ISSUE 4.1 / FREE A WAKEFIELD INDEPENDENT ZINE
LONG DIVISION FESTIVAL 2013 IS
+ MICHAEL AINSLEY BAND
SOUND IT OUT RECORDS PHILOPHOBIA MUSIC AT FIVE YEARS & MORE
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s this still fun? Is there still a point? What was the point in the first place? Doubt, fear, exhaustion, disillusionment, exasperation and frustration battle patience, surety, confidence, purpose and blind faith to bring you pages with stuff on them. Is it worth it, is it still fun? It’s hard to say right now. I dispatch this snatched few hundred seconds to you from the central core of the hive mind concocting Long Division Festival. You may find mention of it over these next 37 pages. Partly a promotional tool, partly the true state of things, where nothing else can really enter our minds, it could be about little else.
So, presuming you know who The Fall and Ghostpoet and Jeffrey Lewis (and the rest) are, we’ve looked at the peripheral. Because, if there is still a point, that is what it is. We are so stupidly contrary, we daren’t even promote our own festival with a deep and meaningful plee down the lens of camera one. It’s the T-shirt of a man in the audience for a split second, or an anagram of the village where a minor character holidayed fifteen years ago. That’s what we are about. Right now we are stuck in a deep hole of worry, climbing a ladder oiled with excitement, trying to climb towards the sunlight. So, come to Long Division and celebrate the
unsung, and the soon to be sung. And if we don’t go mad, there will be another issue in the summer and it will be quite new and different, I can feel it. Dean Freeman Editor
4 Philophobia Music 8 Rites of Passage: Corporate Festivals and High Street Music Chains 10 The Continuing Adventures of The Michael Ainsley Band 14 What Is The Future Of Our Beloved Indie Record Stores? 17 Rob Dee Speaks 18 Why I Zine: Slag
EDITOR Dean Freeman DESIGNER Matt Sidebottom mattsidebottom.tumblr.com WORDS Dean Freeman, John Jowett, Andrew Whittaker, Rob Dee, Martin Callaghan, Andrew Micklethwaite, Clive Smith, Roland X COVER Matt Sidebottom, with illustrations by Adam Hayward www.copypasterepeat.com IMAGES Matt Sidebottom, George Sarrell, Brent Liam Barker, Toni Lines, Jayne Woodhead, Dean Freeman, John Jowett, Charlotte Blacker, Sam Smith
22 RIP CLIVE SMITH 24 Greenmount Studios Revisted: Piskie Sits 28 Unity Hall Rises 30 The Future Of Rock And Roll 32 Rhubarb Bomb Photographer John Jowett IS Watching You 36 Working Artist: Charlotte Blacker 39 Follow The Drum vs New Media
Want to contribute, write for us, complain, thank us, tell us we did something wrong, send us your demo tracks for reviewing or just have a chat? Then find us across the world wide web. www.rhubarbbomb.com www.rhubarbbomb.blogspot.com Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We’re also on twitter! Wow! @rhubarbbomb The Rhubarb Bomb 4.1 - Wakefield, Yorks, UK Matt wants your feedback of the new design! Tweet him at @mattsidebottom with your opinion. 3
PHILOPHO MUSIC T he story of Philophobia Music runs so close to Rhubarb Bomb’s that it seems a little ridiculous to repeat it all here. We’ve interviewed almost all the bands, reviewed almost all the records and been at almost all the gigs. What else can we possibly say? Well, the label turned five years old this Spring and that isn’t something that should be taken lightly, even by us. But rather than retell that story, around these pages you will find our guide to their greatest / daftest moments. There are contributions from bands and fans of one of the greatest DIY labels in the UK, with Jack Winn paying special tribute to the strength of label chief Rob Dee’s releases. And almost all of it is true.
PHILOPHOBIA MILESTONE RELEASES
is) known for; a continuous suite of dripping atmospherics, minimalist The label’s first release was a 7” by loops and droning, heartbroken Lapels, who had quickly amassed a rambles. Still a classic. cult following locally. Annoyingly for them, and for Philophobia’s The Spills accounting department, they split Smoke Signals not long after, but all members Everything about this EP screamed went on to form other bands, so it ‘new era’. The sudden leap in is the seed from whence much of songwriting, the great production, Philophobia grew, in all senses. the awesome artwork and the professional digi-pack casing. Shit St Gregory Orange was getting real for both the label and its bands. Things We Said in Bedrooms The first PHOP album was Runaround Kids a startling sidestep from the Linked Arms supposed lo-fi scuzzy Alt-Indie- Due to their appearance at Leeds Pop the label was (and perhaps still Festival the previous year, and
Lapels Painted Skeletons
the steady following that built in its wake, this was the first PHOP release that arrived with genuine, widespread anticipation, far beyond the confines of the WF postcode and in keeping with that optimism, it was fantastic.
Protectors The Stem & The Leaf
Not only important as the labels first 12 inch release, but also because Protectors consisted of bands from the pre-PHOP era heroes such as Pylon, Nathaniel Green & Dugong, ensuring the labels connection the wonderful Wakefield musical heritage that proceeded it.
TRIBUTE: Andrew Micklethwaite I bought at least one of each of Philophobia’s releases whether I thought I was gonna like ‘em or not. Luckily (selfishly) Rob picks the winners, and he’s not released a true duffer yet. Long may it continue.
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TRIBUTE: Chris Charlton If Philophobia Music had existed in Wakefield in previous years there is no doubt there would have been more Cribs-like success stories. In a way I feel a bit sad that Philophobia wasn’t around when I was younger to capture some of the magic in Wakefield back then, but I look around and see all these new fantastic and fresh new bands and its just great they’re all on Robs label.
PHOP INTERNATIONAL Oddest place Philophobia has posted a record to:
Oddest places Philophobia has had downloads from:
Chile, Mexico & Guatemala
usually involve Rob Dee getting really fucking angry in traffic on the motorway whilst the rest of the car drunkenly sing along to Pinkerton as we share out the remainder Benno of the rider from the (former Rhubarb out-of-town gig we just Bomb editor) My fondest memory is Rob having bailed on. holes in his shoes that let the rain in because he had spent all his money Dean Freeman getting the Lapels single pressed. (Rhubarb I think that says a lot about our Bomb Editor) Rob. He would do without shoes My first memory of Rob is when in order to get a single released by he asked my old band to play a a band no one out side Wakefield gig at The Jockey. We were really had any clue existed. excited to be getting involved with this whole Rhubarb Bomb thing, long before I wrote for it. Harry Rhodes (St Gregory Orange Anyway, Rob had stressed the importance of being there at half & more) Within the first few minutes six to soundcheck, so we got there of meeting Rob, we had talked bang on time. We went into the about how he had procured some backroom and there was no PA, no hessian sack material, with which soundman and the pool table was he was planning to use as an still in the middle of the floor. Most alternate record sleeve packaging surprisingly, there was no Rob Dee. solution, as well as the prospect of I called him up. “I’m in the bath” he promoting an act that as yet had said, as if it was the most natural never played live. Otherwise I’d thing in the world. “I’ll be down after have to say my fondest memories mi tea.” The thought of him with his Insanely, for such a prolific label, the whole enterprise is the work of one man: Mr Rob Dee. We all have memories of Rob Dee and Philophobia...
PHOTOGRAPH Sam Smith
big soggy beard soaping himself in the suds still makes me laugh.
George Garthwaite (Runaround Kids)
Jesus Christ, driving 140 down the M1 back from Reading festival in the middle of the night, just me and deemon in the car. BOTH of us asleep. I swear to God I nearly soiled my 18yr old kecks when we both woke up. What a legend. If my mum reads this, Rob Dee is (now) a very competent driver with big, big skills.
Chris Charlton (Protectors)
I spoke to Rob on the phone a few months back. I was housesitting my in-laws, on my own for the week, and who have a resident 5
ghost called Mary. Anyway Rob had just split up with this girl and was a bit down, and here I was bending his ear on PRS and PPL. We had a chat and I then wrote and recorded a song about him; it’s nearly finished and he’s agreed to release it but he doesn’t know this story. Maybe by the time this comes out it’ll be out and he still won’t know. Lovely lad anyway.
Jamie Lockhart (Mi Mye)
My favourite Rob Dee story is: I was living with Rob, I was running Greenmount from the same house as he was running Philophobia and Benno was running Rhubarb Bomb. I was stood at the bottom if the stairs beside the photocopier that was used to make the fanzine, but mainly used to photo copy people faces that came in the house.
