V I B R AT I ON S M A GA ZI N E L E E D S A N D W E ST Y OR K SH I R E F E B R U A RY 2011 FREE
T I GE R S T HAT TA L KED MAST E R AND T H E M U L E V E SSE L S REVIEWS ONE FOR THE ROAD PASSPORT CONTROL SECOND HEARIN G 10 COOL THIN GS
Editorial Sam Saunders Under the Influence 10 Below Zero Tigers That Talked Vessels This Is Why We Do It Passport Control From Stage to Page Master And The Mule Chickenhawk Second Hearing Reviews Live Reviews One for the Road The Search Vibrations is looking for... Advertisers - 2000 magazines seen by music lovers across Leeds. email@example.com Classifieds - Band mates wanted? Equipment to sell? Rooms to rent? firstname.lastname@example.org Writers, Photographers, Artists and Sub editors Come be a part of it. email@example.com Demos - Send them in to: Steve Walsh, Reviews Editor Vibrations Magazine PO BOX 476 Leeds LS7 9BT
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Vibrations is: Editor Rob Wright firstname.lastname@example.org Design Workshop www.thisisworkshop.co.uk email@example.com Picture Editor Tom Martin firstname.lastname@example.org Reviews Editor Steve Walsh email@example.com Founded and Published by Tony Wilby firstname.lastname@example.org Jack Simpson email@example.com Advertising Department Tony Wilby firstname.lastname@example.org Web Team Simon Hollingworth www.vibrations.org.uk Charlotte Watkins www.myspace.com/vibrationsmagazine Contributors Rob Wright, Sam Saunders, Mike Price, Tom Pratt, Oliver Shaw, Kate Wellham, Spencer Bayles, Rob Paul Chapman, Jess Wallace, Tim Hearson, Rob Stephens, Justin Myers, Tom Bailey, Steve Walsh, John Devlin, Hayley Avron, Amy Allaker, Stacey Dove, Nelson, Neil Dawson Cover Photograph Tigers That Talked by Bart Pettman
So Billy, would you like to hear Vanilla Ice do his greatest hits, or would you like to choke yourself to death?
Here we are, another new year, another candle on the cake (which, I can assure you, is becoming a serious fire hazard), another crisis and yet another reason to hate bankers. No, I’m not going to indulge in banker bashing, just thought I’d get a quick dig in as I haven’t seen a pay rise in three years, let alone a bonus. Have your bonus, Mr Banker – just be sure to have that 280 billion or so in tax payer’s fundage back by the end of the year, okay? Or there’ll be trou-ble...
“ A C T UALLY, I ’M NOT T H AT D OWN ON B AN K ER S , ” It’s overpaid, oversexed Neanderthals that I have problems with. Or professional footballers, as they’re also known. Anyway, this is a music magazine, so I’d better talk about music, yeah? I mean, that’s what you want to read about, right? Well, in a bid to be all zeitgeisty, I thought I’d bring to your attention a couple of items that have entered my awareness inbox and refuse to leave on account of no-one wants to take responsibility for them getting there. First off, what’s with this ‘whole album’ thing? That is ‘Classic’ bands going back on the road and performing ‘classic’ albums in full. I can understand doing that for something like Rush’s ‘2112’ or Genesis’s ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ because doing prog rock is all about hedonistic indulgence, and what could be more indulgent than 4
redoing a tour thirty or forty years after the capes have been mothballed and the double-neck guitars have been put into long term storage? But, for goodness sake, Haircut 100? ‘Pelican West’? Where did that come from? Cable knit me a gallows now. Anywho, after hearing that this little number was getting the whole album treatment (an act that will undoubtedly bring Patrick Bateman out of retirement), I decided if I could think of any albums MORE ridiculous than this that will NEVER benefit from the whole album treatment. Please. It was not easy. Superwomble – The Wombles – Mike Batt’s ‘furry anvils’ finally settle old scores, get Madame Cholet out of rehab and Orinoco to take a couple of months off from running his recycling empire and take to the road in full regalia with plenty of special effects and some rap re-workings of classic songs like ‘Wombling Free’. Fo Wozzle. The Transformed Man – William Shatner – Big Billy Shatner stylee and an airing for the man ‘who touched the face of God’. Performing from a barstool set before a red curtain with a mic in one hand and a whisky in the other (the way God intended), the Shatminator will bring this seminal album to life – who can forget the fervid mania of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ or... that other one. One for the ladies. Gift – The Sisterhood – In true flamboyant style, the album will not actually be played during this tour – instead Mr Eldritch will deface a band photo of Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams whilst giggling mischievously. Beatles, Bach and Bacharach in a Bossa Beat – Various – A true paradigm shifting album returned to the public’s attention and given the live outing it so richly deserves.
Johann Sebastian Bach, John and George are resurrected for the purpose of this tour and help to herald in a new era of peace and understanding though the medium of bossa nova. Probably. Oh, and I see Vanilla Ice is back on our screens again. To refer back to the late great Bill Hicks, I didn’t realise Satan was that bad off for ‘action’. No, but seriously he gets a lot of grief for his... career, exploiting black music – not that white artists have ever done that at all – when in fact he was exploiting very British music and the work of the ground-breaking rap star, Rex Harrison. Who cannot listen to ‘Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like A Man’ and not think of Warren G’s ‘Regulate’? Unfortunately, his ground-breaking single of 1965, ‘Express Your Dissatisfaction Towards the Constabulary’ was deemed too contentious and was buried without a trace. Fragments of this work are rumoured to be in the possession of Jay Z, but this is mere speculation. All we know is that when NWA released ‘Straight Outta Compton’ in 1988, tha Rex-dogg did not get a mention. Anyway this is all a lot of fun, but you’ll probably now want to get on with some genuine music-related reading (and a treat it is too), so without further ado... wait, before you go, I’d just like to thank everyone for their hard work and especially big thanks to Tom Martin, who will be stepping down from the role of photo editor to let Bart Pettman step up. He’s not leaving, he’s just lightening the load. Good work, Mr Martin, thanks for getting amongst it and, let’s face it, I wouldn’t be writing this editorial if it wasn’t for you getting me amongst it too. Mixed blessings then. ED 1972
SA M SAUN D E R ’ S M I G HT Y C O L UMN I used to love guitar music more than any other. Now I’m not so sure. It’s another year and there‘s another queue of guitar bands testing the patience of engineers in the BBC Maida Vale Studios (home from Leeds’ home these happy days).
Nevertheless, I’m forced to wonder why they are there. I also feel a need to shake my weary head at the ever-lengthening lines of next-wave sludge signing the Live and Unsigned contract. Do these bands have no inkling of the irony involved in signing up to be Unsigned Forever? I shall lay off the culprits from Leeds itself. It’s not their fault that I’m bored and restless. But they should take note – 2010 was the year that rock and roll was officially declared dead by the recording industry. Music Week seems to have reported that only 3% of top selling tracks are in the guitar band mould of the “rock star” stereotype. (what a corrosively dead phrase that now is ... “rock star” as in “Barbie goes to the rock show with Ken”, Ugh.)
YOU ’ RE N OT, A N D N E V E R WI LL B E ROC K S TAR S , L AD S (I am talking “lads” here). All the kids’ money and time these days are going into games, consoles, DVDs and pornography while The Great Rock Bands are nearly all still alive and still sound much more interesting than you do. With inexpensive aids and a little dental work they can still supply all the Cheap Thrills the world needs for the foreseeable future. Any of the rock dinosaurs suffering attrition can recruit brilliant young technicians or family members to fill the gaps. Bon Jovi and Roger Waters are earning all the dollars, and there are plenty more 6
back-catalogue heroes like them to blow the feather-haired no-marks like Brother off any stage. The riffs, the moves, the hooks and the killer lines have all been written and they are still being played in all the spaces where the pattern was invented. Leeds Festival seems to get flakier each year as it tries to find new guitar hero headliners for all three nights. So, you’re going to have to do something very different if alternative/ rock/guitar music is ever going to reignite a new generation. You can play for your mums and dads, who nearly remember the good old days and were happy to buy your first telecaster, but your old school friends and seem to be drifting away and making excuses. You can play for youth product sponsorship money, but that will dry up as “rock and roll” stops looking sexy to brand managers. You can turn your back on fame and dream of cult status in a different future. But even cult starts to sound like a rude word as youth’s collective long term memory collapses and the future
washes its hands (and minds) of us all. The thing is, there is no ninth wave of adulation or social creativity in this territory. The people who know this might still be playing guitars, but they are not rehearsing their Brit Award speeches, nor acting out Spinal Tap scenes when they play gigs, neither are they posing with hair dryers set on 3, nor anticipating their first video with excited palpitations. They know that that is all no more than playschool. They are getting on with real lives informed by aesthetics, politics and social creativity. Music is part of it – but doesn’t define it. Their musicianship is welcomed, possibly rewarded, but not worshipped. The wonderful result of such changes (if they are real) is that celebrity disappears, humanity breaks out and the general standard of creativity and wonder can aspire to be as provocatively original as Jasmine Kennedy, Jon Gomm, Benjamin Wetherill or David Thomas Broughton (for example). Sam Saunders
U NDE R T H E I N F L UE NCE NA PO L E O N I I I R D After yet another intergalactic voyage in the sonic flying saucer that is NAPOLEON IIIrd, Mike Price managed to briefly intercept Yorkshire’s most eccentric musical cosmonaut James Mabbet and pick his brains about what sounds first made his spine tingle.
What is the track you have picked? It’s called ‘I Think I’m In Love’. Where can we find it? It’s the third track on the third album by former Spaceman 3 front man Jason Pierce and also a former NME album of the year. Of course we’re talking about the epic ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space’ by one of Warwickshire’s finest ever, Spiritualized. When did you first hear it? I was in the Cheltenham branch of HMV, back in the days when staff could still play whatever music they wanted in the shop. When it came on, I just stood and stared at the speakers for the duration of the track. It’s quite a long one too, checking in at just over 8 minutes. I must have looked proper mental. Why did it prove such an inspiration? At the time I hadn’t heard anything else like it before, it proved to be the gateway to the most amazing music I’ve ever heard and resulted in a significant directional shift in the sounds I was to create afterwards. How has it influenced your writing? ‘Ladies and Gentlemen...’ is now a kind of benchmark for me. I will always strive to try and better it. (Nice to see the bar set nice and high, James). Describe your songwriting process. I write as I record; generally songs start with a drone, sound or repetitive rhythm and I keep adding to that until I hear something that excites me. Then things gradually form around that exciting sound. I guess that you could describe my writing process, as well as the final product, as impressionistic pop.
