24
Mar

Decided to write a blog post today. I’m a bit annoyed as yesterday the Peruvian National Team tied 2-2 with Venezuela playing away. We were down 2-0 at halftime and we could tie it by the 70th minute or so. We had many chances to win (and some to lose), but we needed those 3 points to keep having some hope to qualify to the next World Cup. Now with 5 more games left it seems almost impossible even though we are 5 points away from a qualifying spot. Still annoyed!!

In the last few days there have been some news in indiepop world that are worth mentioning. The most important is that of Paris Popfest. At last one of the most important cities in the world will celebrate a weekend of indiepop. The dates are September 22nd and the 23rd. Mark your calendars. I’ve heard from the organizers about some bands that will be playing and definitely there are some surprises there. For now their Facebook page has not much information but a lovely logo of a penguin with headphones. Penguins and giraffes being my favourite animals. Hopefully I can attend!

Then Saint Etienne is back with a new album. That is always good news. You can so far hear one of the songs included, “Heather”, on many places on the web. The album is titled “Home Counties” and will be released on June 2nd by Heavenly Records. But news don’t stop there, they will be touring, and luckily they will come back to New York on September 26! Damn, if I go to Paris Popfest, I will have to be back by then! They are playing the Music Hall of Williamsburg and tickets go on sale next Wednesday.

Now a shout to the Facebook group Twee Lovers Club that is run by Pierre. That group is a trove of indiepop news and discoveries. This week thanks to him I discovered a fantastic sounding Japanese band called For Tracy Hyde. They hail from Tokyo and are formed by Lovely Summer on vocals, Natsubot on guitars, U-1 on guitars, Mav on bass and percussion and Marcie on Drums. Odd names they are using aren’t they? On Bandcamp I find their latest EP, “In Fear Of Love”. There are four songs that sound so great! Breezy and dreamy. Their other release available is titled “Born to Be Breathtaken” and it even opens with a song titled “Her Sarah Records Collection”! They know how to wear their influences. Sadly both these releases seem to date from 2014 and they are only available digitally. Are they still going? Yes, it seems they just played live, on March 18th at the Shinjuku Memorial. There is live footage of that show on Youtube. Now when will they release more songs?

Another Japanese band I discovered through this Facebook group is the band Saint Romance. They are releasing a 7″ sometime around mid April and early May. It is released via Sailyard which I believe is a sister label to Fastcut Records. The song that we can stream is titled “About a Girl” and it is sweet sounding. Thanks for the Japanese for keeping indiepop alive!

Then a Thai band! I discovered not so long ago thanks to CD16 the very nice Walking with Monika. Now I get to know Wave and So who seem to be a duo and have this new video out for their song “Sunshine“. It is jangly and chiming all along. Dreamy. Whereabouts in Thailand are they from? The only actual fact I can confirm is that they are on the label Parinam Music and that they have a Facebook page which I’ve duly liked. If only I had known about them when I was in Thailand, maybe I could have seen them live!

Also very much worth mentioning is that The Jasmine Minks are back with a new 7″ single. Limited to 250 copies and released by their own Oatcake Records it includes the songs “Ten Thousand Tears” and “I Can’t Hide”. You can stream both songs by this classic Scottish band on their Bandcamp.

And why not give a plug to the pretty cover Marc Elston has done of “Crazier” originally by The Pale Fountains? It totally deserves so. Marc had already given us a beautiful album a year (was it a year?) ago. I hope he keeps recording songs. And aside from the romantic music, I really like the photo of young Marc and his girl (?). Would make a great sleeve!

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They were a great band and for some months back in 1990 they were very hip in berlin. I love their demo-recordings and also the 12″ single, although the recordings on it were slightly overproduced if you ask me. they supported Jazz Butcher and hang around with Roddy Frame back then. Cool guys! For me Rasca Cocous were one of the most finest guitarpop bands from Germany ever. I will never understand why the broke up so fast.

That’s what Uwe from Firestation told me about them back in 2015. I must have looked for it a lot then and some that reason probably now I have two copies of their sole release, a 12″ EP released in 1991. Maybe I could trade one with someone? They are in great condition!

And on top of that, the EP is really good! Of course I can’t compare to their demos as Uwe does because I’ve never heard them. I only know the 4 songs released on the Vanity EP by Saturn Records (catalog 005). These songs were, on the A side, “Vanity” and “Dragon Country” and on the B side, “My Little Zoo” and “Dignity”.

Yes, all of the songs are jangly guitar pop. What else is there to know about them? Well, I turn around the sleeve, check the back sleeve, see what we can find there, nothing, just a cool looking photo of the band. But wait, the record comes with a black and white inner sleeve and here we finally find some important info.

Rasca Cocous (what a strange name, no? what does it mean?) was formed by:
Olav Bruhn – vocals, guitars
Christian Nuñez-Lorca – guitars, vocals
Philipp Block – drums, percussion
Aldo Nuñez-Lorca – bass

On the 12″ recordings some additional musicians were present:
Garry Marlowe – organ on “Vanity”
Denis Bassell – charango on “Dragon Country”
Sven Schumacher – backing vocals
Mario Congo – congas on “My Little Zoo”

I’m impressed by a couple of things, first that there were two brothers of Spanish or Latin American origin. And secondly that they included a charango in their songs, a very popular string instrument in South America’s Andes, especially among the Quechua and Aymara populations. Very close to home.

The record was recorded during December 1990 and January 1991 at the Musiclab Studios in Berlin by Angelo Plate. Angelo also mixed  the record alongside the band.

The cover art concept is credited to the band and Florian Wörner. The images used for the cover are from “Untitled 1097-1989” by Bill Henson. They were reproduced courtesy of the artist and the Galerie Urbi et Orbi in Paris. Other photos were taken by Ilja Emrich, Gondor K 23, Anna Block, Cuno 11. Then there is a long list of thanks (with a Muchas Gracias heading) to a bunch of people, and to Spain (where they Spanish then?). Among those being thanked, Roddy Frame is indeed one of them, for the many drinks.

I couldn’t find much more about the band members. I did find something about Gary Marlowe who played the organ in “Vanity”. Well, he has his own Wikipedia page. Born in Berlin he has worked with so many bands as a music producer.

Then I found a sort of wiki page called Bernd’s Berliner Rockwiki. In it we learn that the band started in 1987 and that they were one of the winners of the Senats-Rockwettbewerbs contest in 1988. There are also three other gigs listed. One in March 14 1988 alongside The Jazz Butcher at the Loft. Another one at Metropol on December 1989’s Berlin Rock News. And lastly in April 30 of 1992 at Bands United alongside Nina Hagen, Malaria! and Inchtaboktables at Tempodrom.

I found also a news article on the Neues Deutschland newspaper dating from December 20 of 1991. Sadly to read the full article you need to subscribe. 4 weeks for only 9 euros it says. A quick translation of the few paragraphs one can read:

They are just interrupting an extensive tour. Copenhagen was on the agenda, half the North German lowlands and the Rhineland. Now “Rasca Cocous” stop in Berlin to refuel in a home game before they move further south.

They have their own music already in the bag for the sound of being on the street. However, only in the event that the light creeps through the fog in the morning and the vehicle does not have any clutter. Because “Rasca Cocous” make songs that are best heard when either the day is already running before the first cup of coffee or is absolutely safe, in the next twenty-four hours …

The last place I find information about Rasca Cocous is an old looking website that seems to be called Germ-Attack.de. On it I find another concert of Rasca Cocous listed. One from the 10th of February 1989 supporting Kraftwerk. And that’s that.

I wonder why did they split? Why did they only release four songs? If they recorded any more stuff? Did they appear on compilations? And what about those demos Uwe says they sounded so great? I would love to hear them!

