BALANCE: Middle English (sense 3 of the noun): from Old French balance (noun), balancer (verb), based on late Latin (libra) bilanx ‘(balance) having two scalepans,’ from bi- ‘twice, having two’ + lanx ‘scalepan.’

Finally! The Lost Tapes 7″s arrived. I start shipping them tomorrow to everyone that pre-ordered. Also finally The Rileys CDs are being pressed. On top of it all it seems we’ll be putting new recordings by a Bristol 80s band and a retrospective by a 90s New York band. Seems like busy months ahead as we have New York Popfest as a deadline. It’s like running the 100m race right now. It’s exciting and thrilling but at the same time we need to deliver a big effort to get there!

Last week I decided to review Alpaca Sports new album and thus some people didn’t get their obscure music fix. It’s interesting from the feedback I get that there’s people that only care for the label and don’t really mind the blog, and there are people that just like reading the blog and wouldn’t give a dollar to support the label. I think it’s only a few who care for both things. And this keeps me thinking. I mean, the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen releases are an extension of the blog, right? At least for me that’s very clear.

This is the coldest winter I’ve experienced yet. It’s always freezing and one feels less motivated to go out. There are not many gigs going on either. Indiepop follows the same course, unmotivated there are barely news to get us all excited. New York Popfest and Indietracks keep quiet. No announcements yet. Primavera Sounds kind of breaks the monotony with the return of Slowdive and the very odd booking of my beloved Helen Love. Who would have thought of Helen Love putting the hipsters to dance.

I receive a bunch of emails by obsessive fans. It’s a bit farfetched what I get to read. I’m doubtful. I don’t understand what’s going on. Someone on facebook decides to call me a douche. Someone that has systematically been adding all my girlfriends in there. It doesn’t add up. But some people have no shame about anything. Days pass and these little events make me smile and enjoy them. Outside it gets dark pretty early, you have to understand.

There’s so many new albums I’ve bought this year. I’m having piles of CDs to listen. I feel again that I will never catch up. Last time I had a pile this big was around Indietracks time and it took me 6 months to listen to all of them. I’m pretty slow though that doesn’t stop me from buying more music. Must be an addiction.

I’m terribly sad about a Swedish band I used to love. I don’t feel the same love for them, sometimes friendship doesn’t last forever. Friends that start having other priorities. But aside my personal feelings, speaking strictly about their music and the band, it may sound harsh, but I feel it was already time to break up. But they’ve decided to continue with some replacements for old members that I’m sure won’t add much. Some big egos at play. I may be mistaken of course, but I trust my intuition. And it only makes me sad as they were one of the most talented bands I’ve ever encountered.

Anyways, I can’t be gossiping forever (though I love doing it, you can always find me for a chat sometime). Let’s move to this obscure English band called Balance.


No clue who were Balance. The first time I heard about them was on Youtube. Their song “Russian Train” was uploaded there by Cino Pacino who runs a blog that is worth visiting. Not surprising on the little description of the song he gives credit to another blog, From a Northern Place, saying he got the song from there.

This record came out as both a 7″ and a 12″. Both are catalog Siren 039. On the 7″ we find “Russian Train” on the A side and “River Ghosts” on the B side. On the 12″ we find these two songs as the A side while on the flipside we get “Lines and Squares”. Discogs lists the record as “Europop”. Could be. Definitely not your classic indiepop sounding record, but it has the vibe, the melodies, and the vocals. For me it has an indiepop attitude if that makes any sense.

The record was released in 1987 and as far as I know it’s the only thing the band ever released. It was released by Siren Records who used to have pretty good distribution through Virgin. On this label we can find the likes of It’s Immaterial, Bryan Ferry and even Paula Abdul. No wonder no one remembers the label, too eclectic.

I like that on the labels of the record it says, “An Essent!al Tran-siberian Release”. Perhaps a joke, but sounds cool and mysterious.

The sleeve of the record looks like a lot of photographs of the band. Actually to me it looks like stills from a promo video. Was there ever a video released for this song? Does anyone know? From those photos it looks like a duo, a boy and a girl. There’s just one name mentioned on the labels and that is of Gene Vincent. He gets the credits for the songs.

On the back sleeve there are credits for the sleeve concept (Mckellodell Productions) and sleeve design (Shoot That Tiger!). There are thanks to Steve Biancardo, Chucho Merchan, Buzz, Kick Horns and Dave Foster. None of the name ring a bell to me. Just I know that Chucho is a nickname for those with the name Jesús. There’s an address for information and contact, and it’s in Northwest London. Most possibly the band was from London then.

And that’s as much as I could gather from this band. I still don’t own a record, though it doesn’t look that pricey. Siren was kind of a big label so I’m guessing they pressed many copies. I should get around to buy the record soon. The songs are nice, all of them, very elegant, reminding perhaps to Two People, Lotus Eaters or early 80s pop like Big Outdoor Type. Easier to fit them in that neo-aco tag the Japanese know pretty well.

If anyone has any more information, of course, share!


Balance – Russian Train


There’s this one release I’m looking forward to this 2014. Perhaps you are looking forward to it too. I know a bunch of Italians are. It’s an album. It has ten tracks. No fillers. Just hit after hit. It’s more of a three piece but people assume it’s a duo. They come from Gothenburg. They love making videos for almost every song they record. Do you need more hints? I think that’s enough clues to know who I am talking about.

Alpaca Sports are releasing their first full-length this year and is aptly titled “Sealed With a Kiss”, named perhaps after a movie. This is not the first time they appear on CD (remember the Mini-LP from 2013 on Fastcut), but it is the first time they appear on 12″ LP format. The record should be out sometime around February 24 and those who pre-order it through their bandcamp will be able to also get a bonus CD that contains remixes/covers by Red Sleeping Beauty, The Royal Landscaping Society, Tiny Fireflies, Cristina Quesada, When Nalda became punk, Invisible Twin, Pale Spectres, Boyish, Band à Part, Zipper, one day diary and The Very Most. Those who don’t pre-order, obviously won’t get this CD. By the way, this bonus CD will be named after Andreas Alpaca’s dog, “Bella’s Mixtape”. Just a detail.

It is from that CD that I’m happy to share a song. It’s by a band that we released not so long ago in Cloudberry, Boyish. Here they cover Alpaca Sports first hit “Just For Fun”. Many of the other songs from this bonus CD have been previewed already online through different blogs, soundcloud or facebook. You can possibly track all of them down if you head to Alpaca Sports Facebook page.

The album, released by Luxury Records, includes 10 songs. I read someone on the Facebook complaining that most of the songs have already been released. That means that people really crave for more Alpaca Sports! I would take that complain as a compliment of course. The tracklist looks like this:
01. Just for fun
02. Will you ever come back home?
03. She’ll come back for Indian summer
04. Just like Johnny Marr
05. As long as I have you
06. Telephone
07. He doesn’t even like you
08. The old oak tree
09. You and me
10. I was running

Perhaps you really want to complain, and think that this is a rip off. That there’s only 4 new songs (2 ,4, 8 and 9) and you better download them or some other ‘wise’ idea you may have. I guess you have the right to think that way, but you are being totally stupid. It is clear you’ve been living in an MP3 age where an album concept doesn’t mean anything. You just want throwaway songs that you listen a bunch of time and then they can just sit in some folder in your computer without being clicked again for ages. You just don’t get it. These songs are the work of 3 or so years of the band and so it makes all sense to include them. They are their hits. How can’t you include them? They were released as singles and they have actually left the B sides out of the album, just like every other band did back in the day, when albums meant something. Because albums are for rediscovering these kind of hits. I could play these songs forever, I always find a little something, a detail, every time I listen to them. Perhaps this has to do with me known Andreas, but I always end up understanding each piece of lyrics better and better. They are as honest as they can be. Very autobiographical even. So why wouldn’t I want them to be in the album for me to listen time and time again, with the comfort of them being one after the other? I don’t know. Only if you listen to them as Mp3s then it doesn’t make any sense. Then I tell you, you are DUMB, because you are missing out.

