For man-made music
Shut up and play the hits g Echo & The Bunnymeng The Horrors When Brixton was burning g Rough Trade Records The Future life of David Bowie
Letter from the Editor
actory – a place of production. The constant manufacturing of goods. I worked for in a factory for several ruthless summers inspecting garments and folding shirts to ship in boxes. Patti Smith worked in a factory manufacturing prams before she moved to New York. Her first single ‘Hey Joe’ had a B-side called ‘Piss Factory’ in honour of her traumatising time spent working there. Then there is Factory Records – perhaps the record label with the most fascinating story to tell. While music is at heart an art form, it is also something constructed. It is this manufacturing this month’s issue looks at. Not necessarily in a physical sense, but the effect the popularity of older music may have on new talents – whether it is an older band forced to play their old hits or it is emerging talent being reduced to their influences. Factory’s feature this month tries to sort out the story. Although I have my suspicions, I have come to no conclusions. It is a difficult idea to debate. ost of the music in this issue are about older musicians. Why? I believe in preserving history for future generations of curious music-lovers. It is true that we are a generation obsessed with our immediate past unlike any other before us, but our present and future as just as important. Journalists who write about new music are just as important. Music needs to thrive and whether or not you enjoy music journalism or believe that it is worth anything, I strongly believe that writing about music helps spread the love. A true cynic would believe that new music cannot flourish, but there is a lot of love for new musicians. There is a lot to be excited about despite there being a lot of negativity in modern music culture by many fans (and in musicians themselves). But there needs to be some sort of responsibility with how we all handle new talents. I’m not going to say that we should throw our Stones records in the bin, but maybe we need to attend more gigs of bands that perk our curiosity instead of bands we have sworn by our entire lives. n the end, it’s always about listening to what you love. One day, if we are not careful, there may not be any more music to get excited about. Patti Smith eventually left the factory in New Jersey to move to New York City. Without that adventure, we wouldn’t have our iconic punk poet. Music, like life, is about leaving that factory and finding out what’s beyond.
Krista Culbertson Editor-in-chief
02 FACTORY | JULY 2014
FACTORY July 2014
Content 2 | Letter from the Editor 6 | Summer film preview- Empire 7 | Spotify debate Guardian 8 | Story of Rough Trade - Q 10 | Bowie reborn MOJO 12 | Brixton is burning Uncut 18 | Shut up and play the hits - Rolling Stone 22 | Britains tribute bands - Spin 24 | Echo & the Bunnymen live - NME 25 | Great Glasto cleanup - Daily Mail 26 | The Horrors Luminous Review - Paste 27 | Good golly itâ€™s Dolly - The Sun 28 | Q&A with K. Spiers - Made in Shoreditch 29 | Bobby Womack - BBC News Online 30 | Record Store Day Time Out
FACTORY | JULY 2014 03
Summer movie preview for when your ears and eyes need entertainment Admit it, 2013 was terrible for music biopics (just don’t even think about the sinking ship that was CBGB). Good news is on the horizon now that N.W.A. ‘Straight Out of Compton’ finally has been given a release date for August 2015. Still, that’s too far away, so while the wait for next year’s most anticipated biopic begins - here are some music films to catch this summer:
Get On Up
All is by My Side
The Lowdown: Chadwick Boseman has already proved his chops as an actor for biopics. He played famed American baseball player Jackie Robinson’s in last year’s 42 and absolutely nailed it by avoiding becoming a stereotype and giving a complex portrayal of a black athlete during a racially tense time in American history. The young actor should have no problem portraying the Godfather of Soul. Here’s hoping he knows how to groove half as well as James Brown could. If so, it is guaranteed to be a memorable biopic. Brown’s life was incredibly fascinating and has the potential to make for an emotive yet epically funky bit of cinema.
The Lowdown: Yes, it is that musical, but this Clint Eastwood directed film should offer some much needed edge to what might otherwise be tacky and boring Broadway fluff. Jersey Boys follows the same rise-and-fall (and rise again) of the New Jersey quartet the Four Seasons The movie has been lucky enough to nab Broadway star John Lloyd Young, who won a Tony award for his portrayal of Frankie Valli in 2006. Young’s singing chops are as close to Valli as one could get without dragging the real thing in front of the camera. The clean-cut meets dark appeal should make this an impressive film about the pop-geniuses.
The Lowdown: Imagining Andre 3000 as an actor can be a bit of a stretch, but early footage and praise from the SXSW premier of the former Outkast member playing icon and legend Jimi Hendrix makes us think otherwise. The film doesn’t document the guitarist’s most famous moments. Instead writer and director John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) gives the viewers a focus on the early years of Hendrix’s rise to fame in London during the mid-60s. The most worrying bit is that the family estate would not allow permission to the rights to any of his original music. No music in a film about the most memorable guitarist of all time? Worrying.
Release August 1 Director Tate Taylor Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Tika Sumpter, Dan Aykroyd
Release June 20 Director Clint Eastwood Cast: Christopher Walken, John Lloyd Young
Release August 8 Director John Ridley Cast: Andre 3000, Hayley Atwell, Imogen Poots g
04 FACTORY | JULY 2014
The great battle of streaming
Music streaming may be the future of music, but at what cost?
hom Yorke famously called it ‘the last desperate fart of a dying corpse’, but Spotify’s popularity is growing as the music service continues on, now in its sixth year. Neilson’s entertainment report for the first half of 2014 showed that there was an 11.6% decrease in digital album downloads while streaming services saw a healthy 50.1% increase. One thing is almost certain now, Spotify and other streaming services have already made changed the way people consume music. Yorke, the Radiohead frontman, has been leading the crusade against the streaming service saying that it serves the interest of major labels, and makes it impossible for new, emerging talent to generate sufficient revenue. Yorke even pulled the albums of his side-project Atoms for Peace from Spotify and several other streaming services. The problems Yorke describes are in response to the explosive success of online streaming services, and has raised questions on how to promote artists, especially new musicians. The problem is rooted deep in the profit margin. Major labels ensure the artists themselves only receive 8% to 15% of revenue from streaming services – an incredibly low amount when the royalty cheques arrive. This business model was established before the digital age changed the way we consume music. The industry has yet to find an appropriate response. What seemed like a distant dream became a dire present. Musicians, especially independent and unsigned bands, have challenges making any profit from streams. If they aren’t signed to a label it can be complicated because they will need to go through
music aggregators that will publish the music on behalf of the artist, but often for a fee. Any money they receive will mostly go back to the aggregators. For many independent artists, Spotify is not seen as a source of income but rather another way to promote themselves. Singer-songwriter Dan Aston from Cornwall says that he uses Spotify to catch the attention of potential fans.
“Musicians, especially independent or unsigned, have challenges making any profit from streams “I hope that they eventually end up buying my album or going to see my shows,” says Aston. “Spotify is what allows them to see if they like my sound before committing to buying. Even if I don’t make any money.” Aston’s way of attracting fans in just the new way musicians need to promote themselves. Music profits have only decreased in the last decade and a half and new artists must find ways to adapt in order to make their living The internet brought a whole new demon to the music industry. Illegal downloading by peer-to-peer file sharing. The highly publicised case of A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster Inc. seemed to be a firm warning to people downloading music illegally, but for the years following, the trend continued. In came in the streaming service Spotify. The company claim that their free option of a streaming music is the solution to file sharing that had damaged record labels and artists in the early part of the Millennium.