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Listen
Rasca Cocous – Dragon Country

20
Mar

After a busy week on the blog, it is not that common these days for me to post 3 new entries in less than seven days, it is time to check some new music in the pop world. And maybe, who knows, I could blog again later this week.

Last week I became aware that one of my favourite contemporary bands will be releasing an album on the 24th. Yes, Desperate Journalist will release their album “Grow Up” on Fierce Panda that day. They are definitely becoming bigger and bigger and I hope they come to the US at some point. Long are the days when they were releasing CDRs and even had a side project Violet Hours that sounded magnificent and was announced to release some of their songs on a friend’s label. Even I discussed at some point with them about the possibility of working on a release. Those days are gone. These days they are producing beautiful videos and great songs, and “Be Kind” is their latest. It will be included in this upcoming album.

Fallen Love Records from Oshawa, in Canada, have been championing indiepop in different ways. Now this bedroom based label will release a 22 song tape compilation titled “Secret Gardens“. Yes, I’m no fan of tapes and probably (sadly) won’t get around buying it. I don’t like digital either. But for those who do, I suggest investing in this wonderful release. Why? Because the band selection is very good! At the moment you can only stream two of the songs on it, that of Twinkle Twinkles and Finnmark! But eventually you could listen songs by Red Go-Cart, Sleuth or Old Lacy Bed among others.

I think I’ve forgotten to mention San Francisco Popfest this year. Yes, it is happening on two dates, Friday June 2nd and Saturday June 3rd. So far we only know three bands that will be playing, The Primitives, Cruel Summer and The Oilies. All of them will be playing on Friday. The Primitives we all know and love, but what about these two other bands? I’ve never heard them, time to check them out:

Cruel Summers: They hail from San Francisco, and they are called their jangle darlings. The band is formed by Thea Chacamaty on vocals and guitar, Josh Yule on guitar, Chani Hawthorne on vocals and bass and Andy Pastalaniek on drums. On their bandcamp I found that they are selling a 7″ with the songs “Around You, Around Me” and a cover of Pylon’s “Crazy”. The songs were recorded on a Part Time Punks radio session in January 2015 at Bedrock for KXLU 88.9FM. This record was even mastered by Kramer. It sounds pretty good to me, though not too jangly I’d say, more like dreamy and fuzzy! This is their second release after a 100 limited pressing cassette released in 2013 that included 6 songs.

The Oilies: They come just from across the Golden Gate Bridge, they are from Oakland. On their Bandcamp I see a bunch of releases. Time to check out their last one dated from March 2016. It is called “Thin Black Lines”. This is slow bedroom sounding, lo-fi pop. I’m not 100% convinced that I like it. I appreciate the intention though.

From the great Mexican label, Emma’s House, there is a new pre-order on Bandcamp as well. The band San Charbel from Mexico are releasing their first ever release, a CD EP titled “Nubes”. You can stream now the two first songs full of chiming guitars “Sin Miedo” and “Nacer Morir”.

Another release I want to recommend is the 12″ LP by Últim Cavall on Discos de Kirlián. It sounds so great. Pop sung in Catalan, and it sounds very romantic! I understand just a bit out of it but the 8 songs included are a treat. The album is titled “Records de Kyoto” and I hope I can get a way to get a copy soon!

And last but not least one of my long long favourite Spanish band, Los Punsetes, have also announced a new album, their fifth. And it was just released on the 10th of March. To promote it they have unleashed a video for the song ¡Viva! and it is just what one can expect from them. Classic!

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I started a new mission yesterday. Have all my 12″s, LPs, EPs, and so on, inside their own plastic outer sleeves. I finished with the first batch, and I still have another bag of 50 to keep dressing nicely my records. For the next weekend definitely, some homework.

One of those records I gave a plastic sleeve was that of The Libertines. No, not those Libertines you are thinking about. But The Libertines that released this fab 12″ EP titled “Smith is a Liar”.

The sleeve has a black and white photo of a smiling person surrounded by bright red, The Libertines logo and “Smith is a Liar” on a handwritten sort of typeface. The record was released by Loose Fish Records (catalog PIKE 001) in 1987.

There are 4 songs. “Smith is a Liar” is the sole one on the A side while the B side has “The Big 1-2”, “Christina” and “Boring”. The sound is classic guitar pop, C86ish. The only song that is rockier and not that much tom y taste is “The Big 1-2”. The rest are gems. I really love “Christina” and the A side is a classic in my book.

The record was recorded at Workshop Studios, a studio that was located in Redditch, near Birmingham. It was distributed by Probe Plus and The Cartel. We also get to know the band members:
Paul Clifford – bass and vocals
Nick Raybould – drums
Mark Bellamy – guitar, vocals
Russ Williams – vocals

Dave Morris, Hairy Mary and The Libertines are credited as producers and Dave Morris as the recorder. There are also runouts printed on the vinyl, on the A side it says “The Triman Cometh”, while on the B side it says “If You Can’d Do it Just Triman”. What does Triman means?

I find a Soundcloud that I think belongs to Russ Williams. There is another The Libertines song that wasn’t on the record, “Wolf!”. There are other songs from bands I believe are also his like Telford Soul Club and Pop Da Freak.

Next stop is the Birmingham Music Archive. Okay, now we know where they were from. There is some info there thanks to Nick, the drummer, who sent this website some information.

Gigged all over Britain supporting The Wonder Stuff. Also some London shows with Jesus Jones etc. We got a fair bit of press and a few John Peel plays for our single.Some pictures of The Libertines are attached. Taken at Cambridge Corn Exchange when we opened for The Wonder Stuff, 20th March 1989. We never managed to get pictures of Paul Clifford the bass player for some reason.Paul went on the join the Wonder Stuff in 1990 and played on the “Never Loved Elvis” and “Construction For The Modern Idiot” albums. I became (and still am sometimes) one of The Wonder Stuff’s backline crew.

Another thing I figure out now, Russ Williams is actually Russ Hunt. Russ Hunt is brother of Miles Hunt from The Wonder Stuff. So on the website Room 512, the Unofficial Wonder Stuff fansite, I start finding more information about The Libertines. The record is actually listed in Discography and has this small bio:
The Libertines – Smith is a Liar
All tracks feature Paul Clifford on bass and backing vocals.  The group also featured Russ Hunt on lead guitar and vocals.  Hairy Mary is credited as having assisted in the single’s production – this was in fact Miles Hunt.

On this same website I find a bit of biography that talks about Russ, Paul and Miles:
Paul Clifford was studying Media Studies at Liverpool University, was already familiar wit the band’s music and had only recently left the Midlands after the group he was previously in, The Libertines, had split up. The lead singer of The Libertines (not to be confused with the later group fronted by drug-addled Pete Doherty) was Miles’ brother Russ (credited on recordings as Russ Williams to avoid the media connecting him with Miles). The Libertines had previously their one (and only) 12″ EP, ‘Smith Is A Liar’, in 1989.

