Time ago I wrote a piece about the band Tropical Fish Invasion on the blog. I really liked the few songs I have heard, and always wondered if their flexi that I own was missing a sleeve. There were many questions and this band remained very mysterious to me. Happily Cat got in touch and was very kind to answer all my questions about his band in the late 80s, early 90s. Here is the interview, hope you enjoy it!

++ Thanks so much Cat for getting in touch and being up for the interview! I know so little from the band, so let’s start! I had the idea the band hailed from Derby, but you are based now in Nottingham, right? Where was the band from?

The band was mainly based out of Derby but we did all move to Nottingham in 1991

++ When did the band start? Who were the members and how did you all know each other?

The original band (The Pink Sugar Cube Boogies) formed in 1985/1986. The driving force behind it was Matty Pearson – a larger than life character who once went to a ladies hairdressers in Heanor and asked for a ‘monk cut’ – which was literally having a bald patch shaved into the top of his head to look like a Benedictine Monk because he thought it would be a good look for a party we were attending that night. I was mightily impressed by this rather committed fashion gesture and soon became his disciple!

We were all students at South East Derbyshire College and met in the canteen, we started hanging out and playing music together. the original line up was Matty P, Paul Kleesmaa, Gary Kempley, Allan MacDonald and myself. The college ran a music course which at the time seemed rather boring to us, lots of jazz, rock and more traditional stuff. At the Christmas concert we were given a slot and dressed in 60’s beatnik paraphernalia, smoking jackets and cravats we played a couple of songs (quite badly I may add). This sorry affair led to the music course leader saying we were worse than the ‘Sexy Guns’. We assumed he was actually referring to the Sex Pistols!

++ Have you been involved in bands before?

This was my first official band but I’d always been drawn to performing from a young age. At the age of 5 my teacher used to make me stand up in front of the class and sing to everyone. I used to love it and never felt shy or embarrassed. I also sang in a couple of choirs at school but The Pink Sugar Cube Boogies opened up a new world to me and writing songs with my best friends was the best thing in the world.

++ Where does the band name come from? It’s such a good name!

After leaving college we decided to get serious with band and renamed it Mr Cinzano and Tropical Fish Invasion and moved to Nottingham (we eventually dropped the Mr Cinzano – I can’t remember why). The name was inspired by our love of Tropical fish, the beautiful colours and what they represented, freedom to move in beautiful waters in some of the finest locations of the world.  I guess it brought a bit of glamour and relief to intercity living at the peak of Thatcher’s reign over the UK. We eventually moved to Derby where we developed a really good following.

++ And I have to ask, even if it’s a bit silly, did any of you had pet fish?

I used to have a goldfish which I won at Heanor fair! It died and we flushed it down the toilet.

++ What sort of music were you listening at the time? Who would you say were influences for the Tropical Fish Invasion?

Our influences were wide: 60’s psychedelia, Frank Sinatra (Witchcraft) Dean Martin, James Brown, Sliced Tomatoes by Terry, Divine, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Hendrix, early B52s, Stan Getz, Astrud Gilberto, Nick Drake, Ella Fitzgerald

++ Were there any like-minded bands in your area that you were into?

There were some great bands that we were fortunate to play with, these include The Moonflowers (supported twice) and The Frauds (from Leicester)

++ There’s this flexi with the song “La Di Da”. Was it self-released? Did it have a proper picture sleeve?

Yes the flexi was self-released on our own ‘Octypurple’ label. We had 1000 singles pressed and I probably have a few hundred left in my garage somewhere. We never created a proper picture sleeve as we didn’t have enough money. I think I may have funded the whole thing myself!

++ I love this song, so I wonder if you could tell me the story behind it?

The song has a simple message about positivity and how to remain positive when things take a turn for the worse – just take a look around (take stock of everything and find the positives) . It’s also about love and friendship – you might have material wealth or nice things but what’s the point if you don’t have any friends or loved ones to hang out with.

++ The catalog number was OCTY 6-5000. Does that have any meaning?

The 6-5000 part comes from a song of ours called Aquamarinaland – this was our own sub-aquatic/tropical fish reworking of Glen Miller’s 1940 classic Pennsylvania 6-500. In 2001 Aquamarinaland made another but very different appearance on a collaboration with Nottingham outfit Schmoov! on their Album ‘While You Wait’. On this very chilled out track I sing of the regret of losing a loved one in a very tongue in cheek style

++ The other song I know from you is also great, “Ring a Ding”, that was on the “Seahorses” tape compilation. Do you remember how you ended in there?

