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PRINT’S not dead!
LOUDERTHANWAR.COM FACEBOOK.COM/LOUDERTHANWARMAG EDITOR IN CHIEF JOHN ROBB Johnrobb@louderthanwar.com EDITOR JAMES SHARPLES Jim@bigcheesemagazine.com PUBLISHER EUGENE BUTCHER Eugene@vivelerock.net DEPUTY EDITOR DICK PORTER Dickfjp@yahoo.co.uk ASSOCIATE EDITOR SARAH LAY Sarahlay@louderthanwar.com REVIEWS EDITOR IAN CHADDOCK Ian@bigcheesemagazine.com DESIGN/PRODUCTION STEVE NEWMAN Steve@bigcheesemagazine.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS PAULA FROST ROBERT MAIR FERGAL KINNEY PAUL HAGEN JAMES BATTY MARTIN LEAY LOUISE BROWN ANDY PEART JOE WHYTE HUGH GULLAND JON FALCONE NICOLA GRIFFITHS SAM CUNNINGHAM TIM GRAYSON ROXY GILLESPIE ARIEL WIMFREY CRAIG CHALIGNE GED BABEY ABIGAIL GILLIBRAND KRISTEN GOODALL PHOTOGRAPHERS MARK LATHAM EMMA STONE DOD MORRISON CONTACT FOR GENERAL ENQUIRIES EMAIL INFO@BIGCHEESEMAGAZINE.COM
IRSTLY we would like to thank everyone for making the launch of the new magazine such a big success. People have said that print is dead but, like vinyl, we have proved there is always space for all forms of media. The first front cover was the Stone Roses and, as if by magic, the band reappeared again from out of nowhere with their gig announcements. We wonder if they will ever release any of the new material that we know must exist out there and wait with bated breath for an announcement. I’m currently ending a four-week US tour with my band The Membranes and have driven coast to coast in search of kicks, kudos and, er cash. You have to pay a huge amount of money for working Visas now and the Visa situation has made us start the campaign again to fight for a fairer deal for British musicians. That aside, we’re really optimistic for the state of creativity in music, what with all the amazing new bands we have seen on the frontline. This is what this magazine is for, celebrating the past and fighting for the future. That’s why, alongside the likes of Nirvana, Pulp and Supergrass, you’ll also find interviews with the likes of The Anchoress, Autobahn, Blossoms and more, bands who are carrying the torch into the future. We’ll see you soon for the third issue and remember: print’s not dead!
John Robb Editor In Chief
PUBLISHED BY BIG CHEESE PUBLISHING LTD
Main image: Wide open spaces: a visual documentation of the Membranes American tour from John Robb.
DISTRIBUTION COMAG SPECIALIST 01895433800 COMAGSPECIALIST.CO.UK
Cover photo: Kurt Cobain from the Sub Pop archives. Originally releasing debut album ‘Bleach’ in 1989, the album (along with 1990’s ‘Sliver’/’Dive’ 7” single) is available from Subpop.com.
ALL CONTENT COPYRIGHT BIG CHEESE PUBLISHING LTD 2015
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CONTENTS INSPIRAL CARPETS (PHOTO: DESH KAPOR)
20 KAGOULE (Photo: ISAAC EASTGATE)
REGULAR 10. ON THE STRIP: NEWS & VIEWS Erasure, The Wonder Stuff, Flying Vinyl, Marion and more.
20. POPSCENE: INSPIRAL CARPETS Sarah Lay talks to the Carpets’ frontman Stephen Holt about the journey from baggy to brand new.
22. NU-CLEAR SOUNDS: INTRODUCING...
46 EVIL BLIZZARD
48. BACK CATALOGUE: TRASHMOUTH RECORDS Roxy Gillespie talks to Liam D May about the birth of one of the UK’s most exciting rec record labels.
84. OUT OF THE VOID Albums, books, DVDs and gigs revi reviewed.
107. ACCELERATOR Upcoming gigs for the months ahead plus a conversation with the team behind Cosmosis festival.
Ho99o9, Evil Blizzard and Menace Beach.
28. SOUNDS FROM THE STREET: NOTTINGHAM With the likes of Sleaford Mods and Kagoule exploding out of the area, Louder Than War gets tied up in Notts.
114. THEN AND NOW: ALAN MCGEE James Sharples meets the legend behind Creation to talk musical revolutions and how he still gets a kick out of discovering new bands.
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FEATURED 30. PULP
Louise Brown talks to Russell Senior, a uniquely British man from a uniquely British band.
34. KURT VILE With a critically acclaimed album and sold out dates on both sides of the Atlantic under his belt, Dick Porter finds out what it is...
Former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes sat down with LTW’s Bruce Turnbull to discuss ‘Matador’, his latest solo album and his memories of Supergrass.
46. THE ANCHORESS On the cusp of releasing a debut album coproduced with Mansun’s Paul Draper, Sarah Lay talks to The Anchoress.
The breakout band of 2015, Stockport’s Blossoms are on the verge of something truly extraordinary, as Fergal Kinney discovers.
An eyewitness to Nirvana’s detonation, John Robb recounts the group’s initial ascension and unearths a previously unpublished interview that shines a new light on their beginnings.
40. WARDRUNA Revisiting their Nordic roots this March with a performance of collaborative project Skuggsjá, Louise Brown digs deep with Wardruna.
62. THE CHILLS Following nearly two decades without a new record, New Zealand’s The Chills have resurfaced with ‘Silver Bullet’. Help came from an unlikely source, as Nick Tesco discovers...
64. AUTOBAHN James Sharples meets rising Leeds sensations Autobahn to talk beginnings, evolution and the future.
66. SCOTTISH POST-PUNK Gus Ironside reveals how Scotland’s post-punk scene infiltrated the mainstream and changed everything.
70. TORTOISE Jonathan Falcone meets post-rock leading lights Tortoise to talk upcoming new album ‘The Catastrophist’, songcraft and streaming.
72. THE BLUETONES Preparing to tour the second half of their 20th Anniversary Jukebox Hits extravaganza, Sarah Lay talks to Mark Morriss.
76. EINSTURZENDE NEBAUTEN John Robb charts the artistic growth of the magical Einstürzende Neubauten.
78. SUNN O))) Louise Brown discovers how two music obsessives flipped post-metal on its head as they prepare to do it again with new album ‘Kannon’.
82. DATBLYGU Celebrating their first full-length in over 20 years, Welsh isolationist experimentalists Datblygu talk to John Robb.
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SIXTEEN FROM FIFTEEN
SUNSET STRIP ‘Stone Lazy’
TY SEGALL ‘Ty Rex’
KELLEY STOLTZ ‘In Triangle Time’
THEE OH SEES ‘Mutilator Defeated at Last’
Agitated Records LP/CD
Goner Records LP/CD
Castle Face LP/CD
Castle Face LP/CD
PROTOMARTYR ‘The Agent Intellect’
ORANGE HUMBLE BAND ‘Depressing Beauty’
V/A ‘Brown Acid - The First Trip’
CARLTON MELTON ‘Out To Sea’
Hardly Art LP/CD
Citadel Records CD
Riding Easy LP/CD
Agitated Records 2LP/CD
TIMMYS ORGANISM ‘Heartless Heathens’
LIVING EYES ‘Living Large’
In The Red 2LP/CD
In The Red LP/CD
Third Man Records LP/CD
Agitated Records LP/CD
ROSE McDOWALL ‘Cut With A Cakeknife’
THE HEATERS ‘Holy Water Pool’
NightSchool Records LP/CD
Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records LP/CD
WOLF EYES ICARUS LINE ‘I Am A Problem: Mind In Pieces’ ‘All Things Under Heaven’ Third Man Records LP/CD
Agitated Records 2LP/CD
available from all good record shops email@example.com
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With an anniversary afoot, alt. pop mavericks ERASURE are planning a year of celebrations. Louder Than War spoke to keyboardist Vince Clarke about the recording of debut album ‘Wonderland’, the duo’s chemistry and being an “imposter” pop star.
don’t have that feeling. I still feel a bit of an imposter,” muses Vince Clarke. The term ‘bonafide pop star’ has just been thrown out there and the songwriter and keyboardist for Erasure is clearly uncomfortable with it. However, it’s a clear fact: since the release of ‘Sometimes’, the duo’s (completed by vocalist and songwriter Andy Bell) fourth single since their debut track ‘Who Needs Love Like That’ in 1985, Erasure have been a dominating presence in the charts, racking up well over twenty Top 20 singles and playing Top Of The Pops an immeasurable amount of times. “It was very exciting, especially the first time,” recalls Clarke on playing the British institution: “Having grown up watching the show, it was hard to believe that we were actually on it.” Since “hearing ‘The Sounds Of Silence’ on the movie The Graduate when I was about fifteen, I thought then ‘I can do that, I can write a song like that’,” music has pulsed in Clarke’s blood, giving him that itch to create, to bring melody to life and to bring people together as a result: “Music is everything to me. I’m lucky to have the greatest job in the world.” Debuting with the previously mentioned ‘Who Needs Love Like That’ in 1985, the song would find a full-length home on debut album ‘Wonderland’, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016. “We weren’t going out to see other bands - we spent more time going to clubs,” remembers Clarke: “For me, making ‘Wonderland’, that was the most fun time I’d ever had in a studio. I was working with great people and we seemed to spend most of the time laughing. High NRG music was big in the gay clubs back then and we thought we could make the ultimate High NRG album.” Dragging elements of the dance scene of the time into the pop world, Erasure arguably paved the way for the likes of The Postal Service, Phoenix and Chvrches today, that wonderful mix of moving beats and shimmering melodies, with essentially a punk way of working, a ‘we’re gonna do it our way’ ethic. “We both have always been interested in the dance scene and I think that really influences the songwriting,” explains Clarke: “We are also very conscious of how we present the songs on tour, and the dancier stuff is always well received.” Explaining that, in thirty years, he’s learnt that “the melody is the most important part of any song”, the duo might be a little greyer around the temples these days but their will to create (such as on 2014’s ‘The Violet Flame’) remains youthful and spry: “Andy and I get together to write the melodies and chord changes for as many songs as possible in the time frame. Then we’ll work separately, with Andy writing the lyrics and me working on the sounds and arrangements in my studio in Brooklyn. We usually come together at the end to work with the producer/engineer for the final mixes. We just do what we feel is right. It would be foolish to try and second guess what the fans might like. We are fortunate to have a record company who never pressure us into doing something for the sake of being commercial.” With the anniversary celebrations set to continue throughout all of 2016 with vinyl reissues and a boxset on the cards for February, Erasure aren’t planning on resting on their laurels however. “We’ll start putting some ideas together in 2016 for a new record. It’s still as exciting as ever to sit in a room together with Andy and a blank page and come out an hour later with a tune!”
“IT’S STILL AS EXCITING AS EVER TO SIT IN A ROOM TOGETHER” 10
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‘Always: The Very Best Of Erasure’ is out now on Mute Records
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THAN WORDS Have your say, get Louder...
THE LTW TEAM PROFILED...
SARAH LAY LOUDERTHANWAR.COM WEBSITE UPDATE
t’s all go over at Louderthanwar.com. Following on from the success of this year’s Louder Than Words literary festival in Manchester, plans are already afoot for the follow-up in 2016 – visit the site for the latest news. Not only that, but Louderthanwar. com will be bringing you the definitive list of the albums that shook up 2015 as well as offering the choicest tips from the underground on the bands you need to hear in 2016. And that’s not forgetting in-depth reviews and opinion pieces, all at the click of a mouse.
JEFF BUCKLEY LOST COVERS SET
losing in on twenty years since his tragic drowning in the Mississippi River, a lost collection of Jeff Buckley material has been found. Recorded pre-’Grace’, ‘You And I’ features early versions of his own songs but is made up primarily of covers of the likes of Bob Dylan (‘Just Like A Woman’), Sly And The Family Stone (‘Everyday People’), The Smiths (‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’, ‘I Know It’s Over’) and Led Zeppelin (‘Night Flight’). With the Sly And The Family Stone cover already streaming online in advance of ‘You And I’’s March release, the stripped down acoustic version with Buckley inimitable vocals bodes very well for the full set.
THE STONE ROSES RETURN TO LIVE VENUES
alk about timing! Not that long after we released the first issue of Louder Than War where we mused on whether the Stone Roses would be making a return in the not-too-distant future, Manchester shoppers were intrigued by the appearance of distinctive (and mysterious) lemon posters around the city. Shortly afterwards, it was announced that Ian Brown and company would be playing four nights at Manchester’s Etihad stadium in June, Dublin’s Marlay Park on July 9th and headlining a day at T In The Park festival. Are there more dates to come? Keep an eye on Thestoneroses.org.
OASIS BIOPIC ON THE WAY
hile a musical reunion of Oasis might be a way off yet (with Noel Gallagher most recently saying that it’ll be “at least five years” before he looks at it in an interview with Esquire (and even that might be pushing it), both Gallaghers will however be taking part in an upcoming documentary on the band. From the minds of the team behind the ‘Amy’ documentary on Amy Winehouse, according to The Guardian Liam and Noel have “agreed to share their favourite memories and offer their insight in interviews”.
Who would have thought five years ago that the day Louder Than War became an honest to goodness paid for music magazine, that the NME would counter by becoming the New Metro Express? Swear Fox Great mag. Just what the UK needed. Jamie Baker Enjoyed the Mansun article and the new bands for the reference to check out. There are a lot of great unsigned bands - maybe a CD of unsigned groups? Martin Rowles Nice to see a bit of Mansun in there. Interesting interview with Sleaford Mods too. Keep up the good work. David Williams Put Peace in please or Swim Deep or Rat Boy or more Madchester, just go mad lads! Adam Rogers Finally a decent indie mag Danny Quinn Got mine from my local WH Smiths way dahn saf in Harlow, Essex. Very nice it is too, beautiful, glossy pages that smell so much better than online mags. Kim Etheridge Message us on Facebook to tell us what you like, what you don’t and what you want to see in the pages of the next Louder Than War...
arah is editor of Louderthanwar. com. She joined the website in 2012 as reviews editor, then features editor before recently taking on editorship alongside John Robb. Louder Than War is home now but Sarah has been writing about music since she was a teenager - creating fanzines, freelancing and writing blogs. Her music tastes reflect the ‘no boundaries, no guilty pleasures’ approach of LTW with a love of everything from boy bands to metal, funk, folk and psych, to guitar bands and electro beats. When not writing about music Sarah is a digital leader in local government and co-founder of a grassroots movement of people passionate about creating better public services. She also heads up a small music PR and live music agency, Noble and Wild, where she’s worked with clients including Chris Helme and Team Love Records. She’s also just written her first novel. Find her on Twitter @sarahlay.
“OUR GAME WAS RAISED!” REVITALISED BY THE RECENT INDIE DAZE FESTIVAL, THE WONDER STUFF READY NEW ALBUM
ur game was raised and the audience joined us right up there. It was one of my favourite gigs in a long, long time,” enthuses Stuffies singer/guitarist Miles Hunt on the band’s recent triumphant performance at Indie Daze, a festival at Kentish Town Forum in early October. Playing on a stellar bill including the Wedding Present, Pop Will Eat Itself and The Primitives, Hunt expounds: “I’d like to say how proud I was when The Wonder Stuff were first invited to be a part of the bill this year. My partner and Wonder Stuff violinist, Erica Nockalls, played at last year’s Indie Daze acoustically. This year’s bill was another killer collection of bands and I Pic:NickSayersPhotography.com gotta say going on after such names as EAT, PWEI and The Wedding Present had me thinking we had a lot to live up to.” The Wonder Stuff will be looking at carrying on that momentum in the studio as they work on their new full-length. “Hopefully we have a record worthy of people’s time. I’ve never seen it any other way. I do have to say that the current line-up have put far more work in on this new record than recent line-ups and to my ears that’s making a huge impact on it.” With a release planned for March to tie in with their 30th anniversary, Louder Than War readers can expect “a new record, a big ol’ tour and lots of good times.”
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FOCUS WALES FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES ACTS
t’s shaping up to be a mega year for Focus Wales 2016. Returning for its sixth year at numerous venues across Wrexham, North Wales, the likes of Gwenno, God Damn and Kagoule have been announced, playing alongside acts such as John Lawrence (former Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci), Blood Lips, Campfire Social, Future Exits, The Sunshine Underground, Macho City and Chupa Cabra. For more information and to book tickets, visit Focuswales.com.
BLUR RELEASE DOCUMENTARY/LIVE FILM
verything happens within the two hours you know? We’ll love each other again, think ‘God, you’re flipping brilliant’”, says Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, speaking in footage from new Blur movie ‘New World Towers’. A unique hybrid between documentary and concert, it was screened for the first time in the UK in December. Focused around the band’s surprise return for ‘The Magic Whip’ and is now available nationally.
ATP ICELAND 2016 LINE-UP ANNOUNCED
aking place from the 1st to the 3rd of July at former Nato Base Asbru in Keflavik, boutique festival All Tomorrow’s Parties have pulled off a major coup for 2016’s ATP Iceland. Performing his film scores and new compositions live for the first time ever, John Carpenter is on the bill alongside heavy hitters such as Sleep, Tortoise, Thee Oh Sees, Les Savy Fav, comedian Stewart Lee, Angel Olsen, Ty Segall And The Muggers, Blanck Mass and more. For further information and to book tickets, visit Atpfestival.com.
“YOU WANT SOMETHING THAT’S GOING TO DAZZLE PEOPLE BEFORE THEY’VE EVEN DROPPED THE NEEDLE.” Since launching this year, FLYING VINYL have been a breath of fresh air in vinyl lovers’ lives with their unique subscription service. Each month a box containing five limited edition 7”s drops through letterboxes around the country, offering exclusive recordings of the hottest up-and-coming indie and alternative bands. We found out more from Flying Vinyl’s Craig Evans...
How did Flying Vinyl come to be? “Well, at the start of the year the market for music was swinging away from downloads to streaming, making music more impersonal, putting less money back into art and really devaluing what people thought music was worth. The interesting thing to me was that vinyl, against all odds, was rapidly increasing in sales terms and people who collected and cherished these records were exactly the kind of people that musicians want to be heard by; proper music listeners who understand the true value or art. The idea of a music introduction service on 7” format sprang out of that thinking really and we’ve just kept on developing the concept and all the different aspects of it to what it is now.”
What’s the process for getting each box out? “We basically work from a list of appropriate artists we’ve seen and spoken to and then sit down and work out the balance of the box. All the tracks that you hear in each box really fit together in a particular order and balance really well. When we’re happy they go to be pressed and we work on the booklet and merchandise that comes in each box and when the records are done everything gets packed up and shipped. That’s the first time I’ve described that process and it sounds really simple but it’s not, there’s a huge amount of variables in each part of the production process that have to be controlled.”
What do you feel sets the FV experience apart from, say, going to a record store and buying a 7”? “The main thing that sets us apart is that our members don’t really know what they’re going to receive. Most people buy what they know and don’t take too many risks when it comes to purchasing records from new artists. Flying Vinyl is a bit like how Record Store Day used to be, where you’d be recommended new things to purchase and go on to love the bands involved. Having something that’s curated every month with records that you wouldn’t be able to buy in record shops is a fantastic experience to have every month.”
What do you feel is the attraction/affection towards 7”s? DEAP VALLY PLAN A RETURN
ebuting with the crunching ‘Sistrionix’ back in 2013, bluesy garage rockers Deap Vally have announced their return with the mean and moody ‘Royal Jelly’, accompanied with a retro video featuring a cameo from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner. Speaking of Zinner, he also manned the recording desk for Deap Vally, producing the Los Angeles, California duo of Lindsey Troy (guitar and vocals) and Julie Edwards’ (drums and vocals) as-yet untitled sophomore album. Look for it in early 2016.
NEKO CASE VINYL BOXSET Titled ‘Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule’, Kingsroadmerch.com has just released the complete Neko Case discography on vinyl. Remastered from the original analog tapes and pressed on 180gram black vinyl, the album set includes ‘The Virginian’, ‘Furnace Room Lullaby’, ‘Canadian Amp’, ‘Blacklisted’, ‘The Tigers Have Spoken’, ‘Fox Confessor Brings The Flood’, ‘Middle Cyclone’ and ‘The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You’ and is accompanied by an eighty page full colour photography book designed and curated by Case as well as a slipmat. Order online for $199.99 at Kingsroadmerch.com/Nekocase.
“It’s the ideal format really because you don’t listen to a 7”record whilst doing anything else, you just sit next to your turntable and concentrate on it. In a world that’s increasingly packed with technology battling for our attention that’s what makes the 7” single really special. It also gives us the flexibility of offering a variety of music every month to people so they get a range of different artists.”
How much importance do Flying Vinyl place on packaging and presentation, the overall aesthetic?
CLARKS ORIGINALS MF DOOM WALLABEES Hip hop’s super villain MF Doom, alongside the Wu Tang’s Ghostface Killah, has long been a fan of the iconic Clarks Wallabee shoe. In 2014 Doom collaborated with the British brand to create his own twist on the Wallabee mid shoe. Coming in a premium blue tumbled nubuck with contrasting white stitch and blaze orange laces, it also features a DOOM logo on the heel and an all over mask print lining. Long since sold out, there’s recently been a resurgence of interest in this limited edition footwear. We’d recommend a look on eBay. DAN STILES PRINTS For over two decades US artist Dan Stiles has worked with the likes of X Games, IBM and Nickelodeon, creating advertising, custom packaging and much more. However, for music fans, he’s most known for creating brightly coloured, memorable prints for bands, working with the likes of Wilco, Sonic Youth, Arctic Monkeys and Tame Impala. Recently publishing a monograph collection of his work titled ‘One Thing Leads To Another’, he also has a range of prints available to purchase at Danstiles.com.
“A lot, it’s really important. Functionally you need decent packaging when you mail vinyl otherwise it gets wrecked in transit and we looked at a few off-the-shelf packaging designs and felt we could make something better ourselves. Aside from that it’s important that music’s presented in the most appropriate way possible and the packaging is a big part of that. You want something that’s going to dazzle people before they’ve even dropped the needle.”
You can sign up to Flying Vinyl for £20 a month at Flyingvinyl.co.uk
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FATHER JOHN MISTY
I Love You, Honeybear
Thank Your Lucky Stars
Perpetual Motion People
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
2LP CD Digital
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2LP CD Digital
LANTERNS ON THE LAKE
The Light In You
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NIRVANA NEGATIVE CREEP
CONFIDE IN ME
Propelled by a fuzzy, filthy riff and Cobain’s bloody-lung-ed, frantic vocal attack, the punky ‘Negative Creep’ showed that, for all the talk of ‘grunge’, this issue’s cover stars Nirvana were a punk band first and foremost.
Recorded exclusively for Australian radio station Triple J, long-time Kylie Minogue fan and Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker has reworked the pint-sized pop princess’s ‘Confide In Me’ into something truly beautiful. Watch the video at Stereogum.com
IN WORDS OF A NOT SO FAMOUS MAN
Released this January, post-noise troupe Ulver’s ‘ATGCLVLSSCAP’ features over eighty minutes of music recorded at 12 shows in 2014. Improvisational in nature, the likes of ‘Cromagnosis’ certainly hit the spot.
...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead’s Conrad Keely recently announced that he’ll be releasing a solo album in the form of ‘Original Machines’ in late January (via Superball Music). You can listen to ‘In Words...’ via Soundcloud.
Released way back in 1995, ‘Different Class’ saw the Sheffield misfits dragged into the light of the mainstream. However, it’s still a cracking album, with the likes of ‘Mis-Shapes’ draping Cocker’s confessional lyrics backed by lush musicianship. CHIPMINKSON16SPEED CALL ME
The brainchild of Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt, chipmunkson16speed is based around the idea of taking old Alvin and the Chipmunks records and slowing them down to 16RPM on an old suitcase record player and recording the results. Take, for example, the cover of Blondie’s ‘Call Me’, which sounds like Sunn O))) jamming with Earth. SCARS HORRORSHOW
Standing at the forefront of the then-emerging Scottish post-punk movement, Edinburgh’s Scars’ ‘Horrorshow’ sounds as angular and vicious today as it did when it was originally released by Fast Product (backed with ‘Adult/ ery’) in 1979.
THE FAMILY SILVER ELECTRIC BLEND
What happens when you take former players for Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller and have them make an album? The Family Silver’s ‘Electric Blend’, a combination of all three acts’ best bits. The title track (‘Electric Blend’) alone is a belter. THE ANCHORESS YOU AND ONLY YOU
Featuring Mansun’s Paul Draper (who produced the album), ‘You And Only You’ gives listeners their first taste of The Anchoress’s ‘Confessions Of A Romance Novelist’. A dark, intricate, loveable and cerebral anthem.
rom Champaign, Illinois, Hum burned short and bright, with four albums between 1991 and 1998. Their finest hour has to be ‘Stars’, a moderately successful radio hit taken from third album ‘You’d Prefer An Astronaut’. With heavy, discordant riffing and a nearmath rock approach, Hum were ahead of their time. Inactive since 2000, surely a reunion is needed?
INDEPENDENT C H A RT H I T S BY THE NUMBERS
While the Boys Next Door’s ‘Shivers’ has been covered many times (by the likes of the Screaming Jets, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and Marie Hoy for starters), but Barnett’s world-weary reading of the song is perhaps the most compelling version, all slow-paced melancholia.
Taken from the second album (‘High’) from soon-to-be huge Aussie punks Royal Headache, ‘Another World’ looks to the likes of The Jam and the Buzzcocks for influence, a short, sharp shock to the synapses that’s coated in jagged melody.
Known and beloved for his intricate, mile-aminute wordplay and off-kilter production, LA underground rapper Busdriver has just released new solo album ‘Thumbs’. Lead off single ‘Much’ recalls the glory days of De La Soul, gleefully warped into a new shape, replete with ‘80s-referencing percussive hits and lazy melody stabs.
Recalling the glory days of emo, before the post-hardcore movement was stripmined for ideas by the major labels, Foxing’s ‘Dealer’ is a delicate, emotional creation. Songs such as ‘The Magdalene’ sound like they’re held together with gossamer. Spellbinding.
Sophomore albums are traditionally difficult beasts, especially coming off the back of a successful debut. Somebody should tell tradition buckers Savages that, as the follow up to 2013’s ‘Silence Yourself’ looks set to eclipse their debut fully. ‘The Answer’ is a Kate Bush vs black metal smash-up that’s tingle-inducing.
LOUDER THAN WAR ILLUMINATES FORGOTTEN TRACKS.
Written at home in London and recorded in Brooklyn with Nicolas Vernter, if you turn to page 92 you can read just why Daughter’s new album ‘Not To Disappear’ got a whopping 10/10 score from us. If you need further convincing, give the brooding ‘Numbers’ a spin.
heffield-based goth rockers who did it the hard way by running their own label. S The line-up was Steve Rawlings (vocals), Paul Nash (guitar), Lyndon Scarfe (keyboards) and Paul Gilmartin (drums). They released the following in 1983:
‘We’re So Happy’
‘There Is No Shame In Death’
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Jaime Harding with Johnny Marr
The ‘Britpop’ connection: was this a blessing or a curse for the band? “A blessing now, but at the time we felt it was a curse. Pretty much like Iggy Pop used to despise the term ‘punk’.”
How do you feel about ‘The Program’ now, with the benefit of hindsight?
oming together in Macclesfield, Cheshire in 1993, frontman Jaime Harding’s friendship with late former Smiths manager Joe Moss saw his immersion in musical history and the birth of Marion. Releasing debut single ‘Violent Men’ in 1994, Marion would release the critically acclaimed ‘This World And Body’ (1996) and ‘The Program’ (1998) before splitting up. While Marion have reformed in the past, speaking to Louder Than War, Harding explains why they’re now here to stay.
What was Macclesfield like back in 1993? What inspired the creation of Marion? “Macclesfield in 1993 was like any small uneventful boring suburban town. I’d always had to be in rock ‘n’ roll bands to entertain myself and my friends. Learning you could make easy money playing pubs around Macclesfield from the age of fifteen onwards was a revelation and the only thing that gave myself and friends any true hope.”
How would you describe the impact that Joe Moss had on you with regards to expanding your musicality? “Joe Moss opened the curtains musically and culturally speaking on my life to the point of no return. Joe turned a relatively clueless suburban kid into a hip city boy and the rest is history.”
What do you remember most about recording ‘Violent Men’? “Cold weather in Rochdale, a quite industrial northern town. Working with producer Chris Nagle was exciting and eye-opening and ‘Violent Men’ being the first single Marion had been paid to record by Rough Trade Records made us all feel real. Peter Hook owned the studio at the time, which was called ‘Suite 16’ and although I never met him I was aware of hilarious ongoing feuds between himself and his staff to the point where ‘Hooky is a twat’ was spray-painted on the floor of the recording room. I always wanted to meet him but sadly I never did. I’ve seen several of his shows lately and each show has done nothing short of blow me away.”
You hit the Top 10 with ‘This World And Body’ – what’s your most vivid recollection of this time? What kind of buzz was that, seeing your album in shops/hearing it being played on the radio? “My most vivid recollection of that time was loving seeing the cover for ‘This World And Body’ plastered all over the UK, as I think it is a great album cover, especially because the location of the photograph is now no more, as it was bombed in the IRA attack of the original Arndale shopping centre in Manchester. Also, Stuart Maconie publicly loving the album and applauding Marion for being a Manchester band that didn’t all wear trainers, baggy jeans and hoodies.”
“I think it’s a definite night-time album, whereas ‘This World and Body’ was clearly a day-time album. Without Johnny Marr, ‘The Program’ just would not have existed. His creativity and input inspired us all to make a timeless record that we all still happily play today, and it was the first record that Johnny Marr ever sang on. I have hilarious memories of Johnny and I singing into the same mic, Beatles-style, harmonising and observing him sing his own parts. Johnny and I were so in love during the making of ‘The Program’ that most of the photographs were of himself and I hugging which we would then look back on and think ‘Oh Christ’ and have to ditch, so sadly there are very few photographs of Johnny and I from that time.”
What was the dissolution of Marion caused by and did it feel, with the subsequent reformations and hiatuses, that you’d had bad luck? “The absolute true reason for Marion’s dissolution was we didn’t have and could not muster any new songs for a third album at that time. It made all of us feel appalling, helpless, impotent and ashamed. Life is extremely tough and demanding as we all know, I don’t think we had any especially worse luck than other bands.”
What was the impetus behind the reformation this year? What do you feel that the new line-up brings to the band? “Being old enough to be in control and in charge of things myself. Every other version of Marion has been run by somebody else who was in it for the quick buck, apart from Joe Moss. This Marion is me, but a complete democracy. The new line-up is like going back twenty years but with musicians who are twice as good as I had back then.”
What can Louder Than War readers expect from the upcoming shows? Will you also be looking at recording and releasing new material? “The twentieth anniversary shows for ‘This World And Body’ will be a celebration of the whole album, followed by many other live favourites. We will definitely be looking at recording and releasing new material as this is the only thing that keeps a group current and alive.” Marion play London’s O2 Academy Islington on the 5th of March
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Featuring immortal classics such as ‘She Said’, ‘Jesus Christ’, ‘On & On’, ‘Lost Myself’, ‘Sally Dances’ and many more, ‘On And On: The Anthology’ is packed full of hits and rarities. Brought to you by 3 Loop Music, visit 3LoopMusic.com to view a fantastic set of releases, including albums from the Bluetones, Earl Brutus, The Auteurs, Echobelly and many more. Facebook.com/3LoopMusic Twitter.com/3LoopMusic Instagram.com/3LoopMusic Subscriptions to Louder Than War cost just £19.99 for one year (four issues).O rder online at WWW.LOUDERTHANWAR.COM or WWW.V IVELEROCK.NET/STORE or send a cheque/postal order payable to Big Cheese Publishing Ltd to: Louder Than War Magazine, Studio G12, Regent House, 1 Thane Villas, London N7 7PH.
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THE INSPIRAL CARPETS
After thirty years together and two decades between albums, 2014’s self-titled record from the Inspiral Carpets represented a blistering new lease of life. Sarah Lay talks to frontman Stephen Holt about the journey from baggy to brand new.
E’LL be rocking the care home in our slippers and with our Zimmer frames! Clint has a saying, ‘once a Carpet, always a Carpet’.” It’s been 32 years since school friends Stephen Holt and Graham Lambert formed the Inspiral Carpets, a band that was to become an integral part of the Baggy and Madchester scenes of the late eighties and early nineties. Talking to Louder Than War, Holt reflects on the band’s longevity, “I don’t think in the eighties when we started we ever thought we’d make an album never mind still be making them. We’ve had such a brilliant career, we’re lucky and feel blessed to have lasted so long and still be making and playing great tunes the way we want to. A lot of our friends from the early days who used to like great music ended up listening to bands like Dire Straits and U2. We used to say that would never happen to us and luckily that’s true.” The band started out with several wellreceived EPs – including the Peel favourite ‘Planecrash’, issued on the Playtime label. However, Holt left to form The Rainkings in 1989 with their debut album ‘Life’ halfwritten. He was replaced by singer Tom Hingley, who fronted the band through their nineties heyday and who duly graced singles including ‘This Is How It Feels’, ‘Saturn Five’ and ‘Joe’. In 2011, it looked as if the Carpets were calling it a day when Hingley announced on Twitter that the band had split up. Clint Boon countered this; tweeting back that the ‘Inspiral Carpets have not split up. It appears that one member has chosen to leave’. A few months later came the announcement that founding member Holt had rejoined, and that the band were recording their first new material in 15 years. Although some fans of the band haven’t taken to Holt’s return, he asserts “The way I see it is that I am the singer of Inspiral Carpets and we play our songs. The last few years have really flown and it’s been an exciting time for both me and the band – We’ve toured each
INSPIRAL CARPETS year since I returned to the band and played some great festivals like T in the Park, V, the Indie All-Dayer, the Shiiine Weekender plus some great European shows. We’re also due to play December’s tour with Shed Seven. We’ve also released a single each year for Record Store Day plus re-issues of both ‘Dung 4’ and ‘Life’. However, the high point for me was releasing our new album last November.” This eponymous album, released in autumn 2014, carried the trademark spiralling organ and guitar melded to intricate rhythms and included new singles ‘You’re So Good For Me’ and ‘Spitfire’, which premiered on the Louder Than War website. “Writing and recording the new album was excellent,” explains Stephen. “We were really happy with how it went. We all contributed and it just felt really natural, the songs came together really well during rehearsals. We were all really happy with what we were taking into the studio and excited to
see how they would turn out. We wanted to keep the album fairly raw and untouched, to give it a live feeling. I think we really achieved this and the album still excites me now when I hear it. Generally, after a while you start to grow tired of certain songs or hear bits that you feel could have been better. However, with this album that’s not the case for me. If I had to pick one song that I was personally most proud of, it would be ‘Calling Out To You’. I’m really happy with my lyrics, melody and vocals, plus I love the feel and visual aspect the song creates.”
hile the band were pleased with the album and it was well received by fans as well as some music press, it didn’t reach as wide an audience as was expected; “The press reviews were excellent and the rest of the band say they were the best for any
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THE INSPIRAL CARPETS
LIFE Cow Records/Mute (1990) PERSONNEL:
Clint Boon (keyboards/vocals) Craig Gill (drums) Tom Hingley (vocals) Graham Lambert (guitar) Martyn Walsh (bass) TRACKLISTING:
Real Thing Song For A Family This Is How It Feels Directing Traffik Besides Me Many Happy Returns Memories Of You She Comes In The Fall Monkey On My Back Sun Don’t Shine Inside My Head Sackville of our albums so far,” asserts Holt. “Also, the fans who bought the album seemed to love it and many thought it was our best album since ‘Life’. However, it unfortunately didn’t seem to grab the attention of a wider audience and sales were lower than we hoped for. The album didn’t get the airplay it deserved.” This serves demonstrate how even established bands are currently fighting the changing tide of the industry and need to find new ways to get their music heard. That doesn’t mean the Inspirals are ready to rely on nostalgia and just wheel out the classics to their core audience. Neither, for Holt, does it mean looking to free downloads as the future: “Think of another form of art where you’re expected to give it away for free? It’s like asking a builder to build you a house for free. Are you going to do it? No you’re not. I think there has to be that thing where if you’re putting your heart and soul into
something, an album, a record, and you’re putting it out there then you should get paid for it. Despite having a back catalogue spanning three decades and five albums, the band are focused on introducing fans to the music they’re creating now. “The new material has gone down really well live since I returned,” says Stephen. “We’ve been playing ‘You’re So Good For Me’ for a few years; it was on the album and is a relatively new tune but fits into the set and is received like the band have always been playing it. On the last tour it was songs like ‘Spitfire’, ‘Let You Down’ and ‘A to Z’ that went down as well as the classics. An interesting thing with music – and we’re noticing it at our gigs – is that you do have the older audience coming back to see us and take a trip down memory lane but music is cyclical; you’ve probably a twenty year gap, and then
things come back round. So you’ve got your twenty-year-olds who are going back twenty years to the golden age of Manchester, Britpop and that. We were a part of that and people have picked up on it. It’s definitely a nice mix.” It delights the band that their music is still loved and being discovered, but for Holt it comes back to one important thing – the Inspiral Carpets are a band of brothers, born out of friendship and a shared love of music. It’s still as exciting to them to be creating and playing music as it is for fans to hear it. Can he pick a highlight from thirty years of Inspirals history? “There are too many to mention but the high point for me now is no longer having to regret leaving in the first place and missing my mates.” ‘Inspiral Carpets’ is out now on Cherry Red Records The Inspiral Carpets tour the UK in December
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“THERE’S NO BOUNDARIES AND NO HALF-STEPPING”
HO99O9 Hip hop and punk mutated into ferocious horrorcore high art.