I keep digging, I’m sure I will find more information. And yes, I find a blog called “It’s All Just Morris Dancing” and the one behind it is Russ Hunt. It hasn’t been updated since 2014. I do find a blog post where he talks a bit about The Libertines:
Pop Da Freak would have folded in late 1986 and by 1987 I’d formed yet another new band, The Libertines (got there waaaay before ya Doherty). What we were doing back then would have been described as sounding very C86, what came to pick up the all encompassing description “Indie”, whatever the hell that is. We had a fine old time. We picked up supports with some well known bands, played some big shows and I finally got to do something I’d dreamed about doing since back when my first single was either “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me”, “The Wanderer” or “Solid Gold Easy Action” (don’t know what I’m babbling on about ? Have a look here) I GOT TO MAKE A SINGLE OF MY OWN !!!
It was recorded at The Workshop studio in Redditch near Birmingham, with co-production duties handled by my brother, who had ditched the drums in favour of the guitar and was by then making records of his own on a major label and heading for “pop star” status. “Smith Is A Liar” didn’t sell many copies (I still have boxes of them around the house if anybody still wants to buy one) and I never got to hear it on the radio but I had finally made a record of my very own.
Despite it’s abject failure we did some gigs to try and promote it and even made plans to release a second single, which would have been “Wolf!”
But by now I needed a little more security in my life. I was about to become a Dad and I needed a job. I’d done a few gigs pretending to be a roadie for my brothers band and they were about to embark on their first major support tour of the UK. They asked me to go with them as the roadie and offered me what was then a handsome sum to do it. So I told my fellow Libertines that was it and, 25 days after the birth of my son, embarked on my first tour as a roadie, something that would occupy me for the next 8 years. But that story is for another time… 

The last thing I could find online about them was that in 2000, Miles Hunt, Russ’ brother, released “5 songs”, a CD EP that included the song “Line ‘Em Up”. This song had lyrics borrowed from a previously recorded Libertines track. Not sure which one!

What happened to that second single, “Wolf!”? Why was it shelved? Were there other songs recorded for the B sides? And why are they this obscure? According to Russ the single didn’t sell well at all. Did the dopey Libertines from later knew about them? Do any of you remember them?

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Listen
The Libertines – Smith is a Liar

17
Mar

What to do when you have some extra time in your hands? Work on what I love the most, music. That, for me, means the label and the blog as I have no skills whatsoever in making music.

This week I received two albums so I could listen before they are released, those of A Certain Smile and The BV’s. I’ve listened both a few times and I have enjoyed them. I must say I enjoyed The BV’s a bit better as their sound is closer to my heart, that of C86 sounding bands. A Certain Smile has different influences, pretty ones still, mostly from the 90s I would say. Their album also seem to have a much more polished production, much more quality in that sense. At many points I thought it sounded like the Fireflies. That was sweet. The BV’s are a bit rougher on the edges, there’s a bit more grit in their production. Also in the album they include many of the songs I’ve been listening for many months now like “Always” or “Ray”, modern indiepop hits in my book. In conclusion, even though it’s been a while since I review albums, both The BV’s “Speaking From a Distance” and the one that seems to be untitled of A Certain Smile are good albums. Now, people in A Certain Smile should be cautious supporting silly ideas that indiepop is misogynist, racist or full of  “faux tweeishness” on Facebook walls. That’s just plain stupid and I won’t support it. I can see the merits of the album, but I can’t support wrong political views about indiepop. Be smart.

Yesterday I also saw that on a Facebook group people were listing indiepop labels. At first I didn’t know that the intention was for bands to find a place where to send their demos. I thought it was just a way of refreshing the memory of which labels still support our beloved music. I say that because at some point I started seeing labels that have nothing to do with indiepop, or maybe they released one indiepop record in their 20 plus catalog. For me that doesn’t count as an indiepop label. I wonder if it does for you? When I pointed this out, mentioning that a London label that calls themselves a DIY label is definitely not an indiepop one, I got the classic answer, the most boring answer. That one that goes like “so what is indiepop anyways?”. It gets on my nerve. If my mum would ask me that I wouldn’t mind, she honestly wouldn’t have a clue. But someone involved in music definitely knows what indiepop is. But at the same time they know that  what fits in the borders of indiepop, in the margins, can be blurry, so they ask they ask this question to prove their point. Stating of course that indiepop can encompass a wide variety of music. Which of course it can. But not everything that one likes.

I can’t see a garage band as indiepop for example. The sound doesn’t fit. The politics are different and so on. But somehow labels that release garage bands are indiepop these days according to the view of many. How can that be?

I know a lot of people are getting bored by all these labeling of things. I understand. It gets in the way of music. You probably just want to listen to your favourite songs not caring what they are. I can respect that. But to create beautiful thing like Popfests for example, you do need this labeling. Without it, it wouldn’t exist. And that’s the thing about indiepop, its grassroots politics, the egalitarianism between fans, bands, fanzine writers, labels and so on, that could create a healthy scene (and then destroy it as well). Other genres don’t often achieve this sense of community. I remember having a long conversation with a friend organizing a post-punk festival. He would be jealous of the way indiepop could work and organize itself. Whereas in post-punk there’s careerism and competition, in indiepop there was a solidarity that would make easy to create important things, things that matter. That’s why I hold this music dear.

I know the situation now is a bit different. There was an article in the Guardian saying that indiepop is dead now that Fortuna Pop is gone. I find that ridiculous. Indiepop has been dying for a long time (to resuscitate in a few years from now according to my friend Matthew) and the only thing it has to do with Fortuna Pop is that the London label many times supported many things that didn’t help indiepop being alive. By supporting these things the lines got blurrier, no wonder mainstream music and DJs started appearing at indiepop festivals. As a friend said, what’s the point of that if we could just go to a pub to listen to this music? Would the pub punters be happy if we played them indiepop? No. And by all means I’m not saying Fortuna Pop is bad, they released so many amazing records, supported bands, did it all in a professional level that few labels could. Bands shined with Fortuna Pop. They also organized festivals and so on that were true successes. I celebrate that. But now that they are gone doesn’t mean the end of indiepop. There are still many bands and labels, struggling surely, that carry the flag until  perhaps there is a new coming of indiepop. Even if I’m not a fan of how they do their business, Elefant in Spain has been more consistent and have been around much longer, that you can’t really forget their importance in indiepop. England is not the center of the universe.

Well, that’s a bit of my ramble, I’ve been thinking about these things for days now. I find annoying the simplicity how many are dismissing indiepop as political. Calling it safe and conservative. It is hard to believe. People forget their McCarthys, their Wolfhounds, their Easter and the Totems, their Sarah manifestos, and more recently bands that carry their politics on their sleeve like The Felt Tips, Cats on Fire, Dorotea, Liechtenstein and so on.

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Today a band I would really like to get in touch with. I think maybe they could be a good release as part of the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen series. What do you think? I’m talking of Baby Lemonade out of Scotland.

I’m pretty sure most of you know them from the third Sha La La flexi (catalog Ba Ba Ba Ba 003) released in 1987. On it they appeared alongside The Bachelor Pad (who I already interviewed in the blog) and contributed the classic song “Jiffy Neckwear Creation”. This flexi came along the fanzines “Are You Scared to Get Happy? #4” and “Simply Thrilled #3”. Baby Lemonade’s song would be Single of the Week.

When I interviewed The Bachelor Pad many years ago they told me that their first gig, thanks to Jim Honey of Simply Thrilled was with Baby Lemonade and Jessie Garon and The Desperadoes. I wonder if that was also Baby Lemonade’s first gig?

The band would then sign to Narodnik Records. This was a label based in Edinburgh that was set up by Eddie Connelly from Meat Whiplash and the fabulous The Motorcycle Boy. On Narodnik he would release just quality music, Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes, The Fizzbombs, Baby Lemonade and The Vultures (also interviewed in the blog!).

They would release just one single with Narodnik in 1987. The catalog was NRK 004. The songs on it are two classic indiepop songs, on the A side “A Secret Goldfish” and on the B side “Real World”. Douglas Hart from the Jesus and Mary Chain would produce the record. The record was published by Cubic and engineered by Fergus.

An interesting bit is that the songs from the flexi and this 7″ would be re-released in 2003 by Egg Records as part of their Egg Restoration series. On a CD-R titled “45RPM” (catalog Eggrest 005) that for some reason I failed to get back in the day (I think this and The Hardy Boys one are the only Egg release I’m missing), the songs “Jiffy Neckwear Creation”, “Secret Goldfish” and “The Real World” were included plus two demos, “Secret Goldfish (demo)” and “The Real World (demo)”.

