05 Nov/Dec Issue
Exeter Flying Post Nov/Dec 2011
Politics Arts Music Culture
anti-lifestyle issue Homelessness, Gonzo Binge, Jeffrey Lewis, Submotion Orchestra, The Fry up Review + More!â„˘
Exeter Flying Post
Exeter Flying Post Issue 05
05jack's ways of the word
vhils 14 Gonzo binge 17 jeffrey lewis 19submotion orchestra21fry up review 11
Itâ€™s almost a year ago that we set about creating a mag that we felt would bring something new to the table, inspired by others creating independent DIY projects that still managed to reach a wider audience. A year on and the dream continues. This issue we explore the theme of Anti-lifestyle. The tone is set with an educational introduction to the mag, and along the way we revisit the issue of homelessness, a topic we discussed a year ago. Leave all sense of objectivity at the door as we take you on
a Gonzo journey to the outer reaches of a drunken, decadent mind with Goffman & Gromadski. Learn about the best (and worst) fry-ups in town while reading interviews with Submotion Orchestra, Jeffrey Lewis and Vhils (that guy who carved the face on the side of Urban Outfitters).
Managing Editor: Gustavo Navarro Editor: oliver tolkien Photo-Director: Robert Darch
Art Direction: Nia Gould Advertising: Claire Bryden Front Cover Photo by: robert darch
Enjoy (or Dream on), EFP
Contributors: Clement Van Sea, Steve Maclean, Kel Varnsen, Jack Cunliffe, Patrick Cullum, Benny Gromadski, Michael Goffman, Sean Neagle, Andrew Oxley, Zoe Bulaitis, Wyck Thayer, Whitey Fisk. firstname.lastname@example.org | www.flyingpostmag.com | Printed by cowdallsprinters.co.uk Exeter Flying post welcomes all editorial submissions. No responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. All letter and submissions will be treated for publication and copyright purposes and subject to EFPâ€™s right to edit and comment editorially. All rights reserved on entire content; nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Opinions expressed in articles are those of the author. Any similarities between persons or places mentioned or alluded to in the fiction and real places or persons living are purely coincidental.
Clement Van Sea
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Lifestyle, Consumerism and Activism: Is it truly possible to be ‘anti-lifestyle’ in the contemporary West? “To be entirely non-hypocritical while attempting to live ethically is almost impossible from within a society fuelled by profit and, arguably, lacking in social conscience” What is ‘lifestyle’? The word makes me think of glossy magazines telling women how to be women, jet-setting businessmen, the middle-class humus-eating bourgeoisie, religious fanatics and nudists (there’s seldom crossover between these two groups). Put simply, lifestyle means ‘the way in which an individual or group of people live’. But we don’t all live the same way. There are hippies, yuppies, goths, punks, people who spend precisely 67% of their time watching X-Factor and singing karaoke and others who dedicate much of their lives to style itself: hipsters. Anti-lifestyle, then, might be the rejection of hegemonic ways of living, and the adoption of more alternative ways of life. Then there are those who dedicate much of their time to changing our perceptions of ‘lifestyle’, or the parameters in which we can, or can’t, choose to live our lives within. Political activists tend to be fundamentally anti-lifestyle in several ways. It isn’t always the case, and there are some who rally against the ills of the world while simultaneously espousing factors that contribute to the global ill health. To be entirely non-hypocritical while attempting to live ethically is almost impossible from within a society fuelled by profit and, arguably, lacking in social conscience, but for most, activism includes abstaining from certain lifestyle choices which impact negatively on the lives of others. To be a totally righteous political or environmental activist could mean refraining from eating chocolate, not using a mobile phone containing coltan, walking or cycling rather than contributing CO2 to the Earth’s atmosphere through driving, refraining from eating meat and dairy, and not reading the Daily Mail. Some of these sacrifices are easy to make; sparing oneself the hateful bile of the UK’s right-wing press does wonders for your mental health, very possibly even extending your life expectancy. But others, such as not driving or giving up a favourite food, can feel like huge sacrifices. People who do choose to aren’t simply punishing themselves, though. In fact, the rewards far outweigh anything an activist might miss out on. Actively engaging in societal issues can provide an alternative ‘anti-lifestyle’ more fulfilling than the benefits of electrical gadgets, the freedom driving gives, or submitting yourself to the products of Nestle.
