Zero pounds / Volume 03 / Issue 50 / the alternative music tabloid
Fuck Buttons Richard Hell No Age San Fermin Melt Yourself Down Fair Ohs Scout Niblett MONEY
lyn c h dreaming big
We reached 50 - READ THE OTHER 49 EDITIONS AT WWW.LOUDANDQUIET.COM
Contents July 2013
09 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A v e ry naug hty boy The church of liam gallagher is minus mandy drake but full nonetheless
11 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . g etti ng to kno w you With David lynch on the front cover, 9 artists share their favourite moving pictures of all time
Fai r Ohs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 On the eve of their uk tour finale, fair oh discuss what new album ‘jungle cats’ has taught them
richard h e ll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 2 months after release his autobiography, richard hell discusses walking out on the music industry 30 years ago
m e lt y o u r s e l f d o w n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 Peter wareham has come up with a name for his progressive jazz, because no one else could
scout n i b lett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Emma Louise ‘scout’ niblett on astrology, her compulsion to create and moving to america to survive in music
mon ey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Ironic in name and adverse to interviews, manchester’s money aren’t chasing a big pay day, but it’s coming
no ag e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 fourth album ‘an object’ has the LA duo trying new things and fucking with the drums
fuck b uttons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 fuck buttons discuss new album ‘slow focus’ and how the olympics changed nothing
san fe rm i n . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 assistant to nico muhly, yale graduate ellise ludwig-leone is a young composer with grand ambitions
d a v i d ly n c h . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 8 the cult movie director gets to talk music for once, an often overlooked but huge part of his life and work
cover photography Nathanael Turner
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com Contributors Bart Pettman, Carl Partridge, Chal Ravens, Chris Watkeys, Cochi Esse, Daniel Dylan Wray, Danny Canter, DAVID Sutheran, DK Goldstien, Elinor Jones, elliot kennedy, Edgar Smith, Frankie Nazardo, Gareth Arrowsmith, Janine Bullman, LEE BULLMAN, Kate Parkin, Kelda Hole, Gabriel Green, Gemma Harris, Leon Diaper, Luke Winkie, Mandy Drake, Matthias Scherer, Nathan Westley, Owen Richards, Olly Parker, PAVLA KOPECNA, Polly Rappaport, Phil Dixon, Phil Sharp, Reef Younis, Samuel ballard, Sam Walton, Sonia Melot, sonny McCartney, Tim Cochrane, Tom Pinnock, TOM Warner This Month L&Q Loves Caz beashel, Ben WinboltLewis, Duncan Jordan, Keong Woo, nita keeler, Ivano maggiulli, Richard Hell, sean newsham, 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 2013 Loud And Quiet. ISSN 2049-9892 Printed by Sharman & Company LTD.
36 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . albums films . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Alunageorge, fuck buttons, pond, wavves washed out, cfcf, soft metals and more
Scarlett Fever: Ian Roebuck on three upcoming movies and one movie star
42 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . li v e party w olf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 pissed jeans, these new puritans, goat, jon hopkins, the national and more
Idiot Tennis, Thought sport, Crush hour, rumour pie and The unfortunate world of ian beale
welcome Our obsession with numbers never seems to wane. If anything it intensifies, but round numbers are always - always - best. For my 10th birthday, I received my own television in my bedroom – an extra special gift for an extra special age, as if for a child to hit double figures in 1992 was unheard of. In hindsight, 10 is a one-off in the ‘round birthdays’ series – it’s the only one that you celebrate rather than commiserate, save for 100, which is so round it causes the Queen to get involved. This is the 50th newsprint edition of Loud And Quiet ; a fact that we’d largely forgotten or ignored while putting it together, yet could claim otherwise, due to the kudos of this month’s cover star.
There’s something special about David Lynch. Round numbers special. To convert the 67-yearold auteur’s career into figures at a glance, Lynch has written and directed 10 feature films, 23 shorts, 8 music videos and 1 definitive television series. Over such projects he’s challenged every convention of filmmaking, particularly narrative structure, and continually subverted the Hollywood norm as his movies have journeyed through murky netherworlds with all the fracture of your strangest dreams. But Lynch is a musician, too, a point that is often overlooked, even though sound design is so integral to the sinister suburbia he’s so adept at portraying and sifting through in his movies. More numbers: Lynch has been involved in 8 records to date, including his 2011 debut solo album, ‘Crazy Clown Time’, and new LP ‘The Big Dream’, released two days after this Loud And Quiet arrived in stores.
Lynch, I’m sure no one will be surprised to hear, likes to dream, and in ‘Living The Dream’, beginning on page 28 and putting music at the centre of the conversation, he discusses with Daniel Dylan Wray his musical influences, his love of the open road, the importance of creative freedom and his new, less-odd-butstill-Lynchian record. Our time together was brief, but at his Los Angeles home on Mulholland Drive, no less, a street immortalised in his 2001 picture of the same name. Meeting David Lynch, in his home or anywhere else, is not something we envisaged 50 issues ago, but back then we were just after a TV in our room.
The Beginning July 2013
a very naughty boy the church of liam gallagher is minus mandy drake but remains full to bursting I – a former, obsessive Oasis fan – had planned on calling this article ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’. Then it was going to be ‘The Messiah Complex’. As Beady Eye released their second album last month, Liam Gallagher did what he does – dubbed new record ‘Be’ “fucking mega” (it’s not), damned the state of modern rock’n’roll (fair point, Liam), played ignorant to anything that’s not within his immediate social sphere, had a dig at brother Noel, sang out of his chin, waddled around, kept Wrigley’s gum in business for another decade and shat on every swear box in the country. Death, taxes and Liam Gallagher: life’s three great certainties. He’d take that as a compliment, no doubt. I’ve always thought it must be a drain, to be so constantly in character. Maybe Liam takes time off in the shower, or on the toilet. Maybe he takes off his sunglasses then. Liam’s commitment to the role of deluded rock star has in the past been as entertaining as it is today strangely admirable. He still believes, even if I don’t. I’ve no doubt that it is an act, perhaps not overtly so, more like how you hold your Fs and Us around your partner’s parents, only for Liam he doubles them, ramped up to a predictable caricature. It feels like a tired stand-up routine full of all the jokes you’ve already heard. Liam Gallagher doesn’t give a fuck? Yeah, I know. He’s the only one doing it too, ardently refusing to mellow or even allow himself to have a good time. For all his talk of “Oasis was what it was, but it’s over and now I’m doing this and it’s fucking mega,” he seems incapable of moving on, or even attempting a new haircut. How could someone so obsessed with John Lennon be so stagnant? The answer to that isn’t just in Liam’s limited musicality, no matter what “Shake my tree / Where’s the apple for me” suggests. As a new Noisey documentary proved in late June, the Cult of Liam Gallagher is in rude health. The film, entitled
Start Anew: On the Campaign Trail with Beady Eye, shadowed Liam and band in the days and weeks leading up to ‘Be’’s release. There’s plenty of what you’d expect from the man himself, inflated truth nuggets like, “I hope people like [the album], but if they don’t like it they can go fuck themselves”, lots of shifty looks over the shoulder while answering questions, lots of chewing, that kind of thing. But if there’s one thing that’s matched Liam’s consistency since 1994, it’s the admiration of his worshipers. At 14 I was one myself, before, to put it simply, the posturing became better
It’s the blind followers that keep liam in clarks and vice versa
than the music, and then boring. To devout Liam followers, some of whom feature in the Noisey film with feather cuts at varying degrees of recession, I couldn’t have been a true fan – turning your back on a Gallagher is like denouncing Christ, even if Christ, in this instance, hasn’t pulled anything close to a miracle out of his arse in a good 15 years. But I’d paid my dues to the cult, alright. I’d bought and defended ‘Heathen Chemistry’. I’d given a crusty Moss Side tout 150 quid to see Oasis play the Manchester leg of their intimate venue tour, 10 Years Of Noise And Confusion. I’d
taken a pint of piss in the face at Finsbury Park. Course I did – Oasis were “the only band out there fucking having it”. That’s what Liam had said, his very own “turn the other cheek... because the other one’s covered in piss.” But where I’ve tapped out, got clean, wised up, there are plenty still enthralled by the legacy of Oasis and those heady 4 years in the mid ’90s. To many, Liam’s (not to mention Noel’s) ‘net good’, as it were, ensures that his fans aren’t going anywhere, and so in turn the Liam Gallagher we know all too well isn’t about to change tack for something more humble and gracious, even if he’d like to. The act is still working beautifully. It’s the blind followers that keep Liam in Clarks desert boots and vice versa. As the group of lads on Start Anew put it when the cameraman notices that all four of them are decked out in Pretty Green clobber: “You gotta have the gear. No gear, no gig. No gear, no mad for it, no gig.” It’s a line of complete dog shit English delivered so stoically as to initially come across like a direct quote from their hero himself. Maybe that’s Pretty Green’s motto. It’s the fans that turn me off most of all, not for daring to like Beady Eye’s drab pub rock, but for failing to see any humour whatsoever in Liam’s pantomime shtick. The fact is that everyone likes the guy. My mum won’t miss Chatty Man if he’s on. But there’s a difference between thinking Liam Gallagher is a laugh – a bit of fun – and genuinely considering him “an absolute fucking legend”, a term that seems to follow him around like a generous smell. And yet, of course, these people have found something more substantial than opinion, sense or proof, even; they’ve found faith. Trying to get a fan of Liam Gallagher to admit he’s a bit of a silly bugger is like asking Tom Cruise to contemplate the possibility that Scientology could be a scam aimed at rich idiots. In other words, we’re stuck with the guy. Death, taxes, The Pope and Liam Gallagher.
The Beginning Singles & Books by L ee & Ja nin e B u l l m a n
Liar Behind The Sun EP by Small feet
( K n i n g D i sk ) Released now
Waiting For The summer by The proper ornaments
(Lo) Released now
Stockholm musician Simon Stålharmrhe is a serial bottler, first sabotaging his childhood sporting glories as they became too serious, and then repeating the trick as countless bands of his were about to cash in on their buzz and play a show. This debut EP sees him finally getting up the nerve to share his rural, old country folk, which will make you think that he, like Small Feet bandmate Jacob Snavely, is in fact an American. Stålharmrhe sings like Jeremy Earl of Woods and Kermit the frog’s little cousin, while these 5 acoustic tracks become more buoyant over time.
This second single from The Proper Ornaments (James Hoare of Veronica Falls and Max Claps, whom Hoare met as Claps’ girlfriend was nicking boots from the secondhand store he was working in) was released on Summer Solstice, and by no coincidence. ‘Waiting For The Summer’ is a proud pastiche of ’60s hippy pop that slowly lopes to a rudimentary drum machine, “feeling strange” and sounding like how The Velvet Underground would if they were English druids rather than elegantly fucked New Yorkers.
Filthy EP by The Bug
( N i n j a T u n e ) R e l e a s e d A u g u s t 1 2
Kevin Martin sure has got the title of his new EP right. This latest 4-tracker from The Bug features ultra dirty dancehall vocals from Daddy Freddy (‘Kill Them’), grimly British rhymes from Roll Deep’s Danflow (‘Dirty’, ‘Louder’) and, skankiest of them all, Detroit vagrant rapper Danny Brown. It’s Brown’s ‘Freakshow’ that steals the show here, his nasal squeal, the track’s heavy trap bass and Kiki Hitomi’s respite backing vocals covering the fact that the drums on this entire EP feel weak and blunt. That’s no doubt Martin’s intention, but it’s Brown’s new LP you anticipate here over The Bug’s.
Starfruit EP by Toby Gale
( t a p e c l u b ) Released July 29
Ask anyone who grew up in the ’90s if they were Nintendo or Sega, and they’ll always be one or the other, never both. Chances are Toby Gale was Sega – ‘15 Love’, the opening track on this debut EP, is the giveaway. It’s the Alex The Kid loading screen where Crystal Castle’s debut album was thrashmet al-meets-Atari-and-SN ES; wholesome and pure, gentle and comforting. Over the next two tracks, ‘Cool Car’ and ‘You & I’, Gale has Sonic The Hedgehog powering up and snatching gold rings with more force, as he also steps back to the ’80s and Madonna inspired globular production.
Platoon/Drops by Jungle ( C h e ss C l u b ) Released JUly 15
The video to ‘Platoon’, one half of Jungle’s debut release, is simply incredible – one fixed camera of a totally gangster 6-yearold girl breakdancing her way to a headspin that looks like she’s on a wire. Due to her unbelievable age (at 6, I was having trouble walking in a straight line), the 3-minute short pulls focus from the track’s TV On The Radio-esque neo soul vocals, and smoothest of midtempo grooves. The accompanying ‘Drops’ is less funky, and more like a sexy demo that Sampha would drop, or Jai Paul, perhaps. The kid in Adidas has to be seen, but Jungle’s soundtrack has a lot, too.
you do nothing for me by trampolene
(mi7) R e l e a s e d A u g u s t 1 2
“Goodbye/See you later/ You are a/Fucking waster!”. Liam Gallagher couldn’t have put it better himself, which is strange, because it seems like he’s singing on the debut single from Trampolene, a band who shun Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud, no doubt because the other Gallagher has slagged them off in NME before. This is the band you’ll see supporting Kasabian next year, should you be unlucky enough to lose a bet, where they’ll deliver other unforgettable lyrics like: “You are paper chaser/When you wanna be a Shaker Maker”. Awful.
T he c omp l e t e ly r ic s 19 7 8 -2 0 0 6 B Y Nic k c av e (Penguin)
Somehow, over the time period covered within this collection, Nick Cave underwent the transition from poster boy for the scary goth/junky Elvis aesthetic to one of the most talented, original and hardworking songwriters around. Cave has always been a prolific songwriter, but what becomes clear here is that the quality is there too. If Nick Cave has ever written a shit song lyric, then he kept it to himself. The Complete Lyrics is testament to a maverick talent refusing to compromise no matter which way the winds of fashion blow. Nick Cave is the man who began a song with the line ‘I don’t believe in an interventionist God’ and followed it with a love song of heart-breaking tenderness and humility whilst rocking killer Cuban heels and golfing pants.
P unk 4 5 : Or igin a l P unk R oc k S ingl e s C o v e r A r t B Y Jon s ava ge (Schirmer/Mosel)
Jon savage is the man responsible for England’s Dreaming, still by far the best book written on punk rock, and here he continues his punk preoccupation with a collection of visually stunning and graphically groundbreaking single covers that look as fresh and challenging today as they did almost forty years ago. The classics are well represented of course (Jamie Reid’s Jubilee Queen created for the Sex Pistols and complete with safety pin through the nose is here) but so are many covers (and bands) that have languished in obscurity for far too long. There’s interviews with the artists and designers who created this iconic imagery, too. Savage knows his subject inside out and curates a collection of rock ’n’ roll art that does exactly what it should – it makes you want to hear the music.
All single reviews by Stuart Stubbs Blowback by Lee Bullman and Michael Forwell published by Pan Macmillan available now
The Beginning Getting To Know You
Stephen McRobbie of The Pastels Masculin Féminin
“What do you want to know about Masculin Féminin? It looks and sounds incredible; it’s Godard; it’s Paris. 1966. You want to be there. At its core are two compelling protagonists, Paul (Jean-Pierre Léaud) and Madeleine (Chantal Goya), a somewhat mis-matched couple endeavouring to play out their own total film; she a ye-ye popstar girl and hipster, he a serious-minded music fan (Bach) and anti-American Communist. Ideas and images flow fast and suddenly in this new kind of cinema, which Godard made in a dizzying run of 13 films in eight years. Maybe you could say that for him it’s a smaller work, but it’s a smaller work with everything. Godard then, and Godard forever.”
“Primer is the only movie I’ve seen that I chose to watch again immediately after my first viewing. I was obsessed. I kept wanting to take it apart further and further – I ended up seeing it around 8 times or something. Shane Carruth directed, starred, wrote, and scored the entire film on his own – such an inspiring thing to hear. That fact had a profound effect on my workflow. I’m so excited to see his new film, Upstream Color, just haven’t found the time yet!”
Cullen Omori of Smith Westerns The Prestige
9 artists on their favourite films James Holden 24 Hour Party People
“I’m not sure I believe in the concept of favourites, but a film I hold very dear is 24 Hour Party People, the Winterbottom/ Coogan film about Tony Wilson and Factory Records. It seems that whenever the music industry drops some sort of drama on us Film4 decide to reshow it, and every time a different part of the film speaks personally to me and my particular problems. Tony Wilson was a wise man – his Manc zen has something to teach everyone – but the whole film shows something more: that no matter how terrible things get in all the shit surrounding music, the magic at the core of it still holds and what looks like failure or a mistake doesn’t matter in the bigger picture.”
Simon Tong of The Magnetic North Young Frankenstein
“Young Frankenstein was the first film I ever bought, aged 11. It cost £15 on VHS from HMV in Liverpool and I had to go for 3 weeks without school dinners to be able to afford it, but it was worth the starvation. Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks are at the very peak of their game, Marty Feldman gives his finest
film performance along with the fabulous Terri Garr and Peter Boyle – Gene Hackman even makes a brief cameo. Beautifully shot in black and white on the set of the original 1930’s Hollywood Frankenstein film, it’s just the right side of ridiculous – something Mel Brookes has struggled to do since. It’s a spoof that is actually better than the original.”
Camille Bennet of Throwing Up Labyrinth
“I cried during Labyrinth the other day – that’s got to be a strong contender for my favourite film. It’s definitely been amongst my favourites for the longest. I remember one of the reasons I liked [bandmate] Clare when we first met was that she told me I looked like Sarah, Jennifer Connelly’s character. There’s lots of surreal beautiful imagery. I think I even based my final project at art school on the masked ball scene. David Bowie has the tightest trousers, the songs are great and it was directed by the genius Jim Henson, plus “prince of the land of stench” is a great phrase that I need to start using more often.”
Washed Out Dazed And Confused
“My favourite movie of all time is probably Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, and I really love how its appeal has changed over the years as I’ve gotten older. I saw the film for the first time when I was probably 14 or 15 years old, right around the time I was starting high school and it was totally THE fantasy of how I imagined high school-life to be – mainly a lot of parties, girls and drugs. As I’ve gotten older I see it more how I imagine Linklater viewing the project – glorifying the feeling of being young and how simple life is at that age. Also, the ’70s wardrobe and soundtrack are both amazing.”
Lois of PINS If...
“If… is a film about revolution and youthful rebellion. A British Film directed by Lindsay Anderson, set in a 1960s boarding school for boys. I’d describe it as Dead Poets Society on a date with A Clockwork Orange. It’s one you can watch over and over and see something new every time. The black and white scenes remain a mystery – was it conceptual, a lighting issue from the church’s large windows, or simply that the production was low on funding? Who cares, it’s great. Favourite scene: Mick (Malcolm McDowell) romances The Girl (Christine Noonan) in the café. The two circle each other like tigers, clawing away in playful lust.”
Charlie Hilton of Blouse Cinema Paradiso
“My favourite movie is Cinema Paradiso because it’s full of cute Italians and kissing and extreme doses of melancholy. When I watch it, I feel like I’m in an attic reading an old book with a gold emblem on it, like the kid in The NeverEnding Story (my childhood favourite, by the way). I love how self-reflexive it is, that it’s a film about film. I like that it feels like an old classic, even though it was made 1988. I love the character Alfredo – I wish I had an Alfredo. To me, his friendship with Salvatore seems like the true love story in the film. The only thing I don’t like about Cinema Paradiso is the extended cut. I’ll just pretend it never happened.”
