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The Stool Pigeon # twenty-eight

October 2010

Nile Rodgers Ice Cube Cee-Lo Green N*E*R*D DJ Roc Freddie Gibbs Plus plenty of other interviews and stories to alienate fans of indie music FREE

Perfectly Charming.


The Stool Pigeon # twenty-eight

October 2010

“Not to completely sound like a hyper-alarmist, we have bought guns to shoot people.” The Body p.10

Contents 06 07 09 24 25 26 29

leaders and leaders miss prudence trog news business court circular certificates john maus

30 32 35 36 38 39 40

cee-lo green salem women n*e*r*d dj roc gonzales no age

43 50 52 57 58 59 60

comics ice cube nile rodgers travel horrorscopes games the penny dreadful

64 66 68 72 74 84

print moving images albums demos classifieds sports

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Small Print Editor: Phil Hebblethwaite editor@thestoolpigeon.co.uk Creative Director: Mickey Gibbons artdept@thestoolpigeon.co.uk Contributing Editors: Cian Traynor, Kev Kharas Intern: David McNamara Very special thanks: Melissa Bohlsen Published by: Junko Partners Publishing

Address: The Stool Pigeon 21a Maury Road London N16 7BP UK Online: thestoolpigeon.co.uk twitter.com/pigeontweets myspace.com/thestoolpigeon General enquiries: info@thestoolpigeon.co.uk +44 (0)208 806 0023 Words: Jeremy Allen, Daddy Bones, Silas Charade, Alex Denney, John Doran, Ash Dosanjh,

Turlough Fortune, Rory Gibb, Ben Graham, Richard Grip, Charlie Hale, Phil Hebblethwaite, Kev Kharas, Niall O’Keeffe, Stephen Pietrzykowski, Alex Marshall, Huw Nesbitt, Felix L. Petty, Ross Pounds, John Robb, Cyrus Shahrad, Hazel Sheffield, Son of Dave, Spoonboy, Barnaby Smith, Cian Traynor, Miss Prudence Trog, Luke Turner, Thomas A. Ward. Photographs: Macomber Bombey, Steve Braiden, Paul Calver, Sam Christmas, Sam Collins, Wills Glasspiegel, Richie Hopson, John Johnson, Kev Kharas, Rachel Lipsitz, Carolyn Lawrence, Dave Ma, Ben Pier, Rosanna Pendleton, Vera Palsdottir, Richard Rankin, Alexander Richter, Salem, Megan Sharp, Jamie Simonds, Luke Turner, Erika Wall.

Comics, cartoons and illustrations: Krent Able, Richard Cowdry, Lawrence Elwick, Mickey Gibbons, Lewis Heriz, Natalie Hobbs, Martin Kellerman, Paul O’Connell, John Riordan. Advertise: Contact Phil on editor@thestoolpigeon.co.uk or +44 (0)208 806 0023

Cover photograph: Brendan Telzrow Printed at: The Guardian Print Centre, Manchester


Letters

The Stool Pigeon Billion-Dollar Man Ever tell you about the day I woke up next to the Shah of Iran? At first it seemed like a leftfield suggestion, but Cian Traynor suddenly saying, “I think we should interview Nile Rodgers,” turned out to be an inspired idea. If you’re a snotty little new music newspaper like this one, you meet curiosity when you ask to speak to a titan like Nile, so you beg, and you wait and, in this instance, when you’re given the green light, you get out your calculator. Nile Rodgers is the kind of über-dude who could persuade Hall & Oates to sing backing vocals if you were INXS and he has a co-writer’s credit on ‘Rapper’s Delight’, generally considered to be the first hip hop track. We worked out that with Chic and his songwriting/production work combined, he’s probably sold about half a billion records. It didn’t make the edit of the interview (p. 52) but, when asked, he came back with: “Yeah, absolutely. We made that calculation some time ago.” Over half a billion records! To put that in perspective, when the X Factor opening credits roll, Simon Cowell gets tagged with flogging a measly 200 million. More importantly, you could interview Cowell 200 million times and you’d never get a quote like this one from Nile about overdosing on cocaine in the 1980s: “I woke up in intensive coronary care next to the Shah of Iran. This was after the revolution and he had been kicked out of Iran. I used to work for his cousin in a nightclub so we knew each other. It was hilarious.” Nile agreed to the interview with nothing to promote and, beforehand, he called his PR lady in the UK to make sure he could pronounce Cian’s name correctly. Seriously, how unbelievable is this man!?

Steady Mobbin’ He’s a hall of famer, don’t dare treat him like a stranger It was all a dream, I used to eat roasted leopard spleen. I was too young to see Salt ’N’ Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine, but by the time N.W.A. had split and Dr Dre and Ice Cube had gone solo, I was hooked. It seemed like you had only two choices back then. Get a floppy fringe and prepare for Britpop or shave your head, buy a puffa and go gangsta. To say we’ve been on the market for a Cube interview ever since this paper launched is something of an understatement. We got shunned in 2006 when his album Laugh Now, Cry Later came out and, I’ll be honest, 2008’s Raw Footage totally slipped me by. Gutted, I subscribed to his blog and when news of a new album was announced earlier this year, I went on the hunt… with absolutely no success. And in fact, it wasn’t until we were putting this issue to bed that we got a call from a PR who had no idea how long this game of West Coast cat-and-mouse had been going on. We found space. But the point is that even if you have a short amount of time to really research Cube, you can’t help but feel you can call him out — on losing perspective, acting petty, going Hollywood, dissing women… No chance. As he says, he’s the biggest shit-talker in town and he’s as gritted-teeth angry now as he was in the early-nineties. Cian’s interview (page 50) is dynamite. I read it and heard Cube saying, “Stool Pigeon, eat a dick straight up.” It tastes good with the gravy.

Figure Skating Or, how making numbers dance can help with poor circulation The last three NME covers prior to us printing this issue of The Stool Pigeon went Libertines, Libertines, Oasis. Indeed, you may not think there are too many geniuses working at the NME these days (other than the many Stool Pigeon writers who moonlight for the magazine — the sell-outs!), but there’s no denying the God-given talent of their publishers who, anticipating the announcement of their latest diabolical circulation figure in August, came up with this (correct) statistic — that “one in four of all music magazines sold every year on the UK newsstand is a copy of NME”. Brilliant! They’re a weekly, of course, but that doesn’t half distract from the reality of the magazine’s decline. Their latest audit figure, or ABC as we call it in the biz, showed a 17.3 per cent drop in the last year. Whoops. Another crazy number: 330. We were all chuffed for Ben Hewitt, staffer at music site The Quietus (who work downstairs from us Pigeons), when he was offered a trip to Los Angeles to interview Noah And The Whale for NME. He went, had fun, but what’s insane is that he was sent all that way for a 330-word piece. As the crow flies, it’s 11,000 miles to LA from London and back, making that one word for every 33.3 miles. Absolute madness. It’s all very well us slagging off NME and their crappy ABC without us actually having one, so, yup, we’re joining the boys’ club from this issue onwards. It’s a massive ball ache, but we certainly look forward to punches being thrown back. Libertines, Libertines, Oasis. Fucking groundhog day, anyone?

Leaders & Letters 6

Sir, I’ve been arguing with my friend about whether or not The Stool Pigeon is a fanzine. He pointed out that no fanzine could boast in-depth interviews with Ennio Morricone and Paul McCartney. But until it comes with a covermount compilation hand-picked by Mick Jagger, and until I can buy it in Tesco, it’s a fucking fanzine. Yours, Steven O’Dea Dublin Sir, was riffling through the newspapers at the pub on the weekend and almost coughed up my jaffers when I flicked over the page and noticed that Epitaph had decided to rerelease The Dwarves’ seminal 1997 classic, ...Are Young And Good Looking. You know, it’s the red one with that topless bird clutching a fish-tail skateboard and wearing a balaclava on the cover. I then looked a bit harder and realised it wasn’t a Dwarves re-ish at all, but the new LP by those Mary Whitehouse dossers, Feeder. I think they’ve tried to call it something vaguely dangerous like Shocking Lads or Rebellious Currs. I also notice that the Scissor Sisters have done the same trick with their recent effort and The Stones’ Sticky Fingers artwork. At least they were deluded enough to consider it fair game ripping off an Andy Warhol image (and I guess they might have a point if it didn’t smack so much of art school bullshittery), but this Feeder caper is nothing but a big shameless bite at Satan’s bell-end. At any rate, can someone please remind contemporary musicians that if they wish to continue pissing everyone off with their atrocious music that they could at least have the decency to not rip off the aesthetics of bands that actually owned more pairs of functioning genitals than they ever will. Cheers, William of Orange Via email Sir, my god, they’re selling those straw porkpie hats in HMV now. Should we continue to blame Pete Doherty for this? Yours aghast, B. Morales, Floor of HMV Sir, as an ardent admirer of the critiquing skills Kev Kharas regularly brings to bear on your freesheet’s demos section, I have of late taken to sending purposely awful, musical missives to your office in hope of receiving a cryptic tongue-lashing from your scribe. Indeed, I must confess that, in my most private thoughts, I have entertained visions of our momentous coupling, ensconced in a nest of hand-written press releases, CD-Rs hung over my (amazingly erect) nipples as Kharas whispers harsh words of discouragement in my ear. Disgusting bastard. [Name withheld] Via email Sir, Just wanted to let your readers know there is a free concert on the corner of Clarence Road and Rowhill Road in Hackney. Performing daily is the infamous STUPID FUCKING LOUDMOUTHED BLACK DOG. He will be accompanied by his equally atonal street-mate the FAT-ASS GOLDEN YELPER. They tend to kick off at 7am as they seem to need the full day to get through the entire musical scores from Phantom Of The Opera, Annie and, ironically enough, Cats. From what I understand, still to come is Rent and The Producers with The Who’s Tommy as the grand finale. Please don’t miss this opportunity to listen to these two fuckers wail away as their owner sits in her flat, completely oblivious to the musical phenomena occurring outside her window. Don’t miss it... they may not be here long! (wink, wink) P.S. I’m sure all of your tree-hugging, vegan, environmentally righteous readers will be all over me for threatening these two beasts. So, I shall make this clear ahead of time: GO FUCK YOURSELF! Johnny Spence Via email Sir, to the fucker at the Ocean Colour Scene concert in Aberdeen... Yes, you with the WW2 fighter pilot hair, the brogues with no socks and the crappy man jewellery. I can understand how the excitement of seeing OCS could make someone want to dry-hump their girlfriend, so my friends and I put up with your antics given that it was in anticipation of one of the most joyous bands in the world. But when the Scene came on you decided that you were sufficiently satisfied with the dry-humping and that your space needs had multiplied exponentially — at our expense. By ‘Magic Carpet Days’, your girlfriend was sitting on the floor, talking on her mobile. We tried to be nice and, God forbid, logical about it. You muttered a couple of words (muttering, of course, being the ideal means of communication at a concert) and then ignored us. Regardless, nothing was going to detract from hearing ‘Profit In Peace’: Steve Cradock’s teasingly gentle guitar strums, the competent drum work of Oscar Harrison and, of course, that spine-tingling melody. Spare a thought for those standing next to you. Maybe it’s somebody who spent the first 15 years of his life not far from Moseley, Birmingham, where Ocean Colour Scene are from, and hearing them play brings back precious memories of his youth and friends he hasn’t seen in years. Maybe it’s somebody whose late father thought Ocean Colour Scene made the only music after 1970 worth listening to. Were any of these people us? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it’s something to keep in mind the next time you’re in the presence of West Midlands’ answer to the Velvet Underground, as you may not be standing beside people whose deep-rooted sense of decorum kept them from pouring beer down your arse crack. David Jaspers, Aberdeen Send letters to the address at the front or email to editor@thestoolpigeon.co.uk

October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


NO, I AM NOT DONALD DRAPER. NOW BE GONE.

Oh my Christ! Larry King Love is a legend! July 20 She’s had it coming for years now, but thankfully US legal eagles have finally seen sense and locked up Lindsay Lohan. It’ll do her good to lie low. Did you see what I did there? That’s really funny because her nickname is LiLo, an amalgamation of the first two letters of her Christian name and the first two of her surname. You see that a lot these days. Susan Boyle is SuBo and Boris Johnson is BoJo. When I get famous I’m going to have to marry someone like Sir Anthony Hopkins, because then I’ll be known as PR-Ho! Ha ha! But I wouldn’t expect to still be working at Negative Press if I were married to Anthony Hopkins. OMG, just imagine it! It would be a nightmare marrying him because he looks like a mental for starters, plus I can’t stick that silly accent. Worst of all, he doesn’t drink anymore after years of supposedly raising hell. He’d be continually nagging me when I got in late, utterly mullered, and he’d probably send me to the spare room in case I pissed the bed rather than shag me, which is no good considering how horny I get with a drink inside me. He’d probably leave the electric blanket on in the spare room too, and I’d get electrocuted while pissing myself. Then he’d tell everyone it was an accident, the evil fucker. Anyway, back to LiLo. I hope they lock her up and throw away the key. She’s been going crazy for years now, and because she’s rich and famous and

pretty, she’s been able to get away with it. Prescription drugs, lesbianism, driving a truck down the motorway the wrong way while drunk, tattoos of child murderers, Buddhism, bestiality... you name it, she’s been there, got the t-shirt, then taken the t-shirt off and shown her knockers to anyone fancying a gawp! No doubt they’ll give her a huge feathery pillow and an Xbox and all the mod-cons and she’ll be out in a matter of hours. They should chuck her in a loony bin and give her electricshock therapy for at least a decade, then beat her with bats as she’s walking through the gates. I’m not actually sure what she did this time, but I bet it was pretty bad. July 29 What a brilliant idea it is that Wyclef Jean runs for President of Haiti! After all the problems they’ve suffered there it must be nice for the people to know that a superstar is thinking of them. He’d make a great president because he has such a lovely face. But if I was him I’d have kept quiet and maybe gone for the presidency of a better country. Still, not everything in life is about improving your position. If he’s had enough of the hip hop, then why not, I say? What an inspiration Barack Obama has been to all of us. Now he’s the top man in the USA it seems you can have a black president anywhere in the world. Maybe it will happen in this country one day. I, for one, would vote for Lenny Henry.

August 11 I arrange to meet Demelza so we can go and watch Inception together. I’ve heard brilliant things about it. Oh my Christ, Christopher Nolan is an absolute genius! The Dark Knight is one of my favourite films, even though watching the totally fit Heath Ledger perform his little socks off not long before he meets his maker is always tinged with sadness. And speaking of drugged-up lunatics, I get a text from Demelza at 6:54 saying she can’t make it because she’s been on the Benzo Fury and can’t remember anything about the last three days. I’m livid by this point and decide to watch it... on my own. I get myself the biggest bucket of popcorn you’ve ever seen and walk into the theatre… It’s strange at first, because although everyone’s been raving about this movie, there’s hardly anyone here. But before you know it, I’m laughing all the way through the adverts and the place is packed. Inception blew my mind! It’s one of the best films I’ve seen in ages, though it was different from what I was expecting. I didn’t think Liam Neeson was going to be in it, either. It’s so tragic about his wife, but if he wants to have some no-strings sex to take his mind off the grief for a little while, I’d be more than willing to nurse him. He’s very big, I’ve heard. I wouldn’t even mind if he had a little cry. Thankfully, he was so convincing in this film that I soon forgot about all that palaver. And

when he said, “I love it when a plan comes together,” I nearly wet myself right there in my seat. Hilarious! September 7 Lady Gaga is off her fucking nut! I just saw the cover of Vogue Japan where she’s naked except for a ‘meatkini’, i.e. she has meat delicately arranged to cover her rude parts. It’s one rule for one and one for another, right? If you walked in and caught me with some offcuts draped over my foo foo, you’d just assume I’d become so desperate I was offering my Alsatian a free lunch. “I have this weird thing that if I sleep with someone they’re going to take my creativity from me through my vagina,” she said to Vanity Fair the other day. All anyone is gonna take from your vagina, love, is half a pound of sirloin fucking steak. September 9 There’s been this outcry about Piers Morgan taking over from CNN anchorman Larry King Love. Larry King Love is a legend! He’s been around since the early days of TV and he even inspired the indie band of the same name, such is his generational appeal. But Piers is a brilliant replacement and he’s English, which should make us all proud. His interview with Jason Donovan was one of the most interesting and probing I’ve ever seen. I’d let Piers probe me, even if he does look like the love child of Ed Balls and Brian May. But it’s not his face I’d like to fuck!

Miss Prudence Trog The Stool Pigeon October 2010

7


Chance New York meeting gives London lad a taste of the Highlife Words Cian Traynor Photograph

Song birds

Wills Glasspiegel

a blizzard one night in New York seven years ago, Sleepy Doug Shaw tried to open a door that would change his life and ultimately lead him to make tropical pop music as Highlife. It was the last day of a family holiday and a record store clerk had urged the Londoner to check out a bar in the East Village. The door was locked. As Shaw trudged back through the snow, a voice called after him. It was Andy McCloud, original guitarist for White Magic. “He offered me a drink and we just hung out. There was one other guy there who had a room above the bar and was leaving for Mexico the next day, so I decided to take it.” The then-19-year-old had stumbled into a tight-knit group of friends from Black Dice, Animal Collective, White Magic and Gang Gang Dance, all of whom he’d later tour or collaborate with. Though he hadn’t heard of any of them, he found a like-mindedness he’d never experienced back at home. “In London I was focused on learning the guitar, trying to get to a point where I even wanted to let something out of me. I was playing up to 10 hours a day because most of my friends had gone off to university, so London became quite a lonely place for me. There

During

CROSSED Wires WHITE CITY, London. The xx caused a newspaper sub-editors’ nightmare after they won the Mercury Music Prize, with no one quite sure how to correctly write their name. There was confusion among radio newsreaders, too. Pity poor Rachel Hodges from Five Live who came up with this gem after she presumed that the marking of “XX” on her teleprompter meant the result hadn’t yet been announced: “In the last few minutes, we’re just hearing that... er, no! I can’t bring you that news about who won The Mercury Prize but I will hopefully before the end of this bulletin.”

were a lot of different scenes and it was hard to feel like there was a cohesive interplay, whereas here it felt like everyone knew each other.” When another member of White Magic turned out to be managing the Alan Lomax archives, Shaw grabbed the chance to immerse himself in a wealth of Bahaman sea shanties and African ritual music — fitting preparation for a house-sitting job on the island of Gaspar Grande, near Trinidad, in 2008. It was within that

CELEBRITY B A R B E R NEW

No.15. T O N FA U L K N E

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“Call Chris Packham, I’ve found a wren’s nest here with three little ’uns in it.”

isolation that Highlife began to take shape as, armed with plenty of instruments and recording gear, Shaw weaved together his taste for Sufi, Tuareg and Haitian voodoo chants... while occasionally taking a speedboat out to do the shopping. “That was definitely a good place to learn how to further enter a trancelike state through song,” he says. “Ritual music forces your breath out, resonates through your body and gets you into the right headspace, which is important to White Magic and a lot of people I know.” Highlife’s circular rhythm is epitomised by ‘F Kenya Rip’: a poppier, tidier version of F. Kenya’s ‘Madame Zehae Ala’ that recalls Paul Simon’s adaptation of South African music on Graceland — a comparison that jolts Shaw out of a near-unquotable slumber: “I don’t own a copy of Graceland! I definitely would not agree!” Nor does he want to discuss Vampire Weekend, whose riffs he instantly recognised from his studies into music. “I know it sounds like a cop-out, but I don’t have anything bad to say about anyone,” he murmurs, stretching the words over several minutes. “Let’s just say I could see it was going to become a popular thing faster than I could get my shit together.” The long-overdue release of debut EP ‘Best Bless’ is also a sore point — something he’s unapologetic for, given the nature of his journey so far. “It’s hard for me to look forward six months or a year. I know that’s what you have to do; that’s business. I’ve just been... still becoming, in a way. I don’t necessarily draw my satisfaction from making what I do public. For me, finding the road to something that feels like your own requires learning things that people have done before you.”

NORTHERN Slights KING’S CROSS, London. Does anyone miss the Observer Music Monthly? We don’t, and especially not when you hear alarming tales like this. Writing a piece on the latest I Am Kloot album for The Quietus, Mick Middles revealed that he’d reviewed fellow Greater Mancunians Elbow’s 2008 The Seldom Seen Kid LP for OMM. He proudly awarded it five stars, and was shocked to notice that, when the magazine printed, it had been downgraded to three. “When challenged on this,” Mick wrote, “they responded with, ‘...well it’s too northern for our readers.’”

WARDING Off HACKNEY, London. Singer-songwriter M. Ward might be an elusive kind of character who despises being interviewed by newspapers like this, but it seems it’s not just the press he likes hiding from. An M. Ward aficionado who contributes to The Stool Pigeon used to a run fan site called One Hundred Angels from London on the troubadour. To his genuine surprise, he would receive regular emails from Ward’s parents in California asking what their son was up to and if he knew his whereabouts.

TOUGH Draw WAPPING, London. The worst thing about The Times setting up a paywall on their site is that you have to wait for someone to cut-and-paste the brilliant Dr. Ozzy column. Allow us to do the work for you. Asked by a reader how he could feel less paranoid when he smokes weed, Osbourne came back with: “When I used to smoke pot, it was happy stuff: you’d get the munchies, have a laugh and go to sleep. These days when you have a joint, you end up holding onto your drawers and hoping you don’t go insane... As for reducing your paranoia, in the 1970s you did that by having a beer. But that just made you drunk and paranoid. Which was worse.”

News The Stool Pigeon October 2010

9


THE BODY: ARMED TO THE TEETH AND NOT PULLING YOUR LEG A C H I N G LY BEAUTIFUL “...but it’s the voices, bits of guitar and sitar, all given the sonic Cuisinart treatment, that take things to another, more achingly beautiful realm.” Mark Richardson on Gold Panda, Pitchfork. “‘Valkyrie At The Roller Disco’ features a unique brand of banjopiano interplay and a swirling mix of voices, creating a swaying and achingly beautiful centrepiece in the midst of all this jangling catchiness.” Andrew Burgess on The New Pornographers, musicOMH. “‘...the ocean speaks the language of the dawn,’ she sings in the achingly beautiful opening track, ‘Thousand Secrets’.” Randy Lewis on Sahara Smith, Los Angeles Times.

Words by Luke Turner Photograph by Richard Rankin

Body are prepared for The The End. “This world, our culture, and perhaps our entire civilisation are seemingly doomed to utter failure,” states guitarist Chip King. “I believe that things for humanity will be much worse before they will get better, if that is even a possibility. The idea of a bleak future, with or without people, is the predominant vision of our work; the idea of what is left behind after we have finished... if there is anything left behind.” The duo of King and drummer Lee Buford first played together in various punk bands in Arkansas, but now hail from that most noisy of American cities, Providence, Rhode Island. They grew up listening to Misfits and the other Danzig projects, Dead Kennedys, early Dischord records and soon after got into Sabbath, Slayer and Neurosis. Now they make a sound that lies somewhere

between the dearly departed Khanate, roving Norsemen Årabrot and the sludge of Sleep, with all psychedelic tendencies stripped out in favour of a bleak, industrial tone. Even in their choice of name, The Body explore visions of an end time. “‘The Body’ was in reference to a fascination I had with pictures of people hanging from gallows, victims of a state,” King explains. “They looked so awkward — no life in them. Initially, we wore burlap sacks over our heads and hung ourselves with nooses from the ceiling or from the rafters while we performed, as an illustration of this idea. It was not always the most popular thing to do.” King and Buford are often photographed brandishing rifles in front of bullet-splintered wooden targets, while the inner sleeve artwork of their apocalyptically-titled new album All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood features weapons on what looks like an altar, as if they are being blessed.

Yet it isn’t extremes of aesthetic alone that mark out The Body from two-a-penny burly tattooed dudes making coruscating drones and apocalyptic mutterings as they flirt with potentially dangerous imagery. All The Waters… is bold, intense and arguably the best record on the fringes of metal since Sunn O)))’s 2009 masterpiece, Monoliths & Dimensions. Vocals that explore a humanity beset by terrors are as important as the aggressive arrangements, giving the album a throttling power that few others reach. Opening track ‘A Body’ is a 10-minute harmonic lament sung by a female choir who come off like they’re performing in the ruined nave of a church where the roof and altar have long vanished. ‘Empty Hearth’ begins with the frantic gabble of a man speaking in tongues, of which King says: “The chant was taken from recordings of the Church Universal And Triumphant, a separatist cult in Montana. We find a common ground

News 10

October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


with most groups that want to separate themselves from the rest of society, regardless if our politics and/or beliefs don’t match.” ‘Song Of Sarin, The Brave’ has mumbled snatches of speech delivered over abstract guitar and drums, as if tuning into a survivalist’s radio over distant gunfire. Throughout, King’s vocals are an unintelligible, anguished scream, like he’s a man being forced to dig and kneel before his own grave. With regard to their weapons, King and Buford claim they are ready to lock and load and practise what they preach: “We both own and shoot guns, yes. The ones in the gatefold, actually,” King confirms. “There are a lot of guns in our society, a society that could feasibly break down within our lifetime. Five years ago I thought differently. We think it is a responsible act to acquire, learn to use and to be able to teach people how to use firearms, and also be responsible about their use. In an ‘us vs. them’ scenario, we vote for us.” What if that scenario were to come to pass, leaving The Body to fend for themselves against the scavengers of a lawless Rhode Island? “Not to completely sound like a hyperalarmist, we have bought guns to shoot people, in case the need to shoot people becomes a necessity, as in an end-of-the-world-type scenario,” states King. “Prepare for the worst.”

Surf City keen to catch any wave out of New Zealand Words Barnaby Smith

Clean are undoubtedly crucial The to the rock heritage of New Zealand, but it’s nonetheless about time every guitar-wielding young indie act that emerges from the Land of the Long White Cloud wasn’t immediately regarded as a bunch of pretenders to their crown. Auckland’s Surf City have suffered that very fate, which is unfair on the four-piece when you consider that their combination of eighties shoegaze, classic pop and late-sixties drone is far removed from the seminal Flying Nun band. “We can only really do what we do,” says guitarist and vocalist Davin Stoddard, with some ambivalence. “And if it comes out that way, then that’s how it comes out.” Indeed, Surf City are a band that make their influences obvious. Firstly, their name is taken from the Jesus and Mary Chain song ‘Kill Surf City’ (they had to drop the ‘Kill’ as some band from Hull had got there before them), while Stoddard claims that the title of their debut LP Kudos, out in November, is “kind of like a kudos to every band we wanted to sound like on this record”. Stoddard is joined in the band by brothers Josh and Jamie Kennedy on guitar and bass respectively, and Logan Collins on drums. They met and formed some six years ago, bonding over reverb-heavy, moody rock. Like many New Zealand bands, they found that the lack of a vibrant music community allowed them the freedom to explore their own sensibilities. “At the beginning, it’s great because you have enough room to develop and play in front of small audiences, but recently it seems everyone’s so driven by the idea of making it on the internet. I don’t think New Zealand wants to sustain its own artists. It wants to sustain its industry, with handshakes and back scratches all round, but artists are expendable.” Surf City are, therefore, one of the few to emerge triumphant from that mess, with a US tour already under their belt including a set at SXSW — something Stoddard regards as the band’s proudest moment so far, and a true achievement for a band from a small city in the South Pacific who still aren’t able to do music full-time. “We’ve all had to work day jobs in order to be able to go away,” says Stoddard. “Although I do like to fill out ‘musician’ on those customs cards.”

Son of Dave A Kiss is no good if it’s given by someone with the wrong Genes.

I went down to the crossroads and fell down on my knees, soiling another cheap suit while frantically trying to fish my stool-phone out of the mud. Hauling my instruments and unsold swag over hill and swamp, trying to get out of another British booze festival, I considered making a deal with the devil on the other end of the line, so I could afford my own helicopter. As I set to finding my lighter, which preceded my phone into the mud by the crossroads, I suddenly envisioned all the weird gods in the pantheon of pop. The desire to be a number 1 superstar is really only held by a few insane people. To get there requires a sick mind and a willingness to compromise reality completely, and be hated by most people. More people disliked Elvis than liked him, and Jacko, Madonna, and every political leader who clawed their way to the top. There are many other sock puppets to choose from. Every style of music has its leaders and copycats, and each genre has its good or bad boys/girls. There are the revolutionaries, the stoners, satanic ones, the family band and serious musicians. The main diva can be a poet, a rebel, a gangster or a cad. But there are only so many stock characters to choose from. If a band or hopeful singer can simplify itself to a character from a children’s story, like the princess or the ugly troll, the business can more easily shunt it out there for consumption. I wondered as I discovered my pocket with the hole in it what simple character I would be cut down to in order to please the business man on the phone. The man on the phone was Gene Simmons, of Kiss fame, and talented reality television worker. He was looking to sign bands to his new label. He contacted me. Seriously. My tired and drunk mind was reeling. “I love the music, you’re really unique! But to be blunt, I’m not hearing the tune that says who you really are. You know, Leo Sayer had that song ‘One Man Band’. If you could deliver that tune to me, I think we could really make Son of Dave work.” Gene Simmons may have slept with thousands of drunk young girls and strippers, but he sure knows how to succeed in advertising! I had dropped my flask, too, it seemed, but I wasn’t sure. A gentleman never goes out of the house with fewer than 11 pockets, and that dressing gown made the count 14 for me. It gets

tricky to find things at night. Not all popular music fits into neat little stereotypes, of course. There is always the band from New York or Montreal who seem to defy categorisation. Sometimes, every 50 years or so, a Bowie or Charles Mingus is born. And more and more the industry itself creates monsters who would never rise to the top by public opinion alone. The categories of socialite, rich daughter, connected Jew, token black guy (for white audiences) and mistaken junky prodigy are always clogging up the charts and press purely due to music business stupidity and greed. I finally found my flask but dropped my tobacco. I spoke to the powerful man in leather trousers, clumsily explaining that I want to be the first superstar that the downtrodden can relate to, a guy who’s not handsome enough, too old, plays the wrong instrument and has no luck with women. Hates them half the time, in fact. And Gene, I don’t have a band, don’t want to own a car or wear a ‘time piece’. Guys like me don’t play our instruments especially well, don’t have a lot of friends and we don’t like youth. We’re content just to make a living (though fame would be nice), and believe sex is only good with at least a bit of love involved. I’m not a hobo looking for sympathy, or a revolutionary, Gene baby. I am... a loner. Isn’t the loner one of the characters in the rock’n’roll book of lies and bedtime stories? Sorry I don’t have a soul to sell you, as we atheists don’t play that silly game. Then Gene offered me something I cannot repeat for fear of instant death. The world of fame and success and reality television opened up to me for one magic moment. It was at that moment I dropped the phone in the soup. But I didn’t care somehow. I felt the gentle hand of God (happy, boozy feeling) on my shoulder and it stopped raining. A van stopped and offered me a lift. I watched the demon mobile phone sink as I stepped into the van. The band inside were a bluegrass electro band. They shared smokes and were kind to me. The singer was a lesbian, with a black guy on banjo, 62year-old bass player and a guitarist who had been imprisoned in Guantanamo. Not an archetypal group, really. I gave them Gene’s number. I had lost some things in the mud, but was paid quite well. I’m content to die a mortal and an atheist, but I’d like revenge and a jet pack before then.

News The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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Robotic producer Balam Acab finds talking about his music a real drag Words Cian Traynor

ith the flick of a switch, the airy monotone of 19-year-old Alec Koone has turned into a distorted mechanical voice, a mindlessly malevolent being that dispatches answers efficiently and without interest. Never has a problem with the recording device felt so fitting. Balam Acab’s dubby mix of hip hop beats, screwed vocals and eerie electronica is the kind of music that could be made by a sentient machine — one that addresses the question of meaning with all the clinical detachment of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. “There is

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never a set meaning, initially,” says the voice. “I just let it develop because I think that’s the nature of my music. If I don’t know where it’s going to go, then it has to be open to different interpretations and maybe I’m not always the one to decide what it’s about.” It’s only the distinctly un-robotic addition of “I guess” at the end of such statements that spoils the illusion. Koone, who studies music education in Ithaca, New York, began Balam Acab two years ago as an art-noise, audio-visual live act named after a Mayan demagogue who threw his bow into the sky in order to end a drought.

Despite Koone’s claims that there are no such stories embedded in his minialbum, See Birds, some reviewers have detected a clear story arc through its hypnotic sparseness. “It’s kind of hard to listen back to it outside of yourself — trying to hear it the way somebody else would; someone who wouldn’t know every little thing about the song the way I do,” the mindless voice announces. “I’m trying to create something you can latch onto, in either the melody or the idea behind the music, so it feels like a progression. The idea is that you’ll see a path, one that starts out really dark

and feels like you’re coming out of something.” Perhaps it’s those dark undertones that have led to Balam Acab being classified as ‘witch house’ or ‘drag’ — much to the frustration of the voice, which finally sounds vaguely emotive. “I’ve been assigned that label and have had no say in the definition of my own music. If people get the wrong idea then it ruins the whole thing. I don’t want to be associated with some trend.” This machine does not copy, the voice insists. It merely assimilates, distorts, repackages — and wants to think for itself.

BLACKDOWN TUNING INTO LHF’S UNITED VIBRATIONS Words Rory Gibb

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EIGHTIES SURVIVAL

Peter Anderson’s stint as a staff snapper for NME in the eighties gifted him with a goldmine of superstar portraits, many of which haven’t been seen since they were taken. Then And There, Here And Now is an exhibition featuring chromatic shots of icons like Run-DMC, Joe Strummer, Tom Waits, Marvin Gaye and Madonna. Go see them now at The Book Club, 100 Leonard Street, London.

n teasing apart UK garage’s skeleton, dubstep became a music of space and distance; one that reflected the vacant psychogeography of its South London home. The sticky, cocooning sub-bass frequencies that rose to fill those gaps isolate and bind listeners together simultaneously. Rewind 15 years to the heyday of the pirate stations, and a flick of the FM dial locks you into the same headspace. Snared with twisted coat hangers and tin foil, an anonymous blitz of shattered beats and MC chatter lances its way into bedrooms across the capital, each a tiny hub in a wider neural network. You feel alone, together. Fast forward: hangers and foil sheathes have been replaced by copper wire and central storage servers. But the information age allows LHF — the latest signings to Martin ‘Blackdown’ Clark’s Keysound label — a different sort of anonymity. In a voyeur’s world, the mystical, maze-like nature of the London collective’s music seems to function as a kind of scrambling device. “They leave you with as many questions as answers,” says Clark. “There’s not a lot known about them, yet they’ve been part of the scene for many years. One of us has probably raved next to one of them over the years. Sometimes I’ll be in the corner of some bassy rave and a friendly LHF hand will appear on my shoulder. My mission, with their releases, is to have that hand reach out in the dark to anyone who will receive it.” With personal ties going back as far as 1989, LHF fam Amen-Ra, Double Helix, Low Density Matter, No Fixed Abode, Solar Man, Octaviour and Escobar present a united front to the world which enables them to remain elusive. Their United Vibrations

SubFM show and Soundcloud mixes hint at untold volumes of unreleased material. The tracks that do emerge tap into an ancient lineage that stretches far beyond their home city, alien climes beamed through a noirish haze of free jazz and film samples. As such, LHF’s sounds epitomise a hidden London. The boundaries between their tracks are indistinct, and their involvement with the pirates since rave’s early days suggests nostalgia for the romantic mysteries of the past. But London’s bass lineage has always been about connection and community — online, LHF are able to reach out, just as pirate radio did, and extend rave’s sensory barrage towards anyone within reach. “The truth is much of their music’s been out there for quite some time, broadcasting to the heavens while the rest of us have been looking the other way,” reveals Clark. “I’ve just been trying to tune in to this transmission.”