The greatest bonus is a sense of empowerment. In the modern age of global capitalism it’s easy to feel as if you are merely a guest on a runaway train with no say in its destination or right to complain about the complimentary snacks. This, of course, is a misconception, and in truth we are all the manufacturers, drivers and fully paid-up passengers of the train – though some of us get more say on its destination than others. Nevertheless, no matter how weak our individual socio-economic power might be, collectively we can assert some influence, switch the tracks, or, as has been necessary many times throughout history, derail the polluting locomotive altogether and seek more egalitarian forms of transport. We’re currently seeing people awaken from slumber across the globe; in the Middle East the Arab spring continues to struggle to assert itself; in America the Occupy Wall Street movement has captured the imagination of many who have never dissented before; and here in the UK a new wave of political activism led by students and UK Uncut has taken on bankers and the politicians. Exeter’s own Anti-Cuts Alliance has done its part in opposing local government cuts and the privatisation of the NHS, with more Exonians joining with each week. It seems the rejection of the principles of those who play the biggest part in shaping our lifestyles is becoming a lifestyle choice in itself, but the benefits are more than merely psychological or ideological. For many people living in the UK today, the sense of community once existing in towns and cities across Britain has eroded. Some point to immigrants as their scapegoats, but the real ‘us and them’ ought to be drawn along dividing lines of wealth and the lifestyle that wealth affords, not colour or creed. Actively engaging with others in a shared struggle - whether it is on a small local issue or against the entire government - does more than merely empower the individual. It can encourage new understandings of other people’s situations, provide a wealth of exciting experiences, and foster new relationships. A friend made united in a cause is a friend indeed. Our notions of lifestyle today seem inextricably linked to consumerism and advertising: are you worth it? What’s in your wallet? Do you have a WKD side? Our identities are increasingly defined by our consumer choices and capitalism has succeeded in persuading us that the only way to rebel against it is through what we choose to purchase. Until that changes, is it really possible to be truly anti-lifestyle? It would appear not.
Words by Clement Van Sea
Photo by Whitey Fisk
“One of the striking things about homeless people is that they rarely meet people’s preconceptions or fit the lazy stereotypes… Most are just people for whom something went wrong, often not of their own making.”
Words & Interview by Steve Maclean. Homelessness in Exeter Outside London, Exeter has one of the UK’s highest concentrations of rough sleepers, with latest government estimates putting the number at 21 people on the streets of Exeter’s capital city. However, those same estimates put London’s rough sleeping population at just 414, while the homeless charity Crisis claims it is closer to 4000. Accurately measuring the number of homeless people anywhere is difficult because of their transient nature, and the fact that it’s often within their interest to hide from view. Several charities have accused the government of deliberately playing down homelessness statistics, but even considering their conservative estimate, Exeter’s figure is high compared to other similar sized cities in the UK.
So why? Is it just down to the relatively forgiving climate here? Or is there a bigger problem beneath Exeter’s charming Cathedral city exterior? Last September, Cllr Hannaford told the Express & Echo, “We are not getting the support we need to tackle this issue. And with the cuts and changes to benefits we are going to be heading into a perfect storm this autumn.” Activists and concerned citizens protested against local government at the County Hall in February to no avail. At the time, the chairman of Devon Association of Support Providers, Richard Crompton, was critical of the cuts which saw 40% of funding slashed from homeless groups’ service budgets. Fortunately, we have charities trying to provide the services many people think ought to be provided by the state.
St. Petrock’s Gill Luckings is the External Communications Manager at St Petrocks, Exeter’s only centre for homeless people, “We’re not the typical day centre. Yes we provide basic survival services; that’s really to draw people in as much as anything, because clearly providing hot food, clothing and showers is very helpful to people” she tells me. “People don’t necessarily want to open up straight away...It’s about listening to people and seeing what’s happening with them, and then ultimately there will be an action plan put together…Some will be here for two hours, some will be here for two years.” We’re sitting in a room upstairs overlooking the large foyer below where I can see clusters of people chatting and a group of four guys sat around a chessboard. Later, as I leave, I walk past them and overhear their conversation about telekinesis. That’s one of the striking things about homeless people. They rarely meet people’s preconceptions or fit the lazy stereotypes. That’s because homelessness can happen to anyone out of the blue. There isn’t a single shared trait or philosophy; most are just people for whom something went wrong, often not of their own making. “It can happen to anyone. You can have a very privileged background and end up on the streets. It’s more about life experience, and people’s individual histories,” says Gill.
