30
Mar

A short post this week.

Yesterday I started working in the April podcast. Interview is done and some of the songs are already selected. Hopefully I’ll finish recording it this week as next week I’m off for vacations. Would love to be able to publish it early next week for you guys. The theme for April will be “spring”.

On other Cloudberry news today I sent all the pre-orders for the fanzine. It took some time, but I hope the wait was worth it. Now I will get to work on the Fibi Frap release. As soon as I get back from my vacation I’ll send it to press. Things are moving, slowly perhaps, but moving.

Also a new 7″ is on the works and will announce it next month. Artwork is almost finished. A hint? Well, it’s a collaboration between Europe and North America. It’s really beautiful. I think Cloudberry fans will love it.

So yes, a little vacation for me. This means that any orders placed between the 9th and the 22nd of April won’t be posted until April 24th. So please, if you need any particular record you get it asap!

I’m traveling to Asia for the first time. To China. Let’s see how that goes. It’s not an indiepop trip this time. Just going to be a proper tourist. I’ll be visiting Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an and Luoyang. I was hoping to go to Hong Kong but time-wise and distance-wise didn’t end up making sense. I hope to go back. Well, if I like it. I’m sure I will. Should I check any record stores there?

Also just a heads up that a bunch of our 3″s are now sold out. There are still some releases available but to be honest there are not many copies for each of them.

So that’s more or less all news I have for you all. I’ll come back next week with another obscure band and, crossing fingers, the link for the podcast. See you then!

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The Mechanical Hearts. Who were they?

There’s barely any information online about this band. Why am I not surprised?

Only one release as far as I know. 45cat lists one with “Precious Time” on the A side and “Pay the Driver” on the B side. It’s a 7″ released in 199 and the songs are a true slice of guitar pop. Really good actually!

The catalogue number though brings the first questions. It is MECH 017.

The label was called Mechanartz. But I can’t find any other releases in their catalogue. Supposedly if this was 017 then there should be other earlier ones, right?

We know that both songs were composed by a Nick Jones. Also both songs were produced by Paul Hodson.

A little bit more of digging and I find out who the members were:
Nick Jones: guitar
Pete Hughes: vocals
Chris Brown: keyboards
Mick Billington: drums
Stefan Kowalczuk: percussion

I find this information on the biography page of 45cat. Strange enough it seems it was updated not too long ago. I say that because it seems one of the band members has updated it and mentions that there is a current lineup and they are still writing and recording new songs, hoping that they will release new material soon!

The current lineup is:
Nick Jones: guitar
Craig Westwood: bass/vocals
Mark Overton: drums

Seems that Craig Westwood joined them already in 1991, just about the same time of the release of the single.

On Youtube there’s another song by the band called “Southside Blue”. This song appeared on the ‘The Demise Of The Executive Perambulator’, a compilation LP of Birmingham bands. This compilation was released by Catapult Records.

And that’s more or less what I could find online. Does anyone know if they ever released the new material they were working on? If there is more of the old material? Whatever happened to this band?

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Listen
Mechanical Hearts – Southside Blues

23
Mar

I’ve been wondering what happened to the bands that played NYC Popfest 2007. That was the first NYC Popfest (ok, there was one before but was kind of in a different era) and it was also the first one I attended. It was such a good time, made many new friends, and at that time, saw many bands that I could never imagine I was going to see in my life. I was such an innocent popkid, naive and all, and was just in awe all the time. Sometimes I wish I felt the same way when I go to festivals. Anyhow, 8 years after, what happened to the bands?

So I’ve been going through websites to find the lineup, my memory is not the best, especially when it comes to bands I didn’t like or I missed for a reason or two.

On Thursday the big name were the BMX Bandits. Happily they are still going strong. I remember taking a photo or two with Duglas and him being very surprised that two Peruvians had come to their show. I remember they almost didn’t play as one of their members had been detained at the airport for having pot or something like that! In the end they played such a beautiful show, with everyone singing along to Serious Drugs. Other bands that played were Pants Yell! who were selling a fantastic t-shirt with a soccer player (who I don’t know who it is!) on it. I was never a big fan of theirs. Later the leader of the band played NYC Popfest with a band he formed after called Cuffs. Wasn’t my cup of tea either. Don’t know what they are up to these days.

Other bands on that Thursday were Yellow Fever from Texas. Seems they are still going under the name Deep Time. They were more on the rockier side. Another band that played was Lispector. Their bandcamp seems to be updated with a bunch of releases up to 2014. So I assume she is still recording and releasing. Again not my favourite sort of music, but it’s good to see that bands are still producing music. The other band from Thursday was one band I actually really liked a lot, The Metric Mile from New York. It seems that their bandcamp was either hacked or doesn’t exist. This duo made some beautiful pop and released one 7″. At some point I think Peggy from the Pains was playing with them too. Anyhow, whatever happened to them? Are they still making music?

On Friday I remember clearly how amazing were two bands: The Baskervilles and The Secret History. About the latter I know quite a bunch, releasing a record two years ago and playing Indietracks too. Now they are making music under the name of their previous band, My Favorite. Wonder if they’ll switch back their name at some point. About The Baskervilles, well that’s a mystery to me. I think I played their records way too many times. I really liked them, I liked their aesthetics, their tunes, their lyrics and even the choices they made for playing and recording covers. I would have loved to put something out by them too. Where are they now? NYC needs bands like this!

Other bands were The Smittens, who I assume are still going; The Reverse, who I can’t seem to find much online; Mitch Easter, who I would also guess makes music; and Affair D’Coeur, who were one of the most interesting small/unknown bands in the festival. They were based in Brooklyn and made a nice sort of fuzzy crash pop. I remember one of them was involved in releasing the Swedish band Crime Time’s tape. I think they were done as a band many years ago. Where are they? Are they still playing in NYC?

Then we went to Coney Island for a free show. Erico from the Canadian distro Popolar drove us from Manhattan to Coney Island. Peter Hahndorf was sporting his best shorts. We walked along the boardwalk. It was so sunny and hot, it was hard to stand still. I had a burrito at one of the many Mexican restaurants close to the amusement park. I can’t remember much about the shows. I was glad to see Bunnygrunt but by this time they had become punkier than their early and loved releases. They are still making music, will play Indietracks this year. Cars Can Be Blue played too, at that time they were quite a hype with their lyrics that were definitely something else due to their profanity. I haven’t heard much about them since the time they were denied to enter the UK and everyone went ballistics at the Anorak Forum. I think they eventually toured the island a year later playing Indietracks as well. I saw them once in Miami, which was pretty odd as no indie bands would come. Then other bands that played were Best Fwends and The Gritty Midi Gang. I seriously don’t remember them at all. So I googled them. Best Fwends has a bandcamp and their latest upload was an EP from 2013. The music, well, is not for me. It’s a bit too all over the place.  About The Gritty Midi Gang band, they seemed to have hailed from NYC. I found a song on Youtube called Valentine’s Day and it’s pretty fine. As I’m living now in NYC, I’m very curious that so many people during this time were making indiepop tunes in the city. Where are these people now? Why are they hiding?! They should go take the venues and play shows!

Next day on Saturday we all went to see Harvey Williams. It was a treat to hear him play his Sarah classics. Wish only he had a band. Saturday night is hard for someone with just a piano although we all really liked it. Harvey still performs solo to this day.

Other bands that played and we loved were The Ballet, who played Indietracks in 2013, but have been very quiet release-wise which makes me think they are no more and only reunited especially for that occasion, and My Teenage Stride, who had that superb indiepop hit called “To Live and Die in the Airport Lounge”, are no more as far as I know. I see some of the members at shows just as part of the crowd. Yet Another NYC band that disappeared. The Besties played that show and they’ve reunited since a couple of times. I liked their early demos that were shared in Soulseek back, back in the day. I was a bit disappointed when they got a bit punkier and shoutier. When they were sweetly twee they were at their best. Anyhow, then there was Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, and that my friends is not indiepop so I skip it. I guess Brown Recluse Sings is also no more. They released on Slumberland and since have been quiet. Their last release was in 2011, so a safe bet is to say that they are doing something else. The only other band I’m missing was Ballboy. They were truly fantastic and after that Popfest I bought all their records I was missing. They were my favourite gig that night. They are still going.

On Sunday The Pains of Being Pure at Heart played. At that time no one knew much about them. The 3″ from Cloudberry had been out for weeks only. With many lineup changes the band is still going even releasing a pretty good record last year. The sadly missed Pipas played too, and I was very happy to meet Lupe that time. They weren’t going to play many shows afterwards but they did play a beautiful and memorable show at the Chickfactor gigs some years ago here in NYC. Lupe now playes in Amor de Dias. Pipas has been hibernating (or at least I want to think that as I want them to play again!). Pelle Carlberg came all the way to Sweden to play. He didn’t have a full band and played accompanied by another guy. It was sadly a so so show. I would imagine he still makes music. His last update on his website is from August 2014.

Human Television, CAUSE-COMOTION, Michael Leviton and Dear Nora played as well. None of them are still making songs. Katy Davidson from Dear Nora now tours and plays with the well known band Gossip.

Surprisingly that first Popfest lasted until Monday! I only caught half of the bands and some of the hamburgers that some of the people involved in the Popfest were selling.

The Lil Hospital was great. They are no more but Kevin still makes music with The Hairs. Allen Clapp & His Orchestra was the band I would have loved to see that day but had to leave to the airport. He has no new releases but seems active on his Facebook page. Surefire Broadcast are no more, you can only find a Myspace. The Gazzetteers I believe are on a standby but Jigsaw Records released their third album last year. This album though had been recorded some years before, but only saw the light in 2014. The other band that played that Monday were Titans of Filth. Their last release was from 2013.

What do I find from this. Well, I would have thought more bands would have bitten the dust, but it seems half of them or so have survived and are still going after 8 years. In that sense this theory that indiepop is kind of dead would be proven wrong. What is true though is that the NYC bands that played that Popfest have mostly disappeared. A true shame though as I live here now.

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Time to check the obscure band of the week. This time another “classic” band for all of us that like obscure indiepop: Queue Dance.

I thought I had covered them before, but no, I hadn’t. Quite surprised by this. So it’s time to amend this and try to find out all I can about this obscure duo from the 80s.

What did they release? Well, to start one 12″ with four songs: “Not the One For Me” as the A side and “Never Take a Bite”, “Where Would They Go?” and “Are You Doing Whats Expected?” on the B side. All tracks written and arranged by Bourne and Goddard. Who were they?

Well, Nick Goddard was the one playing guitar, bass, vibraphone, keyboards and drum machine. Jo Bourne was on vocals and any additional percussion.

“Not the One For Me” was recorded by Roger at Soft Option Studios in London. “Where Would they Go?” was recorded by Mark at Blue Box Studios in Hove and “Never Take a Bite” and “Are You Doing Whats Expected?” were recorded at Pylon Studios in hove as well.

The sax on “Not the One for Me” and “Where Would They Go?” came courtesy of Eileen Lawless. Drums on “Not the One For Me’ were played by Andrew Blackwell. The nice and cool artwork for the record was done by Michele Allardyce. The record was distributed by Backs/Cartel and the label was Pylon with the catalog number ALI001. The record was released in 1987.

They also had two songs on a compilation 12” called “Paper Boats in Puddles”. The two songs included were “For a Moment” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”. One song on each side. On this compilation we see only one name that rings a bell, that’s of Jesus Couldn’t Drum. This record was released by Hang Ten Records. I haven’t heard the other bands included in the record like The Little Legends, Vava Voom, The Red Squares, This Colour. There’s a song on Youtube by The Rev, and it’s totally fine, though not really indiepop. Do you know if any of these bands are worth checking out?

