I wrote some months ago about The Man Upstairs on the blog. I love this band and I was terribly happy when Nigel got in touch with me! Immediately I asked if I could interview him and learn more about the band as there isn’t that much written about them online. He agreed and here we are! Looking forward definitely to that retrospective album that The Man Upstairs are working on!

++ Hello Nigel! Thanks a lot for getting in touch and for the interview! It’s so cool that The Man Upstairs have a website with so many goodies, especially all those songs available for listening. Thanks so much for that! Since when has it been up and who maintains it?

It is a fabulous site but I have no idea who put it together or who maintains it. It must be a secret!!! I would love to be involved.

++ There are so many questions about The Man Upstairs, but first I want to ask you about a 7″ single that Discogs lists as yours with the songs “Summa” and “Gospel According to Mark”. This record doesn’t appear on your website. What is this about?

This 7 inch single appeared on the now defunct Clockhouse Records in 1982 and was recorded at Keele, Staffordshire. Side one featured a Cure inspired track written by Rodney Blake: he named the song after his girlfriend ‘Summa’. It was Rod who originally formed the band with bass player Graham Sharp. Side two is a song written by myself and Rod about a local guy, Mark, who was obsessed with fashion and posing!! We screen printed the covers ourselves and sold out in a few weeks. This led to a deal with Birmingham based company Graduate Records who also signed UB40 and The Chameleons. Although we recorded several tracks for Graduate the company folded before any were released.

++ So let’s start from the beginning. What are your first musical memories from when you were a kid? Who or what influenced you to be a musician?

My first musical memories are from school in Kent when I used to make up lyrics and tunes about my mates. My parents listened to Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash and had a Dansette record player. I remember my Dad coming home with a Kinks record and my mum hating it: I loved it!! The first single I bought was Rocking Robin by Michael Jackson and first album was Fog on the Tyne by Lindisfarne…work that one out!! I always wanted to be a singer-songwriter and finally got the opportunity at university when I met Rod and Graham. It was Punk and New Wave that inspired us most. I remember hearing The Sex Pistols and was blown away and when I heard Joe Jackson’s Sunday Papers and his brilliant lyrics I finally knew that songs didn’t have to be about love etc…you could really say something and get it off your chest. Song writing is the best therapy!!

++ And who was first Terry and Gerry or The Man Upstairs? Just trying to get the chronology right. And had you been involved in any other bands at the time already?

The Man Upstairs was first but the bands overlapped for a few years. My first band was a punk outfit called Private Public formed in 1977. We came last in a Stoke on Trent band competition, but got 10 out of 10 for star quality!! The other groups were all prog’ rock or AOR.

++ How did The Man Upstairs start as a band? Who were the members and how did you all know each other?

I was playing a gig with Private Public at Keele University and Rod and Graham were there. They were looking for a singer for their new band The Man Upstairs and I jumped at the chance. We were all students and had the same taste in music. We loved the Cure, XTC etc and wanted to do something different from the bands around the Midlands at that time. Rupert Knowlden was recruited on drums and the line-up was complete. We had a keyboard player for the first concert but he didn’t fit in. We played all over the country and moved to Birmingham in 1983. When Graduate Records folded Rod and Graham left the band: myself and Rupert took a new direction with the help of co-lead singer Carolyn Bennett, Tim Simpson on bass and Alan Smyth on guitar (Smitty later produced The Arctic Monkeys). We stripped the sound down, added a jazz tinge and sweeter harmonies. Once again it was a change inspired by dissatisfaction with the bands around at the time and our collective musical interest.

++ Why the name The Man Upstairs? Where does it come from?

Graham Sharp came up with the name. It is a nickname for God!! He even wore a dog collar on stage as a punk metaphor!!

++ You were based in Birmingham. How was your town then? Were there any like-minded bands? What were the good venues were you used to hang out?

It was a fantastic place in the 80’s and still is now. There were some fabulous bands such as The Mighty Lemon Drops, Mighty Mighty, Ruby Turner and the venues were vibrant and packed. The best ones were Peacocks, The Click Club, Holy City Zoo, Barbarellas. There was a great music paper Brumbeat which fuelled the new music of the time and promoters like Dave Travis (later Oasis’s Midlands promoter) who were essential to the scene. The radio stations were brave enough to give airplay to local and underground bands…wish that was true now!! We all hung out in the pubs in Moseley, Gas Street and mainly at the Click Club. I met my wife there when she was being chatted up by Edwyn Collins (previously from Orange Juice)!! I am very lucky to have been in Brum at that time.

++ In 1985 you released the “Sad In My Heart” 7″ on Sideline Records. Who were they and how did you ended up in this label?

Sideline Records were part of the Cartel, along with Cherry Red, Rough Trade, Intape and a bunch of other brilliant indie labels. They also had a connection with Red Rose Records in Paris and someone from there saw us at Rock City in London and that’s how the deal came about.

++ I think the B side, “Country Boy”, is such an amazing song. I was wondering if you could tell me the story behind this song? And also what do you remember about the recording session for this single?

At the risk of sounding pretentious it’s a song that explores and challenges the expected roles of men and women in relationships: hence the lines ‘She wears a tie’ and ‘With his hands in the sink’. As with all the music I write and like I try to see things from a different angle. I also love washing machines which feature a lot in this song. The ‘Country Boy’ reference is based on a guy I knew who had just moved to Brum from a small village and the culture clash he experienced. It’s also a reference to Country Music which at the time was very unfashionable but we loved it!! It’s the only song I’ve ever come across with the word Swarfega in it: used in garages..thought by some as the domain of men: but not us.

