28
Feb

As I said on my last post I’m a bit bummed. Feeling like indiepop death is imminent. I know, I’ve said that before a couple of years back, but I feel things are getting harder everyday that passes. Anyways, I don’t want to dwell much on it, so I’ll skip writing a long post. The only news I want you to be aware is that The Rileys CD retrospective album that is part of the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen will finally start shipping next week, on March 5th! Very excited about it!

So, as there is no proper Cloudberry blog post I thought about unearthing an interview I did many years ago for a fanzine called “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams”. This was a short-lived fanzine that the very nice Amy from Brighton used to make. This was published on their second issue, and I answered these questions on June 8th of 2008. Damn! I’m getting old! I may have changed a bit, and possibly would answer different things for these questions now, but this is how Cloudberry was at that point.

1.When did you get the idea for cloudberry? Did anything in particular inspire you to do it?

The idea must have popped up around December 2006. The inspiration comes directly from 7″ records, I think I kind of give that away on the singles with their wraparound sleeves and tracklisting numbered a1, b1, etc. Of course I was also inspired by Sarah Records and the way that the record label ended up being a ‘collection’ because there’s something that ties it together (being the format, the artwork, their politics, etc etc), and I wanted that as well. I do believe though that the biggest influence to Cloudberry is Heaven Records with it’s DIY and fanzine ethics. That really touched me when I discovered it years ago. The 3″ idea comes from a single by a Spanish band called Bicicross that I received a long time ago… I was stunned and just said to myself, “this idea is fantastic!”, Then I went through the indiepop scrolls haha and I backed myself with the fact that Marsh Marigold had done it before, so it wasn’t that of an odd format.

2.When did cloudberry start operating? Had you put records out before this?

Cloudberry started around January last year (2007) and the first two singles were released on February 1st that year. It all happend quite fast. And yes, I’ve put records out before. I always say that Cloudberry started after a tape I put out on December 2006 that I called C-06. I think that is the seminal release for Cloudberry, there were many bands there that later appeared on the singles. But talking about other records, I run since early 2006 a label back in my home country with my friend Jalito. It’s called Plastilina Records, maybe you’ve heard about it?

3. Do you/ did you ever make music yourself?

Sometimes. I used to make much more music years ago but I admit it wasn’t the greatest stuff ever. I never got around to do proper recordings either butI got some of those demos released back home, in Peru, in a couple of compilations.

4.How did cloudberry get noticed to begin with?

I don’t really know. I think the first important write up came out from Magnus on indie-mp3. I always believed if the music is good that’s the best promotion, then people will spread the word. I think that’s what happened.

5.How do you arrange getting the artwork done? Do you do that yourself, when the bands aren’t supplying it, or do you have a designer?

Artwork is super important for me so Im very picky and careful with it. Usually I give the option to the band if they want to do it or not. Of course I have to approve the final look, but really, I haven’t had any problems with any of their designs so far. Maybe a little fix here, a little one there, but that’s about it. Also if they want a designer/illustrator to do it, that’s fine with me. I believe in bands having control over their releases. If they don’t feel like they could do the artwork I can handle it. Either I do it myself or I have a designer to do it. Ah! Im a designer by profession if that makes some more sense 🙂

6.What’s your dayjob?

Im a graphic designer/illustrator at the newspaper.

7.What was your favourite band as a kid?

Haha, it was a band from Chile called Los Prisioneros. I guess that doesn’t ring a bell at all!!

8.What was the first gig you went to?

A Spanish pop band called Christina y los Subterraneos, can’t remember the year, must have been early 90s… I still have good memories of that and I still have their records.

9.Favourite records?

That’s a tough one! From the top of my head, McCarthy’s “The Enraged Will Inherit the Earth’ has to be up there for sure (well, all McCarthy, that’s my favourite band). I really love “Heavenly vs. Satan” by Heavenly, “The Camera Loves Me” by The Would Be Goods, “Nixon” by Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes, all albums by The Hit Parade (Julian Henry is my hero!), “Ducks and Drakes” by Po!, both Magick Heads albums and everything TCR recorded.

10.You’ve put out three 7″s so far. Are they selling well? Do you hope to do more vinyl or are you going to stick with the 3″ cd-r format mainly? Is there anything else you’d like to do with the label?

I plan sticking to the 7″s, that’s for sure. It’s harder because the runs are bigger and that means you have to sell much much more to recover the investment. I think they are selling well, but I still need them to move a little faster, so I could release more 7″s!! I dream of 7″s you know?
Anything else to do? Well, my only aim with the label is to bring people together, tighten a little bit the indiepop community. I’m still looking forward to that… and I believe this past year was pretty healthy for indiepop, I like to believe I had some influence in that.

11. Is it difficult to make it work financially?

If you are into making money it may be well very difficult, if you are just about having fun it shouldn’t be.

12.How many releases have you had so far?

haha, I’ve lost the count… more than a hundred for sure.

13. Do you think this is something you’ll want to continue doing for a long time?

Releasing records, yes! I wish that was my full time job!

14. Do bands approach you about getting a release on cloudberry or do you go to them?

Most times it’s me approaching them. There have been a couple that approached me and I liked, but most of the ones that approach me are far away from what I want to release. I think it’s all myspace fault!

15. Do you like candy? If so what’s your favourite?

Im not a sweet person haha but I do love green apple lollipops… I love them!

16. Do you have any pets?

Nope

17. Is a cloudberry a real fruit?

It is! As far as I know it grows in Sweden, Norway, Finland… the north of Canada and even in Britain! It grows wildly though… but there’s cloudberry jam (and there’s a band with that name too!) which is very popular in Scandinavia.

18.What’s your favourite thing about having a record label? And a not so great aspect?

Favourite thing is meeting new people everyday and talking about my favourite music with them. The not so great? Mmm, a distribution system like the Cartel would be nice, but that’s too much to ask nowadays…. we need some distribution punch, all of the little labels, but there isn’t. But no complains really, having a record label is great, I totally recommend everyone to do it!

19. Do you have any hobbies outside music?

Im a big football fan and I like playing pro evolution soccer as well, Im pretty good, always on the top of the online ranking (!!). I love literature and cinema as well. Im a bookworm! And that’s about it, I hope there was more spare time for me!

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The Worry Dolls. Been meaning to investigate them for some time now. A band that a lot of C86 collectors have in their radar. I haven’t had the chance yet to get their record. It’s a bit elusive. At least for me. I can’t pay 40 pounds for a record. Feels kind of bad you know. I think the most I ever paid was 25 pounds plus postage. Now I prefer to avoid those prices! Especially with postage being ridiculous once again from UK.