According to Spotify, they pay nearly 70% of their revenue to rights holders. Creating only a 30% profit for the streaming service. Of that percentage, the payment is divided between producers, musicians, labels and distributors. Although, the amount made per listen for the actual musician is very small. The pay out from purchases from iTunes is approximately .02 pence to the artist. Spotify is approximately .04 pence, but that is per stream. For some musicians, that is not enough. Yorke spoke out last year criticising the company saying that it catered to established musicians on major labels. To counter attacks, the Swedish company released a website to explain to musicians how they would be paid. According to the site, “Our belief has always been that if we can offer fans a listening experience superior to piracy, then they will be happy to pay for it, and in turn we are happy to pay out nearly 70% of all the money we earn in royalties.” A return to physical forms of music may not be the answer either. Distributors have always taken a large chunk of the royalties to cover marketing and promotion costs. The answer to get music’s profits up is very unclear. A service that both allows musicians to make a good profit while services still thrive is currently a double-edged sword and possibly even unattainable. Yet the industry has faced many challenges from technological innovation throughout its history and has always been able to adapt and succeed. Perhaps one fact is more important than all, which is the passion for music remains very strong. g
FACTORY | JULY 2014 05
THE CLIMBING RISE OF ROUGH TRADE
The struggles of independent record labels in an old tale, but the success story of Rough Trade Records is, uniquely, one that belongs to the some history’s greatest music, just don’t call it a comeback
he independent record label was never stronger or more vital than in the 1980s. Factory Records was putting out New Order’s most iconic works, while Creation Records was finding some of indie’s greatest gems like Jesus and the Mary Chain. Despite the massive amounts of fantastic work produced, both met their demise in the complex years of the 90s. Of those left standing, none is more successful than Rough Trade.
06 FACTORY | JULY 2014
Through three decades, the record label has remained an indie icon. In an era where labels’ revenues and power are diminishing, some of the most promising musicians have signed with rough Trade, a label that lives up to its reputation. It is those promising new musicians that has provided the label’s continued prosperity. During BBC4’s Do It Yourself: The Story of Rough Trade, founder GeoffTravis said, “It’s flattering that people are interested in the past, but the
most important thing is what happens now, what happens next.” In July, Rough Trade announced it would be opening branches of new shops throughout the UK. First on the list is a shop in Nottingham to open this autumn. The success of the stores only confirms that the Rough Trade brand is continues to grow in prominence, despite the label and the shops going their separate ways in 1982. The two still remain connected in their deep-rooted history.
Ladbroke Grove in London’s West End gave birth to the first shop in 1976. It was shop unlike any other at the time in Britain. Travis brought something unique to the record shop market. The place gave music aficionados the option of challenging and unusual albums by the likes of American experimental band Pere Ubu, instead of selling the more established and accessible radio rock music. Travis had been living in America, traveling the West Coast and collecting various records for cheap at shops like Salvation Army charity stores. After making a rather extensive
“When I came back to London I didn’t feel like there was anywhere I wanted to go collection, a friend suggested to him that he ship his records to England before moving back himself and open a record shop. In an early interview Travis recalls, “When I came back to London I didn’t feel like there was anywhere I wanted to go particularly. So I thought if there was nowhere to go I would create somewhere.” To Travis and those who went to Rough Trade in those early years, it was more than just going to a record shop. It was about the experience of being with people who were interested in music in the same way. This ethos was important when two years later Rough Trade expanded into becoming a recording label as well. Rough Trade released its first album in 1979 – Northern Irish band Stiff Little Fingers’ debut album Inflammable Material. The album reached number 14 on the UK charts, and became the first release on an independent label to ever break the top 20 in Britain. The releases following Inflammable Material included some of indie music’s most iconic albums from The Smiths to The Raincoats. The reputation of the philosophy of both the label and the store became something
many musicians found tempting. The name Rough Trade became synonymous with intelligent work and defiance in an era of stale conformity. Many of the label’s musicians were actively writing songs against the music business they were a part of, but no label seemed to be less a part of The System and more a part of the alternative scene than Rough Trade. ike the label’s contemporaries, Rough Trade struggled in the early 90s due to over-trading. In 2000, Travis re-launched the company as entirely independent entity, and 2001 became on the defining year of the label. Two bands single-handedly revived not only the label, but indie music in the UK as well. It was a straggly band of New Yorkers that brought British music back to life. The Strokes released their EP The Modern Age in 2001 on the Rough Trade label. The bidding war on the band begun almost immediately after the release. The band signed to RCA records, but Rough Trade remained their UK home. It was the most successful release since The Smiths two decades earlier. After the success of The
Modern Age, it was a distinctly much more British band that followed up the success of The Strokes. London band The Libertines were signed to Rough Trade on the basis that they had a sound much like the garage rock on The Stroke’s EP. Up The Bracket was produced by Clash guitarist Mick Jones, a key factor in making one of the most popular British albums of the decade, and is often proclaimed as one of the greatest albums ever produced, making front-man Pete Doherty into an instant star. The great success of both the Libertines and the Strokes has cemented the success of Rough Trade for a following generation of bands. For a label so small, it carries a big name. The intelligent coolness that was synonymous two decades prior became important for signing key bands like Arcade Fire and Mercury-prize winning band Antony and the Johnsons. The DIY ethos continues on into the fourth decade of its existence. Rough Trade projects a future that would look bright for any record label – independent or not, but it is that independent spirit that brings the best of British music to the world. g FACTORY | JULY 2014 07
THE FUTURE LIFE OF DAVID BOWIE 2013: the year that brought music’s greatest chameleon back to life. The months since continue to surprise as a legend returns to his creative and prolific best, writing new and outstanding chapters to append an already unique career.
“The stars are out tonight”
he morning of 8 January, 2013 should have been like any other. In fact, it could have very well been. Each publication had prepared its stories for the day about David Bowie’s 66th birthday. They were ready for a celebration, but the day’s news about the Thin White Duke ended up being anything but expected. That morning, on Bowie’s website there was a message that was intriguingly cryptic. On the site there was an announcement that opened with a quote from his 1977 song ‘The Secret Life of Arabia’: “Secret secrets never seen...” The official statement read, “In recent years radio silence has been broken only by endless speculation, rumour and wishful thinking ... a new record ... who would have ever thought it, who’d have ever dreamed it! After all David is the kind of artist
who writes and performs what he wants when he wants ... when he has something to say as opposed to something to sell. Today he definitely has something to say.”
“This is gonna be a hard thing for me to keep under my belt. This is something I wanna boast about David Bowie has been one of the most enigmatic and influential musicians of all time. His career has seen periods of remarkable creative output punctuated by periods of silence. Like a perpetual butterfly he undergoes regular metamorphosis and emerges with something new, but always beautiful. It is remarkable that he never fails to surprise too, and that Monday morning in January may have been the greatest reveal of his illustrious four-decade-career.