Question is, did they release any other songs? Are there any other recorded songs still unreleased? Maybe someone knows?

The sound of the band is described by Rupert from A Turntable Revolution like “(it) sounds like it stumbled out of a 1950’s revue written by Helen McCookerybook”. He couldn’t be more right. On top of it all, the band hailed from Brighton/Hove area. The Japanese in this case would be really happy to call this neo-acoustic.

Googling around I found that Nick Goddard at some point was part of the Brighton punk band Jonnie and the Lubes. You can read their whole story here. I kept digging and found a comment by Michelle Allardyce, the person who did the artwork! What a find! On a blog post about a club called The Zap she writes about Queue Dance performing there. And says:

I played percussion in several bands at the Zap during the 1980s/early 1990s. Queue Dance: (jazzy swingy pop) were lead singer Jo Bourne, Nick on guitar, Pete on bass, Eileen on saxophone, Andrew on drums, Jenny Cruise on backing vocals, me on percussion. We did a tour of Brighton one May Festival in the mid 1980s (which I think the Zap helped organise), on a flatbed truck with the Little Green Hondas (ukelele surf band), a magician and a fire eater. One of those festival gigs was at the opening of a public toilet in Hangleton! Frazier Chorus (sometimes called Plop or Fishing For Clouds): (laid back synth pop) were Tim Freeman lead vocals and keyboards, Chris Taplin on clarinet, Kate Holmes on flute, me on percussion. We played Sunday lunchtimes for a couple of years in obscurity before releasing a single with 4AD and then 2 albums on Virgin Records. One gig at the old Zap we supported MAX – their celebrity entourage included Trojan and Leigh Bowery – I remember thinking who’s that twat with the fried egg on his head? Silly me! We played the first gig at the new Zap with our support band the Indian Givers after it was extended from the original 2 arches. We had a few singles in the top 50, did a Peel Session, had videos shown on the Chart Show and won the video vote on Saturday Morning Superstore but we weren’t part of the Brighton ‘scene’ at the time so you’ll never see any mention of us in any history of Brighton bands! Bing Bang Buffalo (country billy) were Jo Bourne lead vocals, Nick on guitar, Steve Gelliot on bass, Sean ‘Sharky’ as a prototype Bez on maracas! and me on snare. We supported Terry & Jerry (rockabilly) and Attilla The Stockbroker (punk poet). Spacecake: (1960s kids TV theme cover band) were Jonathan Lemon on lead vocals + ukelele, Alan Way on bass, Colin on keyboards, me on percussion. We only played Ghent festival, Amsterdam Milkweg and the Zap. I also played percussion with Jo Bourne as XiXi accompanying DJ Chris Coco at the Coco Club I saw lots of brilliant, diverse and inspiring bands and DJs at the ZAP – some faves: Mark Almond as Mark and the Mambas, The Rapiers, Blubbery Hellbellies, John Hegley, Brighton Bottle Orchestra, Ivor Cutler, Captain Stupid, The Shamen, Digital Underground, Bone Orchard, Ten City, Danny Rampling, Tony Humphries, Joey Negro.
By Michele Allardyce (28/08/2008)

Wow! She was involved in many bands indeed. Frazier Chorus perhaps the most known one. Then it’s interesting that she played again with Jo Bourne from Queue Dance in the band Bing Bang Buffalo. Another interesting point is that Jenny Cruse was in Queue Dance live band. Jenny Cruse also appears in the “Paper Boats in Puddles” compilation.

This was all I could find out, but maybe someone out there knows more about this band? I would love also to hear the other songs, the only song I know is “Not the One For Me” thanks to the From a Northern Place blog. Would love to know more!

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Listen
Queue Dance – Not the One For Me

18
Mar

The new podcast is now on MixCloud. This is the March episode and the theme was “the movies”. In this episode I interviewed the great Baltimore band Expert Alterations. We had to leave Soundcloud because they have very odd copyright rules that they wouldn’t let me upload the Watoo Watoo song even though it was the band itself who chose and gave me the song. I know MixCloud is not as user friendly but we needed to find other options as we wanted to post right away the podcast as we were a bit late about it. Oh! And the clip has already being guessed, so you can dismiss that. Anyways, I really hope you like the songs I chose this month! Let me know what you thought!

This week I promised to go through the remaining bands that will play NYC Popfest. There are some news this week though that are important to notice. That is that the schedule has been announced as well as the DJs. When it comes to DJs we will have the NYC indie party, Mondo, on Friday and So Tough So Cute, the Malmö indie party, on Saturday. When it comes to Mondo I wish their set is much more indiepop than their usual fare (Maz always delivers, but the other teammates usually pick one or two indiepop songs in their hour-long sets) and from Daniel, the indie giant from Malmö, well, it’s been a long time since I attended to his party, but I tell you that by far he has been the best DJ I ever danced to in London Popfest years ago. At the Buffalo Bar that time he set the dancefloor on fire. If he does that again in NYC it will be more than memorable!

So now instead of going alphabetically, I’ll go through the days and venues and will review only the bands that I haven’t done yet. Sounds good?

Souvenir Stand:
The NYC (? I thought they were from Jersey) band will be opening Popfest. At 8:00pm at the Cake Shop they will show everyone their 60s tinged indiepop that has remained a bit of a secret. I haven’t been able to catch them live, even though in the past few months they’ve played some gigs, but I’ve liked their songs, even including one of them on the 8th Cloudberry fanzine. Seems though that I will miss them this time again as I usually work till 9pm. Which is a shame. I’m very curious. I’ve only seen Stephanie Cupo (the band’s leader and brain and a big Beach Boys fan it seems) perform as a saxophonist in the new My Favorite lineup. Never with her band. So I hope that they play some of the pre or post Popfest shows that will happen as I’d like to hear their new tunes.

Roman a Clef:
A round of applause to Maz for finding this NYC band. I had no idea of their existence. They are VERY good. Who are they? Where do they play? Do they play often? Why haven’t I head nothing about them? Do I live under a rock or do they live under a rock? I hope I can catch some of their set. As I said I leave around 9pm. Maybe I can escape a bit earlier. They are on at 8:45pm at the Cake Shop. I read some reviews saying they are the second coming of Prefab Sprout. Maybe they are right. This sounds very timeless, like it could become a classic. That song “PSBTV”, is just genius. The band was formed by Ryan Newmyer of A Sunny Day in Glasgow (who I was never a big fan, go figure) and Jen Goma. Kurt Feldman (the only Pains I was never keen of to be honest, go figure) produced them. This band is a winner. I suspect though that they will sign to a hipster record label and become a hipster band in the future. That scares me a bit, but I will enjoy them in the meantime. Terribly good this!

Young Romance:
I missed them some years ago at Indietracks. My friend Jennifer insisted that I was going to like them. I didn’t pay much attention!!! I don’t know why. I’m very bad when people recommend me bands, but I’m usually good when Jennifer does. She really likes them. Could have been the band’s name perhaps? Or the idea that the are just a duo who I believe are married or are a couple? I get an itch with bands like that with the exception of the beloved Tiny Fireflies. I feel bands get a bit too softy by working with someone who they love, like they can’t really get into strong arguments, like they will always agree on things. It’s just an idea. I’m getting carried away. Young Romance is quite nice. It’s not really my style of indiepop, but the girl definitely has very different vocals and there is a lot of strength in that. I can’t say if I like or not, though I’m close to the latter. I think I will wait until I see them live. From the two songs on their bandcamp, I like one, and the other one doesn’t tell me much. Guess which?

Papa Topo:
Friday at 10pm at Cameo the Barcelona band will play their first show in this continent. I’ve been terribly lucky and I’ve seen them twice. Once with the original lineup, with the very missed Paulita on vocals, at Indietracks, and later with the current lineup in Madrid Popfest. Papa Topo’s sound has changed during these years, becoming a bit more sophisticated and produced you could say. My heart is closer definitely to their early, rawer, sound, but I also really like what they do now. A lot! They still have the sense of humour that always have characterized them, and Adrià has his pop sensibility still intact when it comes to crafting perfect melodies. Papa Topo has already had their songs in Mexican soap operas, but can they conquer, like their city-mates Cola Jet Set, the English speaking indiepop fans of NYC? I really hope so! Can’t be missed this show! Papa Topo’s “Oso Panda” will be a crazy singalong I’m sure!

WORKING:
This one comes from Rhode Island. And it’s on Shelflife. I guess I haven’t heard of an indiepop band from Rhode Island since Small Factory. Which other ones come from that tiny state? I was in Providence two years ago I think. That was a nice road trip. It seems they write their name all in caps. So WORKING. What difference does that make? I don’t know. The cool thing about WORKING is that Catherine, the vocalist, used to be in the GREAT GREAT band The Best Wishes in the 90s. That makes me giddy and happy. Do you think they will have copies of their old 7″s at NYC Popfest? I would love that too. And will they have any physical releases for WORKING too? I’d be interested. I see on their bandcamp that some magazine recommends them to people that like Joanna Gruesome or Black Tambourine or Velocity Girl. I think none of those bands sound like WORKING. The tempo of WORKING is much slower, their songs are more introspective and perhaps at points have a rockier edge than a poppier edge. They remind me instead of some Aussie early 90s bands. I like this nonetheless, it works for them. What I also love is the drawing Jen Corace did for them as their cover artwork.  They’ll be on at 2:30pm at the free show, it’s lunch time. But I think I won’t be missing them.

Wallflower:
They appear in the last Cloudberry fanzine and they are one of my weaknesses. I know they are recording a new album as we speak and I hope and dream to be able to release a 7″ by them in the near future. It’s definitely one of my favourite Japanese contemporary bands by far. I’ve been lobbying for people to book them here in the West, Indietracks, Popfest, and I’m so happy someone has listened to me! Wallflower are definitely a band that no one should miss and they will be playing on Saturday at 8pm at the Knitting Factory! I’ll be there and in front row! Looking forward to meeting Masami-san!

Veronica Lake:
A true classic of American 90s indiepop. A couple of singles that are beautiful and haven’t aged at all. I tried to interview Tim for the blog some time ago, maybe two years ago but never received his answers. Shame, would have been nice to hear from him about his band. I would think at that time he didn’t expect that it will reform for a Popfest. Will Pam Berry join them for Threnody? Probably not, but you can dream too. I think this should be a very special gig especially for all the nostalgia fans that will attend the festival.

The Spook School:
I love them and they are playing for a second year straight NYC Popfest. I’m never keen with repeats as I like same opportunities for everyone but I understand that their following is growing and growing. On top of that they are ace people so even though I have my “rules” I can understand why they are booked again.

Sapphire Mansions:
They weren’t on the poster originally, so I guess they are a recent addition. I’ve seen them a couple of times opening for some bands here in NYC. They are definitely not my thing, the word that comes to mind when I hear them is “mess”. The keyboards give me a bit of a headache too. Oh dear, if this is indiepop then I don’t know what indiepop is.

Starry Eyed Cadet:
Perhaps the best new band to appear in the US. I played one of their songs on my podcast and I have already written about them on the blog. It was one of the first bands I passed on to Maz to check out and consider for Popfest. Glad that the band can make it. And happy that Maz booked them too! The California band, who I believe has ties with the delicious Marine Life, has a lot to offer and even though there are no physical releases as of yet, I’m sure will start making a buzz after Popfest. Lots of potential here! Loving the songs, great indiepop craftmanship!

Palms on Fire:
Definitely a great addition to Popfest is the first Russian band ever to play an indiepop festival! I would have never expected this, but it’s happening. I don’t know much about them, though last year they sent me their latest EP to check it out. And back in 2011 their first ever EP too. I was really surprised by it. Sadly I never heard from other Russian indiepop bands. Ok perhaps one or two, but it wasn’t like a true explosion of bands. Simple and cute tunes, not pretentious at all, they remind me of Red Sleeping Beauty and of course The Shermans. With Palms on Fire the keyboards do work beautifully.  Looking forward to their live set on Sunday at Littlefield at 6pm!

