Thanks a thousand to the Scott Stevens for this amazing interview! I know Scott for some years now thanks to the Summer Cats (his last band) who worked with Cloudberry on a couple of singles, but years before he was in a fantastic band called The Earthmen, true legends of the Melbourne indie scene of the 90s. Shame on me that it didn’t occur to me to ask him for this interview before, but sooner later than never, right? Two important things, one is that next year there will be The Earthmen compilation on Popboomerang (with many unreleased songs!) and also the MP3 that Scott has kindly shared, a cover of The Sugargliders’ “YR Jacket”. So if you missed them the first time around, please discover this great band that left us a bunch of singles (mostly on Summershine)  and an LP (on Warner even!).  Sit down, enjoy!

++ Hi Scott! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! I believe this is the second interview we did. Some years ago I interviewed you for my Cloudberry fanzine, but about the Summer Cats. I’m curious then, in between the Earthmen and Summer Cats, were you involved with any other bands? What was going on in your music-life during that period?

There was actually nothing (creatively that is). Music has always been an obsession for me but I guess I wasn’t sure what to focus on musically post The Earthmen & wasn’t sure of my worth in terms of contributing. When I started doing Summer Cats I had made a conscious decision (along with printmaking) to begin expressing again…just took me longer than I thought.

++ I don’t know if I can say I’m equally familiar with the story of The Earthmen and Summer Cats, though I believe that I’ve listened to all released songs by both bands. So maybe. But I would love to know according to you, how different were both bands, and not just sound-wise, the whole dynamic of both of them.

That’s a surprisingly hard question to answer! The Earthmen were around for about eight years and had quite specific phases musically where as Summer Cats were a far shorter musical journey.  I certainly wanted Summer Cats to be a much more egalitarian & consensus driven project where as The Earthmen were more driven by Nick, during a period Aaron, and me.

It’s also fair to say Summer Cats were a tad more ramshackle the whole time and with a specific aesthetic manifesto (the crash pop thing) and a specific set of goals of things we wanted to achieve.

The Earthmen started in just as ramshackle a fashion but influenced in equal measure by shoegaze bands and loud & noisy US bands, then later drifting through phases that were influencing us personally and we ended up being quite musically tight.

A big set of things that separates the bands was that The Earthmen were a bunch of early twenty year olds who played a lot and perhaps wanted everything where as Summer Cats played less and despite our pop fizz were not driven by that early twenties manic energy and only desired certain things.  Funny how it leads to the same result though.

++ Let’s go back in time then. Was The Earthmen your first band? Or had you been involved with other bands before?

Yes, yes they were and nope I never had! I was just the typical 7” buying obsessed music fan.

++ And how did you end up being a vocalist? Do you play any instruments?

When we started the band Aaron played guitar and I figured I could possibly do the singing.

I don’t play any instruments but was one of the songwriters in most of the tracks and had some very talented & patient friends I got to write with.

I sometimes hear whole songs in my head…figure everyone does! I did consider way back learning but decided to concentrate on my voice as I love the process of contributing.  Maybe not sensible I guess retrospectively

++ When and how did The Earthmen start? How was the recruiting process?

We started as an idea at a gig at a hotel called The Tote. It was at a particularly rock show and I was energised to start a band in opposition to the prevailing rock-est Melbourne scene which didn’t represent the music I wanted to hear (as a reason I guess it seems kinda silly as we were hardly a pop revolutionaries).  I’ve often thought that we do things in life sometimes after affirming things we don’t like whether it’s food, politics or music.

It just seemed like a thing that could be done, you know start a band without any discernible talent or identified musical skill: ha! A lot of the bands I’d been influenced by were from that indie/fanzine culture of ‘get out and do it’ and that was quite empowering.

I don’t know whether recruiting would be the right word as I was 19-20 and had no idea how these things work…we asked Glenn one of my best friends to play drums & kinda went from there.

We were surprisingly clueless & guileless on how all this music thing worked both in terms of making it and how the machinery works. Our first manager Mary I’d known from arguing about Died Pretty at Uni & we asked her if she’d want to manage us…I think you can see how this was all working…

Down the track we did more of the ‘put up a flyer’ with our influences kinda thing, a process that is can be fraught & a bit demeaning for all involved I think but sometimes does pay dividends.

++ And who came up with the name? What’s the story behind it?

Yeah that was me. It was from a trashy 60’s pulp novel chapter title of a book I cannot remember. I’ve always loved the classic sixties type band names and was at the time quite into Spacemen 3 so we hoped it echoed that kind of vibe and I’m guessing it didn’t annoy any of us!

++ What would you say were the influences of The Earthmen? Which bands were you loving at that time? Any Australian bands?

Around inception a lot of the early Slumberland, Sarah, Bus Stop & Creation releases were huge for me especially the singles.  Somehow the 7” always seemed to be so romantic, obsessional and affordable! Especially as you may not have known much about the band like say The Nightblooms with Crystal Eyes and out of the blue they’d appear with this singular moment. I’d also grown up listening to all those Rough Trade & Factory records and obsessing over the NME Independent charts which channelled my taste to a degree.

My Bloody Valentine, The Pastels, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Ride, Dinosaur Jr, Moose, Velvet Crush, The Velvet Underground and the Boo Radleys (especially that first mini LP) were on high rotation but I’m probably forgetting heaps.

The overriding aesthetic was melody with some noise early on and to be really loud. I wanted a band that was emphasising pop melodies but would do so with dissonant edges, whether that was ever achieved I’m not sure but we were definitely loud live for a couple of years.  Isn’t Anything, Bug & Psychocandy really got into my head and Aaron was really into a lot of the US noisy bands as well and it was him that introduced me to Yo La Tengo for which I’m forever grateful.

Later on things changed and bands like The Byrds, Left Banke, Uncle Tupelo & Crosby Stills etc as influences became more focused and listening back the different phases are more evident. It’s funny as things move quite fast and band members changed over time so from start to finish there’s a different sound and the song writing is more textural at the end.

Locally when we started there was some really interesting stuff, Summershine Records had started and bands like Ripe, Afterglow, Autohaze, Jupiter, Sugargliders, Cannanes, Cats Miaow were out & about. You’d try and set up like minded shows (as you do) and it did seem like if you weren’t doing a show you’d be seeing somebody doing something. Australia is, despite it’s geographic size, quite small and there are big distances between the capital cities but luckily Melbourne has always had vibrant public radio stations that supported and spoke about younger bands and still do.

++ Talking about Australian bands, you did a cover of the Go-Betweens’ “The House Jack Kerouac Built”. Why did you choose this song? And how important do you think are the Go-Betweens in general for the Australian indie scene?

We got asked to contribute a song for the comp and that song has always been one of my favourite tracks, luckily it hadn’t been chosen by anyone else. As a song it’s so wry, sexy and desperate.

Oh, they were and are so important. When they initially split back in the 80’s they were loved but it’s hard in Australia if you’re not a rocking, blokey band and in those days alternative bands were a world apart.

They were a literate, funny, obtuse and beautiful band which proved to me that these were expressions that could be valued in music by Australian artists. I grew up in the outer suburbs where those types of affirmations were hard to come by and pre internet a suburb could feel like an island. I often think for me that’s also a big part of their influence (well, apart from those amazing songs…).

++ Tell me about gigs. Did you play many? Which were the best? Any anecdotes you could share?

My goodness: so many shows! The first and last still mean a lot to me though we were playing virtually every week & later were doing longer national tours so it does all tend to merge & smudge. I do get a little reticent with anecdotes as sometimes they only seem funny to people in the bands but…

Playing with Teenage Fanclub, the Sugargliders last show and INXS stand out for very different reasons (ace, tender & ridiculous in that order).  I do remember the drummer of the Fanclub didn’t seem impressed when I asked him about the Soup Dragons: stoney faced…and I wasn’t being cheeky as I was hoping for a chat about Hang Ten…

Also our shows in the US that Mike from Slumberland helped to arrange with Velocity Girl and just frankly playing in the US and the UK; it seemed so crazy that we were able to make them happen as this little indie band. One of the fellas who started Rough Trade was organising our shows in the UK gave me a white label Smiths Panic 12” which to this day strikes me as a bit of a ‘wow’ moment…

++ I’ve seen on Youtube a TV appearance. I’m not sure if the program is called Recovery, but this is the link. How was that experience? How did you end up there? And did you ever appear on TV again?