Ring-a -ding is one of my favourites and was a homage to Frank Sinatra. I can’t remember how exactly we got onto that compilation but at the time there were many talented and dedicated people travelling to gigs, writing reviews and creating fanzines and putting compilations together.  We would have met at a gig, had a few drinks and passed on a tape to them.

++ You were telling me that you recorded many more songs. Do you remember how many demo tapes you released?

We probably recorded 4 demo cassettes and the flexi-single on Octypurple records. We also had a few videos but these have been lost unfortunately – or over recorded by our bass player who was the last person to have the video!

++ And from all your repertoire, which one was your favourite song?

My favourite changes all the time, at the moment it’s Ring-a-Ding.

++ What about gigs? Did you play live a lot? Any favourite or not too favourite gigs that you remember?

We used to play a lot – at least once a week at our peak. As an established band in Derby we got lots of support slots at the Dial, The Lord Nelson, The Old Bell and the famous Rock City in Nottingham. We played with Crazy Head (which wasn’t a well suited gig in terms of the music we played, and some of their fans looked bewildered at best and ready to kill us at worst!) We also supported 1000 Yard Stare, The Moonflowers, Five Thirty, Spacemen 3, and a few more that I’ve totally forgotten!!
My favourite gig was in the Dial back in December 1990 (I think!). The place was absolutely packed and everyone was in the zone so there was lots of dancing, sweating and the atmosphere was electric. I have some really fond memories of that night and it felt like we had ‘made it’.


++ During the late 80s, early 90s, there were a lot of guitar pop bands in the UK. Was wondering if you ever felt part of a scene there?

There was definitely the feeling of being part of a scene and we used to have people travelling from afar to see us and often crashing with us. This helped us build a network of fans and get to know other bands and travel up to Manchester or down to London to see them.

++ What about press? Did you get coverage? Radio? What about fanzines?

We got loads of coverage in the local press, Derby Evening Telegraph and the Nottingham Evening Post. We also appeared on local TV as part of a World Aids Day event and some local radio too. Our main exposure was through fanzines. I can’t remember all of them but I do have copies of:
Share The Modern World With Me
A Nice Piece of Parkin
Sperm Wail
Red Roses for Me

++ And then when and why did the band split? What did you guys do after?

I guess we split due to the usual and predictable differences there can happen within a band – getting on each others nerves, girlfriend trouble, changes in personal goals. From my point of view we had gone far enough and I felt a bit disillusioned – we’d been let down too many times by A&R people saying thay would come to our gigs that never did, even after all the trouble we’d gone to in terms of getting a bus load of people to come and see us in London etc. The house party scene was also taking off and it most of us got heavily involved in that so it seemed a good idea to have a break. I do wonder what might have happened if we had persevered a bit longer.

++ Are you all still in touch? Are you still making music today?

Not properly just through Facebook and through mutual friends. Amazing really because at the time we thought we would be friends for ever but people grow up and have our own families and there just isn’t enough time.
Yes I am still involved in music today.  After the band split I took a short break and started playing at parties and venues in Nottingham as a DJ. On the day of a gig, my headphones weren’t working so I went to the flat next door to borrow some from a good friend. He was rehearsing with a band for a jazz gig and the song they were playing was Witchcraft. I knew the words, I grew up with this song (and it felt a bit like fate I suppose). I sang along, it sounded great and ever since then I’ve been singing Jazz (mainly Rat Pack stuff) and Latin and have played at weddings, private parties, local bars, restaurants, film launches, festivals – we even played at Glastonbury Festival twice as part of Lost Vagueness collective. I would say gig wise I’ve played in more venues and locations than when with the Tropical Fish (including a friend’s wedding in New York).
My kids are also musical and I encourage them to play and sing. I song to them overnight and we often have ‘jam sessions’ which are a great way for the kids to express themselves and have fun. My daughter (now 7 years old) was selected to represent the UK in Monaco, France to play a composition she wrote when she was only 6! As you can imagine I am extremely proud of her achievements and that the musical tradition will continue through my kids.

++ Looking back, what would you say are your happiest memories, the highlight of being in the Tropical Fish Invasion?

My happiness memories of a time when only music mattered – whether it was writing songs, rehearsing, performing – the whole creative process. Having this process validated through positive audience reactions and getting approached by young ladies was also a very positive outcome!

++  Let’s wrap it here, but before we go, why don’t you tell us about Nottingham a bit. If one was to visit, what are the sights or the places one shouldn’t miss?

Notingham is a great city. It’s the home of Robin Hood, Paul Smith clothes and Raleigh bikes. There’s plenty to do here like drink in the oldest Inn in England, visit the Castle, come and see me sing at the Pelican Club!

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

No –  I think that’s covered it all. Good to talk with you Roque and thanks for keeping the memory of the Tropical Fish alive!


