LOUD AND QUIET ZERO POUNDS / VOLUME 03 / ISSUE 30 / THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC TABLOID
L I K E P A U L S I M O N, B U T, Y â€™ K N O W, P U N K JOHN CALE / VONDELPARK / GROSS MAGIC / BEIRUT / BLANCK MASS WARM BRAINS / JOHN MAUS / THREE TRAPPED TIGERS
CONTENTS AUG UST 2011
09 - 10 . . . . MAKE E M LAUG H / SI NG LES & BOOKS
HOW NOVELTY SONGS HAVE BECOME PRICELESS PR PLUS THE LATEST RELEASES FOR YOUR EARS AND EYES
13 - 14 . . . . . . . . TH E MONA P IZZA / LE FTO V E RS THE COOKBOOK MADE BY BANDS / NICK LEY OF COLOURMUSIC QUIZZED FUCKED UP FRONT MAN DAMIAN ABRAHAM
� � � � � � � � � � � � � � � � �� � � � �� � � � � � � �� � � � � � ������������������������������������������������������������ ����������������������������������������������
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY OWEN RICHARDS BACK DROP DESIGNED AND MADE BY EMMA DENBY & ELIZABETH LINDSAY AKA TEAM TEAM
WARM B RAI NS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 IN CONVERSATION WITH RORY ATTWELL: A ONE MAN PUNK BAND
JOH N MAUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 DON’T TALK TO JOHN MAUS ABOUT THE 90S: THEY’VE MADE HIM WANT TO BAN THE GUITAR
B LANCK MASS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 BENJAMIN JOHN POWER DISCUSSES BLEAK AND BEAUTIFUL LIFE OUTSIDE OF FUCK BUTTONS
V ON DE LPARK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 A QUITE EVOLUTION THAT’S THE SILVER LINING ON THE RECESSION’S DARK CLOUD
JOH N CALE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 THE VELVET UNDERGROUND FOUNDER ON SNOOP, PATTI AND WHY A REUNION IS A BAD IDEA
G ROSS MAG IC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 THE SUPERNATURAL HYPE AROUND SAM MCGARRIGLE HAS TO BE WITCHCRAFT, SURELY?
FAI R OHS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 THE THREE YOUNG PUNKS THAT GOT BORED OF THRASHING
B E I RUT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 AFTER CRIPPLING PANIC ATTACKS DOGGED TWO ALBUMS, ZACH CONDON RETURNS UNAFRAID
TH RE E TRAP P E D TIG E RS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 THE INSTRUMENTAL TRIO THAT ARE METAL, ELECTRONIC AND COMPLICATED, BUT NEVER SMART
CONTACT INFO@LOUDANDQUIET.COM LOUD AND QUIET PO BOX 67915 LONDON NW1W 8TH EDITOR - STUART STUBBS ART DIRECTOR - LEE BELCHER SUB EDITOR - ALEX WILSHIRE FILM EDITOR - IAN ROEBUCK ADVERTISING ADVERTISE@LOUDANDQUIET.COM CONTRIBUTORS BART PETTMAN, CHRIS WATKEYS, DEAN DRISCOLL, DANIEL DYLAN WRAY, DANNY CANTER, DK GOLDSTIEN, DEAN DRISCOLL, ELEANOR DUNK, ELINOR JONES, EDGAR SMITH, FRANKIE NAZARDO, HOLLY LUCAS, JANINE BULLMAN, LEE BULLMAN, KATE PARKIN, KELDA HOLE, GABRIEL GREEN, LEON DIAPER, LUKE WINKIE, MANDY DRAKE, MARTIN CORDINER, MATTHIAS SCHERER, NATHAN WESTLEY, OWEN RICHARDS, PAVLA KOPECNA, POLLY RAPPAPORT, PHIL DIXON PHIL SHARP, REEF YOUNIS, SAM LITTLE, SAM WALTON, SIMON LEAK, SIMON GRAY,TIM COCHRANE, TOM GOODWYN, TOM PINNOCK THIS MONTH L&Q LOVES ASH COLLINS, JENNY MYLES, JODIE BANASZKIEWICZ, KYLE ELLISON, LISA DURRANT, NITA KEELER, WILL LAWRENCE THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN LOUD AND QUIET ARE THOSE OF THE RESPECTIVE CONTRIBUTORS AND DO NOT NECESSARI LY REFLECT THE OPINI ONS OF THE MAGAZINE OR ITS STAFF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2011 LOUD AND QUIET. DISTRIBUTED BY LOUD AND QUIET AND FORTE DISTRIBUTION. PRINTED BY SHARMAN & COMPANY LTD.
36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ALBUMS FILMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 CEREBRAL BALLZY, WOODEN SHJIPS, BLOOD ORANGE AND ALL THE MONTH’S KEY RELEASES
IAN ROEBUCK TAKES A LOOK AT MOVIES TO MAKE AND BREAK YOUR SUMMER
42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LI V E PARTY W OLF . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 RECENT LIVE SHOWS FROM LOU REED, RYAN ADAMS, MORRISSEY, WOMAN’S HOUR AND MORE
THE PERSISTENT WORLD OF IAN BEALE GET THE AXL ROSE LOOK / POLI-TWIT
It’s a myth that we keep forgetting is a myth: that summer is the season of music. It makes complete sense that it would be, of course, but the truth is that new releases are widely halted every July and August. It’s deemed that we’re too distracted by festivals to be bothered with buying new records, and there’s a certain amount of sense in that. Live shows in solid structures slump too, meaning that if you want to track down some music to go with your sunny mood you’d better welly-up and pay-up. London trio Fair Ohs have never cared much for how they should and shouldn’t do things, so they’ve just released their debut album anyway. They’re the hardcore band that ‘went tropical’ and then spent a year making a record inspired by West African pop music, Brazilian tropicalia and 60s psych rock. ‘Everything Is Dancing’ is a perfect record for your tent – it’ll make you forget that it’s raining outside. John Cale cares even less about what’s expected of him. He’s spend the last 45 years making avant-garde music for himself, and this is a man who, at the age of 66, collected his OBE from Prince Charles with shocking pink hair. We pestered him for an interview last month, but he managed to get away. This month, on page 30, he discusses everything, from The Velvet Underground to producing Patti Smith and getting “a giggle” out of Snoop Dogg, while his ex-bandmate, Lou Reed, spent Hop Farm Festival [page 40] proving that you’ve not seen anyone not give a fuck until you’ve seen him. There’s plenty of others bucking the summer-lull too (like gutter punks Cerebral Ballzy and anti-guitar hero John Maus), so don’t put the record player in storage just yet.
CONTRI B UTORS 01
O W E N R IC H A R D S
G A R E T H A R R O W S MI T H
E D G A R S MI T H
Owen was the perfect person to shoot this month’s cover feature. Fair Ohs played their ﬁrst show in a warehouse he used to live in, and he was once a house mate of bassist Matt Flag. He knows a lot of London’s DIY punk bands, in fact, having shot most of them in the past, either for us, The Guardian, Plan B (RIP), or fun - a man who grewn up in Exeter’s underground hardcore scene, which eventually spawned Cold Pumas and Sauna Youth. Owen commissioned friends Emma Denby and Elizabeth Lindsay (Team Team) to make a backdrop for the shoot, inspired by the band’s debut album artwork. Owen says: “I am living the dream, minus the paycheck.”
Gareth has had his illustrations published many times over, but never here in Loud And Quiet, until now, that is. He dropped us a line a couple of months ago and we were as impressed by his cartoons as you’ll probably be if you check out www.garetharrowsmith. blogspot.com. He says: “The inspiration for much of my artwork comes from everything from everyday goings on to issues that are happening globally”, and this month that includes the rise of novelty PR pop songs. Other things we know about Gareth include that he has a degree in Graphic Design from Liverpool John Moores University and that his hero is Jamie Hewlett.
Advert guitarist and Mark E Smith look-a-like Edgar Smith did us a favour and wrote his own contributor’s bio, so here it is... “My intention when I started doing this was getting free promo CDs, then they turned into a dead format - now the CDs are annoying and take up space - but ﬁnding and writing about music turns out to be interesting in its own right. Otherwise I play guitar in a band called Advert, which is fun. Talking to Three Trapped Tigers was like being stuck in an episode of The Ofﬁce for half an hour. Next week I’m bagging up all those promos and selling them to the music and video exchange.”
BEGINNING AUG UST 2011
AMERICAN BOY / TALES FROM THE OTHER SIDE BY LUKE WINKIE: OUR MAN IN BAR AK ’S BACK YARD
Illustration by Gareth Arrowsmith / www.garetharrowsmith.blogspot.com
MAKE EM L AUGH NOVELTY SONGS ARE QUICKLY BECOMING PRICELESS PR STUNTS, SAYS DANNY CANTER
THE WORLD OF SMALL TOWN GABLING DENS: WHERE YESTERDAY’S STARS END UP
Let’s say you’re a struggling celebrity. Perhaps you’ve been on Hollyoaks, or you made it all the way to Eastenders and hung in there for, say, ﬁve years. But you left. You were sacked or you jumped to avoid a creative cofﬁn the shape of Ian Beale and things haven’t been going to plan since. You’re too famous to get a job on a checkout, but no one wants you on the box either. So what now? Simple: before your agent stops returning your calls you get him or her to put you up for Strictly Come Dancing (at best), or the ever-ironic I’m A Celebrity Get Me Outta Here (at second best), or Dancing On Ice (not so good) and so on. I know it’s not ideal, but while the reality celeb show can be a daft and humiliating (re)launch pad, it’s long proved to be the most successful when attempting to ignite a public comeback. For the bigger star, there’s something new. Or old. Comedy sketches and particularly novelty songs can sway our ﬁckle perceptions quicker than you can say “Dick in a Box”. Just ask Michael Bolton – a fossil of MOR white soul who, until a month or two ago, you probably had forgotten ever existed. An appearance on Saturday Night Live, alongside comedy musical trio The Lonely Island, changed all of that, though. Now Bolton is the guy responsible for ‘Jack Sparrow’; a brilliantly bizarre RnB parody in which Bolton, recently wowed by a Pirates of The Caribbean “marathon”, as he puts it, highjacks The Lonely Island’s latest slick hip-hop production to croon about Kiera Knightly, giant squids and “Pirates so brave, on the seven seas”. It’s been viewed well over 27 million times since it was uploaded to YouTube at the start of May. What makes ‘Jack Sparrow’ such a brilliant and lasting three minutes of PR (other than how well the whole thing is executed – in that glossy way that America does so well and The One Show doesn’t) is that it’s random from all angles. While no longer relevant, Bolton is surely a star okay with having had his day, and it’s not like he’s self-referencing his widely known quirks either, like George Michael did when appearing on a Comic Relief sketch with James Corden earlier this year. He does have a new duets collection to plug, sure, so ‘Jack Sparrow’ doesn’t feel as for-the-hell-of-it as Justin Timberlake’s ‘Dick In A Box’ did in 2006 (also a Lonely Island skit), but that has little effect on how we now see Michael Bolton, simply because he was willing to have a laugh. (‘3-Way’, which followed in June, even managed to soften Lady Gaga’s constantly tortured, poe-faced public image). Comedy has always wanted to be ‘rock’n’roll’, and right now it’s as close to it as it’s ever been, acting as PR gold better, even, than Celebrity Coach Trip.
Danbury, Wisconsin is not a place you enter intentionally. The microscopic town near the Canadian border might as well be invisible to the naked eye. The population clocks in at 216 people, there are about two restaurants, one gas station, and a whole lot of trees. I found myself in the area for familial reasons, and as an urbanite who’s cut his teeth on steel, concrete and glass, I was certainly out of my element. But the far side of town is home to a behemoth: a massive, liquid-neon monstrosity jutting from the entirely naturalistic atmosphere of the rest of the landscape. Parking lot paint sprawls from its source, swirling, polished colours make its face and bright lights blink form its heart. I’m talking about the St. Croix Casino. I certainly don’t like to represent America poorly in this column, but these mega-casinos are probably one of the most disgusting things about small-town culture. They’re an explosion of greed and addiction built only to prey on the blue-collar workforce; cultureless, ugly, and the worst kind of capitalism – they’re also home to an entire demographic of performers. If I would’ve stuck around for another week, I might have seen Hank Williams Jr. The fair and casino circuit is not a desirable place to land, but it does seem proﬁtable. It’s reserved for an odd marriage of washed-up hair rockers, neutered, milquetoast adult contemporaries and one-hit wonders. If you’re wondering where Kenny G or REO Speedwagon are making their money these days, it’s through playing sunset Thursday night shows in the nondescript suburbs throughout the country. They are a necessary institution – a speciﬁc place in the live-show scope between the more relevant double-decker clubs and the stadiums. It’s infuriating in concept, but these villains of music are kept exceptionally far away from the more traditional venues. But it’s all volatile. Unless the person you’re talking to is exceptionally embarrassed of their past, every American show-goer has found themselves at a county fair to see a childhood idol long past their prime. I certainly did. My ﬁrst show? “Weird” Al Yankovic at the Del Mar Fair at the age of 11. I got my tickets at Christmas and saw him the following Spring – he played all the songs I knew, he made me laugh, he made my parents laugh and I left the grounds spouting hyperbole like “THAT WAS THE BEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN!” It was truly awesome in a time where irony and image where the furthest things from my mind. Will I ever grind through the artistic wasteland of a casino stage or a fairground ever again? Probably not, but I certainly keep the nostalgia and the understanding close to my heart.
NOVELTY SONGS SWAY US QUICKER THAN YOU CAN SAY, “DICK IN A BOX”
BEGINNING SINGLES / BOOKS 01 BY JA NIN E & L EE B U L L M A N
(ONE INCH BADGE) OUT JULY 25
INC . 3
HO W L E R I T OL D Y OU ONC E
(4AD) OUT JULY 25
(ROUGH TRADE) OUT AUGUST 1
When it comes to world tours and mega shows, huge popstars are only as good as the band behind them. Brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged have had the backs of 50 Cent, Elton John and Cee-Lo Green in the past, in the studio as well as on stage, and you’d be forgiven for assuming that that list is topped by Prince, as ‘3’ (and especially the hushed 90s RnB tone of ‘Swear’) is a smooth soul 12” of baby-making music, worthy of being mistaken for TAFKAP himself. The most seductive of these sex jams is the opening ‘Swear’, which is sang with such a whisper that you can barely make out the “cross your heart and hope to die” lyrics, which is probably for the best. Over sparse piano and a beat so naked it makes The xx seem like a speed garage trio, ‘Heart Crimes’’s ﬂourishes of slap bass give you an idea of just how musically accomplished Inc. are, while ‘Millionairess’ is sexier than MJ’s ‘Liberian Girl’. One steamy release.
Howler’s debut single sounds like it’s being performed by a cross between Adam Green and Napoleon Dynamite. And what-d-yaknow, when you take a look at ‘I Told You Once’’s video, it most deﬁnitely is. Fronted by the gawky, super-trim Dash Graves – who’s all lips, teeth and Lousie Wener hair – the Minneapolis quartet shimmy their way through this anti-love-song that insists “there is nothing in this world I would sacriﬁce”. To surf guitars gone twee, it’s hardly fuming this sentiment of dissatisfaction with any kind of aggression, and in many ways you should ﬁnd yourself writing Howler off as a band that people will soon be saying are really cool because, clearly, they’re not cool at all. And yet ‘I Told You Once’ nags you into liking it. The ‘Hey Mickey’ handclaps and the knowingly slurred lead vocals are a bit much, but like Green and Dynamite, Howler are likely to be a cult obsession for more than just the dweebs.
BL ACK BY DESIGN: A 2 -T O N E M E M O I R B Y PA U L I N E B L A C K (SERPENT’S TAIL)
When hacks occasionally compile those abominable lists of ‘Women in Rock’ they often neglect to mention Pauline Black, lead singer of seminal Coventry ska band The Selecter. Black’s autobiography should remedy this oversight, however, by telling the story of a mixed race child brought up in a white household, who went on to front a platinum-selling, racially diverse and politically astute band (remember them?) that spent two years at the forefront of a pop movement whose inﬂuence is still keenly felt today. Set against the backdrop of Thatcherism, racial tension and civil unease, the rise of the 2-Tone label is ripe for the telling now, in this fascinating and heartfelt book from an underrated and inspiring icon.
THE LE AGUE OF E XTR AORDINARY G E N T L E M E N : C E N T R Y 19 6 9 BY AL AN MOORE AND KEVIN O’NEILL (TOP SHELF)
Even if graphic novels aren’t usually your thing, the prospect of Alan Moore – creator of such modern classics as Watchmen and V for Vendetta – writing about late sixties psychedelic hedonism, suited and booted gangsters, underground occultists and the possible birth of the anti-Christ has to be worth a look. Moore, the man who basically told Hollywood to go fuck itself, teams up with artist O’Neill for the second instalment in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman trilogy and once again proves his mastery of the art of comic-book writing as we ﬁnd ourselves plunged into is a slightly skewed take on the hippies’ golden age – one heavily inﬂuenced by a poky hallucinogen known as Tadukic Acid Diethyalmide.
Single reviews by Sam Little Blowback by Lee Bullman and Michael Forwell published by Pan Macmillan available now. www.leebullman.com
C A S IO T ONE F OR T HE PA INF UL LY A L ONE / W H Y ? F U T UR E IS L A ND S / NUL L IF IE R S P L I T S E R IE S V OL . 5
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s swan-song, ‘Goodbye Parthenon’, begins with the line, Lift the scissors from the pharmacist’s/With the want to take them to my wrists. It seems that even as Owen Ashworth bolts town on a train for good he’s full of a despair that keeps us guessing. To a eurodance sequencer he lists his goodbyes; we just can’t be sure that he’s going to reach his ﬁnal destination at all, or whether we should dance or cry about it, just that this moniker might have saved his best track for last. Why? then grace OIB’s ﬁfth split release with a minimal cover of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’ that’ll probably be on a super-emotive TV commercial before you’ve ﬁnished reading this... most likely telling you how ‘butter is for life’ while reminding us that we’re all space dust, while Future Islands’ ‘New Face’ was originally recorded for the idiot box – commissioned to appear in kid’s TV show Yo Gabba Gabba. Unsurprisingly, it’s less harrowing than the Baltimore trio usually are, and it’s probably the best children’s TV song ever written; certainly streaks ahead of ‘Tellytubbies Say Eh-Oh’. Brighton’s Nulliﬁer – sounding more like The Cure than Why? – then round off what is the year’s most emotional split release, and also its best.
BEGINNING TH E P RE V I E W
IT ’S A SHIT BUSINESS: SIMON GR AY WAS IN A BAND ONCE
Illustration by George Collum
Y OUR P E OP L E We had gone as far as we could go without professional management – we had reached a zenith. That’s when a super-slick, ponytailed veteran of the London music industry – a man by the name of Howie B’Danus – was thrust into our universe. For better and for worse, our lives would never be the same again. Oh, and that surname is pronounced the way you hope it is. Almost 50% of Plaster Scene (well, me, so a strong 25%) thought that welcoming Howie B’Danus into the fold would yield potentially catastrophic results, but I have to concede, we were still a considerable distance from the mansions of St. Johns Wood. It was after a triumphantly violent gig at The Water Rats in the less than salubrious Kings Cross, London, that the shiny-suited, beetroot-palloured B’Danus made himself known to us. Still saturated in our own sweat, the man with the million-quid grin extended his double-barrelled pistol ﬁngers to us, complete with requisite puffed-out-cheeked sound effects. He was like a cartoon drawing of a band manager. The sleeves of his silver blazer were rolled up, Don Johnson style, so that his thick silver Rolex was overly conspicuous. The upshot? He wanted to sign us to his newly launched independent label called Noise Annoys Records, to release a single. And although alarm bells were faintly ringing, somewhere far in the distance, I would have bitten his arm off, were it not for the fact that I had my mouth full with a 21-year old brunette from Chigwell. B’Danus came with an assistant/roadie called Swinger – a nice bloke, but a real casualty of the ’80s music industry, always in a holey, woollen, navy blue jumper, with breath that could strip paint, a mullet and eyewear that Deidre Barlow herself would have turned down in 1983 on account of them being too geometrically unmanageable. He did, however, have a good (or at least long) story about trying to sell Paul McCartney a synthesiser. And so, perhaps somewhat blindly, the contract was signed, the deal was done, our fate was sealed, and the ﬂoodgates, well, they opened, as ﬂoodgates often do. Rule 4: get a good team. We didn’t.
