Thanks so much to Olli and Ingo for this interview! A long time ago I wrote a small piece about this fantastic German band who released only one 12″ single back in the 80s. Soon afterwards they changed their name to Moscopeboys and continued promoting this record that included the absolutely great song “Machinery”. Strangely enough the song is a bit obscure, but it deserves to be more known! So Olli and Ingo were kind enough to reply a bunch of my questions and tell the story of Second View! Also don’t miss the unreleased song they’ve shared!

++ Wow! Hello Olli and Ingo, thanks so much for being up for this interview. I really love the songs by Second View. But tell me, are you still making any music? When was the last time you picked up an instrument?

To be honest, yesterday evening at our first meeting after a long time. We listened to some Second View demos in Ingo´s studio, played along the tunes, watched old band pictures and newspaper articles. Recently Ingo is more into electronic music production and Olli still plays the guitar in some bands, but it´s not so much the alternative thing.

++ How is Eschershausen and the Lower Saxony, the area you used to be based, these days? Has it changed much? Were there any other like-minded bands to Second View?

Basically it´s still like it used to be: a bit remote, a bit old fashioned and traditional but embedded in an incredibly nice piece of nature – very soothing! Still a place to come back an relax. We don´t really remember like-minded bands. Of course there were and still are local bands, but they are more into rock music.

++ Was Second View your first experience in a band?

Olli started in a kind of a school band together with Andreas, Martin and Martin’s brother in 1980. Ingo was a most wanted keyboard player because he owned a synthesizer, very rare at that time!

++ And how did the band start? How did you all knew each other?

The two of us met at school and decided to found Second View together with Andreas and Martin. Martin and Olli had been friends since early childhood and Andreas was a neighbour and the first New Wave-affected guy in town, really cool. In other words, it really was that typical „We are friends, we like New Wave music and we’re gonna found a band“.

++ What were you listening at that time? What were the influences of Second View?

On the one hand there were more the guitar-based bands such as The Smiths, Lloyd Cole, The Chameleons etc., on the other hand there were the electronic bands like Human League, OMD, Kraftwerk, DAF and the early Depeche Mode things. Andreas was more into New Order, Joy Division and Japan.

++ Where does the name Second View comes from?

Honestly we cannot recall exactly…, Ingo and Olli gave that name to the band… Ingo still remembers the message behind was that our music was always worth being regarded twice… funny enough that this „second view“ now happens after nearly 30 years.

++ You released only one 12″ and it’s brilliant. I was wondering if you could tell me the story behind these two songs?

We really appreciate your compliment! In terms of lyrics, one should better ask Andreas, but we think both texts are very close to his attitude towards life at that time. One should not forget, it was the No Future generation and he was the only smalltown punk). In addition, Andreas often felt isolated, led a kind of a withdrawn life and spent much time alone writing songs. Therefore, the gloomy atmosphere af the two lyrics reflects much of his life at that time. Talking about the music, the two of us developed and arranged the songs based on Andreas´ first ideas on tape.

++ The record was self-released on your own label View Records, right? I’m curious why did you go this way and also about the very strange numbers for your catalog number F 669.602?

We founded our own label and released the single by ourselves because there was no label within the next 200 miles who was interested in that kind of music. So we did all the work, which was tough but interesting. The catalogue number was set by EMI, where the records were manufactured. It´s just a prduction number and never appeared elsewhere.

++ Then you found a manager who asked you to change names. I wanna hear who was the manager and how did your relationship start?

Ingo went to university in Münster, where he got to know the Axels Seitz of the Fun Factory label. He liked the record but didn´t liked the name.

++ You changed the name to Moscopeboys. Where does this name comes from?

A dictionary. We were under time pressure and had to decide quickly. So Olli scrolled through an English dictionary, Ingo said stop and there it was: the word „moscope“. Having laughed about the other 20 words before, this was best match.

++ You were telling me a very curious story. The remaining copies of the Second View that you had in stock were then placed in Moscopeboys jackets. So it’s really the same record all in all. Who made this decision? And looking back was it good or a bad idea to change names? Did you lose any following?

Yes, that´s all true. Axel convinced us to make that step and make the whole thing more professional and possibly profitable. Looking back we regret that decision. If we ever publish any other material on youtube etc., we will definitely use the old name.

++ And was Fun Factory, the label that ‘released’ the Moscopeboys 12″, ran by you guys as well?

No, not at all. It was just a deal.

++ You used to drive for hours to find good record stores. So I wonder, what record is your most priced possession? And what kind of car did you drive back in those days?

Olli drove an old Renault R5 and Ingo had a Datsun Cherry. There was really good record store in Hanover where we bought our records. Another good opportunity was mail order from Britain. We are not quite sure about the records but we bought some incredibly expensive bootlegs of The Smiths.

++ Tell me about gigs. Did you play many concerts? Which were your favourites and why?

We played some 15 local shows before we recorded Machinery. After having the management we played around10 concerts in the west and the north of Germany. Ollis favourite concert was a show in Osnabrück because the sound was good, there were more than 1000 people and a fantastic atmosphere. Among the fans there was a very nice group of young people from England who met us after the show in the backstage area. Ingo agrees to my choice but would like to add that there was another big and exciting festival in Münster together with Element of Crime, a band that is still very successful here in Germany.

++ And how was the creative process for you guys? How did songs shape up? Also, was there any thoughts about making songs in German?

Actually we started in German and then changed into English. Usually the two of us came together and one of us brought a new idea. Then we worked on the new song, changed things, added things, so, the usual process until we were satisfied with the result. Then we gave it to Andreas for the lyrics, if he had not already been with us thinking about a text while we were working on the song.

++ During the lifetime of Second View there were some lineup changes. Who left and who came in, and why?

In 1987, Thorsten joined the band to play the second guitar and to do the back vocals during live shows.
Martin left the band in 1988 due to his career as a mechanic. For a short time Fred Lemke from Hamelin joined us and played the drums during the studio sessions for the longplayer. But we never performed together on stage.

++ Then in 1987, in Leverkusen while recording, the band split up. Why did this happen? And did the band left many unreleased songs that never got released?

We recorded in Leverkusen at the Bayer Studio. The company supported newcomers and let them record at their excellently equipped studio for a fair price. The problem was that we only had time to be there at the weekends. It was always difficult to find dates fitting for all people involved. At that time Olli and Ingo recognized that in this difficult situation Andreas was more interested in other things than in the band. After a few months in which we had been trying to save the project we decided to split up. We could replace the drummer but we did not have any clue to replace the singer and the writer of the lyrics.

++ After splitting, some years later, you started Ultramarin. How would you describe the music of this new project of yours and how different would you say it was from Second View/Moscopeboys?

Olli needed some two years to recover from all the frustration that the Second View thing brought with it. Then, in 1991, he asked Thorsten to perform some songs in a kind of a duet. A year later, after having written some new songs with German lyrics, Ingo joined Ultramarin. But Ultramarin has always been more a project than a band. We invited many musicians to do recording sessions with us and it took over five years before we could master and release the CD. Ultramarin only played two live shows with guest musicians. It differs from the Second View sound because the songs are in German, it is more a soothing, acoustic music with many instruments that are not typical of an alternative band (i.e. trumpet, cello, flute). And, it is a different singer.

++ You released one CD with Ultramarin but you say you don’t plan to release anything else with them. What’s the reasoning behind it?

It is just that we all live in different parts of the country and over the years it has become more difficult to meet and perform. We all have correct jobs, families and other pleasant things that keep you away from meeting.

++ So looking back, all these years making music, what would you say was your biggest highlight?

Indeed there are two: We still remember our car drive back from the studio in Detmold to our hometown listening to the first fully mastered tape of our record. It was a 60 minutes car drive and only the two songs were played again and again… great! The second highlight was Ingo’s phone call when he told me to switch on the radio and listen to Machinery.

++ And these days, aside from music, what other things do you guys enjoy doing? Any other hobbies?

It is still the music thing! Apart from that we enjoy spending time with our families.

++ I’ve visited Germany so many times but I’ve never been close to the area where you are based. I was wondering what’s the typical stuff there, what are the good beers, and the traditional dishes? And what about the sights? I’d love to visit some day!

If you ever come to South Lower Saxony you will recognize that apart from the beautiful landscape there are ancient and nice towns like Hamelin. In addition, there are some local breweries such as „Einbecker Bier“, which is well-known all over the country. Local food for example is deer.

++ Thanks so much for your answers! So great to have learned a bit more about your band. Anything else you’d like to add?

We are deeply thankful for all the interest you put into our music and the time you spend on this blog project.