P iGeoN Eyed

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


Burst of sun helps Lucky man feel less Rustie Words Hazel

ccording to The New York Times celebrity is in decline, and it has little to do with the failing economy. Hardship has usually meant good business for the glamorous, who always used to remind us how our lives could be otherwise. But those on the other side seem less glamorous than ever in the age of the fly-onthe-wall documentary and Heat magazine. Couple that with Warhol’s premonition that we’ll all have our 15 minutes, whether that be reality TV or YouTube, and celebrity is reduced to the ordinary. Which undermines its very appeal. As the stars start self-combusting, those on the edge of culture will be the first to shy from the dimming glare. Dance music will defy that death. It will out-mutate the labels invented for the constantly evolving conversation between man and his machines and when the historians come for music’s new gatekeepers, they’ll find nothing but Facebook’s fat question mark on their mugshots and endless, indecipherable lists of the wanted: Mount Kimbie, Starkey, Darkstar, Joker… and Rustie. Rustie is part of Glasgow’s LuckyMe, an artistic collective and label that’s built its reputation around club nights and affiliated DJs in the

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city’s hip hop scene. This 27-year-old’s involvement came about after he started going to their parties four years ago. Since then, fellow native Hudson Mohawke brought LuckyMe attention after he signed to Warp. Rustie’s just signed, too. He’s moving in the same direction, though by his own route. No one’s certain why hip hop and techno should take hold in Glasgow, though the internet has closed the gap between LuckyMe and the State-side sounds those DJs are making their own. But, as Rustie says, “There is more than hip hop and techno in there.” With his own nameless hybrid, Rustie slices up dubstep’s lazy rolls into

something far brighter. He lets basslines squelch while replacing the mid-range with razor synths and a busy, 8-bit gaming repertoire that twitches and pings. Tempos distort around the energy of the tracks and vocal stabs act as mood indicators, from the rhythmic grunting on the heavy ‘Neko’ to the yelp on frantic ‘Hyperthrust’. He named his ‘Sunburst’ EP after the guitar he played on the record, but it could just as easily be a descriptor, which comes off strange after learning that it’s the product of a bad year. “There was a lot of turmoil in my life for a while and music had to take a back seat,” Rustie explains of a gap of several months between joining Warp and this debut release. There are signs of recovery, though. He’s looking ahead to next year’s fulllength, promising more of “the same shit”, and pulling away from the collective that created him: “I love Glasgow and I’ve been there all my life, but I’ve just moved to London. I’m liking the extra few degrees in temperature and less rain.” As previous remixes of Jamie Lidell and Keesha have hinted, he’s also hoping to produce some “big pop records” before his 15 minutes are up. He could even outlast his allotted time. After all, the faceless have no age.


Secretive teenage ‘lovestep’ brothers Disclosure relatively happy to let their cover slip Words by STEPHEN PIETRZYKOWSKI Photograph by CAROLYN LAWRENCE

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oogle Chat seems a suitably distanced way of speaking to Disclosure, the duo of teenage brothers who in the last six months have moved through the blogosphere with a covert sureness. Despite their rising star, information on the pair has remained sparse. Only one awkwardly posed photograph has been posted online and it takes until our interview to establish they’re from Croydon. They’ve also only made four songs available up to now, two of

which — ‘Offline Dexterity’ and ‘Street Light Chronicle’ — make up their debut single. “We don’t want to say, ‘This is the genre of music we want to make,’” claims Guy, the older of the two brothers at 19. “We are always experimenting, so it’s hard to say where we will fit this early on.” A desire to evolve may mean Disclosure haven’t quite settled on just who they are yet, but they’re not concealing their identity in the manner the current Zeitgeist dictates.

Led by Burial and Zomby, many recent British electronic music artists have been characterised by anonymity and dislocation. As a result, UK dance isn’t so much missing a poster boy as it is lacking a physical human connection. Disclosure are, in some respects, a necessary antidote. In a youthobsessed industry, the meaning of their music is very much tied to their biology, as if being teenagers is the sole index of their authenticity. “We always say that,” confirms

Guy. “But we do get good reactions from people when they find out we are still quite young. We don’t want or not want people to know who we are. If they like the music enough to make the effort to find out, that’s great. We just want to be making emotional music for the dance scene.” It’s this will to connect that has seen younger brother Howard label their music ‘lovestep’, a tongue-incheek moniker they both feel comfortable with. And it makes sense, too. It’s as if dubstep has laid down its arms, replaced the ket with pills and opened its heart. Explaining ‘Offline Dexterity’, Guy unwittingly reveals how they intend to move their audience: “‘Offline Dexterity’ means just having total control of your body, so you can move in extraordinary ways without even trying to think about what you are doing.” It’s an extraordinarily apt insight into their aesthetic, proving Disclosure to be very much rooted in the physical world. Suddenly, Google Chat appears a wholly inappropriate means of connection.


Fuck Songs by John Doran

SIX OF THE BEST IN HONOUR OF CEE-LO’S ANTHEM

Here are six other fuck songs for your effin’ delectation.

DEAD KENNEDYS ‘Too Drunk To Fuck’ (1981) Despite the fact that the title and lines like “had 16 beers and started up a fight” unfortunately made this punk 7” an aspirational lifestyle anthem in some quarters, it shows why the Dead Kennedys were such a big influence on the nascent hardcore/straight edge scene. They double-dropped the F-bomb later the same year by releasing ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ as a follow-up single.

BRITNEY SPEARS ‘If U Seek Amy’ (2009) Homophonic fun from the mentally divergent mistress of mayhem, Britters. And by that we don’t mean it’s a Buju Banton cover, but it becomes a double entendre if written down: F-U-C-K me. Has a post-modern effect on some people by making them go, ‘Fuck me! I get it!’ when it finally dawns on them. Especially if they’re a dim-witted See You Next Thursday.

LILY ALLEN ‘Fuck You’ (2009) Our Lil harnesses the spirit of Dame Vera Lynn and Karen Carpenter and introduces them to Roger’s Profanisaurus in order to stick it to the BNP and George W. Bush. For which she should receive a fucking OBE.

Frankie Rose no longer a thorn in anyone’s side

g.” it gets really exhaustin ger needs to The 31-year-old no lon drumming of s worry about the politic ds. “This ban z buz of tion for a cross-sec en wh ,” she g um sin alb rou ll merica is sti is 100 per cent my f-titled up the sel ks pic her se of Ro y ie udl ank pro Fr explains WESLEY WILLIS ‘Fuck You’ (1999) ooklyn, and The Outs, phone at home in Br debut, Frankie Rose One’s never in Momus territory with the distressing but admirably chipper paraand ds bir y that I could the h wa no wit is up re n the bee ’s ugh “altho but she noid schizophrenic Wesley Willis, even though he was once memorably described on “I’m . sly iou ts.” anx g Ou e do it without Th paperboys, waitin by a friend of The Stool Pigeon as a poor man’s Daniel Johnston. The author of s when conYork Press and Rose was conscientiou the cover of the New ‘Suck A Panda’s Cock’ and ‘Rock’n’Roll McDonald’s’ is here directing his anger ’t don “I her band, s. to say t rui she ,” rec to epy o against his three demons: Heartbreaker, Nervewrecker and Meansucker. Wesley, sidering wh it’s really cre s iew erv eavours. int end t d who often claimed he was “trying not to go to hell” by “not hitting people in the especially given her pas Google myself or rea this one sign up to but , , ally end usu the e, in don street with bricks” is now mercifully at rest. e ed, that I hav k She opt Yor an on w Ry Ne of te ole Ka r wh friends (drumme is in print and the h my God! Bianca, and “O t . rgo ses SUICIDAL TENDENCIES ‘Invocation’ (1994) Ma pau e ist Sh tar it.” gui , drums will see regardless of On an album like Suicidal For Life — Suicidal Tendencies’s sixth long player, shouldn’t have? Caroline Yes on bass), Did I say something I ? pid stu which contains such gems as ‘Don’t Give A Fuck’, ‘No Fuck’n Problem’, ‘Suicyo lly ly play their rea ual act ing ld eth cou y som the say er I Did and wheth Motherfucker’ and ‘Fucked Up Just Right!’ — it’s always going to be the cleanest rds wo just see so I my ss ed gue ist “I tw instruments. Have they on titled-track that packs the biggest fucking punch. k jer t I think it ges and big many bands break up made me out to be the ier when eas lot a ngs thi ?” just makes the planet nd sou dmates,” the ban r and ns you Rhetorical questio you are friends with gest that nds really sug sou it sily w noi kno g “I nin s. tur lain she exp of pages the limelight. nt to have a lot contrived, but I just wa Rose is not used to esom de ma ’s she , now e.” ore tim s bef , thi of fun Indeed fun? “Yes! self by retiring And is she having thing of a name for her and r nde fou don’t know how Especially because we from bands. As cols, she Gir are on.” ian we h Viv pat the eer of much of a car drummer for role in writing, ie has not been one ank Fr played an important ladder, g their eer min car for the per up y wa and her working recording seems more but pulled out falladas falladas escape escape clearly, but for now she eponymous 2008 debut, not ’m (“I w. her venture s gre see laim um acc alb ’s e um Th alb d. as the then falada, the horses severed head answered: s, settle his wife watches grim mouthed say she , reverbit,” age o gar int i get lo-f beyond the even going to alas young queen passing by from the window o als e Sh nd of her .”). sou ble nched Phil Spector “but it was not amica if only your mother new he stands swaying drum- dre ’s gentrijob she d, ond tea sec Ins her ds. of previous ban grew tired her hart would break in two then staggers off d ase n-b nies and mo kly roo har fied it with pop hooks, ming with the also-B from the goose girl, grimms fairy tales his blud spotting his footsteps puts it: to do a m she the as Or, left . hes and ris lts flou emotive Crystal Sti down to the landing m Du as hi-fi m um Du alb s a’s thi rni “I wanted to make stint with Califo write her to the etheto k stic ing l inn stil beg but ile le, the lake was frozen in wh sib there infront of the frozen lake he as pos Girls, t I love.” can you believe it — dreams of escape real, spacey sound tha own material. y sel loo is s ention that it thi att ry, the ust of she’d actually taken the pistol from ind at pushes his arm thru a drift wh the d An In s’. llin ht, the limeCo tlig il spo Ph a his drunken hands e Th ing and reveals the summer painted may bring? known as ‘do she !” the bathme eso f and belted him with it? hull of a boat t? “I locked mysel in “Phil Collins is aw other ligh the thought I h I wit and t so what if hed fired an innocent shot w tha the police car will be here soon sho t felt t firs jus room at our squeals. “I e tiv ora s. “I was lab say col no one was hurt n she bee was going to puke,” bands it had mainly d to being s only one no harm done wa use eyes blinking tears and blud t so tha d I’m e lise aus rea bec n petrified and I soo he looks to the southen sky stained But I think it But I’ve found at the back of the stage. way of doing things. le stepping into the sudden cold tab for dirty orange com become comto re g mo lon s ch thi mu me am en I tak that he drops to his knees ite has snowing the soft ashes of berlin wr to d l kind of fee har I It’s n. now ow d fortable. An writing on my sobbing upon falladas nose ple peo k!” e bea aus my bec addicted to it… I freak as a group sometimes, ngs and thi tain cer on ee agr tend to dis

THE-DREAM ‘Florida University’ (2010)

‘Florida University’ is a clever way of telling someone to fuck off from the ostentatiously bejewelled and hyphenated R&B singer The-Dream. Well, clever if you’re the kind of guy who thinks another of his songs, ‘Panties To The Side’, is a classy, romantic way of serenading a lady.

rd Words Thomas A. Wa Photography Ben Pier

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EFFERVESCENT PUNK ROCKERS FLATS ALWAYS TRYING TO STAY ON THE LEVEL Words Felix L. Petty

existed for just a few months, but already London’s Flats are ridden with the ravenous maggots of hype, with many quivering hacks seeking to reseat the sun the tight side of their booze-sore punk rock behinds. Questions remain as to why. What sets Flats apart from all the other dropouts in thrall to speed (both kinds) and Crass? Is it because they look better in their bomber jackets than your average crack-cradling crusty? Does that make them posers? And might the fact that their singer’s dad is Alan McGee have something to do with it? Flats are currently trending hard, but what if the hype ends up negating

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the anti-fad stand they claim to be making? Frontman Daniel Devine, who’s already positioned himself against such evils as Paul Weller and “emaciated male model freaks”, offers a reply straight out of punk rock 101: “Maybe our reputation within hardcore circles will suffer, but I don’t give a fuck.” Would it be better for you to get fashionable, do you think? You could attack the scene from within. “Yeah, maybe,” he says, laughing. “I appreciate the fact we might be playing these fashion parties, but what’s more punk than just taking the money and running?” I expected Devine to be a massive cunt. There is, though, something refreshing about his bluntness, and it’s hard not to take some amusement and heart from his bravado. He met his bandmates (guitarist Luke Tristram, bassist Craig E. Pierce, drummer Samir Eskanda) on London’s road-tonowhere gig circuit, playing in halfarsed bands no one cared about, putting on nights no one went to. You imagine they, at least, are now grateful of Devine’s agitating and the attention it has earned them. If Flats manage to back up their ballsy promise, they could be a fantastic kick in the ribs for an increasingly docile and reverential London music scene. Tight, snotty, fast and incandescent, they subscribe to the “dirty, primal, anarcho-punk sound” of Crass, and salute the US hardcore bands that “swept away all that Television, Patti Smith, CBGBs bollocks.” Anger is always relevant, and it does seem to seep from Devine. Where is it directed? “At the idiots I’m surrounded by. We have no desire to just swan around Shoreditch being fashionable.” The easily maligned, cassettereleasing cake-eaters of east London’s lo-fi scene claim DIY approaches, but their motives are questionable: clique building’s never going to be very exciting for anyone but the clique. The city is crying out for a wanker to come along and fuck around with it, and you sense that Devine might just be that wanker — a floppy-haired wanker-hero. “I want to get more obnoxious, more ridiculous, faster and harder while maintaining something very British,” he says, and that might be the grubbyhanded slap the city needs to awaken it from its California dreaming.

Being anointed the new face of goth a mixed blessing for Zola Jesus Words Ash Dosanjh

as much a blessing as a curse It’s to be labelled the next big thing: the initial burst of enthusiasm tends to give way to universal sighs of ‘meh’. It’s even more of a catastrophe when you get tagged as the new face of goth, what with most people presuming goths to be a bunch of humourless moaners. At the very mention of the ‘g’ word, 21-year-old Zola Jesus, whose real name is the no-less-poetic Nika Roza Danilova, has a moan of her own. “Urgh,” she says, “goth has the most stereotypes of any subculture and they’re all really cut-and-dried: you’re depressed, you wear crushed velvet, you walk along with black roses in your hair, you hate the world… And the accompanying music has become so dorky and derivative.” Danilova, of course, is different and no one could claim her work is in the

mould of past goth masters like Bauhaus or Cabaret Voltaire (two bands she name-checks). “Calling my music goth just puts me into a box and I have so many more emotions and so many more aims than that,” she explains. “I don’t think people realise that when I say I’d like to change as an artist and I’d like to experiment, I’m not joking. When my next record comes out and it’s R&B music, people are gonna be like, ‘Whoah, what? I thought she was like this.’ I have a lot in me and my new record [Stridulum II, her first UK release] is a huge part, but I’m constantly evolving.” But that’s not to say there haven’t been some growing pains along the way for Danilova. Trying to be a musician as well as a student of French and philosophy at university in Wisconsin, where she recorded the album, proved an impossible juggling act. Something had to give. Thankfully for the wider world, it wasn’t the music. “My studies absolutely suffered making this record,” she says. “I went from being on the honour roll to not being on it. I just finished my last class and as far as I know I’ve graduated. I hope!” With Stridulum II, this classically trained singer, who took up opera vocal lessons at the age of seven, has fused a love for the industrial elements of goth with her more passionate and human side, creating a record that features sparse, haunting instrumentals but also moves to the rhythm of tribal drums. And with tracks such as ‘Night’ and ‘I Can’t Stand’ tapping the rawest of emotions — love and hope — it’s no surprise to learn that this album was borne out of an emotionally tumultuous time for Danilova. “When I was recording The Spoils [US-only 2009 LP], I was very depressed and angry,” she says. “I’d never really felt lost before, but it was fine because I liked feeling alone. Since then, I’ve fallen in love and got married, which I never thought would happen. I didn’t believe in love and I didn’t believe we were here to be with other people. I was amazed I could find someone I believed in so much. Then I wrote Stridulum and it all fell together. The songs definitely have hope in them.” Naysayers take note: goth just got itself a face lift.


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THUNDERING BEEF BRISKET Serves 4 INGREDIENTS.— 675g beef brisket 6-7 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed 2 onions, sliced and diced 1 pack of Lipton onion soup mix Roasting pot PREPARATION. —

FREDDIE GIBBS TO BE NEXT MILLION DOLLAR MAN, OR MILLION YEN MAN Words Alex Marshall Photograph Alexander Richter

Gibbs is one of the Freddie few people who can get away with saying his hometown was “like a war zone” when he was growing up. He’s not exaggerating. In the nineties, Gary, Indiana — Michael Jackson’s birthplace — was the sort of city that vied to be America’s murder capital, and where anyone with sense left. “It was bad, man,” he says in a deep baritone. “There was a couple of times when they had to bring in the National Guard and put a curfew on. I saw a lot of violence, lot of drugs… a lot of things you can really slip into and get trapped.” He then starts telling me about the

first time he was arrested. Gibbs, as you’ve probably guessed, is a gangsta rapper. In many ways, he’s a simple throwback to the hip hop stars he grew up listening to, like 2Pac, his verses full of lines like, “Five shots to the face, that’d do the trick.” But he also happens to be seriously good and it helps that he’s actually lived the stories he tells. A long list of run-ins with the police as a teenager once ended in a judge-ordered year in the army. His early twenties weren’t much better. They began well enough, seeing him start rapping while bored one day dealing out of a friend’s studio, and soon afterwards landing a major label deal. But, by 25 and without a record out, he was released and back hustling again.

His life only seems to have turned around over the last 18 months when friends encouraged him to move to LA and make a career of rap again. Since then, the 28-year-old’s released a few free mixtapes, but it’s his new EP, ‘Str8 Killa’ (“In stores right now!” he inexplicably says several times) that’s helping him truly break through. He’s still not entirely clear of his old life, though. “When I came back to LA — ’08 getting into ’09 — I had to rely on what I knew to make money,” he says. “So I just started to hustle. I’m a street nigga, so just ’cause I’m from Gary don’t mean I can’t plug with the street motherfuckers here. I had to carry a gun, and with that I caught a couple of drugs and weapons charges. I’m clear now. I’m on probation, but

1. Fill roasting pot with 250ml of water and one pack of Lipton’s onion soup mix. 2. Using a garlic press, crush up about 6 or 7 cloves of garlic and put them on the meat and into the soup mix. If you really like garlic, use more. 3. Place sliced and diced onions into the soup mix and on the meat. 4. For added interest, cut up potatoes into medium to large pieces and put in all around the meat and in the soup mix. 5. Place in oven at 180 degrees for at least 3 hours, periodically basting the meat with the soup. Keep covered and add water if necessary. Taken from HELLBENT FOR COOKING, Bazillion Points Publishing

that’s about it.” All these tales will unfortunately make Gibbs sound like an idiot to many. During this interview he’s anything but, however: he’s funny, open, cogent in his analysis of other rappers, even self-deprecating. He’s also stoned, which leads to many amusing quotes. “I’m the next million dollar man,” he says at one point, chuckling. “That should probably be the headline of your article. Actually, better make it the million euro man. Or million pound man. Or million yen man. Whatever’s got the best exchange rate.”

The Stool Pigeon Fifth Anniversary Books The collected writings of our longest-serving columnist, Son of Dave. 78 pages, £4.99

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Buy both volumes for £10 from thestoolpigeon.co.uk Also available from Amazon and selected independent record stores across the UK, including Rough Trade and Sister Ray (London), Rounder (Brighton), Jumbo (Leeds), Swordfish (Birmingham), Rise (Bristol) and Diverse (Newport).


Ye History of Rock with

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N T LEMA N

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Chapter 1.

POST PUNK or GOTH was perusing the August journal of scribe Simon Reynolds, a fine tome which discusses the idealistic confusion that came about after the great punk rock explosion. As much as I liked the book, I felt worried, deeply worried, that there has been some serious shrinkage of the musical discourse of the period. I fear that the younger reader may receive a more blinkered idea of just what went on in this age that threatened to bring down the government but ended up altering gentlemen’s trouser sizes. It all seems to be part of the great retelling of rock history — the maddeningly linear account of ‘How Things Happened’ — that edits out so much done by so many for so few. One of the great misconceptions is that there was actually a post punk scene. For sure there were some worried-looking individuals in big coats who may have been reading the NME a bit too closely (when they should have been paying more attention to Master Jon Savage in Sounds), but it was hardly recognisable as a scene. I remember this period as being more diverse in merry England. Gang Of Four released some fine records, but they were just part of spectacular charge of the discordant brigade along with Bauhaus, early Adam And The Ants, Southern Death Cult and Killing Joke. Perhaps these bands, who liked to dress up, were too easily dumped into the soon to come goth dustbin, but that’s also a misreading of the times. There was no such thing as a goth scene, just a disparate group of individuals who came hurtling out of punk, wore inappropriate eye-liner, but didn’t want to be new romantics. Their world view was darker and bleaker and they wanted music that reflected that. Joy Division were part of this equation and the aforementioned bands were fellow travellers. As the years have rolled by, they have been expunged from the history of rock by mean-spirited individuals who prefer the grey to the beautiful. A bearded Brian Wilson lookalike will always get taken more seriously than a debonair pirate. Of course Gang Of Four were influential, but do Franz Ferdinand really sound anything like them as many endlessly say? And can we really deny the huge influence of a band like Killing Joke any longer? This column demands a rethink on those confused times!

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HYPERMODERN PRODUCER DAM MANTLE FANCIES A PIECE OF THIS DIGITAL WORLD Words Alex Denney Photograph Megan Sharp

there’s a thread linking post-dubstep’s loosest of notional collectives at the moment, it’s a thirst for unexpected sounds that put a spanner in the works of fool-ass hacks looking to pin its protagonists down. The music of Dam Mantle, real name Tom Marshallsay, exists almost as a photon exists according to the diktats of quantum theory — that’s to say, as a wave of possibility, fixable to a point in space and time only through the act of observing. Don’t believe us? Check his new ‘Purple Arrow’ EP for proof: on ‘Broken Slumber’, Marshallsay sounds like Flying Lotus and Gang Gang Dance snorkelling in a psychedelic fish tank. On ‘Theatre’, he does eerie, 16bit gothic, like Crystal Castles gone quietly witch house. And the title track’s mix of broken-glass beats and brash synthesisers recalls Ikonika’s superlative Contact, Love, Want, Have debut from earlier this year. An Englishman finishing up his studies at university up in Glasgow, Marshallsay chalks his multifarious approach to music up to an interest in ‘altermodernity’, a somewhat chinstroking term for the kind of absurdly decontextualised, cultural smash-andgrab raids being heard all over blogland every day of the week.

If

“It’s a really loose term coined by [French art critic] Nicolas Bourriaud,” he says. “I think it’s to be taken with a pinch of salt, but basically the idea is that we’re living in an age of hypermodernity. That definitely comes out in music now — music from all over the world is as popular as it’s ever been among Western audiences. Inevitably, it’s being absorbed into various types of modern music. “We’re becoming very digital people. We’re the first generation with fucking computers in our hands. We talk on the internet more than in the real world. So it feels like a natural adjustment, really. In a way it’s kind of special that our generation is the first to be absorbed by this as a whole.” Marshallsay performs live with friend and Louts mainstay Calum Cunneen, but writing and recording for the Dam Mantle project has largely been a solitary business. All that might be set to change, however. “I’ve just finished collaborating with a guy called Profisee from Edinburgh, and I’ve been talking to a couple of other people as well,” he says. “We’ve done a few EPs, so it feels like the right time to start working on an album. The ideas are really varied; it’s sounding more symphonic rather than making ‘big tunes’ or whatever. “There are some emotional pieces.

Maybe it comes down to certain scales in music, and the feeling those types of music evoke. I’m interested in a lot of different emotions and feelings, as opposed to music that’s exclusively sad or dark. Because no one is just dark or joyful in a ‘let’s go dancing at 150bpm’ kind of way all the time y’know?” Which actually sums up Dam Mantle pretty well: all the mysteries of the human heart, wrapped up in a ripple of potential energy.

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


HOW TO DRESS WELL JUST ONE FALSETTO

You should never place too much emphasis on a name. It could be something that comes from the heart, something so revealing that it’s either selfexplanatory or too private to discuss. Or it might, as in the case of How To Dress Well — the frayed bedroom R&B project of 26-year-old Chicago resident Tom Krell — simply come from the shelves of a Minnesota book store. Drawn from the title of a tome Krell picked up in 2004, the abstract moniker turns out to be a fitting one, given that there’s unlikely to be anything else out there that sounds remotely like How To Dress Well right now. Songs like ‘Can’t See My Own Face’ or ‘Endless Rain’, from his forthcoming debut album on Lefse, Love Remains, sound like Perfume Genius covering D’Angelo, or the work of R. Kelly if he’d spent his formative years recording into an answering machine as opposed to formulating an unhealthy interest in urolagnia and an impressive arsenal of sexual metaphors. Put all that nonsense aside, though, and one thing stands out more than anything else: Krell’s astounding voice — a falsetto that pierces the skull and gradually works its way deep into the brain. Though he often performs in the dark, Krell isn’t shy about his influences. He lists Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart alongside Smokey Robinson and Michael Jackson as his favourite male singers, and it shows. Krell’s crippled croon might not be as graceful or as buttery smooth as such figures, but it’s all about the untutored rawness of that falsetto, which lies somewhere between an apology and a come-on, both a cry of despair and a lascivious attempt to seduce an unnamed other. On ‘Escape Before The Rain’ or ‘Decisions’ Krell’s voice, at its highest point, sounds like it could shatter

Tom Krell’s stage name might suggest he’s dressed to kill but, as Ross Pounds discovers, it’s the Chicagoan’s killer, super-high voice that will really suit your fancy.

at any second. So how does one go about developing something so startling? Krell points out that it’s “not trained, it’s raw”. It’s a voice honed at the temple of MTV, from early years of watching Mariah Carey sweeping across the vocal ranges. “I loved to imitate Mariah for my friends from a very young age,” Krell notes. “I definitely don’t ‘use’ falsetto in the sense that I sit back and calculate: ‘What would be the ideal expressive means for this song?’ I just always sang super high.” As a philosophy academic now studying for his PhD, Krell is more than happy to entertain the idea of an animalistic presence lurking behind those love-ornothing tones. He tells the story of how, after his first show as How To Dress Well, his girlfriend pinpointed what made his voice so distinctive. “She said, ‘You’re a singing creature, you express yourself vocally… like a plant craning itself toward the sun.’” At some shows he’s held high notes so long that he’s passed out. For Krell, that’s the objective: to use his falsetto as an ornamental showpiece that can reach places beyond normal boundaries; to take those within earshot to the edge before pulling them back to euphoria. Krell might be appropriating R&B tropes, but he’s taking them somewhere different, manipulating the aesthetic to create something unique. There’s an intimacy to it you can’t find elsewhere, a fragility and heart often lost beneath R&B’s mainstream sheen. It’s music that swoons and swells, taking you in and holding you tight rather than keeping you at a distance. Wherever that fractured wail comes from, though, there’s always one constant guiding these songs: love, the oldest subject of them all. As Krell himself notes: “There is absolutely nothing more important.”

Song birds AXL Blow DUBLIN, Ireland. All this bottling and jeering of old ginger bollocks Axl Rose during the recent Guns N’ Roses European tour has had us pissing ourselves, and not least when the band reached Dublin. A YouTube clip of their September 1 performance at the O2 posted the next morning shows Axl storming off stage, only for the promoter to announce, “I’m trying hard to get Axl to come back. I’d ask you please to refrain from throwing items at him.” Bizarrely, brilliantly, you can also hear one angry punter bellow, “Fuck off you Tennessee cunt!” at Mr Rose.

AMAZING Grace SOPOT, Poland. A liquored-up Grace Jones was spotted at the bar of a hotel by Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog during the Open’er festival in Poland this summer, where he excitedly tried to introduce his DJ, Julio G, as her number one fan. “Hold my cigarette!” she barked, leaving the pair of them to stand there, mortified. A Stool Pigeon writer later told Grace that he’d like to be crushed between her thighs. “Trust me, you don’t want that,” she coolly replied. “You do not want that.”

FLICKING Off SOPOT, Poland. Also from the Open’er festival: After puking in the press bus and heading home a day early, Joe from Clash magazine received a call from the festival’s PR rep just before boarding his flight. “Hi Joe, checked out from the hotel alright? Anything you’d like to tell me?” “Um, I... I took a packet of peanuts from the minibar.” “Anything else?” “Er... no.” Moments later, the PR gets a text message. “Mate, I’m so sorry. I ordered a porno. I’m so, so sorry.” Attempts to find out what flick it was were in vain.

CLEGG Mania MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota. Anyone else think that there’s something not quite right with Nick Clegg and that his lust for power is more than a little… creepy? Transpires he has a stalker past in Minneapolis, home of Prince and also where the deputy PM studied. “I wasn’t what you’d call a groupie,” he said recently, “but I did spend a whole year following him around... Once I spent all night drinking in a bar waiting for him, before eventually giving up and going home. Then I heard he’d turned up at 1 or 2am and played the best gig anyone had seen.”

News The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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Prize Pets throw the weird to the dogs, keep eyes on the spotlight

The MINAH Bird. New Orleans legend DR JOHN on guns and smack

Words

Stephen Pietrzykowski Rosanna Pendleton

Photograph I watched a lot of people doin’ it [heroin] all the time, throwin’ their lives away. I didn’t respect them. But somewhere along the line I decided to try it. I’m grateful for the 20 years I’ve been away from it all. I’m blessed. I survived a lot of things. Gettin’ shot in my finger was one thing; gettin’ shot in my knee was another thing; gettin’ shot in my ass was another thing; so was gettin’ shanked in my back. You get stabbed enough times, that’s not healthy, either. I was some 50 years old and between the FBI and the DEA interrogating me, I think that had somethin’ to do with [giving up heroin]. I saw how it was affecting my daughter. She’d call me up sometimes and you could it hear it in her voice that she was worried about me. She’d say, ‘I’m worried that every time you go to a bathroom, you’re not goin’ to make it out alive.’ That bothered me, too. As told to Cian Traynor

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he Weird infect everywhere, but don’t count Nottinghambased no-wavers Prize Pets among the guilty. “I’m not weird at all, I don’t have any owl or triangle tattoos,” protests frontman, George Haberis. A fair assertion, perhaps, but it’s a valid question to ask of a band who’ve released a 7” entitled ‘New Weirdos’, promote club night New Weird Nottingham, and play scatological Germs-esque punk they describe as “like a rattlesnake up a wizard’s sleeve on crystal meth”. But as guitarist James scathes, “Sonic Youth t-shirts in Urban Outfitters is New Weird,” you realise that for Prize Pets, weird is a criticism of consensual difference, not a desire to be unique. “We took the title ‘New Weirdos’ from that whole ‘New Weird America’ freaky folk scene,” George clarifies. “It became a good way of describing a cer-

tain fashionable social movement we’d see out and about.” Anyone’s who’s walked the self-conscious mile of London’s Kingsland Road, where adults dress like they’re auditioning for a Hollywood remake of The Idiots, will know what he means. But Prize Pets aren’t exactly a band blessed with an ordinary history, either. Stealing members from a slew of Midlands-based power violence bands, they have roots in noise that belie their current rejection of all things freaked out. However, it was frustration with that aesthetic that bought them together, forming in May last year as a conscious attempt to create something a little more direct. It’s an attitude not dissimilar to that of peers Male Bonding and Lovvers. Indeed, it was the former’s cover of Blur’s ‘Advert’ that prompted a musical re-evaluation for James. “The way I play guitar now

more resembles how I was playing 10 years ago. I didn’t give a shit about Blur for the last 10 years, but now I’m listening to Leisure and Modern Life Is Rubbish.” It’s not only Blur’s acerbic pop nous that resonates either, with James speaking of the same perfectionism and ambition that earned Damon Albarn his house in the country. “I’d really like us to be on Jools Holland,” he says. “I’ve even thought about what I would do when everyone has that crap jam. I’d have my hands in the air with my guitar feeding back.” Defiant hands raised in protest to Jools Holland’s boogie woogie horror show? That seems a fairly normal impulse. Prize Pets might not be weirdos, then, but they’re full-on pop terrorists with one eye on the spotlight. That’s the best place for them. Keep them where you can see them.


ICELANDIC LADY OL0F ARNALDS AN EXPERT AT GIVING THE COLD SHOULDER

Words Huw Nesbitt Photograph Vera Palsdottir

ORTING out an interview with Iceland’s Ólöf Arnalds isn’t exactly easy. There are plenty of reasons for that, none of them really her fault. She’s a busy, 30-year-old woman; she’s just had her first child; her father died not so long ago; her second album Innundir Skinni (Under The Skin) has just been released in the UK after a year-or-so of success back home; and she’s about to tour it. Not so long ago she used to play in

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the band Múm, too. If this were a court (which it ain’t), the judge would be swallowing mitigating circumstances like VSOP at a members’ club. So imagine what it’s like when you’ve finally managed to get a hookup with the woman and her first reaction to a harmless opening question about the difficulties of being a mother and an artist receives an immediate no-go. It’s crippling. “Erm, is it okay if we don’t go on to that subject?” she says, direct from her house in Reykjavík. “Is it okay for you if we just skip that?” This, however, is precisely the para-

dox of Ms Arnalds. Her new acoustic album is about her friends. Her last one was about her family, specifically her dad. She sings solely about her personal life, but she’s not prepared to talk about it. “The song ‘Innundir Skinni’ is about being pregnant — basically about something growing inside you,” she explains. “And whether or not it’s a personal or a magical thing... that’s up to your interpretation. I think all creation is personal in some sense, but when the outcome is there, it’s not tied to you anymore. Right now I’m working on new material for the next album, and I feel like I’m another person — you always are. I don’t feel this attachment to my work once it’s been made; it’s just there. And I don’t feel like it’s me, it’s just this work that’s come from me.” In mainland Europe and America, Ólöf is marketed as a folk artist, which is weird because there isn’t an Icelandic tradition of folk music in the sense that we’d understand. Before the introduction of an organ in Reykjavík Cathedral during 1801, musical instruments were not popularly used in public performances. Instead, an oral-folk tradition existed called rímur: a tuneless form of cyclical poetry chant, which was eventually replaced by the coming of European melodies such as hymns and Gregorian chamber music. In some ways, Ólöf touches upon both styles: her voice is used as an instrument. Some songs are sung in Icelandic; others, English. Most of the time it’s difficult to tell because her intonation never changes; meaning vies for prominence with her words, pitched as they are, at the same volume as her hushed guitar. “The voice has an unbelievable quality for communicating inwards and outwards — it’s fascinating,” says Ólöf. “But I don’t really see myself as a folk artist, and I don’t necessarily see a connection with Icelandic rímur, either. I like to leave things open to ideas. I don’t want to be tied to anything.” And with that diverting statement we were done.

Top Girls getting to the bottom of why life in the South is just not enough Words Cian Traynor

can’t blame Evan Adams for You keeping his music a secret. In fact, there’s something endearing about a literature teacher from rural South Carolina, a state not exactly known for cultural diversity and selfexpression, whose students have no idea his music is currently a blogging sensation. Adams doesn’t sound like the kind of person who would fit in around Chesterfield (population 1,400). As he repeatedly points out, there is nothing to do, the heat is stifling and the county’s only boast is that its “rural atmos-

phere evokes family farms and gentle country living”. Hunting is the most popular pastime. Adams’ music, on the other hand, is cool, fast and flush with breathy vocals that never quite let you make out what they’re trying to express. “There’s a lot of time for thinking and introspection here,” he says with a southern twang. “The music is just a mirror of what’s going on in my head, like growing up and coming to terms with things. It’s therapeutic. The songs all have different meanings but I guess the underlying theme is... me!” The aesthetic, however, is indebted to the eighties: the beats, the 8-bit

chime to the sequencers and the soaring quality of those intangible vocals. “I just love, love, love eighties music,” says Adams, who lifted the name Top Girls from a quintessentially eighties play by Caryl Churchill about whether women can combine a career with family life. Adams finished college in May and immediately began teaching, but the 25-year-old decided to attempt his first recordings after seeing that fellow southerners Washed Out and Toro Y Moi had found a platform of escape from within their bedroom studios. “It was surreal. I recorded ‘Not Enough’, put it on MySpace and sent it to a few

blogs. Suddenly I had an audience. To see that people could relate to it and that it was something they actually wanted to listen to just gave me that extra motivation to finally sit down and record these things I had in my head. It helped me.” Though Adams is so gosh darned earnest that it’s hard not to like him immediately, you get the sense that the response to the music is less important than actually making it. “I’m very aware of what I’m going through,” he says. “I feel something... something that won’t subside and I need to express it somehow.” But then again, there’s not much else to do.