Illustration by Fraser Davidson – www.fraserdavidson.co.uk
A Movie kind of love
“Magic. Michael Cane. David Bowie. Smashed corset titties. I saw this film when it came out, but my true love of it didn’t occur until it began being constantly replayed on FX. I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot but basically Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are both magicians who want to outdo the other one with magic tricks. Along the way there is a bunch of pseudo science and dumb melodrama but in general it’s super entertaining. The best part of the movie is the final scene, where Michael Cane does a magic trick for a little girl. It’s a great movie; thrilling on the first watch and hilarious on every subsequent one.”
Fai r Ohs O n…
Since their 2011 debut album, ‘Everything Is Dancing’, London afro-punks Fair Ohs have grown physically in size, adding saxophonist Sam Ayres, and most notably in sound and scope. New album ‘Jungle Cats’ is less a collection of breezy tropical pop singles, more a showboat in how well the band can actually play, as each track progressively breaks down and jams out. And yet on the eve of their UK tour finale, their most enduring qualities remain – how little they expect, and how close they are. As singer Eddy Frankel puts it: “When you tour at our level it’s a really personal thing, because you’re not necessarily playing to big crowds. It’s not about the audience; it’s about the group you’re with. You can play to 30 people and as long as the four of you are happy, you’re good.”
photographer - owen richards
… th e h u stl e
… K n o w i n g yo u r l i m its
… N ot f i g hti n g
Matt Flag [bass]: “Sometimes sleeping on peoples’ floors is fun. It’s nice when you want to go and party and the people you’re staying with are like, ‘let’s go out and get wild’. But sometimes people are like that and all you want to do is sleep.” Eddy Frankel [guitar and vocals]: “The alternative is being in a Travelodge, and I think the times when touring is hardest is when you’re forced into introspection, when you’re like,‘fuck, I’m in a fucking Travelodge on a motorway near Glasgow, and everyone’s snoring and I fucking hate them!’Whatever you can do to avoid that… The sleeping on people’s floors thing is fun, because you get to meet people. If you play to 12 people in Glasgow, or something, and you’re staying in a Travelodge, you’ve not seen anyone else, just each other, and that’s like, ‘this is a disappointing thing to do’.”
Eddy: “We’re aware that the way the record industry is we’re not going to make a shit load of fucking money. We’re just not.We’re not The xx.Y’know, we’re not going to be able to tour a shit load, we just physically can’t.” Matt: “I wouldn’t want to make this my full time job.” Joe Ryan [drums]: “I would.” Eddy: “I probably would, but it’s so removed, it’s not a real question. That’s not us being pessimistic – it simply won’t happen. Independent bands with a bunch of dudes who aren’t that hot, it’s like we have nothing going for us. And also, we won’t do what anyone tells us. From the very start, whenever there’s been an opportunity for someone to give us direction, we’ve just gone, ‘nope!’. So it’s an unreal question. We will never, ever, ever be able to do anything on anyone’s level. We won’t be able to conform to anybody’s idea of what a band should do, and that’s why it’s enjoyable and why we’ve done it for so long.” Matt: “You’ve known us from the beginning and look how much we’ve changed and done what we wanted. And you can’t always make those decisions if you’re basing that on if it’s going to pay your rent.Your artistic decisions are either based on money or what the fuck you want to do. ” Eddy: “Look at all that hype that happened in London when we started, and there was Male Bonding and Graffiti Island and all that stuff – the band that did the best was Male Bonding and they don’t live off it. We’re nowhere near Male Bonding size. It’s so far beyond the realms of possibility the only thing we can do is continue to create and enjoy the process.”
Eddy: “You hear about bands fighting, and I get how bands could, but I think we’re very, very lucky that there’s a lot of mutual respect, and we know that we’re not going to be able to tour for four months of the year, because it’s not possible.We’re never going to be able to do massive things, so touring is such a nice atmosphere, and you’re with your closest buddies, and it becomes hard to let go of, because it’s like, ‘shit, I’ve just been having a really good time with my gang of friends’.” Matt: “We’ve never had a fight because I think we know each other’s biting points, and when we get to that we try to push them a little bit further and then we back off. But we all know what annoys each other. Like, I know I have two lines that at a drop of a hat will wind Eddy up; he knows how to wind me up – something to do with my passport and being lost – but we know that we do it in jest. We’re like brothers.You take the piss out of your brothers, but we’ve never had an argument or got to the point where anyone has tried to hit each other or cried, or walked out.” Joe: “Hang on.You two have had a grapple, I’ve hit Eddy, but it was all accidental, pissed nonsense.” Matt: “Eddy was wasted and couldn’t even see straight, and he was like,‘C’mon!’, and I pinned him to the floor.”
… m a k i n g p e o p l e c ry Eddy: “My on stage banter has not gone down well on this tour. People do take genuine offence to it. For the most part, no one reacts, so it’s just me saying shit into a microphone.” Matt: “We played Birmingham and no one said anything, and then we played Bristol and there was some girl shouting at Eddy, and after I came off stage she was like, ‘I hope you don’t mind me shouting?’ and it’s like,‘no, it adds to it’, because she got involved. Some people feel they can get involved and can take it, some people don’t take it, some people look visibly not excited by it. But I know that some of our friends like to come to our show because of Eddy’s banter – it is a part of our show; we don’t look at our feet and play, because that would be boring. I would be more exited to see Fair Ohs with him screaming and shouting at people, and I wish I had the confidence to do that, but I need to be really drunk, and then I only shout at him, and then he puts me down and calls me Pugsley. I like it, we all take the piss out of ourselves first before anyone else. It’s offensive to us, and then everybody else.” Eddy: “In Birmingham, y’know those things that hold 4 cans of beer, those plastic things, I was like, ‘these kill dolphins, but fuck dolphins,’ and everyone was like, ‘why’s he saying fuck dolphins’. Because fuck dolphins, that’s why.The girl I made cry had just graduated, and I said, ‘welcome to a world of fucking unemployment’. Then I told her that she was stupid because she didn’t even get a First.”
w r iter - stuart stubb s
… th e F a i r O h s c u r s e Matt: “I’m going to put this out there, I love my life – this is Eddy’s curse.” Eddy: “I’m quite negative, and I believe that Fair Ohs are cursed.” Sam Ayres [Saxophone]: “Good things come out of it, right?” Eddy: “What?! No! The curse leads to sadness.This tour: one bass amp, destroyed beyond repair; one guitar amp, just dead; one guitar, wood shattered; sampler, dead; sneer skin, died. Things just aren’t easy with Fair Ohs. I was going to write a tour diary, but after the first three shows, which were so abysmal, I thought, I’m just not doing this, I don’t want people to know how bad touring can be, but then it got really good.”
… ‘J u n g l e C ats’ Eddy: “We wanted this record to be more considered. The first record is verse chorus, verse chorus. But we are really good musicians – we can own our instruments. The first record was built on this ultra joyful, youthful, ‘holy fuck! Let’s play loads of shit! That’s a song! Done!’. This time we were thinking about the bands we liked and we didn’t want to do verse/chorus 2-minute songs; we wanted to see what happens if we let it unfold a bit more naturally.‘Ya Mustafa’ is probably the best example of that, because it’s expansive and weird and jammy.” Matt: “‘Jamming’ is a really good word to describe where we’ve got to from before, and I think Eddy’s vocals have gotten so much better. It kind of freaked me out.When you listen to the album, there’re some things that are more subtle and some that are in your face, but his vocals are amazing, and his lyrics.Yeah, yeah, yeah, his head’s getting bigger – he’s going to be an arsehole tonight – but I’ll say this once and once only: his vocals got so good that I was blown away when he was doing his vocal takes and laying down all these different levels. It was awesome to hear.”
… Feeling old
Matt: “Birmingham was a weird high point for us. We went to a place that served 1 pound drinks to 18 to 20 year old kids… and us.” Eddy: “Matt stood in the smoking area smoking cigars around a load of 20 year olds. It was a club called Snobs, full of 20 year olds listening to The Killers. Sam poured a beer on himself because he could, because it was a pound.” Sam: “In my defence I had another pound in my pocket.” Joe: “Then we went to this chicken shop that Matt’s cousin recommended, and she’s like, ‘it’s fucking shit’, and this is it [gets phone out for photographic evidence] – food, hygiene and safety: 4; structural compliance: 4; confidence in management: little.”
Eddy: “It’s not easy doing what we’re doing; it’s not easy releasing records, and we’re doing it completely by ourselves – every step of this process has been us, and we’ve pushed through it because we really like each other. It’s not like I need to speak to Joe or Matt or Sam every single day, but this is what we want to do and we like being around each other. It’s this gang mentality of let’s just fucking do this because no one else is going to be as good as us. We’re convinced we’re better than anyone else, and that’s what you need. It’s important to be like,‘fuck you! We’re going to do this because no one else is going to make music as intricate or as difficult or as passionate as we’re going to make. Or as real!’”
Eddy: “There’s an emotional side to ‘Jungle Cats’ that ‘Everything Is Dancing’ didn’t have, and that’s really important to me. The lyrics have continuity from start to finish. It’s a very personal thing that maybe isn’t shared, but for me I wanted it to have a purpose and meaning. ‘Jungle Cats’ is about feeling old. Before this album was written and recorded, I lost my house, I lost my job and I lost my girlfriend of five years. So those things left my life, and a lot of people go through those mid-to-late twenties malaise, where you’ve just lost shit and you’re like, ‘what the fuck am I doing?!’. I’d lost my job and had a year on benefits, and it’s a really emotional thing to go through, and I was like, ‘fuck, I’m 26 and I don’t know who the fuck I am and it’s all just disappearing – those 26 years have fucking gone and I’m no different to how I was when I was 18, and that’s just fucked up!’. It’s a hard thing to go through.” Matt: “One of the funny things is that he was writing these lyrics about feeling old, but I’m the oldest member of the band, and I had a bit of meltdown when I hit 30, and there’s one song where the lyrics were so relevant to what I was going through, I thought it was about me.” Eddy: “Every songs is about the process of realising, ‘fuck it, I’m not 25!’ and trying to figure out who the fuck you are. I’m glad that there’s that emotional aspect to it, and it’s quite sad that literally no reviewer has picked up on it. Everyone’s like, ‘this is such a party record!’.Well, fuck you!”
‘W e w o n’t b e a b l e to c o n f o r m to a nyb o dy’s i d e a o f w h at a b a n d s h o u l d d o’
Joe: “Touring this record we’re all like,‘fuck, this is really hard to play’. Because we’ve let the musicality come out a lot more, whether it’s obvious or not, we know that we’re really playing our arses off and really concentrating for 40 minutes. It’s quite a cool thing to not care about musicianship, but we care.” Eddy: “Yeah, it’s cool to be shit at your instrument. Like, ‘oh, this little song? I just shat it out’. Fuck you! We worked our fucking arses off to make an incredible record and you can’t play it, because only we can – all of our parts are so uniquely us.”
S u pe r T r am p Two months after the release of his autobiography, Richard Hell talks to Daniel Dylan Wray about walking out on the music industry 30 years ago 16
fter roles in seminal groups like Television, The Heartbreakers and Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Richard Hell quit music in 1984 and in doing so also ditched a drug habit he’d been carrying around for years. He returned to his literary roots and was never to return to music again, apart from a brief outing in the 1990s with a Sonic Youth off-shoot project called Dim Stars and a brief post-Talking Heads outfit collaboration, The Heads. After several novels and other literary ventures, Hell has just released the riveting I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, an autobiography that captures a profoundly auspicious, dangerous and fabled period in New York City’s musical culture. Hell’s tale is imbued with the stereotypical cocktail of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll but thankfully his approach and re-telling is atypical. This isn’t a score-settling, vilifying, embittered rant against those who crossed him, not a vehement, bile-spewing attack on an industry he left (although each are definitely touched upon), but more an honest, seemingly accurate – albeit subjective – reflection and depiction of his life and the immensely rich musical period he was a part of. Hell’s prose flows and glides. Two decades spent as a novelist and writing being his main love before he even got involved with music means that while we are dragged through the grubby, crime-ridden streets of being young, broke and angry in 1970s NYC, Hell takes us there in an executed, eloquent manner. As he speaks from his New York apartment – one he has remained in for decades – Hell is a slightly croaky, very slow speaking man. His voice emits a lifetime’s worth of 5am wine drinking and endless chain-smoking. He puts his responses together in very slow, occasionally painfully, separated junctures. Of the hour we speak, possibly twenty minutes are a prolonged, grizzly drone that is Richard Hell either stumbling for words, or thinking via an elongated ‘mmmmmmm’. For someone who has just spent five years writing his life story, it is somewhat understandable that taking his time to find the words to use to talk about it, is of great importance. “I didn’t take a stance about it,” he tells me, looking back on his finished work. “I didn’t worry about it. I think my approach to writing, it was: I didn’t hold back. I was talking the way I would to a friend who I really trusted, I didn’t worry about the way I would look, or at least as little as possible.” The book has been a success, but in regards to the response, Hell tells me he’s “OD’d on it.” “It’s kind of redundant,” he says. “It’s had way more coverage than anything else I’ve ever written. It’s now hard to find anything new written about it. The main thing that strikes me is the range of reactions – you’ll read one writer write about one sentence and call it brilliant and another will write about the same sentence and call it pathetic.” I offer my favourite line from the book in the hope we can discuss its symbolism. “Does it refer to, erm, sexual parts?” Hell gingerly enquires, (there is a lot of sex in the book. Hell’s quench for coitalrelations often matches his quench for drugs). No, I tell him. “Then go ahead,” he responds. The line itself is a reference to Hell’s love for MAD magazine as a youth but operates on a further, ultimately deeper level in the context of his artistic career: “Human works that don’t hide the crudity of the approximate nature of their representation are the best.” A husky laugh trickles down the phone-line from New York. “Nobody has remarked on that line yet,” he says. “I’m glad you grabbed that one because my editor wanted me to take that one out. “I agree with you, actually; you remind me of when I speak about Lester Bangs in the book and he characterises my work in a way that he means to be kind
p ho t o g r a p h e r - g u y e p p e l
of critical but I agree with.” The Bangs-written line in question, Hell refers to as his “aesthetic ideal”. Bangs once wrote after an interview: “Look, I started out saying how much I respected this guy’s mind and perceptions. I still do in a curious way – It’s just that he paints half the picture of reality with consummate brilliance and the other half is Crayola slashes across a field of Silly Putty and Green Slime.” Hell continues to explain his fondness for the aesthetically jagged. “I like architecture, like the Pompidou Centre in Paris where you see all the tubing and vents and apparatus instead of it just being this smooth design like there was some kind of purity to it but instead it’s full of these bulging intestines and wires.” Seeing as though Hell has brought up Lester Bangs, it seems like a good place to challenge his belief that music journalism hasn’t come from the heart since 1976. “I don’t really read much music criticism these days,” he confesses. “There was a time in the 1970s when my whole world was what bands were doing and what records were being made and what influence they were having. Lester was always extraordinary that way. There was a period between the mid ’60s and early ’70s when music was thought of as being a life and death thing where people stake their whole conception of themselves and their entire relationship to music was the world, and Lester was always the epitome of that and that period is definitely over. “You look at periods like the ’80s and everybody became so self conscious and things like irony came in. The whole conception of rock’n’roll as being any kind of transcendental experience – it was almost religious for a while – that’s just gone. It’s like entertainment now. There’s an innocence gone and a level of commitment that has just gone.” There is a sub-text apparent in Hell’s book. Perhaps initially an inadvertent one but by the end it becomes an underlying but inescapable theme. It is, in many senses, a love story, between author and once best friend and Television band-mate Tom Verlaine. The opening half: their flourishing romance, their honeymoon period and then: the collapse, the break-up, the going wild on drink, drugs and sex in the wake of the fall-out. Although it isn’t until the epilogue (when Hell stumbles across Verlaine in the street) that the word ‘love’ is used to describe this relationship. When I mention the word ‘love’ a hearty, growly chuckle comes down the line and Hell offers a different spin on this element. “Yeah, but there are a couple of caveats or angles on that that I might mention. Number one, that epilogue was written
w r i t e r - d a n i e l dylan wray
after I had finished the book, the book was finished in 2011, and I started it in 2006. I knew the book ended abruptly, so I felt the need for something more, some way to trail off a little more gracefully, but I didn’t know what to do. There was a month or two where I was just percolating – I needed to soften the cut-off.Then I had that experience when I ran into Tom in the street but I feel like I have a small fear that I jumped on that as a writer. I wonder if I hadn’t have been writing a book, if I’d have just kept on walking. So I wonder if it’s a tiny bit manufactured. But as is the nature of non-fiction, you are deciding what to bring to people’s attention. How much did I create that moment because I needed it for the book? That’s one angle; the other is that there is this kind of reversal. For so long I’ve been dismissive and angry, but I’ve also been entirely removed, it wasn’t anything I dwelled on. The problems I’d had with Verlaine back in the ’70s were not things that had ever concerned me, I went on and had a life. The way we went off, going in different directions, was inevitable. I had no bad feelings about it; we were just like oil and water. It was a little bit shocking at the time after we’d been such good friends for a long time but it was inevitable and natural, even the part about the band, in the way he forced me out of the band. Very quickly within the next year I played his role. After a year in the Heartbreakers I realised I needed a band in which I could get out what I wanted and that I needed a band that I could lead unequivocally. Anyway what I’m getting at is that it’s true our friendship in our late teens and early twenties meant a lot and that gets captured in the book, but those years are also kind of the most rich and fruitful for many, many people; they are the years that you are forming who you really are so they have extra significance. It wasn’t like it was anything that preoccupied me; it was just something from my past. I
‘th e c o n c e pt o f r o c k’n’r o l l b e i n g a tr a n s c e n d e nta l e x p e r i e n c e, th at’s j u st g o n e’ never even thought about it but it was kind of a sore point, you know, I didn’t even wanna hear his record. It’s like an old love affair, you’re totally over it but you don’t want it brought back up in your head.” At this stage it’s difficult to work out if Richard is attempting to be particularly explicit in respect to his relationship with Tom as a means to off-set decades worth of gossip and untruths about the pair of them and the perceived viewpoint of Hell towards Verlaine, or if Hell is somehow justifying or dismissing the significance ofVerlaine in his life as a means to continue to block-out an underlying, irrefragable pain that still resides since their friendship fell apart. Hell concludes, however: “Anything in this book could have been written a different way. It was always there, the affection and the respect was there in the same way the resentment and the hatred was.” The book cuts off in 1984 when Hell quit music and drugs, but in the preceding decade Hell had lived more wildly and voraciously than many would in a lifetime. Yet unearthing these tales and having to resurrect the
lives and stories of many dead friends and acquaintances hasn’t made him look back dismissively. “I don’t believe in regrets,” he says. “It doesn’t have any meaning to have regrets unless it’s a matter of regretting something you did to someone and you’re trying to make up for it. Personally I just describe my experience, I don’t judge it. I don’t have regrets or pride, It’s just what happened.” In the book Hell also avoids the usual moral high ground many ex-drug users take in their later life. Did, I enquire, drugs make his life more interesting, for a time? “Well yeah,” he says, “just like a new food does or a new girlfriend, it’s new and has some kind of sensory appeal. It was interesting, sure. That doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous or poisonous, but yeah, it was interesting.” At this stage the phone goes dead and after a few minutes we reconnect. Sensing Hell’s reluctance to discuss drug-use, I nervously ham-fist a somewhat convoluted question about drugs and their cultural significance during this period. “What is it?” he asks, unable to unravel my question. “Drugs!” I reply. “You’re still asking me about drugs?!” he fires in a tone riddled with impatience. “I’m not happy…” he stops, no doubt just before he was about to finish with ‘talking about this’, but he continues. “Okay, you’re going to have to repeat the question.” I do, rephrasing it slightly less clumsily, to which he says: “I covered that in the book, I was very clear about that.” Despite Hell’s complete frankness in the book, throughout our conversation he seems intently reticent to discuss many subjects dissected in its pages, but perhaps that was the point of writing such a book, to evade people like me probing into his life. He concedes and kindly continues. “Now I’m talking about narcotics here, opiates, that’s it, because every drug is different but the one that brought me down was narcotics, that was my problem. At the beginning it’s just bliss because that’s what it is, it’s a painkiller; you never imagine you’re going to get a habit, you never feel like it will be a challenge to avoid taking it everyday. It takes a good couple of weeks before you can get any kind of habit so you just don’t worry about it; it gives you this euphoric blissful feeling and depending on your own personality type and your own proclivities it can be something that is especially appealing to you. Like dreaming, it makes you dream in this literal way, you’re asleep but you’re not actually asleep, you’re nodding. It takes away pain, it takes away anxiety, it makes your whole body feel good inside. In a lot of ways its similar to sex, it gives you that feeling after you’ve just had sex, it gives you that sleepy, blissful drifting state so there is a lot that’s appealing about it.You don’t know about the dangers until you’ve succumbed, until you’ve gone far enough that you’ve got a habit and then it just becomes a fucking bore and not only does it eat up your whole life but it prevents you from doing your best at anything. That’s the main way that it affects you as a human being, you are unable to apply yourself, you just don’t demand as much of yourself for anything if you have a drug habit.” I begin to move on but Hell interjects and continues, a wind picking up in his sails. “… And it’s torture because you fucking realise all those things and your whole life has been turned into a search for drugs and the effort to get free from them is so painful, it’s like the pain and suffering is at least equal, probably greater, than any of the pleasure you had at the beginning. I’m talking specifically about physical pain… and the psychological pain is even harder… Does that answer your question?” Hell says, with an exerted laugh. We then wrap things up and Hell growls goodbye as he returns to his book-filled New York apartment and a life happily away from a music business that he helped change.