I seem to remember the recording session was at Smitty’s studio in Sheffield. It didn’t take long to put down and we were all excited that it turned out so well. We went for a curry afterwards and I got food poisoning!!

++ Just afterwards you released the “Consumer EP” and the “Consumer Song” 7″. Why was this song, “Consumer Song”, released in two different formats and versions, and even with two different sleeves?

? It was Sideline’s idea to exploit two different markets: UK and Europe. I am very proud of both and Carolyn does a fab job singing. Somewhere there is a version of me singing Consumer Song too.

++ For this record there has been some changes in the lineup. What happened?

What happened was Terry and Gerry! I had co-founded the band with Terry Lilley, at first as a bit of fun but it took off in a small way and we were soon doing John Peel sessions, appearing on TV shows and playing all over the UK, Europe and America. I could not commit as much time to The Man Upstairs as I wanted to so I reluctantly left the band. It was a bit upsetting for everyone but the band continued and developed. Carolyn and Rupert re-jigged the band: Mick Vousden replaced Smitty and Chris Jones came in on bass. I think it was a fab line-up.

++ I like the artwork for all of your releases, I was wondering how much of control did you have over that?

Total control. That is the beauty of indie labels. The cover for Consumer Song 7’ was s skit on the T.V advert at the time where a hunky guy shrinks his jeans in the bath: in keeping with the blind consumerism theme of the song.

++ On the website there are songs dating back to 1982, 1983. A bunch of these demos never got around to be released. But I was wondering, as it was the fashion of those times, were these released in demo tapes perhaps and sold at gigs?

We never thought of selling demos at gigs: I don’t know why. There were some bootlegs knocking about but as with all bands like ours we didn’t think commercially: we just wanted to play our music and have fun. In the last years we did sell the vinyl.

++ Also there is an unreleased album from 1988. It included 13 songs. What happened to it? Why was it never released?

It was a compilation of everything we had recorded and will be released next year. I am in the process of putting the wheels in motion.

++ Was there any major label interest in the band?

All the majors came to see us at some point and we did meet with several suits in big offices but it never happened. I think we were a risk, too indie and to be honest didn’t care that much for corporate music. We were, and are, an indie band. The money would have been nice though!!

++ From this huge amount of songs you recorded, which were your favourite songs and why?

‘Sad in My Heart’ and ‘Country Boy’ are great because they cemented the new direction of the band after Graham and Rod left. My total fav though is ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dentist’ because it was made into a short film which featured the band, myself and a potato!! I’m proud of all of the records and the musicians on them. ‘I Bet They’re Missing Me Downstairs’ is another favourite because it’s about my old flat and feeling lonely.

++ And just out of curiosity, are there even more recordings other than all the ones on the website?

Yes. They will be on the new CD.

++ I read that you were an opening band for The Smiths. I’m sure many would be very curious about that experience. Any anecdotes you could share?

We toured with the Smiths in 1984 or 85: I can’t remember. They were so good to us and so helpful. It was a fabulous experience, from Johnny Marr coming up to me and Rupert to tell us a bunch of girls wanted our autographs, to Morrissey appearing on BBC Radio One and reviewing our single with the words ‘I know these people , we have toured together and they are great.’ Their audience at times wasn’t the most appreciative but it was an unforgettable experience.

++ What about gigging in general? Did you like it better than going to the studio? What were your favourite gigs with The Man Upstairs and why?

I prefer live shows to studio sessions but the two go hand in hand. There were loads of memorable gigs with TMU but Durham springs to mind. We played at 4.00am at an all-night Festival and our rider was a crate of champagne. We got to the venue at 3.00pm so you can imagine what state we were in by the time we went on. Rupert went to the toilet halfway through a song!! We were so different to many bands at the time in that all the gigs were well received. The MAC Arts Centre in Brum was another great night: not boasting but the audience wouldn’t let us leave the stage!!

++ Is there any gig you played that was so bad that you think is better to never remember?

No not really, but I’ve probably seared it from my memory. In the early days with Graham and Rodney we played with a couple of bands from Liverpool and ended up fighting with them in the dressing room. Not pleasant but we won.

++ David Travis commented on my blog post saying he was the band manager, taking photos and shooting the videos. How was that experience with him? And which videos are these he talks about? And where are those videos? Certainly not on Youtube!

Dave Travis is a fabulous photographer and promoter. He worked for Graduate Records at the time and shot a video for ‘I Only Work Here’. It will hopefully appear on YouTube when the new CD comes out. Dave has just done a new session with Terry and Gerry and we are still mates. He was more than just our manager, he was like a member of the band. He has an exhibition in Birmingham at the moment called ‘The History of Alternative Music’ at The Parkside Gallery, Birmingham City University which features pics from the 1970 onwards of indie bands and venues.

++ What about the press and radio play? Did you feel there was good support for the band?

The companies we worked with did a good job and employed pluggers and press people but I think we could have got more coverage. It’s never too late though? We got a lot of coverage in Japan but never went which is a real shame.

++ Were you involved at all with the fanzine culture that was very important in the UK during the mid eighties?

To a certain extent, but what’s frustrating is that I have no copies anymore. Fanzines, in a pre-internet era, were the underground way people got to know new bands, and without them there would have been no new movement in music. Sites like yours are doing the same job for a new generation…Wonderful.

++ When and why did The Man Upstairs split? What did you all do afterwards?

After my departure in 1986 the band continued but the guys drifted apart and wanted to do other things. It seemed at the time to have run its course, as had the vibrant venue scene and bands in Birmingham. Raves and Dance Music were the new fad and a lot of the old venues closed or hired D.J’s instead of bands. Carolyn went to live in France, Rupert now promotes bands in the Midlands, Tim Simpson still plays bass, Alan Smyth produces bands and writes fabulous songs, Graham Sharp is a top lawyer and still plays bass, Rodney Blake is teaching as well as playing trumpet and guitar, Mick Vousden is still playing and Chris Jones is involved in The Arts.