Seabirds:
Seabirds is a nice band from Nottingham that released one 7″ on Matinée Recordings in 2013. The band includes Ian from Horowitz and that makes me like them automatically (but I will admit I still prefer Horowitz fuzz pop much better). I saw half of their show once at Indietracks but that was some time ago too. A good refresher will come in handy.

#Poundsign#:
Who would have thought. There are many 90s indiepop bands playing this year. And perhaps my favourite of them all were #Poundsign#. If you remember I have already showcased them as an interview in the blog and Cloudberry released a 3″CD of Strega, a band with very close ties with #Poundsign#. On the last podcast the clip was a song by podcast which our friend Vidar already guessed. So it’s obvious, I like #Poundsign#, and I like them a lot. Could be one of the best gigs of Popfest, this one is really special and unmissable!

And with that, even though there are two to be announced bands in the lineup for the evening show of Saturday, I conclude my very personal review of the bands for Popfest. You don’t have to agree with me obviously, you might dislike and hate many of the bands I like, and vice versa, and that’s cool. In any case, in general, I think the lineup is really fantastic and if there are two or three bands I don’t like it’s good too, we need a little break to get fresh air, chit chat, or even grab a bite. So it works perfectly!

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It’s a Wednesday today, but I want to go over a band called Why Thursday?

There’s not much online about them and I believe that has to do that they came a bit too late. Their only release was in 1994! That’s tough, who was into jangly and catchy pop then, a bit Madchester and all? 1994 was more of a britpop time, right? And also, that their only release was a CD-single, well, that makes it a bit worse. If it only had been a 7″ perhaps collectors would go ga ga for it.

Self-released and three songs in it: “Strawberry Kisses”, “With You There”, and “From the Outside”.

I really like the cover artwork, a strawberry drawn with large strokes, vector friendly. It was designed by the band. All songs were written and performed by Why Thursday?

From the contact information it seems that the band was from Tunbridge Wells, in Kent.
Royal Tunbridge Wells (often shortened to Tunbridge Wells) is a large town in western Kent, England, about 40 miles (64 km) south-east of central London. The town has a population of around 56,500. The town came into being as a spa in the Restoration period and had its heyday as a tourist resort under Beau Nash when the Pantiles and its chalybeate spring attracted visitors who wished to take the waters. Though its popularity waned with the advent of sea bathing, the town remains popular and derives some 30% of its income from the tourist industry.

The only other information on the back is the lineup of the band. We know that the band was formed by:
Marc Axtell on drums
Stuart Bristow on bass
Alex Brown on lead vocals & acoustic rhythm guitar
Nick Carpenter on backing vocals & keyboards
Curtis Fray on lead & rhythm electric guitar

Aside from this I couldn’t find any other information about the band. The songs are all really good and would love to find a copy of the single too. Does anyone remember them? Did they have any other releases perhaps? Any other recordings? Anyone attended to any of their gigs? I would love to know more about them!

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Listen
Why Thursday? – Strawberry Kisses

16
Mar

Thanks so much to Patric O’Connor for this fantastic interview! It was great to read his honest answers and learn a bit about his involvement with My White Bedroom/Patric and the scene that was around at the time. Some time ago I wrote a small piece about Patric and he was so kind to get in touch and tell the story of his music. Hope you enjoy it!

++ Hi Patric! Thanks so much for being up for this interview. Whereabouts in the UK are you now?

I live in a house, in a street, near to the river in central London, England.

++ Are you still involved in music?

Yes, I’m still writing, recording and playing live and releasing music on my own label via Bandcamp & CD Baby.

++ The record I have from you, the three track 12″, was released in 1989. Before that, had you been involved in any other bands?

No I had not been in any other bands prior to My White Bedroom. I originally formed the band with the bass player Chris Rutter in 1985 and this was my first band.Chris was still at college and I had only just finished my degree when we got together in his basement in Brixton with a drummer called Andy.

++ Why did you decide to just use your first name as the band name?

I didn’t decide to call the band ‘Patric’ for the recording you have. In fact I thought the whole idea stunk like a huge pile of horse manure. We had been called My White Bedroom for about two years prior to the record company taking us on. The idea came from our management at Orange Records who wanted to sell me as the new Morrissey. I don’t think the rest of the band were too happy with the new name and concept either; they all quit soon after the record came out.

++ During those days, what sort of music were you into? What would you say were your influences?

From about the age of 14 my influences had been The Velvet Underground and The Doors, even when punk was happening all around me I still liked those old sixties bands. I listened to them incessantly and bypassed punk completely. Post punk came around and I was listening to Joy Division, The Cocteau Twins and The Smiths. Lyrically and stylistically Morrissey must have been an influence as I remember going to a party with a bunch of gladiolas in my back pocket and my hair done up in quiff. I looked like a right prat.

++ Were there any like-minded bands that you use to follow in the late 80s? Did you feel part of a scene? There were so many guitar pop bands then…

I wouldn’t really say I followed or was a fan of any particular band at the time. All the singers I admired, like Ian Curtis and Jim Morrison were either  dead, or, like Lou Reed & Morrissey, had become dead boring. I saw The Smiths once or twice and I saw the Butthole Surfers at The Ambulance Station, which is still one of the best gigs I’ve ever been too. I went to see american band Swans play an incredibly loud and bowel shaking gig at the Town and Country in ’88, supported by The Pixies and The Sugarcubes. Apart from that I rarely went to see bands as it often meant not having enough money to afford my daily diet of beans on toast.

As for being part of a scene I guess that was very true of Camberwell in 1985 – 89. Back then Camberwell was a shabby South London enclave full of squatters and art college students. Indie bands started forming like desperate barnacles on the hull of a ship. Before us there had been musicians like Syd Barrett, Brian Eno, This Heat, Bronski Beat and The Dave Howard Singers living in the area. It’s all been gentrified now. Upper class warbler Florence Welch comes from Camberwell Grove, which says it all.

We formed around 1985 and started playing anywhere in Camberwell and South London where we could get a gig. Wimbledon Art College, an old disused cinema in Camberwell called Dickie Dirts and The Ambulance Station in The Old Kent Road where we supported Australian band The Moodists. We soon made friends with and played gigs with other bands like The Auto Sexuals, Go Hole (who eventually found success as Gene) and of course The House Of Love. The Grove pub in Camberwell was the epicentre of all this activity and was a dropping in place for proper rock stars and hipsters. I remember Ian Mcculloch, Bobby Gilespie, Miki Berenyi ( from Lush) and Dan Treacy (TV Personalities) making an appearance there between ’86 – ’89.

++ This 12″ was released by Orange Records. Who were they and how did you sign with them?

By 1988 my band had split up and I’d more or less given up on the idea of being in a band and having a ‘career’ in music. I was holed up in a filthy squat in Camden when Chris Groothuizen turned up at my door with his girlfriend and saved me from a life of debauchery and iniquity. The House Of Love were huge that year and were on the verge of signing a big deal with Phonogram so I guess Chris felt indebted to me for helping him out when he first lived in Camberwell.

I moved back to Camberwell and we put a rough demo together on his four track Fostex and added some songs from an 8 track studio demo I’d recorded with Simon Walker and Chris Rutter in ’86. Chris took the demo to  Orange Records, which was a subsidiary of Rough Trade, based in Camberwell. An unfortunate looking little hobbit-like woman with hairy feet, who was one of the managers at Orange, listened to the tape and was soon huffing and puffing down the phone saying she thought the songs were brilliant and I must sign a contract ’as soon as I get out of bed’.  A lot of legal stuff followed with lawyers and pen pushers and then I got back in touch with Chris ( Rutter) & Simon who were happy to reform the band and go along with all this nonsense. We rehearsed and  played a few gigs with some well known acts and cut the record at Cold Storage in Brixton. The hobbit told us we were the ‘best indie band’ in England and she would have us signed to a major before the year was out. We’d be awash with money and hanging around swimming pools in Hollywood with beautiful woman laughing at all our jokes. For a no good slacker like myself who had been on welfare and living in squats for five years this sounded like a pretty good idea.

Orange Records were mainly management and had The Beloved and Momus on their books. Their plan for me and the band was the same as it was for all their artists; make a record, get some press, get some radio play, crank up the hype and sign to a major. I think the hobbit liked my tight trousers and quiff but she didn’t like Simon and all that ‘weird stuff he did on his guitar’. In fact I don’t think she really liked music at all but we were nice looking boys and that made us a good ‘product’ to be marketed.

++ This record had three songs, “The Message”, “On the Road”, “It’s Over”. Care telling me in a few lines the story behind them?

The Message was about an old girlfriend from Camberwell Art College. The line about ‘now she lives undergound / speaks to me without a sound’ refers to us smoking dope together in her basement and listening to The Velvets after an argument. On The Road was about a sad mixed up alcoholic I used to know who was always ‘Out on the road looking for different friends’. The line ‘and so there is a time, a time to murder and create’ refers to an unwanted pregnancy. The last song on that EP with the line ‘take a gun and set me free’ is an even more morbid song about a friend who committed suicide.

++ What do you remember from the recording session for this record? Any anecdotes you could share?

The recording session was mildly thrilling for me as it was the first proper studio I had been in. However there was a lot of tension in the band and nobody was happy with what we eventually conceived. The studio was called Cold Storage and belonged to a musician called Charles Bullen, one of the founders of This Heat, a very cool experimental band from Camberwell. This impressed Simon Walker who was in awe of anything weird, atonal and avant garde. He played all the lead guitar parts and did a brilliant job but was told to avoid the atonal guitar licks and play it straight. The bass player was Chris Rutter who had been playing on and off since the early days and the drummer was an eccentric Swiss bloke called Daniel who had a habit of leaving his turds in bottle for anyone he took a dislike too. During the recording the arrangements were changed by Chris Groothuizen to make it more radio friendly and a thick layer of music biz polish was applied. Simon was blind with rage after the record was finished because it wasn’t the way we played it live. The recorded  version has its merits but I can now see he was right and our live version of ‘The Message’ was a much more powerful and interesting arrangement.

The session was completed in two days and I recorded a lot of new songs on acoustic that never made it to the final EP. There was a woman called Sarah who came to contribute backing vocals and it was mastered and released fairly quickly on Orange Records. The hobbit told me it was loss maker and harangued me later on for money to recoup her losses. Apparently it sold about 700 copies. You have one copy and I have the other 699 under my bed!

++ And what about gigs? Did you have a full band for these occasions? Did you play many?

We played a quite a few gigs from ’86 – ’89,  not a humungous amount but enough to keep us ticking over. There was always a full band and we delivered some of the songs at breakneck speed in an intense  manic barrage of over driven guitars, completely unlike the insipid records we made. The best of those gigs came after we had signed to Mick Griffiths booking agency. In ’88 we supported The Happy Mondays and Jesus Jones at Dingwalls in Camden.  After the record came out the original band split up and I quickly assembled another group of musicians. I found a rock solid French rhythm section and an amazing but eccentric American guitarist called Pete Donaghy. This was a great lineup and we went on tour with HOL for a few dates around Southern England but split up when Orange dumped us in ’89.

++ Are there more unreleased recordings by Patric?

I have quite lot of post Orange recordings in my cupboard which I’ve had digitally transferred from the original master tapes. Some of the songs come from the Plastic records sessions and some from later on in the 90’s when I was playing with a different line up. I still have some rough takes from a session at Blackwing Studios when Terry Bickers was working there after he had been kicked out of HOL. I’m in the process of mixing these and will put them online soon .There are also a few very revealing video clips from the HOL tour which I will upload to Youtube in due course.