What are you currently listening to? Straight after this I’ll probably be playing ‘Ladies and Gentlemen…….’ once more as I’ve not listened to it in a little while and am thinking about it during this interview. I must be missing it. Other than that I can’t stop listening to ‘BTSTU’ by Jai Paul, it’s AMAZZZZZING, I can’t function without my daily JP fix at the moment. (For those of you who are not familiar with Jai Paul, check out the dub-funkster at myspace.com/jaipaulmusic).
What’s next for Napoleon IIIrd? I’m doing a few gigs in Spain then joining I Like Trains on tour in February, including a show at the Duchess in York. After that little warm up I’ll be starting my own tour in March, including a gig at Nation of Shopkeepers on the 11th. Then it’s back to Europe at the tail end of March and in to April. After that, who knows? I’m very excited to see what happens next.
Any new stuff in the pipeline? There is a single, ‘The Unknown Unknown’ (the opening track on the new album) coming out in March, with two new b-sides as well as the continuous plugging of ‘Christiania’.
Follow the life and times of James at http://www.napoleoniiird.com or make his day and put your hand in your pocket for his recent release ‘Christiania’.
As are we, as are we... Mike Price
10 BEL O W Z E R O - I T’ S T H E ART S We all know Leeds is cool – check out the frostbite – but it’s also pretty nifty with it. Cool. To celebrate all things gnarly, each issue we will be asking someone(s) to make their top ten list of the things they think are cool. This issue our designers, Ollie and Tom, have been looking at art in Leeds. Take it away, Workshop.
Jay Cover Nous Vous are a collective of three artists, designers and illustrators formed in Leeds that have gained widespread acclaim nationwide. Their work has been commissioned for a variety of projects but really comes alive when exhibited. Jay is the only member of the Nous Vous collective still living and working in Leeds and his work is simple and craft-driven with a great attention to detail. A brilliant example of keeping a working practice interesting and arts-based rather than chasing corporate commissions.
Leeds is a city with a thriving arts culture. As Graphic Designers we are constantly involved with, inspired and excited by the artists, designers, photographers, film makers and other practitioners working around us. Here’s a few of our favourites. Qubik Qubik is a Graphic Design studio run by graphic designer and sound artist Joe Gilmore. Joe specialises in typographic-led design for print as well as digital media. Joe works for a wide variety of clients but his work really flourishes within the arts. This is a sector in which his experimental approach towards sound art gets to shine through and this progressive approach, combined with his strict and ordered typographic skills, creates fantastic work that is engaging and beautiful. Joe manages to keep a healthy balance between his art and design practices which in turn breeds creativity.
Kate Prior Kate is an illustrator and print maker who is most well known for her work with Nation of Shopkeepers. Her hand-crafted style created an identity for the bar and venue that is now recognisable throughout the city. This work really put Kate on the map and has now allowed her to work with other night clubs, music festivals and create T-shirts and other items for bands and shops nationwide. The Blind Club The Blind Club are a group of film makers that concentrate their practice on music. That is they specialise in filming and photographing musicians. The Blind Club are brilliant at capturing artists in their most authentic surroundings/situations and evoke a sense of honesty and intimacy that many other photographers and film makers strive to achieve.
Matthew the Horse Matthew Hodson is another Leeds based illustrator creating character based, hand drawn designs. Matthew has a great ability to combine colour and shape to create images full of life and movement. As well as imagemaking, Matthew also designs and sells his own line of T-shirts simply
entitled â€˜Horseâ€™ and this is our favourite part of his practice. When his designs are stripped back to simple black and white, they become striking images that look perfectly at home on the front of a T-shirt.
Woolgather Art Prize The Woolgather Art prize was set up in late 2010 by three members of the Leeds based art collective Woolgather. The idea is to remove the pretence from the idea of an art prize and to invite absolutely anyone with an interest in art to be involved. The prize is a celebration not only of pieces of art, but of the artistic lifestyle, with the prize money being donated and the whole project self-funded by the artists that set it up. Applications have closed for this yearâ€™s prize and the shortlist will be announced soon.
Test Space Test Space is a project to connect creative people in the city; it aims to celebrate the arts in Leeds in a number of ways by creating connections and collaborations and also by providing a platform for emerging talent to showcase their work. Test Space organise showcases, screenings, exhibitions and workshops and really show how the key to an exciting and evolving arts scene in the city centre is by providing a platform through which people can collaborate and showcase their work. Limn Limn is an audio/visual party incorporating live drawing, performance and electronic music. The idea revolves around creating large scale illustrations via acetate and projectors. Different artists and illustrators are invited to participate in the event alongside the organisers. Each event creates a new outcome which makes Limn unique.
Brown Bread Films Brown Bread Films are another film company that create thought provoking short films shot in idyllic locations. A young company, Brown Bread has the ability to track down the best locations and combine them with their unrivalled camera skills and art direction. This sets them apart from older and larger companies and makes their output more exciting. They see the potential in every project whether the budget be large or small to produce a relevant outcome.
Art in Unusual Spaces Art in Unusual Spaces is a project set up to make use of un-used spaces in and around Leeds as platforms to showcase artistic projects in temporary galleries. These spaces can be anything from small shop window spaces all the way up to vast empty stores. The project encapsulates the great attitude of utilising space wherever and whenever to create more and more opportunities for artists to be involved with new projects and exhibit their work.
Tom Pratt and Oliver Shaw Workshop Graphic Design
TI G E RS T H AT TA L K E D - CAT S T H AT A LWAY S FA L L O N T HEIR FEET There is a scientific school of thought that says levitation can be achieved by strapping a piece of toast, butter side up, on the back of a cat and dropping it from a sufficient height. It appears that the same could apply to TTT, as Kate Welham can authoritatively attest to… Photos By Bart Pettman
To make sure they’re guaranteed to be among the pale, drunken few who do make it to SXSW from Leeds, Tigers That Talked are releasing an EP especially to fundraise for the occasion. ‘The Battles’ EP can be bought through the band’s website, and at the time of going to press it had been available for two days and had already raised for them the grand total of £270, with some buyers choosing to donate an optional extra bit of cash specifically for the cause. Thanks to their database, they know who the top donators are, and all will be getting a nice card to say thanks. It’s impressive, as a couple of days’ sales for a DIY EP goes, but they’ve a way to go before they’ve covered the mammoth amount they’ve already spent on getting to SXSW, which amounts to around three and a half grand on flights and visas alone. It’s a freezing Tuesday in January when Vibrations cozies up with Tigers That Talked in the pub of their choice, The Grove. Seeking out the warmest corner and cuddling our drinks, this couldn’t be a further cry from the dry Texan sun they’re preparing themselves for – all being well that is. The band are one of 20 from Yorkshire who have been invited to the annual South By South West festival / conference / star-making event in Austin this March to play an official showcase. It’s the biggest Tyke contingent so far. But, confides bassist Owain, things aren’t looking great for our representation out there since David Cameron got his slimy paws on the economy. 10
“There’s lots of government organisations that fund things like this but not anymore. I’ve just been told that one of the things that I was going to apply for has been scrapped under the new government, and Wild Beasts when they went over got about two grand from it. Yorkshire’s presence at SXSW this year is the largest ever, but less than last year are going to make it out there.” “We’ll make it worth it, basically,” says violinist Glenna determinedly, “we’re going to try and do some acoustic type things out and about as well as our showcase, just play as much as we can.”
“You buy your flights and you think ‘that was quite expensive’,” says Owain, “but then you realise that you have to take all your gear with you, all your instruments, and each item is about £100-£150 to put in the hold.” The visa process itself is something that can reduce a band to tears on a particularly low day, and Owain is already a little bit bogged down with it: “it’s quite a process. It comes in two stages – the first stage is where you have to get America to ask you over, and that costs £1000, and the second part is where we have to go to the American embassy in London and do an interview to check that we are actually going to go there and play music and not just run away and hide.”
bands like Pulled Apart By Horses, which makes less sense. Owain’s job behind the bar at the Packhorse does help, the pub being a mainstay of DIY gigs. Does Owain mind us revealing his workplace? Not really: “it’d be nice for a bassist to get recognized once in a while.” Cheer him up and ask for his autograph, see how many he signs.
Glenna is sailing along with hers, and to be honest some questions do sound less foolproof than others: “they actually ask you ‘are you a terrorist?’ who’s going to say yes to that?” Even if she did, nobody would believe her; she looks positively angelic.
“ I’ M H A LF N O RW E G IA N B U T I WA S B O RN I N WALE S ”
Glenna was playing in folk bands when Owain, Jamie and drummer Chris stole her for Tigers That Talked, to fill the space where a lead guitar might otherwise be expected, ‘just to make things more interesting’. For Glenna it wasn’t so much a change of style that was asked of her, just a change of scene: “The folk bands weren’t less serious, but it never felt like ‘this is my band’. People chop and change, it’s a community. I started out quite folky [in TTT] but it’s just changed over time. I’ve got an effects pedal now, but we still get called folk even though we’re not.” It’s OK Glenna, you can say it. No offence to the old folk scene, but Tigers That Talked are really just loads better than it. Steve Lamacq loves them, and he doesn’t actually even
have opinions, he just gets to skip straight to declaring what is officially good. They’ve had some pretty big statements made about them by some music publications almost as huge as Vibrations - statements about pedestals, being up on, etc. They’re experimental enough to be genuinely exciting, but they’re also comfortingly accessible – whichever you’re looking for, you’ll find in the pacey urgent drum, the tangle of strings, and a restrained emotion in Jamie’s vocals that effortlessly smacks you right in the chest. Plus this is the only band we have ever heard of who actually did that thing where they find a very famous band you like, say the Pixies perhaps, and then find out who their manager is, and then package up an album for them, post it off, and then never hear anything back. Except, in TTT’s case, said manager called them within a day or two to say that yes, he would like to manage them. It’s stories like this that are killing the rainforest as a million bands go and do the same, inspired by the exception that proves the rule.