In 1988 the band was to release an album. Titled “One Thousand Secrets”, the album is a sublime indiepop record. Truly beautiful. It was released on DDT Records (catalog DISPLP 22) from Edinburgh. Only 8 songs appear on this album, on the A side “World of Mine”, “All Down To You”, “Summerhouse”, “Secret Goldfish” and on the B side “In My Head (At Night)”, “116 Days Adrift”, “Much Too Late”, “Ultimate Lie”.

Happily I do own this record. There is some information on the back sleeve. I find some credits there:
Joan – vocals, clarinet & cover design
Graham – bass & tambourine
Gary – guitars
Mark – guitars
Martin – drums, vocals

Tim Kane – all keyboards (also acoustic rhythm guitar on “Summerhouse”)
Ron McKinnon – flute on “World of Mine”

Produced and engineered by Jamie Watson
Recorded at Chamber Studio, Edinburgh

There is also an inner sleeve with lyrics for the songs and another black & white photo of the band.

My next stop is Twee.net. There is small biography there that is pretty interesting, sadly it is not signed by anyone.

I was a former band member i played the drums on the first single releases . started out in 85 Based in Kirkintilloch, Cumbernauld + Glasgow where we were low key in my front room of my parents house or in the house of the lead guitarist bedroom. soon we approached the studios in Charing Cross Glasgow city centre. In 1986 we made some copies of our music sent some samples to radio stations and from there we were slowly getting recognised. Such as John Peel whom loved it. Jiffy NeckWear Creation Feb 1987 on a flexi disc. Secret Goldfish, Real world. were our second release June 1987 with a double A side Band broke away in the later in the summer 1987 then reformed a few months later but i had gone traveling so i was no longer a member, a few more months after a Lp was released in 1988 which i have never heard. 

I wonder who this is. I’m assuming Martin replaced him.

I had been in Glasgow a few times. But never heard of Kirkintilloch or Cumbernauld. What about these places?

Kirkintilloch is a town and former royal burgh in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. It lies on the Forth and Clyde Canal, about 8 miles (13 km) northeast of central Glasgow. Historically part of Dunbartonshire, the town is the administrative centre of the East Dunbartonshire council area, and its population in 2009 was estimated at 19,700.

Cumbernauld is a town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. It is the ninth most populous locality in Scotland, despite only being designated as the site for a New Town on 9 December 1955. The area allocated was 4,150 acres lying between and incorporating the existing villages of Condorrat and Cumbernauld. The first new housing became available in 1958. An additional 3,638 acres (1,472 ha) was added to the designated town area on 19 March 1973 to accommodate a revised target population of 70,000. As of the UK census in 2011, the population of Cumbernauld was approximately 52,000.

On the compilation front it doesn’t seem they participated in any back in the day. Only in the past decades they would appear on “Souvenirs from Egg Records” (Egg Records 015) with the songs “Jiffy Neckwear Creation” and “Secret Goldfish” and on the C87 Boxset on Cherry Red with the song “Secret Goldfish”.

On Discogs there is another Baby Lemonade release listed, but it is clear that it is not the same band. This other one hails from California. The released I mentioned are the only ones that the band released. Though maybe, they had made demo tapes and sold them at gigs and so on?

It is a shame that the back sleeve doesn’t include the last names of the band members. It would be easier to track them. I can’t really find anything else from this fantastic Scottish band. I wonder if anyone out there remembers them? whereabouts in the UK they played gigs? If they recorded more songs?

I would really like to get in touch! Love this band!

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Listen
Baby Lemonade – World Of Mine

14
Mar

Thanks so much to Trevor Elliott for the interview! Whirl was a fantastic band from Brighton that released two 12″ EPs in the 1980s, on Playroom Discs and September Records. They also had a split flexi with Crocodile Ride (who I wrote about not so long ago). I found the Heaven Forbid EP some years ago while record hunting in London and I fell in love with their sound! So very lucky that Trevor could tell me the story behind the band now!

++ Thanks a lot for being up for the interview! How are you? 

Hi Roque, Thanks for asking us. We are all very well thank you.

++ Still based in Brighton? Are you all still making music today?

Alan lives in Saltdean on the outskirts and Caz who lives in Brighton. Rob lives in Worthing, just along the coast, and I’m in Earlswood, Surrey, mostly for work purposes. Karen lives in London.

I think Rob is the only one still playing regularly.

++ I know that aside from Whirl you had been in some other bands like Eusebio or Blow Up, but would love to know if there are more bands that you had been involved with?

I was in an early formation of what became Peter and the Test Tube Babies whilst still at school, then a few bands with school friends, during my college days I played in a band called Fear of Water before forming Whirl and then joined Blow Up as they were short of a bass player. After Whirl I played guitar in some other bands that never really did anything.

Alan Stirner was also in Blow up, and Sharkboy (after Whirl), and played on The Wolfhounds’ Blown Away LP.

Rob Colley was in The Ten Million Quintens (named after Quinten “Norman” Cook. Aka Fat Boy Slim), 14 Iced Bears, Arthur, and until recently The Murmurtrons.

Caz Adams, played in Eusebio, a great band that rose from the ashes of The Milk Sisters, but unfortunately were never signed.

Karen O’Keefe, played in Bill Prince’s The Wishing Stones and Basingstoke’s finest, The Rain.

++ What are your first music memories? What sort of music was played at home when growing up? What was your first instrument?

I grew up listening to my Mum and Dad’s record collection, they were old Mods so The Hollies, The Who, The Beatles, Wilson Picket, and lots of Motown and Northern Soul.

++ What inspired to make music? What would you say were your favourite bands at the time?

I first started playing Bass because I was given one.

In the 70’s I loved The Clash and The Jam. The early 80’s it was more Orange Juice and anything else on Postcard Records, Echo and the Bunnymen and Wah.

++ I read that at the beginning there were many changes within the band, that couple of people were kicked and others left. Who were these people? Were they in other bands? how many formations were there?

I’m not sure where you read that but yes that was the case. Alan and myself were always the core of the band we referred to ourselves as the Whirl Organisation, inspired by Edwards and Rogers, The Chic Organisation. Lol

In the early 80’s we started out as a five piece, with a singer called Matthew Glendinning, (son of Victoria Glendinning CBE biographer, critic, broadcaster and novelist). Who fancied himself as a bit of a Morrissey. I was on rhythm guitar, autoharp and backing vocals.

Over the years there were many members including Mark Waterman who went on to music production. He produced many artist like Five Thirty, Elastica, Depeche Mode remixes, Swervedriver and Venus in Furs.

We also used to joke that we’d had more drummers than Spinal Tap, until Rob joined us. At one point in time we had Chris Window (The Milk Sisters and Blow Up) on drums. So Alan, Chris and myself would go from rehearsing with Whirl on day to rehearsing with Blow up the next.

We also had Dominic Minques, from the 14 Iced Bears and Blow Up on Bass for a while.

++ And how did the classic band formation come to be? What year was it?

Alan and I met Caz, in 86 I think, via her partner Mark Burletson (Eusebio and The Milk Sisters) she auditioned and was perfect, and I had known Rob since I was 19 and when the Quintens split up Rob Joined us also, he had been our stand in drummer up until then along with Chris Window.

++ What’s the story behind the name Whirl?

I think Alan came up with it, we wanted just a one word name that reflected the music.

++ How was Brighton then? Were there like-minded bands that you liked? Did you feel part of a scene? What were the places, the venues or clubs where you used to hang out?

