there in Krautrock types things, also I’m learning to play the banjo old timey style. I still listen to some indie pop – Wedding Present, McCarthy, Wolfhounds and Orange Juice among lots of other stuff

++ Looking back, what would you say was the best part of being in The Peach Thieves?

Being a really shy boy, nearly sick when we played with my back to the audience to actually enjoying it and starting to feel like a musician, which has never left me – I still love playing live, not nervous anymore but it still excites me and I enjoy the travelling when I can. The feeling of really playing well together, when it clicks is like nothing else, much more important to me than fame.

++ Today, aside from music, what other hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing aside from music?

Music is still a huge part of my life but I also do film, animation, photography, graphic design and production management – I’ve been freelance for 14 years doing all this as an artist but also in the community – working with school kids, older people doing all kinds of exciting art and music. I love this side of things as much as the being paid to create – I’m just about to start a big animation and digital art project in 6 primary schools in Barrow which will be brilliant!! I am also Learning Officer at a working 18th Century water mill – I work there 2.5 days a week finding interesting ways to share the mills history and heritage – so far this has included a one off radio station with teenagers, animations and getting to know the area.

++ Let’s wrap it now! Thanks a lot Shaun! Anything else you’d like to add?

Just how nice it’s been answering your questions – after so long I can only guess it’s like being from an old garage band and knowing people still enjoy your little thing you created 🙂 Been real fun


The Peach Thieves – Out of Nowhere


Wow! It’s November already. The year went fast but it’s not over yet. There’s always news in indiepop, like for example I hear tomorrow there will be more band announcements for Madrid Popfest or the Shelflife Records sale were almost everything seems to be just $1.

Indiepop is alive and kicking even if i was announced that The Leamington Spa series is over (Uwe don’t do this to us!!!). NYC Popfest also announced the dates for next year festival, May 29 to June 1st, and of course there’s people already requesting a lot of terrible stuff. I look at the thread on Facebook and it scares me how people want the SAME bands that have played previous Popfests. Even the ones that played last year. Also of course there’s the people who has no shame and ask for bands that have no indiepop in their blood like Crystal Stilts or The Beets. I understand they love these bands and want to see them, but I strongly believe Popfests should showcase the new and the best of indiepop. If not what’s the point. Let’s just do a whatever festival like CMJ and that’s it. We know that Popfests are a big support to keeping alive the scene, so I wonder when will fans stop being so silly and stop thinking just for their sake instead of the scene sake. In any case I trust Maz and his taste for next NYC Popfest. He always delivers.

But not all is bad. There’s people that come with great ideas like Trixie’s Big Red Motorbike, The Woodentops, Northern Portrait or The Brilliant Corners. It’s half and half, the people that recognize the importance of Popfest and embrace it, and the people that think that any band could do.

Those who read me know my position of course. I’m with the half that supports indiepop bands.

Another good news is the launch of a new book in Japan called 80s Guitar Pop. It’s written in Japanese sadly but I think that, if similar to the Neo-Acoustic Guide, it will be a must-have for every indiepop lover out there. I’m doing everything possible now to secure a copy.

Last but not least came to my attention a post on the Twee Lovers Club group on Facebook where I was tagged. There was a nice comment recommending the blog. It said something along these lines “Plenty of obscure bands getting mentioned over there. Mostly really hard to find stuff.” Can’t complain. But the previous comment on this same thread reminded me of bad times: “one of my faves used to be run by this German guy who used to upload rare stuff, but he got harassed a lot by people who used to run labels and artists who made those songs and collectors who didn’t want their collection to lose their value. i can’t recall the name of the blog anymore.”

That blog was There and Back Again. Of course it was the favorite blog of many people, it was a full download blog. People love being lazy and getting everything after one click. People also loved the person behind the blog, they could relate to him. A martyr, the Robin Hood of indiepop, fighting against all the labels and collectors, giving all the wealth to the poor, etc. The underdog. Indiepoppers love that. What they don’t see is that ANYONE could do a blog like that. And worst of it all, it doesn’t add anything to the scene. It just makes it more throwaway, less meaningful, it misses all the points. The idea of an indiepop blog should be to step in where the 80s fanzine writers left. Sharing the excitement for the music. Not making it a worthless piece to collect as MP3s. Please. Stop being part of that half that only cares for themselves. Stop being selfish. Stop the greed.

And so, into another topic: The Hill Bandits


Strange that in the last day or two I’ve been emailing with someone from Leeds. And yes, Leeds is the place where I want to transport you all. To 1986. That’s when the story started.