The first line of their biog having said that they’re from various parts of the UK and Europe, Vibrations had expected a more interesting range of accents than the lovely Received Pronunciation that we actually hear. What’s with that? “We can put some accents on if you want,” offers Glenna, “I’m half Norwegian but I was born in Wales – which is another country in Europe.” Tenuous. “It’s based on some facts but totally elaborated.” Owain takes great exception to this last suggestion due to the fact that “I once visited France”. And Jamie? “He’s from Leamington,” says Glenna. So far, so international, but it’s an admirable romanticising of the facts. The diverse but friendly musical community of Leeds has been good to them too, with the band making firm friends with Wild Beasts – which makes sense, musically - yet marveling at knocking about with 11
Shame on you, Tigers. “I was just writing to people who managed really big bands and stuff,” says Jamie, like this is a totally normal development, “and he really liked us so he came to see us.” Owain remembers the special moment very well: “we were all walking through town when you got a phone call off him, and then you just ran off and were on the phone to him for about an hour, and you came back just going ‘that was the manager from the Pixies’.” With their manager and a lawyer in tow, Owain says the band is perfectly happy without a big deal. “We still book all our own gigs ourselves. We’re really happy being a DIY band. We’ve obviously had a lot of help along the way but it’s nice to have the control of dictating when and where you can do things. For instance the ‘Battles’ EP that was just dreamed up and within a couple of months we did it, without having to jump through any industry hoops. We really control a lot of the aspects of our future.” The only real hiccup their independence has cost them so far is the delayed release of their album – a year and a half from completion to release, for various logistical reasons. But now they’re set up with Topspin, a Californian digital distribution platform which provides all the tools a band could need to release a record, and through which the first album was eventually released. “If more bands knew about it, I think they’d get out of the mindset of needing a major label,” says Glenna. Through not seeking a label, through being cheeky with their mailouts, and through putting more effort into their music than into chasing the elusive rainbow of recognition, Tigers That Talked have achieved a hefty amount at no compromise whatsoever. “We can get on the radio every time we release a single, and in magazines, so it doesn’t really feel like we need anything at the moment.” Alright Jamie, don’t rub it in.
Tigers That Talked’s ‘The Merchant’ is available to buy in ‘the shops’, but if you want to help send these lucky bastards to Austin, Texas, go to www.tigersthattalked.co.uk and purchase their ‘Battles’ EP. They will also be playing a fundraiser at the Packhorse on 25th February.
V ESSE L S - MO R E I N - D EP T H T H AN TH E Y ’R E A - C US T O M-ED T O. . . You may not be aware of this, but Vessels are actually a cadre of super heroes who make music when not saving the universe (sort of true – Tom Evans had his car totalled around him last year and walked out with nary a scratch). Spencer Bayles persuades them to put up their capes for a few hours and talk tunes... Photos By Daniel Heaton
Huddled around a poker table in the back room of the Brudenell Social Club, Vessels multi-instrumentalists Tom Evans and Peter Wright are eyeing up old gig posters on the wall, pointing out the ones they’d played at. It turns out there’s a fair few, the Brudenell having featured heavily in their collective pasts, both as a band and as solo artists. From first inspection, Vessels appear to have the kind of presence, track record and peer respect deserving of much longer-standing acts, so it’s easy to forget they only formed in 2005. Having dealt with the late arrival of bassist Martin Teff and guitarist Lee Malcolm (more of a concern to their band mates than your trusty Vibrations scribe), it’s time to hear 14
tales of speculative emails, American recording sessions and potentially intrusive run-ins with customs… The music that Vessels make is complex, intriguing, experimental and technical, but at the same time highly intelligent and laden with emotion. Given the expansive arrangements, structures and textures, how does the writing process generally work? “A lot of songs on the first album were written in jams,” says Tom, “recording, then going back, changing and developing them.” Lee expands on this: “Songs tend to come about either from experimenting with a rhythm and then finding out what’s available around that, or experimenting with a specific sound, for example a synth
we haven’t used before. We still have guitars and drums, but then try and find something new for each song to make it its own thing.” Do you consciously try to write arrangements that can be accurately reproduced live? “Sometimes we do push ourselves and use loops,” says Peter, “or sometimes Lee will write the whole tune on the computer and we’ll learn how to play it. But you’ve got to keep at the back of your mind how it’s going to work when it’s just the five of you on stage with the equipment you have.” So what about the instrumentswapping that happens at your
gigs? “It’s probably when we haven’t thought very much about how we’re going to recreate something live,” says Martin.
“ S O ME T IMES P E O P LE T H INK I T’S DE S IG N E D LI K E T H AT B E C AU S E I T LOOK S C OOL RUN N ING A ROU N D S TAG E, BU T US U A L LY I T’S JU S T L OG IS T I C AL. ” For the recording of both Vessels albums, 2008’s debut ‘White Fields & Open Devices’ and the new one, ‘Helioscope’, LS6 was swapped for the rather more exotic Minneapolis. “We got in touch with a producer called John Congleton,” recalls Peter. “At the same time as being one of the most awesome producers in the world, he’s so down to earth that he’d happily take a request from a relatively small band over an email, listen to the music, and purely based on that, say ‘yeah, come here and I’ll record you.’”
The location for the recording also ticked a lot of boxes, Pachyderm Studio’s previous clients having included Nirvana (for the recording
of ‘In Utero’) and PJ Harvey. “It also had its own accommodation, so with the exchange rate being very much in our favour at the time [late 2007], it was really cheap to do a record out there. It wasn’t necessarily cheap the second time, but for the same price we might’ve paid to do it in the UK, we got to go on an adventure to somewhere, and in doing that, capture a vibe.” “We were talking about doing the new record in the UK,” says Tom, “trying to persuade John to come to the UK and record it with us here. But he said ‘come over here, stay at my house…’” “’…and let my cat shit on your bed…’” adds Lee. “His schedule was up in the air,” continues Martin. “It was quite difficult for him to get the time to come away. In the end, we went round loads of options and settled on Texas, which turned out to be a lot of fun.” The change of scenery did them the world of good, as Peter attests: “For the entire time we were recording, we were also out in a new place doing something amazing in the heat of the Texan summer, which I think is a great way to make a record.” One thing that maybe doesn’t occur to the casual observer – but should certainly be noted by other bands contemplating following in Vessels’ transatlantic footsteps – is the logistical approach needed when taking equipment overseas, especially by air. As Peter explains, you have to seriously manage your luggage quota: “You’re only allowed two cases each, so once you’ve wrapped all your pedals up in socks, there’s no space left for other clothes. We had one bag of clothes for the five of us.” “We literally took a set of scales down to our rehearsal studio to weigh our cases,” he continues. Compromises had to be made: “‘Lee, you can’t bring any more shoes, sorry Martin, you’ll have to throw away some stuff and get those two bags down to one; we can take one amp, we’ll have to hire two more when we get there; we’ll take these cymbals, but someone’ll
have to take them as carry-on…’ All this just to try and fit everything on so we could effectively still have our sound. This is the kind of stuff people wouldn’t think about!”
On arrival at the airport, other potential traumas awaited. “My bag got searched,” recalls Tom, “and I was asked if I’d packed it. I said I had, even though I hadn’t, and then the customs guy pulled out a bunch of [drummer] Tim’s prescription drugs.” The customs official had unfortunately just broken his glasses, and couldn’t clearly make out what was written on the bottle. “He read it as some kind of codeine-based drug – ‘What’s this? That’s naughty, you shouldn’t have that’.” Fortunately, Tom’s innocence was confirmed by another member of staff. “It was a bit hairy for a moment…” Martin recalls his supportive response: “I put something on Leeds Music Forum about Tom being stripsearched and anally probed - the rumours spread for weeks.” If getting there was half the fun, at least when they arrived they knew what to do, given the strict timetable they’d drawn up: “we knew if we went to America for 15 days – 5 days of tracking, 5 days of overdubs, 5 days of mixing - we’d have it done,” says Tom. “If we gave ourselves two years, we’d take two years.” “It was a really smooth process,” recalls Lee, “everything seemed to slot into place just at the right time. The first one felt like a lot of pressure because it was a new experience, but this time we knew what to expect; we knew that John knew exactly what he was doing and that we were going to get good results.” The recent release of free download single ‘Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute’, an effortlessly beautifully track that belies its ugly title, certainly bears testament to this. 15
They unfortunately didn’t manage to fit in any shows while they were in the US. “We’d love to tour the States,” says Martin, “but for a band like us with limited exposure and presence over there, if we went over to do a bunch of shows, we’d lose money. To make it worthwhile we’d have to get a support slot tour, we’d have to have our album properly released over there, we’d need a booking agent, and money to fund it. It’s logistically quite tricky.” They had an offer to play SXSW, but didn’t take it up: “We didn’t feel it was quite the right time,” continues Martin, “and it would’ve cost many thousands of pounds, which is money we just don’t have. I’d prefer to go to Japan. It’s easier to get…” “Laid?” suggests Tom. “…to get yourself known,” says Martin.
Their experiences of touring closer to home – including a recent monthlong stint around Europe playing to thousands of people supporting Oceansize – have largely proved very positive.
suggests Martin, highlighting Switzerland, Spain and Germany as particular hot spots. Aside, perhaps, from the hearty Germanic “You suck!” that punctuated a recent gig. “I think he was joking,” says Martin, “but nobody was sure.” As for what might happen next, there seems to be a huge amount of enthusiasm for future plans: “We appreciate the fact we’re still together after quite a few years,” says Lee. “We still feel invigorated by the music we’re making and about the music we could be making.”
“G EN ER ALLY I TH I N K T HE R ES PON SE IN EU R OPE’S BET T ER TH AN THE R ES PON SE IN ENGLAND,”
Despite having support from their label, Cuckundoo Records, Vessels take a hands-on approach to a lot of the administrative tasks that keep the band running, while remaining philosophical about their place in the scheme of things: “essentially,” concludes Peter, “a band is a small canon of music. It becomes a network of people, products and events, but fundamentally all it boils down to is about two hours of music. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep sight of that.” Spencer Bayles ‘Helioscope’ is due to be released in March 2011 and can be pre-ordered at www.vesselsband.com. Ed Vibrations suggests this that you get some of this action.
TH I S I S W H Y W E D O IT RO B PA U L C H A P MA N Hello. My name is Rob Paul Chapman, and I’m a popmusicoholic. It’s been 3 months since I last edited a music magazine, and just over a year since I last promoted a gig. I briefly lapsed last week when I made a 2 disc compilation for a bloke I’d only met once. But I think I got away with it, and I’m now fully committed to my recovery I can trace the beginnings of my addiction back to when I was a kid, playing session trombone for small jazz labels. One day, an older muso slipped me a copy of something called ‘Q Magazine’. This looked exotic and exciting, not just because of the picture of Madonna on the cover, but also because it had a CD on the front. I’d never owned a CD before. He said it was something called ‘pop music’. I was tempted to experiment, but I resisted. He slipped the ‘Q’ into my bag and said that the first one was free, but if I liked it, I should go back to him the next time I wanted some. The mag stayed in the bag for a good day or so, until in a moment of weakness I relented and started to browse. Soon, I was lost, and in a fit of prose-induced hubris decided to take the CD downstairs to my Mum’s stereo to see what this ‘pop music’ actually sounded like.