Tropical Fish Invasion – La Di Da


This coming weekend there’s Indietracks. It’s the last week of July and a very big crowd of indiepop fans will gather together in Derbyshire. Last week posts earned me a tweet from PO!, from Ruth Miller, I was very happy, such a fan I am. She even said she’d love to come to NYC. I hope she does. That would be amazing really.

Who did come to NYC was Jessel this past weekend. I saw him for just a little, he was in a family trip really. But he was very kind to give me the Final Diners 7″. Such a great record that you can only wonder why the hell “Your Island” wasn’t included in the Sharon Signs to Cherry Red compilation. So unfair! The record I got is missing the sleeve though, so I ask everyone out there that if they have an extra sleeve of this record, please let me know!

I saw on Instagram that Botanic Garden #2, the Chinese indiepop fanzine, is ready. It is not available though to buy from their website yet. One of the blog posts of mine has been translated and included in it. I got #1 and it was really ace, well presented, and it didn’t matter me not understanding Chinese.

What I did buy already is a Japanese fanzine called “Everything Reminds Us of Something Fantastic”. It’s promoted as a Neo-Acoustic zine and was put together by Hiroyuki Miyata. It seems to be printed in full colour and includes the 24 most important indiepop people, I guess a review of 361 bands, 243 artists, 28 producers. It doesn’t say how many pages were included but only 100 copies were printed. There is more information and also instructions on how to order on this website. I’m very much looking forward to receiving this. Looks like something done with lots of love!

And last but not least, the marvelous London band The Fireworks have a new video out for the song “All the Time“. Very cool to see Emma, Matthew, Isabel and Shaun dressed up in Halloween style and acting! I especially love Matthew’s wig and costume haha. It’s really awesome. I should be getting the 10” that includes this cracking song soon. It’s available from Shelflife Records and it’s called “Black and Blue”. It’s a must have!


Last week I had all the intentions to recommend Rex and Dino as you remember, but it needed to make sense. That’s why I started introducing you Empty Shell, the band that came before Rex and Dino. Today I’ll dig and try to find more about this Irish band!

From last week post, this paragraph is relevant:
In 1987 Dermot Lambert and Ellen Leahy would start a new band, Rex & Dino, but that is another story. Even later Lambert would form Blink, his longest running band (1991-2007) and release a bunch of records with a sound that reminds us of the Madchester era. These days he seems to be making music solo.

We do know that in 1989 they released the first 7″ on the Danceline Records label (catalog DLS 001). A favourite band of mine, The Would Be’s also released on this label. This 7″ by Rex and Dino included two songs, “Busy Sleeping” on the A side and “Trouble With You” on the B side. I have only heard the first song and it’s really ace. Hoping someone out there can help me with the B side! Also if someone has a spare of this record, let me know!

“Busy Sleeping” was produced in Ropewalk Studios in Dublin by Paul Murphy and Barry Grace, engineered by Catherine Considine and Louise McCormack. The B side was produced in Elektra Studios, Dublin, by Rex and Dino and engineered by Larry O’Toole.

Credits for this record include:
Dermot Lambert – vocals
Ellen Leahy – keyboards
Brian McLoughlin – bass
Dave Thomas – drums

Lambert and Leahy as we said were together in Empty Shell. Lambert and McLoughlin will later be part of Blink.

Discogs also lists a compilation appearance by the band. It was on a LP compilation titled “Snap Shots” released by Snap (catalog SN 901) in 1987 in Ireland. They contribute two songs, “The Cat Gets Out” that appears as A3, and “This Time, Next Time” that opens the B side. Other bands in this compilation are Missing Link, Ott, Brainchild, The Pink Hurts, A Splash of Red and The Soft Music Company. I’m not really familiar with any of them.

Then I land on the Irish Rock website. There we learn that the band was around from 1987 to 1989. Most importantly we learn that they released another 7″ prior to “Busy Sleeping”. “Someone There to Love” on the A side and “Same Way Too” on the B side came out in 1988 on the Solid label (ROK 715). This label had released Irish indiepop classics from Guernica and Cypress, Mine! among others. The producer for both songs was Emmett O’Reilly, they were engineered by Pat Dunne and Larry O’Toole and the sleeve was designed by Arthur Mathews. There’s some text on the back cover that I assume is part of the lyrics of one of the songs (?). It says “Wavy day on the Aegean Sea / on the Coast and all along the Beach”. It also seems that the band at this point was managed by Ankle Promotions from Dublin.

Then in 1989 they appear on a compilation released by Danceline called “Nationwide 3” (DLS 1004). On Irish Rock they say it’s an LP compilation but the sleeve looks like a tape really. Rex & Dino contribute two songs, “Bed of Nails” and “Fire”. One in each side.