News The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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‘HANG THE DJ, THIS IS ELECTRONIC ART,’ SAYS HUORATRON, MAKER OF TECHNO SO MONSTROUS IT UNLEASHES DEMONS

Shopkeepers of the world unite

Words John Doran Photography Macomber Bombey

Seen through the pale green light of night-vision goggles, the girl giggles and leads the spangled-looking lad up the stairwell in the dark, teasing him as they climb flight after flight. Once inside her flat she leaps on him, pouring vodka down his neck, stripping him for a night of animalistic pleasure. At first only we can see the tentacles, the claws, and the fangs. When he does, it’s too late... This exploitative, torrid and funny video is for a monstrous techno track called ‘Corporate Occult’. The song was produced by a Finnish circuitmangler called Huoratron and is all vivid body horror and acidic rage itself — suiting the short film, which was dreamt up by a young filmmaker called Cédric Blaisbois. Huoratron, aka Aku Raski, says: “We thought what would happen if a young, lusty, horny couple came from a Huoratron gig and when things got nice and sweaty, she turned into a 1920s, HP Lovecraft, tentacled monster.” He laughs. “I don’t know if Cédric’s trying to put people off hooking up at my gigs or if he’s insinuating that everyone could get lucky with a tentacled beast who will then kill them.”

When asked if the video is a good metaphor for his music; whether it unleashes something demonic in people, he jokes: “I see people at the gigs getting stuff out of themselves and then leaving… lighter... Like better people. So maybe, yes!” ‘Corporate Occult’ is the lead track on a stunning — in the sense of a blunt instrument being applied forcibly to

the head of an animal in a slaughterhouse as well as a signifier of quality — EP called ‘Prevenge’, which came out early August and is also a taster for his debut album, due next year. Aku isn’t green behind the ears, though, and learned his trade by punishing Game Boys moons ago. He has developed a sound that imagines a world free from the wankery of Kitsuné- and Ed Banger-signed Shoreditch electro acts. He forms a bridge from such figures as Dave Clarke and Richie Hawtin, via some fearsome distortion units and ‘Waters Of Nazareth’ by Justice, straight to the future. He’s understandably keen to put water between himself and the pissweak east London electro we’re talking about: “There is an ideological difference between what they do and what I do. The way I see it is that the output of electronic music in general has been more concerned with producing tools for DJs than it has with producing musical art. So they are making industrially designed products in musical form that are functional and, when these things are deployed at 4am at one particular sort of club, thousands of people on very heavy drugs will have a particular kind of response. Basically, I don’t want to waste my time on producing this kind of Beatport top 20 DJ tool.” And anyone this good who is also the enemy of Drums Of Death is our friend. Tentacled or not.

06:30: Oh mother, I can feel the quilt falling over my head. Peddling frantically into work, I arrive at 7am and wonder why the last mile is always the hardest. Check-out lady Portia tells me I have a nice helmet. I don’t countenance comments from my subordinates and give her a written warning. Being the manager of a supermarket brings with it responsibilities. This position I hold pays my way and corrodes my soul. 07:30: I spend ages trying to stiffen my quiff, though what’s left of my hair sags like a waterlogged shop-awning. 10.30: Passing the fish counter, I’m haunted by those lifeless eyes looking at me and those sorry pouts agape. I slip into the bakery aisle and, when nobody is looking, I weep. 12.00: I fax some poetry to Mr Sparks at the Redditch branch. We met on a training week in Bracknell and discovered a mutual admiration for Alan Bennett while discussing loss prevention strategies over Quorn baguettes in the cafeteria. 14:55: A disgruntled customer accosts me at the pan-Asian sauces. I back away, nearly knocking over a Loyd Grossman mountain. The man appears unconcerned about the Eurasian choice on offer; this continental portmanteau I arranged with my own hands when my two German shelf-stackers pulled sickies over the weekend, those lazy Hun ravers. “The toilets are in a terrible state,” he complains. 15:00: I sneak up behind Dingbang on toilet duties and follow him into the gents, slipping surreptitiously past him and hiding in one of the cubicles as he goes about his duties. He half-heartedly swishes a mop around the floor before pulling out a packet of Rothmans, one of which he proceeds to smoke. 15:47: “Could Dingbang report to Mr. Morrissey’s office immediately.” 16:30: Dingbang looks surprised when I fire him, then he begins snivelling and begging me to take him back in pitiful pidgin English. I explain that I followed him into the men’s, although he doesn’t believe me. I add that I saw him smoking. He calls me a liar, tears cascading down his little face. “Don’t cry for me, Asian cleaner,” I say, “the truth is I never left you.” 20:30: After an abhorrent day, I am too fatigued to cook at the bedsit. “Please, please let me get what I want.” I say at the vile sandwich chain counter, before tucking into their famous Sub Faeces.

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


Grizzly state of the environment powering Ireland’s Solar Bears Words Alex Denney Photograph Macomber Bombey

a moment in Wolfgang Petersen’s seminal kiddie flick The NeverEnding Story where a simple feat of imagination is used to rescue the realm of Fantasia from the abyss. According to the story, Fantasia is a sort of inland empire whose decline began with the failure of TV-obsessed youth to engage their imaginations through literature. The irony is that Solar Bears are exactly the sort of kids who, if Petersen

There’s

is right, lay waste to the fabric of the imaginary realm. And yet here they are in 2010, shoulder-to-shoulder with a slew of glo-fi kids and bedroom producers armed with the ephemera of eighties culture. Meanwhile, back in the real world and it’s precisely our imaginative faculties — via technology’s enabling arm — which have led us to the destruction of our natural environment. We’re not saying The NeverEnding Story sucked balls exactly, but the band’s John Kowalski is mindful of such lessons. Along with writing partner Rian Trench, he’s created an electronic

outfit that is both Fantasia’s gatekeeper and destroyer — not bad for a former sound engineering student with no musical pedigree. The name’s a nod to arthouse sci-fi classic Solaris as well as to Native American culture, but there’s a darker allusion at play here, too. “Our name’s a fatalist one,” says Kowalski. “It’s about polar bears swimming out into the ocean. With the ice caps melting, their former hunting grounds are disappearing and their natural radar is out as a result, so they swim out and drown. It’s this idea of the sun’s role changing from a giver of life to executioner.” She Was Coloured In is Solar Bears’ debut LP, a cinematic affair evoking the soundtracks of Vangelis, John Carpenter and Giorgio Moroder (who helped score The NeverEnding Story). It’s by turns tender and scary, combining retrofuturist angst with the sort of wondrous enquiries into the loss of innocence and environment that Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki has made a career from. “I’ve always gravitated towards sci-fi. Like in 2001, there’s the ‘stargate’ sequence which was pioneering in its use of computer graphics. That was like a time bomb going off in my head — I would have to watch it again and again. But a lot of old sci-fi is heartfelt and compassionate about the environment, whereas in modern cinema it’s more about explosions and suggestive angles.” Kowalski cites Bibio and Letherette as influences on his music, typically made with multi-instrumentalist Trench adapting ideas he brings in to the studio. “The thing that appeals to me most is

Found Sounds “One downloadable track, ‘High Beams’, all found sounds and static, takes you forward into the past — it’s like Cabaret Voltaire doing chillwave.” Paul Lester on Hype Williams, The Guardian. “Containing some sound art techniques, ‘Losing Feeling’ was a mixture of the band’s noise pop strains alongside a host of found sounds and samples.” Robin Murray on No Age, Clash. “Featuring found sounds, samples and live instruments, and topped off by Connelly’s impressive vocals, Opera’s half-hour set announced the band has a bright future.” Neil Mitchell on Clock Opera, The Spectator.

making collages and cross-pollinating the things we’re into,” he says. “Every time we’ve gone into the studio we’ve ended up with a track. I know some people struggle with over-analysing stuff; they’re their own worst enemies. It just seems to work between us.” Imagination might have led humanity down some dark alleyways of late, but in She Was Coloured In it’s also given us one of the debuts of the year.


Tesco put all their faith in Faithless esco, the global supermarket giant that has ideas above its station, has come up with a new money spinner inside its very own petrol station. Like Google and James Corden, the retail behemoth will not rest until it’s moved into your house, is walking your dog, banging your gran and running up and down the stairs screaming, “I’m Tesco! I’m Tesco! I’m fucking everywhere! Believe!” in a shrill voice, before dropping a Tesco Metro squarely on your head. Having forayed into mobile telephone services, banking, insurance, grocery delivery, ostrich eggs, pilates and contract killing (some of those we might have made up), someone not entirely stupid at their Cheshunt HQ has realised there could be some gravy to be had from getting music products in the forecourts. We say ‘not entirely stupid’ as this may leave you aghast. Tesco is planning to roll out compact discs for its plethora of petrol stations throughout the land. A little dilatory, you might think, but actually perfectly sensible: You’re on the Kingston bypass in your Saab Viggen heading to play 18 holes with a platoon of killers and you can’t bear another fucking minute of Fearne Cotton, so you grab a sack of firelighters, pump up your tires, put a packet of Jaffa Cakes up your jumper and purchase a CD of your choice. Here lies the stumbling block: In a move reminiscent of Henry Ford telling customers they could have a Model T in any colour as long as it was black, Tesco plans to only stock The Dance by Faithless. Brilliant. In other Tesco-related news, the corporate giant has signed erstwhile Girl Aloud Nadine Coyle for a solo album exclusivity deal. It may also end up in petrol stations alongside Faithless, presuming Plan A doesn’t go exactly to plan. A source told The Mirror that Nadine is in “control of every single decision — from the writers, the producers and the collaborators”. And what blue-and-white striped outfit she’s going to wear.

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Business News 24

EMI firing on four of its six, or potentially eight, cylinders financial gloom of the last two years appears to be lifting, and it’s not all terrible news in the music industry for once, though to suggest it’s ‘Boom! Boom! Shake The Room’ time just yet would be foolhardy. Chicken-shit investors are struggling to regain their appetites and a double-dip recession is still a distinct possibility, followed by famine, disease, pestilence and war. We could all be warlords this time next year, riding around on makeshift monster trucks soldered together from contorted scrap metal twisting into the nuclear sky. We’ll fight over stale Doritos from abandoned Tesco garages and use unsold Faithless CDs as weapons. However, to quote Michelle Gayle, things are looking up, rejoice! Roger Faxon, chairman and chief executive of EMI Publishing, issued a statement to say the record giant was doing alright, thank you very much. Earnings before tax were up 14 per cent with operating cash up 55 per cent in the last financial year. The fact it is still running at a loss is neither here nor there. Clearly a little giddy from the stratospheric heights the label has now reached, Faxon used the following convoluted and Cantonaesque analogy about cylinders when

The

MUSIC MAGAZINE CIRCULATION FIGURES

speaking to Billboard: “Basically, everyone should feel comfortable that EMI is operating on four of its six cylinders, so we have two more cylinders to ignite to get the thing to roll where it ought to be and maybe we will get it up to eight cylinders.” Though having said that, EMI’ll surely not get away with remastering The Beatles back catalogue again next year. It is still finding it hard to meet its loan agreement with Citigroup, which doesn’t have a caring, sharing Guy Hands-type on board to stroke its hair and say “there, there”. Indeed, the Kensington-based company had to go cap in hand once again to Terra Firma to ask for another “far larger injection of fresh equity” for next year. It’s becoming a bit of a habit. Universal also reported growth in sales and merchandise, and had Paul Gascoigne lookalike Eminem and the pubeless wonder Justin Bieber to crow about, though revenues were down 5.4 per cent year-on-year when it reported its interims. While the recording industry once relied on people buying records that spun, it appears spin is what it now needs to help secure its future. When everything is DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, we’ll let you know.

crumbs Resident Evil One is a tacky, fabricated monstrosity that sucks up the cash of gullible halfwits while the other is Las Vegas. Madonna is apparently in talks with big cheeses to take up residency on the strip in a deal reportedly worth $1bn. Madonna, who’d no doubt sing her not-very-good hit ‘Gambler’, would be contracted to perform nightly for five long years, by which time her boyfriend Jesus will be old enough to marry. BSKYB 660 620 580 540

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Shirt Gifters How do labels make money these days? The answer remains a resounding “fuck knows”. Sub Pop has struck upon an idea that’s so goddam crazy it might just work. Having given away t-shirts, hats, beer cozies and key chains in the past to entice buyers to the music, the record company is now proposing to sell merch while giving the tunes away for free! One suspects Duncan Bannatyne would say “I’m ooot” at this juncture.

Pistol Whiff Chances are you smell pretty rotten anyway, but should you want a more vicious aroma there’s a new scent on the market endorsed by the Sex Pistols, now that they’ve teamed up with Fragrance and Beauty Ltd. The marketing says it leaves “a fresh, restless bite of lemon… intensified by a defiant black pepper”. Phwoar, splash it all over and never mind the bollocks. Malcolm, permission to spin. DIAGEO

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THE FLY - 108,207 (+0.4%) MOJO - 91,678 (-6.2%) Q - 89,450 (-10.7%) RWD -78,867 (1.7%) UNCUT - 74,067 (-3.2%) CLASSIC ROCK - 70,323 (0.0%) METAL HAMMER - 44,034 (-4.3%) KERRANG! - 44,013 (1.8%) NME - 33,875 (-17.3%)

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Red Wedge In his bid to oust BoJo at the next Mayoral elections, Red Ken has begun outlining strategies he hopes will get him elected, such as ‘blow up the Evening Standard’. Another idea the former mayor has come up with is Ken4Music, a lucrative London festival to rival industry jolly SXSW in Austin with his name all over it! Plan C: kill everyone in Zone 5 and 6. It could just work.

by Jeremy Allen October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


Up Before The Beak PURPLE Drain

Diminutive tight-arse Prince is being sued by his lawyer for not coughing up $50,000 in cash for two court cases, one of which ironically involved a law firm that claimed to be owed money by the singer. Whether other lawyers will take Prince on is subject to their own stupidity or impressionability, which may mean Prince has to do a Bez and defend himself. Presumably he’ll refuse to pay himself once he’s been hoisted by his own petard.

P Biddy

All girls love a bad boy, we’re told by reductive, patronising glossy magazines called things like Da Goss or Horn Girl. Not so Francesca Spero, 51, who was recently sacked by P Diddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment, allegedly for the crime of being too old. Diddy’s publicists said there were many reasons for her contract termination, “but age discrimination is not one of them”. An admission to a company executive of drug dependency may not go in her favour.

POP MORONS IN TROUBLE FOR BEATING GIRLS BLUE “WHY does it take the tears of a woman to see how men are?” sang Roddy Frame back in the 1980s, and not much has changed since then. A recent spate of full moons — better than expected results from ‘Wife Beater’-maker Anheuser-Busch InBev — are not reason enough for a dark and troubling time in pop-land, after a string of violent misdemeanours involving some of music’s stupidest men ended up in court. First up was Lee Ryan, elephant patron and singer/mascot with Blue, who allegedly attacked his girlfriend Samantha Miller in a car on August 18, although prosecutor Laura Tams requested the charge be officially withdrawn adding there was “no longer a realistic prospect of conviction” once Miller withdrew her statement a week later. Now for the real roll-call of shame, which features N-Dubz’s tour drum-

OPEN-AND-SHUT Case

Enduring glam metal fanny Bret Michaels is suing a gig promoter in Syracuse, New York for a cool $5m after he turned up to play a gig and found the venue shut. The promoter claims he cancelled because Bret was appearing on the telly that night on America’s Got Talent, though by a miracle of modern technology the programme had been recorded beforehand. Five million seems an exorbitant amount for travel costs and frightening amounts of industrial hairspray, but what do we know?

DARK Angel

An outcry in Germany greeted the verdict of a case in which a girlgroup member knowingly had unprotected sex with three partners in the knowledge she was HIV positive, subsequently infecting one with the virus. Nadja Benaissa of No Angels was given a two-year suspended sentence, 300 hours community service and ordered to attend counselling. She claimed doctors told her the chances of passing on the disease were “practically zero”. So if you get the chance to sleep with one of The Saturdays, wear a johnny.

by Jeremy Allen The Stool Pigeon October 2010

mer, Aaron Fagan, who was charged with sexual assault while he was in Glasgow for the MOBO Awards. Having slapped the bottoms of two girls he’d invited to an aftershow party, Fagan then put both his arms around the neck of one of them and began fondling her breasts. The drummer was unrepentant, claiming that while he is like “honey to a swarm of bees” in the company of NDubz, he wouldn’t likely attack any girl from Glasgow given the area is “hardly a haven for models”. Surprisingly, given this charm offensive (he also managed, “Nearly every guy could be up for squeezing a girls’ arse”), Fagan ended up on the sex offender’s register. Finally, Happy Mondays’ freaky dancer Bez was jailed for a month after he refused to do community service for assaulting his ex-girlfriend Monica Ward. The Celebrity Big Brother winner, real name Mark Berry, had donned his bezzie suit in order to defend himself, a decision that could surely only have been reached as result of drug delusion. He would have been a free man with some dog shit to clear up had he not challenged the authority of the Manchester magistrates. “I’m not doing it,” he said. “Bothered? I’m going to take this to a real court.” “Victory is in my grasp!” he cried as they led him away in handcuffs. Warders will need be extra vigilant. Built like a racing snake, Bez can surely just slip through the bars.

Judge snappy snaps at George Michael IN modern times many of us have at one time or another stepped onto a train or bus with some trepidation, fearful that it might just go kaboom! While the palpable possibility of an AlQaeda attack, no matter how remote, has manifested itself in our conscious or unconscious minds on too numerous an occasion, spare a thought for the people of Highgate in north London, who’ve had to live with the added threat of George Michael ploughing down a hill in his BMW 750i, bifta

between his teeth, taking out a zebracrossing full of children before ploughing into a nunnery, leaving a trail of innocents in his wake. As George exhales another mighty fug of ganja cooped up in his palatial residence, the inhabitants of the affluent district he resides in can exhale with relief after the singer pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of drugs as well as cannabis possession at Highbury Corner magistrates mourt on August 24. He didn’t say, “Wham! Bam! Thank you, M’lud,” as Judge Robin McPhee banned him from getting behind the wheel and threatened the pop legend with a custodial sentence, given that this is not the first time he’s crashed his automobile while out of his gourd. This was, however, the first time he’d smashed his vehicle into Highgate’s Snappy Snaps. Mr McPhee said: “I make it clear all options, in respect of sentencing, remain open, including powers to imprison. It is a serious matter. Your driving was extremely poor and there was an accident. There is also your conviction from three years ago.” Michael, real name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, was convicted of driving while unfit through drugs after he was found collapsed in his Mercedes in October 2006. Obviously prison would be the best place for him because they don’t allow drugs there.

NOTICE. The public are informed that

there is hereby a claim of...

Deceit. VA M P I R E W E E K E N D

PHOTO

C AU S I N G L E GA L B L O O D B AT H

Ah, the noble pursuit of photography; the exalted art that gets you props just for pushing a button when in others you have to work hard for recognition or, in some cases, climb a stepladder and oil-paint a fucking 18-foot canvas with your fingernails, weeping as your liver fails. ere Hitler not dead, he might lament his Mein Kampf with the paintbrush and the agony he suffered due to a lack of acknowledgement. Had he picked up a camera there’d have been coke and blowjobs and the Second World War might never have happened. It makes you think. As does the mystery surrounding the spooky photograph on the cover of Contra, Vampire Weekend’s chart-topping second album. And it just got spookier. The enigmatic image chosen by the New Yorkbased indie rockers on their Camberwick Green-does-Graceland magnum opus is of model Ann Kirsten Kennis, apparently shot by snapper Tod Brody in 1983 when Kennis was making a decent crust from the catwalk. Brody says the picture used was taken during a commercial casting session way back when. Kennis disputes that the photo, which was pinned to Brody’s office wall for 26 years before he sold it to XL Recordings, was even shot by Brody. Kennis, who has launched a $2m lawsuit against Brody, the band and their record label, says it’s by her mother, and repudiates Brody’s story given the lack of lighting, make-up or coiffured bonce. She also points to the door frame in the background as evidence it wasn’t taken at a professional studio. “As a photographer, for them to say that I didn’t take the photo and I claim I took the photo — that’s extremely damaging,” said Brody to Vanity Fair. More damaging still could be the accusation her signature was forged. The agreement, where she relinquished rights for $1, is signed by Kirsten Johnsen. Kirsten was her working name (like Madonna or Preston), although the Johnsen bit seems to have been pulled out of thin air. The case continues. Ironically, in an unrelated piece of history, Hitler’s image was pulled from the cover of Sgt. Pepper for fear of offending the general public. Foiled once again.

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Deaths

Announcements Please email your announcements to editor@thestoolpigeon.co.uk

Forthcoming Engagements

MR BRET MICHAELS & KRISTI LYNN GIBSON. The engagement is announced between Bret, of glam metal band Poison, and Kristi Lynn, actress and model.

Marriages DEAN – KEYS. On August 1, in Corsica, France, R&B singer Alicia married music producer Swizz Beatz, real name Kasseem Dean. WILLIAMS – FIELD. On August 7, at home in Los Angeles, Take That member Robbie married TV actress Ayda. OFFER – SQUIRES. On August 21, in Bath, Somerset, Stool Pigeon contributor Nick married Anna. IGLESIAS – RIJNSBURGER. On August 24, in Marbella, Spain, singer Julio Iglesias married his girlfriend of 20 years, Miranda Rijnsburger, in front of their five children.

Births LITHGOW – LITHGOW. On June 15, to Dr Jim, Stool Pigeon Sheffield connection, and Dr Lucy, twin girls, Anya Lee and Cyan Elizabeth. HORWOOD – GUERRAND. On June 22, to Dave the Chimp, Stool Pigeon cartoonist, and Flavie Guerrand, photographer, a son, Oscar. ROONEY – FALLON. On September 7, to Joe Don Rooney, Rascal Flatts guitarist, and Tiffany Fallon, a daughter, Raquel Blue.

Divorces JACKSON. The divorce is announced between Joe and Katherine, parents of Michael.

Bill Aucoin, Kiss manager, b. 29.12.1943, d. 28.06.2010 Rammellzee, influential hip hop artist, b. 1960, d. 29.06.2010 Cesare Siepi, opera singer, b. 10.02.1923, d. 05.07.2010 Shirley Evans, accordionist, b. 29.01.1932, d. 10.07.2010 Sugar Minott, reggae legend, b. 25.05.1956, d. 10.07.2010 Tuli Kupferberg, Fugs founder, b. 28.09.1923, d. 12.07.2010 Olga Guillot, Bolero singer, b. 09.10.1922, d. 12.07.2010 DJ Randy Flash, house DJ, b. 1969, d. 14.07.2010 Richard Konwinski, Stiff Pole founder, b. 17.01.1961, d. 18.07.2010 Robert Sandall, rock journalist, b. 09.06.1952, d. 20.07.2010 Anthony Rolfe Johnson, tenor, b. 05.11.1940, d. 21.07.2010 Todd Sampson, punk pioneer, b. 1964, d. 25.07.2010 Ben Keith, steel guitar legend, b. 06.03.1937, d. 26.07.2010 John Aylesworth, of TV show Hee Haw, b. 18.08.1928, d. 28.07.2010 Derf Scratch, Fear bassist, b. 30.10.1951, d. 28.07.2010 Mitch Miller, musician and TV personality, b. 04.07.1911, d. 31.07.2010 Makh Daniels, Early Graves singer, b. 1982, d. 02.08.2010 Mitch Jayne, The Dillards bassist, b. 05.07.1928, d. 02.08.2010 Bobby Hebb, Nashville singer-songwriter, b. 26.07.1938, d. 03.08.2010 Jack Parnell, Muppet Show bandleader, b. 06.08.1923, d. 08.08.2010 Herman Leonard, music photographer, b. 06.03.1923, d. 14.08.2010 Robert Wilson, Gap Band bassist, b. 1957, d. 15.08.2010 Tito Burns, jazz bandleader, b. 07.02.1921, d. 23.08.2010 Martin Drew, jazz drummer, b. 11.02.1944, d. 29.07.2010 Rich Cronin, LFO lead singer, b. 30.08.1975, d. 08.09.2010 Mike Edwards, ELO cellist, b. 31.05.1948, d. 03.09.2010

RICHIE HAYWARD On August 12, 2010, Little Feat drummer Richie Hayward passed away after a year-long battle with liver cancer. Hayward formed the LAbased rock and roll band with guitarist and lead singer Lowell George, keyboard player Bill Payne and bassist Roy Estada in 1969. The group came together after Frank Zappa fired George from the Mothers of Invention, as he believed that the singer was simply too talented to be a member of his band. Little Feat received international critical acclaim with their second album Sailin’ Shoes and follow-up

Dixie Chicken due to their innovative blend of classic rock, blues and New Orleans funk. Throughout the seventies, the band underwent several line-up changes which sent their sound towards a jazzrock leaning. In 1977, Little Feat released the live album Waiting for Columbus, which was certified double platinum and referred to as the best live album of all time by many rock critics. Little Feat acted as the backing band for Grammy-winning singersongwriter Robert Palmer’s 1975 album Pressure Drop, which featured a cover of Little Feat’s Trouble. They also appeared on Helen Watson’s 1987 album Blue Slipper and follow up The Weather Inside. In addition to his work with Little Feat, Hayward also performed and recorded with many influential musicians including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Robert Plant. He is the second member of the band to pass away, after lead singer Lowell George died of a heart attack on June 15, 1979. Richie Hayward, Little Feat drummer, b. 06.02.1946, d. 12.08.2010

GEORGE DAVID WEISS The songwriter who penned hits such as Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’ and Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ has died at the age of 89. George David Weiss was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 having produced some of the most recognisable pop songs of the mid-20th century. Weiss was born in New York City where he studied at the Juilliard School of Music and made a name for himself as a multi-instrumentalist. After working as an arranger for the bands of Stan Kenton and Vincent Lopez, Weiss teamed up with lyricist Bennie Benjamin and a scored three number 1 songs in 1946: Frank Sinatra’s ‘Oh, What It Seemed To Be’, Perry Como’s ‘Surrender’ and Frankie Carle’s ‘Rumors Are Flying’. Weiss followed these up with ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ (written with jazz pianist George Shearing) and ‘Wheel of Fortune’ (a 1952 hit for Kay Starr), while expanding into theatre compositions such as Sammy Davis Jr.’s 1956 musical ‘Mr. Wonderful’. The songwriter’s biggest hits came in 1961 with The Tokens’ ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ and Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. Weiss found further success in the seventies with The Stylistics’ ‘Let’s Put It All Together’ and ‘Thank You Baby’ as well as Lorraine Ellison’s ‘Stay With Me Baby’. His stature was such that he was made president of the Songwriters Guild of America from 1982 to 2000, a position he used to speak out about music piracy and intellectual property protection. He is survived by his wife, Claire, and four children. George David Weiss, songwriter, b. 09.04.1921, d. 23.08.2010

DOUBLE DEATH AT BELGIUM FESTIVAL a horrific series of events, Charles Haddon, the lead singer of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, committed suicide at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium in August. He jumped from a telecommunications mast into the artists’ parking area after performing with the band in front of over 5,000 people. It is thought that Haddon, 22, killed himself because he believed he had permanently injured a female fan during a stage diving incident. It was later discovered that although the fan was badly hurt, she will make a full recovery. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool have released three singles to date, the most popular being their debut, ‘Dance the Way I Feel’. The Camdenbased synth pop trio supported La Roux on tour last year and were due to commence a UK headline tour in October. After speaking with Haddon’s family, remaining members Joe Hutchinson and Caan Capan have decided to proceed with the release of the group’s debut album, The Golden Years, which will be released on October 3. Haddon was not the only casualty to be claimed at Pukkelpop this year. Michael Been, the former frontman of eighties rock outfit The Call, suffered a fatal heart attack while acting as a sound engineer for his son’s (Robert Levon Been) band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Been formed the Santa Cruz-based new wave rock group in 1980 with Scott Musick and Tom Ferrier. The band released 10 albums during their decade-long career including Let the Day Begin, which reached number one on the US Mainstream Rock chart in 1989. The track ‘I Still Believe’ appeared on the soundtrack of cult 1987 film The Lost Boys. His song, ‘Let the Day Begin’, was the official campaign song of Al Gore’s 2000 US presidential campaign. Charles Haddon, Ou Est Le Swimming Pool singer, b. 1988, d. 19.08.2010 Michael Been, The Call frontman, b. 17.03.1950, d. 19.08.2010

In

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


Pop outsider and political philosophy boffin JOHN MAUS doesn’t want nice things written about him

Less Talk More

Action Words by HAZEL SHEFFIELD John Maus is sobbing uncontrollably. He’s performing in the summer pavilion at the Serpentine in west London at the request of photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, who is exhibiting a new collection in the gallery’s main space. Anyone stumbling in on the gig would likely be as shocked as enthralled. Maus is stalking and screaming about the square stage in hysterics. His shirt is sodden and his hair sticks to his face. When he dares look at the audience it is with his head thrown back and through wet, white slits of eyes. He clicks through the tracks on his laptop, cutting every one short, racing through ‘Times Is Weird’, ‘Rights For Gays’, ‘Too Much Money’… until they become one ear-deafening hiss of computer noise. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m trying…” he says. A woman with a chignon clutches tighter at her champagne glass but keeps a smile painted on her face. A couple of hours earlier and that same woman is butting in on our interview in a messy design library. “Hello, John, I’m one of the curators here, we’re so delighted to have you,” she says. Maus rises to thank her, the picture of humility. Then, as soon as the door closes behind her, his hair flips over his averted eyes and words stream out of him. “The main reason why I’m here is for a good kick in the ass to go and finish the next album. I went back to Minnesota last October [from Hawaii] and got this little house in the country. The plan was to work on the next album but the months rolled by and it kind of seemed impossible to do.” He shifts in his seat while he talks, rolling up the sleeves of a tattered blue sweater that is covered in sand (thanks to our photographer) and rubbing his hands on worn, loose jeans.

Photograph by ERIKA WALL

“Around June, I just gave up altogether. I just tried to stop… I was doing lots of chemistry projects and chromatography experiments. I set myself on fire a few times heating inflammable solvents.” The door opens again and a girl brings him coffee. “We have some Red Bull for you tonight, three cans. Is that going be enough?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s great, thank you,” Maus says to a patch of wall. The door closes. He addresses the paper cup with half-shut, brown eyes: “The work is the most terrifying thing there is. To face that kind of abyss can be a really horrific thing.” Maus last released an album, Love Is Real, in 2007; a dense, raspberry fuzz of a record that summons a bloated nostalgia for eighties theme tunes. On top, Maus’s tenebrous, Ian Curtis-like drawl gluts like tar. Reviewers called it “creepy” and “bizarre”. Academics either hailed it as an ironic, hellish interpretation of its genre, or the very essence of the style — the truth of pop. Only bad reviews of Maus’s debut album Roses get quoted on his MySpace (“It took this Ariel Pink cohort five years to write and record his debut, and only five minutes to become more annoying than Ariel Pink”; “blatantly grating… at almost every turn”; “the most skip-able album of 2006”) in a pastiche of misinterpretation of which he is hugely proud. “If magazines are talking about you in a positive way then that speaks to your inefficacy and the fact that you’re probably not doing something right,” he says, the drawl gathering pace. “Because that machinery is precisely the devil and, if it’s ignoring you, that’s a good sign.” In another life, Maus was a political philosophy and

theory instructor at the University of Hawaii, where he took a particular interest in aesthetics. “Pop is the truth of this moment,” he says. “I think these people that make avant-garde, artistral music are ridiculous. It’s not 1920. That’s not what’s going on right now. We live in a completely different situation that, musically, is pop music.” Despite this, you’d be hard pressed to find another pop musician as socially awkward as Maus. I ask if he’s autistic. “No, no, no, no, I only… I don’t put much stock in those clinical categorisations in general, I suppose,” he replies, unabashed. Well, what then? “I’ve been diagnosed with everything at one point or another. They say you’re bipolar or whatever, but I’ve never had one of those… if only I’d had those euphoric, manic episodes where I had an exaggerated perception of my own ability, that would be wonderful. But no, I guess depression, or stuff like that.” We move onto his relationship with Ariel Pink, who he met in 1998 when they studied together in California. “When I was still going out with [Pink], they would just spit on him or throw stuff and tell him to get off the stage, but now he’s the godfather of chillwave or chillglow or whatever!” He laughs like his stomach’s twisted. “There’s this whole thing where suddenly he’s approved by like Pitchfork or whatever. Suddenly he’s approved. I don’t know what the difference was; maybe it was that he had a label with more clout or something. It’s all a stupid, discursive regime.” The door opens and a publicist says that Maus must soundcheck. He stands immediately. His angry eyes widen and meet mine for the first time. “Is that good?” he asks. “Is that good enough?”

Features The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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Would Be Killer It’s hard to believe that Cee-Lo Green could be a killer. Not when he’s lounging on a sofa in slippers, speaking so gently that he seems downright huggable. Even when you hear him croon the lyrics of ‘Would Be Killer’ on the second Gnarls Barkley album, you don’t imagine it’s Cee-Lo at his most confessional. But when the 35-year-old shoots you a dead-eye stare, whispering, “I felt like I could kill and exterminate. To tell the truth, it kinda gives me the tingles,” you believe him. Every sentence is executed slowly and carefully, carrying a conviction Cee-Lo no doubt picked up from his parents, who were both ministers in Atlanta, Georgia. His father died when he was two-years-old and his mother was paralysed after a car accident when he was 16. Each of his musical projects — hip hop supergroup Goodie Mob, alt-pop sensations Gnarls Barkley and his erratic solo career — have drawn from a need to exorcise demons from an age most people wouldn’t even remember. “See, that’s the pain,” he says. “I don’t remember being a child. I just remember knowing.” He imitates his Sunday school teacher scolding him about how he had more influence over the class than she did; how he could be special if only he could stop being bad. “I was too enthralled with devilment,” he says. “And I enjoyed it, just like Damien [from The Omen]. I’ve always been an outcast — black sheep of the family. I felt peculiar, I looked peculiar. I knew it from the reaction that I felt. But it taught me to recognise that I wasn’t wanted. Maybe that’s a skill I needed to have. You’re exiled — that’s when you get a chance to spend time by yourself and say, ‘Well if I’m not wanted, who am I? They don’t know me.’ With people pre-judging you, you can become compelled to react. It takes a lot of strength to be an individual and to go it alone.”

After trouble with arson and assault led to a stint in military school, music was the only thing that could crack through CeeLo’s solitude. To him it was like acting: he would imitate his inspirations until people couldn’t tell the difference. Eventually he felt an affinity with punk, growing a Mohawk and listening to Rancid, but more for the identity than the music. “It was a defence, a way of saying, ‘I’m not to be touched,’” he explains. “So I took pride in that punk attitude... and I wanted to destroy. I became volatile for a long time. I started taking it out on the squares. My behaviour...” He breaks off, stuttering quietly. “I became very vio-

lent. And it was Goodie Mob that came along and gave that anger a cause.” He whispers this last word intensely. “So it went from survival to soldier.” As well as giving Cee-Lo a sense of belonging, Goodie Mob were rural outsiders whose social commentary established the Dirty South (a term they coined) as a hip hop presence. Along with Outkast, their intellectual substance offered an alternative to gangsta rap’s dominance in the mid-nineties. With his tongue-twisting flow changing on every track, ricocheting off the walls before soaring into gospellike choruses, Cee-Lo stood out from the quartet and his career

looked promising. But when his mother died in 1993, his groupmates noticed that it became harder for him to control his emotions. “I think that was when they, as older brothers to me, became concerned, because I was already a volatile baby brother,” he says. “At one point I took pride in that. It was like having a dog, when somebody says, “Get ’em!” I would just get ’em because I could. I had felt so unloved and unwanted and misunderstood that I could be... unremorseful. That’s where the hit man thing came from. There was a point where I felt like, ‘Well, I’m not goin’ to be famous. I’m going to be infamous.’”