Peo ple M u s i c
Melt Yourself Down’s Pete Wareham has come up with a name for the music his new progressive jazz-funk band play, because no one else could
Categorisation – the sorting of stuff into its rightful place. It’s something we all do in order to make sense of our messy little worlds. No one wants to be ‘sorted’ themselves, of course, and for some, no matter how hard the rest of us try, they just won’t sit comfortably anywhere. Pete Wareham, the animated Saxophonist and bandleader of progressive World Music collective Melt Yourself Down, has first-hand experience of not fitting in. A veteran of Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear, his new group is an energised collision of influences that spans both continents and time, a mix that has left critics dumbfounded as they attempt to hurriedly coin it jazz or one of its million hybrids. “I really like taking a bit of this and a bit of that. Inventing a new cocktail is what I want to do and what I like doing,”Wareham informs me on a bench positioned in the heart of Brighton’s Laines. “I just think of influences that I want to blend in a certain way,” he says, later admitting that the ideas can sometimes land on him at unexpected times. It was at one of these moments, in fact, that led to the formation of Melt Yourself Down. “I was looking for an Omar Souleymann track at the time,” say Wareham. “It was around eighteen months ago. Randomly, I found this Ali Hassan Kuban track called ‘Habibi’. When I found it, I listened to it about a hundred times; I couldn’t stop listening to it. I became obsessed with it. I had always listened a lot to Algerian music and other things, I always had this idea to do a North African hip-hop band, but it never kind of materialised. Anyway, I was DJing one night and thought I’ll play it, so I played it. It was probably a year after I had found it, maybe longer, maybe two years. The whole dance floor went crazy and I thought, ‘right, I def want to do this’. I never had the thought of doing something that sounds like that track before, with the same sort of instrumentation. It was at my birthday party actually, the next day I just phoned up a lot of people, the people who became the band, asked
them if they were up for it, started writing music and a few weeks later we had a rehearsal.” The people enticed in were Shabaka Hutchings (The Heliocentrics), Tom Skinner (Sons of Kemet), Ruth Goller (Acoustic Ladyland), Kushal Gaya (Zun Zun Egui) and Satin Singh (Transglobal Underground): a grouping of people who were no strangers to working on things that sat outside of the mainstream. The rehearsals would soon turn into forming the basis of what would become the group’s self-titled album. Says Wareham: “We did five rehearsals before we recorded the first half and another five before we did the second half. “It was a bit weird,” he says. “Normally we are more live players than we are studio players. And so, normally we would have gigged the hell out of it before recording it, but we can’t do that with brand new bands. No one is going to give you a gig without a recording; a recording isn’t going to be at its best unless you play live, so I just had to edit the tunes really hard, so that they stood up on their own – they couldn’t rely on jamming to get through – the writing had to be really solid. “All the rehearsals were recorded and then I chopped up the recordings of the rehearsals and then arranged the tunes and wrote them that way. I made my own demos of each one, I took the demos to the rehearsal and we recorded the rehearsal and chopped up the rehearsals.” Simply put: it was an exercise to “get the arrangements right” and to “calibrate the tunes”, but it was also one that had a divine effect on how the album later sounded. “All of the songs were really distorted. They were done through a laptop microphone, so when we started giving the demo’s to the producer, everyone was like, we wanted to keep that really distorted rough sound that we had in rehearsals because it sounded like it was out in the street.” The end product of these recording sessions with producer Leafcutter John is an album that has excited as much as it has confused the populous. “People asked us
what genre of music it was. We pre-empted this, we knew it was going to be a question, so we decided to call it ‘People Music’. Not that we’ve ever had to call it anything, but that’s what it is about, it’s about people. It’s about energy really and colour.” It’s an album that bubbles with boisterous energy and the spirit of punk, jazz, dance and North African rhythms with vocals woven in such a way that they at times feel like one. “That’s one of the great things about Kush, he makes up his own language. He’s Mauritian, so he sings in a Mauritian-French but there’s a bit of Creole in there as well and some English, plus some of his own made up language. It’s nice, because a lot of the music that I listen to, obviously I don’t understand Nubian, and one of the big things that Ali Hassan Kuban band tried to do was preserve the culture of the Nubian. As they got completely wiped out, there was a lot of effort to preserve the culture through music. “I listen to a lot of Algerian music, but I don’t speak Arabic. I like the sound of the words, there’s something about the sound that I like and this reflects that.You can put your own words on it and also you’re not dictating how people should feel; you’re keeping it open. Feel something but we’re not going to tell you what.” Wareham is keen to stub out the idea that Melt Yourself Down is just a temporary flirtation, too, an opinion that it’s easy to have when listening to the band’s novel, brassy carnival tracks. “We’re working on new material at the moment” he confides. “We’re in a situation where we can gig now, so I want to try and do it, so that we’ve played the next albums material live before we record it. It’s going to be the big difference between the two albums and we’re in that position where we can, so I want to take advantage of that, writing on the road and rehearsing in sound checks, trying to keep it going. So yeah, we’re all very dedicated; we’re really doing our best to make it as good as it can be.”
p h o t o g r a p h e r - dan kendall
writer - nathan westley
e first met three years go, sheltering from the rain after a show, her tired eyes barely registering mine. Scout Niblett had just played a blistering set at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, and was in no mood for talking. Like many others, I’d discovered her when song ‘Kidnapped By Neptune’ featured on a Stella McCartney perfume ad in 2005, the offbeat drumming and angry howls rattling round my head on countless long journeys. Three years later, the Scout that greets me is childlike, but with an intensity that can easily catch you off guard, a sudden flash of fire appearing behind her dark brown eyes. There’s a huge plaster on her leg and a rip in her tights from where she fell over drunk last night that makes her look adorably clumsy. Quickly banishing her band from the room she begins softy. “When I was 9, I started playing piano and I started making up my own songs right away. When I was little I would just record them on a tape recorder” Moving to America 12 years ago, Emma Louise “Scout” Niblett now bases herself in Portland, Oregon, taking her stage name from Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, a character in Harper Lee’s 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, a tomboy, with whom she shares the same shy tenacity. She shrugs forwards, scrunched up into her chair. “The underground music culture in America is big enough so that you can make a living from it without being super famous. The mainstream culture of music here is so different, because it’s all based on selling things.That sounds silly... [She gestures with her hands as if grasping for the right words]... it’s based on making it big, right? In America you don’t have to enter into that, you can still survive.You don’t have to be in the industry there and you do here, so I had to leave.” Scout released her debut album ‘Sweet Heart Fever’ in 2001, latest album, ‘It’s Up to Emma’ is her sixth, and this time she got stuck into the production, “making every decision on how it was going to sound.” Partnered up with legendary producer Steve Albini, they met in 2003
while working with Jason Molina’s Songs: Ohia project and have worked together ever since. She smiles. “The main thing I like is that Steve tries to do everything as live as possible, it keeps that energy of spirit. I think that’s something I really value about how he works, having a limit of ‘we’re going to do this is in three takes or we’re not doing it’.” After six albums I’m curious what keeps her coming back for more, and suddenly her eyes harden and her soft voice becomes forceful. “Because I don’t want to do anything else. It’s not really a choice, this is what I’m supposed to do and that’s it.”The shutters fall and not for the first time it seems the conversation might come an abrupt end. Aside from keeping interviewers on edge, Scout never shies from baring her soul on record. ‘It’s Up to Emma’, deals with a recent break-up in gut wrenching detail, charting its course from the blood spattered rage of ‘Gun’ to the hollow sadness of ‘What Can I do’, where she howls over driving strings until her voice cracks. Scout has a unique way of processing her feelings, turning to Astrology and the alignment of the Planets to explain their meaning. Suddenly becoming more animated, she explains, “My dad bought me a book about Astrology when I was about seven and I literally haven’t stopped studying it since. The reason that album was called ‘Kidnapped by Neptune’ was because Neptune was what they call ‘transiting my ascendant’ at the time and it literally did feel like I didn’t know who I was.The energies of Neptune are dissolving your ego and it really kind of shakes you up. Right now Pluto, but also Uranus are equally battling, challenging my Sun”. Scout laughs, clearly used to people looking slightly bewildered. “That’s all to do with transformation, radical transformation in my sense of self, especially in terms of partnerships and it’s teaching me to be self reliant and not depend on anyone.”
Self-reliance is important to Scout, who still gets annoyed when reviews focus on female artists’ looks rather than their music. She scowls and then sighs,“I find it very narrow.” Despite her intensity she still likes to play around, covering TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ on her recent album and dressing up as Snow White to go to a fair downtown in the video for ‘Gun’. She sings songs about cheerleaders and dinosaur eggs and putting on costumes to drive out to the desert. She’s not afraid to rock out, to growl, to cry. She is in short, kind of fearless, a person who can walk around the streets of Paris, guitar in hand, singing at the top of her lungs (in a 2008 video for La Blogothèque).Yet on this new record, Scout had flickerings of doubt. “I think with this one there was a point where I was a little bit self conscious about it,” she says. “This is way more direct than before, but I really like that about other peoples’ music and I realised it just had to be what it was. I’m singing it for myself, always,” she laughs gently, “but it’s obviously about one person. It’s my version of what happened, it’s therapy for me.” Scout is headed out for an extensive tour of Europe and America that leads right through until winter, and there’s nowhere else she’d rather be. She says: “When I’m out there I feel like this is really my job.” It’s on stage where Scout Niblett lights up, trading jibes with the audience while stamping a path around the stage. There’s still sadness beneath the determined scowl, but she seems to be finally ridding herself of her long burden, whispering softly,“I’ve fooled myself for too long.” We gravitate back to Astrology and her obsession with gems, decked out in an array of multi-coloured crystals. Scout smiles, looking every inch the Earth Mother. “It’s funny because to me it’s all the same thing,” she says. “It’s all about vibrations. Astrology is about vibration of the planets affecting us here and the stones are vibrating, affecting us. It’s all about the same thing – energy moving.”
Star Wo man Scout Niblett discusses Astrology, her compulsion to create and how to survive in the music business you should move to America
photogr a ph e r - g a b r i e l g r e e n
writer - kate parkin
C as h i n th e A n t i c s Ironic in name and adverse to interviews, Manchester band MONEY aren’t chasing a big payday, but it could be coming nonetheless photograph e r - E l in o r J o n e s
w r it e r - i a n r o e b u c k
As I begin to write I am full of contrite promises, a sense of repent that will soon be broken. A scandalous hour spent in the company of Jamie Lee, one that shattered the spell around his near fabled Manchester band MONEY, and one that questioned why you are in fact reading this very music paper, made everything teeter on the edge, ready to hurtle south. Now that the cloak and daggers are gone, the band must be covered, just as their music demands to be heard. Bile leaves Jamie and enters me, albeit with an easy charm. “It must be frustrating interviewing other people, not just people but egotistical, self-involved people,” he says. “What is it you want to get out of someone, is it just about the music or is it about who they are?” We sit opposite each other and share nervous grins. This is a near first for the Londoner turned spiritual Mancunian – interviews have been few and far between. “I’m frankly terrified,” he confides with a wicked smile. Me too. This strange apprehension, this feeling of betrayal is because MONEY are on the brink of something extraordinary. Unspoilt and otherworldly, the band have reimagined Manchester as their very own paradise and now they leave it in their wake.They’re ready to fly the nest. I meet Jamie having returned from The Best Kept Secret festival in Holland. Sweet-natured and boiling and bubbling with a dangerous charisma, he’s dangling on the precipice of adulthood, the follies of youth never too far from dragging him back under. “I don’t actually think I enjoy festivals, do you?” he asks. “I could be cynical and say that they’re everything that’s wrong with the music industry, the mainstream ones, anyway. There is this impatient attitude and people just make a fucking mess.” Jamie lets out the first of many contagious belly laughs and sits back, a roguish young man with a Macbeth haircut. MONEY are about to leave their comfort zone, if you can call an abandoned factory in the shadows of Strangeways Prison a comfort zone. This forcible space has a name; The Bunker is where the magic happened and happens for Jamie and his three friends, Charlie Cocksedge, Billy Byron and Scott Beaman. It’s where like-minded vagabonds and strays unite in wild celebration and where the band reacted to their newfound habitat in fervent performance and rude heath. Esoteric and bizarre, The Bunker brought together bands like MONEY and others in their underground milieu, such as Kult Country, G R E A T W A V E S and Bernard and Edith, to bear their souls inside a wooden cage of musical ceremony, the audience outside this enclosure watching on bewildered. Now they’re on tour, MONEY are playing to a
different breed and it’s been praying on Jamie’s millionmiles-an-hour mind. “I was thinking just that this morning actually, I wonder what kind of people are going to start coming to see us. I don’t want to appeal to one group of people. If you’re going to say something in your music you’d like to think it would appeal to a wider demographic than 18 to 35 white males and their girlfriends.” This begs the question who they were playing to before? “I remember the first show at The Bunker, and it sounds pathetic when I’m saying it now, but people were walking around naked and just behaving badly. It’s nothing new or different or particularly enlightening, it’s just kind of reckless and fun. Manchester is a mythological, magical place, it’s not a beach and it has flaws but that is its very charm.” Together with their first label, the self-proclaimed cultural regenerators Sways Records, the band set about harnessing Manchester’s poetic strength. Both as MONEY and in the guise of Books, Youth and Meke Mente, they sabotaged the Manchester music scene leaving it spellbound. “We wanted to create somewhere that was a completely free space where people could express themselves however they wanted, within reason! Of course our thresholds to reason are perhaps less than others. For me I’m glad that The Bunker is there. The guys that run it show a force of will that is so strong.” Jamie has certainly learnt how to lose his inhibitions. A recent and rare London gig saw him begin at the back of the room, barking out a song called ‘Paradise Is Hell’ in beautiful spoken word before dancing and kissing his way to front of stage. “It’s about making a well-rounded performance,” he says, “showing your interests and your passions at every moment and not just playing songs on stage. As a result of being open and genuine people start to believe in what I am singing, at least I hope they do. We can transport that attitude we had at The Bunker and keep that vivacity. Anyway who have been your favourite interviews with? What makes a good interviewee?” He smiles that wicked smile once more and we digress. Clearly most at comfort asking questions than answering, time passes freely by and much later than deemed appropriate for these situations we return to the reason we’re sat here, MONEY’s moving debut album, ‘The Shadow of Heaven’, released next month. First I tell him it’s good. “Thanks! I think we could have done it so much better but you know we recorded it in Hackney and it was a relief to get out of Manchester because it would have taken us two years up there; there’s too much going on and it would have been a distraction.We were very slow anyway and if we had the opportunity it would have taken us even longer.”