In total then we have 8 songs released by the band. So far I’ve heard the one and I think is great. Did they record more songs? Why did they split? Where did they gig? So many questions arise.

I found some information about one of their managers, Aiden Lambert. He was brother of Dermot. Seems he passed away last year. You can read more about it here.

And this is where I stop digging. Not much more information online about this band. Definitely there’s a lot more about the band that Dermot Lambert would be involved later, Blink, but there’s a struggle finding stuff about Rex and Dino and Empty Shell. Perhaps some of you remember them and can shed some more light. Use that comments section!


Rex and Dino – Busy Sleeping


Yet another week with very little news for indiepop. I know that Indietracks is around the corner but I’m not going. There must be some new releases coming out (aside from the new Starry Eyed Cadet album that I’m so looking forward), but I don’t think I know about them. In the last week I ordered the new Helen Love and the C87 compilation. I have yet to listen to them. I’ve been listening to much older stuff, catching up with the piles of CDs that I have by my computer, finally about to finish listen the Lush and the Creation Records box sets. I’ve taken a while to do so.

Haven’t bought many vinyl records either in the past weeks. I think I got some stuff from France the last time, I ordered a couple of 12″s. Blammo! and something else. It’s been a while then! Maybe I should check out any cheap finds on Discogs or eBay. I haven’t been hunting records much lately.

I’ve been playing Pokémon Go since it came out though it servers suck. I’m a Pokémon fan as many of you might now and I’m having a good fun with this new game. I do see people go out in big groups to play together. I do it alone. I don’t enjoy much playing any games with random people unless they are competitive I guess. It’s odd when I walk by the park with my phone and people just ask me Pokémon related questions. I don’t really like that. Also I signed in with the Trainer Club account and as the servers are always down, Google people have had the advantage and now have all the gyms filled with powerful critters. Oh well…

I got some photos from the pressing plant for the new Stephen’s Shore 7″ and they look really ace. It’s only a couple of weeks for release date. I will get on writing and printing the inserts soon. I’m a little behind on that. Also I’ve received a semi-finished artwork for The Seashells 7″ and looks really classy. I can’t wait to start promoting their songs!

I guess all of you are looking forward to Indietracks. I’m only jealous of missing Po!. What a band. I love them. I wonder which songs will Ruth Miller play. Will she have a full band? I hope people record her gig and post the videos on Youtube. She is playing at the same time as my friends of Flowers and also while the movie of Indietracks is going to be screened. I know Flowers would understand if you go see this legend of indiepop. The movie you can catch on Sunday as it will be screened again then just after Red Sleeping Beauty (who I’m jealous of you seeing them, but I feel there are bigger chances for them to come to NYC than Po!).

While I was at that, checking the schedule and all that, I was looking at the discos and workshops. You know I never attended to any workshops in all of my visits to Indietracks. I wonder why. Must be that I prefer checking out bands or hanging with friends. I assume some of these workshops must be fun. I see this year they have quizzes, printing lessons, portraits, tea making, poetry, and more. Niall from Spook School is even doing life coaching for all of those who need that sort of thing. That could be fun.

The discos on the other hand don’t add much to the festival I think. Same old story, DJs that love going to an indiepop festival to play anything but indiepop. I hope this year is different though, it’s the 10th anniversary, so I hope they show some respect for a festival that, even with their mistakes and successes, has been carrying the indiepop flag with pride.

Well, that was more of a rambling than a proper post. As I said not many news in indiepopland as far as I know, but I’m hoping things start changing soon. Summers are usually slow, the heat slows us all, it’s ok. But things should be getting more exciting anyways in Cloudberry HQ with new releases in the coming months. And I know too that I have to get on writing a new fanzine. I’ve been putting that off for too long!


I was planning to do a post about Rex & Dino, the band that came after Empty Shell, but I thought that to get the story straight I should start from the beginning.

I have doubts about when was that I heard first Empty Shell’s  “If Heavens Waiting”. It was either on the Shelflife blog or downloading from Soulseek one of those “future Leamington Spa folders” that some indiepop fanatics had with a bunch of not so known pop gems. Either way the song struck on me and so I wonder why I never tried finding out more about them.

They released only one record as far as I know and as far as I could find on the web. It was a 7″ released in 1986 on their own label also called Empty Shell (catalog SHELL001). The A side was the brilliant, romantic, and classy “If Heavens Waiting” compared by Ed from Shelflife to The Wild Swans and The Railway Children, while the B side was called “Theme”. As I don’t own this record (I wish I did of course), I have never head the B side. I wonder what it sounds like even if Ed from Shelflife says that it sounds like an 80s goth song.

