30
Oct

Last Saturday I got to see Slowdive for the first time. I loved every single second of it.

I can’t say I’m a huge fan though I really like their music. I would say I’m a good fan that doesn’t know the name of every single song of theirs but does have all their albums on CD and their flexi on Sunday Records. Not the complete collection of their records. But I think they are pretty fantastic you know. So I wasn’t going to miss their one gig here in NYC.

Unlike other concerts where I know and can sing the lyrics of the songs, I enjoyed this one in a different level. How? Well, the sound was truly fabulous, the guitars were crystal clear, they soared. I guess I didn’t like the venue too much (Terminal 5). Having 3 floors felt a bit like a movie, or a place were someone like Britney Spears would play. Maybe. It felt huge. But then, it was also sold out. It was packed, and a cold day of autumn felt so warm.

The music was beautiful as expected. Okay, even more than I expected. It was lush. Everything, even the lights on stage were perfectly synchronized I thought. It was definitely one of the best gigs I’ve attended this year.

The band were perfect I think, they talked little, but enough to charm the crowd. They played all the songs I thought they were going to play, and for me, “Alison” and “Machine Gun” were the highlights. What a beautiful racket of guitar effects in the air. I was daydreaming.

It’s funny that there was a big queue for the merch. Even funnier that I skipped it as I was hanging with a friend of a friend that knew the merch guy (a bit like a Pooh Sticks songs). Small world. I got myself a t-shirt and a lovely tote bag on the way in. On the way out after the gig, there was again a big queue. I guess their tour has been a success judging by this. I’m glad. It’s a great comeback I think. They seem true to themselves though of course one misses their haircuts from back in the day ha ha.

At the end of the gig I got the setlist. My friends left the venue thinking it was impossible for me to get it as we weren’t that close to the front. maybe halfway to it. But when there’s a will there’s a way. So I got it. No problem. Typewritten, band name, city name, and songs. It’s like they want fans to take them.

Sadly after the gig only Neil came out. Would have been nice to take some fan photos. But well, perhaps they are tired. He was nice enough to take photos with the fans. I would have wanted a photo with Rachel. I love her singing. Maybe there will be a next time?

I didn’t see many friends at the gig though I know many were there thanks to Instagram and Facebook and such. Only got to see the great Carrick around. I guess that’s the bad thing about a big venue and a big gig. So used to see smaller bands.

Thinking about this, why not, I’ll try to do a Pumpkin Fairies (their previous incarnation) blog post next week. I love the songs from their one and only demo tape, proper C86 sounds! Promise!

Anyhow, if you have the chance catch Slowdive live. Even if you are not a big fan. you are going for a treat. Brilliant really!

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Another week, another obscure band. Not strictly indiepop, but what I like to call proto-indiepop. That sort of post-punk that was melodious, that was closer to pop than say goth or other sounds in the early and mid 80s. Closer to bands like Two People, Big Outdoor Type, and so on. Bands that would definitely be showcased in the sadly defunct Leamington Spa series. Maybe it’s time to organize some sort of compilations of this kind? I know Cherry Red has done the Scared to Get Happy and the C86 boxsets but, are they enough? Will Cherry Red cover the more obscure bands that truly deserve to be rediscovered because they penned songs that should have been classics? I really doubt it. They are more of a proper business, so I doubt they will risk doing so, like Firestation did before. What do you all think?

Anyways, this week I want to cover this band that from what I gather two of the members went to be more popular with another band called Songdog. I don’t know about them but I found they even have a Wikipedia page.

Songdog are a Welsh three-piece folk noir band noted for their intelligent lyrics and sparse (often acoustic) musical arrangements. Band members include Lyndon Morgans (vocals, acoustic guitar and songs), Karl Woodward (electric guitars, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, keyboards), Dave Paterson (drums, keyboards, accordion, percussion), and Jasper Salmon (violin). Morgans and Woodward had previously been in 80’s “hunchback funk” band Sad Among Strangers who scratched the surface of the charts and toured Europe as support to A ha.

Then I track another mention to the band in an A-ha diary:

 November 19861 – Mags arrives in Vienna. a-ha are interviewed backstage in Vienna for the Italian TV show “Pinky”. A-ha start the European leg of the tour with the American support band, “Sad Among Strangers”. The first gig is at the Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria. The hall has a capacity of 10,000 people and has been sold out for weeks. It’s approximately three times bigger than the other halls they have played in so far. The concerts starts 30 minutes late and there are sound problems during the first three songs, especially for Morten. The problems are solved and the shows get very good reviews in the biggest newspaper of Vienna which compares them to the Beatles.

Strange that they are called Americans. I’m pretty sure they are Welsh.

I keep googling and can’t find much more stuff. There’s a mention of them playing at The Marquee in London on October 12 , 1982. So let’s turn into their discography to search for clues.

Their first release was a 7″ released in 1980 on the Brave Tales label (catalog NOW1981). This record includes three songs (the three you can find on Youtube if you want to listen to them) and they are: “Sparks Fly Upwards”, “A Better View of Baxter” and “The Gongs”. The composer for all the songs was Lyndon Morgans and the record was produced by Ian Dinwoodie. Cool trivia fact is that the record was a Porky’s Prime Cut. Also I like the motto for the label on the back cover, it says “Records that tuck you up at night (and turn out the light)”.  On this record my favourite is definitely the opening track, “Sparks Fly Upwards”, which is much more poppier than the other two which are much more angular. For some reason this song reminds me a bit of The Room.

Next release, also from 1980 (though again the catalog is misleading NOW1982), is yet another 7″. Two songs by the same composer and same producer, the A side is “Here Come the Caesars” and the B side is “I Know Nothing Of the Jungle”. I haven’t heard none of the songs, though there’s a cover of the B-side by the band  Jellymoulds on Youtube. The two songs were recorded at Sounds Workshop and the pictures on the back cover were taken by Len Kinnion.

1981 and yet another 7″. These were prolific times for the band. Catalog is NOW1983 for this double A side 7″. “My Kind of Loser” and “It’s So Good It’s Incest” are the tracks included in the record. Again haven’t heard them yet. The cover artwork is credited as “Dionysus versus the Crucified – by Pod”. Same producer and composer for this one as the other two. Seems a bit of a darker record this one, but I’m just guessing.

Now fast forward to 1986. This is the one release I own and I think it’s pretty good, especially the A side. This record came in both 12″ and 7″ formats, and it was as far as I know also pressed in Germany by Teldec. The Uk pressing came out on Broken Hill Records (catalog BHP 002). The song I’m talking about is called “Taking Off the Breaks” and it’s a proper and beautiful pop song. Chiming guitars, heartfelt vocals and a fab dancey melody, all very 80s for sure. Even a saxophone thrown in there. Freddy Cannon produced this great track. I’m sure Japanese fans are more knowledgeable about this record as I’ve seen a couple of listings in Japanese websites, and makes sense, they would happily file this under their neo-acoustic genre.

The B side for this record is “I, Salamander” and it’s definitely much darker and less fun. It’s alright, though I think the A side eclipses it way too much. “Taking Off the Breaks” could have been a dancefloor filler. This record I got for around 5 euros. It’s not that complicated to track down. I recommend doing so!

And that’s all I could find about them. If you know anything more, would love to hear. Would be curious to hear more songs by them!

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Listen
Sad Among Strangers – Taking Off the Breaks

 

 

24
Oct

I remember how easy was to blog a couple of years ago. There was always some news, discussion or interesting topic being raised in the indiepop community. These days not so much. Definitely the scene is much quiet. There are fewer new bands appearing, labels releasing less stuff and so on. I thought I haven’t been blogging much because I’ve been busy. And I have. I have been super busy. But in the past being busy didn’t stop me from blogging and discussing some topics.

There is this one Facebook group, Indiepop Shop Talk, that raises some interesting questions now and then. I’m always a bit too late in the discussion to participate. I follow the group with interest as most people discussing are people that are really involved in indiepop. They have bands or labels. There are some fans, and some club organizers, as well. So definitely they have an idea of what’s going on.

Some people post about their new releases. I find it funny when they mention they are doing “shameless self-promotion”. I think it’s totally okay to promote yourself, but only if you also participate in the rest of discussions. Just being in a group to promote yourself is really stupid. Or anywhere (as this has also happened in the indiepop-list or other forums). You have to be fair and square. If you want attention, you need to give some attention.