Really novel and funny being on TV. We did Recovery about three times and a fair few daytime shows.  I felt like we were outsiders intruding on another’s world but gosh it was fun as an experience.  The best bit may have been Jonathan Richman being on at the same time & I ended up getting a 7” signed: one of musical heroes close up!

++ On that same TV appearance, there’s an interview when you said that you would never release the recordings prior to the “Loved Walked” album. So I ask again, will you let people listen to them someday soon?

Sounds like something we’d say… Turns out we might! The Earthmen have a compilation slated to come out in the first half of 2014 in Australia on Popboomerang Records. We figured around the same time we’d plonk a bunch of different stuff on a bandcamp for anyone interested.  Listening back to them I can hear why we didn’t release it as an LP but the recording was memorable as it was in this ace art deco house studio owned by Tim Finn from Split Enz with a pianola that played Split Enz songs.  I have a soft spot for those songs for sure despite their failings.

++ You also made a video for one of your most well known singles, “Figure 8”. You had a totally different haircut then! Who recorded it? Where was it recorded at? And what was the idea behind it?

Ah, that was the splendid Dave Harris’s doing and released on the Munch video from Season Records! Certainly wasn’t a set video by any means was from a live performance at The Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy.  Dave used to record a bunch of amazing overseas bands that he & his girlfriend saw (Heavenly, The Pastels etc) and would sometimes record local acts like us & The Sugargliders.

He’d turn up after having been overseas and would have these amazing video collections.  I’m pretty sure there was a fantastic Field Mice gig too from memory. It was all quite romantic at the time seeing his videos from overseas.

My hair is distinctly early 90’s: very funny indeed & how bad does it look! It’s like it momentarily escaped from my Stephen Pastel haircut that I was usually sporting…

++ Most of your records were released by Summershine Records. How did you sign to them and how was your relationship with them?

Jason from Summershine used to own, in my opinion, the best record store in Melbourne called Exposure Records.  I used to travel the 3 hour round trip to buy records from him.  His store was just the best! That’s where I picked up the first and all the early Slumberland stuff, Sarah, Creation and Bus Stop records among others.  You’d turn up & there would be a Pooh Sticks t-shirt on the wall, the latest Sarah 7”, Springfields 7” and say The Rainyard tape: good times indeed! And his was the store that had in the Lazy era MBV. Really influential.

He also used to have the best radio program on 3RRR so you’d hear a song, call him during the song asking if he had it in and then you’d travel to get it! I worked in a record store in high school and was able to order stuff like Talulah Gosh, Pastels & The Chesterfields etc but his store was another world…I’ve never seen anything since like it.

At one point in one of my hang around and ask him to play the new 7”s I said to him I’d started a band and later we won some free recordings through a JJJ contest.  I then asked him if he’d like to hear them, he did, he heard them (I do remember he was surprised they didn’t completely suck…) and the next thing we knew was our first 7” coming out on my favourite Australian label: so exciting!  Jason was great as he was a lovely person, keen, tenacious and had connected to people and labels overseas.

His label is so overlooked as he released a truckload of amazing bands: I still am bemused we were on the label. Kind of boggling! Nick also had his other band Blindside release some ace stuff also! He was also the one that helped us get overseas and overseas releases, so he was a huge influence and advocate.

++ Your last release, “Love Walks In”, had the support of EastWest. How did that work?

That was kooky being on Warner. We got signed after we’d recorded an LP’s worth of material that acted as demos to them.  I think the majors at the time were looking for British influenced pop bands (it being 1995 and all) and on many levels we were but perhaps not the same bands they were thinking… Retrospectively I guess we were not the right type of thing for such a big label locally as a pop band that’s not particularly mainstream is eventually not really going to gel with the whole thing of making money and boy did we not make them any money!

We did get to make the big studio pop LP we wanted to make at that point and being heavily influenced by those symphonic sixties bands it was a bit of a dream and I feel quite fortunate we were able to think up some stuff and get to do it. It was recorded in the same studio as Sixteen Lovers Lane (though we didn’t set up candles on the roof like they did!) which I thought was neat.  The machinery and scale of the 1990’s major label was pretty crazy having come from an indie background I must say.

They were certainly supportive and lots of things almost happened (being almost signed by Seymour Stein the biggest almost) but by the lead up to the aborted second LP perhaps the way a major works vs our contrary personalities was more evident.

++ There are so many Earthmen releases, so it might be hard to go one by one. But if you were to pick one record you put out that was your favourite musically what would it be?

It’s either between ‘The Fall and Rise…’ EP or the LP but I’ll go for the LP as I think by that point the songwriting was more formed.

++ And what about your favourite song by The Earthmen?

Nick, Matt & I recently had been listening to all the old stuff for the first time, in some instances since say 1998, and there were some unreleased demos, which I had completely forgotten, for the second LP and it’s a song from that called Blue Sky.  I can remember where I was when I wrote the lyrics and vocal melody it’s a light lilting hum for me.

++ And one last one about releases, who was in charge of the artwork? Which of the cover sleeves you made is your favourite and why?

Mostly me and Nick. I’m unfortunately responsible for the not so good LP sleeve…sigh…

My favourite was Nick’s sleeve for ‘Whoever’s Been…’ as it’s this neat line of pantone # and colours with the title replacing one of the #. I found it really evocative when he did it, I guess it’s the same reason I ended up liking that Magnetic Fields song so much too as for most of the time during the band I was studying fine art and colour and music seemed to make sense.

Next to that would have been the ‘Hug Me Tighter ‘ sleeve which I did this circular painting for. Think we should have stayed with colours!

++ Question, what’s the 59 from “Cool Chick #59”?

There wasn’t one! More a loose idea of how we number and categorise women as men.

++ And who’s the Stacy from “Stacy’s Cupboard”?

There was no Stacy! Glenn named the song as it didn’t have a title…not a great story but true. And I don’t know what a cupboard has to do with it at all…

++ Then what happened? When and why did you decide to split?

We were getting ready to record the second LP with Victor Van Vugt and Nick advised us he didn’t want to do it anymore. I’m sure having to put up with me has something to do with it but I think (though really you’d have to ask him) it perhaps was a bit of the major label experience (as they slow everything down to this odd organised grind) and his desire to do his own thing. I didn’t think to continue on but it was a bit of a shock at the time even though doing a band full time was something I always thought was not possible into old age.

++ Did you leave many unreleased songs?

Goodness yes. We’ve been listening back to the old stuff for the comp and I had forgotten how many songs we wrote, how we demoed everything (often multiple times across years) and how many demos there were. And each of the four phases of the band sounded quite different which has been a funny memory lane. It’s like looking through photos of night’s out you forgot happened…and then collectively have to remember and with sometimes no one remembering.

++ And after the split, what did the rest of The Earthmen do? Are you still all in touch?

Most everyone I can think of has on one level or other done some music.  For example Nick just released an LP earlier in 2013 on Popboomerang and Matt is always playing either his own stuff or playing with somebody ace (Steinbecks & Lovetones), Robert Cooper went on with Pencil Tin back in the day etc.

A lot of us are in touch (especially the last ‘version’ of the band) and on good terms which I think after so many years have passed is kinda neat.

++ Will there ever be some sort of reunion gig perhaps? Have you thought about it at least?

We hadn’t ever broached it until earlier this year when Scotty from Popboomerang Records at the Sugargliders record launch put the idea out there. If it hadn’t been for his prompting it would have never come up and he’s quite a passionate advocate for Australian bands. So hopefully yes!

The idea is for one show and a comp, the track listing is, I think, done so now it’s about all the other stuff. I figure it’s a lovely chance to catch up both physically and musically with a bunch of people I think a great deal of. All pretty low key as it’s hardly like we were a big or mid sized band but if you know anyone who wants to release it OS with Scotty let us know!

++ And let’s start wrapping it here, tells us a bit more about yourself, like aside from music, what else do you do? any other hobbies?

Well I don’t know if my pass times of music listening, video games and occasionally remembering my love of art are that interesting! I also seem to spend a lot of time on my bike looking for a beer I haven’t drunk before…it’s a complicated life…

++ Thanks a lot Scott, sorry for so many questions, and believe me there are many more I  have, anything that you’d like to add?

