Consistency is the last refuge of unimaginative the Wi lde - Oscar
THE LODGER / RICHARD HERRING / SQUIRREL RECORDS
FEST PREVIEWS + RECORD REVIEWS ETC.
The first ever
Leeds Festival Fringe coming August 2010 www.leedsfestivalfringe.org
MMM MMM MM MMM MMM MM M was step next the Clearly ever? Malcolm Mclaren was wilfully inconsistent. Most famous punk album MM a disco version of Anarchy and a to release an album featuring Ronnie Biggs singing ‘Belson was a Gas’, and testament to his cheeky, single called ‘Friggin in the Riggin’. Still, it’s my favourite Pistols album leaves us. sadly eccentric English of breed dying a in Another nature. e provocativ
– what’s that, 3 in 3 issues? In keeping with themes of inconsistency, we’ve had another make over the first experience you What do you think? We’ve also altered the Live Reviews. Once upon a time, the record. However, with would likely have of a band was at a gig, then if you liked ‘em, you’d buy way round. And do you even like internet and home recording, I’d now say it’s closer to being the other full on live reviews, are they fun to read? Let us know what you think.
the first ever Leeds Fringe Two dates for your diary. First up we are curating the opening night of top bands to help raise money some picking hand be we’ll and Diem Carpe at 19th August on It’s Festival. tal music / visual arts experimen exciting an plotting are we that to prior Also, Hospice. for St Martins great bands. Join us some feature also will and 28th July That’s . Wakefield in House mash up at The Art content. and news extra for logspot.com arbbomb.b www.rhub Blog: on Facebook and/or our Hope you enjoy the issue. We’re pleased with this one, so treasure it, coz, next one will be an utter mess.
in keeping with our ethos, the
- Dean Freeman / RB
Editor - Dean Freeman Designer - Adam ‘CPR’ Hayward Andy Whittaker, David Cooper, Paul Bateson, Writers - Dean Freeman, Matt Singleton, Melissa Greaves, Roland X and Jack Falcon Vigors, Stephen Hayes, Dan Rhodes, Harry , Hayward Adam Windmill (in Brixton), and all the advertisers. The Press, InHouse venues, and ors distribut Thanks to - All
g you guys a few FLASHBACKS: ‘I remember the rush of first seein an unstoppable pop years back… It was amazing and you seemed like gigs. But it’s now machine, 2 albums in 12 months, so many amazing arb Bomb speaks nearly two years since your last album…’ The Rhub to Ben Siddall of What have you guys been up to in the interim? Writing new songs mainly! Also I think we saturated the Leeds/West Yorkshire scene a little bit, were a bit too omnipresent at one point so we buggered off and played in other countries a lot. We’ve been to Germany 6 times, Italy, Spain, USA and Japan. Japan was particularly amazing, it’s so different to Europe culturally that you could be on a different planet. The fans are extremely loyal as well. So would you say the length of time making this record signifies a change in The Lodgers songwriting? I think it does yeah. After two albums it felt like the right time to try something a little different or make steps in another direction. Have your ambitions broadened since those early days? Has the band dynamic changed at all? My musical ambitions have certainly broadened yes, but I always felt like the early songs were just the first step on quite a long road. Personally I feel like I’m only just finding my feet as a songwriter and there’s a lot more to come. In terms of the band dynamic I feel like there’s been several bands called The Lodger, all fronted by me, and this is the latest one. The one that exists now has an ever-growing floating personnel and I can see it becoming more inclusive as time goes by and if the songs require it. 3rd album time… you’ve certainly broadened your sound this time around. More than ever before it feels like every song on ‘Flashbacks’ is intended as a pure pop gem. What are The Lodger trying to achieve with this album? I think however much I try to incorporate new instruments or try different production
get set to tour their brand new album. techniques, my love of pop never dies. I tend to write songs that follow a “classic” formula of verses and choruses and middle eights etc so it’s always going to be recognised as pop. But I’m trying to move the goalposts a bit with this album and make it possible for The Lodger to be interpreted as more than just a “twee” or “indiepop” band in the future. It’s vintage Lodger but with a lot more going on, especially with that brass section. What was the thinking behind that? Mainly my love of Stax and Tamla Motown which developed in a big way since the last album. I love the tenor and baritone sax combination which punctuate a lot of those records so I’ve tried my hand at that. Also the first Dexy’s album was a big influence and Yorkshire brass bands. There’s something a bit gritty and honest and Northern about some good old-fashioned horns and I’m celebrating that. Is that why you’ve chosen ‘Have a little faith in people’ as the lead single? Maybe yes. It’s not too much of a departure from previous stuff but introduces people to the kind of sound we’re now making as a group. I like to think we could have picked any song as a single though. Are you going to be recreating this live? At least once yes, at Nation of Shopkeepers in Leeds on Thursday April 22nd. We’ve got Georgia and Sarah from The Research on backing vocals, plus the Morricone twins Steve and Paul on tenor and baritone sax, plus Emil on trumpet, Lesley on violin and myself, Joe, Bruce and Tim of course. It’s going to be a big old sound and we’re going to attempt most of the album at that gig. Hopefully there’ll be
more performance of this line-up in the future but as you can guess it’s pretty difficult to transport! There are interesting vocal effects across the album. Mixed with the various brass elements its pretty soulful. Would you say the lyrical themes have developed on this album too? The vocal effects are generally messing around with the producer Richard Formby’s studio toys. Richard did the Wild Beasts Two Dancers album which I love, but actually wasn’t aware when I booked him to do the album. It was a pleasant surprise when I found out. Anyway, he’s got a lot of old gear like the Roland Space Echo and Watkins Copicat and on some tracks the vocals have been put through such things. As for the lyrics I cover the usual topics such as breakdown of relationships and shyness and nostalgia but I feel like this album will be the final word on that. Call the three albums a trilogy of misery! The brass and heavy piano bring a certain ‘classic pop’ feel to the songs, a Kinks feel, or the Blur approximation of that. Were those kind of records an influence on you? I do love a well-written pop song and the Kinks and Blur certainly wrote some. The biggest influences on the new record have to be The Left Banke, Dexy’s, soul music, The Beatles, that kind of thing. The most important thing for me was to make it sound human. It’s a bit of an act of rebellion against the quantised nature of most modern music and the worry that the human ear is becoming accustomed to things being in complete metronomical time and tuned exactly to “x”Hz. Music which is hand-played cannot be like clockwork or completely in tune so we’re trying to get the ear to remember what that sounds like. So a lot of trickery was strictly banned. There is a lot of electronic and sequenced music that I love to bits so I’m not saying it’s worthless, I just fancied trying to actually REALLY play the songs. Those classic influences, is that kind of company you feel more comfortable with, rather than the modern Indie or Leeds scene? I’m not sure really. I’ve always liked solitude and felt comfortable with my own tastes and not really followed others for guidance throughout my life. I’m completely happy for The Lodger not to be affiliated with any other bands but by the same token it’d be nice for kindred spirits to appear. I never really think
about it and certainly don’t seek it. I do like some other current Indie bands but to be honest I mostly listen to old stuff. You have released records on a variety of Independent labels (’Flashbacks’ is released on This is Fake DIY) - is this how you are happiest operating? Yes I think so. We have been very very lucky that a lot of people who are big fans of The Lodger happen to run Indie labels as well! Bassist Joe is one half of Angular Records who release These New Puritans amongst other things and I’ve got to know a lot of other label types over the years and it’s worked out nicely. Slumberland in USA who release our stuff over there are probably my favourite record label of modern times and I can’t quite believe we’re on it. It’s nice. How do you see the fortunes of independent labels turning in the next few years? Hmm not sure. Not really qualified to give an expert opinion but the way they are operating is having to undergo serious change to survive. More and more bands will be signing over their publishing rights in order for labels to make any cash or even cover their costs or maybe indie bands will have to accept that just like Van Gogh never sold a painting in his life and died a penniless anxiety-ridden wreck, the same will probably happen to them (!). What’s planned for The Lodger over the next few months? We’re going to play some tour dates (www. thelodgermusic.co.uk) in April in the UK and then do as much overseas touring as possible again to support the album. I’ve already started thinking about writing my next album as well which I have decided to produce myself and collaborate with people both in person and over the internet. I’ve bought some mics and various bits and bobs and am looking forward to making the next album in my own house using multitudes of musicians. It’s time to get a bit ambitious I reckon.