David Bowie, the musician known for great reinventions, had returned with a new single complete with a video and news of a new album for the first time in a decade. And secrets there were. Years after his last studio release (2003s Reality), Bowie was almost nowhere to be seen in the public eye. He had kept everything a glorious surprise. The album The Next Day went on to be one of the most successful albums of the year. The record was widely praised by critics with The Independent’s Andy Gill describing it as “the greatest comeback album in rock’n’roll history”. The year following the release of The Next Day has been the re-entry of Bowie into the minds of the public. A lesson and introduction for a generation that may have missed out on Bowie’s great years. Chart success is one thing, but the true strength and magic the past year has been the sheer number of releases for a man
once-believed to be semi-retired. The album was recorded and produced entirely in secret. It is a tactic now used by musicians like Beyonce, but never with the flair and impact as Bowie. The story behind The Next Day is now one well documented. Each and every musician involved in the project had been sworn to silence. Saxophonist Steve Elson—who worked with Bowie on several albums including Changes and Let’s Dance— admits he was tempted to reveal his excitement about Bowie’s big secret despite having to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Elson remembered the anticipation being unbearable. In an interview from 2013, “I said to him, ‘You know, David, this is gonna be a hard thing for me to keep under my belt. This is something I wanna boast about.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, but just think how good you’ll feel when the record comes out.’ And he was right. I could tell that this was something that he really needed to be kept quiet, so that he could work the way he wanted to work.” 10 FACTORY | JULY 2014
Since the news, Bowie’s career has experienced an almost spiritual rebirth. Bowie has always been a hard-working and busy artist but the last decade left fans waiting. Despite his glorious return he still remains unwilling to tour again, or even to give an interview.
“This is gonna be a hard thing for me to keep under my belt. This is something I wanna boast about But if the shows do not continue on, it is the reissues and The Next Day that have added fuel to the simmering fire. After its release, The Next Day became number one on the record charts in 21 different countries. The album cover is from the 1977 album Heroes, but with a large white square in the middle. The artwork references his Berlin years, as a theme of finally coming to terms with the past which winds its way through each track. It would seem that Bowie is under-
going yet another Renaissance. His rebirth in popularity has stretched beyond The Next Day. Despite refusing interviews, Bowie graced the cover of nearly every magazine for the weeks and months after his return. The Victoria and Albert Museum in west London put on a full exhibition to celebrate the man and his 24th studio release. According to the museum the exhibit have “unprecedented access to the David Bowie Archive to curate the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie. David Bowie is featured more than 300 objects that include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie’s own instruments.” he “David Bowie” exhibit in Berlin at the Martin-Gropius-Bau Berliner Festpiele was so enormously well-received that a Berlin Bowie-walk was added and then the exhibit expanded to an additional 60 exhibits as an exclusive on his Berlin years.
For any musician to be the subject of a museum exhibit is rare. But the public enthusiasm for Bowie showed in the releases as well. A special white-vinyl edition of ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’ was released for 2013’s Record Store Day (RSD), an annual event that celebrates independent record stores. The Next Day was the third biggest selling vinyl album of 2013.
“Do it. Love on ya. More
music soon. David
Positive reviews followed the release and a number of award nominations at the Mercury Music Prize and the Grammy’s. The following year had even more limited releases for Bowie, A man once thought to be retired for good has had one of the most productive years by any musician. For the next year, Bowie released more limited editions for RSD. ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide’ and ‘1984’ were both released as picture discs – one in the UK and one in the United States. Each made the list for the best-sellers during the most popular year of the event so far. In July 2014 at a charity event at Bar 12 in London, Bowie released an announcement about the future of his career. Bowie’s message read, “This city is even better than the one you were in last year, so remember to dance, dance, dance. And then sit down for a minute, knit something, then get up and run all over the place. Do it. Love on ya. More music soon. David.” David Bowie is back, and is prolific again at a time when we least expected it. How long it will last is known only to him, but if his career is anything to go by it will not last forever so music fans should enjoy it while it lasts. After all, we are witnessing the renaissance of one of the world’s all-time greatest artists. But before we know it he could be gone again, re-inventing and re-imagining, but for now, long may it continue.g
BOWIE’S YEAR OF RELEASES: THE NEXT DAY (ISO Records, 8 March 2013)
The full length album that launched the a new age of Bowie. From the heart-aching ballad ‘Where Are We Now?’ to the chugging ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’, the tracks are some of the finest work he has done in several decades. It is by no means a perfect album, and it certainly doesn’t deliver what 70s Bowie had (then again, what does?), but there is a quiet spirit of knowledge that is unrivalled in anything he has ever done.
ZEIT! 77-79 (EMI, 6 May 2013)
Every Bowie fan knows the utter importance of the Berlin Years. Although the three albums are a key, this compilation album of Bowie’s Berlin years is nice, but like many repackaged album it feels unnecessary. Each album included (Low, Heroes, Stage, Lodger) carries an importance that is worth listening to. The dark ambience of Heroes is still unparalleled by any in his catalogue.
THE NEXT DAY EXTRA (RCA, 4 November 2013)
An extended play of the album that actually enhances
the album instead of adding extra bother. The three-disc set includes many bonus tracks, but it is the DVD that makes this worth it. Bowie’s videos include some familiar faces like Gary Oldman and Tilda Swinton. All the necessary remixes are there – including the perfection that is the remix of ‘Love is Lost’.
THE NEXT DAY LIMITED EDITION WHITE VINYL 2013)
(Sony, 16 June
This is a 7” square vinyl purely released as fun and made entirely for Bowie fanatics. The third single may or may not making a mockery of the Christianity. The square vinyl only seems to enhance the playfulness of ideas.
‘LOVE IS LOST (HELLO STEVE REICH MIX BY JAMES MURPHY FOR THE DFA)’
(ISO, Colombia, 16 December 2013)
The fifth single from The Next Day 12” limited edition vinyl is the strongest release of the new material. James Murphy creates a perfect approach to remixing (even by referencing minimalist composer Steve Reich is perfectly fitting). There is a 10-munute remix but the vinyl includes the much more danceable four minute groove. FACTORY | JULY 2014 11
was burning Brixton has long been an area with a reputation â€“ traditionally a bad one. Nevertheless, culture, and especially music, has poured from the area through thick and thin. Only in recent years that people are becoming conscious that Brixton could be one of Londonâ€™s most interesting and unique communities
unday afternoon and the sun is beating down on Electric Avenue. Market venders at the weekly famer’s market are selling everything from French pastries to meats. The stalls are spread out in a colourful array. The colourful shop awnings are almost pale in comparison to the produce nestled below them. Brixton is buzzing. It is an area in constant flux, but always alive. This part of South London became one of the first inner-city based “transition town” projects for the UK. Transition towns are a grassroots project aimed at boosting socioeconomic stability in the area. This type of project illustrates the sense of community in the area, an area that celebrates its diversity and genuinely feels like a place that is unique. The community’s defining generation arrived in the 40s and 50s when workers from the Caribbean, arrived in Britain. Their mark is an 14 FACTORY | JULY 2014
indelible part of Brixton today from the availability of foods like Salt fish and Jerk Chicken to the influence of Reggae music. Above all though, this is a place where the people make it special. It is diverse in an ethnic, cultural and economic sense and yet feels like one community. In a city as diverse as London Brixton stands out above them all. Music has always been an important part of Brixton’s heritage. This is where David Bowie was born. The clash of cultures has produced a rap scene unlike anywhere else in the UK today, but with celebration of diversity comes the struggle of racial tensions. Brixton’s history has created a reputation for crime, drugs and civil-unrest. Music has been the constant throughout that has told an honest and unflinching history of the area. Music has been the area’s biggest critic and it’s most prominent advocate. So much of the music em-
anating from the area captures the Brixton’s social issues in lyrics and the positive, fun mind-set in their sound. It captures the feel of the area perfectly.