Other people post about their forthcoming gigs or parties. I think this is cool. I wish there were New Yorkers organizing proper indiepop parties, but then, NYC is too cool for that.

But my favourite topics are when someone just asks: “Why do so many people hate ukuleles? They’re a stringed instrument. They don’t sound all that different from a nylon string guitar. I don’t get it.” Of course, that is INTERESTING. I’ve always wondered why people like this silly gimmick, so to see a discussion about it was quite refreshing. I mean, I’ve asked this same question on my blog but I feel the commenting system might be a bit too intimidating for many. I think in cases like this a closed group makes people feel safe to express their ideas.

Then there’s also people who ask for suggestions. Like, where to press records? how to distribute your releases? and so on. There is so much knowledge within the people that are part of Indiepop Shop Talk that picking their brains is an excellent idea.

There has been other times when some people just come to pick fights or criticize indiepop and so on. I suggest to ignore this people, but usually indiepop people are way too nice and listen all the moaning by these saddies that just come to annoy everyone. The day indiepop stops taking all these people that hate indiepop but at the same time live comfortably within the scene, that’d be a good day. It will be easier to build something better.

Though in any case, right now our scene is dormant, waiting for a new generation to appear. So it doesn’t really matter.

I think in two or three years time we might see it. I read someone the other day saying that it comes in cycles like, 1976, 86, 96, 2006, more or less. It kind of makes sense. So perhaps a new exciting wave is brooding right now. I see some thrilling stuff happening right now in Latin America, but that’s a bit too removed for European and North American fans. Or Japanese fans even (though to be honest Japan is producing fabulous indiepop at the moment).

So yes, it feels Europe and North America are falling behind. A good example might be Sweden, a country that traditionally has many indiepop bands, these days produce barely any. What has happened? I tend to blame Spotify, MP3s, etc, etc, that have killed the love for buying and discovering records. But is that it? Or is it really a cycle? Or a mix of both? When will we see a new explosion like that of 2006-2008? Or 1985-1988? A world full of fanzines (or blogs), concerts, festivals and most importantly AMAZING bands? I’m looking forward to that.

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I’ve seen some comparisons to The Primitives. I’ve read about they being similar to Girls At Our Best. I’ve wondered a million times who were Annie and the Aeroplanes.

“I know something about love”

Addictive, contagious, effing catchy.

“I know something about you”

How could one not like this? How cone one not get happy after listening to this song? How not to smile?

And how come it’s not an indiepop staple, a classic? How? Why is the world so unfair with the better songs? Things that will always be a mystery to me.

What’s sad also is that I don’t even have a proper MP3 of this song. I think I took this track from a mix MP3 someone did ages ago for some blog. Might have been So Tough So Cute blog? And Sumire who made the mix? It’s possible. I just had cut the MP3 from a very long MP3 that included a bunch of songs. There is a bit of overlapping at the end of the song sadly. But you’ll get the gist of how good this song is.

I don’t own the record either sadly. I don’t know how rare it is. Would love to play it one day on my record player of course.

But what do I know about the band? Not much I’m afraid, but let’s go over that.

Only released the one 7″, with two songs: “A Million Zillion Miles” and “Travelling Song”. One in each side. It came out in 1988.

It was released by Pipedream Records (catalog PIPE 001). And the record was produced by a Kirran Wheeler.

The artwork is quite cool, an aeroplane kind of flying towards us and around it there’s a bunch of roses. The logo for the label is cool too, Pipedream Records is hand-drawn over a backdrop of the Stonehenge and a setting sun. The design was done by Tim No-Tail.

The record was recorded at Home From Home Studios. All songs composed by the band and special thanks to Toby, Ian and Wee Stevie.

And that’s about it. On the Turntable Revolution blog, Rupert mentions that he was going to do an interview with the singer with this London based band. It seems this never happened… but he does mentions about some cassettes by the band. This is I’m very curious about!

Anyhow, anyone know anything else by them? Have a better set of MP3s? Have a spare record? Would love to know more about this obscure but great band!!

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Listen
Annie and the Aeroplanes – A Million Zillion Miles

22
Oct

Thanks so much to Ulf Cronheim for this interview! I wrote a bit about Matilda Mus some months ago trying to find more information about this fab Swedish band from the 80s. Happily Ulf was up for answering some questions and telling the story of the band! After listening their songs you’ll be wondering, how haven’t I heard them before?!

++ Hi Ulf! Thanks so much for being up for the interview! How are you? How is the holiday season shaping in Varberg?

Everything is just great. It’s been a fantastic summer on the west coast. Now I’m spending my days with my girlfriend Sofia and our 3 kids: Adèle, Harriet and Sixten. We live in Södermalm in Stockholm, 500 km from Varberg.

++ I must say you are the only band I’ve ever heard to come from Varberg. Are there any other bands from your town that are worth checking out?

No.

++ Was Matilda Mus your first ever band? And since when had you been playing bass?

I started playing the bass 1980 at the age of 16. My friend had a Rickenbacker that I could use until I bought my first Hagström. I played in a couple of bands before Matilda Mus, mostly punk rock, but also pop. 1983 I joined some friends in Boston to play in a band called New Tarbideon. I spent 6 months in the US trying to make it as a musician. We got to know Ric Ocasek of the Cars and his producer Ian Taylor, and they helped us out. We weren’t that great though, and eventually the band split up. I managed to get a job selling unicorn t-shirts and stickers from a pushcart in Downtown Crossing to save some money for the trip back home.

++ How was the recruiting process in the band? And who came up with the nicknames for each member of the band?

I started the band together with Pär Mantéus who had also played guitar in New Tarbideon. We persuaded my ex-girlfriend AnnaMaja to learn how to play the drums, and then I asked my girlfriend at the time to play the keyboards. She had two friends that liked to sing, so they became the choir. The nicknames were mostly my idea. Zadie Mc Zymbal came from the Beatles song Sexy Sadie.

++ The name of the band comes from the children books, right? Do you own any of them?

No. I think we formed the band before the books started to come out. The name was inspired by two new wave groups from Stockholm, Ebba Grön and Dag Vag. Our six year old daughter Harriet has one of the Matilda Mouse books, and I tried reading it with her a while back. We both found it a bit boring.

++ And who would you say were the influences of the band music-wise?

None of us actually listened to the kind of pop music we played in the band. I was a huge fan of Specials, Cure, Buzzcocks, Police and a lot of other more obscure new wave bands. Whenever I tried singing in English it sounded like a poor imitation of Terry Hall or Robert Smith, and after the US Disaster Trip, I needed to do something completely different. The others were also into the alternative scene, but the girls were more into goth.

++ Something that strikes me is your DIY approach, self-releasing your record and doing the artwork yourselves. So I wonder about two things. Was there any interest from bigger labels from you?

We were never contacted by any record labels at all. I once happened to run into the Swedish pop star Per Gessle. He is the singer of the Swedish band Gyllene Tider (Golden times), and he later went on to form Roxette. He had bought our first album, and he liked the songs but not the production. He offered to help us out, but I never took him up on his offer.

++ And second, how important for you were the DIY ideals and aesthetics and why did you decide to go down that route?

They were and still are very important. I really love the whole DIY thing. I try to do almost everything my own way, it’s often more important than success. I don’t like it when other people make decisions for me, and I want to have full control over everything I do.

++ I love the boy/girl vocals and the structure of the songs, so I wonder how was the creative process for you? Who wrote the songs? What came first, lyrics or music?

I wrote both the lyrics and the music, and I also showed all the members what and how to play. It was only Pär the guitarist that really knew how to handle an instrument. Most of the time It started with a catchy chorus and developed from that.

++ Your first release was a 7″ EP with the cracker song “På Sommaren” opening, and closing the melancholic and catchy “Intill Min Död”. If you don’t mind, would you care telling the story behind about these two songs that are among my favourites?!

They are both about teenage love. The lyrics of “På Sommaren” (In the Summertime) tells the story of two young people falling in love on the beach. The EP was released in the early summer of 1985, and the song was a local hit. I can’t recall the lyrics of “Intill Min Död” (Until Death Do Us Part). I don’t have the record here in Stockholm, but I’ll try to listen to it when I go down to work at Majas the next time.

++ Your sleeve covers came in different colours, but the artwork also caught my attention. Who was in charge of doing the sleeves?

The whole band took part in the artwork of the first EP, but I guess I did most of the work with that and just about everything else.