Anyway, Rob had just split up with a girl and he was walking around the house only wearing a pair of pants and drinking whiskey straight from the bottle. I asked him how he was and he said “I’m getting by” which if you know Rob Dee’s voice was the funniest think he could have said. So I don’t think Philophobia really is the fear of love at all.
Tim Metcalfe (Lapels, St Gregory Orange)
We were on a short ‘tour’. We went to London, and played where-ever we could between scheduled gigs. We lugged our gear through the rain. We stood half embarrassed, half soul-destroyed as the sound cut out on the post-midnight last stop on the ‘tour’. We missed the tube (and again, and again). We stayed in haunted hotels. We
watched small crowds retreat to the bar. And Rob was there. Rain-spattered beard, rain-faded corduroys, with a level-headed, philosophical response on-hand. And for a week or two, it saved our lives.
Jack Winn (Runaround Kids)
When we were on tour in Ireland, we’d had a heavy night in Galway and Rob Dee was driving us. On the way from Galway to Newbridge, on the motorway, he let off a fart SO bad that he said it stung his arsehole on the way out. We opened every window in the car, on the motorway, and it didn’t leave. We gipped for a solid two minutes until it went. It was the worst fart I’ve ever smelt. And I don’t think I could sum up Philophobia in an anecdote as perfectly as that.
TRIBUTE: Benno The label galvanised Wakefield music when it was at the brink of dying.
MAGIC MOMENTS Rob Dee Is A Cunt
If Philophobia have one thing going for them, it’s a creative approach to packaging and merchandise. Even so, this T-shirt design, featuring a sketch of a sad looking Rob Dee nursing a pint glass and the words Rob Dee Is A Cunt, was a risky move. But PHOP know their audience; they sold out in record time...
Rob Dee For Mayor
In the early day of Facebook, long before campaigns to get Rage Against The Machine to Christmas Number 1, an attempt to get Rob Dee voted in as mayor took place. It very nearly worked too, but sadly the inauguration ceremony was stormed by the SAS after a misunderstanding over Rob’s tax returns, leaving 53 dead, though Rob was unharmed.
TRIBUTE: Joe Grayson (The Spills) A whole four years have flown by
since our first release with Philophobia and it would be impossible to escape how fortunate we were to have had that initial support at the time when we needed it the most, especially when you bear in mind how young we were at the time. It’s been really reassuring to have had such a consistent level of encouragement to release new music over the years but being able 6
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Lapels on 6Music
A session with Marc Riley saw the scampish label heroes turn in a cheeky set that had them play one more song than they were allowed, by simply joining two together and not stopping. Also had Marc comment that there wasn’t enough material in all the Lapels tight fit trousers to cover just of his legs.
to do so as quickly or as slowly as we’ve wanted which I’m sure has helped to form a more comfortable approach to song writing. To have been able to develop alongside the label and be surrounded by so many amazing bands, that have all worked hard on impressive records, has been brilliant and I’m certain having such genuine inspiration so close to home has made it easier to keep motivated and focused on writing new music.
TRIBUTE: JACK WINN PM is the most important thing in Wakefield music. Fuck you Rhubarb Bomb!
26 1 2 6 2 4 2
1 cd 2 cd 3 cd 7” 12” Download Other
Above Us The Waves
The Fur Blend
Attracting dust as we’d imagined they’d attract salivating, tonguelulling girls. What I’m trying to say is, Rob isn’t a businessman. He’s fucking terrible at that stuff. But when he hears something he enjoys, he wants to put it out. Over the years, Rob has validated his own ear, The Spills, Runaround Kids, Imp, and others continue to generate a non-financially-pepped buzz. This is Seriously Fucking Good Music that is getting recognized as such without the bullshit marketing dept.
SONGS RELEASED SOLO RECORDS COMPS / SPLITS The Bambinos
One Day, After School…
enough to assume that artistic validation through mass admiration was surely months away. In actual fact, that validation was provided not by salivating, tonguelulling girls but by a bearded, selfeffacing bloke almost ten years our senior (Enter Rob ‘Dee’ Stokes). Whatever, we’d take it. Rob pressed 500 vinyl copies of our debut single, the leading track off which had no chorus to speak of, and was probably the slowest, knottiest song in our set at that time. I imagine most of those singles still reside under Rob’s bed.
When Lapels played their first set, back in 2006 at Escobar, armed with a set that largely involved almost-in-tune bawling about android prostitutes, dead time travellers, and pop artist action figures over almost-in-tune punk guitars (and to a crowd of almost six), we were young and arrogant
St Gregory Orange
As singer / soundmaker with Lapels and St Gregory Orange, no man has had more songs released by Philophobia Music. Here’s why he thinks Philophobia matters.
Single 9 EP 15 Album 9 split 7 Compilation 3
Some people say that we talk about Philophobia too much. That we should cover more of what else is going on in Wakefield. They are right to an extent, but perhaps they should look at Philophobia Music to understand why they do get so much coverage. This five year milestone has shown that the label is ridiculously consistent. It has released a record every 1.5 months for five years. It has released over forty records and we’ve released less than half that amount of issues. There is always something happening at Philophobia Music, and whilst their releases may not be to everyone’s taste, the work rate and dedication are beyond compare. There’s always something new to talk about. And that’s why we love ‘em. 7
Rites Of Passage: Corporate Festivals and High Street Music Chains M
usic is a passion that develops over the course of your life. You don’t emerge from the womb beatboxing 5/11ths time to avant-garde free jazz. Instead there are certain rites of passage, a fact I was reminded of when the Leeds Festival line-up was announced the other month. To my tired eyes, Green Day, Eminem and Biffy Clyro appeared predictable, dull and easy. Of the headliners, Biffy are the weak link; unquestionably ‘huge’, they have yet to transcend to the ubiquitous level of the other two. Evidence? I saw Pointless the other day. They were given as an answer and Xander looked very confused. You can see I am being scientific about this, right? But Leeds Festival is for the kids. It is a key part of growing up, not just as a person but as a method of expanding your musical taste. The key demographic is the 16 – 21 age 8
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when I was a kid, when the possibility of starting my own music collection became an exciting possibility, HMV was amazing. Having it on the high street bracket, so it makes sense that they start repeating themselves every five or so years. Green Day may seem awfully passé, but I have to remember how important Dookie seemed to me when I was 16 and be glad they are up there, getting young music fans excited, as they did for me. Co-incidentally, the first festival I went to was Leeds Festival in 2001. Eminem headlined, Green Day were second headliners (behind Travis) but best of all, the first band I ever saw at any festival was Biffy Clyro, who opened the
Radio 1 stage (those guys have certainly earned that headlining slot the hard way). We need those big names up there. It’s about more than the music; it’s the truly awful spectre of brand recognition. V Festival have totally given up the ghost and gone for a celebrity pop bill this year. Leeds Festival only ever did the same thing, but for the more ‘alternative’ demographic. That’s why we’ve seen Marilyn Manson, Axl Rose, Dave Grohl and the rest up there. Because it is exciting to see famous people
on a stage when music is a vast, unknown world - before cynicism takes over. Recognised names are also helpful to attract the other key demographic; passive music fans. People that look at the Leeds Festival line-up and say “I’ve heard of Green Day!” But that’s a whole other story. The important thing is to accept Leeds Festival as an essential part of developing musical minds. We shouldn’t sneer so much. The festival seems to be in rude health, but what if it disappeared? This is what worries me about HMV, another essential rite of passage. I don’t go to HMV because they don’t have obscure hand numbered Arab Strap Japanese Import 12” vinyls with signed poster inlays. But when I was a kid, when the possibility of starting my own music collection became an exciting possibility, HMV was amazing. Having it on the high street was perfect; whilst mum ILLUSTRATION George Sarrell
plodded laboriously round BHS, I could wander the aisles, soaking in the names and genres and cool looking sleeves. In contrast, I was in Sound It Out Records in Stockton the other week. It’s a great Indie shop with a strong local following, very friendly staff and a wide range of stock. I was flicking through racks of vinyl amongst other shoppers – all male, all thirty plus – when a teenage girl came in. She looked a little scared, or perhaps just daunted by the make shift style of the shop. She asked to hear a record (Doolittle) and then scuttled away without making a purchase. Was it too big a step for her? I felt the same the first time I went inside a comic book shop. I’d feel it now if I went in an antiques shop. There’s no sign outside the door with a man holding his hand at shoulder height saying ‘You must be this much of a music fan to enter” but it sure can feel that way.