So what the hell is a Worry Doll? Wikipedia enlightens me:
Worry dolls (muñecas quitapenas), or trouble dolls, are very small and colorful dolls traditionally made in Guatemala. A person (usually a child) who cannot sleep due to worrying can express their worries to a doll and place it under their pillow before going to sleep. Some medical centers use them in conjunction with treatment for disease in children. According to folklore, the doll is thought to worry in the person’s place, thereby permitting the person to sleep peacefully. The person will wake up without their worries, which have been taken away by the dolls during the night. Parents may remove the doll during the night, reinforcing the child’s belief that the worry is gone. Some parents involve the child in making the dolls to further increase the psychological benefits of releasing worries, and instructions may be found online.

Interesting. These guys behind the band must have traveled to Guatemala perhaps. Or maybe they had Guatemalan family? It’s a bit of an obscure reference, isn’t it?

They released as far as I know one 7″ on their own Jebel Records (catalog WD1). The band I’m pretty sure is from the UK but the record was printed in France. It was released in 1989. And included three songs: “Happy Families”, “John John”, and “Diamond Mine.”

“Happy Families” starts with distorted riffs and then gets into a fun chorus of Coca-Colas, Big Macs and more. Who does it remind me? Perhaps the fabulous The Man from Delmonte! One of my favourite bands of course!

“John John” is a somber track in comparison. Girl vocals for this one. Sounds more like early 80s than late 80s. It has a more of a post-punk feel than an indiepop one, thanks to the keyboard arrangements.

And then the other B side, “Diamond Mine” closes with a melancholic note this 7″. It’s perhaps the most exotic track of the record too as it has a little reggae vibe to it.

There are some credits on the back sleeve. Do they shed any light?
Thanks to: Pez (sax), Gesh (guitar), Horace at H.A.M.M.A., Sam, Ivor, and Chris (of The Backward Squares).
Engineer: Kieron.

Not sure what H.A.M.M.A. means. Perhaps a studio?  And I assume The Backward Squares were a band. Though Google has nothing at all about them.

An interesting fact is that this record was cut by legendary cutting engineer George Peckham (Porky) as it’s stated in the matrix for the A side, “A Porky Prime Cut”. A classic indeed.

And this is exactly when I hit a wall. There are no band members names. There is absolutely nothing else about the band. This is where I lose their trail. But I reckon that someone out there might know something about them? May know their whereabouts? If they recorded any more music perhaps? Anyone is up to doing the Sherlock job?

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Listen
The Worry Dolls – Happy Families

24
Feb

Thanks so much to Mark Narkowicz for the interview! The Fish John West Reject were a fantastic band in Australia during the 80s! They started first in Tasmania and then moved to Melbourne to make a splash releasing a couple of albums and many singles. Before reading the interview I will point you all to visit their Facebook page where you can order by messaging the band the reissued “SWIM” album. Also you better become a fan of them there! Now that you’ve done that, sit back, read and enjoy!

++ Hi Mark! Thanks so much for being up for this interview. I guess the first question is pretty obvious, where does the name of the band come from? I’ve always been curious!

You’re welcome Roque. Very pleased to be on board. When we started, we were members of a Pentecostal church in Launceston, and our performances were very much (what was called) an ‘outreach’. We were trying to play a part in converting people to Christianity. So, when we were rehearsing as a 2-piece one afternoon in Mark Adams’ flat we were desperate to find a name because we had a gig coming up very soon, and we didn’t want to be called “Mark Adams and Mark Narkowicz”. Mark’s girlfriend Lisa was hanging out with us and she suggested the name “The Fish John West Reject” when a John West ad came on the telly. We were gobsmacked.

++ You have just reissued the “Swim” album. It was released in 1989 as LP and cassette and it’s not even listed on Discogs. Why the decision to reissue this particular album? o What’s Discogs?

Well, the SWIM album was truly an independent release and definitely what we were about in 1988. We had a collection of songs we wanted to release and we didn’t know where it fitted into what was happening in Australian music in 1988. ‘Acoustic Pop Thrashabilly was our guiding principle. We knew no one would put it out and we knew people would love it because we had a whole lot of people attending our gigs. When we recorded the album we were about to reach a peak and were definitely on a roll… it was a significant time in music. Recordings were being released on (1) vinyl (2) vinyl and cassette (3) vinyl, cassette and this new thing called CD – very exclusive to bands on major labels. So – we released our album on vinyl and cassette. We also made the good decision to purchase the multi-track tapes on which the album was recorded. A lot of moolah at the time for an indie band. So, it had never been released digitally…and the opportunity arose when an old friend (Marshall Cullen) suggested a digital re-issue.

++ There’s a pretty extensive biography on your Facebook page, so I’ll try to fill in the gaps with my questions. Before being in FJWR you were in a band called The Deaf Lepers. Who were they? Did you record or release anything with this band?

The Lepers were my first ever band. A cover band who wrote the occasional original number. We were testing the waters…we played in Hobart and were hooking into the voodoo psychobilly thing…doing covers by The Cramps, The Scientists, Hoodoo Gurus, Buddy Holly. All the brainchild of Tom Loncar, an old school chum who went on to do great things in the Sydney Garage scene with the Intercontinental Playboys – look them up! We made a few desk recordings which were put out on cassette. Our set included the first song I ever wrote, ‘Swampman’ which I play to my students now (I’m a Primary School Music Teacher). I left The Lepers because I moved from Hobart to Launceston to study. The Lepers were also part of an underground thing in Hobart…I remember it being exciting but scary. Goths and punks – y’know? But also Tom would say to me “Come and see this Andy Warhol movie called Flesh for Frankenstein” and he would introduce me to early 1950’s garage music. This was a huge influence on the Fish…

++ Then you met the other Mark, Mark Adams. How was that encounter? And did the band happened immediately after?

At this stage I had moved to Launceston – the second largest city in Tasmania. With Mark (aka ‘Warky’) I remember setting eyes upon him at a church I started to attend. I’d just been converted to Christianity in a Pentecostal sense. Mark was part of the same church – he was a youth worker and very mysterious. He had corkscrew hair like Marc Bolan and had a beautiful Maton acoustic guitar. When I heard him play harmonica I was captivated. I had never heard live harmonica before and Warky played it like he was speaking. Wark was older than me by a few years, so he was more mature in relationships and outlooks on life. He was very comfortable with relating to younger people and had a fearless approach to life. We hooked up on a number of levels including environmental / political issues which were significant in Tasmania at the time. Musically Wark had a background in the folk / troubadour tradition and I had been influenced by New Wave, Punk, Ska, Psychobilly. Through him, I was introduced to the music of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Sonny & Brownie and vice versa.

++ The band started in Tasmania and then moved to Melbourne. I know of many bands that crossed the strait as you. Definitely Melbourne had the bigger scene, but was there anything good at all about playing in Hobart?

