Thanks so much to Annie and Timmy for the great answers!  Some weeks ago I wrote a piece about Annie & The Aeroplanes and that same day Phil Wilson, from June Brides fame, pointed me out to Annie! Then Annie was very kind to be up for this interview! Discover this fantastic band that released one single, but what a single it is!

++ Hi Annie! Thanks so much for the interview! How are you? I hear you are now part of the Magic City Trio. Care to tell me a bit about this band of yours?

Annie: There are three of us in the band, and sometimes four when we play with a drummer. Frank writes most of the songs and I have some input with lyrics and the odd musical idea. Frank is my husband – he says I’m his muse. Its county folk deriving songs from current events. Frank and I play guitars and sing harmonies. Adi plays double bass.

++ How different would you say it is compared to Annie and the Aeroplanes? Have things changed a lot since the late 80s when it comes to the creative process?

Annie: I suppose with Annie and the Aeroplanes we were deriving our style from the more recent past – 60s , punk , etc. and produced original material from the word go   The Magic City Trio looked back to much older sources (1920s and before )and served an apprenticeship learning those songs and their lyrical themes and spent a long time playing (fairly obscure)covers before we were confident enough to write our own songs that would fit with pre war country.

Annie and the Aeroplanes songs were mostly written by Timmy Nuttal who was the drummer. He was my boyfriend at the time. The songs would spring from his head almost fully formed. He had a real clear idea of how they should sound, from the harmonies to the guitar solos. I wrote some lyrics, and wrote a few of the songs but Timmy’s were really special.   I suppose I was his muse too!   Hmm, some sort of pattern emerges……

++ So let’s go back in time, when and where did Annie and the Aeroplanes start as a band? Was it your first ever band?

Annie:  No, it wasn’t! I started out as a busker in the late 70s. I travelled all over the world – well some of it. That’s where some of the lyrics of Travelling Song came from. Having a baby put a spoke in my wheels, so I settled down in Bradford. I got involved in the I in 12 club in Bradford, there was this whole post punk anarcho music scene in West Yorkshire. I started a womens’ music collective, it was just wild. I got a grant from the local council and we bought a load of instruments and amps and just made a racket. We didn’t care though, we went out as ‘Bags of Nerves’, later ‘Olulu Ololu.’ There were about 16 of us! We played all sorts of left field gigs, like a car park in Leeds for the animal rights people. We had to smuggle the drummer out because she was wearing a leopard print mini- skirt. We were on a bill once with The Three Johns – there’s books written about that time now. There’s one called ‘Bradford’s Noise of the Valley’s’ by Gary Cavanagh, Bank House Books.

It all got a bit frenetic and I needed to take care of my daughter. I had gotten together with Timmy – he was a local boy who had been in a London punk band called Brigandage. We were invited to the south of France to be in a country band. First we practiced our country chops in a band we called ‘Cowpoke Annie and the Texas Longhorns’. When we went to France we became ‘Chien Chaud et les Hot Dogs’.

Timmy: I think we started late 86 or 87 after doing ‘Cow Poke Annie’ and ‘Chien Chaud’.

++ Have you been involved in any other bands?

Annie:  There were a few more. Transylvania Mania springs to mind – eastern European folk, I sang in tongues.

++ Who were the members of the band and what instruments did each of you play?

Annie:  The band was a bit of a family affair – my brother Kuni and Timmy’s brother Toby played guitars. The bass player, Mal, had been in the Bradford collective, and my first backing singer was also a Bradford connection. Timmy drummed. On the single we had to get someone else in to play bass – an old friend from Bradford, he was later found dead in the Shipley Canal, a drug deal gone wrong.

++ Who would you say were your influences at that time?

Annie:  I was really into Velvet Underground and Nico, and I loved Blondie.

Timmy: My influences at that time were punk ,country and psychedelia. I felt I wanted the band to sound somewhere between Blondie, early Who, the Ramones. The Beach Boys and Syd’s Pink Floyd. We all brought different things to the mix.

++ I really like the single. I think it’s a fantastic song! What’s the story behind it?

Timmy: The tune of ‘Mill Zill’ came to me one boring aft at my mum’s when I was staying with her shortly before meeting you. You helped me write the words. I think we all felt it was possibly the poppiest and most commercial of our tunes hence pushing it forward as our single plus it was our first song.

++ And what about the B side, “Travelling Song”? How did that one come about?

Timmy: I wrote ‘Travelling Song’ whilst washing up in our flat in Brixton and in dire need of a piss cause someone was using the toilet. Once again you helped me with the words.

++ About this single, who were behind Pipedream Records?

Timmy: Pipedream records was little Stevie. A friend of Toby’s (and ours) who was an A and R man for Virgin Records. It was just for the single. The name and logo came from a packet of pipe gauzes that Stevie had.

++ Who took care of the artwork?

Timmy: I did the artwork. I adapted the design from an Egyptian style Tarot card ‘the Magician’ which had a bird or star (I can’t remember) surrounded by a circle of Roses. I swapped the bird for an aeroplane.

++ Where did you record these songs? What do you remember of the recording session?

It was in Camden – don’t remember that much about it, but we got it pressed at Abbey Road, that was something.

Timmy: We recorded the single at Chas Jankle’s (of Ian Drury fame) studio without his knowledge using his technician Kiran. All paid for with copious amounts of ‘herbal remedies’supplied by us. This was all set up/wangled by Stevie. We had to draft in Ian, an old Bradford muso bass ace because Mal couldn’t handle the pressure. He was a terrible junkie and kept disappearing to the toilet. He took ages to lay down a track he was pleased with.

