While I watch Indietracks’ gigs on Youtube and I feel a terrible nostalgia when I see photos of my friends being washed by the English rain, I try to keep calm. So many summers in a row that I attended, that by skipping this one, my indiepop world feels very strange at the moment, like I’m missing a limb or something. There won’t be hundreds of photos to sort and post, there won’t be setlists to scan, or new records to listen. There won’t be extra pounds in my wallet to exchange at the bank. There won’t be any memories of warm beer or beans for breakfast. None of that. This is an odd summer.

Back in October 2013 I was interviewed by Mark Zonda for the Italian page Loft80 (here’s the Italian version). I want to share this interview here today. It’s summer, and it’s all so quiet that I kind of want to take a break on writing about indiepop news (there’s very little anyways). Hope you like it if you haven’t checked it out yet:

++ Hello Roque. You’re some kind of legend in the realm of indie-pop, but introduce yourself to all the other Italian readers of Loft80

Hey Mark! Thanks a lot. How are you doing? I’m not any legend at all. Indiepop is so tiny to have any legends. I’m just a big fan and a big supporter of the scene. Happy to answer any questions you have.

++ I’ve been to Gothenburg last year, and my greatest disappointment was not being able to find any Cloudberry Jam bottle. How did you decided to name your label after that delicacy

I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t like the taste of Cloudberry Jam much! I remember having it with pancakes in Stockholm and I had to go back to the lingonberry jam as I liked that much better. But just to keep the story straight I didn’t call it because of the jam, but just because of the berry. I thought the name was ace, Cloudberry. Most people don’t even know that sort of berry exists. Also, you know I’m a big fan of the band Cloudberry Jam, right? So, that had a lot to do with it. But the jam itself, nope.

++ So I was pretty safe from delusion not finding any in Sweden. Which are your favourite all time international dishes so far? Do you like cooking?

That’s a very difficult question. I’ll start by the end, I don’t like cooking. I don’t cook. I do love eating though. So, my favourite dish is called Ceviche. And it has to be Peruvian ceviche, because some other countries make it, but it’s not the same at all. That I could eat every single day and never get bored. I love many other dishes, like the Nepali momo, the Afghan manto, the Thai kua kling, the Yemeni fatah, the Malay sambal stingray, and so on. I could go on and on. I love food! And New York is great for that.

++ What did Cloudberry Records represent in the history of indie pop? Would it be appropriate to make comparisons to Sarah Records?

I can’t say what it represents. That would be very biased. I would prefer if you or any other fan tell what it represents. I do hope it represents something and that it has been inspiring in a form or another. I mean, it’s been almost 7 years running the label and there have been more than a hundred releases so, some sort of impact it must have had. Also many of the most beloved bands in indiepop in the last decade or so have had a connection with Cloudberry I think. So I would love to think it has a part in indiepop history. But as it’s a label that it is still alive it’s very hard to pinpoint what kind of place it has in such a history. So I leave that for you to answer 🙂

Comparison with Sarah? I don’t think that would be appropriate. No. Sure, fans will always compare this and that, and that’s cool. But every label is different. They have a different sound, a different perspective, different expectations, different people running them, and especially let’s say Cloudberry and Sarah, they’ve been around in different times. I don’t know how Cloudberry would have fared in the late 80s early 90s, or Sarah in the late noughties and early this decade. The times have changed so much that is hard to compare. I love Sarah records and they have been an inspiration in their aesthetics, so there might be some similarities, but I also love other labels like Heaven Records, Yay! or Fabulous Friends, to who I feel a bit closer to be honest.

++ Cloudberry have always been the main reference to tell what was good indie pop or not. I discovered (and collaborated) with a lot of artist thanks to your ability to find out new quality musicians and bedroom talents. Which was your favourite release so far?

I’m glad that I have helped in that way! I can’t say what’s my favourite release so far. I love them all. Though a special place in my heart have the Celestial 3″, the Twig 7″ and the Feverfew retrospective album, as they were the first I released in each of those formats.

++ Many years has passed when I first interviewed you. It was so cool meeting Kip from The Pains at Indietracks 2010, get to talk to him and telling me he read the interview we had on SleepWalKing Mag. You were telling me right from the start that The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Twig were the two main artists from your label that had the chance to make it. What happened ot Twig and which are your favourite nowadays?

That’s cool. I remember that interview too. It was fun.

What happened to Twig? Well, Henrik, the vocalist, lives in London now, and before he lived in New York for a year, while the rest of the band lives in Stockholm. So it became very hard for them to keep rehearsing and playing, and even recording. There is an album worth of songs written though and I hope at some point they get properly recorded as I know they are FANTASTIC. Hope that answers the question. Sometimes life gets in the way.

My favourite bands? Well, it’s usually the bands I have just released or will release in the near future. So lately I’ve been loving The Occasional Flickers, Boyish, Pale Spectres, Lost Tapes, Don’t Cry Shopgirl, and some more.

++ What’s your vision on independent music and trends nowadays?

I don’t follow much the rest of independent music, I’m mostly familiar with indiepop. So I can talk about that. I think it hasn’t changed much since last time we talked on the SleepWalking interview. I do think people got hurt with the raise of postage prices in the US and UK this year. So mailorders have become a bit more important. How I wish there was one in Italy for example. Indiepop festivals seem to still be pretty successful, and Im happy to know that Indietracks will still go for at least one more year. So I think it’s a healthy scene still.

Trends? Well, Spotify has become a major player it seems, especially in Europe. Sadly Spotify is no help really for bands or labels. So that’s kind of a bad trend haha. Platforms like Bandcamp and Soundcloud are much more fair. And I’m glad these are also used heavily. There are less and less blogs and pages that cover indiepop too. That’s a trend that is not that happy for all of us, on the other hand there are more and more indiepop Facebook groups where people are sharing their discoveries and any sort of questions. I’m not so sure what will happen next. Many thought digital would be reigning by now, but that hasn’t happened. I think music lovers still love their records.

++ Thank you so much Roque. It’s always a pleausure to talk to you. I hope to meet you at some festival sooner or later. And just one final tip: who shall I interview next?

Thanks to you. Yeah, come to NYC Popfest 2014 or Indietracks 2014. I plan going to those for sure. Who to interview next? Why not interview Firestation Records that have just released their 100 release celebrating 15 years of the label. They deserve the attention!