THE MONA PIZZ A BELIEVE IT OR NOT, NO ONE CAN LIVE ON MUSIC ALONE “I don’t really like music.” People who say that are strange, right? Alien almost. You’re certainly not going to be friends, so it’s probably best to move on to someone else; someone who can at least appreciate that, actually, Radiohead aren’t depressing at all. From within obsession it sure is hard to accept actual truth – in this case that music isn’t one of life’s necessities. Just like football isn’t, or ﬁlm, or the theatre, or most pastimes that get out of control and end up deﬁning us. They all make life a hell of a lot more enjoyable, but if they were snatched from us tomorrow, we’d manage. The same can’t be said for food – if grub goes, we all do. ‘Foodies’, as they love to be known, have the best of both worlds – obsessing over something that actually matters, in
“THERE WAS A MAGIC SWITCH THAT MADE ME THINK, ‘YEAH, A BAND RECIPE BOOK’”
a keeping-us-alive sense, although they have their own aliens, of course: people who say, “I eat because I have to, not because I enjoy it.” Michael Coley is a ‘foodie’ and a ‘muso’, and under the guise of Belly Kids (named after a Food For Animals track) he’ll publish a cookbook later this month that combines the food of love with the food of... well... food. The Mona Pizza is a collection of twenty recipes from eighteen bands, from BEAK>’s Mackerel in Pita contribution to A Grave With No Name’s Sweet Potato and Spinach Curry and High Places’ Vegan Chocolate Cake. “There was this magic switch that just suddenly clicked in my head and I thought, ‘yeah, a band recipe book!’” says
Michael. “I know people treat food as another necessary chore, but for many more of us out there cooking is an art. The more people I met, the more I realised I wasn’t alone in being passionate about music and food, so it seemed natural to explore the two, together in one place. “There was such a huge response from those people that I contacted,” Michael continues. “Every band seemed to be a foodie or a fanatic of some sort. It lead me to believe that if you take serious time out to explore music, records and sounds then you are more likely to make an effort with what you eat – it has to be related in my view.” As bands signed up to the project, they’d more often than not recommend another bunch of musicians who they thought would like to get involved, and so Michael would forward his growing collection of imaginative concoctions (Human Hair’s Warlock Brownies contain rum, apple and hashish) to illustrator George Collum, whose melty cartoons are paramount to The Mona Pizza’s DIY aesthetic. There was no brief at all. “To say that all these recipes have to be vegan or complex or funny or serious just seemed really false,” says Michael. “The fact that the book is full of vegetarian recipes is testament to the link between [music and food]. I remember Megan from US Girls emailing me saying she was sorry but she really only had a meat recipe and I had to tell her that was okay.” Other bands who’ve shared their favourite recipes for Belly Kids’ ﬁrst independently published book include Bitches, Trencher, Kit, Drum Eyes, Shearing Pinx, Talk Normal, Grass Widow, Japanther, Solar Bears, DJ Donna Summer, Emmy The Great, Punch and Roseanne Barr, who Michael has just released a split cassette for with Glaswegian punks Gropetown. “I’m the type of person with 7 million ideas ﬂoating around my head at any one point,” says Michael. “I’ve loved getting involved with gigs, shows and exhibitions and just ﬁgured I could take these ideas and do something fairly individual and fun. The Mona Pizza was my ﬁrst brainchild and that has just pushed me on to plot four or ﬁve other projects. Tapes, books, prints and records are all planned.” --The Mona Pizza is out August 1 2011 - www.bellykids.co.uk
BEGINNING LE FTO V E RS
LAST MONTH WE INTERVIEWED NICK LEY’S CONCEPT BAND COLOURMUSIC HE LEFT THESE QUERIES BEHIND FOR FUCKED UP FRONT MAN DAMIAN ABRAHAM
Don’t you ﬁnd it’s difﬁcult for musicians’ immediate families to completely grasp where all their time and efforts are spent and how they are “paying off”? I’ve actually been extremely lucky. My parents have been extremely supportive, and my wife has been like a rock to allow me to do this, because when I go on tour she’s a single parent, so I’d be lying if I said that my family haven’t been completely, emotionally supportive. Jonah’s dad hates that his son is in a band called Fucked Up, though, right? He hates that name so much. I’m sure Jonah’s dad is proud of him, but I know that he’d trade everything for his son to be in a band with another name. He kept it a secret from his parents for years, telling them that the band had changed its name to Hidden World, and then we were in one of these weekly entertainment papers here and Jonah’s dad was walking down the street one day and he saw me on the cover, and it just said ‘FUCKED UP’. Jonah was busted. What did winning the Polaris Music Prize mean to you? It meant a lot to us because it was almost validation in Canada. We’d experienced so much love from press internationally, who embraced us, but we still felt left out back home in Canada.
Can you remember that moment your name was read? Absolutely. I was packing up my son in the car seat so we could go home. I was like, to my wife, ‘Right, let’s get out of here before the rush starts’. So I was packing him up and they said, ‘The winner is…’ and there was this big pause and I just kept repeating K’naan and Joel Plaskett, because that’s who I was sure would win. And then they said ‘Fucked Up’, and I heard it in a millisecond, but it felt like a minute while I was processing it. I never thought we’d win, because we’d been frisked by the police all night – they’d frisked us just before we played, because it was in the MTV building, and we’re still technically banned from there. But we left that building with our heads held high.
“I WILL LITERALLY DO ANYTHING FOR POSITIVE ATTENTION”
A few of us have serious beards as well. How do you react when a drunk starts reaching for your jaws? Well, two weeks ago I accidentally shaved my beard off. I was going to this big award show at the TV station I work at and I was like, ‘I should trim my beard, because it looks a little unruly.’ And I don’t know what happened but I put this hole in my beard, so I had to even it out, and then I ended up accidentally shaving it off. But I’ve deﬁnitely had people tug on my beard. I have a son who yanks on my beard all the time, and I’ve even had people request beard hair, so I’ve torn bits off to give to people. I will literally do anything for positive attention. I am that desperate.
On tour, you can’t love every band you play with. Can you name a few you really dig? Oh absolutely. Recently we played with this band called Double Negative, who we’ve toured with before over the years. They’re from Reighley North Carolina. We also just played with a band, and this name is the only name that I think is more embarrassing than Fucked Up – they’re called Diarrhoea Planet, from Nashville, Tennessee. Surely Jonah’s dad wouldn’t prefer his son was in a band with that name? Ha! I don’t know… I think he would. Yeah, I think he would prefer Diarrhoea Planet. But the best thing about that band – and this has kinda been a thing for Fucked Up too – is that you go in with an expectation when you see a band is called Fucked Up or Diarrhoea Planet, and both of those expectations are terrible. So as soon as you deliver anything above terrible it’s amazing, and Diarrhoea Planet being such an amazing band and having such a dumb name, that jump is so spectacular when you see them live. I’ve seen that you have done some work with literacy campaigns. Anything you would care to share about the importance of literature and how it inﬂuences your own creativity? Ok. I think that any person that’s trying to write good lyrics has to be reading from other sources, and that means actual books. Because when you think of the great lyricists of all time – like Morrissey and Bob Dylan and Jarvis Cocker – they’re all very literate. For us, there’s always been a necessity to keep reading different sources. I love it when you’re listening to a song and someone starts referencing something from a book, like, to go back to Morrissey, when he’ll say, ‘I win, because Wilde is on my side’. Success or Progress? Errr… I would obviously like to say ‘progress’ immediately, but now that I have a son, I don’t want massive success, but I want to be able to provide for him. So progress is still deﬁnitely number one, but success is looking a little more appealing.
Photography By Tom Cockram
Congratulations. You’ve made a fucking excellent record. How is David? Ha ha ha! David is doing ﬁne, and that’s the thing about having this transient, imaginary manager that can become the lead in your rock opera. It’s a cliché and almost trite to say, but this is my favourite record that we’ve done, and I know that everyone says that, but I didn’t expect everyone to come along for the ride and necessarily like it – it’s an 80minute record. It’s not for everyone, and especially when you think about the vocals I have, so it’s been interesting to have been thrust into a situation where my hardcore voice has been brought to a popularist audience. It’s fun when people come up to me after a show and say, ‘Oh, I don’t like your vocals, but I love the music.’ And I’m like, ‘That’s awesome!’
W A R M
B R A I N S
IN CONVERSATION WITH A ONE-MAN PUNK BAND PHOTOGRAPHER -
Rory Attwell is a very busy young man. He’s got at least three previous bands under his belt, including day glo punk outﬁt Test Icicles and darker, post-punkers KASMs, and in recent years he’s also become a much sought after DIY producer. At the beginning of this year, he took his DIY ethos just about as far as it could go without building his own studio equipment (that is, we don’t think he did that, although we wouldn’t put it past him) and started a musical project called Warm Brians. For this, Attwell wrote the songs, sang them, played all the instruments, recorded all the parts, and put them all together. Even now, as we sit down to discuss exactly how many screws this guy’s got loose, he mentions that he’s spent the entire day working on the cover art and liner notes for the forthcoming Warm Brains LP, ‘Old Volcanoes’ – a record that takes on the warm grunge fuzz of Dinosaur Jnr., the complexities of Graham Coxon’s playing style and various alt. inﬂuences like Pavement and 60s psych. It’s a record underpinned with themes of heartbreak, and it’s virtually 100% Attwell. Now, when we last checked in with Rory, he was doing the production thing full time and, while he confessed to frequently missing being on the other side of the soundboard – and even sneaking in the occasional backing vocal – he seemed slightly more stoked about recording other people’s music than he did about making his own. Rory Attwell: “Did I really say that?” Polly Rappaport: Something to that effect, yeah. RA: “I think at the time I was still in KASMs.We were having a break at the time and I was quite happy to be working on other people’s music – not having the worries of being in a band, especially because things weren’t working out at the time. It was quite refreshing to not have to bother thinking about it – it was like an opt out clause from the stress of it all. And I was getting things done! Other people had already written the songs, and I was just producing them, and it felt really productive, really satisfying to be getting so much stuff done, whereas in my band at the time, we’d hit a bit of a rut.” PR: But now you’re back making the music again.What happened? RA: “I got bored of just producing – well, not bored, I still like doing it, but it’s quite hard recording other bands all the time, and you’re enjoying what they’re doing but you’re also thinking, I could be doing this as well, I’ve got all these ideas but I’m not doing them. So that kind of gave way to this, wanting to do my own thing.” PR: So were you still writing, even when you were essentially just producing? RA: “Sort of. I was kind of writing stuff even when I was in KASMs – things that were a bit different, that didn’t always translate that well into band practice. I was writing things that weren’t necessarily turning into songs when we were trying to play them, so I must have had about four or ﬁve songs that I’d roughly written, and when I left that band I thought I’d take those ﬁve songs, and I’d made six, seven more, and try to do something with them. I was quite happy with the way they were going, they were quite different from what we were doing anyway. And, yeah, I always tend to be fucking about with something, walking around with a Dictaphone, wandering down the street by myself, then something comes into my head and I start singing it into my phone, like some kind of weirdo, singing to myself
– singing guitar parts into a phone. So normally I have a lot of crap that needs ﬁltering down into songs.” PR: And yet the record is all you – you’ve done everything on it yourself, bar a few female vocals. How does that work, and how did it happen? RA: “I don’t really know what I was thinking when I ﬁrst started doing it. The idea of playing everything – not as an ego thing, but as an experiment – I’d always wanted to try it, and then I’d make these demos, but then I’d get bored because it was quite a laborious thing to do all by yourself, so then I’d get some other people to play them and that would be that.This time I thought I’d really have a crack at it, and it’s quite hard to do everything yourself. When you’re in a band and you’re all there together writing stuff it’s really fast and it’s really easy because if there’s something slightly wrong someone can ask to change one bit or change the structure a little, but when you’re all by yourself, you can basically end up doing the whole thing and then think, ‘Shit, that’s not very good,’ and then you have to do the whole thing again so it’s quite hard work… But I quite enjoy it. Plus I’m not the best drummer or singer so it’s an interesting challenge.” PR: What would you say is the hardest bit in the process for you? RA: “It’s all kind of hard – It was hard recording the whole thing myself, but more because when you’re in a band you practice it loads, play it loads, play it live, then, when you come to record it, it’s basically a ﬁnished thing anyway, so there might be a few little changes you make when you’re recording, but generally you’ve got most things sorted out. Doing it yourself is like, say a band, a big band, has been on tour for three years then someone says,‘Right, you’ve got to write your second album now,’ they go, ‘Oh shit’, and then they go into the studio and they just have to… do it. It’s kind of like that, really. So I was in there, and I had all these ideas, and I had to throw them together, and you can lose perspective a little bit doing this stuff, and at the same time, as I say I’m not the best drummer, so playing the drum parts I’ll be struggling a bit with the idea that I’ve got in my head and actually translating that onto the drums, and when I ﬁnally get it down, I’ll think, if I could have practiced that for, I dunno, three months, playing it live, it would have been a lot better. After playing these songs live a few times, I realise they sound a lot better than the recordings, but that’s just the nature of the beast at the moment.” PR: How many live shows have you done so far? RA: “Not many, but it’s getting better as we go along. I’ve got this bad habit of doing things too quickly. I think when we played our ﬁrst couple of gigs they were a bit shit because… well, I ﬁnished the record, then I wanted to release it, and I was going to try to release early this year but there was obviously no time to do that, and I decided to start playing live straight away, so we had about three practices and it was like, ‘Right, let’s do it,’ so it was a little bit odd for the ﬁrst few shows because it was all sort of thrown together. Like, I share my studio with Tom Vek, and he’s been playing really big gigs and practicing all the time – I keep seeing him practicing, like, three times a week for something like eight hours a day and I’m thinking, I have to play my ﬁrst gig and we’ve got three practices that are about two and a half hours long each… Gotta change my quality control level.” PR: Have you got a set band that you play with now? RA: “Yeah, it’s changed around a little bit – we’ve got two different people playing the drums at the moment,
but essentially it’s a three piece. Joe Ryan out of Fair Ohs is playing the drums and Lewis from Colours is playing some drums as well, and Anna’s playing bass… I might get in another guitarist – I’m trying to sort that out. I’ve asked a couple of people – you’d think it would be easy to get a guitarist because there’s loads of them, but for some reason it’s not that easy. I don’t know why, maybe I’m being fussy, but I just can’t ﬁnd the right one. The couple of people I’ve asked, they might be busy with their other twelve bands – everyone around here is in about ﬁfteen bands so I don’t really know who to ask, but we’ll get there eventually. It works as a three piece, just about.” PR: Don’t you ﬁnd yourself being a bit precious about the music, though? It’s essentially all your own work, after all. RA: “I try not to be too much of a dick about it. I know what it’s like with some people who write all the stuff, playing with them it’s like a dictatorship where they have to tell everyone exactly what to do, so I try and leave it a little bit, unless something really bugs me. Most of the time I’m just happy for people to interpret what they’re hearing on the record, play it how they see it, and it’s nicer in a way, it’s more exciting for me – feels like I’m in a proper band.” PR: So do you see this as being a long-term project?You do have a bit of a history when it comes to bands. RA: “That was the whole point, really.The whole point of why I started doing it was because I always felt like I was in a band and then something would go wrong. We’d make one album and then, well, generally we’d be quite happy with what was going on the ﬁrst record and then the shit would hit the fan and we wouldn’t have a chance to build on it. For me, a band’s ﬁrst album might be quite good, but you can’t really get the measure of a band until they’ve made like four, ﬁve albums, then you can tell it’s a great band because they’ve managed to make a good record ﬁve times on the trot – varying levels of that anyway. I was getting quite frustrated of being in bands. Even if it seemed like it was going really well, it just all fell apart, and I couldn’t really deal with doing that again – I didn’t want to start another band just for it to end, seems like such a waste. So the whole point of this is that it’s just me, so there shouldn’t really be a problem. I want to try to make at least three records, ideally ﬁve albums, and then ask myself what I’m doing next rather than making one album then moving on to something else again. I’ve always liked bands that have been around a long time and have got something to show for themselves, so I’m trying to do things a bit more calmly this time and just try and make some good music. I’ve nearly ﬁnished the second one already – I just need to ﬁnd the time to record it… I’m so busy at the moment!” PR: You’re still doing lots of recording for other people, then? RA: “Yeah, I’ve started to book time in for myself now. I always ﬁgure I’ll have a few days the next week to do something then I’ll get a call from someone who needs an album recorded in, like, two days, and I’ll think, yeah, I can squeeze that in, and then I think, shit, I’ve forgotten to do my own stuff. It’s a bit weird, getting out the diary and booking yourself into your own studio. Soon I’ll be talking to myself in the third person, having little producer/artist debates.” PR: That could be interesting… RA: “There’d be a lot of arguing. I don’t think I’d get on very well with myself to be honest – I’d probably get quite irritating.”
J O H N M A U S “THE WAY FORWARD IS TO ABANDON THE GUITAR” FRANKIE NAZARDO DANIEL DYLAN WRAY
PHOTOGRAPHER WRITER -
Speaking to John Maus is a little like running after a freight train with your teeth gritted, out of your gourd on amphetamines. It is, to say the least, fast paced, intense and exhausting, albeit somewhat exhilarating too. He speaks with a rabid intensity that can be simultaneously intoxicating and perplexing. One thing that remains evident throughout our interaction, however, is passion; this is a passionate man, not only in his music but also in his views, and he expels them all with zest, his voice an often relentless series of accentuations that make him sound like a more wired William H. Macy in Fargo. There’s lots of ‘Ahhhs’ and ‘Y’knows’. Formerly a member of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Grafﬁti, Maus is now on his third solo LP,‘We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves’, which is by far his greatest, most comprehensible body of work to date. The record is a slick, sleazy piece of sci-ﬁ-pop – infectious and stimulating in equal proportions. His early work was wild, often alienating and perpetually challenging; Drowned in Sound thought his ﬁrst record sounded like “a man crapping out of his mouth.” He has not necessarily eradicated his experimental tendencies, but rather reﬁned them on his new record. They are buried under a rainbow of sparkling production. It’s been a lengthy evolution for the man from Minnesota. “Yeah, I’ve been working on it the past couple of years,” he says,“so it’s taken a long time. I probably could have taken some more time on it though. But y’know it’s never done, right? It’s never ﬁnished, there are just certain moments when you have to put it to bed.” Of the fact that Maus’ work is largely made up of synthesisers and processed sounds, John says:“I think the way forward is to abandon the guitar, y’know? It
challenges this idea that we have to continue using a guitar, y’know?” Is it still possible to make experimental music with guitars? “Y’know, I just regard them as separate procedures. There are a lot of people doing very interesting things with them, and I wouldn’t want to make a mockery of what they are doing. I think one side is just losing its sense of advancing power. I could be wrong of course, and I invite anybody to vilify me on it.” The latter statement is something that John reiterates throughout our conversation - he has crystalline ideas and theories that he executes with both power and conviction, but seems happy to understand he could be wrong and seems to relish in the idea of discussing such matters. Perhaps this is his PhD in Philosophy creeping in. Maus, in a recent interview was disparaging of the ‘90s as a whole, regarding it as “one big mistake.” “It was edited,” he says of the video interview,“so it’s a little un-contextualised. I mean, I’m 31, so I grew up around a lot of that stuff and I think Nirvana are perhaps the most interesting group, in terms of pop music to exist in the last twenty years, but I think there was this real lack of pop sensibility... I mean, there were some kids who thought they were doing really experimental music by doing drones and throwing their lot in with Glen Branca and stuff (presumably a reference to Sonic Youth), and I could be wrong but I thought that was off the path. It just felt like that was a bad bit, y’know?” He later continues in reference to the spate of current bands who are living under the inﬂuence of such ‘90s guitar bands,“That stuff is just so off my radar,” he says.“I ﬁnd it extraordinarily un-extraordinary.We’ve heard it a thousand times – there is no option there,
no violence, no dissonance, not in a musical sense but in a socio-political sense or something.There’s no rupture. It’s boring.There’s no surprise there. “I deﬁnitely could be wrong though, when I say things like this, it is with all due respect.” John’s live shows, though, they do contain violence in some senses: a self- imposed violence as he pumps his ﬁsts and contorts his body in a seemingly endless ﬁt of energy and vigour. The ﬁrst and only time I saw John perform the roof collapsed above him when playing. It seemed ultimately ﬁtting to the manifestation of energy and power he was exuding. “My performances are a form of confrontation,” he says, “but confrontation not in the sense for just being confrontational, but hopefully in the sense of becoming another human being.” In other words, becoming possessed. “Everybody has this idea of what a live concert should be like, and I’m just not satisﬁed with that” We speak on and on for some time late into the night, weaving in and out of topics, all of which are presented and retorted with frightening enthusiasm and, more often that not, fascinating insight. And yet there’s still a sense that we only scratch at the surface of the complexities and thoughts displayed by John Maus. He is a true individual in an increasingly non-individualistic occupied industry. The notion and existence of the eccentric pop star is not as dead as you might think. “I’m sorry for not being more concise and coherent,” he apologises as we part ways. Of course it’s not necessary, and for all his speed, rampant declarations and tangents he has taken me on, paradoxically he’s the same person responsible for creating one of most thought-out, coherent and intriguing albums of the year.