When they Kick at Your Front Door 1979
he end of the 70’s was a time of tension throughout Britain. A new conservative government made its way into power and the Winter of Discontent was coming to an end. In 1979, Iconic British punk band The Clash released their seminal, reggae influenced, album London Calling. The album features one of their most acclaimed tracks The Guns of Brixton, written by Paul Simonon. The track was inspired by the Jamaican gangster film The Harder They Come. He even includes a nod and wink to the film with, not only it’s West Indie’s inspired sound, but with
Left page: rioters in Brixton 1981 Right: Paul Simonon
the lines ‘You see, he feels like Ivan / born under the Brixton sun / his game is called survivin’ / at the end of the harder they come’. Now best known for its reggae soundtrack – it’s a film that proclaims it brought reggae to the world. Musician Jimmy Cliff stars as Ivanhoe Martin (inspired by the real-life criminal of the same name), a poor man who becomes a criminal, leading to his eventual demise. Simonon’s homage to the film not only shows the film’s international success and influence, but he is also acknowledging the Brixton’s West Indian population who were so prominent in the reggae inspiration for London Calling. Guns of Brixton’s lyrics strike a chord with the bands understanding of social discontent in that community. Simonon references a sense of paranoia about the law enforcement of the area. The Sus Law created a part of the Vagrancy Act of 1894, al-
lowed a member of the police to stop and search someone on grounds that the suspect was acting suspiciously. This created friction and discontent due to accusations of discrimination. Members of the African-Caribbean community believed that under this law, many of the police were targeting their group specifically. The song today sounds seems eerily prophetic since less than two years later, in 1981, the first Brixton riot began.
“...it bring about a great insohreckshan an it spread all owevah di naeshan it woz truly an histarical occayshan.
April 11, 1981
ecession hit England hard in 81. Particularly affected was the African-Caribbean community where
unemployment was high. Guyanese-born British musician Eddy Grant wrote ‘Electric Avenue’ as his response to the events. The ‘Police on My Back’ writer (a song later covered by the Clash for the 1980 triple-album Sandinista!) refers to the popular market street of Electric Avenue in Brixton in the lyrics, although not much rioting took place near the street. Grant opens with ‘out in the street there is fire and there’s lots of work to be done’. The song reflects on the problems and struggles that lead up to the events, but the song still has the spirit of the area in the tempo and infectious refrain: ‘We’re gonna rock down to Electric Avenue and then we’ll take it higher’. The song peaked at #2 in the UK singles chart, yet the fact that it was inspired by riots is a little known fact to most listeners. This again is an illustration of how the music reflects the character of the area. The words have depth FACTORY | JULY 2014 15
and meaning but music is always a source of fun and escape. Dub poet and a one-time writer in residence for Lambeth Linton Kwesi Johnson wrote his poem Di Great Insohreckshan in response to the events: “it woz in april nineteen eighty wan doun inna di ghetto af Brixtan dat di babylan dem cause such a frickshan dat it bring about a great insohreckshan an it spread all owevah di naeshan it woz truly an histarical occayshan.” Johnson’s Jamaican toasting style was influential to the emerging rap genre, a scene that would eventually flourish in the Brixton area in decades to come.
1985 History repeats itself
n the night of 28 September, Jamaican immigrant Dorothy Groce, known as Cherry, was shot 16 FACTORY | JULY 2014
by the Metropolitan Police while in her bed. The police had entered the premise looking for her son, Michael, who was not in the building at the time of the raid.
“Last night happened because the only time a black man is seen and listened to is when he comes out on the street Michael Groce was under suspicion of a firearms offence. Concerns of institutionalised racism appeared be confirmed by some local residents as rumours spread that Mrs. Groce had died. In fact, she was still alive but had been paralysed from the waist down by the gunshot. Battles in the street between rioters and police began. For 48-hours the police had no control of the area as
looting and fires began. It was a riot that didn’t seem to carry the same cultural significance and outrage as the one previous, but Mrs. Groce remained an important figure in Brixton becoming an icon of survival. After her death in 2011 from liver failure, a plaque was put up in her honour on Normandy Road where the shooting took place. The inquest into the incident continued for years. Eventually, on 10 July 2014, a jury at Southwark Coroner’s Court returned a verdict that concluded eight separate police failures had contributed to Mrs Groce’s death, and that her “subsequent death was contributed to by failures in the planning and implementation of the raid”. The events of 1985 only served to further solidify Brixton’s undesirable reputation. Like in 1981 music was constantly
Left page: Eddy Grant Right page: Rioters in Brixton 1981
reacting to the events by providing commentary and escape to anyone who felt engaged by it.
And the fire is still burning: 1995 & 2001
n the aftermath of the riots in the 80’s significant efforts were made to improve Brixton and repair it’s reputation. This has succeeded in part with the area undergoing partial and gradual gentrification. In those intervening years, other styles of music emerged such as hip-hop. Rap and Madchester had influenced London and bands like Stereo MC were making an impact internationally. Inspired by its past, its future and multi-cultural demographic, rap music began to gain prominence in the area. One man inspired by the movement was Brummie rap hopeful – Mike Skinner.
Skinner moved to Brixton after 1994 to pursue his recording career. His debut album with The Streets, Original Pirate Material, references his adopted area multiple times. In the first single, ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’ he says, “As London Bridge burns down, Brixton is burning up.” The racial tensions in South London were a popular theme in the music produced and those issues once again revealed the undercurrent of unrest in the Brixton community after Wayne Douglas died in police custody on 13th December 1995. Riots broke out after news broke that Douglas had passed away. What had been a peaceful protest outside the police station became a fully-fledged riot. Much of the protesting was racially-charged.After the protests, The New York Times wrote an article quoting Harold Douglas, Wayne’s father, saying, “Last night happened because the only time a
black man is seen and listened to is when he comes out on the street... They cause a million pounds of damage and then people start taking notice.” People were beginning to take notice. In 2011 riots and looting took place after breaking out in Tottenham the previous day. Trevor Ellis, from Brixton Hill, was killed in the London riots when he was shot in nearby Croydon. For many residents in area, Brixton now thrives more than ever on its multiculturalism. The introduction of the Brixton Pound and the movement of becoming a transition town are both attempts at keeping what makes the area distinctly Brixton intact. The issues of racial discrimination still exist under the surface and by looking at the music released in the area will demonstrate that is the case. Yet, Brixton also has a depth and style that is unique and worth fighting for. g FACTORY | JULY 2014 17
SHUT UP AND
Musicians have had a tougher time than ever to find their market. Their influences may be their biggest foes. But where would the world of music be without the Beatles?