The album counts again with Ray Kimura doing the artwork. I have to say this is my favourite illustration she’s made for Alpaca Sports. And she has done every single release. It’s by far the most colorful too. And the first one that doesn’t have any white background. I remember when doing the Alpaca Sports single for Cloudberry I wanted something like this with the jungle/Indiana Jones, kind of feeling. We did try. But it didn’t work out. It was looking too green. This time it has worked out wonders.

So we all know that 6 of the songs in the album are perfect pop songs. They’ve been released as singles and they have sold out or are about to being sold out. These songs have catapulted the band to play at Indietracks, Madrid Popfest, Berlin Popfest, New York Popfest, and soon Birmingham Popfest. They have also played their home city Gothenburg, Stockholm and Malmö. They also will go south, across of Malmö soon but I think that’s top secret yet. They also toured Japan for a week last November. It’s been a hurricane couple of years for them. But I’m not surprised. I wasn’t in love the first time I heard them, I admit, and I feel embarrassed, I could have released “Just For Fun” perhaps. It was only after listening to “She’ll Come Back for Indian Summer” that I knew that this band was special. That they were something else. But it was a bit too late, though I was still lucky to have worked with them on the one 7″. I would have loved to work with them in every single release. Why wasn’t I in love? I simply don’t understand. These days I play that song and I can’t help myself from singing it.

I’ll tell you a secret then. I have listened to the other 4 songs. They are all proper singles in their own way. They could have saved them for 7″s in the future. But they haven’t. “Will You Ever Come Back Home” and it’s hand-claps. That must be Carl hand-clapping. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind. Haven’t you seen Carl Miyagi hand-clapping like a madman at every Alpaca Sports gig? That’s his thing. But you’d think this is a happy song, it’s not. It might be as well the most melancholic song in the album albeit it’s upbeatness. Amanda as always is brilliant accompanying Andreas in the song with her shy almost subterranean vocals. I melt. “Why do you call me up every time you look for a fight”. That’s the line that opens the song and still I’m sure in this situation you and me would ask every single ex-girlfriend we’ve had if they’ll ever come back home.

Andreas must have a couple of heroes, definitely Davey from Brilliant Corners and Julian from The Hit Parade. Johnny Marr is another of those heroes. Here is his tribute to him. Nostalgic, melancholic, this song is so light, it could break, reaching it’s subtle climax with a sincere line, promising the girl that “I’ll bring my guitar and play just like Johnny Marr.” You wonder which girl would turn that offer down, right? “Don’t make my heart break” asks Andreas wearing his feelings on his sleeve. Only a terrible girl could do that!

Even less upbeat, a song that seems to be sealed with longing and memories, is track number 8, “The Old Oak Tree”. I wonder how common are oak trees in Gothenburg. The song has a cinematic quality to it. “I remember when you kissed me for the first time in the pouring rain”.  The acoustic guitar in the background. I can picture the rain. I can imagine this huge old oak tree where the adolescent couple would get inside and dream of a future filled with lovesongs that never happened. Remembering that teenage love that hurts. The “Old Oak Tree” seems like a pause in the album, making you feel vulnerable and ready for the two last songs.

The last song being the dancefloor hit “I Was Running”. But just before it is “You and Me”. If you’d thought it would be more hopeful than “The Old Oak Tree” you are mistaken. By now you probably have noticed that Alpaca Sports songs are heartfelt and full of details that hide behind the veil of their upbeat melodies. “The sun will never shine on me the way it shines on you”. Post-breakup sadness. Secluded in the house, in the room. Don’t want to go out. Wise words, isn’t it true that when there’s a breakup only one, not the two, gets a broken heart? That’s how it is. That “You and Me” that we dream to happen again, but it’s lost forever. “Every tear falling down let’s me know that I care”. How hard it is to forget. How hard it is to let go. Sometimes you never let go.

It’s surprising how simple it seems for Alpaca Sports to, in simple words, craft lyrics that express so much sentiment. And they call them twee. The f*ck they are twee. This is serious. They don’t sing about kittens or nonsense. There are a few bands out there that have no shame to pour their feelings in their songs like they do.

So I could tell you and sell you do the idea that the album is worth for these four new songs. And that is totally right too. Even for the one song the album is worth getting. I don’t know how many copies are being pressed. I want to think that the album will sell pretty well and hopefully it will be sold out within a year. I want to dream that they will keep writing perfect songs, that I will see time and time again Andreas, Amanda and Carl, with their guests musicians on stage. At every single festival I attend. I don’t have that many contemporary bands that I follow with this determination, that I try to dissect every song, that I want to learn the lyrics as I’ve done in the past with bands like TCR, Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan!! or McCarthy, top bands for me. Alpaca Sports is one of the few (from the top of my head I do the same with contemporary bands Liechtenstein, The Felt Tips and Northern Portrait). They are writing modern indiepop classics. And it’s possible that you won’t even notice until 20 more years have passed when Andreas is still supporting his Örgryte football team in 3rd division for yet another year, Amanda is a successful designer and Carl is making videos for high-profile 2035 Beyoncés or Taylor Swifts of that age.. You don’t want to wait that late, right? Better catch the “Sealed with a Kiss” bus then.


Boyish – Just For Fun


Thanks so much to Olaf, Gunnar, Siggi and Matthias for this great interview! The Groovy Cellar are an institution of German indiepop with many releases under their belt in classic labels like Marsh Marigold and Firestation. Actually they have just released their third album since starting as a band in 1991 on our friends Uwe and Olaf’s label Firestation. The new album is GREAT, I totally recommend it, and it’s called “Affordable Art for All”. You have to get it. In this interview we talk about the past, the future and the present of the band! Hope you enjoy it!

++ Hey! Thanks so much for being up for this interview. Just around the corner you have a new release. Your latest album! Tell me a bit about it. Would you say it’s any different to previous releases? And what are your favourite songs on it?

Olaf: Yes it is different in the way that it is more diversified.
And it has cover versions on it, something we haven’t done on earlier Groovy Cellar releases.

Siggi: Production wise it´s different to previous releases. I think it sounds a bit fuller and we even have a real brass section on a couple of songs.

++ Have you been playing much live lately? Are there any plans to tour or something else to promote the album?

Gunnar: We like playing a lot. Please invite us to Spain. We know you have a healthy Mod/Sixties/Indie scene there. I hear the Rubinoos where there a few years back and loved it.

Matthias: Cooper is great. Let’s go to Spain then.

++ The name of the album is “Affordable Art for All”. I like the sound of it. But I’m sure there’s a deeper meaning behind the title. I guess you are all for democratizing art, not just being a commodity for the filthy rich? And what’s the connection with indiepop, if any?