B L A N C K
M A S S
THE LIGHT AND DARK TIMES OF BENJAMIN JOHN POWER PHOTOGRAPHER -
Ten minutes into an interview with Benjamin John Power we broach a subject already dogging Blanck Mass’ embryonic stages. As one half of the circuit-splitting Fuck Buttons, the comparisons between the two are starting to come thick and fast. Derived more from lazy association, as opposed to contrast and context, it’s an aspect Ben is prepared for, if not overly exasperated by. “I like the way you noticed that,” he says. “I haven’t done too much press yet for this so I’m still… fresh.The main difference between Fuck Buttons and Blanck Mass – apart from having another mind to bounce ideas off that might morph into something you never imagined before – with Blanck Mass, it’s much more direct. It was quite a secluded recording and writing process. I think that obviously allows it to become more personal.” The result of an intensive writing and recording process that regularly saw Ben delve into 12-hour sessions. His self-titled debut is one of a black, bleak beauty. Enthralled with the deﬁning work of Ennio Morricone and taking inspiration from nature, science and discovery, ‘Blanck Mass’, as Ben admits, isn’t an album to make a snap judgement on. It requires time, space and – a rare commodity in the face of current consumption – patience. “It was such an intensive process, writing this record. I’d been spending 14 hours a day in the old place I was living in and I went at it quite hard. By no means was it me getting something out my system, but I did want to ﬁnish it in a certain time frame. “The ﬂat I was in before was not the friendliest of environments – there was no natural light and it felt quite sterile, like walking into a hospital. It was like a live/work unit with all this strip lighting that gave you a headache and I don’t think someone on the other side
can empathise with that if they’ve got a few days to review or listen to a record. There are intricacies there that you won’t hear with a quick blast and I think it’s an album that needs to be listened to through headphones in the right environment.” The importance of the right surroundings and environments play a prominent part in the Blanck Mass makeup. These aren’t songs chopped and hacked to ﬁt; they’re scores and compositions created to evoke and elicit; inspire and introspect; delve deeper than your archetypal verse-chorus-verse. With the absence of lyrics, and a depth of theme and inspiration for the album, there’s a reliance on the instrumental journeys Ben creates to entice and hold your attention. “I got asked the other day, whether I thought the album was a dark album or a light album and I thought about it and realised that I kind of see both of those things as not being separate from each other. Nature and science are really big things for me, but I also think there’s loneliness in greater understanding and a happiness that can be found in isolation. “I’m a huge fan of Ennio Morricone. His work was quite cold, quite isolated, but it was also triumphant and quite hopeful as well. It’s the way I like to envisage Blanck Mass and would like to think the tracks on the album touch on those ideas.” So here we are faced with an album attempting to convey a deeper exploration of subjects that requires a willingness to step off the merry-go-round and invest in it. It shouldn’t be a lofty expectation but, as happens so often, when we’re faced with something we need to take the time to understand, we still want instant closure. We want context.We’re so smitten with immediacy that patience becomes even more of a virtue.
“It’s a pretty rapid time we live in,” nods Ben, “but I do feel like it’s a creeper. But it’s an interesting point. If I don’t start writing another one now… Blanck who?” he laughs. “But I also think things don’t disappear as easily now too. I think the Internet is a perfect platform for things to get shelved and not go away. It’s endless but that’s a good thing. You see music-hosting blogs with records from the 70s that people are getting into now, so if I think about it like that, I think I’m alright.” And so we come full circle. Do you pander to the pattern of modern consumption or take your chances that the blogosphere will immortalise you? With themes of nature, landscapes, isolation, loneliness, triumph, and cerebral hypoxia, it’s not an album that invites easy access, but it’s still an open invitation to use your imagination and paint your own picture. Open your mind and take your time. It’s a simple request. Let’s hope it isn’t beyond too many of us. “Around the time I started to write ‘Sundowner’, I was speaking to a friend about the supposed feeling of euphoria that someone experiences before drowning – I really like that mental imagery. “I’ve had the concept album thrown at me, but I don’t like the idea of a concept because you’re forcing an idea of what an album’s about. I think it’s important to be able to take your own impressions away from it. I didn’t want to say, ‘this is what it is and this is what you should think’. It’s nice; the idea that music can complement any kind of human experience and that it can change. It’s an interesting thing – it’s the unknown and that’s where the cerebral hypoxia comes from. It’s a juxtaposition. On one side, I hate the idea of it, but it makes sense. It’s a thinker for sure,” he smiles.
VO NDEL P ARK A QUIET EVOLUTION IN LONDON’S FORGOTTEN BORDERS PHOTOGRAPHER -
Even a stagnant pond teems with life around its damp and fecund edges. There in the broken reeds and rainwater tributaries you’ll ﬁnd all sorts of chary and reclusive fauna, shrinking from your gaze and retreating deeper into the undergrowth to tend to their offspring and forage for sustenance. So I ﬁnd myself in Peckham on a rare visit to this oasis of cheaper living and isolated artistic indulgence, atmospherically a million miles from London’s arid centre but really only a few streets south of the priapic new Shard development, a glassy-eyed visual metaphor for the recession if there ever was one. Vondelpark, despite being named after a green space in Amsterdam, are a distinctly British proposition and a band that have made London’s anonymous southern
borders their home. Though apparently inﬂuenced by a trip to America’s West Coast (as hinted at by ‘California Analog Dream’, the opening track of last year’s ‘Sauna’ EP), there’s something about the mottled patina of their songs – warm yet cool, fond yet distant – that’s exactly the opposite of the Golden State’s freewheeling optimism. The vocals are submerged and rarely decipherable, ﬂoating above reclaimed garage rhythms on ‘Hippodrome’ or trip-hop shufﬂe on ‘Jetlag Blue Version’, and seem to be calling back to warmer, easier times.The ‘Sauna’ EP is a document of that longing – for sunshine, a younger youth, a smoother toke. This is the sound of Britain’s new bands. Have you noticed? They’re young, as always. They’re sad, sort of,
but also happy at the same time, in the same moment. They like to look back, to reﬂect. And perhaps more than ever they’ve got no clear future, no reason to stay in school and get a job, ‘cos there are no jobs to be got and it’s starting to seem like there never will be. In the boom years there was a risk, a desperate thrill, in pissing about with guitars for a few years before knuckling down to the inevitable. But now? Bands like Vondelpark are taking it slow.They’re productive, proliﬁc even, yet they don’t crave overnight success, perhaps because there’s little else out there for them, and the future seems to stretch out indeﬁnitely. Alright, this portrait may not be exactly how it is for Vondelpark, but it’s a common enough attitude among
bands of their vintage.We’re sitting out back at Peckham’s Bar Story with the railway station in our sights. Lewis, the guy commonly mistaken for the only member of Vondelpark, is frontman and ringleader of the porous group that includes regular members Bailey and Matt. A recent Boiler Room set saw them joined on drums by Will Archer, a friend and musician who operates under the moniker Slime and has collaborated withVondelpark on the tracks ‘2Player’ and ‘Gals’. So is this the birth of a ‘scene’? “All of our friends are creative in some way, like our friend Ciaran [Wood] who does the videos. It’s good to be inspired by people, you kind of bounce off each other,” says Lewis, explaining that it’s a “friendship group” ﬁrst and foremost. “We don’t even go to all these nights in London, we just use the amenities to do our own little world.” Asked how they put their dense and dreamy songs together, there’s little to go on. “Just from hanging out,” Bailey offers amid the ums and ahs. It’s part of their deﬁance against the hype machine. They’re relaxed and purposely slow-moving. The songs too are languorous but not luxuriant, seeming to wallow in time, not as an opulent fuck-you to the ever-quickening treadmill of globalised commerce but more as a consequence of being left behind by the gobbling Pac-Man of credit, debt and default. If the under-25s have had free time foisted upon them because of the recession, at least the musicians can take the opportunity to go slowly, add layers, play low-key shows and retain their privacy. Vondelpark haven’t appeared from nowhere though, having had a taste of success with their previous incarnation in a more straight-up art-rock band. Pretty brave to just chuck all that away and start again, anonymously? “It wasn’t representing what we actually wanted to play,” says Matt.“We had the greatest intentions with that, but we were very young, we didn’t want to go down a path that we weren’t completely comfortable with,” explains Lewis. “We had offers from major labels who wanted us to be something that we weren’t, so... that’s all really. There’s not many bands that start with four years of experience of playing live around the country. I think we’re just quite comfortable with the experience we got from that, and we’re not ashamed of any of it.” It must have made you more clued up about the pitfalls of the industry as well. “Yeah, I think people care about music and we didn’t realise that as much when we were in that band before, ‘cos everyone around us in East London... it was just like, a darker place, to be completely honest.” How so? “It was just a weird time,” says Bailey, as they all quietly nod. “Yeah. Not very nice.” Still, Internet buzz being what it is, the idea of anonymity quickly overtook their intentions as cut’n’paste culture turned the reborn band into ‘mysterious south London producer Vondelpark’. That’s what happens when your only web presence is an interview with Vice magazine. How important is anonymity, then? “I think people really get that wrong, to be honest, about forced mystery,” says Lewis. “In our case, we actually did do an interview about a month after we put up our ﬁrst MP3.” Lots of artists seem to be quite clearly choosing to hide their identities, though. Maybe it’s a reaction to all that in-yer-face pop and the risk of sudden ‘success’ and over-exposure on the blogosphere. “You don’t need to be anything more at ﬁrst. It’s just having really good songs so people care enough about the music to want to hear more,” says Lewis. “I just feel with the mysterious thing it just comes from people not wanting to waste away with an image, just wanting people to take the music for what it is.” Bailey offers a harsher assessment. “There’s a lot of people that just keep regurgitating the same article over and over again, and I think people need to like... live a little bit more.” “With Burial, he did it in his own way and it’s completely original, so the music is the actual important
thing,” says Lewis. “And it wasn’t intentional, he just honestly doesn’t like doing that [promotional] stuff because it’s not that important to him, and it’s not actually that important to us, ‘cos we enjoy listening to our records.” Wu Lyf tried to go down a similar path at ﬁrst, too. “Now they’re saying they’re pissed off they even started doing press,‘cos it’s taking away from them being in their bedroom making songs.” What about the musical mood that pervades London bands at the moment? I’m thinking Ghostpoet, James Blake, Echo Lake – musicians of all genres evoking a similar melancholy feeling through mumbled lyrics and dreamy production right down to blurred press shots. Is there something in the water or what? “Yeah, you could take that quite pretentiously and say it’s because of England, but it probably is,” says Lewis. “I was talking to someone from San Francisco about this the other day, and he was saying, ‘I couldn’t live in London ‘cos it’s so grey.’ But on a serious level, it is pretty grim, there’s only like two months where it’s warm in London and I mean, it’s not really a great place to sort of... at the moment everyone’s just like... yeah, getting emotive,” he laughs. It’s a sound that the classic Belgian techno label R&S
has spotted and embraced, signing up diverse acts of the ‘post-dubstep’ non-genre like James Blake and Space Dimension Controller, giving the label a new lease of life as it nurtures London’s fresh talents. “The label has some amazing musicians at the moment,” they remind me later. The band are about to release their second EP through the imprint, titled ‘NYC Stuff and NYC Bags’, but still plan to steer clear of the limelight. “We’re keeping it pretty low key. Hopefully the album will be out around Christmas time,” says Lewis. “We don’t want to release an album until we’re completely happy with what we’ve done,” adds Matt. Our conversation concludes with Lewis setting out what could be the band’s manifesto, if only they were the type of band who would put their name to something as declamatory and earnest as a manifesto. “We’re just really, really, really into making music, and we want to play to lots of people. I just want people to be able to listen to our music and relate in some way, and make them feel better about being in shit situations.That’s the main intention.” And in its own small way, that simple rejection of cliched rock and roll living and industry indulgence sums up the quiet evolution ticking over in our cities’ undergrowth.
J OH N CA L E
THE FOUNDER OF THE VELVET UNDERGROUND ON SNOOP DOGG, PRODUCING PATTI SMITH, BETTERING HIMSELF AND WHY GETTING BACK TOGETHER WITH LOU REED IS A BAD IDEA WRITER -
Just imagine… it’s 1967 and the current number one single in the US is ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ by The Beatles – the very essence of sunshine, feel-good pop music, almost throwaway in its ﬂeeting, child-like sentiment.You go down your local record store and see an album cover with a big banana and Andy Warhol’s name on it, so you give it a whirl out of intrigue. Ten minute’s into that record you are greeted with the demonic, demented screech of viola on ‘Venus In Furs’. For all those years your parents told you that rock’n’roll was the devils music, maybe now you started to believe them.Well, tonight I meet the architect: the devil himself, John Cale. John Cale has recently signed to Domino records subsidiary Double Six Records and is back with a new EP out in August entitled ‘Extra Playful’, which is an apt title, with the record itself being a smorgasbord of sounds, styles and musical endeavours that accesses the many sonic portals and palates within Cale’s brain. An LP will follow around September time with a tour after that.This comes six years after his last record. So, was the break intentional? “No, no,” he says. “There’s been some things with EMI, and that was like watching a boxing match go sour.” Oh dear. “Yeah, I mean, I don’t know, Guy Hands got his hands on it and it just sort of went up in smoke. It’s a shame; there were some very good people at EMI, they took care of me, and I appreciated it. I mean… but look at Domino Records, they could be the next EMI; they have the right attitude towards it, and just look at the music. Although I have to qualify that by saying I don’t want anybody to be the next EMI!” In his gap John has also been given the prestigious honour of an OBE, which was “totally bizarre. I never expected it,” he says. “I have no idea how it came about. The greatest thing was being there on the day and standing alongside all these people who were receiving the same honour as you are and they’re not there because they are wealthy or famous – some of them are quite poor and they are there because they’ve helped their community a lot. It’s outstanding... that was really inspiring to me.” Cale has also recently been taking his 1973 seminal album, ‘Paris 1919’, across the globe for the last two years, performing in each city with a brand new orchestra in each one he visits. A pleasant nostalgia trip, one presumes. “Nostalgia only lasts for a little bit anyway and really it sounds pretty different [to the record],” he ponders. “You’re not doing it to recreate it, you’re breathing new life into the songs.