- Dean Freeman
singles, EPs and A charmingly eclectic bunch of Indie spirited albums, for no particular order demos ripped apart and analysed in no particular es. minut y measl reason other than to busy your brain for a few
Victoria & Jacob
- With No Certainty / There’s A War
(Voga Parachoia Records)
Synthy and sweet, ‘With No Certainty’ is a dreamy, lo-fi, electro-pop song about life and speculation over the existence of fairytales. Victoria’s voice is like a prettier sounding Lilly Allen, adding the necessary amount of clarity to a strange blend of synthesisers and samples. Although this song may sound a little odd at first, it’s definitely a grower. ‘There’s A War’ provides the same amount of lovely, heart-warming vocals, just less bizarre noises, for the first three minutes at least, but still an interesting song, and an interesting sound. What’s Your Face is again lovely and futuristic all at the same time. In fact, its possibly that simple juxtaposition between the innocence and sweetness of Victoria’s voice, and the playful obscure-ness of the synthesisers that makes Victoria and Jacob so great. - Melissa Greaves
- Sweet Sister Delia EP
You’ve gotta love the creativity behind a press release, sometimes there’s more goes into it than the actual music. Whether The Loves’ leader is truly “the Welsh equivalent of Mark E Smith” or simply an extremely careless
chap who has had 31 different bandmates come and go since 2000 is unclear at this stage. Musically the result is a 3-track EP, where each song could feasibly be the work of a different band. Such eclecticism works in this format, after all B-sides on singles and EPs are generally where a band indulges there more experimental tendencies. I’d wager that opener Sweet Sister Delia most accurately sign-posts the band’s core sound, with its sugar coated repetition of the title quickly lodging in the brain. The layers of handclaps, female backing vocals and organ further ensuring it remains there. Low is a very different beast, with its minimal strumming rapidly bringing the listener back down after the previous e-number binge. God Saves Our Souls, as you may detect from the Tony Ferrino school of wordplay influenced title, is very much the joker in the pack. A tongue in cheek country & western homage that has more in common with an Anthrax B-side or Tenacious D’s Greatest Song In The World, than what has preceded it. The EP is the aural equivalent of a three course meal then, with each dish coming from a very different part of the musical world. - Andy Whittaker
(This Is Fake DIY)
On Flashbacks The Lodger have created their own self contained world. The guitars are clean and delicate, the drumming often features the singular tap of a snare or floor
tom and the whole thing is given elegance by the occasional flourish of brass and strings. Musically they have created an album that is at times jolly, at times grandiose and at times can be tense and claustrophobic, their seems to be an influence of late Belle and Sebastian, and ‘Flashbacks’ recalls the majesty of The Universal by Blur, another band who created their own world. The lyrics are very earnest, dealing with the complexities of relationships. Added to the nature of the music, I think the Lodger have made something that suggests the vitality of what is ordinary. In the Lodger’s world even the most mundane event is grand and dramatic. I like their world. - David Cooper
- Boy Wander (Unlabel)
With one album already under their belts, Elks’ awe inspiring second album Boy Wander provides a raw, raucous, angst fuelled experience. Getting off to a flying start, Cocksure is a raw and ragged rock song, and is sure to have you nodding your head from the off; sounding like a (pleasingly) less polished Biffy Clyro - effortlessly brilliant. It’s real back to basics punk rock, and it’s pretty damn good. Daily Commute is an explosive track with a brutally awesome riff, sneering drums and an angsty recall of singer Rob’s journey home, as he screams “I’m not a crazy man, I just wanna go home”. Genius. Roma Roma is just as angsty, full of raw energy and awesome vocal delivery. Showing their calmer side with Captain, which is slow to start, with enticing vocals and nostalgic guitars, then speeding up towards the end providing the energy you’ll have come to expect by this point. Final track Rounder certainly doesn’t fall short of the mark, with a glimmer of Sonic Youth style experimentation and raw Nirvana
sounding bass lines. It’s sheer brilliance, just like the rest of the record. - Melissa Greaves
Jilambis - Demo / EP
The first thing that strikes me about this demo is the confidence. Its high energy, in yr face. There’s a mass of influences going on here, I’m hearing Prodigy, Arctic Monkeys, Offspring, generic Ska, and occasional nu metal horridness, covered in studio polish. Though I’d say it strays towards a slightly cheesy production, a Prodigys ‘Their law’ guitar sound all over it. Some initially interesting synth, which would seemingly show the ‘90’s Rave’ influence on their sound, quickly becomes very annoying and repetitive, mainly due to the unsophisticated melodies it produces. Melody is a problem across the songs - hey it doesn‘t have to be all jingly jangly! - but it needs some invention. Its all a little juvenile and simplistic and that goes for the lyrical contribution too. The demo is at its best when it pushes the extreme ends of their sound: The heaviness of the rhythms on closer ‘Believers in Descendents’ benefits from the light and shade they create, whilst the end of ‘Well this isn’t Texas?’ suddenly turns interesting with the introduction of a trumpet and a Muse-like gallop. I’m not sure if this is a demo or an EP. As a demo I think it is a great document showing the bands influences and where they will be likely to go in the future. It shows musical ability and passion, but as a whole it ends up being less than the sum of its parts. The song writing is too weak for it stand up as an EP in its own right. Its one thing been an exciting live band - which I sense these guys really are - but that doesn’t always transfer well to record. On this occasion the bands clear sense of fun and enthusiasm aren’t really infectious, but with the passion they clearly have, it certainly could prove to be in the future. - Dean Freeman
The Ran Tan Waltz
- Them That Help Themselves Do Themselves More Good The Ran-Tan-Waltz; a Kate Bush song as you may recall. Aside from that, and being one of the most exciting bands north of Watford Gap, their recent self released EP Them That Help Themselves Do Themselves More Good is an absolute corker. With atmospheric drumming, and catchy as hell riffs Beat Generation is, well, just that really, catchy as hell. Declaring “Them that help themselves do themselves more good, and I would help myself if only I could”, above a perfect mix of Television-esqe guitar playing and Joy Division style drumming. However the highlight of this awesome EP is Tripartite Crossfire, lyrically it’s in a class of it’s own; “growing up is painful, being aware of your displacement”. And that voice! Fuelled with passion, it’s magically distinctive; enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Throughout guitarist Matt Fletcher stamps his mark as a potential great, think Johnny Marr, Johnny Thunders; that kind of great. With their array of talent The Ran-Tan-Waltz also offer a winning charm, and if there’s any justice in the world they’ll be the biggest band in Britain before the years out. - Melissa Greaves
Three Trapped Tigers - EP3
(Blood And Biscuits)
Clinically titled ‘EP3’ is a genre blending science experiment with good results. One part machine, two parts man, the trio mix together all manner of musical styles and sounds to create something not necessarily ground-breaking, but definitely something forward thinking. Even down to the ambiguous track titles, this music is born from the IDM pioneers of 90s Warp and the fusion artists who followed. Three Trapped Tigers sits comfortably be-
tween 65daysofstatic and Battles, but still retains a unique, (if not slightly confused) voice. Clipped beats, delicate keys and synth pads quickly morph into crashing acoustic drums and epic rock noise, (the good kind) and back again… or into something entirely different. Take a one minute slice of TTT and you’ll have heard it somewhere before, but give it half a chance and you’ll be questioning whether you’re still listening to the same track. On occasions it feels a little forced and with multiple ideas competing to be heard, it can sound lost, but with a repeat listen or two, ‘EP3’ begins to make sense. And in doing so becomes an intelligent, complex, solid piece of work. TTT is difficult to pin down, (especially with little-to-no vocal content to grab on to), but for future music lovers this works in their favour. ‘EP3’, for many will be a refreshing change to the usual band-wagon “alternative” music we’ve heard before. - Adam Hayward
- Guaranteed Personality (Self Released)
You have to wonder if Mondo Cane were/are aware that their chosen moniker has also been selected by one Mike Patton for his latest venture. In fairness they probably weren’t, but it immediately handicaps them. With any of Patton’s previous bands, be it Faith No More, Fantomas or Tomahawk, the first thing you’re guaranteed is that it will be embellished with his mischievous personality. So for a band issuing their first EP to use such a selling point as its title is stretching things. Musically Mondo Cane’s grunge school of dynamics is competently played, but ultimately lacking any real spark. The pick of the bunch is Stranger, where the song builds up steadily before baring its teeth and cutting loose. Sadly subsequent track Dr Fernandez is just too predictable in its quiet/loud contrasts. It’s like they’ve heard Heart Shaped Box for the first time and directly applied its formula in an almost robotic manner. At three tracks this would have been a fine release, at four it’s 4 minutes 46 seconds too long. - Andy Whittaker
- Dead Mellotron
Dead Mellotron’s sound is one of repetitive, fuzzy guitars which take on extra force with each strum and pounding, forceful drums. They recall such epic greats as Amusement Parks On Fire and My Bloody Valentine. They have made a decent record. It would be nice to hear them take everything to extremes though, they could do with more aggressive guitar workouts, lyrics sung with more passion or vulnerability, more sections of blissful, sun kissed guitar noise. When everything comes together, as on the uplifting, shimmering Eulogy the music is pounding and satisfying. It just doesn’t hit the emotional highs that it could have done.