Olaf: A few years ago the British pop artist Sir Peter Blake issued his „I love London“ prints on recycled metal plates under the moniker „Affordable Art for All“. That was the idea behind it. The drawing on our LP is by an old friend of ours, the late Harald Fischer. It is called „Harold and Mod“, and if you want so, you can hang the record cover as a picture on your bedroom wall. Affordable art for only 14 Euros! And of course the title of the record echoes Dan Treacy’s 1980’s Whaam! compilation „All for art and art for all“ which made it even more intriguing for me.

++ The album is only released in vinyl, is that true? Of course you have put out a couple of 7″s before, and also CDs so I ask, is vinyl your favorite format? and why?

Olaf: Somehow the CD only format didn’t seem appropriate for me any more, as vinyl has seen quite a revival in the last years. But hopefully there will be a CD release of the record in 2014.

Gunnar: The combination of a nice big vinyl record with great (affordable) artwork and a download code is ideal. You can take something beautiful home with you and have something to carry around wherever you go. With a CD you can‘t do neither.

++ On this album you collaborate again with the Firestation label. How did you meet for the first time? And how has your experience being with them?

Olaf: We got to know each other around the time they were releasing their “19 Goldene Hits” compilation (pre Firestation). I remember playing on a festival together with Westway. Uwe, Olaf, Annikki and Jan have always been loyal to our music, so what else can I say than “thank you for your support through all those years”.

Matthias: Top guys, top label.

++ I have a couple of curious questions, is Mr. Magic from “Ask Mr. Magic” based in a real person? And what about “Emily Jones”? Also, “My Bavarian Town”, is that about any particular city?

Olaf: I used to be a Northern Soul DJ for many years. Almost everybody on the DJ scene of the 90’s used a pseudonym way back then. I decided on „The Magic Shoemaker“, the title of an LP by 1960’s psych band Fire, and because my family name is Schumacher. When I met my wife more than 10 years ago, she and some of her friends initially used to call me “Mr. Magic“. “Emily Jones“ is also a real person, but I won’t tell you who, as she didn’t want her real name to be used for understandable reasons. On the other hand I always wanted to write a song about a fictitious girl named “Emily“, as there are so many good examples in the history of pop music: “See Emily Play“ (Pink Floyd), “When Emily Cries“ (TV Personalities), “Emily Small“ (Picadilly Line), “A Rose for Emily“ (Zombies), “Emily Kane” (Art Brut) and so on. And then she should have an ordinary family name. Bob Dylan, Manfred Mann or the Bee Gees all sang about “Mr. Jones”, so I found it amusing to have a certain “Mrs. Jones” in a song, although I can’t quite remember if this unique idea was by me or stolen.

The Bavarian town is called Amberg, where I used to live with my parents a long time ago. I revisited it in 2008 for the first time after more than 30 years.

++ The band was founded in 1991 according to your Facebook page. How did you all meet?

Olaf: I met Siggi and my soon-to-become girl friend Claudia on May 3rd, 1987 at a Television Personalities gig in Berlin’s venue “Loft”. After the demise of my band Most Wanted Men we founded The Groovy Cellar. Following some change of personnel we recruited Matthias, who played bass in The Beat Godivas, loved the same bands as we did, and wore a Mod parka.

Matthias: There was that sampler I used to listen to back in the 80s, “Beat all the Tambourines”. Included a couple of songs by the Most Wanted Men. I really liked that early stuff, still do. “Hippie Girl”, “January” are real stunners. So I was quite thrilled to join the Groovy Cellar a couple of years later. I then persuaded that bloke I knew from the Artpress to join the band as a drummer, but that’s a different story …

++ You all have been involved with many other bands, care telling me in which bands you’ve all been during the years?

Gunnar: Matthias and me go way back to the 80s when we both were in The Artpress, a guitar power pop outfit which sadly only released one single in 1990. Ever since I have been trying to get away from him, but somehow it can‘t be done.

Matthias: Absolutely, Gunnar, the one who plays the sloppy drums, he sticks to me like glue. Sometimes it’s like that movie “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, the scene when George confronts Martha with a gun. I even call him Martha sometimes.

++ Your sound of course is very 60s influenced. What would you say are your favourite records from that decade?

Olaf & Siggi: It’s too many to mention. Our record shelves are full of 1960’s records, so where to start?

Gunnar: My Girl by The Tempations, Walking in The Rain by The Ronettes, The Beatles • Rubber Soul, The Bee Gees • 1st, everything by Goffin/King and Mann/Weill

Matthias: Bobby Timmons Trio – Moanin’ , Lee Moses – Bad Girl, Willie Tee – Walkin’ Up A One Way Street, Little Richard – I Don’t Know What You’ve Got But It’s Got Me, Tommy Navarro – I Cried My Life Away, Timi Yuro – What’s A Matter Baby …

++ Though you also seem to have a liking for 80s and 90s indiepop. You’ve played with many of the indiepop bands of this period. What have been your favourite bands to share gigs with? And why?

Olaf: The TV Personalities were one of our main influences of the 1980’s. So of course we were very proud to have the opportunities to support them. It’s the same with the Cleaners from Venus. Claudia and I were invited on stage to sing the Hollies’ hit “Bus Stop” together with Martin Newell and Dave Gregory (of XTC fame) on guitar! By coincidence both groups had this cover version (and only this one) on their set list.

++ Tell me a bit about Berlin. What are the best places to play or hang out and have a beer? Any other good Berlin bands at the moment?

Siggi: One of our fave venues is the “Schokoladen”, where we also had our record release party. Good sound and decent beer prices.

Gunnar: for Bands: check out The Pikes or the Rythm & Beat Organisation who is doing regular shows always with different songs and singers and sixties related mottos

++ Would you say the scene in your city has changed much from the 90s to these days? When was a better time for bands in Berlin?

Gunnar: We hear the the late 80s‚ with Indie/Guitar Pop being largely popular in West Berlin. Nowadays the scene is very relaxed and we even get some new blood from young hipsters who seem to come out of nowhere.

++ The Groovy Cellar was a neo-60’s club of the early 1980’s in London. Did you ever get the chance to go there?

Olaf & Siggi: Unfortunately not.

++ Years ago you also released some records with Marsh-Marigold, one of the best indiepop labels ever, lots of quality stuff. How did you end up signing with them?

Olaf: I actually can’t remember how we got to know each other (sorry, Oliver). Signing is not the correct word, though. We talk about independent labels, man!

++ But the first 7″ was on Twang! right? I don’t know much about that label. Who were they?

Olaf: One of the first independent labels from Berlin that had a go at beat and psychedelic music. Without Twang’s Mike Korbik probably half of the 60’s orientated bands in the 1980’s and 1990’s wouldn’t have released a record at all. His importance for the Berlin music scene can’t be underestimated. He was our Alan McGee!

Gunnar: Mike is still doing a regular online-fanzine „Guitars Galore“ which you can find here: http://www.twang-tone.de. He also still does mail orders of almost all Twang!-Releases.

++ Talking about labels, was there ever any interest by any majors?

Gunnar: Nope

++ And do tell me, from all your releases, what’s your favourite song to play live?

Gunnar: For me right now: „Where have all the good Guys gone“ from the new album

Matthias: “Emily Jones”

++ So far, after many years as The Groovy Cellar, what would you say has been the highlight of the band?

Gunnar: This band is a permanent highlight … but seriously: there are many great moments when you know each other as long as we do.

++ And aside from music, what other hobbies do you have?