++ Are you all still in touch? What are you doing these days? Still making music?

I saw Rupert when my band supported Status Quo in Wolverhampton last year and I’m still in touch with all the guys although we haven’t met up for ages. I have fond memories of The Man Upstairs and would love a reunion.
In the early 1990’s I worked in Nashville as a professional songwriter and back in the UK collaborated with Alison Moyet, co-writing on an album project. I also penned numerous TV themes, three musicals, two film scores and wrote and presented for BBC Radio 2. My band at the time, ‘Gerry Colvin’s Inexperience’, was a fusion of Soul, R and B and Folk-Country and we became a firm favourite on the College circuit.

In 1993 I formed the folk-pop band ‘The Atlantics’: we toured extensively including a slot at Glastonbury Festival, where I was also M.C, and appeared on BBC’s ‘Pebble Mill at One’. My other major project at this time was film music as vocalist with ‘The National Screen Orchestra’; I also performed as a comedy double act with Hollywood superstar Mackenzie Crook.

In 1995 I co-founded the five piece folk band Colvinquarmby. We released six critically acclaimed albums and were voted best band at the prestigious Fairport Convention Cropredy Festival in 2009. In 2010 we won the Hancock Award for ‘Best Live Folk Act’. In May 2013 I was invited by New York producer and Robert Plant song collaborator Dave Barratt to record ‘Revolution’ for the ‘Beatles complete on ukulele’ album and website.

In 2014 I released a self-penned solo album ‘Jazz Tales of Country Folk’ and have just put out my new CD ‘Six of One half a Dozen of the Other’ which features ten brand new original songs.

In 2015 I became President of The Knitted Character Folk Festival, an annual celebration of alternative Folk Music and Knitting in Warwickshire. UK. This year’s event takes place on June 4th. www.knittedcharacterfolkfestival.co.uk it’s a mad event where the audience listens to great music and knits!!!

In 2015 I reformed ‘Terry and Gerry’ and was invited to support Status Quo on a nationwide tour. Terry and Gerry also appeared at Glastonbury this year following the release of their new EP ‘Dear John’.

As well as my new album I am working on a book ‘The Rabbits of Zakynthos’ due out later this year and a Man Upstairs compilation CD.

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

I love going to gigs, discussing The Prisoner, and drinking!!

++ Looking back, what would you say was the biggest highlight for The Man Upstairs?

Playing some great concerts, getting a record deal, touring with The Smiths and still being remembered by a select few all these years later. I’m hoping there will be new highlights in the future too!!

++ Let’s wrap it here, though first I usually like asking this question. Are you still based in Birmingham, if so, and if you don’t mind, I was wondering if you could suggest the sights, places, bars or restaurants that one shouldn’t miss if you were to visit your town?

I now live in Stratford upon Avon which is not far from Brum. If you visit Birmingham don’t miss the Canal Basin in Gas Street (The first street ever to be gas lit), Moseley Village for bohemian bars and shops, The Ikon Gallery in Broad Street and for music The Hare and Hounds or The Kitchen Garden Café, both in Kings Heath. Hope you visit soon and catch a gig.

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

You are an absolute STAR. Keep up the great work.


Man Upstairs – Country Boy


This weekend the 3rd Lima Popfest will happen at the Peruvian capital. This year they have expanded the countries represented and along Peruvian, Chilean and Argentine bands, this year they will be hosting bands from Mexico and Uruguay as well. As I’m not that familiar with many of these bands let’s do a small review about each of them!

Let’s do it in order then, as there are two nights, Friday and Saturday, let’s start on Friday the 29th.

Indiependencia – shame this band has such a terrible name. This trio from Lima is formed by Jessica, Paolo and German. The first song I hear from them on Soundcloud is a cover of La Bien Querida, a favourite of mine, so they win points immediately. Now I want to hear their own songs. Luckily there’s a lot of them online, and even though I don’t enjoy them as much as their very good cover, they are really enjoyable, especially their upbeat songs. I feel it’s a good choice to have this band opening the festival, they should start setting the tone for a good party.

Las Tetris – this band I have already reviewed in the past in the blog, so I’m quite familiar. I highly recommend them as I think they are the best indiepop girl group in Peru at the moment.

Blind Dancers – not exactly indiepop but more of a synthpop band from Lima. It seems it’s the project of just one man that goes by the name Lu Falen. They have an EP called “Parallel Time” released on Hype Records (great label name too, not). I’m not much of a fan of this sort of music though, so instead of complaining, I’ll move to the next band in the Friday lineup.

Eva & John – well, my favourite Peruvian band for the last 4 or so years. I’ve talked extensively about them on the blog so many of you might be familiar with them. I’ve seen them twice and they are a treat to look and listen. Hoping that they will release something new soon. A true favorite and not to be missed.

Buried Under Stars – a well known indie band from Mexico City formed by Mauricio, Gabriel, Hector and Linda. Sometimes indiepop, sometimes powerpop, sometimes very lofi, but most of the times I’d categorize them as an indierock band. They have released an album last year called “Soup is Food” and that’s what I’m listening right now. I’m not sold though.

Nubes en Mi Casa – a beauty of a band that comes from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Their last album, “Me Suelto y Vuelvo” was at heavy rotation at my place a couple of years ago. And not just because I did the artwork for the Peruvian/Worldwide edition that was released for Plastilina Records. It was because of the strength of their songs, their music, their lyrics. A charming record, pure pop class. Hoping for a new release this year. Peruvians are lucky to be able to see them at their turf. I guess I will never see them living in NYC. Great GREAT band to close the first night of Popfest.