WORDS: JAMES SHARPLES
E didn’t know what to expect from the art but we knew we wanted to be strong in our presence and delivery,” say Eaddy and TheOGM, the New Jersey duo who make the malevolent, mutant sounds of Ho99o9 (pronounced ‘Horror’), With “high hopes” and a “low ceiling”, the aim was “to have fun and do something our community can enjoy with us as one. In due time, evolution, experience and chaos, the bar has been set higher, the ceiling has a huge hole through it now and the door went from being knocked on to banged on to kicked down. Everything is mashed together, it’s beautiful.” Taking trace elements of Gravediggaz, Black Flag, MF Grimm and Big Black and cranking the abrasion factor all the way up, the live setting sees Eaddy and TheOGM backed only by a drummer, with guitar shrieks and synthesiser stabs triggered
by pads and switches. It’s a harsh, painful sound, In The Lake’ mixtape online on Halloween, (“It a virulent strain of mechanics weaponised, a features quite a few songs we’ve been playing confrontation of sound drenched in drugs and live for a little while but were unreleased, with death. It’s more GG Allin than Ghostface Killah. a mixture of newer songs we’ve worked on “Punk, in my opinion, is attitude, the outcast, in the past few months”), the title came from being apart from the norm and how everybody “walking around this large body of water, else sees the world, not fitting in with the images of corpses popping out of the lake kept standard crowd. You can’t slap a bullet belt, popping in my head” and the duo describe it as boots, studs and leather jacket on, download “an unhealthy, disgusting and gross snack your Black Flag’s discography on a Mac computer mother told you not to have before you ate and think ‘I’m punk’. That’s all a costume. Punk dinner”. is you with yourself, doing what you want do With tales of necrophilia and bloodlust, ‘Dead and not worrying about anybody else.” Bodies In The Lake’ is far from an easy listen, all Needless to say, comparisons have been made wrapped up in slasher flick-like menace. with the likes of Death Grips (not to mention “The mixtape is for you to enjoy now,” say Bad Brains and Suicidal Tendencies), with both Ho99o9: “We live in the now. Don’t expect groups sharing an anarchic, hard to define anything but expect everything when you get it. sound. We’ve been working on music and we’re thinking “Naturally, when you’re up and coming, people about an album, but then again I’m thinking will compare it, put it in a nice little box tied about being a hyena tamer...” with a perfect bow and put you on this shelf or So where will Ho99o9 be taking their music in pedestal. We don’t care for comparisons but we 2016? appreciate it. All those bands are really great. “[There’s] no boundaries, all fun. [We] give it We could literally fart, puke a nice slice of pizza our all, no half-stepping.” out, shit on the floor in the studio and record it and at least SOUNDS LIKE: CLIPPING/BLACK FLAG/ODD FUTURE one person will say ‘Aw man, this sounds just like Death Grips’.” AVAILABLE: ‘DEAD BODIES IN THE LAKE’ (SOUNDCLOUD) Releasing the ‘Dead Bodies
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THE BLACK TAMBOURINES “Freedom “ CD or LP
“Psychorama” Ltd Box Set feat 5 re-mastered CD albums+ bonus tracks, unreleased DVD & a 7" Live E.P
MARC BOLAN Presents... ‘The Soul Sessions’ 2xCD
One of the UK’s hottest new bands emerging from the effervescing Falmouth Scene contains the singles No Action , She Dont Mind & I Wanna Stay Away
“The Guitar That Dripped Blood “CD or col LP Return to form of searing guitar shredding the likes of which we would expect from the guitar hero ! Stunning horror cover by famed artists Graham Humphries
feat Marc’s production of 2 soul singers Gloria Jones & Sister Pat Hall feat. unreleased material in deluxe gatefold sleeve
LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH “Los Diablos” CD+DVD Set
DVD 2 comp shows from controversial Spanish Rock TV show 'Le Edad De Oro' Madrid ‘83 & ‘84 plus CD album, interview with Brian James.
NEW YORK DOLLS ‘Butterflyin’’ CD or Ltd Col LP
Live radio broadcast of the band on fire on home turf in 1974 on CD (gatefold softpack) with bonus tracks
Do You Believe in Magyk? 2xCD or Ltd Col LP Last recordings with liner notes from Nina Antonia with interviews with Kris Dollimore & Neal Whitmore
JOHNNY THUNDERS ‘In Cold Blood’’ Deluxe 2xCD or Ltd Col LP Re-mastered tracks from 1982 inc unreleased live show from London’s old Marquee Club liner notes by Nina Antonia
VARIOUS “Cornwall Calling”
23 tracks by 23 brilliant acts for under a fiver
feat The Black Tambourines, Lost Dawn, Honey, The Red Cords and King Creature have already received enthusiastic coverage from the national music media, and they represent the vanguard of a unique scene that sees the emergence of dynamic new acts on a regular basis.
“Sixteen Dances” Deluxe 2xCD set Features two live performances from everyone's favourite all time party band. Includes booklet
EPIC SOUNDTRACKS “Rise Above” Deluxe 2xCD set
Original classic album featuring Rowland S Howard Sonic Youth J Mascis to name but a few re-mastered & presented with an entire disc of out takes & rare extras
Visit our site today for our full range of Boxsets, DVDs, CDs, LPs, 10” & 7” vinyl, Tshirts, Books, forthcoming releases and much, much more Barrence Whitfield & The Savages perform Captain Beefheart’s “Zig Zag Wanderer” c/w The Chronics performing The 13th Floor Elevators “ I’ve got Levitation” limited edition 7”
Coming Soon : The New 7” E.P by The Red Cords ‘Vile Guy’ Mini album LP by Lost Dawn ‘Fever’ feat the single ‘Electrify’ Debut 7” single from The Isabelles “Permanent Rewind” New 7” E.P Cats & Rats by Crooked Little Sons
or available from your local
Leeds DIY indie rock ‘super group’.
AMED after a 1990 Nintendo video game, Menace Beach channel that following decade but never sound anything other than fresh and invigorating. Vocalist/guitarist Ryan Needham explains how the indie/grunge pop formed. “Me and Liza [Violet, vocals] moved up to Leeds in 2012 and ended up bumping into a load of old friends who were all free and up for doing something new and fun,” he explains. “We’d written and recorded a ton of songs at home that all kinda sounded like Guided By Voices and Beat Happening and then we all got in MJ’s studio one night and just played and recorded, and they became more of their own thing.” MJ is guitarist Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson, also of Hookworms, who produced the band’s debut full-length, ‘Ratworld’, in his Suburban Home studio in Leeds. Rounded out by Matt Spalding (bass) and Nestor Matthews (drums), the quintet feature
grunge and psychedelia, highlighted by the infectious title track, was that the mix always the plan? “Yeah that and science fiction and tennis courts,” Needham reveals. “When we recorded those things we just kept the magic bits of the demos and then just let each song kinda find its own sound and just let it be. We don’t like fuss over anything too much. “I think there’s just a constant revival of everything all the time. You’ll definitely hear ‘90s influences in Menace Beach, but that’s more to do with the fact that that’s when we started listening to music and going to shows, rather than a conscious decision to make that kind of thing.” And with their exuberance and rush of energy running throughout their music, it’s no surprise that 2016 will see them just as busy in the studio and on the road. “We’re going to make MB 2 in January and February. No title yet. And then over to America for South By Southwest in March, which looks like it’ll be a good adventure!”
former and current members of the likes of Komakino, Sky Larkin, You Animals and Seize The Chair, as well as having worked with members of Pulled Apart By Horses and Mansun. No wonder they’re often labelled as somewhat of a Leeds indie super group, although Needham laughs, “I guess the super group thing makes for a more interesting story. I’m 99% un-super though.” Released back in January 2015 after several EPs, ‘Ratworld’ is, as Needham accurately describes, “a 30/70 mix of gross noise and nice melody. And it’s the most tastefully mastered record of the year.” You won’t hear any arguments from us and if you enjoy fuzzed up indie pop/grunge rock with elements of ‘90s bands like The Pixies, Pavement, Elastica and Dinosaur Jr., as well as recent favourites like Wavves, Speedy Ortiz and Martha, then this record could well make your end of year list. With the album and new EP, the excellently titled ‘Super Transporterreum’ – supposedly named after one SOUNDS LIKE: SUPERCHUNK / THE BREEDERS / WAVVES of Violet’s vibrant dreams, a OUT NOW: ‘SUPER TRANSPORTERREUM’ (MEMPHIS INDUSTRIES) glorious rush of indie rock,
“IT’S A 30/70 MIX OF GROSS NOISE AND NICE MELODY.”
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WORDS: IAN CHADDOCK
“BEING SICK INSIDE MY MASK WAS A PERSONAL LOWLIGHT OF MY LIFE”
EVIL BLIZZARD Psychedelic sound terrorists get religion.
WORDS: NICOLA GRIFFITHS
T’S a pound shop circus and the live experience is what we’re all about,” bassist Stomper of hellish psych-punks Evil Blizzard explains, “Playing in a mask really intensifies the playing experience, your field of vision is strictly limited and so it really keeps you on your toes and it definitely adds to our performance.” To say their live shows have been causing a stir would be something of a crude understatement; with four bass players, a singing drummer, not to mention the haunting rubber masks, it’s enough to give the mums and dads nightmares, never mind the kids. Their approach to gigs though is certainly not without its risks: “Being sick inside my mask in Edinburgh was a personal lowlight of my life, but they all have their moments.” Whichever way you paint it, they’re certainly not the sort of outfit you would expect to be associating with a member of
the indier-than-thou Embrace, but you know on lager. Some of the songs were written pretty what they say about books and covers… much as you hear them – ‘Spread The Fear’ is “Richard McNamara saw us supporting the first and only take of the only time we’ve Sleaford Mods and he was blown away – ever played it. ‘Stupid People’ was the second he offered us free studio time he was so take I think as Kav had never heard the song! desperate to produce us, and we were so Some songs such as ‘Balloon’ and ‘Bow Down’ desperate for free studio time we accepted. we’d messed about with at gigs and so we had Some of us were wary – Embrace the polished a rough idea of how they should be structured anthemic rock band, and us? He’s well into his but were still done pretty much on the fly.” metal from his youth though and it was the ‘Everybody Come To Church’ as an album best decision we’ve made. He was perfect for title seems to have such an ominous undertone, us; we’re a big shambolic mess of a band that are Evil Blizzard thinking of becoming a little sprawls all over the place and he pulled us more than a band? “It’s not our own church, into shape. He knew how to capture the live no. We worship at the church of the feral child! sound and he just ‘got it’ in terms of how we We’d had an almighty session during which always wanted to sound.” we forgot to go to bed and so on the Sunday With second album ‘Everybody Come to morning we were totally spaced and hammered. Church’ firmly under their belts, how does A six year old kid (whose parents were at the it differ from debut ‘The Dangers Of Evil party) came up and said ‘You should call your Blizzard’? “The first album was the best album next album this – Everybody Come To Church’ we could have made at the time – we had and proceeded to hit a big gong that was in no money and we didn’t really ‘exist’ as a the room. I got my phone out and asked him band… ‘Everybody Come To Church’ is light to repeat it and that’s the recording that starts years ahead.” The Evil Blizzard boys certainly the album.” not resting on their laurels with it either, with most of the SOUNDS LIKE: HAWKWIND/KILLING JOKE/HOOKWORMS recording being done in just one day, “We set up, got some levels AVAILABLE: ‘EVERYBODY COME TO CHURCH’ (LOUDER THAN WAR) and just blasted it out fuelled
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SOUNDS FROM THE STREET
ITTING in the vague and sprawling region of the East Midlands, Nottingham may not immediately spring to mind as a powerhouse for independent music. It is, however, quietly growing a scene that is flourishing across all areas of music - from thriving record shops, to iconic live venues, a clutch of labels, a blooming independent press and a handful of artists challenging not just sound but society as well. For a small city Nottingham is evolving into one of the most exciting and diverse scenes in the UK. Anton Lockwood, Head of Promotions for the city’s legendary venue Rock City and lynchpin of the local scene reflects on the emerging reputation of the city: “This year was the first Dot To Dot (the multi-venue festival taking place over the same weekend in Nottingham, Bristol and Manchester) to be headlined in all three cities by a Nottingham artist (Saint Raymond).” And it’s not just festival headline slots as Nottingham bands are breaking out on all fronts right now. Sleaford Mods are on a stratospheric rise as the genuine voice of the downtrodden. Waxing lyrical about them on Louderthanwar.com, Editor in Chief John Robb said: “The greatest British pop culture reflects the diversity and width of our culture. Sleaford Mods’ music varies from Crass-
Boasting the only Rough Trade outside of London, an iconic independent venue celebrating a 35th birthday, a slew of great independent labels and a blaze of bands including Sleaford Mods and Kagoule, Louder Than War took off to check out the local scene in Nottingham.
style artful polemic, to a hip hop command of stripped-down beats, to left-field-noise-indie’s high IQ sneer, to industrial music’s sense of adventure, to Britpop’s sense of community, and to mod if it was about modernism. “Most of their songs are unplayable on the radio due to swear words and attitude. They have not only upset the applecart but taken all the apples and thrown MOST UGLY CHILD them back at the smug mainstream bosses.” Meanwhile Kagoule garnered a 9/10 result on Louderthanwar.com and were featured in our debut issue for their astounding skewed ‘90s-altrock-influenced debut ‘Urth’ and are gaining new fans through support slots with the likes of Johnny Marr and The Who. Cantaloupe released their debut of ‘life-affirming, full throttle throbbing
synth madness’ on local label Hello Thor and while Grey Hairs bring together members from a number of other Nottingham groups and also gifted the world a stellar album this year. Louderthanwar. com’s local correspondent Stephen Murphy described it as “a noisy, howling beast, that not only tells tales of getting widdle on your hands and hiding in hedges, but also rather gloriously throws down to gauntlet to younger bands to try and go one better. Grey Hairs aren’t just raging against the dying of the light, they’re flicking V’s at oncoming decrepitude and mooning the notion that anyone over the age of thirty five is a bit crap.” And while these bands are starting to punch at middle-weight there’s a flurry of new bands right behind them, championed by the likes of Mark Del at not-for-profit Nusic and Dean Jackson at The Beat (the local BBC station’s new music show). We recommend theLOST laid- DAWN
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SOUNDS FROM THE STREET SLEAFORD MODS
back psychedelic indie of Crosa Rosa and the punchy but soulful RnB of Nina Smith. The list goes on: rapper Scorzayzee reached new audiences following the Shane Meadows’ 2009 mockumentary Le Donk and Scorzayzee and dropped a new album earlier in 2015 and last year Napoleon, the new project from Simon Mills of Bent, released an EP of electro-wonder at the start of each month.
ack at Rock City Anton mentions the city’s recent form with mainstream indie, those artists playing the genre but taking it to a massive scale: “Look at Jake Bugg, he started off playing acoustic sessions in a bar, played Dot to Dot, then did his own shows at the Bodega and the Rescue Rooms, then headlined Rock City, played to 17,000 at the city’s Splendour Festival, then did the arena and sold that out. It’s really pleasing to see artists on a path like that.” With a live scene supported not only by the
venues Anton lists but other smaller independent venues including JT Soar, an ex-fruit and vegetable warehouse turned DIY music and arts space, and the Chameleon Arts Cafe, showcasing emerging bands but often those acts that defy being defined by genre. Elsewhere in the city you have The Maze, The Jamcafe and The Contemporary. It means that international touring acts are descending on the city while local grassroots musicians are supported too. Covering the recorded side of the scene is a handful of independent labels including established imprints such as Earache (well known for supporting homegrown grindcore, death and black metal and now home to Kagoule) and I’m Not From London who host the newly-renamed Heck (previously Baby Godzilla) and celebrate a tenth birthday this year. Don’t forget to check out their sister label of alt-folk weirdness Wire and Wool, home of Dead Bees and 94 Gunships. Mountain of Records has a clutch of melodic
hardcore releases and is gearing up for the debut from local band Some Skeletons; Hello Thor (Grey Hairs) is always on the look-out for music that excites while Gringo Records (Hookworms, That Fucking Tank) continues to be a standard bearer for ‘UK DIY excellence’. Then you have Denizen acting as a label and publishing house, and as part of the Confetti empire in the city contributes to the resources available to local artists while Field Records is a home for ‘dysfunctional artists’ in the post-rock, math rock and electronic genre including Alright the Captain and Updownc. Nottingham is well-served by record shops too. Not only does it boast the only UK Rough Trade store outside of the capital but has the rather marvellous Music Exchange too. One of a group of businesses owned by The Framework Housing Association charity the Music Exchange offers a ‘socially responsible way to purchase products and services’ and is staffed by volunteers, there for a variety of reasons including overcoming barriers that have stopped them working in retail before, but all with a deep passion for music which they pass on to customers. Celebrating the scene is the independent press of Left Lion, a city-centric publication that has become the ‘de facto alternative media outlet of choice in Nottingham.’ Not only a website but a newspaper too Left Lion’s local writers, photographers and contributors champion not just the local music scene but all forms of culture in the city. On Louderthanwar.com writer Stephen Murphy recently described his city as “producing multigenre musical classics at the same rate it used to churn out Raleigh Choppers, ciggies and fucking lace curtains” and with not just bands breaking through but with the whole of the scene thriving we’d have to say he’s got it right and that Nottingham is a city to keep an ear out for. Rock City celebrates its 35th birthday during December
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With the release of biography ‘Freak Out The Squares’, PULP man Russell Senior remains fiercely proud of the accomplishments of Sheffield’s finest. Louise Brown talks to a uniquely British man about a uniquely British band.
HE rock biography; that tome of scintillating scandal and sordid excess, where musicians can retire disgracefully airing all of their worst behaviours alongside shocking barbs against colleagues, rivals and the waifs and strays they met along their path of rock and roll hedonism. We, mere mortals, lap them up, each page depicting the charmed lives of music’s most notorious characters. ‘Freak Out The Squares: Life In A Band Called Pulp’, by Pulp guitarist, violinist and self-confessed “grownup of the group’, Russell Senior, is the latest in rock memoir overload, and we settle in for a wild ride of mis-shapes, mistakes and misfits. In fact, what we get is a lot of tea, games of chess and mild-mannered facts about minerals. Did you know that if you add iodine to an axolotl it turns into a newt? But Pulp were a different class, weren’t they? They did not have the cockney cheek of Blur, not the brash Mancunian swagger of Oasis, they were the psychedelic avant garde art experiment, who had tried for a decade to claw themselves out of Sheffield’s agitprop pop scene, who found themselves in the right place, at the right time and stumbled upon the holy grail of indie gold with eraRussell defining anthems ‘Common People’ and ‘Disco 2000’. Sardonic and as well-presented as Jarvis Cocker in one his jumble sale suits, ‘Freak Out...’ is ‘The Royle Family’ of rock biogs, in that nothing actually happens but it is in the ennui and the unglamorous truthfulness that the writer’s midas touch is revealed. ‘Freak Out...’ is laugh out loud funny, because, of course, pre-fame Pulp devised a stage set of toilet paper and tin foil only for it to crumble around them, of course they set fire to a prized palm tree in Toulouse with a misfired firework, and the highlight of their first ever Top Of The Pops performance was, of course, eating Mariah Carey’s biscuits. This is not sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, more atypical British fumbling of the bra-straps, white-outs
after one toke of Black Grape’s joint and playing so out of tune it actually made the band the unique freaks we came to love. But if it’s not going to a be a tell-all page-turner of bolshy Britpop bragging, then why write it at all? “I kind of felt I ought to write it,” says Russell, his Yorkshire twang ever-giving him a tone of sarcasm and weariness. Speaking shortly before his appearance at Manchester’s Louder Than Words festival (Louderthanwordsfest.com). “Astronauts, they seem very inarticulate. They’ve been to the moon but they can’t say anything about it, so I thought, well, I can be loquacious hopefully, and as an eye-witness, I thought I should do it, especially since there were some programmes on Britpop a few years back and they seemed really lame. They didn’t get to the heart of it. I want to try and put people in that dislocated world, the duty of the witness really.”
ritpop, what actually was it? From the turn of the 1990s until the chimes of the new Millennium were rung in, it seemed like the British pop music, and art, worlds, for that matter, were The Zeitgeist. Tracey Emin was making headlines with unmade beds, Damien Hirst was pickling bovine and bands Senior like Blur, Oasis and Pulp, who couldn’t sound more unlike one other if they tried, were as iconic as Ginger Spice in a Union Jack frock. “It’s not a genre, is it?” Russell ponders. “It’s not like reggae, it’s not a sound. Saint Etienne were deconstructing dance and yet they were Britpop. It was a group of outsiders from different angles, having a go at making pop music that was vaguely credible. It was a rejection of the world that was around us at the time, but the rejection took different forms. It’s not a musical form, really. You can’t teach it. It’s a funny one, isn’t it? You look back and think, well, what was it? Because it didn’t seem like anything coherent at the time, certainly not artistically.”
“I DON’T REALLY DO NORTHERN WHIMSY”
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PULP “Great guitarists like Bernard Butler and Richard Hawley don’t intimidate me because we all do a different thing. They may be able to play ‘All Along The Watchtower’ better than Hendrix but they can’t do spare and spiky and proddy as well as me.”
inverted commas, musicians audition for us and we just didn’t want them because we wanted somebody that was enfant savage. It sounds a bit ridiculous now, and yeah, we did get to learn about chords as time went on, so it’s strange in a way because, in the end, Pulp craft the perfect pop song, they don’t make a random extreme noise terror, but that was the roots of it. It ended up as pop music, almost by accident really.” The band did set out to be a pop band
“Outside the Cambridge Corn Exchange a young man approached me. There was something funny about him, then he attempted to pass me a wrap of drugs. I refused and then noticed a cameraman with a long lens taking photographs. This was a set-up, imagine the consequences if I’d taken ne of the motifs throughout the the wrap. That bastard was prepared to ruin book is just how bad Pulp were my life for a made-up story.” as musicians. It starts with Russell The price of fame is high, though, and reviewing Jarvis’ band for his Russell is candid in his dissection of it. “It’s fanzine and referring safe to say [that I hate to the songs as “dirges” fame]. It was a downer, but “the appearance there was a certain purity of the frontman is “IT’S SAFE TO SAY THAT I HATE FAME. IT WAS and innocence to the entertaining”, however A DOWNER, THERE WAS A CERTAIN PURITY Britpop thing, despite all the two became friends excess. It seemed a bit AND INNOCENCE TO THE BRITPOP THING, the and Russell joined Pulp of a charmed life really, and DESPITE ALL THE EXCESS.” not to bring any musical then you hit reality of things splendour to the act, and you’re cynical. I had a RUSSELL SENIOR in fact, it led the group happy view of it and I liked down an even more our fans, and it didn’t seem outré and unconventional rabbit hole. This though, Russell makes no claim to the like this cynical rock world to me, it seemed self-deprecation almost does as a disservice other throughout the first half of the book, like something light and fluffy. I don’t know to the group that ten years later would which shows a warts-and-all side to Pulp if I’ve stressed it enough in the book but we give the British musical canon pop gold like before the Britpop boom. They didn’t shy were very much ‘of’ our fans. We were jumble ‘Something Changed’. away from the spotlight, “Or want to be an sale kids. People would look at you funny in “We learned,” Russell laughs when underground, sell-no-records, indie purity the street, and then you were in the sanctity challenged. “But one of the good things thing,” Russell confirms. “With the C86 of the concert where there were other strange about not having the musical theory, is movement, they seemed to take succour people, so there was this secret little club of that you do things that are, technically from how few records they’d sold, like that outsiders and it was a nice thing.” speaking, out of tune. I think it frees was a mark of integrity. We thought that was Of all the Britpop bands, Pulp seemed the things up. I avoided learning, I was of that guff and saw not selling records as failure, mindset. I wanted to find something around so I think, in a way, we stood out from the another corner, so there’s an almost wilful crowd, in that ‘we are going to entertain and determination to retain a naivety in a way. we are going to sell records’. It was not very We were anti-muso. We had proper, in cool at the time.”
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PULP most approachable, the most down-to-earth, the most likely to invite you in for a cuppa if you were camped outside their house in December waiting for an autograph. “It’s true,” laughs Russell, as I tell him a story of a friend for whom that happened to. “And on the whole, I have had my differences with the members of the band, but basically they’re all fairly decent. I wouldn’t say we were prudes but I suppose we were a bit, in that Yorkshire way. We were well-brought up and had decent manners, and no we didn’t hold with bad behaviour at all.”
aughing about some of the unpretentious, no-nonsense Yorkshire-ness of ‘Freak Out The Squares’, we promise Russell that we won’t paint him completely as rock ‘n’ roll’s least likely, or as a throughly decent bloke too much, a real model of the common people. “If it’s true to say it,” he laughs. “All that Northern stuff, there’s two strands to Sheffield. One is the by-heck whimsy and they get terribly excited about cooling towers getting knocked down. I can’t be doing with that professional Northern-ness, but there’s always a form of Sheffieldness that’s this Dadaist intense thing and I guess I cleave to the latter persuasion really. I don’t really do Northern whimsy. This is an unusual interview in a way because most people are trying to get me to dish more dirt and I’m like, ‘I haven’t got any more’. It’s honest in that it does own up to the fact that there wasn’t much in the way of
groupies.” “When we got on the bus, the back room had a general air of a Western saloon – cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild women. The tour manager interrupted the reverie with the unfortunate phrase: ‘Excuse me ladies, we’ve got to shoot off now’. Everyone was a winner. The girls could hold their heads up high and no one had to shag in the toilet looking at the ‘No Solids’ sign and wake up feeling like yesterday’s fish and chips.” “The chronicle of Pulp, the true and honest chronicle of Pulp would take up a shelf of books,” Russell sighs when we do ask him if he was perhaps too polite and left out some of the more outlandish tales from the road. “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. There could’ve been lots of moaning about this, that and the other but it would all be rather trivial. There would be no major revelations, so even if I had the inclination to write a kiss-and-tell, put-theboot-in book I’d have been really thin on material for it. I’m actually being quite frank, and in a way, brave, in admitting that it’s not always that exciting and if you win the ‘hang out with Pulp for the day’ prize you’d probably choose not to do it again. “People want Pulp to live in the Monkees house and all be great mates and I don’t have to put the dagger, because people’s view of Pulp is quite a benign one. I can’t remember the last time anyone said anything unkind to me about it, it’s awfully fluffy all of this and I feel a little bit guilty that there’s not more bite but the truth is that people have a lot of affection for Pulp and I’ve no desire to change that.” The book starts with Russell carefully considering Jarvis’ invitation to reunite the old gang for a one-off Glastonbury performance, flits back to when he first saw Jarvis “murder” (his words) ‘Wild Thing’ by The Troggs while his bass player fell off the stage, follows his acceptance into the Pulp fold and acts as a witty diary of the band’s 2011 comeback and mid-’90s highs. It allows us a bird’s eye view of Britpop in ascendance – from it’s biggest stories (Pulp unwittingly to blame for pitting Blur and Oasis against each other with scurrilous gossip about who said what about Justine Frischmann) and wildest excesses (Russell lays claim to being responsible for Britpop folly Menswear, who signed to Island for a ludicrous fee and actually weren’t very good at all) but while he seemed, on the face of it all, to have had a jolly good time, the reunion was a one-off for him, despite protestation from both band and fans.
“Well, phone calls have come, quite a number of times, and things didn’t entirely wind down when it was supposed to, and so I can say that [I’m done] with reasonable degrees of certainty, because there were things that I’ve not done, like playing The Royal Albert Hall and so I’ve resisted those, but I’m very romantic about Pulp,” he admits, when pushed to see if he would tread the boards just one more time and had this book maybe triggered a little bit of wanderlust in him. “Not everything in my life is as pure as that, but that’s one thing I like to keep it pure. I don’t wish to reduce it by cashing in on it, although you could say I’m doing that with this book. I could’ve tried to pump up the controversy, and I would have sold more copies but I’m quite romantic about it, and protective about the legacy.” Now a full-time writer he admits that “I got my violin down so I could play it but I’ve not, it’s got dust on it. We weren’t musicians, I really don’t feel like I was. I don’t know how to play any other songs all the way through apart from Pulp songs, and I don’t sit around playing the guitar. What’s next? Writing! A geology-themed mystery romance, a book on the life of Edwin of Northumbria, and another one on foraging. Eclectic and uneconomic! Choose the things that are least likely to sell and do that, that’s what I’m doing.” Of course he is, of course the foppish, besuited outsider from Britpop’s most bizarre and stubbornly contrary and peculiar band has swapped the riches and adulation of pop music for writing books about mushrooms and ancient kings. What else would he do? Like we said, Pulp and Russell Senior were of a different class and we wouldn’t change them for the world. ‘Freak Out The Squares: Life In A Band Called Pulp’ is available now from Aurum Press Ltd
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With a critically acclaimed album and sold out dates on both sides of the Atlantic under his belt, Kurt Vile is in demand. Dick Porter catches the singer/songwriter between Minneapolis and Chicago to find out what is...
HE September release of his sixth studio album, ‘B’leive I’m Goin Down’ finds Kurt Vile reaching a plateau of assured creativity. His sensitive, often transcendent lyricism combines with rich, subtle melodies, identifying the former War On Drugs man as one of the most profound and singular voices of his generation. Since the release of his debut album, 2008’s ‘Constant Hitmaker’, the Pennsylvania native has painstakingly assembled a truly unique corpus of recorded work, which has gradually gained popular momentum. Now, with his latest album hitting the Top 40 in UK and America, the demand for live shows is such that Kurt, backed by his Violators are currently undertaking their most rigorous tour to date, one which opened in October and is set to continue well into the Spring.
You’ve been touring the album in the US, how has that been going? “It’s been going pretty good, all the electricity and the setting up sometimes fuck with my head, like the feedback and loud noises. It’s cool, because all the shows are sold out. There’s all sorts of growing pains; like with the in-ear monitors, which aren’t
really natural – It’s all kind of boring to explain!”
It’s quite a lengthy tour, are you relishing the experience? “It’s funny, I expand like a rubber band. Sometimes I get nervous and it builds and builds, then at the soundcheck I kinda freak out. The show is like a big release and then I feel the positive kind of crazy after that, which is fun. This is all coming from the fact that I’ve been going pretty much every night. We’ve just played Chicago and for the first time in my life, there was a party backstage and I just fell asleep. Usually I can stay up all night. I couldn’t believe it, people were dancing, hanging out and listening to music. It’s from staying up late and waking up early, but ultimately I’m lucky, I’m stoked, it’s all paying off and I’m doing my thing.”
Have you adapted the new songs for the gigs? “I was anxious about that before I started touring; you think that you’ve got to stay so true to the record, which you do, but they take on a life of their own. Especially when I’m mastering and mixing a record, and it finally comes out and you’re like, ‘It’s got
to be exactly like this.’ But then it’s always going to be similar, so it doesn’t have to be exactly the same.”
The new album’s lyrics seem to come from a fairly personal space, were you drawing upon any specific experiences when you wrote them? “Yeah, I think I have like a million specific experiences a day and they all come at once. The specific experiences are just like a feeling of a million things at once, but I can also relate them to other things, or other people can relate them to other things – so for that reason I decided that I wasn’t going to say anything about something specific.”
There’s a darkness to the lyrics, but that’s countered by a strong element of wit and humour –is that an element that you have consciously developed? “I think so, I also think that the humour is an extension of being happy, too. If one of the lyrics is very sad and you toss off a joke, it’s just like the way life is. Even if you’re at a funeral and you’re with friends, and they’re obviously all so sad, but there’s also the warm moments that you have with people that you love. Like is often always both. I
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don’t want to say ‘always’ because some people really have a rough deal, and that’s terrible, and maybe that’s stuff that I think about, too.”
The recording process saw you utilise a number of different studios and musicians, how did that come together? “Mainly it was because the people that I play with are all spread about, but I use that to my advantage – My drummer, Kyle, is down in Athens and he had joined the band halfway through the touring of ‘Wakin On A Pretty Daze’, and he had been building a drum studio for a while, so I went down there and checked that out and worked with him, then I brought the band there later. Then I went out to the West Coast and brought my bandmate Rob Laakso with me, he engineered a lot of the record as well. It’s funny, it’s like I have two different bands on the record; the East Coast Violators, and then the West Coast band. I wouldn’t exactly call them the Violators, but I played with them on Conan O’Brien and we were billed as ‘Kurt Vile and the Violators’. It gets confusing, but I’d say that my real Violators are my East Coast bandits. But there’s something special with my West Coast friends – they’re very different things. I guess I’m lucky to have both.”
Who would you most like to record with in the near future? “These days, I’ll just talk in the tip of where my brain is heading – Warren Ellis is an amazing musician, he plays with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but also I’m going to go to Australia; Mick Turner, the guitar player from the Dirty Three, he’s a friend of mine and I plan to jam with him over there. Also Courtney Barnett, who is also Australian, I really love her and I hope to do a little music with her. But Warren Ellis, I don’t think that’s going to fall into my lap anytime soon, but he’s an incredible musician.”
‘B’leive I’m Goin Down’ is a primarily acoustic album, is that a direction that you’d like to pursue on the next album? “I’ve pursued acoustic plenty in my whole repertoire, so I’m sure I’ll go further and backward with it, which I always do. I’m enjoying playing electric – I’ve got a 1964 Fender Jaguar, so I can play more electric guitar onstage than ever, because all the
tunings that had to be strategically worked from, but now I’ve got this Jaguar I can just play them back-to-back. I like to go acoustic and electric whenever I want.”
Are you pleased with how the finished album turned out? “Yeah, I am – totally. I remember at a certain point with the song ‘Kidding Around’ – I had big hopes for that and that’s become one of my favourite songs, I embrace it for its psychedelic rawness.”
The press seem very keen to generically pigeonhole your music, do you find that a drag? “It’s funny. Sure, sometimes I get misrepresented and obviously nobody likes it if you’re getting put down. Anybody that puts me down makes me mad; anytime anyone acts like I’m faking, or half-baked, or whatever. But ultimately, I will say that I’ve noticed, maybe because it’s my sixth album, that maybe because of the calibre of it, it’s turning some kind of corner. I think it’s going well, I think that I’m more understood as having my own style, which is unique, so I’m pretty happy.”
You’ve got the London Roundhouse show and the Brighton All Saint’s Church show coming up in March, what else do you have planned for 2016? “It’s going to be lots of shows, I know that – just because I’m so deep into the touring now. I feel like writing music, which I’m still doing, but I’m temporarily in shell shock. Right now, I’m reading George Jones’ autobiography, which keeps me sane – It’s hard to put down. Every night is like a rock ‘n’ roll sacrifice, it’s not as mellow as the record. But ultimately, I know what’s going to happen; the breaks will be put on and I’ll be chilling at home and then I’ll get the music bug again.”
If you could go back to when you were sixteen, what advice would you give your younger self? “That’d be weird, because it would fuck up the future. I think part of the up and down of my music is always not really not knowing what the future holds – getting burned out, or getting built up and knocked down constantly, I think it’s good to not know what the future holds.” ‘B’leive I’m Goin Down’ is out now on Matador Kurt Vile tours the UK in March
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The breakout band of 2015, Stockport’s BLOSSOMS are on the verge of something truly extraordinary as Fergal Kinney discovers.
T’S a damp Friday night in October, and in Manchester’s grade II listed Ritz theatre – nestled neatly between the city centre and the universities – something unusual is taking place. Generally home to fairly established artists with an album or two under their belt (a quick scan at the venue’s listings includes Courtney Barnett, Deerhunter and Eagles of Death Metal), tonight the one and a half thousand capacity venue is completely sold out by a band still yet to release an album. “It was amazing, proper surreal,” explains Tom Ogden, singer and chief songwriter of the band in question, Blossoms: “But we’ve worked for it. A lot of people are playing there on their first album, and we’ve not even put an album out, and we’ve got the fans to do that in Manchester when we’ve only put out a couple of singles and an EP. It’s mind blowing.” Another damp Friday night, this time just over a year ago, I caught Blossoms at the Blue Cat club in Heaton Moor; a leafy suburb en route from Manchester to the band’s native Stockport. It was the tail end of a two-month weekend residency at the venue, and the first time they had sold the venue out – watching them it wasn’t difficult to imagine this being a band to swiftly outgrow their hometown. At the time, the band were regularly damned with the faint praise of being competent sixties fetishists; each member clad in polo necks, with swirling organs and a good line in Zombies flavoured drizzly melancholy. Wisely, the band have since dispensed of the turtle neck uniform, but kept the slavish devotion to pop melody that their sixties’ influence
brought them, whilst expanding sonically to the extent that new single ‘Charlemagne’ owes more to 1980s synth pop than it does ‘Revolver’ (and is all the better for this). Similarly, the pastoral, chiming ‘My Favourite Room’ is another highlight that does not suggest a band constrained by their influences, but developing swiftly as songwriters. The Monday morning after their Ritz show, the band announced a February date at Manchester’s 2000 capacity Albert Hall – another audacious booking and typical of the quiet ambition that likely attracted them to Universal, who have recently signed the band. “We already had the Ritz booked before we signed a record deal,” Tom is keen to point out: “We always thought we wanted a major (label), the songs we’re writing aren’t made for little indie clubs, it’s for big crowds, our music goes well with that, it’s like a party, not just a gig. A major record label can get you to them kind of crowds, there’s only so many doors you can knock on yourself. We did want that… It wasn’t dead, dead surprising.” Is it daunting? “Nah, not daunting, it’s
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BLOSSOMS more excitement. We feel more comfortable on bigger stages, we’re there to aim high.” Taking their name from the Blossoms pub just out of the centre of Stockport, the town where the band all grew up and met. “It’s basically Manchester isn’t it?” offers Tom: “It’s just as grey, and maybe that kind of Smiths romance goes into the songwriting somewhere.” Before coming together to form Blossoms, Tom, Charlie, Josh, Joe and Myles had all been serving time in various bands in and around Stockport – even all appearing on the same line up in different incarnations at one point – before coming together over a new set of songs that Tom had written, a set that felt different to anything any of them had previously been involved in and seemed to demand a different kind of attention. That, and the fact that Charlie had access to free rehearsal space. “We put out our demo of ‘Blow’, and we made a video for it, and just put it out there, and the reaction was different to when we’d put stuff out in our old bands. It wasn’t just our mates getting in on it, people were into it. We said from the start that we were never going to sell tickets, we’d rather be mysterious, keep stuff back. And people started coming who we didn’t know. We played the Castle Hotel and it was rammed, and that was the moment that we thought people were taking to it, not just friends and family”. Crucially, James Skelly of the Coral happened to chance upon the demo
of ‘Blow’, pointed in its direction by the late Alan Wills of Deltasonic Records, and he invited the band to record it properly with him at Parr Street studios in Liverpool. When I speak to Tom, it is in a break from recording what will be the debut Blossoms album, at Parr Street studios with Skelly. “When we got signed nothing really changed,” he explains: “We’d created this thing ourselves, we’d got this far with people like James Skelly producing us, so there’d be no point changing it.” October this year marked a decade since Arctic Monkeys topped the charts with ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’. Blossoms are very markedly the sound of the generation too young to watch them at the time, but watching on computer screens open mouthed all the same, and turned onto guitars and songwriting in much the same way as the young Arctic Monkeys were at one time by Oasis. And for all of their many sixties reference points – and there are many - Blossoms have more in common with the populist roar of bands like the Courteeners and Catfish and the Bottlemen than, say, Temples. No band that books a 2000 capacity hall after only a handful of singles could be accused of lacking ambition, and they make no bones about having aspirations far higher than what Tom shrugs off as “little indie clubs”. “Melody’s my thing,” he offers: “Songwriting like the Beach Boys on ‘Pet Sounds’, the Beatles, Abba, Oasis… Nothing fancy really, I’m into pop”. ‘Nothing fancy’ – unusual as far as manifestos go, but in the case of Blossoms there seems to be plenty of people – not least increasing numbers on damp Friday nights in Manchester – that see a lot in this band. ‘Charlemagne’ is out now on Virgin EMI Blossoms tour the UK in February/March
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THE VIKINGS ARE COMING. IN MARCH 2016, NORWEGIAN WARRIORS – INCLUDING MEMBERS OF THE BANDS WARDRUNA, ENSLAVED AND GOD SEED – ARE BRINGING A UNIQUE CELEBRATION OF NORDIC CULTURE TO CAMDEN AND SHEPHERD’S BUSH. LOUISE BROWN TALKS TO EINAR SELVIK ABOUT THE UPCOMING SKUGGSJÁ AND LONDON BY NORSE.