Then I ask him if he believes in God. “No, not in a conventional sense. We can’t be the zenith of consciousness; we can’t be the finished product. There must be something that is incomprehensible to us that is more powerful or potent than us.” In Jamie’s words, ‘The Shadow of Heaven’ strives to look at the world in macro terms, imbuing the modern world in biblical proportions, so it seemed pertinent to ask that question and now that he’s answered to pry even further. “I don’t really think that people have a right to say what they think about religion,” he says. “I don’t actually believe atheists are able to say there is no God; I don’t think they have the right to question the universe that way. Unfortunately there is a strand of arrogance, especially amongst modern society – I hate that word, ‘society’ – where people are given the opportunity to make these statements and ideological interpretations which I think are beyond us.” At once Jamie is reasonable but passionate, and I sense that a nerve has been struck. At the core of the album lies ‘Hold Me Forever’, an absorbing, majestic song (since made into a music video by Hollywood’s very own Cillian Murphy) that states Paradise could turn to Hell if there is someone in control. So is that MONEY questioning religion? “I didn’t set out to actively challenge it. I wanted to present these ideas and do it properly so I did it in a song.” Jamie stops and we’re treated to that wonderful laugh again. “If that’s a proper way of doing it! It’s ludicrous to put these thoughts into a 3 minute pop
‘it s o u n d s path eti c w h e n I’m s ayi n g it n o w, b ut p e o p l e w e r e walking around naked an d j ust behavi n g b a d ly ’
song, isn’t it, with a verse and a chorus and yeah, let’s make it catchy too. There’s a nice nexus there though between what hymns do, which is essentially to educate and to be catchy so people can remember the melody and the message. Pop music does exactly the same thing to me. It says something about our age, maybe a lot of shallow things. I really enjoyed singing hymns unashamedly when I was younger and I was quite moved by it, maybe I think all of us have done it and felt this way too.” That sense of confession and isolation imbues each and every track on the band’s debut, and from barren ballads to surging ambitious pop songs, ‘The Shadow of Heaven’ is an addictive record that warmly suffocates you in its fanatical lyrical approach. Jamie has a love hate relationship with it, saying: “Well, I stopped listening to the album a long time ago. There’s so much more to listen to! It’s done now and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’d love to be able to record it again knowing what I know now. It would be a different sounding record... anyway.” A slump. A long pause. This is what we’ve been afraid of all along. “It’s just so boring talking about music because... I’m not saying it’s a boring conversation – your questions are good – I just don’t want to get to a stage where I’m enjoying talking about this. I think this is me slowly realising that I have to talk about our music in some regards. It’s difficult talking about yourself, isn’t it? Some people revel in it and really love it, but I can’t say I enjoy it.” Brightness finally falls upon Jamie when we mention
Bella Union, the label that journeyed to Manchester, entered MONEY’s realm and will now present them to the world. “They just completely let us get on with it. After hearing horror stories from other bands signing to majors where A&Rs would be in the studio everyday listening to all the songs, that’s just horrible pressure, not just to make something but also to succeed under someone else’s requirements and watchful eye. All the creative stuff with Bella Union, the actual making of the record, was left completely open, which was a very different attitude to have for a label that size.” It’s nearly time to end, but one last question is ventured. ‘Goodnight London’, the first song I heard of MONEY’s some time ago, is one that haunts every listen of the album, since it strikes me as being different, untamed perhaps. “It’s about when you meet someone and you say, ‘yeah I’m fine even though you might be suicidal or depressed,’” says Jamie. “Things like that tend to be very private, so I like the idea that when someone who writes, paints, or makes music, it is a very private act and whether that’s masturbatory or communicative on a human level I like that confessional or private thing, and night-time seems to be the perfect metaphysical space to have these conversations because you are essentially alone. It’s a song about isolation, fascination with the city at large and it’s kind of a homosexual lullaby as well,” he spurts out with loud laughter one final time. “I also feel like I’m not doing my job properly if people have to ask.” But they will, I tell him, and deep down Jamie knows this.
hen I pick up the phone to call No Age, my information is hazy. I’m not 100% sure as to where they are or who will pick up the band’s shared mobile. As it turns out, I find Dean Allen Spunt on what might just be the Champs-Élysées, given the constant buzz of traffic and background conversation as he relaxes after the Paris leg of No Age’s mammoth 2013 tour. As he discusses the struggle to keep live shows interesting, the evolution of No Age’s sound and a difficult relationship with the music press, he gushes about his band with an effusive energy that’s almost aggressive and always articulate. “We just played last night,” he buzzes. “It was in this little club called Espace B, behind a café. It’s like 200 capacity, real small. Real sweaty and fun.The ceiling was sweating; it was nice.” His excitement about playing to a live audience is infectious and I ask him if he’s looking forward to a tour that stretches all the way to November, taking in over 50 dates that will see them traverse the US before heading back to Europe. “It comes in waves. I’m ready for it. Definitely, after not touring for a little bit, it’s something that can get exciting. We got creative with the record and the packaging, and the whole time making that I was thinking,‘OK, we have to tour.’ If you think of it as this experience you get to go have and share with people and get to complete the cycle of art … we made something and we’re going to share it.” They’re determined, it seems, to share it with as many as people as they possibly can, and a quick look down their upcoming itinerary throws up some interesting stop-offs. As an Irishman, my attention is drawn to Limerick and when I ask if they’ve been there before it sets off an insight into a touring policy that goes much deeper than most bands’ stock slaloms through major cities. “We’ve never been.We try to mix it up. I think, as a band, it’s boring to play big cities all the time. In places like Limerick or small towns in the States, even an hour outside a big city, it seems to have such a different vibe and it’s a different experience for us.To them their towns are awful. They have this small town guilt but in small towns there’s something real going on.” Watching a live show that is nothing short of incendiary, it’s clear that there is a telepathy between Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall, and he is beguilingly enthusiastic as he waxes lyrical about their mutual understanding. “We communicate by a raise of an eyebrow.You know what the other person’s thinking. It’s funny, because even if we don’t practise for a while or don’t play shows for a while, there’s these kinetic energetic things; muscle movements and muscle memory. I more or less know what Randy’s gonna do and if he doesn’t do something then I more or less know how to come out of it and shape around it. Or if he messes up or if I mess up we know how to make it look like we didn’t.” He laughs, but it’s more than just a case of covering each other’s backs; it’s a crucial part of the band’s live experience. “I tend to like when we mess up. It changes it up. We can get pretty tight by the end of a tour but we like to keep it loose.” For anyone who hasn’t seen how the band work on stage, Spunt takes on vocal duties from behind his drum kit, while the other half of No Age, Randy Randall, stands, head bowed, driving the melodies forward with bruising, six-stringed abrasiveness. At least, that’s been the format until now. Upcoming album ‘An Object’ takes their razor sharp neo-punk and blurs the edges. Drums are either treated, buried deep in the mix or
eschewed in favour of found objects. Rewarding for the listener who affords the time it deserves, it’s a much sludgier, more difficult record that makes the first track to surface,‘C’Mon Stimmung’,sound like straightforward indie pop. “It feels a lot tighter and it feels heavier, with the intent of the lyrics,” says Spunt. “There’s not that many drums on the record. There are rhythms but they’re not heavy; they’re kind of like a limp wrist instead of a fist. I think that’s interesting. There’s these really powerful, almost aggressive lyrics but then the songs never really get to that point of macho-ness. To me, drums can be very macho and as a drummer I’ve tried very hard to make them as simple and nimble and as human as possible.” For a band who have steadily built a dedicated following, it’s been interesting to gauge the reaction to the new sounds. Spunt says:“We have these soundscapey songs and we try to play those live but people don’t really want to hear those.They want us to play the song where I’m pounding the drums so that they can jump on top of their friends and stuff. And I like to play them too, but this is a way to say,‘These songs that are moving and aggressive, you’re going to have to deal with not having a big loud drum set and we’ll see what you do.’ No Age come to town and you want to jump around, but we’re hitting you with this thing that’s half of the equation.You’re kind of left to fill in the void” Having contributed music as an accompaniment to the 2012 essay book Collage Culture, there is an earnestness when we discuss the physical production of the new record itself, something which very much turned into a labour of love for the LA pair. “We manufactured 10,000 LPs and CDs by hand. We originally wanted to do an unlimited edition and continue to do them by hand but Sub Pop weren’t really into that because that would mean that they would sell out when we’re on tour and they’d have to wait for us to come home and make them.” I suggest that that might be fair enough, given the business that they’re in and Spunt laughs. “They reminded us that they’re running a record label to sell records, not to have us critique the way that records are sold. But these ideas helped me and it’s kind of funny to see how far we can push it. I’m really proud of it. It’s my favourite thing we’ve done.” By the time ‘An Object’ sees the light of day in August, it will be almost three years since they released third album ‘Everything In Between’. “I definitely needed some time to be inspired to make music,” says Spunt, who’s self-effacing when it comes to the manner in which he contributes to No Age’s sound. “Making music, for me, isn’t as easy as it is for Randy. He can write songs and he plays guitar so he can come up with riffs. I play drums and I don’t usually come up with drumbeats on my own. If I do, I come up with loops and samples and noise stuff but that usually doesn’t fill a whole song.” Indeed, it becomes obvious that the recording process itself was a difficult one and was, in fact, aborted on at least one occasion. “We went to Texas in 2012 to try to record a record and it didn’t really work. We had two songs that are on the record now but one of them’s ‘C’mon Stimmung’, which we recorded and that was just the way it is, but when we recorded ‘An Impression’ it was just a totally different song.” The time off, then, allowed Spunt in particular to regroup and focus on what it was that he wanted to create music about. “I need to be inspired and I need to take some time off to
write because I’m not generally inspired by jamming. I need to go out and relax and see things and look at art and check in with friends. I need to take a look at the outside world and see where I want to point my gun.” One thing that emerges is that Sub Pop have remained a benevolent force in the birth of the new album, affording time for the creative juices to flow. I ask if they were as understanding back when they had just signed, but Dean snaps back, asserting the self-conferred freedom himself and Randy felt from day one. “In the beginning there wasn’t any pressure.That’s why I believe ‘Weirdo Rippers’ and ‘Nouns’ were super easy, because there wasn’t any pressure for us. It was kind of a joke. Like, ‘We made it on Sub Pop, that’s a joke because our band is weird.’ At that point we were a very odd band.” Spunt’s more bullish as he reflects on the band’s early dealings with the industry, saying, “That they cared and wanted to give us money, or that other labels wanted to give us money to make us money was completely serene. There was no pressure because we were going to make a record we liked and either way we would lock ourselves in for three records.” The mention of those early days, however, also ignites a rant at the music press and how the real burden, particularly after 2008’s critically acclaimed ‘Nouns’, grew out of the hype that surrounded them and the need to pigeonhole their work. “Articles would just say that you sound like this or you have this kind of thing, that you’re a lo-fi garage rock or noise rock or rock band or whatever the fuck they were talking about and then they would compare it to these other bands who would have, maybe not a similar sound, but the vocals were distorted or something. And then instantly people would put stuff together. At the end of the day I don’t read reviews or anything like that so it doesn’t really matter.” I ask where No Age fit in in today’s musical landscape. “There are bands that I do feel aligned with,” says Spunt, “but they’re usually bands from home. We’ve been friends with a band like Deerhunter for a long time and I respect them musically. To be honest with you, I didn’t really care about that world. It was just odd – there were moments when I’d wake up in a hotel at a festival and be surrounded by similarly hyped bands and be like, ‘What the fuck am I doing?’” Playing devil’s advocate, I ask how I should describe No Age when I come to write this piece. Spunt sniggers. “On this record I’ve been really accepting being a rock’n’roll band, making rock’n’roll songs and touring. And shaking my butt in front of the camera.” As our conversation draws to a close, I make sure to congratulate Spunt on their anti-Walmart and antiConverse protests, the latter of which saw them take part in a concert sponsored by the footwear brand in order to execute what they described as a, “Planned Contradictory Action.” Projecting moving images of the conditions of Converse factories as their backdrop, the most impressive part was that they managed to persuade the engineer to let it play for almost 15 minutes. “Yeah, well I was staring at the guy and yelling at him not to turn it off. I looked very angry. They played some of it. The kids in the audience were very excited by it. I think they felt what was wrong with the show. And then we didn’t have to say anything – we just showed them and I think they understood why a shoe company shouldn’t be trying to sell back rebellion to a bunch of kids.”
Yo u n g at H eart Fourth album ‘An Object’ has LA duo No Age trying new things and fucking with the drums p h o t o g r a p h e r - phil sharp
writer - david zammitt
D o n’t Lo ok Bac k Fuck Buttons discuss third album ‘Slow Focus’, and how even the Olympic Games couldn’t get them to repeat themselves
On a street corner by a building site just off the Kingsland Road, Dalston, London, Ben Power and Andy Hung are having their photo taken. Seated in the back of an open lorry, the two early-thirties men who comprise Fuck Buttons are chatting about school sports days, how modern skateboarders are mindblowingly technical compared to their ’90s counterparts, and whatever else springs to mind in a pleasingly fluid, light-hearted conversation that suits the balmy summer evening. For a band whose music frequently prompts fevered comparisons to a violent apocalypse and catastrophic galactic events – indeed, for a duo who decided that the best way to express themselves musically was to name themselves Fuck Buttons and then make a deafeningly confrontational blend of white noise post-rock and electronica using knackered kids’ keyboards – they are a surprisingly mild-mannered pair. Hung’s biggest concern today is that the Wikipedia page for his old
school, King’s Worcester, won’t include him in the “famous alumni” section because of a lack of citation; Power, the quieter of the two, appears to know everyone who walks past the lorry, giving each a long-lost-friend bear hug and handshake, seemingly genuinely pleased to see them all. Hung, with the same infectious chortle that follows most of his sentences, wonders aloud whether Burial has a day-job, since he never gigs.“We’re only able to do this for a living because we play live – we wouldn’t be able to do this full-time just from the recordings,” he explains, while also acknowledging that loose talk like that just fuels the amusing rumour currently circulating that Burial is, in fact, Four Tet. Power, keen to generate some dual-identity rumours of his own, pipes up:“Like us and Daft Punk,” he mock reveals, to the chuckles of his bandmate. “Well, you never see us in the same room together...”
If it turned out, however, that he and Hung do run a sideline as robot-headed disco throwback connoisseurs, it would be among the greatest split personalities since Dr Jekyll poured himself a glass of shapeshifting serum – Fuck Buttons will likely play the Moon before they write something as approachable as ‘Get Lucky’. Equally, it is unimaginable that anyone else, let alone Daft Punk, would make ‘Slow Focus’, Fuck Buttons’ new record. Indeed, as if to accentuate this distance from their peers, ‘Slow Focus’ actually represents something of a departure even from themselves, with the pounding, fuzzed out techno that characterised Fuck Buttons’ last record, ‘Tarot Sport’, now broadly dismissed. A change of direction, though, was apparently never in doubt, explains Hung, now ensconced in a pub corner with his bandmate, and, along with Power, far more deliberative with his words when the dictaphone is on.“I think if we were repeating the music of ‘Tarot Sport’, we would’ve
photographer - sonny mccartney
w r i t e r - sam walton
‘I th i n k i f w e w e r e r e p e ati n g th e m u s i c o f ‘Ta r ot S p o rt’, w e w o u l d’v e d e c i d e d to sto p’
decided to stop,” he says. “We didn’t deliberately decide to do something different when we began writing this album – but I’d like to think that if we’d started to make any music that approached the aesthetic of ‘Tarot Sport’, we would’ve gone...” He pauses, and Power offers the end of the sentence: “We’d have needed to have a drastic rethink.” Hung nods:“We would’ve gone,‘We’ve got to fuck things up.’” And fuck things up, broadly, is what they’ve done. Where ‘Tarot Sport’ hurtled through its running time like some sort of possessed Duracell Bunny, all throbbing ultra-bright major-key wonder and a grand, almost god-like sense of scale, ‘Slow Focus’ feels heavier and more industrial, tightly coiled and narrow-eyed. If ‘Tarot Sport’ was occasionally heavenly, it feels as if ‘Slow Focus’ has its eyes on the underworld. “There’s a sentiment in the new record that we hadn’t really played around with before,” offers Power in an attempt to explain the shift in mood. “It’s a touch less friendly, I think.” This last suggestion is something of an understatement: the entire record, and particularly its central track, ‘Sentients’, feels like a modernised blast of Bernard Hermann’s classic score to Psycho, filtered through rumbling, stalking-pace kick drums and howling synth washes. “It’s more jostling, too,” adds Hung, trying to explain the lurching, bumpy feel of the album. “You need more swing on slower BPM stuff. You need more definition. Like, if you have anything over 120, pretty much everything has a groove naturally, and you don’t need to do much to it. But anything below that needs to catch you and throw you again, and catch you and throw you again.” The idea that Fuck Buttons’ new album is a touch scarier and slower is pretty obvious from first listen, but unfortunately this is about the best insight that ‘Slow Focus’’ authors are willing to impart; Power in particular seems genuinely confused as to why people might want his opinion on his creations. Hung, eager to help, jumps in when his bandmate offers another passively equivocal nod to an observation about ‘Slow Focus’: “The thing is,” he explains, “the general aesthetic of the whole album isn’t intentional.That’s why we can’t talk about it in terms of ‘we wanted it to be like this, or like that’.” Frustrating as that may be, though, it also makes a kind of sense. After all, Fuck Buttons’ music is so odd that it’s not really the kind of thing one could imagine sitting down and planning before playing, a fact borne out of the way the duo write – always improvised at first pass and always collaborative: “If it’s not Andy and me bashing heads in the first instance then it’s not Fuck Buttons,” Power explains, more effusive again once the topic of the new album is left behind. “That’s part of what makes things exciting – being able to feed off each other. We don’t really discuss things – we’ve been together for almost ten years now making this music and we kind of have our own language, so we don’t need to vocalise things. It’s extensive jamming, it’s very playful and explorative, the way we write, and that allows us to surprise ourselves. There’s no leader or preconceived ideas – anything approaching that probably boils down
to who switches their things on first.” “Usually,” adds Hung, “both of us are playing something, and one of us just goes ‘hold on!’” Ben nods again: “‘Hold on’ is probably the most we ever say to each other.”
old on” was also probably the startled reaction of a certain kind of music fan at the stroke of 9 o’clock on 27 July last year, when the establishing sequence of the London Olympic Opening Ceremony began: a placecard reading Isles of Wonder, followed by a high-speed voyage down the River Thames, was soundtracked not by Elgar, or even ambient scene-setting sound effects, but by the twinkling sequencers and low-throbbing techno kick of Fuck Buttons’ ‘Surf Solar’, the lead track from ‘Tarot Sport’. Another ‘Tarot Sport’ cut, ‘Olympians’, appeared later in the ceremony, as did ‘Sunriser’, by Power’s side project Blanck Mass. One billion people worldwide were watching, and listening. For a certain mindset, exposure like that would be the cue to down tools and consider how to make the most of one sixth of all humans hearing your song. But not Fuck Buttons’. “It was a real privilege and honour to be involved, but those were tracks that had already happened for us,” says Power, so matter-of-factly as to imply that any other outlook would be bizarre. “We had new tracks by then. Our concentration was on something else.” At the time, Power and Hung were in the thick of committing ‘Slow Focus’ to tape, having spent the previous 18 months writing it. “And we were aware,” adds Hung, blithely, “that we’d written new tracks that sounded quite a bit different to the ones we’d been asked to contribute, yeah, sure.” Fuck Buttons appeared on the official Opening Ceremony soundtrack album (under the amusingly Olympic-friendly alias of F-Buttons), but aside from that, kept on keeping on.Their outlook and intent stayed the same, and no particular effort was made to pander to new fans who might’ve heard their music for the first time that night: “It’s a difficult one, isn’t it?” says Hung, when asked if anyone suggested to him that this could be an opportunity to earn more followers. “I mean, we could’ve shouted about it, but it just didn’t happen.We could’ve though!” he concedes, with another of his hearty chuckles. “But in what way?” interjects Power, clearly peeved at the suggestion that a small independent-label band might relish an opportunity like the one they’d been given. “I don’t get it. It wasn’t that we didn’t want, or didn’t not want anything in particular,” he continues, somewhat opaquely. But ask him what he does want, and things get more difficult. “Christ, this sounds like a pep talk!” he exclaims, pouting uncharacteristically when asked if he’s content with their level of popularity – there does, after all, appear to be a certain self-limiting aspect to the way Fuck Buttons operate, from the name to the sound palette, which doesn’t
perhaps chime perfectly with allowing your music to be used in something as mainstream as the Olympics. “The thing is, you only get one fucking chance while you’re here,” Power relents. “I don’t want to be lying on my death bed thinking, ‘I did that for the wrong reasons and I feel like a bit of a dickhead for doing that.’” Hung, perhaps more conciliatory, chips in. “We just want people to give it a go. Artistically, we care about people hearing it – which is why the Olympics thing was nice – but we don’t care about people liking it. They’re very separate things. If we cared about people liking our music, we’d have picked up a guitar ages ago and started writing songs about how we broke up with someone!” “It’s amazing that people take to it in the same way that we do,” adds Power, warming to his bandmate’s theme, “but it doesn’t matter if we have five fans or 5,000. I don’t think that’s ever our first intention. I know that’s the age-old thing that people say – ‘we only make music for ourselves,’ – but it does ring true.”
he “we’re just making music for ourselves and if anyone else likes it that’s a bonus” line is so frequently spouted these days by careerist landfill indie bands playing riff-robbing, mega-populist, three-minute guitar pop that it’s become virtually meaningless. By contrast, when a band as outré as Fuck Buttons say it, you’re inclined to believe them; after all, their attitude and approach to music – the instinctive writing process conceived from live performance and jamming rather than studio trickery (“it’s harder to translate a song to a record than it is to the stage, because as soon as we’ve played it, it’s done,” explains Hung) and the emphasis on being true to one’s intentions at the expense of attracting fans – has so much kinship with the DIY indie underground scene, which so often genuinely does only make music for itself. “I mean, I’m kind of an asshole for only listening to things that I’ve written,” Power continues, “but we’re making the music that we’d want to hear. I’ll come home and put a Fuck Buttons album on, sure, and to other people that looks like an egotistical kind of thing, but I have absolutely no problem with being proud about what I do, whatsoever. We do this because we want to hear this, and nobody else is making it for us to hear.” Of course, by that logic, Hung and Power will happily hang up their synths if a band that sounds just like Fuck Buttons turns up and starts putting in all the hard graft instead. “We’re working towards that actually,” says Hung with a smile on his face. Really? “Yeah,” he grins. “They’re called Daft Punk.”