Matthias: Scooters

++ And so, one last question, in the future, what can we expect from The Groovy Cellar?

Olaf & Siggi: Playing the Madison Square Garden with Bono and Sting.

Matthias: Blimey!

Gunnar: not with Sting, no way. Did I mention we‘d love to play Spain?

Matthias: One of the rare occasions I agree with Gunnar.

++ Thanks again for the interview. Where can one buy your new record? Anything else you’d like to add?

Please find us and our older records here
and order the new album directly at


The Groovy Cellar – Emily Jones


One more week into 2014 and I feel a bit more positive about the outcome for this year. I’ve been looking into pressing records in other pressing plants, in smaller quantities, and I think it will work out. At this time, selling 500 copies seem unrealistic, only a dreamer like me could have been doing this for so long. It’s time to get practical.

A little bump on the way though, the Lost Tapes 7″ seems to be delayed in the pressing plant. Today was the release date but the records haven’t arrived home yet. I have the sleeves and inserts ready but not the vinyl. This pushes back my plans! Hopefully they will be arriving next week. They were promised to me for this week, but they say they have been very busy with records for Record Store Day. That stupid day.

Indiepop news? Little. I did finish answering an interview for a Japanese fanzine that is being made by Atsushi from Mile’s Apart Records. It’s always an honour to be asked questions about the history of Cloudberry and the bands I love. I’ll let you know when it is available especially if you know Japanese, as I doubt it will be published in English!

This week I’ve had family visiting so I haven’t done much research or not even listening to much indiepop. I have no idea what is going on right now. The only “news” I’ve seen around is the announcement of Copenhagen Popfest that will take place in May this year. Sadly for me they announce the dates now when I had already booked my flight to Europe in April. A bit of a short notice. This time the return of Popfest to the Danish capital has a new crowd behind it. In the blog I interviewed in the past my good friend Danielle who with friends organized the first edition. After many years there’s this comeback and it starts to shape up nicely with the sole announcement (as of yet!) of the mighty Felt Tips. Looking forward to their next choices.

Speaking about Popfests, both Madrid and Birmingham have ace lineups. Many Cloudberry bands will be joining these festivals. Only yesterday Lost Tapes was announced for Madrid! How I wish I could attend. But that’s what happens when you live in the wrong continent.

But I’ll stop complaining. We do have NYC Popfest and it’s in a league of it’s own. I’ve heard around rumours of bands coming to play but of course, I have to keep quiet! You should just trust the words from Maz, the organizer, when he says that this will be the best Popfest ever. Which is a lot to say considering the amazing Popfest 2013!

Well enough of chit-chatting, next week I’ll come back with a proper indiepop story, it’s been some time since I tell one of them. But now, let’s move to what you came here for, to discover a new obscure band, right?


Splitting aces and eights is part of blackjack basic strategy. Rules vary across gambling establishments regarding resplitting, doubling, multiple card draws, and the payout for blackjack, and there are conditional strategic responses that depend upon the number of decks used, the frequency of shuffling and dealer’s cards. However, regardless of the various situations, the common strategic wisdom in the blackjack community is to “Always split aces and eights” when dealt either pair as initial cards. This is generally the first rule of any splitting strategy.

I had no clue. Clearly I’m not a gambler. Though I admit I’ve been meaning to visit Las Vegas for so long now, checking now and then the price for flights from NYC to Vegas. It’s never cheap though, so I keep looking.

I do know how to play blackjack I guess. I know the goals of it. Though I don’t know the strategies or even less counting cards. Will it be safe to say this English band from the 80s did?

This band is as obscure as it gets. One 7″ released and that’s it. Discogs though includes in their discography some stuff from the 2000s, but that’s definitely another band. You should ignore that. The only release we care for is the one that has “Hard Luck Stories” on the A side, and “Love is a Duel” on the B side. Do you like horns? Well, then you might like their songs.

I’ve seen “Hard Luck Stories” listed many times on Rupert’s Turntable Revolution blog. But I have to say for me, my favourite of the two, is “Love is a Duel”. The music reminds me of one of my favourite bands ever, Friends. Sure, the vocals are a bit different, but the music does reminisce as it has those glorious horns, and upbeat hooks.

Sadly I only own Mp3s for these songs. I’ve been looking for their record for some time now, but it’s been a hard luck story (pardon the terrible pun). Happily online, on cat45 there are some scans of the record and so we can learn a bit about this mysterious three-piece outfit.

The record was released by Other Records in 1987 (catalog OTH8). It seems it was their last release. Before that, this Oxfordshire label founded in 1985, had released singles by bands I’ve never heard like 5:30! and Virtue, as well as a bunch of compilations that include even more strange names for me like The Black Riders, Teacher’s Pet, Criminal Sex and Electric Dog Sex. Not sure I want to hear these bands. For me it’s no surprise that the label changed their name in 1987 to Metalother Records, to release, just guess, metal bands.

Aces and Eights wasn’t metal at all. They seemed closer to The Lotus Eaters or The Pale Fountains from the photo on the back sleeve. The band was Simon Li on guitars and keyboards, Robin Stuart on guitar and Gary Moss on bass. For the recording of the single they had guest appearances by Phil Cesar on trumpet and flugel horn and Andy Taylor on harmonica. The record was produced by Ian Show and the fun illustration on the sleeve was credited to Nicky Hunt.

How many copies were pressed. No clue. Did they play much live? No idea. Where exactly in UK were they from? My guess is from London, but that is a mystery for me as well. But perhaps someone out there reading this knows something, maybe can solve fill in the blanks. Whatever happened to them after Aces and Eights? Did they continue making music?


Aces and Eights – Love is a Duel


Happy 2014!

First proper post of the year! It’s true I’ve posted three interviews so far but to be honest I wrote the questions the previous year. So this is really the first time I sit with the idea of writing something worthy. Well, hopefully it’s worthy.

I want to start with some label news because it’s been pretty quiet here lately, hasn’t it? So many of you might know that there’s a new release around the corner. Next week we will be releasing a new 7″!! This time we are releasing our second Spanish band in our 7″ series. First one was Zipper if you remember! Now we will be putting out the new 4-song EP by Lost Tapes. Who are they? Maybe you haven’t heard about them, and that’s totally ok, though I believe this year they are going to make a splash. They have been confirmed to play SXSW and I believe they will be playing a couple of indiepop festivals. So keep your eyes peeled. Their music is a bit of a surprise. The duo of RJ and Pau have been making music for a long time, not together, but in separate bands. Bands that are big and popular in Spain like Tokyo Sex Destruction and La Habitación Roja. But they love indiepop, they love the gentle sounds of The Field Mice, Brian, Brighter, so they decided to give it a go together in a new project, in Lost Tapes. So far they have only “released” a digital release on the Eardrums digital label. It ended up in many year end lists. It was lush. It was beautiful. I was terribly happy that they wanted to release their debut on Cloudberry. The songs included are four, “War in the Netherlands”, “Skylines”, “Poetry Dates” and “Chances”. There’s even an awesome video we’ve been promoting for the opening track. You can already order it from the site or you can wait until your favourite mailorder has it. Hopefully you’ll have it in your hands soon! You’ll love it! On top of it all the sleeve has been gleefully illustrated by Barcelona’s Marta Llumbart!