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

Annie:  After the single came out Andy Kershaw played it on Radio One, and we got some coverage in the music press there was a flurry of interest in us from the record companies but no one took us up. It got a bit demoralizing.

Timmy: We didn’t put out any more ‘cause we never got a record deal and we were always pretty broke.

++ Were there any more songs recorded?

Annie:  We made some 8 track recordings some of which still sound good to me, we need to get them digitalized.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? Any favourites or anecdotes you could share?

Annie:  We played loads of gigs round London, and we usually went down really well. There was one really wild night when Timmy was really pissed and threw up in the middle of a song – he didn’t miss a single beat!

Timmy:  I can’t think of any anecdotes. Best gig for me was when they shoved us on to the end of the bill on a showcase gig at the George Roby and we totally fucking rocked the place and blew all the other bands away. Also I think I remember the Gallagher brothers telling us they thought we were ace when we supported ‘Inspiral Carpets’ at the Marquee when they were roadies for fore-mentioned band. Also I remember the downstairs neighbour telling us that she’ would rather the whole of South London was nuked than have to listen to us rehearse one more time’. Great times, a bit sad too.

++ During the late 80s there were so many great guitar pop bands, the now called C86 sound. Did you feel part of a scene at the time? Were there any like-minded bands that you liked?

Annie:  Not really. We hung out a fair bit in Bonnington Square in Vauxhall when it was all squats and housing co-ops, loads of musicians and artists, all very alternative.

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

Annie:  I think we just ran out of steam rather than any official ending.

Timmy: We called it a day in 89 I think because we’d had enough. We worked our arses off at that band and we came close but we just never broke through. Also at that time other bands appeared doing similar stuff who were younger, prettier, tighter (though not  as good) and with record company backing.

++ What did you all do afterwards? Are you all still in touch?

Annie:  I started a music education charity in Brixton, for women and children. We got loads of money of the Lottery and did a lot of work. Then I got a job teaching at a local Adult Ed college, English and singing.

After Timmy and I split up he went back to live in Bradford. We are still friends and keep in touch.   He still drums in bands, and my brother still plays and sings – he also went to Bradford.

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

Annie:  I love reading, watching films and HBO type series. Travelling.

++ Looking back in time, what would you say were the biggest highlight of the band?

Annie:  I loved making the single and was thrilled when it got aired on Radio 1.

++ And do tell, what’s coming up now for the Magic City Trio?

Annie:  We’re going to bring out some Vinyl next year, defiantly a single and Frank feels ambitious enough to want to bring out a double10 inch LP. Since there’s been a revival in Vinyls the waiting list is quite long for small runs.

On our never ending tour of world open mics we hope to play in Portland, Denver and maybe Boston.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Annie:  I really should write a book! I haven’t even mentioned the ‘Loose Livers’, musical theatre, salsa dancing and baby music………


Annie and the Aeroplanes – A Million Zillion Miles


So, everyone is starting their year end lists?

I have such a mix up with what came out this year. I think 2014 has been a year when I’ve bought less stuff actually released within the present year. I wonder if I’ve missed anything.

I have though, looking at some notes, forgotten a couple of blog posts I planned doing. One is a record review and another is a celebration of a person/band. I will get around to them in the next few weeks. There’s also an interview I want to ask to a band that recently released a retrospective on Jigsaw Records. Aside from that, blog-wise, I think I’m up to date. It might be the most prolific year for the blog too.

Label-wise, looking into sending to press this week the Shine! record. Hopefully I hear back from the pressing plant today. I hope this album becomes a favourite of many. It is really special for me to release it as I’ve loved many of these songs for many years now. And the “unreleased” ones, are as good as the “known” ones. It’s a cracker.

The other projects that are still haunting me day and night are those of the 10-year anniversary party and that of the book compiling interviews and articles of the blog. The first one I still don’t know where to begin, while the second one requires a lot of time. Perhaps after releasing the records that are promised I will get into this.

There’s also another idea as it seems there won’t be Leamington Spa anymore. At least I would love to get back in the project of the obscure compilation for Australian bands from late 80s, early 90s. Will have to look into this in the next few months. Perhaps another sister label could be an idea for me to explore these sort of compilations.

I often wonder though, what kind of releases are indiepop fans looking forward? Which bands would you like to be released? Which ones to be rediscovered and re-released? If you have any ideas or dreams and I can help in any way let me know.

Next year is around the corner. I hope that at last I can release my fanzine. Will probably have to scrap some of the bands that took forever to reply or submit their songs, and look into some that are more energized and willing to be part. Then release the 7″s and the CDs I’ve been talking for what it seems ages now. I know, Cloudberry has been quiet as of late, but believe me, there will be some noise pretty soon!


Seems “The Crystal Garden” is a popular name for many businesses around the world. I know I reviewed them many years ago in my previous blog but never found out anything about this band that once upon a time, in 1991, released a flexi.

Crystal Garden, without the “The”, were British. Well, that’s a given. My detective work this time is limited by the few hits on Google. For anyone out there interested this flexi is not very difficult to find. Or expensive. Actually you can stream the three songs online too.  But who were the members, where do they come from, or what happened to them after, or even before, the band, are questions that will keep me awake.

According to Discogs there’s also a 7″ version for the record. I certainly doubt it. I’ve never heard or seen a 7″ vinyl copy, just the 7″ flexi. What we do know is that the EP was called “Pillarbox Red EP” and was obviously released on Pillarbox Red (catalog POST 1). It was actually a co-release, there’s another label credited, Lovely Records (LOFA 004).