First stop, their website: http://www.thehillbandits.co.uk/ . As an fan of guitar pop you are surprised to know that they have a website. I was too. It’s not common these days. At best you get a Soundcloud. But a proper website? Not common. Going through it you realize that they set it up for a reunion sort of gig that they played in March this year. It was at a club called The Chemic in their native Leeds. There are some videos of that gig in this Youtube account.

That Youtube account belongs to Kevin Lycett. Him and Fiona McMillan seem to have been the driving force behind the band. They were around for three or so years, from 86 to 89. In that time they toured the UK but also Germany. They released two records, two 12″ EPs, the first one which is listed in Discogs: “Hotrod Buckboard Boogie “.

This was release through Ediesta Records in 1987, catalog CALC 40, and it doesn’t seem to be that pricey (I still need to get it, but I already spent a bunch in music this week). The record included on the A side “Love Me Or Leave Me” and “Aragon Mill”, whilst on the flip side we had “You’re Gonna See” and “Out Among the Stars”. The curious part about this record is that on the credits we don’t see Lycett or McMillan. We see other names like Walter Donaldson, Si Khan, Adam Mitchell and S. Davidson. That doesn’t make any sense, does it? Maybe there’s an error there.

Their second record doesn’t show up on Discogs, and it seems to be the one indiepop collectors know more about, the “Nowhere Train” 12″. On this record they continue with their own brand of country-influenced guitar pop. Again released by Ediesta in 1988, catalog CALC 52, this slab of plastic included just “Nowhere Train” on the A side and “Pills and Trouble” with “Seventh Bar in Heaven” on the B side. There’s a very cool video of them performing “Nowhere Train” in the 80s that you shouldn’t miss.

This record was produced by Jon Langford, and recorded at Offbeat  (Leeds) and Berry Street (London) in March 1988. The engineers for it were Tony Bonner in Leeds and Ian Caple in London. Emma Bolland played fiddle, Rob Worby played strings and Jon Langford mandolin. The front cover photograph came thanks to John Ingledew.

The story says they even recorded a third record. But that one never saw the light. On their Soundcloud there are a bunch of unreleased songs that may or may not have been part of this third record like “Old King Cole”, “Cross My Broken Heart”, “Wild Women”and “Planning Tomorrow’s Sins”. They seem to be just teasers sadly, the songs are not complete.

Weird. The website doesn’t have a contact page. But it has a cool biography page with information about both Keving and Fiona. I will copy/paste it. Quite interesting!


1986 -1989 Hill Bandits

1989 move to Berlin

From 1990- 97 and 200-05 The Barflies; a Berlin semi acoustic outfit doing covers of the great female vocalists from country, jazz, blues; Ella Fitzgerlad, Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Sarah Vaughan. (I found a video of them here)

97-2000 ‘Bars’ a 3 chord rock band in Berlin

93- 03 Studio session singer with the Berlin music scene, everything from very heavy rock like St Vitus to Americana like the Jever Mountain Boys.

From 2010 current project is Itch, an acoustic duo with French guitarist Anthony Hildenbrand. Gigged extensively around France with several visits to UK. Album out in April 2013.


1977 – 1989/2003 Mekons

1985(?) Sweet Valentines Cowboys a shortlived Cajun/country cross over outfit featuring among others Ms Emma Bolland on fiddle and Kevin lead vocals, not the wisest of steps.

1986-1989 Hill Bandits

1989 Retired from rock music and took up classical guitar, like you do.

1990-1994 promoting the cheesiest imaginable nights at many clubs in Leeds, catering to just about every genre, age and inclination. Seems like every person in Leeds between late teens and late 20s in the early 90s passed through the doors of one or more of his nights.

1989 – 2003 contributed to a lesser and lesser extent to most Mekons recordings but thought it best to finally let it lie after their 25th anniversary tour saw him on stage again with the Meeks in New York and Leeds.


So from what I understand, this gig in March of 2013 was just a one off as Fiona is living in France. But still pretty cool, isn’t it? Maybe they keep on doing it. I love when bands get together again and revisit their old songs.

Anyone out there remember them? Did you go to any of their gigs? Did you happen to have their records? Spare copies? I would love to hear more. Even these recordings on Soundcloud fully would be good. That “Cross My Broken Heart” sounds awesome!

If you know anything else about them, please share!


The Hill Bandits – Nowhere Train