Brighton was fantastic back then and always has been. We had the Mods in the 60’s, a great punk scene in the 70’s and then the Mod revival, Indie and psychedelic scene in the 80’s. Brighton is so cosmopolitan with two Universities and an Art College, there’s always been all sorts of scenes, and also famous for it’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population. I consider myself to be very lucky to have grown up there. In the 70’s we all used to go to the Gay clubs, as they were the only one’s open, but then as Punk took off there were many more “venues” like the Crypt, (which was an old Crypt) The Alhambra, The Inn place, The Richmond and then later, The Electric Grape, Zap Club, The Big Twang and The Sunshine Playroom.

There were loads of likeminded folks and bands around so the competition was strong.

++ I’ve heard 9 songs from, I believe, from a demo tape and makes you wonder why songs like “You Are My Friend” or “In a Dream” were never properly released. But I don’t know much about this demo. When and where was it recorded and are there more unreleased songs like these?

A later recording of “In a Dream” was released on the Heaven Forbid EP, but I think that those were very early recordings circa 1985/86 from a rehearsal room in Hove that was run by Mark Waterman and Annie from Elastica used to hang out there.

++ I found out that two other songs, “Lost” and “Tell All Your Friends” appeared on a tape titled  “Goodnight Miffy” that was included with the Especially Yellow fanzine. Again, online it is so hard to find information about this fanzine or this tape. How did you end up contributing to this fanzine? And where do these songs come from? From a special recording session or another demo tape?

Again “Lost” and “Tell All Your Friends” were early demos released on the Especially Yellow cassette. The tape and the fanzine was the work of fellow Brightonian, music fan and Indie journalist legend Johnny Dee, before he went on to have songs written about him (“Ask Johnny Dee”- The Chesterfields) and work for the New Musical Express and the BBC.

++ In 1987 you released your first EP, the “Heaven Forbid EP” on Playroom Discs. They were also based in Brighton, I guess you were friends before signing with them? And how was your relationship with them?

Playroom Discs was run by Sean Sullivan and Gordon Kaye who used to run The Sunshine Playroom club on a Wednesday night in a pub opposite the pier in Brighton. We all became and remained very good friends with them to this day. Sean went on to form Arthur with Rob Colley and Gordon is still making a living from DJing all over the country.

++ This is a fantastic EP, I’m happy to own a copy, what do you remember from the recording sessions at Bloomsbury Studios?

Thank you, I’m pleased you like it and very surprised that you’d even heard of us let alone have a copy of the record.

I remember having a bad cold and having to do few takes on the vocals, but apart from that and a couple of guitar overdubs it was basically a live recording. It was really the only way to capture the energy of our live show. I also remember that it was engineered by a guy called Terry Popple who at the time was Van Morrisons drummer and in more recent times Graham Bonnett he also worked with the 14 Iced Bears and the Popguns.

++ The photos on the jacket of the EP, where were they taken?

They were actually taken by an art/photography student that lived in our Victorian house and were taken in Alan’s front room in the same house that I lived in. The sleeve pictures didn’t come out as well as the actual photographs that were taken which was disappointing.

++ A year later you released another 12″, the “Clear” EP, but this time with another label, September, a label that had released favourite bands of mine like McCarthy or The Wolfhounds, but I know so very little about this label. Who were they and how did you end up working with them?

September was run by Paul Sutton, who was involved with The Pink Label (https://www.twee.net/labels/pink.html). We had supported both The Wolfhounds and McCarthy many times in London and in Brighton and even though we weren’t as political as the other bands Paul was interested in putting out a record of us. We all got on on very well and Rob and I are still in touch with Dave and Andy from the Wolfhounds, their new album is fantastic by the way.

++ How different was recording this EP compared to the first one?

Caz had left the band a few months before so we had a new bass player Karen O’Keefe; a friend of Alan’s sister, who played in The Wishing Stones and The Rain, who had once interviewed Sonic Youth on TV, so slightly different dynamics but mostly still live. There were a few more guitar overdubs as Alan had just been introduced to a Rockman peddle by the engineer, who kept likening our sound to Split by the Groundhogs

++ Also I’m quite curious about the Japanese characters on the A side label, what do they say?

I really have no idea I’m afraid, I hope it’s nothing offensive.

++ One of the songs of the EP, “Your Heart’s As Big As The Whole Outdoors”, appeared on yet another tape compilation, the “Everlasting: A Tape Compilation” in 1988 on the Everlasting label. A very cool tape with lots of fab bands like The Orchids or TV Personalities.

Both Rob and I had no idea that this recording existed until I saw it on the Discogs website a few years ago. I’m assuming it’s a demo version from Bloomsbury Studios, I’ve not heard the tape.

++ Your last last release ended up being a split flexi shared with Crocodile Ride in 1989. About the label “The Sound of Spasm” I know next to nothing. Who were they? And did you know Crocodile Ride before releasing the flexi? Did you ever play gigs with them perhaps?

The Sound of Spasm was from a fanzine called Spasm run by a lady called Tish , who I bumped into for the first time since it came out, at a Wolfhounds gig just before Christmas last year. It was great to catch up. I don’t think I knew any of the Crocodile Ride members and I can’t remember playing gigs with them.

++ Last appearance as far as I know, you can correct me, was on a CD compilation titled “Staring at the Sun 2” with the song “You Almost Killed Me” in 1993. This was many years after the band had split, is that, right? How did this happen?

I didn’t know anything about this until I saw this question so I You Tubed it. It’s certainly not us but you can be forgiven for thinking it was us as it’s certainly got a similar sound. I quite like it actually. From what I can gather they’re from your side of the pond.

++ So yeah, when and why did the band split?

1989 I think, there was a few issues between Alan and myself and after a few difficult gigs and rehearsals, Karen called me to say that she couldn’t carry on in the band, and I decided it was time to move on also, after all it had been nearly 10 years playing with Alan in more than just one band, and our friendship was struggling and the fun was rapidly disappearing.

++ What did you all do after? And what are you doing today?

Alan went on to play in Sharkboy and I believe he works in a Bicycle shop now. Rob still plays in bands and works as a Plumber, Caz played in Eusebio, had two lovely boys who now have their own bands and now works as a sign language interpreter, Karen was working for Local government, and is now a planning consultant. I am a Horticulturalist and build Gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show.

++ How come you didn’t get to release more records, perhaps an album?

There is an acoustic demo for an album somewhere I’ve got a recording of about 4 songs for it, but we split before it was complete.

++ Was there any interest from big labels at any point?

Not really, we had a sniff from London Records and Pinnacle and then Tambourine records were interested for a while following several support gigs with The Dentists but then September stepped in.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? Are there any in particular that you remember with fondness? Were there any that weren’t good at all? Any anecdotes you could share?

We played loads and loads of gigs supporting people like Edwin Collins, Julian Cope, Primal Scream, The Weather Prophets, and That Petrol Emotion. One night we turned up to headline a gig in Camden and were told that the support band were called Stone Roses, however they didn’t turn up and then the next week they were all over the music press, the rest as they say is history. On a similar note we had Lush as one of our support bands once and a couple of weeks later they were signed by 4AD.

++ Did you get much attention from the music papers? Or radio?

We had a few very flattering live reviews’ and magazine features’ although the second single wasn’t as liked as much as the first by the press. Steve Lamacq and Janice Long played us a few times on the BBC radio evening shows. We actually topped the chart of our local BBC station Radio Sussex.

++ And what would you say, looking back in time, would be the highlight for Whirl?

The highlight for me was supporting Edwin and Julian, two of my all-time hero’s and they were such nice people, and I was a bit star struck. Also we appeared on a local TV programme called “The Pier” which was a local (South East region) gig guide programme.

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

I’m involved in a local conservation group for Earlswood Common and do small gardening jobs for friends, and I also enjoy cooking.

++ And how is Brighton now? Has it changed much compared to the days of Whirl? Are there any bands that you like there?