Meeting Slide Like all the other homeless people I’ve spoken to, Slide Martins is friendly and keen to talk to me. He’s 59 now, wears a jester-like hat, has a long thin beard and has been homeless for thirty-one years. Originally from Brixton, he tells me he’s been all over the country over the years – “from Land’s End to John O’Groats” – and that he’s now happy living rough: “Once you get into it it’s hard to get out of. I couldn’t live in a house now,” I’m surprised to hear this. He tells me that he chose to live rough, and that he’s happier living this way, but I wonder if it’s that simple. I often tell people that I chose not to drive because I dislike cars and hate the damage they do to the environment. That’s true, but it’s an explanation that neglects the fact that I twice took and failed my driving test at 17. Sometimes we convince ourselves it was our choice, or choose to avoid something we fear we might fail at, but even if homelessness was a choice for Slide, it certainly isn’t for many others who find themselves on the streets. I ask Slide about his experiences with the public - the good and the bad,
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“I’ve had people wanting to put me up, pay for me to stay in hotels for the night, buy me vehicles, let me stay in their sheds. But on the other hand I’ve had people throw glass bottles at me, and I’ve had people try to set me alight while I was asleep.” Despite their contempt for him, Slide seems on a far higher philosophical plain: “They’re just people, aren’t they? They don’t understand. They’re mis-educated.” I tell him I find it ironic that despite their complete lack of empathy, he makes excuses for them, rather than condemn them back. “If I saw them fall over in the street I’d help them up, but if they see me fall they won’t help me up…I saw a programme on the telly a few years back now, they got a geezer in a suit in the West End of London laying on the floor. It took 33 seconds before someone helped him up. Then they got the geezer dressed as a homeless person; dirty coat, hat on, lying on the floor. It took 15 minutes before someone approached him.” There’s no bitterness in what he’s saying. He’s telling me just as one might tell anyone about any interesting social phenomenon. As we talk, it strikes me that he’s very well informed about what’s going on in the world. He tells me that’s down to his radio, which he tunes into BBC World Service every night. I ask Slide about St Petrock’s. “I was there the day the place opened, but I give it another six years and it will be closed,” Why is that? I ask, “because of where it’s situated on the Cathedral green. People complain about homeless people sitting on the green drinking, dogs, all that. They’re saying if Petrock’s wasn’t there, people wouldn’t come here, but they get their property free from the church. If they moved, they couldn’t afford the rent, the rates, know what I mean?” Shouldn’t people think themselves lucky and have more empathy? “It doesn’t matter what people have, they still want more,” he says. “People win the lottery and they’ll still buy a ticket.” Before I leave, Slide asks me if I play chess. I tell him that I love the game, and he instantly challenges me – “But I’m warning you, I never lose” – so I inform him I’ll play him in a few days when I come back to see him. As I leave, I ask him if he’ll ever leave the streets. “I’ll be homeless till the day I die,” he says. Living in society is a game he’ll never lose either, because it’s a game he’s decided not to play anymore. Slide has adapted over the years, but most of the homeless people I speak to are desperate to get back on the ladder and salvage something for themselves. Perhaps if there was more of a safety net for him 30 years ago, Slide would never have become so accustomed to his simple way of life. Unfortunately, it’s likely there are going to be a lot more people like him. In some ways at least, that isn’t such a bad thing.
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Jack’s Ways of the Word shrink-o-matic with him. Sadly he left this atop Big Ben when a passing joke from an intern almost led to him attempting to shrink the houses of parliament so he could actually fit them in his pocket. He instead reaches for his bat wings (thankfully Peter Mandelson had returned them after his sun and fun holiday to Malaga) and glides with consummate serpentine grace from the building, leaving Brooks with the 80 computers, 35 filing cabinets and the most intense scurryfunge of the last epoch. Scorched earth policy is implemented; the burning begins. “What of the novelty desk knocker?” she yells, but she is answered by the silent space once occupied by he who probably should not be named. Pen drives disappear, files are deleted, documents shredded, call histories vanish and magazines are tidily stacked, but to no avail. Her desk is already metaphorically packed, the amoretto from the coffee is well discarded; the cookies on the computer remain. You see, a scurryfunge is useless, as something is always forgotten, and if the ‘duality complex’ is not strictly adhered to, the process is immediately and completely obsolete – much like the word itself and, therefore, this highly pointless article. (Editor’s note: Please be aware that all of the situations in this article are satirical observations regarding the reporting of events and not the actual events which, of course, we would not comment on).