A lot of people have been asking about The Rileys release. And yes, it’s taking some time. It will be released though, come on, don’t despair. I’m positive it will be out next month. I wish it had been sooner, but as you are my friends I’ll be honest, sales have been quite bad on November and December so, there hasn’t been much cash to pay for new releases. It works like that you know. Sales become releases. So sometimes things have to wait until we can afford to put the new record out. So here’s an idea, if anyone out there know any ways we could raise our sales, make some interesting merchandise, or exclusive deals, I don’t know, something that could work, please on the comment section leave some ideas. I would really appreciate that. I really don’t want to end using a kickstarter or having to close the label. I’m going to fight! Anyways, let’s hope for February for The Rileys. I’ll keep you all updated when I have a release date.

The other project I want to work on this new year has to do with the blog. I want to finally publish in book form some of these interviews I’ve been doing for 5 years. I’ve been meaning to do so for some time. Many friends have asked me to do it, and I said I would. And then I never did! It requires a lot of time. It’s not just copy/pasting. I need to design the book with Cloudberry standards. It has to look good. I need photos to illustrate it as well. I can’t just publish a music book with just text, can I? But yeah, I’m hoping that by Indietracks time the first volume of these books will be published. I don’t have a name yet for it yet. So any ideas are welcome!

So that’s that.

What else is important this year so far. Well it seems there will be a Chickfactor festival in March here in New York? Will have to keep an eye on that. I hope it’s not like last year that The Pastels were confirmed and didn’t end up coming. I hope it works out well this time! Also of course to look forward for me is NYC Popfest and Indietracks. I have yet another trip to Europe in April that I’m looking forward. Will be in Spain, Norway and Sweden. Yes, always Spain, always Sweden. But I managed to squeeze a new country to visit. And I’m pretty excited to go to Oslo for the first time. But also I will be visiting new places in Spain, like Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz and Málaga, and in Sweden I’ll visit Göteborg for the first time. I will end up in Stockholm my last days of the trip. It’s like I always need to visit that city that I love (and hate).

Shaping like a fine year so far, right? What else would I like? I definitely want to DJ at Indietracks. But who knows if someone will invite me. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do since the first time I went. Crossing fingers, though I doubt it, as I don’t have a club, right? Speaking of Indietracks, I’m pretty scared as the plane tickets already are very expensive. I can’t find anything under 900 dollars. Wonder if it will work out the way I wanted. For that price I feel like a terrible idea just to go for four or five days. For that price I need to at least spend two weekends there. If that happens, maybe I end up doing that trip that I always wanted to the north of Wales, to those towns and castles that I’ve been daydreaming of, Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech…. but we’ll see. I kind of want to save vacation days for a later trip to China.

And that’s more or less in a nutshell what I’m expecting for this 2014. There are of course another releases in the works, but as soon as they are 100% confirmed and I have a song to share or something, I’ll keep it secret. But follow me here on the blog, I’ll be updating it every week as usual.


Now into one of the most obscure mysteries of indiepop: That Corporate Feeling.

As you can imagine there’s NOTHING about them online. I’ve looked all over the place and I can’t find anything. The only thing I know is that their sole 7″ is really sought after by indiepop collectors. I’ve known that for years. I’ve heard their classic song “The Rain Has Gone” for years. But you know, I’ve never known anything else about them.

The few bits of important information are that it was released in 1984 on a label called Platform Soul. This was the first release of the label so it’s kind of safe to assume that this was a self-release. On Discogs it says that this 7″ was a promo 7″. That could explain the scarcity of it.

The A side was naturally “The Rain Has Gone” a proto-indiepop gem, packed with horns and a pounding bass. If sped up this could have been a major discoparty footstomper I reckon. Still it’s a beautifully crafted popsong. It’s no wonder everyone wants a copy of it! Me included of course!

The B side is “Industrial Backlash”. I wonder if there’s a relation between the name of the band and this song. Seems there’s a thread, no? Perhaps there was some sort of political background to the band. A socialist view? I wonder.

The only other thing I’ve ever seen is the sleeve. The front sleeve is quite nice. It has a die cut in the center, like old jukebox 45s. You can see the vinyl label having a bright red heart. The sleeve meanwhile has an illustration of a guy with a mullet. Perhaps it was the style? Perhaps is an illustration of the vocalist? Who knows. The back sleeve is even a bigger mystery. There’s just a photo, black and white, of two persons and what it seems like a dog.

There’s not much else online. I have no clue who the band members are. It all remains a mystery. Do any of you know anything else about them?!


That Corporate Feeling – The Rain has Gone



Thanks so much to Håkan Eriksson for the interview! Rain Refrain was a Stockholm band from the mid/late 80s that played some sweet jangly pop! Their songs are just classic pop and one wonders why they weren’t more known! These days both Håkan and Per Tolgraven (also from Rain Refrain) play in a band worth checking out, The Tangerines, with whom they are putting out their third album out pretty soon! Here in the interview we talk about both bands and also about the Swedish scene of those days. Enjoy!

++ Hi Håkan! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! These days you play in The Tangerines, isn’t that right? And you are about to release a new album. Care to tell me a bit about it? I hear there’s going to be a Rain Refrain cover in it?

Hi Roque! Yeah, that’s right. The new Tangerines’ album – our third – will be out early 2014. We’ve just recieved the master, and we’re really happy with the result. We do cover of Rain Refrain’s “Girls’ Girls’ World” true to the original demo from 1986!

++ And yeah! Where can one buy it?

To start with, we will release it through CD Baby.

++ Rain Refrain was your band in the late 80s, and then it was only in 1996 that you started The Tangerines. In that time between both bands, were you involved in any other musical projects?

Not really, I played with some cover bands. When Per (also in Rain Refrain) and I teamed up again, it was just like starting over!

++ And what would you say are the main differences between Rain Refrain and The Tangerines if any?

None to be honest. The Tangerines are more or less the same thing – power pop, guitars, harmonies, catchy songs – only that we had a few years break! Oh, one obvious difference is that Rain Refrain were a band playing live while The Tangerines are a duo concentrating on recording.

++ With The Tangerines you have already released two albums as well. If you were to suggest were to start discovering the band, what songs should one listen? Which are your favorites and why?

I suggest “Leave Him Behind” and “Look like Angels” from the first album. The former has an ambitious arrangement, the latter is short song driven by 12-string jangle. From our second album: “Rock’n’roll Girl” and “Diamonds in the Dew”. “RnR G” was a happy recording with a spacy middle eight that we like; the more up-tempo “Diamonds in the Dew” is another Rain Refrain cover, and the flip side of “Girls’ Girls’ World”. You can find them all on Spotify!

++ Let’s rewind then, back to the 80s. Who were Rain Refrain, what instruments did each of you play, and how did the band start? How did you all get to know each other?

Rain Refrain were a classic four piece: two guitars, bass and drums, Per and Håkan on vocals. I played in a band called Helikoptern whose singer had just left the band and Per, who was a fan of the band, took his place. Helikoptern broke up shortly after and Per and I were left with a rehearsal studio, a growing friendship and a few good songs. Another band shared the same studio and we sort of took over their rhythm section Per (the 2nd) and Johan on drums. We have fond memories of recording during summer nights on a Tascam 244 in a gym hall with a fantastic reverb. It all resulted in a 6 track demo which we sent to the four biggest record companies. WEA Sweden went nuts over the demo and signed us without ever seeing us live.

++ Had you been in bands previously? Or was this your first experience in a pop band?