ONCEIVED by Enslaved guitarist Ivar Bjørnson, traditional Norse folk composer Einar Selvik and rock industry guru Simon Füllemann and promoted by Old Empire, London By Norse will take place over the Spring Equinox across the capital, culminating in a special performance of Skuggsjá, a musical collaboration between Enslaved and Warduna commissioned specially to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution. Only the third time this will be performed, the musicians will take the stage at the prestigious Shepherd’s Bush Empire to present this unmissable concert of rich pagan history alongside striking visuals by Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu. Black metal godfathers Enslaved will also perform three times over the weekend, including a rare opportunity to see them going right back to their roots, celebrating their 25th anniversary with an intimate concert at Camden’s Underworld club as well as a performance at The Dome in Tufnell Park. Wardruna vocalist Gaahl
will exhibit his paintings in the UK for the first time and at the Forge in Camden Market, a site of historical relevance to London’s industry and the site of a former horse hospital, Selvik will present a solo performance and a lecture that explains the philosophy of Wardruna and the ancient instruments he uses while Bjørnson will perform Bardspec, his immersive electro-ambient project. “It started off as us wanting to present the commission piece we wrote, myself and Ivar,” Selvik explains about the seeds of this ambitious festival of Nordic music – ranging from black metal, to folk to experimental drone and everything in between. “We wanted to make a broader event where we could present Norse culture both through the music and give people a chance to see behind how I approach historical music, because I have an unusual approach. It’s about creating something new with something old, rather than trying to make ‘Viking music’. I think that is part of what makes it interesting; Wardruna, with our historical instrumentation and eerie
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soundscapes, combining that with one of the most progressive bands in the metal world, Enslaved. It makes it into quite a special thing: it transcends musical genres and there are no limits.”
music. It makes it into a much stronger experience for both us but also the audience. It makes it more like an experience rather than something that just flows through your ears. And seeing somebody else’s history reminds people of their own history as well. I very ounded in 2003 and based around the themes of ancient often feel very close to my own history when I visit other cultures. Scandinavian spiritualism, Selvik laughs when we suggest Hopefully we can trigger some of that.” London By Norse will exclusively be a heavy Selvik also recently had the honour of composing metal experience. “I have to say, to put it some of the music for the television show Vikings and bluntly, that Wardruna has nothing to do with metal. recently performed with its composer Trevor Morris at a “IT’S ABOUT There’s not a distorted guitar for miles. As for Gaahl film music festival in Poland with a symphony orchestra [infamous black metal vocalist from the band God and 40 piece choir. Much like that experience, he CREATING Seed], he is presenting art. I think people will be very insists that Warduna performances will be rare and that SOMETHING surprised, he is very talented, and as for Enslaved, London By Norse is a unique event as he chooses to it’s a very progressive music and a combination of keep his concerts exclusive and special. NEW WITH different styles.” “It’s not that I have anything against touring,” he Bardspec is a new project of Ivar Bjørnson, SOMETHING says, “but for me where you play, and the whole setting, performed first at Roadburn Festival in 2014 and making it into something special is something very OLD” earlier this year at the Midgardsblot Festival in Norway. important to me in terms of my relationship to my own Selvik believes this is a performance that should not art. I don’t want to get sick and tired of my own songs. EINAR SELVIK be missed. “I didn’t get to see it at Roadburn because I want it to stay fresh. I think Wardruna will always be I was doing a workshop at the time, but I saw it a more exclusive thing. We had our debut UK concert in performed in a reconstructed Viking longhouse in August and it was front of a sold out Queen really, really good. Ivar is very modest but it’s very capturing, very Elizabeth Hall in 2013 and we felt welcomed so I definitely look suggestive, even though it’s very droney and monotonous. It’s forward to returning. I know there are a lot of UK fans who have hypnotic and large.” been waiting so I’m really excited to come back.” Of course the setting of the old forge in Camden Market is important to this event, as Selvik explains. “We were searching for More events are planned by the organisers and tickets and information something that compliments the concept. I always prefer to play about this incredible weekend of music and culture can be found at www. in settings that either have relevance or somehow compliment the bynorse.com.
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GAZ COOMBES/ SUPERGRASS
With a Mercury Prize nomination in the bag, and a string of successful hits behind him, former SUPERGRASS frontman GAZ COOMBES sat down with Louder Than War’s Bruce Turnbull to discuss ‘Matador’, his latest solo album, his memories of Supergrass, and how he has changed as a songwriter since the early days…
T’S been out since January,” Gaz says, speaking of ‘Matador’, his second solo effort. “It feels like a long time, but once you start playing live and going on tour, the songs fall into place and it just makes sense.” January? It doesn’t feel so long to me. In fact, it doesn’t seem that long ago that three lads from Wheatley decided to form a band that would write immortal anthems we still hear regularly today. It doesn’t seem like any time at all has passed since ‘I Should Coco’ broke records as Parlophone’s biggest selling album since the Beatles released ‘Please Please Me’. But it’s not like Gaz has been sitting idle; after pumping out six diverse and chart-topping records with Supergrass, from 1995’s seminal debut through ‘Life On Other Planets’ and their final opus, ‘Diamond Hoo Ha’, he has written music for television shows, commercials, and brought out two splendid solo albums in ‘Here Come The Bombs’, and ‘Matador’, which has been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, the first time Gaz has been up for nomination since ‘I Should Coco’ in 1995. He’s a busy guy, so it won’t come as a surprise to hear that Gaz is already working on new material. “When I get the time, I’m doing bits and pieces in the studio,” he admits. “It’s hard because I love the touring part of this process, but eventually I’ve had enough and I just want to go back to songwriting. It’s difficult to know where to start; I think I’m just going to jump into it like I did with ‘Matador’, you know, letting that natural flow happen, letting myself get caught up in the tracks and somehow piece things together. That’s one of the things I love about this job. The different aspects of it where I can see the music from both sides.” The Mercury Prize nomination (announced shortly before this interview) came out of nowhere for Gaz. It’s a real shot in the arm for his career, especially for someone making valid and emotional pop music, something the Mercury tends to ignore these days. “I was blown away by it,” he says, taken aback. “I think it’s such an important step, in a way. For me, personally,
it’s hard to tell how where mainstream music is, or where it’s going. You know, looking at the charts and seeing who will get to number one is pretty difficult to figure. All the music I like and buy is by artists who don’t make it to the charts, bands that will never make it into the big magazines, or who will sell hundreds of thousands of records. So I tend to look for great music in places that are sort of hidden from public view. I think the Mercury has been brilliant at recognizing artistic talent, and for them to nominate ‘Matador’, which didn’t have a huge commercial campaign behind it or hit the number one spot, is very flattering for me. It feels like I’m up against the whole spectrum of the mainstream in a way, but I really like Florence And The Machine, who have a great new album out. They deserve all the success in the world and I respect what they are doing. To be up against all these million selling artists, who are far more fashionable than me these days proves that it’s still possible to be on a surface level, even if you have a history like I do. It’s an absolute honour, in fact.” While Gaz is still a recognizable figure in British music history (and not just due to his famous sideburns), he takes on a certain fragility when discussing starting out as a solo artist before the release of ‘Here Come The Bombs’. “You can’t deny there is some cynicism behind it; when I started out, there were a lot of people who dismissed me as just the lead singer in a Britpop band. You can’t break through that and emerge as a new artist, not when you have a history. I don’t want to say baggage, but it will always be there. I still love all the work we did in that band, but I never dwell on the past. It’s always about looking forward and looking ahead for me. This album was a lot of a hard work, and I’m loving it every night on stage, whether I’m playing for thirty people in some pub in Birmingham like I was three years ago, or in front of a large audience. The songs come first.” With a twentieth-anniversary edition of ‘I Should Coco’ recently hitting the shelves, it’s time to take a trip back for Gaz, and to analyse one of his proudest achievements, twenty years on. “There isn’t a lot of negativity attached to my memories of it,” he states. “I’m not really into looking back,
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GAZ COOMBES/ SUPERGRASS
“IT WAS THE 1990S AND I GUESS WE JUST HIT AT THE RIGHT TIME WITH A SOUND THAT WAS FRESH AND EXCITING.”
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GAZ COOMBES/ SUPERGRASS
MEMBERS Gaz Coombes (guitar/ vocals), Mick Quinn (bass), Danny Goffey (drums) and Rob Coombes (keyboards from 2002) SPLIT 2010
LATE IN THE DAY SUPERGRASS: A BRIEF HISTORY
‘Mansize Rooster’ (1994) – 20
like I said. I don’t want to rest on what has come before, but I still think it’s a great record, and it was an important moment for us as young musicians. It was the 1990s, and I guess we just hit at the right time with a sound that was fresh and exciting. Again, it felt really organic and real how that came about. It’s cool to do that again with a record that is completely different, but it has received the same kind of feedback, twenty years later, where it just strikes a chord with people and produces this feeling for people. It’s especially good when you haven’t forced that on anyone, when it was just a natural byproduct of the writing and recording. I’m still really proud of ‘I Should Coco’.”
oving onto writing, Gaz feels there is something special about creating solo work. “When you’re in a band, it’s completely different,” he says. “You have to be democratic, letting each other do their thing. Dealing with writing on my own, it’s great because I can concentrate on my own ideas, seeing where they take me without worrying about boring someone else. If you’re in a room with band members, and you’re working on ideas, some of the members might become fidgety and restless when they’re not feeling it. I hate that. I’m a great believer in working through the shit to get to something beautiful; working on my own I can allow myself to sift through the dodgy ideas to get to something great. That freedom and experimentation has been like a light bulb going off for me, and I think it’s really moved on from my first record to today. If you chart the progression, you’ll see it.” Supergrass were so famous that at one point Gaz was asked to model for Calvin Klein. It’s hard to imagine that level of success for a band that play their own instruments and write their own songs, especially today. Hell, it was rare enough then. Yet Gaz still seems positive about young
‘Lenny’ (1995) – 10
‘Alright’ (1995) – 2
‘Going Out’ (1996) – 5
artists today making a big impact, despite how much the industry has changed. “I think it depends,” he says. “It will always be about quality and what you produce, but it’s definitely still possible to be as big as we were. I mean, look at the Arctic Monkeys; they just exploded onto the scene. When I saw them for the first time, it was chaos; people were jumping all over the place and moshing and stuff, for the entire hour and half they played. It was an insane time for them. It’s great to see, and I think there is still room for something exciting and new in the music industry. There’s always a chance.
“I’M A GREAT BELIEVER IN WORKING THROUGH THE SHIT TO GET TO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL.” At least for us, people could see us as part of a scene, whereas now, there is no discernible movement; it’s a mix of all kinds of things. In 1995, we fit nicely into a group of other bands who weren’t playing music remotely similar to what we were doing, but for some reason got labeled in the same way. For the first time, guitar bands were dominating the top ten and playing on Top Of The Pops. That was pretty unusual back then. Another thing was, it was obvious when you had made it; I remember ringing up my mum and telling her I was going to be on Top Of The Pops. That was the moment we’d made it; it felt tangible then, real. There’s nothing like that out there. No pivotal moment for these guys. I think these days there are so many ways you can get your music out there, so many ways to connect with your fans, it’s
‘Richard III’ (1997) – 2
‘Sun Hits The Sky’ (1997) – 10
‘Late In The Day’ (1997) – 18
almost blinding. Some bands are even bringing their fans into the recording itself, helping with the track order and things like that. It’s a very diluted way of working. You can’t really deliver a direct album. For us, there was an element of luck involved, but we weren’t that surprised that things blew up. We knew we had a good sound and we thought a lot of people might like it. Plus, we were young and idealistic, and that way of thinking can carry you far. I think we felt impenetrable in a way. That summer of ‘95 when ‘Alright’ hit, that was just it. No looking back after that. I think we knew we were good and we had something to say. We always felt we were the strange ones among the others in that scene; we existed in a kind of bubble, just kind of doing our own thing. I just thought it was great that something like us could be successful, you know? We weren’t a manufactured band or the darlings of the press. We were just three guys from Oxford, and we thought that was fucking brilliant. We still had all those Beatles-style press conferences and some mad brushes with fame, but we were always down to earth. You have to remember what was going on in the States as well, with these really earnest, very serious and heavy grunge artists, and we were just having a bit of a laugh.” Despite seventeen years as the front-man of Supergrass, Gaz can’t really recall the oddest request he’s ever received from a fan. “Honestly, there must have been so many, man,” he says, laughing. “There’s nothing really bizarre that comes to mind. It was always pretty innocuous. We had a lot of silly things like people noticed we were playing in Glasgow so they would invite us round to their house for a bite to eat or to spend the night, and we’d often go along in the early days. It was pretty mad. Before social media and this idea that everything you do is logged and therefore made public, you could just go about your business without feeling like you were being watched and get up to some crazy things. I miss that, actually. I don’t want to sound like an old man about these things, but it does piss me off. Now, you can’t even play a shit gig and move on from it; people will remind you of that constantly. Nothing is left out. You used to have more freedom to be a bit of a mad case on the road. I have to be careful with what I do now.”
ince Supergrass folded, Gaz has worked with numerous advertisers and television producers to create music for commercials and TV shows. With his
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‘Moving’ (1999) – 9
‘Grace’ (2002) – 13
rather cavalier approach to it, he isn’t sure what he will do next. “Will I do more of that? Well, it depends who asks. I’ve been really consumed with ‘Matador’ this year and with all the touring I haven’t thought about it, so there hasn’t been much work on that front. I did do a piece for the show ‘Fresh Meat’ last year, if you happened to catch it. That was a lot of fun, actually. I love doing the soundtrack stuff. A lot of cool ideas that went into ‘Matador’ came from the soundtrack sessions, so it’s always worth holding onto that material. You never know when it will come in handy.” While Gaz has been on the road almost non-
‘Pumping On Your Stereo’ (1999) – 11
GAZ COOMBES/ SUPERGRASS
‘I Should Coco’ (1995) – 1
‘In It For The Money’ (1997) – 2
‘Supergrass’ (1999) – 3
stop, he is still planning to hit as many towns as he can nationwide, only this time, he’ll be on his own the in most literal sense. “I’m doing some actual solo stuff,” he admits. “By which I mean just me and a guitar and a piano. I’m bringing that to the stage during December. Just me and my gear thrown in a motor, and travelling the country up and down. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but I’m finally just getting around to it. It’s going to be really different to how the songs sounded in the studio, and it will give people a chance to hear these tunes in a stripped-down, kinda raw way, just the initial
‘Life On Other Planets’ (2002) – 9
‘Road To Rouen’ (2005) – 9
‘Diamond Hoo Ha’ (2008) – 9
ideas that eventually turned into ‘Matador’. That’s very exciting for me and I can’t wait to get started with it.” Gaz Coombes remains a gentleman among other things; one of our best songwriters for one. So let the Mercury Prize ponder over ‘Matador’, and hopefully hand over the prestigious award for his outstanding work, as he proves with this album that it is possible to emerge from past success, into a new playing field. ‘Matador’ is out now on Hot Fruit/Caroline is available now from Aurum Press Ltd
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Set on course for a life of literature and music by an early love of the Manics, and on the cusp of releasing a debut album co-produced with Mansun’s Paul Draper, Sarah Lay talks to THE ANCHORESS about her journey so far.
he Manics thread runs through my life. I’d probably be working in a call centre if it wasn’t for that band.” Catherine Anne Davies, in her guise as The Anchoress, is getting ready to share her debut album with the world. Recorded over the last three and half years, it’s been a lifetime in the making and she partially credits the path she’s trodden falling for the Manic Street Preachers: “I never had any idea about doing anything until I heard the Manics. It was just, ‘wow’. It makes you think and dream about worlds you didn’t even know existed. That’s just an incredible thing. That’s what is amazing about music. I was always a horribly precocious brat. I was born into the wrong world so I needed to find some way out of that and it was the Manics. With them there’s an idea about making yourself – ‘Libraries gave us power’. It’s not like you’re waiting for something to happen to you, you’re making it happen yourself through hard work and immersion in something. That was a technique of living I could relate to.” Becoming a fan led Catherine not only to both music and literature. It was a world that the Manics opened up, and also the means by which her debut ‘Confessions of a Romance Novelist’ was made. Literature has been the way that I have funded making music. I got a scholarship to do a Masters and a PhD and that’s what enabled me to make the album. It’s been my life blood.” Literature also provides the album’s underlying theme – Using a fictionalised romance novelist as a narrative device, Davies assumes the voice of a different character in each song in order to challenge and confront society’s perceptions of love and romance. “I didn’t feel there was anyone speaking from an experience I recognised; one of anger. It would all be songs of heartbreak – ‘Why don’t you love me?’, or ‘Let’s go and get drunk and get laid’ – And there aren’t a lot of different female voices so what I tried to do with the record is fashion something around the things I wasn’t hearing. That’s where the idea of the voice of the romance novelist comes; she can inhabit all these different characters. I wanted every song to have a different voice and different experience. “Obviously some of the elements reflect personal experience but it was very much trying to explore identity. It is about ghost writing other people’s experiences. It was about thinking what
would it be like to have an album that has the multiplicity of female experience rather than just the archetypes – The home-wrecker, the angry woman, the broken-hearted housewife – The tropes that you hear in pop music, usually. It is very much a meta album in a way. I wanted to write songs about pop music and the way experience is written into pop music. The romance novelist is as a useful metaphor for that. Or you can just listen to it and think ‘I like these tunes’ and sing along to it!” Recorded over the last three-and-a-half years and co-produced by Mansun’s Paul Draper, the road to release hasn’t been smooth. “It sounds bad when you say ‘three-and-a-half years’ doesn’t it,” Catherine observes. “It sounds as if I’ve been lazing around on my arse which isn’t the story. It’s three years punctuated by a lot of things stopping the recording. It’s been very stop-start, stop-start. So many life events took over. There were so many points where it felt like, ‘This is not going to happen, this is just killing you’. Or there are more important things happening and everyone around me was saying ‘what are you doing? Why are you still trying to do this?’ “It was just awful. I fucked up my hand really badly and it was touch and go whether I would be able to play piano again. It was just a cosmic joke. In making my record, in doing the one thing I wanted to do, I’d destroyed the way of doing the thing I want to do. But the single, ‘You And Only You’ came out of that because I went back to guitar and started writing in a totally different way. The penultimate track, ‘Chip On Your Shoulder’ has the Beckett quote ‘Fail again, fail better’ – That was what the idea of the album was; learning from your failures and thinking that even when you fall hard this is taking you on a different path that is ultimately leading you somewhere better. What else are you going to do with your life but try?”
fter sending her self-produced EPs to Rough Trade shops under the name Catherine AD, Davies was approached by Draper and the pair headed into the studio to co-produce her debut. “I came to the table having written, recorded, engineered, produced all of my own stuff up that point,” she explains. “Paul found me. He came to me having heard those recordings. I did them entirely on my own. It appealed to him as he was like that, an auteur, too. You want to direct your vision; you want to be very hands on. The great thing about working with Paul is that he allows me to direct the process. It was quite difficult to find someone who would let me co-produce my own record. Being a woman in the industry and being taken seriously as a producer is quite difficult and I’ve been incredibly lucky that Paul’s been very generous with his mentoring and allowed me to do that.” Davies is already working on her sophomore album, this time co-producing with Bernard Butler. “Maybe the second album is a little darker, a little more guitar focused,” she observes. “Because if you’ve got Bernard Butler at the helm why the fuck wouldn’t you have him play amazing incredible beautiful guitar all over your record? But Paul has enabled me in a very generous way on ‘Confessions of a Romance Novelist’. Hopefully that means that as I go forward there’ll be a distinctive sound to The Anchoress that you’ll hear whoever I am working with, whoever is producing the record.” From falling in love to with the Manics, creating her own identity and escape, self-producing her first tracks to working with Draper on her debut, The Anchoress has come a long way to make this record. “When I was growing up the Manics were a really important band for me. They constructed this whole universe that you could you could dive into. I didn’t feel like there was much music around at the moment that was doing that. I was thinking, ‘What record would I want if I was now twelve?’ I would want that universe. I would look up all the books in the romance novelist’s library and explore. I hope I’ve created that – That universe that you can explore as much as you want to.” ‘Confessions of a Romance Novelist’ is out January 8th on K-Scope
“I DIDN’T FEEL THERE WAS ANYONE SPEAKING FROM AN EXPERIENCE I RECOGNISED; ONE OF ANGER.” LOUDER THAN WAR
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Currently best known for releasing out the Fat White Family’s seedily sensational ‘Champagne Holocaust’, TRASHMOUTH RECORDS have been championing some of the more off-beat talent to be found in London for some time. With a stable of new and exciting bands, some of the hottest live showcase gigs, and album releases from many of their most established names, 2015 seems to have been the year Trashmouth came of age. Roxy Gillespie caught up with label co-founder to Liam D May along with Euan Hartley and Albert John of Pit Ponies, whose album ‘Magnificent Second Occupation’ came out on Trashmouth earlier in the summer. LIAM D MAY
RASHMOUTH Records, originally brought into being by Luke and Liam D May to release their Medicine 8 electronic house tracks, seems an unlikely label to play host to the Fat White Family and the other diverse and hugely talented bands the duo have been happy to sign. Liam seems unfazed by the way things have developed, “We did a bunch of Radio 1 sessions and toured the world for about seven years,” he explains. “In the early days a guy in New York who worked for Strictly Rhythm Records started booking us to play at his
club nights. He is the man we all now know and love as Clams Baker – currently vocalist for Warmduscher and Paranoid London. We brought Clams on our US tour. Normally a DJ duo doesn’t really need a tour manager, but we thought it would be fun, and it was. It was a lot of fun, so when we started writing the second Medicine 8 album (the first had vocals from Wesley Willis, Afrka Bambaattaa and Charlton Heston), we thought we’d get Clams to do the vocals. It turned out to be this sort of surrealist, fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll thing instead of acid house, so we decided to just go with
it and that became Black Daniel. We toured this too, did three albums and had a lot of fun. It was all pretty weird in a good way, the most surreal bit being this massive arena tour supporting Bryan Adams, of all people – Still no fucking idea what that was all about, but it was a hilarious and kind of awesome thing to do.” The brothers had a small recording studio and a lot of the bands they knew began asking them to produce records. “Only problem was nobody had any money to pay us, so we figured if we created a label and we really, really loved a band, they could sign to it and we could release the music that way,” recalls Liam. Trashmouth was born. From the outset, the bands on the label could never have been called mainstream. “The first bands we produced and signed were The Boicotts – a London based Japanese garage band who we co-ran a club night with in Camden called Hotaru Gig,” he adds. “We loved them, but they got booted out of the country back to Japan, just after we finished the record. The Helmholtz Resonators were also a lot of fun: They did all their gigs, videos, interviews, everything speaking in these sort of nineteenth century scientist/industrialist characters they’d created for
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TRASHMOUTH RECORDS WARMDUSCHER
much of a plan about the future, the present seems very busy with excellent albums by Taman Shud, Warmduscher and Pit Ponies already released this year. Meatraffle and Bat Bike also have albums scheduled for release very soon, and another compilation is planned for the end of the year. With new signings Madonnatron already scheduled for a trip to the recording studio, this has been a manic year for such a small label. I asked Euan Hartley of Pit Ponies if he felt his band suffered from being in the shadow of the Fat Whites, but he spoke of seeing them as having ‘opened the door’ for some of the other bands on the label, as many people who bought ‘Thinking Of Moving To Hastings’ to access the Fat White’s tracks, then discovered the other bands featured on the album. Both he and bandmate Albert John clearly have a passion and dedication about the Pit Ponies music, “We want everyone to hear our music,” declares Albert. The group are trying to plan a tour around their forty hour working weeks, which explains why the album is called ‘Magnificent Second Occupation’. It’s that hunger and drive that attracted Luke and Liam. “We don’t really know what we look for in a band exactly, but one thing the bands do have in common is they all have a lot of personality and passion and humour and have good tunes,” asserts Liam. Trashmouth Records appear to have hit on a winning formula – Long may it continue to bring its offbeat elegance and penchant for truly original bands to our turntables.
started another band and they want us to play at a night (the first or maybe second Slide In) they’re putting on at the Tulse Hill Tavern.’ I checked a YouTube video that Lou Smith filmed of them playing their only gig at the Windmill and I thought straight away that this was the best thing I’d seen since acid house happened. We did TAMAN SHUD the gig and all got on it afterwards and I asked if they wanted to make a record and they did, so we did. The first time we met to themselves, never played guitars and swapped chat about things, we went to the Queens Head instruments for every song they played.” in Brixton and after overhearing us talking about records and stuff Simon Tickner sidled t was around this time that Liam and Luke over and offered the band free rehearsal space first came into contact with some of the upstairs. other bands associated with the label such “‘Champagne Holocaust’ took ages to make, as David Cronenberg’s Wife and Japanese as it was all trial and error and total chaos, girl band, No Cars. Liam also recalls the first time but once it came out things quickly started to future members of The Fat White Family crossed happen,” adds Liam: “The band’s Slide In nights his path, “We’d heard about The Saudis – Lias were a massive part of it, not just for the Fat For more information on Trashmouth Records, visit and Nathan from Fat White Family’s first band Whites themselves, but also for Trashmouth – as Facebook.com/Trashmouthrecs - and a very short-lived band called Nagasaki pretty much all the bands on the label played Dust People that was fronted by Saul Fat White, there at some point. It’s all been who opened up for us at the Windmill once. a little bit greasy and debauched Although I wasn’t sure about the music, I really and a lot of fun – and still is, liked the way Saul jumped head first, guitar and even after the sad but inevitable all, into the drum kit with no thought of his or demise of the Queens Head.” the drummer’s physical safety and it all ended 1. Medicine 8 – Cry Baby 6. Taman Shud – The Hissing It seems the mayhem is awkwardly and abruptly. We didn’t play with the 2. Black Daniel – Black Shining Priest’s Remains unlikely to be subsiding any Saudis, but I thought the photos of them playing Eyes 7. Meatraffle – Oppenheimer time soon. “We don’t really have a gig bollock naked were pretty cool.” Unknown 3. The Boicotts – I Don’t Wan8. Warmduscher – The much of a vision for the future to him, it was the start of something much na Be Your Boy Salamander of Trashmouth apart from just bigger for everyone involved. 4. Tom Songs Color TV – My 9. Pit Ponies – Mountains carrying on making the records Kamera Liam remembers how things really began to 10. Fat White Family – Is It we and the bands want to make take shape: “A couple of months later, Clams 5. Lewis Idle – The Night We Raining In Your Mouth? Almost Fell In Love for as long as the vibe is there,” called saying ‘Hey, you remember that band says Liam. Nagasaki Dust People and that other band the To listen online visit Trashmouthrecords.bandcamp.com Although there may not be Saudis? Well, the guys from those bands have
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“ANGER, NEGATIVITY – BASICALLY WE’RE FROM A TYPICAL PUNK ROCK ATTITUDE.” KURT COBAIN
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In the two decades since Kurt Cobain’s death brought NIRVANA’s meteoric trajectory to a premature end, the Seattle grunge heavyweights’ legend and influence has continued to reverberate. An eyewitness to their detonation, LTW founder John Robb recounts the group’s initial ascension and unearths a previously unpublished interview that shines a new light on their beginnings.
HE small club is pretty empty. A clutch of people huddle in the tight room and a pre-gig murmur hangs in the air. Even in the midst of the New Music Seminar there is still not enough delegates, liggers and hangers on who had made their way across the Jersey River to the famous Maxwell’s Tavern venue in Hoboken – the square mile of hipster New Jersey looking over the river toward Manhattan. It was July 1989, and I had been despatched by the now-defunct Sounds magazine to cover Tad and Nirvana for a special on the fast-breaking Sub Pop scene. Tad would end up being the cover stars, with Nirvana getting their first front page action as a cutaway. Of course, history would soon recount a very different story, as Kurt Cobain’s combo broke out a year later en route to becoming the biggest band in the world. Such progress was hardly evident at the time; the young group were playing their last brace of shows; weary from one of those apparently endless month-long US tours, with all its attendant twelve-hour drives and empty venues, which represent the kind of rock ‘n’ roll rite of passage that can make or break a band. Only the truest of wildeyed true believers can make it through these stints with their vision undiminished. Kurt Cobain was one of those – a quiet, yet steely soul, he knew his songs had the necessary power and, despite the tour being tough, he was enjoying his first stint on the rock ‘n’ roll frontline. Before the gig, Sub Pop bosses Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt were laying down the new law. Their high-decibel evangelism on behalf of their young charges would have been convincing even if the band were not that good. Fortunately, I was already well aware of the band – I’d made their debut seven-inch ‘Love Buzz’ Single of the Week in Sounds, and had also conducted the first-ever interview with them; phoning Cobain’s mother’s house for a new bands feature. That interview was a brief affair – fifteen minutes with a young musician talking about his upcoming debut single. Recently, while searching through archive material, I turned up the phone number on an ancient list and also the cassette of a July 1989 interview that had never been fully published before. It still drips with the stifling heat of New York high summer and a young band coming to terms with their medium. The first time that I heard Nirvana, I instantly fell in love with the band. I was in a record shop and the single had arrived some weeks before its scheduled release. God knows how or why this happened, but the self-appointed music experts with me were tutting and shaking their heads, asserting that Sub Pop had blown it this time. Despite their misgivings, the single exploded from its grooves and I was instantly entranced. The song had a damp melancholia set against a fiery wall of sound; Cobain’s voice cut through with its sandpaper rasp summoning the poltergeist of Lennon. It almost seemed as if his firebrand larynx had occupied the whippet thin, lank-haired young man looking out from the sleeve’s smudged black and white photo. It was that voice that did it. It was one of those rough-hewn voices that sounded lived in and terrified all at the same time. It possessed a raw beauty, like an angel singing through a cheese grater. It evoked all the power and pain of the young Lennon as he ripped his larynx to shreds singing ‘Twist and Shout’ on the Beatles’ debut album. ‘Love Buzz’ was a reworking of the Robbie van Leeuwen-written
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NIRVANA single, originally recorded by Dutch rock band Shocking Blue for their 1969 album, ‘At Home’. The Sub Pop release was the first one for their new Singles Club – each one limited to a thousand copies. The song wouldn’t get a proper UK release until December 1989, when it came out on the ‘Blew’ EP because the slightly different version that appeared on the American issue of ‘Bleach’ was replaced by ‘Big Cheese’ on the British edition. ‘Love Buzz’ was an unusual choice of song to cover and demonstrated a depth of musical knowledge that was beyond that of most young bands. Already making a mark after overseeing Mudhoney’s breakthrough into international cultdom, Sub Pop was adeptly marketing the recently christened grunge scene. One of the label bosses, Bruce Pavitt was already a key player. From the moment he had first heard Nirvana, he too had been smitten; “As soon as I heard what they had done I thought it was a great single. It was really exciting. We already had Mudhoney out there and their live shows were incredible. They were the band that generated all the interest at first. Then this band from Aberdeen with their little cover song came along. I remember talking to photographer Charles Peterson the day after they recorded it and he played the song at a party over and over again and I remember us saying, ‘This is good isn’t it!’ I put stuff on to listen to on tapes then and when you get that feedback from people you trust, then you think that there is something really happening. Nirvana were outsiders initially. They were young and seemingly less sophisticated than us folk in the big city. I think Kurt developed an interesting taste in music and promoted good stuff later on. At the time they were younger than everyone else, and from a small logging town from nowhere and they had a lot of catching up to do – and they did.” Born in Chicago during 1959, Pavitt had been inspired by Detroit’s Motown scene, falling in love with music and how to market it. The Motown idea of a city based culture, a distinctive sonic
template and a family of artists provided the key to his future plans for Sub Pop. The first record he bought was the Beatles’ ‘Revolution’. This set him on his lengthy and fascinating that would see him initially document the US underground before becoming a key part of it.
unk had begun its long, slow process of impacting upon American culture in 1977, a fractured progression made inevitable by the sheer scale of the USA. Pavitt’s initial interest had been sparked by Akron’s fantastically odd Devo, and this deepened to fascination as he got his hands on local fanzine, CLE. Like many fanzines at the time, it contained an index of local bands that evinced a thriving world just beyond the reach of the mainstream, which he found tantalising. He dived in head first by getting a job at Wax Trax records in Chicago – a label and record shop that was key in developing the second wave of American industrial bands. He became an avid reader of New York’s Village Voice and other magazines that tracked the new underground
culture. With his brother playing in local band Identity Crisis, he became friends with their guitarist Kim Thayil – who would eventually also end up in Seattle and become a member of Soundgarden. Bizarrely, it was his mother who introduced him to a local teacher, Carl Schneider, who ran his own label, Cowboy Carl Records. Schneider duly told the eager Pavitt about a community radio station called KAOS (FM) in Olympia, Washington. The idea that there was radio that played this fascinating music was as thrilling as it was revelatory. At the time, KAOS was the only US station that featured such material as a key part of its playlist. It was run by John Foster, who also published OP, a magazine that was documenting the same intense new scene. Pavitt moved west to finish college and meet up with John Foster. He arrived in Olympia just as Calvin Johnson, from the band Beat Happening and DJ of one of the key shows on the station, was leaving town to move to Washington DC. This provided him with the opportunity he was dreaming of – He took over the show and renamed it ‘Subterranean Pop’. The show’s new title would also serve for a fanzine that he put together in 1980. This quickly became established as one of the first magazines to solely concentrate on the fervent new scene pouring out of every American town and city. In 1981 the magazine title was shortened to Sub Pop and a scene was born. The next step came when he released three cassette compilations through the fanzine – showcasing underground micro-luminaries like Jad Fair, the Boneman
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NIRVANA of Barumba, and the Oil Tasters. These were graced by cover art from avant-garde cartoonist Charles Burns, who would subsequently go on to make a name for himself in RAW magazine. Now Pavitt had his own mini media outlet, a fledgling label and an aesthetic that permeated the music, art and his fervent and firebrand documentation of the fast developing scene. Ever ambitious, Pavitt became fascinated by the idea that this new underground could also work on a national level. With this in mind, he sent all 500 copies of his first ‘zine to Systematic, one of three independent record distributors in the US. It was a cheeky approach but when the parcel arrived covered in homemade graphics it was enough to catch Systematic’s eye, and the fanzine was duly shipped across the USA. In 1983 he moved north to Seattle, where he set up Bombshelter, a Capitol Hill store selling records and skateboards. It was here that he began to fuse the disparate strands of local youth culture into something that was not so much a scene, but a homespun reinterpretation of punk rock. Early customers included future Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagen, Mudhoney mainman Mark Arm and photographer Charles Peterson. The store became Fallout Records and Skateboards, and established itself as the central hub for the punk and alternative scene in Seattle.
avitt left Fallout in 1985, but remained active; he wrote his Sub Pop column The Rocket, a local magazine that covered independent music from all over the USA, and hr also as hosted a radio show on KCMU. During a spell working for the Muzak distributor, he finally took the plunge and founded Sub Pop as a label. His first release was ‘Sub Pop 100’, a compilation featuring Sonic Youth, Naked Raygun, Skinny Puppy, Scratch Acid, Steve Albini, the U-Men, and several other bands that he had championed in print and across the airwaves. Muzak proved a useful place for him to earn a wage, while covertly distributing his own records via their network. The label continued its release schedule into 1987, issuing Green River’s ‘Dry As A Bone’ and Soundgarden’s ‘Screaming Life’ EPs. The following year, Sub Pop stepped up a gear, after Kim Thayil suggested that Pavitt hook up with Jonathan Poneman, a local music promoter who had the money to invest in the label and help it and open up an office in downtown Seattle. This new, more professional set up debuted with the recently disbanded Green River’s ‘Rehab Doll’. This was quickly followed by a new compilation, ‘Sub Pop 200’ – a boxed set of three EPs that featured twenty tracks by such Northwest bands as Tad, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Green River, Beat Happening and the Screaming Trees. This pretty much encapsulated the new scene, introducing its bold aesthetic with Charles Petersen’s brilliant
“IT TOOK KURT COBAIN SAYING, ‘LET’S GET MEAT PUPPETS ON STAGE TO DO SONGS TOGETHER WITH NIRVANA’ LATER ON – WHICH WAS AN AMAZING CONDUIT TO GET THOSE BANDS HEARD. PEOPLE LIKE DANIEL JOHNSTON GOT KNOWN BY KURT’S CONSTANT CHAMPIONING OF THESE PEOPLE THAT WE HAD ALL LOVED.”
photos and well designed packaging. “There’s a couple of things happened that made a difference,” recalls Bruce. “In the fall of 1988 Mudhoney’s ‘Superfuzz Bigmuff’ comes out and hits the UK indie charts and it stays there for weeks along with the likes of the Dead Kennedys or the Pixies. I would check every week, thinking they care about American music over there. So ‘Superfuzz’ stays there all this time and I’m thinking, ‘This is very cool!’ Then the ‘Sub Pop 200’ compilation comes out with its beautiful twenty page booklet of Charles Peterson’s photos – a 3CD box set. The thinking about that was, ‘How can we completely overstate our case?’ The answer was; ‘We will do a box set’.
