THE LOST CHAPTER
The City Consumes Us
The City Consumes Us
THE LOST CHAPTE
Written, Researched, Compiled and Edited by Dean Freeman Design by Matt Sidebottom www.rhubarbbomb.com
The City Consumes Us Bonus Record Lapels - Damn This Cursed Century Pt 1
Originally released on What We Tried And How We Failed album (2009) Philophobia Music
The Compression - Lamp (Demo) Previously unreleased
Mi Mye - 2 Sunrises
Originally released on Senc Of The Shaking album (2010) Self released
Protectors - Overtime
Originally released on The Stem And Leaf EP (2011) Philophobia Music
The Whippets - Itâ€™s Nice To Pretend
Originally released on Itâ€™s Nice To Pretend single (2008) Geek Pie Records
Michael Ainsley - Dusty
Originally released on Slip Smash album (2011) Philophobia Music
The Frog Next Door - Something To Talk About Previously released through MySpace (2009)
Jeremiah - Do Whatever He Says
Originally released on Under The Bus Station Clock compilation (2010) Philophobia Music
Balloons - Earthly Powers
Originally released on Balloons EP (2011) Geek Pie Records
One Day, After School... - Waves Of Fatalism
Originally released on The Future Is Not Ours, Comrade EP (2012) Philophobia Music
Piskie Sits - Churp Churp
Originally released on Churp Churp single (2010) Louder Than Bombs Records
St Gregory Orange - Werewolf Mask
Originally released on How I Quit Smoking And Learned To Love American Noise Records EP (2011) Self Released
(:jamiesaysmile:) - Future Analysts
Originally released on Future Relics Bonus EP (2009) Geek Pie Records
The City Consumes Us
The Bambinos - When The Weatherâ€™s Wrong
Originally released on Under The Bus Station Clock compilation (2010) Philophobia Music
The Passing Fancy - The Whole World Is A Fluffy Cushion To Me Originally released on Future Relics compilation (2009) Geek Pie Records
Imp - Cryptic And Ficticious
Originally released on Some Things Still Matter compilation (2009) Philophobia Records
Sponge Wings - The Sunken Nursery Previously unreleased
Keith Burton And His Beef Curtain - A Fly
Originally released through Keith Burtonâ€™s Bandcamp (2012) Self Released
Mike Ainsley, Tim Metcalfe & Harry Rhodes - Song For The Colonies Recorded live at Chantry Chapel at Rhubarb Bomb Issue Launch (2011) Previously Unreleased
The Lost Chapter The main chronology of The City Consumes Us deals with a whole load of story arcs based around Rhubarb Bomb, the bands of Wakefield and wider indie issues. But the whole joy of a zine (as opposed to a 200 plus page book) is the sheer random nature of it. Anything goes. And this chapter shares some of those moments from our history that simply couldn’t be justified in the main part of the book. It also features a few additional elements that were bookmarked for inclusion but didn’t quite make it, such as abandoned chapter intro’s and cut articles simply too outrageous to publish (that is an exaggeration). Finally, it includes an article on Unity Hall. One of the difficulties with the book was choosing a cut-off point. As I write in April 2012, it is an incredibly busy and exciting time, with lots of projects on the horizon. Hopefully, if there were to be another collection of works in five years, a lot of it will be based around Unity Hall and the exciting things that will hopefully take place there.
The City Consumes Us
Unity Hall: We Need It Back! August 2007 Derek Lines
For anyone under the age of twenty, Unity Hall is probably known as the building on Westgate that housed Buzz nightclub. Unless your parents have bored you stupid with tales of their youth and the bands that used to play there you will be unaware of what lays only a few feet above the cellars of Wakefield’s favourite nightclub. During the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Unity House, to give it its official name - the larger of two halls inside the building is actually Unity Hall and the other smaller hall being the Minor Hall - was host to some major rock and punk bands of that era. Now legendary new wave bands like The Stranglers, The Damned, Johnny Thunders, The Rich Kids, Boomtown Rats, Stiff Little Fingers, UK Subs and The Vibrators all played to capacity audiences in the halcyon days of punk. Then the new wave of heavy metal hit and along came Iron Maiden, twice. In fact, Iron Maiden recorded their first album Maiden Voyage live at the hall.1 Saxon, Tigers Of Pan Tang, Def Leppard and local heroes Vardis played numerous support slots as well as a few headliners. Even the reclusive Captain Beefheart graced the stage as well as, at one time or another, members of music’s hierarchy such as Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart, Chrissie Hynde, Midge Ure, Slade and Toyah Wilcox. “So what?”, I hear you say “That was then and that was history, what’s the point?” The point is, boys and girls, we had our time at the hall and now you should have your turn. Unity Hall is big enough and more than well equipped with its large stage and backstage areas and separate bars to host most of the country’s top bands. There is no reason, after a certain amount of investment, that the likes of The Cribs, The Fratellis, The Automatic, Dirty Pretty Things and The Pigeon Detectives could not play this venue.
This is not strictly true. Maiden Voyage was a widely distributed bootleg of a live appearance at Unity Hall, but their debut album proper
was self titled.
Now, the rumours are that Unity Hall will at some point become a vast nightclub. Well, fair enough if that ensures its regeneration and moves the building into a new era. But whoever becomes the new owner should realise that it could also be used for live music. It works at halls and venues of this size all over the country so there is no reason it shouldn’t be the same in Wakefield. It would be good to see people coming into the city from Leeds, Bradford and surrounding towns instead of us struggling with public transport to go there. For any chance of this to happen you, the music fans of Wakefield, must make your voice heard. For years we have had to put up with dodgy little bars putting on gigs in unsuitable places with frankly pathetic sound quality. You deserve better than this and at the moment you are being treated with disregard by some venues. It’s about time Wakefield musos of all ages demanded better and got what they so richly deserve: a proper venue built for live music where you can hear and see ALL the band you have paid for.2
Richard Herring: Hitler Moustache April 2010
Dean Freeman Rhubarb Bomb: In your new show Hitler Moustache you look at society’s hypocrisy towards race and take a closer look at the work of the BNP. I know you’ve tackled them before, but why did now seem the right time to look at them in more depth? Richard Herring: I had come up with a nice routine about why racists were more liberal than liberals last year and then had the idea of doing a show about the toothbrush moustache. I hadn’t intended it to be overtly about the BNP but their electoral victory came halfway through my time with the moustache and was one of the things that made me realise there were important things that needed to be discussed and which this would be the perfect show to do so. It fell into my lap a little bit. Not that I am pleased about that fact! But I wanted to talk about racial issues from the perspective of a white man, because I think it’s important that this is a subject that we discuss openly in our multi-cultural country. Is it easier to create comedy out of the things that make you angry? Not particularly. Things that confound you or make you laugh are probably easier to joke about. It’s quite hard to get the balance right if you are cross. Being passionate about something can help, but most of my comedy comes from pedantic observation about the minutae of my life. Or how fucking stupid I am. It’s funny when someone gets angry, but for that to work on stage you need to be in control and to understand what you’re doing. You tour a new show pretty much every year. You write an online blog every single day. Is there a technique to being so prolific? Or is it just bloody hard work? I don’t think I work all that hard. The blog came about because I feared I was wasting so much time. Recently it has been a bit more full on, but I love my job and want to get better and am quite driven at the moment. You have to want to do it and then just get on with it. But most of the time being a comedian is a pretty easy job.
I presume this last comment is a reference to the then current situation at Escobar where half the stage was blocked by a large pillar.
The City Consumes Us
As a band may find a winning formula and stick with it, album to album, can comedians sometimes do the same? I like to keep mixing it up. It would probably be more commercially successful to stick with one thing or one style, but I like to push myself and take chances and try and create something new and interesting. But that can confuse audiences and TV executives. Compared to arena music concerts, arena comedy seems to have all of the negatives but none of the positives. Why do you think they are so popular? They make loads of money for the comedian and I guess seem like an exciting night out for the audience. But it’s more fun for everyone I think if the numbers are a bit smaller and the space a bit more intimate. Or just watch the DVD and sit a long way away from your TV. Is that kind of mass appeal something you crave on any level? If I could do something I considered good and worthwhile comedy and everyone in the world loved it then I would be cool with that. Something like Morecambe and Wise was both mass appeal, but properly funny and I’d love to write a sitcom as popular and good as Dad’s Army or Fawlty Towers. But I am very happy at my medium level appeal with a crowd of people who understand irony and like the weird things I do. I would certainly prefer this life to being in the situation Michael Mcintyre or Paddy McGuinness find themselves. For me it’s all about the work and if money and adulation come from something good then I won’t complain, but I doubt it’s really possible to get the balance right. Why do you think so many comedians or comedic actors end up doing commercials for awful things like credit cards? It really winds me up! Is it the only way to make a decent amount of money in comedy? I am always disappointed when I see a comedian on an advert and no it’s not the only way to make money (and you’re usually only asked to do them when you’re already making a very decent living). People have to make their own choices (and it’s different if you’re an actor doing a job as opposed to a celebrity giving an endorsement), but I feel if I get paid to say something I don’t believe then that devalues everything I say and think. Why would you trust me on stage and how could I mock other people’s hypocrisies if you knew I could be bought out if someone gave me enough cash?
Stewart Lee has said that some years back he was at a point in his career where he would purposefully jeopardise his act halfway through, just for the challenge of recovering it again. Is that something you can sympathise with? Yes, it’s fun to sabotage yourself and see if you can get out of it, but also to take risks and see where it goes. It’s exciting to be in a comedy performance and to be losing the audience or confusing them. It’s good to play around with this. Sometimes you fail, but in some ways that’s more interesting that succeeding. And sometimes when you know you’ve lost a crowd it’s fun to push it even further to see if they see what you’re up to and find it funny. Comedy is often about doing the wrong thing. I’m thinking of your old men on the bonfire routine which you described yourself as purposefully unfunny, upsetting and irritating. But it’s also great. Yes that’s a good example. You’ve got to take a leap in the dark to see if there’s some funny at the other side of the tunnel, or if you’re just going to drown as you try to find the exit on the other side. But how can you explain the purpose of that to, say, a Peter Kay fan? I wouldn’t bother trying. They’re happy in their world of being reminded about things that they already knew. You’re happy in a world where you are surprised and challenged by comedy. Is it about pushing the limits of comedy? I can’t see why anyone would want to tell structured jokes for their whole career. You understand the mechanics and it gets boring (for me). It’s more fun to find out other ways you can get laughs and surprise yourself. I love the way that sometimes a line that should not get a laugh on paper turns out to be consistently funny, usually because you have discovered it on stage though improvisation. Is that the kind of risk a ‘commercial’ comedian could not take? Yeah it would be difficult. Success can actually being a double-edge sword and prevent you from discovering the best inside you. I genuinely feel fortunate now that nothing I have done has taken off into the stratosphere. It has made me a much better and more interesting comedian.1 Is it art?! Yes, it can be. Stand up; purest form of self-expression there is in my opinion. And used correctly is both about truth, beauty and understanding the human condition. What sacrifices did you make on becoming a full time comedian? I have been focused on my job and sometimes you miss out on relationships or have to put the job ahead of friends and family and work long hours and not make much money. It’s possible to get a balance but you have to be prepared to work hard and miss out on fun stuff - but there’s plenty of fun stuff that comes from it and eventually you’re better off than your friends with proper jobs who might have more time for themselves initially. 1
I find this point really interesting. That a lack of success or approval (at least in the mainstream) actually frees you. It’s a balance of
course and with a lot of more well known characters Rhubarb Bomb meets, it is easy to make those statements during the latter part of your career, once your have that medium level of notoriety / acceptance. But at the time of this interview the rise of comedy to a much
broader level had reached a plateau. I was becoming fascinated by the freedom a comedian has and how it is, as Richard says, a pure form of expression. I love that I could never, ever do it. It means I can just enjoy and marvel at it.