Hobart is the capital city of Tasmania, so you always aspire to playing in the capital. Hobart had more venues to play in and definitely had a more eclectic, open-minded audience. Hobart had a vibrant university scene and this certainly helped us build our audience. It was much easier to get a gig in Hobart. We followed the lead of The Odolites and Wild Pumpkins at Midnight in deciding to move to Melbourne. It was an ‘all or nothing’ approach. We gave ourselves a time-frame and thought ‘let’s have a crack – see how it goes’.

++ This might be a strange question, but in your Facebook biography you mention the church and it’s connection helping you. It’s not that common to hear an indie band involved with the church. How was that relationship?

That is how we started. Tim (our first drummer) and Andrew (our bass player) were connected to us through Christian circles. Graham (our drummer) joined us through the same connections. Christian folk music was a huge part of what we were about. We wanted to play songs with a gospel message but we had an intense dislike for modern Christian music. We actively sought out folk / acoustic songs to play with a gospel / humanitarian message, so we were drawn to American folk music by Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, The Weavers, Pete Seeger. Later on we were introduced to Violent Femmes and T-Bone Burnett…didn’t look back after that. The relationship with the church was difficult. We were advised to listen to music that was the Christian ‘equivalent’ to the bands we knew and loved. We had people in our ears all the time advising us to play this or that. We naturally separated ourselves from the church and did our own thing, because we never wanted to be part of the Christian’ Music scene. After the band broke up, I returned to Launceston to complete my studies. The very afternoon I returned, I was accosted in the Launceston Mall by a young girl who proceeded to tell me I’d made a wrong move and was going to hell, along with my buddies. Wrote a song about that later on!

++ You describe yourselves as Acoustic-Pop-Thrashabilly. Care to tell me more about this description? Who were the main influences for you guys?

‘APT’ was a term Andrew came up with and it was pretty honest and accurate because there was simply no other music like ours at the time. We took a blend of American folk, Australian folk, psychobilly, Blues, rockabilly, post-punk English pop and played it all in a busking style with acoustic instruments. Many of our songs were covers of old traditional songs but we also wrote a number of songs in this style. I guess the main influences were: Woody Guthrie, The Incredible String Band, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Violent Femmes, The Housemartins, The Cramps, Jonathan Richman and Orange Juice

++ Tell me about the recruiting process for the rest of the band? How did the original lineup of the FJWR happened?

In a nutshell…Tim joined on drums in the early days to make a 3-piece. Andrew joined on acoustic bass and introduced us to The Femmes and The Housemartins. After a break, we moved to Melbourne and Graham (The Odolites) joined us on drums. That became the classic line-up. Wark left and was replace by Martin. Andrew left to be replaced by Michael – hence the shift to power pop. Graham left to be replaced by Stan. I’m thinking “They all hate me” and then we split up. Of course, that is not the case…Wark, Andrew and Graham all love me and I love them.

++ You played a bunch of gigs, but I wonder, for you, what were the best and why? Best crowd? best venue? best supporting band?

So many gigs Roque…so many venues etc. But I guess the best for me all occurred on one night in Perth (Western Australia). We’d travelled for 2 or 3 days to get to Perth, the played at this joint called The Stoned Crow. Supporting us were ‘Something’s Come A Gutsa’, a 3-piece featuring the original AC/DC bass player, an electric guitarist playing killer licks and an outrageous singer who played a snare drum strapped around his neck. They played all original songs and were a bit like Talking Heads and Timbuk 3. The crowd was perfect – there were beautiful young women, lots of dancing, mulled wine…a beautiful welcome to The West. We returned many times to Perth and it was our favourite spot to tour. We reached #1 in Perth!

++ In 1986 you record “Canned”. This was released as a tape only. Any plans to reissue this one? As I’m not familiar with it, how was your experience recording it, and which songs were included?

Wonderful recording experience! Certainly my and Wark’s first experience. It was done in Boat Harbour on the NW coast of Tasmania, in a country cottage over a weekend…overlooking the pastures and the sea. My family goes there for holidays every year. All recorded on Tascam cassette 4-track. It was a full album of material, with mostly original songs and covers which included Dustbowl Refugee (Woody Guthrie) Muleskinner Blues (Jimmy Rogers) and Resting in Your Love (Iva Twydell, once a member of After The Fire) Definitely no plans to re-issue this one. There is a major cringe factor, but if anyone would like to release one of these songs on a comp, we would be happy to oblige because one or two songs actually scrub up OK. With this tape we made around 100 copies and did a re-press!

++ I read that during a festival in Canberra you met an Andrew that fed you with mixtapes songs by Aztec Camera, Orange Juice and more. Who is this mysterious character with great taste? 

This man of mystery is our bass player, Andrew Viney who is also familiar to you through his work with Tender Engines. He put us on a diet of Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, Housemartins, Violent Femmes, Jazz Butcher and Bluebells. Very sexy.

++ In 88 you record another tape, “Shy But Wild”. How was the process of making these cassettes? Where you copying them one by one? What about the artwork? And how many copies were you doing at that time?

The Fish were well and truly a full-time kick-ass concern at this time. We recorded a bunch of songs live during a stint in Adelaide at the Fringe Festival. We played 21 shows in 28 days and became pretty tight. We recorded Shy But Wild at the New Century Hotel on a Tascam 4-track. We put a few songs on Side B recorded as demos for the SWIM album.

++ Next year, in 1989, you release the Swim album. 5,000 copies are sold. For today’s standards for an indie band, that’s quite big! Who released this album? I assume you got good distribution, right? And how auspicious were the reviews? Were you happy with the end result?

The SWIM album was released on Vinyl and Cassette. It was a purely independent release. We funded it and the distributor was Musicland. Andrew Lethborg (The Odolites) worked for Musicland and he did a great job in getting our album into shops. We also sold a lot of albums at gigs. But the indie stores really did get our album out to the public. When the band split up, there were some pop connections in Japan (via Sweden) who picked up the SWIM album – kind of kept the fire burning. Kei Nakamura and Lars Wenker. BIG UP to those guys. I remember the reviews of SWIM being positive, fair, but not glowing. We were very pleased with the result because we did the whole thing in 3 days and it captured what we were about. We made the decision to spend money on a good studio and a good engineer. But it also meant we were exposed warts and all with our songs, our playing and our naivety. We also made the good decision to purchase the multi-track recording tapes – the wonderful thing about being independent. So, having the opportunity to remix after so many years has meant the album has been improved.

++ Same year the “Left” 7″ is released with it’s hand-drawn artwork. Who made the cover art?

Mark Adams did the cover art for Left / Childless Mother. We then organised an evening where friends of the band came around to Wark’s ‘cave’ to colour in the artwork with crayons and water colours. So, every single was individually coloured in…that happened as well with the re-pressing.

++ After this release you end up signing to a bigger label in Australia. Shock. How did that happen? Was it just a phone call or what?