++ And doing things on your own, I wonder, was it easy to finance your first vinyl record?

When we started recording the first EP, we took part in a local music competition. We were quite successful so we managed to book a lot of shows. All the money went into the making of the record. Then we actually won the competition just in time for the release of the record. Quite good timing.

++ Your second release was a 7″ with a Christmas theme. It’s Christmas eve now that I’m writing these questions. Is this your favourite holiday? What’s that that you love the most about “Jul”?

In the end of 1986 we had about 200 members of our fan club, and they all received that single as Christmas gift. The lyrics for the song “Nu e de jul” is all about the stress everybody feels before Christmas. Nowadays I spend Christmas with at least 8-10 small children. It’s totally crazy! My favorite holiday is the traditional Swedish “Midsummer Eve”, a fertility rite were you gather all your friends to eat pickled herring, drink aquavit and dance around a pole.

++ Since this release you started recording your music in Halmstad. Why was that? And what did this Out of Control studio offered you that you stuck to it?

I started playing with a band from Halmstad called Dead Flowerz. We rehearsed in their studio that was somewhat out of anybodies control. Very nice people, easy to work with. They ended up playing and singing in the band.

++ In 1986 you release your only album “Pussar Mjölk å Pop’n Roll”. For this release some more people joined the band. What did they bring to the table that was unique about them? And also, what about that first track, “Sagan Om Matilda Mus”? Where does that recording comes from? A radio?

The first track is called “The Story of Matilda Mus”, and it was performed by the Swedish actor Jojje Jönsson that had a character called “Ivan Boring” on the radio. The only new member was the guitarist Johan that replaced Pär. He had more of a rock ‘n roll background, but we managed to keep most of that out of the record. He remember that liked guitar solos and that he was into Neil Young. Not really our style…

++ In 1987 you released your last record as Matilda Mus, “Sodapopkid”. It was another 7″ and in it you covered The Archies, well, a Swedish version of it. Did you play any other covers perhaps in your live set?

No. During our first concerts we could only play the 4 songs from the EP. We used to play them two times and then we asked the audience which one they wanted to hear a third time. It must have been quite a strange experience when you think of it! We asked the publishing company if we could make a Swedish cover of “Sugar, Sugar”. They said no, so we released the song as our own. Nothing happened. I still think it it’s a great version and it works good in Swedish.

++ Talking about playing live, what were your favourite gigs as Matilda Mus? Any anecdotes you could share?

We had a memorable gig supporting the Swedish singer Ulf Lundell. There were 8000 people in the crowd and I remember I started the show by saying “Hi, here I am. It’s me, Ulf”. The crowd weren’t very amused. The Ulf they were waiting for was lying totally wasted behind the stage, and his performance was delayed by two hours. Meanwhile we did our thing and played all our songs two times and our major hit a third time. We sold almost 100 copies of the EP after the show, mostly because the sales were carried out by 3 young beautiful Swedish bunny girls. There is a video recording of the whole show, but the camera woman forgot to connect the sound cable, so it’s mute.

++ So then what happened? Why did the band split?

I don’t think we ever did split up. We just didn’t have any gigs, so there were no need to rehearse. We had planned to throw a big party for our friends, with a british band called Pop Will Eat Itself. The day before the gig there was a boat strike in England, and the band missed their ferry. We managed to book another band for the party, but the crowd thought they were rubbish. It was a cult band called Union Carbide Productions. I think they were great, but they were drunk and they played a bit too loud. We rescheduled the show with PWEI to the day after the party but hardly any people showed up. We had to sell our van to cover the loss, and after that some of the members were a bit tired of the whole music scene. I met the singer of PWEI some years later in Copenhagen, and the first thing he said was “Hey, Ulf! Did you ever get your van back?”.

++ After the band you formed De Nissan Badpojkar. Care to tell me a bit more about this band? Was it much different to Matilda Mus?

It was my friend Peter Wahlbeck and I that recorded a song called “Sommardag”. It has a Swenglish translation on the flip side called “Summer Day”. I played all the instruments except the guitar that was added by the Matilda Mus guitarist Thomas “Svarta Faran” Klint. I like the song, but we had some problems with labels so all the records came back crooked from the printing. We managed to get new copies, but by then the summer had passed and we actually never released the record. We gave some copies to our friends but the remaining 500 are still stashed away in my garage with some of the Matilda Mus gear. It could easily have been recorded by Matilda Mus.

++ These days you run a cafe in Varberg called Majas Strandcafé. I hear many indie bands have played there. So far, what would you say have been the top five gigs at your place? And how do you like running the cafe?

We changed the name to “Majas vid Havet” (Majas by the sea). The old name translates into Majas Beach Café, and I thought it sounded too much like My Ass Bitch Café when foreigners said it. It’s hard to pick only five gigs. We’ve had just about the whole Swedish indie scene performing during the 20 years since we started. Håkan Hellström, Bob Hund, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Veronica Maggio, Miss Li maybe? Hmm… that’s six. Majas of today is a pretty decent organic restaurant and it’s only open in the summertime. It’s great fun!

++ Do you still play music by the way? And aside from it, and running the cafe, what other hobbies do you enjoy doing?

I play ska, rocksteady and reggae in a band called “Good Staff”. We only play at Majas. That’s one of the best things about owning your own venue. You get to decide the line up. Otherwise I spend all my time either with my family or planning and working with our organic farm at Tången, just outside Varberg. We have sheep, chicken, pigs and a duck. A lot of work of course, but fun…

++ Are you still in touch with the rest of Matilda Mus? What are they up to these days?

Pär plays the guitar in Good Staff and he´s also a silver smith. I sometimes meet Zadie the drummer and Paula Purple. Zadie is a reporter on Swedish television and Paula is a music teacher. Johan, Thomas and Jackie are cover musicians. I don’t know if the others are still doing music.

++ Alright let’s wrap it here Ulf. Thanks so much! Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks. It has been fun thinking about what we did and how we did it. I tried playing some of the songs for our kids but they told me to shut up as they went on watching Monster High on their computers. The times they are a changing…

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Listen
Matilda Mus – Nu E De Jul

17
Oct

Yet another very busy week for me thanks to my daytime job and friends/family visiting town. So I’ll share this week an interview I did back in 2011 for a Japanese fanzine called “Weekend Never Dies”  that was beautifully and lovely written and put together by Sayuri.

1. Many bands who have released from your label played at NYC Popfest 2011. What did you think about this year’s NYC Popfest?

Yeah, that’s really cool isn’t it? Must be that NYC Popfest people have good taste when booking bands! 🙂
Jokes aside, I think NYC Popfest was great. The lineup was really good, with strong headliners and treats from overseas. Compared to other years this one had the best dance parties for sure. I haven’t danced as much in previous years. So that’s definitely a plus. Also having the acoustic sets during the evening shows was a smart idea. My only complains would be about some bands canceling at last minute or some disorganized band where only one member showed up, but that is nothing to blame to NYC Popfest organizers. They did a FANTASTIC job, and I’ll definitely be there again next year.

2. Any favorite act?

I was very much impressed by Caucus live set, such a strong performance! From the bands I have never seen before I  liked Go Sailor, Persian Rugs, Tiny Fireflies, The Motifs and Days. And I always enjoy seeing Gold-Bears, Felt Tips and The Sunny Street, even though I’ve seen them a couple of times already!!

3. What was the most impressive thing at NYC Popfest 2011?

The most impressive thing? The 8 dollar beer at Santo’s Party House? That was crazy expensive for a beer!
Also the amount of international fans! It was really cool to see so many Japanese fans this year! There were French people, Spanish, Scottish, English, Canadian, Swedish, even from Singapore! That happens often in European Popfests, but not here in America. So that really impressed me.

About Cloudberry Records

1. Could you tell us the story about how you started the label?

Must have been January 2007 when I came across a little 3″CD for the first time. It was from a Spanish band called Bicicross. Immediately I got the idea that this format would be fantastic for single releases. After some weeks figuring out the packaging, I got in touch with my friend Andreas from the band Celestial and asked him if he wanted to be part of this new idea/project I had. And he said yes! And that was it, Cloudberry was born.

2. Releases of Cloudberry records are consistent in a way. How do you find and choose a band to release? Do you have any kind of criterion for selecting bands?