Even if independent music shops benefit from the closure of HMV, are they able to adequately fulfil the role it played in the development of young musical minds? And equally, a shunning of, or the disappearance of, large scale festivals, as far as they sit from our ethics and preferences, could potentially see a chain reaction that removed the smaller, more niche festivals we enjoy. You could even track this idea back to the disappearance of Top Of The Pops, or Smash Hits magazine. Seemingly tacky, but they were such an important potential Trojan horse into young people’s lives. Streaming sites and free downloads facilitate the consumption of music, but they don’t cultivate a love and appreciation of it. This is our biggest challenge for the future, one that will be much tougher without these ‘first contact’ moments. DEAN FREEMAN 9
The Continuing Adventures Of The Michael Ainsley Band... T
here is a threat of rain in the air; the dull and blackened skies hanging over Barnsley feel keen to soak the evening revellers below. A backstreet leading off from a sidestreet and a blank sheet metal door is the unwelcoming first impression of a venue called, oddly, Rebecca’s. Unusual as, amongst the honed façade of the regular chainbars, stands this place, a Rock bar fashioned with an old-skool sense of dread and curiosity -and christened with a girls name. Through the thin corridor and down a quarter turn of stairs is the one and only room. The walls are black, there is little light. There is a mirrored wall and a mirrored ceiling. Tie-dye sheets cling to the walls, perhaps in some failed attempt to brighten the gloom. People buy beer in cans, some sit on black leather sofas, with rips in them. On stage is a band called The Michael Ainsley Band. They cycle through some chords. G. C. D. G again. But they are good, the noise they make is an easy one to appreciate and the way their bodies flail 10
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around the stage portrays accurately - the carefree sense of fun that permeates all their work. Amongst the stumbling, one of the guitarists takes a bass-end to the face, yet seems to revel in the blood he receives. The audience, only a few of which have followed the band from their native town of Wakefield, lap up their sharp pop constructions and many feel the show is over all too soon. The DJ, perhaps long deaf after years of forcing his record collection on paying punters, presses play on his self mixing laptop programme and generic indie music fills the venue – at about three times the volume of the bands. It physically hurts, the hi-end drilling its hissing vibrations deep into a mind previously at ease. Punters head outside, for the relative peace of the doorway, and that all consuming April evening darkness. Here, the first of the band to emerge are Harry Rhodes and Rob Burnell, both guitarists. A fanzine writer has collared them, keen to document the fallout of
one of the most exciting bands his town, also Wakefield, has offered up in recent years. “It is the most fun band I’ve ever been in” says Rob, a gentle figure, who speaks as if afraid to wake a dog sleeping in the corner. Harry, speaking into the ‘zine writers Dictaphone, concurs. “It’s fun because I don’t have to worry about carrying anything, not that I carry anything in any other band but the freedom is there to do what I want to do.’ He pauses to lick the paper of the cigarette he is rolling. “And practises, when we are writing, Mike will just point at me and say SOLO! And I’ve not done guitar solos since I was in a covers band when I was like 17. It’s fun as a guitarist to do that stuff coz it’s kinda throwaway and I get to fuck around. But the songs at the base of it are really fucking good.” Harry carries a respectable beard & long hair combo. From 70s prog-rock to 90s slackerdom, he could comfortably fit into any number of styles of band, which coincidentally, he does. And he likes to talk music. Dean Freeman PHOTOGRAPH
ROB GUITAR HARRY GUITAR
DAN DRUMS 11
“WE ARE ALL MICHAEL AINSLEY” “I will torture myself over chord progressions in any other band’ he continues. ‘But in this one it’s just do whatever the first chord progression is, coz it’s simple and we know everyone can build on it and make it sound huge. With Piskies and St Greg, I stress because I can’t play a chord, coz that’s the first chord I ever played and it’s too obvious. It’s refreshing to come into a band that is founded on a basis of tried and tested stuff, writing for that is really good.” The zine writer nods in appreciation. This is good stuff. This interview will barely need an edit, or a gimmick, he thinks. The titular Michael Ainsley arrives. Whilst not quite a giant, he does dwarf all around him. He ambles – a perfect description for his casual movements – into the evening, with an expression that is half startled rabbit, half the flicking eyes of a man constantly on the search for his next beer. He joins the group, which now also includes drummer Dan Stringer who is, post-gig, a very sweaty man indeed. He is discussing the reason why the band have remained under the title The Micheal Ainsley Band. You see, Mike originally worked solo, but this past six months has seen 12
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this super group of sorts explode on the local scene. “Because we’ve developed such an immense reputation for playing live shows, we can’t change our name. So we are stuck with the chain around our neck, which is Mike’s name. It’s a lovely chain, it’s a chain that feels nice. It’s a chain made of daises, but it’s a chain none the less. But we are glad to wear the chain.” Mike is bemused and as the ‘zine writer turns to him, is lost for words. “Is there any pressure’ asks the ‘zine writer ‘that this thing is called The Michael Ainsley Band – and you are Mike Ainsley?” “I AM MIKE AINSLEY!” Harry chips in, mocking the ‘zine writer for his really stupid question. “No, to be honest” replies Mike. “WE ARE ALL MICHAEL AINSLEY” Harry continues, as the final part of the Ainsley Band puzzle steps blinking eyed from the venue, into the dazzling backstreets of Barnsley. “What does this Greg character bring to the band?” asks the zine writer, referring to this tall, lean, handsome character now joining the group. “Fucking useless’ says Mike “he never plays owt right. I mean look at him.” Greg approaches. He and
drummer Dan are older than the rest of the band. They first kicked out the jams back in the ‘90s, as Retarded Fish, when the rest were still playing kiss-chase in playgrounds. Greg in particular carries an air of wisdom; a man who has seen it all, yet endlessly searches for bigger and greater thrills. He’s also been drinking since midday. “I just been for a shit in girls toilets’ he tells everyone, somehow phrasing it as if it were an accusation ‘coz there were no toilet paper in the men’s toilets. It takes a special kinda guy to do that, to go int’ women’s toilets.” No-one argues. “Were there any women in the women’s toilets when you went in?” asks the zine writer. “Fuck yeah’ Greg tells them: ‘It’s just my lifestyle.” Dan jumps in “Exactly. This is the older generation of the band, keeping it all down to earth. If we hadn’t got back together as Retarded Fish I really don’t think you would have asked us to join your band - is that a fair point?” “I’ve got a fair point for you” Greg interrupts. After a cautious silence from the congregation,
“It’s pr fun ba it becomes clear he is making reference to his penis. “I’ve been pubic 22 years” he adds. A rumble emerges from inside the venue. The next band have started their noise making. The smokers wander back inside, the night rain holds off for a few minutes longer. The bouncers on the door of Wetherspoons just down the hill look up and down the
road nervously. That time of night, that dark shifting of sense where the boundaries of the rights and wrongs of everyday life shift and tilt and break are fast approaching. The fanzine writer has taken the singer and songwriter Mike to one side, away from his bandmates. Mike started this whole thing, but before his solo career, he played in a cult beat-combo called Lapels. He plays in Imp too and has another project on the go called Yard Wars. But this thing here tonight, this is Michael Ainsley. Originally just him and acoustic guitar, he recorded an album with a full backing band, although he did play all the instruments himself. After many a well received solo show, sometimes with Harry backing him up, the full punk pop assault of The Michael Ainsley Band appeared, alongside recently released album Cyclone, on a record label called Philophobia Music. Hence being pestered by this shady, socially inept fanzine writer. “I’m really into Springsteen. It’s not any secret.’ Mike explains. “I always wanted to have a big band. If it was my way, if I could do it,
not really having any drive, or ambition.” “I want to do it full time.” Mike tells him, utterly serious. “Just be a musician, that’s it. When you first start out, you are doing because it’s fun, then someone shows a bit of interest. Like Rob. I don’t know where I’d be without Rob Dee. I met him when I was sixteen, and he decided to release Lapels. And now look at what’s happened.” “Playing in a band is one thing, but doing it full time?’ the writer asks. ‘Do you really think you can make a living off this? Tonight, for example. The scamming promoters didn’t even pay you. If you want to have a house and buy stuff, you’ll probably have to change something about all this. Would you ever look to doing something more commercial? Or, even selling music for commercials, adverts? More and more bands are doing it now, though without wanting to lead you, I think it’s a fucking travesty.” “Depends what the advert was…” Mike replied, sly smile in toe. “Who would you sell out for?” Mike thinks long and hard. The regulated beats of the bar close by bounce out the window above their
to do four, just to see if I could do it. He’s not happy about that because he has to print em all up.” Speak of the devil; well here he comes, a thick and luxurious ginger beard that has taken up residence on the face of a Wakefieldian saint. He moves like a silent assassin, like a bad fart patiently making itself known to a room, hand rolled cigarette between fingers, checking on his boy. “Mike just said he’d be nowhere without you” the ‘zine writer says “Are you wanting a comment on that?’ replies Rob. And in a beat, he says “Me? Without Mike I’d be rich.” The three of them rejoin the rest and the band. This rock and roll, punk rock machine that is The Michael Ainsley Band are together, stood proud outside the Barnsley venue. It’s a night few of them will remember, except for the fanzine writer’s needlessly detailed recounting of it. But they are out there, taking their music far and wide. The nuts of bolts of Mr Mike Ainsley, shined and polished and brought to life by his friends. The age old story, to be continued some other time.