Now onto Saturday then.

Psilosis – I hear this is a kind of a new band from Lima. I only found two songs on their bandcamp. And they are quite a nice surprise. I like the boy/girl vocals on their first song “Hey Chica”. It’s not exactly Los Lagos de Hinault, but it reminds me a bit to them. I don’t know much about them but the two songs sound good. Good opening band for Saturday then.

Astronaut Project – an odd name for a pop band I think. This is the solo project of Peruvian Alberto Zegarra and he dives into the dreamy side of pop with electronic beats. It’s nice and soothing. He sings in English. And last year he released a 7 track album which you can listen to entirely on Bandcamp. I expected something I wouldn’t like because of the band name, but I’m really liking the music!

AtaquepolariS – a band from the border city of Arica in Chile. Never heard them before so I head to their soundcloud. The band is formed by Seba, Diego, Piero and Luis. I’m definitely curious, as I’ve only heard bands from Santiago, the capital city. But then, the vocalist comes and I get disappointed. He is too shouty for my taste! Music is alright though. but the vocalist. I can’t. I can’t.

Fútbol en la Escuela – another Lima band, formed by Sayo, Edgar, Blanca, Ricardo and Carlos. They are rapidly becoming one of Lima’s favourite indie bands. I find them alright, I’m not head over heels. I think my problem with them are their influences. I feel they listen too many Chilean and Argentine bands. And not the ones I’m a fan of!

Julen y la Gente Sola – a band from Montevideo, Uruguay. I’m not familiar at all with the scene from that country. So it’s a total surprise to find myself listening to their bandcamp. I’m streaming their eponymous album released in 2014. Bedroom pop, sometimes a bit folky, sometimes more indiepop. And now I actually do like the vocalist. A nice surprise this band, never heard them and they sound fresh and exciting, with “Trotsky Vengarán” as my favourite track.

Patio Solar – the band that will close the festival comes from La Florida in Chile. They seem very popular as I was looking at the Popfest event page and people were really excited about them when they were announced. So I’m listening to their latest effort, dating from 2015 and called “Temporada”. The guitars are definitely the best part of their songs. Chiming and luminous. Catchy tunes, boy/girl vocals, so of course, I’m enjoying this. A good discovery by the Popfest people.

And that’s it. Two nights of pop music in Lima. I won’t be attending, but I’m glad I got to discover a bunch of new music through them. All of you attending, have fun!


Dexter’s Laboratory (commonly abbreviated as Dexter’s Lab) is an American comic science fiction animated television series created by Genndy Tartakovsky for Cartoon Network, and the first of the network’s Cartoon Cartoons. The series follows Dexter, a boy-genius and inventor with a secret laboratory, who constantly battles his sister Dee Dee in an attempt to keep her out of the lab. He also engages in a bitter rivalry with his neighbor and fellow-genius Mandark. The first two seasons contained additional segments: Dial M for Monkey, which focuses on Dexter’s pet lab-monkey/superhero, and The Justice Friends, about a trio of superheroes who share an apartment.

So Dexter and Dee Dee. I’m sure many remember the cartoon. But does anyone remember a Swedish band from Malmö that went by the name Didi & Dexter?

I had totally forgotten about them until late yesterday night while I was arranging some loose Mp3s on the computer. I saw the song “Amy Song” and played it. And I was like, wait a moment, who are they? this sounds really good! Suddenly some memories starting coming back and I’m pretty sure it was my Serbian friend Nikola who introduced them to me.

I went online to try to find any information about them and of course, there was so little. Last.fm has 15 songs by them listed. They are: “Love Hurts (But Not that Much)”, “Dress Rehearsal”, “Amy Song”, “Fell From a Bridge”, “Feel New Flavor”, “Walking Out on Love”, “Hand in Hand”, “Holly would”, “Youth Stop”, “Morning Love Summer Ends”, “I May Hate You Sometimes”, Heading Home”, “Dream City Motel”, “17/17 Friends” and “Aranda de Duero”.

These songs come from two albums, one called “Might as Well Give in” and “Starting Over”.

The song “Love Hurts (But Not That Much)” is the one that has been listened to the most. Something that would explain this is that this song was also on the compilation “Blackbean and Placenta CD Compilation #4, Autumn 2000”. On this compilation, on the US label Blackbean and Placenta (catalog BBPTC 144), this song is the 10th song on the tracklist. Other names that appear and that we are familiar with are Girlboy Girl, Rabbit in Red, River, Lunchbox, Nixon and Boyish Charms.

I found out too that Indiepop.it had this same Didi & Dexter song on their free download compilation on 2004. I found also a mention to them on the 2003 Twee.net Poll. Just one. But still.

Then after some more Sherlock Holmes investigation I hit some important facts.

Popkfakta.se will tell me more about their first release, a demo CD. That one is “Might as Well Give In” I mentioned earlier. A photo of a couple on a gondola in Venice is the cover for it. The tracklist for it is:
1. Feel New Flavor
2. Love Hurts (But Not That Much)
3. Holly Would
4. Dress Rehearsal
5. Amy Song

We also find the band members names: Andreas Tursell, Maria Lindgren, Sebastian Fonzéus and Tobias Johansson.

The mixing and production credits go to both Andreas and Sebastian.

Then Discogs will give me more information after typing Didi “AND” Dexter isntead of Didi & Dexter, their original name. We find that in 2003 they released a 7″. That one is the “Starting Over”that Last.fm had listed.