- David Cooper
- My Ways
(Hit Club Records)
May68, named after an explosive month in French history, took inspiration from the French situationists when plotting their own revolution, aiming to provide an antidote to Manchester’s musical malaise. My Ways is an energetic effort, think Blondie meet’s Kraftworks with a slight hint of Daft Punk. It’s definitely an interesting mix, making for an upbeat, fun sounding pop song. B-side The New You starts with a catchy bass line, followed by electro pop synthesisers, and bongo style drumbeats. You can certainly picture yuppies dancing to this track on a Technicolor lit dance floor. The lyrics are a little repetitive on this track and it all begins to seem like a bit of a gimmick. The Duke Is Dead (Egyptian Hip-Hop Remix) is far less interesting than the first two songs, falling short lyrically once again. All in all, if you want to dance, it does the job. As far as taking over the world is concerned, I’m afraid it’s not quite up to it. - Melissa Greaves
- Scratch My Back
‘Scratch My Back’ is the first half of a collaboration with alternative artists old and new. The idea: Gabriel covers his favorite songs, and each artist featured covers one of his, those featured here are still preparing their versions for the predictably titled second half ‘I’ll Scratch Yours’. The album opens with the untouchable Heroes, an ominous string section pulls the listener in before eventually collapsing into a lavish, blushing accompaniment to Gabriel’s stark and restrained take on Bowie’s lyrics. However, it’s Gabriel’s revision of Elbow’s Mirrorball that brings things up to date and gets things going. Strings swell and drop, as his lead vocal builds until finally letting rip for the first time, a sense of relief for this listener who, until now was expecting a slow and similarly pitched record. Keeping things modern, Gabriel takes on Bon Iver’s Flume, another bold choice considering the original’s tender delivery, but it remains safe in Gabriel’s hands, peaking dynamically in all the right places. The first real highlight comes from The Power of the Heart (Lou Reed), Gabriel’s tender rendition of this underplayed classic is complimented perfectly with restrained strings, muted horns and brilliant dynamic variation before dropping and allowing the simple piano lines to play out to the end. Another stand out rendition is Arcade Fire’s My Body is a Cage, spun out over a purely gothic-backdrop glittering with Gabriel’s deathbed-croaks before exploding into an imperial funeral march before dropping again to a string-sweet closer. The Book of Love (Magnetic Fields) is the album’s first flop, good melodies, great string arrangement, but it feels twee and soppy next to the previous tracks. Later, Regina Spektor’s Apres Moi is given a baroque tinged makeover, as Gabriel lyric-jumps between French, Russian and English, all delivered in his signature semiwhispered tone. The album closes on Street Spirit (Fade Out) (Radiohead) and by golly, he’s outdone Thom Yorke and co. on the miserable stakes... Avant-garde jazzy pianos, and ominous strings are draped around the half-spoken/halfsung vocal taking this song into an unhinged and unfamiliar realm. I’m unsure about this track, and even after several listens still can’t get used to this bizarre take off...
Without it’s second half the album feels unfinished and I would certainly like to hear the featured bands taking on Gabriel’s material, but he has managed to create new and unique revisions here. Stylistically it’s a vocally led, orchestral album (Scott Walker Lite if you prefer). It’d be easy to label this a vanity project, but all I see here is one esteemed songwriter paying tribute to brilliant musicians, and I for one quite like that. - Harry Rhodes Harry also writes a blog. Go here for more: www.chandeliersearchlight.blogspot.com
- We’re On Your Side
The highly anticipated second album “We’re On Your Side” following from the bands ground breaking 2007 album “Private Cinema” seems to encompass the same organic and raw features from their previous record. Instruments are unhinged yet cleverly intertwined to create a brilliant journey like sound. As the listener, I have this strange image of a mad scientist with little pulleys and timers, tiny screws and hammers. The hand clapping and fuzziness and percussion of each song progresses to give this fantastic blur and you just don’t know what is going to happen next and when the song will end; drum beats into flute, into horns into what seems like a completely acoustic, one on one performance for their listener. It is mad but very intelligently put together and is certainly worth a listen. - Jack Falcon
- Avi Buffalo
Shimmering sunshine music straight from Cali-forn-i-a, Avi Buffalo is the debut album from a bunch of hip kids from Long
Beach. According to the website there’s a real buzz about the release... The write up is really ‘sceney’ and is packed with name drops and references I don’t understand and it all makes me wonder if the music, like certain aspects of the scene, are all style and no substance. Debut shows at a vegan restaurant?! Its a world away from Wakey. On the first track, the vocals slide in like a wave rolling up the beach unexpectedly and it feels nice. On the second, it’s like walking hand in hand on a tea time stroll. This feels good. All the songs are tied together with simple, but accomplished electric guitar lines, but which betray the youth of the band. It feels like an acoustic breeze. What makes the record though is the warm backing of male / female choral singing and subtle poppy organ. After the optimistic start, unfortunately some of the songs pass by quite uneventfully. Blending and drifting into one another as if you’re laid snoozing on the beach. However, the shorter songs with a change of tempo are good and make you stir and sit up to listen closer. And particularly the change of tone and pace on ‘5 little sluts’ makes you take notice again. Good lyrics. If a little meandering at times and containing some underwhelming ‘long songs’, this is a solid debut. Avi Buffalo need know to find the guitar excellence on tracks such as ‘Truth sets in’ and the lyrical step up of ‘summer cum’ across the board to ensure the listener doesn’t drift off to a very lovely, but very sleepy place. ‘One last’ is the stand out track for me: If Lily Allen was a better lyricist and had wrote CFNIA instead of LDN. The organ threads the choral singing needle to hold it all together and then electric guitar fades along like a sunset. The album is over, like the summer day is ended, Like Emmy the Great if she had grown up in California instead of the Downs. Like the Thrills if they’d have stayed in Santa Cruz another year. Slower and more hazy than both, yet certainly great though, and thrilling in parts; the sound of the summer 2010?? Not quite, but I’ll take it with me on my ipod on the beach. If you like your music sun drenched and steady this is yours. - Paul Bateson
The future of the UK mu sic industry? It’s brigh t, collaborative and frank ly, massive. Recently I stumbled across the opp ortunity to attend a 2 hou r talk from one Fearga l Sh arkey, one time front man of the Under tones. One thing’s for sur e, the man has had a som ewhat remarkable life. A successful artist (twice ), an A&R manager, a rec ord label Managing Director, chair of the Liv e Music Forum…Feargal has done the lot. One can only imagine what sights, sounds, stories and hangovers a life in music can give, not som ething Feargal chose to dwell on - he was here to talk about his role as the CEO of ‘UK M
So what is ‘UK Music’? Well, it’s basically the future. Previously all
Legislation, musician rights and copyright were amongst some of the ar-
eas discussed, almost inevitably given their topical nature but fortunately remaining at a comfortable distance from the detail (and lingo). Feargal was grilled by a local shop owner, aggrieved at requests to pay royalties for playing music CD’s in-store. The Shop keeper strongly believed the playing of this music to customers may increase sales of that ‘record’, thus HELPING the music industry by playing it, therefore so why should he have to pay for this? Feargal dealt with this firmly and I think fairly explaining the bottom line: as soon as a customer walks into the shop, it is a public place and therefore deemed to be ‘performing’ music in public. This may seem a tad ‘hard-line’ but what should not be forgotten is that it is being used to sell products or create a better atmosphere in that particular establishment. Therefore it doesn’t seem too unreasonable that those artists would want something in return, does it? Feargal stood firmly in the artist camp on this point which was good to see.
the artists, promoters, managers, labels, publishers, A&R guys, studios, radio stations were working pretty much on their own, for themselves, despite the obvious, fundamental relationship and reliance on each other. ‘UK music’ is basically bringing together all those folk under one umbrella, enabling them to work together. It’s this holistic approach that should help define a better overall strategy for the UK music industry driving progress and growth. UK Music conducts important research into many areas of the music industry in conjunction with Universities which ultimately will help everyone establish a collective direction and support any initiatives UK Music pursue.
difficult task. In short, this approach should only see to shape and grow the music industry in time and put all involved in a stronger position.