robably the most and I’ve played in” I’d have ten more people in it. But practicality… you can’t have it…” He pauses to take stock of his thoughts. “It’s probably the most fun band I’ve played in’ he continues. ‘There’s no pressure on anyone.” The ‘zine writer, soaked thick in agenda, like cheap Lynx deodorant, pounces: “When people say they are ‘just having fun’, it’s often shorthand for
heads. Three hardly dressed girls scuttle awkwardly by. The moon slips behind a cloud. “Maybe Pot Noodle’ Mike replies. ‘And I love any brand of sausages.” There is some talk for a while that is quite boring. Then: “The new album is already written. What I wanted to do at the start of the year, with the first record written, I said to Rob, I want
“I had a shit in ladies toilets.’ Greg confides in hushed tones to the fanzine writer. “You know why? Because there were no fucking paper in the men’s. And I don’t like to be put in anyone’s fucking margin either.” I guess the point of this story is that you should let the music do the talking, not the bassist. 13
What Is The Future For Our Beloved Indie Record Stores? 14
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ou’d love it!’ Rhubarb Bomb contributor Jarv enthused, recommending I watch a documentary set in StocktonOn-Tees’ last independent record shop, Sound It Out. He was right! I caught the documentary on BBC 4 last November and it seems I wasn’t alone. Twitter buzzed with mentions, and Rhubarb Bomb editor Dean, knowing my appetite for combining record buying trips with articles suggested we go to Sound It Out. So in February we headed to Stockton armed with cash and questions and found the shop, perhaps surprisingly, mid-expansion. Since the documentary were customers from further afield, such as us, more common? Shop owner, Tom Butchart, thought not. “Even before the documentary we were getting a lot. One of the lads from Jumbo Records is from round here. He pops back with a few of the lads from there. I always joked that a lot of our customers are from Manchester and Leeds.” Prior to its BBC 4 screening the documentary was notably the official film of Record Store Day 2011. This year’s RSD film, Last Shop Standing, includes footage of the extensive queues outside Jumbo for RSD 2012 (I personally waited over two hours to get inside). Yet Tom doesn’t attribute too much to RSD for his shop’s continual existence and expansion. “The first one was one of the worst days in the shop’s history, because no-one knew about it. Two years ago there was too much out and we couldn’t keep up. People were saying ‘But you get the stock free.’ No, I’ve got to pay for it up front, so it’s a guessing game. It’s a double edged sword Record Store Day. It’s not just about the indie labels anymore, it’s the majors releasing crap. EMI or
Sony; some of theirs were just in a white paper sleeve for £10, they’re too expensive. The independent releases are gorgeous and they’re £5. I don’t like the prices, if it was a flat rate that’d be great.” Despite some unsold RSD exclusives, Tom seems to respond well to the demands of his customers, who not only include staff from other independents but also from HMV. He partly puts their demise down to a lack of independence. “The manager of HMV (Stockton, earmarked for closure) was in last week and we were chatting about it; I’m gutted. They haven’t been a shop I’ve gone into for years, but it’s a rite of passage, HMV. When I was going it was 1989/90, I got into The Pixies; I got into loads ‘cause HMV was about music.’
PHOTOGRAPHY Andrew Whittaker
‘Speaking to local managers 15 years ago they were able to order specifically for this region. Then it got taken over by the London office. The same stock was getting sent to every shop in the country. Stockton sells a lot of heavy metal and dance stuff, they couldn’t order it anymore. So we noticed that people were coming into here. Recently we’ve been getting albums we don’t usually stock. We’ve had to because the kids, they’d go into HMV and there’s not that option anymore. The Courteeners album, we ordered five copies and they went in a few days. We’re getting asked for more mainstream stuff. We sell Oasis vinyl; their CDs are in the £1 box because you can’t sell CDs. We’ve got 10,000 out back, but they’re a pain to process.” 15
I must admit to being surprised by the amount of vinyl compared to CDs (Perhaps a 70/30% split). My more modern choice of format even drew some jibes, whilst Dean was apparently a ‘Proper music buyer!’ Admittedly, whilst we were there, seemingly every other customer bought vinyl. The smartly dressed man, who like me purchased Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds’ Push The Sky Away, opted for the 12” version. According to Tom it’s not just thirty to forty year olds with disposable income buying vinyl. “A ten year old comes in and buys AC/DC, much to his dad’s horror. There’s a girl about eleven years old, buys Beatles stuff. Fifteen year olds come in and say ‘Recommend me albums.’ Then they say ‘I’m going to go home and download them.’ If they like them they come back and buy them on records nowadays. With vinyl you’ll get the MP3 or the CD inside as well, so it’s the whole package 16
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really. The Indies especially have changed it; they know MP3s hurting the industry, but they said the same thing about tapes.” Again it seems the internet has actually had a positive impact on Sound It Out, in several ways. Since Wakefield’s last independent Hellraiser closed down it has maintained an online presence; it’s now almost unheard of for a shop not to also do business online. Yet Tom’s experiences confound expectations when I ask if he does much business online. “Ten years ago I’d have said yes. Now there’s a lot more footfall, people ring up; they’ve seen it online but want to make sure we’re a real shop. I buy online all the time but a lot of people have been stung by the internet; and I buy records for customers who haven’t got the internet.” That I came across Sound It Out in the first place is down to oldfashioned word of mouth, But go
back further to the genesis of the documentary and the financing of it is down to the internet. “Jeannie (Finlay – Documentary director) approached the BBC, who were interested, but they said no, so within a month she had no money. Her friend Dunstan (Bruce – Executive producer) said ‘Look there’s a film there to be made. Why don’t you go to Indie Go-Go?’ It was an American thing, quite brand new. We did that and people would sponsor the film to be made. There was interest around the world. An American soldier gave $10K; his brother works in United Pressing where Jack White gets his records done. He went ‘Because of that I wanted to sponsor your film.’ It got a lot of internet news about that. We didn’t expect it to be as big as it has been. It’s about people buying records!” Essentially that’s why I enjoyed the documentary so much; it’s about people, people like us... ANDREW WHITTAKER
’m back in full effect, trying to hold myself erect. After a year off last year (I’m sure you noticed) I’m back to give you some tips for this years Long Division. I’ll ignore the headliners and I’ll largely steer clear of Philophobia bands that are playing as if you’re reading this you should be well versed with them and planning on catching them anyway (if not check www.philophobiamusic.co.uk to check which of our roster are playing). That said I am going to urge to go see Buen Chico. Incredibly celebrating their 10th year, they are still too much of a hidden gem. They have just released their best collection of songs in The Patron Saints Of Lost Causes EP so if you’ve not heard them before get yourselves along to Velvet at 15:45. It’s mid-afternoon, the beers kicking in, the sun is shining, what a perfect time to have a break in a beer garden watching the pretty
people in their summer clothes? Wrong. You want something loud and angry. You want Blacklisters at The Hop (upstairs) at 15:30. One of the best live bands I’ve seen in the last few years and the best front-man you’ll see all day. At least until you go see Post War Glamour Girls at the Theatre (19:15). I’ll admit I gave them a wide berth for a while. This was largely (solely) based on their fans not sticking around to watch Imp at a Futuresound gig a few years back. I was an idiot. Don’t you be an idiot too. This band are great. It’s probably Harry John and his sparse, beautiful semi-acoustic blues at Velvet at 16:45 next, followed by returning Leeds favourites Sky Larkin upstairs at The Hop at 20:45. I think I’m right in saying this will be the first time they’ve played in Wakefield for six years. If they’ve got rubbish in that time (which I very much doubt)
you can always nip to Drury Lane and catch The History Of Apple Pie (19:30). I know what you’re thinking; the band name is going to be the most interesting thing about them right? I thought that for a brief second before I heard them, but it’s certainly not the case. There’s only one way to follow that. And that’s with a tattooed Glaswegian playing flamenco guitar. If that description makes it sound odd and even put you off it really shouldn’t. It is one of the most beautiful and emotive sets you’ll see for a long time. I was fortunate enough to see RM Hubbert five or six times last year and I wish I’d have been able to see him more. Get yourselves down to The Orangery at 19:15, you won’t regret it.