“ IT S OU ND ED G O O D. E V EN I N 1994.”
It’s difficult to chart my descent from there. What started as something to alleviate boredom soon became an all-consuming addiction. I sold stuff to buy a CD player, and soon I’d started to supplement my Q usage. Initially this was just for the recreational stuff such as Melody Maker and NME, but then I started to crave harder substances like Vox and Select, or sometimes when I felt like just wasting an entire week at a time I’d even dabble in the dangerously heavy stuff like Mojo. Pretty soon I was dealing. It started with just the odd mix tape that I’d surreptitiously pass to a mate, and before I knew it I was running a sophisticated compilation recording operation from my twin-cassette ghetto-blaster. By the early 2000s I knew I was in too deep. I was laundering the supply of live ‘pop music’ through the Tea Time Shuffle at The HiFi Club. The club owners were all in on it too. They knew that having someone reliable in charge of dealing the bands that the punters wanted was good for business. There’d been stories from other clubs, where people would just start dropping dead after taking in fake stuff like Northern Uproar, believing it to be genuine quality guitar music. And that was the last thing the bosses wanted. Last Nights TV
The Scaramanga Six
Before long I’d progressed into fanzine editing. Within a few months, I was inundated with more supply than I knew what to do with. Everyone from the shady syndicates in London pushing their mass-manufactured product, to little bedroom chemists cooking up their own supply was sending us gear to get high on so that we could push the stuff we liked to punters. For a while it was great, but things started to get out of hand. I was out of control, paranoid and unable to escape my crippling addiction. I sat at my IKEA desk, surrounded by mountains of demos from York and Batley, just consuming whatever came to hand first. Soon I would be involved in a bloody stand-off yelling for the authorities to “say hello to my little friend” as I manically started hurling CDs of Last Night’s TV and The Scaramanga Six at the advancing forces before being gunned down in a blaze of pop music-induced glory. From that moment on I had to change, and hence why I’ve come here to share my experiences with the group. I cannot explain why I’ve done some of the terrible things that I have. Why I really once thought that Vib Gyor were going to be massive, or that The Xenith Sound were one of the best bands around. But I just hope that you can learn from my mistakes. I am clean now, but the first thing that you learn as a popmusicoholic is that you never recover, and I have a feeling I may be relapsing again soon. RPC 19
PA SSPO RT C O N T R O L BR I T I SH S E A P O W E R Understandably concerned at the sort of militaristic aims this indie/naval outfit might have in returning to Leeds, Jess Wallace ran a few questions past BSP guitarist and former local Martin Noble to ensure they have West Yorkshire’s best interests at heart. Photo by Tom Martin
Reason for visit: Business or pleasure? I won’t lie to you, it’s clearly both. But it’s always a big pleasure to be in Leeds.I lived there from the age of 13, so I’ve got a big place in my heart for Leeds.My family and friends will be there. Look out for my dad, he knows all the words. Will you be staying with friends? Maybe. We have a day off the night before, so I may stay at my folk’s house again. I have school friends in Leeds, so I will be having a drink with them after the show. Have you packed your case yourself? Yes. One bag is for used clothes, one is for fresh clothes. You’re more than welcome to check, but it’s a 50-50 chance of a disaster. Any fruit, vegetables or meat products? We once had a mouse in our bags. Does that count as meat? You’re known for playing in places ranging from the bizarre to the ridiculous, especially outside – any plans for holding an impromptu gig on Ilkley Moor that we should look out for? No we are strictly sticking to good old fashioned venues for this tour. However in the summer we hope to play at Jodrell Bank Observatory nearby, so look out for that. It should be ace. On ‘Living is So Easy’ on the new album, you sing about ‘dirty girls’ and ‘northern girls’ - it sounds suspiciously like they are considered one and the same. Anything to say on this 20
matter before you arrive in Leeds to face the wrath of all the local girls who consider this an insult to their reputation? It’s a song that includes everyone. The Wessies, Ossies, Rive Gauche girls, Northern Girls, Dirty Girls, Southern Boys, Banlieu Boys, the Cops and the Commies. That is starting to sound like the line up for the Village People...We do state that there is nothing wrong with being a dirty girl. ‘No one got killed’ did they? We were out in Cardiff the other night and there were a lot of girls with hardly anything on, getting ready for a good night out. Sometimes people like this are portrayed as kind of contemporary folk devils. They were kind of inspiring, though, full of charm and vigour. Maybe, with a little direction, all our inherent primal energy can be put to useful ends? As Aretha would say, as the girls put on their make-up, they can say a little prayer for all of us.
We are losing a Leeds institution when the Tetley brewery closes this year, will you be willing to drink nothing but Tetley in protest during the duration of your stay? What the hell?! I had no idea. This is an absolute tragedy. I love Tetley. I used to go to the Adelphi to get the freshest brew. I will be drinking nothing but Tetley all day every day. Anything to declare? DRINK TETLEY! Thank you. You may now proceed through Passport Control. British Sea Power are currently touring to promote their latest album, ‘Valhalla Dancefloor’ which is rather ace, and will be playing Leeds Metropolitan University on 12th February. If I don’t see you there, see you at Jodrell Bank...
L O NE W O L F FR O M S TA G E T O PA GE Nabbing a rather sweaty Paul Marshall post gig, Spencer Bayles managed to bombard Leeds’s favourite cut-off canine with some performance related questions. The results are curiously coherent... Photo by Sarah Burton
You’ve just played your first big headline show in your home town how was it? I can’t really remember anything! It went so quickly. I don’t really know how to put it into words. I’m not speechless because I thought we played amazingly; I’m just happy that so many people came, and they didn’t just pay for a ticket then stand and chat. They were genuinely there for the show, and I’m dumbfounded as that’s a first for me Did you have any idea it’d be so popular? I hear it was close to being, if not an actual, sell-out. I wanted to see about a hundred people here, and so to know there was that many people out there who were waiting for this sort of thing to happen… it’s totally made my life! How come you haven’t been gigging much in Leeds recently? You don’t want to play your home town too often, as otherwise this [kind of successful event] won’t happen. Also I wanted to choose my time. We played the Play Patterns festival at Joseph’s Well and we all really dug it, so I thought maybe we should book a gig now. We were going to do this at the beginning of December, but it turned out I’d accidentally booked on the same night as Villagers, so we moved it back - I think we made the right choice. Was the Brudenell Social Club always the first choice of venue for this gig? Always is and always will be. The couple of new tunes in the set went down really well – is it a good taster of what the next album
will sound like, and will you use members of tonight’s live band on the record? The new album’s going to be a bit different; it’ll have a beginning and an end, with parts that recur throughout. I’ve been very much inspired by Talk Talk’s ‘Spirit Of Eden’, and The Antlers. James Kenosha will be recording it, and I reckon he’ll probably play the drums on it, because he’s the dude. Jon [Foulger] is going to be co-producing it with me, because I love his vision. I’m a massive Duels fan anyway, and that’s why I’m honoured to have them on
stage with me. I’d like to have Jon there because I feel he can steer my record in the right direction – he can remind me what I originally wanted to do. Those two new songs are two of the more upbeat ones.
“ T HERE’S ST ILL SO ME DA RK ST UFF, BUT IT ’S A BIT MO RE UPLIFT ING.” The album is about the end of something but you don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s not a concept record, but it has a recurring theme. And what’s next on the Lone Wolf calendar? We’re playing in Paris on Saturday, and then there are a couple of gigs at the beginning of February in Liverpool and Wakefield. After that I’m going back into the studio to start the next record. I’m itching to get going on with it, ‘cos I don’t want to sit on it like I did with ‘The Devil And I’. A song like ‘We Could Use Your Blood’ was written three years ago, and I don’t want to do that this time – I want to have songs that are all new. Spencer Bayles Keep up with Lone Wolf at iamlonewolf.com... and nab a copy of ‘The Devil and I’ while you’re at it, yeah? 21
M A ST E R A N D T H E MULE G ETTI NG T H E I R A S S IN GEAR For me, Immune’s ‘1/f’ provided a soundtrack for 2006 – something about that electronic rock melancholia appealed to my electronic rock melancholy. Then they vanished in a puff of static, which was a terrible shame. Now Messrs Rich, Paul, Adam and Shorn are back and hitting us right in the Googles. Tim Hearson commits petty felony to get the word from the hybrid horses’ mouth... Photos By Sarah Burton
Take a wrong turn in Hyde Park and you’ll find all kinds of questionable behaviour – thuggery, debauchery and savage parking violations. It begs the question: how stupid does 22
one have to be to leave an unlocked bus on Brudenell Road? Exercising squatting rights inside were Master and the Mule, which was handy as I had one or two questions.
“Weren’t you nobbing my mate’s sister at one point?” Clearly the questioning had begun without my input, ‘fond’ recollections of days gone by in Scarborough, North Yorkshire’s
premier pensioner holiday destination. The four lads met nearly 16 years ago (though Paul and Adam, being brothers, met somewhat earlier). Rich had shown up in the guitar shop Paul did his work experience and Shorn they met in college. From these meetings came the inception of what would later become known as Immune. “It’s probably my fault we ended up in Leeds,“ mentions Paul, “I went to do an art degree then Adam and Shorn went to Leeds College of Music”. As for Rich, the confines of Scarborough became too much and after a year of travelling he joined his band mates in Leeds. A brief four years later and out comes ‘1/f’ on Gizeh records to critical acclaim. So with several tours on the books and a steadily increasing fanbase, why the need for a change? “Well, we had loads on really,” Rich explains, “we had loads to do with promoting the last part of the album and a few things kind of went tits up – we took on a studio and we had our hand forced a little bit into quite a bit of downtime but we didn’t really do it as downtime, we just put it into other areas. Then a lot of time passed between that and the music we’d already made. Kinda fucked it really.” Paul elaborates: “it’s a thing with the modern era though, that you’ve got to keep your finger on the pulse and to keep at least promoting yourself and doing things week in week out and we just didn’t.” And the name? “Immune was totally un-descriptive and there were other bands with the same name. Musically too, there were things that we wanted to get away from. We were really going backwards with it, just needed to get away from that whole era.” The last thing a band wants is a name they can’t get behind: “We have spent the last 3 years going ‘Fuck me, why did we choose that name?’” In fact, the name only came about after Shorn had done a spot of doodling. Of course, the last straw was the influx of pale imitations: “There was this American band who were a bit like what we were, but a bit shit really, well, too young and good looking anyway.”