Significantly, this unified approach should make it easier to get things done, providing one large, collective voice - handy when needing to convince the likes of the government and other industries to collaborate, make changes and hopefully progress: an admittedly basic but vital theory. As Feargal explains this, it’s difficult to believe it hasn’t been introduced earlier - the power and leverage a joined up, solidified industry could give is surely a no brainer!? But that’s certainly not to trivialise a surely
Roll up and cough up...Public performance royalties: That’s right
ladies and gents, the moment I whip out my trusty guitar and give you a tune, technically I should have applied for a licence for that! Feargal believes this isn’t working and I would agree – it sounds like this is in fact kicking the very foundations of British culture, where music is a symbiotic commodity, square in the balls: Pubs. We’ve all experienced it, most of us started off there: stood on a small step the locals affectionately call a stage, pint in one hand, mic in the other, whaling at your friends and the weird guy pissing in the corner. Isn’t that the stuff that Britain is built on!? Seriously though, this is known as ‘fun’, and legislation shouldn’t ignore this! Pubs are becoming a dying breed as it is. Making them pay licensing fees for performing music isn’t going to help an already dire situation. Whilst there may be something in the principle of the law, it’s clearly misguided in its implementation so far. We’re assured that Feargal and his team are on the case though and we’ll surely see amendments here in the future.
7 Some interesting stuff for music rehearsal spaces: There’s a scheme
in the making, hopefully with government backing, to roll out free rehearsal spaces in areas where they are hard to come by. Feargal was careful to point out this wouldn’t encroach on any existing rehearsal room businesses - they’re hard enough to run and make a living from at the best of times so the last thing they’d want is a freebie op-
tion moving in round the corner! This has already been rolled out in some major cities such as Liverpool, so keep your eyes open. Feargal on several occasions referred affectionately to ‘my industry’. And whilst I suspect it may not be something he’d admit under scrutiny, you do get the feeling that he does feel that way. And who could blame him? The man’s done it all and lived the majority of his life immersed in it. If that doesn’t give you a sense of ownership and a sense of ‘home’, I’m not sure what would. The bright Irishman clearly has bundles of energy, barrels of sense and experience but most importantly a heart full of passion. Cliché or not, Feargal has, does and will continue to live and breathe music. I’m not sure what more we could ask for as the captain to our recently refurbished, massive, musical ship. Fear not, we’re in safe hands. All aboard ‘UK music’.
- Dan Hayes
... 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. Run by Darren and Caroline, formally of Manhattan Love Suicides and now The Blanche Hudson Weekend, if a band’s got spirit, energy and a good sound they will release their records.
n They started in 2001, with the release of a 7inch 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 records are all about.
Squirrels 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 time,
released the blistering ‘Time to loose’ 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 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, Bikini Kill. Brilliant. But perhaps most well known are The
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, without any financial backing at all, 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.
Cribs, with their shambolic DIY approach and stick to your guns attitude. It was Squirrel who released their debut single, on a split 7inch 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 50 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 recently deceased,
- Melissa Greaves
In which the Bomb examines the work of someone who we believe embodies the Indie spirit; someone who inspires us to do what we do and is an example to all Indie lovers out there. Chances are they’ve stayed under the mainstr eam radar. Perhaps they’re a bit odd. Or too awkward. Or just not willing to play the game. But through their work they continue to set an example of what independently minded people can achieve. They’re Legends basically. If you’ve got someone you’d like to nominate or write about, please get in touch. This issue
Matt Singleton looks at Ange Doolittle…
He first appeared in the late 1980s as frontman of the widely-tipped-for-success band Eat. Their debut album ‘Sell Me A God’ was released on Fiction records in 1989, and briefly tickled the top ten of the album charts. Theirs was a weird mix of blues, funk, and indie, the vocals on some tracks almost verging on mad spoken word poetry (‘Red Moon’, ‘Tombstone’), others showcasing Dolittle’s fine, fine singing voice (‘Walking Man’, ‘Judgement Train’). There’s some silly songs (‘Things I Need’ being, well, a list of fairly frivolous desirable objects or events, ‘Fatman’ on some level at least being a peculiarly intense tale of watching an obese man shimmying ‘like he doesn’t give a shit’). Sadly, a rather more telling clue about certain band member’s personal lives
could be found in the self-penned closing track “Mr And Mrs Smack”. After early success, a combination of animosity amongst the band members and Ange’s spiralling drug addiction meant the band could never have hoped to capitalise on their early promise, and sessions for their second album were abandoned in 1990.
Ange Dolittle is one of those people that’s been a part of my musical landscape since my early teens – never a constant presence, he weaves in and out, appearing and disappearing from view on a regular basis, operating under a number of identities, never staying in the same place for too long. He vanishes for extended periods of time, usually long enough for you to think he’s probably dead, or at least living a life well away from music, having all sorts of probable or improbable adventures, then all of a sudden he’s back with a new name and a fresh selection of tunes.
Unexpectedly, a cleaned-up and sober Dolittle reformed the band with a different line-up in 1992. Interviews at the time made it apparent that Ange
And here’s where it gets really weird. Their contemporaries The Wonder Stuff, with whom they had often toured, had also recently split up. Miles Hunt, Wonder Stuff singer, swiftly reappeared in an act called Vent 414, a ‘supergroup’ of sorts featuring Miles, plus Morgan Nicholls from the also recently split Senseless Things and Pete Howard, Eat’s latter-day drummer and one-time Clash member. Ange Dolittle meanwhile, joined what was basically every other member of The Wonder Stuff bar Miles Hunt to form another ‘supergroup’ of sorts, WeKnowWhereYouLive. The name came from Dolittle’s apparent recent experience as a private detective – “When Eat finished a friend of mine had been working for a big company in London. He needed someone to do some private detective work and said it could be quite messy. We were on this case where we were following this guy who was a real bastard. Then we were sitting in a van waiting for him one morning at 5am and I jumped out and said ‘We know where you live, you bastard’….”
In a marked contrast to the druggy back story of Eat and the renowned drunken antics of the Stuffies, WeKnowWhereYouLive proclaimed themselves in interviews to be free of all substances, a straight edge of sorts centred around positive mental energy and clean living : “We are the first post-psychiatric band. We are purveyors of mental hygiene. We will cleanse and reshape…To me, the whole drug issue is so high street right now. It’s so uncool that it’s just pathetic. I find it more exciting to adopt another angle, where we want to clean it rather than dirty it…We never know when we’re gonna be called upon to operate heavy machinery, so alcohol doesn’t really feature. Fork lifts, conveyor belts, all that sort of stuff. You never know...” Theirs was a grungy, rocky sound in a time when Britpop ruled the roost, and again, despite some initial media attention and a couple of fairly decent, self-released singles (‘Don’t Be Too Honest’ and ‘Draped’), WeKnowWhereYouLive singularly failed to set the world alight, and soon vanished. Upon the death of Wonder Stuff/WKWYL drummer Martin Gilks in a motorcycle accident in April 2006, their entire recorded output was collected on a double CD set and released to raise money for charity, and in all honesty having listened to it all, the greater part of it is not particularly good. Granted, the ‘proper’ recorded material is thin on the ground, the bulk of the songs being fairly scratty sounding demo/live recordings, but still, there’s nothing much to catch the ears, at least not these ears.
had spent much of the band’s hiatus in rehab clinics coming off heroin. Their second album ‘Epicure’ was released in 1993, again to glowing reviews. It was a lighter sound this time around, with more positive lyrics and a more commercial indie/psychedelic vibe. Singles ‘Shame” and ‘Bleed Me White’ made a mighty noise, but just didn’t spark enough recognition with the general public to see any chart action, and it wasn’t long before the reformed Eat were no more.