The “hit man thing” is something he touches on frequently, both to highlight the difference between his new R&B album The Lady Killer and his older “overly emotional” material, and as a symbol of what he would have become without music. His voice drops to a chilling tone. “If I happened to be a contract killer, you wouldn’t have known either way. Unless you hired me. Somebody was going to need me for who I thought I could be. If you were fortunate, you would much rather be a friend of mine than a name on the list. That sounds so sensationalised. It’s kind of cute. I almost hate to bring it up because it’s like, ‘Yeah, right.’ I


Dirty South legend CEE-LO GREEN has got a secret. But luckily for you, he chose to be a hit man of the musical kind.

don’t wish that kind of despair on anybody. But if they do [experience that], I can empathise. What’s beyond me is actually committing to it and becoming it completely.” After three albums with Goodie Mob, Cee-Lo felt confined by hip hop and found it more gratifying to shape melody into “unbiased music” that could reach people the way he was touched by Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Culture Club. The rest of the group, however, didn’t see things that way. “There was so much personal attachment and emotional entanglement that if we had let our differences enrage us, someone was definitely going to get hurt — and not walk away. So we all needed some space from each other. Not as brothers; I never stopped loving them. Whatever I felt was out there for me, I had to go to the ends of the earth to get it before I could come back. That’s punk rock to me. I trudged and I persevered. Apparently there was something out there for me.” A solo deal with Arista produced Cee-Lo Green And His Perfect Imperfections in 2002, an album so unlike anything else that the label didn’t know how to package it. When 2004’s critically acclaimed Cee-Lo Green Is The Soul Machine suffered a similar fate, Cee-Lo’s contract was sub-

leased to Jive, who gave him an ultimatum: make another record or be released. He walked and, free of bureaucracy, welcomed an approach by beat-maker and producer Danger Mouse to collaborate as Gnarls Barkley. The resulting St. Elsewhere (2006) slipped by the industry’s gatekeepers on the strength of the songs alone, with lead-single ‘Crazy’ topping charts worldwide. But despite the mainstream breakthrough, Cee-Lo saw the project as an opportunity to bring closure to personal issues, particularly on its introspective follow-up, The Odd Couple. “I have to use music as a vent,” he says. “My personal feelings raw and uncut… I don’t know how entertaining that would be; probably as entertaining as this interview. But you have to read this interview to see what’s caused all of this. I had to get it out of me. Can you imagine the magnitude of a song like ‘Crazy’ internalised with no constructive outlet? I was standing in the middle of Atlanta and you guys felt a tremor out here. That’s how big it was in my soul. It probably would have killed me. Now you can say, ‘Damn, that can’t be an exaggeration because I felt it.’ I’ve been fortunate, which causes me to believe that not only am I being spared but I’m being spared for something sig-

Words by Cian Traynor Photograph by Sam Christmas

nificant. I never looked at my life in terms of good and bad, but in terms of good and evil. That’s what that voice whispering ‘kill’ is. I gotta say, man, that stuff’s been puttin’ it real for me. Both of these superpowers have come to visit. I feel like I was going to have a special jewel in my heart, like Lord Of The Rings or something epic like that. Other than that it could just be madness. So I’ve had to take up that cross and make sense of my life. But they both recognise me as noble, as worthy. They come to visit to play on their sides, you know? That’s what ‘lady killer’ comes from — being a lover and a fighter.” Such claims cannot be made lightly, especially given America’s history of high school massacres at the hands of similarly isolated figures. “I wish I could have talked to them,” he says of those killers. Asked what he could have said, he hesitates. “I guess it would depend on what they said to me. It’s a hard thing to play out without knowing exactly what was wrong. But one thing I can say... they weren’t pretendin’.” There’s a heartbeat-length pause. “There was pride taken in it. But I was ashamed of how I felt. I wanted to be loved and I wanted to love, because I’m loving. If someone loves me, I love them right back. That’s me more so than the other thing. But

the type of individual that could pre-judge and hate and alienate without knowing… they were expendable in my book. And I’m pretty sure I could have dealt with them as such. That’s as honest as I can be about that.” It’s difficult to relate this to the Cee-Lo who, after the interview, excitedly points out a man wearing dungarees and a beret in the hotel lobby and says, beaming: “It’s Dexy’s Midnight Runner!” But perhaps such contrast is exactly what Cee-Lo wants to communicate: that he has veered toward some redemptive power, whether real or imagined. Maybe that’s why he’s so confident that, with his new album, the timing is right for an “underdog” like him to win big; that people are ready to bestow benevolence on a song like ‘Fuck You’ in a way they weren’t last year. “Understanding is alive,” he said during the interview. “You seek it out. It will find you. It knows who desires it the most. That’s what I believe. Each time I get a chance to commit to something like that in conversation, it becomes a testament. It’s willing it into existing. I’m all about positive energy. If I can be evidence of that type of behaviour working then maybe I can make some change in the world just by being little old me.”


I’ll be honest: I expected Salem to live in a slum; amid wallpaper peels that had leapt suicidally towards carpets that looked like death, in the sort of cramped, dirty rooms you might find your feet gone through by needles, your head lost in noxious, mid-afternoon crack fugs. Salem make some of the most unsettling, physically affecting music I’ve ever heard; the poor, harried roar of static-stung synths pursued endlessly by lunatic juke percussion and demonic choirs bleeding kohl from their eyes. It’s a mix that’ll thieve your breath and stop your heart. Earlier this year, John gave an interview to gay quarterly, Butt magazine. Spectacularly candid, it painted Salem — Heather Marlatt, Jack Donoghue and John Holland — as the sort of people who, at 16, started whoring themselves round the back of petrol stations and in pancake house parking lots to pay for speedball mashes of coke and heroin. The occult fascinations of their early aesthetic and the die-chokingin-a-car-while-a-stranger-writhes-naked-on-yourbonnet-style video they shot for ‘Dirt’ could only mean one thing — that Salem were drug-dependent devil-worshippers setting hexagrams ablaze in bonestrewn backyards, drinking dugong blood and screaming, “Kill whitey!” at children in the street. This is not the case. “We’ve had a lot of interviewers recently who have been like, ‘Oh, you guys seem really well adjusted,’” drawls Jack (pictured this page). “Just because I’m not necessarily in a fucked-up place right now doesn’t mean I wasn’t. We’re not gonna come to an interview and be like, ‘Fuck you!’ and start throwing chairs around. It’s not about showing how fucked up we are to everyone we come into contact with. “Shit is real, you know what I’m saying? I feel like

people have this expectation and they’re like, ‘They didn’t even shoot heroin in their toes.’” Do you find strangers acting up to those sorts of expectations? “Someone sent me a video once — really jerky footage from this remote place in Africa,” says Heather, drawing on her cigarette. “The people in the video thought these ladies were witches, so they were burning them alive. It was horrible. Why the fuck would someone send us something like that?” “People ask me for drugs all the time,” adds Jack. “What do they think I’m going to do?” Stab syringes in their eyes? You can see where people get their ideas. Airport security pounced on me (or my Middle Eastern surname, at least) for extra security checks. When I told the border police at Detroit that I was coming to stay with a band called Salem — “you know, like the witch trials” — they kept asking me if Heather was “hot”, “easy” or “a witch”. Then they put ‘Salem Traverse City’ into Google and found reviews of their debut 7”, ‘Yes, We Smoke Crack’. “Do they smoke crack?” They searched my luggage with special machines. I missed my connecting flight. “Shit, for real!? We’ve all had hard times in our lives and often, when I’m alone, I still get really upset,” admits Jack, amusement giving way to a solemn sort of anger in his voice. “But I feel like when we meet people, they’re waiting for it: ‘What are you guys gonna do? Are you gonna cry? Are you gonna stop the interview so you can shoot up?’ If you hung out with me in Chicago every day, I probably would. But that’s on my own time.” Ever since I first spoke to Jack on the phone for this paper in winter 2008, I’d always imagined Salem

in Chicago, the city where their male members first met. Only Jack remains in the city. “I started talking to John in the street,” Jack explained back then. “Straight away I told him he couldn’t be friends with any of his other friends any more. Just me.” As he went on to describe Chicago and the whole Midwest as “a bleak, sad place”, and himself as someone who chronically deprived his own body of sleep, I never thought I’d be anywhere approaching idyllic with Jack or with Salem. But Traverse City, on the banks of Lake Michigan 300 miles north of Chicago, where John and Heather live and Jack constantly visits, is bathed today in the sort of sour, hazy glow more familiar with impossibly perfect chillwave summers than the arcane, nocturnal ceremonies Salem’s music seems devoted to. Downtown is a toy town: pristine family restaurants, micro-breweries, antique furniture stores and candle factories lining streets so clean you feel like a murderer just for dropping a fag end. A few minutes walk is all it takes for things to turn heritage suburban: white pickets and porches, Stars and Stripes flagging gently in the same breeze that jangles wind chimes, limply rebellious exceptions that reinforce the idea of this place as a monument to stillness. Traverse City: twinned with an undeveloped Gregory Crewdson negative, the scene for a novel John Updike never took past its first paragraph. There’s a pick-up truck or a 4x4 in every drive, but the only person in sight is a smiling, cycling soccer mom in cropped linen, who pipes a cheery, “Hi there!” as I shuffle drunkenly past her at dusk, wishing I had a camera because without photos I’m never gonna believe this place existed when I wake up tomorrow. The gentle waves of Cedar Lake move across my

Trials, tribulations and breaking the spell of the extraordinary SALEM

Perfectly


beery vision in a beautiful, restless crosshatch flux. Heather lifts herself away from the earth and up onto the broad, wooden beam at the head of this small jetty. The water below us is clear and turquoise. The sky is, too. No one else is around, and the forest that wraps the lake is thick, the only noises coming from constantly buzzing cicadas. In our isolation and air so still, time begins to slow, mislaid in the water’s endlessly merging lines. When Heather — a blonde betrayed by dark roots, pale sex parts clung to by spare, white bikini cloth — enters water, she does so vertically. Rigid arms straight coming up from her curves, fingers pointed, stretched to tip. A last, deep breath, then her feet leave the beam behind, sending her face first into the lake. She emerges, eyes flushed with blood, hair lank and damp, tugs at the material hiding her breasts, then sets out in a front crawl towards Jack, who lays further from land, long-hair splayed in the water and shouting wordlessly at the sun. John, yards from me, won’t get wet: he sits there with his head in his hands. The way Salem swim reveals more than just their meat; it reveals what they are to each other, too. Heather, who has an office job that pays regularly, is easiest to read: her movements seem to be thought out, and in many respects resemble what you or I would regard as logic. On the evidence of the three days I spend in Traverse City, Jack’s life seems to consist of ceaselessly pursuing a gut feeling through moments, traces of each one disappearing upon impact with the next. This seems to make John — his brown eyes as wise, sad and deep as wells — nervous, though Jack reveals the “massive amount of respect” he felt as he watched his friend sleep last night with his newly-tattooed face (a dollar sign Jack

put on his right cheek like a sad kiss). The three of them seem to love each other very much and, in truth, Salem are some of the most real people I have ever met — the sort of people who make me and my earlier expectations feel stupid, and whose emotional complexity prevents them, really, from being any ‘sort of people’. During the time I’m in America, theirs are the only conversations that extend beyond pointless, say-nothing small talk. You overhear it everywhere — from holidaying businessmen biking by the lakes, and their clucking wives in the hotel lobby. It’s their extreme sensitivity which makes new album King Night — out, weirdly, commendably, through Columbia in the UK — vulnerable to an ugly, desperate darkness, just as it makes it vulnerable to other things people don’t pick up on as readily because of its overwhelming emotional murk — beauty, joy, fear, love, comedy, lust, hope. Salem’s songs are chaotic and flushed, and seem to feel everything, all at once. Their transmissions are vivid but unrecognisable, as impressive and as hard to read as strange, new lights in the sky. You can see why they confuse people. “We’re just trying to report back everything we’ve experienced,” explains Jack. “You know what I’m saying? If you can tell me there’s nothing in life that’s fucked up, then we’ll take everything fucked up out of our music.” Burt Bacharach: listen to Salem. Gene Simmons: listen to Salem. Fearne Cotton: listen to Salem. The latter would be particularly interesting to observe, given that her sheer emotional pallor — unrivalled, in my experience, anywhere else in the world — renders her face the ultimate blank canvas. What would this music do to you, Fearne Cotton? I long to sit you

in an empty room and use you as a mirror in which I can more easily observe the muddled, emotional contours of Salem’s minds. I imagine your face contorting itself into a thousand sycophantic, faux-empathetic gestures simultaneously; eyebrows frowning in fauxconcern; lips like exploded fruit, caught between a faux-smile and whatever emotion the word ‘eek’ pertains to; nose crumpled in disgust like a fucking crashed car. If she survived, someone would need to devise her a new expression solely for the purpose of responding to Salem. If she survived… Sorry… Jack? “It’s the easiest thing for people to simplify us to, ‘Oooh, they’re really fucked up and dark. Don’t turn the lights off…’” He makes a kind of ‘welcome to the ghost train’ gesture with his hands. You must be able to see how and why people are unsettled by your music, though, haunted as it is by synth rushes that seem to rip and tear at their own burning skin, rhythmic patterns mangled into unnatural shapes by vortices of delay, the wail and moan of disembodied voices promising to “slit your wrists, little lamb”? Often, different parts of same songs seem repulsed by each other, generating a perverse, trapped tension — holy choral flights like unison bird flocks rise to cure codeine-slowed, ‘chopped and screwed’ rap leers. People don’t always like perverse tension, Jack. It worries them. “Do you feel it’s more realistic to be vague with vocals, the music, the message, but put a truer feeling across?” he asks, rhetorically. “Because to me, that’s how I experience things. Whereas songs that are super clear, loyally depicting a situation…” He winces, shakes his head, his reference triggering an immediate flood of images — Jagger

Words by Kev Kharas Photography by Brendan Telzrow and Salem

Charm ing


curling his mouth round ‘The Last Time’ on Shindig! in ’65, Squeeze performing ‘Up The Junction’ on Top Of The Pops in ’79, Phil Oakey’s uppity waitress girlfriend chucking him two years later. “That’s not how I experience life,” continues Jack. “It’s just not.” Does anyone? Listening to a track like ‘Hound’ gives me hope that this young century will at last be able to reclaim its apostrophe from the one that went before it. None of those pop-cultural memories I hold first-hand. Bands as original and powerful as Salem don’t come along very often, and maybe not from this country since Nirvana. At times it’s tempting to view Salem’s music as an attack on language itself, such is their dismissal of linear narratives that pop will surely soon outgrow. Words and voices are summarily abused — Jack’s raps are slowed into something much deeper and more incomprehensible, even, than his jaw-rattling Chicagoan drawl can manage, while anything Heather and John have to say is either delivered wordlessly or else drenched in static meteor hail (despite previous claims to the contrary, no one other than these three has ever ‘sung’ for Salem). Many have seen this as an attempt to conjure some cheap mystery, but it’s not: listening to Salem talk and tic through conversation today, it feels like their aim is to be super-expressive; to go beyond words. You’ll feel a lot of their music before you hear it: low-end tremors vibrating muscles and tissue beneath your skin to better mirror what Salem tear from themselves for the sake of their music. It doesn’t matter that their lyrics are buried because their noises are more articulate. They know that trying to trap the vagaries of glowing guts or aching ribs in a word murders emotional possibilities, and they defy genre tags just as easily as they do emotional ones. They aren’t shoegaze, goth, hip hop, house, classical or juke, just as they aren’t happy, sad, in love or afraid (though they are often some combination of all these things and more). They aren’t ‘witch house’, either — the scene that’s sprung up in tribute to Heather, Jack and John and whose acts’ cryptic tendencies (try telling your friends about ‘oOoOO’, or putting /// /\/\/\ \\\ into Google) misunderstand Salem’s reach for truer expression. “We don’t really take stuff like that too seriously,” John says of the term. Jack pitches in: “Some of these people, when I see them trying to put together their own aesthetic it’s like, ‘Yeah, you took notes, so credit for that.’”

Beware all ye indebted to the smoke, mirrors and sad-smile occult perversions of Salem’s early aesthetic. They crush you. There is a regular witch house night at this club half an hour walk from my house in London, I tell them. “We’ve never even been to Europe,” says Heather, laughing. Rather than looking to hide inside their music, they approach it in the same way Heather confronts open bodies of water — things are dived into head on, face first. “I don’t wanna say that our music is, like, some therapeutic thing,” she muses, “because it’s not like that. But sometimes when I can’t organise things in my mind, I can make a song, listen back to it and understand what I was feeling.” “If I understood the things that upset me, then I wouldn’t be upset by them,” Jack says, laughing, stumbling into truth. We’re now on East Pico Drive, back at the home Heather and John share with a yappy black and white Pekingese named Timmy. The house, with its own American flag, is typical of homes in this quiet neighbourhood, but the bedrooms are busy with sentiment-loaded paintings, skulls, tokens and tribal gewgaws you wouldn’t expect to find nextdoor. A home studio with its microphone wrapped in wilted roses waits in the dark of the basement with a couple of bare mattresses. In no way is number 10535 untidy or littered with drug paraphernalia. We walk out into the back garden, where John has laid a wood-chip path to a clearing in some trees behind the house. Chipmunks scurry, a distant neighbour mows, seven-inch animal bones hang from string roped trunk-to-trunk and several chairs sit in a circle around a dead fire. I wonder who’s been sat here, given that John’s already told me he doesn’t tend to see anyone who lives in Traverse City other than Heather and a few men he sleeps with. As the light fades, Salem start to become more recognisable. “It’s peaceful and quiet, and the air is really nice,” says John of his current hometown. “It’s easier for us to make music here, but there are really good things about other places we’ve lived and recorded — Chicago, New York…” “Because he was born in the city, I feel like it’s too quiet for Jack out here,” says Heather, and she may have a point. Jack says he spent the majority of this summer drunk on the roof of an abandoned hospital

in Chicago. Shortly after my visit he sent me a photograph of himself at a party with half his face hanging off. “Military freak hold a 6-inch knife!” reads its caption. “But don’t worry, baby, Jack still here!” “I feel like I outdo everyone I know in the city in terms of wanting to be moving all the time,” he says, peering at the ground in front of him. The cicadas, buzzing, seem to get louder whenever his mouth opens. “When I was younger I went to a psychiatrist. My mum was worried. She’d always say the only time she saw me still was when I was making beats. “It’s sort of fucked up, but I feel physically sick if I stay in the same place or with the same person too long. I just feel trapped, and really late at night, at home or even here, I’ll just go out walking. When I was younger I’d always walk to the Sears Tower, no matter where I was, then figure out what to do once I got there. I haven’t been doing that as much recently. I lost someone really near to me and at that point I felt so disinterested in everything that I didn’t want to be awake. This is so… I’ve never verbalised this before, but I’ve thought about it a lot. For the first time in my life, I wanted to sleep. I don’t dream, so before it just seemed like a waste, but last year something changed…” His eyes redden. “It was my father. He had a heart attack and he drowned. I don’t know, I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about this… does that make sense to you, John?” “We haven’t, but that makes sense,” John says tenderly, smiling gently at his friend. While Jack proves his restlessness by wandering off into the forest for an hour, I decide not to press John too hard on his time spent fucking men in car parks. I was told beforehand how the mere mention of that Butt interview can bring tears from John. No need to bleary four of Salem’s eyes. Out of booze, we pile into Heather’s rusty Subaru for a late night drive. As the headlights stretch out to illuminate small pockets of the night, I think back to something Jack said earlier about how hard it was to recreate feelings found in basements and bedrooms in front of others on a stage. “Ideally we’d always be playing in someone’s car at night,” he said, “It’d be more of a personal thing. You’d have to interpret how it affected you.” As we hurtle along, I’m thinking about how the people around me make more sense back here, in the forced, dark intimacy of this rattling wagon than they ever could in lights as bright as those ahead when John rolls down the window to let Salem’s music blare, an ambiguous slime creeping out to disturb the sleeping neatness of Traverse City.


Gender Gap

All-male Canadian four-piece WOMEN are masters of remote control

Words by Stephen Pietrzykowski Photograph by Dave Ma

Alberta is an inland island flanked by the endzones of the mountains and prairies of Canada’s centre. It’s both a commercial heart and empty province; its main city Calgary a paradox of basic space and industrial-techno clutter. It’s as if Middle England were suddenly magnified and its weirdness distorted. And it’s not surprising that such extremes have produced discordant four-piece, Women. Brothers Patrick and Matt Flegel, joined by life-long friends Mike Wallace and Chris Reimer, make music that echoes the remoteness of their hometown and the insular nature of their close-knit friendships. People from these kinds of places tend to stick together, and make in-jokes. Women claim they were once called Cosby! You Black Emperor. “Legal action was threatened,” says Matt, deadpan. “By Bill Cosby, the band Godspeed! You Black Emperor, and every single other black person in the world.” Where in conversation Women prove to be funny — a little obnoxious, perhaps — their music is intense and cerebral. Public Strain, the follow-up to their self-titled debut, is a fiercely intelligent and, at times, brave record reminiscent of Liars’ Berlin-based output or the inward-looking gaze of Panda Bear. The oblique and dark textures of the new record are indebted to the contrasts of their hometown, as if its isolation has a way of teasing out

certain impulses of the human psyche. “I don’t feel as though our music would give you the impression of isolation based on geography,” says Matt. “Maybe it’s because we lock ourselves into a state of emotional catatonia before each recording.” Whether he’s being entirely serious or not, psychological space has clearly had a great bearing on the way their music is formed. Women sound distant and withdrawn — something which their smart-arse jokes only reinforce. A visceral singularity fizzes through the dissonance of interlocking post punk guitars, complementing Patrick’s oblique incantations of songs like ‘Untogether’ and ‘Heat Distraction’. The singer openly states an allegiance with a list of renowned outsiders (“I’ve always related to the aesthetic of groups like Kraftwerk, DEVO and Autechre”), underpinning that sense of insularity, while their partiality for the abstract is even reflected in the choice of the band’s name. “I think

in a way we always liked that the name of our band is a word that you see 50 times a day without paying any special attention to it,” Matt explains. Women may be tied to Canada, but they channel a very European sensibility. Such sensibility bends their music in new directions. As with their first album, Public Strain was recorded with friend and Polaris Prize nominee Chad VanGaalen, but that didn’t deter them from trying something different. “We experimented and weren’t afraid of falling on our faces,” Patrick explains. “Like Women, it was tracked over a long period of time, so there’s variation. Six straight minutes without bass becomes the Joshua Tree 2.” Matt’s qualification of the recording process remains more direct, revealing an appetite for both new music and British bands that offers more insight into the record’s construction. “I think we’ve all discovered about 100 amazing new bands each since the last record,” he says. “All of the best music ever

recorded in history has, more or less, come from the UK.” Due to feature on a split 7” with UK acts Cold Pumas and Fair Ohs this year, and currently touring, Women seem increasingly game to step outside of their isolation. And who can blame them, when Patrick sums up the “Jersey Shore vibe” of Calgary by quoting both an imprisoned Tim Robbins in Shawshank Redemption and the colonial terror of Dances With Wolves. “They send you here for life and that’s exactly what they take,” he says of his hometown, “but it seems everyday ends with a miracle here. And whatever God may be, I thank God for this day.” He’s joking again, but it’s nonetheless a notion that lingers through the dense fog of Public Strain, granting us a reminder of the isolation that few experience as everyday reality — just like those stretches of anonymous countryside we cut through on a train, our foreheads pressed against the windows, absorbed yet never quite a part of it.


Truth or Dare


“We want to connect with women on

this album,” says Pharrell Williams.

He’s slumped in a cinema chair that’s

covered in animal hide. His chin rests

To try and make N*E*R*D a success to rival The Neptunes, Pharrell has set himself the alarming task of… liberating women.

Words by Hazel Sheffield Photograph by Richie Hopson

on his sweater, which is of his own Billionaire Boys Club brand, naturally, and his fingertips meet in a thinkingman prism on his chest. Those famously sharp cheekbones rise up to caramel temples and his dark eyes look out from surprisingly deep shadows. The superstar millionaire is shattered, but he could still pass for 10 years younger than his 37 years. Up close in the semi-darkness of this screening room in central London, he retains his waxy kind of handsomeness. “One reviewer said that this album was a socially love-oriented record. We would agree. We feel like, ‘Let’s take a break for a second and remember who we are.’ We’re hippies, but not like hairy armpits and granola bars and Birkenstocks, more like in our priorities.” His fingertips touch and untouch with each grand statement. I wonder whether he’s using the royal we. His bandmate Shay Haley yawns and flexes his hands behind his head on a red leather seat 10 feet away. Third member, Chad Hugo, is not here today. When I don’t reply, Pharrell glances at me and adds: “There’s room under the sun for everyone, even people who are confused at what we’re trying to do.” Thank you. There’s another pause, then: “Am I coming off pompous or something? I don’t know if I’m all [dons robot voice] ‘Well, don’t you un-derstand what we’re try-ing to do!?’ I hope it’s not coming off that way.” Whether he knows it or not (and my guess is that he does), Pharrell has built an empire worth millions out of mission statements. His insatiable appetite for the next and the new keeps him constantly writing and producing, while clothing lines and product endorsements have maintained his image in the glossies. He unabashedly refers to himself as a creative genius. While that may be true of his production career as one half of The Neptunes, N*E*R*D hasn’t quite turned out to be the hit-making machine he might have hoped it to be. But he’s still working at it. In the words of his favourite scientist, Carl Sagan: “In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.” N*E*R*D started in 2001 as a side project of The Neptunes. By the time Pharrell and school friend Chad Hugo decided to step out from behind the mixing desk as a band, they’d stamped their prints on enough huge records — including Kelis’ Kaleidoscope, Jay-Z’s ‘I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)’, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Got Your Money’ and

Elliott and Timbaland, go up for five and four awards respectively. Music critic Sasha Frere Jones writes in The New York Times that the ceremony will “christen Virginia Beach as the birthplace of a certain sound, something like Detroit’s claim to sixties pop-soul or Seattle’s to nineties grunge”. It sounds cosy, as if some of the biggest producers of the last decade found their feet simultaneously in the suburbs of Virginia Beach, miles from the hubbub of New York City or Los Angeles. Was it like that? “You just don’t know at the time,” says Pharrell, “but when you look back I’m sure [the sound] was coming from genuinely not having an alternative, in terms of exposure to the music industry itself, or exposure to how to make music. But it’s much like a learning experience for us, too, when we realise that what was sedimenting was going to help us later on in life.” Around the time of all those Grammy nominations, a staggering amount of pop radio airtime was being given over to Neptunes-produced tracks in America and Britain. Work with everyone from P Diddy and Nelly to Clipse, Ludacris, and Justin Timberlake marked them out as giants in their field, standing shoulder to shoulder with Dr Dre, RZA and Rick Rubin as hip hop producers who redefined the genre. Yet as artists rather than producers, commercial success proved elusive. The debut album from N*E*R*D , 2002’s In Search Of…, peaked at number 56 on the Billboard charts and at 28 in the UK. Its followup, Fly Or Die, did better, going top 10 in the UK and US in 2004 and giving N*E*R*D a top five single in Britain with ‘She Wants To Move’ (despite it not denting the US top 40). Between N*E*R*D albums, Pharrell released a solo album, In My Mind (2006), which did well but received decidedly mixed reviews. “That’s an album that should have been a compilation,” Pharrell told an interviewer some years later. Seeing Sounds from 2008, arguably their best-received album, failed to produce any hit singles. With the making of new album Nothing, they’ve seemed more unsure than ever about the direction they should take. In November 2009, Pharrell confirmed with MTV News that the N*E*R*D album would be called Instant Gratification and that it would feature a new female vocalist called Rhea, neither of which came to pass. Originally due for release in September, it’s since been rescheduled for later in the year. What happened to Rhea? “We experimented with her last year,” Pharrell explains wearily

Britney’s ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’ — to know what worked commercially. So Pharrell, Chad and Shay made a brand. They chose a name as spiritual (No One Ever Really Dies) as it was aspirational (N*E*R*D ) to introduce their philosophy. “We definitely wanted to celebratise being smart,” Pharrell says. “We think being smart is a good thing. We love promoting kids learning and stuff, hence the band’s insignia of the brain.” The brain gave N*E*R*D a philosophy and a style, which Pharrell capitalised on with bow ties and thickrim specs. To further set himself apart from the hip hop uniform of low-slung jeans and indiscriminate bling, he blasted his outfits with high-quality fabrics and colour. The formula won him the admiration of the fashion elite: in 2005 he scooped Esquire’s best dressed male for “injecting luxury into hip hop” and this year he was named in Vanity Fair’s list next to Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni and Martin Scorsese. In 2005 he founded Billionaire Boys Club and associated skate shoe company, Ice Cream. He says he understands the visual and sonic connotations of the brands because he has a condition called synesthesia, which means he mixes sense consciousness — literally seeing sounds or hearing colours. He knows, for example, that while ice conjures notions of frostiness and glitz, ice cream is about sex, money, sun and sweetness. Cream also nods to Wu-Tang’s hip hop parable ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ (Cash Rules Everything Around Me) about the street kid that went straight and plays on Pharrell’s all-American backstory. Pharrell was born in the projects of Virginia Beach to a schoolteacher mother and handyman father, but moved to the suburbs at the age of seven. Band camp brought him and Neptunes partner Chad Hugo together at the age of 12, where Pharrell played percussion and Chad played saxophone. “Band camp in America is just something that starts in elementary school,” Pharrell explains. “Kids with free lunches still play in bands.” The two of them didn’t much like it, though, and instead spent their time writing “R&B-style” songs. Five years later, with Shay Haley and Mike Etheridge, the first incarnation of The Neptunes started working with seminal hip hop producer Teddy Riley after he spotted them at a local talent contest. Fast forward a decade or so to the Grammys in 2004 and The Neptunes are up for six awards, including one for non-classical producer of the year, which they win. Fellow Virginia Beach natives Missy

from his screen chair, “but we decided that the music we were making wasn’t good enough, so we scrapped that music and we started again. Hence the title of the album, Nothing. We started with nothing. Instant gratification is only for the moment, nothing is forever.” What did they want from the rewrite? “Something you could feel a little bit better, a little bit coarser, not so general… a little bit more specific, as a human being, that it touches you because you have some correlation…” He breaks off, yawning loudly. “Sorry.” It’s true that there are moments on Nothing that shift N*E*R*D further than ever from the hip hop associated with them, as when they mix piano stabs and gospel stylings on ‘Victory’ or slip into R&B cheese on ballad ‘I’ve Seen The Light’. It’s not all new — ‘Hot-n-Fun’ featuring Nelly Furtado and ‘Party People’ tickle the same up-tempo keynotes as always, with nonsensical vocal riffs and lots of chat about ladies — but where they reach beyond that there seems a distinctly spiritual flavour to the new material. “The music is spiritual in the sense that we just want to elevate people closer to their personal freedom,” Pharrell says, stretching an arm round the back of my chair to stave off the yawns. “Like, every day you go to work and you have a set schedule, but how much of that schedule is honestly dedicated to you versus what society says you need, which is to go to work to make money you need to survive? Are you working to live or living to work? It’s getting people back to that point where it’s ‘what do you love to do? What would you do for free?’” So he’s less concerned with the ladies now than in the ‘Lapdance’ and ‘She Wants To Move’ days? “If you listened to the lyrics on this album, there are no sexual reference in terms of wanting to do something to [women],” he shrugs. “I think we want to liberate [women] more than anything. On this album, I’d rather talk to you about interesting, powerful subjects that could maybe empower you and enlighten you, and then maybe you might think that’s sexy.” Sounds preachy, I say. I wonder about his own work/life balance. “I like to work because it’s all I know,” he says. “It’s what I have fun doing.” Ever have fun doing anything else? Pharrell pauses for a minute, as if considering it for the first time. “I don’t know,” he answers. “I don’t know anything else.”


Juke Box Fury The death of a crew member put DJ Roc in a hard place. But there’s no time for standing still in Chicago’s footwork scene. Thousands of people are dancing at each other in Chicago. If this was the city that built house, footwork is doing its best to bring it down, its storeyed floors collapsing beneath frantically moving feet as DJs rearrange the rubble of 4/4 drum patterns and steady bass into torrentially rapid, haywire, alien shapes. Dance cliques with names like Terra Squad and Burn Unit gather at events called Battle Groundz and Da War Zone on Chicago’s South

from the melee — “to distance myself from all the bullcrap, you know?” — and while he admits that “competition and negativity” are what most drive him, his music sounds like it reaps the benefits of nightly retreats to his production ‘lab’. Some of the tracks collected on his new album The Crack Capone are footwork, some are juke, but all of them breathe the same, weird air, the record’s atmospheric space — disturbed by wall-climbing toms, erratic snare claps, mutilated vocal samples and fuggy horn blasts — rendering it an eerie, if frenetic, workout in beat noir. Fuck knows how Britain will dance to this. You suspect it’ll have neither the will nor the reflexes to keep up with footwork’s 160pm barrage as adeptly as teenage Chicagoans do. However, with Planet Mu releasing The Crack Capone alongside other records from scene figurehead DJ

Side, a part of the world Fox News’ poisonous potato Bill O’Reilly has compared unfavourably of late to earthquake-hit Haiti. Footwork, a more dance-orientated mutation of the city’s older juke sound, takes the absorbent, communal euphoria of house and replaces it with confrontation, pridebaiting chest shoves and tight circles of spectators. Clarence Johnson, aka DJ Roc, is one of those who provides the beat for footwork’s warriors to step to.

ferent. I’d like to take their style and my style and make a serious collaboration.” All we need now is for Burn Unit to blur themselves across the Atlantic like a mob of vexed jesus lizards and we’ll be in business. Or maybe not: Chicago’s scene is powered, as all locally incubated scenes are, by a turnover of dubs that come quicker than footworkers’ feet (even if, at times, on tracks like Roc’s ‘King Of

Rashad and the prodigious DJ Nate, and UK producers pushing the sound on wax and in set, the music seems to be making inroads even if the dances aren’t. “Yeah, I heard it,” says Johnson when asked if he’s aware of the UK take on his music that has so far spawned two of this year’s best 12”s, Ramadanman’s ‘Work Them’ and Addison Groove’s ‘Footcrab’. “I like it ’cause it’s not exactly a mimic, it’s dif-

“There’s always competition and everybody wanna be the best, so they battle,” Johnson explains. “There’s even competition among the DJs on the tracks, which sometimes I feel distances us when we supposed to be together, moving as one movement, not hating on each other. But that’s what’s coming from Chicago — there’s a lot of hatin’ goin’ on. Everybody for theyself.” Johnson’s keen to keep away

Words by Kev Kharas Illustration by Natalie Hobbs

Circle, BOTC, were coming up, we were the youngest crew. When we came in we were like, ‘This is ours, we gonna take it.’ We had a good run, but when we were at our peak we had a death in our group. Everything just kind of slowed down. I stopped making tracks for a good four months. I’m used to making 10 tracks a day.” The death of DJ Speed wasn’t the result of inter-clique aggro, or the gang-banger violence Johnson says he left behind a long time ago, for the sake of his three young kids. “It was last year,” Johnson recalls, voice drying. “August 8th we were at the Bud Billiken Parade [Chicago’s oldest and largest African American carnival]. The next day DJ P-Nut, one of the founders of BOTC, called me crying. He said, ‘Speed dead’. He used to go away to work on a ship in Texas for a month at a time and had an asthma attack there. He didn’t have his

The Circle’, the breakneck percussion and slowed samples combine to create an odd stillness). When I call Johnson at his home on the South Side, it’s 1pm and he’s just woken up from a night that gifted him four new tracks (“You know that movie Armageddon? I just wrote one called ‘Rocogeddon’”). There was a time, though, when his productivity stalled. “When my crew, Bosses Of The

pump on him. They tried to save him ’n’ all, but it was too late. “He was my best friend, my brother. That’s what makes me keep doing what I’m doing. It’s for him and his son that he left. He in a better place now. Eventually I was like, ‘Come on, this ain’t me.’ There ain’t no need for us to keep moping around about it.” With footwork, there ain’t no time, either.


C O U N S E L for the

M O D E R N M U S I C I A N. PIANO PLAY ER, ‘ENTERTAINIST’ AND PRODUCER

G O N Z A L E S SHOULD NOW BE CROWNED UNCLE OF THE

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— a man with more wit and wisdom than you could hope to find. Taking advantage of the fact that he has a new album out and a debut film on its way, both called IVORY TOWER, A L E X M A R S H A L L asked him to advise that most confused of artistic creatures, the musician. QUIT MUSIC

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needs to be fewer musicians.