I have a couple of theories about this. Crystal Garden run Pillarbox Red. Perhaps. But seems a bit doubtful as there are no other Crystal Garden releases later on the label. It’s the same label that released Southville and Musical Chairs (bands that deserve an obscure post on the blog definitely) or even more obscure bands on compilations like “The Croxley Green”, “The Open Window” or “Huggy’s Ice Cools”.

Lovely Records in the other hand has much more familiar names in their flexi roster. We find Home and Abroad, The Rileys, The Becketts, The Cudgels and even White Town.

Another curiosity about this flexi by the Crystal Garden is that there are different versions of the fold-out picture sleeve.

The three songs included in very lo-fi quality are “Sunshine Girl”, “Clean” and “Icing on the Rainbow.”

Two years later, in 1993, we hear again from the band. This time contributing a song to a 7″ compilation released by Waaaaah!. This one, catalog BULL 7-0, also included  the legendary The Orchids (with the legendary “Striving for the Lazy Perfection”) and Bouquet (with “The Warmest Glow”). The song the Crystal Garden appears with is “Heaven’s Kiss”.

On the Waaaah! website there’s no info about the band. Just a line asking that any info would be appreciated.

Well, I’ll say the exact same. Any info about the Crystal Garden, will be greatly appreciated!


Crystal Garden – Heaven’s Kiss


I was aware that last Friday The Dubious Brothers played a reunion show in London. Of course I missed it. Last Thursday a favourite Spanish band of mine, of my teenage years, Los Planetas, played in Lima, Peru, and I missed it. Who played in NYC? No one. Okay sure, some bands must have played, but nothing of that caliber.

This city is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, it has everything you can ask for. But when it comes to indie bands that play guitar pop, well, there are a handful. And aside some big name shows like Slowdive last month, we don’t get many bands to come here. We only get them once a year at NYC Popfest of course. Then the rest of the year is kind of dead.

CMJ might bring some good bands, but then like this year, they make the indiepop bands play at inhuman hours like 3pm. Everyone is working at that time.

So that’s the state of things and the year is about to end. There were great gigs this year, there were great travels too. Definitely Slowdive was a great gig, same as My Favorite at NYC Popfest or The Royal Landscaping Society at Indietracks. Next year my festival/indiepop time will be reduced to NYC Popfest and will skip any festivals abroad. Indiepop is perhaps not at it’s highest moment and it’s always the same bands playing. I think I need a break of that. I want to hear new sounds.

The label will enter it’s 8th year of existence and I’m hoping for a couple new releases. But first we’ll catch up with everything that’s been promised. I know, I know, things have been slower than usual here. But believe me I have not much to do with that. There’s been a lot of apathy around the indiepop scene and it’s pretty hard to shake it off.

There’s been some band announcements yesterday for Madrid Popfest, as always it’s shaping up nicely. Definitely seeing Sloppy Joe will be a treat for all the Spanish fans. What a band. I remember clearly how much I loved their gig at Indietracks some years ago, then hanging a bit with them with Stefan and Danielle, and later taking photos together with Paul from City Giants too. Great guy Hitoshi! I feel nostalgia for those days.

It feels like I don’t get to meet many “new” people at Indietracks, NYC Popfest, or the like, anymore. Is our scene reducing?

Long are the days when we’d have 20 people in our lunch or dinner table. New and old friends. Joking and splitting the bill. Days in London having thai food with Matthew not being able to figure out if the waiter is a waiter or a waitress, or having a whole basement in a pizza joint for ourselves. Or what about that Olde Jerusalem Inn in Nottingham enjoying our fish and chips on a bright summer day before Indietracks. Seems like these days are long gone.

And I feel nostalgic about all this. What about Londoners now feeling nostalgic about the Buffalo Bar. It’s been announced that it will close pretty soon. And then what? Some people are trying to organize and get enough signatures to try to save it. Seems like a difficult thing to pull.

I’ve been so many times to the Buffalo Bar in my visits to London. I believe the first time was in 2010. It was the second day of London Popfest. I remember The Garlands played. Tommy was on the drums then, and Sarah was doing backing vocals. It was a bit of a different lineup! Pata was still in the band. Maria, Einar and Christin never left. I think I had just met Christin in person the day before. And I remember Remi and me just shouting, “Christin”, “Christin”, giving her our ‘support’ every time we could haha. Perhaps we were making her nervous. It was a lovely gig. Somewhere I must still have the setlist of that gig. First time the band ever played abroad too.

That same night The Sunny Street played. How beautiful. Still one of my favourite bands of the period. Sadly they didn’t get all the recognition they deserved. Remi is one of the most talented musicians I know in indiepop, and I hope one day their albums are rediscovered and cherished as they deserve.

Horowitz played too that night. My memory is a bit fuzzy like their songs. It was the first time I was seeing them live too. I can’t forget any of this. That day I met so many people too, like Mikael from Dorotea, and earlier my friend Annika from up up north in Lapland.

I think that night Karin played some records too. And then I think the whole night went crazy when Daniel started DJing. Damn, that was one of the best indiepop dancefloors ever. It must have been the first time I danced to The Haywains’ “Kill Karaoke” ever! It was way too much fun. I think we all left when the bar was about to close. Perhaps when Rory was kicking us out.

Since that first time I must have been at least another 5 times to the Buffalo Bar to see gigs. I can’t speak for the Londoners, but it’s definitely a shame that it is closing. It always seemed that it was one of the few places that was keen to have indiepop gigs and not make it too difficult to organizers. And that is something we don’t get much here in NYC.


So Hang David. Who? Who is this David?

I don’t know much about Hang David. They were definitely from the UK. And as far as I know there were two releases, both on the Vacant label.