Well, by this stage the band had changed line-up. Wark had left the band and went on to form Hurdy Gurdy / Slurper. Martin Witheford joined on guitar and Michael (brother of Martin) joined soon after when Andrew left the band. Shock was making a big impact in Australia with their links to Creation, Beggars Banquet, 4AD. They were in a good position to sign local artists and were willing to take a punt. They were champions of promoting new Australian music and we were lucky enough to be on their radar. Shock allowed us to release our 2nd album on 3 formats – CD, Vinyl and cassette…not to mention doing a 12” vinyl release. Doesn’t happen for an indie band these days! It wasn’t just a phone call – there was a mutual respect. Shock knew us in a local sense because there was a nice little bit of fuss about The Fish locally, and Shock was very much about supporting and nurturing local artists. We came to a nice arrangement – punky and very respectful.

++ With them as far as I know you released 2 7″s and the Fin album. How do you remember this period? Would you say that your sound has changed a lot from the first recordings? I read many fans weren’t pleased of a sudden chance to power pop

The change in line-up certainly meant a change in our fan base – but it brought new fans in, and we still managed to get amazing exposure through doing some really big support shows. Our album FIN was well-reviewed by the Australian and English music press. Now, the sound of the album is quite dated, but the songs are still really cool. The period was exciting and new, but also sad because Warky, Andrew and eventually Graham had left. The line-up completely changed. With the second line-up, we were very focused on melody and current sounds. Primal Scream, The Wonderstuff, Pop Will Eat Itself, Ride, Jesus & Mary Chain, Jesus Jones, The Pixies were all big influences

++ And all in all, with such a vast discography, what would you say were your favourite songs that you penned? And why?

Thankyou for asking this question about my songwriting. My favourite songs overall would have to come from the songwriting period with The Dunaways…who are also TFJWR as we speak. From the FISH period, as a young songwriter, I would say The Orchard – a 12/8 timing with diminished chords which managed to get us on to the telly. I liked this because it was heart-felt and written in a moment of desperation. Very quickly penned …then She’s In France which was a very Nikki Sudden (Jacobites) inspired thing. Nikki was a revelation because of his distinctive voice and his minimalistic approach. Terrible News on the FIN album was enjoyable because it was truly a songwriting collaboration with Michael Witheford in a Power Pop style. Lights Out Over Launceston was special because it mentioned our town. It also summed up our fast, pop, acoustic style. The lyric has a slight cringe factor but it is also a watershed moment for me where the lyric had a bit of ambiguity.

++ While on the Fish, you were also making music with the band The Outstanding Amount. Tell me a bit more about this project? What happened to it?

TOA happened with Michael Witheford (bass) and Rod Fulton (drums). It was an ‘hiatus’ thing where Michael was taking a break, and the (early) Fish were taking a break, Michael was a huge influence on me as a young feller because he had his own bands that I would go & see. He introduced me to countless songs, bands and styles. We formed a 3-piece that focused on very simple songs to please a student / alternative audience in a conservative Tasmanian town. It was a way to keep playing, experimenting and work with new collaborators, We played songs by The Femmes, the Beatles, The Cramps, The Box Tops, The Kinks…lots of “THE” bands. We also worked on revolutionising the gig…charging no particular amount on the door – rather, a donation depending on circumstances…”The Outstanding Amount” – I LOVE you have asked a question about this group!

++ But these days, looking back at the late 80s, how do you think your songs have aged? And what would you say were the biggest highlights for the band?

Well, I think the SWIM songs have aged pretty well, after having been through the re-mixing process. The songs were naïve then and they still are now. The remixing has allowed the acoustic charm to come through. Bottom line is, they are very listenable. The songs from the FIN album are fantastic – tuneful and well performed. However they suffer because of the dodgy production and we will never be able to fix that. Bummer…they are unlistenable!

Some of the biggest highlights for us were playing the opening support for some of our heroes – Violent Femmes and The Chills for example. We also opened for UB40 in stadiums – that was mind-blowing (but they were never our heroes – we got kicked off the tour!) Other highlights included the favourable press we received, good reviews in the English Press (Melody Maker & Sounds) launching JJJ radio in Hobart, reaching #1 in Perth (album and single at the same time) and the generous drinks rider at The Shenton Park Hotel in Perth. There are so many others.

Not to mention appearing on Countdown!!!

++ And so, when and why did you decided to split? And what happened after to the members of the band?

We decided to split because we had our lives to go on with. We decided to split in 1991. Interest from major labels had dried up and we always wanted to sign with a major. Plus, we had been through too many line-up changes…we were confused, our fans were confused and we had lives to go on with. Plus we were in debt and we’d had enough.

++ Then in 2007 you decided to make a comeback and play some gigs. What spurred this decision? And how was having all the guys back on stage?

Around that time we all found ourselves in the same city (Melbourne) again. We still liked writing songs, we were still friends and we liked playing together. We called ourselves The Dunaways and we did some lo-fi alt-country things. We became involved with a lovely local independent record label (Croxton Records) who were all about songs and tunes. Being back on stage was great and we felt a bit more grown up…but no pressure to succeed or impress. It was a far more organic venture. We all got along well too. Weirdly, there is a Christian band called The Dunaways in USA. So we get many mis-directed messages from people saying how much we have blessed their lives. With songs like ‘Country Drink Song”? No blessings there – only curses.

++ I feel I’ve asked too many questions! But there’s so much to cover, but two more, I promise! So you made a promo video for “Left”, how did you enjoy recording? and if you were to choose a song that didn’t get the video treatment, which one would that be?

You haven’t asked enough questions Roque!!! The vid for LEFT was awesome because it was our first clip, plus it was done on proper film – B&W super 8. Very grainy and in the editing was properly spliced with a splicing machine…it also captures Melbourne in the mid 1980’s – the cars, the streetscapes, the fashion. This video was literally’ lost’ for many years because in the days before digital trickery things were very different…we relied on some guy to perform the ‘film meets the music’ editing job, and he didn’t come through. Years later we were able to easily match the film to the music through digital means. The little girl (Bree) in the video clip was one of my students at a local primary school in 1988. She recently saw the video on Youtube for the first time and got in touch with us. She’s now 33 years old! If there’s a song that would benefit from video treatment? Geez mate…probably ‘Sick Inside’ from the FIN album…a well-produced Jesus and Mary Chain-esque ballad. We would have loved the big hair treatment, the eyeliner, the posing…Martin would have loved showing off his Gretsch White Falcon and the girls would have swooned over mysterious Graham with his leathers and locks and Michael’s pout.

++ And the last question is how was the experience of appearing on national TV on Countdown Revolution?? Was it how you expected it to be?