4 songs in it, “Walking Out on Love”, “Hand in Hand”, “Morning Love Summer Ends” and “Fell From a Bridge”. Here we notice that Maria has left the band and has been replaced by Ulrica Kristhammar. The rest of the band is the same. The year was 2003 and it was released on a label called Jetboy Recordings (catalog JR004).

This same label had released before a 7″ by a band called Les Royales de Kiefers and a CDR compilation called “19 Ways to Get Back Home”.  Some familiar names on this comp, like Rabbit in Red, The Maulies, Brittle Stars, Laura Watling, and more. How come I’ve never heard of Jetboy Recordings before?

As Andreas and Sebastian seem to have been a working team, I look up for both of them. I find they had been during the past decade on a Malmö band called The Bells. There are a bunch of songs uploaded on Youtube.

Now I feel I really want both their releases. Where can I find them? I’ve only heard two songs by them so far, “Love Hurts (But Not So Much)” and the one Im sharing with you, “Amy Song”. Both being so good! Does anyone can share with me the rest? And does anyone remember the band at all? Did they play live a lot? Did they tour Sweden or other countries? What are the band members doing now? Would be cool to find out!


Didi & Dexter – Amy Song


As promised this week I’ll check out the San Francisco Popfest bands that are new to me, next week I’ll check Lima Popfest’s. It’s definitely a good thing that these festivals, all of them, including Indietracks, are digging new bands for me to listen. Even though most of the times, honestly, they are not of my liking, far far away from my taste, I never feel disappointed. And that’s because I always think the next band I’ll discover will be amazing. Just like that one time that Glasgow Popfest had booked the then unknown Spook School, who I immediately fell in love with.

San Francisco Popfest is happening in June for three days, on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of that month. That’s Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The venues are Hemlock Tavern, Brick and Mortar and The Knockout. I can’t say if these are good or bad venues, I haven’t been in San Fran since 1994. I was a kid back then.

On Friday I know most of the bands, the one I don’t is The Dyson Spheres. Sadly I couldn’t find a Bandcamp or a Soundcloud for them. Maybe they have something else where I can listen to their songs?

Then on Saturday we have The Shivas, who happen to be from Oregon, Portland. There’s a lot of releases on their Bandcamp and they are thrown into the garage/surf rock genre basket. They have releases on the once upon a time good label K Records. As I’m doing a quick listen, just to get the gist of what sort of music they make, I go straight to their latest release, dating from February 2016 and called “Better Off Dead”. And even though I don’t hate this, I just don’t like it. Kind of folky, and slow tempo. I don’t see the pop in this band, so time to check the next one.

Another band that plays the same show at Brick and Mortar is Emotional. They hail from San Francisco and also have a bunch of releases under their belt. I check out their latest called “Ahh the Name is Emotional” released in March this year. It’s not strictly my style again, but at least this is pop music, and to be fair it doesn’t feel alien in a Popfest. I wonder what makes it pop but not indiepop. My theory more mainstream influences. What’s yours?

The last band on that Saturday show is Smoke Screens. From LA. And to my surprise when I hit on the play button some jangly and chirping guitars start sounding. Oh! This is a discovery. Sounds good!! Proper indiepop that actually reminds me of so many CDR bands from Sweden circa 2003. Lo-fi and charming, Smoke Screens have 3 songs on Bandcamp, “Out of Time”, “Vanity” and “The Bar”. These were released (I assume just digitally) on August 2015. It seems this is just the solo project by  Chris Rosi and recorded with the help of his friends.

I think I might have heard the name Burnt Palms before. But as I live under a rock when it comes to a lot of music, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’m listening to them. I have the idea that they are quite popular. Am I right? I check their latest release, a limited 12″ titled “Back on My Wall”. It actually sounds good. The song “Fold” surprises me as it sounds to a bunch of American indiepop bands from the 90s. And that’s a good thing in my book. The Seaside, California, band make fuzzy pop, straight to the point. And it works.

Horrible/Adorable, is the last band I check out. They are 2 girls from Oakland, California. And Popfest keeps getting better. After two first bands that weren’t that exciting, the last three are strong, including Horrible/Adorable. I check out their bandcamp and their song 37th Street starts playing. It’s sugary and fun. They list a bunch of genres on their bandcamp which is a bit confusing, as I don’t see any noise for example in their sound! On this, their latest release called “Lookin’ Healthy” they have 4 songs, the aforementioned “37th Street”, “DMV Dream”, “You Suck!” and “Hail Sk8tn'”. All of them are really nice, though my favourite is “DMV Dream”, with kinda All Girl Summer Fun Band lyrics.


The Apache are culturally related Native American tribes from the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. These indigenous peoples of North America speak Southern Athabaskan languages, which are related linguistically to Athabaskan languages in Alaska and western Canada.Apache people traditionally have lived in Eastern Arizona, Northern Mexico (Sonora and Chihuahua), New Mexico, West Texas, and Southern Colorado. Apacheria, their collective homelands, consists of high mountains, sheltered and watered valleys, deep canyons, deserts, and the southern Great Plains. The Apache tribes fought the invading Spanish and Mexican peoples for centuries. The first Apache raids on Sonora appear to have taken place during the late 17th century. In 19th-century confrontations during the American- Indian war of ethnic cleansing, the U.S. Army found the Apache to be fierce warriors and skillful strategists.Apache groups are politically autonomous. The major groups speak several different languages and developed distinct and competitive cultures. The current post-colonial division of Apache groups includes Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache (also known as the Kiowa-Apache). Apache groups live in Oklahoma and Texas and on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico. Apache people have moved throughout the United States and elsewhere, including urban centers.