Illustration by Patrick Cullum
This edition’s word seems to flop off the tongue in the most delightfully erotic way. Scurryfunge (say it again if you like, it’s ok, no one’s listening) is an old English verb that describes one’s frantic and panic-driven rampage around a scruffy and littered room when a guest’s arrival is drawing imminently near, hastily pawing uncultured or possibly obscene items and literature beneath the sofas, lunging around obstacles and smashing ornaments in the desperation to clean the room and show off your freshly scoured soul to ‘those that will arrive’. In operational terms, the act of the scurryfunge often incorporates a ‘scorched earth policy’, whereby anything that is not immediately recognised as an item of value is discarded as the ground is ‘scorched’ of all nefarious evidence. In relation to this theory, the ‘scurryfunge duality complex’ can be illustrated by an extreme example. Picture if you will, good pals Murdoch and Brooks enjoying a latte laced with children’s tears, sprinkled with the shattered fragments of journalistic idealism and topped off with a media monopoly marshmallow. The intercom buzzes and the secretary informs them of some terrible news in precise, clipped tones. “Hello Lord Brigadier Murdoch, Sir” (this is irrefutably what he likes to be called), “there are some people here asking questions about phone hacking. I have just sent them up”. Murdoch chokes on his liquid sin. One of the harbingers of the apocalypse has arrived. Panic ensues. Murdoch checks if he has his
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URBAN OUTFIT TERS 2 2 9 H I G H ST E X E T E R 2 5 TH N OV E M B E R 2 0 1 1 WWW.URBANOUTFITTERS.CO.UK
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U R B A N w h o ? Ya y, Urban Outfitters. We’ve been around for a while and you may have encountered us on your travels. We were born way back in 1970, on a college campus in Philadelphia. It took until 1998 for us to plant a flag in the UK, but now we’re quietly working our way around. And so, Exeter it is, our latest venture. We’re taking residence on the High Street opposite the lovely House of Fraser, and you may recognise us from all the activity. if you’ve walked around with your eyes open you won’t have missed the building. Urban Outfitters is proud to have commissioned international artist, Vhils, to create a new and contemporary artwork on the side of the store. If you haven’t seen it already, start at the far end of the High Street and look out for the face. Get nearer to it and work out how its created. Pretty cool. So what do we do? Well we’re a proud retailer of Women’s and Men’s brands and vintage clothing, as well as a purveyor of homeware, gift, books, and music. Go see.
Urban Outfitters - 229 High St, Exeter Flying
URBAN OUTFIT TERS
2 2 9 H I G H ST E X E T E R 2 5 TH N OV E M B E R 2 0 1 1 W W W.URBANOUTFIT TERS.CO.UK
:URBAN OUTFIT TERS EXE TER
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gonzo binge ‘‘We all go out at the weekends looking for the short thrill of nightlife, sometimes we declare our intent, sometimes, unknowingly, the night swings ajar and hits us hard in the face’’.
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Words by Benny Gromadski & Michael Goffman. The drinking scene known to most in Exeter is probably one of the warm comforts we have come to associate with this affluent and unassuming city – the sort synonymous with a selection of fine ales and inoffensive music on the jukebox. The reader, perhaps, may be familiar with the Jack-Wills-clad lines of revelers shrieking heartily on the streets outside of Timepiece on a Friday night. Or perhaps the slightly less refined sights and sounds of Fore Street, and blank-eyed chaps sucking libidinously on Lambert & Butlers, pondering their whereabouts and grunting lecherously at the passing females. True, such conjurings may, at best, be met with indifference. But delve if you will a little deeper into the murky depths of the Exeter drinking scene. At least, that is what Flying Post writers Michael Goffman and Benny Gromadski did, when they set out to peruse the tenebrous pits of Exeter’s squalid underbelly, tickling with vigour and sinking ever deeper into a mire of depravity, degeneracy and decadence. What follows is but an account of their sordid enterprise. I meet Benny for a few drinks at my house. We go over the details of the night; how to go about it; what to drink; where to go. Normally such factors are left un-discussed, but setting the task of drinking and writing simultaneously requires, we decide, a plan and a structure… We all go out at the weekends looking for the short thrill of nightlife, sometimes we declare our intent, sometimes, unknowingly, the night swings ajar and hits us hard in the face. We go home bruised and shameful. For Benny and me it was live by the drink, die the by the drink, for one night only. I worried that if the night turned sour, and the drink became a burden, we would face failure.
Like Raul and the good Doctor, we made sure we were prepared. We bought a case of beer for when the hard liquor became too bitter – beer will always wash away the sorrows of spirit-abuse – and a bottle of cheap Rum, with ginger beer. We dropped it off at the house and made for the pub. First orders: Guinness and alcoholic Ginger Beer. Perhaps I’m going a little ginger heavy? Then again, gingers have more fun. We sit in silence for a while, taking in the lowceilinged, dingy pub. The tables are covered in candle wax, the oak smells of dried ethanol. I become anxious. I feel a sense of hypocrisy creeping over me. I think about all those people occupying financial centers; I think about protests; I think about uprisings; I even think about that trust-fund Pink Floyd chap, proudly dangling from the flag of the Empire. I think about all those ex-girlfriends telling me to get it together. And all those things remind me that I need a drink.