he great debate. On any given night outside a London pub there is a group of friends having the same debate others have been having since 1991: “Oasis saved British music.” “Oasis were essentially a Beatles tribute act.” “Oasis had great riffs, but they lack the depth and character of a truly great band. Style over substance!” “Oasis made music I loved to listen to, I don’t give a shit who they sound like” Any of these arguments are often made about one of Britain’s most suc-
18 FACTORY | JULY 2014
cessful bands. Despite the fame, Oasis have constantly been at the butt-end of a common debate. Much of the discussion seems to originate from a natural tension between originality and derivation in terms of musical style. Oasis are just one example of many who, despite success, are regularly derided as being an act whose influences are too prominent and in some respects are simply a tribute to other musicians. Robbie Williams’ recent career is clearly one long tribute to the music
of Frank Sinatra and his contemporaries. Lady Gaga certainly knows how to “express herself ” like Madonna. MGMT, a band on the more “indie” side of the musical spectrum are heavily influenced by the magic of The Flaming Lips. Therefore, this criticism spans all genres and musical capabilities. However, one thing that these acts all have in common is relative success. Perhaps there is lesson for aspiring musicians here, a little bit of the old, mixed with a little bit of new.
PLAY THE HITS
Pictured: Stone Roses at Heaton Park, Manchester in 2012
These comparisons are perhaps unfair. The conclusion that art only imitates itself would mean that there will never be anything new created. This is a feeling expressed by many, but perhaps that is over-estimating the true originality of any musician. How many bands can we point at as being truly original in past 20 years? Perhaps then, there is another explanation for the sense that music has stagnated. It may be better to think of originality as a spectrum of influences over time. Modern technology has turned the consumer onto the entire back catalogue of music’s history. The audience simply has a greater awareness of musicians’ influences
thanks to the broad availability of music from all generations.
BACK WHERE WE STARTED Comparing musicians to those before them is impossible to avoid. It is meant to help people to understand the sound and feeling of a newer musician. Each generation has a distinct sound, but as each goes on it is a continuation of a larger history of music. “Older” music, in recent years, has seen a resurgence in interest. Where once younger generations used to try to defy the music of before (as Chuck Berry would sing, “Hail, hail rock’n’roll - deliver me from the days of old”), today’s youth is embracing their parents’
music. For some, it is more than just an appreciation. These musicians are increasingly a larger and more overt source of inspiration. It’s apparent that now, more than ever, older artists are being embraced by the young generation. Sales of record players, vinyl and most significantly bands long gone have soared. On Record Store Day once-forgotten artists from Big Mamma Thornton to Adam and the Ants are having their records re-released so that the consumers and collectors of today can buy their music. One thing that appears to be driving the Renaissance of musicians from the 50’s all the way through to obscure 80’s or even 90’s acts is the power of the internet. The combination of social
FACTORY | JULY 2014 19
media and online streaming services, such as Spotify, has made the world of music appreciation a much smaller one. It only takes a handful of posts to Facebook with links to Spotify for a song to spread wildly across the internet. There have been numerous artists who have been given a new lease of life using this mechanism in recent years. In 2010, the American television show Glee featured a cover of Journey’s rock anthem “Don’t Stop Believing” in an early episode. The original song saw a revival and went on to become the best-selling rock song in digital history. Technology has allowed consumers to revisit older songs without record labels having to lift a finger or costing the consumer the price of an entire album.
FOR DAYS GONE BY The availability of music combined with access to social media has reaped benefits for acts whose careers have
20 FACTORY | JULY 2014
long past their peak. This success has transcended digital consumption and demand for live performances naturally followed. Festival headliners this year consisted of a fair mix of talents, but in the most recent years past, line-ups have been
“...you’ve got to bring in the old boys because none of the new bands are taking that beacon filled with old groups reuniting. The Stone Roses were long disbanded when they reformed in 2011. The much-hyped tour brought joy longtime fans, but a door was opened to a new wave of adoring fans. One of the more popular attractions at Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm in Pilton is the ‘legends slot’. This summer iconic country star Dolly Parton was given the spot on the Pyramid Stage. The vivacious singer drew a bigger crowd than headliners Arcade Fire and Metallica from Friday and
Saturday night. New Zealander pop singer Lorde was left off the top billings despite having one of the most popular albums of the year, but giving new acts tops slots is often a gamble for festival organisers who need to sell tickets. Lorde was given the supporting role at Lollapalooza, but a headliner at the Ottawa Folk Festival, a smaller festival in Canada aimed at independent and emerging talents. There was more criticism than usual over this summer’s choices for headliners. Many had chosen the same artists (Arcade Fire headlined both Glastonbury and the British Summer Time Festival and Arctic Monkeys are headlining the Reading and Leeds Festivals, T in the Park as well as Lollapalooza in Chicago). Even the choice of metal band Metallica was considered a left-field choice for the Glastonbury organisers despite the band being one of the most established metal bands of all time. Many new artists trying to get the top slot struggle and settle for the smaller stages, but those organisers
who take chances on new talent are often rewarded. Latitude in Suffolk have three bands that have never headlined for a British festival before, including Northern Irish band Two Door Cinema Club who had success with their second album Beacon, which charted at number two on the UK Albums Chart. In an interview with BBC’s Newsbeat, You Met At Six frontman Josh Franceschi said, “The industry hasn’t really allowed new bands to take that pole position in the last 10 years. They keep supporting manufactured pop acts, you’ve got to bring in the old boys because none of the new bands are taking that beacon.” Revenue is often the factor when it comes to support. The Rolling Stones had the top slot at Glasto last year – a band so far established in their career that there was no chance for failure. It is obvious that the older and more established an act is, the more tickets they will sell. The Stones are possibly the biggest band still performing. Casting a wider net for an audience is more important in ticket sales not only for the current years but to improve the prominence for the coming years. In a digital streaming age, it has become more complex for younger musicians. Live shows have become the important selling factor. When
new bands are limited to supporting roles, it is fair to ask whether that is damaging perceptions of new music. Getting the top slot generates hype which leads to success.