“There’s also like a French ambient duo, isn’t there? – They’re the best of the bunch but that was like, the sealer. Something had to be done.” So then, to the new incarnation: Master and the Mule. Not, as some have speculated, a reference to Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic Russian novel ‘The Master and Margarita’, the name is intentionally ambiguous. “We wanted something that wasn’t 2008, 2009 etc., like if you wanted it to mean fuck all then it meant fuck all.” According to Paul the only remaining criterion were ‘something that came up top in Google and also something that looked cool when you wrote it’.
“YOU ’D BE A TWU N T TO WA NT M OR E F R O M A N AM E.” But Master and the Mule is not merely an ass painted gold, they’ve made changes under the bonnet too. “I think the main thing is we’re just trying to get a little more back to basics and generally we did the process a lot more raw,” explains Adam. “Back to bass, drums and guitar – having come from studio based courses, the studio potential had a lot of influence on us – so now we’ve learnt our craft with that, it’s a case of stripping it down and seeing what we can put in later if it’s appropriate.”
It’s also been a priority to sift through the eclectic range of influences – “At the time there was a lot of electronic stuff, a lot of new post-rock and metal and we wanted to put it all in. So now it’s a case of how we hone that – it’s a case of working out what it is we’re actually trying to say.” Pragmatically speaking, too, it’s less of a full-on affair: “From a live point of view, we’d have all these layers and stuff. We’d have all this crazy shit set up and then nothing ever worked. Shorn used to have this massive power station behind him, all that’s gone now.” Shorn recalls, “the only person who ever seemed to get off on that was Trevor at the Brudenell, and he hated it at the same time.” MatM have been through some shit in their time and every band has their fair share of naff gigs. “There was one in Liverpool at the Liverpool O2 Academy, the venue was amazing and we thought we sounded the shit on stage but it was a bit of a battle because there wasn’t a right lot of people and it was part of a bit of a bigger night. At the end we were packing out gear up in front of the other bands and I heard someone go ‘they were awful’.” It’s good to know that there’s always encouragement though: “yeah, there was one in York where the sound engineer had done something wrong so we stopped the tune, it was only about 20 seconds in, and I turned my mic off and said “Right we’re gonna start that one again” and we just heard him go “OH NO!”.” With a note of bitterness, Paul adds
“ W E ’ V E H AD M O RE B AD GI G S T H A N G O O D TO B E H O N E S T” Never mind lads, there’s hope for you yet. Clearly, it seems in today’s climate DIY is the way to go. Shorn points out, “the most enjoyable gigs have got to be the smaller ones at, like, The Packhorse, where we’ve put our own stuff on and there are people that we know have come down and we’ve had control of the situation because we’re a bit like that.” It looks very much like a DIY future for Master and the Mule, and that’s how they like it. “I think we’re getting to the point now where we can do it a bit different - we’ve got our own studio. So we can do all our own recordings, we’re intending to do all our own videos. We’re now self-contained which is something we weren’t before so it means less money on recordings. It’s about getting a serious wealth of material together and releasing it in whatever way that fits us best. No specific release plans as yet but we’ve got an artistic plan and I think we really wanna get stuck in and get as much material out there as we can.” They more than know what they’re up against too. “We’re at a point now where we don’t have to look out at somebody else to make this thing happen,” Rich says. “We’re doing what we wanna do: producing the most material that we can of the quality that we’re happy with and also we’ve realised that, like any market, there’s a particular brand of person that likes what we do and those that don’t. For our type of shit you’ve maybe got to want to think about it a bit more, you’re not gonna like it on your first listen – it’s not a pop song – and I think for us it’s about building 24
connections with that type of person and it’s working out how to get to that type of person.” What about building on the fan base? “I mean, there is that type of person out there but they’re not all in one place, you know, they’re dotted around Leeds and Sheffield and it’s about bringing them all together.” Through the majesty of the internet they’re attracting people from further afield too. “As Master and the Mule we’ve got three tracks out there and already we’re hearing things from people in Brazil and France – we don’t know how they’ve got to it but they have – and that’s how we see it in the future, reaching out to that type of person wherever they may be.”
With a self-released album on the cards and a gig schedule building, Master and the Mule are ready for another bite of the cherry. Anyway, best be off, that siren’s probably for me – fuck knows It won’t be for any real criminals. http://www.myspace.com/ masterandthemule http://www.masterandthemule.com/
The Beat Surrender Presents at Milo 21st February The Heebie Jeebies £4
10th March Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards £4
24th February Masters In France £4
21st April The Ray Summers £4
25th February James Owen Fender EP Launch £4
12th May The Kabeedies / These Ghosts £4
Tickets available from Jumbo Records / Seetickets / wegottickets or pay on the door.
WE DO N ’ T H AT E T H I S A ND Y O U’ L L L I K E I T - PART 1 You gotta love Chickenhawk. Not only did they provide us with one of our favourite cover/features ever, but guitarist Rob Stephens has given us an exclusive two-part peek into life on the road with the ‘Hawk. Enjoy, you lucky, lucky readers... Photos By Chickenhawk, Camille Ainsworth and Tom Martin
To set the scene, we knew there was a possibility of us doing the UK leg supporting Alexisonfire, but Paul, ever the optimist, was adamant it would never happen - just as he reminds us before every gig ‘no-ones going to come.’ When we got the call to say we’d be doing the UK and the European part of the tour as well, first came extreme excitement, then came ohhhhhh how do we get round Europe... and then came WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
So the tour actually begins on October the 27th We are getting the ferry from Hull to Rotterdam, which includes a sleep over on the ferry. Paul has been held up in traffic on his way to meet us - queue panic and general worry, what an excellent way to start the tour. We finally arrive safely and board the ferry - please note that when we parked we were on the left hand side of the boat. We reconvene to the bar and Ryan decides that it’s best to drink Jagermeister from inside his jacket. This leads onto Jager in coffee as we travel very slowly on the ferry. Towards the end of the first evening Giles, our soundman, decides to buy cake after a few too many drinks but not before shoving his fingers in it to check it’s moist. Thankfully it is. Sleeping on a ferry is a very strange situation and the bunks are very odd. 26
I didn’t sleep at all and it didn’t help that Ryan smacked me in the face in the middle of the night searching for a drink. October 28: Amsterdam, Holland @ Melkweg Early start after no sleep in a very strange bunk. Three lads have made our room smell horrendous after only one night. When we return to the van it is on the right hand side (see previous note about where we parked) - it turns out that our van had moved as a result of not putting the handbrake on. Cue many dutch men standing around and looking at it; they then call over more men to stand and stare; the German drivers of the van that our van has crashed into seem to think the whole thing is very funny as we don’t speak German and they don’t speak English. Excellent work all round, maybe we should get more men together to stand around and look at stuff. Park the van and explore Amsterdam. Most of the gang go to MacDonald’s for breakfast, the rest aim for something more Amsterdonian... but end up with croissants. We take in all the sights of Amsterdam. Nice. Heading back to the van we realise we’ve got a bit lost and resort to spotting which bridge we parked near via a photo Matt took of it earlier in the day. We meet the Alexisonfire chaps, who all seem really friendly. Sound check runs pretty smoothly and pretty quickly and the first night of the tour is under way. I still can’t believe being in a band has brought us to a different country.
A lovely chap, who seemed to really enjoy our set, comes to talk to us afterwards. His friends however tell Paul that “your band is shitty”. Me and Ryan get falafel. Ryan usually hates eating meals without some form of ‘warm dead’ in it as he calls it. That’s meat to the rest of us. Maybe he’s turning a corner. Drive for about four hours after the gig and crash out in some form of motel. I take first turn on the floor to get it over with. Sleep better than I did on the awful ferry bunks. October 29: Munich, Germany @ 59 to 1 We drive for about four hours today. Tonight’s gig is a small club show. The rider backstage has yoghurts. I like that. We go and find some pizza; it has some broccoli on it. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Club gig is good -apparently one of the ladies behind the bar has told someone that they all fancy every single member of every single band. Odd. October 30: Cologne, Germany @ Luxor Turn up at the wrong venue – yeaaaahhhh – but eventually find out where we should be. Venue is ridiculously massive, like an aircraft hangar. The food is amazing and I stuff myself to a ridiculous degree. Gig is again really good, and the people in Cologne seem to like Chickenhawk that’s nice – and at the end of the gig myself and Matthew force people to take some posters off of us and shout general nonsense. It doesn’t seem to go down too well but we carry on anyway. Off to Frankfurt…. I am completely exhausted. Tonight we are staying in an amazing hostel, really nice inside, but outside we are
sad though, just very excited about everything. Another motel, another stinky room in the morning, then off we go to Brussels…. November 2: Brussels, Belgium VK Last Europe show, much enjoyed, we are so well looked after. Power cuts out on first song, but sorted very quickly. Dallas doesn’t enjoy the lack of lasagne; everyone had accidentally stolen it before he got a chance to have any. Get stopped by police. James, our van driver, thinks they took his passport, cue panic and ‘were they really the police?’ until he finds his passport in his pocket. WIN.
Excellent breakfast, eat lots and lots of food at a local café. Get ferry back then stay with Paul. I think I had another breakfast on the ferry. I Win.
in the middle of a red light district full of crackheads. POWERFUL. I collapse whilst everyone else stays up. I wish I’d stayed up as Matt pulls one of his ‘special moves’. In the morning I am told in great detail how Matt literally had everyone in stitches on the floor with his drunken antics, photographic evidence (some of which won’t be appearing in here) indicates he was a genius all evening, even when he attempted to pick fights with the local drug dealers outside the hostel. For the two days we stayed there we observed the most blatant drug deals I’ve ever seen right in front of police. Excellent work all round.
November 1: Frankfurt, Germany @ Batschkapp Before we set off in the morning, Giles and Paul go to visit a local guitar shop. The rest of us wait outside in the van, observing people chewing their own mouths and dealing all sorts of pharmaceuticals. I’m pretty sure I can see undercover policemen, but perhaps I’m trying to make the situation more interesting than it was. We arrive at the venue very early as we are only staying around the corner. Set up is pretty quick and we get a home cooked meal – English promoters please take note, my belly likes home cooked food. The gig is the best of the tour so far apart from two very upbeat girls telling us a story of their adventures around the world, embarked on as one of them has terminal cancer. They don’t seem
November 3rd Day Off I think most people would use a day off tour to not have a lot of noise pumped into their ears. We however are very clever, so we end up at a gig - what’s all that about? Have a lovely slap up meal. As we get closer to this gig, the information goes from free charity gig to donations charity gig to suggested donation £3 gig. I have no money, so Ryan gives me £1 and puts 20p in himself. I love him. Me, Ryan and Giles head back and get a pizza – it’s nice and doesn’t feature broccoli. Paul goes off to meet Tom Martin. Things go wrong for him due to brandy. No more information will be given to you about this, insert your own ideas here... More from the tour next issue – in the meantime, check out Chickenhawk at www.myspace.com/chickenhawk and maybe even score ‘Modern Bodies’? Try it... you might like it.