Very obscure band today. One that I can’t find anything at all online. Who could help me?!

Even the page Irish Rock asks for help on this one. Yes, the Bruce Wayne Experiment were Irish and were around in the late 80s. I don’t even know if the rest of their output is indiepop! Though the one song that I’ve heard, “Turn Back”, does sound like one of those classic non-hit songs from an indiepop album from the mid, late 80s. A song that you wouldn’t be surprised to hear on a retrospective compilation of any of the bands featured on the Leamington Spa series.

Where does this song “Turn Back” come from? It was on Youtube. The only song I know they actually released was called “Midnight” and appeared on a compilation called “Something New… Something Blue” released in 1990 by the label New Eclipse Records (NE 007-2). It seems it was released both on tape and vinyl LP.

Well, at least people that have sold this record on eBay has marked it as indiepop/C86. We all know they kind of lie a bit sometimes, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I haven’t heard all of the songs on the compilation (just one, and actually wasn’t indiepop).

On Irish Rock there’s a small blurb saying that all the bands in the release were unsigned at the time and that some of them aren’t all that new, that they had been playing for a few years. It also says that there’s pop and rock on the A side, while blues on the B side. Well, the Bruce Wayne Experience have the last song on the B side. Perhaps they were into blues after all?

The other bands that appeared on this compilation were Big Orange Peel, Local Contract, Dressed to Get Messed, The Quest, Red Hot Remembers, Dirty Tricks, Raw Novembre, Silverstreak, International Blues Band, Blue Ocean, Oliver Brothers Incorporated, Missing Digits and Mary Stokes Band.

Now, for those of you who are really clueless about everything and need to figure out who the hell Bruce Wayne is, well, he is not Superman, but he is Batman, alright?

Batman’s secret identity is Bruce Wayne, an American billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, and owner of the company Wayne Enterprises. Having witnessed the murder of his parents as a child, he swore revenge on criminals, an oath tempered with a sense of justice. Wayne trains himself both physically and intellectually and crafts a bat-inspired persona to fight crime.

Safe to assume they liked comic books?

That’s all. I just ended up liking this song. Thought it makes for a good Monday song.

If you know anything else about them, please let me know, I’m always curious.


Bruce Wayne Experience – Turn Back


It feels very strange not traveling to London this week. It doesn’t feel right. For the past four summers I’ve been going to Indietracks and this year I’m not. The festival starts this Friday, and I have all these mixed feelings going on. It’s odd. Very strange that I won’t be there, meeting with friends and having warm beer while catching some good bands. Good conversations, dancing over rocks and dust, and trying to survive the rain. The Alfreton Travelodge and it’s picnic table. The red taxicabs and the huge Tesco where one would stock with diet Irn Bru. I don’t know, but I will miss it very much. I’m very jealous of all of you. Believe me when I say it was a difficult decision to skip this year.

If I’ll go next year? I hope so. Every year the prices for traveling has been rising. Summer trips to England seem to be very popular. If I can afford it, and have the days off, I’ll do my best. I hope it keeps being organised too. I guess that’s my biggest nightmare, that suddenly they announce that this year was the last. I can’t miss the last one ever. That’d be such a heartbreak.

Last time around I said I wasn’t going to be talking about it anymore. Some friends and some other people got a bit offended by my criticism. That was sad. I was trying to point out some things that could be done better. Maybe I’m no one to be having an opinion, or just people don’t like listening to these sort of things. Anyhow, this year, many friends that are attending have been asking me what bands to check out. So forgive me, as this festival always makes me very passionate about indiepop, I’ll talk about it once more. I’ll do it briefly though.

So I suppose my friends haven’t had the time to check them all out. I have and gave them some pointers. I thought I could share my recommendations with you today. Surely we all have different taste, but I think these are the bands that are worth seeing. I don’t think it’s that difficult this year though I haven’t even checked if any of these clash! Maybe they do!

Friday is just pretty good. I don’t remember an Indietracks Friday were you’d say you wanted to see all bands. It was mostly a day for hanging and catching up. This year, the three bands are worth seeing. For me, the important band would be Cinerama. I’ve seen Wedding Present twice, but never Cinerama. So that’s a given. It’s definitely one of the most exciting bands in the whole festival lineup. The other two bands I’ve seen before and I totally would have loved seeing them again: The School and Fever Dream. It’s a strong start for all that are going.

Saturday, if I was going that is, would most probably start with Cristina Quesada. Sadly at the same time Chorusgirl will be playing too. I guess you could catch the first 20 minutes of Chorusgirl. I really like their song “No Moon”. Cristina I wouldn’t miss as also Andreas from Alpaca Sports will be supporting her. Two good friends, in the church stage sounds great to me. Then I would stay at the church, perhaps get a better seat in the front, to catch Rémi Parson. I saw him before playing this same stage with The Sunny Street. Now solo, must be a treat. But at the same time everything already started to clash.

So, to make it easy, in a parallel universe, because I’m glad I don’t have to make this decision of choosing which band to check, I could: at the same time of Cristina’s gig I would be heading for Los Bonsáis. A superb band, that I think is one of the best this festival. I couldn’t miss them. And then Evans the Death play at the same time as Rémi. Oh dear! These are terrible clashes! I feel for you all. It’s a tough decision!

Other Saturday bands not to miss will be just three. Desperate Journalist, The Haywains, and then at the end The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Those don’t clash, so they can’t be missed.

Let’s see Sunday. I think I would start with The Hi-Life Companion, who made a lovely Cloudberry release back in the day, released an album on Plastilina and even participated in one of my first indiepop projects, the C-06 tape. Can’t be missed! Then I’d go for The Catenary Wires. Amelia Fletcher is one of my heroes. The Fireworks, who everytime I see, get better and better, and on top of it all the members in the band are ace. You have also The Darling Buds, who were so excelent at NYC Popfest. The Tuts who are quite good too. Colour Me Wednesday have great catchy songs even though I don’t agree with their vegan politics.

Other bands on Sunday to definitely check out are The Luxembourg Signal whose album on Shelflife I played a lot the last month at home. Then Grubs, whose flexi was awesome. I’d be very curious to hear more songs as I only know two. And then I’d be super curious to see Frida & Ale as I was such a fan of The Rough Bunnies. Maybe they even play some covers of her old band! Pete Astor, on a quiet Church stage to end the Sunday could be also a good ending for Indietracks.