Unlike Ange’s next incarnation Big Yoga Muffin. Chrysalis records, who released BYM’s debut album ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are’ on their Echo imprint in 2000. The mark of latter period Eat was in evidence in addition to sample-fuelled dance tracks, pure irresistible pop (‘Is That How You Get Off?’) a strong lounge influence (‘Boredom Is A Luxury’) and at least one bone fide mock rawk monster (‘Come To Huggy’).
To my ears, this sounds like a massive hit album, with not a duff track on it. But the truth is, perhaps it’s all too musically schizophrenic and too lyrically weird (lyrical content includes presumably autobiographical tales about time spent in psychiatric wards and rehab clinics, lots of weird sex stuff and mucho offbeat paranoia, amidst other more humorous but TOTALLY off the wall lyrical content) to really catch on with a mass audience. Big Yoga Muffin hung around for a year or two, and in a few interviews at the time, latterly threatened to rebrand themselves as a thrash-punk act called Funny Looking Kids, although in retrospect it’s hard to tell if they were joking about this – certainly they never got as far as recording under this name - and within a fairly short time Chrysalis had pulled the plug on the whole shebang, and the band were without a record deal. Where did Mr Dolittle surface next? After a gap of several years, for once, under his own name, with his new band, Dolittle, with whom he still resides. Dolittle are a three-piece semi-acoustic act that so far, have traded mainly on stripped down and reworked versions of Eat, WKWYL and BYM tunes. Usually this would smack of creative redundancy – a once fertile mind now fresh out of inspiration and reduced to retreading old ground to make ends meet – or possibly, creative accounting – previous albums are now out of print and earning no money, so rather than go down the expensive and time-consuming route of reacquiring the rights, a quick trip to the studio for a polish up and re-record of the oldies and hey presto, you’ve got
something you can get into the shops and sell at gigs without the strain of having to write anything new. Call me naïve though, but I honestly don’t think this is the case with Dolittle. I mean, they are as open to these accusations as anybody, but it seems more to me that they are reclaiming these songs, reworking them, reimagining and unleashing them sounding better than ever before (certainly, one or two of the WKWYL tracks are absolutely unrecognisable in their new form – they share a set of lyrics and nothing else at all with the original recordings – and “Hey Freaklips”, now on its third incarnation after being performed by both Eat and BYM, comes into its own like never before on the version recorded by the new band). Gigs are sporadic, and thus far only one album has been released – ‘Hello To The Fortunate Few’, in 2006, on their own Punk Elvis records. Surely nowadays this is a part-time thing rather than a regular living – but with two Eat albums, one BYM album, a grab-bag of largely never-professionally recorded WKWYL tracks to be going at and who knows what else hidden under the floorboards, on the strength of their first attempt, Dolittle the band have several albums worth of old material to rework without ever having to write a single line of new material. By gathering twenty years of songs under one banner, Ange Dolittle seems to be drawing a line to link it all together as one entity, an ongoing continuity, breathing new life into old songs and reinventing them afresh, and long may he continue, until perhaps his ever-itchy feet propel him off in yet another direction. I for one can’t wait to see what comes next.
FESTIVAL SEASON Kuiperfest
- Calciete, Spain. 18th-20th June
An eco festival way out in the middle of rural Spain. About an hour from Barcelona. A vast Olive grove, endless acres clinging to the side of a cavernous valley a 30 minute drive from civilisation. No electricity. No running water. And its fantastic.
There’s such a great, laid back vibe, its like being in another world, about a hundred and fifty people from all over Europe lounging peacefully in the sun. The bar is a homemade shack (though mercifully, they manage to serve cold beer). And the entertainment? Surprisingly varied. Over 3 days you can have comedians, immensely talented folk guitarists, silent puppet theatre and a whole array of musical instruments I didn’t even know existed. The performances take place in a little rocky cove area and, as night comes in, candles and torches are lit. Its so nice, in the most wholesome way possible. There are day trips to a nearby river to go for a swim. Breakfast, dinner and tea are prepared on site for a meagre cost. They even ring a little bell when its ready. Essentially, its the most relaxed festival ever.
Chances are you wont know much of the lineup, much of it from far flung places, but if you fancy a trip into the unknown, wow, you cant do any better than this. - RX
- 23rd-25th July
Indietracks festival is exactly what a festival should be, no pretence, just plain and simple awesome music and plenty of fun. Set in a quaint steam train joint in the Derbyshire countryside, Indietracks certainly has it’s own magic. Year after year, though growing in size, it’s managed to retain a truly blissful atmosphere that keeps the happy campers coming back year after year. Providing quality headliners from Art Brut to Los Campesinos, this year is certainly no exception with the utterly mesmerising Pains Of Being Pure At Heart who’s wonderfully genuine approach compliments the festivals heart on sleeve appeal. Another great thing about Indietracks is it’s consistently brilliant line-up. This years line-up includes: Brighton sweethearts Shrag, The Blanche Hudson Weekend and Chris Shake from legendary punk band The Real Losers. Not to mention ‘the world’s most indie band’ The Cannanes, who even got a mention in Kurt Cobain’s journals, plus a whole bunch of indie-pop delights. As if that wasn’t enough, there will be a range of fun workshops too. All in all it certainly makes for an ear-swelteringly fun-packed weekend. - MG
Wakefield Rock Festival
- 15th-16th May
Co-Organiser Wayne Poppleton comments, “The inaugural Wakefield Rock Festival will be the culmination of many years hard work by lots of different people. Crucially, we are also catering for the needs and tastes of the live music lovers within Wakefield, whilst raising lots of money for one of the most important charities in our community, Wakefield Hospice.” For me the pick of the bands announced are undoubtedly one-time industrialists turned techno-metal dance floor fillers Pitchshifter and Senser, whose ahead of its time debut “Stacked Up” successfully fused hip-hop, metal and electronica, spawning several top 40 singles. Also onboard are former Kerrang! Darlings Inme and The Gliteratti, who I last saw supporting Therapy? and The Wildhearts which should give ample indication of their sound. The remainder of the bill is made up of a mixture of overseas acts (Marya Roxx) established British road hardened bands (Panic Cell) and local talent such as Inamba. - AW
- 23rd-25th July
Impressively now into its 13th year, the DIY ethos of Truck Fest is continuing to grow and grow. Describing itself as ‘a village fete meets woodstock’ where ‘the rotary club flip burgers and the vicar sells icecream’, Truck brings back something of the unique, vibrant non-coperate atmosphere that (presumably?) festivals were once about. Thats not to say its all wishywashy; last year saw ‘pulled apart by horses’ and ‘Errors’ take to the stage, whilst this year Los Campinsinos, Future of the Left, and Good Shoes, amongst many have announced their intention to make a fair old racket at Hill Farm. And you know what, it also raises masses for charity. The chaps behind Truck
are developing further festivals and events based on the strong ingrained Indie ethos which is hugely exciting; get down to where it all started for a unique festival event. - DF
- North Yorkshire 4th-6th July
It’s 5am, the rain is falling in a fine mist. The views, if not our minds, are unspoiled loveliness. The dales roll out around us as we roll our morning cigarettes and roll flat our sleeping mats. Right from the line up to the mash up Rough Beats stands out but also sticks out. This year Hot club de Paris headline one night, with BBC Radio 2 Folk award nominees Jamie Roberts and Katriona Gilmore on Sunday. They line up beside a whole bunch of bands I’ve never heard of and never would if it hadn’t have been for Rough Beats. Asbo Kid, The Lumberjack Cowboy Heartbreak Trucking Co. Etc. - this band once released three debut albums on the same day! The familiar and the fantastic, this festival reeks variety and independence. Previously I’ve woke up and not only bought a coffee from the hippy man and wife on the ‘tea’ stall, but I’ve sat with them behind the tents and smoked and laughed while the kettle boiled. I’ve got my guitar from Mr. and Mrs. McSherrys living room and had a sausage sandwich. I’ve met some people from bands I’ve read about in magazines, and met some other people who run mags like this. Finally, before I played my set, I’ve watched melodic, Leeds popsters play beside 10 strong jazz groups and arty dirge bands. The festival is big and buzzing, but small and warm, happy and hippy, large and sceney. Rough beats is a festival of contradictions of early mornings and late nights; of Indie, and so should it stay. - PBN
INTERVIEW GREENMOUNT WITH STUDIOS Greenmount Studios began life in Wakefield; a slowly collected mish mash of vintage tape machines, garage sale mixing desks, bizarre instruments and forgotten amps, all overseen by 2 maverick musicians recording increasingly astounding music on the landing of a stairway in an old tower. Nowadays things are a little different; They’ve moved to Armley and they record in an old Chapel. sleek silver look that would easily be at home on the bridge of a spaceship in an obscure 70’s sci-fi. ‘We didn’t know til a few months just how good it is’ Lee Smith tells me, ‘And no-one knows who built it. It was obviously a guy who really knows what he’s doin, back in the seventies, and just used the best gear, not cut any corners’.