As I mentioned I was in the band Helikoptern. We were signed to EMI Sweden and made a single, with lyrics in Swedish. Per – the second half of The Tangerines – was also in smaller bands before joining Helikoptern.

++ Back in those late 80s, were there any other Swedish acts that you liked at the time?

Just a few. Come to think of it, in those days we listened more to the big hits of the time: The Bangles, Bryan Adams, Belinda Carlisle… We were all influenced much more by earlier bands like Dwight Twilley, Phil Seymour, The Records, Cheap Trick, The Bangles, Nick Lowe, Rockpile, Kirsty MacCall, Ian Gomm, Marshall Crenshaw, ELO… “There She Goes” by the La’s. And of course it all started with… The Beatles.

++ And where does the name of the band comes from?

It was just a play with words, or sounds. We always liked the word “rain”, a Beatles song of course (and a Status Quo one). Refrain as in “chorus”, and the rhyme sounded just right.

++ How was Stockholm back then? Was there some sort of scene? Were there many venues to play? What were the cool areas to hang? What were the best record stores?

Stockholm, late 80s… We were so busy rehearsing, used to hang out in the district of Söder. This was long before it changed to be a hipster paradise. Those days there were quite a few venues. I think we played them all.

++ As far as I know you only released a 7″, the fantastic “Girls’ Girls’ World”. So I have to ask, were there any more recordings by Rain Refrain that remain unreleased?

We made one more 7″ for WEA, a double A-side called “Hey Hey Michelle” / “Bad Luck”. It was recorded in 1987, released in Spring 1988 and got a decent amount of airplay.

++ And if it’s not much to ask, can you tell me the story behind the two songs on the 7″?

The songs came quickly those days. Per says the guitar riff on “Girls’ Girls’ World” just came to him on a bus or something. It took some time to complete the rhymes (it always does). The re-start at the end was an idea of our producer. The B-side “Diamonds in the Dew” came to Per in the middle of a stalled rehearsal. As you may notice none of them has a traditional chorus.

++ This record was released by a big label, WEA. A lot of indie bands struggle with big labels, though I’m not saying that was your case. But I wonder how was your experience with them?

It was a struggle. There were a lot of meetings with a lot of people. Everyting took a lot of time. The scene here at the time was totally dominated by male solo artists singing in Swedish. And here we came, a guitar band with pop songs in English. We’re not sure they knew what to do with us.

++ What do you remember from those recording sessions? Any anecdotes that you could share?

When WEA asked us to record, we asked who would be the producer. “No-one”, they said, “just do it like you did the demos”. So we found ourselves in this huge famous studio… young and nervous, and we failed miserably. It took a year until we got a new chance, and then we cut the first single – with the producer Niklas Strömstedt – and it all run smoothly. This time we used the EMI studio in Stockholm, inspired by the Abbey Road studios, where bands like Roxette recorded. A good memory, and – by 80s standards – a good recording. As for anecdotes… “Summer of 69” was a huge hit by the time. We loved the sound of the snare drum and wanted to have the same sound for the intro of “Girls’ Girls’ World”. Eventually the engineer just sampled it – and used it on the on the whole recording.

++ Gigs, tell me about gigs. Did you play many? Which were your favourites and why?

We played so many gigs. Big places, small places. After a while I think we became a really good live band. To replicate our records, we took in another guy, and for a while we were four singers doing harmonies (or trying to…) Highlights were a special live recording for Swedish radio, a showcase gig or WEA at the prestigious Ritz, and a large festival just south of Stockholm. After a while we became almost too well-rehearsed; looking at videos from the time we play the songs so fast.

++ So what happened to the Rain Refrain? When and why did you split?

We had an album and national tour in the planning, then our A&R man left the company, and it all stalled. We continued playing gigs but after a while Per left the band, though he continued writing songs, which eventually turned up on the Tangerines’ albums.

++ And are you all still in touch? What are you all up to these days aside from music? Do you enjoy any other hobbies aside from playing in the band?

Yes, we split amicably and see each other quite often. The other RR members are in their own bands today. The only guy we don’t meet is one of our bassists who went back to his native island Gotland setting up his own band. (Rain Refrain had an issue with bassists; they were our equivalent to Spinal Tap’s drummers.)

++ Looking back, what would you say was the biggest highlight of Rain Refrain?

Waking up hearing our single on national radio was a great moment. Playing a week-long engagement at the music pub Engelen in Gamla Stan (the old town) in the middle of summer was another.

++ One last question, Sweden seems to be the country that aside from the US and the UK, produces more pop bands, guitar pop bands, why do you think that is? Do you have any theory about that?

Interesting question. I think Swedish people have a sense of melody, and a fairly strong tradition of folk music. Also the kids get the chance to play an instrument from early years. And we are fast in adopting trends from Britain and the US, for instance we quickly got (locally) successful guitar bands here in the 60s. Maybe that’s part of an explanation.

++ Thanks a lot Håkan! Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you, Roque! It was a pleasure walking down memory lane with you. We’ll keep in touch!


Rain Refrain – Girls Girls World


Thanks so much to Eusebio Barata for the interview! And So To Bed was a fantastic jangly band from London in the late 80s that only released one 7″ EP and then disappeared into obscurity, which means their one and sole record is highly sought-after! Super obscure, nothing written about them online, and not even much information about them on their record sleeve, I wrote about them some time ago. Happily Eusebio got in touch and told me the story behind this great band that deserve to be better known!

++ Hi Eusebio! Great that you got in touch and thanks for the interview! So is it a safe guess you are Portuguese and your parents were big fans of the great football player Eusebio? 🙂

Thanks for taking an interest Roque, you and we maybe the only ones who read this.

My family is Portuguese but I was born and grew up in North West London and the names just a family name but it has the advantage of being memorable.

++ But we are here to talk about music though, about your band And So To Bed, who were around the mid 80s? Was this your first band experience?

First and only band experience, it was a bit of beautiful post pubescent accident. We formed with the intention of playing one gig in late ’85 and for a long while I’m not sure I thought that would happen. Our first official gig was at the Fiddler on the 7th April 1986 in front of 300 people and we only had 8 songs so when we got called out for an encore we had to repeat two.

++ How did it start? Who were the members, what did each one of you play and id you know the each other for a long time? How did you meet?

We formed the band from amongst friends originally, a few years after we’d finished school and later we found the drummer living about 300 yards from my house. I think growing up in the UK around that time a lot of us lived through that incredible post punk period with the Clash, the Buzzcocks & the Jam etc when forming a band became demystified. You listened to John Peel and thought “that band’s great and I can do that”. My great inspiration though was the Smiths, many of my friend and I saw every London gig they played and queued at Rough Trade in Portobello to buy the singles the day they came out, it was religious.

I played guitar and wrote songs, the bassist was Martin Lenihan, the singer was Leo Foley and the other guitarist was Sean Mulvenna. We found Paul Deacon the drummer because we walked by his house most evenings and the guy we’d originally asked to be the drummer couldn’t keep time (it took him buying a drum kit to find this out unfortunately). There was also a non playing member of the band called Vince Conway who wrote a lot of the original lyrics (Spit it out was his).

> ++ How was growing up in Harlesden? Has it changed much since those days? What’s there to do and see there?