So that’s what I would try to go and see. I’m not though, but maybe my suggestions help you decide what to do. I think it’s pretty hard, especially those early Saturday slots. Have fun! I’ll be very jealous this side of the Atlantic!


Today I have a band that I only discovered some days ago. I was just checking to new sounds on Youtube and suddenly I stumbled onto the Perfect Garden, from Dunedin, New Zealand.

The song I found was called “End of The Perfect Sunshine” and I loved it immediately. Great female vocals, it reminded me so much to another favourite of mine, Number 4 Joystreet! And I started wondering, where did this come from?

Google didn’t give me any results. But I was lucky that the person who uploaded the song to Youtube used a lot of memorabilia from the band so I could learn a little about them.

It seems they released one tape, with the songs: “Into the Ground”, “End of the Perfect Sunshine”, “Amelia” and “Swirl”. On the tape it says on big letters “Glorious Pop!”. That makes me happy. The tape EP was called “A Place Not Far From Here”. And it was recorded in Christchurch on the 17th and 18th of March 1990. It was mastered by Kevin Stokes for Failsafe Records.

The band was formed by Kieron Flaherty on rhythm and lead guitar, Karen Hewitt on vocals and tambourine, Aaron Ives on drums, Martin Quinn on bass and Shane Walker also on guitars.

The song is gorgeous. I really hope I can listen to their other songs. On the description it says: “The Perfect Garden were an indie band from Dunedin N.Z who were active from 1988 until 1990. They were influenced by the English/Scottish indie scene of the time which included such acts as The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Razorcuts, Primal Scream, The Primitives, The Shop Assistants, Sarah Records and C86.

When I read that sort of thing, when they have all the right influences, for some reason it makes me happy. When I see the haircuts, call me vain if you like, and I see the right haircuts it makes me happy too.

They seem to have played with The Bats at the Burgundy Bar in the European Hotel. The press clipping says that the Perfect Band is a young band that sadly plays pop! What a dumb journalist who wrote this. They even say that their main problem is that they not only wear their influences on their sleeves but also on their haircuts! Oh dear. This person doesn’t know what he’ is writing!

I catch a glimpse of a poster saying “Indiepop Ain’t Noise Pollution”, announcing a gig with the Perfect Garden, Black Spring and Dolphin. Another with the Perfect Garden supporting The 3D’s at the Empire. Yet another playing along the Black Spring and The Holy Toledos. Then another again with the Black Spring and Dolphin playing at the Savoy. Seems the

Then there’s another flyer where it mentions that Kieron and Aaron are off to England to become rock stars. That this was going to be their last ever gig with Perfect Garden. I wonder what bands did they play in while in England.

And that’s all I really could find about them. I wonder if anyone out there remembers them and can tell me a bit more. Also if anyone happens to have that tape, oh please, can you be nice enough to let me listen to the rest of the songs? I really love this one!


Perfect Garden – End of the Perfect Sunshine


Thanks so much to Fran Wright for this interview. Some years ago I interviewed Simon from The Lowthers, and some weeks ago I was contacted by Fran. I thought it would be very cool to hear his own perspective of the Lowthers’ story as a band, and his own Manchester. I hope you enjoy it!

++ Hi Fran, thanks a lot for the interview. In the past I chatted with Simon from the band, it’s cool to hear now from you and from your perspective the story of The Lowthers. So let’s start from the beginning. You were in a band called The Pop Stars. Tell me a bit about them. Any recordings?

The Pop Stars was the band that Simon and I originally intended to form back in Sale. We had a lot to learn about the nuts and bolts of making music but from the beginning we were very good songwriters and we knew it. We both played guitar and sang and our intention was to find a bass player and drummer and to be a 2 guitar, bass, drums four piece with us both singing our own songs. We demoed a few early songs as duets but the only possibly surviving recording I’m aware of was a cassette that was a joke Christmas album that we recorded on Simon’s old piano. It amused us at the time.

++ How was Manchester back then? What were the bands you liked in town? And where did you usually hang out?

In those days the city was a bit grim, nothing like it is today. Simon and I spent more time in the pubs of Sale talking about music than we did exploring what other bands were doing in the city centre. In terms of playing live we played at the Boardwalk more than anywhere else. Actually there were a lot of bands who weren’t very indie at all but when the Madchester thing started they adapted and gave the industry what they were looking for. You still had to search out the alternative scene, though, and a lot of our friends were goths. The vast majority of the nightlife in Manchester was still all about plastic, mainstream music, and as people say, the only thing that was 24 hour was the Spar.

Apart from the Smiths I was really, into James who I first saw supporting the Smiths at the Palace Theatre on the Meat is Murder tour, and I saw them loads of times in Manchester. They were very indie at that point and they played live a lot around Manchester. I’m proud to say that I went to a free festival at Platt’s Fields where James were 2nd on the bill behind Simply Red and I left as soon as I’d seen James. They were on a double bill with the Stone Roses in an anti-clause 28* benefit gig and they were so incredible I went home and wrote ‘What For?’ all over my body in indelible marker. The Stone Roses (who hadn’t quite broken through) were rather ordinary that night, I thought.

++ Do you remember how The Lowthers came to be?

Simon met Roger studying art in Salford, he had a band called Of That Ilk that he had formed with Rick, a guitarist who was leaving Manchester and so Of That Ilk slowly dissolved and got merged with The Pop Stars to form The Lowthers. By the end of the process Simon was the sole singer and I was the sole guitarist, with Julian, who had been in Of That Ilk, on bass and Roger on drums. Julian left after a while and was replaced by Brendan Bell who Simon and I knew from Altrincham (he now lives in West Virginia, USA). Brendan’s a very decent musician and, musically speaking that was the best period of the band for me.

Roger also wrote songs and so we were unusual in that we were a four piece band that had three songwriters, all of whom wrote songs good enough to form a band around. It was good in that it meant we were overflowing with material, even when we were finding our feet musically, but I suppose that it caused some tensions as well. I would have preferred for us to have two guitars and for Simon, Roger and I to sing our own songs and I don’t really know why I never suggested that.

++ Simon told me no one was interested in releasing a record for you. Why do you think that was?