Yes, the column where we reduce all your hard work into twenty pithy words. This issue Justin ‘Ad’ Myers takes his well-honed sonic razor to the latest demos and out of town releases. First cut is the deepest...
Last of The Sirens – Hearts. Wires. Microphones Some catchy, well arranged pop hook lines that are spoilt only by the lo-fi, clock radio distortion on the production. — Estocade Atmospheric indie, laced with clever lead guitar lines. Very introspective. ‘Golden Mane’ builds up beautifully before an awesome trumpet outro.
Supajamma – That Was Then, This Is Now An odd combination of driving rock music and reggae vocals, which clearly on paper shouldn’t make that much sense. Good conviction though. — Adam Irving – Beautiful People Eating Pastries Sometimes very odd, but nearly always very interesting. A heady mix of experimental music, electro, hip-hop and just plain craziness. — Ryder Fast, energetic punk rock which, despite its lack of an original idea, is executed well enough to be thoroughly enjoyable. — By By Such a messy affair, it must be a joke. Although I did ignore their advice about only listening through headphones. — The Manyanas – Road To Vaudeville Arctic Monkey-style indie with better harmonies. Brian Wilson, watch your back. Worth buying just for the packaging alone I reckon.
Last of The Sirens
ALB U MS Tigers That Talked – The Merchant Released at the end of 2010, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Tigers That Talked had missed a golden opportunity to market ‘The Merchant’ as 2011’s first big album. But as soon as you start listening to this, the band’s full-length debut, it’s not long before you understand why they were so eager to share it.
Only a few minutes in and you’ll be overcome by the uplifting ’23 Fears’ and delightful ‘Artificial Clouds’, the album’s catchiest and most accessible moments by far. Surely destined for much success, their beautifully haunting sound at times recalls early Guillemots. ‘Holy Saturday, Gloomy Sunday’ and ‘Waves’ both shine mid-album, with violinist Glenna Larsen’s superb orchestration perfectly complimenting Jamie Williams’ fragile vocals. Elsewhere, more urgent, percussivedriven tracks such as ‘And I’m Caring’ and ‘Black Heart, Blue Eyes’ offer up shades of Arcade Fire; the latter feeling like a lost track from the Canadians’ debut album ‘Funeral’. 30
However this album’s biggest achievement is in its pacing. Where lesser bands with such a bold sound have all too often made the mistake of becoming too repetitive and samey, ‘The Merchant’ constantly switches from soaring highs to sobering melancholy. The result is an album that flows seamlessly, with each track less of an individual song, but more of a smaller part a collective whole. Without even the subtlest hint of pretension creeping in, Tigers That Talked have delivered what can only be described as an absolutely stunning debut; one that shows ambition, innovation and maturity. Tom Bailey www.tigersthattalked.co.uk – Rosie Doonan – Pot Of Gold (Silvertop Records) Rosie Doonan’s second album of majestic folk-pop couldn’t be more aptly titled. This is a collection of intricately crafted and beautifully performed songs that, while tipping a respectful hat to time-honoured folk practitioners like Fairport Convention, in reality has more in common with more contemporary pop-centric output of artists such as Feist and Nerina Pallot. On ‘Nobody Better’ - one of many stand-out tracks - there are even shades of the kind of effortless, mesmerising multi-tracked vocals favoured by fellow Yorkshire lass Blue Roses. Given Rosie’s parental folk musician heritage – her father played with early-70s folk-rockers Hedgehog Pie - there are some sizeable shoes to fill. Fortunately, the song writing on display here does more than enough to keep the family heritage safe.
The stunning trad-folk-influenced ‘Wind That Shakes the Barley’ evokes memories of the Wicker Man soundtrack - albeit without the knowledge of impending human sacrifice (phew!), while ‘Pop Song’ is as perky as its title suggests, and possibly named so that lazy radio programmers know where to focus their attention. Perhaps best of all, and one destined for future Christmas playlists, is ‘Winter Song’, a truly breathtaking piano-led ballad full of warm cello and dramatic melodic twists. Lovely stuff. Spencer Bayles www.rosiedoonan.com – Vessels – Helioscope (Cuckundoo Records) 2008’s ‘White Fields and Open Devices’ was a milestone for Vessels. Their hippyish, guitar-based post-rock groove was in need of an upgrade, a re-jig... a reboot. It is only now, with the release of second album ‘Helioscope’ that we get a complete idea of what that meant. For a start, they’ve cut back on the guitars – opener ‘Monoform’ is almost entirely electronic in a Quack Quack style save for some muted, mutated guitars midway and the big riff pay off at the end – and decided to concentrate on riff motifs; the plinking guitar loop on ‘The Trap’ pops up again in a slightly modified form on ‘Later Than You Think’ and ‘Recur’, creating a familiar, minimal hypnotic effect. Less indulgence, less hubris. That said, there are moments of pure ambience, mainly where vocals are involved. Tom has a delicious vocoder purity to his voice that lulls you into to soporific joy on ‘Spun Infinite’, keeps
‘All Our Ends’ from going completely off the rails and underpins ‘Recur’ like a delicate-looking but unbelievably strong scaffold. Guest Stuart Warwick also takes things deep into Unkle territory on the beautiful, tinkling crowd-pleaser ‘Meatman...’ The vocal subtlety works in marvellous opposition to the unadulterated earthiness of the drums. Earth and wind if you will. The fire is there in tracks like ‘Later Than You Think’ and ‘All Our Ends’, and to a certain extent ‘Art/Choke’, driving, optimistic tracks. And it is, in a nutshell, a very optimistic, forward facing album. Just don’t hold your breath for a ten minute guitar solo... Rob Wright www.myspace.com/vesselsband – Stateless – Matilda (Ninja Tunes) Straight off the bat I’d like to say I really liked the first album – sure, it had patchy moments, but... faltering steps and all that. This new album... oh, I don’t like it; I want to worship it. Is it because the opening track ‘Curtain Call’ comes at you like a Sunn o))) tome, plunges into a dread filled verse, then teleports to screaming backtracked New Orleans funeral? Possibly. Is it because Chris James’ voice sounds like a cross between Guy Garvey and Goldfrapp and Justin Percival’s soul-soaked tones turn basic harmonies into heartfelt spirituals. Maybe. Is it David Levin’s use of percussion from every corner of the earth to create multinational soundscapes while still dropping huge beats? Could be. Actually, it’s all this and the element of surprise. Yes, surprise. Boo. You are thrown from Baghdad to Bon Temps in a second on ‘Curtain Call’, from the depths of the ocean to the electronic wasteland in ‘Miles to Go’, from the elegant 30’s to the chromed 90’s on ‘Ballad of NGB’ – you have no idea where you are going next; it’s terrifying, exhilarating and inspired. Take ‘I’m On Fire’, a suicidal loss ballad that sounds like a Radiohead waltz with plenty of sliding into the minor that suddenly decides to grin at you with a maniacally cheerful chorus
while synths loom menacingly just on the edge of hearing. And this is all before you even touch the actual lyrics. Then, after a trio of strings-filled (thank you, Balenescu Quartet) upbeat (ish) songs, ‘I Shall Not Complain’ takes us out the way we came via some celestial harmonies and crushing break beats. I shall not complain indeed. Stateless? Faultless, more like. Rob Wright www.statelessonline.com –
Various Artists - Music Happens Here; Leeds College of Music Compilation CD As a student of the LCM in the late nineties, my curiosity was piqued at the thought of a compilation album featuring original material from its current intake. More than a hundred tracks were submitted to a panel of industry experts for this release and the resulting Music Happens Here showcases the best sixteen. As I drop the disc into the tray I ask myself the question, will I simply hear good musicianship or will there be some good music too? The answer is plenty of the former but only smatterings of the latter. The album kicks-off with arguably the most accomplished sounding mainstream act on offer here. ‘Neverland’, from quartet Young Ideas - a bittersweet slice of crisp pop and isn’t bad at all. The rest of the album contains a fairly predictable assortment of well-polished acoustic rock and pop numbers which sound well produced, are good in places, but ultimately don’t really get under your skin. These are sandwiched between a selection of instrumental numbers that draw from electronica, jazz and movie soundtracks to fringe theatre.
songwriters at the moment, I was surprised to find none at all here. Neither was there anything you could describe as urban, indie or metal. Unfortunately selling lots of records and making great music have nothing to do with each other and perhaps that might have been forgotten here. Only the Ivory Vibes can take credit for producing something that’s defiantly uncommercial. Disappointing. Mike Price www.lcm.ac.uk/music-happens-here – Whole Sky Monitor – Twisted Little Piggies (Firebomb Radio Records) In Whole Sky Monitor, singer/ songwriter John Parkes has evidently discovered the perfect vehicle for the times when an acoustic guitar based tune just won’t cut it when it comes to conveying the frustration, rage and anger that wells up in his mind every two or three years, if the frequency of this bands LPs are anything to go by. It’s a bog standard two guitars, bass and drums set up but Parkes’ bile infuses the songs with a fantastically livid, boiling rage. The guitars seem to be not so much instruments as nerve grating implements. Opener ‘Freakshow’s target, celebrity culture, is admittedly a large and increasingly bloated target, but its whiplash beat serves as a perfect entree to what follows. On ‘Church of the Love-in’, ‘Sold’ and ‘Shoot the People’, Parkes’ voice almost becomes a strangled screech as he tries to convey his disgust and rage at the state of modern Britain. Indeed, the best song on the CD, ‘Sold’, is a spot on dissection of the current “coalition” government (”Stay calm and/Work harder/The total victory of Margaret Thatcher/You can never be loved/You can only be sold”) that manages to turn the album into something almost like straight reportage.