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11 What’s the plan once Hitler Moustache has run its course? My book How Not To Grow Up comes out in May so I will be doing some readings etc, then I am doing a second run of As It Occurs To Me and then in Edinburgh I am reworking my 2001 show Christ on a Bike which I will tour next year. I want to get a bit more writing done - maybe a play or a TV comedy or something, but will see what opportunities present themselves. I am on Have I Got News For You next week which is a bit of a milestone and which I am looking forward to. It feels like everything is moving in the right direction. 2
An Evening With Peter Hook May 2010
Dean Freeman “Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton; they always used to say to me you’ve got to give something back. I didn’t think at the time they meant give everything back.” Peter Hook, sat on a cream leather chair on the stage of Wakefield Theatre describes the civic pride he feels towards Manchester and how that sculptured the rise of The Hacienda. But he’s only half addressing the audience; by his side in a matching leather chair (in a setup that somewhat recalls an Alan Partridge chat show) is legendary drug smuggling author Howard Marks, tonight’s compere and - you can’t help but feel moral support. I’ve only ever seen photos of Marks and I’m surprised to find he has turned into his own uncle; a greyer, sweeter, bushier-eyebrowed version of what I had expected. His style is sublime; a full on counter culture Parkinson, delivering his questions in soft Welsh tones and giving the impression that he is slyly drawing little gems from Hooky despite the fact they clearly do this every night. It feels natural and relatively spontaneous, especially as Hooky approaches the apparent criticism he’s received for living off his past. He describes making “a future out of talking about the past” (possibly a Tony Wilson quote, many stories start with “Tony Wilson once said to me...”) and reasons with us that “when you go for a job, you don’t pretend you’ve never done anything, you don’t wipe yr CV clean.” “Well”, says Marks “I usually do...” Before the two tread the boards, the stage itself is opened to the public. It is filled with all manner of paraphernalia; an eBay seller’s Aladdin’s cave. There’s Hooky’s first ever bass, Ian’s guitar from the Love Will Tear Us Apart video, Factory posters and Hacienda conceptual prints. There’s even the England shirt a sweaty Peter Beardsley gave him at the World in Motion video shoot. But perhaps most interesting of all, tucked away at the back of the stage, are two glass cabinets containing the real treasures; the boyhood memories. A hand written receipt for “one transit van to Peter Hook - £137.50”, cassettes with “The Damned” scribbled out and “Warsaw” written in its place and various Joy Division tour plans and lyric sheets. Appropriately, the poor sound quality at Wakefield Theatre accurately recreates the hiss you would encounter when listening to said cassette tapes. It’s almost unlistenable and amusingly the projection that opens the show - a ten minute film collage of live footage and a Zane Lowe interview - are projected backwards. Hooky is welcomed to the stage by Marks and then proceeds to play “the cheapest and then the most expensive” tracks New Order ever recorded on his bass to a backing track. I dunno, perhaps to a non musician this would be a wondrous site, but for me it kinda reeked of a man ‘jammin’ in a guitar shop. There’s no doubting the man’s abilities. Perhaps that’s why it was a little sad to see him performing in this manner, alone on a theatre stage, without his band. Inevitably it is an evening that dwells on the past, but after a slightly shaky start things settle down. Hooky reveals himself to be an open and cheerful teller of short sharp anecdotes, albeit relaying them to Marks and not the audience. He’s clearly honed them through the writing of his
At the time of writing, Richard has just got married. I find it amusing / confusing that a lot of my misanthropic heroes have eventually got
married and had children (see Aidan Moffat, Stewart Lee, Charlie Brooker). But after Richard’s brilliant What Is Love Anyway? show I can be nothing but utterly thrilled for him (screw the rest of ‘em).
12 recent book The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club and this is essentially a retelling of that. But there is something special about hearing the names of Ian Curtis, Tony Wilson et al echo around the theatre. Stories of seeing Sex Pistols at The Free Trade Hall - legendary gigs we all know about - yet there’s something about this much older man recounting these days of his youth that strikes me. It’s like World War I veterans talking about the trenches; one day there won’t be anyone left. Curtis / Wilson / Hannett have all left us far too early. And for that reason it seems essential that those times are documented and spoken word is definitely the most effective way of expressing the excitement of the times. Its fascinating to hear of his meetings with the whole cast of characters: Johnny Rotten embodying punk, spitting and swearing 24/7, even when there’s just two of them in the room. Mark E Smith being a generally awkward bastard winding up ex wife Caroline Aherne.1 Even Paul Gascoigne excitedly supping from two bottles of champagne then trying to rap during World in Motion. He talks with pride of how prolific Joy Division were and recounts Ian introducing the band to Kraftwerk, pondering the inevitable question of how Blue Monday would have sounded with Ian singing. Hooky has been sober for five years. The once legendary rock ‘n’ roll nuisance now much calmed and appropriately it’s a sober retelling of the tale. He’s not emotional and approaches subjects with good humour. He gets on his soapbox slightly, rallying against illegal downloads. An error on the site for his new Freebass album resulted in punters paying for the album... then receiving nothing. “Well, see how that feels!”, was his sensitive response. Bravely, the second half of the show was opened up to the floor. Things started pleasantly enough; for the record he didn’t really rate Ralf Little’s interpretation of him in Twenty Four Hour Party People, his favourite Joy Division song is Atmosphere and he wears his bass low “coz it looks cool.” Talk moves to his new club FAC 251 in Manchester. He speaks passionately of providing somewhere for unsigned bands to play for free, as opposed to the rise of pay to play in Manchester, something he describes as “a disgrace.” However, one audience member poses the provocative question: “So when FAC 251 dies, will you be resurrecting to the Golden Goose - New Order?” He responds jovially that he’s made more money from FAC 251 in two months than sixteen years at The Hacienda but the point seems to have touched a nerve. He speaks of the traditional perception of bassists being the ones who want to work - something I wasn’t especially aware of - which probably says more about his own opinion on a band’s work ethic. He bemoans the remaining eight tracks from the last New Order sessions being left to waste and craves to stick them on the internet. This tour, playing bass by himself on a stage, pushing to get his ‘bass super group’ signed, it all suggests a man desperate to continue living the rock and roll lifestyle, to keep on working. So the dig that New Order is somehow merely his cash cow seemed to sting somewhat. The night is wrapped up with Hooky strapping on his bass once more to play a Freebass track (that’s his band with other famous bassists Mani and Andy Rourke) with Howard Marks joining for some spoken word. It’s pretty good actually, and rounds the peculiar night nicely. It was strangely paced, almost completely unstructured, yet you can’t help but feel; completely honest. Hooky came out and told some great stories and allowed us to ask whatever we wanted of him, which I respect hugely. Although I was hearing a lot of stories I had read about before, it was a great experience to hear them from the man himself. I’m still not 100% sure of Hookys motives for this tour, or what he gets out of it but I’m glad he visits us. Perhaps most tellingly, as he dashes from the stage, Hooky gentle brushes the face of an Ian Curtis portrait lingering on the stage edge. There’s no encore.
Of course, this article is later referenced in the interview with Mark E Smith in the 2010 chapter where Mark expresses his feeling on
Peter Hook and his touring nostalgia circus.
The City Consumes Us
Melissa Greaves Squirrel Records are a Leeds based independent label who have been putting out uncompromisingly mind-blowing records for almost a decade. There’s something pretty special about them. Forget contracts and all the bullshit generally associated with record labels. Forget meekly floating along with the mainstream; Squirrel Records are the polar opposite, most comparable to labels like Postcard and early Creation. It is run by Darren and Caroline, formally of Manhattan Love Suicides and now The Blanche Hudson Weekend. Basically, if a band’s got spirit, energy and a good sound they will release their records. They started in 2001, with the release of a 7” from Darren’s band Pop Threat. With no distribution deal, they sold their early releases by mail order, distributing direct to independent shops themselves. Now that’s indie: everything on a shoestring. Which paints a picture of Squirrel perfectly; putting out these records because they know people need to hear them. It’s pretty blatant listening to the bands Squirrel release that they’re worth the effort, with not an average band among them. They’re more than just bands: they embody the true indie spirit that Squirrel are all about. Squirrel’s first release was Pop Threat’s Ingrained with the B-side Ripen in April 2001. At a time when indie favourites like The Stereophonics, Travis and Starsailor were dominating the mainstream, Pop Threat opted for an interesting sound over mainstream success. Influenced by bands like Sonic Youth, Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and The Raincoats, their fuzzed up guitars and female vocals received little in the way of mainstream recognition. Squirrel then went on to release more from Pop Threat; a split single with The Silver Rockets, which incidentally featured the only recording from them - so pretty special. Then came their single Filth in 2002, followed by a split single with The Real Losers later that year. The Real Losers, arguably the most underrated punk band of all time2, released the blistering Time To Lose on Squirrel. Front man Chris Shake is an utter legend in his own right. Why this band weren’t the biggest band in the world is certainly one of life’s great mysteries. Along with The Real Losers, Squirrel have released a whole range of timeless bands in there time: Savage
This is quite an outrageous claim, even for a zine. I guess more than anye genre, punk encourages these claims of being underated, due
to their smash and grab, shortlived lifestyles.
Lucy, Bazooka Boppers, Downdime, to name just a few, and of course not forgetting Kavolchy; a truly raucous female fronted punk band along the lines of Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill. Brilliant. But perhaps most well known are The Cribs, with their shambolic DIY approach and stick to your guns attitude. It was Squirrel who released their debut single, on a split 7” with Jen Schande’s Dig the Halo. This featured the slightly more lo-fi versions of Baby Don’t Sweat and You and I on a pretty blue vinyl. Though in the first month of sales it only sold about fifty copies, when The Cribs were in the NME for the first time the remaining copies of this single sold out in about a day. It was around about the same time when Squirrel finally got the distribution deal they deserved. A pretty special part of Squirrel Records, though since deceased, was The Manhattan Love Suicides. They were a real cult band who sounded like a modern day Jesus and Mary Chain. They were well known for hit and run gigs and consistently ear sweltering releases. I’m certainly not alone in my heartbreak on hearing of their split last summer. But lo and behold one became two as Adam and Rachel went on to form the delightful Medusa Snare, and Darren and Caroline created The Blanche Hudson Weekend. Their recent EP, The Letters To Daddy boasts Girls In The Garage type ramshackle production and offers nothing less than killer hooks and sweet as sugar vocals throughout. Now up to the 27th release, which may not sound like a lot, but when considering the label is run by just the two of them it’s fair to say they’re doing a brilliant job. This also adds to the magic - they won’t just release anything; it has to be special. Squirrel now intend to release at least one new thing every month and at the same time they’ll be keeping the spirit of all the great early independent labels alive. 3
It is incredibly sad that as we go to print Squirrel Records have announced that they will cease to be. They said on their website “We’ve
seen a big dip in sales of vinyl and CDs, and it’s now becoming very, very difficult to keep things running here at Squirrel HQ. Both myself
and Caroline have had numerous discussions about the future of the label, and unfortunately, the conclusion we have reached is that there isn’t going to be one. In this day and age when lots of record labels are suffering because of diminishing sales, the tiny independent labels
such as ours who don’t have a big pot of cash to draw from are inevitably going to struggle to keep going, and we have definitely found this to be the case with Squirrel.”
The City Consumes Us
Marc Riley April 2011
Dean Freeman The BBC 6Music legend / former Shirehorse / former Fall member popped over from Manchester to The Hop, Wakefield to see his current favourite band Metronomy perform a sell out show. He also found time to speak to Rhubarb Bomb about his own festival memories and the continuing greatness of 6Music itself.