Island Records said ‘we like the Smiths too but we can’t make a living out of it’. A woman from Playtime Records said ‘You sound too like the Smiths’, I said ‘we sound much more like James than The Smiths’ and she said ‘James sound like The Smiths’, so it was no win really. It was like a Sitar player being told he sounded too like Ravi Shankar by someone who knows squat about Indian classical music.

We loved the Smiths and we were influenced by them but I always thought we were more influenced by James (circa Stutter and Strip Mine) and The Wedding Present (circa George Best). Simon recently told me that he can’t stand the Wedding Present which shocked me I must say. And Sylvia didn’t really represent our sound. I’m proud of the song but the recording was a bit rushed, we just went into the studio and did what the engineer told us. It had a very Marresque guitar line but the vocal phrasing was totally unlike anything that Morrissey would ever do, but I can see how some people perceived us through that one record despite sending them demo tapes and playing live where we had a much rougher and more energetic sound.

With hindsight I think we expected things to happen too quickly. We weren’t together that long and towards the end we were getting much tighter and developing our own sound more and more, but the exposure that came from the Disparate Cogscienti was perhaps a bit too soon for us, and the demos we sent out were very amateur.

++ You recorded a bunch of demos. I’m sure many would be interested in listening to them. How many demo tapes did you made and what was the tracklist?

For a time there were a lot of tapes floating about but the only one I have now is of us playing four songs in Brendan’s living room in Altrincham, not long before we split. It’s a crude recording but I think we sound pretty good in places. The songs on it are ‘Your Stare’, which I wrote, ‘Loyalty’, which Roger wrote, and one of Simon’s whose title I’ve forgotten but the chorus goes ‘I don’t care ‘cos I think you’re square, and you can take your money and stick it elsewhere’. There’s also a track that I wrote called ‘Kill Indie Pop’. (I really like Indie Pop, this was just a beef about people not doing it properly). I’ll send you a copy!

++ I’m not familiar with many of your songs, but I’m still curious to know which of your songs was your favourite and why?

Some of the songs I wrote for the Lowthers I wrote when I was 17/18 and so I’ve developed a lot since then, by the time I was in my mid 20s I’d learned to be more direct but I’m still proud of all the songs I wrote for the Lowthers and Simon and Roger were terrific songwriters. My favourite Simon song was ‘Look what the stalk brought’ and my favourite Roger song was called ‘Tell me to Jump’.

I think most fondly of the only two songs that Simon and I collaborated on, (the 3 songwriters nearly always wrote complete songs). There was one song called ‘The Turkeys Vote for Christmas’ that Simon wrote the words for and I wrote the music for and it had great lyrics and a souped up REM style riff that worked really well live. Another was called ‘Up Out and Away’, I wrote most of it but Simon came up with a verse and the title that really finished it off and brought it alive. That had a screaming delay pedal over the chorus and again, it was really good to play live.

++ The most known song perhaps is “Sylvia” that appeared on the “The Disparate Cogscienti” compilation that Mark E. Smith put together. What’s the story behind that song?

I wrote it when I was 18. Sylvia was my mother’s name and she died when I was eight, but it’s not about her as a person. I used the name Sylvia because it scanned and it evoked the 60s. It’s about the desire for a perfect love that will make everything right. When I reached adolescence the only preparation I had was my family’s rather Victorian worldview and I felt confused and bereft without a mother and I was trying to capture this desperate feeling in the song. The chorus goes ‘I’m saving myself for Sylvia’ but it’s not about celibacy or virginity as some reviews thought: it’s about clinging on to life, keeping yourself alive because of the idea that out there is a perfect love that will solve all your problems and finally make you happy.

++ And did you ever met or hanged out with Mark?

He turned up at the studio and it was pretty excruciating. We had virtually no studio experience, Roger and I were about to do a harmonised backing vocal on the chorus when the intercom went and Mark E Smith appeared on the other side of the glass. He immediately took charge and told the engineer what he wanted, and the engineer who was an ex teacher suddenly started showing off because a pop star had turned up. Roger and I probably would have struggled to do the backing vocal anyway but having Mark E Smith on the other side telling us where we were going wrong made sure we went to pieces and cocked it up royally. Simon stepped in and did it perfectly well in one take.

Roger used to mither him, which doesn’t really count as hanging out, and I think Brendan passed him a spliff at a dinner party but I’ve no idea how that came about.

++ What was the creative process for the band?

The Songwriter presented a song by singing it through with a guitar and we took it from there. Translating songs into an arrangement for guitar, bass, drums and vocals was something we sort of did together but I remember feeling that it was quite a burden for me to come up with guitar arrangements that weren’t just block chords through the whole thing cos at the time I liked to build it around riffs. It did my head in to be concentrating on the guitar so much because I always thought of myself as more of a songwriter than a musician. Roger was an excellent drummer with an unusually soft open hand style that he had learned from his Dad and we treated the drums like they were as important as the other instruments in forming the sound. When Brendan replaced Julian on bass I thought that musically we started to reach that point where the thing that happens collectively is more than the sum of its parts, but by then we were falling apart in other ways.

++ Simon mentioned that usually the reviews weren’t really favourable, do you agree with him?

It seemed then, and it probably still seems, that for magazines that see themselves as being on the cutting edge there’s no middle ground. Everything was either total genius or offensively pointless. The NME gave an All About Eve album 0 out of 10 and said ‘Wayne Hussey sings backing vocals and so is eternally damned by association.’ So given that, I didn’t think we did too badly. City Life, a Manchester magazine said nice things about us, it was just that the NME and Melody Maker damned us with faint praise which really felt awful. We were young and we thought that things might be happening for us really quickly and then it was dashed. But looking at it now I think if we had kept going we’d have picked up a lot more positive reviews. We thought we were outstanding and couldn’t understand why other people didn’t see that too. Obviously that was a bit immature.

++ What was your favourite music mag back then? Did you follow and read lots of fanzines too?

The NME was taken terribly seriously then and I used to go to Sale Library on Mondays and read it cover to cover. It was very funny, very political and I had no problem with its vicious tongue, it offended me that the charts and the radio were clogged up with shite and NME never held back in laying into stuff they didn’t like. Politically these were stark, frightening times, the Thatcher government was screwing the unions, laying waste to provincial towns and cities, and introducing homophobic legislation. The NME had contempt for musicians that had nothing to say about what was happening. I’ve just heard that it’s become a free paper which is sad, but it hasn’t been what it was for a long, long time now.