DANIEL DYLAN WRAY
“That’s a very special kind of show,” he continues. “You can only do that every once in a while, with getting the orchestras and rehearsing and stuff, although they’ll probably continue [once the new record comes out].” Over the years (almost 45 since The Velvet Underground’s debut) Cale has worked with a huge array of people, as a band member, producer, collaborator and composer. The key to successful collaboration, he says, is “that both parties involved end up going somewhere they didn’t expect to go.” “You get something out of other people by working with them, and in turn get something out of yourself you wouldn’t have normally done,” he continues. “It’s always a very revealing experience.” He speaks as though he knows the answer to the question, rather than offering an opinion. “If you think you know what you’re doing at any particular moment, if you have that moment with other people you’ll ﬁnd that you may be wrong,” he says. “They may have one objective idea about what you’re doing and that’s always interesting to see how that develops and comes together.” That’s quite a trusting attitude to have in regards to other people’s opinion. Surely it could be them who are wrong? “But the trust isn’t personal, it’s in something creative, somebody else’s vision and it’s really interesting to see and hear other people’s views.” So does this belief extend to when you are producing records and are essentially the objective voice, not the original founder of the idea or music? “I mean when you get a band in the studio, quite often they are hearing things completely differently for the ﬁrst time. They’ve never been on stage and heard themselves so clearly or so manicured, and that can be a daunting experience for a lot of people [when they come in the studio]. When we did Patti (Smith – John produced the seminal ‘Horses’) and the band, they had been playing this stuff on their own guitars and their own guitars where often warped, and when you start to deal with that and hire in equipment, it’s like a baby out of bath water. It took a while to settle that, because they all wanted to play the instruments they played on stage. They worked their butts off to get these guitars that they loved and then you come along in the recording studio and say,‘Sorry, no.We’re going to be spending more time tuning them than we are recording them.’ So that changes things, because there is a lot of stress on the band, who are trying to make something work that they’ve never thought of before, because they’ve been used to getting whatever they want from their own instruments.” Largely responsible for shaping the best sounds of
the ’70s (Cale also produced The Stooges, The Modern Lovers and Nico), he modestly plays down his role as producer as “evolution”, even if those relentlessly pounding piano keys and sleigh bells that can be heard thrusting their way through ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ were at the hands of him, arguably creating the moment punk was born, eight years before 1977. “Well, I mean, I’m telling the truth,” he says. “I didn’t write it. I don’t feel I’m responsible for their output, they are the original owner of that content.” In terms of his inﬂuence, both as a member of The Velvet Underground and as a solo artist, it’s remarkably evident in so many records we hear today, and that has to be strange? “Yeah,” he says. “I mean, I can understand why they are trying to ﬁgure it out because there’s a great deal of disappointment involved in it. You know, we thought [The Velvet Underground] was going to be around for a while and they weren’t. But they’ve really latched onto something – the inability of four people not really being able to agree on anything or much of anything and still produce some music is a puzzle.It’s like that advertisement that slowly shows a glass of water tipping over, it’s the kind of thing that grabs and holds your attention while they tell you what to buy. It’s that same kind of thing, that same disappointment that got everybody hooked on The Velvet Underground, I think.” So, do people to this day still try and get you guys back together? “They don’t try, they ask if it’s possible and generally the answer is one big question mark.You couldn’t really do The Velvet Underground anymore without Sterling anyway.” I ask if the interest is bafﬂing or ﬂattering and John suddenly becomes sombre. His voice drops softly and a sincere degree of emotion coats his every word. “It’s kind of saddening really, it just reminds you of something you can’t do anymore.” A silent pause awkwardly hangs in the air. “You mean as a collective unit or the inability to write the songs as you once did?” I ﬁnally ask. “Yeah, in regards to without Sterling…we’d always look at each other on stage and hear him peel off a solo, you know? You’d have to wait there for it to unravel. He would unravel a solo and it would take him a while! He would reach these heights, and I was just enthralled. I don’t know how he got it, there was something about him… and something about us in those days.” John sighs. “It just wouldn’t be right to do it.” So there’s no intrigue there? You wouldn’t want to do it? “No, not really. I think Lou and I together unfortunately bring out nothing but the worst in each
other.That’s a sad fact of life.” John’s tone remains undeniably sad through these parts, almost uncomfortably so. I feel awkward in my questioning, as though I’m asking him personal questions about lost family members, when it dawns on me that in many ways I am. Lou Reed, Maureen Tucker and Doug Yule (John’s replacement when he left The Velevet Underground in 1968) all got together for a public convention and interview at the NewYork public library in 2009. Was this something that John was interested in being a part of? “Well, it was something that I was not very interested in, but I also sensed it was something other people were not very interested in me having a part of either,” he says. “I didn’t miss it.” Clearly saddened by the subject matter, I decide to move on before I push my luck or John goes all Lou Reed on me (Lou point blank refuses to talk about anything other than his latest projects when giving an interview. Sometimes even a mere mention of The Velvet Underground or details of his past is enough to make him walk out of a room). John’s previous collaborations are plentiful and duly noted but is there anyone he would still love to work with? Immediately the tone picks up. “I don’t know, I think a lot of the people I’m already fascinated with are already doing it [by themselves]. I mean Eminem is really outrageous, he’s so strong, and
“LOU AND I TOGETHER UNFORTUNATELY BRING OUT NOTHING BUT THE WORST IN EACH OTHER. THAT’S A SAD FACT OF LIFE” Snoop, I always get a giggle out of Snoop. There’s this other guy who works with Snoop called Kokane and he’s outrageous – he’s got this voice, it’s very much like Sly Stone; it can be very deep and soulful one minute and then very high and beautiful and romantic the next. The range he’s got is really excellent. But he’s already doing it. Lupe Fiasco I like a lot too.” Slightly dumfounded, I was expecting to hear a list of strange avant-garde composers, but instead it turns out John Cale gets a kick out of Snoop Dogg. But, then, knowing the strong focus on lyrical content Cale applies to his own work, it’s hardly surprising that he feels attached to the lyrically superior genre of hip-hop. “Yes, absolutely,” he agrees. “Some of the lyrics are extreme. I mean, Eminem, I can’t believe that guy can
stay angry for so long, but he does it really elegantly” Angry lyrics elegantly constructed? Sounds familiar, so I ask something I never in a million years thought I would ask John Cale: is he familiar with Odd Future? “Odd future? That name rings a bell.” The full title is Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. “Hum,” he quips with genuine thought. “Are they the rap outﬁt that were at Coachella?” Quite possibly, I respond (they were). “I think there’s about seven or eight of them and they make videos?” That’s them, yes. “It’s a shame I missed them. I was out of town. But I’ve read about them, it sounds fascinating.When I read about it I thought, ‘Hum, how do you keep something like that together? So many people doing so many different things.’” I explain the age group of the outﬁt – some are teenagers and that the oldest member is 23. “Wow! There’s hope for us yet man! Really, I mean it.What’s their website?” So as I instruct John Cale on where to look for Odd future, I query the latter part – is originality something that he still considers or thinks about when writing and making music? “I’m careful, in that I don’t listen to the radio. I only listen to things I like. I guess make it personal. If you make it personal then it’s yours, you know? I mean it’s really about working out your own thoughts as you go along and only you can do that, so it’s your own business.” John was on The Culture Show in 2009 being interviewed by Miranda Sawyer when he had one of his moments of complete sincerity and honesty that I too have experienced whilst speaking with him. It’s difﬁcult to convey in print, but on multiple occasions he will slow down, and very softly and thoughtfully respond to something with such a gentleness but complete conviction that it’s very difﬁcult not to be humbled by such emotion, honesty and insight. One such moment came when he told Sawyer,“I have ambition…ambition to fulﬁl my full potential, which I don’t know if I have yet.” It was a remarkably vulnerable moment, one that opened up a whole world of questions by turning the key of self-doubt, but it was met with childish giggles from Sawyer and an inability to follow up the question because it was “very serious”.The interview terminated at its most vital point. After two frustrated years, I follow it up. Is this really how he feels? John Cale, founder of TheVelvet Underground, pioneer producer, the original creator of one of the world’s greatest and most popular cover songs (‘Hallelujah’), OBE, nearly twenty solo albums made, collaborations with Eno and Nick Drake amongst many others, ﬁlm composer, festival curator and still recording at nearly 70 years old – this man really feels he hasn’t reached his full potential? “Yes,” he says.“I still haven’t found the perfect topic to take control of, the perfect balance of music and words.This is something I’m still looking for.” Is this something that you have never found, or that you have but are looking to better? “Yeah, to better it I guess. Not in terms of competitiveness. I take lessons from other people; I don’t try and imitate them as I think that would be the kiss of death, but I take lessons from them.” What John clearly likes to absorb he is capable of imparting too, and he has provided many lessons whilst speaking to him, the main one being that he likes “surprise endings”, and it’s clear that the end is not in sight yet.
G R O S S
M A G I C
HYPE SO FRANTIC IT MUST BE WITCHCRAFT PHOTOGRAPHER -
“Right, so there’s a little plastic toilet, OK? You open it up and inside it’s clean as anything. Then you shut the lid, tap it a couple of times and when you open it up again there is a gooey poo inside!” Sam McGarrigle is not talking us through his Glastonbury horror...or his morning routine. “Underneath the toilet are fake eyeballs and shit.” In fact, Sam is explaining to us what’s in his box of Gross Magic: an awe inspiring (come on, it is) box of tricks he picked up at a local Brighton boot sale just months before forming his second band – a band that have crept up on the world with impressive stealth, like David Copperﬁeld approaching Claudia Schiffer. “I went with my sister to the car-boot sale and forgot the name by the time I got home. Luckily she remembered and it’s stuck. My parents saw it since and got me the box.” Sam is indebted to his family for a ﬁtting name – Gross Magic play spectral, otherworldly pop tunes of the highest order, capable of thumps and bumps in the night. His track ‘Sweetest Touch’ is the ﬁrst to cross the void into our world: one of 5 songs that appear on the forthcoming ‘Teen Jamz’ EP. With a guitar towing a supernatural grunge-funk line, it helps conjure up images of the dead, as in Kurt Cobain to be blatantly honest.“‘Sweetest Touch’ is the only song we’ve put out so far,” says Sam. “I don’t know if it will shock people, but the rest of the EP won’t be as grungy as that. I was equally inﬂuenced by stuff like ELO, David Bowie and
T-Rex, so it’s not going to be as grungy as some people think.” Really, it’s the bass that overtly borrows from grunge, while the guitar updates the sassy squeals of glam. As for the vocals, Sam’s falsetto-tinged voice has singed a few eyebrows too, as he’s been likened to a certain inﬂuential symbol.“Prince!” he says.“Yeah, I guess that’s because of my high pitched singing. I’m also a huge fan of Michael Jackson so that hopefully shows in the music. I made a song ages ago called ‘Waiting For You’, which is a bit Prince, so I know what you mean.” Sam’s passion for MJ was shared with former band mate Mike J. Together they were Hocus Tocus – a surfstyled, lo-ﬁ pop duo that caused a stir in London just two years ago. Now they aren’t so close. “Actually we bonded again over Michael Jackson on Facebook last night,” assures Sam. “He actually mentioned something about buying a keyboard, so you never know…” While Mike remains in the city, though, Gross Magic stick close to the coast. Based in Brighton, Sam toiled on his own before welcoming in three local additions with open arms. “Steve (bass), Joe (drums) and Will (guitar) replaced a backing track and it sounds much, much better now,” he grins, having just walked out of a fourhour practice.“We weren’t expecting too many shows at ﬁrst, but then we did a show at the Green Door Store [Brighton] and it’s just taken off. “It seems there is a new inﬂux of bands from around
Brighton,” he continues. “Fear of Men and some of The History of Apple Pie are locals, so it’s pretty cool at the moment. With great bands like Cold Pumas too it’s looking good.” An hour or two after we meet with Sam, we get a sense of just what he means when he says things have “taken off ” for his new project.This evening, at a north London pub show, he’s ﬁrst on, but the room is full like he’s the headliner, mostly with A&Rs and label bosses. With magic moments of simplicity throughout ‘Sweetest Touch’, and a riff so bold and brave it’s a wonder we haven’t heard it before, ﬂedgling label The Sounds of Sweet Nothing took notice of Gross Magic long before now, though. Everyone else is frantically running to catch up. “Yeah, [label owner] Ned got in touch,” says Sam.“He’d released Unknown Mortal Orchestra before. I sent my Soundcloud demo to a couple of blogs and the label got in touch within days.We re-recorded the songs, though, as they needed a bit of a tidy up!” The clamour continues to sign Sam and his soiled toilet to a bigger deal, although at the rate Gross Magic are accelerating there’s a good chance that the ink will be dry by the time you’re reading this.There’s a feverish excitement about this band that only truly happens every so often, and if all of their songs drip in teenage sex like ‘Sweetest Touch’ does (whether as indebted to Kurt and Marc or not) the frenzied hype will be very much justiﬁed.
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OR D E R B A C K I S S U ES A ND S U B S CRIB E A T W W W .LO UDANDQ UIET.C O M U K A N D D I GI T A L SU B S CRIB ERS RECEIVE A F REE 1 2” FEAT. RARITIES FRO M H E A L T H / GOL D P A NDA / T EET H / M ET RONOM Y / TELEP ATHE... AND MO RE WWW.LOUDANDQUIET.COM
HARDCORE THE THREE YOUNG PUNKS WHO GOT BORED OF THRASHING PHOTOGRAPHER -
BACK DROP QUILT BY EMMA DENBY & ELIZABETH LINDSAY
As the ﬁrst few lines of a Prince record start to crackle out, Eddy Frankel, the Jewish frontman of Fair Ohs, starts clapping and swaying by the window, while telling us a joke about a Jew and a Japanese guy in an airport. “I’m not so big on this particular one,” drummer Joe Ryan mumbles at the record player. “This one’s good!” proclaims Eddy, attempting to dissuade Joe from moving the needle along. Meanwhile, bassist Matt Lewendon (or Matt Flag, as he’s known) is fretting about the room with a cigarette hanging loosely out of one side of his mouth, trying to ﬁgure out where’s best to smoke. Joe makes a beeline for the kitchen to put a pizza and chips in the oven and beers in the fridge. They come across as a somewhat motley crew, Fair Ohs. Sure, they look like they’re in a band together, but their personalities and backgrounds couldn’t be more varied. Eddy, for starters, who was born in Africa and raised in nine different countries before settling in England at 18, comes across as cocksure and jocular, while Matt is the down to earth guy who just loves garage rock and America’s Next Top Model; Joe seems sweet-natured, frequently checking up on everyone and ensuring a steady ﬂow of funk and soul. “Is there anything we can do to make things better for you?” he asks. “We’ve got a pizza on the way and chips aaaaaand really good music, we’ve got beer… I think we’re good to go.” “Matt can give you a head massage,” offers Eddy. Matt suggests doing it with his head. “Look.” Joe points at Matt’s bald patch. “He’s practiced so much he’s worn it away.” And they all erupt with laughter so infectious that you can’t help but join in. It’s been a couple of years since we last caught up with this east London trio. Back then they had only just settled on their name as it is now – discarding ﬁve other variations – and were about to release the steadily building, chant-heavy, bright and breezy pop number ‘Summer Lake’, which is steeped in Congolese soukous rhythms and is their oldest song to hold a ﬁrm spot on their debut album, ‘Everything is Dancing’. However, it wasn’t until earlier this month that the LP ﬁnally found its way onto shelves.
“We didn’t record the album like I suppose a lot of people would do,” begins Matt. “It got to the point where we thought, ‘Oh, we’ve got enough songs to do an album, we should do an album now’, but I don’t think we’d been labouring on the fact that we’d been writing a record.” In a series of stints with London producer Rory Attwell – and former band mate of Matt’s when they were in post-dance-punk outﬁt RAT:ATT:AGG together – Fair Ohs bashed out enough material for two albums and a few singles. “We pieced all the sessions together of the stuff we liked,” explains Matt, “and the stuff that we didn’t like we didn’t include. It was almost like we grouped together the ﬁrst set that would work as an album. There were songs that we’d written and recorded and ﬁnished that we could have added but we left for the next record or a seven-inch. “The new stuff we’ve written is – to us – quite far removed. I’m sure there are a lot of people who’ll think it sounds just like Vampire Weekend – that’s ﬁne – but we feel like we’re changing and I think that’s because we’ve got really short attention spans, which comes from playing punk music, where everything is quite quick.We write songs quite quickly – if a song isn’t done in an hour or two we’ll sit on a riff for a few weeks, but then…fuck it. We’re not going to sit there and plough on it for months. I don’t understand people who will spend months or years writing a record. Our album came out ofﬁcially on vinyl last week and will in two weeks time for the CD, but we’ve almost, almost done the second one.” As well as coming from a punk and hardcore background, Fair Ohs also count jazz, Latin, soul and more among their inﬂuences. In fact, when they ﬁrst started out, they were a free-jazz band.“True. Disclaimer that I was not involved,” laughs Matt as Joe points the ﬁnger at Eddy. “We’re very eclectic people who like loads of different kinds of music,” Eddy justiﬁes. “It’s certainly not just hardcore, African music or garage rock and I’m very into free-jazz and jazz in general.” Matt tells him that’s the most pretentious thing he’s ever said and they all have a chuckle. “Awww look, he’s trying to be
serious,” Joe says in a mothering tone. “Don’t listen to him. He’s just old and bitter.” “I’ve known Joe for a while,” continues Eddy, “and I wanted to make music with him and it was the farthest removed thing I could do from my old band as possible.” Which was a grindcore band he informs us, as Joe says he thought he would be able to do some “ridiculously fast double-pedal drum thing and then [Eddy] was like, ‘How about we do some free-jazz?’ and I thought alright then, that’ll be good,” he mutters sarcastically. “We’re really into challenging ourselves, musically,” says Eddy, seriously, “so we thought, ‘Let’s do something ridiculous’ and that’s how it started out.Then it morphed into hardcore with our friend Fessey and that evolved and Fessey got Matt in and then we told Fessey to piss off.” For those of you in the dark about the elusive Steve Fessey, he was their old bassist who wasn’t kicked out for being a racist, as joked about by Eddy in our previous interview with the band, but because he wasn’t happy. “Yeah he was miserable all the time,” Joe points out. “It didn’t ﬁt in with us.” And if you haven’t already noticed in the way that they comfortably torment each other, this is one tight-knit, happy group. “All we ever want to do is make each other happy and to stand in a room and feel content in what we’re making,” says Eddy. “We have a thing within the band where if one person doesn’t wanna do it, we don’t do it,” says Matt. “It’s not democracy,” says Eddy. “All three of us have to agree. With how we write songs, if someone said, ‘I don’t like that verse’ we would drop it.” Similarly, if a giant label offered them a big deal but one of them wasn’t up for it, they wouldn’t take it, not because their DIY ethics wouldn’t allow it, simply because they’re only in this for themselves. “Who cares what other people think?” asserts Eddy. “I don’t care,” announces Matt. “I know it’s easy to relate us back to DIY because this album has come out in Europe on our label, so yes we’ve done it ourselves; we’ve all been in bands who’ve existed on small labels and we’re friends with bands who’ve all done that as well. But I don’t think it deﬁnes us in the music, it’s just that nobody else was there saying,‘I’m going to give you loads of money to put out a record’.” “The reason Matt says he doesn’t care and I don’t care and Joe probably doesn’t give a fuck either, is because it has fuck all to do with anyone else,” Eddy rants on. “DIY is only about you and I don’t care if someone thinks we’re not DIY enough. It’s only about us. We released our own record in the way we did [on their own Honey High label] because we don’t care how other people think we should release our record.” He pauses and everything is silent for a moment except for the record spinning in the background. “That was a bit of an intense round,” he laughs and the others laugh with him.
“WE G ET ACCUSE D OF R I PPI N G VAM PI R E WE E K E N D OFF, B UT IT’S J UST NOT TR U E... WE STOLE FROM AFR ICA, NOT AM E R ICA” 28
you’ve yet to hear the album, it’s a handful of summery, tropi-punk songs with some silly lyrics – “I really wanted to have a song about Chevy Chase because he’s fucking awesome and ‘boat race’ is obviously Cockney rhyming slang for Chevy Chase,” reveals Matt of ‘Summer Lake’ – and some not so silly – ones of fear and paranoia that we’ll come to later – so, with the horrible amount of rain we’ve been having this summer, this record might just be the lift we all desperately need. “We make everything better,” assures Eddy. “Good summers are better, bad summers are better. We take winter and add warmth to it, spring we add anticipation, summer we highlight the beauty of it, autumn – we are the memory of summer. This is the worst answer ever,” he peters out with a chuckle. “I’ve been starting to get annoyed with the summery thing,” huffs Matt, “because I think people might listen to [the album] for a month and then realise they’re in England and go back to listening to Cold Cave. It’s us just trying to write pop songs – it came out summery and that’s probably because we don’t wear shoes on stage.” Eddy coyly smiles and tells us that it’s more comfortable not to wear shoes on stage, but it can lead to horrible injuries.“I’d like to say now that I’m the only member of this band who hasn’t had to scalpel an object out of their foot,” declares Matt as Eddy goes into a story of his post-album launch show wounding. “The next day my foot hurt, so the day after that I had to take a scalpel to my foot and get glass out of it,” he says. “I stepped on a sewing needle,” adds Joe, which led to him being stuck in hospital while Eddy and Matt went to Sardinia with Attwell to play a festival. “It sounds like the sissiest kind of injury, but basically it was two days before the festival and this needle went right up into my foot and snapped in half. It was lodged there and I walked to work – about a 40 minute walk – and lodged it in even more, but I didn’t think it was still in there because I couldn’t ﬁnd it! So then I went to A&E and this guy looking at my foot was like, ‘I’m sorry my friend, if I can’t get this out in the next 10 minutes I think it’s surgery for you’. I had surgery the morning of the ﬂight and I thought,‘Ok, this is ridiculous, I can’t do this gig, can I? I’m not ﬂying’, but they were like, ‘No, it should be ﬁne.You’ll be out by 10am’.”