Second View – December Sky


Approaching now to Popfest weekend. I’m not sure if there’s anything else to talk about at this point. I know a bunch of friends were last weekend at Copenhagen Popfest, and from the photos I’ve seen, it looked like a great time. They had a fantastic lineup. This weekend another bunch of people will be enjoying San Francisco Popfest. But for me both of these festivals seem to be a galaxy far away. My mind, my heart, is already looking forward to next week’s NYC Popfest.

The lineup is brilliant once again. Some weeks ago I went over it and mentioned the bands I really wanted to see. I missed one. And I want to apologize for that. How could I?! You know I’m talking about The Garlands.

I remember the first time I listened to them on Myspace. Would have been 2007.  Or even 2006. I think Andreas Olsson sent me the link. There was only a pre-Raphaelite painting as the profile photo. I didn’t know who the Garlands were. The day I contacted them and asked if they were up for releasing something and said yes I was terribly happy. Still I only know it was a girl called Christin and a boy called Roger. I didnt hear from them for a long time. I thought they quit making music. I thought they were not interested anymore. Or maybe they just forgot about our 3″ single release.

Almost a year later I hear from Cosy Recordings. Back then Matthias was friendly. He said that he had been in touch with the Garlands about releasing a CD as well and they told him that they had promised me already a release. They did remember. I learned then that it was Roger from Nixon the Roger in Garlands. I was thrilled. How did I not notice! Well of course he wasn’t singing, but the melodies were there. We agreed then in doing a co-release, as long as it was released I had no problem. There were 4 songs, one a George Michael cover even. They were fantastic. That’s when I met Karin too, she made the artwork for the release. It all went fast. In a matter of weeks the release was ready. I made 100 copies on the 3″ format. I can’t remember how many copies Cosy did, but it was the 5″ regular sized CD. It was a great time. The record sold out fast.

Months later all of a sudden Christin and me became good friends. We met at London Popfest. We hanged a lot. Then we went to Indietracks together with our friend Emelie. That’s more or less when a fantastic friendship was born. Since that time I’ve met Christin so many times around Europe. The last time just a month ago in Stockholm while we strolled past the cherry blossoms and ate ice cream.

I can’t forget the birthday celebration of 2013. Or London Popfest 2010, or Chickfactor shows in London. The lunches, the dinners, the beers. Of course there’s been bad moments as in any friendship, but I want to think those are over. For me indiepop has been, unintentionally, a vehicle to meet great people, and better friends. Christin is on of the important friends I’ve met, on that I trust blindly. Even the secrets and the love stories. So believe me when I say that I’m super thrilled that The Garlands, that small band that started as a duo and grew up as a 5 piece (even at some point at 6 piece!), is coming finally to the US.

I’ve been bugging Christin to come for ages. And now they are finally playing NYC Popfest. The band as I was saying has changed a lot through the years. What was the live band has become now the proper band having a say on the recordings and all. There’s no Patrik anymore sadly. That for me is such a big lost. Another good friend, Pata left the band some months ago. He was the funny guy of the band, who would talk between songs and make the crowd laugh while the rest of the band tuned their instruments or got ready. Another loss was that of Robert, the fantastic drummer who once was part of Hari and Aino. Two great musicians. Now I look forward to see how the new band mates fit in.

Christin’s voice though is still there, unique, and dazzling. Einar’s class guitars are also still part of the mix. And you can count with the pounding bass of Maria. Three of the best of all Sweden. You can’t question that.

Not so long ago they released a 7″ with Christmas songs on a Dutch label. They are bringing that to sell at Popfest. They are bringing too some tote bags with a unicorn silkscreened. Unicorns and cats are what Christin adores. Also the debut LP on Shelfilfe will be available. It’s a classic that even went to a second pressing I believe.

It’s been years since Christin and her cat saga appeared on the cover of the Cloudberry fanzine, the pink fanzine. It’s been a long time. I haven’t seen them play since March 2013 when they still had the “classic” lineup. That was my birthday. I turned 29 and was heartbroken. They made my year. I’m only thankful. Any misunderstanding that have happened afterwards or before are things of the past. Those of you attending Popfest better check them out.

The Garlands are playing Saturday 31st at Cameo Gallery at 9:15pm.


If the Garlands had been around 1982 perhaps they would have sound a bit like Dancette, our obscure band of the week.

I know mostly nothing about them. I haven’t been able yet to find their one and only single released on Bel Records (SJP 836) in 82. But I do know for sure that it’s a cracking single!

If you like a bit of Orange Juice mixed with Dolly Mixture, “Going Green”, is just that perfect marriage. It’s such a lovely song that should have been a BIG HIT. Hard to believe it’s only known among only a handful of people. Well, let’s try to make some justice now, right?

The B side of the single is also nice. It’s called “He’s Clever” and sounds a bit different but still a top crack. It sounds a bit more like the bands from that period, like Moody Elevators, A Thousand Miles of Sunshine, Big Outdoor Type, if you know what I mean.

There are some credits on the back of the sleeve. The band was formed by David Brown, Julia, Emma Kelly, Mark Kovand and Vincent Taylor. The record was recorded at Fair Deal Studios in Hayes, Middlesex. Their manager was Simon Panell and the engineer for the record was Stuart. The design of the green and white sleeve was made by Tony Lyons.

And that’s about it. There’s absolutely nothing more online about them. It’s a shame as I really love this single!! Does anyone out there know anything else about the great Dancette? Whatever happened to them?!


Dancette – Going Green


Thanks so much to Javi for this fantastic interview! I know Javi for many years now, since he had the Lost and Found blog possibly around 2004! He was always rediscovering a bunch of obscure bands back then. Some years later up until these days I would always meet him at festivals, especially at Indietracks! A true indiepop fan! So it’s no surprise then that this year he has embarked in a project that I’m sure will bring him many surprises, that of a label. Few are as passionate about indiepop as him, and I’m sure you will agree after reading this interview. Also you’ll notice his great taste in music, as he is putting top-notch up and coming indiepop bands out on his label. So keep an eye on Pretty Olivia (follow them on Facebook too) as I think it’s going to have a great run in indiepop history!

++ Hi Javi! Please tell me how this new adventure started! When did you decide that it was time to put together a record label? What triggered it?

Hi Roque, it’s a pleasure to chat with you about our common passion.

There wasn’t an only reason, really, first of all I had just lost my job and for the first time in my life I had the opportunity of thinking about what I was going to do with my life. Also I needed to get involved in music in other way, returning part of what music has gave me.

As Paddy McAloon sings: “music is a princess, I’m just a nobody who’d gladly give his life for her majesty”

And last but not least, my wife’s support, without her Pretty Olivia Records wouldn’t exist.

++ Have the idea of having a record label being in your mind for a long time? Was it something you’ve always wanted to do?

I have to admit that: yes!!, this has been a dream for many years.

I always had the ambition to discover hidden treasures and show them to everyone. And pop music is full of treasures unknown to the public. We have to solve that injustice!

Many years ago I defined my life with this sentence: “Looking for The Go Betweens” (it’s still my profile in twitter hahaha). That sentence sums up my thoughts, nowadays everyone knows the Go-Betweens, but back in the day they were the most brilliant hidden treasure. I’m always looking for the Go Betweens, looking further from the obvious…

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

Olivia is my daughter; she is 3 years old now. This is like a legacy for her, not the label itself but the fact that you have to be involved in the things you love.

You have to take an active position to preserve everything you love. Society is forgetting this.

++ And what about the logo? Does it have a meaning?

Hahaha, yes, it’s like a joke. It’s inspired, of course, in the symbol of the masonry.

The masonry use this symbol but with the “G” of “God” (or “Gadu”, the universal architect). I use the “P” of “Pop”, like a logia or sect of Pop advocators or something like that, like putting “pop” in the middle of our life.

My friend Ana (the designer of the logo) always says (like a joke) that my way of thinking is quite close to masonry so we thought that it was a good idea to use it as the symbol of the label. I really like it.

++ So far you’ve put two records out. Let’s start by the first one: Loor a los Heroes. Who are they? How did you find them?

Loor a los Heroes are a fantastic young band from Wigan, UK.

They are amazing, they know how to jangle, they have that touch of British indiepop from the 80’s and they are also very strong songwriters. You can also hear some echoes of the northern soul in the rhythm section (logical, they are from Wigan). They have a lot of fantastic songs that deserve to be released someday.

Members are Flynn Murnan (singer, composer and rhytm guitars), Matthew Smith (Lead guitars), Joe Howard (Bass) and Chris McIntyre (drums).

I don’t remember how I discovered them, someone put a link to their soundcloud page and “White Village” was there. I cannot describe how much I love that song. It’s pure pop perfection. The kind of song that makes you begin with a record label.