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seriously recommend that unless you have an amazing chemistry with your bandmates, you’re probably better off being a solo artist, but having a very active collaborative life. That’s what’s kept me, Peaches, Feist, Jamie Lidell — that whole crew — together with not a single flare up for so long: no friendships lost, no gross misunderstandings, no ‘I quit’, no ‘I never want to work with you again’. It’s because we’re all CEO of our own company and we don’t actually have to make any real consequential decisions together. Just look at how many bands break up versus how many solo artists retire. There was a time for me when the interest in music was making it with people. I grew up playing music with my brother. But playing for an audience alone is the same as playing with someone. They’re not playing an instrument in a direct way, but their presence is guiding the entire thing. WOULD

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of musicians, rightfully, grew up in a way where they thought that people who studied music played it in a really square fashion. Perhaps they had some bad music teacher or some friend who was a classical nerd. I can understand how someone would go through that and say, ‘I’m just gonna do what I’ll do. I’m not gonna learn.’ But that’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight. There are a lot of weapons that you’re not aware of that you could be deploying with such efficacy. You could be shaking entire nations. Theory’s the most important thing, but you also need a basic knowledge of harmony. The easiest thing to do is to try and learn other peoples’ songs. I’m suggesting stuff here that a lot of people would find incredibly unsexy. It’s like those people who learn to paint first by copying. But I’m a believer in that. LOT

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I meet some very funny musicians with very serious images, and it’s like they’re shooting themselves in the foot and cutting off something that could be really lasting. Because that humour, it’s in them. I’m not saying you should set out to do a joke record. There’s a good argument to be made that actual humour in songs shouldn’t be audible. But what you can’t deny is that just by making people laugh, even if it’s just a wry little comment to diffuse some tension in between songs on stage, you put people into a really open position and they can receive a lot [of information]. The more people laugh, the more the melodies are bumped up on steroids. Those are, like, multiplied by 10 because of the laughter. OMETIMES

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a film’s ambitious. But then I have ambition, maybe not as a natural endowment, but more as a result of who my father is — this very demanding businessman who mitigates my AKING

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more natural tendency to be a lazy, weed-smoking artist. Somehow I thank him for that, because I know it’s hard to acquire ambition if you don’t have it at a certain age. It’s like a language — you can’t really be fluent if you didn’t learn it young. So I wouldn’t tell other musicians they need to be more ambitious. But I would say that those who are should put that part of their personality out there. I mean, it surprises me that my admission of wanting success — my admission of thinking of myself as a brand, and my admission of seeing my fans as clients — is seen as shocking. It shouldn’t be such a lone voice in the wilderness. It also shouldn’t be taken as a joke. Yet it is. So I’m like, ‘Hmm, that must mean there are a lot of people out there who aren’t letting it all hang out; who aren’t just going with what they’ve got. They’re just looking at everyone else and thinking, “I’ll be like them.”’ And I get that. I did that in Canada when I was first signed. In my first round of interviews, I was like, ‘I make music for myself and if people like it it’s a bonus.’ I was one of those falsely modest dudes. But at some key point I decided to say, ‘Y’know what? Me playing alone at the piano in my room doesn’t actually mean anything. It can be a fun activity, but it doesn’t mean anything.’ What means something is the minute someone listens to it. When there are 400 people, it means a lot. When there are 1,000 people, it means a lot. The minute it’s back down to zero, it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore.

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a way of looking risky that isn’t actually risky. Risk’s not about pretending you don’t want success. It’s not about doing something anti-commercial like, ‘I’m putting a 12-minute song as the first track on my album.’ Weed-smoking hippies did that in the sixties. A real risk is trying to be the most individual person possible — putting all your personality, good and bad, on display.

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’M someone who believes that you need more inward curiosity than outward curiosity, so if you’re looking for inspiration, just find a way to get fascinated by yourself. The easiest way is to look for contradictory parts of your personality. My example at one point was, ‘Okay, I’m living in France. My French isn’t very good, and I don’t know anyone in this city. I don’t talk very much. Holy shit, I’m a solitary piano player! I’m a lonely Parisian piano player. This is hilarious. This is so not me and yet here it is.’ And that realisation became my record, . So, stop looking at what other DJs play or what other musicians listen to. L I S T E N to Y O U R S E L F .

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successful musicians I know, some of them are extremely ungrateful. But I think that if you find something you love to do, already you’re ahead. If you can make a living doing that thing, you’ve basically won the lottery. And if you get rich doing it, you really have no reason to complain whatsoever. About anything. It should be one of the criteria to be a musician: that you have a basic humility about the lucky spot you have. That sounds cheesy, but I really do think there’s a certain responsibility that goes with talent. HE

THE STOOL PIGEON,

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Communist Plot Are Californian art punks NO AGE a couple of pinkos? We take them on a trip to Karl Marx’s grave in London to find out. Words by Huw Nesbitt Photograph by Jamie Simonds

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SK yourself this: have you got the balls to jack everything in to do whatever it is you want to do? Are you really that sort of idiot? LA’s No Age are. The sentiment is embedded in the name they borrowed from an instrumental compilation that Greg Ginn of Black Flag released on his SST label in 1987. It was a pretty bad record, but the cover photo of a derelict gas plant just about summed up what the music couldn’t by declaring the post-industrial age a failure. Nature had not been silenced, science and technology had not extinguished irrational belief, our voices were still lost in the cosmos and Karl Marx had turned out to be just another crank in the nuthouse. His vision of a workers’ utopia would never be realised; his absolutism, bullshit. More than that, we were now living a time of nothingness and decay. A No-Age, with a capital N. Dean Spunt and Randy Randall from No Age are standing at the entrance to Highgate Cemetery looking sheepish. It’s a shitty day, one of those ones in London during late summer where the heat rises from the ground and the sky stays smeared with black dirt from dawn till dinner. We’re supposed to be visiting Karl Marx’s grave, but a warden is telling us to get lost for half an hour because there’s a funeral on. We hop it round the corner to a grassy park on top of Highgate Hill. The whole thing must seem like a fit-up. ‘American DIY art punk band visits the godfather of communism.’ What a snapline. No wonder they’re nervous. Randy’s fondling some daisies, mumbling about the importance of Marx in his childhood. “I remember reading Das Kapital in high school and feeling very open to the ideas,” he says. “What I wanted to know is, ‘How is communism so bad?’ In America, it’s like, ‘Well, in theory it works but in practice it doesn’t.’ And I kind of agree. I like the idea, but seeing it operate — not even on a

governmental level, but on a smaller scale, like in anarcho co-op venues like 922 Gillman Street in Berkeley, where everyone has an equal say in how it’s run… you just see things fall apart. I prefer the model of places like The Smell in LA. That place is the vision of one guy called Jim Smith, who’s influenced us a lot. He opens up, closes, cleans everything, pays the rent, and all he asks is that bands bring the art.” Dean calls the left in America “a pretty narrow wing”. “The bird is still pretty much all with the Republicans,” he says, despite there being a Democrat calling the shots in the White House. This weekend No Age are sleeping on friends’ floors and playing both the Field Day festival and a secret show in south London. Next week, they’re flying to Russia for the first time to perform in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In 2008, they went on a CBS talk show just before the election wearing t-shirts emblazoned with ‘free healthcare’ after the network vetoed their Obama ones. They simply wrote their slogan on the inside of the tshirts and wore them inside out. To the majority of Americans, they might as well be leaders of a cult based around child molestation, or Al-Qaeda agents, or North Korean sex spies. “It’s all bullshit,” says Dean. “We get a lot of it, ’cos it’s simpler to think of us that way, even in the press. If anything, we’re just artists. We do things a certain way and we do them for ourselves. If we were in this to make money, we wouldn’t be making the music we do. But in some ways what we do is very capitalist. There’s an undeniable entrepreneurial spirit to DIY culture.” “But it isn’t a chance to get rich,” adds Randy. “We started the band by intentionally making decisions that people thought were crazy, like blowing the money from our day jobs to go and play shows in London. The way we run our band is also very political. People are always surprised that we don’t give a shit about furthering our careers or making money. Living like this is a political statement because we don’t do what people think is acceptable to build a career upon. Instead, it’s about real life, which is harder.” Doesn’t that just make you stupid and bitter?

Dean looks at the floor. Randy pulls up some more flowers from the turf. “Well, we never tried to sell ourselves as a left-wing political band,” says Randy. “Yeah, like, in our old hardcore band, Wives, we felt the same way,” follows Dean. “But the way that band was being sold and marketed to people was like, ‘WE ARE DIY!’, as if that’s a real statement. It’s not, it’s just what we do.” So what’s the difference between being a political band and politics being just an element of what you are? “Because I do something doesn’t mean I am something,” Deans says. “But if you’re asking if we’re a political band, then yes, I think we are, because we take a stance and we do what the fuck we want to do. Do we make political music? No, I don’t think so. I think the records we make are a statement about ourselves, and the way we do things. We’re not fucking Green Day.” Randy and Dean are idiots in the romantic, Dostoyevskian tradition. They’re philosopher-artists, or poet-warriors, out of step with everything, not because they refuse to tow the line or make loads of money or have kids and own a house — all of which they might one day do, god help them — but because they do what they want to do on their own terms. Musically, all this gets digested by becoming an expression of their very being. New LP Everything In Between is their third. It follows 2008’s Nouns and Weirdo Rippers [2007], which in themselves followed the demise of Wives, the band that dealt them this death-drive DIY instinct for carving their own path. Everything In Between is a title that’s concerned with residue — memory, the indivisible remainder. Sonically, it’s a grim tunnel that follows their personal lives and the political topography of America in the last two years. It starts with blasts of harmonic distortion, spreads to the mire with lyrics screaming about alienation, disaster and isolation cast in sub-aquatic production, and then pulls you out at the end with fireworks on July 4th telling you that you’ve got everything you’re ever going to need. “We’ve gone through a lot in our personal lives and in our band,” says Dean, “Some of the music is a reaction to that; some of it’s just weird love songs, plain and simple.

Most of it wasn’t a particularly happy time. We started writing the record in our past life, after Nouns. Then, somewhere in the middle of all that, members of my family had serious health issues, then me and my girlfriend broke up, then… there was just a lot of emotional mess.” “Yeah, that’s true, but it’s also a political record in the sense that the personal is the political,” Randy interrupts. “You can’t escape that. Politics has come into your personal life whether you want it there or not. That’s not up for discussion, particularly in America right now.” But haven’t things always been like that? “Maybe, but it’s more specific. Look at medical care. If a loved one is in hospital facing insurmountable medical bills, then that’s a very personal issue. How do you survive? The very fibre of your being is up for the vote. If you don’t have any opinions about politics, that’s fine, but the politicians have opinions about you.” It’s been an hour of this sort of dialogue and everyone’s looking tired of it, so we bail out and go back to the cemetery to see if the warden’s pissed off. He has. There’s just an old woman at the gate asking us for £5 each. Inside, Highgate Cemetery is a rat’s maze of death — green ivy, crumbling marble, sentimental carvings. Karl is buried not far from Douglas Adams on a corner under some trees. Friedrich Engels stumped up for the plot when Marx died a skint German immigrant soothsayer in north London, spring 1883. In the 1950s, some British reds paid for the boasting monument that’s there now: a Stalinist bust, hollow eyes unerring... Littered around him are the graves of other communist figures, shipped in from abroad, feigning glory through proximity. ‘Saad Saadi Ali — Iraqi Communist’, reads one. ‘Dr Yusuf Dadoo — Chairman of the South African Communist Party’, another. “Isn’t the Russian spy that got killed from an injection of uranium buried here, too?” asks Dean. So is Jeremy Beadle. They look confused. “Wasn’t there another Russian spy scandal recently?” asks Randy. “You know, the one last month where we swapped a load of ours for a load of theirs?” “Yeah,” says Dean. “That stuff is still going on.”

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West is West The biggest shit-talker in town, ICE CUBE, is always squaring up for a fight.

Words by Cian Traynor Photograph by Macomber Bombey

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releasing just one solo album by the end of the decade. With his sporadic output increasingly comprised of routine gangsta brags, Cube has become more concerned with his declining stature than the piercing social commentary he was known for. In the N.W.A. days, the sheer conviction of Cube ’s flow meant that few doubted whether “the world’s most dangerous group” were really gangsters. In reality, Cube (real name O’Shea Jackson) initially took a break from N.W.A. to study architectural drafting and his middle-class background was parodied in the 1993 rap mockumentary CB4. A string of family movies have continued to tarnish Cube ’s image and his last album, 2008’s Raw Footage, was his first not to achieve at least gold status. Today’s A-list rappers avoid beefs in fear of giving small-fry a platform or alienating a rival’s fan base. Not Ice Cube. In the run up to his ninth solo album, I Am The West, the 41-year-old has been venting frustration through his blog where his veiled baiting has drawn criticism from LA’s crop of ‘new West Coast’ rappers and his ‘diss then deny’ tactics have put hip hop veterans on edge. After premiering ‘Drink the Kool-Aid’, the lines, “I ain’t the Doctor! This ain’t the patient! This ain’t that nigga always on vacation! This ain’t no white boy’s rehabilitation!” led former N.W.A. group-mate Dr. Dre to enquire if he was being dissed. Though Cube assured him he wasn’t, Dre promptly stopped returning his calls. Whether or not such runins are enough to parry cries of ‘sell out’ and ‘spent force ’, Cube is in snarling form, defending his rep with the same scowling intensity that kickstarted his career.

ce Cube needs to chill. He’s angry at not being taken seriously, fuming at having his credibility questioned. Clearly a career in Hollywood and a back-catalogue of classic hip hop have done nothing to ease his temper — or his need for controversy. It began when Niggaz With Attitude outraged America in 1988. As the group’s main lyricist, Cube crafted a brutal vision of crack-ridden South Central LA. The resulting Straight Outta Compton revolutionised hardcore hip hop, attracted the attention of the FBI and incited a debate that hurtled gangsta rap into mainstream consciousness. Without any airplay or label resources, the album sold three million copies. Financially frustrated by N.W.A.’s management, Cube left for a solo career that would earn him far more notoriety. The ferocious delivery of 1990’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted acted as a siren from the streets of black America. Its manifesto was barbed with racism, sexism, homophobia, antiSemitism, misogyny and gratuitous violence — giving white suburbanites (80 per cent of Cube’s sales, according to his label) a vicarious taste of ghetto life. One million pre-orders were sold for its follow-up, 1991’s Death Certificate, and Cube delivered more of the most anti-establishment, fist-pumping rhymes ever recorded, landing him on right-wing assassination lists. Then a film role changed everything. Following a turn in John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood, where he played an extension of the persona he projected in his music, Cube gradually turned to acting, screenwriting and producing. By 1993’s Lethal Injection, the bite was gone and Cube officially became a part-time MC, giving his best songs to film soundtracks and


YOU CLAIM YOU ARE THE WEST, BUT WHO’S CHALLENGING YOU FOR THAT TITLE?

Nobody. THEN WHY SAY IT?

Because every big dog gotta piss on the trees now and again... just to let everybody know you are the big dog. That’s why I said it.

like it. They wanna hear what’s goin’ on in the streets — no matter how you cut it — and they want it delivered as a hit record. There’s grimy motherfuckers rappin’ all day, but nobody wanna buy the shit. There’s a million MCs in the penitentiary, but nobody wanna buy their music. Because it ain’t about that; that’s just one part of it. Anybody who grew up in a neighbourhood like I did is more than qualified to speak on what it is to be there. Nobody goin’ tell me that they’re not because everybody’s subjected to the same shit.

WHY THE NEED TO CONSTANTLY REASSESS YOUR STATUS?

Our history on the West Coast is not being recognised and celebrated as I think it should. If nobody speaks up, it’s goin’ to be pushed more and more to the background. That’s why it’s put on the back of someone like me or Snoop to hold the West up and make sure it doesn’t dissipate. I MEAN, IN TERMS OF YOUR PERSONAL REPUTATION, DR. DRE SAYS IT’S BENEATH HIM TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT MINOR RAPPERS.

I don’t agree with that because someone will eventually take your spot. In the rap game, you’ve got to take all threats seriously. You can’t let nobody get away with nothin’, big or small. Ja Rule thought 50 Cent was a small-time rapper; he didn’t pay him enough attention. By the time he did, 50 was on top of him. Ain’t nobody gonna use me to launch themselves just ’cause I felt I’m too big to say something about it. I don’t agree with that philosophy. Dre’s more of a producer. I’m an MC.

CAN YOU STILL BE A MEDIUM FOR LIFE ON THE STREET WHEN YOU’VE BEEN LIVING THE GOOD LIFE FOR YEARS?

Yeah, if you continue to speak for people who can’t speak for themselves. The thing about the ’hood is it doesn’t change. That’s what’s fucked up about it. People in the ’hood don’t know we’re goin’ through a recession! It’s always a fuckin’ recession. Never stops. Dude, what other rappers aren’t rappin’ about what I was in ’89 or ’91? What’s different? IT’S MORE ABOUT MATERIALISM NOW.

Yeah, because people rarely want to hear about what’s goin’ on in the ’hood. They wanna talk about the glamour shit. The real records? Pfft. Man, please. Don’t nobody wanna hear those. They wanna hear the fluffy, sensationalised shit. Those motherfuckers who do real records are goin’ straight to the bottom. WHY DON’T PEOPLE WANT TO HEAR IT?

JAY ROCK SAYS YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO NAME NAMES, RATHER THAN SPEAK GENERALLY.

No, I don’t! No, I don’t. I can speak names when I choose to. No MCs goin’ tell me what to do or how to do it. No MC. Or no writer! Nobody. These guys shot arrows across my bow first. I will name names... at the appropriate time. I’m addin’ names, I tell you that.

’Cause they livin’ through it. It’s too painful to hear. Music is supposed to be an escape, not a reminder. It’s cool for y’all on the outside lookin’ in, tryin’ to see who’s authentic, who can really speak on it and what new stories are comin’ out of the ghetto because it’s good art. People who are livin’ it wanna hear the fun parts of the ghetto: drinkin’, fuckin’, smokin’, cars, money, clothes. They don’t wanna hear about incest, rape, AIDS, police brutality, how schools are a haven for gang bangin’. Who wants to hear about healthcare? Nobody.

WHEN’S THE APPROPRIATE TIME?

When people feel offended by this record and they decide to say something directly on wax. I ain’t worried about what people say in the media ’cause that is what it is. Rhymes are a different thing. WHAT ABOUT WHEN THE WRONG PEOPLE GET OFFENDED BECAUSE YOU’RE TOO VAGUE?

I expect whoever gets upset to reach out. If they don’t, then that’s on them. DO YOU THINK A RAPPER NEEDS REAL STREET CREDIBILITY TO SUCCEED?

Nah, I think you need talent. Don’t nobody care about [credibility]. The people who care about that are obviously not talented enough to do it themselves. You have to look at what you have to offer and be true to yourself. People respect an MC in the first place ’cause he’s a leader, not a follower. If MCs feel they need to follow the streets to be relevant or seem real, then that’s a whole nuther trip. That ain’t got nothin’ to do with makin’ records. WHAT IF A FAN FINDS OUT THAT SOMEONE’S BEEN RAPPING ABOUT A LIFE THEY NEVER LIVED? DOESN’T THAT MAKE IT LESS AUTHENTIC?

[Pauses] Well, a historian may not have lived during the time, but that don’t mean they don’t know what they’re talkin’ about. Another way to look at it is when you’re livin’ in a war zone, soldiers ain’t the only ones that are hard. The civilians are, too. Either you know what you’re talkin’ about or you don’t. If rappers only rapped about what they did, their career would be probably only one album long. It’s all about observin’ the world, hearin’ about it and having the talent to put that in rhyme; to put it to the right beat and make a hit out of it. If that wasn’t the case, everybody in prison should be triple platinum. It’s a ridiculous burden to put on any artist — that you’ve got to be Ernest Hemmingway to write. That’s bullshit. You rap what you feel. You’ve gotta have a style, a command of the language, you’ve gotta know what the people are feelin’ and be able to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. Those are the ingredients to becoming a rap star. Not your criminal record. It’s a case of the media and the public askin’ for something that’s ridiculous and impossible to deliver. IS IT UNREASONABLE THAT SOME WOULD TAKE YOUR FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNTS AT FACE VALUE?

I’m rhyming about conditions of a culture and a people. The rhymes are bigger than me and my life. When people start rapping about what they go through, that shit gets boring. When every artist comes out, they’ve got 19, 20 years of material. For the next record you’re expected to live a whole new life within one year [laughs]. So people’s records end up bein’ about fuckin’ airplanes, hotels, fancy cars, jewellery — shit they’re now into. And then people don’t

WAS IT PAINFUL FOR PEOPLE 20 YEARS AGO? IT SEEMED TO MEAN A LOT.

People were just happy that the word was gettin’ out; that we weren’t goin’ through it alone and that there could be some understanding of what it takes to be black in America. But you realise years later that nobody cares. They were just lookin’ for sensational stories to entertain themselves with. Nobody wanted a real movement; just records they can dance to. RAP HAS ALWAYS BEEN A YOUNG MAN’S GAME, BY NATURE. HOW LONG CAN ANY MIDDLE-AGED RAPPER EXPECT TO STAY RELEVANT?

Relevant to who? TO THEIR AUDIENCE.

To their audience? Or to the audience? Every rapper with more than two albums has a section of fans that will buy their record. Now is the mainstream goin’ to be all over them like when they first came out? Probably not; only if it’s relevant to mainstream media. But you’ll be relevant to your fans as long as you’re making music they like. It seems like the media has an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ mentality, whether it’s better or not. That said, every good artist has three years on top. The rest is tryin’ to maintain and not fall to the bottom. DO YOUR KIDS UNDERSTAND THE SENTIMENTS BEHIND DEATH CERTIFICATE?

I guess, to a degree. I tell them to keep it gangsta. To me, that’s livin’ life how you want to live it. Don’t listen to society; don’t even listen to the law. I don’t really sit them down and grill them on my old music. They discover it and get what they want out of it. My wife talks to them more about my career than I do. YOU’VE BEEN WITH YOUR WIFE SINCE N.W.A. HOW DOES SHE TAKE ALL THE TALK OF SLEEPING WITH BITCHES?

That’s just ego shit. Male machismo… whatever the fuck you wanna call it. You gotta understand that there are ingredients to making rap. Leaving out your ego is damn near like leavin’ the salt out of the dinner you’re cookin’. You gotta be the biggest shit-talker in town. People respond to sex. It’s part of the game we’re playin’. SO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF THE CLINT EASTWOOD OF THE RAP GAME?

Yeah, that’s a good way to put it. I’m just doin’ what I love, man. Without over-analysing it too much, the worst thing I could do is repeat myself or do what everybody wants me to do. I’ve never done that. If I lose doin’ things my way, it’s better than winning the way somebody else wants me to do things. I just want to be my own man.


THIS MAN HAS SOLD OVER HALF A BILLION RECORDS (AND YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF HIM)

The Stool Pigeon interview with Nile Rodgers Interview by Cian Traynor Photograph by Paul Calver

When the B-52s asked a fortune teller what producer they should work with, she pointed to a picture of Nile Rodgers and said, “The vibe is with this man.” Given that his fingerprints are scattered through the history pages of pop, it was a good call. As the founders of Chic, the definitive band of the disco generation, Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards became the Lennon and McCartney of the dancefloor. Within a span of 18 months they wrote, performed and produced a tidal wave of blockbuster hits for Chic, Sister Sledge and Diana Ross that turned Rodgers into the sought-after talisman that would give Madonna and David Bowie their biggest successes. Rodgers’ mother was just 13 when she gave birth to him in 1952 and an unsettled upbringing saw him shifted from school to school around New York City. Everywhere he went, Rodgers filled a gap in the school band, each time picking up and mastering a new instrument before finally settling on guitar. As a teen he found work in the Sesame Street and Apollo Theatre house bands, backing and opening for the likes of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Aretha Franklin and Parliament. He met Edwards in 1971 and the two forged a career together with full creative and commercial control by writing their own material, starting their own production company and retaining all publishing rights. Chic never considered themselves ‘disco’; it was merely a way in. They hadn’t been taken seriously as a black rock outfit and, frustrated with playing bar mitzvahs, Rodgers found inspiration for a novel, rhythm-driven songwriting approach when he noticed that local DJs lined up their playlists according to beats per minute. By adding two female vocalists, two keyboardists, horns and strings, Chic took shape with a stylish image, a sparkling lyrical economy and synergistic molten grooves. A streak of hits followed, among them ‘Le Freak’ — the biggest-selling single in the history of Atlantic Records — and ‘Good Times’ — the backbone of hip hop and the first song to reach number 1 in America three times. When Atlantic asked the pair to produce any artist on the roster they liked, they opted to prove themselves with the label’s least-known act, Sister Sledge. ‘We Are Family’, ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’ and ‘Lost In Music’ turned the sisters into superstars and established the Rodgers/Edwards partnership, known as Chic Organization, as the most bankable production team in music. The hits only began to dry up when Chicago radio DJ Steve Dahl began a movement called ‘Disco Sucks’ after being fired from his job at the height of disco. In 1979 Dahl orchestrated a ‘demolition night’ where a crowd of 90,000 burned disco records. The ensuing riot was widely perceived as tapping into the era’s undercurrent of homophobia and racism, using disco as its scapegoat. Two months later, disco fell from the top 10, never to return and forever stigmatised. Rodgers and Edwards scored more hits with ‘Upside Down’ and ‘I’m Coming Out’ for Diana Ross as well as ‘Spacer’ for Sheila and B. Devotion but following disappointing sales for Debbie Harry’s solo album, Koo Koo, and a Johnny Mathis record considered too radical to be released, the pair split acrimoniously in 1983. Rodgers had just as much success on his own,

working with the likes of Madonna, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Bryan Ferry, Peter Gabriel, Eric Clapton, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, Robert Plant, David Bowie, Grace Jones, INXS, David Lee Roth, Sheena Easton, Al Jarreau, The Thompson Twins, the B-52s and Michael Jackson. Put the Chic Organization highlights together and you’ve got what resembles the ultimate party mix — which is exactly what Rodgers and Edwards began playing once they reformed Chic in 1992. Sadly, Edwards collapsed during a concert in Tokyo in 1996 and died of pneumonia later that night. Since then Rodgers has dedicated himself to celebrating the duo’s legacy — one so influential that The Sugarhill Gang, Blondie, Queen, Notorious B.I.G., MC Lyte, Faith Evans and Will Smith all achieved Gold and Platinum hits by sampling and recycling the Chic sound. Today, Rodgers is taking a break from working on the Chic Organization box set to share the kind of stories that have inspired his autobiography, due next year on Random House. SP: You’ve said that you’ve been almost anonymous throughout your career. What are the advantages and disadvantages of that? NR: The advantage is I have the greatest life in the world. Even when Chic were huge, I could go anywhere. I remember an incident at a songwriters’ award dinner where we were winning everything. The Bee Gees were standing right next to us in the bathroom going, ‘Damn! Who are these guys?’ They had cleaned up the previous years and had no idea who we were because, like most people, they presumed that Chic were those two models on our first album cover. The downside is that, because of that anonymity, I’m of no benefit to anybody who wants a famous name to help promote something. If my fame and my face corresponded to the amount of records I’ve sold, I’d probably be like Prince — or maybe even more famous! There’s a real value to having Prince do your interview or the opening of a lingerie store. He’s a star, he’s known. There’s no benefit to anybody having Nile Rodgers come over because I can’t draw a crowd. So I can’t do the kind of business that people seem to do in today’s world, which is all based on having a real presence and a brand in the marketplace. The music is just the entryway for doing much bigger business now. Back in the day business was just a small part of it, and most people looked upon it with huge disdain. SP: But you had your own ‘office’ in the women’s toilets at Studio 54. How could you have that kind of status if you were unknown? NR: Well, at that point I was partying and I was part of the clique within New York. Even though our product was mainstream, our scene was underground. To be doing drugs in the bathrooms at the clubs was just the lifestyle. I met David Bowie in an after-hours club and that turned into Let’s Dance. People don’t realise but when I met David, he looked like the odd person out. He was just a normal suit-wearing guy sitting in a bar during the ‘club kids’ phenomenon. Everybody around him looked like they were in a circus. Little did I realise, David was at the beginning of yet another trend: what would become the metrosexual look. People don’t really get how artistic, cool and far ahead of the crowd that guy is — even back then. Had I been hanging out at some mainstream joint, I probably wouldn’t have met him. The underground was where things were happening.


SP: How would you describe the excess of the era for someone who wasn’t there? NR: I think it was way over the top and out of control when I look back on it with the clarity I have now. The thing that made life a bit different was that AIDS was brand new and it felt like it was exclusive to the gay community. So we were in a world of open sex. It was common to meet a girl on an airplane and have sex right at your seat. Then you’d never see them again. It wasn’t because I was some superstar, because I wasn’t; that’s just how life was. So when tours were being planned we’d insist on flying certain airlines, even though it was more expensive, because they had the prettiest stewardesses. Most of the time they would end up being your girlfriend for the flight, sometimes afterwards as well. Those were the good old days, bro [laughs].

from the state of rigor mortis that the estimated time of death was 3am. So I said, ‘Oh, you mean somewhere around the time of the earthquake?’ The coroner said, ‘What earthquake?’ I explained that I had been knocked to the floor at 3:27am, just after having this nightmare where I was the last person on Earth and the only other person was floating up like a helium balloon. I was trying to hold onto their hand but they were carrying me into the sky so I finally had to let go. So the coroner said, ‘Okay, the patient’s time of death was 3.27. That was your friend saying goodbye to you.’ I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ To him, that happens all the time.

SP: What was the first sign that the party was over? NR: It only hit us after our records stopped selling. When the ‘Disco Sucks’ movement happened, we didn’t think it would have any effect on us. If you listen to a disco record, it doesn’t sound like Chic. We had songs that worked at a disco but our records sounded more like instrumental R&B bands with hit songs. The thing that pissed us off was that because ‘Good Times’ was going up the charts at the same time as ‘My Sharona’, The Knack were labelled as the ultimate rock’n’roll band and Chic the ultimate disco band. Boy, did the industry get both of those wrong [laughs]! Both records went to number 1 but The Knack never had another hit after that and neither did Chic. Interesting. When the smoke cleared, neither of us had a pot to piss in. Once that identity was forced upon us, we tried too hard to not be a disco band. All we had to do was our music and we would have been fine. Instead we allowed labels to get painted on us and it was almost like a smear campaign. When that happens, there’s nothing you can do. You’re helpless. It was one of those horrible situations where we were in the wrong place at the wrong time and so were The Knack. Thank God for Diana Ross. She rescued us.

SP: This has happened a few times? NR: Oh yeah. Some are less traumatic than others. One night I was just hanging out, came home, got into the elevator and somehow magically pushed the button 13 instead of my floor, which is 28. When I hit the 13th floor someone said I fell out onto the landing. I wasn’t breathing and they took me to hospital. My heart kept stopping over and over again. When I woke up the next day, the doctor stuck around just to explain how hard they had worked to keep me alive. All I knew was that my chest was killing me and I thought someone had redecorated my apartment. He said that my heart had stopped eight times and that on the last one, he was filling out my death certificate. My heart started going again and one of the orderlies said, ‘Hey doc, we have a live one here.’ So he said, ‘Well, I guess it wasn’t his time to go.’ Another time it was probably what’s called Lynne’s Sjogren’s Syndrome, where you’re doing cocaine and your heart expires. They can start it again and there’s no dead heart tissue. I woke up in intensive coronary care next to the Shah of Iran. This was after the revolution and he had been kicked out of Iran. I used to work for his cousin in a nightclub so we knew each other. It was hilarious.

SP: What did it take to repair your relationship with Bernard when Chic reformed? NR: Playing with Bernard [laughs]. That’s all there is to it. Everything I’ve done with every other artist is some slight variation of my relationship with him. Either it’s some positive distortion or a negative one, but it’s still that same thing. When I turned 40, Bernard came to the China Club and Bruce Willis, Rick James and a whole bunch of people jumped up on stage. No matter how much of a jam we went into, the one thing that sounded amazing was how the guitar and the bass locked. That foundation was there that night: we were the guys behind the stars. That’s what we do. It finally sounded the way it was supposed to sound again.

SP: You spent some time in rehab. What was the moment you decided to get sober? NR: The last time I touched a drink or drug was 16 years ago at Madonna’s birthday in Miami. I probably wouldn’t have stopped after that night if things hadn’t happened the way they did. I made a fool out of myself. I had a beautiful date and spent the night in the bathroom with Mickey Rourke. I was also going down there to produce an artist who’s a real genius. I won’t mention his name but we had jammed together at a gig earlier and I thought I was smokin’. The next day when he played the tape for me I thought, ‘Oh my God, are you kidding me? That’s what I was doing?’ In my memory I was like Hendrix. The evidence said it sucked and the tape doesn’t lie. I needed a dose of reality because mine was all distorted.

SP: The night Bernard passed away, you were thrown out of your bed. What do you think happened? NR: I’m a scientific sort of guy. All I can do is report what happened and you can draw your own conclusions. We were in Tokyo and I woke up on the floor, having felt like I was thrown out of bed. The first thing I thought was, ‘Oh my God, there’s been an earthquake in Tokyo.’ So I turn on CNN to see if there was a report of it, but there wasn’t. I was terrified because I had been through the North Ridge earthquake [in Los Angeles] and had a bit of post-traumatic stress. I noted the time and wondered whether I should stay up till morning but I didn’t. The next thing I know I got a phone call saying Mr Edwards won’t answer his wake-up call. Fast-forward to me getting housekeeping to open the door, I walk in... and find him dead. [Audibly upset] The whole thing was pretty traumatic. When I was at the police station filling out the death certificate, they could tell

SP: NR:

Tell me about the night when your heart stopped. Which time?