I haven’t yet gotten their releases but from what I know it’s the first release the one most indiepop collectors go gaga for. I’ve only heard one song from each 12″ and I kind of can see why. The song from the first release is way more jangly.

The song I’m talking about is “Another Day” and it’s a beautiful guitar pop piece! A true obscure nugget. For some reason it reminds me to a lot of Australian bands from the 80s like The Sometimes, The Palisades, etc, etc. It has that sort of innocent and naive feeling to it that I love. Could have easily been part of the Summershine catalog.

This song as I was saying is part of their first release. It was the first release on Vacant (catalog HANG 01) and was released in 1990. The other songs in the record, all B sides, were “Ride”, “Where You Are” and “Here”. It was recorded in November 1989.

We get to know, thanks to the sleeve, that the band was formed by Alex Culpin (bass), Dave Frisby (drums), Ben Durling (guitar), Matt Berry (guitar), Bob Cook (keyboards) and Nick Leese (vocals).

The second release came on the same label, must have been their own label, and was catalog HANG 02. This record came out in 1992. The name of the maxi was “Awry” and included one A side, “Head”, and three B sides that were “Like Stars”, “Nery” and “Oceanic”. This record seems way much easier to track down.

The last piece of information I could find was that there was a promo video for “Head” that was released in 1993. It was directed by Jonathan Braman, Andy Pellet and David Frisby. You can watch it here.

Aside from that, I couldn’t find more information. Perhaps someone out there remembers them? I would love to hear the rest of their songs, and learn if they had more unreleased material, especially from that jangly period. This song “Another Day”, is definitely a winner!


Hang David – Another Day


The last few days there’s been an interesting debate on the facebook group Indiepop Shop Talk about a post Xanthi wrote on her blog Songs for Girls to Sing. After seeing the results of a survey (that I will go over in a bit), she expressed this:
I’ve been meaning to put forth this theory for sometime now and this kinda confirmed it (check the ratio of people who have been fans of indie pop music for 20+ years). It’s a theory I came up with whilst following what is happening in this indiepop schtik all these years: that in fact, the indiepop scene, community, clique or whatever you want to call it is largely sustained and driven by people who are in their 40+ years.

I agree with this. Will even say that this is a theory but a fact. But let me go step by step so I can explain what’s going on.

A week or so ago on the indiepop-list a nice chap by the name of Brian asked the listees if they could participate in a survey he was doing for a research paper. He is studying for his Masters degree in Library Information Science. He said that he was trying to collect data so he could write about the indiepop community, with a focus on how people get exposed to new music these days.

I participated answering the questions. Other 99 people did too. I guess 100 is the limit for the free SurveyMonkey service? It doesn’t matter. It’s a small number, that is true, but it’s significant. How many people are really into indiepop? Arguably some 3000 in the world? So 100 is still not such a small number.

It’s from the results, which you can see here, that Xanthi proposes the theory. From the results we see that almost 40% that answered the interview say that they’ve been fans for 20+ years. This will mean that more or less the big group into indiepop goes from 35 years and older.

This would be no surprise to anyone that attends festivals or gigs. You can see this. I never minded this, but some people get annoyed by it.

90% of the respondents wrote that they support the scene by buying records and going to shows. The remaining percent is a big question mark. I think if tt 10% is not doing this then definitely they are not supporting the scene in any way possible.

Vinyl seems to be the number one format choice. Yes, people love vinyl more than anything, but still CDs sell better.

There are a bunch of interesting results there, though I find the more surprising one the one that says more people use Myspace to find bands. Seriously? Who uses Myspace these days?!

Anyways, on the Indiepop Shop Talk, there are people that have said that this is not true, that express:
” are making the music as well, starting labels as well, and building scenes as well. The emphasis on “40 yr olds” as those who have expendable income is also a bit meh as I had much more expendable income as a student because I didn’t have a mortgage, or other mouths to feed than my own. I could drop money on records and just put off lunch, and I often did.”

When I read things like this I wonder if seriously whoever wrote this is actually knowledgeable of the indiepop scene. I wonder what kids this person talks about? Which kids are organizing labels? Or gigs? Or festivals? Perhaps in other scenes this might be true. Maybe there they are proactive and creative and all that. But in the indiepop scene? It’s not true. At least not yet.

I won’t go into his expendable income argument as it’s pretty obvious a 40 year old should, generally speaking, make and live more comfortably than a 20 year old. But let’s talk about indiepop. Right?

I agree in one point with this person. The youngsters are making music. But the older guys too. The Orchids are still penning beautiful songs, The Hit Parade too. Then you have The Spook School, young and full of life, or Flowers, making beautiful noise. I think when it comes to music there’s a 50/50 thing going on.

There was one post that I really liked and I think sums up what the “kids” are up to:
“I’m also not so sure kids want to be limited in one “scene” these days. Most of the people I know in between 15-20 are way more eclectic than I was at the same age. They’re gonna listen to Rihanna, French Films, Thee o sees, Kurt Vile and The Field Mice, but they don’t really care about who belongs where. I tend to think they just want to build their private own musical utopia.”

This is dead on. And you can also see it when you see gig lineups for many of these younger bands. They just don’t mind. They don’t want to be part of one scene.

In the end, I think the main idea behind Xanthi’s post is that of pointing out that we do need a new generation to step up. I’ve been writing about this for years now. A new generation that organizes gigs, release records, and bring new ideas to make the scene fresher and more exciting. I think age in the end doesn’t matter, but it would be great if this great scene keeps going strong for many years to come.