To be honest my only criteria is liking the band and that it fits in the style of music I release. That’s where the consistency comes from. Also for me bands are also friends, and not just some sort of business colleagues. So it’s very important the relationship we have. I don’t like working with complicated or demanding people. Oh! and a plus will always be if they are indiepop fans. Of course.

3. Do you have any ideal label or labels that you can emphasize with?

I’d say Fabulous Friend Records from Sweden, Heaven Records from UK and YAY! Records from the US. The reasons go from their aesthetics, their taste, and most importantly the passion behind them.

4. Did you have any hardships in running the label?

Sure, but nothing that hurts. Haters are going to hate, you know. People will always have something to criticise.  Though there was one time that I didn’t get to release a single because the band and me didn’t agree about the artwork. As of now, this band is one of the biggest bands in indie, not just indiepop, but indie in general!!

5. When and how did you first get into indiepop music? Did you have any friend who you could talk with about your favorite music when you were a student?

Interesting that you ask about it. After a year I moved to the US, when I was 18, I met my friend José. We both attended the same college. He was much more into music than me then I’d say, and my competitiveness kind of sparked a flame in me, so tried to know more about music. We had a very similar in music taste, even though he loved some tropical music. We started a band and stuff too, but that’s another story. During that time we started working too for the first time in our lives, and had money at last! We started ordering records from Spanish labels as that was the music we knew. Elefant, Subterfuge, Siesta. That stuff. I think it was the connection of Alaska y Dinarama with Elefant and Subterfuge that made us discover indiepop. Alaska is huge in the Spanish speaking world. So from there, ordering Berlanga CDs, or Pegamoides reissues on Subterfuge, made us discover a whole world of indiepop thru the catalog of these labels. Eventually I found out about Twee.net, the indiepop-list, and the Twee Folks group on Soulseek. The rest is history.

Sadly my friend had to move back to Peru many years ago. He was once part of a label called Plastilina. We talk often about music but not as much as before of course. Now he has a really cool indiepop band called “Eva y John” that I look forward to their first release!

6. What bands did you listen to when you were younger?

Before listening to indiepop? As you know I grew up in Peru and the influence of Spanish pop was big during the late 80s, early 90s. I tell you that my first concert was by a Spanish band called Christina y los Subterráneos. Really nice band. One of my favourite Peruvian bands when growing up was called Mar de Copas, they had some great jangly tunes. During those years I loved Duncan Dhu, Hombres G, El Ultimo de la Fila and Aerolineas Federales. Later I got into lots of  80s italo disco. But that it’s kind of cheesy isn’t it? But I love it still.

7. You also make a fanzine which looks so beautiful in terms of single color printing, a font of typewriting manner and authentic layout. When did you start making a fanzine?

Thanks Sayuri. I started my first fanzine back in October 2007 and released it in December that year. I was still in university then, I was a graphic design student, and saw the opportunity to do something Cloudberry-related as a project in one of my classes. Something that I could use both for school and the label. Then I got in touch with some bands I had released, I put together the 5-track CD compilation that came with it, designed it, print it, got some plastic sleeves for them, took orders and started posting them. So that’s how the first fanzine started. I got an A if you were wondering. 🙂

8. Do you think your fanzine plays a role of complementing or promoting the releases of the label?

Definitely, but more like complimenting. I say that because I usually do one-offs by bands, just one single and that’s it. So on the fanzine I believe we can further explore the bands, with an interview, and perhaps including a song on the 3″CD that comes with it. It would be fantastic if it was more of a promotion tool, but I find that many of the people that order the fanzine don’t really order the records or vice versa. It’s like a totally different crowd. It’s very strange but interesting at the same time.

9. Do you have any favorite fanzines?

Definitely yours and the Twee Grrls fanzine. So far this year they are the best I’ve read. From the past I’ve loved This Almighty Pop! and Woosh fanzines.

10. I was also impressed with a large amount of information of your blog. How do you separate things to put on a fanzine or on a blog? Do you think it’s important to manage both a fanzine and a blog?

Well on my fanzine I exclusively feature bands associated to Cloudberry whereas on the blog my I don’t give myself any restrictions, I just write about anything that comes up to mind. And that’s usually some obscure 80s band and sometimes about some personal experience concerning indiepop. So it’s quite different what you read on the fanzine and on the blog. And I don’t plan publishing online any of the stuff that appeared fanzine, I want it to be special for those who bought it.

If it is important to manage both a fanzine and a blog? I would say yes, at least personally it is. It’s really great to have a space to speak up and later find people that are interested in the same things as me. That exchange of information between readers, bands and me, is just fantastic. That’s why I think it’s worth to do both, or even one!

11. Could you give your recent favorite bands?

New up and coming bands? I really enjoy Evans the Death, Seapony, Tiny Fireflies, Cassolette and Pastel Blue.

12. Could you give us 5 best albums in your life?

1- McCarthy – The Enraged Will Inherit the Earth
2- Wedding Present – George Best
3-  Heavenly – Heavenly vs. Satan
4- Blueboy – Unisex
5- TCR- Paro, Siesta, Días de Fiesta

13. Any future plans?

Sure thing, more releases! Very soon I’ll release my 6th fanzine and I have many 7″s lined up. After Very Truly Yours 7″ I should be releasing Youngfuck and Nixon 7″s. There are also some cool Cloudberry Classics 3″CDs on their way! And hopefully I get to go to Japan to DJ someday in the future! That’d be a plan!

Thanks so much Sayuri for the interview.

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Chaps are sturdy coverings for the legs consisting of leggings and a belt. They are buckled on over trousers with the chaps’ integrated belt, but unlike trousers they have no seat and are not joined at the crotch. They are designed to provide protection for the legs and are usually made of leather or a leather-like material. They are most commonly associated with the cowboy culture of the American west as a protective garment to be used when riding a horse through brushy terrain. In the modern world, they are worn for both practical work purposes and for exhibition or show use.

Batwing chaps are cut wide with a flare at the bottom. Generally made of smooth leather, they have only two or three fasteners around the thigh, thus allowing great freedom of movement for the lower leg. This is helpful when riding very actively, and makes it easier to mount the horse. This design also provides more air circulation and is thus somewhat cooler for hot-weather wear. Batwing chaps are often seen on rodeo contestants, particularly those who ride bucking stock.

Hanley, Stoke On Trent. 1985. Let’s transport us in time. That’s where we’ll find The Batwing Chaps.

The information online is very small. I know a bit about them thanks to an old compilation done by Brucey on his Sideroom blog, and also thanks to a Japanese review somewhere online that likens them to Decoy Avenue.

There was a 7″ released in 1985 with the songs “I Won’t Change” and “Crave”. I’ve only heard the first one, and you can listen to this pre-C86 neo-acoustic gem on the MP3 linked here.

I don’t have the record but there’s a Facebook page created by fans for the band, looking also for more information about the band. On it, someone has uploaded the sleeve. From that we can learn a couple of things about this obscure band:
The record was produced by The Batwing Chaps
It was engineered by Stuart Pickering of Factory Records fame.
There are some names that I would assume are from the band members: Hanky P, Lamumba R, Phillips R., Rogers M. and Wagg R.
There are thanks to Karn and Bullet Records (this one is a metal label from Stoke I believe).The cover was designed by Robin.
The record came out on Pinnacle Records (catalog FM01). Safe to say it was a self-release?

Most interesting of all in this group is that someone posted a tape from 1982 that includes 4 other songs not included in the single. Sadly I can’t figure out the full names of the songs, though I guess the first one is “Imagination”. These were recorded in 1982 and they are copyrighted to Batmusic (!).

And that’s all I could find about them. Do anyone know anything else? Were there more recordings or releases? What happened to the members? Were they involved in other bands? Does anyone have “Crave” or a spare copy of their single? Would love to hear more!

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Listen
Batwing Chaps – Crave

15
Oct

Thanks so much to Jörn Wuttke for this interview! Last year Blue Records released the fabulous compilation by this German band including all songs that were recorded on LP and CD! It was definitely one of my favourite releases then and listening to it again today it feels so fresh still! Wow! It’s so strange that only some of these songs were properly released on a 7″ back in the day. But happily, if you haven’t yet, you can still get this record! I interviewed their label some time ago, and since then we’ve had this interview waiting to be published. Now at last we get to know the story behind one of the best indiepop German bands ever!

++ Hallo Jörn! Thanks a lot for the interview. First things first, how long has The Sheets album been waiting to be released? Why did it have to wait this long?