++ Then you stopped recording and releasing as Patric, right? And started a new band called My White Bedroom. Why the change?

Ah well … As I explained earlier the ‘Patric’ misnomer was only for the one record. I restored the ‘My White Bedroom’ moniker in December ’89 when we started working on the album. I continued with this name until about ’95 when I more or less hung up my guitar strap to go travelling.

++ How different and how similar would you say were these two bands?

Well as I explained earlier there wasn’t really a proper band for the My White Bedroom /Plastic Records recording, it was just another solo effort with guest musicians. The ’Patric’ EP and the ‘My White Bedroom’ album featured  different musicians I’d played with at various stages but all the songs were written by me and both records were co-produced with Chris Groothuizen. The only musicians who featured on both records were myself and Simon Walker.

++ The other members of My White Bedroom were part of The House of Love, how did you know each other?

None of the members of HOL were ever part of My White Bedroom; in spite of what it says on Wikipedia. HOL members only played on the recordings and played the occasional gig with us but only as a stand in for absent members or for fun. I’ve uploaded a video to Youtube showing Terry on bass with MWB in 1987, Chris played a couple of gigs with us on bass and drums and Pete Evans played drums on the record.

I met Chris Groothuizen in ’85 and helped him set up a squat next door to my place in Vicarage Grove, Camberwell. We used to get stoned together and jam in the basement with his New Zealand friend, Wayne, on drums. We were both lousy musicians and fans of The Velvet Undergound so we became quite good friends during those years. Andrea Heukamp, who was a member of HOL during the early days,  moved into the squat next door and use to join us for jamming sessions; she was a much better musician and singer than either of us. Chris met Terry Bickers in Camberwell; he had just quit Colenso Parade and auditioned for Guy Chadwick who was putting HOL together in ’86. The House Of Love played their first ever gig with us at Dickie Dirts followed by a gig at the Half Moon in Putney. Sometimes Chris would stand in on drums for us or Terry would play bass. It was all very friendly and very much in the spirit of post punk.

Terry was a great guitar player and a very charismatic guy who went on to make some incredible music with Levitation. In those early years he  was always dropping acid and getting up to strange things. I remember calling round to see him at his squat and he’d knocked a huge hole in the living room wall  ‘to make it easier to reach the kitchen’. He always said he preferred MWB to HOL but my friendship with him probably scuppered my indie ’career’ after Guy had him kicked out of HOL and we were asked to leave the HOL tour because of our association. I very rarely spoke to Guy who was a very aloof and difficult character and I hardly knew Pete Evans but he did a great job playing drums on the Plastic Records album.

++ With this band you released one album with Plastic Records. How did that work out?

The album was recorded at a 16 track studio in Balham Hill, South London, over a period of about two weeks , it was mixed at Grannies Studio in Fulham and mastered at Porky’s Mastering Ltd in Soho. I put up the initial £500 for the studio time and Chris and I worked through the night for two weeks throwing all kinds of wonky ideas into the mix. It was a good combined effort. My Velvets and Doors influence are obvious but it was Chris’s idea to give ‘Into the light now’ that groovy little bass line which made it one of the more interesting tracks on the record. An American guitarist called Pete Donaghy did some excellent work on ‘Into the light now’ and ‘The Ocean’ and we had a keyboard player called Mick Gallen who put down the Ray Manzarek style organ on ‘Lovechild’.

++ For this record you worked again with Chris Groothuizen, how important was his work for your music in general?

As I mentioned earlier we were good friends until about ’95 when I moved away from Camberwell and went travelling. I’ll always be grateful to Chris for helping me out and I know that I never would have made those records without him. He became a decent bass player and a good performer on stage but his taste in music was very conservative and I was more influenced by Simon’s guitar playing than anything Chris ever contributed. Simon was completely obsessive about music and guitar technique and was in quite a different league to the rest of us. Chris was a calm zen like presence who had a knack of holding things together during the recording sessions .

++ Is it true that when raising money for the album even Alan McGee dropped a grand for it?

Yes , I heard it was a grand. I put in £500 of my own money and the record sold about 4000 copies; CD’s and vinyl. It was released via Creation Records through Pinnacle distribution and must have made a few thousand for somebody but I never saw a penny of that money. There was some creative accounting going on at Creation in those days. Alan McGee McGee was only in the music business for the money and didn’t care too much about paying musicians what they were due.

++ And what about the backing vocals on this record, was that your sister Rachel? Did she play in other bands or make music?

Rachel sang backing vocals on the My White Bedroom / Plastic recordings but that is all she has done since then. She’s married now and has four kids and a mortgage, so not much time for singing.

++ Did you gig a lot with this band?

My White Bedroom existed from 1985 until about 1995, so yes, I played a lot of shitty old dives. The best gigs we played were supporting The Happy Mondays at Dingwalls, the HOL tour in ’89 and a great gig at a rave in ’91 where the whole floor was a sea of people dancing to ‘Lazer Gun’. It’s all been down hill since then!.

++ What happened after? Why didn’t My White Bedroom continue as a band?

The last incarnation was myself on guitar, Sebastien Vandevyver on drums and Kevin Philipsz on bass. We had some rehearsals but we were in our thirties by then and had long passed the point of ever being signed, so we gave it all up in ’95. I had suffered a bad head injury and had been in hospital for surgery so I didn’t have the strength to carry on. I went abroad for a rest and a change of scenery and spent a year in France working part-time as a goat herd as well as playing with a French skiffle band ; we used to promote open air saunas in our underpants. Bizarre but true!.

++ These days what are you up to? What other hobbies do you have aside from music?

A lot of the time I’m either earning a crust from my day job or mucking around in the studio. I formed a group with a bass player and percussionist about three years ago playing a mixture of folky fingerpicking blues and alt country. We’ve been performing at various pubs in London town in the hope of finding an audience amongst the beard and waistcoat crowd. I’ve also been working in Ableton Live creating groove based music with a mix of psychedelia, world and indie influences. I’ve written a lot of songs in the past ten years and released an album last year on my own label called ‘Down in Eden’ which is available on Bandcamp and iTunes ( https://monteagle.bandcamp.com/releases ). I also spend a lot of time in France cycling, swimming and drinking Pelforth.

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

There are no particular highlights but I have some great memories and the best of those memories were the gigs I played and the music we made. Mostly I remember the good times jamming and performing with Terry, Simon and Chris before all the Orange/ HOL music biz bullshit took over. I remember us  playing a 20 min version of Interstellar Overdrive with Terry, Simon and Chris at an open air festival in Camberwell while tripping on acid. We also played a gig as a Velvets tribute band at Goldsmiths tavern with Mixmaster Morris supporting us dressed up as Nico. Another Camberwell gig was at a disused old cinema known as Dickie Dirts, where we had an old generator chugging away to provide electricity and crusty old hippies sat around open fires in the auditorium. Playing at a warehouse party in East London with a brilliant drummer called Bobby Demers in ’91, looking out to a thousand people consumed by the groove. Good memories, it was all highlights.

++ Thanks so much for this interview, anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks, I’d just like to add a few thoughts I had while writing this piece.

Back in the eighties London was a fertile breeding ground for indie guitar bands, gigs were easily available at the numerous venues left over from the pub rock and punk era and the fanzines and national music mags like the NME and Sounds gave bands a voice.  Some bands we knew, like Gene & HOL, made the big time and enjoyed the pleasures of the big stage while some bands, like us, burnt out trying. Looking back our naivety and desire to try something fresh, unknown and experimental was, for me, the essence of what indie music should be. It was also one of the reasons why we didn’t break through to the ‘big time’. The music business , as we soon discovered, isn’t really interested in musicians trying different styles of music, it wants one musical style and an image to go with it; the music biz wants product. The House Of Love  with their careerist attitude, clearly defined image and use of ’60s rock cliches realised this and set a precedent for Britpop bands like Oasis, Pulp and Blur who cashed in on the commodification of indie guitar music.

The conditions that helped indie guitar bands flourish in London in the eighties have vanished now. Most of the indie venues have closed down, squatting has been made illegal and a lot of the freedoms we had back then have been taken away from young people by the burden of debt. Being in an indie guitar band has become a grim career choice and a pathway into mainstream music, instead of a means of expression and creative discourse. It’s great to find someone like yourself keeping the flame alive for all the forgotten guitar bands of that era and it also gives us old indie soldiers some comfort in our twilight years to think that the adventures we had and the music we made, wasn’t all for nothing.

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Listen
Patric – The Message

12
Mar

Time to review the NYC Popfest bands. I think I’ll do half of them this week, and the other half the next. So let’s start with that!

Beverly:
Didn’t know about this NYC band. Strange as I live in NYC. Or maybe not strange as there are usually not many indiepop bands in NYC. Well, in this case it’s kind of like this. I wouldn’t consider this band indiepop exactly. It’s nice rocky/noisy/pop. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s enjoyable, but I don’t go crazy for them. I’m sure hipsters like it so I won’t do much googling about them, I’m just listening to their songs. If I see them will depend if I need to get dinner or not at the time when they are playing. Not my cup of tea really.

Brideshead:
Okay, this a band I can’t stop thanking NYC Popfest for bringing to New York!!!! Wow! I never thought I would see them. Since the first time I heard them, by downloading a video of “Shortsightedness” from Chris Jigsaw on soulseek, on the pre-Youtube days. When I heard the jingle jangly guitars and I bought their records on Apricot and Shelfife I always LOVED this band from Wiesbaden. It’s really exciting this, how many times a German indiepop band gets booked in the US? This doesn’t happen. And after missing Busch in Berlin last year, I think this is definitely a treat for me. Not to be missed by anyone.

The Catenary Wires:
This is happiness. I never saw Talulah Gosh or Heavenly or Marine Research. I was lucky to see Tender Trap some three times or so. Once in NYC Popfest. For those of who don’t understand why I am mentioning these bands that’s because The Catenary Wires are a duo, a duo formed by Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey. Two indiepop legends. I’m very happy that they were announced for Popfest. They were already announced for Indietracks and they were traveling to Japan to tour these past weeks. I was a bit jealous of course. I want to hear Amelia singing. And I want their upcoming album too that supposedly will be out in June. Will they have copies for Popfest? I hope so!

The Chandler Estate:
I had no idea about them until a few minutes after the band lineup announcement. It was the only band that I googled that day. I think this was because I happened to like the name of the band. To my surprise this band consists of three ex-members of My Favorite! Oh dear. And I was the one who released the My Favorite reissue last year. How could that be? Well, for once they haven’t played live yet, Popfest will be their debut. They haven’t released anything yet either though an EP is scheduled for late spring. I’ve only heard the one song, “El Camino Real” and it’s top stuff! I would have included it in the new podcast if I knew about it earlier. I have big expectations for this band!

Club 8:
Finally. How did Maz convinced them to play a Popfest will be a mystery. I know every year every Popfest and every Indietracks try to book them. Either them or any of the band Johan is in. It never happens. But then you seem them go play far far away to Indonesia. And you think, oh damn, at least it’s kind of fair they don’t get that many bands but I can’t stop feeling a bit jealous. I’ve always liked Club 8, being perhaps my favourite of all those bands say Legends, Poprace, Acid House Kings. Though I like them all, Club 8 has a special place in my heart. I think that has to do with Karolina vocals. They are beautiful really. Some people were a bit critical of their last album, that it wasn’t the same, etc., etc. I thought it was brilliant. Another band that I won’t be able to miss. Already it seems that it will be a difficult year to chit-chat with friends!