The band hailed from Dublin and was formed by:
Dermot Lambert – vocals, guitar
Neil Tyrrell – bass
Ellen Leahy – vocals and keyboards
Richard O’Connor – drums

About gigs, I could only find one mentioned online, at the Roundstown Town Hall in Galway. I’m sure they played many more.

Another interesting fact is that Empty Shell recorded a Fanning Session in January of 1985 with Declan Farrell on vocals. Even the great Fanning Sessions blog hasn’t posted these tracks. They remain a mystery.

In 1987 Dermot Lambert and Ellen Leahy would start a new band, Rex & Dino, but that is another story. Even later Lambert would form Blink, his longest running band (1991-2007) and release a bunch of records with a sound that reminds us of the Madchester era. These days he seems to be making music solo.

Next week I’ll get onto the Rex & Dino story and releases, but for now let’s enjoy this cracking tune and try to find out all the answers to the many questions we have about Empty Shell. Was this the first band Lambert was on? Where else did they play gigs? Did they ever play in Great Britain? Did they record more songs? More releases? Any compilation appearances? What songs were recorded for the Fanning Sessions? And so on!

Do you remember them?


Emtpy Shell – If Heavens Waiting


No news this week in indiepop world. It has become very quiet. I was hoping to review something, recommend some records, or check out some new bands. I guess everyone is playing Pokémon Go at the moment and no one is caring about music. Hopefully next week there will be enough stuff to cover.

In the meantime I’m sharing an interview I did for the Chaotisch und Charmant blog back in 2011, around the same time as now, in July. I really liked answering the questions Felipe wrote for me and was especially surprised the interest from far away Brazil. I’m surprised how many things have changed since then, like for example when I say there were many good places to distribute music. Today they barely exist.  I still haven’t made that transition to the ipod though. Feeling proud about that.

01. Tell us a bit about yourself and your relation with music.

Music is a central part of my life. I can’t imagine a day without music. I carry my portable cd-player everywhere. I still haven’t made the transition to an ipod. I still buy CDs that’s why. And I still buy records. Lots. I love collecting records. Most of the stuff I have is indiepop, I like some other stuff too but I feel that my money better go to what I love the most. I’m based in Miami Beach, close to the beach. It’s usually sunny here and way too warm. Half the time I speak Spanish. Lately after work I like to get key lime sorbets on the way
home. It’s refreshing.

02. How, when and why did you decided to create Cloudberry Records? And why name it Cloudberry?

Cloudberry officially started on February 1st 2007. But of course I had started working on the label before, since December 2006. I had just put out a tape called C-06 to celebrate 20 years since C-86 and it went really welll. I did a very small run though, 75 copies. I should have done many more I think. Looking back at the bands that were included, it probably would be considered influential and a classic, no kidding. Anyhow, that was the spark that made me start Cloudberry. I learned a lot from that release and made contact with some great up and coming bands. Then, you know just like the cartoons, a lightbulb popped up over my head, and thought that for a small investment, for a small label, the idea of using 3″ CDs as a format for singles hadn’t been done in a successful way yet. Some labels had done it before, but I feel they didn’t explore all the possibilities, and that’s why at the moment I did it, many people felt this was something very new, and in some cases, revolutionary. But it was just a lot of research. I am a designer, and so, this was quite an exciting part, creating the package design, the look of the label, logo, etc. I feel in Cloudberry I have let loose many ideas I have had even though it seems there is a very straight line in the overall design of the label.
About the why?, well, it is true that I was involved with another label at the moment (Plastilina) but I had time, I had the drive, and the passion for indiepop. Also at that specific moment, I remember every band was setting up a Myspace, which made it easier to find bands. It was really an exciting time! But with so much quantity I felt a filter was needed. I thought Cloudberry could be a filter. There was so much music available all of a sudden, but where to start? My reasons for creating Cloudberry are many, but I think the most important ones are to work in a way that doesn’t follow any capitalist model and to help build a stronger indiepop community. To some extent, I humbly believe these things have been achieved.

03. What is the infrastructure of the label? Are you the only person running it? How much of your time it takes to do Cloudberry related stuff (like listening to bands, taking care of the making of the releases…)

Yes, it’s just me. Still a bedroom affair, even though the record boxes have started to pile on the living room! The setup is probably what you imagine, a computer, a scanner, printer, lots of blank CDs and DVDs, a cutter, scissors, glue, etc. I’m thinking “Cloudberry” 24/7 but the amount of work varies each day. I do have a regular job and that takes most of my day time. There’s always something to do concerning Cloudberry though, sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much, but always something.