With our Sceptered Isle currently awash with quality female solo singer 31
Parkes’ willingness to engage with the reality of politics and life in Britain in such a direct and downright pissed off way is probably the most refreshing thing about Whole Sky Monitor. A brilliant, fist shaking breath of fresh air. Steve Walsh www.wholeskymonitor.com – Ashley Reaks – Here’s to the Good Life Two tracks in and it’s perfectly clear that the title, ‘Here’s to the Good Life’, is meant to be taken ironically. To such a degree, in fact, that by track 3 one is bidding Mr Reaks and his soulless vocal delivery to shut the FUCK up. Whether it be ‘Brother Joe’, an unwise ode to priestly molestation, or the aimless ‘Monster of Suburbia’ these dreary character portrayals niggle away at your emotional state until you’re a stiff tipple away from arranging your own funeral. It’s a real shame too because the actual music is spot on. Occasionally erring towards the more quirky end of Beatles’ repertoire, tracks like ‘Hate Me (And I’ll Hate You)’ have some cracking examples of pop orchestration. Cheeky brassy lines, smatterings of slide guitar, plenty of lovely vocal harmony and the whole album is very well produced. Plenty of variety too; each track is unique be it a ballad, a blues number or a sweet little acoustic tune. I should like this album, but there’s something about the dismal lyricism that just seems unnatural. All the songs plod along at a gentleman’s tempo too which makes the drawling melodies last even longer. Tim Hearson www.ashleyreaks.com www.myspace.com/ashleyreaks – New Heavy Sounds Vol. 1 – Various (New Heavy Sounds) “NHS Recordings, proudly made to be loudly played” reads the slogan on this first promo release from the New Heavy Sounds label. The most prominent tracks come courtesy of the bigger names here: it’s beauty-witha-beast’s-voice over erratic, irregular rhythms as Rolo Tomassi pummel 32
their way through ‘Unromance’; meanwhile, locals Pulled Apart By Horses lead the brilliantly named ‘E=MC Hammer’ with an infectious chant. But it’s the up-and-coming Chickenhawk who are chosen to open proceedings, and with good reason: the jagged, pulsing, ‘Son of Cern’ is a ferocious cacophony that also manages a certain discordant, catchy charm. Elsewhere, Turbowolf strike a similar chord but in a seedier vein: ‘The Big Cut’ contains a sleazy riff and a leering but accessible chorus. Castrovalva’s cringe-inducing squeals and sludgy rhythms are best avoided but a welcome change of pace comes from These Monsters and Mugstar, who provide a pair of instrumental tracks for the disc. Holy State’s ‘Palms’ is an amiable Fugazi-esque ditty; while Bad Guys’ ‘Alcowhore’ provides a sleeze-oozing gruffness. Buffalo are also an interesting inclusion, with an odd but intriguing combination of mainstream indiesounding vocals and technical shredding. We’re looking forward to the next instalment, and not just because of the ongoing story contained within the press release - a hardcore Alice in Wonderland in which Alice decks the Mad Hatter with his own teapot… John Devlin www.myspace.com/ newheavysounds
EPS Mr Gary C – A Little Bit Easier It would be very easy to slate ‘A Little Bit Easier’ for the fact that it’s not exactly dripping with new-age cool but that would be severely missing the point. It’s a self-produced EP from an experienced songwriter recording the kind of music he wants to hear. A lilting opener with violin solo runs into a suave bluesy track which swings along nicely. The last track – essentially Morrissey without irony – rounds off 9 minutes of uplifting, if lyrically placid, well-written music.
Tim Hearson www.myspace.com/mrgarycmusic – Bang Bang Romeo, The Transparent E.P This EP does its best to show Bang Bang Romeo in a varied light. Some of it works and some of it doesn’t - the less said about the ‘discostick’ remix of ‘Transparent’ the better. ‘Clouds’ is the standout track, expertly blending ambient dubstep and powerful vocals. The title track ‘Transparent’ is a take it or leave it sort of affair, its classic mix of guitar and synth isn’t as catchy as it needs to be to really excite in this genre, and a lack of excitement is the overriding impression of this EP as a whole. Jess Wallace www.bangbangromeo.com – We Sell Seashells – Be Excellent EP Oh, fucksticks. Give a cynical, judgemental misanthropist a break, will ya? How are we to know that bands with pissy names might actually create music that’s emotive, punchy and, you know… a bit moreish. Opening track ‘Be Excellent To Each Other’ is a melodic narrative that seems to trail a string of wordless, gutsy emotions. ‘Untergang’ is an awesome soundtrack, sadly missing its film: a grainy, European film, full of wistful glances and slow deaths. Still: screw you, Seashells, for making me question my hasty assumptions. Haley Avron http://music.wesellseashells.info/ – Moody Gowns - Sincerely Yours EP Moody Gowns seem like the kind of band that revel in their perceived quirkiness. Which is kind of gross. When you put the CD into iTunes, the genre comes up as ‘Children’s’. Crazy Cats (clearly, they’ve seen other quirky, off-the-wall bands doing the same thing on MySpace and took it a step further. Mad.) Actually, they’re not that far off: listening to this is like being stuck in storytime at Groundhog Nursery (I hate kids). Think Scaramanga Six without the bombast or drama. Or Hulafrau, without the funny. Haley Avron www.myspace.com/moodygowns
Wednesday 30 March, 2011 The Carriageworks, Leeds www.generator.org.uk/musicfuturesleeds
Guests from some of the UK’s largest music businesses and trade bodies discuss innovation and new business models for regional business. Limited early bird tickets available: £20.00 (normally £25.00)
£17.50 Student (normally £20.00)
Full day conference for Yorkshire music businesses with speakers including: Alison Wenham (AIM) Jeremy Silver (FAC) Erik Nielsen (MMF) Paul Brindley (Music Ally) Caroline Elleray (Universal) Chris Carey (PRS for Music) Scott Cohen (The Orchard) Gary Downing (Frukt)
Mi Mye By Charly Murgatroyd
L IV E RE V IE WS Lone Wolf, Blue Roses, Mi Mye @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds It may come as a surprise to you, but this is Lone Wolf’s first headline gig. Where better to play it than at many of Leeds’ musicerati’s second home, the Brudenell Social Club. Mi Mye have recently had a line up change – in fact, only Jamie remains – and the result is slow, doomy mini folk songs. These brief moments of melodic pain match Jamie’s Irish melancholic tones recounting glimpses of love, regret and engagement rings. Despite the gloom, Jamie is a very funny man, plays guitar as if it is a ukulele and has a lovely cardi. Due to a slight issue of timing or lack of it, I manage to miss Blue Roses duet with Lone Wolf... in fact, most of the set. What I do hear is... adequate, but having seen her play Holy Trinity, anything else is second best. Coming on to ‘The Devil and I: Part 1’, Lone Wolf (Paul Marshall, 3 Duels and a Grammatic) file on in an orderly manner and strike up ‘This Is War’, tempo upped for maximum effect and played with professional feeling. The set is mainly from Lone Wolf’s debut album, great effect, ‘We Could Use Your Blood’ is pushed to the limits of gorgeousness in duet with Blue Roses, but the double whammy of ‘The Devil and I: Part 2’ and encore ‘Keep Your Eyes On The Road’ are stupendous (though the drums on ‘Devil’ could benefit from some reverb). The crowd roar their approval, confirmation indeed that collectively Lone Wolf hold their own. Rob Wright – Blue Roses/Paul Thomas Saunders/Ellen Smith/GaryStewart/ These Men @ Holy Trinity Church, Leeds By the time you read this, Christmas will be but a memory, but tarry a while and cast your mind back to 34
Blue Roses By Hannah Cordingley
the season of... goodwill. Then think about lovely music instead. These Men, a 5-piece a’cappella group with folksy protesting aspirations. It really is nice to hear something genuinely different, if esoteric, and they do an absolutely cracking version of ‘Don’t Worry Baby’. It’s nigh on pitch perfect and, apart from a little problem balance wise, it really is impressive. Gary Stewart starts with a bit of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ before plunging into a foot-stomping Americana riff that shakes the pews.
MYNK by James West
One of These Men also plays bass for Gary, starting a recurring theme for the evening – people playing with each other, and Ellen Smith joins Gary for ‘Behind the Door’, very nice but her voice does make Gary’s sound a bit high and pinched. Ellen Smith’s voice swishes silkily within the space in a set that is very nice but nothing new. A couple of the Escapades join her half way through for ‘moral support’ and she get the full compliment plus Gary for their Christmas single. Very festive, but... needs more sleigh bells. Through ghostly acoustic, Paul Thomas Saunders’s voice cuts through like a banshee’s wail. Funereal drums start up as the words ‘celebrate/now your father’s died/now you don’t have to hide’. Desolate, exposed and harsh, this is the bleak midwinter. Climactic shoe gaze with some really astute writing; they even do a Christmas song suitably apocalyptic, of course. Very interesting, Mr Saunders. Blue Roses at one point says, ‘you’re very quiet.’ No surprise – she has a voice that could silence a room full of bellowing wildebeasts. It swoops and soars about the space, twisting in and out of her rolling piano style or passionate guitar, as melodic as Amos and as otherworldly as Bush. Lone Wolf joins her for two songs and, though it is a lovely moment, there are hints of tension between the two very powerful voices. No matter; for spiralling, vanishing vocals of unsurpassed gorgeousness this truly is a magical yuletide moment. Rob Wright
Cables Cause Fires/ Empire Safari/ Thief Taker/Tom McKenzie @ 360 Club, The Library, Leeds It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere preceding Cables’ live set without using clichés like ‘electric’ and ‘apprehensive.’ Tom McKenzie had already wow-ed us with his soulful acoustic songs, and Thief Taker turned up the heat and started off the tiny mosh-pit. Empire Safari unfortunately came off as slightly mundane, nothing special, until their inspired Gary Numan cover. These bands had already blown the audience away, but from the moment that the Northern five-piece step on stage, you know you’re in safe hands (musically speaking). Confidently overlooking an introduction, bolshy frontman Danny Woodhouse immediately launches into the set, throwing himself around the stage and shouting his lyrics face-to-face with his enraptured audience. Self-described as being ‘similar to [American rock band] Thursday, but with Smiths-like guitar’, this young Leeds band are clearly ready for bigger things. Their stage presence seems to fill up the intimate venue, with flawless vocals and a genuine entertainment factor, courtesy of Woodhouse’s swagger. Upon snapping a guitar string, and being unable to find a replacement, the band simply states ‘We don’t give a fuck!’ This pretty much sums up their musical style. Their set is a mad, screaming rollercoaster, and it’s always fun to watch a frontman
lasso his bassist with his microphone cord, isn’t it? The highlight of their set is ‘Anxiety and the Anger,’ which is delivered from a whole new, dark level with gritty, angry lyrics and catchy guitar riffs. Amy Allaker – Escort Knights/MYNK/Navajo Youth/The Phoenix Fall @ The Cockpit, Leeds This is the place where it all begins. On the bottom rung, first step up the ladder, and it can be just one thing that makes the difference. Londoners The Phoenix Fall play bog standard, barely together indie rock. Their ‘one thing’ at the moment is Ben Ellis’s deftly played, chiming guitar which should probably be a bit more prominent. The ‘one thing’ Navajo Youth has at the moment is bags of front. Young Nav is prone to exaggerated thrashing about, singing his 80’s style synth pop songs (with a dash of techno), assisted by two sidekicks hunched over cheap keyboards and the obligatory Apple laptop. The songs reek of cheap scent and feverish youth club discos and the lyrics swerve wildly between the half decent and the crass. My money’s on young Nav featuring in The X Factor next year. Castleford sextet MYNK have a technical mare of a gig. The two female vocalists are virtually inaudible, random blasts of unintentional industrial noise erupt from the malfunctioning backing track, and the sound man seems incapable of putting together a coherent mix. 35
Escort Nights By James West
Despite this, its more than clear that the ‘one thing’ MYNK have is a wicked, pummelling 70’s style funk rock groove with a harder modern twist that has fantastic potential. Headliners Escort Knights play polished, well put together and confident modern funky rock songs exemplified by opener, and latest single, ‘I Don’t Know Your Name’. Frontmen Ewan Santer on guitar and Lewis Foster on bass have the moves and the youthful good looks while Santer’s songwriting partner Jon Doherty cuts a more studious figure on keyboards. But all the songs sound like covers (in fact they only do one, a seriously funked up version of Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’) and the ‘one thing’ they don’t have is an edge or spark that’s enough to set them apart from the hundreds of bands playing exactly this kind of stuff. Steve Walsh – 36
sound like they could well be the future of rock and roll. I am not joking. Leeds’ wholly instrumental Invisible Cities provide us with the first living drummer of the night and he like the rest of the band play superb, consummate post rock that’s so Slint-like you can’t help feeling they’ve deliberately gone back to the source just to see what all the fuss was about in the first place. Jenna Isherwood’s viola adds a resonant timbre to the standard bass, guitar and drums setting and helps to keep the music buoyant yet edgily inquisitive. Quietly astonishing.