* Clause 28 was legislation the government was passing which forbade local authorities from ‘promoting homosexuality’. By the time it was passed it was called Section 28 but it was in place until the Labour government repealed it when it came into office in 1997. It was terrifying and there was a huge campaign against it.

++ During those mid and late 80s there were so many guitar pop bands. Did you feel part of a scene? And today, how would you prefer being categorized, indiepop or C86?

There always were guitar bands everywhere, the only difference was that suddenly journalists and A&R people moved their expense accounts into the city for a while and took notice of some of these bands. I do believe that musical and songwriting talent is fairly constant, it’s the industry that ebbs and flows. Apart from one support slot with My Bloody Valentine in York we only ever played in Manchester we were rarely on the same bill as bands that we felt any affinity with.

We slightly after the C86 scene so we didn’t feel part of that. I can’t speak for the rest of the band but I totally embrace the label ‘indie pop’. Punk had stripped away the pretentiousness and the needless complexity and indie pop removed the machismo. That was vital for me, it was about writing honestly about sexuality and what it was really like to be a young person. Unfortunately it came to be seen as just a gimmicky phase that bands went through before they could afford more expensive equipment and wanted to play stadiums. I’m so glad that people are taking it seriously as a genre once more, maybe it could become a long term form like Blues, Country or Reggae. I’ve moved on musically in that I’ve left the frenetic guitar sound behind but it’s still about an indie pop attitude: what Leonard Cohen called telling the truth about a song.

++ And where did you usually recorded your demos? Did you enjoy recording as much as gigging?

The band only went into the studio twice, which seems shocking now. Once to record Sylvia for the Disparate Cogscienti and once after I’d left. All our demos were either live recordings from the mixing desk or tape recordings in living rooms and they were pretty primitive. I didn’t learn anything about recording until after the Lowthers.

We usually practiced in Roger’s front room in Prestwich, and there’d be a mono tape recorder with a pair of Walkman headphones for a microphone. They sounded remarkably good considering, but it was naïve to submit the result to the Manchester Evening News who said it sounded like it had been recorded in a lake. Their demo of the week in the same issue was from The Inspiral Carpets. Obviously they were a lot more professional than us but I thought, and I still think that we were better than them.

++ Talking about gigs, what were your favourite gigs and why? And the worst?

My favourite gig was the last one, at the Boardwalk in Manchester. Brendan was in the band by then and we were starting to sound really abrasive and bright. We were playing ‘Turkeys Vote for Christmas’ and I noticed that people at the bar, behind the bar and around the place who hadn’t come to see us were getting into it. It’s a shame that we never built on that.

My worst one was probably the first one. Somehow Roger had got us on the bill at the International which was a very decent venue but the other bands were truly dreadful jazz/funk outfits. I had a hangover, there was only our friends down the front and a great big space behind them and we’d had a totally useless soundcheck. After the first song Simon turned to me and said (on the mic) ‘Fran, your sister’s here!’ as she walked across the cavernous space. We took ourselves seriously from the beginning because we felt so confident in our songs, but we had a quite bit to learn.

++ When and why did you split?

It was 1988 or 1989 and it was largely my fault. As the band became more polished musically Simon and I started to argue about music. I was never entirely comfortable with the way we lined up because originally we had both played guitar and sang, and with him doing just vocals and me doing just guitar I started to feel that I was doing more to bring his songs to life than I was getting in return. Simon had a very good voice for the songs he was writing but I thought that he wasn’t practicing and pushing himself to improve enough as much as the rest of the band and it was placing limits on what we could do musically. So I quit, and the band carried on for a few more weeks before calling it a day.

Simon and I were both headstrong but I was too demanding and we could have found a way forward. I thought that he was getting to concentrate on song writing without having to do any of the musical heavy lifting but it got tied up with personal issues I was going through – life was very hard for me away from the band and I started to expect too much from Simon as a musical partner and as a friend. I’d also say that, while I always appreciated Roger as a drummer I didn’t appreciate at the time the work he put into getting us bookings and sending out demos.

++ Are you still in touch with the rest of the band?

Simon and I gave each other the cold shoulder for a short while but we were soon friends again and we saw a lot of each other before I left Manchester to go to college to study drama in Yorkshire in 1990, and he was best man at my wedding in 1997.We’re still in touch but we don’t interact much to be honest which is a pity. I last saw Roger at Simon’s wedding and we’re not in touch but I’d be happy to see him again. Julian was a nice guy but we were never close and we lost touch when he left the band. I didn’t hear from Brendan for a long time until I found him on facebook. He’s moved to the USA and I was hugely impressed to hear that he goes ‘way back’ as they say with John Darnielle from the Mountain Goats.

++ Have you been involved with music after The Lowthers?

Sure, these days I record under the name Lokomotiv Stockport which is the format I’ve used for the last fifteen years or so. Prior to that I formed a short lived college band in Yorkshire called Jason and the Lagernauts and then I went to South East London where I did quite a bit of playing live as a solo act and recording with a musician called Toby Deans under the name The Plum Corporation. But I must have angered the gods of music because when I was in my late twenties I started suffering from mysterious muscular skeletal issues that stopped me singing or playing guitar or piano for years and years. I’d already been diagnosed with depression which has been recurrent, and at times severe, so life was very hard for a while.

But in 2007 my health improved enough to I get into low budget home studio stuff and so I started recording lost songs under the Lokomotiv Stockport banner. I wanted to record a trilogy of ‘lost albums’ made up of all the songs that had been lost to illness, but I only managed to put out one album out in 2008 before my health dipped again. The album that made it was called ‘My Jangling Heart’ and was billed as ‘10 Songs about Romantic Pain and Incompetence – Sparkling Indie Pop from the North of England’

Mercifully I’ve now discovered medication that controls my symptoms enough to make music so I’ve put together another eight track album of songs from the Jason & the Lagernauts and the Plum years and I hope to get more out in the new future. I still write songs, but there are so many old songs waiting to be recorded that new material has to be really good to get a look in. I want to get to the point where all the old songs are out there and out of my system and I can concentrate on new material.

Actually, reminiscing about the Lowthers is tempting me to upload some acoustic versions of Lowthers songs so I might do that on the Lokmotiv Stockport Bandcamp page before too long.

Professionally I’m involved in music in that I’m now a piano tuner by profession.

++ Looking back in time, what would you say was the biggest highlight for you in The Lowthers?