Pop down to Melbourne if the show happens & I’ll hopefully see you for NYC popfest!


The Earthmen – YR Jacket (Sugargliders cover)


Because people keep asking for a list, and I won’t do a ranking because I feel it’s terribly wrong, here are a many releases I’ve enjoyed this year. Obviously all Cloudberry releases are here because I would be an hypocrite to release them and not enjoy them, right? And also keep in mind I may update this list any day between today and December 31st. That’s because I’m very forgetful and I’m sure I’ll remember about some release sometime later and because I still haven’t heard all albums for this year like Spook School, Bubblegum Lemonade or Northern Portrait, that I know if listened they would appear in this list. Anyhow, if you are one of those curious people here it is in no particular order:

Electrophonvintage – Play Harp in Your Hair (album)
Go Violets – Heart Slice (CD-EP)
Major Leagues – Weird Season (EP)
The Sheets – The Sheets (lost album)
Club 8 – Above the City (album)
Homecomings – Homecoming with Me? (CD-EP)
Reserve – Beneath the London Sky (retrospective)
Alpaca Sports – Alpaca Sports (mini-album)
April’s Fools Day – Well, it’s true (album)
Silver Screen – When You and I Were Very Young (album)
The Felt Tips – Symbolic Violence (album)
Various Artists – Envoys from Alexandria (CD-EP)
The Secret History – Americans Singing in the Dark (album)
Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen (album)
Camera Obscura – Desire Lines (album)
The Proctors – Everlasting Light (album)
Various Artists – The Sound of Leamington Spa 7 (compilation album)
Everyday Mistakes – Obscure Lanes (album)
Honigritter – Kellergeister in Unserem Haus (album)
Los Canguros – Un Salto Adelante (retrospective album)
Rose Elinor Dougall – Future Vanishes (single)
Fireworks – Runaround (single)
The French Pop Dream – The French Pop Dream (single)
Helen Love – Day-Glo Dreams (album)
Flowers – When You Lie (single)
The Spook School – I’ll Be Honest (single)
Zipper – La Casa Rural (single)
Joanna Gruesome – Supercrush (single)
Boyish – The Hidden Secrets (single)
The Occasional Flickers – Capitalism Begins at Home (single)
Los Urogallos / Las Chinchetas – Brindis Picnics y Bongos Beatniks (split single)
Alpaca Sports – He Doesn’t Even Like You (single)
Karatekas – Nubes Negras (single)
Eva & John – César Gutiérrez (single)
Tripping the Light Fantastic – Heavy Heart (single)
Axolotes Mexicanos – Infectados (single)
The Understudies – Everyone Deserves at Least One Summer of Love (single)


Thanks so much to Matthew for this interview! Back in October I wrote a small piece about the band and soon after I was in touch with Matthew Cheney about his once solo project that became a full-fledged band when he moved to Bristol. They have released three albums and one single, played a bunch of gigs, and these days are involved in many other different bands. Here he tells the whole story!

++ Hi Matthew! Thanks for being up for this interview! How is Bristol these days? What are the most exciting new bands in town?

Hi Roque! Yes, no worries… yeah Bristol is a pretty great place to live I reckon. There’s not that many cities in the UK that I’d like to live in, Bristol is certainly better than most.

I’m not sure that I’m too in touch with new Bristol bands… I mean I am actually on the lookout for new stuff, for gigs which I’m (occasionally) putting on, I kind of wonder if its as much of a thing that people in their twenties want to do, or maybe its me who is not in tune with what’s new. There’s probably quite a bit of really good electronic stuff going on… I saw Livity Sound’s first gig, which I really liked, as a live thing at least, I haven’t heard their records … they are a sort of supergroup of Bristol electronic folks, nice layered rhythmic stuff. Probably a lot of that stuff revolves around Idle Hands (record shop and label) and other labels, I don’t know any of those guys personally… Olanza are great… there’s quite a few interesting guitarry post-hardcore influenced bands around at the moment. Trust Fund, Baby Grey (now Whitebelt), Motes, Margot, Nervy Betters, Two White Cranes are all worth checking out (although probably not all findable online as yet)

++ You play with a band called EXPENSIVE now. Care to tell me a bit about them and how different are EXPENSIVE from the Arctic Circle?

Yeah EXPENSIVE is pretty different I guess. Well it’s a different bunch of people and the music we’re aiming to make is probably quite different from Arctic Circle. I think with both projects there’s a good balance of people having a bit of autonomy in creating the music and us collaborating on stuff. EXPENSIVE band practices are certainly pretty different where we might all be working on different things separately, or sending emails etc. There’s a little bit of programming involved and we don’t particularly spend a lot of time rehearsing. Maybe we should rehearse more. We’re still adjusting what gear to use (not that we have mounds of fancy stuff) for playing live so that we can hopefully be quite dynamic and physical in how we play.

I think in both bands maybe the most exciting/ satisfying bit in terms of music making for me is starting with quite a basic chord progression or maybe a basic melody and sending it off to others in the band, and it quite rapidly becoming a finished song. In Arctic Circle the lyric writing was mostly split between me and Nina and in EXPENSIVE it’s mostly Grace, with me doing the occasional song… I think its working well…I don’t often feel inclined to write words actually, I would probably make more music if I did… Also EXPENSIVE came together at the start because Grace was keen to do a version of ‘Secrets in the Moss’ which was an old Arctic Circle song which had been floating around her shared house on a cd I think.

[Usually there’s no ‘the’ in Arctic Circle by the way! Partly to avoid confusion with a musical collective thing that goes on in London]

++ And have you been involved in any other bands other than Expensive and Arctic Circle?

Yeah, well at the moment I’m also playing in a thing called Acres, which features some of the old Arctic Circle players. I play 12-string guitar and there’s a lot of harmony singing. We are finishing a first album which will hopefully be available in some form in the next couple of months. I hope we will do a lot more in 2014. It’s been a bit slow moving, partly due to visa complications for our saxophonist/ singer Kano who is from Japan. So we’ve actually been playing together for two years now, but really it’s only been for a few weeks at a time, we’ve only played three gigs during that period. I think it’s also quite a different band from Arctic Circle, there’s perhaps a more unified sound for the whole set, using the same instrumentation for all the songs.

I’m also occasionally playing solo as the Amber Nectar – I’d call it a live ambient techno project. In some ways similar to what Heatsick does, in terms of how it is played (all live, no sequencing etc) although I tend to have almost nothing at all pre-prepared and just come up with all the tunes spontaneous as I play. It can be a challenge…I feel like it’d be a better thing if I did it really regularly, it’d be less confusing! Ideally I’d like to play a lot of club gigs or house parties, but I might clear the floor! The Amber Nectar stuff (previously playing as Colonist) kind of precipitated EXPENSIVE, because that band came together after I supported John Maus at the Croft in Bristol, and me, Grace and Pete decided it’d be good for us all to collaborate after that show.

I’d like to make a record or two as Lands End, which was kind of an occasional side project which I have played as with various people over the last five years. I have maybe two albums worth of unrecorded songs from the late 90s. Its probably a bit more bedroomy and introverted than other stuff, I’m not really sure what I think about it.

Going way back, I played in The Daisy Chain (which became Industrial Life Jigsaw) with my older brother and his friends back when I was 13, another band in an indie rock kinda vein with school friends for a few years where we rehearsed and played quite a lot, it was quite a massive part of teenage years actually, and those guys I think are all still doing quite a bit of music (Johnny and Duncan as Dogs, James in Johnny Marr and the Healers… pretty different kinds of stuff). From the last couple of years of school onwards, electronic music seemed to be more relevant, I think generally in those times (1990s) trying not to repeat or reference the past was generally more of a thing for more people making music… I had an ambient/ electro thing called Dawn Treader. I couldn’t get much to work during Uni in Edinburgh, although I did play in an indie rock kind of thing, Euroshoppa whilst on exchange year in Groningen, Netherlands, which turned out to be a really great musicy city to live in, It still hosts Norderslag festival every year, has a brilliant long running venue, Vera, and some great record shops… more so than Edinburgh in my experience anyway… I think that’s about it, theres probably been some other short term things as well.

++ Where does the name the Arctic Circle come from?