“John Peel got hold of the box set, reviewed it in The Observer and said Sub Pop has the most distinctive regional sound since Tamla Motown – and that is a fat quote. He’s playing it and was playing Mudhoney and the interest was rising. Then the UK music press starts picking up on the scene with you and Sounds at the end of 1988 with that Nirvana interview. Then we get a call in the spring of 1989 from a UK publicist saying that Everett True from Melody
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“WE’RE WORKING ON A SONG NOW WHICH IS A MIXTURE OF HEAVINESS. IT WILL HAVE BOTH EXTREMES THAT WILL COMBINE HEAVY MONSTROUS SONGS WITH LIGHT POP SONGS AND COMBINING THEM LIKE MUDHONEY DO.” KRIST NOVOSELIC Maker was willing to do some pieces if you fly him to Seattle. We got ribbed for years for paying someone to fly over but we thought this makes sense. So Everett comes out and is blown away by what is going on and started hyping the Seattle scene as well. With all this going on, things are really happening. In June 1989 we rented a large venue in Seattle – a 1300-seater called Moore Theatre and put on Lamefest on the 6th of June.” The Lamefest set wasn’t Nirvana’s greatest show due to poor sound, but their intense and powerful performance was spellbinding. By the 13th of July, the band were in New York, playing the Maxwell’s show with Tad. Lamefest had been the moment that Sub Pop went overground. Now it only needed a
special band to take the label to the next level. “We have never sold out a local show before, and that night Tad, Mudhoney and Nirvana played a sold out show and people went crazy,” recounts Pavitt. “Then you came over to New York City and did that Sounds front cover on Tad and Nirvana. The thinking was then we have to get these bands to London and so we took them to London for another Lamefest on the 3rd of December at the Astoria with Nirvana, Tad and Mudhoney. We got great reviews from people like you and Keith Cameron – you all called it early. The British press was important to the core of this story. In the United States it was next to imposable to get mainstream recognition, but in the UK you then had Sounds and Melody Maker covering it early, John Peel playing the music, and you could get the national press that you could not get in the United States.”
ub Pop was redrawing the map of American culture and putting Seattle at the forefront of a new underground. For years the key developments had taken place in cities like New York, LA, or even Detroit and Chicago. These were huge sprawling conurbations with deep-rooted, self contained musical traditions, but Seattle was a footnote; an obscure musical city elevated only by occasional triumphs. Sub Pop was
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MONTAGE OF HECK
The first Kurt Cobain solo album of sorts, ‘Montage Of Heck: The Home Recordings’ is the result of the trimming down of over two hundred hours of previously unreleased and unheard material. Coming to light after the production of the fantastic documentary ‘Montage Of Heck’, director Brett Morgen told Rolling Stone that he “curated the album to create a feeling that the listener was sitting in Kurt’s apartment in Olympia, Washington, in the late eighties, and bearing witness to his creation”. The tracklisting for the deluxe version is as follows: 1. ‘The Yodel Song’ 2. ‘Been A Son’ (early demo) 3. ‘What More Can I Say’ 4. ‘1988 Capitol Lake Jam Commercial’ 5. ‘The Happy Guitar’ 6. ‘Montage Of Kurt’ 7. ‘Beans’ 8. ‘Burn The Rain’ 9. ‘Clean Up Before She Comes’ (early demo) 10. ‘Reverb Experiment’ 11. ‘Montage Of Kurt II’ 12. ‘Rehash’ 13. ‘You Can’t Change Me’/’Burn My Britches’/’Something In The Way’ (early demo) 14. ‘Scoff’ (early demo)
more than just another indie label – it was a smart repackaging of the city through a series of records and their attendant sleeves that depicted wild gigs populated by bands and fans dressed as neo-lumberjacks. They played up to the logging image of the region in their press and communications, creating the sense of a real youthquake that quickly engaged the watching international media. Before the Nirvana gig, the Sub Pop bosses joined us at a table in Maxwell’s front of house diner area and gushed with their excitement at their young charges. The band may have been just another struggling young group overshadowed by many of their labelmates, but their recently released ‘Bleach’ mini album was evidence of group’s nascent talent. ‘Bleach’ had seen the band crank the noise levels up, a process turbocharged by Jack Endino’s powerhouse production. Like Pavitt, Endino had a lengthy and colourful track record on the underground scene. In the mid-eighties, he had played in Skin Yard – considered one of the founding fathers of this new music. In 1986, Encino opened the Reciprocal Recording Studio, where he recorded his own album and built a reputation for technical ability and low fees, two factors that made him the go-to guy for the fledgling Sub Pop label. His thirty-hour shift recording ‘Bleach’ was one of many recordings that made him the key
15. ‘Aberdeen’ 16. ‘Bright Smile’ 17. ‘Underground Celebritism’ 18. ‘Retreat’ 19. ‘Desire’ 20. ‘And I Love Her’ 21. ‘Sea Monkeys’ 22. ‘Sappy’ (early demo) 23. ‘Letters To Frances’ 24. ‘Scream’ 25. ‘Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle’ (demo) 26. ‘Kurt Ambiance’ 27. ‘She Only Lies’ 28. ‘Kurt Audio Collage’ 29. ‘Poison’s Gone’ 30. ‘Rhesus Monkey’ 31. ‘Do Re Mi’ (medley)
sonic architect of the new scene. Utilising a powerful, stripped down sound, he worked with the likes of Soundgarden, Green River, Screaming Trees, L7, The Gits, Hole, 7 Year Bitch, The Fartz, Supersuckers, Tad, Zeke, and many others.
aw and thrilling, ‘Bleach’ captured the young band on the cusp of their heavier, seat of the pants sound, and demonstrated the collective ear for melody that would subsequently be a facet of their mainstream breakthrough. Similarly, the record also showcased their frontman’s fast developing ear for a good rasping, heartfelt melody. Fittingly, it arrived wrapped in another of Charles Peterson’s eyecatching photos, projecting the sweat and adrenalin of live performance and portraying a scene where the audience was as much part of the show as the band. Like its sleeve, the record was a snapshot of the high-octane
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NIRVANA grunge thing. A lot of the Seattle scene was influenced their approach to their music. Black Flag were heavy, Rollins was heavy, and they did the heavier slower material like a Black Sabbath influence that was a different take on punk.”
BLEACH (Sub Pop) 1989 PERSONNEL
Kurt Cobain (vocals/guitar, credited as ‘Kurdt Kobain’) Krist Novoselic (bass, credited as ‘Chris Novolselic’) Chad Channing (drums) Dale Crover (drums on ‘Floyd The Barber’/’Paper Cuts’/’Downer’) Jack Endino (producer)
TRACKLISTING 1. ‘Blew’ 2. ‘Floyd The Barber’ 3. ‘About A Girl’ 4. ‘School’ 5. ‘Love Buzz’ 6. ‘Paper Cuts’ 7. ‘Negative Creep’ 56
8. ‘Scoff’ 9. ‘Swap Meet’ 10. ‘Mr. Moustache’ 11. ‘Sifting’ 12. ‘Big Cheese’ 13. ‘Downer’
outbreaks that were exploding in the Seattle clubs. Sub Pop truly believed that Nirvana were going to be massive and that – contrary to shrill expert opinion – the band was the jewel of their freshly assembled crown. Despite this, the smart money was on Mudhoney – the band who had cranked budget garage rock to its limits – while some saw Nirvana as the runts of the litter. The ambition of the label was admirable, even if ‘big’ in those pre ‘Teen Spirit’ days meant becoming as popular as Sonic Youth or the Butthole Surfers – heavyweight cult bands who never troubled the national charts, but could fill the big clubs everywhere they went. While Bruce and Jonathan outlined the Sub Pop manifesto, we could hear the band soundchecking – a powerful rumble that exploded as we entered the room to watch them run though their levels. Now preserved in the aspic of memory as a trio, it was interesting to watch the four-piece incarnation of the band. History has pigeonholed drummer Chad Channing as the Pete Best of the band, but he seemed powerful enough at the time. Likewise, curly-haired guitarist Jason Everman may have looked like the fresh-faced rock kid playing with his scuzzy mates, but he effectively filled out their sound. Already, Nirvana were providing the perfect example of what people were starting to describe as ‘grunge’ – heavy, downbeat music, decelerated for maximum ooze and permeated with melancholy and adrenaline. As Pavitt explains, this low speed/high viscera sound had been coalescing in the city for several years; “It was that famous Black Flag show in 1984 when Green River opened up, with Kurt Cobain in the audience; Buzz from the Melvins and everyone else. That was the seed of the whole
y the time Black Flag played that gig in Seattle they were on a very different trip from the one that they had set out upon. Their music had slowed down from its initial high velocity punk rock, increasing its intensity and tension. This new Black Flag may have challenged the jackhammer punk orthodoxy, but in Seattle, with its inclement weather and passion for melancholia, there was an instant connection that sowed the bitter seeds of grunge. The Black Flag show at Seattle’s Mountaineers Hall was attended by many of those who would play key roles in the gestation of the grunge phenomenon. Seattle seemed to have a penchant for monumental heaviness. This was a city where Killing Joke could be heard on the jukeboxes of many of the city’s bars and Bauhaus had always been disproportionately popular. The new American underground also contributed to the mix via the slowed down noise of Flipper, the thrilling madness of the Butthole Surfers, and the soaring guitar extremism of Dinosaur Jr. In the background, the influence of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin continued to resonate, its inherent machismo supplanted by the thrilling feral madness of the Stooges. All of this had infected the DNA of many of the local groups that were beginning to make an impact under the visionary guidance of Poneman and Pavitt. They understood how to present what was already at fever pitch in their city’s clubs and turn it into a national movement. Their smart talk and ideas had hooked into the international fanzine culture and portrayed Seattle as hosting the nation’s hottest scene. Seattle was not used to this kind of attention. This was a city that built planes and was now embracing a quiet technological revolution, as Microsoft brought new wealth and prestige. This white collar renewal operated at the opposite end of the cultural spectrum to the new form of heavy music played by unwashed, long-haired young men dressed as lumberjacks. “Seattle was going strong before Microsoft, before Amazon,” Jack Encino explains. “Boeing and military shipyards had been the two biggest sources of money replacing the fishing and logging of the golden age from 100 years ago. That’s why this whole area was settled. “In those days it was a smaller town and any band doing national tours would skip Seattle. They would play Chicago, LA and even Salt Lake City. Seattle was blue collar and separated from the rest of the US by its distance. Minneapolis is thirty three hours away by car, and it’s twelve hours away from San Francisco. It’s just not close to any other US cities. New York, Chicago and LA have their scenes even Kansas and whatnot. Even back in the early eighties, friends would be saying to me, ‘Move to LA!’ They would say, ‘If you are serious about music, you would do well if you relocated to LA’. I stayed because I like Seattle. I don’t like LA. I don’t like lots of traffic or people very much. I’m a small town guy. I like mountains and the trees. By the time we were having some
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interesting success here in Seattle and people were beginning to move here from whatever horrible town they lived in. Then things started getting more exciting in Seattle. A lot of exciting things were going on with good clubs and good bands and it still does.” Modern Seattle is the city where Fifty Shades Of Grey was set, and apartments can cost as much as they do in New York. It’s a long way from the grunge zeitgeist. “The economy was not very good in the eighties,” Charles Petersen explains. “You had a boring job. You were set. Microsoft were there. Amazon then came you were doing a crappy job. Not that we thought music was the ticket out economically, but for me music was the escape from a gloomy job on a gloomy day. We kind of created our own scene really. When I met Mark Arm in college he was in Mr. Epp and the Calculations. He then introduced me to Bruce Pavitt who was running a record store. Bruce introduced me to Kim Thayil who was studying philosophy at Washington University. We were doing our thing; whether it was music photography or fanzines and running a record shop. We put these ideas together and it percolated from there.”
hat was once a backwater is now one of the most expensive cities to live in the USA with its suburbs stretching out across the lakes and inlets and swathes of beautiful scenery. The weather remains its dominant feature, and the inclement greyness is actually quite beautiful as it swirls around the gleaming towers, evoking a real sense of nature never being too far away. It’s easy to understand its influence on a musical heritage where melancholy is never too far away from melody. “People say it’s the weather,” observes Pavitt. “During the winter time or the fall there is a lot more time spent indoors by people here.
Lots of opportunities to rehearse. It’s not like San Diego or Hawaii. A lot of people tend to become hermit-ish and introspective during the periods of long dark winters and so it was at that time and place when Black Flag came to town and showed you could slow things down. The impact was immediate: Kim Thayil tuned his guitar down for a heavier sound, then the Melvins decided to be the slowest band it affected everyone. “Seattle was more isolated then from the rest of country. I have to remind people then that this was pre-internet. You had to physically seek out things and then seek out gigs and record stores to find out things. Because of our isolation we were last to find out things, so we had to create our own scene – the isolation was to our advantage in a way.” “The Seattle regional sound developed in 1985/86,” Endino explains. “Some of the local writers pointed to something happening, but nobody called it anything by name. The term ‘grunge’ came a few years later but there was a certain regional thing going on that was not quite punk and not quite metal and not terribly melodic.
The attitude was not entirely serious and there was a lot of noise involved. “We had our post-punk wave here before with the Blackouts, who were our version of Killing Joke – that band was incredible live. Like a lot of local bands they decided to seek fortune in a bigger city like Chicago or New York. Unfortunately when bands move they tend to break up. They starve. They have no fans, or miss their girlfriends. The Blackouts put out one more record on Waxtrax and were part of that industrial, post-punk thing in 1981. To be honest, I didn’t like Seattle at that time. The band fell apart. I heard that the drummer Bill Friesland has just joined King Crimson; he was also actually the touring drummer with REM. He’s a great drummer. Two of the other guys ended up joining Ministry who started as one thing and had ended up as industrial themselves.”
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“THE SONGS ARE GETTING POPPIER AND POPPIER AS I GET HAPPIER AND HAPPIER.” KURT COBAIN
As bands such as the Blackouts melted away, others rose to take their place, building upon the preceding wave’s momentum. “It felt right that bands like Green River were at the forefront of it,” Bruce asserts. “Mark and Steve were walking encyclopaedias of alternative, rock ‘n’ oll, sixties garage rock and punk rock and t hat sort of dark, classic, rock thing and they took all the different elements and put them together.” “Bruce Pavitt definitely brought people together,” insists Petersen. “He was a catalyst. Later when he and Jon Poneman joined forces, the scene was so small that everyone introduced everyone to everyone else. There was no competition, and you never got the sense that anyone thought on an international level. It was more, ‘Oh wow! We can do a west coast tour and then get in the van and go down to California’. That was that the idea – ‘Wow! We can now get to LA!’ Mudhoney gave the scene a shot in the arm locally. I think people in other parts of the US followed the music press. A lot of young kids didn’t follow the English music press at the time. Sub Pop came up with some clever marketing ideas that were a little different from what anyone else was doing; like having a house photographer, doing a single of the month where you could get a paid subscription and receive a single. It was not just local bands, but national and international bands that fitted into the mould of what Seattle was trying to do. Clever things like that were raising the profile of the label.” “For the whole decade I played and I lived and breathed music,” recounts Bruce. “I saw Charles Peterson’s photos and was aware of what was going on in Seattle. When we put the Sub Pop compilation out it came out like a heavier, sludgier sound of what was going to be known as ‘grunge’. I had been reviewing all those different scenes for years and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just concentrate on what is going on in Seattle and put my creative focus on one scene and getting that culture to evolve and see how to define it?’ We were very aware of Motown and any classic label that has a house style like SST who were a major influence on punk and indie at the time.”
The emergence of the term, ‘grunge’ provided the Seattle scene with a signifier that would travel around the globe. “The legend goes that Mark Arm came up with that term in some fanzine interview in 1987,” recalls Charles. “The word had been around before but he attached it to that style of music which he did in a facetious, ironic kind of way. We were in our twenties and in the middle of it and we totally rejected the scene when the next generation came along and it became a fashion. I never wore a flannel shirt in my life. Mudhoney never wore the flannel shirt, or were part of all that, but now it’s okay to call it ‘grunge’. There was no musical style: Soundgarden were very different to Nirvana. The early Soundgarden had dark metal tendencies and would then throw in a punk rock riff here and there with Chris doing his falsetto all over the map, but somehow it worked and it was very different.”
rm first used the term in 1981, when writing a letter under his given name of Mark McLaughlin to the Seattle fanzine Desperate Times. He described his band Mr. Epp and the Calculations as, ‘Pure grunge! Pure noise! Pure shit!’ The ‘zine’s editor, Clark Humphrey, cites this as the earliest use of the term to refer to a Seattle band, and mentions that Bruce Pavitt of Sub Pop popularised the term as a musical label in 1987/88 – using it on several occasions to describe Green River. The term had been applied to all kinds of music for many years – distorted guitars and basses had been described in fanzines as ‘grungy’ since the late seventies, but in Seattle it now had a new context. Mark Arm is happy to deflect the credit, “Obviously, I didn’t make ‘grunge’ up. I got it from someone else. The term was already being thrown around in Australia in the mid-eighties to describe bands like King Snake Roost, The Scientists, Salamander Jim, and Beasts of Bourbon.” Bruce Pavitt had been avidly tracking the ways in which American independent music developed during the eighties and was increasingly drawn toward the irregular currents moving below its more popular surface. “Between my fanzines and columns, my personal taste had been moving to Big Black, Sonic Youth, Husker Du – that music was under the radar at the time. To this day there are not a lot of history books on that period. So much of the attention is on the late seventies punk of CBGBs, The Clash, the Sex Pistols, but for a whole decade what went under the radar
were some really great bands like Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Meat Puppets, Big Black and Husker Du. These were all getting checked out at the time through our focus and organisation and our ability to represent the scene to the world whilst waiting for the mainstream to wake up. It took Kurt Cobain saying, ‘Let’s get Meat Puppets on stage to do songs together with Nirvana’ later on – which was an amazing conduit to get those bands heard. People like Daniel Johnston got known by Kurt’s constant championing of these people that we had all loved.” That evening in Maxwell’s in 1989, Nirvana were just another group of hopefuls. In the fug and heat of the big city we caught a young band on the verge of breaking, not only themselves, but also this wild and varied scene. The empty room was proof that there was still work to be
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Kurt: “We started off with a demo of Chris and I and the drummer from the Melvins. We did the demo at Reciprocal Studios which was given to John. The Melvins were the only band in town; in fact they were the only alternative band within a hundred miles of us. I’d been writing songs for six years in this style of music. The last couple of years has been serious. We probably would have resorted to putting out our own record if Sub Pop had not put the record out.”
done, but the gig was a harbinger for a new kind of kick. The next day as the band settled down for an interview with me in the heat of publicist Janet Billig’s flat, their road exhaustion was mitigated by the thrill of completing their first national tour. Kurt Cobain was still in the same clothes he’d worn the night before, his youthful bedraggled charisma encased within the creased road laundry of check shirt and crumpled jeans. He talked in a weary-yet-enthusiastic croak as he explained the band’s origins and their plans for the future. Big Chris (aka Krist Novoselic)was his jovial support, backing him up and supporting his best friend as he helped explain the band’s story.
What’s it like existing in a backwater town?
Where does this story start?
Chris: “We were listening to the Melvins; they were the only alternative band in town.
Did you want to be on Sub Pop? Kurt: “I had never even heard of Sub Pop when we were dealing with them at first.”
They were the only alternative band for a hundred miles. How far is Olympia; fifty miles? Olympia was the nearest alternative town.” Kurt: “Chris and I were living in Aberdeen, which is a logging town.” Chris: “On the Pacific Ocean. It’s a logging town where they cut down all the trees. Except in Aberdeen they are not called ‘lumberjacks’, they are called ‘loggers’ – They want to cut down the last of the trees. The environmentalists and the industrialists are at each others’ throats. Washington is meant to be the evergreen state but it’s not; it’s the clear cut state – all for the money god.”
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So you either play in groups or cut trees down? Chris: “We like to smash guitars so we can destroy a beautiful tree!”
What would you have done if you had not been in the band? Kurt: “I would have kept on trying in another band. I can probably say I would have never learned the fine art of logging. I have no idea of how to do it.”
“SUCCESS – YOU CAN SEE IT AND IT’S REALLY ENCOURAGING. SITTING IN THE SAME PLACE AND GOINGANYWHERE ANYWHEREIS DISCOURAGING, IS DISCOURAGING,SO SOTHIS NOTNOTGOING THISIS REALLY IS REALLYNICE.” NICE.” KURT COBAIN
So you were sat in your bedroom and played guitar... Kurt: “That’s exactly what I did. I sat in my bedroom and played my guitar.”
What did everyone else in town do? Kurt: “Chop trees down and drink. Have sex, talk about having sex and drinking. People stay there and wither away eventually.”
What do people think of you now being in New York? Kurt: “People talk about anything out of the normal, you know.” Chris: “People say ‘Get your hair cut, fucker!’ They wolf whistle...” Kurt: “They have their hair cropped short on the front and then rebelliously long at the back.”
Is this your first national tour of the States? Kurt: “Yes it is and I love it. I do, I’m seeing America for free whilst I’m working for two hours a night.”
You must see a lot of bedroom floors. Kurt: “I’m surprised that I’m not homesick yet!”
How do you get homesick for Aberdeen? Kurt: “I’m now living in the town that’s next closest town to Aberdeen and that’s Olympia...”
That’s where K records are from. Kurt: “Calvin (Johnson, K Records founder) is a good friend of mine.”
Is it a good town?
Will it all be road songs from now on then?
Kurt: “Right...” Chris: “(Sings]) Another night, in another town...”
a great town.” Chris: “The state college is there. There’s lots of hippies there and liberals. Seattle is a good town, Olympia is a smaller version.”
What are your songs about? Kurt: “It’s hard to say – anger, negativity – basically we’re from a typical punk rock attitude.”
What makes you angry now though? You got out... Kurt: “I imagine I’m becoming happier because I’m escaping. I find myself sometimes making things hard for myself so I can still have a little bit of anger.”
What do you do to make this work? Kurt: “I dunno, subconscious things – I suppose conflicts with people maybe.”
Have you written much since touring? Kurt: “I’ve written most of the material on this record since I came out of Aberdeen.”
Are these songs from a different era? Chris: “These songs are like from our second era – the demo tape era!” Kurt: “All those songs were written in Aberdeen, but all the material on this record was written in Olympia. The songs are getting poppier and poppier as I get happier and happier. They are about [laughs nervously] probably conflicts and relationships, I don’t know.” Chris: “Emotions and feelings...” Kurt: “Emotions and human beings. When I write a song, the lyrics are the least important thing, so I don’t dwell on them at all. I can actually have two or three subjects in a song
and the title will mean nothing to the rest of the music.”
The LP is out in the States but not in the UK yet. Kurt: “It’s been out for couple of weeks and it’s doing quite well from what I hear. In the Village Voice it’s Number 19 in their Top 20 sales and, wow – that’s something.”
Does it give you a good feeling that the record is starting to happen in New York? Chris: “Oh yeah! Considering the band started in Kurt’s crappy house on junk equipment and then it started getting better as you can see.”
It’s a punk rock success story. Kurt: “We witness it. Success – you can see it and it’s really encouraging. Sitting in the same place and not going anywhere is discouraging, so this is really nice.”
Why have people picked up on you – is it the Sub Pop connection?
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so loud that it drowns the monitors out.”
You scream a lot more than J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr, he mutters a lot! Kurt: “That’s true...”
Do you feel good after you play? After all, these are angry songs and you must come out feeling better. Kurt: “Oh yeah, it’s a nice release. It needs to be done at least twice a week.”
Do you get an adrenalin rush at the end of the set and smash all the gear? Kurt: “That’s becoming more and more common – yeah, it’s too great a feeling...”
What about smashing the guitars as soon as you get on stage?
Have you always been a four-piece? Kurt: “We were a three piece for mostly a year, then we got Jason in.” Chris: “We decided to get Jason in and we never practised once and then we went to San Francisco to play Covered Wagon – That was our first practise. He had a lot of practice as a guitar player.”
Does having Jason on guitar mean that you can take your hands off the guitar and sing? Kurt: “Yeah right, I can take my hand of my guitar and also screw up a little bit. I can concentrate on my vocals more. It helps a lot.”
The vocals are good. They have a raw power. Kurt: “If you can hear them on stage they are alright, but most the time I can’t hear them because we play so loud on stage, the volume is
Chris: “They are bigger, but we’re skinnier!”
Have you been to Europe before? Kurt: “I had never been to other side of the States before!”
What do you think of Sub Pop? Kurt: “I can’t think of a better label to be on.”
It’s strange how many bands in town fit with the label... Kurt: “Maybe in back of local papers in the local classifieds lists where it says, ‘People looking for a musician’, it says, ‘Wanted: musicians playing Nirvana, Mudhoney, Skinyard’ and there are a lot more bands coming out of that.”
hat night, after the interview, the band cut a couple of blocks across town to play the Pyramid Club on Avenue B, near where we had gone to see the fledgling Flaming Lips the night before. It was another Have you broken all the gear or is it still usable? demolition show from the road weary group that had spent exhausted days sat in Janet’s Chris: “I have this Black Eagle bass – the flat waiting to play instead of running around toughest bass. I cracked a couple though.” the New Music Seminar like a normal hungry Kurt: “He’s taken that bass and thrown it into young band. his amp from far away and lots of times. After the gig, me and photographer Ian Tilton It’s hard to bust a guitar if you don’t have a set out across town to catch another couple Rickenbacker. For my personal taste I really of shows. The heavens opened and Manhattan like Uniboxes. I play all the time most Mosrite copies that you have to find by chance in pawn was awash with water as we ran towards CBGBs. In the corner of my eye, I could see shops and I stupidly break them every time I get one. Luckily, Matt brought me another one a bus thundering down the street towards us. out from Seattle that my girlfriend had bought It hit Tilton square on, and the photographer flew through the air holding his camera bag for me and I made sure I had this old one in my hand before I broke this one, so I was kind in his hands, hitting the drenched road hard and breaking his leg. We spent the night in of sensible about it.” hospital getting him patched up before he was Chris: “We don’t always smash the gear. There’s nights where I just walk off the stage instead.” discharged on a pair of crutches, because there was no place in the world’s richest nation’s Kurt: “It’s definitely not a contrived thing. It’s hospital system for near road kill. not every night and it’s not like we plan to Throwing Tilton into a taxi, we headed back smash all our equipment. It’s not that we are towards the flat on Avenue B, where he laid in trying to impress anybody. We can’t smash the the sweaty room waiting for the flight back a gear all the time. We are glad we are playing good shows. Bruce Pavitt will buy us new gear.” couple of days later. The band ferried cheese sandwiches in for him from the local Puerto Rican corner shop, before they had to leave Have you written new stuff? Is it in a different for the drive back to Seattle. They lugged their style? gear down the stairs and into their small van, Kurt: “We’re leaning towards more songs like which made you wonder just how beanpole ‘About A Girl’. It’s hard to say – I don’t know what we are going to do, but probably not free bassist Nosovelic fitted into the tiny space. Bidding their farewells, Nirvana climbed jazz.” into the van, which turned down the street. Chris: “We’re working on a song now which is a mixture of heaviness. It will have both extremes I wondered if all the talk and dreams would come true – The label seemed to be staking that will combine heavy monstrous songs everything on them, but music like that just with light pop songs and combining them like didn’t dent the mainstream at the time. The Mudhoney do.” biggest rock bands were groups like Guns N’ Roses – who had their moments, but were There’s is a very American writing style... already coated with the kind of Hollywood Kurt: “I dunno. I’m not really familiar with a lot sheen that made them feel detached from of bands from other countries, I’ve not heard very much. We are definitely not jumping on the reality. A scuzzy young group like Nirvana had the songs and had the ambition, but the bandwagon.” road trip to the top would be as long and torturous as their drive back to Seattle. Are you touring in the autumn? Surely there was no way they could get Kurt: “We are on a double bill of death with bigger than Sonic Youth... Tad.” Kurt: “Oh yeah, I’d like to be able to do that. It depends on where the energy level is in each song. Usually the climax is the best time.”
Kurt: “Partly, and they also realised that we were probably good.” Chris: “I like the songs...”
They are older than you – older and bigger.
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Following nearly two decades without a new record, New Zealand’s THE CHILLS have resurfaced with ‘Silver Bullet’. Help came from an unlikely source, as Nick Tesco discovers...
“THE BAND WERE OBVIOUSLY UP
FTER a short break of nineteen years The Chills have returned with their lush and crafted new album, ‘Silver Bullet’. This band is one of the legendary cohort of groups that came out of the New Zealand city of Dunedin, first appearing on the magnificent Flying Nun Records. The fact that this album has been recorded at all is a story of coincidence, luck and chance that started four years ago at a New Year’s Eve party in Queenstown, New Zealand. When The Chills turned up at the party venue the current line-up was the longest lasting and most stable in the band’s career. As Martin Phillipps, chief Chill and songwriter, recounts: “Todd (Knudsen, drums) and James (Dickson, bass) have been playing with me since 1999, Erica (Scally, violin/keyboards/guitar) joined eleven years back and the line-up was completed eight years back when Oli (Wilson, keyboards) joined.” Given the number of line ups Phillipps has had over the years it’s no surprise when he ruefully adds: “I guess it proves I can keep a band together!” What the band were unaware of was that one of the guests at the party was David Tepliztky, a wealthy traveller and art dealer who lived in the USA and New Zealand. As always the band played out of their skins, a solid outfit honed by hard times and close working, and the audience were electrified, in particular the wealthy guest. In a conversation with Phillipps Teplitztky was surprised to learn that The Chills hadn’t released a new album since ‘Sunburnt’ in 1996, and the current line up had never commercially recorded together being as Phillipps had had to record ‘Sunburnt’ in the UK and the funds hadn’t been available to bring the band over. “He was really surprised that we had no support,” remembers
Phillipps: “So he formed and funded Far South Records so we could record and produce an album properly. It was an amazing thing to do.” With backing behind him Phillipps was able to go back into the studio with his honed players and, for him, the experience was one of liberation and exuberance. “The band were obviously up against a legacy,” Phillipps says: “I was really thrilled with how it turned out. I didn’t have to do as much musical direction as I have done in the past, when I used to be pretty hands on about not wanting to sound like anyone else so it has been really refreshing to see how well the album has been received.” ‘Silver Bullets’ fits seamlessly into The Chills discography, it has a timeless quality to it and maintains Phillipps’ lyrical ability and dexterity. His songs have always had a consistent contrast between a lyric containing real meaning and a melody that is light and infectious that allows the message to sink in without the listener being aware. One of my favourite Chills tracks is ‘I Love My Leather Jacket’ (I even have it as my ringtone). Over a mesmeric riff it sounds initially like a paean to the glorious rock ‘n’ roll uniform but closer listening makes you aware that this is an elegy to a dead friend who left Phillipps his jacket. It celebrates a life and mourns the death of someone who meant something real and in its simplicity becomes as powerful as a requiem mass. “I’ve been writing songs continuously, over a long period,” Phillipps told me: “However once I knew that we were going to be able to make an album I did the bulk of the songs on the album over a year.” On the question of conveying a message he feels the songwriter needs to walk a fine line between informing and lecturing; “I hadn’t planned on writing political or environmental themed songs but they came out anyway, I never want to date my records with ideology but we’re living in
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Y UP AGAINST A LEGACY.” MARTIN PHILLIPPS dangerous times. As a songwriter I wanted to plant lines and melodies into people’s heads which might change attitudes, or at least influence them. It’s easy to cop out, to take the easy route so it’s good to know that your songs impact on people; it’s an honour really.” After the promise of the early ‘90s, when the possibilities created by the sublime ‘Submarine Bells’ seemed endless the crash of the evaporation, as is so often the case for too many brilliant bands, led Phillipps into the darkest period of his life and one that still throws a shadow over everything. By the late 1990s he was wrestling with depression and when the prescribed anti-depressants failed to make a dent he turned to opiates. Always open, Phillipps doesn’t hide the facts, but in an interview in 2014 with The Guardian’s Michael Hann he described the process of his addiction: “I was getting morphine sulphate pills and putting them through a process to become what is known as ‘a heroin-like substance’…” As with so many junkie stories the process, the hunt and the crowd you run with takes control. The users, the losers and the thieves trudge through your life in a catwalk of horror. For an artist of Phillipps’ stature in the small pond that is New Zealand celebrity it was even worse. After a ‘guest’ left an uncovered needle in a paper bag, which pricked Phillipps’ hand, he contracted Hepatitis C and even though he underwent a series of experimental treatments that have proved efficacious in others the disease remains and the damage has taken its toll leaving him with cirrhosis of the liver and a constant risk of liver cancer. “Things need to change to pull you out of that scene, and luckily for me someone paid for addiction treatment,” adds Phillipps: “I’m
completely clean these days, though I ought to knock the occasional beer on the head as it obviously doesn’t help.” With the release of the new album the question of touring arises, an exercise that for New Zealand bands is fraught with difficulties. Recently Phillipps came over for several solo acoustic gigs but is obviously itching to show off this solid line-up to the world, something that costs thousands before the band even plays a note. “We need to book festivals for next year to guarantee we can afford to tour,” Phillipps notes: “I really want to get back to Europe and the USA, where we’ve always done well, but all the band full time jobs and bills to pay so the money needed to cover costs before we even play a gig is pretty substantial.” For Phillipps, too, a return to London was trepidatious: “I was nervous coming back, about facing memories but London has changed so much I find it hard to place those memories now so, as a result, it has been great being here.” Whatever happens for The Chills nobody can take away their substantial body of beautiful work, Phillipps may be the constant but there have always been great players around him. These bands, these writers, out of the small New Zealand city of Dunedin, have always punched high above their weight. Acts like The Clean, The Bats and Straight Jacket Fits and the ephemeral Look Blue Go Purple have all enriched music for people who look for vision but for me I always shiver when I hear those opening chords to ‘I Love My Leather Jacket’. The Chills, they’re multiplying. ‘Silver Bullets’ is out now on Fire Records
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With the release of ‘Seizure’, Leeds five piece AUTOBAHN succeed in dragging beauty out of dark places. Vocalist Craig Johnson tells James Sharples how a departure from their earlier punk abrasiveness and the influence of their home city has re-shaped their sound. What was that pivotal moment for you, that moment where the switch got flipped and you decided that you wanted to music for, I don’t want to say a ‘job’, but as more than just a hobby? “I suppose it felt like the right time to really devote ourselves to something positive. We found that quite hard to do, but it’s been by far the most rewarding thing that I’ve ever done, for sure. Once you get into that pattern of writing it becomes contagious, you never feel fulfilled and you feel like you’re cheating if you give up. Creatively, you always want more and that’s the key for me. To then have your music distributed and to perform on a global scale closes the circle.”
How did Autobahn come about? What was your initial vision for it and did that change along the way from idea to execution? “From the offset we wanted to make intense, loud music, something you couldn’t escape. That’s changed somewhat now. We realised music doesn’t need to be a hundred miles an hour and in your face until you die to have the same effect. The vision now is to constantly evolve and to keep pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.”
What were you listening to when you started out? On the EPs there’s a real sense of punk energy... “Probably lots of the Birthday Party and British punk.”
By contrast, the album shows a real difference in sound – what do you put this down to? “It was probably to do with the amount of time it took us to write the record. Plus the
amount of thought that went into it. I’d been writing down ideas for an album for at least a year. We did it over a couple of months and the songs seem to just evolve naturally over that time.”
What do you feel that you learned from the EPs when it came to writing the album? Were there certain aspects you kept and things that you changed? “We really changed our whole method of working for the LP. We focused everything on it and became a lot more productive. When you
start out everything needs to be structured to convention and we really tried to forget that when writing the LP. The other thing was no alcohol for me or Gavin (Cobb, guitar) for a month. That was the hardest part.”
What was the recording experience like for the album? “It was a really intense experience. You think about the songs every night when you sleep. You can’t get away from it. We did the record over six weeks which is a really long time and I’m not sure we could do that again. It was a really great experience though. We’ve worked with Matt Peel on the EPs and got on with him well.”
When in the studio do you have one eye on performance and whether you can play everything live from the record? “I think the others do, but I enjoy that bit when
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“From the offset we wanted to make intense, loud music, something you couldn’t escape. That’s changed somewhat now. We realised music doesn’t need to be a hundred miles an hour and in your face until you die to have the same effect.”Craig Johnson
you’re rehearsing for tour and you’re thinking ‘How the fuck am I going to replicate this?’ You can always replicate it onstage somehow, it’s just another challenge. I think it’s good to have some differences live anyway, otherwise things get boring.”
How do you feel that your live sets have changed since introducing songs from the album into the mix? Are you finding that you’re casting earlier material into a different light, sonically? “There’s definitely a bit more dynamic to the performance now. The other songs do fit in well, it’s a nice outlet still. ‘Passion’ is my favourite to play, it’s just a hard listen, you see people feel uncomfortable.
Lyrically, it seems that you’ve drawn out the romance from some pretty dark subject matter
. Was that intentional, where you’ve got titles like ‘Beautiful Place To Die’ and ‘Suicide Saturday’, to make them more than just ‘This is a dark song about this subject’ and instead look for, I guess, a measure of hope in it? “Yes. I’m glad you’ve picked up on that because not so many people do. Nearly all the songs are romanticised views on dark subjects. With ‘Beautiful Place To Die’ I was driving on a beautiful winter’s day, snow on the ground, sun shining and I thought to myself, ‘If my car crashed now at least it would be a beautiful place to die’. I think I just want people to think positively about any situation, there’s always something better out there for you. Plus, I think some of it might just be twisted northern humour, the idea of singing something so twisted over something so nice makes you interested.”
How important do you think location and roots are to Autobahn? Do you think you’d be the same band if you’d come up in, say, London rather than Leeds? “I think your music takes an influence from your surroundings. If we’d wrote the LP in a large concert hall maybe it would have come out sounding different. There’s no doubt Leeds has had an influence, though. I think the LP draws a picture of the Leeds industrial landscape.”
What’s the one thing you’d like a listener to take away from the album? “That there’s hope for everyone.” ‘Seizure’ is out now on Tough Love Records
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BOOTS FOR DANCING (PHOTO: HILARY MORRISON)
Gus Ironside reveals how Scotland’s post-punk scene changed everything.
COTLAND’S post-punk music scene in the early to mid-’80s is one of the last great untold stories in rock ‘n’ roll. Director Grant McPhee’s documentary film ‘Big Gold Dream: Scottish Post-Punk and Infiltrating the Mainstream-1977-82’ set out to change that, focusing on the early Edinburgh post-punk scene, which yielded the ground-
breaking groups Scars, The Fire Engines, Josef K and Boots For Dancing, to name but a few. The film made its world premiere at Edinburgh International Festival this summer, attracting huge interest and shining a light on Bob Last and Hilary Morrison’s pioneering Edinburgh-based label Fast Product, as well as the more widelyknown Postcard Records in Glasgow.
Louder Than War asked McPhee what had motivated him to make the film. “It’s something I wanted to see myself”, he said: “Nobody seemed to be making it so I thought I would. It’s been a very tough film to make and meeting co-producers Innes Reekie, Wendy Griffin and Erik Sandberg; and especially editor Angela Slaven helped enormously.”