‘That’s some catch-22...’ I suddenly say to Benny amidst the silence. ‘What?’ ‘Nevermind...’ Some dick walks in and asks the barmaid to fill his protein shake with water. Even when we inevitably hit rock-bottom we’ll be better off than this guy. I reason that our struggle is all-together different. Our disenchantment in our own lives and existence – our petty little bourgeoisie problems; our self-indulgence; excesses; self-gratification and cynicism. I tell this to Benny. He tells me ‘F**k it! It is how it is.’ We begin discussing dissertations. This is a bad start. I head to the toilet. There is a drunken man, perhaps mid 50s, standing in front of a urinal desperately trying to piss. I conclude my business and leave. The man remains, continuing to struggle. Later, Michael comes back with piss all over his arm. Perhaps his experience was rather more zealous than the gentleman before. Which is more depressing? Personally I’d rather piss on my arm than not piss at all. I look at the clock. I have been submerged in my own thoughts for about an hour; the writing in my notebook is starting to look like an amateurish manifesto. Two drinks gone by, I look around the pub. We are surrounded by frogs, turtles, crabs and bats. Costumed under-graduates. The place is turning into a f**king zoo. We move on. We look at the special shots menu of the next bar: FlatLiners, Heart-Attacks, Early Graves. We opt out. One shot of tequila, one mezcal. My face contorts: bitter lemon. I burp fizzy ginger beer into Benny’s face. He laughs, I laugh – I think we are on our way. The Mexican nectar warms our body; the drinks become starched and boiled hemoglobin in my mind. Floodgates are now open.
Michael burps in my face, but only he sees the funny side. I think he’s had more than me. Spending a lot of time in the toilet. We ordered two Red Stripe to swill the tequila down with, but I instantly regret buying the lager. There is something about lager from a pint glass that doesn’t agree with me. Too many bubbles, too many bad memories. Two shots of tequila, one mezcal, and a few beers and I have lost count of the ginger-based drinks. Body heat increasing,
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Illustrations by Nia Gould Photos by Kel Varnsen
heartbeat faster. I look down at the notebook, my handwriting is disjointed and written in block Capitals. I feel sober but my hands say otherwise.
At this point I begin recounting a tale of a bald, 25 year old Republican from California I’d recently met. He was an awful prick. Claimed the underclass of America was the reason he didn’t get into Yale. I’d already had a few rums by this point. I spat on his shoes. We enter the third bar of the night. The pub is all but empty. ‘What a forlorn place...’ I think, then again, no other drunks interrupting our service. We spend a tipsy twenty minutes explaining to the barmaid why we are writing with maniacal fury, and she produces from a dark corner of the bar a 79.9 % polish spirit – at this juncture Benny and I are pouring freely. Shot here and there and shots here and shots there. Our photographer joins us; we spend about an hour drinking pints and sugar-cubed absinthe. I ask our photographer if he would ever shoot a porn film for the right money, but before he’s able to respond a solitary barfly proclaims: ‘You know what it is about porn these days!?’ ‘...What?’ ‘Man, in the 80’s porn was all jizz on the tits, but in the noughties people just jizz everywhere!’
An inebriated fellow at the bar with a slight build and eyes that speak of another Monday night of heavy drinking begins offering gruesome insights into the inner-workings of a pent-up sexual wrath. He starts dictating a lurid monologue... ‘20 of them! All over her face, all up inside her! I’ve not had sex since February.’
As we stumble up the road we are waylaid by a vagrant chap, sitting in front of a chessboard. The drifter offers us a challenge. Brimming with false confidence as the heady cocktail of the night’s liquor courses around my veins, I accept. Surely I must easily dispatch this malnourished fellow? I sway from left to right, body swerving violently against the gentle, midnight breeze. We are standing under a doorway of BHS, harsh overhead lights blinding my frail bloodshot eyes. I lean the edge of my right foot against the wall and stand. I look down at the board: black and white pieces blurred and merge into a grey whole. I snap back when I see Benny easily beaten at chess by the homeless man. We move on.
When I return from the Firehouse toilet Michael has two pints of San Miguel waiting for us at the table. My bones cannot take this. I mumble something about a marrow deficiency. Goat’s cheese and pesto pizza arrives. What was that about bourgeoisie problems? We gulp down the slices, molten cheese burning our insides. What drink to have next? What drink next… *** I wake up late in the morning, my palate lingering with stale rum and ginger beer. I have an empty pint glass and three slices of pizza on my pillow. I call Benny who doesn’t pick up. I later find out he slept in a bush. When the drink goes in, strange things come out. What did we discover? If it was profound, I don’t remember it. I laugh off the feeling and head for a fry-up. I laugh off the feeling and head for a fry-up.