04. The variety of artists and music being released through the label is very diverse. How do you choose the artists? Can you say what is the ‘Cloudberry musical aesthetic (if there’s any)?

It’s a very personal label. At least that’s my intention. The only requirement then for me to choose an artist is to like them and feel they fit fine with the musical aesthetics. What is the musical aesthetics? Well definitely I like electric guitars to start. I avoid ukuleles and toy instruments usually. I like 80s sounds, classic indiepop. I like seeing some influence of that on the bands I release. I like fragility in the songs but at the same time I like a lot of edge. I think you can be both. In the best cases, the bands know what indiepop is and know it’s history. That makes it easier. I like bands to believe in indiepop and feel indiepop. I don’t like bands that happen to do indiepop by mistake. I think that’s where the aesthetics kick in, all these bands I’ve released are indiepop at heart. I agree with you when you say that the music is diverse within the releases, most people don’t seem to see that, blinded because the aesthetics are very similar between bands.

05. Inside Cloudberry’s website you have a blog where you interview bands from the past (which I think it’s an awesome idea). Everytime I read an interview, I can’t stop thinking about how do you get to find the people you interview… could you talk about how this interviews happen? In your opinion, what are the most underrated bands from them past 20 years?

Thanks. A lot of these people I find by googling their names! Some also get in touch with me after I’ve written a blog post asking for anyone in the band to get in touch. Other times by recommendations, and some other times I just interview friends to happen to be involved with music years ago. There’s not much to them, I do some research and then I email the band a bunch of questions. Sometimes they answer me, sometimes they dont. I’d say I have only published half of the interviews I’ve done. The rest are still unanswered. It’s a lot of fun for me to learn the story behind the band, especially if I own their records, it makes it more special. Most underrated bands from the past 20 years? Well, McCarthy should have been greater than The Beatles. Friends should have been greater than The Beach Boys. TCR from Spain should have been bigger than Julio Iglesias. And This Poison! should have at least been bigger than

06. What do you plan for the future of the label?

Very soon I’ll have the Very Truly Yours 7″ out and a new fanzine. After that a Youngfuck 7″ is already confirmed. I have many other releases on the pipeline too. That’s the future, just more releases. I dream at some point to see some sort of small Cloudberry festival, that’d be sweet.

07. Give your insights on music distribution nowadays. Is it financially viable to run a record label nowadays?

Sure it is if you release some mainstream stuff :p But I guess you mean a small indiepop label? Then I’d say no. But it’s fun and worth it. I recommend it doing. If you break even consider yourself lucky. Music distribution is a bit better than some years ago, there are more stores carrying indiepop records. Funny thing is that I feel there are less people buying records. I don’t know about MP3s, I don’t do digital distribution. I think that’s wrong for a label to do, if anyone was going to sell MP3s, it should be the band. What involvement did a label had on making an MP3? Nothing! I feel that part of the music distribution process should be fixed.

08. A word of advice for people wanting to create their own label?

Be a boutique label. Don’t aim to be the next Cherry Red with all it’s sub-labels. Stick to a genre you love with passion. If you love “everything” don’t do it. You have to be passionate of something in particular, so you can focus. If not you’ll hit yourself with a wall all the time. A label’s job is to be a filter especially now that everyone can have access to any song anywhere at anytime. You don’t want to confuse people more. Oh! and have fun!

09. Show us a video you think it’s awesome.

The Wedding Present’s Brassneck video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWZkTEGPG8Y I’ll let the video speak for itself. The quality of the upload is not the best, but you get the idea.

10. Any band(s) you think the whole world should know?

Not really. I think that’d be bad for the bands. I don’t think nothing good comes when pleasing such a huge crowd, the whole world. You try too hard and it’s dishonest.

11. Anything else you feel like saying?

Muito obrigado Felipe, it’s nice to answer some interesting questions and not the same ones over and over every time I do an interview. It’s been a pleasure. 🙂


Like many I heard The Calloways for the first time thanks to the “A Sandwich and a Sweater” tape rip that used to be easy to find on indiepop channels on Soulseek. The song included in this 1996 fan-made tape was “Kalamazoo” and I thought at the time (and I still do today) that it was great, perfectly catchy. The only thing I know about this mysterious tape was that it was made by Keith D’Arcy, a long-time listee on Twee.net. Not sure how many copies were made, or if it was sold or was it just part of a tape exchange. I wasn’t around on the indiepop-list in the mid 90s!

I was lucky to find The Calloways 7″ soon as I started building my record collection. It must have been one of the first vinyl records I ever bought through eBay. I remember not paying much, and I can see it is still not an expensive record to get. So I recommend you to do that. The record included two songs, the aforementioned “Kalamazoo” on the A side and “Big Trees” on the B side.