Ah, there’s not a whole lot of story behind it, I didn’t want a name that was too quirky… I quite like band names that are fairly meaningless. I was gazing down at miles and miles of arctic wilderness from a plane on the way to Canada and thought it might be a good name. I am quite interested in far northern places and spent a bit of time in northern Canada – the Yukon, as well as Iceland and Sweden. Well I wouldn’t want to romanticising those cultures or claiming to have some particular insight or anything like that though, which is easily done… so yeah the name is meant to be a kind of blank canvas really…

++ Originally the Arctic Circle was a solo project, am I right? And only when moving to Bristol it became a full-fledged band? I’m curious about those early years when you were on your own and recorded two albums. I haven’t listened to them yet, so I wonder what did you sound like? And what was your setup then?

Yeah I started using that name from when I was about 19 I think, I just couldn’t seem to get a band together during Uni in Edinburgh. I got quite involved in student radio and that was a reasonably good way of meeting people who were really into music… I think I had unreasonably high expectations of moving there, it being a much bigger city than where I grew up (Cambridge). The first incarnation of the band was in Spring 1996, under the name of Arctic/ Baltic… we tried to make all the material through improvising, we weren’t really aiming for ‘songs’ as such. Dan Mutch played bass, he had just moved to Edinburgh, I remember he was listening to Tortoise a lot, amongst other things, which I got to really like. We were about to play our first show at Edinburgh’s Transporter Room night, but then I went off to Holland for a year. Dan in the meantime started Khaya, who were the first band in Edinburgh that I liked a lot and were good to go and watch.

Not much happened musically for a couple of years and I went to make pizzas on a ski resort and learnt to snowboard. I came back to Edinburgh and put adverts up and we formed quite a large band with quite a few people passing through it. I found the players through adverts I put up around town, the core of the band I suppose was Vanya McDonnell and Jeremy Rschede, a Canadian couple who’d moved over and Andy Hazel from Tasmania, who’d also just arrived, and had been collaborating with Ben Frost in School of Emotional Engineering. We played together quite a bit, couple of times a week for the best part of a year, there’s a load of practice recordings from this time, but we never got round to playing a show or really finishing any songs. The closest we got to playing was an outdoor rave near Perth (Scotland) where we were due to play at 6am but we got there and decided that our set didn’t suit the euphoric vibes and didn’t bother unpacking the car.

Then I got busy setting up and running this cafe/ arts venue called Forest Cafe, kind of out of frustration with the conversatism of Edinburgh and the lack of accessible venues for starting out and experimenting etc. That was quite a big distraction for a couple of years. Then I kind of gradually restarted the band, mostly collaborating with Dirk Markham for a while… I think we got better and made the kinds of sounds we were looking for, still mostly trying to write stuff together in the bedroom, we played various shows around Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow during this period (2001-2003) and would’ve played our largest show, with Andrew Weatherall in the glasshouses of Glasgow’s People’s Palace but I’d already booked a ticket to go and live in Canada for another six months. I came back in the summer and was mostly busy being a desert chef before moving to Glasgow and doing a course there. Dirk moved to Berlin and got involved with Monica Records and his own music making there, amongst other things.

Well this is a really longwinded way of getting to the two albums I made in 2003/4. Well the first one was really a compilation of various bedroomy mostly electronic instrumental recordings I’d been making for a while. I’m not sure I really pulled off the sounds I wanted to make with the fairly limited gear I had at this point, but there you go. By this point it felt like I should put something out, or that maybe I was failing to finish anything. I was invited to make a live alternative soundtrack to the film ‘Microcosmos’ at a community festival in Newcastle, so that was a good project to focus on. At the same time I was playing more song-based stuff with various friends sporadically. With the 2004 album I just set myself the task of making an album by the end of June, also just to try and get something finished. I guess its a mix of texturey ambient kind of stuff and bedroomy pop kind of songs. Monorail Records were very helpful and I managed to sell a reasonable number of these cds which were only a pound…

++ Then of course you moved to Bristol and you met your band, how was that recruiting process?

Yeah, so I moved to Bristol for various reasons, I felt like trying living somewhere in the south. I’d met Francois Marry as we played together on a bill at Glasgow’s Winchester Club, and came down to Bristol where Francois was a very warm and generous host and introduced me to lots of musical people. I played a show on my own in the first couple of weeks having decided to move down, supporting Fog at the Cube Cinema. The process of putting the band together was strangely surprisingly easy at this point. I’d already been invited to play at Green Man festival in 2005, having run a Forest Cafe stall the previous year selling burritos and our self-released CDs.. and myself and my pal Danseizure were invited to play the next year.

So, if I remember right, within a few weeks of moving to Bristol I’d assembled a band with my housemate Nicole Artingsall, Nina Wyllie and Andrew Hogan who I’d met at/ through the Cube Cinema, Rosalind Leyden and Rose Clark who I’d met through Francois, George MacKenzie who I’d seen drumming in Headfall, Francois’ friend Victor Crespi sometimes as well. People seemed to be up for getting into Green Man for free, and that was basically our first gig, we did a sort of warm up thing a few days before in Bristol. I also fairly much straight away also played some bits and pieces in Francois’ band The Atlas Mountains, which was very enjoyable… and exciting to play alongside Matt and Kate from Movietone, which was my favourite Bristol band who I’d been aware of for a few years and kind of instrumental in attracting me to Bristol.

Mostly due to people’s various circumstances the lineup shifted gradually with Francois concentrating on his own projects, Liam Kirby (now of Boxcar Aldous Huxley) joining on guitar, Rose going off to art school and Hog (Andrew Hogan) joining on drums. Nicole moved away and my new housemate Kasper joined on keyboards. Hog moved to Berlin just after we recorded our album, Tom Kirton played drums for a good couple of years, which covered most of our gigs probably, Rose rejoined on drums later on. Harry joined on trumpet, Robin on keyboard/ bass later on, Rhiannon on cello. After a while we tended to play gigs with whoever was free and people didn’t really have set roles as such.

++ And musically, what would you say were bands that influenced your sound?

I did have quite a strong idea of the band at the start that it would be quite a lot about textures of sound, Sea and Cake, Stereolab and Broadcast were quite big references amongst other things. Lots of post-rock kind of bands, although I wanted to be more upbeat and rhythmic than some of the post-rock stuff. My bloody valentine, Pastels especially the later stuff, Byrds, To Rococo Rot, Mum, Aphex Twin, Syd Barrett, The Clientele, Aislers Set, I think were all big influences.

Then whilst living in Glasgow, I’d started going to National Pop League a lot and listening to more indiepop stuff and maybe thinking a bit differently as this also being good music to dance to. I wrote a bunch of songs whilst in Canada in 2003 which hadn’t got recorded. Northern Soul also, Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura especially for the craftsmanship which seemed to stand apart from other stuff of that era.

++ What was your first gig? And did you gig a lot? What would you say was your best performance?

Hmm can’t remember I don’t think… it was probably at Forest Cafe… there was one with Mrs Pilgrimm where we played Forest Cafe and then the old 13th Note in Glasgow (before it got taken over) the next night…. I could send you the poster actually…

Gigs were quite sporadic, I would’ve liked to have done a lot more gigs. With seven of us it was difficult to find dates we could all make, and also hard to break even. Some of us went to the USA and Canada for a few weeks and played some house shows there. I would have liked to have toured more and I think we might have generally got on a bit more of a roll with it all if we had, it seemed to be hard to find promoters as well. The Cube in January 2006 was a good show I think, that one you can watch on vimeo, and we met Adriana Alba of the Semi-finalists there, who went on to make a very nice video for Meanwhile Gardens for us. We played again at Green Man festival in 2007 which might have been our best gig, I have a video of it which I’ve been meaning to upload.

++ Bristol is a city associated with indiepop thanks to Sarah Records and Subway Records. Does it feel ever like an indiepop city? Did you ever feel like an indiepop band? Part of a scene? And why do you think so many good indiepop bands are from the Bristol area?

Ah good question, yeah I think very few people in Bristol are aware of that scene these days. Maybe some slightly older people, who knew those bands in the 80s/ early 90s. I guess people from outside really associate it with the city as well because of the record covers. We were talking about doing an exhibition based around Sarah Records at Cafe Kino where I sometimes work. I think that’d be a good project. I guess around 2007 Big Pink Cake started putting on club nights and gigs, which were great and yeah I suppose made it feel a bit more like an indiepop place, even though those events weren’t always super busy.