++ And what about Vicente Prats?

Vicente is an incredibly talented guy from Valencia, Spain. He recorded the record at his home, playing every instrument back in 2008/2009. He has a great instinct for hooks and is a fantastic guitar player.

Everyone who loves bands like Teenage Fanclub, Big Star, Matthew Sweet or Cooper have to listen to this record, for me, in this style, is one of the best records ever made in Spanish language.

It’s quite close to sold out, and I cannot be happier with that.

He is going to play in the next International Pop Overthrow, in Liverpool, with his band (Startrip)!

++ Are there any other releases planned out?

Yes! I’m going to tell you something you will love (and every fan of the jangle side of indiepop too).

Our next record will be the definitive edition (in vinyl, of course) of the first songs by the Australian The Rainyard. For me it’s the jangliest record ever made. 15 hits only released in cassettes back in the 80s/90s (well, and one 7” in the incredible Summershine label), remastered for this occasion.

I think it’s a masterpiece, and can’t wait to release it!!

We are working hard in the artwork also, I hope to have everything ready soon.

I have more ideas in mind; Pretty Olivia is here to stay.

++ So far you’ve only released vinyl records, will that continue to be like that, or would you consider doing CDs as well?

You can never say never, but it’s not likely. Vinyl is by far my favorite format, and I know that this limits the public (it’s more expensive, more shipping costs, etc.), but I have to be loyal to the way I think about pop. I will die with my ideas, I’m too old for changing now.

++ This is probably still new to you, but so far what have been the most exciting things about running the label? and what about the most difficult ones?

The most exciting?

When you discover a great song and write to the author, the gratitude of the bands, the fans, seeing the bands gaining the reputation they deserve, each time someone thanks you for your work…

The most difficult ones?

Distribution, without a doubt. It’s frustrating not having access for distribution channels, contacts, etc. in different countries.

I’m also frustrated about shipping costs, they are killing the independent labels. It’s tragic.

++ Would you say there has been other labels that have influenced you music-wise or even aesthetically? If so, who?

There are a lot of them. I’m a big fan of the pre-Oasis Creation and all the big independent labels of the 80s: Factory, 4AD, Beggars Banquet, Rough Trade … at least until they tried to become multis. I also love Sarah, Postcard, Crepuscule, … all of them have been an inspiration in one way or another. Well, Flying Nun is of course a continuous inspiration.

Nowadays, I think Cloudberry holds the flame of a true independent spirit, you are very important for us Roque, this is a good place for saying it, my friend.

Let me also praise one new label from Spain, Tenorio Cotobade. I think they are quite similar to Pretty Olivia. They have released the 2 Ginnels albums (the new one is a masterpiece!!) and a fantastic Zebra Hunt single. Everyone should have a look at this label.

++ From bands in the past, if you could just dream, which bands would you have loved to sign to Pretty Olivia records? And any contemporary bands?

Well, you know my favorite all time band is The Go Betweens, but there are thousands I would love to have released: Prefab Sprout, Orange Juice, Pale Saints, any Flying Nun band,…

From now, the Felt Tips, Ginnels, High Hazels, Trick Mammoth, the Lottery Winners,… there are hundreds of bands I love and I would be happy to release their records.

++ Your releases are limited to 300 copies with download codes and have really cool artwork on the jackets. On top of that the music is ace. But, where can people buy the records?

Our webpage is: prettyolivia.bigcartel.com

We sell worldwide, of course.

In Spain the releases are available in some good physical shops, and you can find our records in Rough Trade London (not sure in Brooklyn, will check it).

Jigsaw also has our records (a good chance for saving costs, they have thousands of fantastic records).

++ Is there any pros in being based in Alicante, Spain? Are there any good bands or good venues where bands come and play?

I think the only “pro” of being based in Alicante is the weather. Well, it’s also a very well connected city because of the tourism. The Alicante airport is also one of the few that flies to East Midlands, and that’s great for Indietracks Festival hahaha.

There’s only one Alicante pop band that really deserves attention: Oh, Libia!

They made psychedelic pop with 60s influences, and with fantastic songs. Even Douglas T.Stewart likes them!

No one is interested in indiepop here, but fortunately there are some power pop concerts, and we have Naranja y Negro which is one of the best record stores in Spain.

++ And what about the Spanish scene? Seems there are less and less labels and bands compared to say 10 years ago. What do you think happened?

Well, that’s not an easy question to answer.

I think there are still loads of bands and labels but there’s a lot less interest in indiepop. It’s true that 10 years ago, when tontipop exploded on the scene (the equivalent of twee pop in Spain), naïve, innocent pop became very popular. This new scene joined bands from a few years earlier (Fresones Rebeldes, TCR, La Buena Vida, Le Mans, etc.) and for while pop was everywhere.

To be honest, I think it died off because there was just too much. We can’t compare the records put out by Los Fresones, La Buena Vida or Family with the more recent tontipop bands (I’m not going to give any names because I respect those who try).

I don’t know if people have turned to garage or noise as a reaction against all that and have forgotten about writing good songs, when a harder sound shouldn’t mean you can’t write good songs.

That’s kind of what I feel about the Spanish scene: there are lots of interesting stuff out there but not many really good songs.

Then there’s Elefant, that’s a different case. Elefant has played a decisive role in the evolution of indiepop in Spain. For years they’ve been leading the way for many people and, to be honest, now I’m not at all sure what the right direction is now.

Siesta has also got lost along the way too; it used to be an essential label and now it’s disappeared in combat.

But not everything’s negative, not by a long way, apart from Tenorio Cotobade who I mentioned to you earlier; there are Spanish labels that are fighting to release interesting projects.

I don’t want to leave anyone out but here’s a list: Discos de Kirlian (look out for the fantastic Puzzles y Dragones or Fred I son and Coach Station Reunion, among others), Discos de Paseo, Ayo Silver! (not very pop oriented but produces some of the most interesting records at the moment), Jabalina (fighting on the pop battle lines for many years), Catalan indie groups such as Univers, who are wonderful, Gramaciones Grabofónicas,… Lots of small labels with plenty of enthusiasm, something good is bound to come out of all that, definitely!

++ And talking about Alicante, just for the sake of it, what’s the best the town has to offer? What’s their traditional food?

As I said before the best thing in Alicante is the weather. Also the beaches and the food are great. It’s not a beautiful city (apart from the castle and the beaches), nothing relevant from the cultural side and is the hometown of the most corrupt and stupid politicians you can imagine (and Spain has a lot of them).

The food is really great. The Mediterranean Sea is generous with this land and the seafood is incredible. The most typical food is the rice, in thousands of varieties and combinations. You really have to taste it to know how great it can be.

++ Just out of curiosity, do you play any instruments? Have you ever had a band?

No! It’s a permanent frustration for me, but I haven’t any talent at all. My voice is not melodic also hahaha.

++ And what about your record collection? An estimate of the number of records? Most prized items in it?

Well, my record collection is quite big now, more or less 4.600 records (in any format). Sometimes I think I’m mad, but sometimes I think that I’m not mad because of my record collection haha.

I think that my most prized items are 12” from the golden age of indiepop (obscure bands from the 80s): Apple Boutique, Clamheads, Potting Sheds, Boy Hairdressers, Red Harvest,… that kind of bands. I’m not obsessed with it, I have records because I love them, not thinking in the prize or economic value of them.

++ Javi, back in the day you had a fantastic blog, that’s how I met you! I think I discovered so many obscure bands through you. Why did you stop? And have you ever thought of bringing it back?

I really don’t remember the reasons why I left the blog.

It’s a shame because it even was useful for bringing together members of bands that haven’t seen each other for years.

And of course it was great for knowing people like you.

I’m thinking about it, maybe a new blog as part of the label page, maybe a podcast…

++ I also know that you are one of the biggest Go-Betweens fans I know, so let me ask you, Grant McLennan or Robert Forster? And what about your favourite album? and favourite song?

Grant or Robert, Robert or Grant. That’s like “who you prefer, mum or dad?”

Both are my favourite all-time artists, my life would be completely different without their songs, they had made a big impact in my education, I really feel that.

Maybe I prefer the Grant songs in the Go-Betweens, but the solo career of Robert is stronger, specially “Danger in the past” and “The Evangelist” which are as great as The Go-Betweens albums.

My favourite albums? Not sure, but “Liberty Belle” and “16 lovers lane” are really special for me.

And songs? Really difficult question, I change it every day. OK, today: “That way”.