Assistant to Nico Muhly, Yale graduate Ellis Ludwig-Leone is a young composer with grand ambitions. Camber pop project San Fermin is just one
1997, aged 7, Ellis Ludwig-Leone accompanied his father to the local library to be signed up to play some sports. Old man in-line, he did what every other kid had done that day – he took a wander over to a nearby piano, an instrument he’d never seen before. Then he did something that no other kid had done – he played it. So the answer to my question, ‘have you always been naturally gifted when it comes to music’, is, ‘yes, yes I have!’. Ellis, now 23 and based in Brooklyn, where he’s lived for the last two years, is not the kind of guy to say that. Instead, he hastens to flag:“I’m not sure how much of my dad’s story is accurate, there, and I think those sorts of stories become self-fulfilling prophesies. Like, if Mozart hadn’t become Mozart, no one would really care that he was writing symphonies when he was 5. But yeah,” he concedes, “I was always adept at the piano.” The son of two visual artists, Ellis Ludwig-Leone grew up in Berkley, southern Massachusetts, a small, rural town between Boston and Cape Cod. The family had relocated there for their art, enabling the parents of the household to convert a deserted dairy barn into their own art studio.“I used to be quite good at art, myself,” say Ellis, “but there’s something crucial about music, and there’s a centre of attention thing to it – like, you’re making a sound, so people have to pay attention to you.” He says his first musical memory is “being really amused by The Beatles,” particularly ‘Abbey Road’ and all of its avant pop segues, erudite callbacks and eccentricbut-studied orchestrations. It makes complete sense when listening to Ellis’s own music, created under the name San Fermin, recorded with the help of 22 musicians (within them a string quartet, a brass quartet, saxophone, guitar, drums, a few operatic sopranos, piano, keyboards, vibraphone and harmonium) and scaled down to a cast of 8 when on the road (“Large enough to get that expansive sound but small enough that it’s possible to fly places without selling all our worldly possessions”). What would eventually become this band began some years ago at Ivy League University Yale, where Ellis studied Music Composition and where his sister currently follows in their parents’ footsteps studying Art. The idea was simple – “to write concert music that had influences from different places, and was something that people would actually want to come and see, rather than the stiff, classical concerts that kids wouldn’t go to.” Ellis and another fledgling composer set about recruiting 12 instrumentalists to perform their modern pieces to achieve the goal. The results weren’t mixed; they were good. Good enough for the group to travel a little, and for Ellis to realise that all he had learned studying Shubert and Handel could be successfully injected into the world of contemporary pop music. “In high school I was in rock bands,” he says. “I also studied classical piano, so I had a bit of that going on, but mainly I was in bands playing standard rock stuff, and
then when I got to Yale I realised that there was a really strong program in classical, whereas there really wasn’t much happening on the band scene. I really got immersed in it and I felt like it would be good to learn a different way to put music together. I wasn’t particularly versed in classical music going in; I actually felt like an outsider going in, and really all the way through – there were all these conservatory kids that had done that from an early age, and I hadn’t. I’ve come full circle – I was a rock and pop person looking in at the classical thing, and now that I’m out of school I feel like I have more of a classical view point than my pop/rock contemporaries.” ‘San Fermin’ is an audacious take on chamber pop, released September via Downtown Records. It’s long, too (nearly an hour), and comes with a definite, literary concept – a conversation between a despondent man (performed by singer Allen Tate) and a cynical woman (Lucius singers Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe). Tate burrs his parts, which sombrely croon between the gothic, anti-heroics of Patrick Wolf and the warm baroque pop of Beirut. “There’s a mob at the door / I hear them / Calling for my head,” Tate purrs matter-of-fact on the opening ‘Renaissance!’, setting the unease early on, as a brassy fanfare rises and spirals over his pleads of ‘Please don’t wake me up / I’m waiting for your love’. Our female lead, who more or less fronts every other song on the record, is more cheery in her delivery if not her message. ‘Crueler Kind’ and lead single ‘Sonsick’ do what Dirty Projectors daren’t three years ago, further exploring the chirruping RnB that ‘Stillness Is The Move’ so brilliantly hinted at. Both tracks are album highlights.‘Crueler Kind’ overlaps lilywhite choral vocals and parping trumpets, a la Minnie Riperton’s ‘Les Fleur’; ‘Sonsick’ appears even more euphoric as the voices of Laessig and Wolfe gleefully entwine. Yet beneath Ellis’s triumphant, skillful arrangements, Girl X seems even more doomed than her would-be mate, first warning, “I wouldn’t worry / I’m not about to fall in love again”, then, “I’ll fall for you soon enough / I resolve to love / Now I know it’s just another fuck / Cos I’m old enough.” Ellis cultivated these difficult souls in the mountains of Alberta, Canada, where he locked himself away to write San Fermin’s debut album on graduating fromYale, but they were born before he’d arrived, dreamt up en
‘a l l o f th e d e c i s i o n s yo u m a k e a b o ut yo u r music should be made o n p u r p o s e’
route, some 30,000 feet above North America. Cruising on a vapour trail, Ellis mapped out the arc of the record from his cabin seat; a map he says he stuck to, featuring the number of male and female driven songs and interludes he’d originally planned for.“I wanted to write as much as possible,” he says,“so I wrote a song a day, and however finished it was I’d move on the following day. I wanted the whole thing to sound like it was coming from the same place, even if there were very different sounds to the songs.” He’d been reading a lot, too, the works of 1920s American novelists, like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Earnest Hemingway. “I used Hemingway as a starting point,” he says in reference to the author’s 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises, “but I’d definitely hesitate to say that it was informative or that the record was inspired by it. It was more that the female character in that book was appropriately aloof for my own. “It was a big breakthrough for me, though – realising that I could write from the point of view of characters that weren’t me but would channel certain things that I care about.A lot of the songs have literary references, and it allowed me write like they would talk, instead of writing everything altogether from my point of view, which would sound corny and awful.” It’s a strange time, leaving university. You can do anything you want, but what and how? Ellis ploughed the thrill and the fright into ‘San Fermin’, and particularly his male protagonist. “The goal was to try to capture the moment in my life that was real and important,” he says, “this moment of being straight out of school, and what do you do now? There’s a constant theme with the male character of trying to find meaning and what the important things are.” Yale had been good to Ellis, in spite of – or rather in light of – the college’s lack of indie rock. Luck had dealt him a roommate that was the principle violinist of The Philharmonia Orchestra.To hold such a position for the next four years, as Ellis’s friend did, you need to practice all day every day. To live with the guy, you have to listen to it. Ellis still calls him for advice today when arranging string parts, and the pair of them go through ideas on the phone, testing out what will and won’t work with live instruments. “I think it helps to be around string players all the time so you can then picture them doing what you’re asking them to play,” says Ellis. “I came to that school with not much in the way of formal training, and what I picked up there was that there is lots of different ways to make a piece of music – everything can be questioned, and all of the decisions you make about your music should be made on purpose.” Of course, if university teaches us anything, it’s to hustle, andYale was no different in that regard, or perhaps Ellis Ludwig-Leone was simply more intuitive than his classmates. In his sophomore year he interned at a small record label, where he arranged to interview
contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly for the company’s podcast. Muhly, whom many consider the natural heir to the throne of Philip Glass, is still just 31 and the man that all young composers aspire to be, so who better to bug for a job. First Ellis sent Muhly “this terrifying piano piece, which featured people whispering”, entitled ‘Secrets’. Muhly’s response: “I like the piece but the name sounds like a lesbian strip club.” “It was a snarky but pretty engaging thing to say,” says Ellis. “We stayed in touch and I pestered him until he gave me work to do.” Today, Ellis remains in Muhly’s inner circle of 4 or 5, where he intends to stay, assisting the composer for as long as possible. It’s a position worth a thousand diplomas, and one that has no doubt informed a recent collaboration with Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo (the pair arranged a Hurricane Sandy-inspired piece together for Berlin Chamber Orchestra Solisenensemble Kaleidoskop), and his own ballet for Ballet Collective, premiering this month. “[Nico] is so schooled and so confident and so great at every aspect of what he does that it’s always a pleasure working for him,” says Ellis. “You should be as informed and as confident and competent as possible in every facet of the thing that you’re doing. In the classical music world there’s certainly emphasis on the craft being done the right way [which isn’t always the case in indie or pop]. It would be disingenuous for me to say that I dashed [‘San Fermin’] off.” Indeed, every aspect of Ellis’s debut album is considered, from the ‘Bar’’s vocal nod to his dad’s old copy of ‘Abbey Road’ (and album track ‘Because’, in particular), to recurring, forlorn phrases like “I can’t fall asleep in your arms” (‘Cassanova’, ‘The Count’), and the grandiosity that comes with 22 instruments colliding so beautifully. Yet perhaps it’s the name of Ellis’s project that’s most deeply rooted of all. San Fermin is the festival held in Pamplona, Spain, more commonly known as The Running of The Bulls, where locals are chased through the narrow streets of the city by horned beasts for the sheer hell of it. It was little known to the English-speaking world until Earnest Hemmingway set one of his novels there – yes, The Sun Also Rises. At first, Ellis named an interlude after the event, then another, then his album, then his entire project. Most of all, it seemed fitting for what it is he’s trying to achieve with this ambitiously emotional record. “I thought that what’s nice about [the festival] is that people put themselves in this life and death position, just to feel the thrill of it,” says Ellis,“and I think that’s a really attractive idea. In the record there’s this feeling that if you’re going to live something you might as well live it all the way up and try to feel it as much as possible.” photograph e r - T o m O ’ N e a l
writer - stuart stubbs
LivE i n Th e D r ea m At his Hollywood home on Mulholland Drive, cult auteur and master of the otherworld David Lynch discusses creative freedom, musical inspiration and new album ‘The Big Dream’ p h o t o g r ap h e r - Nat h an ae l Tu r n e r
“Encounters with those artists you truly admire are doomed to disappointment. After all, it’s all in the work - the worker himself is just an organic appendage” – Will Self Will Self ’s quote loomed ominously over me as I prepared for this interview.What is there to extract from the mind of David Lynch that hasn’t already been refracted through the multiple prisms of his art? His reticence to discuss the meaning or fundamental essence to much of his work, combined with his astute creative intellectualism and consummate vision very much being on another planet to mine or anybody else’s, rendered a feeling of redundancy before I had even begun. But while Self proposed an inevitable, predestined failure, I soon came to realise that that failure can only really apply if one attempts to truly understand Lynch; to gain a sense of closure and finality by meeting the creator and placing your thoughts in his hands and asking him to fill in the gaps. Like so much of his work, the beauty of the interpretation is often in the ambiguity; the lucid, hypnagogic half-conscious dream in which reality, fantasy and nightmare are an indistinguishable mesh. Failure becomes less of an anxiety if it is approached with no expectations, which it soon transpired, somewhat ironically, is a fitting encapsulation for both Lynch’s work and for attempting to understand him. When David Lynch announced his 2011 album, ‘Crazy Clown Time’, many treated it as a wild, off-road steer into another art form. A new, drastic, perhaps even detrimental move into the unknown, like the reversal of the preordained disaster route of pop star to actor. Music, however, has been as synonymous with David Lynch – both cinematically and singularly – as coffee, cigarettes,
w r i t e r - d an ile dylan wray
the colour red, transcendental meditation, cherry pie or Jack Nance. In fact, of all the evolutions and phantasmagorical shifts throughout Lynch’s cinematic career, his exploration in music has been one of the few consistencies in his artistic life; an anchored rock steadied under the thrashing sea that it his visionary transit. Lynch’s ventures into sound and music are too great to count, but he has composed music for many of his own films and projects, has a longstanding musical partnership with Angelo Badalamenti, has written lyrics and produced albums for Julee Cruise and Chrysta Bell, been a member of rock band Bluebob, set up his own record label, featured on ‘Dark Night of the Soul’, the 2010 Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse album, created the exquisite and elegiac ‘Polish Night Music’ with Marek Zebrowski and he finally began singing in public via inclusions of some of his songs in 2006’s Inland Empire. A strain of surrealism still reins supreme and subversion characteristically takes place within these musical leanings. Lynch’s distorted, hidden vocals mirror the backward, mangled ones so prominent in his films and when taking on one of the most ubiquitous instruments in existence, he literally plays the guitar upside down and back-to-front. Lynch, in many senses, has a near forty-year career in music and sound experimentation behind him, but rarely is it ever fully explored or discussed. ‘The Big Dream’ is another collaboration with producer and arranger ‘Big’ Dean Hurley – an album less wild and fluctuating than its predecessor and more locked into a sonic coherence and tempo; one that on occasion (the stirring ‘Cold Wind Blowin’ and the Lykke Lee featuring ‘I’m Waiting Here’) drifts into moments of sublime beauty. The album, according to Lynch, is locked into the history and appeal of blues but with the self-coined tag ‘modern blues’. This is
something Lynch has done throughout his cinematic career, making cultural reflections to historically ingrained foundations and then re-writing that history or cultural essence in hallucinatory often amorphous ways,creating a mutation that,while often unrecognisable in its finished Lynchian state, always has a shade of American history and culture permanently graded into it. In ‘The Big Dream’ Lynch has taken the primitive essence of one-instrument/one-voice music rooted in American socio-historic turmoil and allowed it to permeate in a new, askew lexicon.
s soon as David Lynch speaks his voice is instantly familiar. It coaxes in a strange but alluring tone, very precise and sharp, crisp and clean, like his tightly buttoned-up white shirt. He speaks fervently with vigour and warmth, a perhaps contrary image one might expect for someone pushing 70 years of age. “It’s just interviews but every day is exciting,” he tells me when I enquire if he’s doing anything exciting today. ‘The Big Dream’ packs weight as a title, too. It’s singular but infinite in its possibilities, and it is of course suitably – even perfectly – Lynchian in its construct. “Night time dreams are not so important for feeling in my work,” he tells me, “but I love dream logic and dream logic is something that thrills me and I like to daydream. I like to just sit in a chair and daydream.” Lynch once elaborated: “The world is getting louder every year, but to sit and dream is a beautiful thing.” ‘The Big Dream’ charges simultaneously with momentum and stillness; a chugging, propulsive force
accelerates the album but engulfing the drive is a nocturnal, quiet calm. Like hurtling down a road in the black of night, the speed and the silence blend into one.“I agree with you,” he says.“I think everybody loves moving forward and especially driving music. As soon as you can picture flying down a highway because of the music, it’s a very good feeling and that’s something that I really love. I love highways, I love driving and the freedom of the open road and moving from one place to another. I think it is a thrilling thing for human beings”. One only has to watch the opening and closing scenes of Lynch’s Lost Highway, or take a winding trip up to the eerie ambiance of Mulholland Drive (where we met and shot Lynch in his home for this feature) to get a semblance of such a vision. Lynch has now been at the helm of the industry mechanics for film, TV, art and music, but finds no particular one more comfy or insidious.“They’re all super comfortable,” he’s says gently.“The people at Sunday Best [Lynch’s record label] are solid gold and I’m mainly working with the French in terms of cinema, and they believe in the auteur thing and freedom and support and enthusiasm, so I’ve been very very lucky. You know, the number one thing is the work. I always say you should enjoy the doing of a thing and so all the mediums are very, very beautiful to me and I love each one of them and I love working in it.” Lynch offers some insights into the mentality of some predatory behaviour in the music industry, saying: “It seems to me that everybody that does something should have that freedom. Why would they do it if someone
could take it away or change it?... It seems like if a record company is interested in a person it’s because they’ve heard them and they see promise for money and it seems to me to be common sense to let that person do what they do in freedom and not try to make it something that will just make money. It seems like it would kill the person. I think the rule should be: never turn down a good idea but never take a bad idea.” Lynch goes on to joke:“Now, your middle name is Dylan so you have to be in the music business! You’ve got your name Daniel and I was writing this down: Daniel Lanois, Bob Dylan and Ray Charles. A very musical name!” “Or maybe Link Wray?” I retort. “There you go, you’ve got it!” Getting over the bemusement that David Lynch has been sat around his L.A home writing my name on bits of paper, we move onto the subject of one of those names: Bob Dylan, who Lynch has covered on his latest album. “Big Dean Hurley drew me to that song and he said, ‘you should think about doing this’ and we did it.” The song in question is the 1964 poverty and murder folksong ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’. “It was guided by a Nina Simone version,” Lynch informs me. “I really like the song, it’s a great story. A very sad, tragic story, but unfortunately it’s really relevant today.” Unable to take the agonising pain of watching his family starve in front of his eyes, the song’s protagonist spends “your last lone dollar on seven shotgun shells”, leading to the tragic outcome,“Seven shots ring out like the ocean’s pounding roar/There’s seven people dead on a South Dakota farm.”
n 2008 David Lynch said of the growing trend of watching visual media on iPods and iPhones: “Now if you’re playing a movie on a telephone, you will never in a trillion years experience the film.You’ll think you have experienced it but you’ll be cheated. It is such a sadness that you think you’ve seen a film on your fucking telephone. Get real.” It was a scornful yet sage point, but is he more flexible when it comes to music consumption? “No,” he says,“I’m not really flexible but I’m also seeing the reality of things today.All the tracks have to be mixed and mastered in a way that they sound like at least something on a computer. So it’s a heartache and it would be beautiful if people saw cinema in a dark theatre on a giant screen with perfect sound, and it would be great if people heard the music on great big speakers and they could just go into it deeper, but it’s not really that kind of world right now.” The foundations of Lynch’s artistic awakenings began to rear their head in Philadelphia. This is quite a well documented period, where Lynch has said:“I had my first thrilling thought in Philadelphia... Philadelphia, more than any filmmaker, influenced me. It’s the sickest, most corrupt, decaying, fear-ridden city imaginable. I was very poor and living in bad areas. I felt like I was constantly in danger. But it was so fantastic at the same time.”