I heard The Ferocious Apaches a long time ago, thanks to a rip from the “Are You Ready?” tape that I probably got from Soulseek. A classic indiepop compilation that included 20 songs from the likes of well known bands like The Pale Saints, The McTells, The Driscolls, The Haywains, Strawberry Story, Big Red Bus, The Mayfields and more. There were a few not very known bands in there, like The Lowthers or The Pilgrims (which have been featured in the blog). It was released in 1987 on Windmill Records with no catalog number. Who ran Windmill Records by the way?

On this tape The Ferocious Apaches appeared with a gem of a song called “Golden”. It was just a few weeks ago that I reconnected with it thanks to Heinz. He had uploaded the song to Youtube and well, I started wondering what about this band, it looks and sounds very obscure.

It turns out there’s actually some information about them online. Strange for a band that didn’t leave much recorded output as far as I know. I honestly have only heard this one song. The thing is that the always amazing Tamworth Music website has a lot of facts about this band and I will try to get you the basics.

The Ferocious Apaches were:
Rob Cross – guitar
John Hodgkiss – lead vocals
Mark Hynds – drums
Bob – bass

No last name for Bob the bassist. And Rob Cross had been in a couple of bands like Herb Garden, Big Muff, Liberty Caps, The Hamilton Hammond and Extension. Actually the Liberty Caps appear also on the “Are You Ready?” tape.

There’s a gig listed from February 1988, at the Sonic Noise Happening show at the Tamworth Arts Centre. They played along Emma Gibbs Loves Badges (another band that I’ve written about and interviewed), Ruby Blaze, The Outside, Flowers in the Attic and The Eppies.

Rob Cross has written some memories of those days, from 86 to 87, about his time in the band. He mentions him and Mark being very influenced by The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pastels, The Shop Assistants and The June Brides. They met John through Mark’s art school connections.

They recorded songs at Expresso Bongo studios. How many? It’s not mentioned. Were these songs released on a tape? I wonder. They had been receiving some sort of patronage from Ian Gibbons who owned the Rathole, a venue were the band was able to book bands, design posters, DJ and use it’s photocopy machine to make their own fanzines. Sounds like they were having a good time.

At the end of the band’s life they seem to have done another recording session but there are no more details.

Checking clippings from the Tamworth Herald, I notice that the band played with The Rosehips, yes the fucking Rosehips!, in 1987. Wonder if Rocker or Pete remember them. Emma Gibbs Loves Badges were also on the bill.  There’s another gig from 87 when they played along The Searching and The Filipinos.

And finally, Ferocious Apaches. The band were absolutely brilliant. For me they can’t do a thing wrong, their music is so full of youth, enthusiasm and arrogance and other important punk ideals, which seem to have been forgotten in a fashionable haze of studded leather and spiky hair. The anarchic aura that shines from them clearly proves that these are people who, even though they were only eight or nine years old at the time, were there in 1977.

So says a clipping from the Tamworth Herald. I wish I had been at one of their gigs. I’m just so very curious how their other songs sounded like. And I’m also wondering why they never released anything! They seem to have been quite popular, at least in their town!

More gigs, now from 1988 we know they played with The Believers, Emma Gibbs again and Psychedelicatessen. What a name of this last band.

The last bit of information I found is a poll from 1987 where the band gets the 10th place on the”What’s Your Favourite Local Band?” question. On the first place is Dance Stance who I don’t knowwho they are. Fetch Eddie (also covered in the blog) appear on 8th place.

I wonder what happened to the members of the band after the demise of The Ferocious Apaches. It seems they played shows together with Herb Garden, Rob Cross’ other band, by they end of their time as a band. But were they involved with other bands after? What are they doing now? There are so many questions left to be answered. Do any of you remember them?


The Ferocious Apaches – Golden


It’s becoming a busy week this one. I didn’t actually have a weekend either, so I’m bit swamped with things to do for work, for home, for the label, and so on. So this may be a small post, a bit shorter than usual. Let’s see how it goes.

The best part of last week was definitely seeing the BMX Bandits after 10 years. They played at Sidewalk Cafe, a very odd and random place where they don’t charge you cover, but they pass a basket, just like in church, to give your donations. Duglas and Chloe were joined by three New Yorkers and, even though the drumkit didnt have a hi-hat, the show was fun and lovely. Duglas is such a showman. Lots of laughs and a good time. They played many of the classics and I even took a photo with Duglas at the end. Such a fan. He even remembered that I went to the show ten years ago with another Peruvian friend. That was really awesome. He then played the next day at Cake Shop and I believe he plays today at Shea Stadium. Sadly I didn’t attend the Cake Shop gig and won’t be able to make it today. But if you can, do it. Worth it!!

The most important announcement is that I’m already working on a new 7″ by Swedish band Stephen’s Shore. They are jangly and brilliant. I fell in love immediately with the sound of their guitars, chiming and chiming. I thought no one was making this music anymore, but was very lucky to find them thanks to my friend Henrik who pointed them to me. Right now the idea is to include four songs on the 7″, on the A side we will have “Ocean Blue” and “If You” and on the B side, “Turn Your Head” and “Let’s Go Home”. The artwork is being created at the moment by Fabio Consoli, all the way from Sicily, Italy. Very very excited about this!! Hopefully there will be more news about the release date and on the website as soon as the artwork is done. Songs are ready!

Now as promised a small review of all the “new” bands for me that are playing Indietracks, always in the hope of finding some hidden treasures. As I listen to the bands I write the post, so it’s all first impressions here.