++ On top of that you are always at indiepop festivals, it’s always great to see you at Indietracks drinking beers, front row of the legendary bands! So far which has been the best Indietracks you’ve attended? And will you be coming back this year? What would you say is that thing that makes this festival special, like no other?

Indietracks is “my” festival: fantastic music, superb location, gentle people from every part of the world, record shopping, the best beers, hundreds of friends,…

I think the 2009 edition is unbeatable, I will never forget that festival. Teenage Fanclub in the rain, singing “Baby Lee” for the first time… I’m sure that Elefant Records hosting the main stage was very important for the quality of the festival.

And now the difficult question… No, I’m not going again this year. I’m a bit disappointed with the line-up. For people outside UK it’s really expensive to go there and if we don’t like most of the bands that play the decision is clear.

I will come back next years, but not this one. I will miss it, anyway.

++ Do tell, do you see yourself doing the label still for another five years? or ten? Do you think we’ll be overtaken by digital releases at some point?

Yes, at least that’s my intention. I don’t know If I will release 2 or 20 records a year, but Pretty Olivia is here to stay.

I’ve just read that the main vinyl factory in USA cannot afford the demand… Vinyl is back, and it’s complimentary to the digital releases, I think.

I have doubts about the CD, no one seems to want them anymore. They will return in 20 years hahahaha

++ Let’s start wrapping the interview Javi, but what about merch? Are there any plans for that?

I have no plans for merch in the short term, but I will love to make t-shirts.

++ And one last question, aside from listening, collecting and now releasing music, what other hobbies do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Well, I’m a family man now, and nothing is more joyful for me than sparing my time with my wife and daughter. I also play basketball and soccer every week. And well, I love everything related to food, go to new restaurants, cooking,…


Loor a los Heroes – White Village


Thanks so much to John McElwee for the interview! Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote a small piece about the Subtonics on the blog and happily Paul Comaskey got me in touch with John, the driving force of the band as he called him. John has been kind enough to answer a bunch of my questions and in that way tell the story of this great band from the late 80s that released a classic 7″ with the songs “Take it Easy Florence” and “Nothing to Lose”. If you are not familiar with them, well, this is a good time to discover them!

++ Hi John! Thanks so much for the interview! How are you doing?

Very well thank you!

++ When was the last time you picked up your guitar?

A few days ago.

++ Are you still recording and performing?

Yes. I’ve never stopped performing, mostly with others in “The Sound of Spaghetti Junction” and “The Kings of Spain”, but also solo. I hadn’t recorded anything for 10 years until 3 weeks ago. I treated myself to 5 hours in a studio and recorded 10 songs. All live single takes with secondary parts added to a few.

++ I always wondered what sort of music were you listening at the time of the Subtonics, I guess a pretty eclectic mix?

Yes. My first love is Soul and Reggae. That’s what I heard/danced to at the local youth club when I was 12. Around the mid to late eighties I suppose it would’ve been The Smiths, Prefab Sprout, REM but I’d also started listening to Jazz. We used to play a few bars of Coltrane’s “Love supreme” and segue into Van Morrison’s “The Way Young Lovers Do” in our live set. The people who I own most music by and who I’ve listened to all my adult life are Sly & the Family Stone (I got the idea of using fiddle from his album “Small talk”) and Tom Waits – though I’m starting to build up a collection of Sun Ra at the moment.

++ How did you all meet and how did the Subtonics start as a band?

Paul Kelly I met by advertising for a bassist.

Melanie was singing in a play that I was in.

Paul Comaskey and I went to the same youth club and had lots of mutual friends but we didn’t become good friends until a few years later.

Aiden and I met aged 5. We went to school together. I lost contact when we changed schools at 11 but met him again through music years later. Aiden was a member of The Ian Campbell Folk Group and was a songwriter and performer in his own right. The Dubliners recorded one of his songs, “Dublin You’re Breaking My Heart”. I heard them play it last year at a festival in Moseley (where I live). They may not have known that Aiden had written the song within a few hundred metres of the gig. It was very poignant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBTX69uzLCk

Nick Smith – I can’t quite remember how we met but I think it was via Paul C. The last time I saw Nick was at ‘The Mean Fiddler” in London. He turned up in the dressing room at a Kings of Spain gig. I’ve just googled him: http://www.starnow.com/nicksmithsax

 ++ Have you been in bands previously?

Yes. I had a band called “The Truth Eggs” with Steve Sparks and Simon Colley (ex Duran Duran). We nearly got signed by virgin with our first demo. We only did a few gigs. Then Simon got signed to Virgin with another band and Steve moved to Austin Texas.

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

The dictionary. We just looked for a musical term.

++ How was Erdington? Do you still live in the area? What were the places/venues you used to hang out the most?

Erdington was a very ordinary, mostly working class, suburb. It’s only claim to fame is that it had a club called “Mothers” but that was before my time.


Now, it’s quite an economically and socially deprived area with high unemployment and associated problems. I still have friends there and go to one of my old haunts, “The New Inns” to meet up/watch football. I moved across the city to Moseley in 1990.

++ Were there any like-minded bands in town during that period that you liked and followed?

Like minded? No. When we started out we did a few gigs with ”The Nervous Kind”. They were very 60’s orientated. I loved their shows. Paul C was their drummer. We also did gigs with “Sons of Shane” from Stafford. Again, they were 60’s influenced. They were good fun live. Deryck from the band is still a friend and played keys on some Subtonics recordings. They made one 7”, “Fly”. I suggested we join forces and create one label but they declined.

++ Tell me about your gigs. Did you play many? What were some of your favourites and why?

We played a lot of gigs. I probably enjoyed them all. I tend to remember odd moments rather than whole shows. Such as the time we played the “Tower Ballroom”. It had a revolving stage. We got on the stage and waited while it slowly turned us around to the audience. We started the first song and within seconds Paul K broke a bass string. At the end of the song they set the stage turning and off we went so he could replace the string. Then they turned it on again to send us back to the audience. It was ridiculous.

We had 2 companies coming to see us at “Dingwalls”, London. After sound-check we had a few hours to kill. It was a Sunday and the local cafes were closed. We went to a pub to eat but they weren’t serving food. I hadn’t eaten all day. I had 3 pints of “real ale”. I didn’t realise how strong it was until I left the pub and hit the air. On stage, I was slurring when I spoke between songs. Andy Ross, from Food records, told Annie that when we played the first song he thought, “wow”, but that when I spoke it was clear that I was drunk. He said if I was drinking at that point in my career he wouldn’t touch us. He said if Annie could guarantee I didn’t have a drink problem he would see us again, sober. He didn’t. He signed Blur.

++ I read you were in Austin, Texas, and then you were deported. What’s this story about? Did you play and tour a lot in the US?

It’s mostly lies I’m afraid. I had been in Austin and a number of my friends had moved there. Paul C was in the process of moving to the US to join his brother but Paul was refused entrance at immigration and sent back. It took him a year to get things sorted out so he could move to the US and during that year he was a Subtonic. I did get to play shows in California with “The Kings of Spain” but as I couldn’t afford to take the band I hooked up with Paul C and Simon Colley and they became Kings of Spain for a short while.

++ And also is it true the story of Richard V. Frank that he funded the record? How did that happen? How did you meet him?

I met Dick aged 3. We also went to school together from 5 to 17. We’re still friends. Dick had helped “The Truth Eggs”, he got Virgin interested and he got “Rough Trade” to sell our first tape, he even designed our artwork. When Truth Eggs finished he came to see me for a chat and as he left he gave me an envelope with a cheque for £100 (a lot of money to me then) to make some more music. I was moved but as I didn’t have a band I didn’t feel I could use it. When Subtonics decided to release a single, we needed money for manufacturing. I asked Dick and he agreed to put about 33% up (I think?). Annie Healy put in about the same and I paid the rest. I’m forever grateful to Dick and Annie.

 ++ You, as far as I know, released one 7″, the one with “Take it Easy Florence”. Would you mind telling the story behind both songs on the single?

Florence is based on the idea of an obsessive character (Florence) whose love was unrequited. She tracks the other person down years later. Now she looks and seems different and succeeds in gaining the other persons love.

Nothing to lose – I can’t exactly remember, I know that the “troubles” in Northern Ireland and colonialism were in my thoughts. The key to the song was/is “The sun will shine tomorrow”, an empirical truth.

++ And are there any more recordings by the Subtonics?

Yes. We did a 6 track cassette release prior to the single. It got us some radio plays and record company interest. Paul C sent me a CD copy of it a few years ago but the quality is not very good. I could search my loft for a cassette if you’re interested? There are live recordings on cassette also – again, somewhere in the loft. I’ve not heard them for many years. I know there was one of Paul C’s last ever Subtonics gig and the drum riser collapsed during the set.