It really was superb and tinged with controversy! On this particular day the two presenters were taking industrial action against the ABC – they asked us to boycott our spot on National TV – we had a quick pow–wow and decided against it. We loved the effort that was put into our performance…the set that had been constructed, the video footage that had been shot. It was all very exciting indeed. The band was in an interesting stage then. Mark had left, Martin had joined, we’d just supported UB40 on a national tour and were about to support Violent Femmes. Andrew had left the band but he appeared in the video miming the harmonica and looking fantastic…a show of support from him. It was unforgettable Roque, and a moment to treasure. Thankyou for reminding us!

++ Thanks a lot Mark! Anything else you’d like to ask?

Well, there is a rock trivia quiz show in Australia called ‘Rock Wiz’…does your name ‘Roque Ruiz’ have any connection?

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Listen
The Fish John West Reject – Left

20
Feb

So close to March. So close of me being 30. It’s an interesting feeling. I did want to celebrate happily and in a special way my 29th birthday, because in my mind it was the last year of my youth. For my 30th I haven’t planned much aside from organizing something with friends and beers, like if I’m not that excited to reach the big thirty. Which is kind of dumb perhaps, I remember Nana’s 30th party in Hamburg, one of the best nights in my life, and most possibly one of the best ones for her definitely. That night is for me legendary now, including the best crowd and the best music you could think of. Why didn’t I copy and organize something like that? I want to blame it to me being lazy, not wanting to spend my birthday organizing something and taking care of things, of bands, of sound systems, and stuff. I wanted not to worry. Maybe this is a trait of me becoming older? Being a bit more selfish in that sense? I wonder.

Also I have to say I’m not that keen on DJing anymore. It’s more fun to dance. Of course, you need a person with fantastic taste so I can dance like a madman, one that plays the songs that “talk about my life”.  I have friends that can do that, friends with pristine taste. Not that many in New York, true, but nonetheless, I could enjoy a night of cheesy songs too. My love for Roxette or Vengaboys is something I’ve never hid. The only DJ gig that I still want to do is the one at Indietracks. I know that it will be hard for me to be picked, especially for my now famous and also uncomfortable indiepop militant stand, but I trust that it will happen. I’ve always delivered dancing and stomping dancefloors. One of the things I’m proud of.

And talking about being proud of, today I announced a new release on the label. Though the band made a comeback two years ago this is their recording comeback, with new songs. I’m talking of stuff of indiepop legend, of indiepop history, of indiepop heroes. I’m talking about a 4 song 7″ vinyl EP by the might THE HAYWAINS!!!!

Albeit I knew about this release for some months now, we kept it secret until now, especially as the date of the release date is on May 30th, the day of a very important gig for them! The information and a pre-order button are now up on the Cloudberry site. The 7″ EP includes the songs:
a1. It’s Time We Stopped Pretending
a2. Badgerline Day Return
b1. The Rebels With Good Intentions
b2. Let’s Twist! (The Knife In My Heart)

An interesting fact for you all: ‘Badgerline Day Return’ is a song the band were playing live back in 1989. The song never got recorded at the time, yet it remained one of The Haywains favourites, and it has at last being recorded!

To my surprise the music doesn’t sound like what many of you might expect: “mature and boring”. It sounds fresh! It sounds like if The Haywains had never left. This sounds circa 1991. Glory days! Just give it a try, you can download the first song of the record from our site. And on our Soundcloud you can listen to “Badgerline Day Return.”

I’m so very happy to announce this record, and I hope you all love it! It will be our last 500 copy 7″ too, because after it we’ll be making smaller numbers to catch up with these modern times. So kind of a landmark this Haywains return.

I can’t explain the excitement I feel. I’ve been a Haywains fan for years. Tracking all their releases. I traveled all the way to Spain to see them at Madrid Popfest last year, and what a concert it was. They were so true to their hearts. I had to fight and push to get their setlist. It was amazing! And to remember the day in Bristol, at the Mother’s Ruin, at a Big Pink Cake party, when I met Paul Towler for the first time. For a few minutes. So long ago. And having worked twice with him in his other project, The Westfield Mining Disaster, to now being able to release one of my favourite bands from the period. This is why I love having a label, this is why I love indiepop, because things like these happen!

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Changing a bit the subject now, the classic obscure band of the week section. The one that half of the readers care for (ha ha ha).

We stay in the UK. But exactly where inthe UK, I don’t know. Playing Soldiers they didn’t release anything, but the one song on a compilation. The compilation I’m talking about was “Shift the Shift” and was released in 1984 by Shift Records. Here is the first clue perhaps, it says that the whole record was rorded at Palladium Studios, Edinburgh but track B6 recorded at Berkeley St. Studios. Track B6 was by one Robert Henry.

I don’t own the compilation yet, but the prices don’t seem expensive, so I might as well get it after finishing writing this blog post. I’m curious though if it’s worth it. I don’t know the rest of the bands but Chewy Raccoon. They are alright, guitar pop, but wouldn’t say indiepop really. You can listen to one of their songs here. Chewy Raccoon released a 12″ with this label in 1985 (Shift 003).

This compilation came out in 1984 and was the first release of the label, being catalog SHIFT 001. What was SHIFT 002? I have no clue. The other bands in this label sampler were: Mo and The Souvenirs, West of Sunset, Earthworks, Simone Lahbib, Anne Turner, and the aforementioned Robert Henry.

The song that Playing Soldiers contributed to this compilation was “Thought for Walking”. It was the fifth track on the A side. From the credits we learn that Playing Soldiers were Gordon Keen, Jim Lambie, Mark Tuffley, Nick Quail and Stephen Davis. Not sure which instruments each of them played. It doesn’t say on the back sleeve photo of them.

The only other song I know by them is a better one, “Corner of My Mind”. This should have been their single I’d say. This song I first heard on Myspace some time  ago, and I grin seeing it in that monolithic site. It’s a fantastic piece of jangle, ahead of the game, ahead of their C86 peers. Somewhere in between The Room and The High Five perhaps?! Timeless pop that has been lost in time. Judge for yourself!

Edit!

Seems I didn’t do my homework that well. My friend Andreas from Hamburg just pointed me that:

Playing Soldiers predated BMX Bandits, The Soup Dragons, Boy Hairdressers, Teenage Fanclub, Captain America and Eugenius:

Gordon Keen – Playing Soldiers, BMX Bandits, Captain America, Eugenius (see also http://www.discogs.com/Gordon-Keen-And-His-BMX-Bandits-Gordon-Keen-And-His-BMX-Bandits/master/252839 and http://zenandjuice.com/music/teenage_fanclub/text/bmxbandits.txt)

Jim Lambie – Playing Soldiers, The Boy Hairdressers, Jim Lambie (solo, one 7″)

Nick Quail – Playing Soldiers, The Soup Dragons, BMX Bandits, Teenage Fanclub

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Listen
Playing Soldiers – Corner of My Mind

12
Feb

A strong feeling that something is about to happen, esp. something unpleasant.