Fair Ohs were supposed to be ﬂying at 4pm, so Matt and Eddy waited for Joe at the airport, and waited, and waited… “We freaked out,” Matt afﬁrms. “We were being paid to go to Sardinia, so me and Eddy went – me, Eddy, Cold Pumas and Rory.And so just before we took off we thought, ‘Fuck it, let’s buy him another ﬂight out of our own band money because Joe’s gotta come’. But when we landed, me and Eddy turned on our phones and both had voice-messages saying, ‘By the way, I can’t walk, I’m not being let out of hospital, I’m not coming’ and we were like ‘whaaaat’.” Eddy interrupts with a groan and whines,“can we change the story and say that Joe stepped on a hypodermic needle in his crack den?” “Gotta stop doing that,” says Joe before telling us that up until the other day he still had the needle, but he ended up throwing it away. “I’ve got some pictures of it if you’re interested?” He gets out his laptop to show us bloody bandages and him in his hospital gown. But going back to the positive vibe of their record, Eddy explains that it comes from a background in hardcore. “When we started, it was a really speciﬁc decision to make positive music, which came from growing up listening to Bad Brains and Minor Threat and things like that.We didn’t want to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, we wanted to make music that was fun to be around and we didn’t wanna feel miserable in the rehearsal room.” “I think it would be a real effort for us to write a song like My Chemical Romance – all ‘woe is me’,” smiles Matt.“And I don’t think this is a band we ever expected to live off, so you’ve gotta have fun while you’re doing it.” Eddy also points out that no one wants to be around someone who’s miserable. “Say I wrote a song that was sad,” he says, “and there are a couple of sad songs on the record – it’s not nice being around someone who’s constantly feeling sorry for themselves. I think the sadness in the record is tempered by being like, ‘Well, I can’t feel sorry for myself ’, because you have to keep moving forward and I think that’s probably a good way of looking at it.” The sad songs that Eddy is talking about are tracks like ‘Yah’, which is even musically more downbeat with an extended garage-y ’60s psychedelic garage rock section and its lyrics “don’t turn your eyes away, you get older everyday”, paired with ‘Helio’ and its poignant
lines “we could’ve tried, but we got old”. “A lot of people are very quick to dismiss the lyrics on the album because there are maybe only ﬁve lines per song that aren’t necessarily about anything,” Eddy elaborates, “but other than one song, which is literally about nothing – just us trying to have fun in the rehearsal room – everything else has a lot of meaning and the old thing is my fault.” With Eddy only notching in at 26 years old – Joe at 27 and Matt at 29 – they’re not exactly old-timers, but he elucidates on the fear and misery you can fall victim to without a sense of direction in this foreboding city.“If you’re unhappy and in your mid-twenties in London, which I was during the last period of the album, you’re probably going to start thinking,‘I’m just getting too old to start doing what I’m doing’. Because I wrote most of the lyrics I can really tell where I was at each point [in the album] and with the last four [songs] I was quite unhappy and the ‘old’ thing is just something that was weighing on me.” But in terms of lyrical inﬂuences, Fair Ohs also reference Eddy’s youth and various artists. “The earliest songs were about really speciﬁc memories,” he clariﬁes. “‘Almost Island’ and ‘Eden Rock’ are very much my last years in France when I was 17/18, so they’re very happy, sunny memories, which is why they’re such sunny, happy songs.Then ‘Baldessari’ is about the artist, but it’s actually a song about getting old as well. It’s about losing how young you’re being and not knowing how long you’ll feel young for, but it’s based on a piece of art called ‘Goodbye to Boats’ by John Baldessari – he’s one of the inventors of conceptual art.The other stuff is just normal shit, either memories or worries. ‘Helio’ – that’s another one about an artist.” “There’s a lot of references to water,” Matt interjects. “I think the water is quite an apt thing because the weird thing I’ve noticed with the newer stuff we’ve been writing – I’ve been using the word ‘river’ a lot and I think the words ‘sea’ and ‘lake’ were used a lot more before,” ponders Eddy. “There’s a difference between things being very still and feeling stagnant and over and stuck, compared with something ﬂowing. Two of our newest songs that we like a lot both have the word ‘river’ in them and I think that’s the idea of moving forward and it’s quite nice. That makes me feel a lot happier about stuff.”
nother thing that bares questioning is the Vampire Weekend references. In terms of the Africaninfused music they’re making, and a shared love of Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’, it’s of course easy to compare the two, but with their New York counterparts hitting it big back at the start of 2008, do Fair Ohs feel like they’ve perhaps missed the Afro-pop boat. “That’s actually quite an interesting question, in that it implies there’s a boat to get and that we were writing to get on it,” says Eddy. “Do you really think that in east London, amongst the people who come to our gigs and the friends that we have, they’re coming up and going ‘I’m really into East African guitar music’? Joe’s really into Latin stuff – do you think that’s going to go down well? No. We weren’t doing it to get on any boat; we were doing it because it’s in our heart and because it’s what’s fun to play.” “I’m actually glad we get to answer this,” sighs Matt, “because everyone writes about it, but we’ve never been asked it before. It’s annoying because there is validity in comparing us to Vampire Weekend because yes, they do like some of the same music as we do, like, what’s the last song on the ﬁrst Vampire Weekend record?” Eddy explains that ‘The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance’, the last track on Vampire Weekend’s debut album mimics the Kenyan benga band Orchestra Super Mazembe’s song ‘Jiji’, which it does, in that the riffs are almost identical. “Kenyan guitar music is wonderful,” enthuses Eddy,“but the thing that’s hard about the situation is that we get accused of ripping Vampire Weekend off, but it’s just not true. They’re into Kakai Kilonzo, who is a Kamba musician and my ﬁrst release on Dream Beach [his label] is by a Kamba musician and this has been planned for a long time. We weren’t trying to get on the Vampire Weekend boat because we never planned on doing this beyond our group of friends in east London. “If we were another garage rock band doing the most generic music we could, nobody would bat an eyelid because there’s so much of it around. No one’s
going to go, ‘They sound just like Thirteenth Floor Elevators’, no ones going to say it, even though it’s true. But there’s one band who has African inﬂuence in their guitar playing.There’s one band who have a similar delay sound and so they go, ‘You sound like Abe Vigoda and Vampire Weekend’ and it’s like, ‘ohhhh we don’t, we sound like Kakai Kilonzo and we stole from Africa, not America’. I should feel worse about that really. “No one talks about the straight beats we have,” he rages on with a mouthful of pizza.“The song ‘Marie’ has the beat from Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ and the bass line from Talking Heads’ ‘Naïve Melody’. Nobody mentions it – that we stole from Kate Bush and Talking fucking Heads and Thirteenth Floor Elevators, instead of going Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend,” he repeats while gesticulating wildly. “It’s just frustrating.” Joe laughs and asks: “Do we sound bitter?” The truth is, Fair Ohs still hold a very valid position in the current music scene, despite what may or may not have already been. They’re open and honest, they play whatever the fuck they like and because of that they’re becoming a success. Not that they’d know that, of course. “That’s not true,” Eddy responds in disbelief when I mention their cult following. “Who’s the cult?” “Does cult mean ‘no’?” chuckles Matt heartily. But all your shows are increasingly packed. “As far as we’re concerned,” Eddy carries on, “we think we’re still playing to our 10 friends who we ﬁrst started playing to.” “We’ve done a lot more than the expectations of this band were when we ﬁrst formed,” Matt discloses. “I’m still really shocked that we’re going to be on a cover. Think; every band – no matter how good or bad – can get written about online, on a blog, everyone’s got an opinion, everyone’s got a friend who will write about you, everyone can get into a magazine or somewhere at some point – it’s not about getting a bit of coverage from someone because everyone needs to ﬁll their content, but actually being on the front cover makes it a valid thing. It’s that step up.” “What we’re doing now,” says Eddy, “this Loud And Quiet thing – it’s a mix of surprising and not surprising. Because we’ve been doing this for long enough to think that – because we love our album – it deserves to be looked at and read about and listened to.”
B E I R U T AFTER STRUGGLING WITH CRIPPLING STAGE FRIGHT FOR TWO ALBUM CAMPAIGNS, ZACH CONDON IS NO LONGER AFRAID PHOTOGRAPHER -
You walk out on stage. The volume hits you. The scale hits you. The front row can see the whites of your eyes and the tremors coursing through your limbs. This is when the nerves incapacitate. Debilitate. Reduce you to a quivering wreck. Or at least that’s how I imagine the on-stage jitters hit from the comfort of a hack’s armchair. For Zach Condon, it was a grim reality. About to embark on the European leg of a tour promoting Beirut’s EP ‘March of the Zapotec’ back in 2008, he found himself suffering from panic attacks to the extent that the tour had to be cancelled. Back in 2006, on the eve of another European tour, he was hospitalised with exhaustion. They should have been early watershed moments to put a halt to Beirut’s rapid rise, but after charming with Balkan brass-infused debut ‘Gulag Orkestar’ and the sombre ‘The Flying Club Cup’ in the long run the cancelled tours did little to derail an otherwise successful trajectory and steeled Zach for the future. “You probably know, one of the very ﬁrst European tours I had to cancel because I had really bad panic attacks,” he starts. “I was young and I had no ideas what my limits were. I was saying yes to anything and everything. ‘You want me to go to this city? Yeah, sure. You want me to go to that city? I’ll go to that city.’That would mean being on the road another few weeks and then at one point it hit me.That was when I had to start paying attention. It was very haphazard and I’d play it by ear and sometimes it would really shake me up.” It’s the afternoon after Beirut’s show at Hyde Park and Zach, understandably, looks pretty shaken now, after a celebratory night out. Having shared last night’s bill with friends Arcade Fire, and spent the day bouncing from radio station to promo interviews for forthcoming album, ‘The Rip Tide’, he’s remarkably lucid and eloquent. It’s also telling that even after Beirut’s already colourful history, Zach’s comfortable referencing what could have been an uncomfortable past. “The moment I stepped out on stage last night, I was absolutely terriﬁed,” he smiles. “I remember I shook violently for the ﬁrst two songs and then I don’t know how but I was able to brush it aside and centre myself and it actually went off really well after that. “You can’t really imagine what 60,000 people will feel like.You just can’t picture that if you haven’t done it before and we’ve done big shows to 10,000 people but there was a force when we walked out last night. It was a shock to the system and it takes a few minutes to adjust.” Adjustment seems to be a prevailing theme in Zach and Beirut’s timeline. A man once content to roam the world soaking up everything it had to offer, he’s admittedly more settled and centred as a result of his meandering experiences. But that isn’t to say his drive or sense of spontaneity has been totally diminished just yet.
“The funny thing is it was the ﬁrst show of the tour so it was kind of like being thrown straight to the wolves. I hadn’t seen the band in about two weeks so it was like, ‘Fuck, let’s just get out and do this! But they’re pros and it was great. “We’ve arranged ﬁve songs from the album that we can play,” he continues, “and so we’re trying to spread them out until the new album’s released.We always play ‘East Harlem’, ‘Santa Fe’, ‘Vagabonds’ and it’s good that sometimes people do seem to take an immediate liking. There was a little faction of hardcore Beirut fans who recognised the songs, so they’d probably Youtubed it or something.You can always recognise them – they’re the ones waving a ukulele or something,” he laughs. Four years on from the ‘The Flying Club Cup’, the ukulele-totin’ die-hards have something new to immerse themselves in. The result of a self-enforced hiatus, ‘The Rip Tide’ is an album that burns much brighter than the more solemn offerings of Beirut’s earlier work and it seems that the time taken to re-focus and re-energise has been well worth the investment – both personally and musically, for Zach. “I knew a lot of things coming off the last tour last summer,” he says. “I knew that I needed to sit still for more than six months in one place and that the next project was going to be a really big one for me – a really important one – and I already knew that I wanted the next album to be a straightforward pop album. But I needed a lot of time. I bought a house, I got married… so I needed the time to set the stability in my life to do
this without going crazy. “The time in the studio recording with the band was so good for me and so healthy. It made me realise all the struggles and pressures I’d put myself through before was easily lifted off by approaching the whole system differently. As a kid I was scared of studios; I was scared of session musicians; I was scared of chord theory; I was scared of vocal lessons because I thought it would contain something I had that was unique. Who knows what could have happened if I knew more than I did? But I’m over that now. “I actually had a vocal injury when I was in Brazil, a little polyp, and the option was either have surgery or go to a vocal coach to learn how to sing around it until it heals. So for the ﬁrst time in my life I saw a vocal coach and she was amazing. I can do things with my voice now that I never thought I could do. I had no idea I could sing in a falsetto or sing in a higher range or give notes character. I think some of the vocals on this record are probably the best takes I’ve done. I’m no longer afraid,” he laughs. “So given that time and stability, the brighter side was always going to show through in the music. And I meant it to. The funny thing is I wrote this album in a farmhouse during a particularly snowy winter in upstate New York and I had to promise myself I wasn’t going to make a wintery, folky album.” ‘The Rip Tide’ is anything but. It holds the rich variety and old country warmth of the albums that precede it, but there’s also a healthy sense of contentment and optimism that doesn’t just feature; it radiates. “I’ve just really dug into it and crystallised it and tried to bring it to the forefront. I’m glad to have ﬂirted with a lot of different styles, that’s never a bad thing, but I knew after ‘March of the Zapotec’ – I knew during – that my next album would be a much more straight forward affair. It’s funny – I always thought ‘March of the Zapotec’ and the other EPs were much more playful, but people were confused about what I was going to be doing. I don’t think they realised it was just giving them a fun little gift.” Daring to be different comes loaded with stereotype, as much as it does anticipation. Having been tagged as the chief purveyor of Balkan-brass to a champion of French culture, the expectation for the alternative has followed Beirut from the outset. It’s an aspect Zach enjoys but also ﬁnds one of his biggest challenges – not the exploration of new musical styles but shedding the expectancy that it will always have to be something that doesn’t necessarily walk the line. “Yeah I deﬁnitely dug myself into a hole,” he smiles. “I made it too easy but it’s something I’ve struggled with because to me melody is melody and it should just boil down to how good that melody is. I remember when the ﬁrst album came out people didn’t know where to put it, but now genres are so burst, record stores don’t even try. They’re just like, ‘fuck it, this was easy in the
90s’,” he laughs. “I’ve been recording music since I was 15, but the ﬁrst one to catch on and the one that introduced me to the public was ‘Gulag’ [Orkestar] and it was during a phase when I was head over heels in love with Balkan music, so I was trying to write pop tunes with these ﬂourishes of the way they use brass because I ﬁnd it really fascinating and I think they use it in a much more interesting way than most Western bands would. At the time it was a big discovery and a big deal to me. It was also my big ﬁrst step into the public. “What’s also funny is that for the next album I’d been listening to French music my whole life and to me the French had that style of music down and I looked up to it. It’s funny that I have to try and shake that off again this time round. I put those albums down to youthful indiscretion, but I’m also very proud of them. It’s a nice feeling – with this album I don’t have to act as an ambassador to some culture I don’t belong to.” It’s arguably a pressure that contributed to some of the early tribulations. At 20, Zach was already facing the exciting prospect of travelling the world off the back of a celebrated debut album. A few years later, the expectation and interest had increased to whole new levels. Having come out of those experiences with the appetite and drive to continue to strive is commendable in its own right – continuing to apply an unyielding personal pressure makes Zach a glutton for punishment. “I put a huge amount of pressure on myself for this album,” he says. “You always want a masterpiece. I think
this album is all about centring myself a little and not haphazardly roaming the world with no plan, so the starting phase of this record was one of the hardest ones I’ve had to deal with. I’ve known what this album was going to be for a long time but because I was having too much fun with the other albums, I knew it was going to be hard this time. “For ‘The Flying Club Cup’ I’d gone back to New Mexico to kind of recover from the tour cancellation and other shit and while I was doing that I was writing the record and it never felt like it was hard to get going. It was hard to ﬁnish but it was really ﬂowing out at the beginning. For ‘The Rip Tide’, probably because I’d taken some time off and didn’t know what to expect, there was a couple of really rough months of self-doubt and frustration, but when I found the groove, oh man, that’s when it got interesting. “It was actually recorded in three stages: ﬁrst was writing alone in this farmhouse and then when I’d ﬁnished and I’d had enough ideas I scrapped all the demos I’d recorded and just took the chord progressions, melodies, harmonies to the band and we locked ourselves in another studio for two weeks, non-stop. We actually played most of the instrumentals live to tape with all of us in the same room with microphones set up and me conducting and we’d arrange it on the spot.Then I took a long time off settling in to do vocals, which I did in New Mexico. It was a really intense, awesome couple of weeks.” It’s difﬁcult not to be enamoured by Zach’s enthusiasm. Still only 25, he’s got a world-weary quality
that extends beyond his music into his presence. Where ‘Gulag Orkestar’ inspired Baltic cobblestone streets and old men playing accordions for pennies, and ‘The Flying Club Cup’ dropped you into a Parisian backstreet, reliving George Orwell’s ‘Down and Out In Paris and London’, it’s always been more than a simple case of evocative imagery.There’s a sense of a wider displacement; a search for something that’s not quite tangible made richer by the wandering personality Zach has ﬁercely retained throughout Beirut’s chameleonic life. “As a teenager I grew up in Santa Fe and there’s this strange disconnect there between me and my home town, so it’s almost like I was homeless from the beginning. It’s a tourist town and the culture’s largely Hispanic/Native American, so there’s all these things that come together that made me some white guy that doesn’t belong there. “I’ve been back and my opinion on that has changed quite a bit, but because of that it left me looking for a home, and one of the ﬁrst things that grabbed me as a teenager, and kind of soothed my aching hormones and all that other horrible shit, was the fantasy of the movies I was watching. I was working in a movie theatre that was playing maybe 90% art house European ﬁlms and I think that had a deep effect on me, maybe deeper than I realised at the time. Maybe it is a bit of a fantasy but I’ve always liked to play with it.” Tired, happy and increasingly fulﬁlled: it’s a dangerous combination for complacency but here it’s the catalyst as Zach Condon proves that a troubadour’s spirit never dies.
T H R E E T R A P P E D T I G E R S THE MATERIAL IS COMPLICATED, BUT HOPEFULLY ITâ€™S NEVER SMART PHOTOGRAPHER -
ossessed with an oddball frenetic vibe that calls to mind Gyratory System and cloudy expanses in debt to their heroes Autechre, welcome instrumental noise jammers Three Trapped Tigers.Thomas Rogerson, Matt Calvert (currently arguing about a Twix) and Adam Betts are sitting in their studio in Limehouse, talking us through their new record, ‘Route One or Die’, in between making sandwiches and ﬁnishing off recording. Their sound is very of its own, and their three EPs, album and live shows (particularly) have made a signiﬁcant impression, winning over much of the leftﬁeld press. They compensate for the admiration they’re sure to get from chin-strokers with a good dose of Rock Action! and pace, rubbed off on them from their ﬂirts with metal, no doubt.They’re keen to be seen as a rock band making use of electronic elements and not vice versa. Metal, typically for classically trained musicians, they admire and feel at one with jazz. I note that while their album has been out for a month, it’s live that Three Trapped Tigers have really built their reputation. “We really want to do a live album,” says Matt, “because, since the ﬁrst EP, stuff hasn’t changed so much, it’s just started feeling and sounding a lot better. I’d rather get something out that represents what I think of those songs.That ﬁrst EP just didn’t really capture it for me, for X, Y, Z reasons. Also just to kind of prove what of the record is feasibly possible live.” And being able to play it live is important – Three Trapped Tigers exist in that space between human and electronic, where there can be trust issues with audiences. They’re militant about backing tracks and will have nothing impinge with the live ‘feel’ of their music. Tom: “It’s started circulating that every record doesn’t have a single overdub – hahaha! Come on, it’s common sense, there’s no overdubs and it’s like…” Adam: “There was one moment on the third EP in the studio and it was like ‘Go and play some drums [ﬂails wildly], we’ll sort the music out afterwards’ – hahaha! That was a frightening moment.” Tom: “I think the most important thing is that you’re aware that it’s live and if you think of it as electronic music your expectations will be different.When it’s on a computer, you can basically cover up all the shit that makes it live, you know? The universe of the music is bound by the fact that it’s live so you can’t just get away with all the crazy shit you can do in electronic music.” Matt: “But you can still attempt it, emulate it, try to play guitar lines that sound like they’re on a monophone synth or something, or programming a drum beat and then getting Betts to play it... there’s quite a lot of that kind of thing.” So the album was a bit of a change of direction in this respect? Matt: “The EPs were a sort of Squarepusher/Aphex kind of rip off attempt, but within a live context, and this [new record] seems to take on more stuff, not necessarily very consciously. It’s slower for starters, it has a different sense of groove, but also all the melodies and all that kind of thing, I think they’re just a bit wilder and weirder.” Tom: “While we were still really proud of the third EP, for the album it was like, ‘Lets consciously emphasize our live nature as much as we can. Lets be able to play everything before we go into the studio.’” Tom, you grew up listening almost totally to Classical music. Was that alienating?