ON THE RECORD The problem for new musicians is that increasingly, the music industry is incentivised to play it safe. Classic acts are a safe bet for those who hope to make profits from digital, physical and live music. This has manifested itself into trends becoming almost as important as the music itself. These trends seem to, more often than not, originate from the revival of a classic genre. Over the last decade, iconic songwriter Bob Dylan has experienced a surge in popularity among younger audiences. Record labels were quick to capitalize on the re-emergence of the folk genre. There was a new interest in signing bands with a familiar sound. In recent years, there has been a British folk revival. English band Mumford & Sons have been one of the most successful bands in recent years. They won two Grammy’s and received 12 nominations in three years. Other smaller acts from the same West London scene like Johnny Flynn
and Noah and the Whale have seen similar success, if only on a smaller scale. This trend has spread globally with bands like Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire having global success. While record labels are constantly looking for trends in the music scene, it is often this inspiration that is seen as the downfall for many musicians. One of the biggest criticisms a band can get is that they sound ‘too much’ like those who influenced them. Folk singer Adam White says he has resorted to self-producing an album in a genre that is severely saturated. “It is disheartening to be an artist in a music world where you are filtered down to your sound,” says White. “To them, it doesn’t matter that I could offer something different, record labels just want the biggest selling sound.” So what does this embracing of older music really mean? And how does it relate to the success of newer musicians? It would seem that the problem new bands face is that they are a risky proposition in a business that has gradually become more and more risk averse. The lesson we should learn is that it is increasingly hard to be truly original and perhaps we should give new bands a break. It seems, now is a good time to be old in the world of music. g
FACTORY | JULY 2014 21
Getting what you can’t have: Britain’s rise of tribute bands
There are many things to be certain of in life: taxes, death and tribute bands on cruise ships, but is this one tacky stereotype outdated?
t any given time aboard cruiseships on the world’s oceans and seas, there is a Bee Gee’s tribute or a Village People group singing the hits of 70s past. While renditions of “YMCA” and “More Than a Woman” may bring out the showgirl in any guest, the clichéd and tacky stereotype is antiquated and only serves to undermine the value of tribute bands as an act that offer something special. Far away from the exotic oceans and back under-foot, in rainy Britain, is a type a tribute band that has surpassed the kitsch. There is a world of tribute acts that include a vast amount of love and understanding of music the musicians they perform. The Venue in New Cross has a tribute band performing almost every Saturday. Tonight The Smyths are the headline act. 22 FACTORY | JULY 2014
On stage is ‘Morrissey’ and crew – or perhaps what they would look like if The Smiths had grown fonder of each other over the years. The Smiths had separated back in 1987 when guitarist Johnny Marr separated ways with the band. While the rumour mill is constantly turning with whispers of a potential
“We remain constantly amazed at how big this is getting reunion, the hopes of one day seeing the band on stage once more have been dead for decades, with only the most wildly optimistic holding out any hope of a return.
The Smyths have been a successful tribute act for Manchester band the Smiths for over 11 years. “A Smiths band of Smiths fans for Smiths fans” offers the closest concert experience possible to the real thing. The band set out to be a tribute act unlike most – there are no wigs or silly costumes. No nonsense, just like The Smiths themselves decades before. Instead there are honest and faithful performances for the droves of Smiths fans wishing it was 1985. Graham Sampson is The Smyths’ frontman, making him Morrissey in effect. There are many striking similarities between the two men – fantastic cheekbones and the famous pompadour. But perhaps the biggest compliment one can pay Sampson is that he seems to capture the essence of Morrisey’s on
stage persona. It’s hard to describe, but it has elements of confidence, nonchalance while still being emotionally engaging. The singer-songwriter also contributes music outside his Smyths career. His band beautiful mechanica has become his other music outlet after receiving comments that many tribute acts receive which is “why don’t you do your own music”. “In the Smyths I have to be someone else and with that comes the straight jacket of being that other person,” says Sampson. “With my own work, the statements are mine and I have the freedom to be and say what I want. The constant in both is the attention to lyrics and their importance, though I could only hope of being anywhere as good as Morrissey in that regard, in songs that combine strong melody with emotion. The interesting journey will be to see if they can co-exist.” There can be a large amount of success for a band performing such iconic material. Not all bands pay tribute to bands gone – there is still a demand for those acts that are difficult to come by. The Cure are one of the most recognizable and popular British alternative bands. Their three-night run at Royal Albert Hall sold out instantly from presales of tickets from members of the immense fan club. Those unlucky enough to miss the benefit show are graced with alternatives like The Cureheads. The band had a tour in South America in 2012, even having the chance to have original Cure drummer Andy Anderson
perform with them (he didn’t – he never showed up for his flight). The Cureheads have played for over half a million fans – a success even original bands see. “Tributes to bands that actually existing, to my mind, are providing a different proposition which is to hear those songs for less or hear more often. When the Antarctic Monkeys came about I failed to see the need other than to enjoy the songs for less money. I guess it’s a win-win as the original act are having their songs promoted for them and it likely does mean more record sales,” Sampson says. There is certainly a larger demand and
impact for tribute acts for bands that are no longer around. “I think that a tribute to a band no longer alive or together exists to keep that band’s music alive as a live proposition. The plays of Shakespeare did not die with him and neither should the live performance - in full.” The Smyths success has brought them to the stages of Glastonbury and to several shows in Europe. These performances, especially at the prestigious Glasto, are a sign that these bands are beginning to transcend novelty. “We remain constantly amazed at how big this is getting,” says Sampson I don’t think in our wildest dreams we could have imagined some of the things that have happened and indeed some of the very big opportunities that now lay before us as the pre-eminent tribute to The Smiths globally. I once said that a Smiths tribute could never become as big as one for The Beatles, Stones or Abba.” As their show closes at the Venue, fans are drunk and happy. Many of the older in the crowd reminisce about the days gone. Younger fans chat excitedly about finally seeing their favourite band live. The Smyths have brought The Smiths back to life – if only for tonight. g Clockwise rom left to right: The Smyths, The Smiths, The Smyths upcoming show in Harlow, Essex on 1st August
FACTORY | JULY 2014 23
Echo & The Bunnymen The Bunnymen travel new grounds while the classics still gleam
Echo & the Bunnymen O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London June 8
an McCulloch was never a modest man. Throughout his years as the frontman of indie darlings Echo & the Bunnymen, McCulloch has made his fair share of bold statements about the band’s music. In fact, the publicity around the 1984 classic Ocean Rain revolved around proclaiming it the ‘greatest album ever made’. Their night at London’s Shepherd’s Bush tested the band’s chops to see if their newest album still live up to the bold statements made years before. Their debut album Crocodiles was released more than three decades ago in 1980. The Liverpudlian band have since released eleven albums over
24 FACTORY | JULY 2014
that time (twelve if you include 1990’s Reverberation – the only album not to feature McCulloch), and most of them great. On Sunday night, they are performing as a six-piece but it is just McCulloch and Will Sergeant left from the original line-up. They’ve somehow managed to release a new album that stands out beyond anything they have released since their initial 1988 split. Their latest attempt, Meteorites, is the strongest release since 2005’s Siberia. The string arrangements that are so synonymous with the band are the best they’ve sounded in years, and certain tracks remind their listeners that they still have something worth listening to. Every album released is always said to be the best, and it seems only obvious that the McCulloch and Sergeant
try to show off the new material as much as a possible. And yet, they still give the crowd a taste of the 80s classics that they are clearly salivating for. The concert had been postponed for nearly a month after several dates had to be cancelled due to McCulloch’s throat infection. A few weeks on and it is difficult to believe that he had any sort of issues at all. His vocal performance at Shepherd’s Bush put him in the league of Robert Smith – aging well, almost gracefully. The band looked as mysterious as they sounded surrounded in shadows and dry ice. The brightest moments of the show came at the end when the boys eventually caved to play what most of the crowd was waiting for. It seems a shame. McCulloch has said that he believes this has been the band’s best
work in a long time. The album was entirely funded by fans through the website PledgeMusic, but the crowd seemed genuinely uninterested in anything that happened beyond 1988. The band still have managed to keep so much attention, though, as their names have become iconic. “Lips like Sugar” was enough to wake the crowd into fits of dancing frenzy while ‘The Killing Moon,’ arguably the most popular track from an illustrious career, filled the room with a wondrous chilling effect. While it is difficult to think of bands like the Bunnymen could ever improve on what they did best thirty years ago, there is still so much to enjoy and love about a band so committed to live up to their golden years. g
THE VIEW FROM THE CROWD Oliver Thornton, 29, London:
“It was great to finally see a band I’ve always wanted to see. Their new stuff was okay, but I’m here for the classics. Considering the gig was cancelled due to Ian’s voice, I thought he sounded great.”