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jeffrey lewis “I think with a lot of my songs there’s an idea that you could find some value from the most shameful or pathetic moments.” Photo by Robert Darch
Interviewed by Sean Neagle. Your new album ‘A Turn in the Dream-Songs’ is being released on the 10th October on Rough Trade. Your previous material has wide ranging subject matter such as zombies, bad acid trips and the autobiographical. What’s the background to this latest album? “I sort of just start out recording a whole bunch of songs that happen to be sitting around unrecorded, and then once I pick which recordings end up on the album I look back on it afterwards and decide what the overall themes are. Even though they weren’t necessarily intentional, you find yourself sifting through a pile of songs to see which ones might be worth people’s time to hear. You kind of look back on the album a year later and then say ‘oh I must have had a lot of this on my mind’ because all of those songs have a certain tone to them…or sometimes not…I’ll have to look back on this album in a year…”
Musically you’ve had plenty of appreciation from figures such as Jarvis Cocker and most recently the record connoisseur and DJ Gilles Peterson via twitter. How do you feel about compliments from figures like that? “Well the Gilles Peterson thing was a really nice surprise. Someone sent me an e-mail telling me about this tweet from Gilles Peterson and I had to do some quick Wikipedia to remind myself because I knew his name from somewhere… it’s nice getting those sort of compliments.” You use the band name ‘Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard’ for this tour. What is ‘the junkyard’? We’ve always just knocked around a bunch of different band names but nobody was ever totally satisfied. I do like to differentiate in some way between a solo
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show and a band show, so we are always talking difAre there any music artists that proved to be a ferent band names but can never really find one we gateway to other genres of music for you? can settle on. We’ve had the ‘Junkyard’ name for a few years now, but we’ve gone through a whole bunch “Yeah, well Yo La Tengo was a gateway into indie rock of names, Jeffrey Lewis and this…Jeffrey Lewis and for me. I was mostly just listening to psychedelic 60’s that… I think it would be great if we could just get stuff and folk music, and some point in the 90’s I really my name out of it all together, and just end up with put a concerted effort into trying to figure out what this ‘The Velvet Underground’. modern indie rock stuff was about. I started listening to them over and over and at a certain point it just hit You produce your own comics and have a great me with how great they were, and then I saw them live interest in them, with published material anain 1996 and it blew me away. That band opened a lot of lysing Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’. In terms of doors for me. I was never able to get into Pavement, Pixthe interchange between music and comics, are ies or Sonic Youth at the time; they just seemed to me to there any graphic novel artists or storytellers be intentionally obtuse and nonsensical…like the lyrics that inspire your music? didn’t mean anything. I couldn’t quite find an access point. Yo La Tengo was really the first band. It was the “Off the top of my head, Joe Matt, who did a comic in dynamic between the really melodic tender stuff they the 90’s called ‘Peep Show’. He still does it occasionally, did and the exciting, crazy noise. “ but you’ll rarely find a new issue. I think that definitely inspired a lot of my music because he kind of took this You joined the label Rough Trade in 2001 and it’s notion of his degradation and his own pathetic-ness and been 10 years now, what’s your experience with turned it into a really great work of art. I think with a lot the label been like? of my songs (especially with the earlier ones I was writing), there’s an idea that you could find some value from “It seems like nobody stays on Rough Trade for their the most shameful or pathetic moments. That art could whole career. If you look at the history of the label, a be this alchemy that takes this lead into gold and just lot of great bands release one or two records with them takes all the things you feel worst about and you end up and nobody really sticks with them. I don’t know why with something good out of it. So if there was a bad acid that is…I mean really only The Smiths stuck with Rough trip, loneliness or whatever it was you could turn it into Trade throughout their whole career. I never sent my something worthwhile. So in that way the comic ‘Peep stuff to a label; it was all accidental and very lucky that Show’ probably had a bigger influence on my music my stuff ended up at Rough Trade. It’s not like I had than most music. “ any other label beating down my door trying to steal me away!“ You’ve also done some comic artwork for The Cribs and Art Brut. How did that come about? Since mid-September we have seen the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ demonstrations taking place in your “I guess I have kind of become the sort of go-to guy to hometown of New York. Have you noticed an do artwork in the music scene because I happen to make atmosphere of dissatisfaction within the city? comic books and artwork. There are probably a lot of comic artists and illustrators that could at least do as “Yeah, the Wall Street stuff has been amazing. I was very good a job as me but since they already know me they glad to see it and was there a few times before leaving can just drop me a line rather than find an illustrator for the tour. I played a little music down there, saw some they’ve never met. It’s great for me, I’ve done a bunch of stuff and it’s just an incredible atmosphere and I keep stuff for The Guardian etc, where they were like, “We telling more and more people to go to the Wall Street deal with music but we need a comic guy…so I guess that demonstrations. I often think: why aren’t people rushmeans we got to get Jeffery Lewis”. ing into the streets more and yelling in protest? So the fact that here people are rushing into the streets and not In 2007, you came out with an album coverletting up the pressure is a great thing. “ ing songs by the influential punk band Crass, appropriately named ‘12 songs about Crass’.