Nervous Twitch: a four piece from Yorkshire that have released two albums on Odd Box Records as well as some 7″ singles. On the biography I read they are likened to The Ramones, Au Pairs, Talulah Gosh, Blondie and Thee Headchoats. Right now I listen to the first thing that shows up on Bandcamp and that’s a limited edition cassette called “Don’t Take My TV”. Not really indiepop, as it seems to become a trend with all the bands I already reviewed last week, and more of a garage band. Rock and roll, some punk thrown in there, and some hooks here and there. It’s not bad, I enjoy some songs, but definitely not the kind of band that would make me want to go to a pop festival.

Lorna: a dream pop from Nottingham. And it seems they have released 5 albums already. Maybe they are well known but it’s really the first time I hear them. On bandcamp they have the Snowlights EP. The first two songs are quite nice but the third one is really not my style, a bit too slow. I’m not crazy for slow tempo bands at festivals, it gets a bit tedious because you are watching a band after another for so many hours, so you want some energy coming from the songs you know. Perhaps they have energetic songs on their other releases, that I don’t know. In that case it would be a good idea to check this band at the festival, it could be a nice surprise. For sure much better than many of the “new” bands I’ve been discovering.

Charla Fantasma: I think they have a very good name so I had big expectations. The songs are just straight garage. No frills. It’s what it is. But where’s the indiepop among all the screams and shouts? One wonders.

Chrissy Barnacle:  A singer songwriter from Glasgow. I usually shiver when I read the title “singer-songwriter” but as she comes from Glasgow, land of so many indiepop heroes, well, who wouldn’t give a chance? I listen to the one song on Bandcamp called “Witches” and I find out this is too folky for me. I try other releases on her site but it’s all the same, sometimes more upbeat and it gets a bit better, but still. I assume she’ll play at the church, but then again, where’s the indiepop?

Boys Forever: This is a project by Patrick Doyle from Veronica Falls. I check their one single they have streaming on Bandcamp. It’s called “Poisonous”. The B side is a cover of Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know”. So far these are the best songs I hear on this recap. Their big merit for me is to be indiepop among the no pop bands that seem to abound. That is already saying a lot.


I decided to check again the compilation “Disparate Cogscienti”. I talked about this compilation a long time ago when I introduced you to the band The Lowthers. But let’s remember some facts about this compilation first. It came out in 1987 and was released by the Cog Sinister label. Mark E. Smith from The Fall ran this label.

From that old post of mine I wrote this:
The first appearance of the Cog Sinister label was in 1987 when The Fall used it as the imprint for their self-released anthology album “Palace Of Swords Reversed”. The imprint returned in 1990 when the band signed to Fontana and used Cog Sinister as a vanity label for their releases. When they moved from Fontana to Permanent Records, they continued to use the Cog Sinister brand on their releases. Since leaving Permanent in 1995, The Fall no longer used Cog Sinister on their new material. However, since 1997, the imprint has become part of the Voiceprint label group, and is being used for reissues of the group’s back-catalogue.

“The Disparate Cogscienti” was the second release on the label and it includes another gem, Beatrice’s “A Girl Like Me”. So I do recommend getting it, as I listened Jessel’s recommendation once, that time he took me to a – secret, secret – to find so many great records in what may be the best record shopping experience I’ve ever had. That day I picked up this fabulous black, white and yellow sleeve from one of the racks, after my good friend asked me if I knew about it. Of course I didn’t. He said it was worth it for the Beatrice song. Though he did mention that The Lowther’s song was quite good. And good it is. And the compilation is worth getting for The Lowthers song too I say. On Discogs at the moment there’s a copy for 4.99 euros if you are interested. I say get it.

Well, today I see a copy for around $7 dollars. Still a good price. Today though I want to talk about that song I mentioned back then. That song by Beatrice titled “A Girl Like Me”.

About this song and about this band there’s really nothing online. I have googled in so many ways and combinations, name of the band, name of the song, band members and all. But I couldn’t find anything.

I do know the band members as they are listed on the back cover:
Lisa Feder – guitar
Gina Harrel – vocals
Genji & Alec – drums

It’s stated that the song was recorded in 1986 and there’s a cool motto next to the band lineup that says: “Flying the flag for free and fanciful females”.

An all-girl band then? I would guess so. On the front cover of the compilation, where there are photos by each band in black and white, for Beatrice we see two girls. To my surprise the band name on the photo is just not Beatrice but it says Beatrice NYC. Does this mean that they hailed from here, from right here? I would guess that’s the case. This definitely adds more to the mystery.

Was there an indiepop band in NYC at that time, even better, an all girl feminist indiepop band in NYC in 1986, recording such gems as “A Girl Like Me”. It’s just amazing. I wonder what happened to them, if they recorded more songs, how their song ended up in a compilation in England, were they involved in other bands? So many questions, and so little answers on the web. Hopefully someone could help!


Beatrice – A Girl Like Me


April at last. It’s been around a year since I did for the first time the Cloudberry podcast and I’m actually thinking about doing it again. See how it goes. While in France my friends insisted that I should record the podcast again. It definitely is a good idea. But then at the end it all depends on whoever helps me put all the tracks together. Thomas from Pale Spectres has offered. As soon as there are more news I’ll let you know.

Next week I will announce our next 7″. And I’m very excited about it. It’s a band you’ve probably never heard before, but it’s jangle heaven hailing from Sweden. It will include four songs. That’s all I can give you at the moment!

I did promise last week that I was going to check many of the bands that I haven’t heard ever from the lineup of Indietracks. So I’ll do that. But before it’s important to know that this year San Francisco Popfest returns. It’s happening on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of June. You can check the event here. Many bands I’ve never heard are playing so I’ll do a review sometime soon. We do have some time! Also Lima Popfest is around the corner (April 30th), and I’ll do a review of their bands next week. It looks like a fine year for indiepop so far with all these festivals!