Turns out Jamie bought from a man in his garage a few years back for a pittance. ‘The last point anyone knew about before the garage, Dire Straits were using it for their live desk!’. Lee Smith, Bassist with the exceptional Middleman, as well as releasing his own stuff as ‘Little Lee’, is the second half of the Greenmount team. Just as mad and endlessly enthusiastic about everything around us, its clear I’ve found them in their element.
n JAMIE LOCKHEART
‘Lee’s had his stuff here at least two years now, I started moving all my stuff over a year ago’ says Jamie Lockheart as we wander past an old reel to reel tape machine, the one on which The Smiths debut album was recorded, no less. We’re in the basement of said old Chapel, the headquarters of the new Greenmount Studios. ‘But we’re still shifting things over now. We’ve been hoarding far too much…’. Jamie, the man behind the wonderful ‘Mi Mye’ and former drummer with much missed Wakefield band ‘The Old House’, speaks in sweet, soft Scottish tinged tones that disguise a mad excitement for everything around him. He dashes off to show me the mood lighting. The studio is a bizarre mix of the old and new. I recognise the huge mixing desk from the old Greenmount, a mammoth contraption with a
Though physically calm, their joy and expressed curiosity gives you the impression you’re bouncing round the walls. Its infectious and inspiring. They often finish each others sentences and stories and each piece of equipment is displayed with such wide-eyed excitement, each new gadget presented to me
with pride and enthusiasm my head starts to spin. By the time I’m shown the new ‘Transient Designer’ I must admit I’m a little out of my depth. Surely these guys must’ve spent years studying away at uni to learn all this stuff?
Lee: I think the best way to put it is we left uni, we were both in bands and we didn’t want to pay someone else to do it , not necessarily because we couldn’t afford it, it was mainly because we were a bit shy. I wanted to write songs in my bedroom and record them and not have to show them to anyone else for a while. And then it reached a point where we’d started to make our own stuff sound good, then mates’d be like, ‘can you help us record this?’ and you start to get into it.
Jamie: Its when I got the tape machine. My parents always put money aside for me to learn to drive since I was quite young, and I never took it. And then one day I rung up and said can I have the money for learning to drive - I’ve just bought a vintage tape machine! It’s a story which epitomises the individual, uncommercial approach the two have. When things started going a bit peculiar for The Research, recording their major label debut in Sweden, it was back in the (relative) peace and comfort of Greenmount Studios, Wakefield, that they ended up, recording what would sadly be their swansong, ‘The Old Terminal’. The Cribs have also recorded with them, as well as Buen Chico, The Tailors, The Spills, Piskie Sits, The Lodger, Tiny Planets and recently Sam McCartie. Whilst they are undoubtedly ‘professional’ about their work, it doesn’t feel like a professional studio, where does Greenmount sit on the spectrum?
J: When Greenmount was in Wakefield it was my house, so it was more like, if it’s really hard work we wont do it. Whereas now, if we think we can get along with the people and make a great sounding record we’ll do it even if its something that’s not the style of music we like. L: But we certainly don’t say yes to everything, or go out of our way to ‘fill the book’. RB: Is it possible for you to make a living while sticking to these principals? L: Half a living I’d say. So we both have another job that pays the same as this…. J: If there were only one of us, we could probably do it L: But we wouldn’t make as good records. And we’d be knackered all the time. J: I spend a lot of time in my CAFÉ job doing pre-production, coz no one ever comes in the café. I get all the demos, I love demos, in fact that might be my most favourite thing. I will put them on in the café and draw diagrams of how I’m gonna mic it up. But we don’t really make a living RB: does the fact yr not forced to make a living off it help keep it ‘fun‘…or would you like to take that next step... L: We’d love to do this all the time, but not enough people buy records at the moment, there’s not so much money in it. But I don’t think we would ever get tired of it, and I don’t think we’re the kind of people to compromise and do really shit stuff we don’t want to do just because we get paid, which is kinda why we’re in this position. We probably could fill every night of the week, doing kiddie bands, little demos or hundred pounds for three tracks what these rehearsal studios do. But THEN we’d be miserable, then it’d feel like work, that’s why we’ve chosen to do it this way. We charge half the money we should do. And that’s between the two of us, and a day to us isn’t 8 hours, its 9 in the morning til 4 in the morning all
J: It’s not looking too promising….
ed 4. Not: ‘it sounded good and we wanted 2’, it had to be four. … We’re off track now though,… where were we, ‘have we had any formal training?’
The conversation darts back and forth, little stories here, complete asides there, often coming back to a point 20 minutes after the event. On one hand it’s the boundless enthusiasm for what they do, too much to express and recount. But it also shows their artistic temperament, the streams of ideas flowing out, perhaps not something I’ve overly associated with the role of Producer before. Surely they just sit there twiddle some knobs and press record? The passionate, and even scattershot method by which the conversation proceeds is a marvellous example of this unstoppable creative flow. How do they approach the role?
RB: It’s a lot easier, and more common, for people to record at home, be it on laptops or in the spare room. Would you say this is a positive thing? J: I think people recording at home is a great thing to be honest L: Just to get ideas down, even if you’ve no interest in production at all. And also for being well rehearsed to come to a studio. I like the way it works two ways, they’ll do a bit at home, and they’ll pay you to record their record and learn off you
the way through. We don’t like the idea of people paying ridiculous amount of money for a recording. We’re getting better equipment though, and we’re getting quicker. So maybe one day we’ll be just recording bands we like, working really fast 8 hour days and getting paid shit loads of money for it!
J: I’ve never actually been in another studio. Apart from as a kid. You have haven’t you? L: Yeah I’ve been in a few. I made a record with a famous producer with my band, and it was shit. We came back and I recorded the first single myself on a 12 track hard drive recorder. From that I thought all these studios aren’t what they kinda should be, but then when we did this record with a new guy I learnt loads and I was like AH! That other guy was just shit! I just learnt there’s different ways of doing it. Jamie and Me have developed a massive habit… I don’t think we’ve ever made a penny out of what we do coz we spend so much money on equipment. J: We’ll spend all day recording a band then realise we’ve got no money to get home. Like you had that compressor (Lee: yeah!) and it sounded so good we decided we need-
J: Sometimes the thing we find the hardest is when people don’t let us produce. We will get people saying ‘NO’. We find that really difficult. We have this thing where we would chop that, move that… L: Yeah, the new Piskie Sits stuff. Its fucking brilliant. When they came to the studio… J: It’s not that it wasn’t brilliant to start with…
L: No no, it just needed presenting properly. And they are great guys to work with. Coz they just go, ‘do what you want, make us a brilliant record‘. And that’s exactly what we did. We cut whole chunks and sections, shortened things, a bit that was on guitar, we’d be like, no that needs to be on organ… all kind of production things like that. We totally went to town on it. And the record we ended up with is fucking brilliant. We were all like, this is one of the best things we’ve ever done. And then the contrast to that is when you get a band that doesn’t want you to do anything. And they want to sound like how they sound. That’s cool, its
an easier job but its difficult to accept when you can hear a way that it could be loads better, because as a producer that’s kinda what you’re meant to be doing RB: So is the role of producer underrated would you say? L: I don’t think I’d use the word underrated but I’d definitely say that most bands don’t understand how great a good producer can make a record and how much that can transform how you feel about music.
J: We don’t have favourite bands we listen to. We have favourite producers. Anything that David Fridmann produces, we’ll listen to it. Anything Steve Albini produces, we’ll listen to it.
Meeting Jamie and Lee has proved to me that the Indie ethic is alive and well, and extends beyond the ideals of the bands they produce. Even so, its still rare to meet two individuals so driven and enthused, yet so relaxed, and laid back. They love what they do, and that
L: You can hear a producer’s influence, not just on the sonics, but on the arrangements too.