++ How come you didn’t record more records? Was there any interest from labels?

“Backs” distributed the single and Derek at Backs loved it. He wanted us to do more.

++ How do you remember the recording sessions for the single?

I think we did it in an evening. It cost £90. Aiden had never played that type of music. I’d given him a cassette of the song a week before but when I called to collect him he said he hadn’t listened to it. I think he worked his part out on the spot. He was always a bit disorganised in his life but once we got him to the studio he was totally focused. I don’t think Nick was happy with his part. I think we should have given him more time and encouragement. The rest of us had been playing the songs live, so we just knocked them out live, probably one take.

++ The record was released on Life of Man Records. Was that your own label? And how come the catalog was both 001 and 002?

Yes, my own label. Catalogue number? I didn’t know what I was doing.

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

We started to get some radio. Micky Bradley from “The Undertones” phoned me up to tell me how much he loved the record and that he was playing it on his radio show in Northern Ireland. I heard it a few times by chance which was nice. We got some good reviews also. We also got some bigger gigs. However, Paul C left for the US before we‘d received the copies of the record and we were using a session drummer for gigs. He was brilliant but he was charging us so much that he was taking every penny we earned. We’d been gigging for 3 years and had been able to cover our expenses and pay for any recordings. When Paul left it wasn’t the same.

++ After the band split, did you all continue making music?

Yes. I had a bit of break from gigging and wrote some new songs. Then I got Melanie to sing them. We became “The Sound of Spaghetti Junction”. We did loads of gigs as a duo and released one 10 song cassette (again, I may have a couple in the loft). We had lots of interest and were offered a deal by an off-shoot of Central TV. We turned it down on a lawyer’s advice. We had management and were making a little money. Then Melanie quit. She was attracting a lot of attention and getting a lot of offers to work with other people. Oddly, when we met up recently she told me she’s been going to open mic evenings and singing my songs.

I then started gigging solo and recoded a session for the BBC. I decided to record some songs with other musicians and found Richard Heath – drums, Mickey Harris – Bass (ex Lilac Time & Everything But The Girl) and Steve Shaw (aka Brennan) – violin (Ex Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Proclaimers and more). They loved the recording and wanted to gig. The Kings of Spain were born. We did a couple of BBC sessions and were regular headliners at the Mean Fiddler acoustic room. We were getting record company interest but nothing concrete. Then we had a party in my garden and we played a set and recorded it straight to DAT. It cost £10 to hire the machine. We got it pressed up on CD, the record companies ran a mile but the reviews were great, we got to do radio interviews and sessions and BBC TV came and filmed us in my garden. We released 2 more albums with changes in personel. A fourth was recorded but never released. Two of the mainstays of the last version of TKOS, Paul Keeves and Russell Poyner, now live in Germany so it’s become too difficult for them to continue. I have been to Germany a couple of times and played as TKOS with Russell. So now I’ve begun a new solo recording and who knows what will happen next?

Paul C and Nick you have links to.

Paul K is now a drummer in a covers band.

Aiden died tragically about 15 years ago but was active in music to the end.

++ Are you all still in touch?

With both Pauls and Melanie, yes. Haven’t seen Nick for about 15 years or more.

++ If you would have to pick the highlight of being in the Subtonics, what would you say that was?

I don’t know. All the memories are good; from travelling down to London and sleeping on floors to play scruffy half empty gigs to turning on the radio and thinking, that’s us!

++ And these days, aside from music, what takes most of your time? Do you have any other hobbies?

I have had a day Job for last 16 years. I teach people to speak English and I get to meet lots of interesting folks from all around the world.

++ I’ve never visited Birmingham or Erdington. Just out of curiosity, what’s the best it has to offer to a visitor?

Birmingham is a lot better now than it was during Subtonics’ days. It’s like a lot of cities, if you have a good guide who knows your tastes you’ll have a good time. It’s very multicultural. I think it has more parks and trees than any other European city and it has more canals than Venice!

++ Thanks so much John! Anything else you’d like to add?

Roque, I haven’t thought about this stuff for a long time. Once I started writing, the memories came flooding back and it’s been hard to stop! I hope you don’t mind all the detail. I’m sure you can edit it into something acceptable. Thanks for giving a reason to reminisce.


Subtonics – Take it Easy Florence


Thanks so much to John O’Sullivan for the interview! Back in October I wrote a bit about Public Address on the blog and John was kind enough to get in touch. He was also up for answering some questions and sharing the story of his band! You’ll find the answers right below! Now sit back, grab a beer, and enjoy the read!

++ Hi John! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! Tell me are you still making music?

Hello Roque, you’re more than welcome, and thank you for asking me. Yes, I still write and play music, but only for my own pleasure nowadays, the fire in the belly to play live has left me. In fact, I’ve only played live on one occasion in the last twenty-five years when myself and Glenn (the bass player from Public Address) did a set of covers, including an old PA track, Goodbye From Her, at his wedding reception in Edinburgh in 2011. I still love the songwriting process, even without an outlet for it nowadays.

++ And still living in Worksop? What were the places you used to hang out? Has it changed much since they heyday of Public Address? Are there any sights worth checking out in town?

Yes, I still live in Worksop, although that will be changing soon. Back in the 80s there were quite a few venues were live music flourished in Worksop. The Frog & Nightgown and The Old Ship Inn are two that spring to mind. It was at The Old Ship that we stole our drummer, Derron, from his then current band (their name escapes me, sorry). We used to rehearse at a few places in town, a room above The Queens Head was used a few times, but our main room was at The Regal Cinema on Carlton Road, across from The Frog, which was our post-rehearsal watering hole of choice. Worksop has changed a lot these past thirty years and I rarely venture into town to socialise to be honest. I live on the doorstep of Sherwood Forest (Robin Hood and all that) with lots of fantastic countryside surrounding the town, so I enjoy going for walks in the area. Clumber Park is a large National Trust property on the edge of Worksop which is well worth a visit.

++ Where there any other good bands in the area that you liked?

There were some great bands in and around Worksop, but I can’t remember any of their names, sorry. How bad is that? Worksop is only a short drive from Sheffield which was producing lots of great bands in the early 80s, including Heaven 17 and The Human League. I have a vague memory of drinking (that’s why it’s vague) in The Frog with Phil Oakey on one occasion. But I may have dreamt it.

++ How did the band start? How did you all meet?

Me and Glenn knew each other all the way through our schooldays, and it was our love of The Beatles that got us into music and the idea of forming a band. We started writing songs when we were 13/14 years old – terrible songs! – but as we got older we got better. Well, I hope we did anyway. I still have cassettes of our early efforts, some of which I’ve put on MP3, which get an airing once in a blue moon. It was through Glenn that I met Stuart, our lead guitarist, as they both worked together. He had played in bands in Manchester in the late 70s/early 80s, supporting the likes of Joy Division and New Order, and was the driving force in getting the band to be more professional. Stuart and I eventually worked together as arrangers on the songs, and his lead guitar riffs were an essential part of our sound. Derron, as I mentioned earlier, was poached from another local band and was, together with Glenn on bass, part of a great rhythm team that kept us tight when we played live. Glenn was actually the lead singer and I was the bass player when the band first started, but we swapped over when I got told early on “You write the bloody songs, so you can bloody sing them.”, except the word bloody wasn’t actually used. I have an average voice and was never fully comfortable in the front-man-wiggles-his-bum role, but once I’d taken my glasses off – which made the audience a total blur – and got the first line of the opening song out I would relax into it. It still didn’t stop me screaming instead of singing occasionally (check out She Don’t Remember on ReverbNation!)

++ And was Public Address your first band adventure?

No, me and Glenn were in another band in 83/84 called Wine By The Glass. We played acoustic covers and we were less than average! It was the experience of that band breaking up that inspired some of the lyrics in James Dean.

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

I honestly can’t remember who came up with the name, but I do remember that we didn’t want to be ‘The” anything. It was probably Stuart, but I can’t say for certain.

++ Who and what would you say were the main influences of the band?

The Beatles were a massive influence for both me and Glenn. They still are for me. Their output was amazing, and their growth as songwriters and performers in such a short period of time was phenomenal. But my big influences at the time of the band were The Smiths and Prefab Sprout. The triumvirate of Morrissey/Marr and McAloon created amazing songs with incredible melodies and superb lyrics. I tried to – and still try to – write with that attitude, making the words and tunes work independently of each other, which I hope I sometimes achieved. Not always, I admit, but I gave it a good go. Derron was a massive New Order fan, but I can’t remember who influenced Stuart.