In terms of feeling part of a scene, I liked the various Planet Records bands (Movietone, Crescent, FSA etc) and it felt like there was more bands vaguely in that kind of ballpark… and lots of droney bands as well for a while.

Yeah its fair to say we didn’t think of ourselves as an indiepop band, but it’d be a stupid thing to worry about, and we totally appreciated the encouragement and enthusiasm from people like Matthew and Heather from Big Pink Cake, Ian from HDIF in London and others from that scene. Maybe more a case of us collectively listening to a lot of different kinds of stuff, and personally I’ve probably always listened more to some of the 60s bands that really influenced a lot of 80s indiepop like Byrds, Zombies, Love etc.

For a while I was involved with putting a night on called The Milky Way – a parallel universe of pop, which ran at Forest Cafe and then at various points in Bristol, we’ve had some really good nights, I always like getting the slide projectors and mirrorballs out too. But its been tricky to sustain in terms of people wanting to come and venues prepared to host it. I kind of wonder if these days there’s fewer people who are interested in going out to dance to an eclectic kind of set outside of the electronic club scene. The Hillgrove is a great ale pub which has a kind of muso ish vibe about it sometimes, with some good djs playing there sporadically too… our friend Chris Wright does a night called I Can’t Help Myself which is always great. For sure it’d be great to have some new indiepop night going on in Bristol though…

++ With the Arctic Circle you wrote a song called “Mother’s Ruin”. That’s a pub in Bristol, right? I remember visiting it when I was in town. Was this your favourite venue to play live? What other places in Bristol do you like?

Yeah, well I wrote the tune and words and Nina picked the title, I’m not sure if Mother’s Ruin had opened by that point actually. Yeah I like that pub and we’ve played there… the owner Marc now also runs another pub/ venue Stag and Hounds, also good although I haven’t been there in a while. I really liked The Croft (now closed, they run The Exchange, next door to Stag and Hounds), always really powerful sound system, certainly the best sound for electronic kind of stuff. Cafe Kino and Cube Cinema, both of which I have been involved with and have a great ethos, and stand apart from a lot of venues which often have a more corporate, big alcohol business vibe about them. Bristol County Sports is a working-mans club kind of set up and we often use it for putting on gigs. Qu Junktions and Pull the Strings are consistently great promoters too. Roll for the Soul is a new community-bike vegetarian cafe, where there are occasional gigs too, really like that place, I think of it as a bit Portlandia, in a good way. Yeah at the moment Bristol feels pretty good for venues.

++ But you are originally from Edinburgh, right? And Scotland is also a place with a huge indiepop tradition. Do you ever miss Scotland? And what differences do you find from the scene there with the one in Bristol?

No, Cambridge! I ocasionally miss Cambridge and it was a bit unusual as a place to grow up I think in various ways… but then again I would probably be very bored if I was there now. Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd is something that’s stayed with me, and a thing that people I grew up with and parents talked about, it being a fairly small place. I don’t miss Edinburgh actually, there are of course lots of good things about that city and I met a lot of inspiring and amazing people there but somehow never really got on with it as a place or felt like staying there, just wasnt for me.

I was aware of more musical things happening in Glasgow during that time, and often went through for gigs before moving to Glasgow. So yeah sometimes I miss Glasgow, maybe I’ll live there again, perhaps. It’s not a great city for cycling though! I sometimes think I’d rather live somewhere with maybe more like 2 million people, Bristol can sometimes feel limited.

Hmm not sure I can put a finger on how Glasgow and Bristol are different music scene wise, although they are certainly different. I think of Glasgow now having this great kind of infrastructure for music… but as I think Stephen Pastel and others have talked about, it wasn’t always that way…with places like Mono/ Monorail/ Stereo etc its the result of dedicated people over a lot of years. I think Glasgow probably has a powerful draw, and a lot of people move there because of those bands coming from there. I have the impression that the indiepop world in Glasgow is now also influenced by Swedish people and American people and probably other places as well, who are drawn into the city, which is great. I’d like to meet more Americans and Swedes here! The art school and its reputation is probably pretty instrumental to that as well. Ha!, Yeah I miss it now!

++ The only release I’ve been able to track down was the 7″ single on Stitch Stitch Records. This one includes three of my favourite songs! But the opener song is a cracker, care to tell me the story behind “Prancing Pearl”?

Ah yeah, there’s only the two songs on it right? Mothers Ruin and Prancing Pearl. I did also put them together as a sort of promo ep which I think we sent out to some people or possibly sold a few at gigs. That was those two songs and then I remixed Shipping Forecast and Loofah Mitt, which we would have liked to have released as a single too, I think I improved on the mix which went on our album in 2006. I think you can hear/ download all those on the bandcamp.

I’m not sure I can tell you too much about Prancing Pearl, it’s Nina’s words, but I liked how coincidentally both songs referenced driving/road safety/ accidents. We wanted the single to be something very danceable on both sides, certainly we were thinking about minimalist disco/ nowavey kinds of things as a starting point for it, and Electrelane was also something we all liked and perhaps were thinking about with the kind of sounds we wanted. At this point the double percussion with Rozi playing more percussion alongside Tom on drums featured on a lot of songs and I think is quite a key element for that song. I think we mostly wrote that song all together. I had quite a detailed idea for a video, referencing the road movie ‘Radio On’, revisiting its various Bristol and West Country sites, but we never got round to that….

I spent a really long time mixing Mothers Ruin and adding more and more layers of stuff, it possibly worked better as a live thing and I think the recording of Prancing Pearl came off a bit punchier.

++ And yeah, how did you end up signing to Stitch Stitch Records?

Well we didn’t sign to them as such! Stitch Stitch had been set up by Aaron of I Know I have no collar (great band, if you can find them), with Francois and then Steve Brett (now of Nervy Betters) picked up the helm… so yes great to have his support and we were excited to work together on releasing the single,.

++ There is also a 2006 album, right? What are the songs on it? And to those that have never heard it, what can one expect from it?

Ach I don’t know that I’m great describing how any of it sounds, or is meant to sound… I think we had a good clear idea at that point although we were on a bit of a learning curve. I wanted to make a record fairly quickly once we had played Green Man in 2005 and apart from obviously needing to earn a living, I was quite focussed on the band at this point.

Actually there was a bit of debate whether we should release the whole lot, as I think there’s bits which we didn’t really pull off. Thats a tricky call, and I think these days I know a few more people who play in bands and have experience of recording so its easier to get other people’s opinions. Its probably a bit of a west country cliche about everything being a bit slow… at least of the people I know making music in Bristol, years can go by with projects abandoned or albums rerecorded from scratch. Its certainly good to have standards though… I probably feel especially now with easy access to so much on the internet that I’d only want to put out stuff that I’m really happy with…

But I’m really glad we recorded at that point. I think perhaps with all bands its a case of getting snapshots of the best moments if you can, there’s not too much you can plan…

++ You also made two videos. How was that experience? Much different than recording songs?

Yeah, I think playing live and recording were quite different things, and we tried to approach them differently. I suppose videos were more like recording. Meanwhile Gardens was made by our friend Adriana [maybe you know her, she lives in New York?!] who came in with a very detailed plan and clear vision for the video. It was a different interpretation of the song, which I thought of as quite downbeat – we were very happy for someone to come in with their vision and expertise and were really pleased with the results.

True to the Trail I had a fairly basic idea which fitted with the lyrics, there was several weeks of snow that year, which is unusual in Bristol, so I took a ‘snow day’ off work and we shot the song four or five times with a mini DV cam strapped to the back of a bike. I think of it as referencing Massive Attack ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, Verve ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and Coldplay ‘Yellow’, concept wise. Our friend George Purves edited it all together and produced it.

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

Well yeah we haven’t really split, we’ve just stopped doing stuff around early 2011. ‘Indefinite hiatus’ seems to be the term these days! There wasn’t really a particular reason for stopping… we were struggling to get together regularly and there had been so many changes in lineups. I remember once interviewing the Raincoats for student radio and Gina Birch saying something like ‘Being in the band was like living in a squat with constant threat of eviction… it could fall apart at any moment’, which I find pretty consistent with all the bands I’ve been involved with. It felt like it made sense to do different projects rather than keep doing stuff as Arctic Circle.