Tom: “Yeah, it um, yeah how do you answer that question? I don’t know, it was weird, it was ﬁne, I don’t know. The only cool tapes I had were U2 tapes, which I’d nicked off my brother,so when U2 played Glastonbury the other day I was really excited ‘cause I do really love that band. They were the only remotely four-four band I was listening to. I was writing loads of classical music but I realized at eighteen – and I’m quite proud of the
fact that I realized it – that actually it was a bit of a dead end. Even then I didn’t really foresee myself doing that forever, it’s fucking solitary as well. I then got into Jazz through a mate, and then, as you do, through jazz… the whole thing is about – how do you climb out of your ivory tower gracefully?You’re allowed to listen to certain things. Jazz is ﬁne because it’s still complicated and nobody likes it. You kind of work backwards and eventually you reach a point where it’s OK to like certain types of rock music. Um, I think I’m much more, I hope I’m, I’m still a snob but I’m a snob in the right way.” Is there any new exciting classical stuff our readers should know about?
Tom: “Oh I don’t know, I haven’t been involved in the uh,‘scene’ for a long time, so I wouldn’t like to say.There is some good stuff going on but I’m still hung up on all the sixties heroes anyway, Ligeti and Xenakis and people like that.”
with it, and it’s like, ‘Oh bloody hell’, and you know, we can make up better answers, but it was kind of a couple of reasons. One, it did keep coming up in interviews:‘So, why the numbers?’ And then the other was, we can’t really do an album and be on stage and say ‘OK, 22 – how does that go?’, or 1.1 or whatever, it’s just going to get silly.” Adam: “The process of ﬁnding the names on the album was a bloody nightmare.” Tom:“They’re totally arbitrary.A lot of arguing and stuff. It made me realize that actually the numbers were quite a good idea at ﬁrst because when you attach names to things automatically people are going to think stuff.You might say this is what Jackson Pollock was thinking as well – you don’t want to attach anything to any understanding, this music is complicated, it’s also emotional, basically you can react to it however you want to react to it. I’m a bit of a believer in the whole ‘who cares who the artist was’. Does that make your music quite impersonal?
With this in mind, it’s quite easy to reﬂect upon the album and EPs as veering, having a Steely Dan-like technical prowess and a deﬁcit of soul. OK, so a press release for a club night I read recently asked why, if Jackson Pollock paintings sell for millions, ‘difﬁcult’ music remains such a commercial black hole. What do you guys think?
Adam: “I don’t think art has ever been seen as something that should be for entertainment as much as music has, not that I have a problem with music for entertainment. I think all three of us, for people who’ve actually studied music, we’re quite hard-line about music meaning something to people who aren’t musicians. You can’t only play to musicians – me and Matt went to Jazz colleges, Tom went to New York and played Jazz and you vanish up this place where the only people in your audience are musicians. I’m probably wrong when I say this but, for me, art has always started at a point where you kind of have to appreciate it, there’s no kind of X Factor for art and a lot of people expect music to be able to be listened to in quite a passenger way: you sit back, it happens to you. Music that you have to really concentrate on and listen to is never going to be as mainstream as something that can just happen to you.” Tom: “I agree. Art’s obviously spatial and music’s temporal so the comparison is, if you wanted to listen to complicated music, it’s the equivalent of not just looking at a Jackson Pollock painting but following every single one of his strands, all the way into the end and once you’ve done that over the course of ﬁve, ten, ﬁfteen minutes, half an hour, one hour… that’s the equivalent. And people don’t stand in front of a Jackson Pollock painting for one hour, a Jackson Pollock painting is actually quite easily understood [snaps his ﬁngers] as a constant – bfffshm! Like, OK that’s it, I’ve seen Jackson Pollock now, I can go and tell my friends at Vice Magazine.” OK, but I’d guess that maybe there are people that would look at a Jackson Pollock for more than one hour?
Tom: “Oh yeah that’s right, But there’s also a bunch of music Geeks who actually transcribe like...” Matt: “The understanding can go a lot deeper, you know [the others hum sagely], wider than one work. It’s the same with Miles Davies or something – you look at his entire output and it’s fucking... you know... it’s interesting in relation to each other or whatever.” Speaking of Pollock and whatnot, you don’t title your tracks, but you did for the album. Was that something about authorship and personality getting in the way of the forms?
Tom: “We kind of did the numbers just because we... we didn’t want to think of names... we were really struggling
Adam: “I think it does say quite a lot about a lot us, possibly, but you’d have to know us ﬁrst to hear it in there.” Tom: “I think you might get the impression that we’re a bunch of po-faced fuckers - hahaha! - who take ourselves really seriously. I think, whilst we take making music really seriously, we don’t take ourselves seriously. We kind of had that image of Autechre until we met them, we thought they were these four fucking…” Adam: “uuuhhh.” Tom: “uuuhhh – Legends, Geniuses, obviously! And then we met them and they’re just like…” Adam: “The most awesome, kind of lary, Northern… and they were great, it was the best thing to meet and just really awesome, really fucking for real and, yeah, we said to them after the gig, ‘that was incredible’, and they went, like, ‘reehlly? thought we wur a ‘it boring’ [out come those northern accents…].” Matt: “‘A bit fooking boring’, yeah it was good. We all have a communal sense of humour, but generally comedy and music hand-in-hand fails 95% of the time, with the exception of the musical skits in Brass Eye or stuff like that. Other than that kind of thing, I dunno, I’d never aim to marry comedy, ‘cause I don’t… I’m not a comedian. We’re all comedy fans, but I wouldn’t say we’re comedians. I feel quite apolitical. These guys have quite strong political views, I don’t feel like that ever has to come out in the band, personally.” Tom: “Maybe one day. I think, certainly, if I’d been left to my own devices, I could’ve ended up being quite an art college cunt, but, you know, I’m glad that I’m not, cause this band could so easily be really, really pretentious. This does come through in the music, I hope: the material is complicated but hopefully it’s never smart.” Matt: “Me and Betts were watching this Dream Theatre video the other day and it’s like, that is just a fucking complete laugh for us. I mean, the music is awful.” Adam: “They’re also multi-multi-millionaires.” Matt: “They’ve sold ten million albums. Astonishing sales, but if anyone ever accuses us of playing like prog, I’d be like ‘well, maybe in one sense.’” Adam: “Maybe in a Mars Volta sense of it but...” Matt: “…compare it to this and it’s like ‘come on, give us some credit.’” Adam: “The day when we’re in our forties doing this, I’ve had a facelift and I’m wearing make-up for an interview…” Tom: “Hair implants…” Adam: “Yeah, exactly.You know, how seriously do you take yourself as a person? Prog is such a dangerous word, but if you can stand back and say, ‘well does that rock? Does that sound cool?’, then it’s alright.” Matt: “Does that pull at my heart strings or does it make me think ‘that’s fucking shit’?” Adam: “Hahaha! ‘That is fucking shit.’”
RE AUG VI 11 EWS AL BUMS 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Baths Blood Orange Brilliant Colors Cerebral Ballzy CSS Ganglians Housse De Racket I Break Horses Japanese Voyeurs Lime Headed Dog Little Dragon Male Bonding Rubicks Sam Duckworth Serengeti Shabazz Palaces She Keeps Bees Soft Metals The Third Sound The War on Drugs Toddla T Various Artists Wolf Gang Wooden Shjips Zomby
LIVE 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14
Austra Clockwork Era Glastonbury Festival Iggy & The Stooges Jerry Tropicano Lou Reed Morrissey Novella Ryan Adams Tennis The Corespondence Tribes Womanâ€™s Hour Yelawolf
Cerebral Ballzy Cerebral Ballzy (Cooking Vinyl) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores Aug 1
Certain things are to be expected of Cerebral Ballzy’s debut album – a record that solidiﬁes a relentless year of scumbag punk on the road. Count within them thrash, speed, puke, skating and a heightened sense of dumb-ass nihilism. It’s here where we’re meant to say how, in actual fact, these grot-rockers from Brooklyn’s bad end have recorded a complete curveball of a ﬁrst album, but they really haven’t. ‘Cerebral Ballzy’ is 19 minutes long, consists of 12 songs called things like ‘Don’t Tell Me What To Do’ and ‘Drug Myself Dumb’, features ﬁeld recordings of skateboards on pavement and has one speed: fast. Next we’re meant to say it’s these blinkered hardcore values that make it such a thrilling listen, and, well, it is. The tunnel vision begins with ‘On The Run’, which in turn starts with singer Honor Titus slurring in his spoken bunged tone: They
wanna restrain me/They wanna punish and torture me/I’m just a young kid doing what I want/I don’t wanna be like them/I ﬁnd myself constantly confronted by their failures. ‘They’, it seems, are fuckers, and so Honor goads them to “catch me, if you can”, blurting, “I don’t wanna live with the consequences of being young and reckless!” while the rest of the band play Black Flag thrash 101. So far, so in debt to DC hardcore from the early ’80s, and that’s something that isn’t likely to change with the following ‘Ofﬁce Rocker’ (jobs suck, dude), ‘Insufﬁcient Fare’ (hopping the barriers on the subway rules), ‘Junkie For Her’ (actually a love song, of sorts, through which Honor “can’t get enough of her”) or anything else you’ll ﬁnd here. But while Ballzy are forever likened to Bad Brains and Minor Threat for the lightning speed at which they play in your local toilet venue, on record, producer Joby J Ford (frontman of The Bronx) has notably slowed the pace.That ‘Cerebral Ballzy’ is still over in 19 minutes points more to how un-listenable and slap-dash the band can be live than how sluggish the tracks found here
are, and by winding things down to ‘breakneck’ we can ﬁnally make out Honor’s give-a-shit, stoned lyric, which are key to just how youthful (yes, and dumb) Cerebral Ballzy sound. It turns out that the band – while no collection of virtuosos – can really play too, which isn’t the kind of thing you ﬁnd yourself thinking after you’ve seen them hammer out a live show in kettle-boiling time.Then, velocity precedes even the simple technicality of ‘Puke Song’’s one-string guitar solo (solos of any sort notably being extremely un-hardcore). It has to be this that has allowed Cerebral Ballzy to cross over to the mainstream enough to have been booked to play this year’s Latitude Festival – an idyllic weekend of boxed wine and sandwiches made ‘edgy’ last year by a recently polished Horrors.When the band are retching over the organic hog roast and screaming ‘Don’t Look My Way’ at all the disapproving faces, though, it’ll serve as a reminder that while Cerebral Ballzy aren’t quite as stupid as they look, they remain as punk as they sound. Honed and more coherent, for the better.
Photography by Leon Diaper / Phil Sharp
She Keeps Bees
The War on Drugs
Lime Headed Dog
Watch Me Dance
Neck of The Woods
(V2) By Nathan Westley. In stores Aug 22
(Names) By Reef Younis. In stores July 18
(Ninja Tunes) By DK Goldstein. In stores Aug 22
(Secretly Canadian) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Aug 15
(Self Released) By Edgar Smith. In stores now
CSS’s previous album, ‘Donkey’, was hastily created to arrive shortly after their 2006 debut in an effort to strike while the band’s iron was still hot, yet the main problem with rush releasing a sophomore album is that it can have a dramatic effect on a bands long-term standing. Interest quickly cooled, causing this Brazilian quintet to re-evaluate their position, making them see ﬁt to retreat and head back home to Sao Paulo in order to regroup and focus.Three years later, Lovefoxx and co. have returned with a partyspirited, dance-inﬂected indie album that progresses along the same trajectory as their self-titled debut, although there is nothing here that reaches the giddy highs of ‘Let’s Make Love and listen to Death From Above’. ‘La Liberacion’ does not herald a complete restart for them and previous fans will ﬁnd this unliberatingly familiar.
We know what to expect from She Keeps Bees: Jessica Larrabee’s salt and spit vocal, wailing into a sultry kind of exhaustion as drummer (and beau) Andy La Plant diligently hammers the skins to add a thumping distinction to the amp crackle.Well, we thought we did. It was a dynamic that made ‘Nests’ seep and soak so effortlessly and although ‘Dig On’ maintains the same rustic qualities, it lacks the explosiveness of its predecessor. Instead, it’s laid on thick and languid with ‘Make You My Moon’ melting into Black Mountain territory; ‘Farmer’ – all chunky chords and that throaty wail – hits you like a city heat wave, heavy and charged with ﬁre and sweat, but it’s ‘Blind To The Cup’ that commands your attention. Minus the Larrabee caterwaul, it’s, unexpectedly, all sensual hums and brooding whispers, but the end result is as seductive as ever.
From explosive opener, ‘Watch Me Dance’, featuring long-time collaborator Roots Manuva,Toddla T is onto a winner here.The 26year-old DJ-come-producer has traded the carnival vibe of debut album ‘Skanky Skanky’ for a club feel this time around, but it still hints at rough-edged raga come ‘Badman Flu’, which almost grates with repetitive squeaks and sirens. As well as Roots,Toddla enlists the help of Skream, Donaeo, Roisin Muphy, Ms Dynamite – who croons and raps on the soulful ‘Fly’ and ‘How Beautiful it Would Be’ – and Shola Ama, whose velvety vocals appear alongside J2K on single ‘Take it Back’, which is full of old school club-soul that fans of late ’80s Detroit house troupe Inner City will ﬁnd themselves in love with. Overall it’s less chopped up, less abrasive and every track runs smoothly into the next. Prepare for full immersion.
While TWOD and Kurt Vile have gone their separate ways, they seem to be sharing an almost identical sonic trajectory – the latest offerings from both somehow still feeling remarkably attached, almost indistinguishable in parts. An idiosyncratic and engulﬁng use of melody plays throughout ‘Slave Ambient’ with glorious gusto.The production is meticulous yet refrained and everything here exhales a glorious concoction of swirling guitars, warbled vocals and eerie atmospheres. Comparisons to The Verve are almost inescapable, and while that may sound crap, it translates unusually well because the album succeeds frequently in tying everything together sonically. Everything has its place and is a constant means of reinforcement. Combined, it’s a lush and complex piece of work that operates as an exploration in texture as much as it is a series of songs.
Elsewhere in this issue,Tom from Three Trapped Tigers identiﬁes a type of ‘art school cunt’ musician. Despite all the generic and unfair assumptions underpinning that description, it somehow springs to mind when listening to ‘Necks of the Wood’, whether or not LHD went to art school or is a vagina. Artrocker called it ‘Splendido’, which, grating and nonsensical, is the perfect word for it.There are some nicely produced sounds, especially the occasional George Harrison-ish keys parts, but it’s all piled into an unrelenting, polyrhythmic art-cum-math-rock jerk-a-thon. And, worst of all, this over-egged pudding doesn’t even induce any kind of rapturous sensory overload; it’s just boring. If it nearly does it for you chec out Zach Hill, who makes for a similar but much better listen and would be caught dead before sampling the (ugh!) Nokia theme tune.
Wooden Shjips West (Thrill Jockey) By Edgar Smith. In stores Aug 15
You can hear his voice! Anyone that read Eric ‘Ripley’ Johnson’s L&Q interview last month shouldn’t be too surprised as he dwelled on the topic of… well, ‘Pop’ is a strong word – everything the man puts his name to is heavily psychedelic, fuzz-baked and progressive, but here we have it,Wooden Shjips MK. II. ‘West’ is less repetitively star-gazing than their previous work, taking in more from pysch and stoner rock, but it’s all the more invigorating for it.Tracks like ‘Flight’ demonstrate an interest in more exploratory synth and percussion patterns, suspended by vestiges of the familiar Silver Apples-ﬂavoured rhythm section. ‘Lazy Bones’, with its refrain of “Staring at the sun as it’s staring back at me” is lead single material indicative of a their snappier direction.The closinh ‘Rising’ is then a total freak-out and it’s all backwards (get the vinyl to check for any satanic messages). At times approaching the greatness of John Cale-produced Stooges, it’s a lesson in making a third album.
AL BUMS 07/10
The Third Sound
Family & Friends
The Third Sound
(Anticon) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores July 25
By Chris Watkeys. In stores July 18
By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Aug 1
By Sam Walton. In stores July 11
(A Records) By Matthias Scherer. In stores July 1
Peddling a brand of ultra-catchy indie pop with a shiny, funky twist and anthemic inclinations, this gang of one (the creation of Max McElligott) is having some heavy money thrown at it by Atlantic, and when the ﬁrst “wooaahohhhh”-heavy chorus kicks in, about thirty seconds into opener ‘Lions In Cages’, it’s not hard to see why. ‘Something Unusual’ is actually something fairly generic, sounding as it does like a blend of MGMT and Friendly Fires, while the verse to the single ‘The King And All Of His Men’ is almost exactly what it sounds like – a nursery rhyme. But for all the accusations of over-slick, calculated commercialism that you can level at ‘Suego Faults’, the fact remains that this is an album that’s ludicrously well-endowed with hugely infectious, good-time tunes. Wolf Gang is only going to get bigger; join the pack and enjoy.
If Odd Future are to push American hip hop into a world of ultra violence and comic-book gangster swag, Chicago’s Serengeti is to pull it back to a place where the old school storytelling rhymes are laced with humour and cathartic self-referencing. He’s not doing it alone on this, his Anticon debut – the emo, lo-ﬁ beats have come from Yoni Wolf of Why? and Owen Ashworth, aka Advance Base, or Casiotone For The Painfully Alone as he once was. Downbeat and crystaline, ‘Family & Friends’ is what happens when bros get in touch with their inner feelings (something that Ashworth has long been a master of), but not like when James Blake warbles to the ﬁre crackle of post dub-step. Serengeti is much more fun than that, telling of TV commercial crushes while Wolf and Ashworth vocalise hooks for a perfect blend of hip-pop and warm electronica.
It’s difﬁcult to pinpoint the speciﬁc faults with this record because all of its culpabilities just blur into one congealed blob of mediocrity. There are moments of intrigue that arise primarily from the guitar melodies, but the accompanying voice is predictable and lacking in any real individuality. Everything that we are exposed to feels like it has been done before, and better. For somebody working within the conﬁnes of being a solo artist, it doesn’t do anything to break the norm and rarely does the album feel like anything that exceeds what you would expect to ﬁnd down your local pub’s open-mic night. It’s not all bad. In fact, it’s perfectly ‘nice’ and will no doubt ﬁll Costa Coffees nationwide on a Sunday afternoon, but it lacks anything to elevate it above the tireless amount of other young male singer-songwriters doing the same old shtick.
Zomby’s last record, ‘Where Were U In ’92’, aimed to capture the pilled-up wonder of acid house and illegal raves somewhere in a warehouse in Watford in the early 90s. Perhaps ﬁttingly, then, this follow-up charts the next step – the comedown drive home from said warehouse through the morning rush hour trafﬁc.The tracks are all built from the same fabric as album one – analogue synths, ultra-pitched-up diva vocals etc – but cut into two-minute snippets of half-remembered bangers, arranged to collide jarringly into one another, creating a feeling of zero attention span laced with heavy-eyed lethargy and paranoia. In a way, it’s very effective: if it was Zomby’s intention, then full marks. Unfortunately, like a comedown, it’s neither pleasant nor particularly interesting, and you generally just want to go to sleep until it stops.
Around 2007 it seemed compulsory for American indie rock bands to crank up the reverb and lower their singing voices in order to be ‘on trend’. But whenever you listened to, say, A Place to Bury Strangers, you ended up putting on ‘Psychocandy’ instead, just like you would rather eat at Nando’s than at Frango’s. With their self-titled debut,The Third Sound – a multi-national collective with its roots in Iceland – serve up a belated candidate for nu gaze record of the year. It’s all there – the reverb, the vocals pushed to the back of the mix, and the ‘Be My Baby’ drum beat (‘Gloria’).There are also, more interestingly, twanging guitar riffs reminiscent of The Shadows, and, in the crawling ‘JSD’, echoes of the gloriously psychedelic/supertedious (depending on your viewpoint) moments on Oasis’ ‘Familiar to Millions’ live album.