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POST-PUNK SCOTLAND SCARS (PHOTO: HILARY MORRISON)
“PUNK MADE ME AWARE THAT ONE COULD ACHIEVE THINGS INDEPENDENTLY OF THE ART/MUSIC ESTABLISHMENT.” Malcolm Ross /Josef K
“We wanted to tell the story as faithfully as possible,” McPhee continued: “It’s never been the intention to make an encyclopaedic history of Scottish punk music, we just wanted to tell our story in the words of those involved.”
ne of those interviewed for ‘Big Gold Dream’ was Robert King, former frontman for Scars, the band that many cite as the catalyst for the whole scene. King explained how it all started. “By 1974 I had formed a band with Calumn Mackay, and we rehearsed mostly glam songs (‘Rebel, Rebel’, etc.), even played a few youth club ‘gigs’. Then I started to read about this band called The Sex Pistols. I was affiliated already. What a name! The reviews in the music press encouraged me to like them even before I had heard them, judging by the fact that the reviewers all liked shite like Yes and Genesis.” “Paul Research and John Mackie started the band (Scars) and I went to an audition for the post of singer. After I joined the band I persuaded them to recruit Mac as the drummer. Oddly, local
promoters wouldn’t touch us initially as we were all about fifteen or sixteen years old, but quite soon we were supporting the visiting acts and these acts were requesting that we support them on their return to Scotland. Clash, Banshees, Buzzcocks, Adverts, most of the popular bands of the period” Scars’ 1979 debut single on Fast Product, ‘Horrorshow’ (b/w ’Adult/ery’), has been described as the ‘Anarchy in the UK’ of the Scottish postpunk scene. In addition to the astringent guitar of Paul Research and the truculent punk-funk rhythm section of John Mackie (bass) and Calumn Mackay (drums), what is most striking is King’s use of Nadsat, the language invented by author Anthony Burgess in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, for the lyrics. “I am fascinated by language,” King told Louder Than War: “Even language I cannot understand, I listen to it to see if I can discern its syntax. Like music, language has so many different rhythms and notes unique to itself. Apparently when I was a very young child I spoke an imaginary language with my imaginary friend who was called ‘Pal’.” Perhaps it is not surprising that King is now a Professor of Ancient Languages in Lyon, but he remains musically active, with new releases by his visceral, experimental group Opium Kitchen pending, as well as an intriguing solo single
on Rubber Taxi Records. Scars split in 1982, having moved in a poppier direction for their well-regarded album ‘Author! Author!’(Charisma, 1981), produced by Penetration’s Robert Blamire. Scars were a galvanising force for the Edinburgh punk scene, as Fast Product co-founder Hilary Morrison recalls “I went to see the Scars play and thought ‘This is it – our Scottish band’. Soon everyone was hanging out at my flat.” Morrison’s flat- 2 Keir Streetquickly became the hub of the scene and the headquarters of the radical new label that Morrison and her partner Bob Last formed, Fast Product. “My flat was a playground”, says Morrison. “A safe place. Boys played with their looks. Experimented with clothes – often mine! We played lots and lots of different music – punk was more than music alone. It was about playing with everything – pushing boundaries. Questioning things. And doing so with no money.” Another figure in the local punk scene played a key role in the Scottish capital’s post-punk insurrection, as Dancing Dave Carson of Boots For Dancing explains: Paul Reekie was a lightning rod for what was happening, a catalyst for moving things forward, his mind was a brightly lit room; fantastical, tangential, energetic, fun, full of ideas and confrontational and cutting”.
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ROBERT KING (PHOTO: ORANGE CUBE)
“I went to see the Scars play and thought ‘This is it – our Scottish band’.” Hilary Morrison
eekie, who sadly passed away in 2010, is fondly remembered by many as a gifted poet, but Carson recalls an early example of his role as a provocateur: “At the start of sets by a great band called Thursdays, Paul would come on to sing Nico’s ‘Frozen Warnings’ unaccompanied, before the band kicked in, trying to dodge a hail of glasses and missiles!” Dancing Dave’s own band Boots For Dancing were named by Reekie and are one of the buried treasures from the scene, a radical punkfunk outfit inspired as much by James Brown as the angular punk of Richard Hell and James Chance. “The intention primarily was to have fun,” says Carson: “Always to be part of, embrace the moment, be very playful and irreverent - ideas being hatched in damp and dusty rehearsal rooms near bus terminuses, poorly heated bedsits and tenement flats. Schooling punks into funkateers, from ‘1 2 3 4’ to ‘on the one’, that
was our mission.” Boots For Dancing’s live performances were ahead of their time, Carson adopting aspects of soul revue shows and James Brown’s stage presence, introducing band members one-by-one and directly engaging with the audience rather than adopting a post-punk aloofness. Their eponymous debut single was released on Fast Product’s successor label, Pop Aural in 1980. All these years later, a new audience will have a chance to hear Boots For Dancing’s genre-scrambling recorded output via a lovingly compiled and annotated anthology, ‘The Undisco Kidds’, which has just been released by Athens of the North. During its lifetime, Fast Product issued a total of twelve essential releases. Taking control of the entire creative process, in which image and packaging were just as important as the music, was central to Bob Last
and Hilary Morrison’s vision. ”I was working as a temp,” recalls Morrison: “I could type. I had a ‘phone’ voice. I could sell. I had ideas. All this was valuable to make the label seem curiously professional on some levels. I was incredibly naive, doing A&R, sourcing new acts, taking all the pictures, doing promo, design, hustling, sending out promo copies, writing press releases…” Morrison also had to deal with the rampant sexism of the era: “My own group of friends were marvellous,” she recalls: “Amazing, lovely guys. Beyond them it was vile. I was sent to see producers at the BBC who clearly expected a man to show. When I turned up they were…slimy. That’s the only word for it. One pointed to his couch and asked me to sit. Then he stood right in front of me, crotch to my eye level and asked me what I might do to get the records played. I told him the record had to speak for itself. He showed me the door, laughing and saying he was used to getting something more…” Listening to Fast Product and Pop Aural releases now, the tense, brittle punk-funk sound
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JOSEF K (PHOTO: HARRY PAPADOPOULUS)
of the bands represents a radical departure from the traditional seventies rock music that still held sway in many quarters. Many of the key participants cite the influence of Vic Godard and Subway Sect and also The Slits. Both bands had made a huge impact on Edinburgh’s nascent punk scene when they arrived in the city as part of The Clash’s White Riot tour on May 7th 1977, along with Buzzcocks and The Jam.
rant McPhee also pinpoints a direct New York influence on the Edinburgh scene: “I suppose one difference is that Television played their first gig outside of NYC in Glasgow. That trebly sound is very distinctive, and a lack of chords – very open and clean.” One of the better known bands to emerge from the Edinburgh scene was Josef K, who signed with Alan Horne’s now-celebrated Postcard Records in Glasgow, following a debut single, ‘Romance/Chance Meeting’ on Orange Juice drummer Steven Daly’s Absolute label in 1979. Josef K guitarist Malcolm Ross talked to Louder Than War about his first exposure to
HILARY MORRISON (PHOTO: PHILLIPE CARLY)
punk and the impact it had on him: “I first heard punk at a friend of my older brother’s – it was the day of The Who playing Parkhead Stadium in ’76. The guy had ‘Horses’ and ‘Anarchy’. I remember not thinking they were very good at the time. I heard ‘New Rose’ a couple of weeks later, which I liked more. Punk made me aware that one could achieve things independently of the art/ music establishment.” Explaining that the members of Josef K all met while still at school, Ross expands on their initial aims: “We wanted to make music that we would enjoy listening to, and maybe try to experiment/ take things forward from our immediate influences (Television, Bowie/Iggy).” Josef K continue to be name-dropped in a conspicuous manner by bands ranging from Franz Ferdinand to The Futureheads, and their recordings, including their sole album released during the band’s lifetime, ‘The Only Fun in Town’ (Postcard, 1981) sound like a blueprint for much of the independent music scene that followed. As Grant McPhee set out to show in ‘Big Gold Dream’, the Edinburgh scene had no shortage of stars, even if Fast Product’s high concept ‘pop entryism’ strategy didn’t always breach the mainstream. Robert King of Scars is frequently mentioned as an absorbing frontman, and the elusive singer of pop-art-punks The Fire Engines consistently inspires praise and affection: “Marc Riley refers to Davy Henderson as the greatest living Scotsman, and Vic Godard as the greatest living Englishman.” says Douglas MacIntyre, head of The Creeping Bent Organisation and bassplayer in Henderson’s current magical band, The Sexual Objects. “I think Davy is a poet, a painter, an artist, and has a rock ‘n’ roll heart. He is Pop Art’. The Fire Engines’ only album, ‘Lubricate Your Living Room’ (Pop Aural, 1981) is another essential document from this period, full of frothy
energy and angular guitar, simultaneously creating something fresh and new while taking inspiration from the innovations of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. You don’t have to look far to see the legacy of Edinburgh’s post-punk pioneers. Local label Stereogram Recordings has deep roots in the scene and has championed some of the best new artists in Scotland, while Douglas MacIntyre’s Creeping Bent Organisation was directly inspired by Fast Product. Davy Henderson is producing some of the finest work of his career with The Sexual Ojbects, and Robert King is working on two Opium Kitchen albums, ‘Poetes Maudits’ and ‘The Mayor of Pigalle’ on Eromeda Records, as well as his forthcoming single, ‘Super-8’ on Rubber Taxi Records and Josef K’s recordings are still readily available. As for Grant McPhee, he is preparing his next documentary, ‘Teenage Superstars’, which will follow on from the end of ‘Big Gold Dream’ and focus on the bands that formed around the Postcard flat, with the formation of the influential 53rd and 3rd Records. Perhaps the last word should go to Hilary Morrison, whose latest mission involves a ruined farmhouse on Edinburgh’s much-maligned Craigmillar housing estate (you can read more details on this at Bridgendfarmhouse.org.uk): “My life is so different now, and yet one thing remains. I have an old school belief in people power. I have eight people being currently trained up to run a cheap, healthy cafe and I am back doing what I love, creating a magazine full of fun, polemic and cold facts to try to change people’s minds about cheap food and why it’s cheap. It’s a good use of the life-skills I’ve accrued. “We keep questioning. Always. There’s always more to learn. More to disrupt out of complacency.” Find out more about ‘Big Gold Dream: Scottish Post-Punk and Infiltrating the Mainstream-1977-82’ at Facebook.com/SOYSFilm
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Jonathan Falcone meets post-rock leading lights TORTOISE to talk upcoming new album ‘The Catastrophist’, songcraft and streaming.
ORTOISE is one of those bands that have established an unwavering fan base and critical respect. Split between LA and Chicago, the five-piece have released seven albums in their twenty-year career, they’ve been credited as both founders of the post-rock movement and originators within progressive rock. Their back catalogue is a series of oscillating and predominantly instrumental journeys through sound; sonic travelogues that flit across styles and thread music together in a way that no other band can. Their latest release, ‘The Catastrophist’ is their most funk-driven album, so we caught up with John McEntire to find out about the events that, six years since their last album, led them to unveil ‘The Catastrophist’.
This album started life five years ago as a project for your hometown of Chicago, when you were asked by city officials to create some short pieces that reflected the heritage of the city, and then developed from that. How did you initially approach turning them into something bigger, if we take for example, the track ‘Black Coffee’? “That track was really difficult as that was the oldest idea that’s on the record. We probably started working on that over ten years ago and I’m not sure why it never developed in a way that we were happy with back then. It was something that we just kept coming back to; trying to find out what the core of it was and how to expand on it in a way that was interesting. When we work on music, it’s kind of hard to articulate that point when something’s actually working but I think when we get there, it’s intuitive and understood.”
Is that the same intuition that signifies when a track is complete? “We don’t think about that too much until we have a lot of material in a place that we think is good, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s ‘done’. We’ve always been interested in how we sequence the records, so that they have a narrative of their own beyond the individual pieces. So when we have twelve or fifteen things to look at, we can say, ‘Oh, how is this all going to fit together?’ and ‘Is there enough variety?’ and ‘Are there short things, long things, song forms and linear pieces?’ It’s just trying to find the balance and creating a narrative within it, that’s a part of process that helps us define when tracks are ready.”
With such stylistic diversity across your writing and playing what, musically, were your
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“IT’S TRYING TO FIND THE BALANCE AND CREATING A NARRATIVE WITHIN IT.” influences for ‘The Catastrophist’? “If you asked somebody else in the group you’d get a different answer but for me there’ weren’t so many influences. There was the one song I wrote, ‘Gesceap’ – where I was hoping to do a Terry Riley ‘In C’ kind of thing, but then I realised when I started actually working on it, that it wouldn’t work as an open form piece and that it needed to be structured. It was interesting how that song progressed, in terms of the logical process of writing it. As far as the pieces that were originally conceived for the commission, those were generally just short segments and solos, but they changed a lot and I’m not exactly sure where those guys [the other band members, Dan Bitney, Doug McCombs, Jeff Parker and John Herndon] specific inspirations came from.”
Where did the album title and cover come from? The title is quite sobering. “Johnny came up with the title and I know it’s the title of a book I’ve not read. But we all really liked it and I personally think it speaks
to a sort of a human condition, especially in this day and age. We want to make every tiny thing in our lives massive problems. The album cover is us. It’s from a photo shoot we did a while ago, maybe four or five years ago. The photographers and the designers had this idea to do combine our faces and we really loved it. We figured if we were ever going to have our faces on an album cover, that’s the only way to do it.”
After six years since the last album, what’s the most exciting part of having Tortoise back fulltime for 2016? “It’s definitely going to be figuring out how to play this stuff as it was more or less constructed in the studio. Obviously we had played the pieces in other configurations, but we’ve got to learn the new arrangements and figure out how to orchestrate it on tour, that’ll be interesting and I’m looking forward to that.”
changing around you as an ‘album’ band in an increasingly streaming driven market? “I don’t feel that music has changed massively. There was a much larger change between 1995 and 2005, when everything went digital. That was the end of people actually paying for physical product. So now we’ve been in this post-physical age for ten years or so and that’s changing everybody’s focus and that’s why we’re so busy touring so much more because that’s where you have the connection with fans. It’s really different from twenty years ago.”
So you’re on the road a lot in 2016? “Yes, a lot of touring – that’s the year, basically. We’re going to do six or seven weeks in the States, playing in Europe, Japan, China South America Australia, the whole thing and festivals. It will take us to the fall for sure.” ‘The Catastrophist’ is out January 22nd on Thrill Jockey
In that six year gap, have you noticed stuff
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Back together after a four year break THE BLUETONES have just finished the first half of their 20th Anniversary Jukebox Hits tour. Sarah Lay talks to Mark Morriss about celebrating two decades of band life and making a life in music.
HE jet engines rumble and hiss as they fade away into the blue. The warm guitar tumbles in to replace them, a circling riff persistently burrowing into you before life-weary words of disillusionment and hope begin their spiral around each other finding a way to write themselves straight through you. Two decades on, the opening of ‘Expecting to Fly’ is still clearly the hurtling take-off of a record and a band about to soar. It is the lead in to a debut of tempered exhilaration and the first rendering of a sound which would evolve over the years but become characteristic for The Bluetones too. When it hit record stores in February 1996, briefly knocking Oasis’s ‘What’s the Story, Morning Glory’ from its six-week stint in the number 1 album slot, Mark Morriss was in his mid-twenties and that period of life is reflected throughout the album. The first bright burn of coming of age is dimming, the reality of adult life curling around the edges as hedonism and responsibility slide across each other while the gleaming magic of love begins to tarnish with the actuality of relationships. With a keen observer’s eye, a wry wit, a literary bent and a mellow guitar-led sound The Bluetones went on to record six studio albums, amicably parting ways after 2010’s ‘A New Athens’. But with the twentieth anniversary of their acclaimed and much-loved debut about us the band are back together and are part way through a celebratory tour, set to continue with a last clutch of dates next spring. Frontman Mark Morriss enthuses about the dates they’ve already done and playing as a band again, “It was chemical. I think we all missed it and were aware that time is passing and we only have one life to live. We decided to waste no more time shilly-shallying and just get ourselves out on the road.” And with that two-decade strong back catalogue the recent live shows have been a reminder of the volume of hits this band has at their fingertips. From the earlier part of their career there are top ten hits including ‘Slight Return’, ‘Cut Some Rug’,
‘Marblehead Johnson’ and a steady procession of those that hovered just outside - ‘Solomon Bites the Worm’, ‘If’ and ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’. These have been joined on recent dates by fan favourites, b sides and album tracks such as ‘Mudslide’, ‘4-Day Weekend’ and ‘I Was a Teenage Jesus’. These are the classics The Bluetones have contributed to contemporary songwriting. These are the songs that have always had a grown up feel while retaining a youthful exuberance, a certain shrewdness and guile. These are the songs sung with the idiosyncratic inflection, that sound like the hip-swaying shimmy with which they are performed. These are old friends that show a new facet each time they are rediscovered in your collection. Morriss shares the dates he’s loved so far on tour: “The shows in London and Manchester were highlights this time round. They were both the biggest shows the band had played in those cities for quite a few years, so we didn’t know whether or not we’d over-reached ourselves by booking those venues. As it turned out, we needn’t have worried.”
ver the charismatic frontman, he reflects on the passage of time and whether after so many years, after the living of life, these songs can still be connected and mean something to band and audience. “When The Bluetones toured ‘Expecting to Fly’ in 2009 I hadn’t listened to a lot of those songs in a while. In the way that you don’t, of course you don’t; you would have to be some kind of maniac to listen to your own songs over and over. “It felt odd. I’m a different man now to the one that wrote these words so singing them, I feel the distance, and I have to overcome that. “Some of the songs mean something different. Some of them have retained their sort of universal appeal and value to me.” Each show has been a reminder of how many indie dance floor moments this band has been a backdrop to, but yes, time has moved on and whether they want to look back or not both band and audience are different
“I think we all missed it and were aware that time is passing and we only have one life to live. ” Mark Morriss
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THE BLUETONES people now. “As a performer you only exist in the moment. Of course there are folk in the audience for whom the event is a nostalgic occasion, but that’s life. There are people who watch old movies in order to be reminded of their younger years rather than enjoy the art for what it is. I didn’t go into this tour with any intention other than to play these songs and entertain to the best of my ability, which is what I’ve always strived to do.”
ark traversed his own musical history on most recent solo album, ‘The Taste of Mark Morriss’. An album of covers, it started as studio fun to break through writer’s block but turned into a way of exploring songwriting and performance. Did nostalgia play a part in his choices? “With some of the choices, yes there was a sense of falling in love again, with familiar emotions and forgotten memories, but that doesn’t last long. You’re very quickly distracted with the matter in hand. The re-invention and interpretation. The nostalgia thing is not something that interests me as far as making art goes! “My selection was more a case of songs I just wanted to sing. I didn’t have to have a personal or emotional story connected to them. They were just songs I wanted to inhabit for a little while which is why the Laura Brannigan song is on there, because it’s just a brilliant song to sing. It’s a singer’s dream to sing, a pop singer’s dream. “And the OMD song emerged and just because I heard it in my head this sort of Glen Campbell-style version of that which is a beautiful, beautiful melody and then ‘Lucretia (My Reflection)’ is just one of my favourite songs from my youth. “I was obsessed with Sisters of Mercy for about eighteen months and that song has always always been something that makes the hairs of the back of your neck stand up. The original is amazing. “And so a part of me was thinking songs I’d like other people to hear forgotten songs, like ‘Lucretia’.” Mark has alternated solo shows touring his own album with being back out on the road with The Bluetones, their own anniversary part of the ubiquitous lookback at the industry bubble and hype of Britpop, when indie music suddenly
became the plaything of the mainstream. Bringing back the bands of the day only highlights how much the sound of that period, itself referencing and in some cases aping great music of the years before, now sounds through artists making music today. Morriss is pragmatic about the vogue for nostalgia, seeing it as an opportunity to celebrate the best of cultural history beyond any sentimental grasp to slow a personal passage of time. “Art always looks backwards before it can take a step forward. You can’t hope to carve a new future without knowing a bit about the past and I think it’s great that things are celebrated on anniversaries. “I remember in the early part of the century when those The Smiths albums were being re-evaluated and feeling ‘Well, this is great as a whole new audience is going to discover and explore them’.” Are the re-appraisals, the anniversary album tours, the always one-eye-on-the-past practice keeping culture from breaking new ground? Is new music living in the past rather than borrowing from it, taking inspiration but ultimately creating something fresh? “I don’t think it encourages bands to suddenly become copyists, it’s just the way inspiration works. “I mean, we started a band because we saw the Stone Roses and we came out of that gig with about two hundred and fifty other people, and we were just like ‘Do you wanna start a band?’ ‘Yeah, I wanna start a band, like tomorrow’, ‘Yeah, me too’ Llet’s start a band!’ sort of thing and that’s it. “The next couple of years of being in your band, your first band, you’re just trying to be whoever it is that inspired you - the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, the Stone Roses, Nirvana, or whoever. And then you find yourself, you find your voice and your way of doing it. “I think it’s brilliant when I hear young bands and they remind me of old psychedelic bands. It’s as if they’ve discovered something for the first time and that, for me, is exciting. “Bands now have got so many great references they can pilfer. Everything is so much more available now than it was to our generation. To find new music or find something old you had to go down the library. You had to go down Our Price. Beyond that you were kind of screwed. Now you just Google it and away you go.” Mark himself is as much a music fan today as always, enthusing about vinyl and discovering new music. Does he stick to the old formats or prefer the convenience of the new? “A bit of both really. I have Shazam on my phone, like everybody else I suppose, and that
is probably the medium I use most in order to discover new artists. “If I’m out and about and something catches my ear it’s great to be able to log it and store it and revisit it later. “But vinyl still feels like king. And I guess, you know, a lot of my audience feels that way. I think vinyl is just generally on the increase again.”
ith music still his full time career and having not just survived but thrived in the industry for so long what has been the highlight, the moment he realised he’d made it? “There’s not one moment. It happens with regularity. They do. It’s why I got into this. I mean I’m still doing it and that’s almost like justification in itself. “I love it, I’m lucky. I’ve worked hard to kind of still be here, there’s been some lean times,
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“There was a sense of falling in love again, with familiar emotions and forgotten memories, but that doesn’t last long. You’re very quickly distracted with the matter in hand. The re-invention and interpretation. The nostalgia thing is not something that interests me as far as making art goes!” times when you consider what it is that you’re doing but I just have to accept that this is what I was put here to do. “Music is what I was made to do and I’m at peace with that and if it’s going to make me a millionaire it is, if it’s not going to make me a millionaire that’s fine. If I have to starve and die in a garret then that’s the case as well.” When asked about the rest of the band Morriss’ wry humour shines, “Adam (Devlin, guitar) is a full time card-sharp and spread better. Scott (Morriss, bass) works in an
abattoir in Romford, and I don’t know what Eds (Chester, drums) is up to. I haven’t seen or heard from him since we came offstage in Bristol.” Joking about how the band spend their time aside, for now The Bluetones are content with marking the anniversary of the album that launched them and a back catalogue that has established their sound as a touchstone for many musicians since. This slight return will have satisfied some fans, those who want to simply revisit their
youth, but for others it will have lit a fire under the hope that the band could head back to the studio and give them something new to fall in love with. Mark is good-humoured but emphatic about the future beyond the spring tour dates: “Another tour, yes, but no plans for a new record. Never say never, I know, but we’ll never do it.” ‘The Taste Of Mark Morriss’ is out now on Acid Jazz The Bluetones tour the UK in April
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JOHN ROBB CHARTS THE ARTISTIC EVOLUTION OF THE MAGICAL EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN.
LL the best music is about time and place. Einstürzende Neubauten were at the epicentre of a key time and place amid the claustrophobia of post-war Berlin. The group captured the intense atmosphere of their walled home city during the post-punk era; the dark energies generated by the East/West impasse providing the spark for their visceral creativity. Berlin’s twisted landscape of metal and rubble provided both inspiration and instrumentation for the group’s founder and main creative force, Blixa Bargeld. Given the fecundity of Bargeld’s imagination, it was perhaps inevitable that Neubauten would become something uniquely original, a soundscape of clattering metal allied to Bargeld’s clanking rust bucket guitar, which gouged and skittered atop strident bass lines. In post-punk, bass was often the key instrument, a dynamic that held true for the nascent Berlin outfit, wherein the bass created a solid spine for the clattering metal percussion to surround. This superstructure was embellished further by Blixa’s distinctive howling vocals. On first listening it was hard to tell which was the most shockingly alluring; the brutal yet beautiful music, the startling originality of their sound, or the guttural power of the German language delivered at a time when the Anglo-American axis dominated. And there was Bargeld himself; whose very image was as striking as his music. Dressed in tailored BDSM rubber, teamed with the occasional codpiece and biker boots and topped by exploding mop of hair, he was the perfect exotic pin up for the newly coalesced goth scene. Blixa appeared fully formed; a darkly acidic character hailing from the attractively dangerous Berlin hinterland and producing a totally original form of music that followed a unique agenda.
1981 resh from playing their debut gig in 1980, the band added Alexander Hacke, the precociously talented 15 year-old boyfriend of actress and musician Christiane F., and former Abwarts percussionist F.M. Einheit to their line-up. The expanded group set about formulating their highly original vision of creating music from the debris of Berlin’s collapsing new buildings (this phrase being the English translation of their name). The singular atmosphere of their home city was reflected in the sparse spasmodic music that was contrived from off kilter percussion made by striking pieces of metal and oil drums, lo-fi electronics, a twostring guitar and strident bass.
ZEICHNUNGEN DES PATIENTEN O. T. (Some Bizzare) 1983 n 1983, Blixa Bargeld hooked up with the dying embers of Nick Cave’s Birthday Party. Cave had previously described the sight of the German vocalist as the most destroyed person he had ever seen after watching the
rubber-clad frontman perform in Holland. The pair would soon become partners in crime when Cave moved to Berlin and Blixa joined the ranks of the Bad Seeds, instigating an association that would endure for twenty years. The album sees the first evolution of the band’s sound – which, while still employing metallic objects to augment the bass-driven dynamic, adds other layers such as found sound from phone conversations.
HALBER MENSCH (Some Bizzare) 1985
instürzende Neubauten’s third album saw an important change in the group’s sound, as a new level of musicality was added, with Bargeld employing a more melodic vocal style that saw a poetic shift away from the strangulated delivery that had become something of a trademark. This was underpinned by a beat-heavy electronic undertow that gave the band a danceable edge and an added sense of sonic organisation, which suited their primitivism and added additional power to their already impressive aural arsenal.
FÜNF AUF DER NACH OBEN OFFENEN RICHTERSKALA (Some Bizzare) 1987
his album finds the group at their dark, stark, unsettling best. Moving further away from their earlier experimentalism, they somehow managed to make an album that was more subdued, dark and organic, without losing their discordant edge. Eerie, broodingly ambient and atmospheric, with a title that translates as ‘Five on the open-ended Richter scale’; Neubauten’s fourth album provided further evidence that there was much more to their sound than metallic percussion and artful and brilliant concepts.
HAUS DER LÜGE
(Thirsty Ear) 1989 erhaps to underline his commitment the new Neubauten regime, Blixa dramatically switched his iconic underground S&M scarecrow look for a black suit, with the music brilliantly following, er, suit. The album featured a striking cover image of a urinating horse, and embraced a less chaotic style of music, albeit skewed through the band’s collective creative perspectives. This enabled the group to explore a wider range of possibilities – a process that also served to highlight their versatility as subtlety and nuance were employed as the delivery systems for their message.
(Thirsty Ear) 1993 ittingly, given that the album title is Latin for ‘clean slate’, this was Neubauten delivering their new sonic manifesto and hitting their stride with a real attention to detail. Ambient textures and the very rhythms and dynamics of their art underpinned their new European soundtrack and
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EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN narrative. Their movement away from traditional, blues-based rock tropes was a key aspect of this, echoing the experimentalism of earlier groups such as CAN to produce a new music that owed more to the classical ensemble than it did the bar band.
(EMI) 1996 ith their eccentric singer now adding to his newly elegant wardrobe by donning an array of strange and exotic hats, the group’s music seemed to match this new sartorial opulence. Delving deeper into subtlety and texture with bold confidence, the album takes on a mesmeric tone. Standout track, ‘The Garden’ concerns itself with German identity, emerging as a coldly beautiful piece of music.
SILENCE IS SEXY (Mute) 2000
seventy-minute masterpiece of ideas, textures and mind-boggling brilliance, this was an album that lived up to its name. The title track is stripped to a hush as the band use the emptiness as an instrument. During the sparse introduction, it is possible to hear the striking of a match for a post-coital cigarette, this use of quietude to amplify small sounds is a motif that permeates the album and is enhanced by the group’s almost perfect use of silence.
(Mute) 2004 ncreasingly elemental, Einstürzende Neubauten installed air as the dominant theme within a suite of songs that evoke its ebb and flow. This was achieved by an imaginative use of instrumentation that saw devices including tyres, compressors, plastic tubes and electric fans being employed to suggest the album’s core conceptual motif. ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ was a reflection of the mundane that found the band exploring the subtle power of ambient noise.
ALLES WIEDER OFFEN
(Potomak) 2007 fter suddenly leaving the Bad Seeds after a two decade long association, Bargeld had far more time to concentrate on his main project and this crafted work provided the perfect proof. Freed from any external interference, Neubauten were again at liberty to explore their more experimental side – but perhaps most significantly utilising the subtlety and intelligence gained through experience.
LAMENT (Mute) 2014
masterpiece of ideas and conceptual brilliance ‘Lament’ is the most recent Neubauten album to date. A sprawling affair that reflected upon the madness of the First World War, presenting the conflict via eclectic combinations of musical and even theatrical ideas, the disc again demonstrates that the group remain way ahead of their peers in terms of sheer originality and twisted inspiration.
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SUNN O )))
VISCERAL, RAW AND UNTAMED, THE SUNN O))) LIVE EXPERIENCE IS AN UNDENIABLE ENTITY. WITH THE RELEASE OF NEW ALBUM ‘KANNON’, A STUDIO RECORDING WITH FEET FIRMLY PLANTED IN THE LIVE ARENA, LOUISE BROWN DISCOVERS HOW TWO MUSIC OBSESSIVES FLIPPED POST-METAL ON ITS HEAD.
LOOD-red light illuminates the stage, the stacks of amplifiers barely visible through the thick, rising fog, casting shadows like a Pagan stone circle at dawn. The robed figures perform their ceremony, the room rumbling along to the droning guitars, a fearful frontman at the centre, preaching a mystifying mass with otherworldly sounds that sound distinctly nonhuman. Sunn O))) (pronounced Sun) are performing at The Royal Festival Hall – hallowed boards trodden previously by an
illustrious who’s who of rock, jazz and classical – a triumphant climax in an already heady seventeen-year run that was never meant to leave the confines of the studio. Invited by Talking Heads mainman David Byrne to perform as part of his curated Meltdown Festival this is drone metal – a freakish tentacle of the extreme noise scene – embraced by music’s most revered practitioners. Pioneered by Seattle band Earth, perhaps most known for frontman Dylan Carlson’s close friendship with Kurt Cobain, drone married the post-rock/post-punk of
Melvins and Sonic Youth with the boundarypushing experimentation of acts such as Godflesh, Throbbing Gristle and Swans. It’s loud, it’s dissonant, it’s not for the faint of heart. In 1998, it also gave the world Sunn O))), widely acknowledged as the group to take drone into the stratosphere via numerous albums, EPs, collaborations and live recordings, and earsplitting concerts that are as strikingly visual as they are sonically thunderous. “It’s shocking and surprising to me.” Greg Anderson, one half of Sunn O))) is hesitant to admit that he has fathered a genre that has gone on to inspire countless bands and become part of the modern musical landscape. “You know, I’ve always approached the way I play music from a fan’s point-of-view and I’ve never, honestly, considered myself to be innovative. We add our own stamp, but I never considered myself to be this guy who created something
“WE JUST WANTED TO PLAY AND HAD THIS GEEKY OBSESSIVENESS ABOUT VOLUME.” Greg Anderson
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SUNN O )))
completely original. It’s debatable, Sunn O))) has evolved and developed into something much different than when it started and it’s taken a lot of different turns over the years, but it’s still hard for me, my mindset is still back when I was starting playing music with Stephen. I’m really just a product of my influences.” Stephen is Stephen O’Malley, other half of this deafening duo. Greg takes us right back to when they met in Seattle in the early 1990s. “Stephen was this metal guy that lived in my neighbourhood and we became friends. I turned him onto jazz and weird post-rock stuff and he’d turn me onto really underground death and black metal. We really wanted to do this band called Thorr’s Hammer, that was influenced by [Swiss proto-black metal antiheroes] Hellhammer and [British doom legends] Cathedral. That band was short-lived and we started playing together in a band called Burning Witch, but
then I moved to LA because I needed a change. Stephen ended up moving to Los Angeles but by then I’d already started another band called Goatsnake. Stephen and I wanted to carry on playing music together, so really as just an excuse we formed Sunn O))). The idea was that we were inspired by Earth and early Melvins, and it was really about playing through as many amplifiers as we could get our hands on and getting as high as we could and playing riffs as loud as possible together in a very freeform way. Honestly, there were no aspirations for what we were doing, we just wanted to play and had this geeky obsessiveness about volume.” The band even took their name from a range of amplifiers, such was their dedication to shattering eardrums. “I don’t want to say it was a joke but it was a very selfish project. We didn’t care if anyone liked it, in fact we thought people would hate it and there was a lot of that when
we started, but we really enjoyed it so we kept at it and instead of being a few wasted jam sessions in our room we made some recordings and played some shows.”
fter a demo in 1999, the band released their first full-length ‘ØØ Void’ via Aaron Turner of post-rock icons Isis’s label Hydra Head and Rise Above Records, a British label helmed by their doom hero and Cathedral frontman, Lee Dorrian. With Greg’s other band, the bluesy stoner rockers Goatsnake, gathering momentum thanks to their stellar debut ‘Vol. 1’ he found himself on tour around the UK with doom metal mob Orange Goblin in May 2000 and it was agreed that for the cost of one extra plane ticket they could easily add Sunn O))) to the bill. It was
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SUNN O )))
“‘KANNON’ IS REALLY A VERY ACCURATE REFLECTION OF OUR LIVE SHOW. I FEEL THIS IS MORE PRIMAL, MORE FOCUSSED ON THE HEAVY RIFFS WHERE WE STARTED.” this tour that would change everything for the untried and untested act. “It was during that tour that I started feeling uncomfortable with playing this music live in front of an audience,” Greg admits. “And the reaction, whether it was negative or positive, was taking me out of the headspace I wanted to be in. This was before what Sunn O))) is now known for, with the robes and the fog. It was just dudes in their jeans and t-shirts playing in front of as many amplifiers as we could find and I wasn’t comfortable with it. The last show was
in London, at the Underworld, and we set the amps to the front of the stage and hid behind them. That, to me, was the best show of the run and I was like if we’re gonna do this live we’re gonna have to figure something out, because I don’t want a negative audience reaction to affect the music we’re making, so that’s how the concept started with us making our identities anonymous with the robes; making it not about the individual and turning it into a spectacle, asking ‘what can be done live to compliment the music?’, because the music is very unorthodox.”
These days Sunn O))) are very much a live entity, but that’s not to take away from their recorded output, and in fact have just released their seventh full-length, ‘Kannon’. However, Greg reveals how this is perhaps their most live album to date saying that “It’s really a very accurate reflection of our live show. I feel this is more primal, more focussed on the heavy riffs where we started.”
he Sunn O))) live experience is untamed, it is visceral and raw and no two concerts are ever the same. It relies on improvisation and the infrangible communion between the two musicians and their invited guests to weave these slow, low riffs into aural artefacts. This means that while you may have and know by heart any of their recorded output, it is unlikely that you will hear whole songs from their studio arsenal in their live shows. There may be a motif, a recognisable riff here and there but largely the Sunn O))) performance is a
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well with Sunn O))) and I think that’s why it’s been such a long-lasting collaboration.”
GREG ANDERSON Starting out in the Seattle hardcore punk scene, Greg played in seminal bands Brotherhood and Engine Kid before meeting Stephen O’Malley and forming the influential doom acts, Thorr’s Hammer, Burning Witch and Sunn O))). His stoner blues band Goatsnake started in 1996 and feature Pete Stahl of the punk band Scream, notable for being one of Dave Grohl’s first bands. He also runs the successful independent record label, Southern Lord, who have put out albums by his own bands but also Sleep, Yob and Boris.
STEPHEN O’MALLEY Musical savant Stephen is a sound obsessive in both volume (sound) and volume (mass). He is a collector and a lover of everything on the margins of music and beyond. He has collaborated with Julian Cope, Daniel O’Sullivan of Guapo, Nurse With Wound, comic book artist Alan Moore, sculptor Banks Violette as well as founding the drone supergroup, Khanate. He is currently curating a record label and art project under the name Ideologic Organ and was the editor of the renowned extreme metal fanzine, Descent, in the 1990s.
ATILLA CSIHAR “Attila is mostly known for his work with the Norwegian black metal group Mayhem,” explains Greg of their most regular collaborator and vocalist. “I don’t think people realise the depth of his artistic ability. He’s an amazing vocalist, one of the best musicians I’ve ever had the chance to work with and the way he fits in with Sunn O))) is he’s constantly pushing his comfort level and challenging that. He’s not just a voice, he turns it into an instrument and makes amazing sounds. I think it’s his his willing to experiment that gels
living, evolving beast in its own right. “The difference between us and the majority of bands is that I would consider Sunn O))) to be more of an experience really,” Greg explains. “We’re not trying to evoke a certain response from the audience, that’s been to me one of the most important things about why I enjoy playing with Sunn O))). It’s that you can really leave all that behind, you’re not worried about what people are thinking, you’re really getting inside the music and it gives you a chance to meditate with it. While we’re extremely appreciative that people do like the music and do connect with it, we’re not really trying to win a crowd over. We don’t write a setlist, we might start with a song but we’ll leave it open so it can potentially go in different directions and turn into something else. “As far as ‘Kannon’ goes, it’s interesting, a lot of the riffs and the ideas on those tracks we had been doing live already, and in fact there’s a track on a live record called ‘Dømkirke’, which
was recorded in a cathedral in Norway, that’s called ‘Cannon’, and some of those ideas are on this new record. In the past the records have been created in the studio, whereas ‘Kannon’ is based on stuff we were doing live, and that’s why I say it’s the closest album, in my opinion, to our live shows.” Imagining a scenario in which the duo stumble across the perfect riff in the live setting but with no way to record it for “we’ll come back to that later” purposes, Greg assures us that “usually our stuff is recorded,” before going on the reveal that “somebody in the UK actually came forward and had over sixty recordings of Sunn O))). There seems to be a bunch of people trading and collecting these live recordings so we decided to make these available for people. We launched our own live Bandcamp page (Sunn-live.bandcamp. com) where you can stream them for free and if you would like to purchase them, each show is $5. There were people out there archiving this stuff and we thought it was amazing that they
SCOTT WALKER Prior to ‘Kannon’ Sunn O))) were fortunate to work with one of their heroes, avant pop crooner Scott Walker on the 2014 album ‘Soused’. “That was quite an honour for us,” gushes Greg. “He was somebody on a shortlist of ours, of people we would like to do something with. We reached out to him and we never heard anything back. We forgot about it and then a couple of years later we started hearing from people that they had heard there were some Scott Walker/Sunn O))) demos floating around. We thought it was a joke at first. We were contacted eventually by his management and Scott had been listening to the band and rather than him singing on a song on our album he wanted to create an entire record together. It was unbelievable. He was somebody who I had so much respect for and was such a huge fan of and I didn’t think that something like that would happen in a million years.”