In the beginning playing live was totally draining because of the nerves and the horrible feeling that it wasn’t coming out how we wanted it. But when we’d improved there were moments on stage and in rehearsal when it felt like we were producing a beautiful energy and it was expressing how we felt and that was a really great experience.

++ These days, aside from music, what hobbies do you have?

I’ve been a Barnsley FC season ticket holder for years but I’ve given up hoping that they are going to do anything glorious. I occasionally write plays but none of them have been produced beyond local amateur productions so far. My wife (Susan Elliot Wright) has become successful in the last few years as a novelist, and so she encourages me with the idea of writing prose fiction. During the long years when I couldn’t make music I really went to town on discovering new music and these days I’m hooked on music from Nigeria and Zimbabwe. I also got into studying theology which no one expected, least of all me. But music is still a massive part of my life, that and walking the dog.

++ Man U or City?

United. Sale is in between United and Altrincham, a non-league team, and I used to watch them too. But I’ve since a shameful thing and switched allegiance. In 1990 after moving to Yorkshire I started watching Barnsley FC. At that time United had just become a PLC and the last time I went to Old Trafford it was like having a box at the opera, so I’ve supported Barnsley since then but I have to say, it’s not for the faint hearted. And even though I no longer support United I still laugh at City and hate Liverpool.

++ Let’s wrap it here, anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to say how great it is that people are taking indie pop seriously again and that anyone who is interested in the British indie pop scene in the 80s should have a look at what was coming out of Zimbabwe at the same time, in particular artists like John Chibadura, the Four Brothers and Tryson Chimbetu and the Marxist Brothers. They’re incredible and there’s a massive indie pop overlap going on.You’ll be amazed.


The Lowthers – Sylvia



I don’t remember who I was talking to at Indietracks, and there was this question that was hard to answer. What has happened to Sweden? Once upon a time a country that was exporting a massive amount of great indiepop bands. Today, you can count the bands with your fingers. What happened then? Care to take a guess?

I don’t live there, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint the issues. I would guess that many people moved to other hobbies, to other interests. Some are dedicated in full to their families. You know, life caught in the way. Indiepop became a 2nd, if not a 3rd, passion.

Sure, there are still some good bands, I look forward to listen to The Sun Days album very much for example, but it’s definitely not the same amount you were used to back in 2004 or even in 2012. It’s been a long decline.

What’s popular there now? I’m so out of touch.

I think an era ended this year. And it kind of did it quietly. I think it was one of the saddest news and not many stopped and thought about it.  Fraction Discs closed it’s web shop in February, and the silence became bigger.

Fraction Discs lasted more or less 7 years. It was the premier indiepop mailorder in Sweden. The only one really. With great taste they picked the best new releases from select labels. I was lucky to work with them for all their lifetime. And it was always a pleasure to work with both Jörgen and Renée. They were always accommodating, helpful and very diligent. I never had a problem.

I was a customer too. I bought some Swedish releases that I had missed first time around. Also some of the newer releases when they came out.

Parallel to the mailorder they started a label, with the same name and they released a string of perfect records. All of them being essential to any indiepop collection. From all the Liechtenstein discography (how I wish I had released just one 7″ by them, it was a dream of mine) to Moscow Olympics, to Twig, to The Andersen Tapes, and to that pretty reissue of Happydeadmen. It was all so good. And you could tell they were doing it with love. I felt connected to this label.

I met them a couple of times, at festivals mostly. I’m happy to call them friends since the first time we met, at a kebab place in Berlin. I remember talking with Jörgen about obscure bands many times. He recommended me Alfie, among others.

That same time they brought their clothes in carry-on, and they checked in a whole big bag of records to sell at the Indiepop Days festival. That was so cool. It was all about indiepop those days. Renée even spontaneously filled in a spot on Friday, playing Liechtenstein songs solo.

I saw them many more times afterwards. Good conversations, and lots of beer. Good indiepop times.

Last time I saw Jörgen was last year in Göteborg. We went for some macka and then some beer. He told me about the plans though I think it wasn’t sure, 100%, back then. Of course it was kind of sad to hear. Didn’t think it was going to be this soon. But it made sense too.

I don’t know how connected the close down of the store has to do with the current situation of indiepop in Sweden. To me it feels like an end of an era. There are no more dedicated stores for indiepop there. Perhaps, someone will take over. I hope so. But in any case it would be dumb not to recognize the importance and passion that Fraction Discs professed. The high aesthetics of their record sleeve design, the good choice when picking up releases, and their up-front work ethics, will be sorely missed.

I know these days they are embarked in another “project”, a much more important one, and I hope the best for them.


2002. The one and only indiepop compilation released in Serbia thanks to our friend Nikola. It was called “A View of Our Dreams”. And I sadly have lost touch with Nikola.

It was another Nikola who introduced me to this compilation. It was during the Soulseek years. The label who released this record was named On a Balcony. The catalog number was (OaBCD001). 17 songs including many classic indiepop bands. We have La Casa Azul, Niza, Aquadays, even Hydroplane. A true international compilation with bands from Greece and Hungary as well. No Serbian bands though, but well, can’t ask that much.

I have a digital copy of this compilation. Sadly I never got around getting a physical copy. And now it feels awful. I look on Discogs and this year a copy was sold. I guess I should keep an eye.

There was one band that always caught my eye (and my ears) on this compilation thanks to it’s cool name: The Grindcore Poppies.

They even contributed two songs to the compilation. No other band had 2 songs on it. Must say a lot. The songs were “This Light Will Always Shine” and “French Cars”. What else I knew about the band? Well, that they were Germans. I think Nikola G, no the label Nikola, told me that.

On the credits it says that both songs were written by a Sebastian Voss. That’s it. I found though these two songs and yet another 3rd song on a Soundcloud account. I find that “French Cars” was actually recorded in 2000. Aside from the credits to Sebastian, we learn that on this particular song Sebastian Haas contributed with backing vocals and drums.

The third song, the one that didn’t appear on the “On a Balcony” compilation is called “Fallacious Falling Star” and it seems to have been dedicated to Paddy MacAloon.

I wonder if it’s safe to assume that the person behind this account is Sebastian Voss? I wonder. If that was true, we could think that they hailed from Münster. It also seems that he takes credit for all the recordings in it. Aside from Grindcore Poppies there are songs by other outfits, unknown to me until this day, like Stars Play Music (pretty nice indiepop), The Fisherman & his Soul (gentle dreampop), or Stars of Track and Field (indiepop too, sounding nice!), among other. I need to do a further investigation into these bands!