I ask if the dread of the city assisted in building a musical impetus too? “Oh definitely,” he fires. “Even though I wasn’t near industry, Philadelphia to me sparked a giant love of the smoke-stack industry and a dream of the smoke-stack industry, factory neighbourhoods, factories, steel, fire, smoke, the sounds of buildings and the life of a factory worker”. A rather morbid fascination grew in this period, too. Lynch lived opposite a morgue and became riveted by the body bags. As he told Time magazine in 1990: “The bags had a big zipper, and they’d open the zipper and shoot water into the bags with big hoses.With the zipper open and the bags sagging on the pegs, it looked like these big smiles. I called them the smiling bags of death.” This lugubrious image could easily be linked to that of the wrapped corpse of Twin Peaks victim Laura Palmer, perhaps manifesting itself in Lynch’s mind and allowed to percolate some two decades earlier. The streets of Philadelphia, however, had less of an impact on Lynch’s auditory senses, as he tells me: “Where I was it was busy in the daytime in one area. At night, because it
‘Th e wor ld i s g etti n g lou d e r eve ry ye ar, b ut to s it an d d r ea m i s a b eauti fu l th i n g’
was a factory area, there was nobody there, so it was all different kinds of moods and different phases and different fears in the air. It was a mixture of heaven and hell, Philadelphia.” This mixture came to fruition in Eraserhead, a film Lynch worked on from 1972 until its release in 1977. A visionary masterpiece, he and Alan Splet also spent a year creating the movie’s audio and in doing so set a precedent for sound design by creating metamorphosing dark ambience; all imbued with scratching, hissing, nightmarishly unnerving static. Together, they created a musical genre before they’d realised it. In Eraserhead Lynch reversed the accepted industry convention that music in film was somehow only an add-on, a means to enhance and illuminate the visuals, to carry narrative and stay firmly in place as a subservient in the artistic hierarchy of cinema. Instead, Lynch created a cinematic cosmos in which the music both lived in and broke free from the visual,existing in inseparable but fragmentary states, a roaming parallel universe. On that film was also the stirring and irrefragably vital music of Fats Waller, and such is the grainy power of Eraserhead, I enquire if Lynch ever views music in terms of colour and black and white. He picks up and gives me a brief tunnel-drive flash into his imagination. “When you just say ‘Fats Waller, baptist church organ, 1936’ I see that absolutely in black and white, very grainy, the most beautiful, beautiful black and white, and I see Fats Waller playing this music in a 1930’s black and white world that is so far gone now and it’s really beautiful to think about it.” Lynch stretches the word ‘beautiful’ (by far his favourite word during our conversation) like a prolonged note, almost as though he is savouring the moment and preserving the image. He appears temporarily lost in that dream space of his as he locks into this very specific vision he is creating. A wild gesticulator, Lynch’s right hand is twitching, with his fingers sprinkling and dancing in the air, as though he is plucking the strings of a suspended harp. Once upon a time a trail of cigarette smoke would have followed from between his two fingertips, but Lynch has currently quit. This fear and terror he felt so submerged in in his formative years was clearly a lasting source of inspiration, but he is quick to point out it’s not something he misses. “No, no, no.You don’t miss fear. It’s like you miss jabbing your knee with an icepick!,” he says flatly, hammering home ‘icepick’ with a similar brusque, sharp force to the tool itself. Environment has been key to the creation of Lynch’s work. He is frequently credited as painting scenes like no other, bringing to life views of the absurd, the horrifying and, one would think, the un-filmable milieu of his unconsciousness. Despite all the images that no doubt crawl and scurry through your mind like birthing spiders when thinking about the man himself, David Lynch is not a particularly weird person. He is not scary,
nor odd, nor crazy. He thrives on normality just as gluttonously as he does the otherworldly. He is someone graced with the gift of transmuting the normal into something abnormal. By doing so, he has redefined the boundaries of what constitutes the abstract, the odd and the different by basing so much of it in the normal, the drab and the everyday fabric of American life that so many people walk past daily without noting. David Lynch is not from another planet, he just pays grave fucking attention to the one we live on. As his most goto quote that hits home this point most robustly goes: “My childhood was picket fences, blue skies, red flowers, and cherry trees, but then I would see millions of little ants swarming on the cherry tree, which had pitch oozing out of it.” Likewise, Lynch’s proclivity for routine, familiarity and ordinariness are his creative triggers for the opposite: the mind-meltingly surreal, the scattered, unfamiliar and the bizarre. “I like things to be orderly,” he once said. “For seven years [every single day] I ate at Bob’s Big Boy. I would go at 2:30, after the lunch rush. I ate a chocolate shake and four, five, six, seven cups of coffee with lots of sugar.” Lynch perhaps most perspicaciously captures this process. “I like the idea that everything has a surface which hides much more underneath. Someone can look very well and have a whole bunch of diseases cooking: there are all sorts of dark twisted things lurking down there. I go down in that darkness and see what’s there. Coffee shops are nice safe places to think. I like sitting in brightly lit places where I can drink coffee and have some sugar. Then, before I know it, I’m down under the surface gliding along; if it becomes too heavy, I can always pop back into the coffee shop.”
ll Lynch needs is one singular moment, idea or even song in order to spark something gargantuan. For 1986’s Blue Velvet it was the Bobby Vinton version of the song ‘Blue Velvet’ itself, along with the image of an ear lying in the grass, that sparked the impetus for the whole film. “I mean, the film is called Blue Velvet,” he says, “but Bobby Vinton’s version, I didn’t even like it when I first heard it but then later I listened to it and out comes a lot of things. Music is magical and so important and ideas can come out of it. “Oh man, there’s many many many things,” he says, continuing to list other music catalysts that have shaped his cinematic output. “Ramstein for Lost Highway, Dmitri Shostakovich in Blue Velvet, Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ for Wild at Heart. You know pretty much every film there is some kind of music that will marry to those
ideas and you just have to try and find that. ‘In Dreams’, Roy Orbison, you know?” Keen to capitalise on Lynch’s surge of intensity discussing his musical inspirations and creations, I bring up Angelo Badalamenti and a video in circulation in which Angelo recreates the moment – played on the exact same old Fender Rhodes keyboard – that he and David sat and created the music for Twin Peaks together. Badalamenti plays the part of both himself and Lynch, building the song from a murky shuffle – under Lynch’s instructions – slowing it down to a doom-filled crawl, as that unmistakable melody creeps forward like a killer through the woods. It builds and Badalamenti takes on the part of Lynch, building, rising, climaxing as it boils over and trickles into the main melody. It’s exquisitely beautiful to witness.“Angelo is a frustrated actor!” quips Lynch, who hasn’t seen the clip. “With Angelo it’s so fantastic, you know I always say the same thing, Angelo can play anything, Angelo is a great, great heart-felt composer and I like to sit near Angelo and I talk to him about mood and he plays my words.” Lynch starts to pick up pace and he’s in that distanced but focused dream place again. “And if I don’t like what comes out, I change the words and then a new thing comes out, and if that’s not quite right I change the words, change the words, change the words.” He starts to bubble over, spitting quickly and zealously. “And then suddenly something starts happening – ‘Angelo! Angelo! Angelo! Angelo! That’s it! That’s it!’. And Angelo catches it and he starts going and he starts going and he starts going and pretty soon out comes the most beautiful stuff.” Lynch explodes in a moment of apoplexy. Completely unbeknown to him he has almost precisely mirrored Angelo’s depiction of the collaboration. The escalating, almost orgasmic flurry of words and sounds match almost perfectly. As he hammers out the words ‘Angelo’, he does so in a way that is half cut out of a character possessed and uncontrollable and half someone caught in a flashback, screaming out and re-living that very moment. There is a raw tension to Lynch’s insight – it feels voyeuristic for a second, like being transported to an incredibly intimate and foundation-shaking creative birth-point.“David got up and gave me a big hug and said Angelo…That’s Twin Peaks,” recalled Badalamenti. Listening to Lynch fire off like a rocket about this moment instills a pleasure far too great to measure or describe. As we say goodbye, I catch a last minute question. Is Lynch still adamant that he will never play music live on a stage? “No I haven’t changed my mind,” he says. What about behind a curtain, I know you like curtains David? “That might be the only way it happens!” Well, I’d pay to see that, I offer. “Fantastic, Daniel!” And off he goes.Will Self was wrong.
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Alunageorge Body Music (Island) By James West. In stores July 29
For better or worse, poptimism (the term to describe pop’s rising cred amongst connoisseurs and music writers in the early-2000s) purportedly happened. A decade after, AlunaGeorge along with this year’s slew of UKG-indebted Londoners are reaping the rewards, hailed as that rarest of things: truly credible chart-dwellers. Fortunate enough to earn both critical flattery and Radio 1’s Big Weekend bookings in equal dose, you could argue they were being allowed to have their cake and eat it. Of course, such unease is rendered redundant if the debut album they then deliver is a fully-formed, modern age humdinger, but sadly it’s not quite, eventually teetering on the edge of the EDM landfill that it proudly professes to have swerved. That said, there is enough to suggest that the London duo (Aluna Francis and producer George Reid) haven’t been swept up in the wave, saluting plaudits of their slick futurism undeservedly. ‘Outlines’ is a smooth, slow jam with tastefully minimal synths, setting a seductive tone.Then early single, ‘You Know You Like It’ – with its Super-Mario-coincollecting bleeps and writhing groove – proves a classy and compelling mass-pleaser that far-transcends the plethora of inane alcopopready floorfillers out there. Next, the brilliantly
fidgety ‘Attracting Flies’, with its well-calculated assessment of bullshitters worth a doth of the hat alone, before ‘Your Drums’ proves to be ‘Body Music’’s beating heart, its timeless hook and stylistic sheen disapproving the very notion that a chart-desiring aesthetic can’t be intelligent. Maybe in thirty years, even the breezy, future pop of ‘Kaleidoscope Love’ could soundtrack then-middle-aged porkers, haloing their handbags at hall-held birthday bashes. “I’m crystallised, cos you’re mine,” gushes Francis over its vibrant refrain; a call to arms for girls who’ve cracked the whip and tamed accordingly. Alas, AlunaGeorge’s veil of contemporary superiority then disintegrates, mainly due to their slightly sickly formula being overworked to gagging point. ‘Superstar’’s incessant, whirring refrain could taunt in even the darkest nightmare; “I’ll be his number one fan,” Francis buoyantly coos, like a pre-teen mimicking her Essential R&B CD down one of those colourful, toy shop echo mics. ‘Just A Touch’, meanwhile, opens with a sound not unlike a dawn chorus, if the songbird was gargling poison; a lyrical hook interjects, but it’s hardly a reprieve, clumsily providing a lobotomised Lily Allen of a melody. After the equally irritating ‘Friends to Lovers’ allows ‘Body Music’ to finally kick back, supine and grab some shut eye, it seems that this particular noughties pastiche could become draining very quickly.
The frail attempt by the music press to shape the loose chillwave umbrella into a movement was, we can now confidently declare, an unsuccessful one. For a start, it only ever really encompassed two artists, Toro y Moi and Washed Out, aka 30 year-old Georgia native Ernest Greene. In truth, while the pair were writing out of a similar sonic space after meeting at the University of South Carolina, Chazwick Bundick had gotten anything resembling chillwave out of his system well before Greene managed to release his debut LP, 2011’s dream pop gem ‘Within And Without’. Far from groping at the hem of his fellow alumnus, Greene has hammered out a distinctive sound by blending shoegaze, ambient and synthpop into an elegantly intoxicating concoction that places memory and melancholy at its core; always seeming to exist at that ephemeral moment just before fading away. This time around, the production retains its sumptuous, ambient warmth but ‘Paracosm’ is lightyears ahead in the intricacy of its textures and rhythmic layers.The rough edges of ‘Within And Without’ have been rounded and smoothed and yet it feels like it has more brawn. ‘Don’t Give Up’, for example, takes disco, turns the RPM down a notch, and manages to retain its muscle, while ‘All I Know’ is a dazzling synth anthem that’s just waiting to blow up. Everything feels deliberate and, even at 6.33, the title track doesn’t feel overwrought. Indeed, it takes skill to stay within the boundaries of taste when you’re playing with swirling harps but Greene manages to pull it off.While the overall sound hasn’t changed dramatically, this is a more than worthy follow -up to an excellent debut. As the Cocteau Twins jangle of ‘All Over Now’ fades out, you feel that ‘Paracosm’ will be the leftfield soundtrack of the summer.
Photography by Phil Sharp
(Weird World) By David Zammitt. In stores Aug 12
Afraid of Heights
(Monkey Town) By Josh Sunth. In stores Aug 5
(Captured Tracks) By Hayley Scott. In stores July 29
(Gringo/Hello Thor) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores now
(Hyperdub) By Sam Walton. In stores July 29
(Warner) By Josh Sunth. In stores now
‘Milk’, the heart of Moderat’s second LP, starts with a simple beat and blooms outwards over ten minutes of space into a tide of ambient, Stumbleine-esque noise. Though not necessarily indicative of the shape of the album as a whole, what ‘Milk’ does is to provide a sort of sonic map for the rest of the tracks.There’s the ever-so-slightly swinging percussion, the washes of pastel noise, the catchy bass – all that’s missing is the vocals of Sascha Ring you can find swooning through tracks like ‘Bad Kingdom’. ‘II’ is not always as coherent as you’d hope, but collaborations are often more successful when based on artistic disparity, rather than unity, and what Apparat and Modeselektor have produced here is a collection of songs that work brilliantly as standalones – a collection of tracks that, even as a messy album, are well worth your time.
Whilst similarly at home in its synth-driven minimalism, ‘Lenses’ is more lyrically focused with a production that is more embellished than Soft Metals’ 2011 eponymous debut. Honing in on their craft, the LA duo maintain their affinity for sparse, ghostly soundscapes, but with a sound that’s more in tune with their primary influences - 70s synth innovators Chris Carter and Klaus Schulze – by purportedly aiming to elicit the bygone sounds of Berlin and Chicago. Here Soft Metals abandon much of the languid ephemeral hum of their debut in favour of more florid arrangements and a muscular, beat-driven sound that steers more towards the dancefloor - palpable from the arpeggiating synthesizers, funkadelic basslines and pulsating kick drums. Ultimately, though, it’s the monotony of this slumberous synth-pop synaesthesia that almost fails it.
The Breeders have been something of a recurring reference point for Nottingham’s Fists, it would appear. It’s not the sonic resemblance to the band that could justify such a comparison, though, more Fists’ ability to create an album that fluctuates wildly between tone and tempo and yet loses none of its central core or sonic essence. Much like The Breeders, or even Big Star or Yo La Tengo (who both also surreptitiously rear their influential head from time-to-time) ‘Phantasm’ flicks switches between guitarheavy ignitions and delicate, sombre refrains. Most pleasingly is that its not a record that relies on either side to carry the record – Fists feel just as comfortable in gentle whisper mode as they do locked into moments filled with screeching and pounding.The ebb and flow does dip into the odd forgettable moment, but largely this debut has beauty and grit in equal bounds.
Dance music’s current retromania continues apace, the latest exhibit being Ikonika’s second LP which could, variously, have come out on Factory in 1983,Warp in 1991 or indeed any independent British dance label at any time between those two dates.While this doesn’t make for a bad record per se, the slavish devotion to all things ’80s – Italo-disco, Commodore 64 sound files, Planet Rock-style electro – makes for a queasy sense of displacement.Then again, perhaps that’s the intent; after all, the album is named after the theoretical idea of a city within an airport, conjuring plenty ideas of impermanence and flux. However, there’s no harm in copying well, and ‘Aerotropolis’ does that expertly.‘Let A Smile Be (Y)our Umbrella’’s five-minute long build of variations on a theme has a confident restraint, and ‘Cryo’’s pulsating four-to-the-floor is all brooding warehouse goodness.
“Everything is my fault,” sings Wavves vocalist Nathan Williams on track ten of ‘Afraid of Heights’, and you can almost feel self-loathing pouring out into the music.With songs called ‘Beat Me Up’, ‘Everything Is My Fault’ and ‘I Can’t Dream’ there was always going to be a risk of slipping into self-indulgence and, though that isn’t necessarily the case, by the time the last few tracks of the LP arrive you can’t help but find yourself wilfully resisting the self-hatred. Wavves have, however, produced some grimy-guitared, hook-laden gems – particularly heavier tracks like opener ‘Sail to the Sun’, which starts with a twinkle but soon propels itself into the anthemic, or the earworm refrain of ‘Demon to Lean On’.The self-hatred can be problematic at times, true, but the craftsmanship beneath the feeling, and throughout most of ‘Afraid of Heights’, is as sound as ever.
Nadine Shah Love Your Dum and Mad (Apollo) By Amy Pettifer. In stores July 22
The critical reverence that has followed Nadine Shah in her career so far, feels like the token shoe-in of an Oscar going to the actor that played the ‘challenging’ part. Just because someone writes dramatic songs and can play piano AND SING at the same time doesn’t mean it’s any good. Evoking names like Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Nina Simone and Philip Larkin in reference to her work, feels nothing short of sacrilegious – at its best this is a post Anna Calvi wail-fest of epic proportions.The underlying narrative of ‘Love Your Dum and Mad’ – Shah’s debut album after a couple of EPs – evokes a brooding,Weimar-esque urbanity, but lyrically it’s a shallow puddle, named – perhaps unwisely - ‘Dreary Town’. On the plus side the closing tracks ‘Filthy Game’ and ‘Winter Reigns’ are more nuanced and restrained, something colloquial and interesting sneaking out through the timbre of her vocal and the focus of her playing.Tantalising – but largely unlistenable.
Al bums 08/10
Bass Drum of Death
This Is Another Life
Bass Drum of Death
(One Little Indian) By Sophie Coletta. In stores May 27
(Sacred Bones) By Hayley Scott. In stores now
(Innovative Leisure) By Jack Doherty. In stores July 22
(Dead Oceans) By Joe Goggins. In stores July 15
(Memphis Industries) By Reef Younis. In stores Aug 5
The first thing you should know about ‘Samaris’ is that it’s not technically an album. It’s actually a merging of two EPs, yet it harnesses the solidity and cohesiveness of a long player so naturally, that you probably wouldn’t notice otherwise. The Icelandic trio’s leftfield take on electronica sees an amalgamation of organic and synthetic sounds that place their work into something of a time vacuum, the melancholy sentiment of Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir’s clarinet unpredictably finding its place alongside the gloss of Þórður Kári Steinþórsson’s desiccated production with much ease.Third track in,‘Góða Tungl’ is a definite highlight, boasting a spectacular musky mid-song breakdown that is worth billowing through a decent pair of speakers just to magnify its thunderous elaboration. An excellent forwardthinking record from three talented musicians, not yet out of their teens.
The vigilant of music’s percipients will have noticed that everything sounds a whole lot nicer lately. Case Studies being our case in point here: any outward abrasion is forgone for a similar maudlin sensibility and ‘rustic’ rock sound that Fleet Foxes elicit to revive folk pastiches. And it’s not like there’s nothing to be angry about, either. But Jessie Lortz knows this, because he is seemingly, perpetually peeved. ‘This Is Another Life’ explores dark, sentimental landscapes that inform the bulk of his debut under the Case Studies moniker. Indeed, this kind of neo-folk reverence isn’t averse to portraying personal discord: themes of suicide, heartbreak and regret predominate under beautifully ornate arrangements, but it basks in its own melancholy, and after repeated listens, its overt moroseness verges on the inert, hindering its potential to be as tastefully emotive as it initially suggests.
While Britain is getting all gooey eyed over Britpop V.2, the US continues to manufacture its garage rock revolution.With bands like Fidlar, Parquet Courts and a returning Wavves all making… erm… waves across the pond it seems only natural that others would follow suit. Mississippi’s Nuggets loving princes Bass Drum of Death are the latest group to try and cure us of that B-Town curse. ‘Bass Drum of Death’, the group’s second album, isn’t going to get you stroking your chin and thinking about chord sequences; it’s going to force you to get on your feet and drink far too many beers. It’s a fuzzy, scuzzy summer delight for people who just want to have a good time, because when it’s sunny, intellectualism just doesn’t matter. It’ll never be a classic, but this album proves one thing – nostalgia induced rock can work. Britpoppers take note. It just has to be fun.