And yes, I’m under 40. And I don’t mind accepting that they are the ones who keep supporting the scene in a way or another. And I’m very thankful to them.


Charlot may refer to:

+ Charlot, son of Charlemagne in the Matter of France
+ Charlot Byj (died 1983), American artist
+ Charlot Kaské (18th century), Shawnee war chief
+ Jean Charlot (1898–1979) French-Mexican painter and illustrator
+ Charlot, the French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian name for Charlie Chaplin’s character The Tramp
+ Charlot, the name of a high spec Bicycle maker in Paris in the first half of the 20th century

I was looking into some old CDs on my Benno shelves. I have a section just for the slim cardboard CD singles (or albums) that is a bit of a mess. They don’t have a spine so it takes forever to find anything.

Among those CDs there’s one by the Charlots on Firestation Records. So I played it.

This make me look into their other releases. I was aware for a long time of their other single, a 7″, but I had no idea they had released an album! So now, I have to look into getting it! Anyways, let’s go discover this obscure band from the 90s!

Online I found on a Swedish blog a small biography of the band. So let’s start there:

Charlots was a Swedish pop band formed in Stockholm in 1994. The members were Per Lindén (Guitars), Love Eklund (Synthesizers), Sofie Sörman (Vocals), Mattias Carlsson (Drums) and Sven Granath (Bass). On their first single Lars Antonsson played drums, and Roger Kallin bass. Love and Sofie were schoolmates at the musician program at Södra Latin’s High school, and Sofie was at the same time singing in another band, Ridis, formed by some other schoolmates as a school project. Like many other Swedish pop bands in the 1990s, Charlots released records only in Japan and Germany. Nevertheless, they also climbed the charts in former Yugoslavia.

Today Sofie lives in Paris, where she is involved in various projects, performing and recording music. On her Myspace page she presents mostly jazz music. Love lives in London, and runs mrlove.org – a website about his impressive collection of Depeche Mode records.

A quick visit to Love’s page I notice he has been updating his Depeche Mode collection recently. Is he still making music in England? I wonder. Then another visit to Sofie’s Myspace. There are a bunch of songs taken from three albums “Hidden Space”, “Ripples” and “Defrost”. Definitely not indiepop but more into jazzy sounds. Quite nice still! Seems the last update on this Myspace account happened early in 2013.

Let’s get back to their records then. Almost 20 years ago. 1995. That’s when they released their first 7″ on the fabulous Japanese label Motorway Records (catalog MOTOR 009). There were three songs included, “Even If I Like You” (the sole A side), “Rocky Boy” and “Summertime Affairs”. The photo on the sleeve came thanks to Annette Samuelsson. The record was produced, recorded and mixed by J.A. Novak, who was part of Cinnamon (I love this band). And yes, you can see some similarities between both bands. Also it’s good to mention that Per participated in some of the Cinnamon releases too!

Their last  release was the one I was talking about, the one on Firestation Records. This one came in 1998 and was one of the first releases on the Berlin-based label (catalog FST 004). This CD included four songs, “Always Someone Else”, “Playboy”, “Night People” and “The Painter”.

In between these two releases, in 1997, their album came out. I had no clue until today that it existed. It was only released in Japan on the L’Appareil Photo label (catalog PHOTO 14). This label also had Japanese releases for Momus, Stereo Total, Saint Etienne and more. It seems you can find a used copy for a fair price on Amazon.

And that’s more or less when I lose their track. There’s not much more written about them online. And aside from Sofie, I don’t know if the rest of the band continued making music. Also would love to know and listen if they had any other musical projects before or during Charlots. Or if they have any unreleased songs? Does anyone know?


Charlots – Even if I Like You


November. Time flies. Last October was the sixth anniversary of the blog.  Now 2015 is around the corner and we actually have a new release coming up soon. At last the Shine! compilation will be out hopefully next month. I have put up a pre-order button. You can’t miss this fantastic release!

Hopefully now that the midterm elections are over I will have more time to dedicate to the label. The past couple of months had been hectic at work and I haven’t spent too much time in designing and nagging the bands to get me the stuff that is needed. Now I should start getting on track and hopefully early next year the promised fanzine, the Pale Spectres 7″ and the Don’t Cry Shopgirl 7″ will be out. Oh! and the Fibi Frap compilation too! So I’m on that now.

Also next year I have a planned trip to China in April. More vacations than pop related, though if there are any pop friends out there in Shangai, Beijing or Hong Kong, I’d love to meet you! Or if anyone know any events that month that I’d be interested (I cross my fingers that when I’m there there will be a My Little Airport gig) please let me know. Aside from that it seems that I’ll be enjoying the city’s winter. Hoping it’s not as snowy as last year of course.

Memories from winter. I had never seen snow before I moved to NYC. Though many years ago I released a small compilation, “Do You Think it Will Snow Tonight?”. Maybe some of you remember it. I thought it was one of the best I did. It included Evans the Death, Seapony, Cassolette, Sweater Girls and The Garlands. Evans the Death went to sign afterwards with Slumberland and Fortuna Pop and re-recorded for their album the included song, “Catch Your Cold”. I still prefer this earlier version, rawer, and poppier. Seapony at that point I believe had just put their songs on Bandcamp. They will later release a couple of albums. Cassolette joined the Cloudberry family and released a 7″. They had another handful of EPs on various labels. Sweater Girls released a couple of 7″s and an album, a delicious album. They were one of the bands that I always wanted to release a 7″ but for a reason or another it never happened. One of my favourites from that time period. And The Garlands, well, I have ten thousand stories to tell about them. I’m happy to say that all of the band are still friends and Christincita is one of my faves. They had a fa-fa-fantastic album on Shelflife that even went to be repressed.