Kalamazoo is a city in the southwest region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Kalamazoo County. Kalamazoo is located geographically in Western and Southern Michigan. As of the 2010 census, Kalamazoo had a total population of 74,262. Kalamazoo is the major city of the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 335,340 as of 2015. Originally known as Bronson (after founder Titus Bronson) in the township of Arcadia, the names of both the city and the township were changed to “Kalamazoo” in 1836 and 1837, respectively. The Kalamazoo name comes from a Potawatomi word, first found in a British report in 1772. However, the Kalamazoo River, which passes through the modern city of Kalamazoo, was located on the route between Detroit and Fort Saint-Joseph (nowadays Niles, Michigan). French-Canadian traders, missionaries, and military personnel were quite familiar with this area during the French era and thereafter. The name for the Kalamazoo River was then known by Canadians and French as La rivière Kikanamaso. The name “Kikanamaso” was also recorded by Father Pierre Potier, a Jesuit missionary for the Huron-Wendats at the Assumption mission (south shore of Detroit), while en route to Fort Saint-Joseph during the fall of 1760. Legend has it that “Ki-ka-ma-sung,” meaning “boiling water,” referring to a footrace held each fall by local Native Americans, who had to run to the river and back before the pot boiled. Still another theory is that it means “the mirage or reflecting river.” Another legend is that the image of “boiling water” referred to fog on the river as seen from the hills above the current downtown. The name was also given to the river that flows almost all the way across the state. The name Kalamazoo, which sounds unusual to English-speaking ears, has become a metonym for exotic places, as in the phrase “from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo.” Today, T-shirts are sold in Kalamazoo with the phrase “Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo.”

The record came out in 1984 on the Wonderful World of Records label (catalog WW1) and the artwork was done by Jenny Lupton. The engineer for the record was Jimmy Anderson at Hart St. Studios, Edinburgh and the producer was Jo Callis. I think Jenny Lupton is now a renowned equestrian and sporting portrait artist, I found this website and there’s the coincidence that she hails from Scotland. I’m pretty sure the band came from Edinburgh as everything is hinting me so.

Now Jo Callis. That is a much more known name. John William “Jo” Callis (born 2 May 1951) is an English musician and songwriter who played guitar with the Edinburgh based punk rock band, The Rezillos (under the name Luke Warm), and post-punk band Boots For Dancing before joining The Human League. Callis was educated at the Edinburgh College of Art. The band played many gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, during which Callis wore space suits and other hi-tech costumes. He was a member of The Knutsford Dominators before forming The Rezillos in 1976. He wrote the Rezillos’ 1978 hit “Top of the Pops”. In late 1978, after the release of the band’s only album, The Rezillos split in two, with Callis forming Shake along with Simon Templar (born Simon Bloomfield) and Angel Paterson. Shake released two singles before splitting, with Callis later joining Boots for Dancing. Callis released a solo single, “Woah Yeah!”, in 1981 on the pop:Aural label,[2] and also joined The Human League, playing both keyboards and lead guitar and making contributions as a backing vocalist. Callis co-wrote many tracks and following his departure from the band in 1986, he has returned several times either to play keyboard, or to offer help with songwriting. He co-wrote the band’s 1990 hit Heart Like a Wheel together with former Rezillos band mate Eugene Reynolds. The track was produced by Martin Rushent. In 1985 he teamed up with Feargal Sharkey to write Sharkey’s “Loving You” which reached number 26 in the UK Singles Chart.

Now, we know more about the people around The Calloways, but what about the band itself? We really know very little. We know their last names as they are listed on the labels: Gould, Mckenzie, Buck and Farris. They appear alongside the silhouette of a rooster. But that’s it. I tried different combinations on google, with their last name and The Calloways but finding a good hit is impossible. Calloway seem to be a very common last name. There are even bands that have Calloways on their name. It’s definitely complicated.

What happened to this band? Did they record more songs? Are the members the ones portrayed on the artwork? What happened to the members after the band split? Were they Scottish for sure? I would love to know much more about this band. I love their song “Kalamazoo” a lot, I think it should have been a hit with it’s catchy “Mari, mari, marianne” chorus. Indiepop before indiepop existed as such. A perfect pop song.


The Calloways – Kalamazoo


4th of July. Independence day. Not much going on here but last week wasn’t shabby at all. I went to two gigs and that’s more than the usual 0 gigs per week average that New York offers me normally. I know, you must be thinking, how come New York, the city that never sleeps, offer so little gig opportunities? Well, there are tons of bands, many venues (though day after day I see more closing down), and gigs of course. Thing is, indiepop is not really represented here. Aside from a handful of indiepop bands based in New York, namely My Favorite, Pale Lights, Gingerlys, there’s not much more. So we wait for bands to come from out of town, from abroad, but then, I don’t think promoters these days want to risk their investment by having some unknown indiepop band here. Capitalism.