On their self-titled debut, this Colorado two-piece took their cues from Animal Collective and Yeasayer to produce a record that took noise pop in a more eccentric direction than contemporaries like No Age and Japandroids. On follow-up ‘Stills’ they’re moving down a slightly darker path; the record’s thumping, distorted percussion brings Nine Inch Nails firmly to mind.There’s suddenly greater emphasis on synths to create stormier soundscapes than last time round, too, but Andy Rauworth’s thrillingly fluid guitar playing remains key. It underscores the record’s diversity, from the shimmering reverb of opener ‘Human Nature’ to the all-out groove of Bowie-esque stomper ‘Heave’.The delivery of Rauworth’s vocals remains grippingly unpredictable, ranging from blissed-out (‘New to It’) to blistering (‘G.I.D.’,‘Waste Your Art’).
A firm acoustic fixture for both Jose Gonzalez and Johnny Flyn, James Mathé’s transition from folk troubadour to Casiotone Casanova has been a brave one. After largely dropping the six-string in favour of keyboards, drum machines and analogue synths,‘Bloodlines’ marks the reinvention with mournful, soul-affected electronica made for deep, quarter-life crisis moments of contemplation. Shades of Junior Boys’ unrequited whisperings, Trailer Trash Tracys’ reverb drench, and Active Child’s wrenching, piano-laden emotion help make it an album designed to pull at the heart-strings, the sombre pop of ‘The Load’ and swimming melodies of ‘Butterfly Prague’ doing so beautifully. Elsewhere ‘Pagliacco’ comes alive with chunky !!! inspired bass but quickly softens out, and ‘Turbine’ hits with Dirty Projectors’ offbeat jerk. Gentle and pensive, this is one for the sensitive souls.
Matias Aguayo The Visitor
Until the Chilean-born, Cologne-raised Matais Aguayo emerged in 2011 as Battles’ new de facto lead singer on ‘Ice Cream’, he seemed content releasing low-key techno and deep house records with a slight samba slink. However, some of Battles’ playful deviancy and sense of mischief has evidently rubbed off on Aguayo, making his third album a slyly addictive, if slightly sprawling affair. Opener ‘Rrrrr’’s purring samples and loose syncopation set the tone for an organic record that bubbles with a beautifully human percussive feel. It’s understated but also stands pleasingly proud of its idiosyncrasies: what appears to be delayed kazoo flourishes pepper ‘By The Graveyard’ for no better reason than that it sounds a bit wrong, and ‘Una Fiesta Diferente’s insistent, serpentine bassline knows how much of an earworm it is and is happy to exploit that. Aguayo’s slightly iffy English lyrics mean that the tunes he tackles in Spanish are far more engaging – and the ones sung in only nonsense syllables better still.
Photography by Gabriel Green
(Cómeme) By Sam Walton. In stores July 15
Fuck Buttons Slow Focus (ATP) By Stuart Stubbs. In stores July 22 Fuck Buttons’ previous two albums saw the noisegaze duo in various states of intergalactic exploration.‘Street Horrsing’ was a difficult launch in 2008, starting with a twinkling, picture-book lullaby that soon descended into static-riddled, no-turning-back-now panic.The following ‘Tarot Sport’ – pinned by lead track ‘Surf Solar’ (the name said it all) – was (a little) less terrifying as Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung took their increasingly soaring metallic drones into deep space, and so ‘Slow Focus’ is the next logical step – the sound of Fuck Buttons hopping from one alien terrain to the next. Disconcertion/shallow-sleep-terror is still at the heart of this experimental sky trance, but for the first time the duo hit solid ground. Opener ‘Brainfreeze’ (a thundering combo of rough drums and phasers) and the following, oscillating ‘Year Of The Dog’ feel like one long previous episode recap, and then they’re down with a thump, landing first on ‘The Red Wing’, which impishly sways like The Beatles’ Pepperland on better drugs and progressive hip-hop played old skool (a notable development in FB’s sound).‘Sentients’ is a more paranoid, more overtly sci-fi kind of place, alive on the adrenalin of survival;‘Prince’s Prize’ is skewed fun at the fairground that’s then demented as the waltzer speeds up and refuses to let you off. Fuck Buttons always make things go bad, which is good.
Imps of Perversion
(Hyperdub) By Reef Younis. In stores now
(Sacred Bones) By Daniel Dylan Wray. In stores Aug 5
After releasing a handful of select cuts on Hyperdub, ‘Beyond’ marks Sam Walton’s arrival for real. Openminded and wired to cut through everything from house and funk to grime and electro; it’s a debut immersed in perfectly programmed future beats and a healthy disrespect for dead space. See,Walton doesn’t want to waste your time so he fills tracks with punchy percussion, fading vocals and busy glitches.There’s conflicts and contrasts, reference and deference permeating the majority of these 13 tracks.Where ‘Frisbee’ and ‘You and Me’ hit like mind-melts of woodpecker percussion and ingenuity, ‘Memories’ brings the murk with low-jack beats and old rave rhythms,‘Every Night’ wafts a warm blast of energetic soul, busy bongo and off-beat rhythms, and ‘Amazon’’s dark, atmospheric techno drives hard. It’s precision stuff, designed to get you moving. At times, ‘Beyond’ isn’t the most accessible listen but when Walton gets the vibe just right, you know you’re looking into the future.
Following on from 2012’s ‘The Horror’, Pop. 1280 continue their rabid tearing through all things snarly and grubby.Their sound is one still deeply rooted in the work of David Yow and the usual affiliated associates but at the same time possesses enough terror and sneer of their own to avoid the usual trappings of tired emulation and genre restriction. Pop. 1280 manage to ooze a sordid squalor in their music.Their debut album told us to ‘Beg Like a Human’ and here they delve into (album highlight) ‘Human Probe’ – they clearly relish in subversion.‘Imps of Perversion’ is teeming with wired energy, feeling scrappy in its execution but charged in its propulsion. It has menace and sneering bite to it, much of which comes from the animalistic yelps and car-crash impact guitars that screech Cramps-like throughout. And yet as fun and rollicking a ride as ‘Imps…’ is, it’s difficult to escape the weight of the band’s influence, not that that alters how much you know their live shows playing these songs are going to be mind-blowing.
Al bums 07/10
Pond Hobo Rocket (Modular) By Chris Watkeys. In stores Aug 5 This is the fifth record in five years from the quintet formed around Tame Impala guitarist Nick Albrook and drummer Jay Watson; a prolific output from a band who in recent years have become much more than a side project.The psychedelic vibe that pervades ‘Hobo Rocket’ is laid down in the very first line: “Whatever happens when a million heads collide”, a vocal that floats hazily over a backdrop, which sounds like MGMT covering Black Sabbath. ‘Alone A Flame A Flower’ is a sonic menagerie, a loosely-bound confusion of brutally heavy riffage and bloodthirsty solos, while ‘Xan Man’ is a huge, massively catchy slice of fuzzy rock joy; a glam stomp down a sunny sidewalk wearing your favourite shades.This piece of chunky pop is the record’s best track, and Pond struggle to maintain the balance between this and the surfeit of long, hairy wigouts, fade outs and fade back ins, and sprawling, amorphous solos. By the fifth track, the record’s initial vice-like grip on your senses starts to loosen, and everything begins to feel a little overworked.The band’s claims to be anything other than retro really hold little water; ‘Hobo Rocket’ is a record that could easily have been buried in a time capsule by a wide-eyed trio of David Bowie, Mark Bolan and Ozzy Osbourne in 1974, then dug up last week.
A Brief Introduction to Unnatural Lightyears (Howling Owl)
(Domino) By Joe Goggins. In stores July 22
In the twenty-five years since Hüsker Dü’s split, singer Bob Mould has produced a classic record in the form of Sugar’s ‘Copper Blue’, penned an acclaimed autobiography and toured with Foo Fighters. Plagued by addiction, his former songwriting partner, Grant Hart, has been considerably quieter, so the decision to return with an LP as ambitious as ‘The Argument’ serves as a real statement of intent. A sprawling, twenty-track concept record based around John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, it makes only fleeting reference to the melodic hardcore of his old outfit, with ‘Glorious’ and ‘Most Disturbing Dream’ the cases in point. Instead, Hart alternates between eerie, electric organ-heavy slow burners like ‘The Argument’ and ‘Awake, Arise!’, and breezier, guitar-driven pop songs with more conventional structures (‘Letting Me Out’, ‘Golden Chain’). It’s an uneven, eccentric effort, but not without flashes of the songwriting brilliance that defined Hart’s time as part of an underground band so influential.
By Amy Pettifer. In stores July 22
To contextualise the sound of the first release by Bristolian Oliver Wilde, the sonic spectres of Mark Linkous, Elliott Smith and Daniel Johnston are summoned to the reckoning. Into that pot I’d throw Steve Mason, a more insouciant Arab Strap and the earliest (and best) Badly Drawn Boy EPs. Shared above all is the sensation that what sounds deceptively simple and laid back is probably the product of years of bedroom noodling.Wilde has a rangy palette of noises at his disposal and the record is less a collection of songs, more a pervasive, beguiling atmosphere. His voice, which sounds throughout like it’s playing off an antique tape deck, sits at the back of acoustic wash, hazy flute and perfectly used glitch and electronic stabs.Things ramp up for the more upbeat ‘Marleahs Cadence’ but you’re never pulled far from a holistic feeling of balmy summer daze. Basically, it’s the perfect debut album; pleasingly unpolished and leaving you totally curious to know what he’ll do next.
To The Happy Few
Long Enought To Leave
(Captured Tracks) By Jack Doherty. In stores May 6
(Captured Tracks) By David Zammit. In stores July 15
(Slumberland) By Sam Cornforth. In stores July 15
Every so often a band comes along wrapped in so much nostalgia that they can no longer see the present day. Minks are one of those bands. ‘Tides End’, the second album by the New York collective, couldn’t be more 1980s if it was wearing a pastel suit with the sleeves rolled up whilst playing Q*Bert down the local arcade. It’s crammed full of enough silky synth pop waves and antiseptic drum beats to make even the most avid OMD fan feel just a little bit queasy.While it is of course perfectly acceptable to be influenced by the past, there is a point where it just becomes a bit too much, and with ‘Tides End’ MINKS pass the point and just keep on going, heading off into the sunset with only their treasured New Order LPs to keep them company, cooing lines like “Summer’s over/She’s leaving with you”. Sometimes the past is better left alone.
It’s been 18 years since the wheels came off the unsteady dream pop wagon that had spawned an album a year since 1992. Having released a remix collection that demonstrated the regard they were once held in by featuring contributions from Robin Guthrie and Billy Corgan, Medicine split after 1995’s decidedly average ‘Her Highness’. 2013, however, sees them join perhaps their closest antecedent, My Bloody Valentine, in a shoegaze revival and, like MBV, ‘To The Happy Few’ is much more than a paint by numbers coda. Unpeel its layers of distortion pedals and whispered vocals and it offers up a suite of irresistible pop hooks. Highlights include ‘It’s Not Enough’, with its pounding snares and bruising, fuzz guitars, the psychedelic duet ‘The End Of The Line’ and the syncopated grooves of ‘Find Me Always’.‘To The Happy Few’ soars; it just does so with subtlety.
San Francisco quartet The Mantles are still exploring the ’60s garage pop route, just as they did on their self-titled debut album, but ‘Long Enough To Leave’ is a much more gentle affair than their sometimes gritty debut. Nonchalant guitar melodies waltz by, with Michael Olivares’ poetic lyrics complementing them, as the psychedelic tones nod out to The Velvet Underground and The Kinks. At times they draw upon ’90s American collage rock to bring these nostalgic sounds to life, and similar to Real Estate’s ‘Days’ they offer plenty of space for the mind to wonder within the music, like on ‘Raspberry Thighs’, with its crisp riffs full of autumnal colour.This sophomore album may be at risk of submerging under the thousands of other homages to the golden decade of pop music, but lasting hooks and skilful song craft has made it float above the pack.
Six By Seven
Pinkunoizu The Drop
Love And Peace And Sympathy (Borrowed Tune)
(Full Time Hobby) By Sophie Coletta. In stores Aug 12
By Chris Watkeys. In stores now
‘Lingering’ is not a word you would ever use to describe Danish neo-psychedelic group Pinkunoizu. Aside from their comprehensive range of international ties – the pseudo-Japanese naming, the Copenhagen-via-Berlin residences – their sound is something that evokes strident spontaneity without being overtly out of control. It’s frantic; never deliberating nor pausing for breath and their second album follows this conviction unapologetically, quite literally when you learn that it was only recorded in a week. Its hazy allure greets you like an old friend, yet simultaneously it’s as if the tracks themselves have no idea where they are headed.They ooze cosmic sass, but never hang around long enough to repeat themselves, unless you count the stuttering interlude of ‘The Swollen Map’, or the bolshie, convulsive riff on ‘Tin Can Valley’, which I don’t.
Surely the indie band of the last couple of decades to have suffered the most glaring disparity between critical acclaim (copious) and commercial success (virtually non-existent), Six By Seven return after a six year absence, this time with ex-Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt bashing the skins.This record is a formidable statement of renewed intent, with imposing frontman Chris Ollie infusing their new songs with a noticeable zeal. Opener ‘Change’ is classic Six By Seven: a brooding, slow-building mini-epic, which when it kicks in is as exhilarating as riding a hurricane. The band’s signature sound is relentless and driving, with Krautrock undertones and layered Hammond organ; a sound typified by the disorientating ‘Truce’.The sad likelihood is that Six By Seven will continue to go largely unnoticed, but this stunning album is another reason why they shouldn’t.
CFCF Music For Objects (Dummy) By Sam Cornforth. In stores now
Montreal electronic musician Michael Silver started off as a creative remixer before taking up production duties that have born a dynamic collection of releases. His latest work under the CFCF moniker is ‘Music For Objects’, a conceptual 8-track EP/mini album where Silver has taken everyday objects and conveyed them through a piece of music. Just like on last years ‘Exercises EP’ he has opted for a continuation of the minimalist sound with stark piano chords, immersive percussion and synth dronen the chosen instruments to bring the pulse of this Canadian’s chosen objects to audial life. ‘Camera’ was the first glimpse offered into this release, and it is one of the dreamiest affairs here, as it flickers by like the quality of an old Polaroid’s grainy prints. Elsewhere, ‘Ring’ has an irresistible quality to it that emulates the serenity of its subject matter. Contrary to the mundane objects that have served as Michael Silver’s inspiration, this fluid and dynamic EP is compelling and anything but boring.
Pissed Jeans & Hookworms Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 04.07.2013 By Daniel Dylan Wray Photography by Lee Goldup
Tonight, Hookworms take to the stage with an American flag draped across their keyboard stands. Knowing the pitch-black humour and convention-defying core of Pissed Jeans, it’s no doubt more intended to accommodate their Independence Day arrival with a healthy dollop of irony than it is out of sincerity. This is Hookworms’ first show since they announced signing to Domino offshoot Weird World, and it’s one that justifies that decision. Opening with the now staple ‘Away/Towards’ the band ignite a trail that sparks furiously and constantly until the dying all-encompassing, cacophonic filth of ‘Preservation’.The momentum is a continuous, propulsive and engulfing force. After the slower densities offered on debut ‘Pearl Mystic’ seem to be largely absent from their post-album release shows (or at least the few I’ve seen), it seems Hookworms are splitting their personality through this sonic expansion, the group perhaps carving out an ability to be two differing bands, creating both separate studio and stage personas, all of which points to huge intrigue in regards to where they will go next. For Pissed Jeans, this is their first UK show in some five years, and the Philly band arrive in an
aura clouded equally in camp delight and seething fury. Matt Kosloff fluctuates between a piss-take Jagger – all hips and trotting minces – and a tearing, twisted GG Allin, a manic glint in his eye that suggests a possible loose wire could ignite any second.The combined results of his stage actions bear much similarity to Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington, yet feel decidedly less antic-driven and more ingrained and in-tune with the band themselves, as opposed to him being a show all of his own. The band’s performance is a perpetual balance between vicious, irony-drenched humour and sobering, intestine-twisting snarl. A few songs in comes the screams of “more vocals, more vocals” – “oh yes, because I control the level of the vocals from up here on this magic machine. Beep, beep, beep,” Kosloff deadpans, playing with an amp. The material from this year’s ‘Honeys’ is resolutely corporeal; from ‘Bathroom Laughter’ to ‘Male Gaze’, the success of the album has injected a ferocity and intensity to their renditions that perhaps supersedes their already riotous existence on record.They drape themselves in Hookworms’ USA flag, “This one is for the troops,” Kosloff declares as he delves
into an acid-tongued assault on the earnest sentimentality of the US, mimicking all the trite, stereotypical phrasing no doubt circulating around dinner tables and news stations back home. They rip their own country a new one at perhaps preciously the same time when thousands of people will be saluting the very flag they are currently desecrating. Pissed Jeans are the perfect American anti-heroes. For the encore, the band break into ‘Shallow’ cut with ‘Boring Girls’, at which point the stage slowly fills up with the crowd, most of whom torpedo back into the audience, albeit for one girl who takes on the role of dancer only too soon for that dreaded moment when the guitarist takes off their guitar and throws it over her shoulder. Usually you can pinpoint that moment to the complete loss of momentum and peak of awkwardness to any show, but this young lady kills it.They then all trundle off-stage bar the topless drummer who after a pounding drum-solo finale does a full crowd-surf round the venue and then walks around like a sweating lunatic hugging every single person he comes into contact with. As the group themselves said tonight, see you again in 2018.
GOAT Electric Ballroom, Camden, London 27.06.2013 By Staurt Stubbs Photography by Roy J Baron
A Scandinavian, pagan psych voodoo band who so theatrically refuse to identify themselves in names as well as faces, you’d have to be pretty po-faced to not consider Goat silly as well as excellent.The latter has been confirmed by every fan of progressive funk rock that has heard last year’s debut album, ‘World Music’, and to see them jam it out in front of you – to feel ‘Let It Bleed’ hump along the floor and up through your trainers; to realise that all that joyous, black psychedelia is void of samples and fittingly ‘of the Earth’ – is to fall deeper in love with the cult, still.The group’s clear daftness, then, is at first impossible to ignore, each member of the band slowly entering the stage in various horror show dress – the hooded executioner on bongos, the expressionless tin man/gnome on lead guitar, the shrouded Elephant Man on bass, and so on. For their part, Goat’s 6 instrumentalists have a touch of Monty Python about them, largely static as they noodle out the most incredible, wah-wah-heavy, out-there psych… erm… out there.The group’s two singers storm the stage after an initial wig-out and never stop moving – a couple of hell-bent witch priests rattling clusters of bells at the crowd as if testicles yanked from our next sacrificial virgins.They wildly wave ribbons around, ceremoniously bash tambourines and childishly run amuck, dancing like 6 year olds do, to a beat that only they can hear. It’s part 1968 happening/part Dragnet: feathers and beads and masks and magic.You get the impression that Goat would play this hard and flail this much were they in a room by themselves.Thankfully they do let us watch.