The name of the compilation if you noticed was taken from a Cat’s Miaow song. A beautiful song. Like every song that Bart has been involved with. I would later be lucky to work with him.

But the story of the theme for the compilation is real. There was a night in Miami that the temperature actually went down. Down to 2 degrees Celsius. And there were flakes. Yes. They happened around 4am or 5am. It was terribly unusual. I lived by the beach so I missed them, but supposedly in South Miami people were able to see them. There weren’t many either but, there were some. And it was such an event.

I thought this strange happening, because come on, Miami is just palm trees and sun, could make an interesting theme. I remember talking with Christin for the artwork about the artwork and even though she suggested a unicorn (she always does),  she was happy that I chose a cute reindeer. I used some old imagery from children’s books for the whole design and on the inside I wrote a bit about this event. I wonder if anyone actually believed it. But I tell you, it was cold. And there is no heating usually in houses in Miami. It wasn’t easy to sleep like that!

Anyways, that’s the story behind that little release. When I think of winter and Cloudberry, the mini-CD sleeve always comes to mind.


So, last week I was talking a bit about the fabulous Slowdive gig I attended here in NYC. Wow, I still remember it with awe! I was actually watching some footage I recorded a couple of days ago, and I was blown away again and again.

On that blog post I mentioned that I wanted to cover the obscure Pumpkin Fairies, the band that came before Slowdive. I’m sure most hardcore Slowdive fans know about it, but I think a bunch of indiepop, c86 kids don’t. And they are missing out as the sound of The Pumpkin Fairies is way closer to say The Charlottes or The Nightblooms than to Slowdive.

So what do we know about them. There’s a bunch of information around on the web so what I’m going to try is to put it all together and to make some sense of it.

Wikipedia mentions:
Slowdive was formed in Reading, England by Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell in October 1989. The two sang and played guitar, and had been friends since they were 6 years old. At a Sunday youth group, they began making music in an indie pop band called The Pumpkin Fairies, with bassist Mike Cottle and drummer Adrian Sell. When the Fairies disbanded, Slowdive formed, also including drummer Adrian Sell and Sell’s friend, bassist Nick Chaplin.

Last.FM also has a small biography. Here it mentions that The Pumpkin Fairies were born in 1988, meaning just a year before Slowdive. This brief history is credited to a John Kupchik.

1970 Neil Halstead is born on 7 October in Wokingham, England (near Reading).

1971 Rachel Goswell is born on 16 May in a small village outside Reading, England.

1976-77 Neil’s family moves to Sonning Common in Oxfordshire, and that is where he first meets Rachel (at school when they were about six years old).

1978 Rachel begins to learn guitar from her father at the age of 7.

Sometime in the early-mid 1980s Rachel and Neil begin to take classical guitar lessons from Rachel’s best friend’s mother. They continue to pass eachother often, as they attended the same schools. Their friendship develops further.

Sometime in the early-mid 1980s Neil does a paper round, saves up some money, and buys his first electric guitar.

1984 Rachel gets obsessed with Grace Jones.

1985 Rachel gets obsessed with The Smiths.

Sometime in the mid-1980s Rachel discovers the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees from her older brother.

1988 Rachel and Neil get together and form the band the Pumpkin Fairies, along with Nick Chaplin on bass and Adrian Sell on drums.

1989 The Pumpkin Fairies record and release their 7 song cassette demo. It was recorded on 2 Jan 1989 at Reading Berks Rehearsal studios, when Neil was 18 and Rachel just 17.


Now let’s check out this seven song cassette demo. On Discogs we actually find two cassettes. Both released in 1989.

The first one, the one mentioned in the timeline, includes: “Everything You Breathe”, “Stephanie Says” (a Velvet Underground cover), “Fifteen Million Smiles”, “You Make Me Feel”, “What Matter With Me” and “Dream On”. 3 songs in each side. This also includes an untitled live ghost track. All songs were written by Neil in this tape.

There’s a nice interesting story about this tape on the site Souvlaki Station:

The exact number produced is unknown to me, but from what I gather it was in the neighborhood of a few dozen. They were sold at the few gigs they played in Reading, and given to friends. It is uncertain how many copies have survived to this day. On these songs Rachel was the only lead vocalist, although Neil does sing backup on “Stephanie Says”. This song (albeit a Velvet Underground cover) was the first example of how naturally Rachel and Neil’s voices harmonized. On the whole the songs sound highly derivative of My Bloody Valentine, the Primitives, and other similar bands of the time. But throughout there are definite hints of what Neil and Rachel would later write. Rachel’s vocals are up front and prominent, and sound surprisingly good for her young age. Neil’s guitar work consists of mainly basic chords played through fuzzy effects (primarily distortion). The song “whats the matter with me” is probably the highlight of this demo, a wonderful little acoustic ditty with Rachel singing and Neil plucking away on the guitar. It sounds very quirky in a charming Syd Barrett sort of fashion. The bonus track at the end is of unknown origin as it isn’t listed in the credits. It is a recording presumably from 1988 in Rachel’s parent’s garage, where they practiced. It sounds as if it were recorded on a boombox or a cheap portable cassette recorder. There’s some talking at the end, consisting of the usual teenage band member chatter.

The second tape includes: “Love Me”, “September Chills” and “Jesus”. This tape was single-sided.

Souvlaki Station says about this tape:
The other tape is a three song tape consisting of the tracks “Jesus”, “September Chills”, and “Love Me”. This was probably recorded after the 7 song demo, but I’m not totally sure about this. “Love Me” was re-recorded as Slowdive during the “take me down/beach song” session, but never released.