Festivals: City-Based vs. Field and Countryside. “Well they are completely different beasts aren’t they? In The City in Manchester, Tony Wilson set that up a long time ago. When Tony passed away the momentum went away for a bit, but it’s picking up now. Obviously the loss of someone like Tony Wilson - he was a real motivator - effected it but Yvette (his wife) has continued to do it, so I’m used to that kind of thing. But it incorporates the industry and panels. I always get asked to go on panels to talk about this that and the other but I never do because people will be like, “what does he know!” Sat there pontificating. So I generally steer clear, but I go see the bands.’ “But the big festivals, yeah. The Fall weren’t big enough to do major festivals when I was in. They did Glastonbury after. But we did, two years in a row, the Deeply Vale Festival (infamous free punk spirited festival that ran 1976-79). And it was a mad, spit and sawdust affair. It was so primitive it’s unbelievable now. I remember we played with a band called Accident On The East Lancs, I think ATV played there and I believe The Ruts played as well. I mean there were quite a lot of people but it was just HIPPIES, it was really just a lot of dropouts. Glastonbury had not really found its feet by that point. There is in fact a DVD with footage of those two years. So that was my first experience of a festival.’ “Over the years I’ve done Glastonbury. The first was in the early ‘90s and I just went with Frank Sidebottom. I was his roadie. It was the year The Velvet Underground played when they reformed. I just remember thinking as I was driving in, it was like plague of the zombies, all real space cadets on the periphery of the festival, not even in the thick of it. I remember there was a bloke sat under a tree playing bongos, well, when I say playing… he just looked like for all the world he’d been dead for four days. And I thought, I’m not really sure if this is for me, y’know?’ “But I went and it was sunny. And it was Glastonbury and it was an amazing experience. I’ve been back another three or four times. Did some stuff with Mark Radcliffe. The last time was for 6Music about 2004. And it was the last time I was hanging out with John Peel. So I’ve got a lot of fond memories of that. John fell in a stream. And all he wanted to do was enjoy it, bless him, but Shelia (John’s Wife) hadn’t been well. He just wanted to get home to her. And so lots of mixed memories from that one.’ “My best festival story is about The Shirehorses. We played Glastonbury in 1997. We blagged our way on there because we were doing the BBC breakfast show. We were the first band on the second stage, so we were billing it as if we were the headliners, the opening act, the big deal. So we went on at 10am. And it doesn’t sound a lot but we got six or seven thousand people turn up at the crack of dawn. And for these people, they’d probably not gone to bed til… well they’d probably not gone to bed! So we did a set and we had a laugh and we played Glastonbury, tick that one off. But it had been pouring down the night before. So many people turned up that they turned the slightly muddy conditions into a quagmire. And the stage started to sink. So they shut the whole stage down for eight hours, meaning about ten bands didn’t get to play Glastonbury. And it was because we’d got so many people down, dancing and dickin’ around in front of us. So we’re responsible for a lot of bands never achieving what we achieved!’
Culture: Diversity vs Compartmentalisation. Niche Radio and Niche Festivals are prevalent; do they limit potential surprise crossovers? “The one example I can use where you are dead right is the heavy metal show. Bruce Dickinson’s show which was a really good show and popular with heavy metal fans – it got taken off 6Music. And it wasn’t for any reason other than the fact that the BBC is always kind of really looking in on its self all the time and having to justify itself because so many people are standing up there waiting to have a go at it, The Daily Mail etc. You’ve got to be really careful you do everything it says you should do in the charter. And in particular with 6Music’s remit that you deliver stuff you can’t get anywhere else. And there’s Kerrang Radio and various rock stations who do deliver the heavy metal stuff and so 6Music thought, you can get that elsewhere, if we have to justify that particular programme to the BBC trust, we probably couldn’t. And so I think Bruce might have ended up going to Kerrang, I’m not sure.’ “But if you look at 6Music, in just the last few weeks, I’ve played everything from George Formby through to These New Puritans. So I think you can get a lot of cross pollination on 6Music which you can’t get as much of on Radio 1 or 2. Compartmentalising things isn’t always great but it does make sense to an extent. If you really like Napalm Death and Carcass, you ain’t gonna wanna see The Lighthouse Family sandwiched in the middle are you? From Radio’s point of view, for the independents it is about getting the big audience. For the BBC it’s about fulfilling the remit that has been set by the BBC trust, the government and the public. But I think 6Music is by far the most eclectic station in Britain.’ “The BBC has a habit of beating itself up at the moment, but that is because it feels if it doesn’t beat itself up other people will step in and do it for ‘em. I’m not alone in thinking the BBC tried to shut 6Music because they thought that the Tory government, which wasn’t even in at that time, would come in and say “The BBC is too big.” So they decided to sacrifice 6Music. But it was evidently the wrong decision because we are offering something completely and utterly unique. And that’s why they didn’t succeed in shutting us down.’ “A lot of the people in the upper echelons of the BBC are journalists and they wouldn’t want to go cut anything that was journalistic. They don’t understand 6Music, most of them. And I said in a meeting, “if you really loved the music we play and understood the culture where we are coming from, you wouldn’t think this was a good idea - there is really no one else giving this.” And The City Consumes Us
it was probably the only pertinent point I’ve made in my life, but it was and it was bore out by the fact the people who were so passionate about it did gang up on the BBC and said “we’re not gonna let this happen – we pay your wages and it cannot happen.” “I heard there were 100,000 complaints about 6Music going and 147 when Top of the Pops went. Work that one out. What does that say? That TOTP needed to go? Quite possibly. Or does it say that 6Music’s audience thought to itself, where am I gonna go now? Back to my own record collection? Because there’s no where else to find that stuff. And because of 6Music, that record collection is expanding. Its been proven that the 6Music audience spends A LOT of money on music, much more per head than Radio 1 or 2.”
The Friends And Enemies Of Clive Smith November 2009 Clive Smith
Clive Smith has just discovered MySpace. He doesn’t believe us that 97% of the stuff on there is shite. Each issue he’ll pick a band at random and deem whether they’re worthy of been his “friend”.1 Name: New Vinyl ‘Friends’: 2558 Location: Wakefield Spiel: ‘To date, we have recorded thirty two songs and played hundreds of gigs all over the country, including the unsigned stage at Leeds Festival. Also at the Leeds Festival we played on the Nokia Rock Up And Play stage twice, the second time following The Enemy. We have more recently had Call For Rebellion played on Absolute radio and then went to London to do a live session where we also met Gail Porter who is now our manager. “The Wakefield indie rockers don’t reinvent the musical wheel; instead opting to craftily mould The Jam, Oasis and The Arctic Monkeys into one blisteringly solid whole” - Mike Bond. Reality: And I thought ROCK music was dead! These guys are so tight and accomplished, they sound like a cover band playing songs you’ve never heard of. I especially admire how they are unafraid to randomly pilfer the average parts from other bands work - there’s definitely too much originality around these days. Fancy bands with their ‘artistic’ ideas. Bloody Nonsense. And ‘uniqueness’ too. What’s that all about? I know a bit about record production from my days running Chevron Studios and whilst recording every instrument through the end of a traffic cone might sound exciting, its not. It’s rubbish. These guys have the right idea: keep it as bland as possible. Then you’ll sell some LPs. I don’t want to be accused of hyperbole, but, with Gail Porter behind them I truly believe that, one day, this lot could be NEARLY AS RELEVENT AS TOPLOADER. There I’ve said it.
This is a previously unpublished article that was based around the amount of ‘friend requests’ we would get on MySpace. By 2009 MySpace
was completely dead in the water, yet not quite at the stage where pages were being deleted. So we thought we would task Clive Smith with reviewing some of the bands who approached us. The resulting article was the only one that I have ever thought twice about publishing and
ultimately decided against it. Although I am very fond of it and approve of its tone GENERALLY, it did make me question the point of Rhubarb Bomb. Was it to piss take and mock and be negative? Partly yes, but I decided picking out individuals in this fashion was closer to bullying
and was certainly quite elitist. I felt it was better to seek the positive and we’ve tried to continue along that path ever since by simply ignoring
the crap out there. Though equally some people JUST NEED TELLING don’t they? So my apologies to New Vinyl, but I have finally published this here to try make a point about the nature of zine, though have inadvertently told everyone how awful you are / were.
Sadly they let themselves down at the last minute. They’ve got this video for their ROCK ANTHEM Stephanie. It’s been on government websites about drug taking and that. Its so raw and edgy, it scares me silly. But I’m kinda worried that by showing this smacked up ‘whore’ they will somehow encourage young kids to take smack and have sex, which isn’t on. Listen, I know a smack head when I see one. There was one in my mirror every morning for five years. Then I had to sell the mirror. If these kids get into it there’ll be no smack left for me. Sorry guys, you pushed the boundaries too far with this one. Evidence: Stephanie Accept or Deny: DENY
Big In JapaN August 2011
(Ongaku - Music)
Big In Japan is a term that is often thrown around in England. I too once held the assumption that many indie bands – even the most obscure ones - would or could be massive here. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, Ryan Jarman’s face on buses and phone boxes? Robot versions of Teenage Fanclub performing on street corners? The drummer from Dananananakroyd with his own brand of sushi? Surprisingly it’s not quite like that. Like anywhere in the world, everyone knows The Beatles. A few ‘80s new-romanticesque bands seem to be abundant in karaoke booths and occasional bands are popular. However the average Japanese person would probably only know Lady GaGa and Beyonce as far as current overseas ‘artists’ go. True, festival giants such as Summer Sonic and Fuji Rock draw decent foreign line ups. This year bands such as The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys and The Music are coming over. I also have a music channel on my TV where early in the morning, they show foreign music: I’ve seen Death Cab For Cutie on there and even Emmy The Great. Also some bands ‘tour’ Japan. This usually means The City Consumes Us
Tokyo plus maybe Osaka, Nagoya or Fukuoka. Later in the year I’m planning on watching The Bluetones on their farewell tour in Osaka (this may seem contradictory to my previous point about small indie bands – maybe they are more popular than I know here). My view of Japan is always influenced by where I live: Niimi, which is in the countryside. It’s actually quite a typical Japanese small town, but for seeing decent live music my nearest option is Osaka, three and a half hours on a bus. Like travelling from Wakefield to London every time you want to watch live music. I did this once recently, where I went to watch a band I like called Quruli. They were supported by an even better band, Andymori, who I recommend checking out. The thing that struck me most about this gig was that whilst during songs people are dancing around in a similar fashion to England, between songs you could literally hear a pin drop. Fans preferring to listen intently to between song banter, of which there is plenty. I don’t know what foreign music invasions were like, say twenty five years ago. Maybe they were more frequent. Now J-Pop is definitely king. At the forefront of this ‘movement’ are AKB 48. A ‘band’ enlisting around 56 members, split into three teams, who also perform daily in the infamous Tokyo geek wonderland, Akihabara. Basically, they are a marketing mans dream. If you have three teams of around twenty people you can advertise a lot of things very quickly. You can’t go anywhere in Japan without seeing their faces on endless products, flyers and in shop windows. In Japan, celebrities are called / tarento / talent. Basically actors are also singers, who are also comedians, who are also TV presenters, who are also...you get the picture. The general process of creative work in Japan is that a manga (comic) becomes an anime (cartoon) which becomes a TV drama, which becomes one or many films. Maybe a band will be spawned at some point in this process or a well known band will be used as the soundtrack or cast as characters. Again, a marketers dream. There is certainly real Japanese music out there and I feel like I should know more about it after nearly a year and a half of living here. It would maybe be different living in Osaka or Tokyo where I could check out various underground ‘live houses’. My only foray into music performance was as recently as last week, where I played a few cover songs, supporting a band fronted by the dad of one of my students. It was supposed to be solo, but I took a few friends along and we ended up being coerced into forming a band. We’d had no rehearsal and quickly called ourselves Oh My God – a well known and liked English phrase in Japan. We literally played in a tent in a car park to a shed kind of partly a little bit full of people (it was pretty empty). This may not have been the musical experience I was looking for or expecting before I came here, but it was definitely an experience and one that I enjoyed. Big in Japan – I haven’t got there just yet, but...1
This is the kind of article that makes me feel great to be running a zine. It’s a great little insight into other people’s lives. Chris and I lived
together and were in a band, The Whippets, for many years. It’s so odd to think of him living so far away, yet also very inspiring. I think that’s a good combo of emotions and zines should try and inspire them wherever possible.