The Darling Buds:
I never expected to see them. I knew they had reformed some years ago, many years ago actually, in 2010. Why no Popfest would book them was a question I asked myself constantly. Why Indietracks didn’t baffled me. I mean, they are from Wales, how hard can it be? I saw The Darling Buds playing other festivals, non-indiepop festivals. And the years passed and passed. And nothing changed. Why would I imagine someone was going to book them? I don’t know. I know that in the 80s people were either into The Primitives or The Darling Buds. I wasn’t there. I like them both. I’ve seen the first, but never the second. Now it’s time. For the fan in me, I hope to get a photo with Andrea Lewis of course. I did last year with The Popguns haha. Sometimes I’m just a child. Can’t miss them.

Expert Alterations:
Definitely one of the best bands to appear in the US in the past few years. In the new podcast I interview them and talk a bit about the band and Popfest. Great guys too. They are Television Personalities flavoured. They seem to have taken the right influences from the O Level to the McTells. Crash-pop from Baltimore. I’ve seen them once before at the Cake Shop and they are really good. Soon they’ll be releasing new material and re-releasing old. Seems like this will be their year. If you haven’t listened to them, well now it’s time to.

Eternal Summers:
Didn’t they play Popfest some years ago? I can’t remember. This is another one of the few bands I’m not keen to checking out. Not really the sound I like to be honest. I don’t like bands with guys with beards much either. They must have to be really good like Royal Landscaping Society to sport a beard. Sorry. High standards. It’s not bad this, just not true indiepop for me, not my thing.

Jessica & The Fletchers:
Fantastic indiepop from Barcelona. True lovers of indiepop. These youngsters love Amelia Fletcher and they named after her last name. I actually can’t wait for them meeting Amelia haha. That could be fun! Noisy, poppy, they sound as if they were from one of those 80s tape compilations that I love digging obscure bands. And hey, their first release was on tape. Today actually I was listening to a new song of theirs aptly titled “Air Ballon Road” (!!!). It has everything to be a hit! It’s no secret then that I have big hopes for this band, I feel they have a superb future in indiepopworld. On top of that I can call many of their members friends of mine which makes me so happy that they are crossing the Atlantic to hang out!

The Just Joans:
I’ve tried and tried many times to like them. My friends have insisted that they are brilliant and I have to like them. I just can’t. I’ve tried. I swear I’ve tried.

The Loft:
Well, who doesn’t want to see a classic indiepop band from the good old days. One of the bands everyone will agree is very important to what happened after. I want to see them. “Up the Hill and Down the Slope” is a classic of classics. A remarkable single. Pete Astor is a fantastic vocalist too! But am I crazy to say that I’m more into the bands that came after, like Weather Prophets or my favourite The Caretaker Race? I feel I’m alone in this thought! Anyhow, seeing The Loft is a true treat and I am terribly happy that NYC Popfest has pulled this one. I saw once Pete Astor at The Lexington in the UK, him playing solo with his guitar. It was lovely really, he has that charm a frontman has to have. And I loved the little stories between songs. I think this will be a very special gig even though I’m not the #1 fan of The Loft, I think I’m going to love this gig.

Lunchbox:
They reformed not so long ago. Jigsaw must have had a lot to it. Lunchbox was a staple of American indiepop of the late nineties, early 2000s. They released mostly on Magic Marker. Two albums and a 7″ with them. Before that one 7″ on Love Train. Now they are back releasing an album on Jigsaw and soon a 7″. Fuzzed guitars, 60s catchy hooks, and nice arrangements of horns are their trademark as well as their boy/girl vocals. The indiepop from the nineties is back!

Pale Lights:
One of the bands that repeats NYC Popfest. They played some years ago at the free show of a Saturday afternoon. So it makes sense for them to repeat because not many people attend that free show. Now I’m sure (and I hope) they will play at night. Pale Lights are one of the few indiepop bands in NYC and they are a true favourite of mine. All of their release have been top-notch by the way if you haven’t gotten them yet. The band of course counts with Phil who used to be in The Soft City (who Cloudberry fans will remember), Comet Gain, Velocette and Cinema Red & Blue among others. Even though he has been known better for drumming, he sings, and he does it very well. He plays guitar too and the sounds he comes up with, the melodies too, reminds me of Felt, but with a poppier, catchier edge. I’ve seen them often when they play here in the city and I can’t stop recommending them to those who don’t know them. On top of that it’s one of the few contemporary bands that have gotten interviewed by this blog. That must mean something!

Alright, that should cover half of the bands or almost half of them. Next week a preview for the remaining ones!

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Some weeks ago I covered The Man Upstairs here. Today I will cover Commotion Upstairs. But no, no relationship between the bands. Well, as far as I know!

What do I know about this very obscure band that only released one 7″? Well, barely anything.

The 7″ has some clues. Of course there are four songs on it, two on each side. On the A side we have “Lift Me Up” and “Not Like That”. On the B side we have “Too Bad” and “Fake”. The songs are all credited to Adams while A1 and B2 also have credits to Manning. Alright so we have some last names.

On the back sleeve we have some first names. We get:
Ben – vocals, guitar
Reiner – guitars
Lee – bass guitar
Ian – drums, vocals

To which of them do the last names belong?

Let’s move onto what it says on the back sleeve. First off there’s a small description of the band. This would mean to me that the 7″ was mostly a sampler than a proper release. Perhaps trying to bait a big label to sign them. It says:
“With a mixture of jangling guitars, upbeat rhythms, infectious lyrics, and hard work, Commotion Upstairs bring you their debut EP sampler listen… watch it happen… then decide”.

The record was recorded in one day during February 1989 at Backtrack Studios in London. Engineered by Ollie and produced by the band. There’s an address in London if you wanted information of the band. The address is in Brockley, next to Hilly Fields Park, in the south of London. I remember staying in the area many many years ago but never got to see this park even though I was very close to it.

The record was released by Suacy Records (catalog TT 17). Who were Saucy Records? Can’t find much though by the catalog number 17 you’d think there would have been previous releases.

On Youtube there are two songs to listen. On one of them the designer of the artwork has commented. Doesn’t say much aside that his youth has flashed before him by listening the song “Fake”. This one is perhaps my favourite song of mine from the four.

The other song online is “Too Bad”. This one is really nice too. The cool thing on this one is that there are some more comments. A Colin Francies says he was in the original lineup of the band and he mentions Ben, Ian, Ken, Dave and Colin as the original members. Of course not all of them appear on the back of the sleeve. Colin says there was a demo recorded also at Backtracks:
“I. think there was 4-5 tracks we did over a short period of time.The only songs i can remember right now are ‘Sorry and The Barriers’ ,it was a long time ago.They are only on tape cassettes as far as i know,i and a few others left the group soon after that.Good times,good music.”

Last but not least the fantastic blog From a Northern Place shares another song, “Not Like That”. And it’d beautiful too. All so jangly!!!

Now I try to mix and match the last names with the first names. But no luck. Couldn’t find them.

It seems they played many shows in the late 80s in London at least. But I can’t find anything else online about them. Can anyone help out to find what happened to this brilliant sounding indiepop band?!

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Listen
Commotion Upstairs – Fake

11
Mar

Thanks so much to Arlo and Felix for this great interview! Back in October I wrote a small piece about Feral on the blog, and through Facebook Arlo got in touch with me. Happily he was keen to tell the story of this great band from England that only released one 7″, but what a great 7″ it is!

++ Hi guys! Thanks so much for being up for this interview. Tell me, are you still based in Crawcrook or Newcastle? And how was Crawcrook back in the days of Feral? Has it changed much?

Arlo: Hiya Roque. Happy New Year! No problem at all for doing the interview. It’s not often we get a chance to talk about Feral these days, so we’re happy to be given the chance. Crawcrook was (as you’d mentioned in your piece about our single) a small coal-mining town from about 1850 up to about 1960. It’s on the banks of the River Tyne, which runs through Newcastle 5 miles further downstream. The pits had all closed before we were born, so it was pretty much a rural ‘commuter town’ for Newcastle. A pretty good place to grow up. Close enough to the city to be able to stay attached to civilisation, but with a touch of the weird pagan shit that still goes on in abundance further inland, in the hills of Northumberland. There are little villages not far from us, with names like Twice Brewed and Scroggwood, where they spend their Saturday nights dancing round swords and singing accordian tunes to the moon. We all moved into Newcastle in our late teens and twenties and got more involved in the music scene. We ran Newcastle’s top ‘indie’ night, The Palace, through the 1990s at the legendary Riverside venue (now no more). It was a good mix of music. Classic indie, Manchester stuff, Britpop, dance, 60s psych and northern soul and a bit of hip-hop thrown in. It was run mainly as a club for us and our friends, with the guest-list running to over a hundred people most weeks. It was class! 500 or so people getting together in a great venue every Friday. Good live bands, good music and a great atmosphere. Me and Steve have moved back out to Crawcrook and neighbouring Ryton now, and still see each regularly. Felix landed a class job designing toy cars for Hot Wheels, and has ended up in LA. He was (until just a few weeks ago) Vice President of Hot Wheels, and has been spending the last few years project managing mad, life-sized loop-the-loops for suped-up cars in the deserts of America. We still keep in close touch, swapping music files we’re working on. I was over there visiting him about 6 weeks ago. Stu Lowey, our guitarist, died aged 28 in 2001. He developed Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the human form of Mad-Cow disease) in his mid 20s, probably caused by bovine growth hormones he’d been given as a child.

++ Arlo was telling me that he likes the photo on the cover of the 7″ because you looked all covered in coal dust after a hard days shift down the pit. Is that so? Did you work in a coal mine?

Arlo: It was taken after a hard day’s photo-shoot with Yozzer Hughes, a deranged Scouse maverick who also produced Change You Even. Bit of a Fagin type character. He took pride in taunting all the other Newcastle bands that Feral were the only ones who were gonna get anywhere ‘cos they’re fookin seventeen’! He had us dug into a fox-hole, covered in bracken and fallen branches. We’d been hunched in there for about three hours by the time he actually got the shot he wanted.

Felix: Real lateral thought displayed there by Yozza…..”I know,….. they’re called feral so I’ll drive them out to the woods and stick them in a ditch”. From memory he spent quite a bit of time telling us how long it had taken him to scout for the location….in hindsight we should have asked him what he was doing wandering around in the woods looking for a ditch to put seventeen year old boys in…

++ Tell me then how did you all meet? And have you been in bands before Feral?

Arlo: We all met at school and lived within about a mile of each other as kids. Me, Felix and Steve met aged 4 in primary school, and met Stu at Ryton Comprehensive school aged 11. We hung around together for years before we started playing music. We’d been a pretty tight gang through our teenage years, skateboarding, graffiti art-ing, listening to music and generally hanging around street corners. Feral took a little while to properly coalesce from various mates going round each other’s garages and bedrooms and making a racket.

Felix: From memory the idea of a band started forming when we were about fifteen. Me and Stu used to dream about it and eventually figured if we were going to be in a band we’d better get somebody in it who could actually play an instrument….so we subtly courted Arlo. I picked up the bass because I figured four strings would be easier to learn than six. Steve had had drum lessons when we were seven so we pretty much told him he was the drummer.

++ What are your first musical memories? And what inspired you to make music?