But where did I hear them for the first time? It was actually on a very indiepop tape compilation called “You Can’t Be Loved Forever Vol.1”. I’ve mentioned this tape so many times as there were so many great bands in it and because this tape was compiled by the great Phil Ball from Feverfew and The Rileys.

Then I keep digging online to find any more information about The Pumpkin Fairies. I find an interview from Pennyblackmusic with Rachel Goswell. She says: Pumpkin fairies (Laughs).We started when we were 15 and the Pumpkin Fairies was our gigging name around town for a few years (Laughs).  And funny thing, when asked about the C86 stuff she says: Yeah, I really hated all of that stuff. I was a Goth at that point. 

And that’s more or less there’s online about this short-lived band. But after listening to their songs and the high-profile of their next band you’ll be wondering why these songs are not more popular within the indiepop crowd. Questions to be answered? Well, why hasn’t this been properly released? I would! And are there any live recordings perhaps? And where did their name come from?! Any clues?


The Pumpkin Fairies – Jesus


Thanks so much to Fiona for the interview! Some time ago I wrote a small piece about her old band The Hill Bandits and Fiona was kind enough to get in touch and answer to all my questions! If you’ve never heard about them before, The Hill Bandits were a band from Leeds that released two 12″ and have this beautiful and great song called “Nowhere Train” too. If you want to learn their story, sit down, and enjoy!

++ Hi Fiona! Thanks for being up for the interview! You are still making music these days as Itch. Care telling me a bit about your new project?

Yeah, Itch is my main project here in France. Itch plays melting pop. Lyrical adventures wrapped in contagious melodies. We have a wonderful blend of many different influences from different continents and epochs.

++ Also now you are based in France, am I right? How long since you left the UK? What is that that you miss the most from Leeds and England in general?

This is quite a long story. I said goodbye to the Hill Bandits and Leeds, UK in 1988. The Hill Bandits record label went bust, the bass player, Paul Staniforth wasn’t well (unfortunately our mate Paul passed away a few years ago. R.I.P.) and HB’s just just come back from our German tour, I’d fallen in love with the exciting city of Berlin and decided to move over for a while. A while that lasted 18 years. I came to France in 2007. I had finally quit Berlin. I bought a very large suitcase, a tent and 2 tickets for Amsterdam for me and my then best friend, my dog – Medina. Talking of which I had to wait until October before I could get the dog through quarantine. That’s why I chose to spend the summer in Amsterdam,where I went to a campsite on the outskirts of the city. Tranquille! There after 1 week I was working in the snack bar and one day a man walked in. Yes there you have it, a man! From France just arrived. He had been invited to work at the
university during the summer and our paths crossed. The second night he took out his guitar and played some French songs. Until that moment I didn’t know he was a musician too. I told him I sing and I sang and he accompanied me on guitar. The idea for me to go back to Paris with him and forget all the UK plans seemed like a typical Fiona thing to do and I did. That’s how Itch started. We are going in the studio next week to record our 3rd CD. So there you have it. But you don’t. I’ll send you a copy of our last album Cool Breeze if you like. You know one thing I really miss is the Yorkshire humour but I do really miss the town itself as a whole. Oh and a good curry I miss my evenings with Kevin and friends eating in a good curry house.

++ Let’s go back in time  a bit. Were The Hill Bandits your first band?

No HB’s wasn’t my first band. I left home pretty early at the age of 17 and started looking for bands more or less immediately. I auditioned to sing in a synthesizer group that I met at The Warehouse wasn’t with them long. They were too shy to play in front of an audience. I was invited once to guest with a group from Hyde Park, Leeds, cant’ remember the name. We had a gig upstairs at the Astoria (I think). Pete Master was there with my sister and after the show he asked me to sing with his fantastic 15 piece band the Magnificent 7. I think I was still singing with them when we started the HB’s. Sang with the Yahoo Family too but I think that started around the same time as the HB’s.

++ How did the Hill Bandits start as a band? How did you all meet?

Another long Fiona tale, I’ll keep it short. We were all in the music scene in Leeds. I worked at my sister hairdressing salon and Kevin came in to get his hair cut. When I was drying his hair I told him I wanted to start a new band and would he like to join me in setting it up? We went for a beer in the pub next door after (he was the last client) we talked and formed the Hill Bandits. Paul came just after to play bass and the first drummer John. Hill Bandits rode over the top of the hill at sunset, so to speak.

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

The band name comes from our town and it’s curves up and down and the fact that we were all outlaws together in a new gang hence bandits.

++ You seem to have been equally influenced by the sounds of the guitar pop bands that were appearing in the mid and late 80s as well as country music, am I right? What bands would you list as influences during that time?

Well to be honest it was Kevin who opened the treasure chest named country for me. I started listening to a lot of Patsy Cline. I also listened a lot to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Music from the ’80’s that I personally liked for example were the Eurythmics but then I listened to loads of different groups – to many to mention.

++ Were there any other like-minded bands in Leeds that you followed at that time?

I don’t think there was anything like us in Leeds at that time.

++ How was Leeds back then? What were the venues that you used to go to? Your favourite places to hang out?

Leeds was brilliant back then I was in my early twenties then and was quite wild (still am I suppose) it was all very exciting for me. We played at the Duchess of York a few times and went to see lot’s of bands there too. We could often be found in the Faversham. With the choice of pubs it’s difficult to pin point any really but the areas we socialized in were Hydepark, Headingly and the city centre for gigs.

++ I’ve always heard stories about Jumbo Records by Leeds bands, maybe you have one to share?