Beatle Bone n’ Smokin’ Stones, or How I Came To Love The Captain Beefheart September 2010 Harry Rhodes
The name Captain Beefheart invokes many different reactions in many different people. He’s one of those artists who is bound to split people right down the middle. With a wealth of vastly differing work behind him cast over twelve studio albums, it’s sometimes difficult to really grasp who he is, what he does, and what real difference he’s made to the music of today. Whether it’s the sprawling avant-garde Trout Mask Replica of 1969, or the unconvincing MOR guitar pop of 1974’s Unconditionally Guaranteed Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band left an indelible stamp on todays alternative music scene, whilst presenting ever changing challenges to the musical press, performers and listeners upon release. Now, instead of the usual retrospective discography analysis and usual muso journalism, here’s the story of how I got into Beefheart and why I felt compelled to write this article. But first a bit about the man himself. Don Glen Vliet was born in January in 1941. In fact he actually remembers being born. He also claims to have refused to talk until he was two years old. He was painting and sculpting by the age of three and was later considered a child prodigy by a local college Professor. At the age of thirteen Vliet and his family relocated to Los Angeles where he met a young Frank Zappa whom he would continue to collaborate with throughout his career. The two bonded over Chicago blues and r&b and would write song parodies and movie scripts into the early hours. One such script, titled Captain Beefheart vs. the Grunt People, was the first noted use of the name that would make him notorious. Vliet later dropped out of Junior College a year in and moved onto several jobs but soon came to his senses and relocated once again to reconnect with Zappa. He had by now developed his signature baritone growl modelled closely on that of rhythm and blues legend Howlin’ Wolf and was working hard on his harmonica playing which he would soon master playing the local bars and clubs with his first Magic Band. Right, so, that’s the early stuff covered. That’s how Don Glen Vliet came to be Captain Beefheart. Now here’s my spin on how I came to sail under the same flag as the legendary Captain. (Did I really just make that pun...?) Every family has got one of these, even if you don’t know it yet. Lurking somewhere in the family closet, somewhere behind your Dad’s sadly disappointing record collection and past your sister’s old PJ and Duncan compilation tapes hides a hidden gem. A relative with really, REALLY good taste in music. It might be your Dad (mine’s a big Stones fan). Your Mum might’ve bopped along to Blondie in the ‘70s. In fact, your Gran might’ve jived long into the early hours at rock ‘n’ roll nights at the local town hall, but for me it’s my Uncle. He was in a band, playing the bass (disputably the coolest of the ‘ROCK’ instruments). He pogo-ed like hell, but he refused to dance. But more importantly, he’s got a pretty damn perfect record collection. Joy Division, Bowie, Nick Cave, Radiohead: I could go on forever listing some of my favourite bands that he’s helped me discover. But a real standout has been Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. On my 18th birthday he arrived at the party clutching a couple of CD-R’s (an upgrade from vouchers this time round.). Among the CD’s was the debut from Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, 1967’s Safe as Milk. Now, if the band’s moniker wasn’t weird enough, that album title really threw me. A scan over the song titles didn’t make things any clearer: Zig Zag Wanderer? Abba Zabba? Plastic Factory? On listening, well, I’ll be honest - I didn’t like it. The production was the same as all those RnB bands from that time, the vocals were growled and screeched in close to incomprehensible, the guitars were tinny and weedy sounding, and after a few listens I decided I wasn’t ever going to like this record. How wrong could I be? Listening now four years later I can’t quite comprehend how I’d placed this record in the bargain bin of psychedelia wannabes, but thankfully a year or so after receiving this CD (and dutifully placing it in the cupboard along with all the other albums I wasn’t too proud to advertise having bought) I was exposed once again to Beefheart. This time my Uncle had made my Mum a compilation for Christmas, and alongside tracks from Bowie, Grinderman and Goldfrapp there was another Beefheart track, Her Eyes are a Blue Million Miles. Upon listening I was entranced. The band had The City Consumes Us
upgraded from psychedelia tinged blues to quirky, twisting, groove laden pop eccentricity. Gone were the scratchy guitars, the distorted production and the incomprehensibility. What was left was a twisted, steady groove, skipping beats, meandering clean guitars, dreamy production all underpinned by Vliet’s wizened voice laying down a heartfelt poem about love and disbelief. No sooner had I gotten home I was on the internet, adamant I would find this song. Wikipedia didn’t disappoint. Later that week, clutching my wallet, I found myself in HMV scouring the shelves for 1972’s Clear Spot, desperate to hear what else was on this album, praying the aforementioned track wasn’t going to be an anomaly. I was disappointed. They didn’t have it. I flicked through the three or so CDs listed, silently ranting at HMV’s bizarre policy to never stock what it is I’m looking for, until I saw an album titled The Spotlight Kid. I turned the CD round, and to my glee I saw not only the track listing for The Spotlight Kid, but also for Clear Spot. A double whammy of excitement! Every track on show here was a gem. Guitars twisted round marimbas and syncopated cowbell, bass and drums grooved along in an inexplicable pre-cursor to today’s math-rock (but it definately ISN’T prog....). For every dissonant section, a melody and chord change follows that makes for the challenge in listening. There are some unbelievably laid back, soulful moments too, Too Much Time floats along with punctuating brass and female backing vocals reminiscent of early soul and motown. Don’t get me wrong, there are some moments that make you stand back and go “What the F....?!”. The bizarre sexual connotations of Long Neck Bottles (“My Woman likes long neck bottles, and a big head on her beer... I don’t like to talk about my women but this one sure could chug ‘em down...”), the album’s spoken word closer Golden Birdies, where Beefheart’s quirkiest of poetic lyricism is punctuated by a guitar-marimba solo that resembles scat singing in it’s phrasing and irregular rhythms, and again there are some bizarre song titles there to boot: Big Eye Beans From Venus (a personal favourite), My Head is my Only House Unless it Rains, Low Yo Yo Stuff to name a few. Now I could carry on, wax lyrical, on how much I love this album in particular, and to be honest I think I’m running out of column space as it is, so I’d like to address something. I’m sure some of you are thinking what about the other albums? What about Zappa? What about Trout Mask effing Replica? Well, to be honest, I’m still in the middle of my voyage with the Captain (not another frigging sailing pun? What can I say, I’m very sorry.) and whilst that might put me at a disadvantage when
trying to write a critical retrospective on a classic artist, I think it’s exciting to know that there is so much more out there for me to get through. That’s what music should be about, the suspense and mystery in what’s out there and what’s to come. Needless to say, I went straight back to that first album, and it was as if a veil was lifted, the guitars weren’t weedy, they were sinuous and wiry, the vocals growled and howled with conviction and not pretence, and the harmonica playing is pretty much unrivalled in my ears. I’ve soaked up more albums, some have been spat out in disbelief (Don’t even bother with Unconditionally Guaranteed, it’s AWFUL.), and there are more to come including the biggy.... Yep. I’ve not managed Trout Mask Replica yet but the anticipation has almost just about got the better of me. So, if I could advise anything, I’m not going to say go out and buy Beefheart’s back catalogue (but that wouldn’t be a bad idea...), but go back and find something you might’ve disregarded for whatever reason, and see if you were right after all, or if you’re lucky like I was, you might just find that new favourite band you didn’t know you were looking for.1
Geek Of Steel September 2011 Dean Freeman
I’ve seriously crossed a major fucking line here. There’s no going back to normal, civilised society now. I’ve just walked into OKComics in Leeds bought 52 comics. And not just any comics; All 52 Issue #1’s of the rebooted DC Universe. And I’ve never bought one in my life before. You know Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons and the prestige with which he holds Issue #1 of Radioactive Man? We are within those realms. Will I become him? And how, exactly, did I get here? Well, to answer that I must take you back just over three years... I never read comics as a kid… really. The odd Beano and Sonic The Comic. I never had an interest through my university years. Our universes did not cross. But something planted the seed. Perhaps it was the emergence of the superhero summer blockbusters through the noughties. But even that side of things didn’t click. I still held comics in a, not childish regard, but just a bit absurd. Certainly not ‘serious’ fiction. It all seemed a little throwaway. But perhaps the movement of this realm of geekdom into the mainstream triggered something off. I began to get the impression, correctly, of a vast universe spreading back years and years into the past, of complex and damaged characters that stood in contrast to the do-gooder Superman archetypes one usually associates. But I was still uncomfortable reading a ‘superhero comic book’. So I found another way in. I thought ‘if I’m going to do this, I might as well start with the best’. So I avoided comics and avoided conventional superhero’s. I read the graphic novel Watchmen. Created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in the late ‘80s and later made into a film, the book is widely referred to as the “Citizen Kane of Graphic Novels.” Which is to say it blew the world of comic books clean off its axis. It is a spiralling narrative set in an alternate 1980s that sees the world on the brink of nuclear war. Instead of superhero’s, it features only ‘masked vigilantes’, with the exception of the bizarre Dr Manhatten. It’s impossible and meaningless to discuss the vast story here, but the way it is allowed to unfold matches the best fiction I have ever read. There are no caricatures, clichéd super villains, or bizarre backdrops. Just a dense and intriguing story that blew me away, just 1
A great final point here from Harry. It’s not a case of boring someone with your own personal tastes (not to say this article is boring – it’s
ace!) but more one of the way you approach music and keep looking for things new and exciting, or going back and seeing what you missed first time around. Sadly, not long after this was originally published, the great Captain passed away.
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as it must have others twenty five years ago and just happened to be told with pictures, as well as words. From that point my eyes were wide open. I stuck to compact, standalone, graphic novels. One of my favourites was Superman: Red Son which was my first foray into a standard superhero character. I love S:RS because it is set in an alternate universe that sees Superman’s ship crash in Soviet Russia instead of Smallville. A simple concept that is awesomely put together and also features a cool Russian Batman in a funny hat. I read the first collection of The Walking Dead before it became a TV show, Wanted by Mark Miller (again, now a film, though only barely related) and epic Grant Morrsion DC tour de force Final Crisis which made little sense as I didn’t know many of the characters, but totally brought home to scope of the universe in action. Sad, but I often thought; what will people think if they see me reading this? As such, my reading often took place in a dark room of the house and was rarely discussed. I was circling the edges of this subculture because I knew noone who was interested in this stuff, yet I clearly did not know enough about it to hang with the rest of the geeks. Regardless, I lightly pursued the interest. I read some obscure but enjoyable things; Alice In Sunderland is a beautiful, odd tale that takes in a lot of folklore of the city and winds it round an Alice-like fourth wall breaking narrative that almost made me not hate Sunderland. Electric Ant was a Philip K Dick short story expanded into a five part story that explored reality and existentialism. The Prisoner: Shattered Visage was a sequel to the 1960s TV series (which I love too) which, although not matching to the TV show, was an engaging and interesting read. After Watchmen, I also explored the work of Alan Moore in much more detail. He’s regarded as the Godfather of this that and the other. In reality, he’s just a great writer bursting with ideas. Mature, sophisticated ideas that have often been botched by Hollywood. I’ve read V for Vendetta and The Killing Joke and would love to read more. Alongside Grant Morrison, he is, as yet, the only name I recognise and associate with awesome stuff. Just the simple idea that comics are WRITTEN seemed alien at first. The relationship between writer and artist is fascinating and another intriguing thing about the whole world. A final step was made when I visited Japan a year ago. We visited the Manga museum in Kyoto which was basically a massive library of graphic novels and art from around the world. Like pretty much everything over there, the Anime is like nothing else in the world. I have since read Ghost In The Shell a classic future noir Japanese work which was typically massive and confusing and genius. It’s a lot more sci-fi based, set in a future Tokyo (which is already pretty futuristic to Western eyes) and again, floored me with its concepts. Japan also taught me a lot about society. I consider it a very accepting society in terms of respect for the way people live their lives. In direct relation to this article, I saw grown men openly reading comics on the metro (though I also saw them reading violent hardcore pornography…) It’s funny that I really don’t care what people think of the music I listen to or the clothes I wear. In fact I revel in any sense of outsiderdom. Yet reading a picture book really bothered me. As with so much, Japan had it right and I decided I didn’t care anymore. Since then I have come to accept the term ‘comics’. Yet I am also aware that almost everyone I know hasn’t had this three year journey to begin to understand a much under appreciated genre and may regard me with suspicion. You, dear reader, will either be into this stuff already and will thus scorn me for my cowardice as well as for stating the obvious. Or will think I’ve lost it and become one of those ‘sad people who read about flying men with x-ray eyes and live in a fantasy world’. Well I’d rather live there than the boring one you inhabit, ta.