Arlo: I’ve been indoctrinated from birth. My Grandad was a miner in County Durham who had a massive record collection dating back to the invention of the gramaphone. They had nothing else of value in the house, but he had full rooms which were literally floor to ceiling with records! He used to play old novelty records for me as a kid, along with the classical and opera stuff he was into, and bought me my first 7” singles when I was 3, On The Trail of the Lonesome Pine by Laurel and Hardy and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. (I used to think the first line was ‘Is this the real life or is this just Plasticine?’ Much better lyrics, in my opinion.) My Mam and Dad were both well into their music too. Massive fans of The Beatles, Dylan, Paul Simon, The Incredible String Band etc. I can remember days at home with my Mam, pre-school (so aged 4 or less), sitting using her washing basket as a boat and listening to Cripple Creek Ferry by Neil Young and The Hedgehog Song by The Incredibles. I took a shine to Jimi Hendrix when I was about 8 after seeing a documentary on the BBC that my Dad had recorded. My folks weren’t particularly into Hendrix. They’d seen him at the Isle of White Festival in 1970 (where they also saw Arlo Guthrie, hence my name). But I was smitten. I badgered them for a guitar for Christmas, and got a real cheap nylon – stringed acoustic. One of my Dad’s mates gave me a couple of lessons and persuaded my Dad that I needed a better guitar, so I got a Hondo Les Paul copy the next Christmas. Much easier to play behind my head. Me, Felix, Steve and Stu went through our early teens sharing tapes of New Order, Bomb The Bass, Run DMC, Public Enemy, Eric B and Rakim and skate videos with tunes by The Descendents, Firehose, Sonic Youth etc. But it was really the first time we heard The Stone Roses that the idea of being a band crystalised. Me and Steve had been to RPM records in Newcastle the day She Bangs The Drums came out. I bought the album, and Steve bought the 12”, along with a batch of other bands’ records. We both went home and had a listen through the day’s new purchases, and were both just floored when we put the Roses on. Straight on the phone to each other, raving about them. And they were immediately put onto tape for that evening, racing round the country lanes of Northumberland in Felix’s VW Passat with Waterfall and Resurrection blasting at top volume. I don’t know about the rest of the band, but for me that was the day it all changed. We’d been playing around with guitars and writing a few songs together before The Roses, but that was when I decided we could be a ‘proper band’.

++ And where does the name of the band come from? Is there a story behind it?

Arlo: Feral was a character in a story in 2000AD (Strontium Dogs, I think). Steve had picked up on it as a cool word/band-name. It was like every band, hunting around for a name. It was just the least ridiculous one we came up with!

Felix: I think we settled on it in the car on our way to our first Deckham music collective gig.

++ What would you say were your influences at the time of Feral? What were you listening to?

Arlo: We were coming back round to guitars after having been into hip-hop for a few years. The skate videos I mentioned played a big part in that to begin with. We were into stuff by Dinosaur Jr, Ultra Vivid Scene, Sonic Youth etc. The Manchester scene was starting to kick off, led by the Roses, Mondays and Carpets and that was when we started going out to gigs. Most of the venues in Newcastle were ‘over 18’. We’d been reluctant to travel into town just to get turned away from gigs at the door for being under-age. So we missed out on the Roses at Newcastle Riverside. We went down a few weeks after for The Charlatans’ first Newcastle gig, and got in no-bother. Then realised that half the kids in there were younger than us! After that, we were out every week to see bands at The Riverside and Newcastle’s grottiest little indie venue, The Broken Doll. Stephen Joyce used to put The Whoosh Club on at The Broken Doll. Usually three bands, two of them local, for £1.50. We went to see Ride’s first Newcastle gig at a Whoosh night. They’d been signed to Creation Records and started attracting a lot of attention between Stephen booking them and the actual gig. There must have been over 300 people crammed into a room that was a bit of a squeeze for 100! Whoosh nights got us into Creation Records stuff, particularly My Bloody Valentine, which influenced how we used the guitars, noise and distortion to create textures. And introduced us to a load of new guitar music, Five Thirty, Boo Radleys, Swervedriver etc etc.

Felix: As the band progressed we started going to Raves, what started out as a very jingle jangle band progressed into something quite rich with looped patterns later on.

++ There were plenty of guitar bands in the late 80s, early 90s, the now so called C86 sound. So I wonder if you felt part of a scene then?

Arlo: Nah, not really. We were into the Manchester bands, but didn’t come from Manchester, so were exempt from that. We were into the shoegazey bands I’ve mentioned above, but not really part of any ‘scene’ with them either. There was a good scene in Newcastle at the time. We did a load of gigs with The Lavender Faction, The Sunflowers, Crane, Goose, Deep, The Acrylic Tones, Razorblade Smile, Unexplained Laughter. And a lot of those bands made up the crowd who used to get along to the Palace club over the next few years.

++ Did you play many gigs? Any favourites? Any not so favourite?

Arlo: We did loads of gigs. Mostly in the North East of England, but we did a few round the country. We got some offers to go to mainland Europe but just never got it sorted. We were pretty hapless on the organisation side! Scotland gigs were always good fun. Better licensing laws meant the bands didn’t start til later in the night, by which time the drink was usually flowing and the crowds were always up for a laugh. Probably my best memory of a gig was the second one we played, at the school we all went. We persuaded them to let us have the main hall for the night, filled it with a couple of hundred school mates and just had a proper celebratory party. It was where we and our friends all There was a good one where we were supporting another local band, Razorblade Smile. I think there’d been some wrangling about who was going to headline. We went on before them and played covers of their entire set. We hadn’t told them beforehand, so they were a bit put out that they had nothing left rehearsed to play that we hadn’t just done. We did loads of shite little gigs at the start, especially when we were in that Deckham Collective. Each band had half a dozen people there to see them, and none of the bands liked each other’s music. They were pretty soul-destroying, but they were a means to an end, securing us the use of cheap practice rooms.

Felix: One thing I remember about the shite little gigs was how loud we were compared to the other bands. We were this little four piece band made up of scraggly teenagers pushing AMPS on stage that were bigger than us. A favourite early gig of mine was a Lust records Christmas party where we had ten people on stage with us doing Kylie Minogue’s ‘better the devil you Know’. I think Steve finished that set by throwing his high hats through the window….upstairs at the Broken Doll.

++ You released just the one 7″ on Lust Recordings. How did this relationship came to be?

Arlo: We sent Stephen Joyce a tape of some demos after we’d been to one of the Whoosh nights he put on. We were just looking for gigs really. He put us on at the Whoosh a few times and we went down well. He’d already released a few singles on the Whoosh label, but was starting up again under the name Lust Recordings. I think the first Lust Record was a Lavender Faction 12”, and we were the second. We were planning more, but Stephen was busy working as Kevin Shields’ (MBV) guitar technician. When Loveless came out, and during the tour that followed it, he was away. We were refusing to even answer the calls we were getting from other record labels, cos we were happy on Lust Recordings. By the time we realised that Stephen wasn’t going to be around to manage us or sort out getting the next single recorded, we’d lost all momentum.

++ So the A side has the name of the song wrong. What was the song’s original name? What happened?

Arlo: That was Stephen Joyce’s bad hearing. Too many MBV gigs! It was called Change You Even (from the chorus lyrics: I’d never change you even though I’ll never want you as you are). He just misheard me, and we’d purposely put the vocal low in the mix. We only realised the day the records came back from the pressing plant, by which point it was too late to put right.

++ And in a sentence or two, could you tell me the story behind each song on the single?

Arlo: Change You Even was us messing about with a guitar tuning I came up with. DADAAD for anyone who’s interested. Loads of drone! We got three new songs in a week just out of that tuning. It turned out to be about 8 minutes long, which we didn’t notice til we started recording it. The lyrics are just teenage, heart-on-sleeve, here’s what I’m thinking about today sort of stuff. Bridge is a song to a mate of ours, Rob Quick, who committed suicide that year. His was one of the garages we used to go round to and make a noise. I came up with the song while I was at the Tin Bridge over the River Tyne at Wylam. It was a disused, derelict railway bridge we used to hang around at, and where I’d had a pretty in-depth discussion with Rob not long before he died. Away came out of us getting our hands on a 4-track cassette portastudio for the first time. It was originally layers of swirling guitar noise over a lullaby-strum. Then flipping the cassette over to record layers of backwards guitar. The version on the single was an attempt to make a ‘releasable song’ out of that idea. I prefer the rough-as-fuck original sketch to the version we put out on the single.

++ What do you remember of the recording sessions at Hi Level in Newcastle? Any fun anecdotes to share?

Arlo: It was produced by John ‘Yozzer’ Hughes, veteran record shop owner in Newcastle, and all-round knob. He’s the bloke who had us hiding in muddy holes for the cover photo. He had worked with The Dickies, and reckoned he used to hang out with Robert Calvert from Hawkwind. He claimed to have Calvert’s one-stringed Ukrainian fiddle (not a euphemism!) mounted on his wall at home.

Felix: Ironically I spent a large chunk of my childhood travelling round various pagan sites with my crazy hippie aunt in a battered Bedford van listening to Hawkwind and Zappa so I thought the eukranian fiddle and his tales of Brock and Calvert were quite impressive

Arlo: He was trying to force-feed us some terrible 70s prog, groups like Tractor and stuff no-one has ever heard of. Trying to influence the sound in a new direction which none of us bought into in any way. He dismantled the studio’s monitoring system and wired in some knackered car-speakers. Mixed the single through them, claiming that if it sounds good through them, it’ll sound good through anything. It just ended up sounding shit through anything! We did some good stuff there though. It was on the top floor of an old 5 storey building. We used the bare brick stairwell as an echo chamber, with about 100 ft of guitar lead draped down the stairs, an amp at the bottom, and mics set up on each landing. It gave a massive sound to some of the layered guitars at the end of Change You Even. It was an all-night session, cos we got the place cheap through the night, and I can remember going out onto the roof-top overlooking Newcastle city centre as the sun was coming up and the final tweaks were being made to Yozzer’s mix through his crappy speakers.

++ And how come the B side wasn’t recorded there but instead in a home portostudio?

Arlo: That was just a lie! It was recorded at a ‘community studio’ in a place called Consett in the middle of nowhere. The place was set up to record primary-school music workshops, local radio advert voice-overs and that sort of carry-on. The engineer nearly shat himself when we switched our amps on. He had no idea what we were after, and the results weren’t much better than what we’d managed ourselves on the portastudio. So we just said that’s how they were recorded so it didn’t seem like we’d wasted good money on shit mixes.

++ Did you participate perhaps in some compilations?

Arlo: We were members of the Deckham Music Collective in Gateshead for a few months. You’ve never met a more unlikely ‘collective’ in your life. None of the bands had anything in common. The attraction to us was that they had practice rooms and a studio. We recorded some stuff in their studio, literally ran away with the tapes and have still never paid them to this day. The guy chased after us for a couple of years but I think we’ve got away with it now. I think they might have put one of the tunes we recorded that day on a compilation album of seminal Deckham artists such as the mighty ‘Nell Mangle vs The Robinsons’, one of the most hard-hitting satirical double acts to come out of Britain in the 1980s. Check them out if you get a chance.

++ Are there any more Feral recordings? Perhaps on tapes and such?

Arlo: Yeah, I’ll send you them. There was a four song follow up single / EP recorded and ready to go. Unfortunately we only kept masters on cassette (not sure where the DATs went) so the sound quality is a bit ropey. I’ve got some of the multitrack reel-to-reels, but I’m having trouble finding anywhere which has still got their analogue tape machines to go and run off some decent mixes.

++ Then what happened? When did you call it a day? And why?

Arlo: I’ve not called it a day! I still play music and mess around with sound. Feral just dissolved / evolved. Me, Felix and Steve have stayed close friends and collaborators to this day.

++ Were you involved with other bands after Feral? Tell me a bit about each if you can!