J: We reference Dave Fridmann all the time. L: I especially like the way he runs the studio. Its with his wife, in his house, the band live there for a bit. I love that, its brilliant, I love that its not a slick commercial studio. And anyone who comes to stay with him has to play a gig down the road at his pub. That’s standard! J: My favourite record of his is The Great Eastern (The Delgados) L: Yeah. I love Mark Ronson too. I love his production. RB: Really? L: I think its fucking genius. The way he represents stuff J: Its always a funny thing when you say you like that coz people do have that reaction: ‘Really?’ RB: If we’re talking about interpreting something, I guess that’s exactly what he does. L: I love what he does to records. I don’t necessarily love the records.
contentment shines through. What would they say to someone who perhaps wants to pursue a similar idea, but is worried they aren’t ‘qualified’ or experienced enough to do it?
L: I think the best thing you can say to someone in that position is, we don’t do this with a target in mind. We do this because we like coming to the studio and we enjoy the process of doing it. There’s no, ‘oh this is such fucking hard work now, but in 10 years time we could be…’ it’s not like that! We usually always get good bands, but it’s amazing when we get great bands. J: It’s that feeling when you end up listening to that record constantly for the next 2 weeks L: And for those moments… as long as you’ve got it in your head that you’re making records and working with bands because you love doing it… And for the first time in about an hour… Silence! It says it all really.
- Dean Freeman
as Sometimes things don’t always pan out as they should. As true in music burn anything else. Bands can offer so much, can promise the world and too so bright, but often so briefly, before disappearing into oblivion. 5 years the late, 10 years too early, perhaps. Here we celebrate the nearly bands, that, forgotten bands, the out of time bands, the for one reason or another, history left behind. Maybe we can learn some lessons. Maybe it’ll spark off some memories. If you’ve got someone in mind, please get in touch. Stephen Vigors did, and he had this to say
It can be a long, hard slog before you finally get a break in the music industry - but a quarter of a century is long enough to test anyone’s patience. Indeed Sixto Rodriguez had completely given up on ever fulfilling his dreams when he learnt of his stardom thousands of miles away.
Rodriguez was born in Detroit and was the sixth child in a family of Mexican immigrants. After a couple of insignificant singles he recorded his debut album, ‘Cold Fact’, for local label Sussex Records, released in 1970. A year later he travelled to London to record the follow up, ‘Coming From Reality’, but after achieving virtually zero commercial success he gave up and attempted to forge a career in politics, then went to university, and finally settled for a job in a petrol station. ‘Cold Fact’, under different circumstances - perhaps if it had been released five years earlier - would be a recognised classic. The 60’s were over and Rodriguez was railing against the establishment and singing songs about drugs. The psychedelic revolution was dead yet Rodriguez was sitting slap bang between Bob Dylan and Arthur Lee.
When Sussex Records went bankrupt and died his music career seemed lost to the abyss. Meanwhile in a South African nation gripped by apartheid, Rodriguez became a household name. A Johannesburg record label gave ‘Cold fact’ a minor release and word-of-mouth kicked in. The major radio stations that were subject to strict censorship would never play songs about drugs and revolution, but the pirate radio stations became fixated with Rodriguez. His songs about freedom were still relevant in a nation that wasn’t free and incredulously ‘Cold Fact’ went platinum.
Rumours about the whereabouts of Rodriguez were plentiful - most of them concluding that he was dead having shot himself in the head or set himself on fire while on stage. Some folk thought he was incarcerated in a prison or a nuthouse, or that he was a member of a leftist terrorist group. In 1996 the Rodriguez name appeared in the small ads section of Q Magazine as someone pleaded for
Not long after Segerman flew to America to meet Rodriguez a tour of South Africa was arranged for March 1998, with five subsequent tours over the past 12 years. A documentary, ‘Dead Men Don’t Tour’, was made for South African TV. He toured Australia again, and following coverage in the British music press he has twice visited London, the city where he recorded his second album. Rodriguez the legend is now just a regular rock star.
“any info on US singer Rodriguez, who had a large cult following in South Africa, wrote all his work in prison and shot himself on stage.”
With legend quickly outweighing the music the curiosity of one Johannesburg jeweller became too much to bear. Stephen “Sugar” Segerman (his nickname coming from the Rodriguez song ‘Sugarman’) enlisted the help of a top music detective to track him down. Eventually, in October 1997 it was Rodriguez’s daughter who emailed Segerman. “Do you really want to know about my Father?”
‘Cold Fact’ has just past it’s 40th year anniversary and to celebrate there is yet another tour of Australia. Rodriguez will be 68 in July and he has spent much of his life without a TV or a phone. If you’re going to heed my advice and check this guy out then please pay for it. No-one has ever laid claim to the title of most under-rated man is rock quite like Sixto Rodriguez can.
The truth, as always, was much more mundane than the legend. The 57 year-old Sixto Diaz Rodriguez was living in Detroit and working as Labourer. He’d raised a family, had an unsuccessful foray into politics and believed his music career was as dead as Crème Brulee. He had toured Australia twice, once in 1979 and again in 1981, but never in his homeland and took the phrase ‘underground’ to whole new levels. He was unsurprisingly shocked to realise that while he was an average Joe in the States, in South Africa he would be given the red-carpet treatment and need security to protect him from over-exuberant fans. Rodriguez told The Daily Telegraph in 2005 that it was “like having two lives. Bizarre is a word you could use.”
xRichard Herring LEGENDARY COMEDIAN
NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION...
... plus, we’re short on space. Hear him speak: 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?
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. 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 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 sit-com 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.
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 its 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?
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.
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). 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. Is it art?! Yes, it can be. Stand up; purest form of selfexpression 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. 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.
- Dean Freeman
CH A RUPERT MURDO
Buggers Broadcasting Communism. That’s what Germaine Greer said. I don’t know if she was joking or not. But its typically provocative rhetoric relating to the political hot potato the BBC continues to be. To pursue a metaphor there, lots of people like their hot potato served in many ways... Jacket with beans. Or perhaps tuna? No coleslaw for me! But sadly the BBC can sometimes try to please all these people all the time and can end up, well, like a big pile of mashed potato. The metaphor doesn’t work though; Like Badger I bloody love mash potato and I don’t like the BBCs occasional weakness. But, coincidentally, it’s exactly what the Tories would love to see, a mashed up, messed up, washed up BBC. ‘Auntie’ has a rep of being a little left wing, a little liberal. Witness the hatred with which Nick Griffin closed his appearance on Question Time, a typical far right pseudo paranoid rant - yes, he was set up to some extent, but f**k him, when he decides to rejoin the human race he’ll be allowed an open platform. He hates the BBC because it is beyond state control, it is independent and
represents Britain - the true Britain out there on the streets - not the one inside his poisoned Neolithic skull. But the BBC always gets itchy around election time, and even more so now as for the first time in over a decade there is a decent chance of the Tories getting back in (you‘ll know by the time this is published). Though its difficult to align either party with what were once traditional ideologies, lets face it: Tories are right wing buffoons in Blair skin coats. They’d love to see the BBC sold off, privatised, turned into a free enterprise money making machine, pure and simple and as a reader of something like RB, that should concern you greatly… The Tories were long accused of not having any policies to back up there bravado. True no longer. In fact, they’ve taken their media policy so serious they’ve allowed it to be ghost written by Rupert Murdoch himself. His company NewsCorp (owner of Sky, The Sun, The Fox Network, Myspace, part of ITV and about a million more) loathes the BBC. Their ultra free market approach clashes with the BBCs, but the issue is simpler - the BBC are a rival, and one that cant be bullied or bought at that. But you know who can be? Mr David Cameron. Such is the lust for power that when the Murdoch’s bemoan BBC Radio’s ratings success, the Tories announce plans to sell off Radio 1 to commercial braodcasters. The Murdoch’s resist government moves to cheapen the price of their Sports coverage, and to make some events of national