SP: When you worked with Eric Clapton, it was a difficult time for both of you. What was it like? NR: It was difficult for me because I was really in the throes of my addiction. Eric was Mr Sober and he had just had a really traumatic incident with the loss of his son. I was just so selfish. When you’re a drug addict and alcoholic, you think you’re having the time of your life and you want everyone to have that time with you. I didn’t get it. I’ve only apologised to Eric once and hopefully he was smart enough to get how sincere I was. The greatest lesson I ever learned was from Eric Clapton because he never once tried to talk to me or get me sober or complain about my behaviour, at least not to me... because I wasn’t going to hear him. I thought that was brilliant and I’ve learned that same lesson, too. I don’t preach to people. I think that’s the way to be. If they want to do it, fine. If I


The withStool Nile Rodgers Pigeon interview want to do it, I’m going to do it. SP: It’s hard to imagine anyone telling Grace Jones what to do. How do you produce someone like her? NR: It’s a very odd job, producer. In a way the person is your boss but they’re hiring you to be their boss. So I look at my role as being their partner. On the other hand if I called up Grace Jones and asked her to sing on a Chic record, she’d do what I told her [laughs]. End of story. As a producer, it’s all negotiation. Grace and I had fantastic arguments. Fantastic! Sometimes I would question her logic and say, ‘Grace, why would you do this?’ And she’d say, ‘Well dah-ling, because everyone else does four takes.’ ‘You want to do five takes just because everyone else does four? That’s an artistic reason? Okay then, we’ll do five.’ But I’d want to question whether there was some spirit behind it or if she was just being... jerky. Grace is a real visionary. She understands things on a different level. She comes from the David Bowie mould, where they just see the world in a very holistic way. I like that. The more complicated the personality, the happier I am. I could sit down with Paul Simon who, as you probably know, has a reputation for being really out there. Let me tell you, I can’t be happier when I’m sitting around talking to guys like that. When I’m with Prince, I feel like I’m finally with a normal person. So that says a lot about me. I feel so comfortable among intense personalities. There’s probably no place I’d rather be. SP: How do you make sure sparks don’t fly when you’re working with someone that intense? NR: Sparks do fly. That’s okay. I don’t take it personally. The biggest argument I may have ever had was with Madonna. I think I have an intense work ethic but she was way more intense. In retrospect, it made all the sense in the world. She was working with my crew; there was really no one from her camp on the record. I always do that to artists: put them in a situation where they’re really uncomfortable. I need them to be out of their element. If you look at most of my records, the artist is working with people I hired. With Mick Jagger or Bowie, they didn’t know the people they were cutting the record with. Look at the Vaughan Brothers, Stevie Ray and Jimmy — their band is the one I made up for them. We have to form a brotherhood because we have to make this song, which is not ours, wonderful by the time we leave. If I do write the song, the artist doesn’t get to hear them until they get there. When Diana Ross walked into the room, she’d never heard the songs before. When the Sledge sisters came into the studio, they had no idea what they were going to sing. You can look at the credits; that’s what I do. SP: What does it feel like when people assume the singer wrote those songs? NR: I think that’s great. If people think Sister Sledge wrote ‘We Are Family’ then I really have done my job! That’s unbelievable. People think Diana Ross wrote ‘Upside Down’? That is smokin’! Those records are theirs but it’s my interpretation of their lives. If you sit for a portrait painter and then look at the portrait, you might think it doesn’t look like you. To the painter, that looks exactly like you. Let’s Dance looks exactly like David Bowie. SP: How did Diana Ross react to her portrait? NR: In New York during the late seventies and early eighties the most underground clubs were the gay clubs and the most underground gay clubs were the transvestite and transsexual clubs. So there was this one joint I used to go to all the time near my apartment called The Gilded Grape. Every now and

then you’d go to the bathroom to use it for what it was actually there for. Maybe it was some sort of Diana Ross impersonation contest that night but I looked to my left and right and there were Diana Ross lookalikes everywhere. Then it hit me like a lightning bolt: there are a lot of women aligned with the gay community, so what if Diana could express that alignment in a song? What if Diana Ross was actually gay? That would be incredible. So we [Rodgers and Edwards] made a song called ‘I’m Coming Out’. We’d interviewed Diana Ross about doing an album and in the course of the interview she was telling us about leaving her record company and moving to a new city; how her life was changing. So we had to convince her that ‘I’m Coming Out’ was a clever way of saying that. When she played it for a big radio DJ, he said, ‘Diana! Do you understand what this song means?’ And she came back and said [spot-on Diana Ross impersonation], ‘Um, Nile, are people gonna think I’m gay?’ I was like, ‘Are you out of your mind? How could anyone on this damn planet think Diana Ross is gay?’ If that question came up, then we really did our job right. The funny thing is she kind of was living a double life. She was in the Motown camp and the way Berry Gordy ran that company, he really was the boss. Everybody marched to his parade. Her leaving to make this record on her own was a huge statement. So it was as if Diana Ross had written that song to say thank you for the support. To this very day, she comes out on stage to that song. Diana is the only record of hers that sounds like that because we knew we could get away with artistic murder. It wound up being the biggest of her life yet it was such a fight to get that record out. They just sound like pop songs now, but at the time they caused such a stir. Nobody liked them. The record company was dead set against it. We ended up getting into lawsuits and it was a bloodbath. Then the record comes out and flies up to number 1. The public didn’t care about all that stuff. If you put it on the radio and the phones light up, then the DJs know. That’s what happened. SP: You gave some big artists the biggest hits of their careers, so it would make sense that you would have done their follow-up album. But that didn’t happen very often. Why is that? NR: I think a lot of it is because those first records we did were so big. How do you replicate that? I didn’t do a follow-up with Madonna and she’s had nothing but success since Like A Virgin. If I had produced a second album and the sales were only half, you would think that I was half as good. SP: Do you think working on a second album with Bowie takes away for Let’s Dance at all? NR: Nah. The problem was that it was years later. I would have loved to have done the follow-up to Let’s Dance. Black Tie White Noise was under totally different circumstances. He had a label, he had funding, he was about to get married. His focus on the record was very different and he was really involved. It was more of a regular type of David Bowie record. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it just didn’t push either of us to a spectacular place. Let’s Dance cost nothing to do. We turned it in within 17 days. When I made the demo for ‘Let’s Dance’, it was almost like a test. I think he wanted to see what I would do. I don’t think he expected me to turn what sounded like a folk song, to me, into the groove song it became. I did that right there on the spot and he was like, ‘Wow! You mean to tell me it can sound like that?’ But I don’t have any regrets about any of the stuff I’ve done. The only thing that really bugs me a wee bit is the Debbie Harry record, ’cause that should have been great. We really should have knocked that out of the park. That’s one I actually feel pain over. I don’t know how to make that up to her or me. Apart from that, everything else is the way it should have happened.


A WHALING AND A BRUSHING OF THE TEETH

John Doran travels to the roof of the world but finds substituting vegetarianism for a diet of pure whale meat to be more problematic than he envisaged. Photographs by Luke Turner

The future is now. I am 14 years old and one of two billion people watching Live Aid on the television, thanks to satellites. Satellites in outer fucking space. Phil Collins is in mid-air on Concorde heading towards America faster than the speed of sound.

1985. The s

creen I’m watching is only four-inches across and part of an upright turntable and cassette recorder hi-fi combo. The technology that is allowing today’s transmission to occur is blowing my fucking mind. Stu’s mum comes in the room carrying a tray of roast chicken legs. Adam Ant walks on stage. “Yes!” says Stu. “Yes!” I say. Nothing can ruin the supreme righteousness of this moment. The joy is short-lived as Ant’s band of pretenders launch into ‘Vive Le Rock’. “What?” I say. He does a scissor kick and I know the eighties and my childhood are over. I look at the chicken with tears welling up in my

Generations — even if it means killing Jim Kirk — I must get back to Træna, such is its magnetic pull. The three-day festival takes place on an archipelago of 100 volcanic islands and small stony skerries that lie off the West Coast of Norway just inside the Arctic Circle. The normal population swells from 400 to 2,000 as people gather to frolic in the 24hour sunshine under mountainous outcrops that look, from a distance, like the top of the WuTang Clan symbol sticking out of the ocean. But what one previous visit to this northern paradise has taught me is that vegetarianism will not be tolerated at the top of the earth. This is a working fishing community in the middle of the sea and to visit it you can draw a parenthesis in your dietary requirements that starts and ends somewhere around Oslo. There are 130,000 whales around this bit of Norway, all closely moni-

tored. Whalers, all of them registered, are given a strictly adhered-to number to hunt each year. They tend to be free range and have the run of the place until a gigantic harpoon that’s like a telegraph pole packed with explosives is fired directly into the centre of the humongous mammal’s noggin. It isn’t, admittedly, an aesthetically pleasing way to die, and not one I’d choose, but then again I’m not a slab of tasty meat the size of Evel Knievel’s motor home swimming slowly round the briny. The whale’s lot has improved considerably in Western Europe over the years. We’re given a timely reminder of this when British Sea Power perform their beautiful and oceanic live soundtrack to Robert J. Flaherty’s 1934 documentary Man Of Aran in the community’s stave church. The film shows the struggle for survival of a small Irish community of shark hunters. To a much more

eyes. By the end of the day I am a vegetarian. By the end of the week I am an angry alcoholic who no longer talks to his father. And by the end of the year I have a Jesus and Mary Chain album and winkle pickers. Thanks, Adam Ant. 2010. The future is now. I am heading out of Bodø, the capital of the Nordland municipality of Norway, down a fjord and out to pristine, teal-coloured ocean by boat. I am heading to Træna, which is beyond any doubt the greatest festival in the world. Like how Malcolm McDowell must find the giant blue ribbon in outer space in Star Trek: incidental degree, it also shows the struggle for survival of a fucking giant basking shark which takes the brawny Irishmen over two days to kill before they can render its liver to oil for their lamps. If only we could learn from the Norwegians. No deforestation for breeding whales, no keeping them tightly packed in battery sheds, no injecting them full of water and hormones to make them weigh more. No workingclass communities crippled by illness, fatigue, malnutrition, academic under-achievement and obesity because of whale meat. While I’m here, I’m only going to eat whale meat and other sustainable sea food. It’s the only humane thing to do. Eating whale meat is the closest thing to vegetarianism on offer to me. After three days of eating nothing else, however, I start fraying round the edges. It doesn’t matter how much I brush my teeth, all I can taste is whale. The

toothpaste has become whale flavoured. At my most lucid I feel like the guy out of Grizzly Man, but I also have flashes where I know I’m acting like William Hurt in Altered States. I crash British Sea Power’s motorboat into a ferry three times in two days. It is the same ferry; it’s 200-foot long and it is moored. On my last day I get blood-crazed and start piling my plate high with random flesh. “What is this amazing cut of whale called?” I demand of the kitchen lady. “That is beef,” she tells me. I pick up a chicken leg and start chewing on it absent-mindedly, realising that I am undone. “I haven’t eaten chicken since Live Aid!” I shout. She smiles and starts backing away. “Why didn’t he just play ‘Prince Charming’?” I say to myself disconsolately and settle down to the longest meal of my life.

Travel The Stool Pigeon October 2010

57


“I DON’T KNOW WHAT ORDER THEY COME IN, I JUST FEEL THIS SHIT”

shreds from various solstice rituals I’ve had to attend. The life of a warlock such as I is a hard one. Come autumn, hallows-eve and the season change rejuvenates my weary limbs. The promise of the frog on Channel Five, puffball hunting on the misty Somerset Levels — it’s all fucking exciting stuff. So don’t fight the sun’s demise and let yourself go with the new fresh mornings and evenings in front of a roaring fire.

LIBRA SEPTEMBER 24 - OCTOBER 23

SCORPIO OCTOBER 24 - NOVEMBER 22

Horrorscopes Your Stars With Mental Marvin

Slag.

Slag.

CAPRICORN DECEMBER 23 - JANUARY 20

CANCER JUNE 22 - JULY 23

Break away from your normal routines this month and join a witches’ coven (look online, you can find them!). The other side of what’s considered normal may be normal for you, dear fiend.

Your odyssey begins. Find the harpy at Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges cathedral at the foothills of the Pyrenees.

AQUARIUS JANUARY 21 - FEBRUARY 19

Winter is near. Grow your full-body hair. Let your pusstache wander to your knees. Armpits should blossom; you’ll be darned grateful in the months of cold ahead. Man merkins are in, too.

You are the first consultation on my new Wiccan ball, the next level up from the crystal. This particular ball is a wonderful example Lord Swordcock lent me, supposed to have been used by the young Paul Daniels himself! Now, let us link, dear reader — editor’s note: two hours later — good grief, I’ve never known the likes of it. I can’t possibly explain or put down in this issue what I have witnessed and seen. All I can say is, you’ll like it. Not a lot, but you’ll like it...

GEMINI MAY 22 - JUNE 21 I love the season’s change. By the end of summer, I feel hanging. Bum flogged to

LEO JULY 24 - AUGUST 23

PISCES FEBRUARY 20 - MARCH 20 Scandal. Beware.

TAURUS APRIL 21 - MAY 21 Live your life as a cliché for the next week. I’m going to as well: cease being Mental Marvin and become a farmer. I’ve got a golden, pig-shaped medallion on my bare chest and some green, pinkvelvet lined wellies. I’ve swept my hair back and have covered myself in fake tan. I’ve borrowed my mate Baz’s

sawn-off shotgun and I’ve popped some downers and had five Cornettos. I’m going to ride a horse into town in a bit, pop into Lords’ Estate Agents and peruse in mind to purchase a castle, then stop by the craft centre and eat some artichoke ice cream. If I’m not too exhausted, I may make love to a pie in front of Question Time. Really helps to get out of your zone sometimes.

VIRGO AUGUST 24 - SEPTEMBER 23 Surprise a friend or foe with a willy attack. Whether you’re male or female, the same principle applies. Appear early Sunday morning while they still slumber, dressed as the ancient god Priapus. I suggest a huge chorizo with chilli and fig outer-casing for the god’s abnormally sized todger (looks genuinely goat-like and musty). Leap onto the bed shrieking and bang the above mentioned sausage frantically on their forehead until they come around to normality. When awoken, have a pre-written note secured in your buttocks with what other message you would like to relay (I find “remember this day!” works well). Spin around to deliver the letter, then go and make them a nice cup of tea.

SAGITTARIUS NOVEMBER 23 - DECEMBER 22 You’re excited, I can tell. Smell your bottom sweat mixing with my Eau De Tabac in another place and time. I can literally smell you in another dimension! Got an undiscovered masterpiece by De Burgh, the Casio symphony, chillaxing the airwaves. Interesting fact in the liner notes: the second movement was inspired by an argument he had with his wife while watching the pilot

episode of Miami Vice. In his words, “the torn desires of duty and free will,” or “synthesisers and washing up.” Let’s now make love, dear reader, joss sticks are lit... What do you mean this is nonsense? Cock’n’bull!? Why, you should know the real meaning of your statement! Cock and bull was originally meant to be a way wizards tripped by wiping their penises on semi-poisonous bullfrogs now extinct from our land due to the frantic cock’n’bulling going on during the dark ages. The process was meant to enable premonition in said penis owner. King Edward used the cock’n’bull technique for court and matters of bureaucracy but found the results so unreliable that after one last painful consultation (for the frog’s back was not only rich in the chilly hot toxin but spiky and rough, too), casting the toad bitterly against a wall, he announced: “This is nonsense! Cock and bull!” He banned toad knobbing from the kingdom but it was too late, for the much-abused ‘old English spiker toad’ was depleted beyond return. Thus the famous phrase, “what a load of cock’n’bull!” when in dispute of some outrageous claim.

ARIES MARCH 21 - APRIL 20 Try getting a ladies’ or gentlemen’s evening together; get your buddies round and start to really talk! A lost art, as most eves revolve around clubs with techno beats bashing happily away. Maybe each week throw something new in, like debates on magic. Maybe get a real wizard to show you how to open your third eye and other exciting stuff. I’ll come over! You can book me through Tarquin. Cheap rate before all-hallows-eve.


CROSSWORD #28

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1 Leader of The Band (6, 9) 2 Ian, Mayfield or Knight (6) 3 Second Silver Sun album (3, 4) 4 What pretty girls make (6) 5 Stephen, founder of Buffalo Springfield (6) 6 Chapman, singer born in Cleveland, Ohio (5) 11 Steve Wold’s nautical nickname (7) 12 Jam Master Jay’s rap legends (3, 1, 1, 1) 13 ___ ___ Girls, Sub Pop group named after Talk

12 17 18 19 20

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Across R.E.M.’s calculating second album (9) See 1 Down Malevolent Interpol single (4) Liverpool medics on Domino (6) Dylan’s Egyptian Goddess on Desire (4) It ain’t easy being a boy called this (Johnny Cash) (3) Andy Bell’s Oxford shoegazers (4) The ______ of Spring, 1986 Talk Talk album (6) Pink Floyd were comfortably so (4) Belle and Sebastian’s debut album (9) Former Jayhawk and Creekdipper with new Many Colored Kite (4, 5)

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Talk song (3, 3) 14 ______ of Canada, electronic duo on Warp (6) 15 The Velvet Underground’s was foggy (6) 16 Damaged Beta Band single (5)

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XXVII SOLUTIONS: ACROSS 1 NONSTOPEROTIK, 5 MURMUR, 6 DANIEL, 7 NEEDED, 8 TIGERS, 10 ASSOCIATION, 11 SCHOOL, 13 GOSSIP, 16 RANCID, 17 HEROIN, 18 PAUL McCARTNEY DOWN 1 NUMAN, 2 NERVE, 3 TRIBE, 4 KILLS, 5 DECAL, 6 TWANG, 11 STRAP, 12 HINDU, 14 SPOON, 15 PINEY

Crossword No.XXVIII compiled by Ed Mugford

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE Can you find all 10 differences?

1. Chicken box. 2. Nail varnish 3. Hair plait 4. Swastika necklace 5. Tattooed tit 6. Ring 7. Joint 8. Nose stud 9. Ashley’s earing 10. Pigeon eye O

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A STORM IN A TEACUP

WORDSEARCH AS SUMMER’S ALMOST GONE, WEATHER SPRINGS TO MIND. SO FIND THE CAPITAL LETTERS ONLY AMONG THE FALLEN LEAVES. WEATHER Report SUNN o))) The TORNADOES SUN Kil Moon HEATWAVE RAINBOW Johnny THUNDERS

SNOW Patrol The THREE DEGREES Earth WIND & Fire The Dead WEATHER Crystal GAYLE Bill HALEY Whirlwind HEAT

DJ STORM Kid FROST The RAINCOATS CLOUDDEAD FOG WET WET WET Johnny and The HURRICANES

Games The Stool Pigeon October 2010

59


THE

OR, TRUE TALES OF HORROR FROM THE HELLISH PIT OF THE BUSINESS THEY CALL MUSIC Number 2

One New Penny

EVIL IS AN INDUSTRY OR,

A DEATHLY BRUSH WITH THE DIABOLICAL HAND OF A MANN FROM ARTISTS AND REPERTOIRE

BY SILAS CHARADE

CHAPTER 1. The 12 Bar Club is a battered brick music venue at the eastern end of London’s Denmark Street, a squat, beer-smelling establishment of the type I would never normally enter unless circumstances demanded. Such circumstances arose on the evening of September 1st 20__, the events of which I have steeled myself to recall here, my wife and children long asleep and the flickering candle doing a good job of masking the shaking of my horrified hand. I had been discharged earlier than expected from court on the day in question, and had two hours to pass before my train was due to sweep me from Charing Cross to the Kentish country house my wife Madeleine and I had recently acquired, and in which she was likely to give birth to our first child within the week. I had hoped to while away the last of the afternoon browsing bookshops in Bloomsbury, but a freak storm had blackened the sky and begun unfurling a volley of rain so relentless that I had little choice but to dart into the first doorway affording respite from the onslaught — in this case, the doorway to the 12 Bar. I first noticed the old man as I was shaking myself dry at the wooden saloon. He appeared to be watching me with a singularity of purpose, his eyes implying he was either drunk or slightly mad, both perfectly reasonable prerequisites for familiarity with such a

venue. I nodded and, when this served only to amplify his interest, made passing comment on the evil weather. “Evil, sir?” he said, his voice stained with what sounded like decades of intolerable sadness. “Sidle up and buy old Silas a drink, and I’ll unravel a tale of true evil to freeze the blood and shake the hairs from your pretty head.” I glanced around the room, which was empty save a couple engaged in a romantic tryst over a corner table. Loath to offend, and knowing full well there was no way I could retreat into the rain, I stepped to the man’s side and smiled as politely as I could. Up close, I noticed that his face was dark and beset with a great many lines, and that his eyes had the milky translucence of one at least partially blind. “Mine’s a pint of the piss-warm Red Stripe,” muttered the man, pushing his empty glass towards the barkeep, a broad shouldered fellow with a bald head and a ring like a bull’s through his nose. I ordered the same, worried that requesting a tawny port might mark me out as a bumpkin, and perched on a stool beside Silas as he stared regretfully into the bubbles winking at the brim of his beer, eyes closing for a moment as he unspooled the years and began his tale.


I

saw you cast a piteous glance upon me as though I was a drunk, sir, or a moon-blind lunatic, and perhaps I am both. But there was a time when my face was known to many, keyboard player as I was in a band called _____ ________. There wasn’t a venue in London whose stage we didn’t grace at some point, or an audience we didn’t win over with our haunting melodies. We played live on primetime Irish TV, a performance for which they powdered our faces like Bow Street harlots; we recorded a four-track EP in a studio in Bergen, a Norwegian harbour town in which a cold beer costs more than a night knocking knees with Betsy who rooms above The Green Man. And sure enough we had our fair share of encounters with the blood-jewelled monster that is the music industry: I lost count of the number of showcase nights at which we crucified ourselves in front of a panel of chin-stroking A&R-types too jaded even to clap. In the end, it all came to nothing, and we were content to let that be the end of it — to spend one last summer storming stages for our loyal fans before seeking gainful employment in the retail sector — when the door to this very bar swung open, and Billy Mann walked into our lives. Through the vapours of my drunkard’s vision, I swear I can still see him now, sir, striding through the bar in jeans and a suit jacket and the shiny leather boots favoured by cattle steers in his native America. His long black hair was glossy like a dog’s, and so looming was his frame that he had to stoop to avoid the beams of the ceiling. There was something darkly commanding about his presence, and when he turned out to be seated in the front row of our gig that evening I found myself fluffing notes as I struggled not to stare, convinced that his eyes were on me the whole time. It was an impression that every man in the band would later relate in the same fearful whisper. We all four of us left the stage somewhat shaken that night. I remember there was a gale not unlike this one rattling the windows, and we were packing up our instruments and making ready for the carriage home when our guest strode over and introduced himself in a sonorous drawl. He said he’d been following our progress with interest from the States, and figured he’d come watch us perform while he was in London on business. Our bassist asked what business that was, and our friend answered with an immaculate white smile so befitting Americans: “Why, the music business, of course.” We saw a lot of Billy in the weeks that followed. Seldom a gig passed at which he wasn’t either standing in the front row singing along with our fans, or towering over the sound engineer, ordering him to turn this instrument up or that instrument down. After each show he’d seat us around a table with a bottle of blood red wine and tell us about his life amid the topless towers of Manhattan. A songwriter by trade — he had penned and produced hits for stars as ubiquitous as Pink and Ricky Martin — Billy’s work now centred on his management company, Stealth, which had recently forged a deal with Justin Timberlake’s label for young Dutch YouTube sensation Esmée Denters. “She was ready to reach for the stars,” he said, seeming once again to fix those burning eyes on each of us at the same time. “What about you? Are you ready to reach for the stars?” A few days later we woke to a knock at the door and a

pale-faced messenger passing over the leaden bundle of a management contract inked and bound by Billy Mann. At the advice of friends we had a lawyer read over it, shrugging off the considerable cost in light of the fact that we’d soon be unable to move for money. I remember the night we signed it, passing the pen between us as though it was an Arabesque pipe transporting us to an opiate dimension of pure pleasure, so intoxicating was the sense of setting out, finally, on the road to success. The conference calls began the following Monday, weekly check-ins with the Stealth office in New York. No doubt a man as dapper as yourself is a dab hand at negotiating those long distance delays — the awful pauses and sudden flurries of everyone talking over each other — but to young pups like us it was a troublesome experience. Billy was back in New York, having lately been elected to the board of EMI, but he never appeared on the calls. Instead, we spoke to his associates, Nick and Liz, the former talking endlessly about the importance of high-quality merch, the latter about improving the cohesion of our on-stage image — a subject she elaborated on by emailing us cuttings from fashion magazines in which she’d circled ribbed t-shirts, porkpie hats and chiffon scarves; items that would have looked more appropriate on the female form, I don’t mind telling you. But what’s this? I see that our drinks are nigh on last knockings. Have Arthur set up another pair of pints. The storm still rages outside, and my story approaches its end. All that remains to tell is the night it all ended — a night I seldom speak of, though its events are burned irreparably upon the backs of my eyes. By December 20__ Billy had scaled the ranks of EMI to sit as President of New Music and Global Artist Management, and in a symbolic celebration of his swift rise had decided to host their annual Christmas party in the Altitude Bar, on the 29th floor of London’s Millbank Tower. None of us had ever seen swank in such scurrilous abundance: from the moment the elevators spilled us into that great glass penthouse we were set upon by a pack of besuited waiters as determined as Bermondsey bloodhounds, each forcing upon us complimentary glasses of champagne or artisanal hors d’oeuvres, and pointing out various bars where we might order vintage wines or cocktails without having to reach for our threadbare wallets. The place was teeming with celebrities: Joss Stone, for example, who I maintain to this day returned the wink that I inexplicably ventured when I caught her eye across the room; and The Kooks, though I remember they were hunched in a sombre pack and refused to speak to anyone because their second album had been ruthlessly savaged by the press. At one point I stepped up to a small blonde gazing out the window at the city sprawling westward and spent 10 minutes chatting and pointing out distant landmarks, and when I returned to my bandmates they laughed and congratulated me on having the gumption to try my luck with Alison Goldfrapp. Well sir, I swear I never knew it was her. All the while Billy Mann was being passed between suits and ties keen to press his considerable flesh. We caught his eye once, and he signalled to us that he intended to talk later before drifting off to the next industry bigwig. Worst of all, we were under strict instructions from his associate Liz that under no circumstances were we to approach Billy our


selves. She would be our go-between, and should we have cause to speak to him, she would relay our request. As she did, repeatedly, to no avail. And so the night unravelled, and the four of us became increasingly drunk and despondent. The last thing I remember was an unpleasant conversation among the band about who would get what share of publishing royalties once we started raking in real money, and, at that point, I’m pleased to say, I ventured to leave. I’m not sure what brought on such rational thinking — perhaps it was a premonition, perhaps a prod from my guardian angel, if such creatures exist — but I suddenly knew that I had to get out of that party before something terrible happened. I recall staggering into the elevator and fumbling for the ground floor button, and noticing that it had started snowing when I stumbled out on to the street and raised my hand to the first passing hackney carriage. After that, I remember nothing else. I see you looking at your watch, sir — a train to catch, I’ll wager. Grant me your patience while I relate the last of this strange and terrible tale. There’s not much left to tell. The next day passed in a haze of self-loathing and a headache of biblical proportions. And I simply couldn’t shake a sense of foreboding, as though some black spectre visible only to myself was seated in the corner of my bedroom and breathing heavily, daring me to turn around. Perhaps it was fear that stopped me from contacting my bandmates; either way, I heard nothing until later that afternoon, when our singer Merrick called to say that he’d had a very strange email from Billy Mann. It had started out by saying how sorry he was not to have been in touch these last few months, and how greatly he regretted not being able to speak to us properly at the party. He said that working for the label had swallowed him up completely, but assured Merrick that it was all for the best — that our contract with EMI was being drawn up at that very moment, and that he’d take us all out for dinner later that week to celebrate. “That’s great,” I said, a hand clasped over my eyes to still the beating in my brain. “I know. But listen to how it finishes: ‘I see you left an eight-minute answerphone message last night. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but will do so now and get back to you. Never stop reaching for the stars. Billy.’” “An eight-minute answerphone message about what?” There was a pause on the other end, then Merrick’s voice, frailer and more frightened than I’ve ever heard it. “I have no idea.” But of course we both did, and when we pieced together the story through a series of emails with Nick and Liz, it made a sickening sort of sense. Aggrieved at not being able to speak to our patron at the party, Merrick had finally given up waiting, staggered out into the snow and — in a gesture perhaps of politeness, perhaps pique — called Billy’s mobile and left a message to say that he was leaving. Only he never hung up the phone. He then hailed a hackney carriage, piled into the back with our drummer, and launched into a vile tirade on the various evils of EMI: the stilted suits who ran the place, their tawdry roster of soulless divas and, most importantly, Billy Mann, whom he referred to — repeatedly, according to a rather embarrassed Nick — as a ‘fucking cunt’. All of which Billy’s answerphone faithfully recorded before cutting off after eight miserable minutes.

I needn’t tell you what sort of a mess that left us in. We all fell on our swords, sent apologetic emails to Billy and did our best to heal the breach. But it was too little too late. Billy met Merrick once more, a few months later, in a traditional English teashop opposite the EMI offices in Kensington. We later learned of the shocking unreality of the meeting: how anger had made Billy’s hands shake as he poured tea from the pot, and how his eyes had fixed on our singer’s across the doily covered table as he asked him, loudly and quite simply, if Merrick thought he was a cunt. Countless American tourists apparently turned to watch Merrick shake his head solemnly. After that, we received word from Stealth that the unpleasantness had been forgotten, and that business would proceed as usual. But of course it did not. The conference calls continued, but they were increasingly occasional affairs, punctuated with more awkward silences than ever and with repeat instances when it was obvious that neither Liz or Nick were sure which band they had on the other end. And when the record contract did finally come through, it was — we noted sadly as we scanned the first of its 400-odd pages — a deal with EMI Holland. We would be required to release our album in the Dutch territories only, and play our gigs mostly in Amsterdam; we were also advised to replace at least one band member with a Dutch national to help appeal to locals. Both EMI and Stealth would each get 20 per cent of publishing and touring revenues, and our pitiful advance was claimable only after we’d sold 50,000 records — which in Holland constitutes going platinum. We took the contract to our lawyer, who literally laughed in our faces. I needn’t tell you, sir, that we did not sign it. That day marked the end of our band, and we now meet only once a year, here in this bar, to mark the anniversary of the night Billy Mann first walked into our lives by performing a show on the very stage where he first saw us play. With these last words Silas drained the last of his pint, wiped the froth from his lip and looked over my shoulder. Turning, I saw three men of a roughly similar age and seemingly hewn from the same sad stone, though I’d not heard the door open or close, so rapt had I been in the end of his terrible tale. Two carried guitars, the third a set of boxes that I could only assume contained a snare drum and cymbals. I watched as Silas rose from his stool and met the others in the middle of the bar, a slow, silent nod from each passing for a greeting, before they turned and drifted vaporously into the rear room, where through the door I could see a small stage criss-crossed with leads and a keyboard set up on one side. “Wait,” I cried, almost knocking my beer to the floor as I leaped from the bar. “I don’t understand. You told me it was a tale of true evil. Is Billy Mann then an agent of the devil, farming the souls of hapless musicians? Or the devil himself in human form?” The other three had passed from sight, but Silas hovered at the door of the venue, seeming to consider my question before answering in that same funereal tone. “I don’t know about the devil,” said Silas. “I think Billy Mann was just a man, and that maybe the devil is a man, too. But evil is an industry. And I’ve seen enough to know that when I’m called to the next life, I’ll be expected to pay for the things I signed.” And with that he passed into the rear room, pulling the door closed behind him and leaving me standing in the darkening bar, the black windows rattling behind me and my train already halfway home.


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HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES Babak Ganjei

CURBING YOUR ENTHUSIASM

Record Records Records

aking art out of neuroses is tricky. You can annoy people until they have no sympathy for your protagonist. Or you can harness enough selfdeprecating humour that they can’t help but root for the character. Musician and comic writer Babak Ganjei has made this balance even

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more difficult by placing himself at the centre of Hilarious Consequences, a graphic novel about a slacker who’s down on his luck. “I think it was quite therapeutic,” says Babak. “I only read it back recently when the printed copies came in and thought, ‘Bloody Hell, this is a bit depressing and personal,’ but it’s done now. I think the trick is not to look at it anymore and go about my business, which is taking myself very seriously.” He has no job, he’s balding, his music career is floundering and he’s

becoming increasingly paranoid that the mother of his child is about to leave him. It’s not necessarily an easy thing to share, nor an interesting one, but Babak’s plight becomes oddly engrossing with every page. “I’m always more comfortable making myself the butt of the joke. I’m very aware what amazingly annoying things I do,” he says. “In part I think I was writing it for my girlfriend because I could be annoying and make her laugh in the book whereas in real life I’m just annoying. I hope people are on

my side, though.” To help win readers over, the book comes with a compilation of songs by Babak (Wet Paint) and friends, some of whom were bandmates in Absentee, that sit together so nicely they make Babak’s humdrum existence seem worthwhile. “I guess the CD is the answer to one of the questions in the book, which is why do we do all this music stuff? It can be a lot of hard work for scant reward and this is my tribute to all that.” Turlough Fortune

You can sing along to Babak Ganjei’s comic book, a tribute to cracking up, and making music for nothing.

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


DOCUMENT AND EYEWITNESS: An Intimate History of Rough Trade

Neil Taylor Orion Books

NINJA TUNE: 20 YEARS OF BEATS AND PIECES Stevie Chick Black Dog Publishing

Rough Trade deserves to have its story told. Above all others, it was the driving force of Britain’s independent music revolution, but in the matter of definitive biographies it lags behind Creation and Factory. This chaotic effort from Neil Taylor fails to close the gap. Taylor assembles a mountain of material but shirks his duty to mould a coherent narrative. Instead, he uses a talking-heads format that simply strings together quotes from various witnesses to Rough Trade’s intricate history. The ensuing sprawl conceals the basic gist. Cambridge graduate Geoff Travis tours North America and accumulates so much vinyl that he opens a shop when he gets back. He runs the business on principles of collectivism and fair dealing. Amid London’s punk explosion, he forms a label that later discovers The Smiths. Eventually, poor business management and an unwieldy structure bring the collapse of his empire, but after managing Pulp to stardom he revives Rough Trade Records with major label support and triggers a rock’n’roll rebirth by signing The Strokes. Travis comes across as a decent fellow and genuine music lover. However, there is a chilling moment when he declares: “What we wanted to achieve was a situation where we controlled the means of distribution...” The piety and naïveté in that statement are amplified in other Rough Trade employees’ proclamations, as when in-house producer Mayo Thompson recalls: “There was a whole politics coming in from the front line, from the reggae guys, the oppressed people who had been chopping down wood and carrying water for The Man since time immemorial.” Later, distribution boss Richard Scott offers this: “When something appeared in the charts it instantly lost its appeal for me. Uncharted. That’s much better, a word with dual meaning that signifies territory unmapped and unexplored.” Unintended hilarity aside, the book’s ill-chosen format makes it hard for a reader lacking prior knowledge to understand how indie distribution network The Cartel operated or what Blanco Y Negro was all about. Why would Taylor — a publishing veteran and former NME journalist — be so sloppy? The answer lies in an endnote, where Artrocker magazine’s Tom Fawcett reveals that he and Paul Cox were commissioned to write this book but never got round to it. “In the end our agent (because he is a kindly chap) decided to help us out by writing the book for us...” Rough Trade deserves better. Niall O’Keeffe

There are stoned students who would have you believe that breaking time down into minutes and millennia is no more meaningful a construct than organising your socks by colour. Time has no beginnings or ends, they say, just as space has no ups or downs. Yet how many of these same people refuse to celebrate their birthdays on aesthetic grounds? Exactly. Anniversaries remain the perfect opportunity to evaluate progress, history and contemplate what’s still to come. In the case of London indie Ninja Tune, which celebrates its 20th birthday this year, it’s a strange and dramatic journey, and one artfully captured in Stevie Chick’s well-researched account. Chick starts his narrative in the basements and bedsits of Matt Black and Jonathan More, aka Coldcut, whose late eighties mash-ups and remixes led to mainstream production success with the likes of Yazz and Lisa Stansfield. Subsequent major label pressure to repeat their chart-topping formula led to alienation and exile, with the pair peeling off to found Ninja Tune as a forum for avant-garde hip hop experiments by themselves and likeminded sample freaks. Mercifully, this is a book that provides dusty details without getting bogged down in drawn-out exposition, and Chick’s chronological account of the label’s evolution is broken up with artist interviews celebrating landmark releases. There are also chapters veering off on interesting tangents: from Ninja’s pioneering work in the development of audio-visual technology and the establishment of badboy sister label Big Dada Recordings (mixed metaphor, anyone?), to the rise of the legendary Stealth night in the then-derelict heart of Hoxton. There are insider stories galore: from Amon Tobin’s first tour, at which the industrial space junglist stuck to his guns despite being pelted with projectiles from horrified audiences the world over, to DJ Food’s DK hiring a chopper so that he could beat his boat-bound label mate Strictly Kev to the record stores on Vancouver Island while touring North America. And of course there are pictures: from archive press and tour shots to extensive galleries of Ninja’s ground-breaking record sleeves, plus a catalogue of merchandise: Mr Scruff USB sticks, Wax Sack vinyl bags and enough variations on the Ninja Skin to roll a marijuana plantation. Through it all, however, the overwhelming reaction is one of awe at how many great records Ninja has put out over the years, and it’s a book that takes forever to read thanks to the amount of time spent digging out forgotten classics and basking in the associated memories. As Diplo says in his account of 2004’s Florida: “Sample-based music is always going to be pretty autobiographical. You’re finding sounds that are really deep for you, little pieces of yourself.” Ultimately, that’s what this is: a retrospective of 20 years of some of the best music and the best parties of our lives. And if that isn’t a date worth celebrating, then I don’t know what is. Cyrus Shahrad

KNOT Fiction Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, aka #8, has written a novel challenging the archaic Catholic Capital Vices. “It’s about the seven deadly sins and my take on them, and how I don’t think they’re sins at all,” he says of the book, due to be published next year. “They’re human characteristics. They’re just human flaws and things that we all experience.” Fred Durst’s long-awaited take on the Enneagram Integration of the two additional sins ‘deceit’ and ‘fear’ is apparently still to pen.

JOHN D’oh A new book about John Lennon is set to hit shelves on… Not another bloody book about John bloody Lennon, surely!? Every aspect of the dead Beatles’ life has been regurgitated and reconstituted for yet more desperadoes seeking yet further ‘facts’ about the sarkiest Mop Top. This time a bloke called Ken who knows loads about The Beatles chooses Double Fantasy, recorded with Yoko Ono, for scrutiny, prodding blah, blah, fucking blah. Give peace a chance? You’ve gotta be kidding, right?