Well, I think we were a bit depressed that nothing really happened, after recording the stuff.
We recorded at Hotline Studios in Frankfurt. To mix the material in a way to sell it to a major label would cost a fortune. So we just did this rough mixes and sent the tracks to all our favourite record companies. CBS and Warner-Germany were interested but they forced us to remix the songs in a more ” UK”- Rave style. They was some interest by smaller Labels , they wanted a rougher “alternative rockfeeling”. Also we needed someone, to buy us out of the contract with Hotline as our publisher.
At that time, maybe because of the frustration, maybe cause we listened to the songs to often, we were not happy with the situation at all. At the end of that period, Frank Röder my songwriting partner and co-founder of The Sheets, left the band to become an actor in Switzerland. I started 1990/91, inspired by listening to Bands like The Primal Scream and early Techno at Sven Väths club The Omen, a more electronic based sound, as you can hear in “Candyman”.
But at the point when Frank left the band, for me the real “Sheetsvibe”, based on our two guitars and vocal harmonies, was gone. I didn’t wanted to recreate it with some studio guitar players.
At the same time I started my techno project “Acid Jesus” on my own label “Klang Elektronik” with Roman Flügel. The first single “Move My Body” was becoming a worldwide club hit. We toured with our first album all over Europe. We did everything as a duo really independent. I didn’t had the nerve to discuss with big , slow and arrogant Record companies anymore and thought about bringing out The Sheets by myself one day.

++ The album is truly amazing, I’ve been listening to it a lot since I go it. A couple of things to those who don’t know about it yet. Where can one buy it? Is there any difference between the vinyl version and the digipak version? And are there any plans for some sort of reunion gig perhaps?

I think the easiest way is to buy it is over discogs or directly at Michael Wille’s label address, formosapunk@hotmail.com
The CD- Version included two more songs.
“Such A Pain” a very early track, recorded around 1987 at the legendary Hansa Studios, directly at the Berlin Wall and “No Thing To Say” a Hotline Studio-rehearsal live version. Taken from our last demo sessions 1989/90 as a classic five piece band. I’m sorry, but there is no reunion gig possible…

++ As I said, I’ve been loving the album. I wonder though for you, what are your favourite songs in it? And if you can tell me a bit of the story behind the recording of this record?

My favourite songs are the short three minute pieces like “Candy Mountain Blue”, “Peter Pan” and “Crashing”. But I also love that laid back summer bongo grooves of “Jamboree” or “Walking In The Rain”. After listening to bands like The Drums, two years ago I thought it would be maybe important to remaster our old stuff. That it worked out that good is for me still unbelievable! When we started our sessions at Hotline, we really had to fight for our sound. We plaid a lot of records to the recording producer. Before us he mixed Milli Vanilly and a swedish number one metal band. He was a major Aerosmith and Metallica fan. He really hated me when I said that my “Feelies” or “TV Personalities” records are sounding better than his mixes. To please him a little bit and to bring him on a different way, I said to him : “Listen to Tom Petty, he had a number one hit and is sounding like an updated version of the” Byrds”. After that, he left us working and we engineered the tracks more or less by ourselves…

++ Also, what’s the story behind the cover photo of the band? You don’t see many people with a cigarette on these days album sleeves!

Beside me all members of The Sheets are chain-smokers. We always had problems with our wimpy look, so maybe Thomas wanted to make a statement. Always give a hand to the addicts…

++ Let’s rewind a bit. I know your first release was in 1991, but when did the band start as such? Who were The Sheets and how did you all met?

I think we started end of 1986.
I knew Lolo and Frank from the very famous club “Die Goldene Krone” in Darmstadt. This was the first discotheque, beside the “Batschkapp” in Frankfurt, having a real new wave and punk following. I saw some of my first rock live concerts there. The program was very diverse. One day Eric Burden, strange krautrock from Germany or Ian Dury And The Blockhearts, The other day Nina Hagen and Johnny Winter.
I really wanted to found a band after listening to very minimalistic German avant-garde pop like Palais Schaumburg, Der Plan, DAF, Die Zimmermänner and Andreas Dorau. I realised that they couldn’t really play their instruments properly but they had style and attitude.
At that time fantastic new wave – pop came from Düsseldorf (Ata Tak) and Hamburg (Zick Zack!, What’s So Funny About).

++ And who came up with the name The Sheets? And what’s the meaning behind it?

I started writing Songs with Frank Röder as an acoustic guitar duo under the name “The Silken Sheets”. The name is from an early Jacobites (Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth) song. We really did street music at that time, played in parks and parties all over the place at the Darmstadt / Frankfurt area. We played Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Velvet Underground, Johnny Thunders, Green On Red and Long Ryders songs. Also the complete Nikki Sudden, Jonathan Richman and Jazz Butcher catalogue. Than I wrote “Poppyfield Smile” and decided to search a rehearsal room. I knew Thomas from recordshopping. He had a very good taste in music, was a bass player and had a bunker room in Offenbach. He was my man. After the first session we were happy, Lolo joined on drums and The Sheets were born.

++ Tell me, whereabouts in Germany were you based? How was the scene there? Were there any other like-minded bands in town or in Germany?

We were really lucky having such a fantastic scene between Darmstadt and Frankfurt when we started out.
We met every Friday at the record shop when the news from “Rough Trade” and all the other distributions came in. I could listen to all the great new stuff from all over the world. Our meetings there were very inspiring. We learned a lot from older music freaks at that time. I read “Sounds” and later “Spex” magazine. I was amazed that they promoted exactly my style of music. I knew from 1987 on, that this kind of music will be the next big thing.

++ Your sound seems to have the influence of the C86, indiepop, bands from the late 80s UK. What bands were you listening at the time, and do you still listen to them?

Beside record shopping and songwriting we went every week to the Frankfurt “Batschkapp” listening to new live bands.
The sound system was very good and i saw loads of legendary shows out there. We saw nearly every cool band at the time. The Feelies. The Go Betweens, R.E.M, Jesus And Mary Chain, The Cramps, The Flaming Groovies, The Triffids, all the American Paisley Underground bands, the C-86 bands, New Zealand bands, Postcard Records-bands like “Orange Juice” or the early Lloyd Cole. On other nights, legendary artists like Screaming Jay Hawkings, Psychic TV and Johnny Thunders. Every Monday were night concerts at the “Cookys” club. It was more like a pub and much smaller than the “Batschkapp”. It holds around threehundert people. Nikki Sudden solo, The Jazz Butcher or The Fleshtones were playing there. There was also a very popular radios how every monday at 10 PM, promoting all those happenings. Klaus Walter, also a well known music journalist, did interviews and played records of all the bands performing later at night at the “Cookies”. The networking between labels, tour promoters, press, record shops and artists was very tight at that time and created a big following till the end of the nineties. I still listening to guitar pop a lot. I love the last “Pastels” album with “To Rococo Rot”. I still love all my “Felt” records. Martin Duffy , the “Felt” and “Primal Scream” keyboard player recorded an interesting solo album !

++ Your 1991 release, the “Candyman” 7″ came out in Blue Records. I heard Michael’s (Blue Records) story of how he approached you to release the record. Now I’d love to hear your side! How did this record came about?

I think I met Michael on all good concerts around Frankfurt. He saw us playing at the “Batschkapp”, so I thought the man has to have an incredible good taste! There were also some friends of him, “Die Blinzelbeeren” recording a single, at my first eighttrack recordingstudio.
That was at my grandparents garage in maybe 1989. We had a nice chat here and there, so the idea came up to remaster some Sheets material and cut this record.

++ You wrote a song called “Manchester”. I assume you’ve been there, right? Would you say that’s your favourite city or which is it? And this might be silly, but I wonder if you were to do a top 5 Manchester bands, which ones would they be?

I had a girlfriend from Manchester. She was living in Berlin, but we were several times in Manchester, visiting her parents. Maybe the song is based on the mixed feelings I had at that time. Later on we played some wild gigs with Alter Ego at a club called “Sankeys”.
Acid House started there in the U.K. and Alan McGee moved with Creation Records to Manchester because he fell in love with that new sound directly.
The Happy Mondays, Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine changed their sound completely after partying with MC Gee and recorded, after that experience, some of my most favourite albums. Even The Pastels, The Jesus And Mary Chain or The Loft were selling more records during that Creation / madchester-hype. Sad that the success of Oasis ended up this very experimental and inspiring time.
Funny that a band from Manchester ended up the Manchester sound…

++ And then there’s “Candyman” and “Candy Mountain Blue”. Is the “candy” just a coincidence or? Also, I have to say that my favourite song of the album is the latter, “Candy Mountain Blue”, would you mind telling me the story behind this song?