Rob Dee SpeakS Long Division 2013 tips from the head of philophobia music PHOTOGRAPH John Jowett
WHY I ZINE Zine SLAG Editor / creator
This issue we take a break from our exploration of modern zines and speak to the former editor of a Wakeﬁeld fanzine that existed in the very diﬀerent world of the late ‘80s Martin Callaghan and Richard Clarkson and early ‘90s… (RIP)
Run of issues
Started in 1986. Ran for sixteen or seventeen editions.
This sounds completely “up my own arse-ish,” but to me it was akin to the moment Johnny Marr met Morrissey. Two fired-up lads who both thought the world should listen to them.
From Idea To Zine
Once Clarkie got his mind set on something, he wouldn’t let go. He’d done a prototype, piss-taking magazine called The Lincoln Street Echo, which pulverised the residents thereof and hapless local Labour Party figures of the time. I’d also done some stuff for Ada Wilson, who was producing The Sharp Readers’ Northern Digest. Which wasn’t as bad as the title suggests... no, actually it was.
Ideas And Beliefs
If one of us thought something was funny, it went in. That was about it really. And we always wanted a very broad base, so we’d cover local bands who we liked, but if we wanted to talk to bigger bands like New Order or The Wedding Present, we’d go out of our way to sort that out as well. And Clarkie knew Mark E Smith for years, so info on The Fall was always on tap.
Zines In ‘80s WakeFIeld
I think they were important in terms of how a lot of the writers developed. You see people like Jon Robb and James Brown and Peter Hooton on TV all the time now. All former 1980s fanzine editors. There weren’t many other fanzines in Wakefield at that time as I recall, but 18
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then there weren’t as many bands / venues as there seems to be now.
It was hard work but rewarding. Half two in the morning and you’re still collating three hundred issues to sell a few at a gig the following night. Then the NME did a neat little column on us in 1987, and we were interviewed on Radio Leeds. The joy from that didn’t last long though. That’s the great thing about Wakefield; if you turn into Bertie Big Bollocks, someone will put you straight, double lively.
Rhubarb Bomb contributor Andrew Micklethwaite finally hooked us up with Slag, and share some memories (full article on the RB blog, April 2013).
We did a flexi disc with Leeds band The Bridewell Taxis which went down well, though it cost us a fortune. I also liked the way, (mainly after I left) that the layout evolved from messy, scattergun to nice and tidy. Which, ironically, is miles bloody easier!
When And Why It Stopped 1994... Trouble with girls.
Some very kind friends often ask me if I fancy getting it going again, but there’s no way I would. These days, with stuff like Facebook and Twitter, everyone has the chance to be some kind of fanzine editor. Log on and you’re away. There’s no need to fall out with printers [by which I mean people who print things for a living, not machines,] or typewriters or staplers. And while I still do bits of writing here and there, I don’t want old stuff re-releasing. Because that’s what it is... old stuff. “Very much of its time [coughs] and all that...” Clarkie might have thought different, but he’s not here now and I could never speak for him.
Wakefield in the 1980s was sometimes not for the faint of heart. The heart of the city on a Saturday night could be a warzone at times. Expensively-clothed football hooligans, brutish middle-aged men who had forgotten how to have fun without cracking a skull or two, and surly and genuinely scary doormen at pubs and bars that in retrospect you would never have bothered with...The good old, bad old days. In those times of oppression - Thatcherism and its social and economic effects on our region at its apogee - you largely had to search out your own fun and games, and believe me, with no Internet or mobile phone network to consult or make use of. Suffice to say, leisure pursuits were different then. Aptly-named - co-creator Clarkie was a miner - in the early days, Slag was a riot of cut and paste shenanigans and tomfoolery, covering the drinking dens and denizens of Wakefield, a parochial parade of pubs and personalities people outside of a WF postcode just wouldn’t get. To us, each page guaranteed a one laugh minimum, whether it was a tale of trashed nightclubs by a mutual friend or a cutting from the Wakefield Express subject to minor doctoring, ribald articles covering local bands, to the mystery graffiti that would appear on the back of the bus seat and on unused billboards. Who WAS this Derrick who shagged convict’s wives? Very little was sacred in Slag-land. Clarkie, Paddy and the people who made countless contributions - Keri Warbis, Bas Snaith, Chevy Walker, and even at one point VIZ creator Chris Donald (a lurid tale of Aha frontman Morten Harket’s hitherto unknown fondness for narcotics and sex)...the list goes on. These people made a medium-sized contribution to Wakefield culture whether they like it or not. I’ve implored Pads several times to dig out the old copies and sort us a compendium, but so far to no avail. Slag was important in its time because it put a different, personal slant on things. 19
A C E L E B R AT I O N O F I N D E P E
THE FALL × G Jeffrey Lewis & Peter St
NINE BLACK ALPS × Allo Darlin’ × T ROBIN INCE & JOSIE LONG’S UTTE ED TUDOR POLE × KID CANAVERAL
Simon Armitage × Faceless Theatre Compa ANDY KERSHAW × That Fucking Tank × New Picture House Pop Up Cinema Skint Runaround Kids × Mi Mye Live Album R Post War Glamour Girls × Olympic Mark Wynn × O Messy Life × Harry G St Gregory Orange × Above Them × M The State Of Georgia × Matadors × The Bi New Vinyl × Spirit Of John × Raev The Do’s × The Shaking Whips × Piskie S Morain × Glass Caves × Aztec Dol Jamiesaysmile × Jasmine Kennedy × Crow Micky P Kerr × Sou
SATURDAY Tickets £20
18yr+ EVENT. ID MAY BE REQUIRED
VISIT www.longdivisionfestival.co.uK FOR MORE DETAILS 20 RHUBARB BOMB 4.1
N D E N C E A N D D I Y C U LT U R E
GHOSTPOET tampfel × HOWARD MARKS
The History Of Apple PiE × EAGULLS ER SHAMBLES × THIS IS THE KIT L × LET’S WRESTLE × SKY LARKIN
pany × The Chapman Family × RM Hubbert Blacklisters × Dead Sons × Humanfly t & Demoralised × This Many Boyfriends Recording × Too Many T’s × Middleman c Swimmers × The Spills × Being 747 George Johns × Imp × Jonnythefirth Michael Ainsley Band × Witch Hunt irthday Kiss × The Coopers × Buen Chico vennan Husbandes × Dead Flowers Sits × The Exhibition × Neil McSweeney ll × The Sunbeams × Cry Baby Cry wds × Boxing Klub × Thomas Wilby Band ulmates Never Die
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“This Valentines band, they took two decades to release an album; that’s bourgeois trust fund privilege right there...”
here’s this band I’ve been hearing everyone talk about; My Valentine. They’ve got a new album out, like that isn’t something I do four times a year anyway. I’m sick to death of all this hype and industry backslapping. I mean come on, My Bloody Valentine, what kind of band name is that? It took them 21 years to record it, which is disgusting, but has made me feel a little old. When they started recording this cash-in, I was a fresh faced forty something, breaking new boundaries with my psychedelic funk / speed metal fusions, as Clive Smith & The Forever Children. Like the holy, future proof five hour odysseys we were creating, I thought it would never end. For an artist renowned for reinventing himself two or three times a week, I have remained surprisingly consistent in reinventing myself two or three times a week. That drive has never left me. But I realised last year that I’d had my eyes so fixed on the road, I’d failed to realise there was now more than one route to choose. It goes beyond Clubland, beyond earning your dues, paying your way and working hard; there’s a blatant ageism in play now. I realised I was a bit behind the times. But I caught up. Last year I got on the Tweet and made my records available on the line. It was surprisingly easy. But it was the people, the community I used to be so proud to lead – that is what has changed.