RE-JIGGA Man Jay-Z’s autobiography is set to surface after a lengthy delay, caused by control freak Jigga Man himself going through each page with a fine toothcomb. He might have also used a red pen. The Dream Hamptonghostwritten story, Decoded, mostly concentrates on Shawn Corey Carter’s adolescent years in Brooklyn, although the savaging his father took in the initial draft has been erased. Apparently Hova had “a change of heart”. Expect 200 pages of puff, and more puff.

RICKY Situation It’s reasonable to assume that very few people were shocked by Ricky Martin’s recent revelation that he isn’t quite the ladies’ man he may once have liked us all to believe. Indeed, it was while he writing his autobiography Me, due in November, that he decided it would be duplicitous to continue with the façade any longer. “This book allowed me to explore the different paths,” he says now of coming clean about his predilection for the blueveined piccolo.

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ROTTEN LUCK OF SILVER APPLES TO BLOSSOM INTO A FILM, SOON AS ITS DIRECTOR IS READY ews of a feature-length documentary film on electronic, psychedelic drone-rock duo The Silver Apples shouldn’t come as any surprise, despite the fact that the band remain relative obscure. Their story has more than enough twists, turns and tragedy for any Hollywood biopic, and a triumph-in-the-face-of-adversity ending that should bring a valve-like glow to the oscillating heart of any fan. What’s strange is how long it’s taken: The Silver Apples: Play Twice Before Listening is pencilled in for an early 2011 release and has been over 10 years in the making, beginning as a look back at the band’s importance in the sixties’ counter-culture, but also documenting their late-nineties resurrection — an astonishing but fraught comeback that continues to this day. “It’s kind of grown more into the second wave part of it, just because

Sam Collins

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/////////Box Shot Soft Focus at ATP UK / VBS The fifth instalment of VBS.tv’s Soft Focus series catches former postpunk mouthpiece Ian Svenonius at last December’s ATP festival where he interviews Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr’s J. Mascis and Spacemen 3 founder Pete ‘Sonic Boom’ Kember. Svenonius’s slacker-style pretentiousness makes for an awkward, unfocused interaction from the beginning, with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore often caught out by insipid statements such as, “You guys are leaders. There’s a kinda leader thing. People are so averse to lead now. Do you think it’s because Martin Luther King was assassinated?” In fact, the only highlights of the 26-minute session come when Moore grabs the host’s notes, repeatedly changes the subject and asks his own questions. There’s an even clumsier flow to proceedings when J. Mascis, unaware there would be an audience present, replies to questions he has clearly been asked hundreds of times with an uninterested mumble. Svenonius proceeds to stutter and stumble through lines of enquiry that befuddle his subject, such as how characters from Scooby Doo correspond to colleges in Mascis’s hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts. Perhaps it’s the presence of an audience that forces the musicians to do their best with Svenonius’s conversational dead-ends (typically punctuated with, “So, eh, I dunno”) but more often it leads to cringe-inducing selfconsciousness on both sides. It’s fitting that Kember, billed as “one of the world’s greatest rock’n’roll experimentalists”, begins by discussing his minimalist approach of “making the most out of very little” as that’s exactly what he’s forced to do here: addressing tenuous conspiracy theories about drug distribution and dodging prompts such as, “So, you’re a Scorpio,” with grace. Overall, the interviews are in dire need of editing (we see Moore pouring water for a full minute) and basic preparation. The audience are there to see some great artists interviewed, not to watch Svenonius wing it. Turlough Fortune

that’s where the most stuff’s available,” says sole surviving Apple Simeon. “It’s really hard to get stuff prior to then; I just don’t know how much film has survived. Apparently New York City does have some of us playing in its archives, but they won’t release it for a commercial enterprise; they’ll only release it for a museum showing or something like that.” Featuring original interviews and tributes from the likes of Devo, Faust, Blur, Alec Empire and Sonic Boom, the independent production is a labour of love by San Francisco School of Performing Arts graduate Barak Soval, and follows on from his acclaimed Warhol documentary, Valerie Says. Besides the rare sixties’ material, of most interest is the footage of the painfully brief reunion of The Silver Apples’ original line-up, after drummer Danny Taylor was found working for a phone company in New Jersey. “We just fell right back into it so quick,” Simeon recalls. “With only a couple of days’ rehearsal, we were ready to go back out again. We played three gigs in New York, and then we

had a van accident and couldn’t perform anymore.” Simeon broke his neck and was paralysed. “For two years I was going through very serious spinal rehabilitation and couldn’t play,” he continues. “I was a mess.” And by the time he recovered, Danny Taylor’s own health was failing. “The timing was amazing. After I was back on my feet, he got so sick that he couldn’t play. He was wheelchair bound and then, eventually, his heart just failed. He was only 55 years old.” Simeon currently plays solo, electing to sequence samples of Danny’s drumming rather than to try to replace him. “It’s like he’s here with me, electronically. I think he’d like that. I really think he would think that was a groove.” Recent shows have also opened with a teasing, appetite-whetting 10minute trailer for the still-unfinished film, begging a simple question: why hasn’t Soval finished it yet? “I guess in his mind, the Silver Apples story just keeps on going. Like the little bunny with the drum, y’know? It just keeps on going!” Ben Graham

M.I.A. COLLABORATOR DANIEL SWAN TRAVELLING BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH DEBUT SHORT FILM time traveller reaches an uninhabited continent and begins a search for life among its looming, machine-run cityscapes, digital sewers and disembowelled urban locales. This is the premise of Daniel Swan’s debut short film, Lux Laze, an evocative, 15-minute homage to the sweeping symbols and visual codes first laid down in Fritz Lang’s futurist sci-fi. Where science fiction is usually restricted by the need to point allegorically or morally at real life in its narratives, Lux Laze revels in abstraction. “I only knew what I wanted visually,” says Swan, who leaves the film free of implication beyond its own ephemeral splendour. Soundtracked by Jack Latham’s guttural, 5th World city jams, the short marks the visual high-point for a filmmaker who has developed a unique style at a young age and is still a student. “I don’t have a digital camera, just this VHS one,” he continues. “I was worried it’d look too retro, and end up

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as just a pastiche of some low-budget, sci-fi thing.” What results, though, is a haunting juxtaposition between the futuristic content and the old age of the technology used to record it. This theme runs throughout Swan’s work, from films comprised of détourned YouTube clips to the visuals he put together for M.I.A.’s 2009 Coachella performance. “I like to use the wrong tools for the job,” he says. “It’s like making a collage — you can’t play around with everything, there are limitations. People told me to make some kind of social critique, but I just wanted to make a sci-fi film referencing things I love.” Such constraints of technology and style make Lux Laze beautiful. Swan has swerved pastiche, and set out an area in which to develop his own distinctive visual mythologies. You can buy the film as a VHS/DVD/zine pack from Swan’s website for £10. Felix L. Petty

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RICKY POWELL Rappin’ With The Rickster Five Day Weekend Trying to sell the idea of Ricky Powell to anyone who has never heard of him is a little bit like trying to sell the idea of Tim Westwood. The latter, commonly derided as an utter prick, is actually a hugely important figure in hip hop and well-respected among the artists, particularly Americans, he’s promoted into Europe over the years. The former, in his own unique way, has also been a lauded mainstay on the New York scene, seemingly without actually doing an awful lot but be there. Since the mid-eighties, Ricky has loafed the city’s parks and pavements — primarily Greenwich Village, where he resides — as an itinerant street photographer, dog-walker and Frozade stall owner, ingratiating himself with all and sundry. He became Def Jam’s gopher and unofficial snapper in its early days and soon became ‘The Fourth Beastie Boy,’ touring with them many times. In 1990, he upgraded to moving pictures for a tin-pot New York public access cable channel, and Rappin’ With The Rickster — a kind of low-grade Wayne’s World vérité — was born. Though little more than a weekly video diary of the affable host smoking weed and shooting shit with whoever might be passing by, its six-year run created a strong cult following and bootleg VHS tapes of the show have been hot property since; largely because many of his ‘subjects’ are icons that just happen to know Ricky from around the way. Legends of hip hop and graffiti feature heavily, but also many other artists and Hollywood faces: the likes of Sandra Bernhard and Laurence Fishburne were always happy to stop by and kick it. Though the video quality is generally shitty, Powell’s lazy, comical modus operandi makes for a wry, enjoyable slant on celebrity culture and how normal and approachable famous people often can be. Daddy Bones

LEONARD COHEN Bird On A Wire Voiceprint That Tony Palmer’s restoration of his (long-missing) film of Cohen’s 1972 European tour will delight fans is without question; though flawed, it’s packed with personal insights and arresting renditions of many classic Cohen poems. What makes the documentary supremo’s non-chronological ‘visual scrapbook’ so absorbing, though, is its unique first-hand look into the fragility of Cohen himself. By the time band and crew reach the last of 17 dates, in Jerusalem of all places, and Leonard has unravelled into nervous breakdown through the stress of performance, you’ll wonder how the hopelessly sensitive writer ever brought himself to do another live show.

HARMONY KORINE (DIR.) Trash Humpers Warp/Alcove In the mood for some VHS-style footage of three people in bad face masks, rubbing themselves against bins and goofing off for 78 minutes? You’re in luck. Trash Humpers is Gummo director Harmony Korine’s attempt at baiting audiences into decrying his work as pseudo-intellectual, indie-hipster fraudulence with a ‘provocative twist’ on the zombie flick. But that’s bollocks. If it’s an exercise in anything, it’s in rehashing William Eggleston’s photography, Lars von Trier’s The Idiots and Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small — not to mention Korine’s own previous achievements. There’s nothing to ‘get’ here. It’s not transgressive; it’s just a waste of time. Nil Pigeons.

CHRISTOPHER POMERENKE (DIR.) The Heart Is A Drum Machine Digital Classics This documentary poses the question “What is music?” to a long line of stars (Wayne Coyne, MGMT, George Clinton…), many of whom struggle to answer with more than a shrug — until John Frusciante offers: “Music is sound organised by human intelligence.” Cue discussion of the scientific and academic aspects of sound (music therapy, the ear’s pathways) which, taken all together, give the film a rambling and disjointed feel. When it shifts to a pair of manufactured-pop producers speaking about merchandising for the ‘tween’ market, it’s clear that while music’s indefinable qualities can’t be captured in a sound-bite, this could have been more enlightening nonetheless.

BUNNY Spoiler If you don’t want to know how Nick Cave’s 2009 The Death of Bunny Munro novel ends, look away now. The clue is in the title, stoopid. Cave knocked this work off in six weeks in the back of a tour bus, though the book came out like something Cave had knocked off in six weeks in the back of a tour bus. The initial idea actually came from a screenplay Cave wrote and now that’s being used to make a film. The cinematic prospects can only be brighter. Ray ‘The Daddy’ Winstone seems keen.

WAVE Picture Dennis Wilson, the untalented, dead one in The Beach Boys, is getting all the attention again, but that’s what happens when you’re handsome and your brothers look like young farmers who’ve just come from winning a week in a tanning salon. Of a new documentary that’s in pre-production, director Randall Miller says: “Dennis was a pained and tortured soul, yet brilliant and loved dearly by so many who knew him.” Just like his murderous goofball pal, Charles Manson!

MINISTRY Defence When we heard a Ministry documentary was being made we assumed we’d be sat for an hour and 20 minutes watching morally bankrupt youngsters in neon tutus shaking their fannies to Harry Choo Choo Ramero. But it’s not about Ministry of Sound at all, its about Al Jourgensen’s awesome industrial metal pioneers, Ministry. They had great song titles like ‘Dark Side Of The Spoon’ and ‘Jesus Built My Hot Rod’ and a band member revolvingdoor policy to rival The Fall.

FALSE Alarm A forthcoming movie, Vinyl, tells the true story of eighties Welsh stadium rockers The Alarm, who, frustrated with being ignored by radio, hatched a cunning ruse to disguise themselves as artists much younger than they actually were in order to hit the Top 40. It’s a tactic that’s worked well for Florence And The Machine. Keith Allen and Phil Daniels are on board to star, and if the whole idea of it sounds shit, then just you wait until the Tories have scrapped the UK Film Council.

DVDs The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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Albums Reviews by Daddy Bones, John Doran, Charlie Hale, Phil Hebblethwaite, Kev Kharas, Niall O’Keeffe, Alex Marshall, Huw Nesbitt, Hazel Sheffield, Cian Traynor, and Luke Turner.

BLACK MOUNTAIN Wilderness Heart Jagjaguwar

Perhaps long beards with careworn bongs and pot bellies will be upset to learn that Vancouver-based psychedelic rock outfit Black Mountain have ‘gone pop’. But if this is so, they should actually fire up a lid and rejoice as this is the best album by Stephen McBean and hirsute cohorts to date. ‘The Hair Song’ is cosmic Americana that introduces Led Zep’s ‘Kashmir’ to the joys of a rocking chair on a porch. ‘Old Fangs’ is the sound of Steppenwolf being coolly updated by Trans Am. And elsewhere Blue Cheer, Judas Priest and Grandaddy are all given a massive Mutt Lange polish.

CHROMEO GRINDERMAN

Business Casual

Grinderman 2

Backyard

Mute

Nick Cave’s belated midlife crisis was timely. His music had become insufferably pompous and serious by the time he corralled various Bad Seeds into a new guise and released Grinderman’s wonderful debut single in 2006. ‘Get It On’ marked a return to Cave’s music of the fire and passion that had drained away since the days of The Birthday Party. He had, it seemed, rediscovered that muse he’s been known to prattle on about. Since ‘Get It On’, however, Cave’s resurgent erotomania has threatened to spin out of control. Grinderman’s eponymous debut album found him testing patience with a song about his “no pussy blues”. When his putrid novel The Death of Bunny Munro arrived, the full horror of Cave’s autumnal overheating emerged as he tirelessly indulged unpleasant sexual fantasies and a sense of humour more befitting a smutty schoolboy than a man in his fifties. Grinderman’s second album brings no dip in Cave’s lechery. Wearyingly, it includes a song titled ‘Worm Tamer’, in which Cave drags out a joke that surely everyone has heard in some form: “My baby calls me the Loch Ness Monster / Two great big humps and then I’m gone.” Later, there’s a song titled ‘Bellringer Blues’ — presumably a companion piece to ‘No Pussy Blues’. Still, there’s no denying that Cave’s priapic new persona is more compatible with rock’n’roll than with literature. It’s equally certain that Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos provide a magisterially fierce soundtrack to Cave’s sleazy spiel. Scouring guitar noise and tense rockabilly power opener ‘Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man’, as Cave growls about someone being sucked (and shaved) dry. On ‘Heathen Child’, very typical Cave fare is enlivened by My Bloody Valentine-style guitar effects. Demonic, shouted backing vocals do the same for ‘Evil’. The album peaks with a jaw-dropping six-minute song called ‘When My Baby Comes’. For half of its duration, this is a prowling love song reminiscent of ‘Red Right Hand’, but halfway through there is a sudden sonic detonation. As a battering ram of a bass-line rolls into view, Grinderman’s sound gains a heaviness and cruelty that take the breath away. The album’s gentlest song, ‘What I Know’, is next in the running order, presumably to allow recovery time. Later, ‘Kitchenette’ arrives to remind us that Cave’s midlife crisis isn’t over just yet. Aside from a wince-inducing opening line (“I keep a-hanging around your kitchenette”), the track offers this baffling nugget: “What’s this husband of yours ever given to you / Oprah Winfrey on a plasma screen?” Fortunately, Grinderman still have a couple of aces to play. ‘Palaces of Montezuma’ is a playful, life-affirming anthem that just about justifies its borrowing from The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, while ‘Bellringer Blues’ manages a menacing swagger amid swirling effects. Nick Cave could plainly do with a cold shower. But if ‘When My Baby Comes’ were the only listenable product of his midlife crisis, that crisis would still be worth bearing. NOK

‘Progressive’ is hardly a key adjective when reviewing Montreal’s dons of frisky synth-funk — carrying on like the eighties never happened might preclude them from earning such a term — but the duo’s albums do show evolution toward polished pop perfection; if only in the heavier use of their influences. There’s now a larger dose of Hall & Oates’ adorable stylings on this third opus by the pair (famously one Jewish, one an Arab), and new breadth of appeal is also assured through sharper hooks, guest vocals from Solange Knowles and, for the first time, a bona fide slow-jam ballad. Sung in French. Parfait.

CLINIC Bubblegum Domino

As a group of hefty Scousers in their forties only ever seen in masks, Clinic has always made for an intimidating presence. While Ade Blackburn’s gritted delivery is ever present on their sixth album, Bubblegum, the band have gone for a slightly softer sound: ‘Baby’ is positively drowsy while ‘Lion Tamer’ sounds like a subdued version of Captain Beefheart’s ‘Dropout Boogie’, and there’s even a tongue-in-cheek spoken-word track. Despite lacking the belting melodies of previous standouts ‘Distortions’ and ‘Free Not Free’, Clinic seem to understand what their fans want and manage to deliver a variation that’s both interesting and reassuringly familiar after 13 consistent years.

CROCODILES Sleep Forever Fat Possum

Only a year ago everyone was like, “Oh wow, Crocodiles are so good I’m gonna lose bladder control!” And now this — a total mixed bag of a second album from the Los Angelean duo, one of whom is married to Dum Dum Girl Dee Dee . Okay, so it’s not like they’ve completely ditched the master plan: they still sound like Echo & The Bunnymen covering The Mamas & The Papas. Thing is, there are way too many slow moments of wanky navel-gazing, which is a damn shame because blow-out tracks like ‘Stoned To Death’ are so deep you’ll feel compelled to live off a diet of heroin and LSD for the rest of your sorry life.

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


FABIENNE DELSOL

GLASSER

On My Mind

Ring

Damaged Goods

True Panther Sounds

That Fabienne Delsol’s records actually do sound like they were recorded in the sixties is a tribute to her understanding of music from that era and also to the incredible engineering skills of Liam Watson, her husband and boss of east London’s analogue Toe Rag studio. But to think of French-woman-in-London Fabienne as an exercise in style is to underestimate her gift for melody. Album three is golden, demure pop again, but there’s a freaky, pysch-folk edge that’s new. Not playing out has kept her underground and, unbelievably, a forthcoming gig at the 100 Club is her first ever headline show.

Laptop musician Glasser, real name Cameron Mesirow, seems hell-bent on convincing everyone she’s a hippy. In interviews she continually talks about her dreams and on this debut album there’s a moment when, alarmingly, she chants over wind chimes. That side of her character may disturb some listeners, but it shouldn’t. Essentially this Los Angeles girl is just a pop musician with a brilliant ear for melody and the intelligence to understand that sticking to percussion only provides the best backing for her voice. Fewer new age lyrics and she’d be winning praise as Björk’s heir.

DETACHMENTS

GOLD PANDA

Detachments

Lucky Shiner

ThisIsNotAnExit

Notown

Detachments are a quartet of brain-dead waifs and hardcore Control watchers who think a malfunctioning Moog synth and an overcoat makes you post punk. Perhaps they thought calling their singer Bastien would help them seem enigmatic and intellectual. No, it just reminds people of the boy who rides the Luckdragon at the end of The NeverEnding Story. Northern vampires who now live in smoggy London town, their debut album sounds like a set of early Human League covers sung by a sulking child who’s been at the glue. Post punk in the way that Bucks Fizz or Ronald Reagan are post punk.

Gold Panda admits to getting all excited by gangsta rap and then sitting down and writing “some crappy twinkly-sounding track instead”. While there are moments on his first full length that run the risk of being syndicated for a phone network’s next stop motion animation advert, most of the twinkly crap on Lucky Shiner is pretty inspired. Heavy, sustained synths lend his tracks a dreamy quality that becomes cinematic when cut with the twitch of a thousand samples. There are harder beats here than on early blog favourites ‘Quitters Raga’ and ‘You’, but not much harder. In three: gap-year house.

ÅRABROT

DARREN HAYMAN & THE SECONDARY MODERN

Revenge

Essex Arms

Fysisk Format

Fortunapop

First of all, it should probably be said that this trio’s moniker, Årabrot, is not an attempt to snare Morrissey or Nick Griffin as fans but a reference to a notorious rubbish dump and special needs school on the outskirts of Haugesund, Norway, where the band formed. And secondly, even though this extraordinarily punishing rock group, often come with a black metal tag, their astounding album has very little in common with the output of, say, Mayhem or Xasthur. It is true that guitarist/singer Kjetil Nernes has a particularly necrotic vocal style that lies on the unconsecrated and desiccated ground between Alan Dubin (Khanate, Gnaw), David Yow (Jesus Lizard, Qui) and Zed (Police Academy, Police Academy 3: Back In Training). But like with the aforementioned Jesus Lizard and caustic Colorado war metal duo Cobalt, the rabid and blood-curdling howling is anchored in place by a deceptively sophisticated and metronomic rock backline. In fact, since their gripping but flawed UK debut (The Brotherseed), Årabrot have finally nailed a sound (also captured on the peerless ‘I Rove’ EP) that is both unique and adrenalising. The spirit of Event Horizon-strength psychedelia summoned up by ‘I Rove’ is revisited on ‘The Dolorous Years’, which takes the blueprint of The Birthday Party and stretches it far beyond breaking point. Likewise on ‘The Primrose Path’ — an ashen-faced romantic revenge song — grips early Shellac by the hair of the crown and smashes its face into the pavement repetitively until it breaks apart into gore. Shorter songs such as ‘The Most Sophisticated Form Of Revenge’ take a (moderately) less violent approach melding the Germanic metal pulse of Loop and the strafing, atonal guitars of Unsane. Basically, if you’ve ever read Michael Azerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life and thought, “Why do we never get bands like this anymore?” then Årabrot are for you. JD

Former Hefner man Darren Hayman always gets spoken about as being underrecognised as a songwriter, and a very English one at that, but there’s something reassuring about him not doing a Jarvis Cocker and sticking to ambitious projects like this — a trilogy of albums about… Essex. Part one, Pram Town, concerned suburban, new-town life in Harlow. This, part two, heads out to the countryside, but, as anyone who’s been to rural Essex knows, you’re never that far from a West Ham fan or handbag house belting out of a random semi’s top window. Yup, it’s another wittily observed winner from the Dazzler.

THE HENTCHMEN The Hentchmen Dirty Water

A bona fide staple of Detroit garage rock who got caught up in the explosion (Jack White did a bunch of songs with them), but they outdate The White Stripes, and The Dirtbombs and Detroit Cobras. Clean-cut and closer to The Sonics than MC5, they’re a band for which less is always more and nothing much changes, thank Christ. They probably don’t even know what album number this is, but it’s a solid, raucous one, given a psychedelic edge by their signature Farfisa keyboard. Most importantly, they still sound like a bunch of teenagers playing a keg party. But they wouldn’t mack on your girlfriend.

Reviews The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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KURT WAGNER & CORTNEY TIDWELL PRESENT KORT Invariable Heartache

OF MONTREAL False Priest Polyvinyl

City Slang Ah, the country duet: Tammy and George, Dolly and Porter, Emmylou and Gram… there’s a rich history there, and Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner and Cortney Tidwell’s effort is a gorgeous, indie addition to the canon that takes its songs from Nashville label Chart Records’ back catalogue and is intentionally very country, lap steel and all. There’s definite chemistry but duets of this sort really hit the stars when it’s like the duo are a chorus away from dropping the shared mic to nobble each other, à la Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972. That’s steamy; this is lovely.

False Priest is about as entertaining as listening to Justin Timberlake improvising a pop symphony during a nervous breakdown. It is not, however, a comedy album. Backed by polished Jon Brion production and Prince-like arrangements, this could have been the perfect platform for Kevin Barnes. Instead he breaks new ground in overindulgent flamboyance, as with the spewed lines of “conversation rape” and “Japanese urine” on ‘You Do Mutilate?’. Guest appearances by Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles, no match for Barnes’ camp yelps, are overshadowed by ingratiating songs with no soul. Did we mention this isn’t a comedy album?

DAN MICHAELSON AND THE COASTGUARDS

OMD

Editions

100%

Shakes

London’s most distinctive baritone returns with a second album of battered ballads indebted to the Four Seasons and, as on ‘Love Lends A Hand’, Richard Hawley. But whereas Hawley’s voice offers smooth seduction, Michaelson’s impossibly dry throat sounds like he’s spent all night blasting through an argument that’s spiralled out of hand. It makes his weary words of wisdom feel like the kind you’d hear the morning after, gently negotiating some sort of way back. On the merits of some fine songwriting, a cohesive band effort and warm production, you’d have difficulty resisting the charms of such sleepy affection.

History Of Modern

Do you know what sexy is? Sexy is Daniel Craig walking out of the sea in Casino Royale or the Dum Dum Girls rocking out live. Sexy is not Andy McCluskey getting hot under the collar on ‘Pulse’, a slab of middleaged man acid that sounds like your geography teacher trying to make house with only Lil Louis’ ‘French Kiss’, Madonna’s ‘Music’ and his grizzled erection for guidance. Elsewhere, this first OMD LP in 14 years comes off like a charity album for a humanitarian disaster that didn’t really capture the public imagination. ‘The Right Side?’ is a great song but we preferred it when Kraftwerk did ‘Endless Europe’, which it plunders.

DEERHUNTER

OVAL

4AD

Thrill Jockey

Halcyon Digest

Deerhunter’s early material may have been good enough to stand on its own but, whether the listener was interested or not, it came with side stories. Whenever front-man Bradford Cox would post songs on his blog, it was supplemented by a stream of introspective and often harrowing reflections that provoked voyeurism and vitriol in equal measure. Somewhat inevitably, Cox soon felt “like a hamster on a wheel” and no longer wanted to participate. When Microcastle arrived in 2008, it was one of the most accomplished albums of the year, expertly synthesising decades of music and forging its own psychotic path through the canon of rock. But it leaked five months prematurely, forcing Cox and Co. back to the studio to crank out Weird Era Cont., another solid Deerhunter record intended as bonus material. But this too was leaked, along with an unreleased solo album, adding to Cox’s exasperation with the internet. Since then the Atlanta quarter have simply got on with being the one of the most productive and consistent bands in America. Four albums and two EPs into their career, the anticipation for Halcyon Digest is such that one fan wrote: “There’s no way these guys can disappoint.” Yet while Deerhunter’s high production standards have been maintained here, for once the flow is decidedly incohesive. Halcyon Digest blurs the lines between Deerhunter and Cox’s solo vehicle, Atlas Sound. Tracks like ‘Sailing’ kill the momentum, meandering through the same faint melody and picking pattern Cox has become increasingly reliant upon. Thankfully ‘Revival’ and ‘Memory Boy’ offer the throttle people have come to love Deerhunter for and, paired with guitarist Lockett Pundt’s songs, there is real punch here. Though every addition to Cox’s prolific output is a welcome one, this could have done with a bit more time to develop. CT

O

To call Germany’s Oval, once a trio and now just Markus Popp, electronic pioneers is a bit slight, like saying James Joyce “kinda did things with novels”. 94 Diskont is one of the great electronic albums; gorgeously sad and endlessly ripped-off. Its swooning sounds and shifting textures produced by damaged CDs entranced Björk, fascinated DJs and bewildered many others. This new, 70-track double album is as beautiful and as it disorientating. All of its strange music was made on ‘real’ instruments, but no rock music sounds like it. Its ghostly sketches are like spectral sisters to the piano pieces on Aphex’s Drukqs, and much more.

PONTIAK Living

Thrill Jockey For about half of this record, Pontiak rattle contentedly down the dusty road of American psychedelia that, for five albums, has transported the goods from their Virigina farm studio. But there are also tracks like ‘Original Vestal’ that descend like a twister from ’neath a glowering storm, and suck the band into a lurid world where they have a shave and drink deep of palate-expanding decadence. ‘Lemon Lady’ is The Drift-era Scott Walker singing for Om; ‘Algiers By Day’ bristles with arid funk; while ‘And By Night’ and ‘Beach’ drink both Swans and the Bad Seeds under the table with bourbon chasers from angel’s titties. That’s living, alright.

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


SWANS

TEENGIRL FANTASY

My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

7AM Merok/True Panther Sounds

Young God

After a 14-year break Michael Gira has resurrected the Swans name to inject a new sense of urgency into the music he has been creating as Angels Of Light. Jarboe has long since departed but Norman Westberg is back in the fold and guests include (ace up the sleeve) Bill Rieflin from Ministry and R.E.M., as well as Devendra Banhart. The message is far from new. There is no god and no purpose to life. But out of the universe’s cruelty and out of existentialism he creates exquisite and apocalyptic industrial folk music like the Bad Seeds at their most powerful.

If house had a human childhood, it’d sound like Teengirl Fantasy. Each track on this debut’s soaked in naïf wonder; the persuasive physicality of house’s 4/4 kick lost in synth swirls as colourful and transformative as rainbows drenched in dry ice. ‘In The Rain’ sounds like a Disney ball on uppers; ‘Cheaters’ yearns magnificent; ‘Forever The Feeling’ transposes muffled, music class repetition to those tutorless zones adults find at 4am. This is imaginary dance music, hyp-house that dreams of such zones, minds too young tantalised by thoughts of where older brother’s going when he heads out for the night.

AVEY TARE

TIMBER TIMBRE

Down There

Timber Timbre

Paw Tracks

Full Time Hobby

There’s never been a better or worse time to release an Animal Collective solo album. On the back of a film and two breakthrough records, interest is at all time high. However, those albums have created an expectation for kaleidoscopic pop that’s out of step with the band’s 10-year career. Avey Tare’s Down There is a chance not only to underline his contribution within that canon (watery effects, warped speech samples and sparse electronica) but to expand on it uninhibitedly. It’s no pop masterpiece, but its quiet, dirge-like moments can, in the right setting, deliver just as many flashes of inspiration.

Taylor Kirk’s bare-all conviction draws from a depth deeper than most alt-folk musicians could dream of. There’s no denying that the songs comprising the Canadian’s third album are almost threadbare; in less capable hands, these eight tracks would feel plain and overly familiar. For Timber Timbre, however, they are glowing embers, expertly stoked to smoulder and sizzle at all the right times. There are lovely touches throughout: the nakedness of ‘Demon Host’ billows beautifully towards the end, while ‘Magic Arrow’ resonates with magnetic gravitas. A well-deserved re-release and a prime example of how keeping things simple can be magical.

MAGNETIC MAN

US CHRISTMAS

Magnetic Man

Run Thick In The Night

Columbia

Neurot

You sensed that dubstep was never going to make it out of its fuggy basements and fanatical bedrooms without making some kind of a compromise. You always knew, too, that the first thing the mainstream would tear from it was the trait that most defined it. You can generally tell how far up the charts and Radio 1’s playlist dubstep releases will scramble by looking at how much space they cede to mid-range frequencies — the berserk, mechanical bark of ‘chainsaw wobble’ synths seem, in retrospect, to have been devised solely for the purpose of reuniting the treble and bass that early dubsteppers like Hatcha flung to far ends of the register. Fickler minds, radio bosses imagine, need sounds more processed and palatable. That Magnetic Man — dubstep’s first ‘supergroup’ — have dismantled the sound’s original template without tragic consequences is to be applauded. That this dismantling was done by three dubstep originators makes its success a miracle owing as much to Skream, Benga and Artwork’s ingenuity as it does to the long-standing vulnerability of England’s pop cultural landscape. It may have gone global now, but dubstep was incubated at the Big Apple record shop in Croydon where Magnetic Man first met. Though, then, they could never have imagined the sound they were forging played on daytime radio, England’s size and historically modish mindset meant their commercial success was always more likely than in was for, say, German techno or Chicagoan juke artists. The group’s debut single ‘I Need Air’ went top 10, and it won’t be the last thing here that does: ‘Perfect Stranger’, ‘Boiling Water’ and the aptly named ‘Crossover’ are cut from similar cloth, their mid-ranges filled, crucially, by the sort of rushing trance synths and vocal lures this small nation’s masses are programmed to recognise as gateways to wilder sounds. KK

The Stool Pigeon October 2010

Just when you thought it was too much to ask for, some intelligent post metal that doesn’t sound like ISIS turns up. This is the fifth album by the North Carolinan sixpiece and although they’ve left their phase of innovation for one of refinement, they still sound vital and psychedelically charged. Theremins, oscillators, violins and Hammond organs are thrown into a mix which basically sounds like a cross between Mogwai, Neurosis and Torche. Excellent. Probably sounds even better if you’re on heroin and lying face down on your bedroom floor among the few possessions that your ex didn’t take with her.

THE VASELINES Sex With An X Sub Pop

Whichever dickhead decided to truss up Glasgow’s ultimate art-fag ex-couple like a pair of divs on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross for the cover deserves the clap. Bullshit aside, this is a strong comeback. When The Vaselines split in 1989, because Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee themselves broke up, it was a grey day, not least because Kelly had the potential to become one of Britain’s finest pop songwriters. Sex With An X, which wields Kenneth Williams’s cruel humour with the charm of Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood and the trashiness of Pussy Galore, proves that. Business as usual, then.

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Chapter XXVIII

Reviews by Kev Kharas

I like eating curry, because when I sweat the fragrances return and it’s almost like I get to eat it twice. I never knew my own sweat could make me hungry. Let’s hope this issue’s demo pile is capable of springing such welcome surprises.

W

hen the irony is ‘lost’ on someone, where does it go? It’s a question I’ve been pondering for millennia, as I lie cold and encased in this cryogenic casket, but still the invisible part of life that only moths and children can see refuses to provide any kind of an answer. That in mind, I’m finding it hard to decide whether The Connectors are idiots or seers, the band possessing gall enough to name the first track on their demo ‘Same Old Show’ when it sounds uncannily like Kurt Cobain would have done if he hadn’t put those bullets through himself. Is suicide ironic? Or just The Connectors’ track titling process? I’d smile a wry smile and whisper, “Nothing really matters anyhow,” if I weren’t frozen in icebox hock for another 300 years. Cool it! myspace.com/theconnectorsmusic

Bachar Mar-Khalife

claims to have worked with Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald and his music is occasionally quite beautiful, so I don’t understand why he feels the need to make hacking sounds over the top of it like Sigur Ros choking on their own sloppy relief efforts. Sixteen years they spent cooing at each other in that made-up fairy language. Sixteen years. That’s two and a half World War IIs. No one likes world wars, Bachar. myspace.com/bacharmarkhalife

Stages of Dan

. I thought only bands in television programmes made music this bad. myspace.com/stagesofdan

Rhode Island Red

. Oh, “Nickelback meets The Cult meets Garbage”? Gun meets my fist meets YOUR FACE. myspace.com/rhodeislandredband his didn’t Kostoglotov money to make. myspace.com/kostoglotov

T

Zeni Danussi

’s demo EP of balls-out hard rock is called ‘My Guitar Bleeds’. I knew I didn’t like hard rock or wayward balls, but I didn’t know guitars had rectums. Hence: surprise #1. myspace.com/zenidanussi

while spit-singing this song into his stupid fucking harmonica and clickclacking his Cuban heels together. Desperate tears as his silhouette disappears from view at the end of the close. The peel of church bells compound the farewell to the single mother now left morose, big cocks! myspace.com/dylanwalshe f music be the food of love, Trim The are a crabs cake. myspace.com/wetrimthebarber

IBarber

The Red Zoids

’m generally predisposed to writing off bands who come endorsed by Mogwai, and Vasquez give me no reason to budge from my prejudiced, lazy, disinterested position. myspace.com/wearevasquez

may be utterly, auto-castratingly awful, but at least they have an interesting back story. Their vocalist, Big Willy Smith, was raised by bears, while Jimi Overdrive on guitars was hatched from a golden egg and ‘rhythm section’ Neil The Raven and Monsieur Tibbs were created during the big bang and “fell out of the freepapers” respectively. Unless, as we suspect, they’re talking complete schmack. Take this seriously you pricks this is real life and if I’m lucky you’ll only get one chance. I’m off to tear out my lineage. Sorry, father. myspace.com/theredzoids

Call To Mind

T

Bob Constant and the Goodbye Horses

’ ‘A Room Full Of Everything’ EP might be worth your time, but unfortunately I can’t hear it over my laughing at the image of a nuclear bomb exploding in Ikea. myspace.com/bobconstant

I

. I’ve never been to Scotland. There. I’ve said it. myspace.com/calltomind

ou’ve got to applaud Dylan Walshe. Not for his tedious troubadour skiffle, but for the fact he’s called the first track on his demo ‘Your Belly Not Mine’. I like to imagine the string of pregnant women he’s abandoned

Y

heir home is somewhere boring around North Derbyshire, it says. Slightly harmonious in teases, but ultimately too pointless even for this petty little column. And don’t go trying to use just the first part of that review for your next press release because I built the words ‘This band is shit’ acronymically into the good part. myspace.com/crushingblowsmusic

Escort Knights

. The sort of people keen to draw attention to the fact their “floorfillers” are played with “real instruments” are the sort of people I know I’m going to encounter so often in my life that walls will begin mocking me in the street because they know my knuckles are already so far back to my fists that I won’t risk throwing another futile punch. escortknightsmusic.com

A

clown wanking into its own mouth, Son Capson are not the sort of entertainment I tend to go looking for on a Friday afternoon. myspace.com/isoldmysisteronebay

The Zarrs

, like ‘Tsars’, only with the interesting part taken out. Too unremarkable, really, to trigger a violent uprising among the proletariat, in The Zarrs’ version of history Russia remains as large and unconquerable as it is wordlessly bored. thezarrs.com

I

s scribbling out half your press release with a biro a kind of predigital anonymity? I don’t imagine any of you care about that, particularly, but the tracks Ken Da Koalah makes are about a million times better than his or her dreadful, dreadful name. All in all that lands it somewhere just above evens, which is enough to scoop the prize in a demo pile so blindly mediocre it won’t even notice me putting it in a sack later and throwing it off London Bridge. soundcloud.com/ken-da-koalah

Send your work of genius in through one ear of The Stool Pigeon and straight out the other. Address at front. Please mark the envelope ‘Demo’.