Blood Orange Coastal Grooves (Domino) By Polly Rappaport. In stores Aug 1
Remember Dev Hynes? Him of dance punk trio Test Icicles, later to go solo as indie folkster Lightspeed Champion (you must remember the large fur hat). He’s currently operating under the moniker Blood Orange, and is delivering yet another style of music. It would seem that young Dev, like (far, far too many) other seasoned musicians of late, has been struck by an acute attack of 1980s dance pop. Symptoms include a sudden penchant for ambient synths, a pronounced sense of melodrama and beats that are best danced to without moving… much. Lyrically, the songs are searching and reﬂective, delivered in Hyne’s smooth croon, backed by aerated keys and bee-stung guitar. The effect is both brooding and vaguely seedy, from the handclap beats of ‘S’cooled’ to the winding, hypnotic layers of slinking melody on ‘Instantly Blank (The Goodness)’.There’s also more than a whiff of inﬂuence from the Japanese pop of the era, which adds a fresh spin to an otherwise weary genre.
Again and Again
By Polly Rappaport. In stores Jul 25
By Matthias Scherer. In stores now
By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Aug 29
By Chal Ravens. In stores Jul 19
By Nathan Westley. In stores Jul 27
Fans of this Swedish electro soul outﬁt are unlikely to be disappointed by this record, unless of course they were hoping for something strange and new.The four-piece are now on album number three, and they have clearly found a formula with which they are more than happy to roll with. Hinged, as ever, on Yukimi Nagano’s distinctive, ethereal vocal style, their signature blend of minimal synth pop and slightly muted RnB is bright, warm and accessible, shot through with a generous helping of soul. The tracks are held together by a series of gentle dance rhythms – the title track has a light drum’n’bass beat that offsets Nagano’s sugar spun vocals – loosely linked, as if made to be interchangeable. It’s far from new territory, but there’s something to be said for consistency, and the phrase, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t ﬁx it’.
There’s a German saying for something that doesn’t knock the speakers off their feet: “It’s not exactly the yolk of the egg, is it?” The debut album by Londonbased neo grunge/alt metal band Japanese Voyeurs may be called ‘Yolk’, but it falls short in too many areas to be truly memorable. Sure, Dinosaur Jr. legend J. Mascis sings a bit on ‘Feed’, and it is a catchy enough song, until you realise that it’s basically Nirvana’s ‘Something in the Way’ with distortion. Similarly, ‘Dumb’ is an unsubtle reference to the Seattle trio not only in name but also in chord progression (which is nicked off ‘Aneurysm’). On the plus side, the guitar-heavy production by Melvins veteran GGGarth Richardson is superb and ‘That Love Song’ is as catchy a Pixies homage as you’ll hear all year. Not quite the yolk, but not a bad egg, either.
Given that Ganglians’ debut album didn’t permeate into popular consciousness in the way they were hoping last year, it’s a surprise they’ve opted to follow it up so quickly. On that record, the Sacremento quartet established a formula of ethereal sonics mixed with a classic indie pop template, and they have pretty much stuck to that on ‘Still Living’.Their inﬂuences rattle along, with their staple diet of early Beatles and Beach Boys now adding in The Kinks and Nick Cave to create dispirit pop music with minimal production. Sadly, it’s a bit less creepy and more straightforward than their debut and a lot less interesting – especially ‘Evil Weave’ and ‘Jungle’, which could easily be on The Drums’ album.There are still great moments, like the groovetastic ‘That’s What I Want’, but this won’t demand the repeated listens their debut did.
Brilliant Colors have delivered a second album of similar intent and execution to their ﬁrst: a template of garage rock, lo-ﬁ punk, ’80s jangle and faux-naif vocals shunted just a smidgen out of tune for that ‘authentic’ DIY presentation.The San Francisco three-piece sound like clean tarmac streets and bowlcut kids playing in double garages, sheltering from the rain and making soapbox cars.Too bad that’s a life they’re too young to know ﬁrst-hand. Jess, Diane and Michelle (they even sound like the Babysitters Club) have laid down a handful of competent pop moments on ‘Again and Again’, like the delightfully scratchy antisolo on ‘Back to the Tricks’, but the album ﬁzzles out with a whimper after 10 songs and 30 minutes. I enjoy a sip from the bottomless cup of retromania as much anyone, but my taste for this has truly waned.
While media glare is delicately focused on riotous LA upstarts Odd Future, up pops another collective ready to breathe life into an alternative hip hop scene that had, until recently, started to go off the boil.This Seattle based collective led by Palaceer Lazaro can be proud to be able to boast the accolade of being the ﬁrst hiphop record ever to be released on the heavily respected Sub Pop Records, but this isn’t a case of the label rapidly changing direction and chasing the zeitgeist. Instead, this mysterious hip-hop crew have surfaced with an album that often offers a tight lyrical ﬂow that slides up like a less hormonally charged Spank Rock, usually underpinned by Flying Lotus style jazz-touched electronics. Overall, it’s a wholesome prospect that is free from lines steeped in braggadocio and eschews the need to acclimatise itself with bling culture.
I Break Horses Hearts (Bella Union) By Sam Walton. In stores Aug 15
Stylistically, ‘Hearts’ falls between two stools. On the one hand, it’s a bedroom laptop record, all cutesy synths and charmingly simple chord progressions; on the other it’s a straight-up shoegaze album, with the icy, shimmering guitars and walls of noise you’d expect.While that’s all very well at design stage, it’s difﬁcult to retain the grandeur and detached glacial majesty of My Bloody Valentine et al when you’re also channelling the humble homespun Postal Service aesthetic: songs like the opening ‘Winter Beats’ become something of a contradiction in terms when sweet keyboards are bulldozed aside by almost comically epic snare drums, and elsewhere tracks are left awkwardly impotent in an attempt to be all things to all men.When at its quietest, it’s also at its best: the pulsing of ‘I Kill Your Love, Baby!’ generate an intimate but grand melancholy that complements the breathy, tired vocals, but unfortunately this is a rare treat.Too often, ‘Hearts’ is unremarkable, indecisive stuff.
AL BUMS 08/10
Housse De Racket
The Rise of the Giddy
Pop Music/False B-Sides
By Mandy Drake. In stores Jul 18
By Sean Denning. In stores Aug 1
By Tom Goodwyn. In stores Aug 22
By Luke Winkie. In stores Jul 19
By Luke Winkie. In stores Jul 19
Jazz: yuck. All that hufﬁng and pufﬁng down brass tubes and not playing anything in time.The erratic squeal of a saxophone. Jazz: the music that is no fun to hear, but loads of fun to play, so they say. Well, yes. But while experimental jazz is as acquired a taste as bull semen, its carefree, more inclusive sister, swing, has fast become the soundtrack of our shopping trips – when you go into a vintage store, unless they’re playing something completely ironic, like Vanilla Ice, they’re playing The Glenn Miller Orchestra or Django Reinhardt, and we’re tapping our toes. Both such acts are on this anthology of the genre, pieced together by DJ duo Broken Hearts. Charting swing from Duke Ellington to Christina, Outkast and Jurassic 5, ‘Peppermint Candy’, then, is something of a perfect introduction to our musty smelling wardrobes... and our Nike Airs.
‘The Rise of The Giddy’ is London quartet Rubicks’ second album, but it could easily have been Metric’s ﬁfth, or Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ fourth, assuming the New York trio continue down the electronic route. On ‘Giddy Up’, singer Venessa Redd especially shakes up her sex-kitten purr with hiccupping Karen O yelps, which makes for the most provocative track on the album, while ‘Wasted’ slithers closer to the ground, to a Siouxsie Sioux wail and lurching, syncopated drums. But despite the constant low burr of a synthesiser, ‘The Rise of The Giddy’ isn’t a faux gothic album of ’80s revivalism – it’s at its best when it mixes a shiny Goldfrapp allure with naïve Britpop hedonism, like on ‘Where You At’. Not gloomy enough for the monochrome set, nor dappy like Kitsune’s recent crowd, ‘The Rise of The Giddy’ digs its own hole and ﬁlls it.
As soon as the opening notes of French duo Housse De Racket’s second album descend you’re made aware that this is a record with a sense of limitless scale. Opening salvo ‘Human Nature’ sounds like something from the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack, mixed with vintage Soulwax before giving way to a chorus that’s pure Kraftwerk. ‘Alesia’ continues like this throughout, sweeping every seminal electronica and dance band into a bag and hurling it out from the speakers. It’s no surprise to ﬁnd out that the duo of Pierre Leroux and Victor Le Masne began life as session musicians for Air and Phoenix, such is their sense of epic electro, fused with catchy choruses and sparkly production. In spite of being a bit like playing a game of ‘Name that inﬂuence’, it’s a great listen and one that can sit up there with the records it so clearly looks up to.
Soft Metals are yet another band on the synthwave revival.The Portland duo play dreamy, ’80sromanticising alt-dance in the traditions of New Order and Gary Numan etc. and their dedication has landed them on Captured Tracks. If you happened to miss the 2011 on the back of the case you might mistake this as an obscure reissue, because nothing about this latest record sounds new – they specialize in that suave, low-density beat-making that went out of style about 20 years ago. Ian Hicks’ synth is pitch-perfect, Patricia Hall sings in a gauzy yawn, and it works in the way nostalgia can work. They rarely strike anything great, and occasionally their self-imposed coolness sounds merely distant and empty, but for the aesthetic they’re so lovingly after, Soft Metals do a good job of submerging listeners deep in their sound, or their scene, or their epoch as it were.
Generally speaking, the best time for a collection of miscellaneous tracks is after an intriguing debut, and Baths just released an intriguing debut. ‘Pop Music / False B-Sides’ is, as advertised, a self-described ‘umbrella’ of songs from a post-‘Cerulean’, pre-actual sophomore record, sold during project-mastermind Will Wiesenfeld’s 2011 tour. As such we’ve got a collection of sticky beats with little group cohesion; like the Baths concept stretched out in a broad sample of potential winners. ‘Overseas’ is a delicate, piano-led car-commercial, while Flux’s static-charged breaks behind the most direct lyrics Wiesenfeld has ever penned (about coming out of course).Then there’s stuff like ‘Damnation’ and ‘Pop Song’ where Baths just makes great euphoria-laced dance anthems – no gimmicks, no punches pulled, and kinda impossible to criticise.
Male Bonding Endless Now (Sub Pop) By Chris Watkeys. In stores Aug 29
My ﬁrst encounter with Dalston three-piece Male Bonding was live, at the Camden Crawl a couple of years back, and at that point – perhaps hastily – I dismissed them as low-rent, no-brain grunge revivalists.Their debut album, ‘Nothing Hurts’, went some way to proving me wrong, but now, with this follow up, we’re back to where we started. Opener ‘Tame The Sun’ is Nirvana-meets-MBV, with the requisite hazy vocals, while ‘Seems To Notice’ recalls early Lemonheads, down to the Dando-esque vocal line and the brushes of melody daubed on a dark, distorted backdrop. But that’s pretty much the high point.The tracks rattle by in quick succession, like a ropey boxer throwing out jabs at an alarming rate but never getting anywhere near a knockout blow, and the band never reach the standard of their earlier work. What Male Bonding do, they’ve until now done very well, but it’s been done so many time that this rushed second album feels completely tiresome.
Go Mild in the Country
MORRISSEY / LOU REED / IGGY & THE STOOGES Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent 03.07.2011 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Photography by Kate Booker
Foldable camping chairs: there’s no better gauge for measuring how middleclass the festival you’re at is.The more there are, the safer your Volvo estate is in the car park, and in front of Hop Farm’s main stage there’s a sea of green canvas with cup holders in the arms. Millets seem to have recently performed an airdrop… followed by the tartan blanket company. Hop Farm makes Isle of Wight Festival look like the last days of Rome. It is a very nice time in a very nice (and clean, thanks to the festival’s cup recycling program) ﬁeld.The lineup is largely very nice too (The Bluetones,Tim Booth, Graham Coxon, Newton Faulkner), until it turns plainly incredible, which, on day two, happens at 5pm when Patti Smith turns up. She’s followed by Lou Reed, Iggy & The Stooges and Morrissey.Yesterday Brian Ferry and The Eagles wrapped up a day of organic sausage gobbling and please and thank yous; tomorrow Prince is the prize for the sitting through the likes of Imelda May, Eliza Doolittle and The Pierces. As Lou Reed slumps onstage even more sour-faced than expected, there’s a deﬁnite sense that the next hour is either going to be sensational or frustratingly selﬁsh.The smart money is on the latter, yet the weathered New Yorker (“Someone could have given him an
iron,” says the man to our left) starts as we’d like him to go on – with a rendition of The Velvet’s ‘Who Loves The Sun?’. Instantly, he is validated via his always-off-key spoken singing voice, which remains cooler than it is droll. Reed is sounding good – bring on the greatest hits. The following ‘Temporary Thing’, we’ll take, if only because it shows off Lou’s whipped band of session musicians, who are lead by a drummer that smiles for the rest of us, and are very accomplished indeed. By ‘Ecstasy’, though, from Reed’s album of the same name from the year 2000, total self-indulgence has engulfed the singer like the heroin he used to sing about (but doesn’t today). It goes on forever, in a free-form jazz lollop that not even the band can enjoy because their boss is busy ticking them off throughout (at ﬁrst it could be seen as rallying, but as time goes on it’s clear that Lou hates the way that his guitarists, in particular, are playing). And caught between such moments of brilliance (the jaunty ‘Smalltown’,The Velvet’s ‘Sweet Jane’) and those of everlasting agony (a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Mother’ that makes the original seem as upbeat as a nursery rhyme) is where we remain for the rest of the set. Most odd are ‘Sunday Morning’ and ‘Femme Fatale’, the latter of which of course drastically misses Nico’s vocals, but that’s neither
here nor there when you take into account their stripped down stylings, which Reed sings out of time, seemingly on purpose to piss us off. His band are amazing, but we’ve not come to see them, and while the song selection could have been far more selﬁsh on the singer’s part, he could have at least sung those that made the grade properly. Instead, more often than not, the intros are elongated as Reed shows little sign of wanting to open his mouth at all.The shame is that when he does, his midtown, dirty croak is still as captivating as ever. Iggy could do with an iron too, yet The Stooges live up to exactly what we expect from a band who’ve now spent as long reformed as they did being a band the ﬁrst time around – certainly song-for-song, and almost word-forword. “Let the people up here,” Iggy shouts at the security guards – it’s becoming a festival tradition.This being Hop Farm, the revellers that make it onto the stage behave themselves impeccably and happily step back into the crowd three minutes later as Iggy implores us to “Thank my lovely all star Kent dancers!” With Steve Mackay back in the band and ‘Fun House’ songs making up a chunk of what we hear, it all gets a little too saxy, especially as the one musician Lou Reed wanted to hear from was his saxophonist not half hour ago. But
NOVELLA The Macbeth, Hoxton, London 23.06.2011 By Austin Laike ▼ ▼
that aside, Iggy & The Stooges know what’s asked of them at such an event as this, and wiggling his elastic torso about the place, Pop not only gives us the tracks we want but performs them like he’s actually enjoying himself too. Hardly surprising considering he introduces an encore of ‘No Fun’ by slurring, “I’ve got the best fucking job in the world!” Morrissey then asks, “How do you follow The Stooges?”, although he’s really already answered that by opening with ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’ and the equally as rare ‘You’re The One For Me, Fatty’. Guessing the Smiths songs in a Morrissey set is a good game, a.) because it really is a game, and b.) because it’s one you can’t lose. He’ll always play ﬁve or six, and one of those will always be ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ (surprisingly not as great as it should be tonight – it’s too slow). Another will be ‘Shoplifters of The World Unite’ (much better), but the rest are up for grabs, and this evening, as well as ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’, we get ‘Meat Is Murder’, which leaves a guilty taste in our mouths (hey, they were organic burgers!) but is nonetheless delivered with the passion you’d expect, ‘This Charming Man’ and, something really special, an encore of ‘Panic’. These songs pepper a set of greatest hits solo
material that, yeah, feels sluggish at times (‘Every Day is Like Sunday’ is needless even if you’ve never seen it live before, and the same can be said for listening to ‘You Have Killed Me’ on record), but he played ‘Panic’ for God sake! For every two or three he does for us, there’s one for himself, and it’d take a stern critic to think ill of that. If there’s one track that’s deﬁnitely for us both, though, it’s a cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Satellite of Love’, which we were owed. It’s free of ‘bom bom boms’, but still a brilliant, snarling version that sees Mozza change the lyrics to “I can’t stand the TV” the ﬁrst time around and “I can’t stand George Alagiah” the second – he may have been out-grumped today, but Morrissey’s hard edges haven’t softened in the slightest; his wicked sense of humour remains as sharp as it’s ever been. His is the most balanced and effortless set of the day – a show of professional courtesy and unwavering passion. And as for Hop Farm – with its zero tolerance for corporate sponsorship, its camping chair fetish and pristine site – if it could ﬂesh out its day programme with a few more bands that are the right side of either relevance or cult, it could easily become a highly desirable summer festival year in, year out.
Tropical Voodoo’s all day fundraiser in the name of Japanese aid relief has been extremely quiet, despite its worthy cause and honourable DIY ethic that sees the obligatory bake sale politely positioned behind the sound desk. It’s because it’s on a Thursday – the Thursday before Glastonbury Festival, no less, so those that are dodging work are most likely pitching tents in Pilton. After the brutal noise of hardcore duo Cuss Words (clearly fans of Lightning Bolt, they play on the ﬂoor and unbearably loud, their drummer in shorts and a mask), a not-too-modest tide of after-schoolers arrive for girl group Novella.The fuss no doubt stems from the band’s associations (within them is the team behind east London hip DJs The She Set and a member of S.C.U.M.; one or two of them have lived with and dated members of The Horrors), but even though there’s a sense that we need another girl group like the red tops need more scandal, this quartet’s gentle wafts of cooing garage are welcome on a sticky evening.The truth is that they currently sound much better through headphones than in a semi-empty pub, but while they hardly exude real-life charisma, the tracks stand up. ‘No Messin’ – a breathy waltz with an unexpected racy section – does particularly. If they’re to give Vivian Girls et al a run for their money, there’s work to be done on Novella’s live show, but they already have the songs worth leaving work early for
JERRY TROPICANO 333, Old Street, London 08.07.2011 By Austin Laike ▼
The name Jerry Tropicano isn’t great, is it? If you’ve got your own CBBC show, maybe, but not if you’re an Evan Dando-ish, gnarly blues musician who fronts a garage band. Regardless, Jerry and his bass-less four-piece (sometimes three of them all play distorted guitars, sometimes one hops on a battered organ) tonight pull in a rock’n’roll show that’s as
surprisingly varied as it is muddy in sound. It starts more like The Small Faces – in vocal style, at least – than, say, Strange Boys, or some other primitive punk band void of any playfulness whatsoever. Jerry’s guitar, designed like a TV test card, in multicoloured stripes, indeed looks tropical, but the sound coming from it is anything but. It growls deeply (pointing to why the bass can fuck off), whether letting out surf solos or (best of all) desert blues monster riffs. Even when they play a mid-set ‘slowy’ (a dulcet organ drone at least makes it a little more tender than the previous smashy smashy drums have managed), the distortion growls on. It’s the only sound Jerry Tropicano is set on though, which is where his success lies – on the face of it, here’s just another scuzz band, but that is doesn’t get boring suggests Jerry is far better than his name.