In “Candyman” Candy is a coincidence for drugs.
The title is inspired by a very funny Bob Dylan song, about a famous New York cocaine dealer, called “The Mighty Quinn”. “Candy Mountain Blue” plays around the same area, but the name was inspired by a “Hüsker Dü” title called “Candy Apple Grey”.

++ And just to make sure, there are no more unreleased songs by The Sheets? Everything is in the album?

They are all on the CD…

++ Tell me about gigs, did you play many? What were your best gigs? Any anecdotes to share?

“Hammerconcerts”, the “Batschkapp”- booking agency, managed us at this time. So we could open as a support band some very cool nights at the club. My personal highlight was a German package tour with “The Wedding Present”. We plaid in all the great venues all over the country, following The Wedding Presents tour van, in our old Volvo station wagon. They paid for our gas and gave us their backstage food, while they went to a restaurant. We slept in the car or on the floor at some friends places but The Wedding Present were real gentlemen and helped us wherever something strange was happening. For the last gig at the “Loft” in Berlin we had to cross the East German border, which was quite an adventure during that time. For the first time I realised what the work of a touring musician is meant to be.

++ I know you were involved with ‘Alter Ego’, ‘Acid Jesus’, ‘Sensorama’ or’ ‘Warp 69’, and some more. What about these projects of yours? Care telling me a bit about each of them? How different where they from The Sheets?

With Alter Ego we plaid worldwide in over seventy countries over the last twenty years. So that was becoming my touring ” band” over the last twenty years. It’s real techno for real dance clubs. Producing and performance is absolutely different to the work as a rock band. We do jam sessions with our instruments live on stage.
With our” Krautrockproject”, Sensorama we are first writing real songs and deconstructing them with the computer to abstract pieces. Thats why Sensorama is a pure studio project. We worked with loads of interesting loops. We sampled everything, from “Yo La Tengo” to the “American Music Club”. Than we playing over it with our own Instruments and giving it the special, Sensorama style. We used the vocals of Robert Owens (Fingers Inc.) , Jochen Distelmeier (Blumfeld) and Robert Forster(Go Betweens).

++ You collaborated with Robert Forster of Go-Betweens for the 2000 album of Sensorama. How was that experience and how did it happen?

First we wanted to work with Peter Hein from the legendary German band “Fehlfarben” but he hated our tracks. Than we asked Robert. He was living with his family, close to Augsburg in Germany, so our label was ringing him up. He liked the music so he came, just with his guitar, by train to Frankfurt. He looked like a French poet, when he stepped through the railway station. Very impressive!
Than we drove to the studio. He plugged his guitar in my amp, listened to our basic idea and wrote the lyrics in half an hour. Than he plaid his fantastic jingle-jangle guitar in one take. Pure magic, or maybe a real proffessional? After finishing the song he said “Now you have to invite me to an expensive Italian restaurant”. We were all laughing and went with him to dinner.

++ You are such a music person, but I wonder if aside from music you have any other hobbies?

I like all kinds of pop culture. I love art. I collect pieces by young German artists from Berlin and Frankfurt.
I love to restore old cars especially from the sixties and seventies. I’m a big soccer fan. I follow all the games of Eintracht Frankfurt, my favourite club. To refresh my ears, I run everyday six to ten miles, at a forest close to my apartment.
Since three years I’m into cooking. Sometimes it feels a bit like meditation to me.
I like hardboiled detective and crime novels. Jim Thompson, James Ellroy, Iceberg Slim, Dashiel Hammet and Raymond Chandler.

++ And do tell, music-wise, what are you up to these days?

At the moment I’m into pure acoustic music. Just a good microphone, western guitar and my voice. My record faves (this month…) : Caribou – “Our Love” , Robyn Hitchcock – “The Man Upstairs” , Aphex Twin – “Syro”, The Jazzateers – “Don’t Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy” , J-Mascis – “Tied To A Star”, The Pastels – “Slow Summits”, Toy Love – “Toy Love (1980)”, Roddy Frame – “The North Star”,
The June Brides – “There Are Eight Million Stories” , Trümmer – “Wo Ist Die Euphorie”, Schlammpeitziger – “What Fruit ?”

++ One final question. How do you see the chances for Germany in the next World Cup?

I’m far too late for this one, but I have to say it was a thrilling Worldcup! It really surprised me how big soccer became in the states.
The US-Team did very well ! I like Jermaine Jones. He played over ten years for Frankfurt. He’s a real dirty fighter. The Eintrachtfans called him “Bad Boy”.

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Listen
The Sheets – Crashing

08
Oct

This week a short post, but a true mystery to solve!

I heard the Candy Ranch for the first time on on the CD Rupert Cook gave me two Indietracks ago. From that CD, full of obscure goodies, I was able to track a few bands and get to hear their stories. The Candy Ranch, whose “Screaming Nutter” was on the compilation, was one of the few I was struggling to find until I found that Kev was then playing in the Style Selektors. I contacted them on Facebook and Kev was kind enough to be up for an interview. Sadly he only replied the first half of it. And that’s what I’m sharing with you today. These answers are from April 2014.

And after reading them, I totally suggest checking a bunch of their songs on Youtube, they are really catchy and fun!

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++ Hi Kev! Thanks so much for being up for the interview! I see you are still making music with The Style Selektors. Tell me a bit about this new project of yours? How different is it to the Candy Ranch?

Yeah The Style Selektors is a totally new project for me. It’s a very loose collective of great musicians and one of the best things is that there are no deadlines or pressures.
With The Candy Ranch because we were signed up to a management deal we had to write songs, rehearse every day then gig 3 times per week and then recording on top of that, then touring all over the UK
It took us away from home for weeks at a time sometimes and although it was a great laugh and we played with some great bands in some legendary venues I ended up totally burned out

It’s different because with TCR we wrote all our own stuff and there were 5 of us and we all had huge egos and we were so fullof enthusiasm (which is good) so there was all kinds of ideas richocheting round the room and after a while (for me anyway) our stuff became a mishmash of too many influences as far as im concerned and it just didn’t do it for me anymore i guess..

++ So let’s get back in time. When did Candy Ranch start as a band? Was it your first band ever?

TCR started in 89′ (i think) We actually got together from the embers of 2 Hartlepool bands (Taste of Freshness and Eat The Beat) and we joined forces to enter The Cleveland Music Festival and we won it…

All the bands at that time were trying to be Joy Division (which isn’t a bad thing) but it got monotonous. We were all brought up on The Specials, The Beat (who i played for last year) The Jam, Madness, Selecter, Secret Affair etc…so i guess influences were apparent in our songs and no bands were playing that stuff anymore as it was classed as passe, but we liked to go against the grain and it pissed a lot of other bands off coz we weren’t into The Smiths (yawn) although Jonny Marr is a brilliant guitarist I just couldn’t gel with Morrisey’s words y’know? Didn’t do anything for me.
It has to hit you somewhere doesn’t it? Like when i first heard The Jam i thought “fucking hell man, how the fuck do 3 people make that huge sound”

++ How did the recruiting process work for the Candy Ranch? How did you all knew each other? Who were the members of the band and what instrument did each of you play?

Like I  said we formed from 2 different bands
Kev McGuire – guitar, vocals
Neil Forcer – guitar, vocals
Gav Bell-  bass, vocals
Terry Ashley –  drums
Dave Willingham – keyboard

We also had Ste Ryan on vocals for a few months in the early days and after Neil Forcer left Ian Holdforth came in on guitar and vocals.

++ Where does the name Candy Ranch comes from?

The name is actually from a porno film ha ha

++ And who were the main influences of the band would you say? Did you like any other Hartlepool bands at that time?

Main influences were The Small Faces, The Who, The Jam, Kinks, Beatles, The Specials, The Beatles, Madness, Secret Affair, Lambrettas (who im playing guitar with in June) The Chords (who i played guitar with last year), Robin Hitchcock, Prefab Sprout, Aztec Camera, Haircut 100 (Les Nemes their bass player is a friend of mine) Lloyd Cole, Dr Feelgood, Squeeze, Sex Pistols
I can’t remember liking any other Hartlepool bands at that time, although the best Hartlepool band I ever heard was Victims of Circumstance with Ste Shadforth, great guitarist and front man. I was too driven and too focused on TCR to take notice to be honest and they all wanted to either be New Order or The Smiths
and I was so fucking bored by it all to be honest. New Order and The SMiths were still going back then so I couldn’t see the point in emulating a band that was still active !!! i much prefered trying to bring something back to life from years previous
i wanted to get a whole new bunch of people to like the Mod, Ska, 60s scene you know?