Brighton has changed loads there are now more venues to play in
There’s a great young band called the Grasshoppers that I saw support Grant Heart a couple of years ago. Also a friends sons band The Ferns are ones to watch out for.

++ If there’s anyone visiting your town, what would you say one shouldn’t miss?

Record shops and niche stores in the North Lanes, there’s also some fantastic architecture including Brighton Pavillion built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV. And football (Soccer) fans should go to the Amex Community Stadium to watch Brighton and Hove F.C. If we keep playing like we have been this season we should be in the Premiership League next season

++ Thanks so much for answering all the questions in this extensive interview! Anything else you’d like to add?

Cherry Red records are releasing a follow up to the C86 cassette, called C88 and “Clear” will be featuring on that, I think that will be out later this year.

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Listen
Whirl – Heaven Forbid

13
Mar

Halfway through March now. I’m going to be 33 in a few days. I find it funny that during March I see so many friends’ birthdays on my Facebook. It must be that Pisces is the most “indiepop” zodiac sign in the horoscope. Or not?

Some Other Day releases arrived and started shipping. Some mailorders will have them pretty soon. I know Jigsaw already does as well as Blue Very Disques in Japan. I believe Rough Trade and Disk Union should have them as well. As I speak about Some Other Day I remember that I’m already working on the next release in the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen series: The Potting Sheds! I’m very excited about it and will tell you more about it in the coming weeks.

On the 7″ front it is just a matter of patience. The Pale Spectres 7″ has been in the pressing plant for a month already so I hope I will have some news on it soon. It is definitely the release that took the longest in the Cloudberry catalog but I’m sure the wait will be worth for all of you! As soon as this is released I’ll be announcing the next 7″! Yes, Cloudberry is a bit slower compared to our early years but we still have a surprise or two.

On the indiepop news front, what is coming up? I’ve heard some rumours about a Popfest. I hope it happens. I hope I can attend. But for now I can’t say more.

When it comes to news it seems Firestation Records doesn’t disappoint. They’ll be releasing a retrospective for the band Keen on both CD and LP format on April 7th. The compilation is titled “Waiting” and don’t know the tracklist yet. I did interview Keen some time ago in the blog if you want to find out more about this awesome band.

Also Indiefjord, the cool festival in Norway that I’ve never been have booked two fantastic indiepop bands, Tinsel Heart and Pale Lights. To those two you have to add The Electric Pop Group and it looks like a nice time to be there. The festival is already selling early bird tickets on their website. The festival will be happening on the 15th and 16th of July in Bjørke, a little village by the Hjørundfjord, western Norway.

Oh! And I did see the Radio Dept. last Thursday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. They were really great, fantastic. There was a bit of a shitty crowd in front of me sadly, people that were friends and were part of the opening band called Germans. They were obnoxious. A shame. That would be my only disappointment on the show, so I hope Radio Dept. didn’t have anything to do in choosing their opening band. That aside, the evening was precious, the band played almost all their new album, which I’m really liking a lot, and a few classics. It was dreamy and dancey. Such a good time. I even got the setlist at the end of the gig, lucky me, and bought me a $25 dollar t-shirt (not cheap at all, but well… I liked the message on it).

And last but not least don’t forget that we are currently having an offer on our website for 10 random 7″s for a very cheap price! This offer is only through March.


The Three Little Pigs is a fable/fairy tale featuring anthropomorphic pigs who build three houses of different materials. A big bad wolf blows down the first two pigs’ houses, made of straw and sticks respectively, but is unable to destroy the third pig’s house, made of bricks. Printed versions date back to the 1840s, but the story itself is thought to be much older. The phrases used in the story, and the various morals drawn from it, have become embedded in Western culture.

There are many 7″s I want. So many really. But there is one that I feel during the past few years that I want the most, I don’t know why. That is the 7″ Three Little Piggies put out in 1989.

I have had no luck tracking it. I haven’t been able to find it. For years I thought it didn’t even exist. Of course then Discogs was born and I found a little more information about it. I only knew that the A side was titled “Clark’s Commandos”. I had seen on Myspace a video of the band performing it. I would learn then that there were two more songs on the B side, “Ain’t He Happy” and “Uncle Chris”.

The record was released by Mrs Slocombe Discs (catalog MSD2). This must have been a record label set up by the band. The first release in the catalog was the “Frivolous Frolics” 12″ also by Three Little Piggies (catalog SRT8KL 1409). It came out the year before, in 1988. The songs on it were, “Press Eject” and “What Happened to Eric” on the A side and “Borgia Gintz”, “The Strangest of Men” and “Ain’t He Happy” on the B side. Discogs mentions that the record was recorded live at Portsmouth Art College on the 17th of December 1987. I feel only the last song was recorded live. there must be a mistake, though don’t take my word, I’ve never listened to any of the songs on this record.

Back to “Clarks Commandos”, these were a popular type for shoes for children in the 1970s & 1980s by the brand Clarks. It seems you can still find some of them on eBay listings.

For this 7″, we could find some images of the back cover and learn that it was produced at Recluse Studios by Rob Aubrey. “Ain’t He Happy”, the third song on the record was produced at DAN by Chris Sutton. there is also a contact address in Fareham. Did they come from there?

Fareham is a market town at the north-west tip of Portsmouth Harbour, between the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton in the south east of Hampshire, England. It gives its name to the borough that comprises the town and its surrounding area. It was historically an important manufacturer of bricks (notably used to build the Royal Albert Hall, London) and a grower of strawberries. 

I went looking again for the Three Little Piggies “Clarks Commandos” video I saw once on Myspace. Sadly it seems it doesn’t stream anymore. It is credited to a Vivian Gregson. I remember it being lots of fun.

I keep looking. I find a very old looking website for the Battle of the Bands 1989 in Portsmouth. Organiser Barry Hedges had released details of the 64 bands from almost 400 entries – that have been selected to compete for a share in the £18,000 worth of prizes during the next six months. One of those bands is Three Little Piggies. They seem to have won the Fifteenth Heat, the Semifinal, then another time on 16th October 1989, but not being able to win the whole competition, the winners were a band called Yellow Cab Company.

And I play “Clark’s Commandos” once again, and I have so much fun with the trumpets and that contagious chorus. So catchy! I wish I wore Clarks Commandos when I was a kid haha! So good. A true indiepop classic in my book!

That was all the information I could find. I was once in Portsmouth, but never to Fareham. I hear there is a castle there. Maybe I could visit one day. But who knows anything else about the Three Little Piggies? Did they play in your town? Did they have more releases? Any compilation appearances? Do you happen to have a spare copy of their releases? Would love to listen to the songs on the 12″. Anyways, I would love to know more about them!

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Listen
Three Little Piggies – Clark’s Commandos

06
Mar

The most important news last week was that of the first announcements for the Indietracks festival. I was crossing my fingers for a dreamlike lineup, but that didn’t happen. I won’t be going then to the UK around those days in the summer, and that is a shame, would have loved to be surrounded by indiepop and friends BUT there might be a slight chance then that I could visit London during the first weekend of September. We’ll see.

On Facebook there was an interesting discussion on my personal page about the news of Indietracks. First off we all agreed that it is a good, honest thing, to say that they are a DIY festival. If you remember it always said on the logo “Indiepop Festival”. As things have been changing for the festival, catering probably to a different crowd, the taste of the new organizers being different, I think it is fair not to promote the festival as an indiepop one as it isn’t anymore. That’s clear.

There are still a few indiepop bands in the announced lineup. All of them seem to be repeats though and that is kind of sad, defeats the purpose a bit. Not that enticing for regular festival goers I think. We have among the few indiepop bands left The Wedding Present, The Orchids, Cola Jet Set, Milky Wimpshake, The Perfect English Weather, Evripidis and his Tragedies, Joanna Gruesome and Chorusgirl.