I’m suddenly changing my idea of going to China in autumn, postponing it for next spring, and instead going to Germany. Thing is Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan, one of my favourite bands ever is doing a reunion gig in Berlin for their 20th anniversary. I’ve always said that McCarthy is my favourite band, and it is. But before I even knew McCarthy I was already in love with the German outfit. Can I consider them a second favourite band then? Possibly yes. That would be very fair, and it’s not like I like just 10 or 20 bands. I like hundreds, thousands. So they are very very dear to me.

To be honest I don’t remember how I heard about them first. The year must have been 2003. I was young. Younger than now. I was 19 back then. I had just moved to Texas that winter. At that time I hadn’t even started blogging as Mira el Péndulo. I was on Soulseek though and perhaps it was there that I met them for the first time. I used to hang out in the Twee Folks room, a place I made many great friends, but of course the best being Cris in Spain. Did he introduce them to me? Possibly not. We were mostly gossiping. There were some people that had amazing stuff. I do remember getting the video for “Suburbia” from Chris Jigsaw on Twee Folks. But I’m 100% sure that wasn’t the first time I heard their music.

The fact is in 2004 during a weekend trip with my dad, from San Antonio to Texas, I bought two of their albums. I was still 19, it was winter, and I remember that drive as if it was yesterday. Five hours of talking about football, history and politics, the three topics we usually talk about. My dad is not really a music-fan you see. But he grew up seeing Peru in the world cups unlike me. So he has these vivid memories of the golden age of Peruvian footie. On the highway, passing by outlet malls, ranches, and fast food restaurants, we agreed that at least we were going to go to a record store while in Dallas. We weren’t really going as tourists, my dad had to attend some business there. We didn’t even stop by the Dr. Pepper museum in Waco (I love Dr. Pepper), just to get to Dallas in time.

I don’t remember liking the city much. Just another American city I would say. The food wasn’t that special. I had Mexican food one day, and it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had (arguably the best I’ve had has been in San Diego, I’m yet to visit Mexico). On another day I remember having Brazilian rodizio, all the meats you want, but that is the same every place you go. For that, still the best, the ones I had in Sao Paulo. Anyways. On Sunday morning, after a terrible night sharing room with my dad (he snores heavily), we visited a record store. Problem is now that I don’t remember the name of it. It was in that store that I found the two albums that Throw That Beat released on the American label Spinart: “Large Marge Sent Us” and “The Cool Album”.

They weren’t priced. I took them to the cashier and possibly because he saw I looked a bit out of place he charged me $15 for each. And they were used! Total rip off. But my dad insisted in getting them for me. Happy days. I was just a student and in Texas I hadn’t found a job yet. Now I had to wait until I got back to San Antonio so I could listen to them. I was so eager but I knew I couldn’t play these in the car, my dad would hate me eternally haha.

And so on my old cd-player, the one that lasted almost 10 years (rip 2009), I started a very close relationship with those albums. It was love at first-sight, or listen. I played them over and over for months. Both of them. I rode the bus to university listening to them every single day. At home will I was still honing my skills on Pro Evolution Soccer, I played them. At every moment of the day, I played them. And this went for months. That whole 2004 for me is a year defined by Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan!! I can say their songs always gave a smile to me, and that let me survive a whole year in Texas. That is way too long. Nobody should live for that long there. By 2005 I moved back to Florida and I found a job and well, eventually started buying other records. But, it wasn’t that long that I was going to return to TTB.

My next encounter would be when I visited Germany for the first time. In Essen I stayed with my dear friend Nanita. What a surprise for me that she had a gift for me upon my arrival. What was it? It was the “Tweng” LP on September Gurls. I didn’t know this one existed! There was no Discogs yet, and their discography wasn’t easily available online. Some days after I was at Peter Twee.net’s home and he was giving me a bunch of TTB stickers he got from back in the day. I was back in love and from that time on, my hunt to find all their records started though to my shame I haven’t got them all yet!

Since those days I always go back to Throw That Beat. I don’t think there are months that I don’t listen to at least one of their songs. The videos on Youtube always work when I need a little cheering up. So when on the Facebook group it was announced that they were going to play a reunion gig, it made my the happiest. And now I want to go. It seems it’s happening on the 13 of September. At the Lido in Berlin. Supposedly all original members will be there, even Lotsi. I hope so. I cross my fingers. I should start planning how to get there. Could be my 30-year old present in advance!

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And now one way more obscure band that Throw That Beat. One that requires more researching, but I don’t seem to find much information about them: Premonition.

Let’s transport all of us to Dublin, Ireland. It’s the mid 80s and there’s this band called Loudness of Whispers. We don’t know much about them only that they played the Mood Club at Tommy Dunne’s Tavern in June 1985. From their ashes a band called Premonition will emerge.

The only information regarding the band comes from that great Irish site called Irish Rock, an encyclopaedia of the Irish scene. From there we learn that Premonition were:
John Brennan – rhythm guitars, loud voice
Kevin Morris – lead guitars, mandolin, alto voice
Kieran Eaton – bass, bass voice
Gerard Eaton – drums, tenor voice

Safe to think that Kieran and Gerard were brothers?

The small bio on Irish Rocks says:
Blades-influenced band also compared to the Housemartins. Winners of the Dublin Millenium Battle of the Bands competition held at The Underground on 8 July 1988. Standout track of their set was “Clutching at Straws”. This competition was organised by Danceline and involved 9 heats and 3 semifinals. The prize was a single recorded at Sun Studios, released on EMI.

So another question arises, is there any recordings for “Clutching at Straws”?

Then they released their 7″. On the A side the song “The Streets are Paved with Lead” and “Eyes like Sin” on the B side. Catalog was IEM 004 though the back cover incorrectly lists it as IEM 006. The record was produced by Premonition and Pat Dunne.

I haven’t yet heard the B side. But the A side is quite glorious! It’s classic jangly pop. Of course there’s The Smiths influence, but you can also hear classic sounds from Mighty Mighty, The Brilliant Corners or Hey Paulette! Not your usual fare on EMI! You got to love the guitars, the trumpet arrangements! Should have been a classic! That opening line: “Please don’t go, you are tearing my life to shreds”, always gives me goosebumps!

And then they disappeared. There is no sights about them online. Whatever happened to them? Does anyone remember them? Did they play live often? Did they release anything else? Did they leave any other recordings? Would love to know more about them. Just listen to this song, and you’ll understand why!

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Listen
Premonition – All the Streets are Paved with Lead

 

10
Feb

Thanks so much to Anna Burley for this fantastic interview! I tried in the past to interview The Killjoys but now at last I get to know a bit more about this fab Australian band! I’ve been a fan for a long time now, listening to their debut album Ruby so many times! But of course, they released many more records, made many videos, moved to the UK for a while and even won what would be the Australian Grammies! So if you haven’t heard about them before, it’s time you do!