So I start in no particular order:

Two White Cranes: I like Joanna Gruesome quite a bit even though some friends of mine can’t stand them. Too nineties they tell me. I find them fresh and exciting. Two White Cranes is the project of Roxy Brennan from Joanna Gruesome. She is also part of Grubs (whose flexi was amazing). On Bandcamp there’s a CD for sale called “Radisson Blue”. I’m skimming through the songs. Definitely not Grubs or Joanna Gruesome. This is a solo project. Guitar,vocals, some drums. Very personal songs, and for sure there’s a good vibe in the songs, but I don’t fall head over heels for them. I miss the jangle and the pop hooks.

Songs For Walter: From Manchester and with an album already in their pockets. The same name album includes a bunch of songs and it’s been released on vinyl and CD and you can buy it from their Bandcamp. This is folk-pop. As you may know from the blog, I’m usually not a fan of folk-pop as it tends to be awfully boring. Songs for Walter is a bit better than that to my surprise. Laurie Hulme, the guy behind this project, crafts nice and melodious tunes, making sweet music. I couldn’t listen 5 of their songs in a row as it gets a bit too sugary, but if you were to find one of their songs on a compilation, I think it would be a delight, an actual highlight.

Seazoo: I’m listening to their newest single, “Telephone Jones”. There’s even a video for it. They’ve been showcased in a bunch of radio shows throughout the UK. They come from Wales and have released the “Ken” and “Car Deborah” EPs. It’s pop with indierock leanings, with solid songs but nothing new to say “wow”. It’s good though and enjoyable.

Prizefighter: Band from Derby, very close to Indietracks grounds. There are two songs on their bandcamp.
“There is a Light” and “Ghosts”. They date from 2014. Not sure if they have anything else new. Shambolic indierock would be my first thought. Not crazy for their songs, the A side being much much better than the B side that has this drone sound on the background that is really hard on my ears.

Maggie8: I’m very confused by this band. For sure this is not indiepop and doubt anyone would say I’m wrong by saying that. There’s a very eclectic mix of influences here. I read someone comment saying that it’s a mix of indiepop and South Asian music. I don’t see the indiepop part though. The strange thing is that this actually works. It sounds interesting and all. I’m not disliking it, and I would even argue that if they tried they could become a bona fide hipster band, and play often in Williamsburg. It has that appeal. This Leeds band formed by Mark Wright and Nivedita Pisharoty is not an anomaly at Indietracks (there’s been odd bands playing there before), but is perhaps the riskier sounding band I’ve seen them book.

So there are 5 or 6 more bands I’m not familiar with, but I’ll save them for another post. But how do you like these first bunch of bands? Anyone you don’t want to miss? Are they making you book a ticket to the UK? I won’t be going this year, but as always will miss seeing friends, which I think, is the beauty of Indietracks.


The Ryecatchers. I believe they hailed from somewhere in London. There’s not much written online sadly and it’s a bit hard to get any information from this band that was around in the late 80s, possibly between 86 to 89.

They released just one demo tape, recorded for Capitol Records. Then I find 4 songs on Youtube. “Apron Strings“, “Frozen White Rain“, “Where I’ve Already Waded” and “Flowers“. I can confirm that at least “Apron Strings” and “Flowers” appeared on that demo tape. I remember them from the time of Myspace. That’s when I first heard about them. Their cool haircuts and their obscurity were something I never forgot. I actually even thought I had already covered them on the blog, but it seems not! Well it’s never too late.

Going back to their Myspace I check that they have many more songs. But as it’s Myspace maybe half of them only play. The songs on Myspace are: “Frozen White Rain (4-track home demo)”, “Release Me (4-track home demo)”, “Don’t Even Try”, “Killing Horses”, “Butterfly Riot (4-track home demo)”, “The Worm and the Bird”, “Frozen White Rain”, “Mystery Prize”, “Where I’ve Already Waded”, “Flowers”, “Your Screaming”, “Apron Strings”, “Deeper”, “Butterfly Riot”, “I Get Confused”. The quality of the songs seem to vary. “Your Screaming” is definitely a favorite, check it out.

On one of the Youtube videos we find the lineup of the band:
Nick Evans – vocals and guitar
Jason Poland – vocals and guitar
Jim Allison – bass
Richard Deacon – drums

I actually end up finding Jason Poland’s Youtube account and there’s a solo performance, him and his guitar, possibly recorded at home in 2009, of the song “Frozen White Rain“.

The video for “Frozen White Rain” actually includes a lot of photos and press clippings. There’s a clipping written by Simon Williams were he says that “The frets clamber over each other, two guitars grating and mating like hedgehogs in Ecstasy”. What a description! He likens them to The Jesus and Mary Chain, though I think The Ryecatchers are less noisy, more jangly. He also describes them as “prime candidates for fanzine activity, all polka dots and polo necks”.

On a clipping found on their Myspace Nicholas says that he doesn’t understand the comparisons to the Jesus and Mary Chain. We also learn from that clipping that their demo included 6 tracks and was recirded un Brixton. Here Capitol Records is written Kapitol Records. We learn that at least they played twice at Portsmouth Poly, once as a support slot to Spaceman 3. That they also played at The Rock Garden in Covent Garden, The Sir George Roby and at Hype at the iconic The Bull and Gate in Kentish Town.

Of course that’s all I could find online. There’s very little. It seems they had a bit of a hype when they were around but sadly that didn’t translate into a proper record. I wonder which were the songs included in that demo. What happened to them afterwards, and if they actually released anything, perhaps on a compilation. Does anyone out there remember them?


The Ryecatchers – Apron Strings