Suddenly a support slot on a tour of the North East’s finest WMC’s isn’t good enough. I have done the tweet on Runabout Kids so many times I’ve lost count. I just wanted to say hello, offer them some much needed advice. I replied to their nonsense argot in good humour. And they ignored me every time. Check my account. Every single time. Why? Because, in Clive, they see a mirror. Through the looking glass they see the success they could be, but also the price that needs to be paid. They don’t want to commit their lives to rock n roll. They can’t even be bothered to write decent songs. Tru DIY? They can’t even comb their hair properly. This isn’t a vendetta against the Runabout Kids. They were simply my introduction to (and epitomise) a world of ignorance, an unwillingness to respect the successes of our elders. Here I stand. I’ve spent this year releasing the best music of my career - for you. I’ve spent it writing stonkingly good advice on Rhubarb Bomb’s blog - for you. And what do I get? Music needs to get back to it’s roots; entertaining frontmen who tell jokes, songs that start with the chorus, a drum solo section, songs we all know, a clap along section, smoke machines, warm-up acts, fish suppers and - most of all performers who care. I am a punk. I always have been. It’s a state of mind. This current state of affairs, this nod-wink knowingness, this irony, these plaid shirts and this passiveness has brought me to the centre of my
being, back to that core of punk and my new record is the most punishing thing you’ll ever hear; the modern attitude of in your face pop-lady P!nk, mixed with the pop-punk heart of Billy Idol - like Runabout Kids, but with a soul. This Valentines band, they took two decades to release an album; that’s bourgeois trust fund privilege right there. And besides, I heard someone playing it in a car that drove past me outside the Butchers and I can tell that it isn’t up to all that. But they are selling their records for nearly twenty bob! Clearly they just finished it about two days after the last one but realised they’d make more money saving it until inflation came, so people would pay more. It’s such a cynical money making scheme, it makes me sick. We could all make an album every 21 years and live a rich man’s life on the continent. So my new record, which is brilliant, is going to be locked in a safety deposit box down the Abbey National and they’ve got orders to not let anyone open it – not even me – until May 2062. Obviously I’m not doing it for the money because I will be dead by then. I am doing it to show the future that there was a man – one man – back in 2013 who wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is, to spread a bit of much needed truth. Because sometimes, that’s all I want, but this unforgiving world won’t give it to me. (Don’t) Forget About Clive is released by Colossal Velocity Records on April 1st 2062. 23
Greenmount Studios revisited: Piskie Sits
t is three years since Rhubarb Bomb visited Greenmount Studios in an official capacity. Back then, as reported in Issue 1.2, we found producers Jamie Lockhart and Lee Smith veering wildly from fetishistic appreciation of compression units to mad, childish amusement at the inconsequential, bizarre and wonderful. All this was bound together by an unshakeable love of making amazing records. Since those early days, having just moved from Wakefield to set up shop here, in a basement in Armley, Leeds, a lot has changed for the studio. They now have a third member, Rob Slater (of The Spills), who is absent for my visit, rehearsing with Post War Glamour Girls in preparation for a Pixies cover set at Rock N Roll Circus, just up the road. And the number of the band’s they’ve had through the doors has increased exponentially, including The Cribs who recorded the B-Side to here. The records have now begun to fill the walls, alongside a
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framed, personalised message from their hero David Friddman, courtesy of their friends the Jarman brothers. But whilst the reputation of the studio has grown alongside their client base, some things have remained as they were the last time I was here, and probably as they were when the duo recorded Piskie Sits debut album in 2006, the follow up being recorded during my visit. I refer, of course, to Jamie and Lee themselves. At the mixing desk between takes, Jamie randomly tells me about his life: “My hair looks awful today. I ran out of shower gel yesterday so had to use Fairy Liquid. It was amazing. I was like a huge bubble machine. Oh can I show you the great thing I discovered? Where’s my cape?” As he briefly wanders off, Lee begins to tell me an equally nonsense aside, before Jamie bounces back through the door, interrupting. “Look at THAT for a cape’ he announces, a large piece of black sheet fastened to his shoulders with Velcro.
“You can see who has the God Complex round here…’ Lee responds. “Batfink Rises!” It is this kind of jovial atmosphere that has seen Piskie Sits return time and time again. The current line-up (Craig – vocals, Al – Keys, Morsey – Bass, Bill – Guitar and Harry – Guitar) have recorded a single, EP and standalone track for Rhubarb Bomb at this version of Greenmount and, despite being temporarily without drummer, have returned to record the proper follow up to that debut, on which only Craig and Al appeared. It will be released on Philophobia Music, which after only releasing one album in 2012, looks set for a heavy schedule of long players in 2013. But with the six year gap, surely the Piskies is the most eagerly awaited. Speaking between recording I ask the band whether, with the passing of many a year, not to mention band member, it feels like a debut album? “It does feel more like a continuation’ Al tells
Jayne Woodhead PHOTOGRAPHY
The long running joke bands sound like Pave a time, there was only mining that seam, and i me, adding ‘It just feels like we’re getting better, certainly better than five years ago. How long have you been in the band?” Alongside him, guitarist Harry combines memory and fingers to come up with an answer of ‘at least four.” “They are all getting older’ Al says, gesturing to Harry. “We kick ‘em out when they get too old.” But those four years have actually seen the band find greater stability in its line-up, yet one that is undeniably still the same Piskie Sits. Speaking to me later, original member Craig alludes to the more democratic nature of the band in 2013. “I wrote about 95% of the first album, whereas this one, the others have chipped in a lot more. I come up with vocal melodies though which I understand a lot more now. I’m not a musician, but I know more now about when you hear a song you know it’s a certain band. Like with The Strokes, I can tell it’s them even if Cassablanca isn’t singing on it, you can tell by the writing.”
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Harry agrees: “Craig lost his guitar. And he’s never really replaced it. So he comes up with stuff now, and it’s less fully formed. So it might be just one bassline, but it’s kinda cool because we all play with it and someone else might come up with a change or something. That’s one thing I noticed about a lot of the songs we’ve come to record; the verse might be by Craig, the chorus mine, Morsey does another bit. There aren’t too many tracks that just one person has seen through. I really like that collaborative effort, because I don’t play with anyone else where it’s like that.” It’s interesting that a band that has seen so many changes has managed to keep a very distinct sound. Al puts this down to “Craig’s stubbornness” and I put it to Craig that he must be the one responsible for this. “I read a piece on The National’ Craig explains ‘and they’ve got a nickname for the singer. Apparently he’s called , because if he’s doesn’t like it, he won’t sing on it. So as the singer,
you’re in control aren’t you? But I really don’t mind as long as it sounds good. Musically they will be better songs this time. It’s just a real democracy now, I like that.” The long running joke is that all Wakefield bands sound like Pavement. But once upon a time, there was only one band clearly mining that seam, and it was Piskie Sits. However, Craig utterly removes himself from being any kind of influence of the sounds of the bands that followed. “I’d never say we influenced other bands! People are into certain things in certain groups. But it could’ve gone another way, like you had Last Gang and stuff like that, and Pigeon Detectives, that’s a different kettle of fish isn’t it? But I think you all spur each other on, don’t you?” And the fresh blood has certainly helped too. Harry is one half of St Gregory Orange, and currently plays with The Michael Ainsley band. Morsey is the promoter at Wakefield venue The Hop and until not so long
e is that all Wakefield ement. But once upon one band clearly it was Piskie Sits. ago, Michael Ainsley himself played drums, a role he had to give up due to commitments to his own solo project, and his other band Imp. But with such connections to other local bands, it’s no surprise Piskie Sits are as full of vitality as they ever have been. But the Piskie’s sound stands apart. Jamie has apparently said they are making a Grunge record, but Craig adds it has “much bigger choruses” than before. The parts I hear have huge chunks of sound filling every space, yet also a slower, more epic approach to structure. Some of the working songtitles () give clues to the direction they are taking, whilst others (as in, Castleford clearly need some work, or have been designed for the terraces of Belle Vue, which seems unlikely, though the band have played a half time show there, so who knows? With Craig and Al now both fathers, the possibilities of touring the record for six months are unrealistic. But interestingly, Craig’s paternal
instincts follow through to the band. “All the stuff that surrounds an album, you can get some decent things out of it. I want these guys to get a taste of that, y’know Bill, Morsey… they haven’t done Maida Vale and sessions and that.” Craig says the as yet untitled record has, for him, the excitement of a debut album “but the nerves too” and perhaps, whilst that never changing but hard to define Piskie-esqe central facet is difficult to pin down, the reasons for making the record are clear; it’s less about shifting units and hoping a major label will notice, but more about the joy of creating. “I’ve got two little girls now’ he continues. ‘And I want them to listen back and not be embarrassed by (the record). There’s a thing about quality, you just want to leave something good. You just want to look back and when we have a big Hop reunion in however many years, we can get put on and people will be like, hey they were pretty good.”