The rest of the lineup, sadly for me and for the rest of popkids, is mostly dominated for folkie, punk, garage and even some rock n’ roll sounding bands. Nothing really interesting. I went through the whole list of bands playing, checking their Bandcamps or Soundclouds and found no new important discoveries.

In the end it seems the festival will be losing its international crowd. Fewer non-UK people seem excited to spend much money to get to the festival. The bands seem to be catered to the local taste. And maybe that’s understandable, not taking risks.

This change towards a festival that is more diverse seem to be championed by UK goers. I don’t agree with this, I think that within indiepop you can be very varied.

Now that Fortuna Pop is no more, there is no leading indiepop label in the UK. Indietracks the past few years gravitated and seemed to have been influenced by this label to book bands. Today things seem different. Who will Indietracks gravitate too? It all seems to point to Oddbox Records and its mixed bag of all sort of genres in its catalogue.

I’m disappointed, I won’t lie. Every year one hoped things will get better. I think by now all hope is gone. I don’t think I will attend Indietracks again until a new generation of organizers take it over. There is still Madrid Popfest which seem to have been a success this past weekend. Maybe smaller festivals will spring out of nowhere all around the world. And I will make an effort to go. I remember the days when in the UK that there was Indietracks AND London Popfest. There  was excitement then. The people behind these festivals curated such beautiful lineups. Those days are gone. It is difficult to understand how people can say that NOW is better.

I know people in the UK reading this might feel uncomfortable. From experience a lot of British people don’t like criticism and opinions different to theirs. They take it personal. But this is just what a popkid feels, that’s all. I had the best times ever and I feel sad to see such a fantastic indiepop festival crumble before my eyes.

Maybe for you these are the best bands ever. That you know by heart the songs of Gracie petrie or The Hearing. Well, have fun. Just bear in mind that there are many festivals and opportunities for these sort of bands. Indiepop though have no space anywhere and these changes will definitely continue to affect our tiny scene.

Remember the days when the organizers would ask Elefant or Slumberland to help curate the festival? Or when classic bands would reform just to play the festival? There was an intention to support and celebrate indiepop. That’s gone, so gone. Now it is anything but an indiepop festival.

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Finally tracked The Felicitys /The Family split flexi. I know it is not that rare but I never got around buying it.

I don’t know much about the bands on it. I do remember listening to The Felicitys on classic tape compilations and liking their Shop Assistants influenced songs. So I had to have it. And now that I do I want to know more about this band. Who were they? Where are they? Let’s see if I can find anything about them in the world wide web.

The Felicitys at least released one demo tape according to Discogs. There are four songs on it, “Half a Man”, “Queen of Art”, “Mrs Smith” and “Paul”. I have listened to the four songs and they are fantastic. They remind me a lot of another favourite band of mine, The Wilderness Children. Such great pop songs!! How come they didn’t release many more singles, an album? Life can be so unfair.

In 1990 they released the flexi, shared with the band The Family. The Felicitys have the first on on the flexi and it is the perfectly poppy “Irresistible”. And it is of course irresistible, what’s not to like? The flexi was released by Fabulous Records (catalog FAB002). This label had already released in 1989 a 7″ by the band The Becketts. The Family appear on the flexi with the song “Polanskis Dream”.

We know some stuff about The Felicitys from the back cover of the flexi. The song was written and performed by The Felicitys in 1990. There was going to be a 12″ to be released in November 1990 by Fabulous Records. Whatever happened to that record? I guess it never was released. Maybe the band split before, or the label went bust.

There is contact information for a Jon Mates in Somerset. If you wanted to book a gig with The Felicitys he was your man. With this name in hand I could start digging a bit more. First stop, my blog (!). Yes to the Tony Head Experience post. This is what I got:
The Tony Head Experience were formed in Street, Somerset in early 1991 by Elisa Young. Within days she had roped in her ex-Felicitys band mates Nik Dalgarno, James Merry and Rob Buckley to record a four song demo at Nik’s Giant Recording Studios in Compton Dundon. Along for the ride and to produce this meisterwork came Jon Mates (Basinger/ex-Felicitys) and Nick Osbourne (The Becketts) who also helped out on guitar and tambourine respectively. Recorded in a day and featuring the songs ‘Lighthouse’, ‘Sleeper’, ‘Let Her Drive’ and ‘Go’ the recording was deemed a triumph in low-fi barn recording and hi-fi lager drinking.

Now I wonder why I didn’t get to do an interview with The Tony Head Experience. I see Jon Mates commented on my blog post. He says that the band was going to start playing again. Did they? He also mentioned that they were going to release an anthology. I think that never happened, no? I should try to contact him, learn about his two bands now, not only The Tony Head Experience but about The Felicitys!

There’s on that post of mine a trove of information about what happened after The Tony Head Experience. Sadly there’s not much about their time before they were involved with that band, the time when they were in The Felicitys!

Somerset is a county in South West England which borders Gloucestershire and Bristol to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east and Devon to the south-west. It is bounded to the north and west by the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel, its coastline facing southeastern Wales. Its traditional border with Gloucestershire is the River Avon. Somerset’s county town is Taunton. Somerset is a rural county of rolling hills such as the Blackdown Hills, Mendip Hills, Quantock Hills and Exmoor National Park, and large flat expanses of land including the Somerset Levels. There is evidence of human occupation from Paleolithic times, and of subsequent settlement in the Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods. The county played a significant part in the consolidation of power and rise of King Alfred the Great, and later in the English Civil War and the Monmouth Rebellion. The city of Bath is famous for its substantial Georgian architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also, where in Somerset where they based?

I do know though that they appeared on at least two tape compilations in that golden age of indiepop. On the legendary “Corrupt Postman” released by Windmill Records in 1988 they contributed “Irresistible (live)” and then in 1990, on Dolphin Records’ classic “Positively Teenage” they contributed the song “Why Don’t You Come Round”.

That was it. All in all 3 songs released, one of them them a live version of the other. Then 4 songs on the demo tape. And that was it. I’m very sure they had more songs, if they had a 12″ planned. They must have.

I hope to find out more about them, I really like The Felicitys, they have the sort of sound that I go nuts for, girl fronted upbeat indiepop, jangly and fuzz guitars thrown in the mix, hook after hook, and a lo-fi down to earth sound. Just perfection!

EDIT: Paul from The Haywains just pointed me out some details about The Felicitys:
– Jon Mates used to put a regular club night called “The Terribly Good Club” at the Glastonbury Football Club where he would book not only local bands but also bands from the other end of the country as well.
– The Felicitys hailed from Street which is a large village and civil parish in the county of Somerset, England. The 2011 census recorded the parish as having a population of 11,805. It is situated on a dry spot in the Somerset Levels, at the end of the Polden Hills, 3.2 km south-west of Glastonbury. There is evidence of Roman occupation. Much of the history of the village is dominated by Glastonbury Abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and indeed its name comes from a 12th-century causeway from Glastonbury which was built to transport local Blue Lias stone from what is now Street to rebuild the Abbey, although it had previously been known as Lantokay and Lega.

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Listen
The Felicitys – Half a Man

02
Mar

Thanks so much to Stephen Lawson for the interview! I wrote about Blue Nose B before in the blog and he was kind enough to get in touch and tell me the whole story behind his band! I really loved their song “My Diary” after I discovered the band through the connection with Waving at Trains. And I was wondering how come Blue Nose B wasn’t more known! Happily here Stephen gives a better perspective of the band and the period.

++ Hi Stephen! Thanks a lot for being up for this interview. First things first, is it Bluenose B or Blue Nose B?

It’s Blue Nose B. It’s different on many of our records mainly because we were very drunk for most of our early years.

++ You were telling me that Blue Nose B is mainly you, but what would you say was the classic lineup for the band? How did you know each other? And when did the band start?