These New Puritans Heaven, Embankment, London 19.06.2013 By Samuel Ballard Photography by Richard Gray
For a band whose records are notoriously impenetrable, there is a touching shift in perspective that occurs during a These New Puritans’ live show. What was vast and ethereal before gains a missing tangibility and adds a whole new dimension onto a sound that has already given the band huge plaudits. Songwriter and front man Jack Barnett has brought his band to Heaven on the back of the quartet’s third, least-commercially minded album, ‘Field of Reeds’, and complete with brass section, singer Elisa Rodrigues and a magnetic resonator piano, the efforts of the These New Puritan’s well-crafted songs are brought into sharp focus.Tracks like new single ‘Fragment Two’ and ‘Field of Reeds’’s monk-chanting title track both show the expanse upon which the band operates. For different reasons, they both work: the former for being a well crafted, poignant pop song and the latter for the disparate elements that the Southend-On-Sea collective are able to conceive in a studio and reproduced in a live setting, almost spiritually.The effect is spectacular. Despite seven people being on stage, this is in many ways a far more stripped back and uncomplicated group than we saw touring previous album ‘Hidden’. Gone are the six-foot Taiko drum, the children’s choir and the orchestra, yet atmospherically little is lost in the transition. Barnett is a master at filling space and the arches under Charing Cross station offer an ideal setting.These New Puritans are a band that willingly occupy the edge of the indie spectrum and they make it a far more interesting place as a result.
Live 01 The National Photographer: Roy J Baron 02 Mark E Smith Photographer: Joel Rowbottom 03 The Fall Photographer: Joel Rowbottom 04 That Fucking Tank Photographer: Joel Rowbottom
The Roundhouse, Camden, London 19.06.2013 By Chris Watkeys
Shacklewell Arms, Dalston, London 13.06.2013 By Stuart Stubbs
Shacklewell Arms, Dalston, London 18.06.2013 By James West
Village Underground, Shoreditch 12.06.2013 By Stuart Stubbs
Birthdays, Dalston, London 02.06.2013 By Philippa Burt
For The National, the three thousand-capacity Roundhouse now counts as an intimate gig. There’s been a lot of talk around the release of the new album about how “self-assured” this band now are, and while there’s a tangible self-confidence both in their songs and in their stage presence this evening, one of the most gratifying things is that Matt Berninger’s stage persona hasn’t changed in the eight years since they played the tiny Barfly down the road; he still betrays his overarching nervousness through those awkward, a-rhythmic steps, head down, disjointedly moving back and forth to the mic. He comes across like a manic swan, a strange contrast between graceful poise and exposed vulnerability (or, if you’re being unkind, like Forrest Gump on speed). In front of wall-sized, fantastically sepia-toned visuals, his band hit some genuinely sublime peaks tonight. Drawing heavily from ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, the set barely dips in all of its almost two hours;‘Swallow Victoria’ descends into a brass-laden, urgent climax, then segues into ‘I Need My Girl’, which dissipates the vicious anger of the previous song into something fragile, calm and beautiful.And these are no lazy, note-by-note reproductions of the studio versions; these live renditions are crafted into something familiar yet excitingly new. It’s impossible to leave the Roundhouse without a tear in the eye, an elevated soul and a gut- wrenching certainty that music means something.
As Waxahatchee, Philadelphia resident Katie Crutchfield makes music that makes you feel young again, not via a carefree, saccharine rush, but rather through a brand of lo-fi indie folk-grunge that’s earnest and clear. Crutchfield’s vocals – vulnerable, naïve and, above all, hurt – are key, so this evening it initially seems like we might have been better off sticking with new album ‘Cerulean Salt’ at home.Waxahatchee’s opening numbers are not good – especially should-be-highlight ‘Coast To Coast’, which Crutchfield sings uncharacteristically out of tune and with extra flat “woo hoo ah hoo”s. Perhaps it’s because, as she tells us, this crowd (a full room, if modest in size) is better than 90% of the shows the trio plays to back home. And with that appreciative hello, Crutchfield’s vocal demons vanish. Everything that follows – and especially the tracks that she sings unaccompanied by her band – is crystalline to the point that nobody dare speak even between songs, as the singer occasionally peers up through glassy eyes on the brink of tears.True emotion, it seems, is the last trump card of music so simple in its parts, and for an hour we happily watch Waxahatchee repeat the same routine of marrying classic anti-folk melodies and bruised sentiments. And for those of us that have been through adolescence and young adulthood, all that heartache and eternal pain, it’s briefly missed.
If you recall when The Horrors first turned up circa-2005, all black lacquered mops and ghoulish garage rock, then the creepy caricature schtick of Wampire may feel a tad reminiscent. After all, the soft focus snaps of duo Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps, showing off the latter’s blue movie handlebar and shirt-protruding chest wig, would even put the willies up Ariel Pink’s most staunch admirer. But unlike the hot pink-topped oddball, their creepy facade doesn’t seem entirely tangible tonight, perhaps down to a red-eye, cross-Atlantic flight. Luckily, they still deliver mock-eerie highlights from their May-dropped debut ‘Curiosity’ with just enough vim to impress. In fact, ‘The Hearse’’s hooky spook pop rattles around the sweaty Dalston back room with such vigour it feels like being trapped aboard a malfunctioning ghost train. They also show their woozy side, with pleasingly trippy jaunts through ‘Orchards’ and ‘Spirit Forest’, before wearing their surreal influences on their sullied sleeves with a freaky cover of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’. On closer ‘Giants’ (Marc Bolan if his management had thrust a mad organist and a bag of LSD on him) you can actually see gleaming condensation on Phipps’s guitar before they’re forcibly shaken off during a cacophony of mind-warping feedback. It might have a certain, niche thrill-seeker swooning through kaleidoscopic specs, but really Wampire’s fangs aren’t quite fully formed just yet.
In the June edition of Loud And Quiet, Jon Hopkins told us how he hopes people will fall asleep to his music.Tonight he thumps out a set of IDM heavy enough to wake a corpse. Hopkins briefly flirts with his ambient side, allowing ‘Immunity’’s serene title track to trickle out early on, minimal piano notes hanging in the air. It’s a respite before one is needed. Everything else pounds brutally. Out front, Hopkins dishes all of this out at an alarming rate, and with a noted sense of glee, building dense techno by physically triggering as much as possible and head banging to the gnarled drops of his more glitch-heavy highlights, ‘Insides’ and ‘Vessel’, both of which are far more unforgiving than they are on record.The same could be said for the closing, endlessly rising ‘Wire’, too, and everything else, in fact, that’s hitched up by sub bass and exaggerated BPM.The closest thing resembling a lull comes halfway through, as Hopkins, after a moment of battering of old school house, and another of shattering boulder sounds, settles into a section of thrumming new songs, including the usually startling ‘Collider’. Out the other side, the crowd eventually dance, rather than bob, to the euphoria of ‘Light Through Veins’, usually heard at Coldplay concerts, and all the time Hopkin’s flies by the seat of his pants, aware, as are we, that all this could all blow up in his face. It’s what makes this dance show so thrilling.
Last time we saw HEALTH, they looked like a band in the middle of a divorce, each member assigned to a different corner of Manchester’s Ruby Lounge at In The City 2010. It was a great show, that night – vicious, like enviable make-up sex. HEALTH clearly worked through their differences, either that night or whilst making the soundtrack to vigilante game Max Payne 3 last year, or some time since.They’ve a new, third album ready to go, although we can only be sure of that because five new tracks are aired tonight. It’s largely why so many people are at this unexpected stop on this unforeseen European mini tour. Between the moshy pang of ‘Crimewave’, the ravey ‘We Are Water’, the creaking, malfunctioning ‘Death+’ and the futuro terror of ‘Tabloid Sores’, the band don’t point out the new tracks, or speak at all, for that matter.They’re not easily spotted, either, for the complete lack of cohesion between them. One sounds like Depeche Mode, and is perhaps the noise band’s most accessible track yet, more so than the disco grind of ‘Die Slow’ (also brilliant tonight). Another remains in the darkwave pop camp, with choruses indebted to Placebo, but another still sounds like it could have been on the band’s uncompromising debut, all thrash-stop-thrash-noise and half-second pauses before the next bludgeoning. So fuck knows what HEALTH’s new album sounds like, we’re just happy they’re still here.
Long Division Festival Wakefield,Yorkshire 07-09.06.2013 By Daniel Dylan Wray
Wakefield certainly struggles with its reputation as a city, perhaps even more so when becoming a cultural hub. On Long Division festival’s website it even lists reasons, or justifications, for coming to the city for the event, entitled ‘The line-up looks good but… well it’s Wakefield isn’t it?’, and going on to list five practical reasons to come along.Truthfully, they shouldn’t be so hard on Wakefield; it has plenty reason to be proud of its role in Long Division’s setup. While it may lack the huge name draws of the Camden Crawl, feel somewhat dwarfed by the size of Sheffield’s Tramlines, or struggle to keep up with the wealth of new and overseas talent that Dot-to-Dot or Live at Leeds offers, it is, as an inner-city festival, pretty ideal for those wishing to escape the drag of many outdoor events: mainly trundling around all day and evading the unpredictability of the weather. In fact, all the venues here are within stumbling distance and range in aesthetics greatly, from the beautiful Theatre Royal to the idiosyncratic and rather strange – but bizarrely fun and mischievous-feeling – environment of watching bands play in an old library.While some inner-city festivals keep you glued to one, darkness ensconced building all day,Wakefield actually offers a refreshing variety and thus gives it a sense of originality that being in a University building all day gravely lacks. Blacklisters are one of the many bands to be playing on the JD Roots stage (the festival’s main sponsor), upstairs in the Hop, showcasing homegrown, or geographically proximate artists. Their mid-afternoon set is a blast of guitar growl and dog-bark screams; like Jesus Lizard but with any touch of the blues completely removed and replaced with unrelenting, post-hardcore sneer. As singer Billy Mason-Wood wraps the
microphone cable around his neck and stares vacantly into the crowd, his eyes look as though his brain is being deprived of oxygen and he’s beginning a complete sensory shutdown, all before he ignites back to life and tears through the crowd.Thankfully, inadvertently seeing The Coopers as the first band of the day is rendered nothing but a bad dream by this lot’s cacophonous racket. Let’s Wrestle have been fighting something of a losing battle ever since their 2009 debut album, ‘In The Court of Wrestling Let’s…’. As much as they seemingly want to shake off the foundations of that record and their earlier material, the truth is that they haven’t really come close to creating anything that will allow them to. It’s symptomatic in the audience too; the difference in reactions to material from albums number one and two is hugely audible. There is a worry, then, that a lot of the appeal to Let’s Wrestle was in actual fact grounded in reckless youth and rambunctious, ramshackle naivety, not so much the fully formed, weightedout balance of their newer, more mature songs. Sky Larkin return too, and theirs is a most welcome one.While their rather date-stamped take on guitar-pop-rock may have fallen somewhat out of favour and flavour in their absence (lead singer Katie Harkin has been a touring member of Wild Beasts), in their performance tonight they re-instil a sense of excitement that goes beyond the welcoming back of an old friend for a friendly but safe reminisce, and instead offers a thrilling glimpse of what is to come from their upcoming album. That Fucking Tank, despite doing their thing for 10 years, are still one of the most pulverising two-pieces in circulation.They have all the free-spiralling, post-rock-tinged,
occasionally Germanic-imbued space in the world to play with (and sometimes they do) but when they bring it home, they do it with all the taut, fierce precision of snare-tight, explosive Fugazi. It is simultaneously wild and unhinged yet astutely accurate and flab-free. Still as exciting as the first time I saw them god knows how many years ago. By the time The Fall are due on in Warehouse 23, the place has become a certified sweatbox; clawing through to the front of the stage is like trekking through an Amazonian jungle, the humidity thick and engulfing, a stagnant blanket of sweat clings like a face mask. As Mark E. Smith takes to the stage, he’s looking trim and characteristically sharp, but also somewhat shrivelled and frail. Smith’s worn, contorted face always looked decades more haggard than he actually was, but in 2013, at the age of 56, it would appear it has all caught up with him.Thankfully, this all becomes pretty irrelevant as soon as the band kick in.While years of amphetamines, whiskey and Pils (Holsten that is) may have had their way with the surface of Mark E. Smith, they can’t touch the unrelenting snarl of his vocals and the mighty power of his band. Recent single ‘Wray’ bursts into life with Smith’s gargled, indecipherable repeated chugs of sound – a run up before taking off – as the guitars crash in and the band lift off together. ‘Strychnine’ does its job and still sounds as scrappy and amateur as ever. ‘Theme for Sparta F.C’ only proves to cement itself amidst the group’s rich history as perhaps not only one of their finest, but also one of the band’s favourites as it continues to get what is close to a decadelong outing. 30 albums down the line and there is still nobody like them.Wakefield’s not bad either.
C I NE M A REVIEW
By IAN ROEBUCK
The act of killing Director: Joshua Oppenheimer Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen
Scarlett Johansson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Don Jon
Scarlett Fever This month’s preview theme: One movie star whose work ethic is going through the roof The monthly cinematic preview is something of a conundrum.What to discuss, dictated by a lengthy listings sprawl here, a healthy dose of background reading there; the process an engrossing one that’s more joy than sombre.What we should be asking ourselves, though, is why? Why are some films more enticing than others? What mysterious criteria are we bound by? Well, there is no simple answer and more often than not a movie makes this column because it compels me to write about it: it would be churlish of me not to.This month sees three such delights jump out, equally unavoidable if unrelated. Ever since 2010’s deeply underrated I’m Still Here, Joaquin Phoenix has enthralled. A fascinating actor who makes charming choices, The Master marked Phoenix’s arrival as a heavyweight modern movie icon and his next few projects were always going to catch the eye. Scheduled for US release in November is the most spine tingling of these, Her. Helmed by Spike Jonze, a Director famed for total immersion, Her looks to be his most personal and arduous project yet. Penned without Charlie Kaufman, the feature sees Jonze throw himself at an insightful and bittersweet concept; a film that exemplifies his true metier. Set in the slight future of L.A, Joaquin Phoenix’s character buys the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system. Sounding disarmingly similar to Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, a human gradually emerges through his computer and the relationship evolves into outlandish romance. So far so Spike. But this well-trodden path of artificial intelligence gone rogue should shine under Jonze’s spell. Joining Phoenix are Amy Adams, Rooney Mara and Scarlett
Johansson as the humanoid love interest. It’s an astounding line up of female talent that puts Her at the very top of this year’s must-see films. Johansson’s hot property in 2013, in fact, picking up wildly different roles, including a stint in Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer’s highly anticipated interpretation of Michel Faber’s mind-bending novel. Johansson stars as an extra-terrestrial sent to Earth by a rich corporation on her planet to pick up unwary hitchhikers. Plenty of excitement surrounds Glazer’s comeback, 8 years since the intriguing Nicole Kidman starring Birth. It’ll be thrilling to see how he deals with Faber’s macabre text and even more exciting to see Johansson let rip as another fascinating character. Her role in Don Jon is no flabby walk-on, either – it’s perhaps her stand out film of 2013, in fact. A feature underpinned by the porn industry, not in a Boogie Nights kind of way, but rather in a nuts and bolts fashion that’s managed to be both sincere and comical, Don Jon is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s debut in the Director’s chair that also sees him pursue Johansson as Don Jon himself. It’s a tale of addiction and true love, which might sound like an appallingly bad idea and a waste of talent, but a sharp looking trailer combining shrewd humour with an intimacy you wouldn’t associate with the sex industry makes this a popcorn prospect well worth waiting for. That’s 2013, while 2014 sees Johansson star in Luc Besson’s Lucy alongside Morgan Freeman, and Jon Favreau’s Chef besides Robert Downey Jr, and I haven’t even mentioned Captain America and The Avengers 2. Johansson’s good choices make my preview choice that much easier.
As the credits roll on this vivid, potent documentary, the word ‘Anonymous’ peppers the screen. These faceless people aren’t the perpetrators of the mid-60’s Indonesian mass genocide that the film covers so strikingly, but a nameless team of local crew members (co-directors, makeup artists, technical support) that couldn’t be fully credited due to the movie’s delicate subject matter. The perpetrators have no such issue – in The Act of Killing they are given prominent billing. Joshua Oppenheimer’s extraordinary work seeks out the so called ‘gangsters’ who undertook this bloody anticommunist cull, who have not only escaped prosecution all these years but are heralded as heroes in their home country. And in doing so, Indonesia’s wretched political system is somewhat exposed. In unprecedented and remarkable style, Oppenheimer doesn’t just interview the killers, he asks them to stage dramatic reconstructions of their acts, which they eagerly relish. Lavish set design, recreated dream sequences and lengthy costume discussions (“I wouldn’t have been killing in white trousers”) play out in surreal fashion as we’re dragged back in time by protagonist Anwar and his reminiscing friends.We’re asked to enter their death squad psyche and it’s chilling to the bone. The film has come under some criticism for leaving out the wider political picture of these atrocities, but this is a human story, a form of purgatory that goes deep, deep down, beyond the base level of injustice to places unexplored by film.Your initial flabbergasted mind gradually yearns for some kind of epiphany, some realisation that what they did is wrong and the documentary’s true power is revealed when this process begins. Whilst night fishing, Anwar ruminates on karma and God, the sea swilling around him as thunder claps and lightning strikes; it is a sequence that sent shivers throughout the theatre.The final five minutes pushes the extremity of cinema and it is frankly terrifying, a hollow shell of a human is laid bare before your very eyes.
Impress your friends by listening to the Loud And Quiet issue 50 mixtape only at www.loudandquiet.com Featuring this monthâ€™s featured artists
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party wolf idiot tennis Game. Set. Twat.
thought sport In the heads of tennis fans 4
A real tom tit
A Rodney sized plonker
“Get the facking shooters, dopy bollocks!”
MOST LIKELY TO SAY
“Any old iron”
Anything in a convincing American accent
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY
Anything that’s convincing
Check out Statham’s IMDB page
IDIOT POWER PLAY
Dyer did once tell a NUTS reader to “cut his ex’s face”
Nice one bruvver!
GAME, SET & MATCH
crush hour Hooking up starers on the commute To the girl I accidently headbutted on the tube at Warren Street – drink?
Balding man with cut head To the man of my dreams on the 07:48 from Didcot Parkway, I wash because of you!
Girl with the pink hip flask To the guy in the suit on the train in the morning. You read your paper while I filed my nails, but I’m sure we both felt a spark, please.
1.Well, this was a mistake. 2. Chloe has such fat arms. Bless. 3. Millie’s so brave wearing a patterned maxi at her size. 4. Do I still love this man? 5. Blending in nicely, John. Happy face.
RumoUr pie Big mouthfuls of gossip Richard Hammond is said to be fuming after a proposed Top Gear stunt that had him locked in a human sized hamster wheel and racing James May in a Renault Clio Rubber faced funny man Rowan Atkinson is rumoured to be mad about Tony Robinson’s knighthood, simply tweeting “TimeBALLS”
Single girl To the sexpot on the 76 bus with large breasts and a perfect face, mum and I are having a BBQ at the weekend.
Guy with the Tesco bag
It is said that friends are concerned for Harry Styles’ health since it’s been discovered that the singer is 62% hair
Judy Murray is to host a new tennis based TV quiz called The Weakest Serve. The show, devised by Simon Fuller, will see celebrity contestants like Caroline Flack hit different sized objects over a giant net for cash prizes
Rumour has it that after two years on The Voice, Tom Jones still has no ideas who 4th judge Danny O’Donoghue is. Jones was heard saying on set: “I’ve sussed the bald girl and the little man, but then I’m struggling”
It’s Ian, for you. Somthing about that sign you made him for his new stationary shop
Billy, you little prick! I wanted Ian’s Pen Island!!!
Disclaimer: The representations of the persons herein are purely fictitious.
Photo casebook “The unfortunate world of Ian Beale”
David Lynch / Richard Hell / No Age / Fuck Buttons / MONEY / Melt Yourself Down / Scout Niblett / San Fermin / Fair Ohs