Of course, some comic material feeds to detractors, but Christ, have you seen the Bestsellers section of Waterstones recently? And the most watched television shows? And the highest grossing films? There’s crap, sure, but the world of Graphic Novels is rich with story and invention. Plus, like 12” vinyl and old books, they are a BEAUTIFUL THING TO HAVE. I have a friend very sceptical of all this kind of thing, but he owns Johnny Cash: I See A Darkness and enjoyed it. And here lies the most important point of all Comics / Graphic Novels / whatever; they are a MEDIUM, not a GENRE. That is so important. It means there is something for everyone. Which doesn’t quite answer why I’ve just blown over £100 on 52 comics… Well, I’m exaggerating. It’s thirteen issues for four weeks running. But it’s still a big step. I guess I’m embracing the event. Comics aint worth much anymore so it’s not for some great financial gain. But I feel some kinship between the fanzine and the comic, despite the mass industry that is DC. For the first time I can follow a comic series from Issue #1. How often does that chance arrive? I just want to support the culture and immerse myself deeper. Aside from all this, there is a whole world of Independent designers and storytellers using this medium and that’s something I want to know more about. I urge you to give it a try. Even Waterstones stock this stuff now. Or next time you are wondering down the Thorntons Arcade in Leeds, pop into OKComics and take a look around. There’s a whole world in there and it’s a damn site more interesting than ours. 1
Dave’s Facts Of Life August 2011 David Cooper
Taking the tedium out of the tedious As it is wedding season, I have been thinking about what is arguably the most important part of the ceremony, when you announce to one another and the world that you want to spend the rest of your lives together; the public, yet also very personal ritual of the first wedding dance song. It upsets me then that people choose this very special moment to pedal commercially populist drivel, bland slurry that is about as romantic as a lobotomy. Recent polls place acts such as Shania Twain, Take That, Lonestar, Aerosmith and James Blunt as the most popular selections, and the horrors do not end there. The list goes on and it is common place for blandly offensive acts to crop up such as Buble, Wet, Wet, Wet, Celine Dion … the list goes on. There are constraints however. Grandma may not be as enamoured as you are with the sexual aggressiveness of Fuck The Pain Away by Peaches, with its romantic statement “sucking on my titties like you wanted me”, or the haunted bellow of “I am Murdered” which is the climax of I Like Trains’ elegiacally beautiful Spencer Percival. These two otherwise utterly suitable selections would therefore have to be shelved for another occasion.
Is this an appropriate article to be in Rhubarb Bomb? Or should it be on a personal blog? Again, I was testing the water / pushing things
forward. I find the world of creating comics incredibly interesting and thought it worth documenting. It’s all art and DIY, so why not? Since writing this my journey has continued and my shelf is filling up nicely with comics in their little plastic sleeves.
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I here suggest five alternatives to the common place bland horrors:
The Wave Pictures - Nothing Can Change This Love (Sam Cooke cover)
The character in this song sings of how his lover can leave, hurt, cheat or ignore him, yet nothing will change the way he feels for her. There is something pretty pathetic about this statement, but it is also poignant, sad and a bit sweet. There is wise sentiment in this knowing yet blind puppy dog loyalty. I think David Tattersall really plays up to the vulnerability of the protagonist with his vocal delivery. A fitting antidote to the nauseating strains of You’re Beautiful.
Fuck Buttons - Sweet Love For Planet Earth
This song twinkles to life, which gives way to a throbbing, beautiful repetitive drone. This song is the musical equivalent of a big smothering hug, and the slow pace would be perfect for the nervous groom who is making his first tentative steps on the public dance floor. The only drawback to the song would be the soft indecipherable screams at the end of the song, but this is a small shortcoming of an otherwise perfect selection, that could be easily be resolved for the concerned couple with a strategically placed fade out.
Brakes - Oh! Forever
In other hands the chorus’s refrain of “I know it’s you. I know it’s true. Oh! Forever” could sound a bit trite. However the song’s energetic sugar rush, Mary Chain style makes pledging your life to another forever and ever seem joyous and thrilling. Plus it’s a song you could bounce around the dance floor in each other’s’ arms to, if that’s the direction you would want to go in.
Pavement - We Dance
This is a simple waltzy, lonely strummed song, which culminates in the beautiful sombre line “Maybe we could dance together.” It is simple and poignant and vulnerable, yet is punctuated by quirky lyrics such as “There is no castration fear” and “pick out some Brazilian nuts for your engagement” which are sung with sincerity. I like the sentiment of a song with a universal and direct theme, punctuated by odd moments and quirks as this is what I like to believe love is. This is why I would be happy to dance into my new life to this song.
Aphex Twin - Avril 14th
This sequenced piano based song is so beautiful that it transcends the actual piano, it is impossible to play with human hands. It is a triumph of robotics over humanity then, but I have selected it here for its simple, unadulterated beauty. It’s just the prettiest instrumental work I have ever heard, and something of this calibre is clearly needed for the occasion. There you have it then, five selections put up in defiant opposition to the norm. No doubt I am preaching to the converted with the bomb readership, but I would urge you to think carefully about this very important moment in your life. If you cannot find a song that speaks to you as a couple, maybe you are doomed to end up separated and heartbroken. Or maybe not, I don’t know, really. 1
A sweet little article that stemmed from Dave’s threat of playing Peaches as his wedding dance song. I always thought that was very
funny. Smartly, he actually comes up with some good suggestions. I am always keen to avoid the ‘list’ form of journalism wherever possible as I think it is the single most laziest format that overworked writers resort to. But here it works because it is purely subjective, not an easy way to regurgitate already well known information.
Fanzine Culture December 2011 Dean Freeman
This is a draft of an aborted article for the Power To The Small Massive chapter in the main book. It was one of my many attempts to dissect the role of a fanzine and an editor. I often find myself questioning the point of what Rhubarb Bomb does. The mix of ideology and practicality seemed to mirror somewhat that of a communist state desperately trying to maintain control and momentumn (I visited Cuba in 2009 and have an interest in such matters). The point became laboured and lost and the piece was eventually dropped. As a form of communication, expression and ego boosting, the fanzine appeals primarily to two groups: the idealistic and the idle. On the one hand the anarchist streak that leads us to publish our thoughts and ravings free of editorial preferences and party lines finds its perfect outlet in the DIY zine. Whether a rally call for extreme revolutionary action or a boring rant about people at gigs who talk too loud / look the other way / wave camera phones around, the zine is a cathartic hit of self righteous naval gazing. Sometimes the punches connect but there are rarely casualties. More often the rage is misdirected, or worse, the doctrine is actually quite tame. But zines also appeal to this second paradigm; the lazy. Now take a step back here – putting a zine together is hard work. In the days of email things are much easier, granted, and I have much respect for the fanzine forefather. But still: organisation, collecting articles and pictures and then sticking together the whole bundle and getting it out to shops and venues… a lot of it is boring, thankless and tough. The idleness I refer to is one of form. A fanzine does not have rules and a fanzine editor is a law unto themselves. Power corrupts and the idea that your fanzine ‘can be about whatever it wants’ crushes any standards, albeit slowly over time. A grammatical error? It’s not about the grammar… That big interview isn’t ready? A two pager about Come Dine With Me then. It’s a fanzine it doesn’t matter etc. etc. This combination of straight edge ideology and a complete lack of framework inevitably leads to a relatively short life for most zines. Even those hardcore enough to draw up manifestos always have the Manicesque contradiction clause of being allowed to break their own rules. Once this happens, the whole thing implodes. The only other alternative is the introduction of rationalism. Economics – issues must pay for themselves. Brand – we must cover certain things our identified demographic will enjoy. These things can ensure the long life of the title but your little project won’t be a fanzine for long. It will become a magazine. Or you will leave for a paid job. So the question is: how it is possible to maintain a fanzine in the long term? The thrill of “I can write about anything” can soon become “what does it matter what I write?” I connect the role of fanzine editor to that of a dictator of an insignificant African nation. For a start, the seriousness with which I am discussing fanzines, and thus myself, is comparable to The City Consumes Us
the mad claims of military mite or cultural superiority spouted by rulers certain of their own global importance. But more appropriately (I hope) are the shaky economics, the isolation from the ‘mainstream’ and the paranoia / bitterness that manifests itself as rampant patriotism. The constant seeking of favours is another; blagging, pleading and making do to just keep things going, like Cubans and their 1950s Cadillacs with engines bolted together with discarded coke cans and rusted corrugated iron. With this metaphor in the mind, the future can look nothing but bleak. I look around and see once reputable institutions resorting to running features on My Chemical Romance and ghost written previews for beer sponsored festivals. I see their shiny covers, dull but functional sites and their 10,000 ‘likes’ and, like the East German looking over the wall, I am naturally drawn, one part jealousy, two part disgust. To step away from this for a second, I believe as people our personalities are formed in our late teens. From there we grow and develop but fundamentally hold those ideas to be true. Even to be a staunch liberal at twenty and a hardened rascist at forty is still the former informing the latter. Your roots are inescapable. And so it is with the socialist countries and the independent fanzine; the inevitable idea of reform rears its head. To survive, are you willing to alter your core motives as informed as they may claim to be by your original guiding principals?