We had an album’s worth of stuff recorded but weren’t happy with all of it, and it didnt seem to hang together. Perhaps because we were hungry for pursuing all sorts of different directions musically. I think with Acres now, I maybe appreciate having a unified sort of a sound. We then made a whole another album which is kind of very nearly finished, it might be good to put that stuff out there, I’m not sure. Rose had rejoined on drums but then moved back to London, Nina got busy with job stuff, on tour as an actor and then working as a teacher, Rozi was focusing on her own stuff (Rozi Plain), so on a practical level it was tricky to continue.

Well for various reasons I felt a bit downbeat about it as a project. Maybe we’d lost momentum… I think also there was a point where especially in London, which isnt too far away, there were very few promoters able to cover our travel costs, so it seemed to become more difficult to play out of town. Yeah, so a few factors really…

++ And are you all still in touch? Any chance for a reunion gig someday? And what are the rest of the band doing?

Yeah I’m in touch with pretty much all the ex-Arctic Circlers, I think there’s about 20 of them! I wouldn’t rule out us playing again but then again its really not on the cards. Um not sure I can summarise what everyone is doing but I’ll try… Liam – building guitars, and playing in Boxcar Aldhous Huxley, Francois – living in Brussels and making music, Rozi – living on a boat in London and playing as Rozi Plain and in This is The Kit, Nina – teaching and having a baby, Kasper – living in Sweden, early years teaching, Hog – teaching and film projecting in Oxford, George – playing in Acres/ Motes/ Headfall and solo as Attacked by Wolves, Harry – playing in Acres and Macero, Robin – film soundtrack composer in London, Rose – cycle mechanic in London, Victor – living in France, playing in Ladybird… from the earlier days, Andy – playing in Paradise Motel in Melbourne, music writing, alternative medicine, Dirk is making music (as Dirk Markham) as well as working at Native Instruments in Berlin, Vanya and Jeremy in Victoria BC doing community work/ drug policy research respectively and raising a family, Jeremy also playing in Star Sickness…

++ So aside from music, what other hobbies do you enjoy doing? What do you dedicate most of your time?

I’d like to spend more time cooking and think a lot about opening another cafe/ venue, maybe in the north of England. Maybe. I’d like to be doing more outdoorsy stuff soon. At the moment I am actually really busy with EXPENSIVE and Acres as well as various job work. It’d be nice to work a bit less next year and crack on with more musical stuff really… yeah that’s my main thing! I like being sociable and going out and about in Bristol. I really liked being on tour with EXPENSIVE recently too. This feels like dating suddenly!

++ Let’s wrap it here. Thanks so much Matthew, anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks Roque, I hope I haven’t rambled too much!


The Arctic Circle – Prancing Pearl


I don’t want to sound bitter or demanding but, those 2013 year end lists do need some better releases. And I’m not just saying this because I’m biased. How can you exclude The Secret History album from your year end lists? Sure you want to include The Pastels and Veronica Falls, two fine albums, but come on, there was not much meat in them compared to the Sunnyside, Queens, band’s album.  I leave it to your conscience. Another album that I have loved this year is The Proctors one. Sure it’s a bit long. But who cares? There are no fillers in it. All songs are beautiful. Classic indiepop, the jangly kind, that many times reminds me of Marine Time Keepers, Brigher, or Bouquet. But yeah, you can ignore that and have Beach Fossils, or whatever other band that has zero ideas or talent. You’ll probably get a freebie album from their label next year.

I don’t think many people read year end lists, see the top 10 and say, “oh! I missed these ten records, I’m going to buy them.” That doesn’t happen. Does it?

There are also a bunch of releases that I haven’t listened yet as they have appeared at the tail end of the year like Bubblegum Lemonade, Northern Portrait or The Spook School. I assume they are pretty good, because their work is usually strong. So it suprises me that they are not in year end lists. Are they bad or what? I hope I catch up with these releases soon.

Another album that I’ve been listening a lot this week is that of New York’s own Pale Lights. Though this is a bit of cheating. The album won’t be out until next year, so it wouldn’t count as 2013. But what an album this is. It’s only 30 minutes long and opens with a cracker of a song called “Another Broken Heart”. You already know what to expect in the other 9 songs. Just heartfelt jangly indiepop crafted in perfection. Highlights are “Port of Shadows” that reminds me of The Bats, their previous single “Boy of Your Dreams” that has that Felt-ish guitar, or The Chills inspired “Only an Ocean”. I don’t know what will happen in 2014, but this might be a serious contender for your next year list! But let’s return to 2013!

What about Silver Screen’s album? I was happy to see it in the new 80s Guitar Pop guide published in Japan. It was released in 2013, and it’s already considered a classic by the Japanese indiepop fans. I can’t wait to visit the land of the rising sun. I have to see with my own eyes how good is their taste. I need to believe it.

Maybe I’m being exigent. I should be happy to see indiepop blogs celebrating the rewarding work of bands like Vampire Weekend. I should stop talking about these things because then I might be called the indiepop police. The leader of the very serious indiepop militia. But who cares? I love ‘wasting’ a Wednesday afternoon rambling about it. I just think people are always easy on themselves, and even though they love going to Indietracks every year, showing how DIY and indiepop they are, at the end of the day, they are just normal, another gray sheep in the field, with nothing to add to the conversation.

As you know, I’m not a fan of putting together a year end list. I’ve said it many times. It has to do with me being very forgetful. Even if you ask me what are the song names of that Proctors album that has had heavy rotation in the last month, I may be able to name you one or two. My favourite song I think is number 4 (or 5?). I remember them by numbers. I know that when eventually I get invited to DJ, I’ll rip it and burn it and learn the song’s name. I will play it too for people to dance. Or maybe I get to blog about it. That’s how it works for me.

But there are those that need to make sense of the year. That need lists to explain what happened through the whole twelve months. What were the breakthrough artist? What were the important and exciting comebacks.? And that’s really great. I’m curious to read them. There’s always a different point of view between them and me (though lately there’s a trend where there are no point of views, just a long list of Youtube videos).

Anyways, what I’m trying to say is, that even though it hasn’t been the best indiepop year, there have been some pretty solid releases that either because people are lazy and only reading Pitchfork, or these exciting songs got lost in a sea of MP3s, they are not being recorded as best of 2013. People are MISSING OUT. And that’s pretty scary. I feel that we are not that far away from the day when every blog has the same year end list.


It’s definitely no news that I love Sweden. Not news that I hate it too. Aren’t those relationships the best? I’ve been the happiest there, but I’ve been the saddest as well. I managed to learn quite a bit of Swedish in the meantime and can understand a lot of what I read, and have a basic conversation. Probably useless as every day that passes I really doubt that I’ll move there as I could have thought I might 5 or 10 years ago. Especially since they started charging money for international students. I think that was the debacle of that dream.

Next year I’m going to be visiting again. At last I’ll visit Gothenburg too. Göteborg. Yeah! It’s been a long time since I’ve been meaning to visit, especially as I have this idealized idea of what it used to be during those days of the Starke Adolf tweepunkdisco club. I’ll end up in Stockholm again eventually too. That’s how I roll. Stockholm makes me feel happy, uncomfortable, sad, energized.D I don’t know how to explain it. Let’s say it just gets me dizzy. But the story of today is not about any of these towns, not even Uppsala or Malmö, the other towns I’ve visited in my lifetime. But Varberg. And you ask, where is Varberg?

Varberg and all of Halland are well known for their “typical west coast” sandy beaches. In Varberg the coast changes from wide sandy beaches to rocky terrain that continues north into the Bohuslän archipelago and as far as the North Cape. Varberg is a charming and popular summer resort and many people from inland cities such as Borås are either moving to Varberg or holidaying there.

A fortress called Varberg (at that time written Wardbergh, “watch hill”) was erected in the 1280s as part of a chain of military establishments along the coast, in what was then Danish territory. In the middle of the 14th century, the old settlement “Getakärr” 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) north of the fortress took its new name from the fortress.