In any case, I wanted to introduce you today to the Grindcore Poppies, especially to the song “This Light Will Always Shine” as it’s so good!! Classic sounding indiepop, with great and shiny guitars. Catchy chorus and great lyrics. How come this wasn’t a proper release, how come this didn’t get it’s own 7″!!

Oh yes, any further info about the Grindcore Poppies would be appreciated. Anyone knows of any other songs by them?


Grindcore Poppies – This Light Will Always Shine


News: You can now pre-order the next 7″ on Cloudberry: The Color Waves!! It’s should be coming out in September.

Today I’m doing a special post. In the last months I’ve noticed an exciting crop of bands coming out from Peru. Guitar pop bands, with what seem the right influence. I don’t know much about them, I haven’t been in touch either. It’s true that I’ve been championing the band Eva & John for a couple of years now, but there is a new generation of people bringing an exciting and fresh sound to a scene that I remember being really bland. From far away, in NYC, I have a look into these newish bands and recommend them to you.

  • Almirante Ackbar:  so far they have released a split CD last year. They have a video for one of their songs, “Cientos Truenos“, which is perhaps their best. The band is formed by Kevin, Richard, Diego and Danimon. From what I gather they seem to be the band that is making a bigger splash at the moment. I hope there’s another release coming up to carry on the momentum. Their still unreleased song “Fiebre de la Amplitud” sounds pretty cool.
  • Serto Mercurio: another very young band formed by Emiliano, Bronto, Piero and Alonso. They have released a digital album called “Recuerdos de Cuando Aprendí a Nadar” this year. 9 songs that have not only pop influences, but a bit of shoegaze here and there. They have released a video for the song “Hacia el Mar” but “Buenas Noches Romulanos” is my favourite song of theirs.
  • Dan Dan Dero: my latest find. Really nice indiepop from this one-girl band named Valeria. There are 4 cool songs on her bandcamp. Her song titles are a bit long, but clever.
  • Los Lagartos: luminous guitar pop from this new band. Formed by Renzo, Raúl and Lucíathey have a CD out that was just released on June 22nd. It includes 6 songs. There are 3 in English and 3 in Spanish. Skip the English ones, and stick to the Spanish ones that are pretty good.
  • Fútbol en la Escuela: Sayo, Edgar, Carlos, Blanca and Ricardo, have recorded a bunch of songs that I feel are closer to the 90s indiepop sound. They have a digital album called “Cancionero para Víctimas de Siniestros” that includes 11 songs. A pretty strong debut.
  • Ciudad Gragea: all the other bands hail from Lima, but this one hails from Trujillo, a city north of Lima. No releases as far as I know, but this young band has a bunch of catchy songs on their bandcamp heavily influenced by La Movida Madrileña. They participated in last year’s Lima Popfest.
  • Las Tetris: the last band in this review is a pure punky pop all-girl band and perhaps my favourite so far (sans their English song, I don’t know why, but I’m not liking the English songs by the Peruvian bands!). With clear influences of like-minded Spanish bands from the early noughties (I was thinking of Galactica, do you remember them?), the four songs on their bandcamp shine bright. A friend told me the girls in the band are still underage.  Claudia, Angiela, Majo and Grecia have a promising future then. Hoping that they release something proper soon!


Some months ago, through a comment on my blog, I was introduced to a tape named “Move Over Manchester”. It was a collection of of Birmingham and Black Country indie bands from the late 80s early 90s. On the A side we find bands like Innocent Bliss, The Raree Show, The Honey Turtles, Dan Dare’s Dog, The Cantels (who have been covered in the blog) and The Love Hysterics. On the B side we find Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, The Zone, The Sandkings (a favourite of mine), The Mossbacks, The C’Zone Farm, Elisabeth Jane and The Kilbanes. Sadly the name of their songs is not included in the sleeve. After some searching I found out about some info about The Honey Turtles song, it was titled “Never Never Again” and that lead me to find more about them.

They had one release, a 12″ back in 1991 on the label Pulse-8 Records (12LOSE4 is the catalog number). The songs included were “Don’t You Know” (which you can actually find on Youtube), “Don’t You Know (Radio Mix)”, both on the A side, and “Love Me” on the B side. On Discogs aside from the regular 12″ release, there are also listed two white labels. One that is single sided, and one that is not. Someone on Youtube commented saying there was a 7″ also for this song that included remixes. But I can’t certify that it existed.

We keep digging on Youtube. If I seartch for Honeyturtles altogether, I find a video for the “Don’t You Know” song. The sound is very low sadly, and the quality of the image is not the best either. But it’s a great document of the time. It says that this song was the only single they ever released after successfully touring with The Charlatans in 1990. We also learn that the band was formed by Marc Newey on vocals, Nick on bass, Steve Greaves on guitar and Nigel on drums.

This same user has uploaded some live performances of the band. There are three of them, for “Never Never Again” and “Love Me” (both recorded at Wovlerhampton Poly when supporting Ned’s Atomic Dustbin) and for “PML” (a song written after The Charlatans tour).

I keep googling and I find that Marc is (or was?) managing a band called Of Kings and Captains who have toured with Bon Jovi. Time changes indeed.

Steve Greaves appears on Tim Burgess’ autobiography. It’s documented that he almost became The Charlatans guitarist. On the book, “The Charlatans We Are Rock” I also find some interesting stuff. It says: “… the Honey Turtles, a Midlands-based outfit originally called The Mock Turtles who had to change their name so that they wouldn’t be confused with the Manchester band“.

And that’s where I hit a wall. Anyone remember anything else about this band? Any other compilation appearances? Other recordings? Perhaps demo tapes? I’m quite curious! I should try to get a nice copy of their record now.


The Honey Turtles – Never Never Again


Last post of my four-part Popfest adventure special. Hope it was a bit interesting.

So what did I do throughout the Sunday of Popfest? I remember waking up very tired but not too late. The plan was meeting around 2pm the guys from Wallflower at the Ethiopian restaurant, Ghenet, that is a couple of blocks away from Littlefield, the venue for the day. This has kind of become a tradition for me, I always have lunch here before heading to the Popfest. Love, love, love Ethiopian food. No surprise that the Wallflower guys also loved it even though it was a novelty for them eating with their hands, picking the meat and vegetables with the injera.