Celebrity Prattle: It’s where the money is… August 2010 Roland X
“So how does this work?” asked Michael McIntyre. “Do I pay you everything now, or at the end, with a tip?” The bus driver gave a bemused expression. His grasp of the English language was not spectacular. He could string the odd sentence together though, and worked his way through a copy of The Sun most days. And he was a huge Michael McIntyre fan. He waved the star of Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow along the bus with a wide Caribbean smile. Michael McIntyre replied with his trademark cheeky grin. That was payment enough. The funny man sat on the big bus.1 His chauffeur’s unexpected sickness had really thrown a spanner in the works. But, after throwing a bit of a huff, his agent had persuaded him that an experience with public transport may result in some highly comic material. After all, everyone gets the bus, right?! Least, that’s what the market research people told him, as they studied the key demographic that had bought his last DVD. The resulted had shown that he was most popular amongst “people who ride buses”, “people who work at desks”, “women educated to a GCSE Level Standard”, “middle aged women on the school run” and “Grans.” Amazon just said “fans of Peter Kay and Paddy McGuiness.” He had a lot to live up to. It was a grim evening. The bus was warm and sweaty. In the taxi to the bus station, he had imagined getting mobbed, like The Beatles at JFK. A few autographs, at least, as he walked up the centre aisle through his adoring public. But these people had ignored him completely. They were grey and bland
This is a reference to a Stewart Lee piece about how rubbish Dan Brown is as a writer. It ties with the idea of different approaches to
comedy explored in this. At the time this was published, it was already fashionable to deride to ‘broad’ comedy of Michael Macintyre. This
article doesn’t intend to do that but simply paints a picture for comedic value and is again exploring / expanding into creative writing, whilst still making points about authenticity.
and bleak…and smelly. A faint sense of desperation, no, confrontation hung in the air. There isn’t anything funny about this he thought. And funny is all Michael McIntyre knows. He cautiously gazed around at his fellow travellers. “This woman sat next to me is crazy” ran Michael McIntyre’s internal monologue. It lacked the bounce and well faked childlike wonder of his life persona. It was bitter and calculated. “She’s wearing a faded red anorak and she’s crazy. Looking out of the window. What you looking at, there’s nothing out there. Stop pretending you don’t know who I am. You know who I am. Everyone knows who I am.” The bus jolted violently to a halt. A fat man got on, one slow bulbous leg at a time. Michael McIntyre watched the drawn out, cumbersome movements in staring, angered detail. There was some exchange between the man and the smiling driver and then the man waddled to his seat, out of breath. That man there, he’s crazy, thought Michael McIntyre, he has completely lost his mind. Michael McIntyre sat awkwardly, unsure whether to cross his legs or spread them wide, like some kind of proletariat alpha male. He caught reflection of himself in the window and his foppish hair, which once put him in mind of a young Hugh Grant, now seemed kind of… silly. Not clown-like silly. Not Ronnie Corbet silly. Just ‘rubbish’ silly. Outside, the bus rattled passed some young teens with skinheads and one of them threw an egg. Michael McIntyre jolted upright in his seat, excitedly. He swung his head to the bus driver in anticipation of confrontation. Wow! Surely he wasn’t going to take that? What happens now, does he stop the bus and scare them off? Will the police be involved? Perhaps I’ll have to step in and break up the fight, he thought. The young people would listen to him. This is perfect lower class interaction. But the bus just bumped along through the night. The driver didn’t even flinch. Didn’t he notice? Perhaps Michael McIntyre should inform him? No, there’s no point; he could hear him humming a TV theme tune. That bus driver, he’s completely crazy thought Michael McIntyre. He ever so slightly curled into himself, lifting the collar of his expensive coat over his face. People are the problem, he pondered. Get rid of them and everything else will fall into place. He gripped his right hand tight into a fist, imagining he was crushing a dog or a small planet. Outside, in the damp evening, the grotty east-end boozers and dimly lit doorways, red hues emanating from within, caught his eye. He was here! As the bus bounced to a stop, his stress evaporated and his delusions returned, allowing him to walk down the aisle of the bus like it was a victorious return for an encore. “And good night from me!” he proclaimed to the insane bus driver, who smiled politely back. Michael McIntyre has left the red bus… He purposefully walked down the length of the street, then mimed, via an exaggerated slap of the forehead, that he had forgotten something and turned back for the bus stop. But it was all a cunning rouse. This was called a ‘Recce’. It was a quiet night, the occasional car slushed by anonymously. On reaching the bus stop once more he stopped and looked at his watch, pretending to comprehend the timetable. He raised his pure silk scarf over his clean shaven face (truth was, he couldn’t grow facial hair)2 and looked slyly side to side. He had followed his agent’s instructions to the letter. Satisfied the dirty street was empty, he moved towards one of the dimly lit doors. He felt a sickness rising in his stomach. It reminded him of his early days on the comedy circuit. He used to get so nervous. Would people like him? Would they laugh at his Bruce Forsyth impression? That was before he discovered that ‘real’ comedy was observational and anecdotal. But whilst 2
Although some of this does seem like cheap, childish shots. As discussed later, the line between criticism and needless point scoring is
one to tread carefully. I’m sure Michael is a lovely man and is not even slightly concerned with what Rhubarb Bomb writes about him (nor should he be).
The City Consumes Us
success banished the butterflies from the stomach, it also disconnected him from real life. He had two options; embrace it and go ‘surreal’ – “good money, but not great money”, his agent told him - or secondly; get some more anecdotes. And research showed that whilst he had the female market covered, he was lacking in pulling the male side of things… He took a dramatic deep breath and pressed the buzzer. A matter of fact female voice replied “Hello?” “Er yes, it’s Michael here. Michael McIntyre” (great he thought: that could be reworked to sound like James Bond, a good opening to this anecdote that ties with the male demographic, yet is a broadly recognised term). The door clicked open and he climbed the narrow stairway. From the landing he saw a pair of highly made up eyes peeping around the door. “Er Hi”, he said. “Malcolm called?” “Yes”, she said “come this way…” He entered the flat. His nerves were shot and he felt out of his depth. What he wouldn’t give to be out there, in front of the appreciative crowd telling his stories about how hard it is having kids and how mean the bullies were at school. He was about to scarper out the door when the prostitute returned from the kitchen with a whiskey, on the rocks. “For the nerves”, she said and Michael McIntyre downed it in one. It sharpened him up. He was ready. “So…”, said Michael Macintyre “How does this work? Do I pay you everything now, or at the end, with a tip?”
The Freaks Are Winning September 2011 Dean Freeman
In September 2011 Rhubarb Bomb began an exploration into wider fanzine culture. Its first port of call was The Inner Swine which, by a bizarre set of coincidences, had found its way into my house. I contacted the creator Jeff Somers to find out more about its creation and long life. I hoped to learn more about what a zine actual is, what it should strive to be and the long term effects on the mental stability of someone who runs one. Rather than include the article, I have instead gone for the full transcript as its inclusion in that form in this chapter makes more sense than randomly appearing in a regular issue. Rhubarb Bomb: Where are you / is The Inner Swine based? Jeff Somers: Hoboken, NJ, the unofficial sixth borough of New York City. Also, the New Jersey City with the most bars per city block, birthplace of Frank Sinatra who escaped as a kid and never came back not once, and home of the Cake Boss. When did you start up The Inner Swine and has it run relatively consistently since that date? The Inner Swine was originally conceived by me and three other people in 1993. My friend Rob Gala and I were talking one night and I expressed impatience with the whole publishing thing, how long it takes. So we both sort of said, hey, let’s start our own magazine! We got two friends and had a planning meeting, and then did a lot of wheel-spinning for two years. The other two guys dropped off, me and Rob tried to put it together as a duo but we were too different in outlook and politics and vision. Eventually Rob gave up. This was 1995 and I just took all the material I’d created, the cover our artist friend (Jeof Vita) had created in 1993, and put out issue one with no fanfare or production values. At that point, I just wanted the first issue out. Little did I know that “no fanfare or production values” would become the general philosophy of the zine. Tell me a little bit about yourself i.e. the neighbourhood you live in, do you have a full time job, do you have an ‘office’ where you ‘work’. Just a little bit of a picture.
Born and raised in northern New Jersey. I live in Hoboken. Married, four cats instead of kids. Day job, sadly, but I work from home. I drink scotch, don’t smoke, play guitar and post songs on my blog until someone pays me not to, and sometimes humiliate myself by playing chess. Thinking way back… what inspired / motivated you to start up a zine? I’d never heard of zines at the time. We just suddenly thought, why spend all this effort trying to convince folks to publish us, why not just do it ourselves? It was only years later, when I started putting out the issues, that I realized there were these things called zines, and I’d started one. As a fanzine editor / writer I often experience the crushing “what is the point of this again?” lows and the amazing “I can do whatever I like!” highs. Is there a practical method of keeping yourself moving forwards? Or does it take a specific kind of person to do what we do? Personally, we’re talking about endless wells of self-centeredness. I don’t actually care much if anyone else likes or enjoys the zine. It’s for me, really. I enjoy doing it, and I entertain the hell out of myself while writing it. The fact that a few dozen/hundred/thousand people around the world enjoy it is just icing on the cake, really. I think if I ever hit a point where absolutely no one is reading the zine, I might fold the tent up. But as long as I have some folks interested, I’ll likely continue. Maybe as a digital-only kind of thing. Your tenure at The Inner Swine has seen the arrival and dominance of the internet. How easy was it to accept those changes and what importance do you give to the physical format? Is it still relevant? I never thought too hard about the changes. The Internet was always exciting and interesting to me, and I was super eager to get a web page up, and I remain excited to post old issues on the web page and allow anyone, from anywhere, to read the zine in some form. For the moment, paper still rules. It’s the only way to guarantee 100% accessibility and the only way to guarantee that the zine you bought at Quimbys in 1998 is still usable, because your paper copy will never run out of battery life or crash and wipe your hard drive or any shit like that. It could, of course, fall in the tub or catch on fire. This I stipulate. Some folks wax on poetically about the hand-crafting of a zine, but I don’t. Making a zine was always and remains a fucking chore. If I could hire some neighbourhood kids to collate, fold, staple, and stuff these motherfuckers for pennies, I would. I would lock them in a room with unsafe working conditions and put on a sash that says EVIL CAPITALIST OPPRESSOR and laugh and laugh as they begged me for food and water. “Keeping folding!” I’d shout. “If you get 500 done by midnight you each get to look at a glass of cool water.” And the children would cheer. The City Consumes Us
31 I’ve noticed a lot of (music) fanzines nowadays really taking hold of the ‘DIY’ tag and bending it to their corporate means i.e. Fake DIY. They are magazines disguising themselves as fanzines. Although your perspective is a little different, is there a line, morally, for you? That’s been going on forever; advertising/marketing folks are always sniffing out trends and coopting them. Back in the mid-1990s there was a moment when zines were “cool” and you saw a bit of marketing using the zine/DIY aesthetic. I shrug at that stuff. I never messed with advertising precisely because I didn’t want to have to worry over anything like that. For me, the zine was always meant to be a fun way to get writing out into the world. But then this is why I will die poor and miserable, because I’ve been losing money on the zine since day one. It never paid for itself. And who cares? As for a moral line, I don’t worry about shit like that. Fake stuff gets found out and left behind. I let the universe sort stuff like that out. More and more these days I think people feel that as long as they are entertained, they don’t care about issues like whether you’re getting paid to write something with a certain slant. Used to be people got up in arms when artists “sold out” etc, but today advertising is seen as a vector to promote yourself. The culture has changed. Where does fanzine writing sit in relation to “Art” and “Journalism”? That’s a trick question. “Art” is totally subjective. You can call a zine art, and who can argue? “Journalism” has guidelines and techniques. You can be trained as a journalist. Most zine writers are not trained as journalists, but that doesn’t mean their writing can’t approach the standards of journalism - and sometimes do.But, of course, I’ve used this trick my whole life: My zine is a personal project meant for fun, so if I get anything wrong, if I am woefully misinformed or just plain stupid on a subject, I just laugh and say “zine!” and I am excused. This allows me to say the most fantastic things and get away with it. 1 What weight do you give to the aesthetic of a fanzine, as opposed to the content? None, as a rule. Have you seen my zine? It’s hideous. And when I come across zines in the wild, the ones I like are the ones filled with text. That’s personal, though. I am a word guy, not an image guy. I have seen some gloriously beautiful zines, visually speaking, in my time. It’s just I value words over images and design. Part of this is my inability to create something visually beautiful. Since I can’t do it, I don’t value it. Do you feel that The Inner Swine is tied geographically to where you live? By that I mean, if you lived elsewhere, would it be radically different; could it only come from the mind of someone who lies in Hoboken? No, but of course it is a product of a man who has lived his whole life in this area, so of course there are cultural things in there. They’re largely invisible to me, of course. Where else has the fact you produce The Inner Swine taken you in life? Anywhere you would otherwise have never got to? Nope, but that’s a product of me being generally antisocial. I always rejected the idea of “community”. When I started putting out The Inner Swine and I connected with other DIY publishers, there was some sentiment that I had joined a “community” and had resultant privileges and duties, which I always ignored. As a result I don’t go to any gatherings or get involved with any zine-related things. I am a rock. I am an island.