Festival goers leave their mark: Glastonbury clean up to take six weeks with 800 litter pickers before the site is back to normal • Organisers’ first priority is to get campers off the farm before the clean-up can begin • Headliners this year included Dolly Parton, Jack White and metal band Metallica • Volunteers have 1,200 acres to clean up with the help of tractors that could take weeks
nd the great Glasto clean-up prepares to begin once again. Hundreds of people have volunteered to help restore the festival site in Pilton, Somerset. The Worthy Farm land is currently flooded with the rubbish of 120,000 festival goers. The dairy farm is still under the ownership of festival founder Michael Eavis, 78. He claims that the area still has a few years of concerts left in it. Campers had until 6pm to vacate the grounds, but still, a large part of the clean-up process included getting left-behind people off the field. Once that is finally complete, only then can the cleanup finally begin. Tractors with magnetic strips will then begin the arduous task of combing the site to pick up any remaining tent pegs.
Many of those who came to listen to the acts left behind plenty from rubbish to chairs and tents on the camping fields. Recycling centres are available on site for use. All of the waste on site is sorted into recycling groups. The volunteers are working 5-hour shifts and it will take weeks for the entire farm to be clean again. Visitors had to battle weather all weekend as they were handed torrential rain, electric storms and hail. The weather was a bad for those in the tents as it was for the land itself. It could take up to six weeks to revert the campgrounds back into a dairy farm. Performances over the weekend included Lily Allen, Lana Del Rey and Jake Bugg. The final show on Sunday was Kasabian on the main Pyramid Stage. g
James Sephton, 27, Barnsley:
“I just came because my mate had a free ticket.” Diana Grassi, 34, Richmond:
“I thought they showed enough dynamism and reproduced the older stuff very well, and better than I’d anticipated they would. My Kingdom and Seven Seas were personal highlights, as they are on the records.”
FACTORY | JULY 2014 25
The Horrors Luminous
Luminous casts light on a once-dark Horrors
t seems the most improbable transformation that this band, who were once a quintet of spidery-legged mop heads, have emerged as indie music innovators. The ghoulish sound from their self-titled debut could easily be mistaken for an entirely different band. Back then, they were a bit of a laugh, a harmless caricature of the band they have since become. Somehow in the span of less than a decade with their fourth album, Luminous, The Horrors have moulded themselves into fine musicians – a direction attempted by many,
26 FACTORY | JULY 2014
yet rarely with the same success. Luminous is as, well, luminous as the title suggests. The bright sound is hypnotic and welcoming, an entirely different direction to the screeches and shadows of their 2007 debut, Strange House. The hair has lost volume and their clothes now seem to be the right size. The Horrors have grown up and patted that last bit of soil on the grave that holds the memory of what they were. The music is vibrant and what can only be described as energetic. Like an epic fantasy novel, the
sounds soar and dive, but it has complexities that are in the textures of sound. It is a spectacle to hear. Songs like “So Now You Know” and “Jealous Sun” are two of the most accessible of the tracks, but they balance their melodies with the wall of sound. The fact that the band have had a consistent line-up since their debut is remarkable when taking into consideration how much they have sharply changed directions with their sound. Although, it did feel like the album that would never arrive. The band
scrapped their initial try, giving up the September 2013 release date. Nevertheless, it seems that the decision was largely a good one, since Luminous is, at times, sublime while at others a little heavy. Their biggest critics will say that they have always wore their influences too openly, but it is difficult to fault them when their choices are so good. The sound is now unique, their own (although for ease, we’ll call it neo-psychedelic). The Horrors are now an extremely accomplished act musically. The next step of the evolution seems to be lyrically, where there is some room for improvement, even at the fourth attempt Despite the stark contrast between the band heard today, and the band we heard on their debut, it is not a shock to those who have followed them since that they have continued to alter and adjust their sound. Luminous feels like an evolution of 2011’s excellent Skying. Perhaps this sound is the one they are honing to become distinctly theirs. The opening of ‘Jealous Sun’ has whining guitars that are ear-bending enough to make My Bloody Valentine want to re-think their last album, but ‘I See You’ is clearly the jewel of the entire venture. The dizzying textures of synth are reminiscent of Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’. Both songs have use the hypnotic technique of layering and repeating the vocals. Badwan’s voice, it must be noted, has vastly improved over the course of the four albums. His baritone has developed into a range of soft to grandiose. It is the danceability that proves the Horrors are still ahead of the pack. They remain eclectic in their tastes while attempting a more inclusive sound. Luminous, while it shines bright in parts, feels like more of the same. Not the finest moment in the band’s flourishing career, but it feels like the perfect stepping-stone in the right direction. The future still feels full of promise. g
Good golly look at Dolly! Dolly plays a Saxy set at Glasto
here are very few performers at this summer’s festivals who could pull off performing in a full rhinestone jumpsuit, but Dolly Parton managed it – just. The country favourite, and godmother to Miley Cyrus, donned a tight white crystal encrusted catsuit and her signature head of voluminous bleached locks while performing her set on the festival’s famed Pyramid Stage. The 68-year-old singer also made sure to show off her enhanced figure in a revealing low-cut top. Her bubbly performance was almost as sparkling as much as her suit. One of the largest crowds of the weekend gathered to watch the performance of hits like ‘9 to 5’ and ‘Jolene’. But Twitter rained on Dolly’s parade when people were furious at accusations that Parton was miming. Miming or not, Dolly strutted on stage carrying a guitar matched to
her outfit while showing off her skills as a seasoned musician. The piece de resistance for the night was an irreverent rendition of ‘The Benny Hill Theme’, which Dolly performed on a tiny saxophone that was, of course, rhinestone encrusted. Dolly said to the crowd, “You can’t say I didn’t get stoned today. I never leave a rhinestone unturned! This little sucker is a saxophone. It’s just my size, ain’t it? And I was feeling pretty saxy today.” The comical antics continued as Dolly presented a song she wrote especially for the night about the festival’s mud problem, but it won’t be winning an award any time soon as she sang, “Mud, mud, mud, mud. Up to our bums in all this crud.” Thankfully she mostly stuck to the hits and finished the night off with a powerful rendition of her classic, ‘I Will Always Love You’ as a thank you to all the fans that came to see her. g FACTORY | JULY 2014 27
A Q&A with Kieran Spiers Being a new musician can be difficult – especially in the competitive scene in London. Metal singer Kieran Spiers shares his thoughts on social media overload and that constant struggle to juggle work and passions
Could you tell me about yourself and your band? Ariyah got together about a year ago as the guitarist and main songwriter and I had been friends for several years and met through previous bands. We’d been threatening to do a recording project since day one as I loved the technicality and span of his writing and he seemed to like my particular brand of horrible noises. Since we recorded the first demos we pulled in some friends from other projects we’d done and have done some gigs in and around London and the South. What are the biggest struggles the band playing in and around London? London is such a musically active city that what could be considered a relatively “underground” scene is saturated with artists vying for attention. As a fan, it’s amazing, but it does mean that on any gig night you are up against 1,001 other things and it can seem almost impossible to make a splash. Another major one is money, London is an expensive place to live and get around while being in a band is an expensive habit, hobby 28 FACTORY | JULY 2014
and lifestyle. It’s very easy to get stuck in a catch-22 situation where you need to work to have money to be in a band, but tying yourself down to a contract means you can’t up sticks, go on tour and promote the band, but to do that you need money, but then you can’t play.