Mark Hill & The Scallywags/ Invisible Cities/The Schoolgirls/ Coordinated Attack Patterns @ The George, Leeds Leeds duo Coordinated Attack Patterns use keyboards, devices and guitars to make a metal/ noise sound that’s at its best when pursuing a punishing beat, or grinding out bottom heavy riffs. The piano noodling prog bits, however, are dull and meandering. Keys man Mark Weaver’s flailing dreadlocks provide a strangely compelling visual focus. Hull duo The Schoolgirls are introduced as sounding like Black Flag raping Devo. They turn out to be much better than that. They are, of course, not schoolgirls at all but look like they could easily pass as schoolboys. They wield cheap guitars, effects boxes and drum machines like only those who are desperate to communicate their singular vision can. Some of the songs barely hang together but when they lock in they
Also from Hull, Mark Hill & The Scallywags couldn’t have presented a more contrasting finale. In their heads, the band clearly see themselves as being The Pogues reborn. To everyone else, though, it is more than evident that they are a shambolic, barely coherent, drunken mess of a band with no redeeming features whatsoever. Steve Walsh – The Sunshine Underground @ Black Flag Venue, Wakefield I started this gig with an excellent view, but with most of the crowd on each other’s shoulders, lots of elbows and flying drinks, just a few songs in I was much further back than I intended. Not that I actually needed to see anything. From the first beat, practically all of the beer-sodden 800-strong crowd shouted along to the songs, word perfect, and even those who weren’t as practised gave it their best shot, their efforts eclipsing Craig Wellington’s vocals outright. Now ‘electric atmosphere’ is a cliché thrown around all too often, but this really was something special. Even the absence of indie anthem ‘Commercial Breakdown’ didn’t lose them any spectator kudos. Added to this was the distinctive electric echoes of ‘A Warning Sign’, and the eardrum pleasing, 80’s cop-show style intro-ed ‘Spell It Out’, all ensuring the chaotic buzz didn’t fail at Black Flag. The Sunshine Underground - indiedance-punk hybrids that brought the end of 2010 to a captivating crowd pleasing high. Stacey Dove
V IB RAT IO N S HOT P IC K S Look, get out of the house and use someone else’s heating – there are bands to be seen here... Led Bib @ Santiagos, Leeds, 3 March One of the best British jazz groups of recent times, brought to Leeds by left field promoter The Spin Off.
British Wildlife Festival @ The George, Nation of Shopkeepers and Brudenell Social Club, 3 to 6 March Stunning array of noisy guitar bands drawn from local talent, other UK locations and a couple of Italian interlopers for good measure. Saturday headliners Vessels officially launch their excellent new album Helioscope. Essential. Rosie Doonan @ The Adelphi, Leeds, 5 March No doubt showcasing songs from her excellent collection of tunes, Pot of Gold. Bearsuit/Just Handshakes (We’re British)/The Wind Up Birds @ The Well, Leeds, 8 March
Question is, will the Norwich headliners be any match for the Fallish literacy of The Wind Up Birds or the endearingly off the wall poppishness of Just Handshakes? I think we should go and find out.... Born to Brew @ Santiagos, Leeds, 10 March A duo made up of locally reared keyboards wizard Matt Bourne and US percussion ace Sean Noonan. If Bourne’s involved, expect the unexpected with knobs on... Kath and The Mighty Menace @ Milo, Leeds, 11 March Vibrations October 2010 cover stars kick off their 2011 campaign. UK Subs @ TJ’s Woodhouse Club, Leeds, 20 March Actually an all day punk-a-thon headlined by one of the last survivors of the Great Punk Wars of the 70’s. Mixture of Leeds bands (China Shop Bull, Acid Drop, Redemption) and acts from further afield. Be warned, the pogoing starts at noon..... Her Name Is Calla @ Left Bank, Leeds 27 March Ambitious post rockers showcase their stunning album The Quiet Lamb in the suitably gothic surroundings of Left Bank. Support is from New Zealanders Birds of Passage. Quiet Tiger @ Seven Arts, Leeds, 7 April Seven Arts continue to develop a strong programme of jazz gigs with this one from Mercury Prize nominee Kit Downes’s new sextet, featuring some of the best musicians from the modern British jazz scene.
The Sunshine Underground by Nick Pickles
ONE F OR T H E R O A D RI C HA R D K N O X (G I Z E H R E C O R D S / GLIS S AND O) Most people would be content with being one half of the Leeds ambient duo Glissando. Not Richard Knox. He formed Gizeh Records around 2002, and the rest as they say is history. Nearly ten years on and he’s released, promoted and toured with artists ranging from worriedaboutsatan and Her Name Is Calla to, more recently, Conquering Animal Sound and Fieldhead. So, where did it all go right? Picture by Simon Hollinsworth Some things are just meant to be. Originally the idea came about to start a label in order to release some limited edition Glissando CDr’s when we first started the band. There was no long-term plan as such; more just to have a name to put on the CD’s to make it all a bit more coherent. I never envisaged getting to the point we are at right now. Mix business with pleasure. I find it a wonderful pleasure to be able to deal with the artists on Gizeh – to work together on what is now a long-term collective project and to enable everyone involved to be able to release their art to a wider audience. Over the years of playing music and touring with Glissando I’ve met a lot of quite remarkable people who I have grown to love and respect. Luckily this has resulted in being able to work with some of these people in a more ‘professional’ way through the label. There are no shortcuts to success. The main challenge is always a financial one, alongside pushing the artists to a level that their art deserves without towing the typical ‘industry’ line. We have good ethics and we all work very hard to push each project forward. Over time I think (or hope) that we have earned a reputation for releasing some beautiful records by artists from all over the world. It’s a learning curve every single day and I’m constantly trying to find new or more efficient ways of working. Variety is the spice of life. It still means the same thing each time a record comes back from the pressing plant or each time a band 38
goes out on the road to tour. The difference in working with a new band/ artist is more from their own point of view and their excitement and freshness for it all; it’s nice to embrace that.
sometimes, when you make a record, it becomes a personality in itself or an enigma and right now I feel like it’s still finding itself, still discovering new ways to evoke what it wants to say and I’m fine with that.
Life’s too short for regrets. All the ideas that haven’t worked out over time have good reasons for being that way.
When you hit a roadblock, take a detour. The collective ideal of Gizeh is something I really strive to maintain with whoever I’m working with. Of course you inevitably encounter some problems along the way but that’s something I would never discuss publicly.
If something is difficult, it’s worth doing. It’s very difficult for me to promote my own work in a way that I’m happy with. Trying to write a press release for something you have put your heart and mind into for years is not a nice thing to do. To put that into words is impossible. At the same time I choose for it to be this way. The benefits of Glissando being involved with Gizeh far outweigh my own insecurities and I deal with that the best I can. Success is a journey, not a destination. My aim is to naturally progress both projects over the coming years. Both are in a good place right now – built on some solid foundations and I feel that both are being managed in a good way. For Gizeh, this coming year we have some very exciting releases on the label. We also have a new distributor and they have been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic thus far. We are also working slowly on a new Glissando record but it’s far from being finished. We are taking our time with it and letting it do its own thing and evolve in its own way –
Learn from your mistakes, don’t dwell on them. It’s easy to reflect in hindsight, but like anything in life it’s an incredible learning curve and a journey. I’ve made some wrong decisions in my time but who hasn’t? The fact is that you learn and progress and try to be better each day at what you do, no matter what that is.
IT ’S A CHA LLENGE BUT I ENJO Y IT A ND MY PA SSIO N FO R WHAT I DO IS ST RO NGER T HA N IT ’S EVER BEEN.
I’m working with some really amazing people who inspire me every day and I’d like that to continue for as long as possible Anything is possible, if you’re realistic. If you have good ideas and a passion for music then do it. It’s hard and it’s a lot of work but it’s possible. There are now so many options as to what you can do, find something that works for you and do it to the best level you can.
It’s important to make friends and ask questions but perhaps the most important things is to be very careful with what money you have available. It’s very easy to blow substantial amounts in trying to release and promote records and at times it can become disheartening. It takes time to build something and you have to be patient. You may not always be able to afford to do everything you want but in the end you have your goal and it’s a constant process to achieve it. Tom Bailey
Find out more about the geezer from Gizeh and what he does at www.gizehrecords.com and www.slowsecret.com.
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Tigers That Talked, Master and the Mule, Vessels