But well, promoters weren’t going to cry over losing money by bringing The Stone Roses to play their one and only gig in the US at the Madison Square Garden, here in New York. It was last Thursday when I went for the first time to the Garden. I didn’t pay a lot for the tickets, I didn’t get the tickets to be close and standing by the stage. Instead I thought seating would be enough. I’ve never been to such a big gig. It was sold out. And I was kind of far from the stage, much higher definitely, on a row of only 4 seats. The nice thing was that it had it’s own entrance to a balcony. It was our private area. The band looked small from where we were, but it wasn’t that bad. They sounded great though and even played “Sally Cinnamon”, my favourite of theirs, which I never expected.

The odd thing for me about these sort of concerts is that people go with a friend or friends after their work, and while the band is playing they are talking about their weekend plans, their office colleagues and so on. It’s just so strange! And then, people are having dinner there too! Like eating a pizza and having a coke while being at a gig? That’s weird. I guess this is how most big concerts are, but for me, not used to them, this was an eye opener. I guess when people go see bands like Fleetwood Mac, or Bon Jovi, or whatever boring band that play one of these thousand people venues, the crowd just sits there comfortably, eats, talks, just like if they were at the movies. Definitely not for me.

In any case I enjoyed the experience. It was different, and I really had a good time singing along to many classics like “She Bangs the Drums”, “Elephant Stone”, “Waterfall” and so on. I would also say that there was such a big crowd of English or British ex-pats. Lots of Manchester City and United jerseys and a smell of pot that was unbearable. I guess I arrived a bit late, but the merch that the band brought wasn’t very nice, mostly hooded jumpers. Why not stick to the classic black t-shirt and logo formula that works so well?

And then on Saturday I went to see Fear of Men. They were giving away some song books, just photocopies with lyrics for their songs. I think they were intended for the first 250 people at the door. I don’t think that 250 actually were at the gig, there must have been around 100 or so. Anyhow I got 4 of those booklets, if anyone wants one. Again I wasn’t keen on the merch, I didn’t like their design for their t-shirts sadly, but did buy their last album on CD and a lathe cut transparent square, 7″ with the song “Luna” on it.

I know that many times the band has that hipster sound that puts me off. But when they go all out poppy, they can make a glorious racket. That’s when I enjoy them the most, when I think they are ace.

Also this week I got the “Sharon Signs to Cherry Red” compilation that looks very interesting. So far I’ve heard the first CD, out of two. And to be honest, the bands I didn’t know on it, are not as good as the ones I already knew. Which is a shame, because of course, you want the new ones to discover to be great, or even better. I hope though this changes on the second CD as there are many names that are unknown to me. The good thing about this sort of compilations is definitely that they always come with a booklet and a little story about each band. I think that is what is worth the most, the work put on that. I still think there are many bands that were left out of this compilation that are a bit better than many included, but then, who can please everyone. In any case, even though I really dislike Cherry Red’s business model and guts, this is a fine effort at introducing these bands to a larger public.


Speaking of that compilation, here’s another song that could have fit nicely in one of the two CDs.

So it seems movie buffs might now that there was an American film called “Final Hour” directed by D. Ross Lederman. That I didn’t know. Then I don’t know if this is why this obscure band from England decided to name themselves like that.

There’s almost nothing about Final Hour online. They are as obscure as they can be. I only know one song by them, the one you’ll hear here called “Friends”. This song comes from a rare compilation, that I’ve been hunting with no luck so far. This compilation, titled “Thames Side Story” was released by the Local Scene label in 1985 (catalog LS-D001) and included a plethora of amazing indiepop from the likes of The Bridge, The Liquid Laundry, The Shirt, Rubarb Rubarb, among others.
It’s a shame that online I couldn’t find a good scan of the back cover where the members of the bands are listed. I could only figure out that on The Final Hour we have Bell doing vocals, Mark Willis playing guitar and Steve Lester on bass. The rest of the band I don’t know sadly.

Another interesting fact is that the record label was run by Gary Smith and Doug Wells and it is said that at the time they could be contacted in various pubs in the area. The cover design for this compilation is credited to a Paul Adams.

I can’t find anything else online. Perhaps I found a Steve Lester that with his band released an album called The Final Hour. There’s that coincidence, but doesn’t sound similar to the band from the 80s. What do you think? Aside from that, I read on an eBay listing, that the Final Hour usually had a male vocalist instead. I don’t know any other recordings by the band, but could that be the case?


Final Hour – Friends