This article was originally intended to fit into the Power To The Small Massive chapter of the book. It was one of the last chapters to be
completed, simply because as the book came together, my research increased and the zine culture aspect began to move to the forefront. Clearly whole books could be (and have been) written on this subject. DIY: The Rise Of LO-FI Culture by Amy Spencer was an influence for me, as were many books on Riot Grrrl and other zine histories for Matt when he was working on the designs.
I’ve Tried Everything January 2012 Dean Freeman
This is a first draft of an unfinished chapter introduction that was eventually replaced by Death Is The End in the final version of the book. Once again I tried to incorporate too many ideas and it just kinda stopped. It is included as simply another incomplete strand of the many ‘issues’ the non chronological chapters attempted to look at. This chapter was intended to include interviews with members of bands that had ceased to be, such as Last Gang, The Research, The Old House, The Whippets etc. But it became a bit of a dead end and a more positive take on the disintegration of great bands was instead included “I was born in the Merrie City”, sang The Cribs in 2007. “I’ve been trying to get out of it”. The idea of ‘getting out’ is one I’ve not really heard for a few years. Personally, I relate that phrase and ideal back to Nirvana; that of the angsty teen stuck in a backwards town apathetic to their music. Of course, it is an idea that has existed much longer and relates to a very wide array of bands. Nirvana got out by getting signed to a label (Sub Pop) that helped give the band great exposure though support slots with their bigger acts. Then they just needed the tunes. The Manic Street Preachers are another example. The sleepy backend of the Welsh Valleys brought them into the world. Their solution was to put that profound sense of alienation into their work, thus making a connection with other likeminded souls trapped in ‘Urban Hell’. Of course, being signed to Sony also helped. I have perhaps become ignorant to that term through Rhubarb Bomb’s focus on Wakefield and the surrounding areas. In some respects our job is almost the opposite of that term; stay in Wakefield, there is plenty going on. But certain elements have changed. Technology is obviously a huge one. Although I personally feel that social media will ultimately leave us all even more emotionally alienated than the geographical issues that caused concern for Kurt and Richie, it is – in theory – a more connected world in which we live. This can create an illusion. In the next ten years laptops and televisions will essentially become the same thing. You will have the entire news of the world available 24 hours a day. You will be able to stream Music, TV shows and Film on demand. You will be able to know any fact that has ever been known by a simple Google search. Social Networking will tell you what you need to watch and hear and think and do. Why will it matter where you live? You won’t need to leave the front room. The whole world in the little gray box on the wall, or the little black one in your pocket. I say ten years. We are there now. But for the majority of people these technologies are not fully intergrated yet. Streaming is not the only way to watch stuff, but it soon will be because it cuts out manufacturing costs. Knowledge is not purely from the internet. But who’ll bother writing a book in ten years time? Again, think of the production costs. Just download it. This is not a tirade against technology (though I am rather phobic of all the above). It is to make the point; if the world is going online, what is there to escape to? Is that a redundant term now? Back in 2008 the bands Rhubarb Bomb had great hopes started dropping like flies. The Research and The Old House split and Last Gang stuttered to a defeated halt. Skint & Demoralised had signed to Mercury but things had started to go a little wrong. Pylon had called it a day the year before. All those bands, to a certain extent, had made progress in getting recognition outside of Wakefield. The NME created scene New Yorkshire had long passed but the success of The Cribs third album Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever had held the spotlight over Wakefield a little longer. In 2006 my own band The Whippets recorded a demo with a friend who has studying Sound Technology at Huddersfield University. Unexpectedly, the song Plebeian Society got picked up by Steve Lamacq. Before we knew it, some guy from Mercury Records came up to see us from London and sat in on a practice. He then offered to pay for us to record some tracks with Justin Lockey from Yourcodenameis:milo in Newcastle.
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We journeyed up and stayed in a nice hotel. We spent an evening recording drums and bass. It was cool. Justin was also working on a collaboration album called Print Is Dead at the time and all the names of the collaborators were up on the wall. Sam Duckworth of Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly popped in to say hello. It felt ace. The next morning we arrived at the studio to find Justin rather stressed out. His computer had somehow crashed through the night and wiped all the Print Is Dead stuff plus some tracks for the next Yourcodenameis:milo album. He apologised, but we were going to have to postpone the session. It never came together again. Attempts were made but it just didn’t happen. But it had inspired us. We started to take it a lot more seriously. We organised our own tour around the country. We practiced a hell of a lot more and we wrote better songs. We won Bright Young Things in Leeds the next year, got more airplay and recorded a single with Jamie at Greenmount Studios, releasing it ourselves on Geek Pie Records. That peak of what could have been made us sure it was what we wanted, it gave us focus and determination. The single was released on February 29th 2008. Six months later we had decided to call it a day. The Research split only two months after the release of their second album. The Old House never made it to the album. Pylon split after releasing their debut album. Last Gang recorded an album with Stephen Street that only ever saw release in Japan as the whole thing fell about their feet. Skint & Demoralised’s first album was lost for years, as was Matt and has only now, three years later, found his way back. I wanted to speak about these disintegrations but understandably those involved weren’t interested in raking it all up. Russell of The Research didn’t feel there was any worth in going back over it all and that some things were better left unsaid. Kristian of Last Gang did not want to speak about it at all but drummer Matt Knee explained it all kind of grinded to halt around April 2009 but fizzled out long before that. I absolutely respect their decision and it wouldn’t make for a jolly read in a book supposedly celebrating these artists. But I think it is important. When The Whippets split in 2008 they were a better band than the one that had seen such interest in 2006. By an absolute mile. But we simply couldn’t get the interest going again. I have my own ideas on what went wrong but I have learnt, when the topic has been brought up since, that other members of the band will inevitably see things differently and proportion blame in opposing directions. It is a messy affair and a lot is best left unsaid. But surely it can’t be a coincidence that, just like there is a Wakefield Sound, there also seems to be a Wakefield career plan – and it involves mass potential never realised. If that is a disease that needs curing, surely we need to look closely at the symptoms and see what needs changing, for all our sakes?
Great Festivals: Kuiperfest
Dean Freeman What makes a great festival experience? One element that I feel is often overlooked is the sense of adventure, the experience of the new and unusual. Of course, it is all relative. When I was seventeen and went to Leeds Festival for the first time, it was incredibly new and unusual. A free
pass for the weekend, as much beer as I could carry, as much music as my ears could take. It was probably the first time I ever put up a tent and I marvelled at these cans that contained an ‘All Day Breakfast’. It was the early days of the 21st century and anything seemed possible.1 Attending that particular festival five years running saw a steady decline in my enjoyment of it. It was a combination of many factors; familiarity, overcrowding, changing tastes. But also the fact that it wasn’t new anymore. Ok, the trip from Wakefield to Leeds wasn’t exactly a step into the great unknown, but it was the first step in a life of festivals. I was just bored of taking the same step over and over again. Since my last Leeds Festival experience in 2005, I have sampled from the vast and constantly growing platter of festival ‘experiances’ on offer. I marvelled at the Leeds Fest carbon copy V Festival and flew to an airfield in Poland for Opener. I sat in a rainy, abandoned forest in Windermere for Fell Foot and relaxed in a railway museum for Indietracks. Latitude, Rough Beats, Live at Leeds… the variations continue on and on. But what about that sense of adventure? Many festivals now market themselves as ‘an experience’; simply putting on bands in a field is not enough nowadays. Alex James is organising Harvest, a food and music festival where you can watch KT Tunstall whilst eating his finest homemade cheese. Latitude itself offers theatre, comedy, poetry, literature, film, tv and knitting workshops to keep you busy through the day. Yet it all takes place within a very safe and very controlled environment. Of course, we are thrilled that there are toilets that actually work and food that won’t kill you - all good advancements. But how long before a festival essentially becomes a home from home? Latitude already has an onsite restaurant that advertises its “proper plates and cutlery.” There were sofas in the tents to sit on. You couldn’t see the stage but you could watch it on the big screen, like you were in your own front room. If you missed a band, Sky had a tent where you could sit (on a sofa) and watch them. There was a little shop down the road where you could get a morning newspaper. Yes, Latitude is different in this manner but these extra touches which actually make ‘the experience’ more enjoyable will soon become the norm, with festivals battling to give an all round package that appeals to the mass middle class interest in festivals. I’m not glorifying the dirt and squalor. I approve of everything that Latitude and its equivalents do to make my weekend more enjoyable. It’s just so bloody safe. There’s nothing unique in the homogenised Festival Republic experience, there’s no story to tell. In Summer 2009 I went to the most interesting and unique festival I have ever come across. The bands were all completely unknown. It had no facilities whatsoever (not even running water or electricity). It took two and a half days to get there. But all those factors added up to something quite amazing and an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. In summer 2009 I went to Kuiperfest. My friend and folky chap The Passing Fancy had visited the year before and spoke of this strange but wonderful festival perched on the edge of a valley, amongst the olive groves of sun scorched Spain. I don’t recall when we decided we had to go. I kind of get these things in my head and they just happen without me realising. After driving to Munich and back a couple of years before I had an urge to make the drive to Calciete, the nearest town, about an hour outside Barcelona. This, coupled with the Passing Fancy’s fear of flying, cemented it – we would make the trip in my three door, one litre Corsa. Day one saw myself, Mr Passing Fancy and Jayno take the relatively easy trip from Wakefield to London. There we picked up the 4th member of our team – Rich. As well as Mr Fancy and myself having separate gigs booked, Passing was also performing a piece of theatre, for which I was providing the soundtrack. So, amongst the tents, bags, sleeping bags and beers we also had the set of the play and two acoustic guitars. Every nook and cranny of my tiny Corsa was filled. There was no room to stretch or move. Very much the proverbial sardines in a can. Day two saw us hit the Channel Tunnel and enter France. The weather was glorious as we sped south, our spirits high despite the crushed conditions. We put on our comp CD’s and chatted away. We stopped at massive aircraft hanger super stores and picked out ham and cheese for dinner, the 1
This article originally fit into the (How To Do) Long Division chapter of the main book but was ultimately too long and not actually about
Wakefield, so was cut. But I think the point it makes about the individuality of festival and the sense of adventure is central to Rhubarb Bomb’s approach to such things.