OREN AMBARCHI “He’s an experimental guitar player from Australia and he’s put out some amazing solo records over the last couple of years. We started collaborating with him on our ‘Monoliths & Dimensions’  record and we’ve been working with him off and on for the past five or six years. He’s really someone who has a completely unorthodox approach to playing guitar and what sounds he gets out of it is really interesting, so he was somebody that has added a lot to what we have done over the past couple of years. His taste in music is similar or his openness to it is similar to ours. He’s very obsessive and enthusiastic about different kinds of music.”
had the time and patience to do that, so it should be shared with the fans.” It’s also handy for when it comes to recording ‘Kannon’s follow-up too, we hope. Greg is keeping silent on that count, who knows where Sunn O))) will go next, but he does concede that “if you’re really into the group, it becomes interesting to hear the different things that happen to the set and songs. Sometimes we’ll do a tour and there will be a lot of similarities from night to night, but there are different things that happen or there will be a different collaborator who we’ve invited to play for that night with whom there is no way to have the time or resources to actually record with, so there’s a lot of stuff that happens live with Sunn O))) that’s unique and I think it’s a huge part of the band. Which is really ironic really, as the band was only going to be a studio project and we weren’t even that comfortable playing live.” ‘Kannon’ is out now on Southern Lord
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Celebrating their first full-length in over two decades, Welsh isolationist experimentalists Datblygu have just released the astounding â€˜Porwr Trallodâ€™. John Robb talks to Patricia Morgan about the importance of independence and identity. 82
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OR decades, Wales has played host to a fascinating and idiosyncratic music scene. A mixture of national independence, independent thinking and an adherence to post-punk principles has ensured that the principality is full of interesting bands making music on their own terms. Away from the big cities, bands are freed from distracting industry pressures and feel little need to conform to any hipster orthodoxy; it’s just the music and the internet. Perhaps the most interesting of these bands is Datblygu, who were firm favourites of John Peel’s and released a series of great records, before disappearing without a trace. This year, the band returned with their new album ‘Porwr Trallod’ and it’s clear that they have not missed a beat. Patricia Morgan, one half of the experimental duo (along with David R Edwards) filled in the gaps for us.
You’re back – and on such good form. Where have you been? Twenty two years is a long rest. “The return was fuelled by the burgeoning interest that showed itself when we celebrated thirty years since the start of the group. We were suddenly on the Welsh news!”
How different is your world now?
Was it a conscious decision to move the music on from decades ago or just a natural development? “It all depends what equipment and instruments are available at the time. I still scour the junk shops for instruments, though I have taken to sourcing stuff online – For example, the Electribe drum machine, my new pet!”
Do you listen to much modern music? “Yes, though I’m quite selective about what it is. My threshold for how long I can listen to something I don’t like before turning off gets shorter and shorter. There is some great new stuff about, but also a lot of rubbish.”
Do you feel any connection with any other bands? Or do you like to work in splendid isolation? “Datblygu is music for the individual. There are no other bands like us.”
Do you think music itself has come towards you in a sense? Years ago, there was a certain career path followed by bands, and groups like Datblygu were looked on as being outsider operators, but now a lot of musicians work like this. “Yes, music does come towards me. It’s never been a career as such, it’s purely organic.”
Do you think the damp melancholy of beautiful Wales and its skyline feeds into your music?
“The great change for me is that I’ve stopped working and now have more time to compose and meet up with David (Edwards). I’m dabbling with recording software, analogue synthesisers, and having fun with it.”
“It would be nice to think so – though drab town life features quite strongly.”
Musically and lyrically, how much has the lay-off affected the way that you create?
“You do get more confident as you get older. I’m not as hypercritical as I used to be. Now I can just about tolerate myself when listening to my contribution.”
“Coming back to working together was bit like we’d never had a break, but this time we have a lot more autonomy on what we do and how we record.”
Many groups of our generation are making their best work in their forties or fifties, why is this?
‘Porwr Trallod’ is out now on Ankst Records
Does working in a certain degree of isolation have its benefits? “Definitely! We work unfettered by outside influences, which is experimentation and DIY in the truest sense.”
When you started Welsh language was almost a fringe culture, thought of as a museum piece by outsiders, and now it’s thriving. Why do you think this is so? “It’s probably to do with social media. Downloads these days make it much easier than the fanzines-by-post scenario to communicate and spread the word. It’s great to appeal to a whole new generation.”
Does the language shape the melodies? “Definitely – It’s integral, a sort of telepathy!”
Does it sometimes feel futile that all our musical socio-political endeavours have been appropriated by the Tories? “Unfortunately, you can’t stop anyone from name-dropping. It’s how they behave in direct contrast to what they say they believe in that shows up the anomalies to any sentient person.”
“DATBLYGU IS MUSIC FOR THE INDIVIDUAL. THERE ARE NO OTHER BANDS LIKE US.” LOUDER THAN WAR datbuygo 2 pages.indd 2
NOT TO DISAPPEAR (4AD)
The London based trio’s much-anticipated second album.
arely do a band conjure so much emotion and sentiment than London three-piece Daughter do throughout their compositions. Written in their home city and recorded and produced with Nicolas Vernter (Deerhunter, War on Drugs, Animal Collective) at his Brooklyn recording studios, ‘Not To Disappear’ delivers a much-anticipated follow-up to their debut ‘If You Leave’. With evocative vocals punctuated with intoxicating guitar melodies and hypnotic drum beats, Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella manage to evoke memories of their previous album whilst expanding and building upon their trademark fragility and sound with a much fuller musically driven creation. This album feels more substantial and whilst remaining driven by Tonra’s breathy vocals, the guitar and percussion punctuate the sound more frequently, creating a richer, deeper and more orchestrated feel. From the opening track ‘New Ways’ draws you in and drinks the very existence from your soul, setting the scene for the rest of the album. The ten-song collection, including
“The ten-song collection meanders through heartbreak, loss, and the instability of the human mind.” ‘Numbers’, ‘How’, ‘No Care’ and ‘To Belong’, meanders through heartbreak, loss, and the instability of the human mind. It elicits tears through lyrics describing the addictiveness of relationships, the need to get out, to run, but the gut wrenching need to stay near, the yearning, the longing, and the craving. Transporting the music across art forms, recently released track ‘Do The Right Thing’ takes the listener through the heart wrenching journey of dementia, with filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard and author Stewart Eves creating a visual masterpiece to illustrate the tragedy. “I’m just fearing one day soon I’ll lose my mind, then I’ll lose my children, then I’ll lose my love, I just sit in silence, let the pictures soak out of the television”. For anyone that’s been close to this subject the lyrics and tortuous, meandering nature of the harmonious guitar and drums is shatteringly accurate. ‘No Care’ provides a wilder, hastier tempo, with Tonra’s punchy, quick driven lyrics, “I don’t care anymore”, being accentuated with staccato guitar distortion and drum rhythm, punching home the message of the dispassionate detachment of relationship breakdown and drunken arguments. As ‘Made of Stone’ closes the album with the lyrics “you are the likely cause of what will be my demise”, you can’t help but echo the sentiment of these words in the listening of this album. It will leave you emotionally twisted and depleted. But that’s what beautifully orchestrated music and carefully crafted lyrics are supposed to do. You’ll feel broken, tormented and aching but above this, ‘Not To Disappear’ will make you feel alive. Kristen Goodall
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reviews issue 2.indd 1
BEANS ON TOAST
BIRDS IN ROW
CONFESSIONS OF A ROMANCE NOVELIST
THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS
ROLLING UP THE HILL
Alternative pop debut from multiinstrumentalist, songwriter and producer The Anchoress.
Sixth album by the electro-minimalist duo is a gorgeous collection.
Bang on schedule annual release, as entertaining as usual.
Gallic and grim.
he sense of loss and longing that permeates ‘Personal War’ is as undeniable as it is unrelenting. This French crew have made the kind of record which is best left up to the Europeans and is frequently associated with our Scandinavian comrades. It’s a good old fashioned post-hardcore record, with lots of intricate guitar work balanced out by a sense of the unbridled in terms of the vocals, all anchored to a solid if somewhat uninspiring rhythm section. These kind of records used to come out all the time and it has made me remember how much I miss the likes of Grade, Sounds Like Violence et al. It’s also great to see Deathwish back on form (after releasing a few stinkers) with this and the breathtaking Cult Leader both slated for release in the next month. James Batty
each House have achieved something remarkable on this, their second album of 2015, by locating a mystical meeting point between Suicide’s psychological inner-space and the post-surf comedown of Dennis Wilson’s elegiac ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’. The duo’s deployment of deceptively sparse instrumentation is skilful and judicious, yet the album feels deeply heartfelt, rather than contrived. ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ ripples with subtle shades of the Jesus & Mary Chain, Broadcast, Stereolab and Sonic Youth, while harking back to the swooning ‘60s pop of Patti Page and the experimentation of Silver Apples. The splendidly-titled ‘Elegy to the Void’ is a highlight, its warm electronica evoking Delia Derbyshire’s pioneering avant-pop as Victoria Legrand entreats. An ethereal delight. Gus Ironside
SLAVES BEYOND DEATH
n this dark, intricate and intelligent debut from Welsh musician The Anchoress (Catherine Anne Davies), normative ideas of love and romance are tested and challenged. As Davies takes on different characters in each song, through the novelist of the title, we get a front-loaded album of confrontational revenge-pop segueing into orchestral stretches of carefully balanced bitterness and humour. Playing multiple instruments and lavishly layering both vocals and melody, Davies has created a first record of catchy pop with deep, dark undertones. Co-produced by Mansun’s Paul Draper, their intense creative pairing captures a vitally feminist, liberally literary and melodically thrilling collection. This is an album of personal experience, distinctive sound and ambitious ideals. Sarah Lay
Solid enough death metal.
hile Washington State’s Black Breath’s last album ‘Sentenced To Life’ incorporated thrash and hardcore amid their bleak death metal sound, their latest record ‘Slaves Beyond Death’ is pretty much straight-up death metal. Even the Paolo Girardi cover art suggests they’ve moved further into death metal territory. When the pace is fast, as it is on opening number ‘Pleasure, Pain, Disease,’ Black Breath sound immense, but with all eight songs on ‘Slaves Beyond Death’ lasting in excess of five minutes each, there’s inevitably a lot of mid-paced death metal and that becomes a little tiresome. There’s plenty to admire here though and it’s a hard-hitting punch of an album, helped no end by Kurt Ballou’s unfussy production. It’s a somewhat retro sound Black Breath have chosen to go with but I guess the classics never go out of fashion. Paul Hagen
ou can set your watch by the album release schedule of Beans On Toast. Another birthday, another album. He’d be the first to agree that he’s not the most technically gifted or ambitious in musical terms, but lyrically he’s spot on. Filled with observations, which flit from the incisive and cutting to the bizarre and comical, ‘Rolling Up The Hill’ is another chapter in his album series that charts the topical climate. Religion, life on the road, live music, singing songs at camera phones and bankers in particular get the Beans treatment. Liberal use of the vernacular comes as standard, making potential radio play a nightmare, yet having said that, the short spoken word ‘Numbers And Words’ reflection on love is quite touching; proof that there’s more to Beans than meets the eye. Mike Ainscoe
Slow heartache set to orchestrated dreampop on their ﬁrst album in 18 years.
Stunning return from New Zealand’s ﬁnest export.
ormed in 1984, Belfast-based Butterfly Child (the alias of Joe Cassidy) released three albums of shimmering dreampop during the ‘90s. His last album ‘Soft Explosives’ hit in 1998 but there was then a lengthy hiatus until the release of single ‘No Longer Living In Your Shadow’ in 2012 – the forerunner to this album. During this time Cassidy worked on soundtracks and instrumentals and that type of expansive, cinematic soundscape abounds across this album. They act as sonic foil and the luscious backdrop to the theme of reflection as a propulsion for moving forward. ‘Futures’ is full of delicate melancholy and is rich in electro-indie melodies. A grown up album that sounds in no way staid and is a welcome return for this alt-indie artist. Sarah Lay
artin Phillips has always been a pop genius. The singer and guitarist might be the only constant in New Zealand’s finest export, the Chills, but amazingly, 35 years after they formed, his pop vision remains beautifully pure and undiminished. ‘Silver Bullets’ is the band’s first album in a long time, yet Philips simply picks up where he left off. Shimmering guitars, a colourful splash of keyboards, cascading melodies and all underscored by some incredibly inventive and meticulous songwriting. From the environmental friendly ‘Underwater Wasteland’ to the driving title track and the haunting, reflective ‘Tomboy’, there’s isn’t a track on ‘Silver Bullets’ which doesn’t sound vibrant and life-affirming. Phillips’ own personal troubles have been well documented, which makes ‘Silver Bullets’ even more of a full-blown technicolour triumph. Andy Peart
Shimmering harmonies and punchy hooks to reinvigorate the guitar-led indie pop genre.
t’s not so much the intensity but the persistence of the tunes which makes Chorusgirl’s self-titled debut get under your skin. Hooks and harmonies combine for a blistering noise pop assault sitting somewhere between the shimmer of Lush and the brashness of The Breeders. It manages to do so without ever being brutal but neither does it stray too far toward twee. The London quartet explore universal themes with the catchiest of tunes, thundering rhythms, a wry sense of self and fascinating multi-meaning lyrics reflecting the complexity, and often the duality, of life. A great take on the guitar album, showing there is life in the genre yet, this record delights the listener through subtly anthemic melody and honest, intelligent lyrics about relationships, friendships and finding your place. Sarah Lay LOUDER THAN WAR
reviews issue 2.indd 2
THE ECHO AND THE ALWAYS
GET YOUR GUN
…AND AFTER THAT THE DARK
THE WORRYING KIND
Political post-punk/synth veterans.
ormed by Philip Best back in 1982, the London-based Consumer Electronics (now alongside wife Sarah Froelich on electronics) unleash their latest album and it’s as angry and pissed off as ever. A glorious collision of punk, electro and techno noise, this follow-up to last year’s acclaimed ‘Estuary English’ and this year’s ‘Repetition Reinforcement’ 12” shows Best addressing the truly fucked state of the UK under Tory rule. The likes of ‘Knives Cut’, ‘Colour Climax’ and ‘Murder Your Masters’ (which surfaced on a 2015 rare tour-only 7” split with labelmates Sleaford Mods), Best’s words are spat out with the rage and anger that is both personal and political. ‘Dollhouse Songs’ is the chaotic soundtrack to a country that feels equally as spinning and weird in 2015. Ariel Wimfrey
T-rex sized riffage from Brit rocking grunge monsters.
Restrained but luminescent post-rock debut from Welsh ﬁve-piece.
f you don’t evolve, you die. Or, in this case, become extinct. Dinosaur Pile-up have heeded the warning with ‘Eleven Eleven’, an album that pushes their grunge-lite Brit rock sound further in every direction. Songs like ‘Nothing Personal’ recall the verve and effervescence of Ash’s ‘1977’, while the juddering ‘Red and Purple’ shows the trio’s ability to throw in a fat, insanely catchy chorus into a throbbing, head-bobbing anthem. In fact, ‘Eleven Eleven’ is filled with other similarly contagious moments, set against the meaty riffs and pulsating drums. It could sound formulaic and repetitive, but songs such as ‘Anxiety Trip’, thick with sludge and menace, mean it feels fresh and exciting, while ‘Might As Well’ is a straight-up alt-rock stadium anthem. There’s plenty of life left in these Dinosaurs… Rob Mair
SUNN O))) KANNON (Southern Lord)
New aural triptych from professional patience testers.
can’t be bothered to go into the history of this band because I’m sure you all know the backstory. The addition of Attila (yes that Attila) was the shot in the arm they needed way back when, bringing as he did welcome flourishes to their well-established sound. This new material harks back to the noise ridden ‘Monoliths & Dimensions’, this time the material is more densely layered giving it an altogether more claustrophobic atmosphere and is also more recognisably metal than a lot of their previous work. The founding members of the band have always been driven to present this work in unusual contexts rarely associated with heavy acts that (whether they like it or not) are seen as having their roots in metal. They have always been highbrow for the lowbrow but their desire to extend beyond this is admirable, and this release sees them collaborating on the cover art and liner notes with intellectual and arty types. It seems fitting then to frame this work in terms of art history; if previously their work has been reminiscent of the sweeping dynamism of John Martin’s paintings then this is more Pieter Bruegel the Elder, with macabre elements crammed into its nooks and crannies. ‘Kannon’ is unlikely to win them any new fans but it will give the already indoctrinated something marginally different to chew on and keep the pretenders to their throne at arm’s length a little while longer. James Batty
here is something quite special about the grand but melancholy sweep of softly muted trumpet as it appears in the penultimate track of Cardiff quintet The Echo and the Always’ debut; a record of diffused electro-indie that meanders pleasantly enough but only manages to ignite in odd moments. But, oh, those moments. They come in the perspicuity of the lyrics. They come in the gloom-laden strings and the precision drum-builds. They come in the restrained melody and the introspective intricacies that only reveal themselves as familiarity grows. This is not a raging inferno of a debut but rather softly glowing embers dancing prettily in the air around you. Watch them fly as those sparks might just set a future release more fully alight. Sarah Lay
(Louder Than War/Empty Tape)
Darkness descends from Denmark.
enmark is killing it right now with dark, brooding television and they’re about to give the world its musical equivalent with Get Your Gun, two brothers from the farmlands of Aalborg. Emotionally crushing from the first note, opener ‘Black Book’ is a roiling, ruffian, dissonant anthem heaped in misery and gothic condemnation. A song called ‘A Sea Of Sorrow’ was not going to be more upbeat, and it’s from here on that these poets channel outlaw country, heart-wrenching pain and conjure sonic references from Wovenhand to Bonnie Prince Billy, Nick Cave and even newer artists like Chelsea Wolfe. If the next series of ‘The Killing’ or ‘The Bridge’ needs a soundtrack they need not look further than Andreas and Simon Westmark – ‘The Worrying Kind’ is musical drama at its best. Louise Brown
GARY CLARK JR
THE STORY OF SONNY BOY SLIM
Schizophrenic punk creativity.
he Garden are a lot of fun, and their debut album proper, ‘Haha’, rocks. It’s completely nonsensical; beat-scatting over short songs that sprint through punk and synth-punk styles. But by the end of the acid-fried 16 tracks it leaves you a bit ‘where’s the tunes?’ They’ve a full-house when it comes to cool cards; California twins, models, etc. Whatever. Some of the music is great, the opening track that splurges out keyboards as vocals blurt “I sit on my grass” is brilliant and stupid. Similarly the verbal drivel that is ‘Everything Has A Face’ (“shoot up, shoot up if you’ve got a fucking face/put your hands up if you’ve only got a face.”) is sweet. It’s void of any meaning but the experience is what it’s about, and for 90 seconds it delivers. It’s madness. But their frenetic nature is constrained by the conventional album format. Jonathan Falcone
Solid blues and soul chops, but nothing more.
ary Clark Jr has skills, no doubt. A voice that’s rich and dreamy, mad guitar moves and he even hits the skins and does the tracking on this, his second album. Having said that, the songs are horribly safe. Opening with ‘The Healing’, it pounds and shuffles with the magnanimity of protest music, but it’s a slightly inferior carbon copy of a cut off the John Legend and The Roots album, the awesome ‘Wake Up!’ Is the fact that Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl rate him something that makes him worth splashing cash on? Nah, but while it’s painfully safe, it’s not without moments. ‘Our Love’ is sincerely soulful, like Ben E. King, and the electric organ warm and fuzzy, while ‘Can’t Sleep’ has the funk, but the rest is a bit leaden. Jon Falcone
LOUDER THAN WAR
reviews issue 2.indd 3
(Big Scary Monsters/Tangled Talk)
Brief fourth EP from the Brighton punks.
narwolves’ latest EP features four songs in nine minutes and they claim it’s the most intense music they’ve made. Guitarist/ vocalist Thom Weeks said: “We tend to get influenced by the music we listen to in the van, so this record definitely has a DC hardcore vibe to it. It’s heavy, it’s short, and it’s probably the most agitated we’ve sounded on record.” It’s a slightly misleading statement because ‘Adolescence’ doesn’t sound all that dissimilar from Gnarwolves’ previous releases, and there isn’t too much Minor Threat or Bad Brains amid the gruff skate punk. There’s plenty of energy and speed here though and there’s some lovely heavy riffing towards the end of ‘Waiting Line.’ The 92-second acoustic track ‘Blondie’ essentially serves as an introduction to EP closer ‘Bad Dreams,’ a slower, heavier end to proceedings. Paul Hagen
HOLY HOLY WHERE THE STORMS WOULD COME (Wonderlick/Sony Red)
KURT COBAIN MONTAGE OF HECK: THE HOME RECORDINGS
Evoking a dreamlike state through twisted and eerie melodies.
An album from beyond the grave, an intimate
ike a phoenix from the flames, Helsinki’s Beastmilk have risen from the dead and through gloriously moody flames have evolved into the new post-punk form of Grave Pleasures. Their new album, ‘Dreamcrash’ (the, is a haunting and soulful escape from reality, with Mat McNerney’s penetrating vocals resonating in a hazy blur. It’s as though he is summoning something intense and fierce from the depths of a black cave and, through dark and surreal melodies, a dreamlike state is evoked. ‘Crooked Vein’ sees a mixture of warped guitar riffs and tribal sounding drum beats, which collide and echo to produce a dramatic and melancholic atmosphere. It is an insight to this Finnish band’s most gloomy and darkest of thoughts – a truly musical nightmare that you never want to escape from. Abigail Gillibrand
till within the ever so famous grunge Nirvana sound, ‘Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings’ is an intimate session with Kurt Cobain and his acoustic guitar. The album is a beautiful insight into his mind, painting a picture of his personal journey and inner most thoughts. It is as though he has invited you into his house and played a list of raw, epic tunes that are yet to be mastered or turned into something three dimensional. This album consists of a long line of songs that all seem to be an outline for something much bigger. You could say it is his working out, with scribbles and crosses all over it. That said, it is such a heartfelt piece that if touched up would not create the same effect. When stripped back like this, you see Kurt Cobain’s naked vulnerability, something he never quite showed his fans before. It starts with ‘The Yodel Song’, a haunting and chilling tune, with Kurt slurring and drawling his way around innovative melodies. The album is full of experimentations, an emotional ride which flows full of vast and earnest feelings. The release is a powerful and incredible art form, which has captured Kurt Cobain in a special moment and will forever preserve him in a magical yet eerie light. It’s a sincere recording that I am sure he would have been proud to release. Abigail Gillibrand
GREY TICKLES, BLACK PRESSURE
Interesting debut from Aussie alt-rock duo.
Great ditties, black humour.
n album of classy songwriting, it’s all expansive and ringing guitars and dense rumbles of drums from the duo, which seems to be the new black. One of a number of breakout stars from the Southern hemisphere, Timothy Carroll and Oscar Dawson (aided by an expanded line-up for live shows) have enough songwriting and recording nous between them to use two inch tape to give them what Dawson calls a sound with a distinctive “warm, saturated colour.” Choosing ‘History’ as a single release seems to be a fair representation of what to expect from the album, building from a lazy beat to something of semi-anthemic proportions. Not too far from Mancunian relatives in James in both the vocal and atmospherics departments, they appeal and deliver across a few genres in the hope of ticking more than one box. Mike Ainscoe
ailing from Canada, Indian Handicrafts keep up the tradition of the power duo and with this record they should rightly earn their place in the history of this much ignored band structure (the kings being Local H, Japandroids and Winnebago Deal obviously). I’ve liked this band for a while, yet they have always seemed like they were falling a bit short of their obvious potential, such as on 2012’s ‘Civil Disobience For Losers’. Fortunately for everyone concerned this has been realised on this new record and darker, heavier songs such as ‘It’s Late Queeny’, ‘Murderers For Hire’, the aptly titled ‘Maelstrom’ and te sprawling closer, ‘Rat Faced Snorter’. Drawing more on contemporary rock sounds and structures than in the past makes ‘Creeps’ celebratory, accomplished and a hell of a lot of fun. How many recent releases can you say that about? James Batty
hen the Rough Trade record shop crown an album as their Album Of The Year, as they did with John Grant’s ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ in 2013, you pay attention. With ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure’, the Iceland-based, Michigan-born singer is back with a deeply personal album that opens with the painfully candid title track, showcasing his courage and, most importantly, humour; it’s almost like Noel Coward writing for Eels. The following track is campy robotic disco you’d imagine played in a Soho basement alongside Soft Cell’s ‘Sex Dwarf’ – and again with the Coward – it has the line “Joan Baez makes GG Allin look like Charlene Tilton” - just brilliant! The album runs the gamut from indie-folk, to electro-funk-rap, to synth pop and even duets with the irresistible Tracey Thorn of Everything But The Girl/Massive Attack fame. A contender of AOTY again. Louise Brown
Appropriately titled EP for shoegazing lovelies.
ike Whirr but without the attitude, Kindling have perfected that noisy post-punk take on shoegaze, with ‘Galaxies’ a wall of thick guitars and delicate vocals. While this is no mean feat for a band that only formed in 2014 and has one previous release to their name, there is a confidence to ‘Galaxies’ that marks Kindling out as ones to watch. ‘Blinding Wave’, lead single on this oh-so-short EP, is a skyscraping monster of a song; four minutes of sonic bliss that sparkles like a constellation and hits like a juggernaut. Elsewhere, ‘While Away’ is a moody, grungey offering, with the vocals so hushed they’re almost inaudible, while ‘Painkiller’ sounds like it has been culled from your favourite torture porn soundtrack. If this is Kindling sparking into life, imagine what they’ll be like once they’ve achieved ignition… Rob Mair
LOUDER THAN WAR reviews issue 2.indd 4
CIRCUIT BREAKER MY DESCENT INTO CAPITAL
(Harbinger Sound) 7/10 ith metallic drum machines, stark guitar sounds and driving synth lines, ‘My Descent Into Capital’ is arguably the London duo’s most out there release to date. Channelling post-punk, minimal synth and industrial elements, these songs about disillusionment and isolation created through work, this first full-length release shows that Circuit Breaker are a band that deserve your attention. Back to work I guess... SC
PETE ASTOR SPILT MILK
(FortunaPop!) 7/10 ormerly of The Loft, The Weather Prophets on Creation Records in the ‘80s, as well as numerous other respected acts, Pete Astor has become an established, long-standing solo artist. This latest album of folk-pop is another impressive addition to his lengthy back catalogue and any fans of his previous work, or the likes of Leonard Cohen and Belle and Sebastian, should definitely pick up a copy of ‘Spilt Milk’. AW
LANTERNS ON THE LAKE
CONSTRUCTS OF THE STATE
Possible landmark third album from atmospheric rockers.
wo years on from ‘Until The Colours Run’, the Lanterns confidently expand their range and push their signature sound into the realms of ominously darker territory. Written particularly quickly “in splendid isolation” of their own rehearsal retreat, the single ‘Faultlines’ rumbles along with the threat of something musically sinister, a theme taken up by ‘The Crawl’ and ‘Through The Cellar Door’, while the title track offers something more soothing. However, the overall feel is one of moody mystery, ideally accompanied by a haunting monochromatic scratchy piece of obscure and disturbing film footage. Definitely an album in the atmospheric and cinematic vein, in parts ambient and caked in reverb and echo, it might take some intense listening to delve into the lyrical themes. ‘Beings’ emerges as an enigmatic and enthralling experience. Mike Ainscoe
Folk implosion from Brooklyn.
Ferocious anarchist ska punk.
ow on her fourth album with ‘Cocksure’, New York singer/songwriter Laura Stevenson has, in her words, “learned not to care” and with that we are rewarded with an album that is bristling with courage, determination and a little bit more of that indie rock “fuck you” that she’s always hinted at. This is alt-folk, but this is a woman who was raised in an era of Liz Phair, Tanya Donnelly and Juliana Hatfield, and who played with uncontrollable punk orchestra Bomb The Music Industry, as well as cutting her teeth as a solo artist, sharing stages with Against Me! and The Gaslight Anthem. Two decades ago Stevenson would have been an indie darling called up to provide twee hits for Gen-X Winona Ryder films, in 2015 she is an exciting new female voice alongside Lana Del Rey and Natasha Khan. Louise Brown
MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE
t’s been a while since the last Leftover Crack album, 11 years to be precise, when ‘Fuck World Trade’ blasted out in 2004. It’s good to have them back. Always courting controversy with arrests for behaviour, stints in prison and close-to-the-bone album titles, it’s been worth the wait. From the second track ‘Don’t Shoot’, which includes the line “‘til you see the whites of their skin”, you know what you’re getting. Followed by ‘Loneliness & Heartache’, which has a killer pop punk chorus, this album plays pretty much everything right. Okay, so some of the high-pitched vocals grate, but this album is supposed to irritate a little, there’s no sanitising crust-ska-grindcore. Across the album the balance is there; harmony, aggression and intellect, and with Operation Ivy and the Bouncing Souls members guesting, you know this is a winner. Jon Falcone
CARTER USM THE FINAL COMEDOWN
(Nyquest) 8/10 he much-loved ‘90s London punks played at Brixton Academy in November 2014, billed as their final ever live show in front of a sold out crowd, and this CD/DVD package captures the unforgettable night. All the hits and fan favourites are here amongst the 27 tracks but it’s worth watching the nine camera HD footage for all the fun and chaos that you’d expect from a final Carter show. Take my word for it, this is a riot. SC
YOKO AND THE OH NO’S YOKO AND THE OH NO’S
(Autumn Tone) 5/10 hicago buzz band Yoko and the Oh No’s are probably viewed as three scrawny hipsters by many, and there’s some truth to that for sure. This polished album with Max Goldstein’s crooned, soulful vocals like a mix of Joe Jackson and Sam Cooke falls short because they end up sounding like a second rate Strokes in places and the Velvet Underground referencing ‘Nobody Wants to Know’ is just one example of some pretty cringeworthy lyrics. Hopefully the next album will have more bite. AW
THE MEN THAT WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING NOT YOUR TYPICAL VICTORIANS (Leather Apron)
London steam punks unleash third album.
robably the biggest steam punk band in the UK, the lengthily named The Men... are back with the follow-up to 2012’s equally elongated ‘This May Be The Reason Why The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing Cannot Be Killed By Conventional Weapons’. After singer Andy Heintz’s treatment for throat cancer, it’s good to have them back and this gin soaked, Victorian-flavoured albums is full of the tales of doomed chimney swees, horrible sideshows, poisonous wives and coughing miners that make them so fun. How the 19th century would sound if the Sex Pistols came a century earlier, it’s silly, yes, but it’s an accomplished mix of punk, metal and rock ‘n’ roll featuring former members of Lords of the New Church and Creaming Jesus. Not your typical Victorians, that’s for sure. Sam Cunningham
A musical prodigy.
urn your sentimental indie record off immediately and put this album on now! As soon as you hit play you have entered the point of no return. Mindless Self Indulgence have rocked up something so trippy and extraordinary it will blow your mind. There is only one way to play their “lost” album ‘Pink’, and that is loud. Consisting of tracks recorded from 1990 – 1997, but most remaining unreleased, it’s a crazy journey. From the word go you feel like you’re being dragged backwards through a party off ‘Skins’, and it is so addictive. It’s a hyper synth pop sensation that can solely be described as mental genius. They cover Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ and no, it is nothing like any of the other covers you’ve heard before. It is some whacky, aggressive creation only they could have mastered up. Just listen to this. Abigail Gillibrand
Argentinian (but Berlin based) duo’s second album of post-punk/synth.
nown for their minimalist beats and dark wave, industrial-infused synth, Mueran Humanos have built on their 2011 self-titled debut to create something otherworldy and mesmerising. Formed back in 2006 from the ashes of two Buenos Aires post-punk bands, Mujercitas Terror and Dios, Carmen Burgess and Tomas Nochteff came together to explore sound in a way that’s perhaps comparable to the likes of Air or Massive Attack. ‘Miseress’ follows the story of a woman going through some serious struggles, and the music varies from the intense, dark and moody to energetic pop. Sung in their native Spanish, the emotion and passion in the delivery makes the album relatable worldwide. Exploring a wide range of sounds and emotions, this is the record which deserves to see Mueran Humanos reach big crowds. A transcendental listen. Sam Cunningham
LOUDER THAN WAR
reviews issue 2.indd 5
NEW VALLEY WOLVES
RATS ON RAFTS
REFUSAL IS OUR WEAPON
The Devil’s music.
aving gouged geothermal furrows of primal rock ’n’ roll into Europe’s festival fields this summer, Dublin duo the New Valley Wolves’ debut album captures their awe-inspiring live power. From the moment the pickaxe blues trepanation of opener ‘Shake Your Bones’ rattles in, ‘Refusal Is Our Weapon’ reveals itself as a series of blockbusting blues infused detonations that grab hold of the eardrum, then have their wicked way with it. It’s packed with big beat behemoths that bristle with the unstoppable force of untrammelled rock action, as duo of Jonny Lucey and Baz Joyce lock together in an unshakable death sonic grip. While live juggernaut ‘Animal’ and the badass bump’n’grind of ‘Crooked Sea’ number among the album’s many highlights, there is more to the Wolves than energy and power – ‘Athens’ beguiles and bewitches to provide a clear indication of the duo’s imaginative dexterity. Dick Porter
Psych/post-punk chaos from rousing Rotterdam band.
his second album from Dutch psych favourites Rats On Rafts is sure to win them plenty of new fans. An irrepressible force live, this album tries to bottle all the vocal snarls, echoes and reverb, and just about succeeds somehow! Their post-punk maelstrom is more feral than their pop-infused debut album, ‘The Moon is Big’, and shows real growth over the last three years. Self-produced, recorded and mastered with analogue equipment, ‘Tape Hiss’ is the sound of a band cutting loose from the restraints and going wild, with the likes of ‘Powder Monkey’, ‘Rat Poison Face’ and the hit that should be (but sadly probably never will be) ‘Zebradelic’, define this as a landmark record for Rats On Rafts and one that sets the bar high for psych/post-punk worldwide. ‘Tape Hiss’ is a beast. Ariel Wimfrey
ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS
Free your head.
he sixth album from this Texan trio extends the corpus of richly textured kaleidoscopic soundscapes that hit a transcendent plateau with 2011’s ‘Colour Trip’ and has remained near the stratosphere ever since. Although the term ‘shoegaze’ is often applied to their output, the group’s sound exists outside of any such generic orthodoxies, juxtaposing ethereal dreamscapes against super-dense heavy elements that shimmer and ignite, combining and recombining into panoramas of aural stimulation. Their most painstakingly assembled album to date, ‘Pure Mood’ opens with the deceptive sonic balm of ‘Dream Again’ and the eardrill ‘Heavy Metal Suicide’ before the trip takes a firm hold at the pastoral/industrial confluence of ‘Stare At The Sun’. While the album hangs together as a unified piece, stand out tracks include ‘Big Bopper’ – an undersped soundhive of burr and buzz, and the eight mile high beatitudes of ‘Guilt’. Dick Porter
KEEP THE VILLAGE ALIVE (Stylus)
RINGO DEATHSTARR (Club AC30)
STEREOPHONICS Ninth studio album from the kings of the Welsh valleys.
ormed in the heart of the Welsh valleys in 1992, Stereophonics found mainstream success with their second album, ‘Performance and Cocktails’ in 1999. They joined an elite musical club, which includes The Beatles and Oasis, when ‘Pull The Pin’ became their fifth consecutive number one album. With a myriad of live tours and festival performances under their belt, Stereophonics continue to make themselves known within traditional rock circles, although their presence has somewhat diminished in recent years. Stereophonics’ glory days may be gone, but their ninth album remains true to their original vision. ‘Keep the Village Alive’ has everything a Stereophonics fan could want – the heartfelt ballads, the bluesy soft rock and lashings of Kelly Jones vocals; the album is already a chart-topper. The rough, cigarettes-andwhisky edge has gone, though. The tracks are smooth and well produced, making the album as a whole lack the raw edge their music once possessed. This is a comfortable album; the album of a band who feel they have nothing to prove. ‘Ces’t la Vie’ and ‘Sunny’ are as ballsy as anything they’ve produced in the past, but many of the tracks, especially towards the latter part of the album, meander rather than race. Having said that, there is still a lot of quality here, but those of us with more of a passing interest in the band might be better sticking with the 2010 compilation ‘Decade in the Sun’. Roxy Gillespie
Legendary Cleveland band return with a new line-up and album.
ocket From The Tombs was the near-mythical Cleveland group, active from ‘74-’75, that spawned Pere Ubu, Saucers and The Dead Boys. Frontman Crocus Behemoth (aka David Thomas of Pere Ubu) and bassist Craig Bell are the only original members left in the latest reincarnation, but this hasn’t blunted the band’s unsettling intensity. Bell’s truculent bass is at the heart of the darkness, his rumbling basslines creating the sense of apocalyptic portent. Opener ‘Waiting for the Snow’ has lyrics rife with paranoia and isolation. The Monks are evoked by ‘Welcome to the New Dark Ages’, the first of an intense four track salvo, including a demonic cover of The Sonics’ ‘Strychnine’, a superlative version of signature song ‘Sonic Reducer’ and the super-intense ‘I Keep a File On You’. Garage surrealism on this explosive comeback. Gus Ironside
Long-discussed covers album hits shelves and it’s not bad.
hile God knows when Danzig first mentioned the idea of a covers album, now it’s hit it’s strangely satisfying. It shouldn’t be; it’s sonically hotchbotch (probably because the tracks have been recorded in different studios/decades), but hearing Danzig croon some alternative classics is pretty damn good. Perhaps because these are solid tracks, he can blister through vocally. Take his cover of ‘Satan’, the theme song from the ‘60s biker movie ‘Satan’s Sadists’. He goes for it. Musically and vocally it’s some demonic alternate universe version of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, but the gusto belted into this is a joy; a heavy metal trochlight song about killing. It’s close to the Misfits heyday. But the cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘N.I.B’ is a no. As Danzig himself has said in past comments, if you can’t make a track your own, don’t bother. So this shouldn’t be in there (as mighty as the riffs are). His cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Lord Of The Thighs’ is a vast improvement on the original, even if it sounds of demo quality, especially the vocals. However, he gives the track cajones, the chugging is heavy and it moves the track away from seedy, narcissistic blues boogie of the original into a full-on desperate metal plea. This isn’t perfect, and based on this we wouldn’t recommend Glenn does a Johnny Cash and puts out a series of these, but as an oddity with some magic moments, this is more than welcome. Jon Falcone
LOUDER THAN WAR reviews issue 2.indd 6
BARONESS PURPLE (Abraxan Hymns)
American hard rock heroes hit a purple patch with their colourful return.
aroness’ 2012 release, ‘Yellow & Green’, was universally praised. As the band began the tour cycle for their expansive and grand opus, their tour bus tragically crashed in the UK. A line-up change involving original members not being able to/ wanting to carry on as a result, and new bodies entering the fray meant that Baroness have been dormant. Several years on, they have returned with a more astute and honed album that sees them wearing their colours on their sleeves. Immediately, ‘Purple’ crashes in with ‘Morningstar’. The urgency of Baroness’ past is brought into plain sight. Echoes of ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ (albums one and two) flood back as John Baizley’s gravelly vocal accompanies a harsh guitar tone. The anthemic howl of the chorus rings free on the stupendous opener. The opening pace of the album motors on through ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Try To Disappear’. Whilst the opening is heavy, the array of layers that accompanied ‘Yellow &
“‘Purple’ is akin to a phoenix rising from the ﬂames.” Green’ are not completely put away. ‘Kerosene’ is another bombastic slice of hard rock that if it was banded around by Grohl and co, it would be lauded as a masterpiece. ‘Purple’ shifts gears at the mid-point and veers into more psychedelic waters. ‘Fugue’s trippy instrumental interlude segues into lead track ‘Chlorine & Wine’. The guitar lead takes centre stage with aplomb, with the psychedelic nuances retained amongst a cacophony of noise after a serene introduction that showcases the band’s craving for a traversing depth in their sound. As the kaleidoscopic layers lift, ‘Desperation Blues’ takes you back to the blood and thunder of the first half of the album. This is where Baroness flourishes; succinct lead guitar and euphoric drumming are woven together masterfully. Baroness’ sludgy background is once more unearthed as the urgent riffs propel the track. Penultimate track ‘If I Have To Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain)’ feels like a real soul searcher. Lyrically, it is more contemplative and the music echoes this with a certain solemnity and grace. Overall, ‘Purple’ is akin to a phoenix rising from the flames. Baroness have had it hard; half the band has changed and there has clearly been plenty of time put into getting things right again. The core values of Baroness’ style of hard rock – soaring vocals and stunning artwork, are back with a vengeance. Leaner and meaner than their last offering, ‘Purple’ is a triumph of a record. Dominic Walsh
LOUDER THAN WAR
reviews issue 2.indd 7
(What’s Your Rupture)
SUN CLUB THE DONGO DURANGO (ATO)
Energetic and youthfully exuberant debut from
Second album from melody-soaked Sydney garage punks.