I leave the band to it, as they rush to finish their final takes. Lee is now sat outside the control room, observing from a distance as Jamie records backing vocals, and seemingly taking stock of how far the studio has come. He looks tired. “That’s why I’m sat back here; I’m just kinda broken. We’ve been fully booked for that last year and a half. We worked out we had 30 days off last year, as a business. That’s including all the weekends. This year we are trying to work a bit less and charge a bit more. We’re gonna go mental if we keep doing this. We’ve done nine albums since January. Probably about another five or six singles. Churning it out, it’s like the hit factory down here! I love it though. We are trying our best to schedule days off. If we get these done today, me and Jamie can have a day off tomorrow!” Both Greenmount and Piskie Sits have put the hard work in. It feels like the right time for them both to be reaping the rewards. DEAN FREEMAN
Unity Hall Rises A
year ago we reported on the exciting news that Unity Hall, the long dormant building in the very centre of Wakefield, was being given what was possible a once in a lifetime chance to be reborn as a music and comedy venue, a centre for digital media and a vast conferencing space. The chance balanced on the faith of the people of Wakefield. An ambitious plan to raise 4 million pounds through grants and loans to resurrect the building was put forth by Mr Chris Hill, and it centred around Unity Hall being run as a co-operative. He needed a dedicated group of Wakefieldians to take a risk and invest their own money in the project. Now, one year later, Chris Hill, alongside the Unity Hall board members and its large group of investors, is able to say, hand on heart, the project will go ahead. Unity Hall will happen. There will be an 800 capacity music venue in Wakefield. And not some run of the mill 02 Academy, but a unique and quite simply stunning building that will draw people from far and wide to come to Wakefield. It’s an outstanding achievement. With the builders due on site imminently, excitement in the Unity camp is currently sky high. But there is still plenty to be done. I spoke to Chris Hill about the journey so far, and what we can expect over the next 12 months.
- RB: Can you recall exactly when and how the idea of Unity Hall came to you, and at that time, how realistic a proposition did it seem? CH: I first came to Unity Hall with my fellow Shine directors in 2010 and made the big mistake of falling in love with the building. All I knew is that it would cost a fortune and that I was determined to do it. - Securing the financial backing has been a long and difficult one. It is rare to find someone who has your grasp of figures and technical detail, who then utilises those skills for something as public spirited as UH. What is your specific passion for this kind of project? Let’s be clear that I earn a good wage from this project and I’m not that clever. It’s risky – the project 28
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can collapse at any time - and you have to be prepared not to draw your wage for a month or two (like now!), but overall, what better job than bringing something like Unity back to life? It’s just that people in the property business get too greedy and just think of building, selling and getting out. But even beautiful buildings are just buildings. My passion is to get them owned and used by creative and enterprising people. It’s a cliché, but real satisfaction comes from what you’ve contributed not what you’ve taken out. - Though the amount of money raised by the share issue is comparatively small next to some of the grants, how important is support from local people and businesses? The project would have fallen flat
on its place without the support of Wakefield people. Their money got the project going and convinced funders there was local backing. Their enthusiasm for the project and support of the Council has kept me going. We need to make sure the co-operative involves as many people as possible in running Unity Hall and that it never again ends up an empty shell. - How have you found spending so much time in Wakefield and has the city grown on you over time? I was the typical Leeds resident who had visited Wakefield about five times in 30 years. Spending so much time here over the last two years, I’ve come to see what a great place it is. People may smile about Wakefield becoming a national centre for culture, but I honestly believe it’s on the edge of happening. Adding The Hepworth to the Sculpture Park was a tipping point. Now with the prospect of a creative based university being established, Wakefield can really get on the cultural map. - How long until we start hearing details about the kind of acts that will be performing at UH? The only thing I’m certain about is that it won’t be me who chooses the acts! I think we are all agreed there needs to be a mix of music types and comedy and that the events programme has to contribute to repaying our £2m loans. We want the programme to span a wide range - from local rock bands, to touring bands and types of music people may not have
People may smile about Wakefield becoming a national centre for culture, but I honestly believe it’s on the edge of happening.
encountered. We are starting the programming work now so we can get it planned in well in advance of opening and will again be going out to ask people who they want to see perform The journey isn’t quite complete. Although 4 million pounds has been raised, one piece of the puzzle remains. Due to a rejected Arts Council bid, the funding to restore the actual hall to its former glory is lacking. The recently removed false ceiling has revealed PHOTOGRAPHY John Jowett
the true glory – and scale – of the hall and has heightened the need to make sure it is done justice. The share issue has once again been opened. You are able to invest in Unity Hall, become part of the co-operative that decides how the building is run, and be part of the most exciting development in Wakefield certainly in my lifetime. It’s a true social enterprise. These last twelve months have shown me that DIY ethics and independence don’t just have to mean struggling
to put a fanzine out every couple of months, or releasing records from your bedroom. It can be transferred all the way up to multimillion pound ventures like this. As I said one year ago, I strongly urge you to go to www.unityhallwakefield.co.uk or simply walk past the old place (opposite the theatre, above Buzz nightclub) and imagine not only what it could be, but that you could be part of it. DEAN FREEMAN 29
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“I get to be a small part of an amazing network of people.”
ehearsal studios are, or should be, the very centre of a musical community. I’ve not thought about that much before. The most basic will likely be a hum-drum room, unheated, and owned by a chap who grumpily takes your twenty quid off you, un-padlocks the door and disappears. Perhaps for this reason, or this basic expectation, we can take the good ones for granted. A friendly face genuinely interested in what you are up to. Other bands hanging around, promoting their own gigs, sharing ideas. That’s how it should be, and when it is, they can become pivotal the health of the local music scene. We spoke to the two studios Rhubarb Bomb works with, to find out the personal stories behind the places. Is it a thankless task? Are they under appreciated? Do the bands even think about these people, working day in and day out to give them somewhere to rehearse? Joe from Diamond Studios in Wakefield sent such a long and interesting response, detailing how he packed in a respectable job and built his studio from scratch, that we have posted it in full on our blog (April 2013). Here we speak to Rich from Rock And Roll Circus in Leeds, which opened late 2006, about his experiences.
- How did the idea first come to you and how difficult was it to set up? As I say it was Craig who set the studio up, he was tired of the same old uninspiring studios with concrete walls and fluorescent tube lighting, the idea was to make a create space for creative people. A lot of time and effort ILLUSTRATION Brent Liam Barker
was put into the decoration of the place, it’s designed to make people feel comfortable, like a home. The next job was to choose the right gear, cheap equipment is not worth buying with the amount of use (and abuse) it all gets. It’s a big undertaking starting a new business, and it comes with a lot of risk if it doesn’t work out... it’s definitely not for everyone. - Do you think rehearsal spaces are important to a vibrant music scene? I think so, yes. They operate as centres where lots of musicians meet each other and hear sounds through the wall that they might not usually be in a situation to hear. At The Rock & Roll Circus we have a real community feel, which is most evident when we have one of our Freak Out parties, everyone comes along and knows each other. We also contribute to the local scene ourselves, we release albums and fanzines, put on gigs and have quite a large internet presence with our blog, we really are a hub of musical activity. - How important is the social nature (lots of bands coming and going) to your enjoyment of the job and the success of the business? I think very important, as I say we are a hub of activity and are much more than rooms where bands can make noise. The thing I enjoy most about what I do is the interaction with the many different ‘scenes’ in Leeds, I get to see first hand the amount of creativity there is here and be a small part of an amazing network of people. I think this feeds into the success of the
business, people like coming here and seeing lots of different things happening, with lots of different sounds. I think it keeps us relevant and fresh. -
Do you ever feel under appreciated? No, not really. As I say we are part of scene that thrives on creativity and I think people like and respect our place within that. Sometimes it is frustrating when people abuse the facilities or steal our equipment, but I would think this is the same as running any business. - Are there any bands you’ve had rehearse with you who’ve gone on to big things, and does that make you proud? We’ve had a few bands who use our studios who have done reasonably well, the best known ones probably being ‘Pulled Apart By Horses’, ‘Dinosaur Pile-Up’, ‘Hawkeyes’ and ‘Sky Larkin’. We are very proud of bands that have used our studios and gone on to have success, we feel very passionately about the ability of bands in Leeds and we love it when we see some of our friends getting the recognition they deserve. - If you weren’t running a rehearsal room, what do you think you would be doing? That is a good question! I was considering training to become an electrician before I took over The Rock & Roll Circus, though that seems a long time ago. I genuinely have no idea what I would do other than this, the Circus has been my life for the past 5 years and I can’t really imagine what I would do without it. 31
Rhubarb Bomb Photographer John Jowett Is Watching You. “So here are some photos from 2012. They aren’t necessarily my favourite photos. They aren’t my best photos either. What they are though are my favourite photos of some of my favourite gigs of 2012. For me the whole point of taking pictures is to tell the story of the music and the venues I love.” – John Jowett
Live music is as much about the crowd as it is about the music. If it’s a good crowd rockin’ out I try to get them in the mix. Milloy’s last gig at The Hop was absolute carnage in front of that stage and close to my favourite gig of the year. 32
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Lovely day at The Orangery for Rhubarb Bomb’s 5th birthday. 100% Wakefield line up, every band on top form and a crowd of great people. St Gregory Orange in the archway, the entrance overgrown with weeds, everyone’s faces lit by hundreds of little candles: glorious.