Harlesden always had a bit of a reputation for being a rough working class neighbourhood but for us it was just home. It was a neighbourhood with a big Irish and Afro-Caribbean population so I guess music was always part of the backdrop. Most of my friends were Irish then because of the whole Catholic school thing and we spent a lot of time in some fairly basic pubs but at the start of the 80s a guy called Vince Power opened the Mean Fiddler. Now the Fiddler had originally been opened as a pure Country music club which was popular with the Irish community but it was clearly never going to sustain a venue in London at that time. Eventually they started playing a lot of indie music & folk punk like the Pogues, Men They Could Hang & Helen & The Horns and Vince ended up taking over the London live music scene and I think he managed a couple of the festivals too.

Harlesden has become more and more run down in the years since and its population more and more ecletic with more Africans, Poles and Brazilians than you can shake a stick at. It was announced the other day that it’ll be part of multi-billion pound regeneration which will probably lead to it become gentrified which is a shame but being poor is no fun so hopefully it’ll do some good too. I wouldn’t add it to your tourist itinerary for a decade or so, as the Fiddler closed in about 2005 and the rest of it just fairly grim, like the Bowery when I was there 30 years ago.

++ You were telling me that you played a lot at the Mean Fiddler and the Bull and Gate. What other venues did you play? And how come you played so much at those venues?

The Fiddler was our local club so we could alway get 150+ people in there so we played it a lot and we supported bands like Easterhouse (Morrissey was at that gig ) and headline occasionally. The B&G Timebox was about 3-4 miles away and it was the 2nd or third venue we played and Jon B always liked a band who could bring a decent crowd (he was fairly avante-garde but he liked to eat like anyone else), we also played the George Robey 2-3 times, the Clarendon which was a big club in Hammersmith (now departed), we played a range of smaller venues including The Enterprise which had great bands playing there. We played with bands like the Beloved, Close Lobsters, The Chesterfields and the Farm.

++ So Jon Beast, the guy behind the Bull and Gate, he also put out your one and only record. Are you still in touch? And how come you ended up releasing your record with him?

It was hard not to like and be a little impressed by Jon Beast, he was doing things that only 20 years earlier would have been impossible for a guy like him to do e.g. putting out records running his own music venue etc. He had a small office in SOHO which was down the corridor from Harvey Goldsmith and he seemed to know everyone playing in London at that point including a fair few band who went on to be quite successful. I felt the most sorry for him when I left the band as I knew it would have an impact on the marketability of the single and that he’d sunk a decent amount of his cash into it (if only he knew that they sold for $180 on ebay now he might have kept some). I haven’t spoken to him since and I have a feeling he’s no longer lives in London but if I saw him today I’d buy him a pint.

++ From what I’ve heard a lot of the C86/jangly guitar pop bands played in the Bull and Gate. Did you feel akin to these bands? Were there any that you liked? And did you ever feel part of a scene?

In London (and I’m sure its true now too) there were 100s of bands playing small clubs trying to make it but it didn’t feel like a scene in my view, other than everyone thought they could make music. There were so many competing styles and you’d have gigs which would start with a skiffle band and end with goth band on the same night. I think when you’re 20ish you’re fairly competitive you feel fairly tribal, those other bands were just competition and we saw a billion bands in London about that time (the B&G would sometimes have 6 bands on the same evening). Of course we were in a band because we loved music so we did have some other bands that we liked such as 1000s Violins who we saw lots & hung out with occasionally and we met the guys from The Mighty Lemon Drops who we liked and we saw the Pogues loads because of the Fiddler and the Irish connection.

++ Oh yes, what about the name of the band? Where did the name come from?

The NME interview would have read that the name was inspired by Pepys and subtext of raw sexuality, the reality was the name started because of a badge or pin as you guys call them. I’d been out with my cousin and had seen the name of a bed store and had said “that’d be a cool name for a band”, a year before the band was formed and my cousin ordered some badges with the name on then as a joke. It became my working title for a band but I always meant to change it and then came the song and before you knew it it at stuck. So much about the band was accidental and in retrospect I like that about us, we wanted to be great but we had no real idea what we were doing…I believe if we’d just stuck at it another year or two we’d have had some real success but yes the pin came first.

++ Back to your record. It included four songs, “And So To Bed”, “Just Desserts”, “Plaindom” and “Spit it Out”. If possible care to tell me a bit about each of the songs? The story behind them perhaps?

Ok the lyrics of “And so to bed (she said)” were written by Vincent and so I can’t say that I understood what was in his mind when he wrote them but a lot of our stuff was about being ineffectually in love, disappoint by life and the general melancholia of it all, ASTBSS was definitely in that vain. Much of this was influenced by Morrissey asexual lyrics and our unhealthy pre-occupation with English Literature. The original versions of the song was a little slower and skipped along more and was definitely inspired by “This Charming Man”, but when we came to record it the adrenalin got to us.

I wrote “Just Desserts” and it was about a bad review we had had, childish I know. We played B & G in Sept ’86 and got our first review in Sounds from a guy called Andy Hurt (his name is a lyric in the song) and frankly it was very snide and we paid it far too much attention but at least it spawned a pretty good song. By the time we wrote it we were trying to be a bit more edgy with the guitars, more Josef K than jangly.

Plaindom was originally going to be the single by itself (classic musician thing, you always love the last thing you wrote most) and once we recorded it we just weren’t happy with it and rather than re-recording it we decided to make it an ep. I wrote the lyrics of “plaindom” and its about not feeling content with ordinary which was also a theme, it was slightly disdainful of people who just weren’t cool enough to do something creative and it irritates me a little because it reminds me of the arrogance of my own youth.

“Spit it out “was another Vince/Eusebio combination and perhaps my favourite of the four recordings (not songs). Its about the moment in a relationship when someone wants to leave but just won’t say it, a vague notion that love is dead and yet you’re still going through the motions. Its a very simple song with fabulous lyrics and it was recorded quite well so I always enjoy it.

++ And yeah, what was the creative process for the band?

I think calling it a creative process over dignifies it but generally I’d have two or three melodies at a time floating around with the chord structure. I got bundles of Vince’s lyrics/poems or perhaps some I’d be working on and I work on them in my dad’s garage. Eventually I’d take the song/arrangement to rehearsal and Martin & Paul (the two real musicians in the band) would put together their own rhythm arrangements over the top which often changed the song dramatically. Leo would often have heard the song 30 times before he’d sing on it and again he’d often play with the originally melody, inflections or even sometimes the lyrics. Every now and again we’d sit down and rewrite bits of songs (maybe the middle eight or inter) after we’d been playing them for months and I very much thought that helped songs, like breaking in new shoes.

++ You were telling me that you left the band just as the record was being released. Why was that? Do you think that hurt a lot the future of the band?  And then And So To Bed continued for another year after you quit. Do you know what happened after? Why did they split?

I left the band in about March/April ’87 and I think I did it to provoke the rest of the band to up their game, be a bit more professional. We’d been together for about 15-16 months and I felt we’d not really moved on enough and Leo and my relationship had got a bit fraught. I tried for a while to put together another band but never found people I wanted to work with and deep down I want them to beg me to come back. They instead decided to develop their own set of songs and they stopped playing and worked on a new set that never really happened. I heard a few things they wrote which were quite good but they never had the quantity to get back on stage. I don’t think they broke up more just started doing other stuff and then life gets in the way.

Meanwhile the single came out in February 1987 and the band stops playing just when we should have been out there playing every other week and irritating anyone who’d play the songs on the radio, in a club etc. It killed the record and I need to take the lion share of the blame for that.