CLOCKWORK ERA Nambucca, Holloway, London 05.07.2011 By Danny Canter ▼
A boy/girl drum’n’thrash duo, Clockwork Era have only been wound up (sorry) for a little over six months.They’ve wasted no time in getting out there, mind, although perhaps they should have. In fairness, this evening’s not great show isn’t helped by the fact that Jason Lipscombe’s guitar is hardly audible. It’s not all the venue’s fault either, as proves to be the case when Lipscombe eventually (after almost the entire set) ﬂicks from his much loved metal fuzz effect to clean, which comparatively blows the speakers. Surely it should be the other way around, and when he dips back into distortion he’s lost once again over Cat Gray’s primitive cymbal crashes.This point aside, if you cock an ear you can make out that Jason can indeed shred – he just needs to add a fair bit of crunch to that guitar of his. It’s the vocals that really need the work – Clockwork Era do the spoken word/shouty thing with just the right amount of gloom and angered desperation (it’s hard to make out, but it seems like Jason is warning of the end of the world or something), they’re just never in tune, which is key even when speaking, it seems.
TRIBES The Albert, Brighton 06.07.2011 By Nathan Westley ▼
Tennis. Pic: Elliot Kennedy
The Correspondents. Pic: Jorge Herrera / Getty Images
For the past ten months there has been an air of positivity swirling around these four young guys who herald from Camden – a part of London that will always be associated with nineties Brit-pop. But in tonight’s spiritedly passionate performance in a near ﬁlled Albert,Tribes show that they are not a band who scour old Northern Uproar and Shed Seven CD’s for fourth rate inspiration. Instead, their collection of melodic and slightly angsty guitar led pop songs take inﬂuence from the other side of the Atlantic, as wide eyed songs such as ‘Sappho’ and ‘We Were Children’ drip with the heavy, fuzzy inﬂuence of REM and The Pixies.Though not as raw as fellow city dwellers Yuck and The Vaccines, these four with their large sounding pop songs will still be pegged into a zone not too far removed from their fellow modern day contemporaries. But while some in the media are more than happy to talk up Tribes as being the most important new band since the Arctic Monkeys, what becomes apparent in this short, sharp set tonight is that although this band deﬁnitely have the capability to achieve something great long term, turning capability into reality may still prove difﬁcult.
WOMAN’S HOUR Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, London 30.06.2011 By Chal Ravens ▼
Woman’s Hour. Pic: Cochi Esse
Strange that Radio 4’s cosy midmorning sorority is spelled thus. Just the one Woman? There she is look, on her own at home, wiping kitchen surfaces or dandling the baby as Jenni Murray OBE’s soothing tones prove there’s a world beyond the gravel driveway. It’s a strange band name too, aside from singer Fiona being the lone woman in the line-up, backed by guitars from the lads and drums from the machine.The Cumbrians show off a surprisingly clipped and tidy sound with compressed handclaps, trebly guitar lines, heavy breathing and solid grooves coalescing into beachy punk-funk
at one extreme and minimal-wave slow jams at the other.The sparse construction and girl-boy vocal duelling make The xx an unavoidable point of comparison, but Woman’s Hour are more in thrall to early Blondie and The Slits than Aaliyah, or perhaps even Radio 4 (the early ‘00s punkfunkers, that is). Alright, no musical boundaries have been broken tonight, and the appearance of an extra ﬂoor tom is needless and all too familiar, but the group’s wellhoned musicality should help them break out of their comfort zone, switch off the radio and get out of the house a bit.
AUSTRA Cargo, Shoreditch, London 07.07.2011 By Chal Ravens ▼
Goth is a question that cannot be answered yet will not die.What is it, exactly? No one can agree. Goth is the dark matter of the musical universe and best sidestepped as a term altogether. And so: the current spectrum of darkwave banshees stretches from Planningtorock at the sharp end through to Zola Jesus at the rather blunt end, with tenuous foundations laid on the trembling theatrics of Kate Bush, Siouxsie and even that contemporary white witch Bat For Lashes. Austra frontwoman Katie Stelmanis’s opera-trained voice is set on a constant quiver, strong but with a Bjork-ish throatiness. Alright, listing all those left-ﬁeld female pop voices is rather hackneyed, but in the case of Austra the voice is the reason we’re here.Tonight it seems so faultless it could almost be – is she? Of course it’s ridiculous, but at points Stelmanis seems to nail the notes so precisely you could swear she’s miming. Cleopatra-eyed and ﬂanked by her two Coachella pin-up singers (tiedye, suede fringing and glitter), the Torontonian marches from thumping album opener ‘Darken Her Horse’ to the pagan disco workouts of ‘Beat and the Pulse’ and ‘Hate Crime’.The intensity and idiosyncrasy of that voice gets wearisome after 45 minutes, but a skilfully arranged cover in the shape of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Stardust’ keeps us hooked until the ﬁnal bars.
TENNIS Cargo, Shoreditch, London 06.07.2011 By Sam Walton ▼
Under Cargo’s yellow stage lights, Patrick Riley’s wedding ring glimmers particularly noticeably, sliding up and down the neck of his guitar as he plays. It’s almost as if he buffs it just before performing, so much does it catch the light – and he’d have good reason to, too. After all, if your band’s shtick is that you’re a married couple who bought a sailboat and then wrote your debut album during a seven-month honeymoon sailing together down the eastern seaboard of the United States, you better make sure everyone can see the damn ring. But you’d also better make sure everyone can see you’re in love with each other too, which tonight is slightly more difﬁcult to detect. Riley and his wife, Alaina Moore, the spit of Dirty Dancing-era Jennifer Grey in a heavy-knitted jumper and ringletted hair, are as far apart from one another as the stage will allow, and eye contact is kept to a bare minimum.There isn’t even a glimmer of fondness from Riley when Moore declares, “this one’s for Patrick” by way of introducing ‘Pigeon’, which features the affectionate refrain “I will be there / I promise to take good care of you.”The gleaming wedding band coupled with the onstage froideur makes for awkward watching, and Tennis’ brand of simple high-school-prom make-out pop, which could be utterly charming in the hands of a more charismatic pair, sounds uncomfortably cold and jarring as a result.
THE CORRESPONDENTS The Cobden Club, London 06.07.2011 By Stuart Stubbs ▼
Scatting (as in the tongue-twisting jibberish of 1920s jazz singers) isn’t a million miles away from the toofast-to-grasp chats of early nineties jungle and speed garage.We notice this when The Correspondents (a south London swing-hop duo made up of Mr Chuckles on beats and the Jack Skellington ﬁgure of
frontman Mr Bruce) wind up sounding like a straight-up drum’n’bass twosome – the ’20s swing brass underbelly is replaced by nothing but fat bass, but Bruce’s lightning MCing ﬁts all the same, unchanged. (Despite the spats, specs and sharp dress, Bruce is a man reared on DnB and jungle, which explains a lot). Before the pair shed their jazzy skin, Cobden Club’s grand hall is the perfect place for them – a wood-panelled members’ club from another time, when smoking was healthy and shoes were shoes. Bruce enters dressed as the evil emperor from Star Wars, in a body-length cape and hood.There’s little doubt that a big reveal is coming, and after an opening, static song that sounds uncharacteristically like White Lies, it’s here.The leanest man you’ve ever seen is dressed as a harlequin in a monochrome leotard so tight you can see his veins. It doesn’t stop him jiving like an aggressive street dancer (he’s like Jim Carey’s Mask meets a New York old school lino hustler… on a lot of uppers), sometimes on a treadmill at the back of the stage - a neat ‘Virtual Insanity’ gimmick from a band full of neat gimmicks. It’s nothing if not a lot of fun as Chuckles drops Christina Aguilera samples and Bruce goes nuts, even if the gimmick of mixing swing with contemporary hip-hop – fronted by a man as zany as Bruce – wears off after 15 minutes, which is deﬁnitely does. Indeed, even they look weary of what has become their party piece on the kitsch festival circuit – a closing silly number that samples The Jungle Book’s ‘King of The Swingers’.
YELAWOLF Sonar, Barcelona, Spain 06.07.2011 By Omar Taanti ▼
Yelawolf should not be a likable proposition. He’s an early thirtysomething gawky-lookin’ white rapper from Alabama, heavily tattooed and dressed in baggy shorts and a basketball vest. He deals in hip-hop’s well-trodden subjects – an emotional upbringing (absent father, young mother), addiction and (snooze) smoking weed. But the big guns love him:The Neptunes, Diplo, Big Boi,Wu Tang,Travis Barker
and Eminem, who recently signed him to his Shady Record’s imprint. Let’s not forget (or forgive) that label’s most notable delivery is still gang o’ goons D12. But yet, in the unforgiving heat of Sonar By Day’s orange-grove courtyard surroundings, there’s something galvanising about Yelawolf ’s offering. Chunky southern beats are teamed with Wolf ’s skittering ﬂow and call-out choruses. It’s cool but lazy, gritty but poppy. Closer, and most recent single ‘Pop The Trunk’ in particular gets the sunblushed crowd moving as he whips off a woolly hat and thrashes his wet-down Mohawk around while grabbing his crotch like he’s Fred Durst circa 2000. Somehow, it’s brilliant.
RYAN ADAMS Bridgewater Hall, Manchester 22.06.2011 By Daniel Dylan Wray ▼
Seven years have passed since I ﬁrst saw Ryan Adams, and the inebriated, wild-eyed man with bright orange hair who fell off stage and smashed his wrist to pieces that night is long, long gone. Tonight, only a chair, an acoustic guitar and a piano accompany him, along with the cup of tea that he constantly sips. He humbly and somewhat nervously takes to the stage and quietly strums us into ‘Oh My Sweet Carolina’ almost whispering into the microphone as he mandates an overwhelming silence throughout the hall. Adams’ voice has grown remarkably over the years and his range is at times breath-taking, but tonight he is reserved, almost tantalising in his restraint, as he sings virtually to himself, allowing the microphone to capture the intimacy of the moment, rather than singing into it. He only ventures to the piano twice for the desolate ‘Sweet Lil Gal’ and a stripped down ‘New York New York’, both of which are stunning. Highlights are plentiful: ‘English Girls Approximately’ is devastating in its delivery and the heavy leanings towards his debut album ‘Heartbreaker’ (ﬁve songs) creates a real sense of loneliness and beauty that somehow ﬁts perfectly, even in the vast space. As he comes on for the encore of ‘Why Do They Leave?’ we are left asking that exact question.
GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL REVIEWED BY PARTY WOLF, FROM HIS SOFA 24-26.06.2011 I’ve been to Glastonbury festival. I’ve lived it, man. I’ve tasted the mud. I’ve hugged the Stone Circle. I’ve burned my eyelashes at a ﬁre breathing show in the Circus Field. I’ve Shang Gri La’d. I’ve charged my phone at the Orange tent. I did it all last year, and before that. I’ve seen things you’ll never understand! Unless you’ve been too… or you have a TV. This year I Glastonbury’d via the box in the corner of the room, and I’m still trying to work out if it was more or less fun than actually being there.The masochist inside of me says less, and he’s usually right – there was no man dragging a cruciﬁx around my front room (Glastonbury has one) and I’d boshed all my poppers by the time Jo Wiley’s eyes had turned in on themselves (so ﬁve minutes into the coverage, then).The view, though, and the sound: well, my TV was the balls for that (just look how big Bono looks!), so I made do with pretending that Glastonbury is about the music, with the aid of the red button, Zane, Fearne, Reggie, Lauren, Mark and Jo, and two roving reporters who couldn’t present their arses in the bath. In TV land, the biggest talking points of each day naturally revolved around the headliners, so after BBC Four shows the whole of Morrissey’s set – which, as the opening ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’ suggests, is brilliant, if totally wasted on the crowd, summed up by a shot of a disinterested bloke gobbling a hotdog through ‘Meat Is Murder’ – it’s time for U2 to do their bit for middle-agecrisis sufferers everywhere, as Bono severely damages the already vulnerable leather trousers trade. I hardly love U2, but I don’t hate them like most people do either, and I thought that watching
them on screen – the hits, the bombast – might make me yearn for mud in my shoes. It doesn’t, largely because it feels like just another show for them, where Bono makes sex noises before ‘Desire’ and forever tags other pop songs onto the end of his own, which are either embarrassingly ironic (‘Independent Women’) or simply far better (The Beatles’ ‘Rain’, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’). I frequently question whether he’s having ‘an episode’, which is polite speak for mental breakdown. QI on catch-up. Bed. The following night, after Jessie J proves that Glastonbury really isn’t about the music (although props for performing with a broken leg) and Fearne and Reggie say something, Coldplay ﬁnally make me wish I was there. It’s no longer raining, there’s plenty of shots of Jay-Z watching on in sunglasses at 11pm, they play some new songs that sound far better than most of the band’s last album and they end by making the Pyramid Stage change colours. It’s as if the poppers haven’t run out and Coldplay have beaten U2 at their own game. On Sunday, with the huge exception of Beyonce, who isn’t without a couple of dud ballads but is clearly the best pop performer in the world, I’m back in love with the sofa. Glastonbury on a Sunday feels like Jersey: depressingly isolated, and it’s made all the worst by the continual ropey lineup. It’s like Christmas morning – the party’s over; you’re just waiting for the end. Pendulum, The Vaccines, Plan B - take your pick, they’re all awful. Even Paul Simon is rubbish, although he blames it on a cold in an excruciating interview with Jo and Mark. But of course you know all of this, because you have a TV too, right?
FILM By IAN ROEBUCK
KABOOM Starring:Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida Director: Gregg Araki
Olivia Colman with Paddy Considine on the set of Tyrannosaur
Cinema Preview Forthcoming ﬁlms to excite and avoid ---You know the book.The one with the garish cover, all Hitchockian undertones and with a font for the eye to follow. It’s dominated your commute for the last year, ubiquitous in the hands of 20, 30 and 40 somethings longing for a romantic buzz with their morning mufﬁn.Well now it’s a ﬁlm – David Nicholls ambitious, all encompassing One Day has been lifted from page to screen. You can practically hear the groan as large lattes perish and croissants hit tube train ﬂoors.Yes the author of Starter for Ten is partly to blame for James McAvoy’s ascent and now we can all point a ﬁnger and say you ruined my summer of ﬁlm as this inevitable car cash collides with cinemas in a few weeks time.That’s not to say the book’s bad: Nicholl’s life afﬁrming pop ﬁction piece spans twenty years in a controlled fashion, but you can bet your bottom dollar we’ve got issues ahead. First up, and this is a major problem, Anne Hathaway plays the lead.The wide-eyed all-American meerkat is Emma Morley, a frumpy quick-witted English rose. It seems unlikely that Emma’s dry humour and eccentric foibles can be conveyed by the girl who gave us Ella Enchanted. Secondly, Jim Sturgess plays Dexter Mayhew. Finally we have the trailer – one of the most saccharine, soul-sapping previews of all
time that gives away swathes of plot and practically every interesting twist the book supplies in two and a half minutes of schmaltz. One can only hope the book’s uncompromising ending has been left untouched. For the optimists amongst us, Lone Scherﬁg directed the thing, and her previous efforts including An Education and Italian for Beginners, and were full of emotional maturity and brittle, beautiful moments, so let’s pray for more of the same. Many people depend on it. If you like a dose of realism less sweet, then Paddy Considine’s tasty looking directorial debut hits the screen this autumn. If One Day is your strawberry cheesecake then Tyrannosaur could be a rump steak of a movie, dripping in grimy gravy and globules of grit. Just like in his acting roles, Considine hasn’t shied away from harrowing themes and thoughts. A story of redemption, Tyrannosaur stars Olivia Colman as Hannah, a woman looking to ﬁght her way out of an abusive relationship. Colman has shined brightly in TV roles for years now (Peep Show and Rev spring to mind) so a chance to ﬂex her acting chops with players like Peter Mullan is a very welcome sight. Sliding alongside these two is Eddie Marsan, the unsung star from Happy Go Lucky and Vera Drake, his presence serving to reinforce an already prominent working class sheen to the ﬁlm. Sundance lapped it up, Tyrannosaur’s devastating plot and dark, enigmatic imagery a real hit in the States. Reportedly the ﬁlm is brimming with romance, reality and heart, something One Day looks to be lacking in.
There’s nothing cool about trying too hard.You don’t get ‘mad props’ for staying late in the ofﬁce or sending one last text to the apple of your eye. No doubt the cool cats that create the cast list of Kaboom would tell their Director Gregg Araki to slow down, man, like, it’s just a ﬁlm so chill out. Araki manages to free-wheel his way through numerous genres and pump every colour in the rainbow into a kaleidoscope as messy and ultimately unstable as the characters involved, here. A tale of sexual-awakening-cum-sci-ﬁcollege-drama, the ﬁlm contains enough hormone induced characters and crass one liners to power E4 for a year. Thomas Dekker plays Smith, a confused adolescent coming to terms with his sexuality (he likes it every way with everyone) and the strange events unfolding around him. A heavy-handed dream scene illustrates this in a patronising opener, setting the tone for the thankfully short 120 minutes that follow.Walking down a white glowing corridor with teen sirens panting either side, Smith is confronted by a mysterious red dumpster, Araki immediately offering up Lynchian undertones to his 90210 styled movie.These continue throughout – a tenuous plot sees Smith and his friends encounter bizarre supernatural situations as they jump from dormitory to disco all the while being pursued by men in animal masks. It’s a heady mix that takes its time to meld, but even a combination of dry, savvy scripting and crafty performances don’t quite pull it off. Juno Temple and Roxane Mesquida are particularly good as the women in Smiths life, dripping with sardonic wit and sex appeal, and both carry many scenes, but it’s never enough. True, the ﬁlm has an easy style and Araki has a watchable palette, but he attempts too much. Launching in enigmatic fashion, the light-footed caper rapidly changes into a melodramatic mess. The absurd atmosphere created, its self-awareness and frankly silly ﬁnal third can’t help us think that this was very much on purpose.
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PARTY WOLF PHOTO CASEBOOK “The Persistent World of Ian Beale”
I’m not mate. I’m SEXting this tasty piece off the Internet
Are you listening to anything I’m saying?
GET THE LOOK People say, “Oh, you look like a rapey Ali G,” or, “Your beard looks like a merkin,” or, “Your curtains are haunted by the ghost of the last person to die in the old people’s home you stole them from,” or, “Actual pig!”Yeah, man, my look provokes a strong reaction, just like my songs.Truth is, I’ve never looked better. The Ali G thing – yeah, I get where people are coming from on that. It’s the hat, right? Mine says W.A.R. on it though, because destruction is brilliant (and it’s my initials – Bucket Head bought the same one, even though I told him not to, so mum sorted it so we could tell them apart). As for the ‘merkin’, as the haters put it, I feel no shame in telling you that I’ve never managed to grow a full beard – it’s always so... patchy, like my balls. Luckily, the goatee has never gone out of style. It’s the rings (from a British boutique called Claire’s) that really set this outﬁt off though, and my tip to anyone rocking rocks is always keep your hands in front of you like I’m doing here, but be subtle about showing off your jewels – you don’t want to look like a prick. (The curtains came with the ﬂat).
Oh yeah! You should see some of these pics I get, mate
POLI-TWIT Even PMs have computers, y’know? Yeeaaaah... I wondered if he does anything else, though
Don’t forget to add me on myspace people. :p about 20 minutes ago from device
Booze + Deal or No Deal Quiz game = Best lunch meeting ever. Cheers @Yateswinelodge about 6 hours ago from device
Doh! Knocked pint on Boris’ beer battered cod. Soz pal! #yougottalaugh about 6 hours ago from device
Boris is late for our pub lunch again. Hope we can still use the vouchers
about 7 hours ago from device
Don’t care what anyone else says, ‘Monster’ by @theautomatic is still a massive tune! about 8 hours ago from device
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely ﬁctitious.
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