I think we arrived a bit early to Littlefield anyways. Think we were too hungry and ate so fast. So we hanged, very tired and quietly, in the front area of the venue. Then it started to rain. Lucky we were to be inside. Kind of annoyed that I had forgotten my umbrella. I usually check the weather forecast before leaving home, but I didn’t that day.

Friends started arriving and with the help of Chris Jigsaw some Cloudberry records were set up in the merch table.

The first band was Sapphire Mansions. I’m not into them, but my good friend Hampus is drumming for them now. It made me happy to get to see him again. He is a busy father now. My excitement was waiting for Cold Beat. I had discovered this band some months ago and really liked their tunes. I had already bought all their releases beforehand too.

The San Francisco band was really thrilling, great guitar pop. I expected a hipster kind of look, but they seemed down to Earth, a bit of a miss match look between the members that made me like them more, they were natural you know. Pete Bee was telling me he was loving them. That he had never heard of them before. And so, many more people started bobbing their heads. “Rain”, “Mirror”, “Worms”…. simple titles for great songs. The set felt so short, but it was so good. They were to play some more dates after Popfest. I wanted to go, but for a reason or another, I ended up missing them. Hope they come back to NYC again.

Next up was another band that I was looking forward so very much: Starry Eyed Cadet. Their songs on bandcamp, if you haven’t heard them yet, are true pop candy. And with that strength they introduced their classy and elegant sound to Popfesters. I think this was the best gig for any up and coming band that came to Popfest. They are a newish band and they already sound this good! I thought. Sweet vocals, and the right influences when you hear the guitars and keyboards, made this band a delicate and perfect gig. I bought their EP, on CD-R, and brought me so many good memories of the mid 2000s when every band was releasing in this format their first songs. I just felt, this is such a right band. I hope they get the attention they deserve.

Eventually on the way to the bar, after the gig, I met with one of the members, Ron. He was talking to Wallflower in Japanese! Very cool I thought. Anyhow, we talked for some good time and eventually it was time to get food! There was a new pierogi place around the venue, like three weeks. After being introduced to the whole Starry Eyed Cadet band, them, plus Wallflower, me, Victoria and my friend Alex, headed to this pierogi restaurant under the light rain.

It took a bit to get the food. The restaurant was new, and it seems they haven’t figured out so many things. They had even ran out of some of the pierogi fillings. Anyhow, the food was excellent. But it had already gotten pretty late and so we had to get going because we wanted to see, and couldn’t miss, Club 8!

Upon arriving to the venue I spot Johan from Club 8 with his girl (wife?). I said hello and told him I was very much looking forward to the gig. It was just a short introduction, but I was being very honest. I think Club 8 is my favourite band of his, and I’ve raved about them for long, even defended their last record here on the blog when so many people were bashing it (I still can’t believe people did that).

The gig was going to be perfect. The full band was ready to get everyone dancing and singing along. I was once again a pop fan. I felt like being a kid again, watching a favourite band playing so many favourite songs. Having a pop crush with Karolina was only normal I thought. Such a voice! It was probably the happiest gig for me at Popfest.

They started with “Western Hospitality”, but perhaps the coolest moment was when Johan said they were going to cover, but cover another band of his. They played “Call it Ours” by The Legends and everyone went nuts. Same happened with “Saturday Night Engine”. And I was so thrilled with “Whatever You Want”, “Cold Hearts”, “I’m Not Gonna Grow Old”…. well, all of their songs really!

I waited after the gig to get a photo with them, but well, I didn’t see them haha. I got the setlist though, and that was nice enough.

And then what always happens at the last day of Popfest. The sadness of farewell. Saying bye to so many friends that I won’t see until next Popfest, or until who knows when. That’s how it is.

Now, looking forward to Popfest 2016!


Exuberant: filled with or characterized by a lively energy and excitement.

I have a 12″ by The Exuberants. I like it. I can’t remember why I bought it. It was many years ago. I think it was because it was released on Play Hard Records. Could that be the only reason?

The EP is called “Yeah and Yeah and Yeah and Yeah”. It was released in 1990 on the aforementioned label (DEC 3312) and included three songs:
A – Yeah and Yeah and Yeah and Yeah
B1 – Delicate Call
B2 – Have You Tried White Trousers

The engineer and producer for the record was Nick Garside. It was recorded at Out of The Blue, Manchester. All songs written by Spencer/Walker. The sleeve design was by Muffin and Peek Design. That’s all the information on the back of the dark blue flowered sleeve.

You can find this record for a good price on Discogs. I guess not many people know about it.

On Discogs I find they released a CD mini-album on Native Records. This label is pretty well known to indiepop people as they have released the Raintree Country, Treebound Story and even The Darlin Buds among others. The mini-album was titled “Led The Way” (Native 073) and seems it was going to be released also on a 12″ but only white labels seem to exist.

I haven’t heard the six songs included in this 1992 release. The tracks are:
1. Who Knows How Many Tonight
2. You Awful Thing
3. Unnatural Too
4. Led The Way
5. Honey, I Recant
6. We Were Born to Conquer

On a Facebook page called Morrissey-solo I found a post saying:
This is an answer to a post by someone asking if anyone knew anything about The Exuberants, a band Morrissey listed in his top ten bands. They were made up of Muffin Spencer, vocals; Dave Walker, guitar; Stefan Gordon, bass; Jonny Barrington, drums. They had minor success releasing a flexing disc free with debris magazine, appred on the playhard compilation hand To Mouth a single Yeah, Yeah, Yeah and Yeah and a mini lp, Led The Way. They later went on to become Brassy without Dave Walker, Stefan Gordon moved onto guitar, a new bass player, Karen Foster and went in the direction of hip hop.

From there I end up in Wikipedia, where the band Brassy has an entry. From that we know that Muffin Spencer was American, from New Hampshire actually, and that The Exuberants were all based in Manchester.

I found this article too talking about Muffin and the band Brassy.

Someone says on Youtube, on a Waltones video actually, that they remember The Exuberants as a three guys and a dog audience kind of band. Seems they never made a splash then. Shame really. I wonder what are they doing now and if they left unreleased Exuberants recordings. Now, I will get into listening to Brassy, I’m kind of curious.


The Exuberants – Delicate Call