Arlo: Not long after the Feral single we became a 3 piece briefly. We then recruited Ian Nagel from The Acrylic Tones on guitar. He was a real 60s aficionado and Feral took on a more psych / jangly sound for a year or so. We then disbanded for a few weeks, Ian continued with the Acrylic Tones, and we recruited Paul Schofield from The Sunflowers on vocals and renamed the band Camp Freddie. Camp Freddie was a good little band. We holed-up in a barn in Felix’s auntie’s house near Morpeth in Northumberland. Hired a sixteen track tape machine and borrowed a mixing desk and some mics and set about writing a new batch of songs. I’ll send you what I can of those home-made recordings. We only did a handful of gigs, but they were good ones. We took a coach load of us down to Sunderland to play at their Saturday night indie club (The Independent, I think), and had a great night. Good gig, loads of friends on an away-day, everyone mashed and a good night’s dancing afterwards! I can’t really remember why we stopped doing Camp Freddie. After a year or two of just running the club-night, and learning how to use a sampler and Cubase on an Atari ST, I got together with a Sunderland lad who’d been on the scene for years, Kristian Atkinson. Me and him cooked up the idea for the next band, The Kustom Built. We were going to work without a drummer, using samples and drum machines, with live guitars and keyboards. The Kustom Built ethos was to take bits and pieces of music from anywhere and bolt them all together into a suped-up mash of punk, funk and psychedelia. F-Punk! Felix was lured back to Newcastle from his job with Mattel to play bass. Stu Craig was poached from Stax Connection on guitar and we had Cam (an old Sunderland mate of Kristian’s) on vocals. Kustom Built put out three EPs on Atomic Records, toured with Clint Boon, played Reading and Leeds festivals and did the first Radio One live session of the millennium. We never really split up, just sort of fizzled out and went our separate ways around 2002.

++ What about today? Do you still play?

Arlo: The Kustom Built been invited to play a festival in Minehead later this year with The Happy Mondays and The Inspiral Carpets and a load others. It’s been a while since we all played together. Felix is coming back from L.A. and Stu from London to do it. Me and Kristian are working on a few new tunes to put out some time soon.

++ And do you have any other hobbies aside from music?

Arlo: I do Judo, playing and coaching. Felix is as into cars as he’s ever been, and is currently working on some cool stuff with stunt drivers The Bandito Brothers. Steve runs a sound system and does a bit of DJing.

++ One last question, looking back to those days, what would you say was Feral’s biggest highlight as a band?

Arlo: Spending the night at Colm (My Bloody Valentine’s drummer)’s house on a London trip. It was the day they’d finished the mixing of Loveless. We spent the night absolutely off our faces listening to the album the whole indie world was dying to hear. We were in an absolute mess the next morning, trying to do an interview with the NME. We got a panning off the journalist for not having much to say, but we were all on a come-down and had just had our efforts put firmly into perspective after hearing one of the greatest records ever made.

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

Arlo: Thank you! Sorry it’s taken a few weeks to get back to you. Thanks for showing an interest in our obscure little outfit from the coal-field backwaters of England!

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Listen
Feral – Bridge

06
Mar

Thanks so much to Matthew Berry for the interview! I wrote a small piece about the obscure Hang David some time ago. Matt was kind enough to get in touch and also was up to tell the story about his band from the 80s. These days Matthew still makes music under the name of Melatone. You can listen to one of his new tracks, “If I Fall” here. But today we talk about his old band Hang David who made some lovely jangly songs that Melody Maker once said: “PRETTY, pretty, gently cruising and crooning towards a soft apex on each of four songs, Hang David have an attractive lustre to their guitar dominance as they sparkle, mingle and tingle like early Hurrah! with their mouth full of crisps”.

++ Hi Matt! Thanks a lot for being up for this interview! How are you? Where are you based these days? And where was Hang David based back in the day?

My pleasure! It’s great to know that someone is still interested in the band. I’m good thanks. I live in North London. Hang David were based in London as well – most of us were around West London

++ Was Hang David your first band?

It was my first serious band – I was in a band at school with Bob (the Keyboard player from Hang David). We were called Lost Cause ….which was asking for trouble!

++ I noticed that you are now in a band called Melatone and before that in a band called Duma. Care telling me a bit about these two bands and how different or similar they are to Hang David?

Duma was my first band after Hang David & the first band where I was the singer. We were quite different to Hang David – a 3 piece for one thing, and a bit darker & heavier. Melatone is maybe a blend of the two – some guitar pop and some stuff that is closer to post rock, with vocals (if that makes sense!). We do full band gigs, but I also do a lot of live looping gigs, which are a lot of fun.

++ When did Hang David start as a band? Who were the members and how was the recruiting process?

Hang David started in 87 or 88…not exactly sure. Myself, Bob Cook & Ben Durling (another school friend) got together and then found a drummer (Dave Frisby) and singer in the pub I think. I don’t remember any auditioning at all, I think we just started rehearsing. The original singer was actually a guy called Dom Joly who is now quite a famous comedian in England. That didn’t work out, so we advertised and got Nick Leese. We had a few different bass players.

++ Where does the name Hang David come from?

Hmmm, I should make up something interesting here – I think it was something to do with the drummer Dave messing something up at a rehearsal.…my recollection is a little vague!

++ Your first release, the “Another Day” 12″ came out in 1989. What were you listening at that time? Were you into other jangly guitar bands then?

It was actually a 12” 4 track ep. I had always been a big fan of The Cure, Joy Division etc, but also always loved The Beatles (especially the Revolver album). We were all big fans of Aussie band The Church (who were almost completely unknown in UK). They seemed to combine The Cure kind of thing with a more sixties Beatles sound. You can hear that on the single –there’s lots of nice 12 string and Rickenbacker on there. I think we were also listening to The Stones Roses, maybe REM.

++ It was released on the Vacant label. Who were they?

That was our own label – Ben and me set it up.

++ What do you remember from the recording session for the 7″? Where was it recorded? Were the songs included the easy choices for the record?

We recorded the A side at a studio in Hackney, London. The other 3 tracks we recorded in various places. Another Day was always going to be the A side, I can’t remember whether there were other tracks in contention, but I remember really liking another track called “Halfways”. I can’t remember why we didn’t record that, but maybe we were thinking of that as a second single. I have a nice demo of that somewhere. There was also a track of Ben’s called “Unwind”, but that came later.

++ If it’s not much to ask, what’s the story behind the songs on this 7”

I’ll do my best…

In terms of lyrics I wrote “Another Day” & “Here” & Nick wrote lyrics for “Ride” & “Where You Are”. I wrote the music for the 4 songs, although there was generally quite a lot of band input. “Another Day” & “Here” were both songs about a breakup (aren’t they all?!). Ben had a little 8 track set up and I remember demoing “Another Day” there with Dave McDonald (who produced the 12” and had been bass player in the band briefly). I might even have sung the demo – Dave helped quite a bit with the arrangement and I think he wrote the great lead guitar line (it definitely wasn’t me). I can’t remember much about the writing of the other songs, although I remember the “Here” demo being more electric and layered and us making it gentler and simpler. I really liked “Where You Are”, which was me & Nick (and nice guitar riff from Ben). “Ride” was a bit of a Beatles pastiche.

++ And what about the sleeve? It seems like a child’s drawing. Is it?

I did the sleeve – obviously to look like a child’s drawing (although my hand writing is nearly that bad). We tried some other moodier/artier designs but wanted something simple and slightly naïve and also something that looked good in black and white, as that was all we had the money for!

++ You were telling me there are a lot of demos from this period. How many unreleased songs you think Hang David left behind?

There was probably 5 or 6 other good songs from this period & maybe 9 or 10 from later on (and a load of really iffy songs!). They are in my shed somewhere on cassette.

++ After this 7″ you released the Head 12″. On this record the band changed a bit their sound. Why was that?

Nick & Ben left the band. I think they just wanted to do their own thing – it was all very amicable and we stayed friends and I think we played some gigs with them. Anyway, we got a new singer (Jon Braman) who also played bass and a new guitarist (Dave Turner). As a result we changed quite a bit naturally with the new line up.

++ I read that during this time you also played in the US? Is that so?

Yes, we played at CBGBs and somewhere at New York University I think (Syracuse?) in 88, before “Another Day” came out. I played again solo a few years later at CBs Gallery & The Bitter End in NY. I loved it – especially CBGBS of course. We scrawled Hang David on the stage wall, as was the tradition!

++ And in general, when it comes to gigs, what were the best gigs you played? Any anecdotes you could share? Any favourite bands to play with?

CBGBs with Hang David was a highlight and Clem Burke was playing on the same night (not with Blondie), which was great. Later Duma played a festival in Germany which was fun. I can’t remember any particular bands that stood out.

The anecdotes were mostly things that seemed like disasters at the time, but are funny now – driving all the way to Germany for a gig that hadn’t been booked (the very nice local band who were actually booked let us play anyway), powercuts, drummers breaking bones just before a big gig.

I actually had a solo melatone gig where as I stepped on stage to start, the fire alarm went off and didn’t stop all night. The venue cancelled the gig and refunded me all the cash that people had paid for their tickets (not just the usual band cut), which meant that the most I ever got paid for a gig, was for one I never did. I just took the audience to a nearby pub and used it to buy beer for everyone anyway!

We even did a Hang David reunion gig a couple of years ago (our first gig for 18 years) and Dave the drummer broke his finger 2 days before the gig, and we had to postpone.

++ For the song “Head” you filmed a promo video. How was that experience? What was the idea behind it and were you happy with the end result?

I don’t remember much about the planning – I think I pretty much turned up and did what I was told. Jon the singer also worked as a video editor and was pretty much in charge of it. He got some mates together and we filmed it in the front room of a flat in Highgate, North London (very glamorous!) When they got the film back it was really dark and we were worried it was unusable, but I think it looks great in a moody kind of way. We actually shot a video for Another Day as well, but it never got finished.  I guess there’s footage somewhere.

++ With the strength of these two releases, was there any interest from other labels to release you?

We never quite got enough momentum going – we did Another Day then changed singer, we did Head, then split up. We had interest from a couple of places, but nothing concrete – I remember getting lots of crazy, incomprehensible faxes from a company in Japan wanting to release us, but we couldn’t understand what they were saying.

++ What about press, did you get any attention by the likes of the NME or Melody Maker perhaps? And what about radio?

Yes, we got a great review from Melody Maker for “Another Day” & the “Head” video was on MTV a few times which was great. Both singles got some radio play around the country.

++ Then what happened with Hang David? When and why did you call it a day?

We called it a day after Head, I think it was in 92 or 93. I think we kind of put all our effort into that and then didn’t have the energy to follow it up properly. Everyone was at different stages – I just wanted to do music, but Jon’s video editing was going really well, Bob was at University I think, so we just couldn’t all commit.

++ What did the members of Hang David do afterwards?

I learned how to sing and formed Duma, and then melatone and I work at a music company in London. Jon carried on video editing, but also plays bass in melatone sometimes. Dave the drummer is also a video editor, Bob works in market research doing something clever, Dave Turner works in music and film industry. Ben works in A&R. Not sure what happened to Nick the Another Day singer, although I bumped into him at a gig a few years ago. And the “Head“ line up did a reunion gig a couple of years ago, which was a lot of fun. We played Another Day of course.

++ What about today, do you still make music? What other hobbies do you enjoy doing?

Yes, I still play gigs and have a studio set up. Melatone had an album (100 Different Ways To Change Your Life) out a couple of years ago & a new album (It’s The Hope That Kills You) is coming out this year. I have a couple of videos on you tube & vimeo & the album is on iTunes etc. I still love music, so I guess I will always find some way to do it.

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

It was the obvious, simple things – actually seeing our first record and playing it, hearing it on the radio for the first time, seeing the Head video on MTV etc.

++ Thanks again Matt! It’s been great to know a bit more about your band. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interest. To be honest I had no idea that anyone apart from a few friends would even remember the band. It makes it that bit more worthwhile and it’s nice to know that the music is still being enjoyed.