The City Consumes Us
sandwiches I had made the previous day now a gooey, sweaty mess in our travelling hotbox. To avoid Toll roads we took smaller A roads, then found ourselves worryingly short of fuel. Which meant Rich and I had to grapple with our limited French to find a petrol station. “Er… Voiture… Gasoline?” The kind locals drew us a map. However, the majority of the day was spent on the motorway, which wasn’t the most exciting drive. But by the time we hit Bordeaux around 10pm it was great to think of the progress we had made. Day three saw us awake in the beautiful French city and take in croissants by the river. The only regret was that we did not have time to explore. With some trepidation we got back into the car, now more chaotic and restricting than ever. Not to worry; by days end we would be at Kuiperfest. By dinnertime we had hit the Pyrenees, the huge mountains that separate France and Spain. This is what these longs drives are about. We wound our way up and through and down. After ten minutes in a cool, shady tunnel we emerged in Espana. Looking out over the barren, sandy vista’s felt amazing. After some low moments in France, with Rich especially succumbing to cabin fever, we felt good again. Our last experience of civilisation was a stop for food in Alcaniz. After that we hit the endless desert roads. For hours we drove through a nothing landscape, empty ghost towns surrounded by craters and dust. As light began to fade, so did our spirits. The journey had been amazing. But we had reached the line now. We needed to arrive. The roads became smaller and more winding. The venue for the festival does not exist on Google. I don’t use sat navs but it wouldn’t have been on there either. We missed the dust track the first time, but doubled back. We weren’t sure, but a sign pointing to an old church was the clue we needed. Fifteen minutes down the bumpiest, dustiest dirt track eventually brought us to our destination. As the sun vanished completely, our tents were up. It was too dark to take in our surroundings but we didn’t care; someone had got us an ice cool beer and that was all that mattered. 56 hours, 1200 miles later, we were here. The next day we were able to explore the site. The only buildings were the house of organiser Jon Bon Figlio (his real name) - which was off bounds to punters - a shack the size of a garden shed, which was the bar and a row of hand built toilets, the fourth wall of which was missing, meaning you had a view of the beautiful valley whilst you befouled it. Water was brought in from the town in bottles. No electricity was required. breakfast, dinner and tea were cooked out of the back of a camper van. They rung a bell when it was ready. There were no fences on site, no barriers, not even a designated camping area. Find a spot amongst the olive trees, preferably with a chance of shade early morning, and you are set. The sense of quiet was amazing. There were maybe 150 people at the festival, spread liberally across the stepped ridges. Myself and Mr Fancy went to rehearse our sets and walked for twenty minutes round the rim of the valley, far from the campers. Our guitars had warped in the heat and we could not get them in tune, but had a go anyway. On our return we were told everyone could hear us perfectly, such was the peace that engulfed the festival.
The music, as well as some theatre and stand up comedy, took place in an area that had nothing to distinguish it, bar a little wooden log a performer could sit on. Performances went on late in to the night. The audience there were the most appreciative I’ve ever seen, with even the most generic singer songwriter material being met with understanding silence and handsome applause. The heat was intense, much greater than I could usually deal with, but the fact there was nothing to do but relax made it bearable. Sometime I would go sit in the car TO COOL DOWN. One time I nodded off with my feet up on the dashboard and for the rest of the festival I had sunburnt ankles. Nothing else, just the ankles. To help cool off, the organisers ran minibus trips to a nearby river each day. Nothing to do there but get wet and try and catch fish and it was wonderful. The play went down well and Mr Fancy and I enjoyed our sets. We saw some absolutely terrible Shakespeare and a bonkers piece of performance that featured a man dressed as a giant vagina and two guys with water pistols as penises. But it was more about the sense that we had made it all this way, to the absolute back of beyond. Not for a festival that was advertised and will get The Guardian and BBC approval or that you could search out on E-Festivals and buy a ticket. Something truly alternative and unknown, a literal trip into the unknown with 100 people from different corners of Europe that will never meet again. That was what made Kuiperfest so amazing and why it will always stick with me. It’s rare to get experiences in life like that and the more festivals are marketed as such, the less likely they will be in achieving what they claim to offer. I hear of the amazing secret areas of Glastonbury, the real festival but I expect they are not really secret, just not of interest to the U2 / Coldplay / Beyonce adoring mass market it is now sets its sights on. The community element is alive and well though, especially in the smaller niche festivals and outside of adventure, that is another key element to a successful and enjoyable festival. This year I am heading back to Leeds Festival and whilst I won’t be camping (that is an ‘adventure’ I am not willing to under take ever again) I am interested to see if that sense of involvement and togetherness exists at all, especially during Pulp’s headline slot. Yet I know that it can’t ever be anymore than a good day out – the true experiences take a lot more searching out, are more elusive and all the better for it when you find them.
Unity Hall: Once In A Lifetime April 2012
Dean Freeman It perhaps says something about my mentality when I tell you that, as a youngster, I dreamt of winning the lottery and buying that old mill building that used to sit down by the river, out past Chantry Chapel bridge. Surrounded by huge empty brick buildings it had the kind of post industrial romance that is perhaps more equated with Manchester and its ‘90s redevelopment. It’d be an ace rehearsal space by day and an awesome venue by night and would be somewhere for friends to get together and hang out. And because I’d funded it through a lottery win, it wouldn’t matter if the books balanced. It’d be legendary. The first problem with this dream was that I didn’t play the lottery. Paradoxically (and naively) I feared a lottery win would ‘ruin my life’ as I would never appreciate the value of things and people would not take me seriously. That soon changes once you get a job, doesn’t it? The second problem was more practical; the building was bought up as part of a redevelopment of luxury flats. It’s still there, just along from The Hepworth. And it is still empty as plans to turn it into a fancy restaurant have fallen by the wayside in the current economic climate. I then began dreaming of buying the building that was once Players Snooker Club, a legendary venue that later became Cube, then Zone and now lays empty. I would run it as a collective with other music lovers and we’d create an inclusive, friendly place for all Wakefield musicians to meet and collaborate and dream yet more. But really, would that ever happen? The City Consumes Us
Well, in a funny sort of way, perhaps. Unity House, the huge, long derelict building in the very centre of Wakefield stands before me. Chris Hill, of a company called Shine, is conducting a tour of the legendary venue. I’ve never been inside before. Many in our tour group will have. Stories of this place are part of the fabric of Wakefield history. But that is all it has ever been to me. Now, it is real. We ascend a few flights of metal stairs and appear in Unity Hall itself, a vast space that is the main source of this buildings legend. It is hard to believe such a large venue exists in the centre of Wakefield. The floor space, of bent and humped floorboards, is a very healthy size. An old bar of torn and stripped ‘70s décor still stands at one end. At the other, the stage itself, which has been host to so many great bands of the punk and post punk era. Light filters in through stained glass. From atop the old balcony I catch a glimpse over Wakefield and am startled to see my city from this unknown angle. Three ornate towers stretch into the distance before me; Wakefield Theatre Royal, then Westgate Chapel. If it wasn’t for the fact that the third was actually Wakefield prison, I would say this was a most cultured scene indeed. Watching us all scurry around like excited children is Chris Hill, stood centre, patiently letting us take it all in. Earlier in the week he hosted an event at The Orangery, just over the road, to launch the scheme to get the public involved in Unity Hall’s great comeback. Time and time again, a group or business has looked at Unity Hall and seen the obvious potential but it has never come close to fruition. But the plans put forward at the meeting are not only the most promising, but are also the best. Chris works for a company called Shine, based in Leeds, who have a track record with this sort of thing. Like many people, he hadn’t visited Wakefield so much over the years but admits after just a few months working on this project that “I’ve fallen in love with Wakefield. It’s a really beautiful place.” He believes that Unity Hall gives Wakefield a genuine chance to go “head to head with Leeds.”
So what’s that plan? Well, essentially, Shine has been trying to secure a load of financial backing from various sources; lottery funds, Arts Council, European sources and Wakefield Council to purchase and renovate the building. But the exciting thing is this; they aren’t a business or a corporation. They are offering control of this building to the citizens of Wakefield. Me and you. Of course, it will have to work as a business, but it means this is a huge opportunity for this building to be used to benefit the people of Wakefield directly through its use as an Arts Space, a Music Venue, Retail Units, Business Space, Conference Suites, Theatre Space and, well, it’s up to us at the end of the day. The tour continues into a small side room from the main hall. Space enough for another bar and small stage. From here, out of the ornate windows, I can see Westgate itself. The tacky, cheerless bars un-neoned in the afternoon; one takeaway is optimistically open, serving kebabs to shoppers and drifters. It’s like I’m watching through the looking glass. Another world at my fingertips. This place is in another class. Rather than letting all that stuff outside drag the city down, Unity Hall can drag the city back up once more. “I’ve seen Wakefield come up and go down. The city needs development. Westgate needs a kick up the backside. Unity Hall is the absolute pinnacle of what needs to happen.” So say, Murray Edwards, head of Wakefield Theatre and Board Member on this grand project. The launch sees a procession of speakers give a different take on why we need Unity Hall. John Godber, now in residence at the theatre adds “You have to look after artists or they leg it.” He makes a hugely important point about Arts bodies working together and how he sees Unity Hall facilitating this. He refers to Silo Thinking, which he witnessed in Hull before his move to Wakefield wherein Arts Organisations keep themselves to themselves and end up fighting over limited funding for their projects. A collective running Unity Hall would enable all areas of the arts to come together and work as one. The building itself can end up being central to a vast hub of smaller Arts organisations working as one. From my experience, this is exactly what we need to do in Wakefield. Not only will Unity Hall be a home for these different arms of the arts, it can also teach us to work together. The tour continues and very quickly I become disorientated. It’s a vast, confusing place. The lights mostly don’t work. Old chairs lied scattered in hallways. Fifty year old radiators cling to the walls. Open, empty fuse boxes and peeling paint hang to the walls. I can’t dispel the notion of a post apocalyptic computer game – or better still, one where you find yourself in a long abandoned, slightly creepy location. Where something has gone horribly wrong. Add a couple of flickering strip lights and the distant groan of some unseen foe and I’d be pretty bloody terrified. But I love the history on show here. A beautiful panelled fireplace. Stained glass windows with the image of the beehive worked in; an important symbol of the co-operative that first built this structure back in the 19th century. Some of the walls are ugly 1960s plaster but holes reveal the delicate original tiling hidden behind. Peel away the surface and there is something beautiful there, waiting to be found. These additional areas are key to the commercial aspect of Unity Hall. A spokesman for a local digital media company explains how something like Unity Hall can help build a community for his particular line of work. He had dreamed of creating such a thing but was saddened to see the majority of designers move to Leeds or be forced to set up shop in the soul destroying identikit buildings of various motorways business parks. Wakefield Council’s Head of Economic Growth was also there to offer support stating that developments such as this “need to happen in this economic climate. Wakefield is already getting national and international reputation as a centre of Arts and we need to build on this.” The City Consumes Us
Which all sounds fine and dandy. But what needs to be done? Well, for the large scale funding to work, it needs to be shown that it has public support. If that can be done, money will be put into Unity Hall and the project will begin. Within 18 months we could have an 800 capacity music venue, the envy of the north, if not the country. But that term ‘support’ needs clarifying. I’m sure most people would say, “Hey, yeah, that sounds really cool” and happily let everyone else do the work. This is a co-operative; it’s a bit different and involves an initial leap of faith. The scheme requires people to buy shares. Not like the stock exchange; there’s no money to be made here. Instead, ‘support’ means a minimum purchase of 200 shares for £200. For that you become a paid up member and part of the collective that runs Unity Hall. I feel like a shady business man that has just dropped the bombshell after the big spiel. But don’t look at it like that. £200 as a one-off payment might seem big. But look at it another way. It’s a lifetime’s involvement in what could potentially be the greatest thing to happen in Wakefield ever. It’s like you owning a part of The Hepworth or Yorkshire Sculpture Park for £200. And you will be involved with how it is run and what it is used for. This is the biggy: the advantage of the co-operative method is that Unity Hall will be government invested, but not government funded. It will be ours to run as we see fit. Eventually even Chris and Shine will edge their way out, leaving a committee of passionate Wakefieldians in charge. How amazing is that? But I have to be clear here; simply thinking it is a great idea and not acting is useless. It needs practical, actual support or once again an opportunity to make something amazing happen in Wakefield may be wasted. If money really is a problem, get creative. Are you in a band? How about split it four ways? Fifty pounds each, one members name on the official document. Maybe you can spread it over a couple of paydays. Sell that stuff on eBay you’ve been meaning to get rid of for a while. Have a spring clean. This’ll be the best £200 you ever spend. Ultimately, it is down to positivity. And I think people in Wakefield can struggle with that. Even the pro-active ones can sometimes doubt the point of all this. I know I certainly do. But, having made this very leap myself and handed over the money, I can tell you it feels great. I have invested financially, but I also have made an emotional investment too, and that gives me a great sense of hope and growing pride. That’s a great feeling and I highly recommend you give it serious consideration.
www.rhubarbbomb.com The City Consumes Us