What is the greatest advantage to playing around the capitol? Without doubt it’s the community element, at least in the scene I’m part of. Fans become friends, you’ll see the same kids going to your friend’s gig that come to yours, going to a show becomes more like a big social meet with some cool music on the side. I’ve been put on gigs that are, realistically, above my band’s level on the basis that the promoter likes hanging out with us and thinks we aren’t completely shit. The added bonus is that a band from the capital with a perceived following carries a lot of weight, if you’re seen to have cracked London you’ll usually do pretty well elsewhere in the country because people want to be a part of the big
thing – no matter how they deny it. How do you and your band find your fans or crowd.
Are there certain types a venues, gig nights, social media? Which of these are the most successful? The prevalence of social media has been a blessing and a curse – never has it been easier to get your music out to the exact sort of people who would appreciate it, but never has there been so many other bands also trying to and able to be seen just as easily as you. Bands can go so far as buying masses of Facebook “likes” in order to look like they are successful with a large following. Perception counts for a lot in the social media era. Playing a show case night in a dingy bar with three other bands of conflicting styles was seen as the done thing, you had to cut your teeth before you could ascend to lofty heights of playing to people who would actually care, but this is being replaced by a guy on Facebook messaging three bands he digs and putting them on in order of how many likes they
have. We can’t rely solely on songs or on gigs or on social media, there doesn’t seem to be one-quick-trick to getting attention but our best gains have come from being multi-media; giving out physical flyers with a QR code to a free download, or the first 5 people to share a Youtube video get a free T shirt at the next gig they come to. Content streaming like Youtube or Soundcloud where anyone can upload their video/song and fans can find similar material through shared tags has to be one of the easiest methods to get yourself out to potential fans and it doesn’t cost a penny.
Musicians pay tribute to the late soul singer Bobby Womack
Is there a supportive scene or usual group of musicians that you play with? There are promoters who will always put on a couple of bands from a pool of friends and all the others will often be in attendance. This could come across as cliquey and insular but the groups of fans, bands and friends are always growing and diversifying.
What are Ariyah working on now? We’ve put a recording online so that it’s free download and are spreading this everywhere, through posters, flyers, hashtags, web forums, Facebook groups. We’ve got this song out there as something for people to listen to while we finish off recording the remaining tracks for the EP and cultivate some buzz. We’re looking to have a big drop; have new merchandise, a video which we’ve filmed for free as part of a friend’s uni project, a self-produced EP to save on cost and have people talking about us so that when people hear our name and go to check us out, we’ve got the full package. In London you only get a few seconds of people looking at you then it’s onto the next one, you’ve got to have enough to hold their attention for longer. g Ariyah will be performing at Screamfest in Croydon on 23 August. http://ariyah.bandcamp.com
Music’s greatest stars have been paying their tributes to the late musician Bobby Womack, who died on 27 June.
espects were given from musicians spanning many genres of music – from soul to rock and roll to hip-hop including Ronnie Wood and Damon Albarn. Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 2009 and wrote many hits for musicians while also working as a session musician and writing many of his own memorable songs. Womack was best known for hits like ‘Across 112th Street’ and ‘That’s the Way I Feel About Chu’. The Rolling Stones’ first UK number one hit ‘It’s All Over Now’ was a cover of Womack’s. He was urged to let the band cover his song by his friend, and 50’s icon, Sam Cooke. Ronnie Wood gave his respects in a series of tweets saying the passing of the musician, “the man who could make you cry when he sang has brought tears to my eyes with his passing.” Damon Albarn, who collaborated with Womack with his band Gorillaz, said on
Twitter that he will ‘see my brother in church’. He had contributed vocals for two tracks on the 2010 album Plastic Beach. During their set at Glastonbury Festival on Sunday night, indie band Kasabian changed the lyrics to their song ‘Vlad the Impaler’ to pay their own tribute. Frontman Tom Meighan made adjustments their song to reference the soul singer by singing, “Bobby Womack see you on the other side”. He was to headline Peter Gabrielle‘s WOMAD world music festival in Charlton Park this July. Gabrielle issued a statement saying, “Very sad to learn of Bobby Womack’s death. His songs and his voice have been so much a part of the fabric of so many musical lives.” Womack passed away on 27 June at the age of 70. The cause of death has not yet been announced, but the singer had been suffering from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. g
FACTORY | JULY 2014 29
Record Store Day 2014 breaks its own records Vinyl has now surpassed its status as a growing trend into something that is both popular and now established. That has never more apparent than during the annual event of Record Store Day. The UK rang in its sixth year with more limited releases than ever (that would be those special releases that mega fans wake up at the crack of dawn to queue hours for). Independent record stores across Britain braced themselves for the busiest day of the year. 2014 ended up being the most successful year yet. Here is how this year’s numbers shaped up:
special releases in this year’s event – that would be the most ever
years since the UK’s first official RSD shindig in 2008
2007 the year
the world began to care about those big black discs again
pounds – the amount of cash flow generated from the 2013 bash
ent shops participated this year as official sellers
most successful last full-length year yet release
500 copies re-
leased of Paul Weller’s ‘Brand New Toy’, one 133% the 780,000 units 2000 copies of the most amount of inin LP sales last sold of the Pix- limited editions crease in vinyl year, the most ies’ newest alsales from the of the year and in 15 years bum Indie Cin- the most reweek prior dy- the biggest sold as unauselling album of thorised sales 30% of that on 2 the numthe year in the on eBay by ber of decades 19 April alone, touts g since the Pixies’ UK making it the *Figures from the Figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the official Record Store Day website, and Neilson SoundScan
30 FACTORY | JULY 2014
FACTORY | JULY 2014 31
It’s cold outside And the paint’s peeling off of my walls There’s a man outside In a long coat, grey hat, smoking a cigarette
Final MA journalism project for Krista Culbertson.