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SUBMOTION ORCHESTRA Interviewed by Oliver Tolkien Leeds-based soul, jazz and dubstep collective Submotion Orchestra have spent the last two years propelling themselves to international stardom on a warm wave of bass, intricate, densely progressive harmonies and the bewitching vocals of the Venus-like Ruby Wood. An ensemble with the most subtle and consonant of timbres, their sound – with its unearthly, abstract quality – is at once arresting. Having spent the summer touring with the likes of Bonobo and appearing at several major European festivals, the group is on a dizzying upward trajectory. Oliver Tolkien caught up with drummer and band-founder Tommy Evans to discuss their debut album, Finest Hour, their role in the evolution of dubstep, and living up to the comparisons between themselves and the titanic Cinematic Orchestra. Gilles Peterson has described you as ‘somewhere between Dubstep and Cinematic Orchestra’, how would you respond to this? Pretty much sums it up! The idea behind Submotion
was to take Dubstep as a starting point and then get as far away from it as possible! Basically anything at 140bpm can be dubstep if you want it to be, so the idea is to combine all sorts of other influences with the bass led, half time feel of dubstep. Is the comparison between yourselves and jazz behemoths Cinematic Orchestra daunting, or an indication of how rapidly and successfully the group has evolved since your fairly recent advent? It’s extremely flattering; a huge compliment. To be honest Cinematic were never really an influence on the band. Obviously we all knew who they were and respected and enjoyed their music but we never thought: ‘OK, let’s do what Cinematic do, just with more bass!’ Our initial influences came much more from dub; Iration Steppas, King Earthquake, The Scientist etc. These influences, mixed with jazz and soul… You’ve just released your debut album, Finest Hour, to widespread critical acclaim. For you, what is the standout single(s) on the CD, and why?
That’s a tricky one. The two releases so far, ‘All Yours’ and ‘Always’, are certainly at the more commercial end of the album, but I think the tracks that really sum up the Submotion ‘sound’ are tracks like ‘Finest Hour’ and ‘Angel Eyes’. I think these are the tracks that the band most associate with and are the most honest. Honesty is key in music; we hate the idea of music being plucked from somewhere for no reason. All the tracks on the album are about a real event or feeling. Dave Simpson, of The Guardian, recently referred to you as “[not] really Dubstep at all.” Aside from demonstrating an apparently limited understanding of the diversity of the genre, I feel this pays a disservice to the roots of the group. How do you feel you have helped the evolution of Dubstep as a genre, if at all? I don’t think we’re in a position to judge our role in the evolution of the genre. We are simply putting our own take on this music. Personally I feel like dubstep is killing itself with the mindless shit being put out these days, and I hope people will come around to the more musical approach that we are trying to push. Where’s the best gig you guys have ever played, and why? Soundwave was pretty special this year. We played as the sun set behind us across the sea, with 2000 people wearing pretty much nothing dancing around. I had a little moment! I was lucky enough to catch your set at this year’s Secret Garden Party. Whilst this could just be a hopelessly romantic notion, is there something more special about playing festivals? Yes and no. Festivals are good because when they are good they are really good – obviously everyone is there to party and a good festival can’t be beaten. However, on the flip, the sound can be appalling because you don’t get a soundcheck, weather is obviously an issue and things like loading gear can become such a problem that it spoils the gig altogether. I would say though that all the best gigs we have done have been festival shows!
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How exactly did you all first come together to form the group amongst other such prominent projects? The whole band has loads of other projects on the go, and it’s this diversity which keeps a band like Submotion going. I play and write for Gentleman’s Dub Club, Ruby sings with Bonobo, Dom is an internationally respected DJ. Everyone has loads of stuff going on. The band started after a poorly conceived commission in York for a live dubstep performance, which itself was shambolic, but got myself and Dom thinking about the possibilities live dubstep had. I asked a few people to come have a jam and it went from there. I asked Ruby to join the band without ever having heard her sing! Who are your personal heroes – musical or otherwise – and why? Too many to mention but here is a selection that I think everyone would agree to; Stevie Wonder, Burial, Chopin, Mala, Sizzla, Iration Steppas, Miles Davis, Brian Blade, Crosby, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, J Dilla, The Roots, Flying Lotus, Avishai Cohen. What are your hopes for the future? Currently we are on tour promoting out debut album ‘Finest Hour’ in the UK. We will be touring through Europe during Jan/Feb 2012 then touring in March again in the UK. The second album will be out in May/ June time and then it’s festivals again! Big things!