Jumbo records, yes in the Merrion Centre. Still exists. I used to DJ in a club back then and bought a lot of my records at Jumbo. I don’t have any juicy stories to tell though.

++ You released two records on Ediesta Records. How did you sign to them?

Ediesta was a sub label. It’s big sis was Red Rhino Records who Kevin was with at the time. He was a rung or two higher up the musical ladder than me. It was through his connection to RRR that we had the opportunity to get intouch with the right people and sign.

++ Were there any other releases? Or perhaps compilation appearances that you remember about?

We did record a 3rd  record but it never got released. Kev has the master tapes. It’s quite amazing that they’re in such good condition.

++ I read there was a third record planned, what happened to that?

It never saw the light of day, I’m afraid.

++ I’ve never heard your first release, “Hotrod Buckboard Boogie”. How different is it to your second 12″, “Nowhere Train”. Is it similar sound-wise? And what similarities and differences were there in the recording sessions for both?

When we first started we played cover versions. Hotrod Buckboard Boogie is a 12″ EP we recorded our versions of Love Me Or Leave Me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xiD8vFjs4I, Aragon Mill, really nice guitar on that one,
You’re Gonna See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5EgFTbj-K4 and Out Amongst The Stars.

++ Tell me a bit about the photo on the cover for “Hotrod Buckboard Boogie”. Did you all always wear hats and baseball caps? :p

The cover was designed by Kevin. In those days we didn’t have computers. Kevin took photo copies exposing them differently making them lighter or darker then he added the colour. We definitely didn’t wear caps all the time. All too proud of our hair cuts 😉

++ Talking about the songs, I wonder, how did the creative process work for you?

In those days I was just starting out on the lyricist adventure. Kevin would have an idea for the guitar for example and then we’d either write together or he’d already have ideas that he’d suggest to me and we’d work on the ideas together to create a song and then present it to the bass player and drummer. By the time we were recording the 3rd record I was writing songs all on my own. Songs that not many people have heard.

++ There’s a video on Youtube for “Nowhere Train”. Where was this recorded? What do you remember from that day? Any anecdotes?

Nowhere Train video; yes I remember it well. We asked at the venue Coconut Grove, in Leeds city centre, if they thought it would be OK to film there and they said yes.

++ You seem to have gigged a lot. You even went touring in Germany. How was that experience? What towns did you visit?

Going on tour was an amazing experience I loved it and still do. That whole traveling in the van thing, hotels and be together as a group now that’s something that I really love. People lining up after the show for signed copies of the album. A taste of stardom if you like. I would have to say, for me, one of the most memorable gigs we played was in Berlin in the Niagara. Memorable because although it was quite a small place there were loads of people there that later became friends and colleagues when I moved there. What towns did we visit? Well the first gig was in Dortmund. We played as opener for Thin White Rope. After the show we drank enormous amounts of something, maybe vodka and I ended up cutting the bass players from Thin White Rope’s hair. I can’t remember all the places but I do know we played in Zug in Switzerland. All a bit hazy 25 years on.

++ And in general, what would you say were your favourite gigs you played as The Hill Bandits?

We used to drive up to Carlisle every so often to play at The Frontpage. Great place. We had nowhere to sleep so ended up sleeping on the floor of the pub in sleeping bags. Imagine after a gig how wonderful that smellt of spilt beer and cigarettes.

++ Who were your favourite bands to share a bill? And what would you say was the strangest gig of all?

I loved the show in London at the Mean Fiddler supporting Brendan Croker and the 5 o’clock Shadows. I think the strangest gig of all was in Newcastle I think and we were double booked. The Landlord suggested that we play upstairs in another room. The first set there were 3 people who brought morefriends to the second set and in the end nearly everyone there bought a record. Strange and fulfilling.

++ And then when and why did you call it a day? What did you all do afterwards?

Hill Bandits all came to an end quite suddenly. Pauls news about his illness. The record company Ediesta Records. That was all so dramatic. And I had then the offer to go and live in Berlin so I took it which was then the abrupt end. In Berlin I sang alot at the beginning for bands as a session musician in variuos studios and eventually formed my own group the Barflies. The others HB’s continued with their numerous other projects.

++ Last year, 2013, you did a reunion gig in Leeds. How was that?

The reunion gig consisted of Kevin and I and a couple of fellow musicians who we invited. We thought if it went well we might start it up again which is quite difficult considering the fact that I’m here in France with my own projects. It was nice to be back on stage playing some of those wonderful tunes we penned in the 80’s.

++ Do you think there will be more Hill Bandits gigs in the future?

You never know 😉

++ And looking back, in retrospective, what would you say was the biggest highlight for the band?

The Hill Bandits were the complete highlight. There was always something just about to happen.

++ Let’s come back to the present now, what’s in store for Itch? I heard you just put out an album out?

Well the album Cool Breeze was released last year and we’ve been travelling around in France, Belgium and Germany, not so much the UK, promoting it. In fact next week we’re going in the studio again to record the next album. A little different from the last one in that we have invited 2 brilliant musicians to join us. Double bass and lead guitar. We’re very excited about it.

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

I love life, that’s my hobby – enjoying it. I love organising and have just started a project – Idolize – I rent a place, a craft beer brewery, where I’ll be putting on bands.  I write also for other bands I’m in the studio with a group in November as guest singer. I keep busy.

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

Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview. One day you never know, we might meet. That would be nice.

Here’s a link to the itch website: http://itchmusic.free.fr and our clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yippEfVydmM

Take care of yourself. See you around sometime.


The Hill Bandits – Nowhere Train