++ Tell me a bit about The Fabled Stable Records. Was it your own label? How did that work out?

It was our own label but it never really existed, hence the use of the word Fabled. I also really liked how the words ‘Fabled Stable Record Label’ sounded when said together so I pushed for that as the label name. It was just an exercise in me being a smart-arse to be honest, and the rest of the band let me get away with it. The publishing company ‘Remember This (Music)’ was also fictional. The crazy idea was that we’d eventually have numerous Remember This outlets. Just a bit of fun really.

++ You released one 7″ as far as I know, right? Both songs are top-notch! Can you tell me the story behind these songs?

Thank you for the compliment, Roque.

James Dean, as was the case with most of my songs, was about me or things that I’d seen/experienced. I rarely wrote third-party story songs, and James Dean was a definite first person song. I actually was 21 when I wrote it, and I really was still a child, as the lyric states. The line “leave the house to shouts of Dumb and Immature” related to the break-up of WBTG. We didn’t plan the sacking of the singer very well, so badly in fact that the day after the event we realised that all our gear was still at her house. I recall making a hasty exit, carry guitars and amps under my arms with mic stands flying around my head! Dumb and Immature were two of the milder expressions used that day. ‘The group of chords that raised a smile, I haven’t found one for quite a while.”, was self-deprecating and ironic as I had found one for the song itself.

Heart Ache was a group effort insofar as it began as a jam during a rehearsal session. Stuart and I then arranged the rough ideas into song form, and Glenn and Derron got busy with their rhythm parts. When it was taken into the studio it was a reserve song as we intended recording another track as the B side, and the lyrics were very much in a basic state. However, that intended B side song – which I now can’t remember at all – became a dog to record and we decided to go with Heart Ache. So while the others got on with their parts I quickly finished the lyrics. They’re not great to be honest, just words to go with the groove, but by the end of the session we were happy with what we’d produced. I actually wanted it as the A side but I was outvoted.

++ And how do you remember the recording session?

We used the same studio, Input in Sheffield, where we’d made the demos of Goodbye From Her and Can You Hear Me Now? back in April ’86. They’d been engineered and produced by Nick Wild and he did a brilliant job so we used him again for these sessions, although we decided to self produce. I do remember I had trouble singing the first few lines of James Dean in tune – no surprise there – and the finished item was a couple of takes expertly weaved together by Nick. We brought in Mick Ellison, who had previously been in the band for a short time, to play keyboards during the sessions, and he added such a lot to the tracks I was hoping he’d re-join, but he didn’t. I always enjoyed our time in the studio. I don’t remember much, if any, falling out, though I’m sure there must have been.

++ This record seems to be a bit obscure for some reason! Why do you think that? And how many copies were pressed if you remember?

We had 1,000 copies pressed and self distributed them around as many record stores as we could. We eventually sold about 750 or so. It’s obscure because it didn’t create enough of a buzz so subsequently became forgotten. I think it was a good song, we certainly gave it our all when recording it and when played live, although the live version was much shorter. We didn’t use the intro that’s still on the version available on YouTube – I cut that out when transferring it to ReverbNation – and we never used the last chorus live either, going straight to the last guitar break after singing ‘overtaking just like Jimmy Dean’.

++ As I was looking for more information I found that there were more recordings of the band uploaded to ReverbNation. So I wonder how come you didn’t release more records?

The single was funded by a local businessman who believed we had potential, as the cost was too prohibitive for us to fund ourselves at the time. Put simply, we never got to the point where we could record and release another single.

++ Counting them and the 7″, are there still more unreleased songs by Public Address?

Not that I am in possession of. The seven tracks that exist are taken from a cassette tape I made back in 1987 to give to my then girlfriend (she subsequently became my wife, and then my ex-wife!). They were copied from masters of our demos and live shows that were in the possession of one of our roadies. Sadly, he took his own life a short time afterwards and the master tapes were never recovered. So everything I have is up on ReverbNation, though there were lots of other songs recorded.

++ And from all of these songs, from your repertoire, what were your favourite ones and why?

My favourites were Goodbye From Her and Can You Hear Me Now? GFH was a very personal song (you see, it’s all about me!) and the lyric started off originally as a poem. I think it was the best song I ever wrote, and the melody is very simple, with only three chords used in the whole song. When we came to arrange it Stuart wrote some brilliant lead guitar riffs, and I think Glenn’s bass line and Derron’s subtle changes from rimshots to snare and back again really add light and shade to the track.

CYHMN contained my favourite chord sequences – I love great chord sequences – and I liked the fact that the intro was also the outro. I was never a fan of Derron’s double snare during the chorus (his nod to New Order) but I could never talk him out of it. If you take the first letter of each line of the lyric it spells out BEATLES JOHN and PAUL (my subtle tribute), and the first line ‘Back again with nothing new’ was my little dig at our critics who said everything sounded the same. It probably did though, to be fair.

++ What about gigs? Did you play live often? What was the worst gig and the best gig you’d say?

We played quite a lot over the two years we were together, though we didn’t travel any further afield than Sheffield, Derby or Nottingham. My favourite gig was the night we supported It Bites at the Porterhouse in Retford in March ‘87. They’d had a big hit in the UK called Calling All The Heroes, so we were lucky to get the support slot as a lot of the local bands were after it. Our single had just been released and we saw it as a showcase gig. The three live tracks available on ReverbNation are from that gig. There’s a bit at the end of She Don’t Remember where I can be heard in the background saying, “New ending”, as, for some unknown reason, we’d just extended the track by a few bars. That still makes me smile when I hear it. I just remember it as a great night with fantastic support from both our fans (we had a regular following by then) and those that were there specifically there for It Bites. The worst gig was at a venue in Nottingham, again my memory fails when it comes to its name – possibly for legal reasons – where we just didn’t connect with the locals at all. If anything, they were downright aggressive and we couldn’t wait to get out of there. I think we played everything at double speed and packed up in world record time. Probably broke the speed limit driving home too.

++ And looking back, what would you say was the highlight of Public Address?

Recording and releasing the single was the highlight for me. I really believed at the time that things would happen for us – the self-belief of youth and all that – but it wasn’t to be. I wouldn’t change a minute of the experience, both good and bad.

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

In the summer of 1987 we’d been together for two years, in and out of each other’s pockets, rehearsals, live shows, etc, and we needed a break. We decided to have the rest of the summer away from the band and get back together again in the autumn. When we eventually met up again Stuart said he wanted us to introduce covers and play more in what the Brits call ‘clubland’, i.e. more showbiz and less indie pop. I took this as criticism of my songs and my vision of the band so I threw my toys out of the pram and we split up, with Stuart and Glenn going off into clubland, and Derron and myself starting another band along with Mick Ellison. We never really got any further than some demos before it fizzled out in 1988. Having known Glenn all my life up to that point, we didn’t speak again for almost ten years (how silly is that?), but it’s been like old times again for the last 15 years or so (I was best man at his wedding in 2011), and he’s now the lead singer in a Mod/Ska covers band called The 5.15s who are brilliant live, and he’s a great front man. I do sometimes wish I was up there too, but on bass, in the background, backing vocals only, grooving with the drummer.

++ Since then have you been involved with other bands?

No, I pretty much gave it all up in 1988. I sold all my gear the following year when I got married, apart from one acoustic guitar. I now have a beautiful Epiphone John Lennon EJ-160E acoustic/electric that gets a play every day. I start writing more songs than I ever finish nowadays, but I can’t imagine not ever trying to write new melodies and lyrics.

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

Having reached my half century I need to stay fit and healthy, so I enjoy going for walks, especially around Clumber which is big enough to enjoy without seeing the same things each and every time. I enjoy going to gigs and the cinema when I can, and I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship with an incredible woman – hello Charlotte – so I get most pleasure from being involved with my new family, as well as my old family – hello Da, hello Sis -and seeing my friends. Oh, and drinking quality red wine, that’s right up there too!

++ One last question then, your favourite “James Dean” movie?

Giant. Dean is brilliant in the movie, and Elizabeth Taylor was, is and always will be a goddess.

++ Thanks a lot, anything else you’d like to add?

I just want to say that I’ve enjoyed the whole experience of initially finding your blog on Public Address, reading your very generous remarks on something created almost three decades ago, and then being given the opportunity to discuss the band further with you in this interview. So, thank you, Roque, for bringing back memories of good times from my past. I’m flattered that you’ve enjoyed something that we all worked so hard on back in the day, and if this leads to a few more people liking our music we’ve got you to thank for it. Best regards, John.