Matilda Mus came from Varberg, from a small-ish town of 27 thousand people. Perhaps less. It was the 80s, those numbers are from these days. Matilda Mus of course means Mouse Matilda, and it seems it was a popular children book series. An author that I find associated to it is Susi Adams. But that’s not a Swedish name. Perhaps she lived there. I couldn’t find any information in English about these books. Some titles from the series are “Mouse Matilda cooks pancakes”, “Mouse Matilda is sick”, “Mouse Matilda plays the circus” or “Mouse Matilda has a summer love”. The band must have grabbed their name from these series.

How did I ever found about this band. Aside from a few Swedish bands from the 80s that are not Roxette and are alright known (you could name Watermelon Men and Ubangi perhaps? Happydeadmen for sure), we don’t find out much about the rest. Because there was a rest. A bunch of bands. But it was thanks to stumbling to a blog post by Roger Gunnarsson, of Nixon’s fame, that I was pointed to listen to whatever I could find from Matilda Mus. Two songs, thanks to Youtube. One was the one I’ll be posting here, “Nu E De Jul” (Now is Christmas), because it makes sense being so close to that holiday, and “På Sommaren” (On Summer). Both songs are deliciously fun to listen! Punky, raw, and very pop!

On his blog post Roger praises Matilda Mus because of the DIY approach. Their first two singles were hand-made, photocopied sleeves, and gigged a lot around Halland to build a cult fanbase. He mentions that they were so fun because Halland is pretty well known for their good humour. Among the “fun” things, were a choir dressed as mice on stage and silly nicknames for the band members.

There is not much written online, not even in Swedish. We know that in 1985 they won a local rock band contest and I assume with the winning prize recorded their first single, “På Sommaren” (catalog MM 001). This was recorded during three nights in Abeef Studios in April 1985. The sleeve came in different colours, you could find them in green, pink, yellow and more. The tracklist for this single was:
1. På Sommaren
2. Matilda Mus
3. Du Får Aldrig Gå
4. Intill Min Död

On this first release the band was made up by:
Anna Wiktorsson – synth
Pär Pellepånken Mantéus – guitars
Ulf Lille Bulf Cronheim Bas – sång
Anna-Maja Zadie Mc Zymbal Persson – drums

For their second release there would be some lineup changes. We see that now on guitars we have Thomas Svarta Faran Klint and we find three girls joining the band. This was 1986. Marina Rydellingum on sax, Mada Ultra singing and Jackie Lady Lagom Sofronenkoff singing too. This is the 7″ that has “Nu E De Jul” on the A side, while on the B side, another Christmas-y song “Juleljus I Matildas Hus”. Wish I could listen to that one! This record was catalog number MM 003 and it was recorded in Halmstad (land of Nixon) in the studio Out of Control.

In 1986 they released their debut album, “Pussar Mjölk å Pop’n Roll”. This was catalog MM 002 and was recorded as well in the same studio in Halmstad in march 1985. On this record Paula Vig sang (she was a guest in the På Sommaren single it seems). Also joined Ewa-Marie Wag Nordin in singing duties. The band loved vocalists. This LP had 10 songs (1. Sagan Om Matilda Mus,  2. Lilla Söta Flicka,  3. Sommaren Är Här-lig,  4. Söt Å Snäll, 5. En Banan Till,  6. Pussar Mjölk Å Pop’n Roll,  7. När Du Är Här,  8. Jag Vill Ha En Harley,  9. Kär I Dej  and 10. Krigstid) and had a band photo on the cover sleeve.

Their last release came out in 1987. It was another sing, again self-released (catalog MM 004). The record was titled “Sodapopkid”, and included two songs “Sodapopkid” and “Snaskmadam”. The band appears in very summery outfits on the sleeve cover. Again this was recorded in Halmstad and the curious thing about this release is that “Snaskmadam” (Madame Candy) is actually a cover of The Archies “Sugar, Sugar”.

The only other release I’m aware that had a Matilda Mus appearance is a 1985 compilation called “Rock-DM – Scendrag 85 i Halland”. A sampler of bands from Halland that also included the bands Rock’s, Sabotage and Dead Line. On this record Matilda Mus contributes a song called “Fotomodellen”.

I believe Ulf Cronheim then moved to Halmstad. The band must have split by then. He formed a band called De Nissan Badpojkar and in 1988 released the single “Sommardag” (catalog 1988). Seems the melody from this song comes from Matilda Mus’ Sommaren Är Här-lig”, that’s what the Swedish site Musikon says.

The only other hint comes from Roger’s 2006 blog post. It says that Ulf later owned a café in Varberg called Majas Strandcafé. Upon a little digging on Google I found about this café and tells a bit of the history of how the café started:
It all started when Ulf Cronheim woke in the middle of the night and could not sleep. In the diary, were all written down guidelines for what would become Majas Strandcafé. The next morning Ulf called Anna Maja Persson and after some persuasion, she said yes to the idea of ​​opening a café. A few years earlier Annamaja after much persuasion agreed to become Ulf’s girlfriend, but they broke up after six months. Café ownership lasted just as long, but she completed her duties as drummer in Matilda Mus, the band that Ulf was in, until the band dissolved in atoms.

The café still goes on. Matilda Mus doesn’t. But the two songs I’ve heard from them are just up my street. I love this kind of pop. It reminds me a bit of Throw That Beat in The Garbagecan! I saw some auctions on Tradera that had ended not so long ago. The records were sold cheap. Either they are not that difficult to find or people don’t know much about them. I hope in the near future I get to find them. I would really love to listen to all their songs.

I leave you with this great Christmas song, and I’ll see you after that. Merry Christmas to everyone!


Matilda Mus – Nu E De Jul


It’s snowing already in New York. Not much indiepop for me these days aside from listening to Shine! songs a lot. Trying to find the right order of the songs for the upcoming compilation. Also on heavy rotation some old albums by The Times, Throw That Beat, The Earthmen. The only exception being The Proctors album that I recently got from Ed when he was visiting New York. Lovely album. Should be in those year end lists people love doing and that I can’t get around my mind to make one. Still the album I’ve listened to the most this year is Silver Screen’s. But that might be me being biased.

I went to Mondo this past weekend too, after devouring some delicious Korean dumplings in K-Town, and a stop in Bushwick to see Grand Resort play along other hipster bands. Highlights of the dance party were Alpaca Sports “I Was Running” and Go Violets’ “Josie”. I must have been a bit drunk as it seems I recorded some clips of the songs and mailed them to the bands. Geeky fan. At least the bands seemed happy and not annoyed!

On Friday I was supposed to go check a new band that Ed tipped me called Gingerlys. On bandcamp they sound pretty good so I wanted to check them live. Unfortunately it was raining way too much to do that inter-continental trip to Bushwick that night. Hopefully I’ll catch them soon. I haven’t discovered that many exciting new bands as of late, especially in the city. So this could be something!

Also the Twee.net Poll is now open. I should cast my votes pretty soon. And you all should too! Would be interesting to see who wins. I might be wrong, but I feel this has been a year of little surprises. More like a quiet indiepop year aside from some amazing comebacks like The Brilliant Corners or The Haywains. When it comes to new bands, I will look east. I think the best new bands come from Japan and Australia this year (again the exception being Don’t Cry Shopgirl from Sweden). Don’t you agree?

But in general, it has been a good year for me. Plenty of traveling. Many new friends. Three pop festivals. Can’t complain. The idea is to keep it up next year. NYC Popfest for sure. Indietracks 90% that will happen. I have a Travelodge room already reserved so…

Not much more this week, winter seems a bit uneventful, especially December. You’d think people buy indiepop records as presents but that’s never the case. There’s the Big Pink Cake Christmas special, but that’s in London. I can only wish to be there. Anyways, I’ll see you next week, hopefully with some exciting news. Maybe by then I have already book my new vacations.


Don’t know about you, but these days, I have a hard time to get out of bed. Not because of any sort of sadness or depression. It’s just cozy. It’s warm. And it’s terribly cold not being under the sheets and blankets. I don’t mind the cold weather, I actually enjoy it, it’s just that moment of the day that is difficult for me. So until we are halfway through March I guess this will be the routine. Or maybe I’m just getting older, my thirtieth birthday looming. Scary.

My computer at work broke down. When I arrived from vacations it wasn’t working. Seems that the hard drive was fried. Through some recovery stuff, I manage to salvage a bunch of songs. Most of these are obscure songs that I’ve been sent by friends through email. Songs by bands that I’ve been looking for their records without luck. Hard to find.