importance to be available to everyone, for free. The Tories move their position accordingly. NewsCorp wants to buy all the access points for UK broadband, currently owned by British Telecom. They dine the Tories in a swish hotel and it becomes a future party aim - to break up British Telecoms ‘monopoly’. One of the only organisations able to stand up to NewsCorp in this country are OFCOM, who regulate and restrict their attempted ‘domination’. Unsurprisingly, Cameron recently announced it would face huge cutbacks, or be completely replaced. The BBC has tried to pre-empt this, with the sacrificial lamb of BBC 6 and the Asian Network. Mark Thompson aint daft. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s picked an area of the BBC with the largest cult following - just the kind of people who will happily jump on the internet and make their voices heard. Everyone kicks up a fuss - Why not axe BBC3?! Well, announcing the potential cut of BBC3 would have stirred, well reaction from literally no-one, bar Ralf Littles accountant (do sitcom stars get royalties?). The intention of this announcement was to squarely show the BBC has the public on its side, which has worked marvellously. That’s not to say BBC6 isn’t on the way out, but brave be the government who tries to take it down, Labour OR Tory. But In truth, the difference could well be negligible. Its hard to know what’s worst really: Labours castrated Stalin Era bureaucrats, conformists whose remnants of personality and passion were removed through the cult of Blair purges or the Tories, more akin to the Slitheen from Doctor Who, a sect of Aliens who infiltrated the heights of British Government by killing senior officials and ‘wearing’ their skin. Every time you see one on television trying to be balanced and reasonable, cant you see a rumbling behind the forehead, the true face of the rasping Hoo Ha Henry desperately wanting to burst out, like the Alien from John Hurts chest? I think the vast majority of the public fail to appreciate quite what an institution the BBC is. The simple way it is not affiliated to the State, to the Queen, to Government, to
big business, to advertisers, to sponsors, to fashion... Its is purely independent, its only commitment is to every single license payer in the country. And rather than ‘the public wants what the public gets’ it, in its noble tradition, it tries to inform, entertain and educate them. Yes, it makes mistakes, but without it, we’d be lobotomised in News Corp Slurry, a Jeremy Kyle Internationale, Heat magazine dead-eyed trash reading the headlines, commercial radio hell, playing all the hits 24/7 into eternity. It doesn’t matter which way the election has gone, it barely feels it will make any difference. Our leaders are set on a very specific global political path; the only difference is whose face will sit by the headlines of our continuing decline. But through it all, and never forget this, the one thing we’ll be able to rely on is the impartial comment of our beloved BBC. Brilliance Beyond Comparison
- Roland X
g f sd x j
We came across Lucas Renney twice in recent months, first at Henry Boons in Wakefield where he performed tracks from his ‘9 out of 10 in the NME’ album, Strange Glory (he cheekily repeated that fact at least twice). Tonight he plays his sad but dryly whimsical songs alone, his Mackem charm holding the audience throughout. He was supported by St Gregory Orange, possibly their last show for a long time. Despite this, new tracks like ‘The Party’ benefit from some fairly post rock noise terrorism in the closing minute and are impressive. Apparently they will return, albeit in a completely different form. Lucas popped up again supporting Field Music at Brudenell Social Club, who were promoting recent album (Measure). They played an initially bewildering set, first coming across like The Phantom Band’s elongated ‘jam structures‘, the second was an update of Ob-la-di Ob-la-da, with full on McCartney wandering bass. Then it went all 70’s prog, with an (intentionally?) bad funk breakdown section. And the fourth was some ‘Boston’ / Elton John twinkly ballad mash up, that sojourned into a ’Low’ era Bowie style stomper. Bizarre. But eventually the cleverness of what they were doing came through. Excellent song craft, but maybe too much ‘head’ and not enough heart. The Passing Fancy, expert at making you feel good about those bad, boozy times returned at Bodega Bar with a reworked set. He was joined by Jamie Roberts, recently finalist at the BBC 2 folk awards on Fiddle and Mandolin. Good to see folk music with a sense of fun, the spritely tunes benefited greatly from the additional staff. Piskie Sits held their launch night at Escobar, for new single ‘Churp Churp’ (praised last issue). It seemed every band in Wakefield came out to wish them well. For the first time, in terms of decibels, they sound like a six piece. Its thunderous. Whilst it feels like I’ll have to wait for the new record to hear the nuances behind it all, it makes for a thrilling evening. The ever entertaining Imp popped up too, joined by Runaround Kids guitarist/singer George. Again, a much noisier raucous sound than usual, but still one of the best live bands around at the moment. Sam Barratt of Nine Black Alps offered a delicate acoustic set too that was surprisingly engaging. New Chemikal Underground signings Zoey Van Goey played a free gig at Oporto in Leeds. Based in Glasgow, it was a hugely entertaining evening, with genuinely warm banter and big smiles. Zoey Van Goey completely surpass my expectations and pull out a storming set, of intelligent, feel good unashamed pop. Its hard to pin down their sound exactly, there’s a certain folk element, but its about a million times more than that. They remind me of The Delgados in a way, not musically, but in their ability to craft marvellous pure pop moments from deceptively simple ideas expressed without sounding cheesy, contrived or insincere. Best new band we’ve heard, without a doubt. Finally, reliably wonderful ‘On the Ride’ promotions put on another stormer at Wakefields Red Shed, with a pleasingly crunching performance from Mi Mye, a sweaty, jolly, brand of joyous fiddle-y folk noise, along with The Tailors, adoptive Wakefield legends (they like to record up here) impressing with beautiful renditions from their recent album ‘Come Dig Me Up’. And then Tiny Planets, who simply improve every single time we see them, which is scary coz they are already astounding. Treecreeper rounded things off. Admittedly RB was pretty drunk by this point, but the album sounds amazing, well worth a look. - RB
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Houdini Dax; Cardiff
Who or what are ‘Houdini Dax’? Our favourite quote sums us up beautifully!: “Superduper Supergrass blasts with lovely bendy ‘60s pop bits” (Simon Williams, Fierce panda)
How would you describe your sound? We have an energetic and catchy sound that nods to psychedelia, garage and blues. However, we try not to be a revivalist band and are influenced by lots of modern music too.
What are your short and long term plans for the future? In the short term we are just gigging as much as we can and have our first London gig in March at Fierce Panda’s club Fandango night in Buffalo. We’re also recording our debut album which is coming along great and will be released and toured later this year. What should I listen to? (anything you’ve released / recorded that can be downloaded / purchased) Some of our tracks are available at www. myspace.com/houdinidax and we have a four track EP that includes the BBC session we recorded for the Adam Walton show and an acoustic bonus track. It can be purchased online from See Monkey Do Monkey Recordings (www.seemonkeydomonkey. com) and at our gigs.
What are your key influences, musical or otherwise? We are all influenced by hugely different things but we all have a few shared musical influences in The Beatles, Blur, Neil Young, Simon And Garfunkel, David Bowie, The Strokes and Ryan Adams. We also share a love of the UK television show The Office. If you listen carefully to the EP version of Robin You Lie you can hear a few David Brent gems here and there.
What moment / event / experience led you to begin writing music? Its hard to say what exact moment led us to writing but Jack and Dave being the songwriters got heavily influenced by certain artists and albums which inspired them to experiment in school music lessons with songs and ideas and out of that decided to form a band. Experiences like great albums and gigs and just relating to songs in general is what inspires us to write, from the beginning till now.
How do you differ as a recording artist and as an artist performing live? Both are equally important to us. We try to record as live as possible as we really respect bands who can pull off their material live. We don’t jump around as much in the studio so live it’s a bit more raw and energetic.
street k n a b , Wakefield
gig listings L
U P S T A IR S i
Every Monday - Open Mic Every Tuesday - Quiz from 8pm Saturday 1st - Tragical History Tour Sunday 2n d - TBC Thursday 6th - The Wires Unplugged Friday 7th - Sorepoint
Saturday 8th - The Snapp Thursday 13th - Joe Gallagher Friday 14th - The Roosters Saturday 15th - The Racoons Thursday 20th - Jed Thomas Friday 21st - The Wires Saturday 22nd - Abstract Thursday 27th - The Blueni ks Friday 28th - Setlist
Saturday 29th - Vamp Sunday 30th - TBC
D O W N S T A IR S
Wednesday 5th - Kill For a Seat Comedy Saturday 8th - Gorilla Ice Wednesday 12th - Battle of the Bands Friday 14th - The Hop Social Saturday 15th - Burn Down the Disco Wednesday 19th - Battle of the Bands Friday 21st - Funky Faco Promotions Saturday 22nd - Rebel Promotions Present Euphoria Audio Po Girl Wednesday 26th -
Friday 28th - Two by Four Saturday 29th - Burn Down the Disco