I love taking pictures of drummers. It’s usually difficult to get good shots but worth the effort. My favourites to photograph are guys like Michael Ainsley, Matt Bick of Bleech and this guy Dan Stringer. This was the last Retarded Fish gig at The Hop. 33
ď ° Foals at The Leopard. Gig of the year for me. Not just coz it was Foals. Because it was Foals in a pub, up close and personal. Photography is difficult when you have something like 250 of their fans climbing all over you in front of stage. This is a shot of Yannis obviously loving getting close to their fans just before he launched himself into that sea of people. A very special night.
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On my way between Theatre Royal and Town Hall for Long Division, I ran to catch Red Riding Quartet’s last song at Velvet Bar. I raced round the corner as Andy leapt in front of the camera and just shot this, literally on the fly. Camera still set for the dark theatre, unfocused full of lens flare. Going through the hundreds of pics from Long Division, this was in the trash. Except something told me to save it. I came back and looked at it again and decided to have a play with it, a bit of post process artistic licence. Technically it’s crap, but it works and it got 138 hits on Flickr. That’s rock & roll.
My quest to see my favourite band in February took me to a venue I’d not been to before; The Leopard. This was just after Stewart had just returned as promoter and was beginning to rebuild the place as a cool venue once again. Bleech were awesome and The Leopard is a place I returned to again and again.
A talented animator who has had her work shown at festivals across the world, has won the Royal Television Society Award for best graduate animation and has just returned from running workshops in stop motion at Seattle Film Festival, Charlotte Blacker has recently taken the step of becoming completely freelance and independent. Is it possible to make a living from doing something you love? 36
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- Was there a specific point where you had to take some kind of leap of faith and what finally persuaded you to do it? I had a part time job to help me financially but then I found that I was getting busier and time at my part time job was time that could have been spend seeking out work and networking. It can be scary at first but it’s also very exhilarating. It’s always a good idea to talk to other freelancers first for advice. - How does your work / life balance end up? Do you work set hours every day? And is it hard to switch off? It’s VERY hard to switch off. But most of the times I don’t want to. When inspiration pops into your head it can happen at any point. When it does, I usually have to scribble it down quick because I have a terrible memory. I am fortunate enough to love what I do, even though it can be tough sometimes and you are constantly seeking out work it’s exciting
and every job is different. I really don’t have set hours, mostly I am working. Occasionally I’ll take myself outside into the fresh air but I love what I do so although it’s not without its stresses I’m happy when I’m working. - You lived in London for a time but returned to Wakefield. How important is location when making a living from Art? How did the two compare? London obviously has so much going on artistically. I very much enjoyed my time there and often visit the capital for exhibitions and to catch up with the friends I made. The thing I love about Wakefield is that this town has a lot of potential and we have people here who are willing to explore this. There are some really exciting developments happening in Wakefield and there are some super creative and talented people in this city. I’m proud to be from Wakefield. I have always loved animation but
if it wasn’t for the encouraging art tutors at Wakefield College I wouldn’t have considered it as something I could make a living out of. The last few clients I’ve had have been based in America so it hasn’t mattered where I am based as long as I have a good internet connection. Thanks to modern technology you can have a meeting with a client anywhere in the world and share files with them. Also there are some very exciting things happening in the north. Late last year a large amount of The BBC moved to Manchester so opportunities are appearing in the north all the time. -
How important is self promotion? Is it something that comes naturally? Self-promotion is paramount. There could be people out there who are just waiting to find someone with your expertise. In the beginning, if you don’t sing your praises who will? You 37
may also find people with other skills who you could potentially collaborate with. Thanks to the internet you can get your work out there on an international scale. There’s no shame in being proud of what you’ve achieved. - What are the negative aspects of being a working artist? Do you feel there is anything you miss out on? Whilst I am currently working on projects there is a lack of stability financially when it comes to working freelance but with it comes so much freedom and it can take you many different places. It’s good to have to rely on your own ingenuity to keep getting paid work, it makes you hungry for it and makes sure you’re constantly upping your game. - Have you experienced any negativity / misunderstanding about the idea of a working Artist (i.e. people who think what you do isn’t ‘work’) Yes, I have had some people who snigger sometimes when I tell them what I do. I think some people view animation as “not a proper job” but it’s everywhere and requires a lot of commitment and patience. I am lucky to have such pre-school series for a Los Angeles a supportive family. They have based production company. always actively encouraged me to - What are your current ongoing find a job that makes me happy. projects and plans for the near future? - Give me an indication of the I’m currently working on a few variety of work you have been different projects. I’m working on involved in. a music video for a very talented At Loose Moose I was assisting Seattle based song writer named on mostly advertising shoots both Charlie Hope. Charlie specializes animation and live action. I have in music for children. I’m also very also worked as a freelance model proud to be doing an animated maker at MacKinnon and Saunders promo for this year’s Long Division and have created several music Festival. I am also working on a videos as a freelance animator. I pilot for an animated children’s have also worked on helping to series that I am hoping to pitch at create a pilot as part of an animated some point in the near future. I am 38
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always happy for a new challenge and working alongside other people in the creative community. - Do you have any advice you would offer to artists (within any medium) wanting to get to a position where they could go full time with their work? I would say that networking is very important even if it’s not directly linked to what you do. You never know when an opportunity will present itself. Always have some business cards on you and try and keep up to date with your online presence as much as possible.
“I don’t think there is any future in fanzines...” Follow The Drum vs
I don’t think there is any future in fanzines, and I say that fully aware these words will appear in one. Maybe that’s why I enjoy it. The thing you hold in your hand is rare (but that does not, by default, make it special) in the world of print media. Within the realms of publications ‘you can pick up for free in music shops’ most of them are utter shite. Explain. Well, some are just short on content. That’s ok I suppose, if you release them regular. But the ones that are the exact opposite of the zine mindset usually come as a newspaper. I’ve got one in front of me now. Let’s take a look inside children. Importantly, it has someone on the front I’ve never heard of but they look really good in black and white, against flat screen of art-grey, or spraying a hosepipe in a recreation of an atypical American suburb backyard. It has a one word title, probably. This particular publication, which I’m not naming in case they offer me work, then has seven pages of adverts before the editorial. This then tells us how all the staff went abroad to listen to electro music, then came back and worked ‘really hard for a week’ to
finish this precious thing. There are nearly forty people responsible for putting this together. About 50% of the pages are adverts. Of the actual content, most is set with vast spaces of nothing, or set around arty pictures and minimal line designs, an economy of spreading content as wide as possible. Of that 50% content, at least half again is ghost-written by advertisers. Look at this festival round-up. Previews are a nonsense, always will be, written for free tickets. It goes on into the reviews (in this case marked out of 20 - cool) where freebies are handed out for good reviews. It oozes off the page and I know it’s true because almost everything gets a good review, and I’ve reviewed some of those records myself and I recognise the text from the press releases. That’s a whole other thing, webzines just copying and pasting press releases and posting them as news. No opinion then? God no, that might upset the people with the free sweets. Get ‘em addicted to the sugar and keep ‘em fed, make ‘em fat. Websites and zines giving things good reviews because
it’s beneficial to the ‘business relationship.’ Yeah, nice one, what a wonderful service you are giving to the world. These people, what are they? Not writers, not reporters. They aren’t even content creators. They are middlemen. They are mouths without the brain, which is why they love the social media so. Another hole for their shite, and it’s a hole that rarely closes. I found myself in one of their offices the other week, by utter coincidence. It was a weekend, so no-one was there. But I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was an almost exact replica of the office from Nathan Barley. Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker said they could never follow that series up, because it was now too close to the truth. I presumed they just meant in Shoreditch. But they are right. Wakefield isn’t that way - yet - but it isn’t that far from our doorsteps. I’ve been writing this column for years now, and I’ve never got so much as a sausage. And I love sausages. So someone send me some sausages, now. You’ll get the best goddamn review of a sausage you’ve ever seen. Sausages are great. Sausages. ROLAND X 39
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