The computer was formatted. And now I’m listening to all these songs again. Just for fun. Then suddenly some songs catch my attention. They are by a band called “And So To Bed”. A friend from Portugal, Joel, had shared these with me. I do a google search. As you can imagine a phrase like this gave me thousands of results. So I dug and dug.

Rupert at Turntable Revolution wrote on May 12 2012:
“And So To Bed released one 7″ in the mid eighties which has been on my wants list for a few years and turns up on ebay. Happy days until the listing is ended early by the greedy seller. So has anyone got a copy of this elusive single for sale?”

Then I found the listing on eBay. It was a seller in California. On the item description I find the first hints about this elusive record.
“Great C86 jangly indie-pop from this north London combo active around 1986/1987. Features 4 songs: And So To Bed (She Said) / Just Desserts / Plaindom / Spit It Out. Promo stamped with “Timebox Records: for promotional use only”. “

Indeed, it’s great jangly indie-pop! And we get to know the four songs on the 7″. We also get to know the label, Timebox Records. There’s just one more stop, one last hit google gave me. And that’s the Firestation Records blog that Uwe ran for a short time recommending and tipping some amazing stuff. There he writes: Amazing London-based band which was around the late 80’s. One 7“ single, released on Timebox Records, simply named “The EP“. Four tracks, four hits, full of jangly guitars somewhere between the first two singles by Laugh and The Close Lobsters.

So much praise for this band. So much excitement. And the songs do live up to them. The problem is, why the hell nobody knows anything else about them? Who were they? It’s a safe bet that Timebox Records was their own label they set up to put out the record. So that makes it even more difficult to track them down. There is a blog were it says Sperm Wails played with them. That’s the only other mention I could find online. It seems that aside this 7″ their legacy is non-existent. The band members names? What were they? Anyone knows anything else? They were from London. Someone has to remember!


And So To Bed – And So To Bed


Alright. So where are the top ten lists for this year. I’m waiting. It’s already December and to my surprise I still haven’t seen any of these lists, not even on Facebook. Could it possibly be that there hasn’t been that many great releases in 2013? Or to be more sincere, the great releases of this year haven’t been released by the well known labels so they have been under the radar of most people? Could be. I like to think this has been the case. But let’s wait and see, it’s still early December and not even the Twee.net poll is open. So let’s wait and see, I’m quite curious.

Last week there wasn’t a blog post. And can’t say I missed writing. I didn’t even think about it. I had a very intense week traveling in Peru, partying, visiting friends, drinking, eating, etc, etc. I think I napped one day. I don’t think I had much time to relax and take it easy. That’s why I look forward to this Monday as I have requested a day of ‘staycation’. Really need it. I’m not complaining though, I saw the impressive Machu Picchu. I was in awe. I was also very tired to go up all the little rock stairs to the summit to take that classic photograph with the citadel behind you. I ate for the first time alpaca and also went to a restaurant that serves food from the Amazonian region. That was quite exciting.

I got to see Eva & John play live for the first time. I saw them also at a band practice. Both times I liked them a lot. They are unique for the scene in Peru, and it shows. They have followers that know their songs by heart. Now just need to push them to record 4 more songs. The 2-song flexi that they released earlier this year is not enough for a band that has so many catchy songs. I really hope that a 7″ will happen in 2014.

After many years I visited a disco in Lima. The music is still quite terrible, but what can you ask for. It’s not like we get good indiepop discos in New York City either way. I remember I danced to Pulp. And then I mostly just drank. It was cheap. 3 dollars for a huge bottle of beer. Half liter I believe? Those things are very convenient. But beware, not everything is cheap. Food wasn’t. I feel it’s around the same prices as in New York!

I got to see many friends, many that I haven’t seen for years. Some that were part of my gang while I lived in Miami. It made me happy to see that they are doing well. Earning good money. Living alone. Being successful. It also made me proud that Plastilina Records has a name these days in Peru. People recognize the label I started with three other friends and that these days Jalito is the driving-force. Funny though that indiepop is associated to hipsters in Lima. It might be the only place in the world that this sort of music is associated to them (ok, it used to be like that in Sweden for some time). I guess hipsters are the outsiders in Peru? Or viceversa? I don’t know how it ended up being like that. But it’s a bit scary! As long as they don’t ruin it all…

Anyways, I’m back and I have a couple of more posts to write this year. There are also some interviews that I hope I’ll publish as well. There will be Cloudberry news soon too. Lost Tapes 7″ will be out in around a month time. And then there will be new releases announcements! So keep an eye on the blog.

Also, if you are not aware, it seems there will be a new Popfest next year. It will be based in Birmingham and will happen in April. No clue who is organizing it, but the lineup already looks great. I wish I could go, so, if you can, you should definitely head there!


Now let’s move onto some obscure band, one that I keep losing on eBay everytime it shows up: Boston Crabs.

As obscure as it gets. As mysterious as it gets. Because obviously they weren’t from Boston. They hailed from Hull.

If you google for Boston Crabs, you’ll see some Lacrosse team with that name. But perhaps the name may come from this “Boston crab”:
The Boston crab is a professional wrestling hold that typically starts with one wrestler lying in a supine position on the mat, with the other wrestler standing and facing him. It is a type of spinal lock where the wrestler hooks each of the opponent’s legs in one of his arms, and then turns the opponent face-down, stepping over him in the process. The final position has the wrestler in a semi-sitting position and facing away from his opponent, with the opponent’s back and legs bent back toward his head. The original name for the maneuver was the Backbreaker, before that term became known for its current usage. In modern wrestling, the Boston crab is not treated as a lethal submission maneuver, even though it was considered a match-ending hold in the past. In Japan, it is commonly used as a hold to defeat young and inexperienced wrestlers; the ability to overcome the hold is considered a sign of growth.  In submission grappling, the Boston crab (generally the half Boston crab) can be used to set up a straight ankle lock.

Not much into wrestling myself. When I was much younger, perhaps 13 or so, I did watch a bit of the American wrestling on TV. And once in Miami I met Hulk Hogan. That was odd.

Perhaps they just liked to have an American flavor to their name. When listening to the B-side of their one and only single, the song called “Icebox”, you can feel a bit of Americana in it, thanks to it’s Midwest guitars. But who knows, it’s anyone’s guess.

The A side is my favourite though, it’s proper jangle pop, indiepop, c86. However you want to call it. This classic slice of pop with trumpets is called “Burn”. No surprise that this record was released in 1986 by the D~I~Y label (catalog 1,000,000).

The information about the band is scarce. Thanks to scans on 45cat, we know that the B side is titled on the label as “Your Love is Really Icebox, Baby”, and not just “Icebox” as in the sleeve, that the record was engineered by Peter Kennedy and recorded at Farmhouse Studios in Goxhill. There’s not much to read about Goxhill.

But let’s turn to the sleeve. There’s a cryptic message “A £108.34 including petrol’ recording. Then there are some important clues for solving the case of this band: band members.

Wayne Jordan – vocals, guitar
Luke Luke LD-50 – noisy guitars
Paul Mackay – drums, percussion
Rick Newman – bass guitar

Special Guest Star
Dave Blackmore – saxophone

I try to find them. No luck. Can’t be that they just disappeared into thin air. There’s something else though on the sleeve. A text written by someone called General Zak:

Still in their early 20’s, the Boston Crabs prove themselves the most versatile young singer-entertainers of the day. For here are two exciting numbers delivered in two distinctive styles.
One change of pace after another, that’s the way it goes through this whole dynamic single. Yet never changing is the powerful unique sound of the Crabs as they dominate and control every song. And for the first time instrumental backing by the fabulous Dave Blackmore adds a fiery vigour to the latest Crabs single.

This text leaves me wondering. First because it says “latest Crabs single”. Was there a prior one? Was there anything else released by them? Also, it says they were in their early 20s! They were young. They must have made music afterwards in one way or another. At least one of them, right?!

Dave Blackmore though seems easier to find. Under his name he released a 1996 album called “Fields of Fire” and has worked with bands like Chalktown. There’s even a biography here. But what about the rest, the ones that were actually the Boston Crabs? It seems for now, they will still remain a mystery.

If you know anything else about them, you saw them live, or even have more recordings, let me know. Would love to know more about them!


Boston Crabs – Burn