Indie rock favourite unexpectedly covers entire Taylor Swift album.
urgent Baltimore indie rockers.
un Club’s debut full-length ‘The Dongo Durango’ should have been released at the start of the summer, as this is a summer record through and through. It’s also irrepressibly fun and infectious. Channelling an energy, urgency and unpredictability that’s not a million miles away from punk-infused indie rockers like Japandroids, Foals or Los Campesinos!, there’s also a pop nous and some big sweeping group vocals that hit like The Arcade Fire at their most unhinged. However, Sun Club are a band that have their own sound and with future hits in waiting such as the sun-soaked ‘Summer Feet’, the chaotic, synth-infused and whacky, shouted vocal-filled ‘Worm City’ and the stunning, hugely catchy highlight and closer ‘Tropicoller Lease’, it’s surely only a matter of time before they’re huge. With everything from their clothes and hair, crazy videos and nicknames like Big Snack, D-Mac and Special K, they sound every bit like they’re loving life and making music. While it might be a little too out there for some, anyone who’s in search of indie rock/ punk with plenty of punch need look no further than Sun Club for something new and exciting. Fuelled by spontaneity, their mix of big melodies, feral shouts and yelps and driving, infectious rhythms means that ‘The Dongo Durango’ is a bright and enjoyable album and sometimes, in a world full of moody, self-reflective and depressing music, that feels like the summer warmth on your face. Sam Cunningham
ollowing on from heart-on-sleeve, melodic self-titled 2012 debut, and a recent stage invasion causing performance at Sydney’s Opera House, Aussies Royal Headache are back in fine form with this sophomore album. With a newfound soulful feel, these are pop songs at their core, with Shogun’s distinctive and soaring vocals. Album stand outs, such as title track ‘High’ and the majestic ‘Carolina’, show an almost Brit pop feel combining with their melodic garage punk roots to create something distinctive and full of energy and honesty. ‘High’ isn’t an album that’s easily pinned down and it’s a driving, uplifting record from start to finish. Elsewhere opener ‘My Own Fantasy’ gets the record off to an exuberant start. Royal Headache are a band you should be hearing a lot more from and one who deserve to be huge in 2016. Ian Chaddock
BACK TO THE DRAWING ROOM
SOFT DAYS (CF)
Somewhere between drone and surf pop sits this shimmering sophomore album.
he second studio album from Belfast’s Sea Pinks hears the band growing in confidence and establishing a sound that melds the quirkier bits of pop from the last seven decades into some kind of melodic superstructure. From drone-laden openings to surfy hooks and layers of contrasting sound, the music looms against a subdued, almost ambivalent, vocal. It cherry picks from genres without ever feeling patchwork, but rather delicately but insistently blends them together. And like the gently rainy days of the title it provides a downbeat comfort, which both revels in the gloom and lifts with dreams of other times. ‘Soft Days’ is a classic pop album – no bombast or synthetic emotion here but plenty of lilting psych and bittersweet lyrics to melt your heart. Sarah Lay
o one saw this coming. Ryan Adams is known for his mostly acoustic, heartfelt and passionate indie/folk rock, with Americana shot through it, such as his critically acclaimed self-titled 2014 predecessor. However, after going through a divorce with pop star Mandy Moore, he apparently found joy in last year’s Taylor Swift hit pop album, ‘1989’. However, covering the whole of that album in his own intimate, downbeat style was not an expected move. Describing it as like a mix of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ and The Smiths’ ‘Meat is Murder’, it’s taken a hugely upbeat pop album and made it into a pretty miserable record. It’s not bad but some tracks work better than others and his version of the huge ‘Shake it Off’ is pretty sombre. Interesting but not essential. Ian Chaddock
(Big Scary Monsters)
Punk-tinged alt-rock perfection.
Reading folk punks’ third studio album.
hile Big Scary Monsters has had considerable success with punchy post-hardcore (La Dispute) and math-rock (Axes) in their recent history, they’ve gained a burgeoning reputation working with some killer alt-rock bands, including Cursive and the criminally underrated Woahnows. Germany’s Sleep Kit can be added to the list, and after a promising self-titled EP released in 2013, ‘II’ is everything you could hope for in a full-length release. Tracks like ‘Discontent Disconnect’ sound like they’ve been lifted from the more esoteric end of ‘90s alt-rock (think Knapsack and Sugar and you’re on the money), while the glorious ‘Solsbury Chill’ recalls the twinkly cuts from the Deep Elm back catalogue. Better still, the rolling and lolloping ‘Pinata Beehive’ – a song which is almost conversational in tone yet beguiling all the same – deserves to find an audience far beyond this little scene. Rob Mair
wisted folk, punk and a touch of metal combine to make Smokey’s Bastard’s third album a dense cocktail of full throttle, rapid fire frivolity. Described in some circles as the UK’s Flogging Molly, there are musical similarities, although British with a hint of Eastern Europe, rather than the former’s Irish punk balladeering. Stand-out opener ‘Archipelago’, with its quick fire call and response chorus, is an uproarious mash-up of ‘The Drunken Sailor’ and Green Day. ‘Baba Yaga’, a tale of being hounded by a witch, with its charging Slavic-tinged melody is Gogol Bordelo on speed and ‘South Australia’ is pure sea shanty. The excellent closing anthem ‘Can of Worms’ even strays dangerously close to death metal. This is a whirlwind of an album, frenetic in parts, packed, punchy and original. One hell of a ride! Nigel Carr
(Mountain of Records)
Emotional, melancholic and melodic alternative rock debut from Nottingham trio.
oosely based on Nevil Shute’s novel ‘On the Beach’, the debut from Nottingham trio Some Skeletons explores a fictional concept of strange happenings in a small coastal town, set during the 1990s. It’s a vast ocean of contradicting yet compelling alternative rock; all crashing swells of rhythm and lightly-misted harmonies. This is melodic rock, the kind of emo/indie rock that Idlewild led the charge on but which got sadly dragged under when the genre was overwhelmed by eye liner, long fringes and self-harm. This is big riffs with intricate patterns beneath, this is darkly intelligent and beguiling lyrics with the best loud-quite-loud in a while. A solid album from a band who’ve mastered wry, thoughtful songwriting and wrapped it in sound big enough to make your insides shake. Sarah Lay LOUDER THAN WAR
reviews issue 2.indd 8
“A record that’s sure to delight the droves of mod or mad-for-it sorts.” THE FAMILY SILVER ELECTRIC BLEND (Privilege)
Former sidemen to Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and Weller unite for one of the albums of the year.
t’s a meeting of some of the finest musicians in the UK, individually prominent for their contributions to the music of Paul Weller, Oasis, Mother Earth, Ocean Colour Scene and Richard Ashcroft, to name but a few. But more than just an album festering with fantastic musicianship, ‘Electric Blend’ is a solid debut brimming with brilliant songs. The Family Silver flip between rock, folk, funk, soul and psyche and their influences are varied and indirect. And while they have made a record that’s sure to delight the droves of mod or mad-for-it sorts in awe of Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and Weller, listeners in general should be spared of the fact that drummer Steve White, bassist Damon Minchella and
singer and guitarist Matt Deighton served time with those artists, so as to assess this diverse album on its own merits, of which there are many. Past the title track, which kicks open the record with its crunchy mix of breakbeat drums, warm bass and staccato funk guitar cutting into Deighton’s distorted vocals, comes a run of real aces. The stunning ‘Only (From Out of the Ashes)’ is a rustic ballad, laden with soft acoustic strumming and strings and recalls Weller at his most soulful. In fact, there are more tunes that evoke Weller’s style here, particularly the sun-kissed and Style Council-like ‘Peace and Love’ or ‘60s jangler ‘A Newer Yesterday’, but after repeat listens it’s ultimately down to the familiar sound of the accompaniment than Deighton doing his best to mimic the modfather. Indeed, Deighton’s vocals are as varied as the music, as, over the record’s fifty minutes, the former Mother Earth singer swaggers through indie rock (‘Let It Be Gone’), ballsy barbaric blues (‘Give Up Your Tears’) and finger-picking folk influences (‘Overshadowed’), before being stretched to the high-register heights of heavy soul, and the funky strains of songs like ‘From Out of the Blues’ or ‘Washed Away’. The album even meanders into dance territory momentarily with the industrial jam ‘Broken Windows’, during which a sluggish groove from White and Minchella is left caked in moody synth samples, wah guitar and a wash of female harmonies, adding weight to Deighton’s whispery drawl. Away from the big beats, funk bass and mighty wah, smack in the middle of this robustly-produced set, is a simple ballad ‘For Free’. It’s a song almost too big for this album, a song with legs to maybe make it into the singles chart, a singalong anthem that aspires to be the band’s very own ‘Dear Prudence’ or ‘Hey Jude’, complete with backwards fuzz guitar and wild, sludgy organ whirling across its extended, arms-in-air outro. It’s also a song that further demonstrates the breadth of the writing and musicianship throughout, a record unmistakably unique and consistent. A brand new start from a band marching already. Mark Youll
LOUDER THAN WAR
reviews issue 2.indd 9
THE WAITING ROOM
Wakeﬁeld’s latest indie-punk heroes.
hen a band casts a long shadow over a local scene, then it can take a while for others to come to the fore. And, while there’s nods to the kinetic indie of Wakefield’s The Cribs, The Spills very much stand apart from their local forefathers. Taking elements of everything from Pavement to Modern Baseball, the frantic dual-vocal mob are masters of wonky, off-kilter hits and deserve to dominate the airwaves. In fact, one of the most startling things is that for a band with two lead singers, ‘Collecting Dust’ hangs together perfectly. Veering from heartfelt to existential, songs like ‘Floyd’ and ‘Pepper’s Ghost’ fizzle and pop with characteristic charm, yet it never feels like you’re listening to two different bands. Instead there’s a core identity that flows through ‘Collecting Dust’, ensuring it’s an enjoyable romp from start to finish. Rob Mair
FIND WHAT YOU LOVE AND LET IT KILL YOU
Nottingham’s ﬁnest return with ﬁrst studio album in four years.
‘90s Creation Records indie rockers rise again.
egendary purveyors of misery Tindersticks are back, having taken a plethora of ideas and spent four years sifting through them, producing a beautiful album. The haunting vocals are intense, alongside the brooding and beautifully orchestrated tracks creating otherworldly musical landscapes. The title track is by far the most eerie, yet incessantly captivating as the stark instrumentation is coupled with the chanting of “don’t let me suffer”. Yet, at the other end of the scale, ‘We Are Dreamers’ is packed with intensity, possessing a rebellious feel. The addition of Jehnny Beth assists the urgency, but the harsh bass and dense orchestration also add to the fierce atmosphere. The overall album is a work of art; these dark atmospheric tracks are augmented by a multitude of exquisite instruments. These soundscapes are nothing short of phenomenal. Lee Hammond
ormed in Oxford in 1996 by former Ride guitarist Andy Bell, vocalist/guitarist Alex Lowe, bassist Will Pepper and drummer Gareth Farmer, Hurricane #1 were signed to Creation Records (alongside Oasis, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream) and released two critically acclaimed albums, ‘Hurricane #1’ (1997) and ‘Only the Strongest Will Survive’ (1999) , containing charting singles such as ‘Step Into My World’ and ‘Only the Strongest Will Survive’. However, the band split in ‘99 when Bell left to join Gay Dad and then quickly left them to become the bassist for Oasis. Lowe has been pursuing a solo career since and decided to relaunch the band last year (with former Creation Records label boss Alan McGee as the driving force) and he wrote the album in hospital while undergoing treatment for cancer. As a result the album, which features a new line-up joining Lowe, is upbeat and positive because, as Lowe puts it, “the last thing you want to do is wallow in it”. The breezy, catchy ‘Think of the Sunshine’, with Andy Bell guesting, is a highlight with strong nods to The Kinks, while elsewhere the likes of ‘Where to Begin’ and ‘Crash’ are more rocking and ‘Feel Me Again’ is a stripped down, emotional ballad. An important album for Lowe that shines through with hope and optimism, it’s a third album that can proudly sit alongside the rest of Hurricane #1’s work and it’s good to have them back. Ariel Wimfrey
I AM A PROBLEM: MIND IN PIECES
Capturing Cornwall’s diverse scene.
ho knew that the music scene in the sleepy rural coastal county in the south west of England had such a vibrant, thrilling scene? Not me, that’s for sure. But Easy Action have always been masters of unearthing the hard to find and pretty damn special, and this collection is no different, with Easy Action head honcho Carlton and Dick Porter teaming up to bring Cornwall’s finest to the collective consciousness. It’s a hugely varied listen, with the 23 tracks spanning everything from garage rock (The Black Tambourines, the Spankees, the Red Chords) and hardcore (F Emasculata) to electronica (Night Motor), psychobilly (The Eyelids) and singer-songwriters (Kezia). Some of the bands here already have a buzz around them, but the smaller acts are as exciting. With profits going to the RNLI Penlee Lifeboat Station appeal, it’s a great comp for a worthy cause. Sam Cunningham
The return of the Michigan marauders.
olf Eyes have always been a constantly evolving beast. No matter what this band does they will always be associated with the noise scene, but for me they have always appeared as a hardcore band with aberrant instrumentation and an idiosyncratic sound. That has gone for the most part now; this album is book-ended by material that is their (twisted) take on heavy psych. ‘Aspestos Youth’ is a mélange of ostensibly found sounds (although it’s unlikely they are), ‘Enemy Ladder’ sees them on more familiar ground but still sounding different. Then it’s just a weird and psychotropic ride all the way. This is the record that they have been hinting at on previous releases and live over the past few years and, while it may represent somewhat of a departure, no one will be disappointed. James Batty
The pub rock troubadour returns with a strong album.
Non-indulgent instrumental space prog.
ecorded at his home in upstate New York, ‘amERICa’ is his first solo album in a decade. Charmingly lo-fi and filled to the brim with hummable tunes, it starts on a autobiographical note with ‘Different Shades of Green’. The psychedelic foot stompers ‘White Bread’ and ‘Days of My Life’ would feel at home on a Nuggets compilation. The acerbic ‘Boy Band’ nails the current pop trend fads with gusto. ‘Property Shows’ and ‘Up The Fuselage’ see him reflect on how out of step he feels with the preoccupations and aspirations of his contemporaries, while ‘Space Age’ chronicles his disappointment that the science fiction stories he grew up with haven’t materialised. The record finishes on a more tender note with ‘Have a Great Day’, a duet with his wife Amy Rigby that sees him wax lyrical about his adopted country. Craig Chaligne
can’t say I’m a massive fan of proggy synth rock with no vocals but, for some reason, Zombi are an exception. The trio of bass, drums and synth sounds created by Steve Moore and A.E. Pattera on their sixth album are creative and epic but the songs clip along at a fair pace, and this helps them avoid falling into the trap of self-indulgence. While Moore’s synths dominate the sound of ‘Shape Shift,’ it’s his dexterous bass-playing abilities that really give life to the music, serving as both a backbone and occasionally providing a worthy replacement for vocals. ‘Shape Shift’ manages to keep the listener’s attention, even on lengthier numbers like ‘Interstellar Package.’ Zombi now have more of a rock feel and they sound better and fresher after deciding to move from “studio project” mode to “live band” mode. Paul Hagen LOUDER THAN WAR
reviews issue 2.indd 10
reissues issue 2.indd 1
END HITS: BACK CATALOGUE EXPLORED MUDHONEY
AMPHETAMINE REPTILE RECORDS Founded in 1986 by then-US Marine Tom Hazelmyer in Washington State, Amphetamine Reptile (or AmRep to its friends) to release music by his band Halo Of Flies, AmRep has become one of the most respected and renowned record labels for noise rock and experimental bands. With Hazelmyer moving the label to Minneapolis, much of the back catalogue is available digitally and reissues are currently lined up for the likes of Halo Of Flies, Cows and the much-loved ‘Dope, Guns ‘N’ Fucking In The Streets’ compilations. HELMET – STRAP IT ON (1990)
Released in March 1990 on Amphetamine Reptile (before being re-released by Interscope the following year), the debut album from the New York post-hardcore/alt-metal legends has since become a cult classic and a landmark of the genre that helped AmRep keep going through the ‘90s with its success. It still sounds huge.
HALO OF FLIES – MUSIC FOR INSECT MINDS (1991)
Originally released in ‘91 and now reissued, this CD combines singles, EPs and compilation tracks, making it a definitive Halo Of Flies set. With the raw garage rock sound influenced by the likes of the MC5 and the Stooges, this Minneapolis wrecking crew never sounded better.
COSMIC PSYCHOS – BLOKES YOU CAN TRUST (1991)
Fresh from completing work with this issue’s cover stars Nirvana on the colossal ‘Nevermind’, producer Butch Vig teamed up with Aussie pub/yob rock veterans Cosmic Psychos for their third album, ‘Blokes You Can Trust’, spawning the singles ‘Dead Roo’ and ‘Back At School’.
MARK ARM Throbblehead Figure available from Aggronautix.com
MELVINS – PRICK (1994)
Frontman Buzz Osborne has stated that this sixth studio album was done “strictly for the weirdness factor,” and it shows. With the band name mirrored on the sleeve (because they still had a contract with Atlantic) and the album named after Kurt Cobain when Buzz’s friend died, forcing them to change the album title from the original planned title of ‘Kurt Kobain’, this is wonderfully bizarre from start to finish. Jump down the rabbit hole. NASHVILLE PUSSY – LET THEM EAT PUSSY (1997)
Again, originally released on AmRep before the majors got their claws into it, this album was aptly the label’s 69th release and would go on to see the Atlanta sleaze rock ‘n’ rollers receive a Grammy nomination for the song ‘Fried Chicken And Coffee’. Tasty. V/A - DOPE, GUNS ‘N’ FUCKING IN THE STREETS: 1988 – 1998 VOLUME 1 – 11 (2015)
Compiling their previous collections into a giant double CD collection of their (in)famous 7” series, this set features almost 50 tracks from some of rock’s most interesting and intriguing ‘90s bands, including Mudhoney, Helmet, Superchunk, Rocket From The Crypt, Dwarves, Jesus Lizard, Cows, Halo Of Flies and many more. The perfect introduction to a unique and talent-filled record label.
AMREP POSTERS COWS – CUNNING STUNTS (1992)
The recently reissued fifth studio album from the Minneapolis noise rockers was the first record on which they started injecting melody and decent sound quality into their bluster of amped up carnage. As wonderfully chaotic now as it was over two decades ago.
Amphetamine Reptile Records has a range of striking, limited edition screen prints – many in red, black and white – that any fans of the AmRep label will love. Buy them, frame them and get them on your wall.
LOUDER THAN WAR reissues issue 2.indd 1
“A sense of melancholic exhilaration which has trademarked all their music.”
CENTRAL BELTERS (Rock Action)
20 years perfectly condensed onto three discs’ worth of birthday celebrations.
idway across Scotland’s central belt, nestled in the Forth valley, sits the refinery town of Grangemouth. At night, its steel and concrete towers spout spumes of fire into the starry sky as the never-ceasing work of industry and commerce lights up the flat plains surrounding the town. Twenty years on from their formation, Mogwai’s music still sounds like the perfect evocation of this part of Scotland. The sound of passengers hurtling through the densely populated night while glittering flares illuminate the sky. As a title, ‘Central Belters’ fits.
While they began as caterwauling young men with a capacity for hard living and the ability to make a tonne of noise, Mogwai now stand as middle-aged statesmen for the ATP generation, complete with soundtrack and installation work and an unimpeachable track record. Their most recent album, 2014’s ‘Rave Tapes’, embraced an increasingly stream-lined and sleekly functional mode while remaining steeped with the sense of melancholic exhilaration which has trademarked all their music. All eight studio albums are represented on this weighty retrospective, but it’s the presence of early EP tracks and rarities which will prove the biggest draw for their committed fanbase. 1996 single ‘Summer’ begins with a screeched wind tunnel roar before settling into a tempestuous quiet/loud refrain of prettily melodic wordless verse and delicately brutal pummelling chorus. Everything beyond ‘Summer’ has maintained an evolutionary connection with this origin, its near contemporary ‘New Paths to Helicon Part 1’ acting as a vapour-trailing parallel. Other early attractions include shimmering ‘Stanley Kubrick’ from those halcyon Chemikal Underground days and the almighty EP-spanning ‘My Father, My King’. Carefully-curated and not entirely chronological track order helps join lateral dots between Mogwai’s past, present and possible futures. The song (with or without vocals, these are all very much songs) which perhaps still best defines the group, ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’, rounds off CD1 here. The centrepiece from that devastatingly gorgeous ‘Young Team’ debut LP from 1997 (pedants may gripe at the absence here of ‘Like Herod’ from the same album, a live staple at the time) still sounds fantastic. A glittering adrenaline rush, the sound of youth gazing into the night sky and swallowing it whole, reaching out to colour in space with fury and light. Upon its original emergence, ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ felt a blissful alternative to Britpop’s foul Union Jack spattered death throes. Now, Britpop’s reek is dead and surely buried for good while Mogwai have become the nearest thing this un-United Kingdom has to a Can or Sonic Youth. Ploughing their own furrow, looking ahead and not fixating on the past. Birthdays excepted. Euan Andrews
LOUDER THAN WAR
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BEAT HAPPENING LOOK AROUND (Domino)
New career spanning comp.
F CASS McCOMBS
A FOLK SET APART: RARITIES, B-SIDES & SPACE JUNK, ETC.
ALWAYS: THE VERY BEST OF
Anthology of Californian singersongwriter’s rare material over the last decade.
panning ten years of unearthed material from acclaimed singer-songwriter Cass McCombs, ‘A Folk Set Apart’ succeeds in showing the diversity of his craft. With 19 tracks in total – five of which are unreleased, these songs are taken from various limited editions and 7”s from both sides of the pond on different labels and now compiled by the always excellent Domino, it’s a treasure trove for fans. From the majestic, shimmering alt-folk of ‘Evangeline’ (taken from 2014’s tour-only split 7” with the Meat Puppets) to the excellently titled ‘Catacombs Cow Cow Boogie’, it’s a pleasure from start to finish. There’s also collaborators including Phish’s Mike Gordon, Tim Dewitt (Gang Gang Dance, Dutch E. Germ), Deerhoof’s Chris Cohen and more. McCombs yet again sets himself apart with stunning songwriting. Sam Cunningham
Electronic duo release deluxe hits package.
hirty years after the release of their debut album, ‘Wonderland’, Erasure release yet another best of – this time with a difference. The three disc deluxe package contains twenty of their biggest hits, from ‘Who Needs Love Like That’ through to ‘Elevation’. The criminally ignored ‘Drama!’ is included, together with one of the finest pop songs for half a century – ‘Stop’. Sometimes 2015 varies little from the original, with both versions pointlessly included. Discs 2 and 3 contain past remixes from the likes of The Grid and William Orbit, together with new versions from Grumbling Fur (‘The Circus’) and GRN (‘Breathe’). Mark Saunders’ treatment of ‘You Surround Me’ is a triumph, as is the Der Deutsche Mix of ‘Blue Savannah’. The Vegan Mix of ‘Chorus’ also has a welcome inclusion in possibly the ultimate Erasure compilation. Paul Scott-Bates
ew bands in the history of leftfield indie rock have promoted as much discussion as Beat Happening. Most of this is as tedious as it is redundant and has been going on since the band’s inception in 1982. Much is also made of their influence on other artists, which is also a well-worn path we shan’t venture down, suffice to say I’m sure you have all heard someone cover their ‘Indian Summer’ song at some point, even if you haven’t realised it. People find the apparent naivety of the material, lack of production values and simplistic songsmithery a genuine affront to traditional musical values. Weirdly (and this might say more about me and my record collection than anything) I don’t think it’s that amateurish. One of the founding members Calvin Johnson (founder of the uber indie K Records) has been known to wind people up over the years so maybe it’s as much to do with that? The boy/girl vocals are ostensibly cutesy, but even a cursory examination of the lyrics and you’ll realise that if you scratch the surface they are anything but. Anyway it is these ‘shortcomings’ and the juxtaposition of heart-warming and heart breaking that help to make this a cracking little release and the perfect introduction to a band that was really quite unique in the grand scheme of things. Once under their spell you can graduate to their ‘Crashing Through’ box set that was released a few years back. James Batty
COMSAT ANGELS WAITING FOR A MIRACLE / SLEEP NO MORE / FICTION / CHASING SHADOWS/FIRE ON THE MOON (Edsel)
As if from heaven...
THE FIRST TEN YEARS
Solo career retrospective reissue – on coloured vinyl!
Reissue of seminal album by the Fair siblings.
collection which wraps up the first decade of the Frank Turner solo career that, following the demise of his hardcore band Million Dead, looked unlikely. It’s an interesting set, appearing for the first time as this superb box set of vinyl; each of the three volumes a double album on coloured wax together with an additional single album of unreleased music. Whether he’s singing ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’, the traditional ‘Barbara Allen’ or presenting simply demo material or live tracks, this is a pretty thorough compilation. It charts Turner’s progress from angry young man to not quite so angry but a more mature and friendly chap, respected and embraced by the folk and rock fraternity alike; channelling his emotions in a more subtle way. A sign of Frank Turner emerging as a national treasure? Mike Ainscoe
he original release of this live album in 1992 saw Half Japanese at the peak of their popularity, being quoted all over the music press by Kurt Cobain as one of his favourite bands. Recorded over several shows in Europe, the album sees the band ripping through a series of songs from their back catalogue with enthusiasm. Side A opens with the blast of ‘Open Your Eyes’, followed by the rockabilly romp of ‘Big Mistake’. Their more melodic side makes an outing with ‘Fire To Burn’ and the gentle ‘One Million Kisses’ (perversely followed by the dissonant ‘King Kong’). ‘Turn Your Life Around’ precedes a ramshackle version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Around and Around’. ‘Firecracker’, with its fuzzy riffs, sounds like a lost Cramps track. The band’s free form side is nevertheless evident on ‘Rrrrrssssssstttt’ and ‘By and By’. Craig Chaligne
7/10 / 8/10 / 8/10 / 6/10
his long overdue, deluxe collection of the Sheffield post-punk quartet’s back catalogue serves to provide the definitive history of a band who are perhaps best remembered for their 1980 single ‘Independence Day’ – a sparsely mesmeric cut that took up a lengthy residence on John Peel’s nightly broadcasts. Spread across four two-disc packages, the remastered reissues incorporate non-album singles, demos and BBC radio session tracks, alongside accompanying booklets that include comprehensive liner notes and a selection of rare and unseen images. Beginning with 1980’s major label debut, ‘Waiting For A Miracle’, the collection charts a developmental curve that was meandering rather than linear. Their first album evoked the place and time in which it was recorded, a sense that is enhanced at each turn by the second disc’s additional extras, with the group’s 1979 ‘Red Planet’ EP acting as the conceptual launch pad. While ‘Waiting For A Miracle’ represents a travelogue of understated post-punk creativity, the following year’s ‘Sleep No More’ finds the group stretching out to create a more expansive and resonant sound that applies a maturing postmodern sensibility. Despite pressure from their label to replicate the recipe for commercial success achieved by contemporaries such as the Psychedelic Furs and Echo and the Bunnymen, the Angels’ third and final Polydor LP, 1982’s ‘Fiction’ pays only marginal attention to such coercive forces, emerging as possibly the overlooked gem of the entire set. Dick Porter
LOUDER THAN WAR reissues issue 2.indd 3
NEKO CASE TRUCKDRIVER, GLADIATOR, MULE (ANTI-)
Eight LP complete solo discography box set from American indie/folk artist.
nown for both her lengthy, successful solo career and as a member of Canadian indie rockers The New Pornographers, US singer-songwriter Neko Case is an alt-folk icon. This impressive box set from ANTI- Records brings together her entire solo career, with eight solo albums on vinyl, along with a custom box, a slipmat featuring an original Case illustration and an 80 page photo book. Remastered from the original analog tapes, many of these hard to find and out of print LPs are together for the first time. It also shows how Neko has simply been getting better and better, with her last three albums (2006’s ‘Fox Confessor Brings the Flood’, 2009’s ‘Middle Cyclone’ and 2013’s ‘The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You’) all shimmering alt-folk masterpieces that charted well in the US and Canada and are driven by Case’s incredible, powerful vocals and arresting lyrics. Also included in the box set are ‘The Virginian’ (1997), on vinyl for the first time, ‘Furnace Room Lullaby’ (2000), ‘Canadian Amp’ EP (2001), ‘Blacklisted’ (2002) and ‘The Tigers Have Spoken’ (2004), each a worthy addition to her catalogue. A musthave for diehard Neko Case fans as hearing her haunting, soaring vocals with the warm crackle of vinyl is the best experience you can have with these records, it’s a big set that will take a long time to fully digest. Ariel Wimfrey
TRIUMPH OVER ADVERSITY
RETURN OF THE RANTERS
Harlow political punks.
ecorded live at Brunel University back in 1987, during the band’s peak, the protest punk of the Newtown Neurotics made them a near-perfect mix of punk, pop (and hints of reggae). Playing with raw passion and with songs that addressed the grim state of the UK in the ‘80s, this live set is well worth checking out. After a bomb scare cleared out the venue so police could check, the gig went ahead to a depleted but dedicated crowd. However, Steve Drewett’s anger at this ruining of the show comes across in the power of the music and songs such as energetic opener ‘Wake Up’, ‘Fighting Times’, ‘Take Strike Action’ and ‘Living With Unemployment’. A triumphant live album that’s a snapshot of the Newtown Neurotics before their original split the following year, ‘Triumph Over Adversity’ lives up to its name. Sam Cunningham
(Upset The Rhythm)
Experimental post-punk/psychedelia unearthed from the Thatcher years.
ot so easy on the ear and even harder to spell correctly is the latest offering from the rather wonderful and always envelope-pushing UTR. Repetition seems to be key to the charm of ‘Return of The Ranters’, which apparently is the band’s third full-length, originally recorded in 1985 and recently exhumed to be granted a wider audience. Whether it is the psychedelic Thatcher bashing of ‘Slums Still Stand’, the twisted crooning of ‘Battle of Stonehenge’ or tracks that have more in common with the new Wolf Eyes record, the Kent collective/ band Normil Hawaiians made a record which was and remains a challenging but thoroughly enjoyable listen, mainly because they have that magical ability to hook you in without being obvious about it. Upset The Rhythm do it again. James Batty
INSTIGATORS PHOENIX (Boss Tuneage)
MARK LANEGAN ONE WAY STREET (Sub Pop)
Ripping 1986 UK post-hardcore album revisited.
A voyage through Mark Lanegan’s deep, soulful early albums.
orkshire hardcore punks Instigators underwent major line-up changes before this album, with guitarist Simon Mooney the only member to stay on. This second line-up, with former Xpozez members Andy ‘Tez’ Turner (vocals) and Andrew ‘Trimble’ Turnbull (bass), as well as Steve ‘Cuzzy’ Curran (drums) joining the fold, aptly named this new album ‘Phoenix’. They rose up just as that title suggests, going on to tour the US and Europe extensively over the following years. What’s surprising about ‘Phoenix’ is just how energetic and exhilarating these pissed off post-hardcore/post-punk songs like ‘Summer’ and ‘Blind Eye’ still sound and, with this reissue rounded out with a Berlin live show recorded in March 1987, it sounds like they were a truly powerful live band too. A case of overcoming adversity to create something special and timeless, ‘Phoenix’ still flies high. Sam Cunningham
WHITE LIGHT FROM THE MOUTH OF INFINITY/LOVE OF LIFE
SOLO: SONGS AND COLLABORATIONS 1982 – 2015
ark Lanegan’s impressive track record fronting Screaming Trees and as a member of Queens of the Stone Age gives an idea of the superb quality of his solo work. His deep baritone fills ‘I’ll Take Care of You’ with dark r’n’b and ‘60s, Jim Morrison influences. ‘Field Songs’, the most recent album in the set, has a less retro feel and more drama, whilst ‘Scraps at Midnight’ feels like a mixture of both. ‘Whiskey for the Holy Ghost’ sees stoner rock tracks interspersed with acoustic. Mark Lanegan’s first solo project, the grunge-tinged ‘Winding Sheet’, featuring backing vocals from Kurt Cobain on ‘Down in the Dark’, feels the least finished of the five albums, yet has a haunting quality. Lyrically all the albums are superlative, making ‘One Way Street’ an attractive collection of his early work. Roxy Gillespie
Two haunting early ‘90s albums from the New York post-punks.