++ Tell me about Hartlepool. Where would you usually hang out? Was it a fun town then? What are the sights of town?

Hartlepool was a very busy port in the 19th and 20th centuries, it had to sides Old Hartlepool and West Hartlepool, it was the people from Old Hartlepool who legend has it hing a monkey they thought was a french spy and so Hartlepudlians have since been known as Monkeyhangers
Quite how you could get a fucking 2 foot hairy monkey mixed up with a person i’ll never know but thereagain there are some very hairy women in Hartlepool so i suppose it’s easy to get confused ha ha (imjoking but i bet i get some stick for that)
I went to english martyrs school and we used to hang out at the youth clubs all over town, justy getting up to mischief really ha ha.. you know, trying to get off with girls, showing off my new 2 Tone suits and Loafer shoes with red socks,
When I left school and got my Vespa that was it, totally infatuated with everything Mod, 60s, scotters, girls, drugs, lost weekends, trips to London sleeping near these big heaters in Mayfair coz we couldnt afford digs haha
Hartlepool has a great Marina, lots of new projects springing up, new college, new estates, new schools, lots of businesses are attracted to Hartlepool now and for me its thriving..
It has a high crime rate but hey what town doesnt huh?
I don’t live their anymore but my children do so I still go there a few times a week.

++ I read you gigged a lot, even with big names like Blur or Radiohead. Which were your favourite gigs and why? Did you prefer these kind of big gigs or smaller ones? Any fun anecdotes you can share?

We gigged all over the UK , yeah we gigged with some great bands and had a laugh. The best band we ever played with was Dr Feelgood at Hartlepool Town Hall we took Lee Brilleux for a drink before the gig.
We all got smashed and just before he went onstage we locked him in a broom cupboard ha ha. Hae kicked the door down, tripped me up, took my shoes off me and took them onstage with him, totally pissed and sang every note and performed like a true pro. It’s very sad he is no longer with us and also its very sad that Wilko Johnson has got terminal cancer, such a great talented huiman being something needs to be done about cancer you know? and soon as well they can send a man to fucking Mars or somewhere or they can blow up a village in Iraq from a mile underground in the USA and you are fucking telling me they can’t find the funds to research the biggest killer of mankind than any weapons? Bullshit, total bullshit, they are all pirates the lot of them.
With Blur we were in a big posh hotel in glasgow and we were pissed (again) so The Candy Ranch offered Blur to a game of tiggy off ground (this is a game we play where you had to tag someone, but they were only out if they were on the ground but they had to keep moving as well or they were out) we used the tables and reception desk in this hotel and the chairs. We won coz Blur were all unfit but we all got told off by the hotel manager so we took all the lightbulbs out of all the lights we could find and hid them. Very grown up.

++ You had two managers and they turned out to be quite successful. What do you remember about them?

One manager was Mick Donnelly, he was sax player for Spear of Destiny in the 80s, they were huge, he is an amazing sax player, he played with Madness, 5 Star, Sammy Davis Junior, Whitney Houston… he is currently on tour with Lisa Stansfield all over Europe. In the 90s he played for Swing Out Sister and he went to the Philippines with them (I think) We put a load of dirty movies in his suitcase before he left and the customs people at the airport in Manila made him open his case and all these films fell out haha…

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There were 13 more questions I asked. Sadly I never heard back from Kev. I just checked back at the messages we exchanged on Facebook, through the account of his band The Style Selektors but it seems that facebook page of the band is no more. It’s a shame really. Last time I heard from him was in June when he mentioned that he didn’t had time yet to answer the rest of questions. I didn’t insist.

These were the rest of my questions that remain unanswered. If anyone could help fill in the blanks that’d be great:

++ Tell me about your releases. You had three singles, right? Who put them out?

++ My favourite song of yours might be “Screaming Nutter” and that was your first single too. What’s the story behind this song?

++ And is it true that this record is sought after mostly because of the photo on the cover?

++ And what would be your favourite song? And why?

++ How did the creative process work for you?

++ Was there any big label interest for you guys?

++ And are there many more unreleased songs? Have you ever thought putting out some sort of retrospective release?

++ I read on a Youtube description that you were the only unsigned band to ever perform at BBC TV’s Grandstand in 1993. How did that happen? And for us that are not familiar with Grandstand, what is it? 🙂

++ On Youtube there’s this performance of yours on TV performing “Section 58”. Care to tell me what was this about?

++ And there’s a comment there on another video of yours asking about a footy tape circa 1991 that celebrates promotion to Division 3 of Hartlepool United I guess? Will that tape ever come out on the internet?

++ I saw also on a Youtube video that there are many more contemporary photos of you guys performing. Do you still play the odd gig with the Candy Ranch or what?

++ So what happened, when and why did you split? What did you all do after

++ And aside from music, what other interests or hobbies do you have? And I might ask, who has been the best player ever at Hartlepool United?

++ One last question then, what would you say was the biggest highlight of the Candy Ranch?++ Thanks again for everything, anything else you’d like to add?

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Any help trying to shed some light on this obscure band will be great appreciated!

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Listen
Candy Ranch – Up and Away

 

06
Oct

Thanks so much to Michael Knowles for the interview! I wrote about The Catchmen back in March, trying to find out anything about this obscure Stockport band. Gladly Michael was got in touch and was kind enough to answer a bunch of questions. Now The Catchmen are a bit less of a mystery to me. Back then they only released one 7″, but as you’ll see on the many links Michael shares with us, there were many other great recordings by the band. Also, make sure to check out his new band, Wintergreen, as it’s pretty good!

++ Hi Mike! Thanks so much for being up for this interview. When was the last time you picked up your guitar? Are you still based in Stockport?

5 mins ago. Always strumming a guitar/ banjo/ uke a little out of time. Based in the beautiful Peak District in Derbyshire

++ These days you are involved with Wintergreen. I really enjoy what I’ve heard on Soundcloud. Tell me a bit about this project of yours? When did it start? Do you have any releases? And how different is this band compared to The Catchmen?

This is the first band I have played in for some time (though I have continued to write songs and record).

An old friend of mine (Pete McGrath) with whom I played in a band post Catchmen (Grifter) saw I will still involved broadly in the Arts and got in touch and asked if I wanted to be in a band again. He is great in that he does the hard part of bands- organising etc so I can concentrate on the fun bit (though it is a very collaborative band). It’s a 3 piece band (the first time my guitar has been so prominent) largely because as you get older it’s a logistical nightmare to do anything larger. It was great that Ian from the Catchmen (who I have played off and off with over the year) added some keyboard to Whole (sent over the internet – wonders of technology)

++ Have you been involved in any other bands aside from Wintergreen and The Catchmen?

Yes – Grifter – see above. Also did an ‘electronic’ studio project with Ian Livingstone from the Catchmen and a female singer Jennifer Brett called Casino. See here on Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/casinoband-1

Ian and I also still record together and I am always demoing acoustic tracks.

++ Let’s go then back in time, to the days of The Catchmen. Who were they? Tell me a bit about the members of the band and how did you all knew each other?

They keys members of the band (and the constant) were myself and the keyboardist Ian Livingstone. On the recording you have heard I am singing and playing guitar. On drums is Colin Brennan who used to play with a Chrysalis band called Rex and bass is Darren Martin

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

The film Barberella

++ I know this is a bit of a cliché question, but it’s always interesting, what bands would you say influenced you?

For me a clichéd answer I am afraid. The Beatles, but then Squeeze, XTC, Costello, Nilsson, Kinks- songwriters mainly

++ And were there any like-minded bands in Stockport at the time that you really liked?

I liked a guitarist called Steve Finn. There were a lot of good bands around at the time but mostly up the road in Manchester

++ The only thing I really know about The Catchmen is that you released the one 7″. I really love both songs on it. What’s the story behind them?

Everybody’s Looking for the Sun is about growing apart from my childhood best friend (who gladly I am back in touch with).