++ Hi Anna! I read that The Killjoys were born after the break up of a band called Wild Science. I’ve never heard about it, what did it sound like? did you release anything under this name?

Wild Science was really a bunch a kids just wanting to play music . We rehearsed more than played live and loved every minute. It was driven by a very talented songwriter called Buzz Hiscock. He wrote great melodic indie rock We never recorded properly but there were many practice tapes!

++ Why did you decide to break up that band and start The Killjoys? Who were the original members of the band? What was different between the two bands?

Buzz eventually decided that a four piece rock band was what he wanted so Craig (who played trumpet and guitar) and I were asked to leave so they could become Violet Town. And we immediately formed the Killjoys finally able to write and play our own songs. The original members were Craig, me on guitars and voice, Jeremy Smith on bass, Will Larsen on drums and Caroline Scwherkolt on vibes. We were very keen on having a unique sound and wanted unusual instrumentation. I was and still am a huge Go-Betweens fan so they were an influence. Violet Town was very indie punk sounding. I also decided to be quiet when all the bands around us were very loud.

++ How was the Melbourne indiepop scene when you started the band? Did you enjoy any of the bands back then? Maybe you were involved in other bands too?

There was and still is a very healthy music/band scene in Melbourne. There lots of bands and many friendships, shared houses and people swapping bands , even a strong connection with bands from Sydney who would share couches and gigs. The Honeys, Frente, Glide, Somerfields, Falling Joys, Plums, Clouds, and many others. I joined Deadstar as a rhythm guitarist for a year, and also joined Grant McLennan for his Horsebreaker Star world tour .

++ You started your own label for releasing your records, right? Why was it called Audrey Records? How easy or hard was to run an indie label in Australia?

I admit I loved having a label I enjoy all the creative parts, posters, cd covers, t-shirts design etc etc, and yes it was for our own releases which was easy to run. Later when I gave it a go releasing other bands I found it quite difficult, mainly trying to meet other artists expectations. It was very hard work and took too much time away from music. So it is just for our use again now. We teamed up with the legendary Popboomerang label for our most recent release. He is the master of indie labels.

++ I hate to admit that the only release I have and I have listened is the great Ruby album (and the Fall Around Me 7″). But, let me say this is a fantastic album and not surprised it won a prize for being the best independent album of the year! How did this happen? Who gave this prize and what was required for you to win? Was there some kind of ceremony?

The Aria Awards are Australia’s Grammies! We were very surprised and lucky to win with our first album. The awards were held in Sydney and I couldn’t afford to go. Craig and Caroline went to accept the award which she accidentally dropped in Sydney harbour from a boat party! There it remains despite paying several divers to try and find it. We’ve been nominated a few times since but no more wins… Yet… 🙂

++ The album included many, many instruments, from vibraphones to trumpets, from cellos to violins. How long did it take to record it? How easy was it for The Killjoys to make music?

We are lucky in being able to play quite a few instruments between us, and for having such a varied group of musician friends who love to come and play. We recorded Ruby at Sing Sing Studios which we saved for by playing gigs. I really can’t remember how long it took but being expensive probably no more than a week or two. We have always had a studio since then so making music is only restricted by time.

++ Why did you name the band The Killjoys?

Our original bassist Jeremy used to call me a killjoy for putting sad lyrics to joyous tunes and it just stuck..

++ I’ve been just watching the videos for “Michael Told Me” and “Beauty and Danger“. They are fantastic. Did you record more videos? If you were to choose one more Killjoys song to make it a video, which one will you choose?

There are a few videos, I post them on youtube/thekilljoysaustralia. We haven’t made a proper one in years mostly due to the cost. I love them but I always end up spend the money on making CDs etc I would have loved to make one for our last cd maybe for hey look at me now or pearl. I always have ideas haha.

++ You have quite a big discography, for a newbie like me, where should I start? Which is the record you are most proud of?

That’s too hard 🙂 They all have a story and like most musicians I m in love with the newest song/cd. We had a retrospective cd for a while but now you can buy any track on http://thekilljoys.bandcamp.com to make your own. As I get better at website stuff I hope to put more samples on our website for new people to hear.

++ For a while the band relocated in England. What differences did you find between the UK and Australia? Was it easy to get reviews or to build a fanbase there? I guess it was like starting again from zero?

The big difference living in Europe (we lived in England Ireland and Holland at different times over 5-6 years) was more availability of gigs. Larger populations and music seen as a career and not a hobby meant that when we got past the first few shows we worked a lot. We were pretty poor but it was a rather charmed time. We made a couple of records in England. Half the band eventually became homesick , I wanted to stay as we were getting big festival gigs by then.. But we came home.

++ When you came back to Australia you set up your own studio. What made you take that decision? Which bands have passed through there?

We wanted the ability to make records whenever we wanted without being beholden to record company budgets etc. Craig has made it very successful, recording many other bands and the occasional film, you can see a list at audreystudios.com.

++ If I had to visit Australia, what would you recommend visiting or doing in Melbourne?

Well if you like music and eating you d have a ball. There is still lots of great music played all over town and the town is a food Mecca , lots of different cultural influences . You could ride a tram around on a Sunday going from gig to gig like we sometimes do, have a meal in between . Most people visit Australia for the beaches outback and animals. We have all that not far from Melbourne too but I hear from visitors that Melbourne is great shopping, eating, and music

++ What do The Killjoys do today? You are still going, right? Any new release in the near future?

Yes we still play off and on, both as a band and as a trio. Most band members are scattered in other bands so it’s a juggling act. We put out a cd late 2011/2012 and we’ve started recording intermittently again so yes probably another record end of this year or early next. I had a country girl trio for a while just for fun and I played with Mick Thomas’s sure thing for a few tours , so we are always doing something in music.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

If anyone wants to keep up with the band I write a short blog every month that you can subscribe to or just read on our website. Killjoys.com.au. Or Facebook facebook.com/thekilljoysaustralia.

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Listen
The Killjoys – Michael Told Me

05
Feb

Would you say there’s an indiepop revival? Band-wise I would say definitely not. I don’t see the same amount of bands that were appearing in 2007-2008. And if we don’t care about quantity, then quality, I would say it doesn’t compare either. There are fantastic bands these days but they are a handful. Same with labels. Whereas back then new labels were appearing all the time, from DIY CD-Rs to small runs of vinyl, these days there are no more than 5 or 6 bonafide indiepop labels, and the trend is for them to disappear, not much of new ones appearing all of a sudden.

But there’s an interesting fact that I’ve noticed in the last two years or so. And that has to do with documenting indiepop. Sure I’ve been doing this blog for so many years now, trying to do my part in a small scale, but I’m talking of other people doing it in a much larger scale. I’m talking about books and documentaries.