Public Address – James Dean


And suddenly it’s spring in New York and with that every single pharmacy starts running out of Claritin and other anti-allergic medicine. I have itchy eyes all day. It’s painful. On top of that it’s getting warmer and will have to install the A/C unit on the window this weekend. And it rains. If it doesn’t rain it drizzles. But soon enough it will be NYC Popfest with it’s blue skies and beautiful indiepopkids. But here’s a bunch of tidbits of what to expect in the next couple of weeks.

Three weekends away for that. Around the corner. For me, and possibly for many, it even starts a day before, on Wednesday as Pale Lights are having a release show for their new LP at Friends & Lovers in Brooklyn.

I was told that on Popfest Sunday labels and bands will be able to sell a lot of records as there will be some sort of small fair at Littlefield. I will definitely bring some Cloudberry Records to sell then as well as some of my “doubles” of my collection. I think this is a great initiative by Maz. Let’s see how this idea works out in it’s first year.

Aside from allergies this week I’ve discovered that there are a bunch of new exciting bands out there that I’ve been missing out by leaving under a rock. For example yesterday I was introduced to Trick Mammoth from New Zealand, and wow, I couldn’t believe that I’ve been missing out. It seems the days I had a finger on the pulse are over. I need of my friends to show me their latest finds! So I count with you all.

I had a nice dinner yesterday with Mr. Shelflife. I got the latest releases, Flying Colours 12″, Close Lobsters 7″ and Luxembourg Signal 7″. So far I’ve only listened the latter and it’s fantastic. You all better get it! Hopefully too in two weeks time, for Popfest, the Gingerlys 7″ will be out. I’ve been meaning to catch them live for like forever, but for a reason or another I couldn’t. This time I won’t miss them.

Also I received a nice message from The Popguns saying that they will play different sets at NYC Popfest and Indietracks. That’s indeed a fantastic piece of news to me, making both their gigs special!

Those who are staying in New York after Popfest you should catch Gold-Bears on June 3rd at Shea Stadium. They have a new LP out and even though I haven’t had the chance to listen to it, I’m pretty sure it’s ace.

Then the one gig I will be missing this year that I feel sad to miss is that reunion of Los Fresones Rebeldes in Madrid. This will happen in June as part of their old label celebrations. So jealous of EVERYONE who’ll attend!

I have some travels lined up too. Next weekend I’ll be heading to San Antonio, Texas, for the Memorial Weekend. Nothing too exciting there of course, but will be there for a couple of days for some proper brisket and BBQ.

Oh right, and I need to finish the fanzine. I think that’s what everyone cares right now. So I’ll get into that. Next week blog post though will be about a band that I hold dear but I didn’t mention on my Popfest roundup. And in the meantime know that there are many interviews lined up as well.

But now onto the obscure band of the week, I know you’ve been waiting for it as we missed it last week!

“The sun shines for you on pension day”!!

There’s an Open Book band on Last.fm with releases from the noughties. I doubt that the band listed there has anything to do with the Open Book from the 80s. Sure I can’t proof this, and as a good detective I should leave the idea open. But let’s move to other things that we can be sure of.

The one and only 7″, including the A side “Pension Day” and the B side “I’m Incomplete” is not listed on Discogs. Don’t know how hard it is then to track a copy. On 45Cat and Rateyourmusic it is listed. Which of the two songs is my favourite? How hard to choose! In this record both songs are terrific. Proper indiepop, proper C86 sound! Definitely worth tracking this record that reminds me a bit of the Black Cillas or the Bicycle Thieves.

I can’t help for having a soft spot for the B side though, maybe making it my favourite of the two. I love how it starts with this sort of post punk sound, and opens with the lines “Friday night I’m drunk again and midnight blows me in“. Classic!

Ah! Pension day. I like being paid too haha. The cover art has a small bunny wearing sunglasses on the bottom right corner. Looks like a logo. I reckon it would be popular printed on stickers. Maybe it was. Would work nicely on badges/pins too.

The black and white sleeve record was released by Hag Records. Catalog HAG 002. I know the Levellers released on this same label at some point. This label was based in Brighton. Would it be safe to assume the band came from Brighton as well? Lovely town by the way, just remembering the day I spent there many years ago, visiting the beach, the Royal Pavilion, and having South Indian food. And of course enjoying a couple of pints on it’s famous pier.

The only other piece of information about the band was that the record was produced and mixed by John Bell. And that the band members are listed:
Ian Creese – Vocals
Nick York – Bass
John Lancaster – Guitar
Martin Southon – Guitar
Vince Bowshal – Drums

And that’s all I could find. I believe no other records were released by the band. Not sure what happened to the guys afterwards, maybe they continued making music under another name. But maybe any of you that lived in the area could remember them? Maybe you attended a gig or two. Please help this poor Sherlock Holmes in tracking down the fantastic Open Book!


Open Book – Pension Day


No old band today (beware! as if they were the bubonic plague a girl told me that old bands only draw middle-age white male people and a guy said that they only bring old women that shop at Saga and Tenfield), but I want to talk a bit about a record I’ve been listening a lot and a band and a friend that I hold dear. Hope that’s ok with you my male middle-aged white and Tenfield shopping female friends.

The story begins a long time ago and it has continued until this day. Meetings in different countries and a good friendship. Strange of it all I’ve seen the band play live. It’s a dream of mine that seems won’t happen anytime soon.

There were plans to try a Peruvian restaurant in Stockholm. Called “Tumi” (the name of a pre-Incan ceremonial knife) and located in hip Söder, the restaurant was promising. Plans that went back for months since my friend Erik had mentioned it to me while he was in NYC on his way to Peru. I had to try it of course as I have tried Peruvian places in Berlin or London. You know, quality control.

Of course I didn’t count that it was going to be closed when I arrived there on Sunday. The website clearly states that they are open until 9pm every Sunday. But it was Easter Sunday. Perhaps the chefs and line-cooks wanted to pray? Who knows. It was just closed. Lights out. And there was me disappointed. Then Caro was disappointed. Gustaf saved the night suggesting a Turkish place around the area. Alex would soon join us too.

Around the area there used to be another Peruvian restaurant. Much smaller. But it closed some time ago. It had the fame of throwing a dinner for Mario Vargas Llosa after he received the Nobel Prize in Stockholm. Alex told me it was pretty good. You have to trust him after a childhood in Lima and a lifetime of making ceviches for his friends in Sweden.

The dinner at the Turkish restaurant, and then the beers at the Skrapan, at the Himlen bar on the top, and some more beers around the corner at Imperiet, were just one more episode to these meetings around the world with Alex, mastermind of HaHa Fonogram and bassist extraordinaire of my beloved Sad Day For Puppets. Of course after all these beer we stopped to have some tunnbrodsrulla. Happy days.

These days he is involved also with another band worth checking out Then Comes Silence. A mix of guitar pop and doom metal if that can actually happen. It’s pretty interesting. They call it goth-gaze. My favourite song might be the one where Anna Eklund, vocalist of SDFP, appears doing a duet: “She Lies in Wait”.

Chatting like it was yesterday since he had visited NYC or Miami, talking about the state of record labels, bands, the scene, and of course Stockholm and Lima. Time goes fast talking with good friends. My visit to Sweden’s capital ends up being too short. Gladly Alex gave me a copy of Sad Day For Puppets last effort, “Come Closer”. It will have to wait until I get to NYC for me to listen to it.

The album was released last year by HaHa Fonogram for the world and Fastcut Records for Japan. Touring Japan, I think that’s Alex’s highlight for the band. I can’t wait to go visit. They are on a league of their own he tells me. I notice that the artwork for both albums is different. In Japan we get a colorful artwork, a girl holding balloon, the other edition gets a tropical logo with palm leaves and red parrots as the central piece. The background looks like wet wood out of a rainforest. It brings to mind the Amazon and it’s mystery and it’s invitation to exploration.

10 songs. Classic Sad Day for Puppets Fare, catchy poppy shoegazy tracks. No surprises. Some heavier guitars perhaps on “Living Dead” and “Destroyer”. But yet it’s what I always expect from them, the same quality but something has made me listen to the album for two weeks straight now. I’m hooked. Perhaps trying to find an explanation would be futile but I keep thinking why.

Many years ago we did a 7″ together. I still make the joke that Alex gave me their best ever song, “Again” for the A side. I still believe this. I was lucky! But in this album, the whole body of it is so tight, that it’s such a pleasure to listen to it from start to finish again and again. Maybe it was a premonition this “again”.