“Honesty is key in music; we hate the idea of music being plucked from somewhere for no reason. All the tracks on the album are about a real event or feeling.”
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Fry Up Review
fry up Review Here at the Flying Post we are committed to bringing you comprehensive and edifying reviews of the sights, sounds, facilities and… fry-ups, of this fair city. Often irreverent, but wholly devoted to the objective reporting of subjective opinion, our reviews pull no punches. Cast your eyes, dear reader, over our Fry-Up Review. The Farmer’s Union, Queen’s Terrace Independently run, with an outdoor seating area over-looking the Queen’s Terrace square, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a romantic European capital. It is only the fryups unique name, ‘Proper Job’ (and the fact that the square is actually a car park) that serves as the pinch reminding one they are actually in the tranquil heart of Devon. But this is Devon at its finest. The Union should first be praised for its bold policy on filter coffee for £1, leading the way in the hot drinks field. And as for the breakfast, well... For just £4, a 12-inch plate of a perfect ensemble (meat or vegetarian) that positively oozes quality. And the trump card? The price includes toast (not a guarantee on the breakfast circuit I can assure you) AND tea or coffee!! Eat that!!
The Boston Tea Party, Queen Street Nice high windows to sit under and munch on some breakfast, or whatever else might take your fancy. Not prepared in a frying pan, but as the name suggests they are capable of making some serious brew.
Let’s Do Café, Fore Street It’s hard to offer a damning verdict of a small, independent and honest café like Let’s Do, but I found the fry up there very disappointing. One small, despairingly over-cooked egg, one bit of bacon, one sausage (of the bum hole & eyelid variety), a paucity of beans, two bits of dry toast and some hash browns. Admittedly, we only opted for the £4.50 ‘Regular’ breakfast – had we opted for ‘The Full Works’ we could have had a further egg (hopefully cooked with a little more love), mushrooms, tomato and black pudding. Though on this showing, I would be unwilling to gamble the required £7.50. Verdict: overpriced and under-loved.
Harry’s Restaurant, Longbrook Street A premium breakfast at an arguably premium price – around seven pounds and there are no baked beans. Still, if you are in the mood for a posh sausage and some seriously crispy bacon (on request) then this is a crucial breakfast stop en route to the city.
Fry Up Review
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e sausag rating!
The Farmer’s Union, Queen’s Terrace
5 o ut o f
Whitsand’s Beach Café
The Real McCoy Arcade
Sat on a clammy bench with the drizzle slowly soaking my jerkin, I was in a quandary; not sure as to whether I should stay put or head inside. The decision was however made for me as my food arrived promptly. It was 2PM, I was hungry, and after a pleasant amble I had worked up an appetite only the Big Breakfast could fulfill. I had 2 of everything, minus the mushrooms of course, not being a fan of fungus. The breakfast hit the spot, finished off with cold white toast triangles and a tepid mug of tea. How English I thought, eating a cooked breakfast in the rain. When all else took shelter inside, my companion and I had the view all to ourselves.
I am sat in the dry and warm comfort of McCoy’s arcade while a tempestuous English rain pelts down outside. The Menu is straight-up fry-ups; a small but varied selection. I pick the small student breakfast along with a coffee. The food is nicely arranged in the plate; the golden egg in the center – perfectly fried. Sausages, bacon, hash browns and toast incl. A tub of butter is set aside, personally I like my toast drenched in it but apply as you see fit.
Jamie’s, Magdalen Road
Exe Bridges café
Run of the mill Coffee, only one fry-up option on the menu, no veggie alternative. The plate is small but has lots of sausages and bacon. The Food tastes better than it looks. Pricier than average but judging by meat content worth the pennies. Good for the carnivorous amongst us.
Two floor café decorated like your Nan’s living room. Propa’ greasy spoon – builders tea, greasy bacon and sausages and a small value egg. All for three pounds. Like Jim Jarmusch once said, ‘you can only have two out three things in life – cheap, fast and good. Choose your two.’ Think cheap and fast.
Giraffe Restaurant, Princesshay A surprising spot for a greasy fry up, but it’s one of the best value breakfasts in town. Get there before 11am Monday to Friday and cash in on breakfast and a drink for a fiver! I went for the Toasted Skillet-Baked Sourdough Muffin with bacon and fried egg, and it proved a unique (and slightly less guilt-ridden) alternative to the typical fry up. If it’s a nice day you can sit outside too which is always good if you’re feeling a little fragile!
The Old Firehouse, New North Rd Proper Fry Up. Ketchup in Sachets. All the things you want on a plate in the morning. No frills. None needed.
Reviews by - Andrew Oxley, Zoe Bulaitis, Gustavo Navarro, Robert Darch, Oliver Tolkien.
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