The classic line up was David Billows (vocals), John Briody (guitar), Michael Lawson (drums) and myself. David Billows is my cousin, Michael my older brother and John was one of my best friends from school.

++ You named the band after being fans of Everton FC, is that right? Do you go to the games? What would be your best Everton FC memory by the way?

People think we were named after Everton fans but we were actually named after the lines of men waiting to collect their unemployment benefit. They stood in the cold with their bluenoses. They were very political times. We were all Liverpool FC fans and the best game was the 1981 Liverpool v Real Madrid champions league final at Parc Des Princes in Paris. We won the game 1 0.

++ You were formed in Liverpool. Those early 80s in Liverpool must have been exciting, lots of great bands. Did you like that period in time? What were your favourite bands and why?

They were the best times. They were so exciting. We used to drink with Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, The Mighty Wah and China Crisis. It was the most vibrant of times. My favourite band was Echo and the Bunnymen. They were perfect. Ian McCulloch was brilliantly moody and Will Sergeant on guitar was stunning.

++ Though I read that you come exactly from Aintree, is that right? How is that town?

David Billows came from Aintree, Michael, John and myself came from Seaforth. A seaside town on the edge of Liverpool. Lots of poverty, lots of laughter, lots of music. “In Liverpool we sing”. Singing and laughing were are antidotes to poverty. Wish I could go back.

++ And how would you say Liverpool influenced your music? How was the city back then? What were your favourite places, your favourite venues to go check out music?

In Liverpool every youngster wanted to be either a footballer or in a band. There were hundreds of bands. We would all lend each other’s equipment. One night a guy called John “spud” Murphy came and lent my bass amp because his Dad had pawned his. There were at least 20 great venues. My favourites were the Firehouse, Pickwicks and the Bier Keller. The quality of music was excellent. Unfortunately so many great bands such as Politburo and Hey Marsha never received the success they should have.

++ On Discogs your first release is a demo released in 1984. The demo included 6 songs: “The Loneliest Dogs”, “Physically Satisfied”, “Escape”, “The Dream”, “Summer Girl”, “When I Love”. Was this your first ever recordings? How were these tapes sold?

Summer Girl and When I Love were our first two demos. Ultra pop songs. Summer Girl is a jangly sweet song about being young, happy and alive in a beautiful city in the summertime. Summer Girl was voted “song of the year” by Billy Mann the editor of the sound magazine.

++ None of these songs were to appear in your proper vinyl releases. Why is that?

They never went out on vinyl because Probe (our record company) didn’t have the money. Things were tight.

++ Your first release was a 12″ single with the songs “Forever Passing Trains”, “Burning Up” and “Maybe”. This record came out on Blues Records. Was it your own label? Or who ran Blues Records?

Blues Records was our own label because probe had no money. We had to do something to get our music heard and so we lent as much as we could to achieve it. That single was played a lot on BBC Radio 1.

++ You even produced this record. Did you have any experience producing records already? How was that experience?

We didn’t have any experience producing but we knew how to play and have a laugh, so we went in full of humour and hope and came out with a pretty good recording.

++ How did the creative process work for the band? Did you get much input from the rest of musicians in Blue Nose B?

I’d write the songs At home in Seaforth. I’d play them to my brother Michael. He’d either say yes or no and then we would start working on them. As he was the drummer and I was the bass player we would get the back end right before we’d play the song to David and John. We practiced in Michaels bedroom. All the neighbours would come out into their gardens and dance.

++ I assume that the art on this record is a drawing of Blue Nose B? Who made it?

David Billows did the art work. He was a budding Michael Angelo without the skill.

++ You also appeared on some compilations like “Modesty Kills” and “Desperation”. Both these compilations were released by the Audio Visual Records label. Who were they and how did you end up there?

The song Fine Rain was played by Michael, David and myself. Paul Gill (waving at trains) and John Murphy (toy taboo, lotus eaters and Thomas Lang) also played on the track.  It was picked up by audio visual records and we went on to record a significant amount of material for that label. We had an album with Audio Visual on cassette but they sold out and I don’t have a copy.

++ I also found out on your Bandcamp that you had set up a 9 song retrospective titled “The Sinking of Liverpool: A Retrospective 1983-1989”. Was this ever released physically? I couldn’t find any information on the label Modern Polymath either.

The sinking of Liverpool was developed by Michael Lawson, it is a collection of our best recordings from our post punk period. It was never physically released however we are in discussion to put it out on vinyl as it has received a lot of interest. Modern Polymath is a new record company who wishes to release much of our old and new material. We are currently re recording Summer Girl for May this year.

++ On your Soundcloud there’s even many more songs, some much newer, not from the 80s. So first, I want to ask if there are still more unreleased 80s songs waiting to be heard? And second, from what time do the other batch of newer songs come from?

All the songs that have been put on there were written in the 80s and 90s. I have a back catalogue of over 100 songs. You will see two vinyl 12 inches and an album before the end of the year.

++ Was there any interest from other labels for your music? Maybe a big label?

In 1984 a label (Ryker Records) offered us £40,000 for when I love and Summer Girl. We turned them down. Probably a bad decision. Sony also made and offer, once again we made another bad decision.

++ So you still use the name Blue Nose B for your music. Did the band ever split? Was there a hiatus at all?

We split on many occasions and reformed with new musicians. We have worked with Henry Priestman (the christians), Pete Wylie (The Mighty Wah), Ian McNabb (The Icicle Works), Dave Hughes (Dalek I love you) and John “spud” Murphy (The Lotus Eaters). John wrote the music to the film a “Letter to Brezhnev’ and is a big Hollywood music producer now. Our album was produced by the genius Ken Nelson who has won 3 mercury prizes. 2 with Cold Play.

 

++ Blue Nose B were featured in many magazines, Sounds, NME, Melody Maker, you name it. Did you get many favourable reviews? Was it easy to get their attention?

We had loads of attention. We regularly played in front of a thousand people in Dingwalls in Camden Lock London. We were right on the edge of making it. We also toured with the Mighty Wah which was great fun.

++ What about radio? Did you get much coverage and plays?

We were played regularly by John Peel, Janice Long and Pete Powell on Radio one. Also local radio played us a lot.

++ I read that some of the members had been in a band called Indadais. How did this band sound? Any similarities to Blue Nose B?

Indadais consisted of Micheal Lawson, John Briody and David Billows. The musical leanings were derived from the 1916 Dada movement. Too Artistic for me. I was a pure pop man.

++ And of course, after so many band changes, how do you think that affected the band? Do you see it as a positive or a negative thing?

I don’t know if the band changes affected anything. All I know is I have enjoyed every minute of playing live. It is an honour to see people dancing to your music and I hope this year to be in a position to play live again. Maybe in New York with a bit of luck.

++ Aside from music, and football, what other hobbies do you have?

My hobby is my work. I’m a mental health nurse with my own business. I help people come out of long term hospital provision to community living. A bigger buzz than playing live.

++ So far what would you say has been the biggest highlight for the band?

Playing in front of a 1000 people in Liverpool, on top form with a great reaction. I cannot put into words how good it feels to become so involved with the music that you exceed the limits of your talent. Superb.

++ Thanks so much for the interview! One last question, hope you don’t mind. Hope I go to Liverpool one day, never been there, but was wondering what would you recommend checking out? And if there’s any traditional food or drinks that I shouldn’t miss?

Come to Liverpool, drink Lager, eat Scouse, laugh, sing and dance. Liverpool people are the most generous and welcoming people in the world. You can stay with me and I’ll buy your drinks. You’ll have the time of life.

++ Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the interview and I hope you can review the new 12 inch single. Summer Girl and Marianne (beneath the sheet).

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Listen
Bluenose B – My Diary