Truth to be told none of these projects have anything to do with each other. For example the release of Morrissey’s Autobiography doesn’t have any sort of link to “Yeah Yeah Yeah” by Bob Stanley (though of course Moz is mentioned in this book). To me though, the interesting fact is that these two books, and other ones too, are being published in this same timeframe, in this 2013-2014 sort of guitar pop rediscovery.

It was just a couple of days ago that I watched on Netflix the Creation Records documentary. Aptly titled “Upside Down”, it was pretty enlightening to me. I didn’t know much of the story behind the label though I was very knowledgeable of their catalog especially the 80s period. Of course I enjoyed watching it, and even though so many bands are not mentioned much like The Jasmine Minks or The Bodines, it’s cool to see Douglas from BMX Bandits, or Joe McAlinden from Superstar/Groovy Little Numbers, giving their two cents about the rise and fall of one of the best labels of our era. The indiepop connection was all over the place. It was so refreshing to hear people mentioning The Pastels, The Shop Assistants, Television Personalities and more.

Another book that came out not so long ago is the one called “A Scene in Between”. In due honesty I don’t think the book adds much to the conversation. And although it’s beautifully done, with great pictures that document the era, similar pictures have been seen before and text-wise, content-wise, I was left a bit empty. There are a couple of interviews that don’t say that much, interviews that might as well appeared on any blog. But there’s something that struck me about the book. It is pretty popular. A friend of mine even picked it up at the MOMA store. And that made me happy. So at last the likes of Edwyn Collins, Phil Wilson, Stephen Pastel and other heroes of us all, were easily available for people. That’s a big success. I wouldn’t have ever thought that the fashion twist of indiepop would be so appealing!

Not so long ago it was announced that the Sarah Records book, written by Michael White (who has written a bunch of liner notes for Cherry Red indiepop reissues), found a publisher. This is definitely another triumph for indiepop. A hopeful like me would think that if publishers are willing to publish the story of a small-ish label (let’s be honest, Sarah is great but when it comes to sale or popularity, books about say Creation make more sense for a publisher), maybe smaller publishers would also be interested in say the story of other labels? What about the story of El? or Siesta? or Pink?

There’s another project that seems will see the light of day this year, and is also Sarah related. The Sarah Records documentary is supposed to screen this year for the first time. It’s been many years in the making, possibly the idea of making it even comes back from that first wave of indiepop excitement I was talking about, the one from 2007-2008. I wouldn’t be surprised. I remember seeing the girl making the documentary interviewing a bunch of friends at Indietracks. That must have been either 2009 or 2010. I can’t recall. But it was quite some time ago. It’s really interesting that both book and documentary will be out soon, complimenting each other perhaps, but at the same time it could be pretty interesting as they hopefully have different points of views as they have been crafted by two totally different people. Let’s wait and see.

This documentary will be a very welcome addition to the documentaries about Creation, Dolly Mixture, The Magnetic Fields and the BMX Bandits, that have been made in the last couple of years. (Actually today Wednesday – I started writing this yesterday – I got an email from Lucy asking for a little help contacting an 80s indiepopper! Made me happy to help!)

For me though the best book I’ve read about POP! lately is the Bob Stanley’s one. Sure it doesn’t talk that much about indiepop, just a couple of pages. But the whole thing is enlightening, it explains you how we got from point A to point B and then point C, in Pop history. Everything was connected. And this huge book, this huge undertaking of St Etienne’s man, opened my eyes in many ways. It also made me think that indiepop might need a similar book, a book that recalls the whole story of indiepop, from how it started up to this day. It definitely is a difficult thing to do, for example a lot of bands’ stories are forgotten forever, we only remember the songs. But if efforts are made to scratch the surface, write a whole book on Sarah Records, why not go deeper at some point, and write the whole story of indiepop? True it is a lot of effort, and work, but how important would it be for future generations to understand how we came up to this point.

I also want to mention the Scared to Get Happy box set on Cherry Red. Though it doesn’t compare at all with the quality and the excitement of The Leamington Spa Series on Firestation, and I admit not even listening to most of the songs as they were the “same old”, it includes a little treasure, something very worthy. Guess what? It’s the booklet that is for me that has the big value of this release. Here there are a hundred of little biographies of bands from the period covered in the release. This is invaluable information, and it only reaffirms the fact that all of these sort of releases, retrospectives and such, really deserve quality liner notes. There’s no way around it. I feel sad when I see some low-budget releases for many of these great 80s bands, or 90s bands, that barely have the tracklist and nothing else. Not even credits, or photos of the band. What kind of release is that?

In the meantime, I salute all these efforts, and even if I’m a fan or not of them, all of them are contributing in having a real tangible document of the existence of indiepop, something I’ve been hoping for years now. And I thank all of the people behind them as well, because I know they are passionate fans, and they are doing a big thing for our small scene!

(EDIT – Just got to know there’s a book coming up by Simon Goddard about the Postcard label! It’s called “Och Aye the Noo Wave: The Preposterous Story of Postcard Records” and it’s being published in April.  This reminds me of….
That there’s also a documentary about the Scottish scene that I forgot to mention -my bad!- called “Songs From Northern Britain – The Sound of Young Scotland” that will be privately screened in October this year and who is co-directed by Erik from Wake the President).

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Today I want to introduce you to one of the scarcest and possibly obscurest indiepop records. It’s a 7″ that I know absolutely nothing as I’ve never seen one. It’s by a band called Three Dancers and included just two songs: “Seventeen” and “It Doesn’t Matter.”

Will it be a safe guess that the band name comes from Picasso’s painting of the same name? Let’s check what wikipedia has to say about this famous work of art:
The painting shows three dancers, the one on the right being barely visible. A macabre dance takes place, with the dancer on the left having her head bent at a near-impossible angle. The dancer on the right is usually interpreted as being Ramon Pichot, a friend of Picasso who died during the painting of Three Dancers. (Some critics believe it could well be Picasso’s wife Olga Khokhlova.) The one on the left is claimed to be Pichot’s wife Germaine Gargallo with the one in the centre being Gargallo’s boyfriend Carlos Casagemas, also Picasso’s friend. Casagemas shot himself after failing to shoot Gargallo, twenty-five years before Pichot’s death, and the loss of two of his best friends spurred Picasso to paint this chilling depiction of the love triangle.

There is a copy for sale now on Discogs for 265 euros. If anyone can afford it. Ships from Czech Republic of all places. Not a common place for obscure indiepop records. But who knows. The information Discogs has about the record shows that it was released in 1987 by Dilettante Disques (catalog 007). This is quite interesting as I’m not aware of any other releases in this label.

The only true fact is that the A side, “Seventeen”, is one of the finest slices of indiepop. It feels timeless and classic. It does have vocals that can remind you of Edwyn, but the music is like the one Reserve, Holyday Makers, or even Bob was doing at the time. It’s such a great record that no wonder it is sought after. I dream of one day having it of course. Anyone know anything else by them?!

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Listen
Three Dancers – Seventeen