The album has been produced by Alex and Tom Van Heesch who also mixed it. It was recorded at Big Island Sound and Uhr-Omrädet in Stockholm. At one point when I listen to songs like “Sugar” and “Shiver and Shake” I can see the band getting much and much closer to poppier sounds of classic indiepop from the 80s. The luminosity of “Human Heart” is a unique one for me, it’s so bright, so hopeful. And then immediately comes “Senseless”, a song that sounds like an updated Primitives. Perfect slice of pop!!! “How could I ever love someone else?” asks Anna and how could I ever come up with a reply to such a sweet question.

The album starts to wind down with the upbeat but yet melancholic “Bye Bye”, though it’s not goodbye as “Bells” closes the album in a much sadder note. But I haven’t even had the time to stop and think when the album starts again for me. “Cold Hand” is the cracker that opens Come Closer with a line that instantly tells you that you have to pay attention “It’s a cold hand touching me now”. It’s the story of a dead love. Shaking, shivering and asking to let go. The sort of honesty that grabs me and actually doesn’t let me go.

The synthethizers announce me that I’m reaching song number two, “Stardust”. Darker. The album enters into a stage of mystery. Pounding basses. Anna turned into stone. Hope is lost in this song. Everything crumbles within the beauty of the melodies. And then our poppy hearts go bursting to full sing-along happiness with “Human Heart”. And then we are repeating all songs again.

I come some months late to this album. Should be one of the best of 2013 definitely.  But of course we know end-of-year lists are usually made by deaf people. Senseless people! Now I urge you to check it out. I believe you can still get the album from Fastcut and HaHa Fonogram. Do yourself that favor. And if you aren’t that familiar with their music, well you should get their whole discography. There are so many classics in it like “Hush” (which I’ve DJed a bunch of times!), “When You Tell Me That You Love Me ” or “Marble Gods” to name just a few!

You do that, and I’ll keep dreaming a good indiepop festival will call them to play. Come closer.


Sad Day For Puppets – Human Heart


A couple of weeks ago, just before leaving on vacation, I took on the book description for Twee: The Gentle Revolution book. People agreed and disagreed with me and that was alright. It’s great to have a discussion. On that same post I promised going over the Salon Magazine article that was written by the author of the book were he talks a bit more in depth about it. So let me do this exercise and see if the description was just written to sell the book and there are many differences between what the publisher promotes and what the author really believes. Of course, we are still waiting for the book to be published as it will hit bookstores on June 3rd. But in the meantime…

But Twees were not Hipsters.  Hipsters went out and did drugs and wore white belts. Twees, as I idealized, stayed in and wrote in their diaries (or on their blogs) and wore cardigans and listened to the Zombies, the Go-Betweens and Galaxie 500. They weren’t scruffy.

When I read this I got very optimistic. This sounded right to me. Maybe a bit of a stereotype, but in general lines indiepop people could fall into this description. But then he affirms that twees are hated more than hipsters and I’m not sure what does that mean. I feel that, for the normal people out, there they won’t be able to differentiate a hipster and a twee. They would be all the same. So then you might ask if a hipster hates a twee, or a twee hates a hipster. But that’s a very pointless question. Hipsters abound whereas the twee people are a minuscule group. Tiny. So no, I really not believe anyone hates the indiepop people. Nobody actually CARES about them really. And that’s totally fine. But I think the author has totally confused hipsters and twees. Even though he claims they are different groups then he is pretty sure to point out “Sure, they all moved to Brooklyn and ruined it“. As I said last time on the blog, there are a few indiepop people there, as there are a few too in Manhattan and Queens. So the question is, who really moved to Brooklyn? Well, it was mostly the hipsters, that’s pretty obvious. So he is mixing them up. Maybe he just hates hipsters.

And that’s more understandable. Hating hipsters is really easy. But that’s another conversation. Later on the article the author talks about a sameness that exists between songs and movies between many decades, even going further to the 1930s (!). This is something I’ve fought against a lot. That sort of idea that all indiepop is the same, that all of it comes from the same influences, wearing the same sort of uniform, etc etc. I found that this line of thought is very common to those that are alien to indiepop. In truth, for most people that are not knowledgeable about a specific music genre, when looking it from outside, it will usually sound and look the same. For a book like this though it’s pretty useful for the author to reduce it to sameness. It means less work, less research. It’s an easier way to prove his thesis. It’s wrong though because he is a music writer and he should know better. It’s pretty interesting that he mentions that “twees, as I saw them, were souls with an almost incapacitating awareness of darkness, death and cruelty, who made the personal choice to focus on essential goodness and sweetness“. Clearly he hasn’t got knee-deep in our beloved music. Even when listening to The Smiths you can tell that this belief of his is totally far off.

He also says that by 2012 there was some sort of explosion of twee entertainment. New Girl, Girls and Portlandia were the prime examples. Why are they twee? I don’t know. He mentions that Girls is a smart and feminist show. Does that make it twee? Sure indiepop people in it’s great majority are smart and feminist. But those are not exclusive traits of this scene. At this point I start to believe that for the author Twee just means quirky, witty and cute. It doesn’t mean anything else other than that. That the music is just an accessory, something that we all know that is not the case. It’s the music what we wear on our sleeves. It’s what defines us the mostly, our love for bands that go from yes, the Go-Betweens to more obscure bands like The Someloves. Indiepop is not defined for owning a kitty, for going to feminist rallies, or for watching these TV shows.

So he got it all wrong. What does this mean? In the situation that the book turns out to be popular (hopefully not), this may redefine the meaning of twee. It will be taken away from indiepop and become a more universal term. Who knows, twee.net will start getting a thousand hits then and possibly a proper twee scene will appear, all listening to She & Him and that sort of bands.

In a way that could be good, we’ve all preferred, for a long time, the term indiepop over twee. Perhaps after this we won’t use the word twee anymore. But it could happen the worst case scenario too. That where we’ll get pigeonholed into the sort of stereotype this guy is creating. It will be pretty uncomfortable if that happens.

The fact is, if there are people to blame for this whole situation, it’s us. Indiepop has been going for almost  30 years and only as of late some books are being written about it though mostly about specific topics like Sarah Records or Postcard Records. But a book encompassing the whole indiepop history, a book to understand twee and indiepop,  properly reserached, well, we never produced it. It was just a matter of time then that someone outside the scene would see the opportunity and write something about it. Now we can only hope it doesn’t make a awful caricature of all of us. Let’s wait and see.


I believe I know about the Subtonics from the future Leamington Spa list that was once listed on Twee.net. I was glad that during that same date I stumbled upon a copy of their 7″ on eBay and bought it blindly. It must have been 4 years ago. The cover art of the record was definitely not very indiepop-ish, but I gave it a try. If Uwe had listed it, then it was probably good.

As far as I know they only released one 7”. It was back in 1987 in Erdington, Birmingham, when the band put together these two songs, “Take it Easy Florence” on the A side and “Nothing to Lose” on the B side, and released them on vinyl.

The band was formed by:

Backing Vocals – Melanie Paige-Gibbins
Bass – Paul Kelly
Drums – Paul Comaskey
Fiddle – Aiden Forde
Saxophone – Nick Smith
Vocals, Guitar – John McElwee

And the record was produced by Subtonics. The sound engineer was Phil Savage and the recordings were made at Outlaw Sound Birmingham. The cover artwork was done by Annie Healy. The label that put the record out was Life of Man Records. Catalog was  LOM 001 / 002. Perhaps a catalog number for each song? All songs were copyrighted to John McElwee.

The music is a bit folky, (I’m not a folk hater!), but it has a good indiepop element in it that makes both songs quite fun, especially the A side, with it’s classic chorus that sounds taken out from the mid 80s, reminding me of bands like The Rain or Home and Abroad. Of course, with the fiddle addition!

Included in the record there’s an insert written by a Richard V. Frank. He mentions that he was in Austin, Texas in 1985, and he was awaken by the music of Subtonics. Seems they were playing around the US. I wonder where else they played. On this same insert it says that in 1986 the band was deported from the US when it was discovered that they had been staying here as illegal aliens! Wow! Upon returning to Birmingham, Richard decided he loved so much the band that he paid for the record. What happened after? That part I don’t know. They split for sure.

The only other information I could track online was that the drummer, Paul Comaskey now actually lives in the US, in the North East and he still makes music as you can see in his bandcamp and soundcloud. In his bandcamp bio he doesn’t mention the Subtonics though. But it must be him as he comes from Erdington, Birmingham, right? He mentions that he has played in many bands like The Nervous Kind, The Music Lovers, The Sunshine Club and Richard Buckner.

What happened to the other band members? There is a John McElwee that is part of the New Yorker now. But is it the same one?

Does anyone remember this Birmingham band from back in the day? Did they release anything else? Did they record any more songs? Let’s solve the mystery!


Subtonics – Take it Easy Florence