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


Backline For Hire AUDIO HIRE 133-137 Kilburn Lane London W10 T. 02089604466 WWW. audiohire.co.uk

ROBANNA’S STUDIOS Robanna House Cliveland Street B’ham B19 3SN T. 01213333201 WWW. robannas-studios.co.uk

Band Driver Hire GREEN MAN van tours can take up to a fourpiece band with equipment and PA to any gig in UK or Europe. Experience with backline and man management. GREEN MAN takes care of the business GREEN MAN style. T. 07780832059 E. gingerstallone@hotmail.com

Big Tops BIG TOPS UK LTD. 400 Derby Road Nottingham NG7 2GQ

Bus Hire CROSSBOW 322 Church Road Northolt Middlesex UB5 5AP T. 02088413487 WWW. splitterbus.co.uk

DAN’S LUXURY TRAVEL Royal Forest Coach House 109 Maybank Road London E18 1EJ T. 02085058833

TAURUS SELF DRIVE LTD.

55 Wyverne Road Chorlton Manchester M21 T. 01614349823

PROTECHNIC LTD. Unit 109 Central Park Petherton Road Bristol BS14 9BZ T. 01275833779

Gaffer Tape MARNIC PLC 37 Shooters Hill Road London SE3 7HS T. 02088588100

Generators BRM PRODUCTIONS Unit 12 Canalside Industrial Park Kinoulton Road Nottingham NG12 3BE T. 01159899955

ELSTREE LIGHT & POWER Millennium Studios 4-5 Elstree Way Borehamwood Herts WD6 T. 02084063758

Hardware For Sale MALE BOVINE faeces. Tonnes and tonnes of it, ready for collection from your local branch of Waterstones. Or call Tony Blair for signed batches. T. 01206397026 RIVETING paperback books from The Stool Pigeon including a selection of classic interviews and stories from the last five years. Come on you cunts, buy one. WWW.thestoolpigeon.co.uk/blog/stool-pigeonsfifth.html

Insurers AINN. T. WORFDAT - Music Division

Chauffeurs ALL STAR LIMOUSINES 110 Womersley Road Knottingley West Yorkshire WF11 0DL T. 01977607979

MISS DAISY’S DRIVERS 12-16 Leopald St London T. 02084063758

PARKER’S CARS 12-16 Yusmaladee St London SE12 6NS T. 0208 406 3758

Finance & Accountants A & CO 7 Ivebury Court 325 Latimer Road London W10 T. 02089606644

BREBNER, ALLEN & TRAPP The Quadrangle 180 Wardour Street London W1F 8LB T. 02077342244

ERNST & YOUNG LLP 1 More London Place London SE1 2AF T. 02079512000

G BROWN ASSOCIATES 10 Downing Street London SE1 2AF T. 02073282078

WINTERS 29 Ludgate Hill London EC4M 7JE T. 02079199700

Flight Cases AMPTOWN CASES 21-23 Cavendish Street Peterborough Cambs PE1 5EQ T. 01733 557212

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MUSICIANS’ INSURANCE SERVICES 312 High Street Harlington Middlesex UB3 5BT T. 08453457529

T. 01603623563 MARKSON’S PIANOS LTD. 8 Chester Court Albany Street London NW1 T. 08000748980 WWW.marsksonspianos.com

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NEW KINGS ROAD VINTAGE GUITARS 65a New Kings Road London SW6 4SG T. 02073710100

TICKLE The Old Dairy 133-137 Kilburn Lane LondonW10 T. 02089643399 WWW.ticklemusichire.com

Legal Representation ARTISTE CONTRACTS LTD. 15-19 Upper Montague Street London W1H 2PQ T. 02077241917

BURLEY & COMPANY 10 Gray’s Inn Square Gray’s Inn London WC1R 5JD T. 02074044002

DAVID WINEMAN SOLICITORS Craven House 121 Kingsway London WC2B 6NX T. 02074007800 WWW.davidwineman.co.uk

GRAY & CO. 3rd Floor Habib House 9 Stevenson Square Piccadilly Manchester M1 1DB T. 01612373360

HUMPHREY’S & CO. SOLICITORS 14 King Street Bristol BS1 4EF T. 08005422769

UNIQUE & NATURAL TALENT 57 Elgin Crescent London W11 2JU T. 02077921666

Lighting Hire

TOWERGATE STAFFORD KNIGHT CO LTD. 55 Aldgate High Street London EC3N 1AL T. 02074817600

Instruments For Sale TWO TECHNICS turntables available in a straight swap for Gibson guitar. E. jmurphy@gmail.com SPANISH REBEC in great condition with all strings. £70 ono T. 07972402664 29” KETTLE DRUM unclaimed lost property at Albert Hall. £220 ono T. 0207 589 3203

Instruments Wanted FENDER Precision STILL Wanted. Anything considered preferably pre-1979. T. 07813066437 DRUM KIT still wanted by competent amateur. Ideally a five-piece but less or more, who cares. T. 07966212416 UPRIGHT PIANO wanted by novice to learn on. Condition of outer not important, can collect. T. 07966212416

Instrument Hire ALLEN’S MUSIC CENTRE 45 Market Gates Shopping Centre Great Yarmouth Norfolk NR30 2AX T. 01493842887

B SHARP PIANOS LTD. Baptist Church Wordsworth Road London N16 8DA T. 02072757577

COOKES BAND INSTRUMENTS 34 St. Benedict Street Norwich NR2 4AQ

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BATMINK LTD. The Beckery Beckery Road Glastonbury Somerset BA6 9NX T. 01458833186

CONCERT LIGHTS (UK) LTD. Undershore Works Brookside Road Crompton Way Bolton BL2 2SE T. 01204391343

LASER LIGHTING & SOUND 39a Woodbridge Road East Ipswich IP4 5QN T. 01473721690

NORTHERN LIGHT Assembly Street Leith Edinburgh EH6 7RG T. 01315532383

SUPERMICK GROUP LTD. 16 Stoneleigh Street London W11 4DU T. 02072212322

Management 3 KINGS MANAGEMENT are looking for bands/songwriters for U.S. representation Email management@3kingsmangement.com

Massage Services CHARIOT SPA Fairchild Street London EC1 T. 02072475333

Merch & Clothing DJ TEES - T-SHIRTS THAT ROCK!

T. 01653695632 for a catalogue WWW. djtees.com T-BIRDS quality band merchandise. No order too small or large. T. 015025008050 ORIGINAL VINTAGE MERCHANDISE A load of original T shirts and Merch, contact WWW.petertosco.com or, WWW.cafepress.com/petcatdesigns.co.uk

SHIRTYSOMETHING PO Box 6519 Nottingham NG3 5LU T. 01159202645 SO BOARD Limited edition t-shirts WWW.soboard.co.uk

Miscellaneous ACHY BAKEY ART Instrument-themed occasional cakes, made to order. Outstanding detail, all edible. Recent bakes include the 5-piece drum kit cake, and Hammond M3 Ginger cake. T. 07813066437

MUSICIANS’ BENEVOLENT FUND 16 Ogle Street London W1W 6JA T. 02076364481 MUSICIANS’ UNION 60-62 Clapham Road London SW90JJ T. 02075825566 WWW.musiciansunion.org.uk RIZZO THE CLOWN Balloon sculptures. Gags, custard and helium included. On twelve step progamme. T. 07966212416

Musicians Wanted LOSER from London seeks someone/people to make music with. This is real.

E. armenarmenia@hotmail.co.uk WWW.myspace.com/thecinemaceiling TAILORS with an appetite for narcotics needed to complete tribute act PRIMAL SEAM’s line-up.

E. screamadelica@hotmail.com PRISON Guard with limited bass playing experience (but good stance) needed to join NEW WARDER a gigging act from Manchester, for upcoming English tour. E. info@strangeways.com

P.A. Hire ABC ENTERTAINMENTS Trafalgar House Grenville Place Mill Hill London NW7 3SA T. 02089051831

AUDIO PLUS Unit 3 Central Park Military Road Colchester Essex CO1 2AA T. 01206369966

B & H SOUND SERVICES LTD. The Old School Crowland Road Eye Peterborough PE6 7TN T. 01733223535

BETTER SOUND LIMITED 31 Cathcart Street Kentish Town London NW5 3BJ T. 02074820177

DECIBEL AUDIO LTD. Unit 19 Greenwich Centre Business Park Norman Road Greenwich London SE10 9QF T. 08451284185

HAND HELD AUDIO LTD. Unit 2 12-48 Northumberland Park London N17 T. 02088803243 WWW.handheldaudio.co.uk

HIPPO SOUND PA HIRE T. 01373813518 MEGA WATT SOUND Tall Trees 136a Roe Lane Southport Merseyside PR9 7PJ T. 01704220639

MUSIC BANK (HIRE) LTD. 1st Floor Building D Tower Bridge Building Complex 100 Clements Road London SE16 4DG T. 02072520001 WWW.musicbank.org

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October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


P.A. Hire cont. DECIBEL AUDIO LTD

T. 02089601331WWW.2khzstudios.co.uk SAWMILLS RESIDENTIAL RECORDING

Unit 19 Greenwich Centre Business Park Norman Road Greenwich London SE10 9QF T. 08451284185

Golant Fowey Cornwall PL23 1LW T. 01726833338 WWW. sawmills.co.uk

E3 AUDIO

SOUP RECORDING STUDIO

Available for all size parties and gigs. 1K to 10K rigs available. T. 07780832059 E. gingerstallone@hotmail.com

Get that ‘Darren Hayman, Wave Pictures, Let’s Wrestle, Allo Darlin’’ sound under the Duke of Uke, Hanbury St., London EI6QR T. 07986101125 E. theehaircut@gmail.com WWW.soupstudio.co.uk

HIPPO SOUND PA HIRE Park Farm Buckland Down Frome Somerset BA11 2RG T. 0137381351

THE PA COMPANY LTD. Unit 7 The Ashway Centre Elm Crescent Kingston Upon Thames T. 02085466640

Photographers

THE BOOM BOOM ROOMS Beehive Mill Jersey Street Manchester M4 6JG T. 01619504250 FRONTLINE STUDIOS 18 Cave Street Bristol BS2 8RU T. 01179248252

Piano Movers

REHEARSAL & RECORDING STUDIO 49-51 Leswin Road Stoke Newington N16 7NX 02079239533 info@gunfactorystudios,com www.gunfactorystudios.com

THE JOINT LTD. 1-6 Field Street London WC1X 9DG T. 02078333375 WWW.thejoint.org.uk MATCO PIANO TRANSPORT 288 Kensington High Street London W14 8NZ T. 02076032016

Piano Tuners B SHARP PIANOS LTD. Baptist Church Wordsworth Road London N16 T. 02072757577

kafri rehearsal studios Arch 357 Laburnum Road. London E2 8BB 07828 254 458 www.kafristudios.co.uk www..kafristudios.co.uk

kafristudios@yahoo.com

Pressing and Duplication MEDIADISC Unit 4C 101 Farm Lane London SW6 1QJ T. 02073852299 WWW.mediadisc.co.uk

SOUND RECORDING TECHNOLOGY LTD. Audio House Eddison Road St Ives Cambridgeshire PE27 3LF T. 01480461880

THE ROYALTY COMPLIANCE ORGANISATION 4 Crescent Stables 139 Upper T. 02087896444

MAD DOG REHEARSAL ROOMS Unit 57 Deeside Industrial Estate Welsh Road Deeside Clwyd CH5 2LR T. 01244281705 THE PREMISES STUDIOS LTD. 201-205 Hackney Road London E2 8JL T. 02077297593

Reply, quoting ref on envelope to address at front, or by emailing editor@thestoolpigeon.co.uk with ref in subject box. Confidentiality assured.

Security Services CASTLEBANK SECURITY SOLUTIONS Unit

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GUNFACTORY

Personals

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Richmond Road London SW15 2TN

Rehearsal Spaces

JENNY HARDCORE MUSIC PHOTOGRAPHY Freelance photographer available for live/press/artwork shoots. Studio or location. For further info and examples of portfolio please visit : WWW.jennyhardcore.co.uk

SCREAM STUDIOS Module A1 Enterprise Point Melbourne Street Brighton BN2 3LH T. 01273671086 SURVIVAL STUDIOS Acton Business Centre School Road North Acton London NW10 6TD T. 02089611977

Vans and Equipment Hire

with soft willies who hang around churches, seeks metal man with a rod or iron. REF: 2803

BLACKLIGHT TOURS Best rates for backline hire, self drive splitter vans, EU & UK tour management. Work waiting for drivers with their own vans. Midlands and London based. Can deliver. POA. T. 07875556467 WWW.blacklighttours.co.uk

CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC The Limes 78 Bute Road Wallington Surrey SM6 8AB T. 02086473948 HANS FOR VANS T. 07782340058 North London based company with splitter and minivans, guaranteed to beat any quote.

STARCRAFT EXECUTIVE TRAVEL Fleet Hampshire T. 01252812328 WWW.starcraft.co.uk

Tuition BASS GUITAR TUITION Beginners to intermediate. £20 per hour. Based in East London. Musician Institute graduate / pro musician. Call Andi T. 07904227751 APPLE MAC TUITION Beginners to advanced in all things Macintosh & Adobe Creative Suite . Good day rates. T. 07966212416

Men Seeking... SINGLE male seeks double-jointed supermodel who owns a brewery and has an open-minded twin sister. REF: 2804 THIS LARGE personal ad cost me money to run. So we’ll be going Dutch on our first date. REF: 2805 WANTED: somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. Only tried this once before. REF: 2806 GINGER-HAIRED paisley troublemaker, gets slit-eyed and shirty after a few scoops, seeks attractive, wealthy lady for bail purposes and more. REF: 2807 PERVERT I saw you at The Old Blue Last in east London on Saturday August 21. You grabbed my butt and I told you that if you did it again I’d fucking kill you. You did. Now I need your number. REF: 2808

SOUNDS GOOD LTD. The UK’s home of CD, DVD & Cassette manufacturing, and multimedia services. 12 Chiltern Enterprise Centre Station Rd Theale Berkshire RG7 4AA T. 0118 930 1700 F. 0118 930 1709 E. sales-info@sounds-good.co.uk WWW.sounds-good.co.uk

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PAINS FIREWORKS LTD. The Old Chalk Pit Romsey Road Whiteparish Salisbury Wiltshire SP5 2SD T. 01794884040

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Recording Studios 2 KHZ STUDIOS 97a Scrubs Lane London NW10 6QU

The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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NEON INDIAN COOKING WITH GAS IN LIVERPOOL, CURRIES FAVOUR WITH RICHARD GRIP SMALL, HUNGRY CROWD HIPSTER TIPSTER Words

Spoonboy John Johnson

Photography

He’s always on the hunt for a steamer

NEON INDIAN The Shipping Forecast, Liverpool Indian is the new project of Alan Palomo, a US techno wunderkind better known for remixing the Klaxons, and for several releases under the name VEGA. Despite Palomo’s hip status, only a small Sunday night crowd is gathered here in the dungeon-like basement of new bar The Shipping Forecast. But he’s not showing any disappointment. Onstage, Neon Indian immediately grip the attention, with a force of purpose to shame most of our homegrown electro outfits. Tracks that seemed half-arsed on the album now tingle with a sense of mission; a metronomic beat from the live drums combining with warm hypnotic chords and tweeting electronics. Centre-stage with jet-black curls, Palomo handles several keyboards simultaneously, working his voodoo with a coiled energy, adding occasional vocals in an androgynous purr. On the left of the stage, a raven-

Neon

haired fittie handles keyboards and backing vocals, instigating handclaps from the crowd, while on the right a guitarist with bottle-end glasses and poodle hair gets his geeky freak on. The shag-headed drummer thwacks his snare and little else, which is fine and dandy. Later in the set, the guitarist throws out tasty licks while Palomo goes mad with a theremin, twisting

and writhing like vintage Prince. Spicy stuff. But ultimately, these sonic messengers say infinitely more by saying less — that hypnotic snare anchoring a sparse, urban euphoria with tinges of sadness. This could all feel very, very special in a dance tent at 2am. Their time will come, but already Neon Indian are a must-see act. Working minor miracles in a shoebox near you soon.

DISMAY AT ICA AS FLYING LOTUS SHOW HOVERS FAR TOO CLOSE TO JAZZ HELL Words

Felix L.Petty

FLYING LOTUS ICA, The Mall, London Flying Lotus, Steven Ellison has As produced two of the most startlingly original hip hop albums of the last few years. Los Angeles from 2008 was a mixture of hypnotic ambient crackles set to alienated Californian beats, and while it is undeniably rooted within the tradition of hip hop, it was also refreshingly difficult to categorise. This year’s follow-up, Cosmogramma, was a self-proclaimed ‘space opera’ that built upon the template laid down by Los Angeles but compounded it into a dreamily morphing and slithering 40minute movement. Tonight’s performance traces back along the bloodlines that bore Ellison’s own strain of cosmic hip hop, taking in everything from the music of his greataunt and -uncle Alice and John Coltrane, to the space jazz of Sun-Ra and Afrika Bambaataa’s afro-futurism. The band play intricately: Ellison’s

cousin Ravi Coltrane plunging into the ICA’s corners with his saxophone bursts and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s violins dancing around Rebekah Raff’s spectral, shimmering harp. Toward the back of the stage, Steve ‘Thundercat’ Bruner’s thumbed bass vies with straight-up jazz drumming provided by Gerry Gibbs, the former exhibiting more control than he did while with thrash punk buffoons Suicidal Tendencies. For all their aplomb, though, the band’s introduction relegates Flying Lotus to just another bobbing head in a sea of bobbing jazz-heads. No one takes centre stage, and with Ellison himself tucked away — a barely seen conductor — tonight’s virtuosos lack an anchor. At times the dulcet tones of Andreya Triana fill the gap and the set breaks down to a slow R&B groove, almost encroaching upon Massive Attack-like trip hop with its palatable dub rhythms. Ellison’s presence hovers over the performance — he’ll gently encourage rumbling drum solos or toy delicately with violins, but all too often he’s lost amid the skill of his band.

Highlights include the violins of ‘Do The Astral Plane’ soar high over bopped-out drum patterns, and Thundercat’s sustained bass rolls over the audience on ‘Dance of The Pseudo Nymphs’ as perpetual as orbits. The interplay between Atwood and Coltrane is staggering and provides some of the evening’s most memorable moments, especially when Ellison overlays their ambient play with hip hop shrapnel to reveal Flying Lotus in his full, indefinable glory. Too often, though, the evening threatens to vanish in upon itself. Where are the warm, intimate crackles that defined Los Angeles? Not present tonight. Instead we get another extended bass solo, another sax freakout, another rambling drum break that leads us down the long road into jazz hell. Among it all is FlyLo, Virgil to our Dante, and although his Infinity project occasionally comes oh-so close to breaking through into something paradisal, ultimately you feel there’s a need for a bit more Puritan subtlety and restraint. Till that’s achieved, we’re left afloat in purgatory.

In this age of austerity it seems appropriate that The xx, with their bare-arsed minimalism, came away with the honours at the Mercury Music Prize. The 20,000 spondoolies they pocketed seems a bit tight, too, given inflation. Kids with cancer won’t be seeing a fucking penny of that considering it hardly covers a taxi ride home. Like Granddad Paul Weller’s dick, the prize money hasn’t gone up in years! The problem with ages of austerity is that they’re tedious, so hats off to the judges for nailing that shit down and delivering it to the dullas-shit English three-piece. Chapeau, mein Capitans! Anyone hoping to make money should sack off the Mercury next year for a career in whoredom given its predictability these days, with dead certs romping home nearly every time. Looking at the form for the last five events, the winner is invariably the favourite, with Speech Debelle the anomaly. The longest odds The xx managed were 4-1, but come the day of the ceremony VC Bet was offering as little as 6/4. I wouldn’t have given you the steam off my piss! It was a strange affair this year, with pregnant women everywhere. Television viewers watching a heavily pregnant Lauren Laverne rapping with a heavily pregnant Miranda Sawyer must have thought they’d tuned into BBC3 not 2. There’s nothing wrong with bringing life into this world, but there is something wrong with giving a fucking dull acceptance speech, like The xx did. They are so over! Word is the Prime Minister and Sam Cam like to do the twobacked beast to their album, which is surely their death knell. Still, they managed to keep Mumford & Sons from the top prize, sending them back to Norfolk or wherever they come from in their fucking removal van. Yes, I know the removal van joke is old. Well, here’s an even older one: Biffy Clyro, your name is still fucking shit, you bunch of sweaty cunts. Speaking of old, Weller made a late surge in the betting but ended up disappointed. Now he knows how the rest of us have felt about his career for the last 30 years. The real A-Team in the stakes missed out big time. I pity the Foals.

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STERN CROWD LEAVES A DOUR TASTE IN THE MOUTH AT EPIC EURO FESTIE THAT COULD HAVE TURNED VERY SOUR Words

Mr Coffee Nerves Jodi Burian

Photography

DOUR FESTIVAL Dour, Belgium are rising on this Tensions second night of Belgium’s Dour festival and it’s not exactly clear why. Synth-funk duo Chromeo are late to come on stage in the ‘Magic Tent’, but it’s hard to imag-

ine that their reluctance to perform until their equipment is properly soundchecked is the source of people’s rising anger. One meat-head is kicking one of the masts that holds up this giant construction and the deep thud is reverberating across the tent. Another spam-brain responds by pummelling a different mast, over to the right. Then, in front of where I’m standing, a man punches a girl in the face — and no one seems particularly alarmed. Chromeo cool proceedings. That the pair speak French helps, but mostly it’s their killer party jams and oh-so-zany stage presence that provide distraction. The crowd dances — en masse. A disaster is avoided. The Dour festival takes place in the small Belgian town of the same name, which is situated near Lille on the French border. A walk through the carpark reveals Belgian and French number plates, naturally, but also many Dutch, German and British ones. It’s a pan-Euro festival like no other, and 150,000+ people flock here over four days to indulge in what is always an impeccable line-up. This year, its 21st, saw Faith No More listed as main headliners, but Dour sells itself as a music connoisseur’s event. Hence Dum Dum Girls, Archie Bronson Outfit, Fucked Up, Todd, Os Mutantes, Daedelus, Wild Beasts, Chrome Hoof and a whole tonne of electronic acts were booked. Here’s the twist, though: where in Britain such artists usually attract the beard-stroker and flannel-shirted, at Dour, no one seemed to give a fuck about who was actually playing. Conversations with locals about who they’d marked up to see perform led

to blank expressions, and much subsequent chatter about how twatted they intended to get later. At risk of offending an entire nation, Dour turned out to be a thuggish affair. Late at night, the site was like a war zone, but that wasn’t always a bad thing. Skream and Benga pulled a humongous crowd for their 2am performance, which turned out to be as menacing as it was brilliant. Strange to think these kids from Croydon were completely unknown outside of Britain a year ago and now they have Flemish girls inking their names across fleshy bosoms. A few keywords now, scribbled on a piece of paper during the four days: ‘Saggy draw pants.’ Still a big thing on the continent, it seems! Not least among the many white Rastas who frequent Dour. ‘Temporary Coca-Cola tattoos.’ Half the crowd ended up with one, and before you slag off our Euro pals for being a bunch of corporate whores, know that a pack of English people I met had fully indulged, too. ‘Red Bull disco trucks.’ Nothing more amusing than watching a bunch of wide-eyed ravers going nuts in front of any vehicle playing music. ‘Bar cowgirls in red hats.’ You’d see these lovelies walking across site dressed as Daisy Duke promoting some bar they represented. Poor lassies. ‘Hoegaarden Rosé.’ A most delicious beverage that you don’t often see in Britain. ‘Festihut’. Essentially a garden shed with two bunk beds in it. Quite the way to get a good night’s sleep at an event of this kind. ‘Used johnny by Festihut’. Not a pleasant thing to witness first thing in the morning with a stinging hangover. With tensions high, you’re left with little option but to go heavy and I’ll remember Dour for the awesome amount of metal on display. Special mention here goes to Norway’s Shining, who ripped through their small audience on Sunday morning. Their set was a surprise. You witness Jorgen Munkeby (pictured) and decide he’s far too good-looking to make ugly music. And then he… roars. He plays guitar, but also sax and, extraordinarily, the band somehow manage to get away with their curious metal/jazz hybrid. Elsewhere, America’s shock rockers Gwar “chopped Hitler’s penis on stage, beheaded the Pope, skinned a Taliban terrorist and sodomised Jesus.” I missed that, sadly, but I did see flashes of Vermin Twins and Satanic Samba who played after… Devendra Banhart. In English, ‘dour’ means sullen, gloomy, or severe and stern. For Scots, it can also mean barren land; rocky, infertile, or otherwise difficult or impossible to cultivate. Somehow all of those definitions work for the Dour festival but, in retrospect, its crude glory was fun, and highly amusing. Wouldn’t go again, unless it was to find and chin that cunt who beat the girl.

P iGeoN Eyed

TRIO AT THEIR PEAK IN CHURCH Words

Cian Traynor

MOUNTAIN MAN St Giles-in-the-Fields, West End, London no better setting for There’s Mountain Man’s electrifying harmonies than a church. Whereas their debut album Made the Harbor was captured live in an upstate New York ice cream parlour, their rich take on Americana feels even more intimate in austere surroundings. But even if this Vermontbased trio aren’t yet well-known enough to fill the pews, it just means that tonight’s disciples are well and truly spoiled — and a sizable chunk of the audience have crept towards the front to sit cross-legged at their feet. Though the mics are perched high above their heads, they don’t need them: their a cappella performances reverberate right the way through the chapel, its chandeliers flickering on and off between songs. Separately, their voices are distinctive — as proved with Amelia Randall Meath’s solo cover of Tom Waits’s ‘Green Grass’ — but ‘Honeybee’, ‘Buffalo’, ‘Animal Tracks’ and a transformative rendition of the Mills Brothers’ ‘How ’m I Doin’, Hey, Hey’ all illustrate just how well their individual sounds piece together. With only the help of an occasional acoustic guitar to measure the pace, the songs sometimes stumble to a halt prematurely, the band bursting into giggles. The rest of the time, they hold each other’s hands through the stillness, barely an intake of breath between them, summoning an intense concentration no doubt a product of their studies in performance theatre. Yet when the crowd disperses just after an hour, it’s the stress-busting quality of Mountain Man’s rich harmonies that lingers the longest.

News The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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BLACK ANGELS UNFEARFUL OF TREADING OUT A NEW SOUND Words

Barnaby Smith Rachel Lipsitz

Photography

THE BLACK ANGELS The Borderline, West End, London for years now beholden by fans and critics as honoured guardians of dark psychedelia, supported Wolfmother around the UK and Europe earlier this year. It was a curious mismatch and one that may have led to the Austin band needing to shower compulsively at the tour’s end, to exfoliate the greasy layer of cliché-rock that might cling to them by association. It’s out of their system now, it seems, and their new LP Phosphene Dream is a devastatingly good record, adding melody and zest to the familiar minimalist drone. And back in their natural home — smaller venues like The Borderline, that is — they are firmly kings of their domain and revelling in the sureness of their own powers. They are in a generous mood tonight and, despite having an impending release to plug, play a host of old songs from albums Passover and Directions To See A Ghost. Of these, ‘Manipulation’, ‘Young Men Dead’ and ‘The First Vietnamese War’ are imperious, proving that for all their newfound jangliness, they can still pummel a crowd into submission with their juggernaut-heavy boom. The denseness of The Black Angels’ live sound is remarkable in its ability to not become a muddy mess of fractured competing rackets, with Alex Maas’s echoey vocals, along with the genuinely subtle phrases from Christian Bland’s guitar, ensuring the show exhibits the Angels’ imagination as much as their volume. The new songs are a simpler bunch, with ‘Yellow Elevator #2’ and especially ‘Telephone’ tonight suggesting the influence of the 13th Floor Elevators, early Rolling Stones and just about anything from the Nuggets collection. Never before has Maas been known to dance, but that is where The Black Angels are at these days. It must be said, however, that this is a case of another string added to their bow, rather than a rejection of the core sound that still makes them a formidable proposition when experienced in the flesh. Alex Maas and Christian Bland. How would you describe the differences between Phosphene Dream and your previous albums? CB: It’s not as freaky. AM: And because it’s not as freaky I think more people can understand it, but without us losing artistic integrity, and keeping it in the psychedelic realm. CB: The new album is more thought out. The second album was us in the practice room, jamming. If something sounded good we’d be like, ‘sounds cool, that’s a song,’ but this one had more thinking. But not over-thinking — that’s horrible. The album’s lyrics also seem less directly political. Is it more abstract in that way? AM: There is a political aspect to it, but it’s not overtly obvious. We don’t have a song like ‘The First Vietnamese War’ on here but there are definitely elements of that on ‘River Of Blood’ and ‘Phosphene Dream’. CB: I think each song is a metaphor. A song like ‘Telephone’ in a literal interpretation is about calling someone in this physical world, but it may be something more than that, like trying to pray to God and not getting answers. Had you been listening to anything in particular that might have changed your approach? CB: Maybe The Zombies. I was listening to Odessey And Oracle a lot when we were recording in LA. To me ‘Yellow Elevator’ has that feel. AM: A lot of Clinic. CB: And Love. AM: A lot of modern bands too, like A Place To Bury Strangers, Wooden Shjips… we still listen to The Warlocks all the time. An element of mysticism and spirituality has always been important in your sound. Is that still the case? AM: Definitely. A song has to move you before anything else. Spirituality is huge in music — it’s where everything comes from; this ethereal, weird place in our mind or bodies. CB: I think music is our way to commune with the unknown, the unexplained. You two have known each other since you were 12. How has your creative relationship changed over the years? AM: Recently we’ve probably been writing more on our own. I think that’s something that had to happen at some point — to move in a different direction then come back together with certain ideas.

The Black Angels,

Q&A with

Sports 86

October 2010 The Stool Pigeon


JURY’S IN ON OZZIE LOONS Words

Ben Graham

PHILADELPHIA GRAND JURY The Prince Albert, Trafalgar St., Brighton power pop, sure, but not as we know it. Short, snappy songs with impossibly catchy melodies and insidious middle eights? Check. Nerdy singer in oversized national health glasses with a high, nasal voice? Yep. Lyrics about being in love with that girl who can’t hear your heart beating harder whenever she walks by? Of course. Psychotic and terrifying blackbearded Grizzly Adams lookalike bass player screaming in your face? Erm, hang on… Philadelphia Grand Jury play perfect, high energy pop with the unselfconscious enthusiasm and dedication to putting on a show that only Australian bands can really muster, especially midway through a 32-date tour of some of the UK’s pokier music venues. ‘Going To The Casino (Tomorrow Night)’ is the kind of candy-coated razor blade of a song that Jack White seems to think he’s above writing these days, while ‘Ready To Roll’ is Rocket From The Crypt with a nosebleed, the muscles and tattoos replaced by teeth braces and pimples. ‘The Good News’ finds Ben Folds jonesing for the Stiff Records back catalogue instead of trying to justify a sick Billy Joel fetish with the lame excuse of irony. And ‘I Don’t Want to Party (Party)’ is what might have happened if Jonathan Richman had fronted Cheap Trick. Their headlining set ends after barely 30 minutes, with bearded bassist MC Bad Genius rampaging into the crowd, but we’ve had more classic tunes and old-fashioned entertainment in that half hour than bigger bands manage in four times the duration. Frontman Berkfinger may insist he’s a loser in love, but he’s got rock’n’roll down pat. As a Jay-Z cover encore neatly shows, he’s got 99 problems, but the gig ain’t one.

It’s

BONERRRR!!

The Pope’s had his back fixed up pretty good

FLAMING LIPS BRING COLOUR TO A FESTIVAL THAT’S FAST BECOMING AS GREEN WELLY AS GREEN MAN Words

Barnaby Smith

GREEN MAN FESTIVAL Glanusk Park, Crickhowell years after it started as a Seven rather secretive, modestly promoted event with a capacity of just 300, the Green Man Festival is now a very different beast. While programming is as eclectic as ever, the subterranean, somewhat mystical energy it once had has dwindled. This year pouting, well-groomed children literally overran the Glanusk Park site. We even got a celebrity, too, with Charlotte Church spotted negotiating the maze of organic food stalls and purveyors of hemp ponchos. Friday headliners were Doves, as dreary and slow as the miserable wet that engulfed the first half of the festival. However, the mid-evening offered up acts more in keeping with what Green Man is famous for. Sleepy Sun, touring in support of second album Fever, played a fervent set of blistering psych-blues, albeit one noticeably affected by how twatted singer Bret Constantino appeared to be, and by how bandmate Rachel Fannan had to manhandle him to keep him interested. Rather more sedate was John Grant, who with characteristic understatement played songs from his extraordinary Queen Of Denmark album, including a memorable a cappella version of his vitriolic anthem ‘Chicken Bones’. The only alternative to Doves on this first night was An Horse. The Brisbane guitar-and-drums duo were disappointing, unable in the continuing deluge to find the aggression or wit that such an attempt at emulating The Vaselines demands. On Saturday afternoon, The Besnard Lakes had to contend with a film about

Quit chasing those buffalo, dumbass Yeah, he should take it easy...

Fairport Convention dragging the masses to the cinema tent. The Canadians, however, were superb, clattering through ‘Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent Pt 2: The Innocent’ from new album ...Are The Roaring Night. Their ambitious prog-informed rock is polished, yet includes passages of pure abandon, and frontman Jase Lacek’s infectious cheer brought goodwill back to a festival becoming increasingly deflated by Welsh mud. The Flaming Lips’ live show may be open to accusations of style over substance, but they put together something that has never been seen here before as they headlined Saturday. Their familiar theatrics and pyrotechnics may have left some unimpressed, but the colour of it all at least entertained the children, whose number at this point threatened to turn the festival into an awful Swiftian dystopia, where the under-10s rule. Sunday was the day of pure musicianship. In the afternoon, the Brewis brothers of Field Music were in the mood for it, and this tightest of bands were impeccable — songs from Measure adopting new dimensions on stage. They completed an afternoon of engrossing technical skill started by the finger-picking expertise of Alasdair Roberts, on before them. The festival would be closed by Joanna Newsom, one who has wowed these parts before. For most, the concentration required to appreciate her is surely in short supply on the last night of a three-day festival after a weekend of rain, yet the response to her 90minute set, heavy with tracks from Have One On Me, was respectful to the point of embarrassment. Indeed, as lovely as it all was, Green Man could generally benefit from a bit more mongrel, before it really does become the Brecon Beacons’ very own Hampstead for one weekend a year.

...and get Edge to drive him around everywhere

Yeah, Edge, uh huh huh, Edge should get his hair fixed

News The Stool Pigeon October 2010

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The Stool Pigeon Music Newspaper Issue 028  

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