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Listen
Hang David – Another Day

05
Mar

Thanks to Simon Rapsey for the interview! After writing the post about his band and asking for some more info about them some weeks ago Simon was kind enough to get in touch through Facebook and was up to answering all my questions about his band. The Kites released a flexi and a 7″ and sadly are quite obscure. But if you are wise enough you’ll have a read and listen to their songs! They are so good!

++ Hi Simon! Thanks so much for being up for this interview! It’ll be great to know a bit more about The Kites. So perhaps let’s start by the band members? Who were they? And how did you all meet?

The Band first started in Plymouth by Ashley Chaplin (Guitar and Vocals)who started looking for likeminded souls to form a band. Dave Sarney (Bass) answered an ad posted on the Student Union Notice Board. A few guitarists were tried out at rehearsal sessions but eventually Dev Cross joined on lead guitar.  The band originally called themselves Stone Soup and had a couple of drummers before me. I joined later when the band were looking for a drummer for a recording session they booked – I originally went along to just provide drums for that session – but ended up staying.

++ Where you all studying the same degree at the university of Plymouth?

No – Ashley did Environmental Science, Dave and Dev both did Biology.

++ You mentioned to me that you had been previously in other bands like The Reddlemen and This Splendid! How did these bands sound like? Any similarities with The Kites? Did you release anything with them?

The Reddlemen formed much earlier whilst Dave and I were still at school.  They were less jangly than The Kites, slightly rawer. Nothing was ever released although we played a few gigs which were generally well attended.  A bootleg of  the Reddlemen live at Forest Hall was in circulation at one time. This Splendid! were more on the scene in the Reading area in terms of gigging and were more groove based – influenced by the sounds that were beginning to emerge from Manchester at that time. We released a couple of Eps – Caper and Slide Through

++ Were the other members involved in other bands as well?

Dave played bass in the Reddlemen

++ Why the name The Kites?

We realised a name change was needed as Stone Soup was a fairly terrible name and people wrongly assumed that the name was a contrived fusion of the Stone Roses and The Soup Dragons.  The name Kites came from one of our songs –  “Kites”

++ Did you gig a lot? What were your best gigs and why?

The band gigged a lot in the Plymouth area.. Gigs outside of the campus area could be quite hairy and often laced with the threat of impending violence both to us and those who’d come to see us.  Gigs in the further outer suburbs of Plymouth often ended with a hurried dismantling of equipment and a dash to the transit. Sets would begin with a cover of the Buzzcocks ESP and end with a crowd favourite – “Your Face”. The lyric “I worshipped you” was initially confused as being “I wore shit shoes”  and was forever more sung along as such by the crowd.  Our best gigs were generally the ones supporting bigger named bands who ventured into Plymouth. There would generally be a good turn-out and we had to up our game a bit. Another gig that stands out a for me was we did a festival at Reading University. No-one really knew who we were so we started off playing to an empty tent but by the end we’d filled it.

++ Were there any bands that you really like playing with? Did you feel at the time, in the late 80s-early 90s, that there were like-minded bands? Or maybe you felt part of a scene?

Sadly no not really, we really ploughed our own furrow musically in Plymouth and later when we’d all finished university, because we were not all living in the same town, there was no scene as such to latch on to. Britpop was on the rise and we didn’t see ourselves as really fitting in with some of those types of bands.

++ So you released two records on your on label Happy Accident, is that right? How was the setup for the label? How did you raise the money?.

Yes that’s right. The money was raised through gigging, selling demos and putting in our hard earned cash. Suffice to say we never made a profit !

++ The first was a flexi, is that correct? It says on the back cover “This is a version of the original flex-disc released in the August 93 issue of Waste Management Today”. What was that all about?

That was a joke really – it’s correct that it was released as a flexi which you can tell by the wobbly uploading on youtube.  The cover of the flexi said “This is a copy of the original flexi released in the August Issue of Waste Management Today”.  This was a (prob not that funny) in joke referring to the fact that Ashley was at the time working in Waste Management for the local council  – a job he took very seriously – composting was (and still is) the way forward.

++ In the flexi there are two songs, “Larry’s Back” and “Rachel Head”. Are these real people? What’s the story behind these songs?

Rachel was, I think, based on a girl Ashley admired from a far. As I remember she was going out with his flat mate at the time – and so was unobtainable (a common theme for Ashley back then). Larry never existed. The idea was simply that the saying goes – “Happy as Larry”

++ Afterwards you released the single with “Faster”. What other songs were in it? Did the record receive any press?

The B side was a song called Country Boy – which wasn’t a serious song really – It was just something we used to mess about with and one time we actually played it live and it got a really good response. So it snuck into the setlist and became a live favourite.  We didn’t really receive any press, but to be honest we didn’t really go about promoting ourselves – apart from the occasional write up of a gig in the local press . A copy of the single must have surfaced in Bristol because we were contacted by Rodney Allen of the Blue Aeroplanes who said he liked Country Boy . I remember Ashley being particularly chuffed about this as he had long been a fan of the Blue Aeroplanes.

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

I remember it to be a pretty fun and relaxed  – the studio was particularly unglamourous being in an industrial unit in Portsmouth. When we recorded time was always tight due to lack of finances but both songs were recorded in a couple of takes.  Faster being our most popular and well played song at that time so it was really easy to record.

++ As you know I know the three songs thanks to Youtube, no clue who that user that uploaded the tracks might be? I thought it was a mate of yours!

I think I know who it is – but no-one will step forward and admit it so technically it remains a mystery.
++ Are there more unreleased songs by The Kites? How come there were no more releases?

There is an earlier EP – Dreaming about Diving which was released on cassette and sold out quite quickly. When all the Larry’s Back flexi discs had sold we put them on to a cassette with two to other songs, Waiting For Me and Why Today – which worked out cheaper than getting more flexis made up.  Also there are a few later recordings non of which were released – basically because we didn’t have the finances to do so. One song in particular Polly Propylene we were initially keen to release but by this time we all had grown up jobs and families and didn’t have the time to invest in trying to get it heard.

++ Was there any interest from other labels to release your songs?

No not really – but then we didn’t send demos or releases to any labels, we really were poor at promoting ourselves. Then by the mid 90’s Britpop and ladrock was on the rise and we were viewed as being basically too much of a throwback to the mid to late 80s.

++ And then when and why did you stopped making music as The Kites?

Essentially we just moved on in our lives – got married, had children etc. By this time we were all living in separate parts of the country, Ashley was living in Portsmouth. Dave had moved to Northampton and Dev had gone back to Wales so it wasn’t that easy to organise times to get together.  We didn’t really completely stop and very occasionally still meet up  – book a rehearsal space – just for the fun of doing so.

++ But you still make music with Ashley, right? Are these songs online?

Yes we still see each other more regularly and share tunes – both our own and other bands we like. It was Ash’s songwriting which drew me to the band in the first place. I think he’s has never really lost it as a songwriter and has a real knack with melody. He’s always been quite self des precating about the stuff he writes. Non are online – maybe we should get round to uploading a few songs.++ Looking back, what would you say wathe best moment of The Kites?

Funnily enough my fondest memories of the Kites were just getting together for weekends in a drafty old village hall in Wiltshire, writing songs and having a good laugh. In terms of best moments it’s difficult to pick one standout because they were all good times. I’m quite proud of  Faster and Polly Propylene.  Also the Reading University gig – that one was a bit of a triumph.

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

Aside from studying the finer details of Solid and Putrescible Waste Management, Ashley is into photography. Me I’m still a music nut , still collecting records and constantly searching for that next great song.

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Listen
The Kites – Larry’s Back

04
Mar

This week indiepop is happy. Indiepop has something exciting to look forward to. I’m saying that because the lineup for NYC Popfest 2015 has been unveiled.

About Popfest I’ve written so many times. We all know how great it is and how we hope to last forever. The bands, the friends, the atmosphere, the passion, everything comes together for a weekend. This year the weekend on Thursday  May the 28th possibly at 8pm and will run until midnight of the 31st. 4 days packed with great music.

The venues are the same as last year sans Spike Hill. Instead of the Bedford Avenue venue we will be heading to Baby’s Alright for the afternoon free show of Saturday. Then the usual Cake Shop on Thursday, Cameo on Friday, Knitting Factory (including the dance party) on Saturday, and Littlefield on Sunday.

Ticket are available already as 4-day passes. They are $70.

The lineup for this year includes:
Beverly (NYC)
Brideshead (GERMANY)
The Catenary Wires (UK)
The Chandler Estate (NYC)
Club 8 (SWEDEN)
The Darling Buds (UK)
Expert Alterations (MD)
Eternal Summers (VA)
Jessica & The Fletchers (SPAIN)
The Just Joans acoustic (UK)
The Loft (UK)
Lunchbox (CA)
Pale Lights (NYC)
Palms on Fire (RUSSIA)
Papa Topo (SPAIN)
#Poundsign# (CA)
Roman a Clef (NYC)
Seabirds (UK)
Souvenir Stand (NYC)
THE SPOOK SCHOOL (UK)
STARRY EYED CADET (CA)
Univers (SPAIN)
Veronica Lake (MI)
Wallflower (JAPAN)
Wildhoney (MD)
Working (Rhode Island)
Young Romance (UK)

DJs haven’t been announced yet, but a safe bet is that Maz and Mondo will be DJing after the gigs at Cameo. Who’ll DJ on Saturday seems to be a mystery but I feel that, by looking at the attendees on Facebook to the event, it’s pretty obvious who’ll be DJing that day!

Next week I’ll go through the bands that will be playing and recommend the ones that I like the most. There are some I don’t know much about, especially the local ones (!), that I need to do a little research first. But all in all, especially if you see the state of indiepop at the moment, this is a pretty strong lineup that brings so many exciting bands to town that I never thought I would ever see live!

In the meantime I would love to know who else is coming to NYC for this? Which are your favourite bands playing this year? Which bands are missing? Or any other ideas/suggestions about Popfest? How can it be better? Etc, etc. Let’s discuss that next week when I tell you what you can’t miss!

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cumbersome: large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry or use; unwieldy.

Back in the day I interviewed Philip Suggars from the band Candie Maids (sadly the photos are gone, this post was done before the blog was hacked for the first time). Maybe some of you remember that. I later interviewed him about his other band CC Baxter and actually included one of their brilliant songs on a CD accompanying the fanzine that I was releasing then. He also put me in touch with Hayley from the The Doris Days. Great guy indeed! Well, if you remember the Candie Maids only released a split-flexi. Their song was called Threadbare. Today I want to go over the other band on that flexi: Cumbersome.

When I asked Philip about Cumbersome he told me:
Cumbersome were friends of ours and we sort of morphed into a collective for a bit where we shared members and even played joint gigs, I think. In Cumbersome Waz and I played as bassist and guitarist though we didn’t write their material. More than anything though Paul Griffin, the lovely man who fronted the money for the pressing, liked both bands and wanted us to be on the same flexi. The Cumbersome track on the EP did get played on John Peel.

Indeed, Cumbersome also hailed from Brighton. The flexi was aptly named “Sexy Flexi” and it didn’t include a catalog number. The song that was included in the Sexy flexi was “Billie”. This song was recorded on September 15th of 1987 at “Backlash” recording studios in their city. This flexi was available free with the “Especially Yellow” fanzine that was released in December of that same year.

We know from the sleeve that Cumbersome were:
Veronica on vocals/lyrics
Greavsie on drum programmes
Bobby on guitars, bass guitar and keyboards

Bobby was also involved in the artwork of the flexi alongside some Candie Maids.

Sadly aside from this information there seems to be nothing written about them online. Sure it’s hard when a band only leaves 1 song recorded. But it’s such a nice song that you wonder about their other recordings, because there has to be more of them, right? I’m sure there are. If anyone remembers them, knows what are they doing now, or anything at all, please use the comments section! I would love to know what happened to them!

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Listen
Cumbersome – Billie