Former Everything But The Girl singer’s solo double compilation.
emastered and reissued as a three CD set combining these two albums – 1991’s ‘White Light From the Mouth of Infinity’ and 1992’s ‘Love of Life’, or as a limited vinyl box set, with bonus material. Produced by frontman Michael Gira, seventh ‘White Light’ was a complex mix of acoustic rock, blues and noise rock that successfully mixed their darker early days with a recent lighter feel, while eighth album ‘Love of Life’ impressively saw Swans experiment further. Long out of print, these reissues will be welcomed with open arms by dedicated Swans fans. With Gira recently announcing that Swans are working on the band’s final album in its “current incarnation”, due in late spring 2016, what better time to revisit these dark classics. Ariel Wimfrey
or four decades Tracey Thorn has been one of the most instantly recognisable voices around. ‘Solo’ sees her put together seemingly everything but Everything But The Girl, with an interesting mix of solo and joint efforts. Starting with the cautious tale of ‘Oh, The Divorces!’, disc one visits her typically acoustic sound, including a cracking version of Kate Bush’s ‘Under The Ivy’, and vocals on ‘The Paris Match’ with The Style Council. The second disc moves into more electronic outings, most notably with Massive Attack on ‘Protection’ and ‘Better Things’, where EBTG’s worldwide smash ‘Missing’ paved the way for a new direction. Tiefschwarz provide the perfect partner on the superb ‘Damage’ and ‘Night Time’, and Hot Chip pimp-up her versions of Pet Shop Boys’ ‘King’s Cross’. Paul Scott-Bates
LOUDER THAN WAR
reissues issue 2.indd 4
THE COMPLETE DREAM WORKS ALBUMS (UMC)
Troubled Californian indie rockers’ ﬁnest work reissued.
els were one of the first bands to sign to the legendary DreamWorks label, what followed were six incredibly varied albums. Mark Oliver Everett or ‘E’ as he is also known, is the only member to have been there throughout. He is one of the most revered songwriters of our generation; this anthology sees some of their best work reissued on vinyl, with the ‘Electro Shock Blues Show’ being issued on vinyl for the first time. All of these albums show a different side to the band, yet there is always a deeply personal feel to the tracks, with little regard for genre, Eels flit between a multitude of sounds. Debut ‘Beautiful Freak’ (1996) is a straight-up sorrowful album, steeped in self-consciousness; it’s packed with classic tracks though the most popular being the wonderful ‘Susan’s House’, where these feelings shine through in the heartfelt lyrics. Yet delving into the collection further, the mood is significantly darker. ‘Electro-Shock Blues’ (1998) is an incredible album, but is where E is at his darkest place, with themes of his sister’s suicide and his mother’s terminal cancer. The stripped back tracks allow
the caustic lyrics to evoke the harshest of emotions. Yet the live renditions of these tracks on the ‘Electro-Shock Blues Show’ capture Eels at their most varied. As the tracks are given a whole new lease of life, the dense instrumentation that is otherwise not present on the records, adds to the atmosphere and allows the brooding darkness to be compounded. Following these dark laments though, ‘Daisies of The Galaxy’ (2000) and ‘Souljacker’ (2001) are considerably more upbeat with the band taking on a brighter sound. The personal feelings and darkness are still there, yet it is masked by the more energetic sound, and these records are among the finest alternative pop albums of all time. However, ‘Shootenanny!’ (2003) sees Eels combining the darker numbers and their upbeat sound to great effect. To say that E has a way with words would be a grave understatement. This anthology shows the evolution of Eels, from heartfelt soulful ballads to alternative pop and most things in between, altogether proving that they’re one of the greatest bands of this generation. Yet there is one track which sums up the entire collection perfectly – the first track on their debut, ‘Novocaine For The Soul’. E’s deep and personal lyrics give him the vehicle, to let it all out before he “sputters out”. Lee Hammond
“Mark Oliver Everett (‘E’ as he is also known) is one of the most revered songwriters of our generation.” LOUDER THAN WAR
reissues issue 2.indd 5
GROWING UP WITH... THE JAM Nicky Weller/Gary Crowley/Russell Reader/Den Davis (Nicetime Productions)
LA DISPUTE: TINY DOTS (Better Living/Big Scary Monsters)
hot by British filmmaker Niall Coffey (who also filmed the band’s ‘Woman (Reading)’ video), this tour documentary captures the Michigan post-hardcore band in their element. As a band with a devoted following, this feature-length documentary makes total sense. Following on from last year’s ‘Rooms of the House’ album, ‘Tiny Dots’ documents La Dispute’s rise from Grand Rapids and includes interviews with the band and their closest friends and fans, as well as live footage filmed over several years from tours all over the world. An intimate, beautifully shot film, it brings you closer to this emotionally charged post-hardcore powerhouse than ever before, and for that alone it’s worth seeing. Bonus sections include footage of the show they did at Kingston’s All Saints Church in 2014, so if you were there this is a must-have. Ariel Wimfrey
REBEL SCUM (Wild Eye Releasing)
ubtitled “the true, twisted story of a Southern punk band,” this controversial rock documentary certainly lives up to that claim. Focussing on two years of Knoxville “psycho white trash punk band” The Dirty Works, it’s a crazy ride that includes mental illness, addiction, relationships, family dysfunction and struggling for artistic expression in the Deep South. Centred on the self-destructive frontman Christopher Scum, it’s funny one minute and very sad the next (somewhere between the documentaries on GG Allin and Anvil). It also covers fellow Knoxville bands the Disobedients and The Cornbred Blues Band as well as Dropsonic (Atlanta) and Monsters Of Japan (Asheville). Capturing the live chaos live on film makes it a compelling watch although, tragically, since completing the film Christopher Scum was involved in a car crash that left him severely burnt and the death of his girlfriend. Ariel Wimfrey
NEW MODEL ARMY: BETWEEN DOG AND WOLF – THE NEW MODEL ARMY STORY (Cadiz)
radford postpunk/alt-rock veterans New Model Army have had a diehard fanbase for over 25 years and, although mainstream success has eluded them, they’re many people’s favourite band. This documentary film tells the story of their fascinating and charismatic frontman Justin Sullivan. Breaking free from a liberal Quaker family to meet like-minded musicians and forming New Model Army, channelling their anger in Thatcher’s Britain. When international success seems close tragedy strikes as Sullivan’s songwriting partner Robb Heaton tragically dies and later overcomes losing the band’s studio and equipment to create what many consider to be the band’s finest album to date. A mustsee for any fan, it comes in a limited edition steel box with a set of postcards and booklet, plus 60 minutes of bonus scenes. Quite a story. Sam Cunningham
ow do you write about a band whose story has already been written about extensively? ‘Growing Up With The Jam’ answers this question with this beautiful, full colour coffee table book featuring household names from music, film and media paying tribute to the kings of mod. Ranging from The Jam’s ‘60s influences, such as Ray Davies and Pete Townshend, to their ‘70s/’80s chart competitors – Adam Ant, Bob Geldof, Mick Jones and Jools Holland, through to stars The Jam inspired, including Noel Gallagher, Kelly Jones and Sharleen Spiteri, all their personal stories and memories about The Jam are a great read. There’s also media personalities such as Martin Freeman, Max Beesley and more. With a foreword from all three Jam members, personal tales and unseen photos, this shows how many rockers are fans of The Jam too. Ian Chaddock
POPKISS: THE LIFE AND AFTERLIFE OF SARAH RECORDS Michael White (Bloomsbury Academic)
etween 1987 and 1995, Bristol-based Sarah Records was a cult label and a modest success. However, it was seen by some as where the tailend of C86 indie-pop bands went to die. But now, two decades on from when its founders threw a party for its 100th release and shut down the label, Sarah Records is looked back on with love and affection by many. With the label’s rare releases going for hundreds of pounds on eBay and plenty of young bands now claiming influence from Sarah Records bands like the Field Mice, Blueboy, Heavenly and the Wake, it seems they’re finally getting their dues. This authorised biography contains exclusive interviews with the bands, producers, writers and witnesses, giving fans of the much-missed label a book that gives the full story. Well worth a read for indie fans everywhere. Sam Cunningham
LOUDER THAN WAR
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BOGNOR REGIS BUTLINS
Words: Tim Grayson / Photos: Sam Pantha (Panthaphoto.com)
s Pulp once said, “Do you remember the first time?” For those in attendance at the debut of Rockaway Beach, that will most certainly be the case. In recent years, Butlins have shaken off the image of British traditional holiday location and have instead started to corner the market with ‘80s nostalgia weekends and even punk festivals (not to mention the ATP shindigs), such as the recent Great British Alternative festival. This October saw the launch of Rockaway Beach, catering to fans of indie and the left of centre. And where better to start than LTW leader John Robb’s recently reignited postpunks THE MEMBRANES? Conjuring up a wall of sound with shades of Killing Joke and Godflesh, it’s a pummelling assault to the senses, warming up the crowd nicely for ERRORS, who turn in a set of sublime, brainitching electronica with material from new album ‘Lease Of Life’. Next up, Mark E. Smith and THE FALL with a gleefully venomous set build around the man himself, all spike and grind in a battered leather jacket. The Fall exist as a band apart, offering lessons in angular repetition and ferocious sardonicism, not so much watched as felt in the bones. Friday night headliners ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN, weaving their magic amidst a stage billowing dry ice and shining white light. Ian McCulloch threads his unmistakable vocals throughout Will Seargent’s psychedelic guitar lines, creating a mystic, emotional temple of sound. This is the church of the Bunnymen, with pints instead of hymn books. Breathing new life into ‘The Cutter’ and ‘Killing Moon’, they leave nerve endings jangling. Saturday follows the format of Friday, bringing together lesser-known names such as THE CHERRY WAVE and the melancholic dream pop of JENNIE VEE alongside the more established likes of THE MONOCHROME SET and GHOSTPOET. PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING turn in perhaps the set of the weekend, their atmospheric instrumentalism augmented by a stage show that has to be seen to be believed, part Star Trek and part Dr Who. J. Willgoose Esq and company create a multisensory experience, with songs from ‘The Race For Space’ spanning the gamut from funk to shoegaze to electro and everything in between. By contrast, JOHNNY MARR doesn’t quite nail it as much as he tends to at his own gigs, playing a set that climaxes with the classic ‘How Soon Is Now’ after a clutch of both solo and Smiths songs. Sunday peaks with the double whammy of SKINNY GIRL DIET, whose smashing together of Bikini Kill and Nirvana is a joy to behold, and JAMES HOLDEN creating a pocket universe of soul-touching alternative electronica. All that’s left is for Jason Pierce and SPIRITUALIZED to bring proceedings to a close. And, with a set replete with heavy melody, tripped out visuals and songs that soar skywards, he does it with ease. With early bird tickets on sale for next year, having witnessed Rockaway Beach’s debut, we’ll be seeing you there.
LOUDER THAN WAR
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ROCKAWAY SLEAFORD BEACH MODS
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN
LOUDER THAN WAR rockaway beach lives 2 pages.indd 2
THE LEMONHEADS SEBADOH
SHORT BACK & SIDES MANCHESTER TROF Words: James Sharples / Photos: Gwen Camsey
ou can’t really go wrong with free and, in these days of venue closures up and down the country, the chance to witness three acts for gratis are few and far between. The Underground Project, a collaborative team of like-minded Manchester residents, are doing their best to change this, offering a mash of musical styles and high quality drinks in an effort to get people away from their sofas and Dominos and supporting live music. The first of a series of evenings that we’re proud to pitch in with, it’s a cold night in the Norther Quarter as JANILEIGH COHEN takes to the stage. Small in stature but big in presence, her alt. folk songs are perfect late night listening, meandering their way into the heart. With trippy projections courtesy of People Staring, CLAIRE NORTHEY turns in a sublime set that manages the bridge the gap between The Postal Service and Horse Feathers, live sampling her violin to create a framework of rhythms and arpeggios. Rounding off the night, alt. rock five-piece CONQUER RIO play a stripped down set that’s miles away from their usual electric bombast, instead allowing their songwriting to shine through in a near-acoustic performance. With more nights scheduled for the near-future (including EP launches and more), visit Facebook.com/TUPmusicevents to see what’s on.
EOPLE queuing round the block to get a table at The Harvester (of sorrow?) deep within the confines of the Millennium Dome can mean only one thing: yes, date night for bottom feeders as facilitator Michael McIntyre is on upstairs. Fortunately we found ourselves downstairs in the other room which always feels a little corporate and faceless but if anyone can instil it with a sense of soul it’s The Lemonheads. Sebadoh were great and complement an evening that at no point feels like an exercise in nostalgia. Then The Lemonheads enter the fray, now consisting of Chris Brokaw (Codeine) on guitar, Todd Phillips (Juliana Hatfield Three) on drums and Jen Turner (err, jumping around barefoot) on bass. They ploughed through the obvious and the not so obvious, as the crowd lapped it all up and pacy numbers ‘Confetti’ and ‘Rudderless’ got a full on ladymosh happening which turned into a wall of death for ‘Alison’s Starting To Happen’. Okay, I made that last one up but the sight of blokes standing around holding onto the usual female detritus (myself included) with looks of bemusement/amusement was a refreshing sight. It was a marathon not a sprint and the band was fantastic throughout. Dando looked well and did the usual stooped shuffle around the stage like he’s avoiding a low ceiling and their sense of enthusiasm for the poppy grunge classics was obvious for all to see. James Batty
LOUDER THAN WAR
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KENDAL SLEAFORD CALLING MODS
ALACE are an interesting and thrilling band. So a sold-out homecoming concert has the four-piece in a jubilant mood. They’re interesting because, opening as silhouettes flittering between spotlights, they combine a postrock aesthetic with some serious balladry and guitar work that glistens with the delta blues. But they’re not fey, whimsical and don’t veer toward the nothingness of the ‘everyman’ titans of beige, Sheeran, Smith et al. And man, can lead guitarist Rupert Turner play some slide, the kind of guitar your ears can drink all day. So while this concoction may seem initially unusual, but there the band provide hints as to why this works so well, even down to the name. Is Palace a reference to grandeur? Sure, there’s plenty of that in the tunes, but it could also be a reference to Palace the skate company, whose shirts they’ve been know to wear. This makes sense. Their grandeur is more Christian Hosoi air than gold furnishings. Take ‘I Want What You Got’, from their latest EP. This thumps out, a procession of blues with some genuinely Jeff Buckley-esque vocals, delivered in earnest. It’s truly gorgeous and takes off (softly) in the chorus, following its slow, steady procession. Throughout the gig the audience goes bat-shit and rightly so, as Palace cast a dreamy musical spell that live is loud as hell. Jon Falcone
FATHER JOHN MISTY LONDON SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE
FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES SHEFFIELD LEADMILL
Words: James Sharples / Photo: Mark Latham
ROM the first note, tonight’s gig is like being in a car crash, a mass of rolling bodies slamming into fixtures, fittings, each other. Drinks fly, phones and pocket change hit the floor. On the stage, on the bar, on top of the crowd is where you’ll find the Rattlesnakes, a tangle of instruments, limbs and ferocity, whipped into frenzy by Frank Carter. It’s clear that he’s relishing being back behind the stick playing hardcore punk again after previous band Pure Love, but those expecting a revisitation to Gallows are in for a shock. Sure, there’s some references to Watford’s finest, but debut album ‘Blossom’ moves past this, with every breakdown and elastic riff contrasting with Sex Pistols-esque melody and even bar blues (‘I Hate You’). Live, it’s a life-affirming, brutal affair, a joyous chorus of violent passion, with album tracks such as ‘Juggernaut’ and ‘Trouble’ dripping venom. Ending in a crash of instruments and a wall of sound, the Leadmill has just seen one of the most vital punk bands of the year giving it their all.
ne of the surprise critical successes of 2015 has undoubtedly been the sophomore album from Father John Misty – or, as he was known in a previous life, Fleet Foxes’ drummer Josh Tillman. In turns searingly misanthropic, gorgeously crafted and often just downright on the money, ‘I Love You Honeybear’ is a triumph of sincerity over cynicism, finding the pithy and the poignant in the space between the personal (the bulk of the album specifically concerned with Tillman having fallen in love and married) and the political (the sardonic, state of the nation ‘Bored In The USA’). High kicking, gesticulating and flailing like Jarvis Cocker in his prime, Tillman is a mesmerising performer and wildly charismatic – even inviting a brief question and answers session towards the end of the set. The beautiful, gothic pop of ‘Chateau Lobby No.4 (In C for Two Virgins)’ is a clear highlight, as is ‘Funtimes In Babylon’ – one of the highlights from the first Father John Misty album days, the pre-marriage days, the “spent my money getting drunk and high/didn’t call when grandma died” days. When Bill Hicks via Serge Gainsbourg is your frontman, you could be forgiven for failing to take into account Tillman’s band – arrangements replete with slide guitars and even mariachi drums, their sound oscillating between The Band and Arcade Fire punctuated with furious wig-outs like tonight’s ‘The Ideal Husband’. As the audience join in with the canned laughter towards the climax of ‘Bored In The USA’, it’s hard not to desperately long for a British lyricist with the insight and verve of Father John Misty – narcissists, sociopaths and jaded idealists, your country needs you. Fergal Kinney MONOGRAM
LOUDER THAN WAR 3-4 lives.indd 2
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TOGETHER FOR THE FIRST TIME!
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marion 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ALBUM
this world and body
PAYIN’ RESPECT TO THE MAN IN BLACK WITH FULL LIVE BAND
MAY 05 BRIGHTON Komedia 06 BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy2 07 LEICESTER O2 Academy 12 HARPENDEN Public Halls 13 STOCKTON Arc
FEBRUARY 2016 SAT 06 LIVERPOOL O2 ACADEMY2 FRI 12 NEWCASTLE O2 ACADEMY SAT 13 GLASGOW O2 ABC2 FRI 19 BRISTOL O2 ACADEMY SAT 20 BIRMINGHAM O2 ACADEMY3 FRI 26 OXFORD O2 ACADEMY2 SAT 27 LONDON O2 ACADEMY2 ISLINGTON MARCH 2016 SAT 19 SHEFFIELD O2 ACADEMY2
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UK TOUR 2016 APRIL 14 ARLINGTON Arts Centre 16 DERBY Flowerpot 22 OXFORD O2 Academy 29 MORECOMBE The Platform
Friday 18th December O2 Ritz Manchester
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of
‘What’s The Story, Morning Glory’ with the album played in full, followed by a greatest hits set
CHRISTMAS PARTY Greatest Hits Show
Wed 23rd Dec O2 ABC2 Glasgow ticketweb.co.uk 0844 477 2000 & all usual agents
Saturday 5th March 2016
O2 Academy Islington ticketweb.co.uk · 0844 477 2000 academyevents presents
“The World’s Greatest Pearl Jam Tribute” “Rockin” Fri 4th Dec 15 Sat 5th Dec 15 Fri 11th Dec 15 Sat 12th Dec 15 Sat 19th Dec 15 Sat 23rd Jan 16 Fri 29th Jan 16 Sat 30th Jan 16
Dave Krusen (Pearl Jam)
Sin City Swansea O2 Academy3 Birmingham O2 Academy2 Glasgow O2 Academy2 Liverpool O2 Academy2 Islington Rescue Rooms Nottingham Academy 3 Manchester O2 Academy2 Newcastle
Ticketweb.co.uk | 0844 477 2000 | Pearljamuk.com
LOUDER THAN WAR
listings 3 pages.indd 1
LISTINGS FOALS February: 12th Glasgow SSE Hydro, 13th Manchester Arena, 16th London Wembley Arena, 19th Birmingham Arena, 20th Leeds First Direct Arena. electric wizard
65DAYSOFSTATIC April: 28th Liverpool O2 Academy. ALISON WEISS February: 16th Manchester Deaf Institute, 17th Newcastle Cluny, 18th Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, 19th Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 20th Birmingham O2 Institute3, 22nd Bristol Louisiana, 23rd Southampton Joiners, 24th London Camden Barfly.
Rooms, 27th Liverpool Arts Club, 28th York Duchess, 29th Sheffield Leadmill, 30th Nottingham Rock City, May: 2nd Norwich Waterfront, 3rd Birmingham Library, 4th Oxford O2 Academy, 5th London Camden Roundhouse. BMX BANDITS January: 30th London 100 Club. CAST February: 10th Chester Live Rooms, 12th Scarborough Spa, 19th Lowestoft Aquarium, 20th Northampton Roadmender, 27th Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
BASEMENT February: 7th Bristol Marble Factory, 8th Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, 9th Leeds University Stylus, 10th Manchester Academy 2, 11th Norwich Waterfront, 12th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. BEACH SLANG January: 19th Norwich Owl Sanctuary, 20th Birmingham Rainbow, 21st Manchester Star & Garter, 22nd Glasgow Hug & Pint, 23rd Newcastle Think Tank, 24th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 26th Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 27th London Barfly, 28th Bristol Exchange, 29th Southampton Joiners, 30th Brighton Green Door Store. BEIRUT February: 12th London Roundhouse, 13th Manchester Albert Hall. BELLE AND SEBASTIAN June: 22nd London Royal Albert Hall, 23rd London Royal Albert Hall. THE BLUETONES April: 14th Milton Keynes Craufurd Arms, 15th Brighton Concorde 2, 16th Tunbridge Wells Forum, 18th Southampton Engine Rooms, 19th Cardiff Tramshed, 20th Wakefield Unity Works, 22nd Stoke Sugarmill, 23rd Preston 53 Degrees, 24th Aberdeen Lemon Tree, 25th Edinburgh Liquid
THE CHARLATANS December: 8th Nottingham Rock City, 9th Cardiff Tramshed, 11th Norwich UEA, 12th Birmingham O2 Academy, 14th Edinburgh Usher Hall, 15th Dundee Caird Hall, 17th Newcastle O2 Academy, 18th Liverpool O2 Academy, 19th London O2 Academy Brixton. THE CROOKES January: 30th Scunthorpe Cafe IndiePendent, February: 1st Lincoln Engine Shed, 2nd Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 3rd Leeds Wardrobe, 4th Stoke Sugarmill, 5th Birmingham Rainbow, 6th Leicester Soundhouse, 7th Norwich Waterfront, 9th Doncaster Diamond Live, 10th Hull Adelphi, 11th Derby Venue, 12th York Duchess, 13th Newcastle Think Tank, 14th Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, 15th Preston Blitz, 16th Preston Blitz, 17th Bristol Louisiana, 18th Cardiff Globe, 19th Liverpool Studio 2, 20th Manchester Sound Control, 21st Southampton Talking Heads, 23rd Brighton Hope, 24th London Oslo, 25th Kingston Hippodrome, 27th Sheffield Leadmill. DAUGHTER January: 15th Cambridge Corn Exchange, 16th Oxford O2 Academy, 17th Brighton Dome, 18th Portsmouth Pyramids, 20th Birmingham O2 Academy, 21st Manchester Albert Hall, 22nd Liverpool O2 Academy, 23rd Edinburgh Queens Hall, 25th Newcastle O2 Academy, 26th Leeds Beckett Student Union, 27th Nottingham Rock City, 28th London Forum.
DESERTFEST W/ELECTRIC WIZARD, GODFLESH AND MORE April: 29th London (various venues) DREADZONE December: 17th London Fulham Under The Bridge, 18th Suffolk John Peel Centre For Creative Arts, February: 11th Reading Sub89, 12th Plymouth Hub, 13th Exeter Phoenix arts Centre, 25th Cardiff Globe, 26th Gloucester Guildhall, 27th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, March: 3rd Brighton Concorde 2, 5th Guildford Boiler Room.
THE FRONT BOTTOMS February: 4th Manchester Academy 2, 5th Leeds University Union, 6th Newcastle Riverside, 7th Glasgow Garage, 8th Birmingham O2 Institute2, 10th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 11th Cardiff Globe, 12th Bristol Marble Factory, 13th Brighton Concorde 2, 14th Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, 16th London KOKO.
THE DUKE SPIRIT February: 24th London Islington Assembly Hall. THE FARM December: 16th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 17th Liverpool O2 Academy2. FATHER JOHN MISTY May: 11th Leeds O2 Academy, 12th Glasgow O2 ABC, 13th Manchester Albert Hall, 14th Gateshead Sage, 15th Nottingham Rock City, 17th Bristol Colston Hall, 18th London Camden Roundhouse, 19th London Camden Roundhouse, 21st Southampton O2 Guildhall. FIELD MUSIC February: 25th Newcastle Cluny, 26th Newcastle Cluny, 28th York Duchess, March: 3rd Cardiff Globe, 4th Exeter Phoenix, 5th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 10th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 11th Manchester Band On The Wall, 13th Glasgow CCA, 18th London Islington Assembly Hall, 19th Southampton Engine Rooms, 20th Brighton Haunt.
Pic Ester Segarra
GREG DULLI February: 9th London Union Chapel, 10th Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, 11th Manchester Gorilla. HENRY ROLLINS January: 10th Bristol St Georgeâ€™s Hall, 11th Newcastle Tyne Theatre, 12th Manchester Bridgewater Hall, 14th London Barbican Centre, 15th Birmingham Town Hall, 16th London Barbican Centre, 17th Dublin Vicar Street, 18th Glasgow Academy. JOHN COOPER CLARKE June: 4th Edinburgh Queens Hall, 9th Gateshead Sage 2, 10th Manchester Albert Hall, 11th Liverpool Guild Of Students, 16th Milton Keynes Stables, 17th Birmingham Town Hall, 18th Bath Forum, 30th Southend Palace Theatre, July: 1st London 02 Shepherds Bush Empire.
ADAM ANT May: 23rd Ipswich Regent Theatre, 24th Leicester de Montfort Hall, 25th Bristol Colston Hall, 27th Portsmouth Guildhall, 28th Brighton Centre, 29th Hull City Hall, 31st York Barbican. June: 1st Gateshead The Sage, 2nd Manchester Bridgewater Hall, 4th Liverpool Philharmonic, 5th Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 7th Birmingham Symphony Hall, 8th Oxford New Theatre, 10th London Brixton O2 Academy.
LOUDER THAN WAR listings 3 pages.indd 2
MODERN BASEBALL February: 25th London Electric Ballroom, 26th Manchester Gorilla.
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING February: 7th Leeds University, 8th Edinburgh Queens Hall, 10th Liverpool O2 Academy, 11th Nottingham Rock City, 12th Norwich Open. KULA SHAKER February: 15th Glasgow O2 ABC, 16th Manchester Ritz, 17th London Camden Roundhouse. KURT VILE March: 10th London Camden Roundhouse, 11th Brighton All Saints Church. THE LIBERTINES January: 21st, Glasgow SSE Hydro, 23rd Manchester Arena, 25th Nottingham Capital FM Arena, 26th Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, 27th Birmingham Barclaycard Arena, 29th Bournemouth International Centre, 30th London The O2. LISBON January: 15th Hull Fruit, 16th Stoke Sugarmil, 19th Liverpool Studio 2, 20th Manchester Gullivers, 21st Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 22nd Leicester Cookie, 23rd Brighton Hope, 25th Bristol Louisiana, 26th Southampton Joiners, 27th London Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, 28th Guildford Boileroom, 29th Banbury Also Known As, 30th Sheffield Rocking Chair, February: 3rd Glasgow Garage, 4th Aberdeen Tunnels, 5th Edinburgh Electric Circus, 6th Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 9th York Duchess, 10th St Albarns Horn, 11th Tunbridge Wells Forum, 12th Birmingham Oobleck. LITTLE COMETS February: 11th Edinburgh Electric Circus, 12th Leeds Wardrobe, 13th Edinburgh Electric Circus, 14th Liverpool O2 Academy, 15th Nottingham
Rescue Rooms, 17th Norwich Open, 19th Bath Komedia, 20th Oxford O2 Academy2, 21st Brighton Concorde 2. LUSH May: London Camden Roundhouse 6th, London Camden Roundhouse 7th. THE MACCABEES January: 15th Glasgow Barrowland, 18th Manchester Albert Hall, 19th Manchester Albert Hall, 21st London O2 Academy Brixton, 22nd London O2 Academy Brixton, 23rd London O2 Academy Brixton.
NOEL GALLAGHERâ€™S HIGH FLYING BIRDS April: 21st Glasgow SSE Hydro, 24th Aberdeen AECC, 25th Liverpool Echo Arena, 27th Leeds First Direct Arena, 29th Birmingham Genting Arena, 30th Bournemouth BIC. NOTHING BUT THIEVES March: 31st Birmingham O2 Institute2, April: 1st London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 2nd Manchester O2 Ritz, 3rd Norwich Waterfront, 5th Nottingham Rescue Rooms, 6th Newcastle Riverside, 7th Glasgow O2 ABC, 8th Sheffield Leadmill, 9th Bristol Trinity. PURE BATHING CULTURE January: 25th Leeds Headrow House, 26th Manchester Castle Hotel, 27th London Lexington, 28th Bristol Crofters Rights.
MANIC STREET PREACHERS
THE MANIC STREET PREACHERS May: 28th Swansea Liberty Stadium. MARION January: 27th London Underbelly, March: 5th London O2 Academy Islington. MASSIVE ATTACK January: 23rd Glasgow O2 Academy, 25th Leicester De Montfort Hall, 27th Leeds O2 Academy, 28th Manchester O2 Apollo, 30th Birmingham O2 Academy, 31st Portsmouth Guildhall, February: 1st Brighton Dome, 5th London O2 Academy Brixton. MATT AND KIM April: 1st Glasgow King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, 4th Manchester Academy 3, 6th Birmingham O2 Academy, 7th Bristol Fleece, 8th London Scala.
MONEY February: 10th Manchester O2 Ritz, 11th Nottingham Bodega Social Club, 12th Liverpool Leaf, 14th Glasgow Broadcast, 15th Newcastle Think Tank, 16th Leeds Belgrave Music Hall, 18th Birmingham Hare And Hounds, 19th Bristol Lantern, 20th Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach, 22nd London Village Underground, 23rd Brighton Green Door Store,
MIGHTY MIGHTY February: 19th London 100 Club.
REEF March: 3rd London Electric Ballroom, 4th Barnstaple Factory, 5th Oxford O2 Academy, 10th Bristol O2 Academy, 11th Birmingham O2 Institute2, 12th Norwich UEA, 17th Manchester Academy, 18th York Fibbers, 19th Sheffield Plug, 24th Exeter Lemon Grove, 25th Cardiff Tramshed, 26th Southampton Engine Rooms, 27th Deal Hole In The Roof.
THE RIFLES February: 24th Bristol Thekla, 25th Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, 27th London Camden Roundhouse, March: 2nd Birmingham O2 Institute2, 3rd Glasgow Oran Mor, 5th Nottingham Rock City, 9th Stoke Sugar Mill, 10th Sheffield Plug, 11th Leeds Wardrobe, 12th Manchester Academy 2. SAVAGES February: 18th Bexhill On Sea De La Warr Pavilion, 19th Cambridge Junction, 21st Glasgow Art School, 22nd Manchester Albert Hall, 23rd Leeds Irish Centre, March: 17th London Roundhouse. SHED SEVEN December: 5th Bristol O2 Academy, 7th Portsmouth Pyramids, 8th Hatfield Forum, 9th Sheffield O2 Academy, 10th Sheffield O2 Academy, 11th Manchester Academy, 12th Manchester Academy, 14th Wrexham William Aston Hall, 15th Norwich UEA, 17th Nottingham Rock City, 18th Birmingham O2 Academy, 19th London Roundhouse, 21st Leeds O2 Academy, 22nd Leeds O2 Academy. SNUFF February: 12th Cardiff Globe, 13th Wolverhampton Slade Rooms, 14th Newcastle Upon Tyne Think Tank, 15th Glasgow Cathouse, 16th Leeds Key Club, 18th Manchester Academy3, 19th London Electric Ballroom, 20th Norwich Owl Sanctuary, 21st Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms. SPACE December: 5th London Brixton Jamm, 11th Wolverhampton Little Civic, 12th Lincoln Engine Shed, 17th Wolverton Craufurd Arms, 18th Gloucester Guildhall.
RICHARD HAWLEY February: 20th Southampton O2 Guildhall, 21st Norwich UEA, 23rd London Eventim Apollo, 24th Manchester O2 Apollo, 28th Cardiff University Students Union.
THE STRANGLERS March: 3rd Perth Concert Hall, 4th Inverness Ironworks, 5th Glasgow O2 Academy, 7th Nottingham Rock City, 8th Liverpool Academy, 9th Newcastle O2 Academy, 11th London O2 Academy Brixton, 12th Birmingham O2 Academy, 14th Guildford G Live, 15th Reading Hexagon, 17th Sheffield O2 Academy, 18th Cardiff Uni Great Hall, 19th Bristol O2
LOUDER THAN WAR
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LISTINGS Academy, 21st Salisbury City Hall, 22nd Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall, 23rd Cambridge Corn Exchange, 25th Leeds O2 Academy, 26th Manchester O2 Apollo. SUEDE February: 8th Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 9th Manchester Albert Hall. TELEGRAM February: 14th Leicester O2 Academy, 15th Preston Blitz, 16th Glasgow Broadcast, 17th Hull Adelphi, 18th York Basement, 22nd Leeds Headrow House, 23rd Sheffield Harley, 25th Brighton Hope & Ruin, March: 1st Norwich Waterfront, 3rd London Moth Club.
TOGETHER FESTIVAL W/GORILLA BISCUITS AND MORE March: 6th London Electric Ballroom. VILLAGERS January: 26th Belfast MAC Theatre, February: 1st Gateshead Sage, 2nd Glasgow Oran Mor, 3rd Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 5th Manchester Gorilla, 6th Sheffield Leadmill, 7th Birmingham Glee Club, 8th Oxford O2 Academy2, 10th Brighton Komedia, 11th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 12th Brighton St Georges Church, 13th Ashford St Marys Church. THE VIEW December: 16th Glasgow O2 Academy, 17th Dundee Caird Hall. THE WEDDING PRESENT May: 26th Tunbridge Wells Forum, 27th Gloucester Guildhall, 28th Leeds Brudenell Social, 29th Cambridge Junction.
THERAPY? February: 20th Southampton Engine Rooms, 25th Sheffield Plug, 27th Northumbria Students Union, March: 2nd Wolverhampton Little Civic, 3rd Leeds Wardrobe, 4th Manchester Academy, 11th Stoke On Trent Sugarmill, 12th Nottingham Rescue Rooms. TINDERSTICKS April: 29th London Barbican Hall, 30th Coventry Warwick Arts Centre, May: 1st Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, 2nd Manchester Bridgewater Hall, 3rd Edinburgh Usher Hall, 4th Gateshead Sage, 6th Cambridge Corn Exchange, 7th Bristol Colston Hall. T IN THE PARK W/THE STONE ROSES AND MORE July: 7th, 8th, 9th Scotland Strathallan Castle.
WOLF ALICE March: 4th Belfast Mandela Hall, 5th Dublin Olympia, 7th Stoke On Trent Keele Uni Students Union, 10th Manchester Academy, 11th Norwich UEA, 13th Oxford Academy, 14th Portsmouth Pyramids, 16th Glasgow Barrowlands, 17th York Barbican, 19th Leeds O2 Academy, 21st Folkestone Leas Cliff Halls, 22nd Brighton Dome, 23rd Nottingham Rock City, 24th Cardiff Great Hall, 26th, 27th, 28th London O2 Forum Kentish Town. THE WONDER STUFF March: 4th Southampton Engine Rooms, 5th Brighton Concorde 2, 9th Belfast Limelight, 11th Liverpool O2 Academy, 12th Cardiff Tramshed, 17th Bristol O2 Academy, 18th London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 19th Birmingham O2 Academy, 24th Glasgow O2 ABC, 25th Newcastle O2 Academy 25th, 26th Leeds O2 Academy.
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
COSMOSIS FESTIVAL Already established as the central hub for psychedelic sounds in Manchester, in 2016 Cosmosis Festival will be showcasing their biggest and most diverse line-up to date. Taking place at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse on the 12th of March, the bill is topped by The Jesus And Mary Chain and features such acts as Wire, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Sleaford Mods, Deafheaven, Of Montreal, Holy Wave and the Raveonettes. LTW spoke to organisers Matt, Liam, Greg and Victoria to find out more.
What was the initial aim for Cosmosis and has that changed since the start? Matt: “The initial aim for Cosmosis was to create a very alternative festival that could be distinguished from other small festivals. This meant supporting upcoming UK bands by having them share the stage with more established acts. This also meant using an interesting and challenging venue and also incorporating local artists, independent record labels and independent merchants whose ideas and artistic values we share. Although we have now decided to take the festival to the next level, the initial aim remains the same but we also want to take it on to being one of the UK’s highlights for alternative music and arts.” Victoria: “We wanted to put on a good alternative music festival, combine it with art and bring together like minded folks to have their musical minds bent and warped from the cosmic experience of Cosmosis. We want people to come and feel like they are a part of something special and that aim remains the same.”
Can you briefly describe what goes into putting on an event such as this? Liam: “Lots and lots of time and thought process and constant organising, from the littlest things like ensuring loo roll is available to the bigger things like securing the headline acts.” Greg: “A lot of hard work and attention to detail, especially this coming festival with the big step up. It’s important to incorporate other people as much as possible as there is so much to do it takes a big team.”
How did the booking of the Jesus And Mary Chain come about? Victoria: “We wanted to aim for the stars and those stars spelled ‘JAMC’. We thought at one point that the booking was out of our reach but we persisted and that dream became reality.” Greg: “For the coming festival we wanted to bag some of the biggest alternative acts that there are and we felt that JAMC are a huge influence for pretty much every band on the bill and we wanted to celebrate that by having them headline the festival. Mostly just because they are one of the best bands of all time.”
What do you feel Cosmosis offers that sets it apart from other one-day festivals? Greg: “Cosmosis will be like a shot of absinthe. A huge line-up all packed into one day, in one venue with so much going on it will send every sense into overdrive. Come and see for yourself.” Victoria: “I’ve not been to another one-day festival to compare but I have been to longer ones and I’d like to think that Cosmosis is everything packed into one day that you could wish for at a true alternative music festival.”
THE STONE ROSES June: 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th Manchester Etihad Stadium, July: 9th Dublin Marlay Park.
March: 12th Manchester Victoria Warehouse For more information visit Cosmosisfestival.com
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Then & Now: ALAN MCGEE
Growing up in Glasgow alongside eventual Primal Scream founder Bobby Gillespie, Alan McGee went from punk musician and Jesus And Mary Chain manager to musical royalty with Creation Records, bringing the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub and Oasis to the world. Forming Poptones Records after the dissolution of Creation, he did it again with The Hives. Managing the likes of the Libertines and The Kills, he was also running the Death Disco nights and singing the praises of Kasabian and many more. Retiring from music in 2008, McGee surprised many in 2014 when he restarted Creation Management, working with the likes of Wilko Johnson and the Happy Mondays, signing hotly-tipped up and comers Alias Kid, Pete MacLeod and Willow Robinson, releasing records with Cherry Red under the 359 Music banner and recently teaming up with former Columbia A&R Director Mick Clark for new label Clark & McGee Ltd. James Sharples spoke to him about then and now...
“My musical turning point? It was T Rex in 1971. I loved glam rock in general but T Rex in particular. ‘Get It On’ was the catalyst. It was fresh and it was funny, it was full of life. It was an antidote to all the dreary hippie shit that had gone before. Bolan was a genius. He had a gift for writing simple, effective pop. And of course on his TV show ‘Marc’, Bolan showcased bands like The Jam and Generation X on mainstream kids’ TV. That’s subversion! Apart from the Clash, The Jam were my favourite band from that period. I loved them more than the Pistols. I tried to sign Paul Weller years later after they split but Go Discs outbid me. A shame but he’s a genuine guy, a good man.”
parents had told me I was a loser and I expected to work nine-to-five jobs all of my life. Even when I started making money out of clubs I only ever thought it would last a couple of years. At the start Creation was just a hobby. For the first four years that’s how I saw it. Then in 1988 The House Of Love went gold and My Bloody Valentine went silver – this was around the end of 1988 and the start of ’89 – and that’s when I realised that it was a proper job. Creation were seen as being responsible for the success of critically acclaimed albums. Sometimes it took a while for the music business to catch up with us though. When I signed Primal Scream nobody liked them. In truth they weren’t that good then… And then Andy Weatherill took this bit from their single ‘Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have’ and remixed it and they re-invented themselves. They were a bit ahead of their time.”
OASIS: THE EYE OF THE HURRICANE
“I set up Creation Records because it was going to be fun and I didn’t want a real job. I never thought I’d make money out of it. My
“It wasn’t as nuts as it seemed. They were the band that made me realise I still believed in rock ’n’ roll. I saw them by accident in Glasgow at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. They were incredible. They were brutal, they were arrogant, they were exciting. A once in a generation band. They had it all. They had twenty labels after them including U2’s Mother Records who offered to double what I was offering them. The buzz was as real as the band. So the success followed naturally. “Managing the Jesus And Mary Chain I had enough information on brothers to be able to handle the Gallaghers. If I could deal with Jim and William Reed I could deal with anyone!
GET IT ON
THE RETURN “I nearly died, got better and decided ‘Fuck this, life is for living’. There’s no difference between Creation Management and Clark and McGee Ltd. We just love music.”
THE NEW BREED “I love them as people and as artists. Pete MacLeod is one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever worked with. I say that without any reservations whatsoever. His new record is stunning. He’s as good as a singer as Liam (Gallagher) or (Richard) Ashcroft. An absolute top shelf vocalist. The songwriting and matching of Youth as producer and Peter as artist is musical alchemy – long live the magic of music. These songs show Pete’s vocal range, which is phenomenal. The album he is recording is one of the best I’ve ever been involved with. I found Willow aged 21 on his second gig in a chapel in Wales. He’s an amazing guitar player and a great singer; it will be interesting to see where he goes with that. Alias Kid are fucking crazy. They’ve got a good vibe about them.”
Alias Kid’s ‘Revolt To Revolt’ is out now on 359 Music 114
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NIRVANA "WE'VE GOT ANGER, NEGATIVITY & PUNK ROCK ATTITUDE" THE RISE OF GRUNGE. THE LOST INTERVIEW. PLUS PULP SUPERGRASS SUNN 0))) TORTOISE...
Published on Dec 2, 2019
NIRVANA "WE'VE GOT ANGER, NEGATIVITY & PUNK ROCK ATTITUDE" THE RISE OF GRUNGE. THE LOST INTERVIEW. PLUS PULP SUPERGRASS SUNN 0))) TORTOISE...