Wet Than Dry is a rather extended metaphor about appreciating the past without drowning in it (i.e. the bath!)

++ Was it an easy choice these two songs to include in your 7″? Were there any other song options that you considered?

There were a few songs that we had recorded previously that could have been good singles- Wide Open Eyes, Come On Home, Hurricane, Alice is Blue Again. Have put them up here (with others) https://soundcloud.com/catchmen It was just the timing of going into the studio that meant we picked this one (and that it was irritatingly catchy!)

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

I was at university. It was recorded in the Lymm studio of keyboardist Ian Livingstone in the evening so I often slept through most lectures.

++ Were there any other recordings by The Catchmen?

A lot. A few of them are here https://soundcloud.com/catchmen

None released properly (we didn’t have the internet then just cassettes!)

++ How did the creative process work for you guys?

Usually I would come up with a song. Usually about whatever heartbreak I was going through at the time. I would play a few song. Everyone would take the mickey and then we would play it until we found the right feel

++ Who were Taking Liberties Records?

A label we set up for this.

++ And how come there were no other releases by the band?

We tried to get a deal but despite interest from Chrysalis and some major labels it didn’t happen. This was before the internet so we ‘released’ other tracks but on cassette tape really (got that makes me sound so old!)

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? What were your favourite gig?

We play a lot of gigs locally. Oasis supported us and we played with the Rhythm sisters featuring Bruce Foxton from the Jam. Also opened a university with Candyflip. Some of the best gigs though were at the Band on the Wall in Manchester

++ And when and why did the band split?

We had tried to get some interest but it wasn’t happening. Ian left. I tried to soldier on but post university I had to try and earn a living!

++ Are you still in touch with the rest? What are you guys up to these days?

I still play music and still record with Ian occasionally. Have written some songs for my films. I am a film producer http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1624973/?ref_=fn_al_nm_3 and Ian is writing the music for my new film (I might provide a song)

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

Film. Reading. Family. Running. Screaming

++ Looking back in time, what would you say was the highlight of The Catchmen?

Getting a note from Chrysalis saying they loved our demo and to call them on Monday to discuss our future. A glowing review from The Word front man Terry Christian. Some great gigs. Recording. Writing songs. Always comes back to the songs

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

Any help getting tracks distributed old or new in the States/ anywhere greatly appreciated.

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Listen
The Catchmen – Everybody’s Looking for the Sun

01
Oct

2014 has been the quietest year for Cloudberry. That’s a fact. We’ve put out only a handful of releases this year and I think that by the end of the year there might be one or two more. Long are the days when I could put out 4 little CDs every month.

It has to do of course with a couple of things. Definitely sales have been down in general, for all indiepop labels. Also the bands I have a commitment to put something out have been slower than usual in getting ready all the elements needed. But in any case, in the pipeline, hopefully, we have the Shine! CD, the Pale Spectres 7″, the Don’t Cry Shopgirl 7″, a new fanzine, and the Parcel Post 7″ co-release with Kingfisher Bluez. Aside from that I’m working on another two Cloudberry Cake Kitchen CDs for next year. So please keep supporting the label because these are fantastic releases that need to see the light of day!

On a small note, on my trip to Germany I picked some copies of the new Secret Shine 7″ released on the new label Dreams Never End of my friend Andi. This is a superb release, something you expect from Secret Shine. I’m selling copies only to domestic (US) fans. This brings me so many memories, of the second time I was in Berlin and went to Secret Shine there. Even went backstage and met the band. That was such a good night.

Speaking of my trip, it was a great. I got such a good haul of records this time around mostly thanks to Uwe from Firestation who I visited the same day I arrived. I stopped by his place, as it has been the case in every trip I’ve done to Germany, and he already had a bunch of obscures 7″s that he had selected for me. Of course I had no clue what they sounded like but I trusted his taste. I will go through some of them here on my blog in the weeks to come. In Hamburg I got some records, very classy records that I thought I would never ever have, from my friend Andreas, and also dear Johanna took me to a couple of record stores were I bought some second-hand records for a good price. And again I bought some records I already have. My memory is starting to fail.

Then of course the best “indiepop” moment was the Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan! show. Oh dear, how could I explain it it?! I was there, almost at the front, next to the pogo, singing along and recording many of my favourite songs. They played so so many of them. 20 years after their last gig, one special night, and I went all the way to Germany to hear “Lotsi Go Go” or “Little Red Go-Cart” live. I wish I understood German, I wish I had understood whatever the band was saying in between songs. Everyone was laughing, they must have been great jokes. I will learn German though. I’ve decided it. Though I doubt I’ll get to see them play again, unless they come to NYC, which if a very very difficult thing, even impossible, to happen.

Afterwards there was a bit of dancing too. At night, at some sort of disco that looked illegal, in between abandoned buildings. How cool, Berlin knows how to play it cool. Jule, one of the girls that used to do Pop Kombinat Berlin and was part of Indiepop Days festival, was DJing that night. Many other friends that I haven’t seen for years were in the club as well. It was really lovely to meet them and catch up, even with all the high volume of the music. The club of course doesn’t play indiepop. Sadly for me. But I guess they need to keep it running, and the indiepop scene in Berlin is really tiny. So it was mostly post-punk, some 80s hits, some coldwave. It was fine. They threw some Belle & Sebastian and The Smiths here and there. I danced, the beer was really cheap. Jule was super kind though for playing a request of mine, The Names’ “Calcutta”. I danced this one with Silke, another great friends who was also part of the Pop Kombinat and Indie Pop Days. Damn. Feels like yesterday. Wish NYC had a night like this.

I must got home around 5 or so. I was supposed to wake up at 8 to catch an early train to Stettin, in Poland. But I didn’t wake up till 9:30. At 9:30 the train I was planning to take had left already. I had to take the next one. In the end it all worked fine. But that’s a story for another day.

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Feral: of, relating to, or resembling a wild beast—used to describe an animal (such as a cat or dog) that has escaped and become wild.

What do you know about an early 90s band called Feral from the semi-rural Crawcrook in Tyne and Wear?

I didn’t even know the existence of a place called Crawcrook.  A little story from wikipedia:
At the turn of the twentieth century, and in common with the nearby areas of Greenside, Clara Vale and Stargate, Crawcrook was a village with a vibrant coal industry. With major pits such as Emma and Clara, as well as several smaller pits, Crawcrook became a major coal mining centre. However the coal industry collapsed in the village during the 1950s and 1960s. As has happened to a number of other northern English villages employment in tertiary industries has replaced the coal industry. However, Crawcrook’s coal mining heritage is still evident; a number of the old miners’ homes still exist in the surrounding area, including Clifford Terrace and Morgy Hill near to Crawcrook’s main street, and the Simpson Memorial Home in nearby Barmoor. Old wagonways used to transport coal are also still present, although they are now maintained as footpaths. During the 1970s and 1980s, with the creation of the Kepier Chare and Westburn private housing estates, Crawcrook grew significantly in size and became largely suburbanised and is being used increasingly as a commuter village for the conurbation of Tyneside.

Wonder if I’ll ever pass by that area. I kind of doubt it. In that area I’d like to visit Newcastle of course. I would assume the band would play mostly there, and hang around in this much bigger city. It’s no surprise then that they signed to a Newcastle label, Lust Recordings. This was home of other bands we’ve been happy to showcase in the blog like the Lavender Faction or Aspidistra, as well of St. James Infirmary or The Keatons. Their one and only record came out in 1991, and it included three songs, “Change You Leaving”, as the sole A side, and “Bridge” and “Away” on the B side. The record had that shoegazy feeling of the early 90s. The catalog number was Lust 009.

The A side was produced by John Hughes and engineered by Dave Mander. The cover photography was also taken by John Hughes.

There is an insert included in the record that gives us a bit more information about this obscure band:
“Change You Leaving” was recorded at Hi Level, in Newcastle in July 1991. The other two tracks were bedroom recordings done in a portostudio, in their home in Crawcrook, Ryton, in June 1991.

On it we get the band members first names. Sadly no last names making it impossible to track them down on Google. We know that Arlo played guitars and vocals, Stu played guitars, Felix played the bass and Steve the drums.

And here again I hit a wall. There’s no more info whatsoever of this really nice but obscure single. But I’m sure some people out there might know a thing of two about them. Did they have any more recordings? Did they play many gigs? Were they involved with any other bands?

What else do you know about them?

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Listen
Feral – Bridge