++ Aside from the record, were there any more recordings by the band?

We had a 6 track demo that we did initially, some of it on a tascam 4 track in that garage again but most of those ended up being distributed to booking agents, publishers etc and I don’t have one either. That had a much better version of “And so to bed (she said)” on it aswell as “spit it out” but also songs called “cruel bastard”,”dying breed” & “around my neck”.

++ From all your repertoire, what would you say was your favourite song to play live and why?

We had about 16 songs by the time I left and I loved them all but we did a song called “guilt” which was a bit like “Therese” by The Bodines (only better), that was my favourite. It had a fantastic rhythm arrangement, sexy lyrics about catholic guilt and it was going to be our second single…we never recorded it in a studio which is criminal but I had a video of us playing it for a while until it got lost in a house move.

 ++ And what happened to you after you quit the band? Did you play in any other bands?

After I left the band, I had a life but not all at once. The last 20 years I’ve been working in social housing building low cost homes, helping people find work and regenerating neighbourhoods and I have to say I sure I’ve done more good doing that than being in a band. I have a wife and daughter and we still live in North West London.

++ What about other hobbies? What else do you enjoy doing other than music?

I love sports especially football but music is still a passion and I’ve started going to see live music again especially latin singers like Mariza and Buika.

++ And one last question. What about the cover photo of the EP, who are the two guys?

Sorry I have no idea, we use to just buy postcards or clip pictures from magazines and that was the one we used, they’re totally anonymous.

++ Thanks again Eusebio! Anything else you’d like to add?

Just thanks for giving me a lovely jaunt down memory lane to when I was in a garage band with my friends.


And So To Bed – And So To Bed


Thanks so much to Pascal for the interview! Some time ago I wrote about The Fear Performance in the blog, a fantastic 80s band from France, that released only one 7″ that I believe more people should know about. Now it seems The Fear Performance is back, playing some shows in their home country this 2014! That’s great news. Pascal tells here a bit about that and more! Oh! and check their Facebook page!

++ Hello Pascal! Thanks so much for being up for the interview! How are you doing these days? I hear you have a band now called Strange Pepper? Care to tell me a bit about it?

Hi Roque, I’m very fine, new projects, music, guitars building … and a reunion tour

You know, I start a new guitar brand in France www.desert-dust-guitars.com

I have a new band called Strange Pepper, it’s more a duet than a real band, we play with different musicians, different projects … but for the moment I’m very busy with the guitars …

++ How different would you say is Strange Pepper compared to Fear Performance?

Fear Performance was a real band, Strange Pepper is more a personal project, me behind a name.

++ So let’s talk about Fear Performance alright? How did the band start? Who were the members and how did you all knew each other?

I think that I can’t remember how we met, we were friends when we were 20 and we started to play in a first band called “Sabotage” with Thierry Thomas and Laurent Piquot and then  4 years later The Fear Performance was born with Thierry Thomas on bass and Dominique Bélier on Rhythm Machine, one year later Laurent Piquot join us on guitar and then my 2 brothers Michel and Gilles Carreau on bass and drums, Thierry wanted to play with Bruges La Morte and Dominique played keyboards instead of Rhythm Machine.

++ Was it your first band? Why the name?

The first band was Sabotage, I think that both names (sabotage and Fear Performance) were relating to John cale’s albums Sabotage Live and Fear (is the man’s best friend)

++ Fear Performance started in Caen, correct? Was there any kind of scene there? What were your favourite places to hang out then or to play gigs? Any other bands in town that you liked?

Yes we started in Caen, our town. Caen is between Rouen, at these time a British Pub Rock scene with bands like Little Bob Story or Les Dogs and Rennes with a more “intellectual” scene with bands like Marquis de Sade or Marc Seberg … We were more Rennes than Rouen.

My favourite band in Caen and the area was Bruges La Morte.

++ And what about France in general? I don’t know that many bands that sounded like you guys did in the mid-80s!

Marc Seberg was an incredible French band during the 80’s

Orchestre Rouge, Passion Fodder and of course Kat Onoma were my favourite bands.

And of course Alain Bashung

++ Your only release then was the Funambule 7″, a fabulous slab of vinyl and guitar pop! It was released on the MSR label, right? Who were they and how did this release came to be, from start to finish?

It was a strange story, Funambule was not my personal choice for the single, I wanted “Nightwalker” and “Indifférent” for the B side. So I decided to sign for only one single. We recorded it in one day including the mix. MSR was a strange label … I think they were just money makers. End of the story.

++ Care to tell me a bit about this song? What is it about?

Funambule is about life, when you try to do things, you take risks and other people are looking at you, maybe waiting for you to fall, just like the funambulist … But the funambulist is a great looking woman in a cat suit (laugh)

++ Also this single has a very cool artwork, did you design it? What was the idea behind the car? Are you a car lover maybe?!

We are all car lovers in the band, all the design and photographs were done by Philippe Jaffré a very talentuous designer and photographer, he took many photographs of French bands in the 80’s

++ And then what happened? Why did the albums you recorded didn’t get released then?

We were at the end of the 80’s and it was very difficult to find recording companies in France, no money for self-production, no time …

++ I was checking on the CD artwork of Le Indifferent and it says it was released 2001 even though the songs are from many years ago. Anyhow, it is such a great treat of an album! I’m really enjoying it. Which of the songs on it are your favourite and why?

My favourite song was and is “Nightwalker”, it sounds very “80’s” and I really love this song, my second best is “Yesterday’s Papers” because it’s my personal vision of NYC (something like a painting of Lou Reed’s first album cover … but in blue)

++ So what happened in between 1989 when you finished recording “My Dreams and Your Shadow” and 2001 when you played live for the last time?

We used to have our personal projects, Laurent and Michel with “Les Alter Ego”, me with different bands in Rouen, Valence. Gilles stopped playing drums for ten years I think.

++ Something I really enjoy is that you mix songs in English with songs in French. How difficult is it to write lyrics in another language for you?

I began to write in English, lately I started to write in French but you know, it was really hard for me because of Verlaine, Rimbaud and Baudelaire. My first inspiration was Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground

++ What about gigs, did you play lots? Any in particular that you remember?

We played, I think 100 gigs and my greatest souvenir is playing with Alan Vega from Suicide on the stage during our performance … a very peculiar moment for me, great moment !!!

++ When and why did you call it a day?

In 1992, we were just 3, Laurent and Dominique have left the band and I was living 200 km from Caen, it was very complicated for the rehearsals and gigs.

++ What was the biggest highlight of Fear Performance you think?

Playing with Suicide, and the after show of course with Alan Vega and Martin Rev

++ And how supportive was the press back then in the pre-internet times? Any anecdotes you could share?

I think that the guys at the local TV liked us, it was very useful but the press was very very far from rock music

++ I’m a big fan of French cinema and cuisine, so of course I have to ask what is your favourite French movie and dish!

My favourite movie is “Les tontons flingueurs” and anything with Jean-Pierre Bacri .

I live in south west of France now … so my favourite dishes are, magret de canard, confit de canard and of course Foie Gras !!!  (Sorry for that, laugh)

++ Alright, let’s wrap it here, thanks so much Pascal! Anything else you’d like to add?

YES !!! Very important , The Fear Performance will do a few show in 2014 with Laurent Piquot, Giles Carreau, Michel Carreau, and myself.

Thank you very much Roque


The Fear Performance – Funambule